03.07.21

Links 7/3/2021: Sparky 2021.03, SystemRescue 8.00, and FreeBSD 13.0 RC1

Posted in News Roundup at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Browsh: Fully Graphical Text Based Browser

        There are some weird web browsers out there and this certainly fits into that group, basically browsh is a graphical text based browser designed to but run on a server and SSHed into by people who’s personal connections are too slow to reasonably use the internet.

      • LHS Episode #397: The Weekender LXVII

        It’s time once again for The Weekender. This is our bi-weekly departure into the world of amateur radio contests, open source conventions, special events, listener challenges, hedonism and just plain fun. Thanks for listening and, if you happen to get a chance, feel free to call us or e-mail and send us some feedback. Tell us how we’re doing. We’d love to hear from you.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux Kernel 5.12 RC2 Released Early, Fixing the Scary Swap File Bug

        The second release candidate of Linux Kernel 5.12 is out early because of a nasty swap file bug. And do not use Linux Kernel 5.12 RC1 for testing, you may lose data.

      • Torvalds Warns the World: Don’t Use the Linux 5.12-rc1 Kernel
      • Kernel prepatch 5.12-rc2

        Linus has released 5.12-rc2 a little sooner than would normally be expected due to the problems with 5.12-rc1. “Other than that it all looks pretty normal”.

      • Graphics Stack

        • LABWC Is The Newest Stacking Wayland Compositor

          The LABWC Wayland compositor advertises itself as an Openbox alternative and just saw its inaugural release.

          LABWC is a Wayland stacking compositor based on the WLROOTS library engineered by the Sway folks. So while it’s “yet another Wayland compositor”, WLROOTS is doing much of the heavy lifting.

        • X.Org Foundation Bows Out For Google Summer of Code 2021

          Over the years Google Summer of Code (GSoC) has resulted in some really great projects in the X.Org ecosystem from work in the early days on the open-source Radeon graphics driver stack to VKMS more recently to many other improvements especially as it pertains to open-source graphics drivers / Mesa. But for Google Summer of Code 2021 at least, the organization will not be participating.

          With rare exceptions, the X.Org Foundation has been a regular fixture of GSoC for as long as Google has been putting it on for more than one decade. It’s resulted in many great contributions not only about the X.Org Server but the X.Org Foundation / FreeDesktop.org ecosystem to the likes of Mesa, Wayland, input, and more.

    • Applications

      • Best Free Android Apps: Termux – terminal emulator and Linux environment

        There’s a strict eligibility criteria for inclusion in this series. See the Eligibility Criteria section below.

        Termux offers both a capable terminal emulator and an extremely useful Linux environment (single user) on your Android device. The app provides full-blown versions of Bash, Coreutils and much more.

        A minimal base system is installed, but the real power comes from the tons of packages available with the APT package manager.

      • Macchina – Another Command Tool to Display Basic System Info in Linux

        Macchina is another command line tool to fetch basic system information in Linux, similar to Neofetch, but focus on performance and minimalism.

        The software is written in Rust, and it displays basic system information, including hostname, manufacturer, kernel version, uptime, desktop environment, processor, memory / battery status, and more. Macchina is pretty fast, it runs 8.53 ± 0.72 times faster than neofetch!

        Macchina is a new project in active development. By adding –theme or -t flag, you can specify one of the supported themes. They are so far: default, alt, and long.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How To Install Google Cloud SDK on Debian 10 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Google Cloud SDK on Debian 10. For those of you who didn’t know, The Google Cloud SDK provides users with the ability to access Google Cloud via Terminal. It is a development toolkit that comes with multiple commands that help in managing the resources within the Google Cloud environment.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the Google Cloud SDK on a Debian 10 (Buster).

    • Easy Way Install Blender 3D On Linux Ubuntu! – Fosslicious

      Blender 3D is a very powerful open source 3D application. Many companies or individuals use this application (based on data from HG Insight) for 3D modeling, animation, or interior design, and many others. Blender 3D is available for various platforms, one of which is Linux. Linux users can install this application using the following methods!

    • Debugging a bitbaked binary

      meta-rpm uses groot to build the root file system. Groot will get its own discussion. What I want to talk about here is the steps I used to chase down an error that was happening while generating the root file system. In order to do this, I needed to tweak the groot code.

      Groot is pulled in via a recipe in the meta-rpm repo. It is checked out from git, and built as part of the bitbake process.

    • How To Restore Or Recover Deleted Commands In Linux – OSTechNix

      In this brief tutorial, we will learn how to restore or recover deleted commands in Linux using coreutils and busybox.

    • How to create your own database on Linux | TechRadar

      These days, databases are more routinely associated with powering websites and ecommerce systems. To the casual user they look impenetrable, involving connecting to third-party database servers such as SQL and hiding behind opaque languages like PHP.

      But at their heart, databases are simple tables of information: each row represents a single record, and its specific characteristics – such as name, colour, or whether it’s currently in your possession or not – are recorded in columns known as fields.

      If your needs are modest, then you don’t need to learn any programming languages or tackle complex database software to put together a collection of information you can later search in various ways to find what you need from it.

    • Sharing A USB Drive From Your Wi-Fi Router, Part 2

      In my previous article, I omitted the LXQt desktop environment because I am not well acquainted with it, and was unsure about the status of its “parent” (LXDE). Although LXDE coexists with LXQt and is technically still being maintained, it is living on borrowed time because it has a GTK2 codebase. LXDE’s most recent stable release dates from 2016. LXDE’s founder, Hong Jen Yee (aka “PCMan”), found it impractical to base LXDE on GTK3. GTK3 broke backward compatibility and caused components to become more memory-hungry and slower. So Dr. Hong1 began experimenting with Qt as a base; eventually, his LXDE-Qt project merged with the Razor-qt project (in July 2013). LXQt is now the successor to LXDE. Although a bit rough around the edges compared to LXDE, LXQt is very usable and is progressing towards its goal of reaching version 1.0. (Its current release is 0.16.0). LXQt’s primary goals are simplicity and being light on resources, with sensible default settings that meet most users’ needs.

      I have been testing the PCLinuxOS LXQt Community Release, created by daniel (Daniel Meiβ-Wilhelm), on a spare partition of my trusty netbook.2 This version resembles a Mini.iso, insofar as it does not include a large collection of applications; however, the applications are well-integrated, responsive and the system is visually appealing. The screenshots were taken from the most recent 2020.11 release.

    • GIMP Tutorial: Top GIMP Filters, Part 2

      I’ve used this filter (Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur) to soften photos just a bit, but Davies points out that you can use it to fix a photo problem. Sometimes we want to use the subject of a photo, but not the background. After cutting away the background we’re left with some rough edges on the subject. Gaussian Blur can help minimize them.

      In this image we have a white flower and many green leaves. Suppose I wanted to add this flower, but not the leaves, to another floral image.

    • Tip Top Tips: How I Converted My H.264 Video To HEVC

      Note that on Stream #0:1(eng) the video was indeed encoded in hevc. I have to highlight the significant reduction in file size without losing video and sound quality from the original copy.

      What I did on the VLC menu was click on Media > Convert / Save (Ctrl+R). On the File tab, click Add then Open the video you want to convert. Once listed, click Convert/Save.

      Check that the Source is the actual file you wanted to convert. On the Settings section of the dialog window, you’ll see Profile and a down arrow. Click to change the Profile to Video – H.265 + MP3 (MP4) or you can create your own profile using the (Encapsulation) MP4, (Video codec [enable Video] > Codec) H-265 (Note: also check that the resolution scale is set to either Auto or 1 or you can shrink your video dimensions), (Audio codec [enable Audio] and enable Keep original audio track or as I prefer, change the codec to MPEG 4 Audio (AAC)) … Subtitles? If you’re creating a new profile, do not forget to give it a Profile Name so it’ll be easier to find next time.

      The last part is the Destination. You will need to click on Browse, navigate to the folder where you want to save your file, and click Save. When all is ready, click Start and wait for VLC to complete the task. Depending on the duration of your video, it may take a couple of minutes or longer.

    • Make A Collage Or Wordcloud With Fotowall

      In January, ms_meme posted in the forum that she had been using a program called Fotowall, and was wanting a bit of help. I downloaded it and started talking to her. Turns out that it’s a nifty little program if you want to make a photo collage. It has other features, so I’ll cover some of them, too. It’s a pretty nice little program, but it has some problems and limitations.

      There’s a beginning screen, which says Create in the center at first. After you’ve saved a project it looks a bit different, listing your previous projects at top left so you can open one if you want. Click on Create.

      [...]

      The other choices are Print, PDF or SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics can be edited and manipulated in Inkscape).

      Setup ONLY lets you enable OpenGL, which is a graphics accelerator. Mine’s working fine right now so I didn’t bother with it.

      Fotowall is a pretty good program for what it does, but it has some problems. It does the collages pretty well, but the Wordclouds confound me as there seem to be several glitches in the program. If I wanted my words arranged a specific way, however, or a different font, I would fall back to Scribus. There are also a few good internet sites you can use to make Wordclouds. The downside to Fotowall is that it apparently hasn’t had much, if anything, done to it since 2017. Hopefully, they will update and improve it soon.

    • How to Mount Windows NTFS Partition in Linux

      This is quite common for Dual Boot users who use Windows and Linux simultaneously for their work. You can easily mount Windows partitions through File Manager.

      When you try to mount the NTFS partition from a terminal, you will encounter an error “The disk contains an unclean file system (0, 0).

    • How To Install GNOME Desktop on Manjaro 20 – idroot

      In this tutorial, we will show you how to install GNOME Desktop on Manjaro 20. For those of you who didn’t know, Gnome 3 is an intuitive desktop environment that utilizes a tablet or smartphone-style interface to access applications. Although Gnome is very easy to learn and use, its customization options are quite limited, and it can be difficult to configure. A 64-bit installation of Manjaro running Gnome uses about 447MB of memory. By default, Manjaro installed it as an Xfce4 desktop environment. Installing GNOME Desktop on the Manjaro system is fairly straightforward. There is no need to reinstall your Manjaro Linux system with Manjaro GNOME Edition if you only wish to change the desktop environment.

      This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the GNOME desktop environment on a Manjaro 20 (Nibia).

  • Games

    • DIRT 5 Now Playable Through Proton!

      Great news, racing fans. Just four months after the release of DIRT 5, I can confirm the game works fine using the latest commit of vkd3d-proton.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.22 Adds Adaptive Opacity + Will Avoid Useless Rendering When Screen Is Off

        KDE developers have been off to a busy March so far with working on adaptive panel opacity support for Plasma 5.22. Another pleasant improvement with that next Plasma release is to avoid rendering work when the screen is off.

        Some of the KDE improvements for the past week that were noted in Nate Graham’s weekly development summary include:

        - The KDE Plasma desktop now supports an adaptive panel opacity. The panel and panel applets are more transparent and most will agree should make the desktop look better in Plasma 5.22.

      • KDE Plasma 5.22 Will Feature Adaptive Transparency

        The KDE Plasma desktop will have three new opacity settings starting with the upcoming 5.22 release: Adaptive, Opaque and Translucent.

      • KDE Code Formatting

        Short history of the ‘KDELIBS’ coding style

        Once upon a time, in the monolithic KDELIBS world, we had some document describing the KDELIBS coding style.

        Over the years, that evolved a bit and ended up here as Frameworks Coding Style.

        As noted there, it is more or less the same stuff Qt does style wise.

        How was that coding style handled in practice?

        Actually, this styling was really never enforced on a global scale.

        During the “we split KDELIBS up into Frameworks” time, on the initial import, the code was once run through astyle to ensure that coding style was kept.

        But after the initial import, nothing of that sort happened anymore (at least not in some coordinated fashion).

        Beside, for non-Frameworks, such a mandatory style application never happened. Actually, it was never be agreed that this style is mandatory beside for KDELIBS itself, anyways.

        Naturally, individual sub-projects/maintainers started to enforce either the stuff linked above or individual similar styles through different means.

        e.g. in kate.git we noted in the README that we wanted to follow that style. That was it ;=)

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • NEXT STEPS AFTER OUTREACHY

        Getting selected for the Outreachy program and working at the GNOME foundation in particular, has been one of the biggest blessings I’ve received this year. I’ve met soo many kind people, learnt a lot and gained soo much confidence in myself. It has been nothing short of amazing!!

        I’m very glad to talk about my overall experience, the things I’ve learnt and what I plan to do next in my career.

        Let’s dive in !!

      • Nasah Kuma: Wrap Up blog post(from good to great) :)

        I can’t believe three months went by like three days. It’s the last week of my Outreachy internship @GNOME and there is so much to say. For easy readability, this blog post will have five sections fear, growth, accomplishments, future plans and conclusion.

        [...]

        This internship has been an eye opener revealing how much I can do as an individual to improve on the field of software development. GJS is just one of so many projects which needs maintenance and community support. If you are reading this post and wondering if you should contribute to open source, you probably should since it won’t only help the community as a whole but help you improve in particular. To contribute to GJS, follow the guide on this link(https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gjs/-/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md) and checkout the issues. If you are new to open source, it’s best to take issues tagged newcomer. If you feel that’s not such a good place to start, you can always suggest and create your own issues using the issue tracker.

  • Distributions

    • What’s the Best Linux Distro for Enhanced Privacy and Security?

      Obviously there’s strong opinions among Slashdot readers. So share your own thoughts in the comments.

      What’s the best Linux distro for enhanced privacy and security?

    • New Releases

      • SystemRescue 8.00 Released with Linux 5.10 LTS, Xfce 4.16, and Improved exFAT Support

        SystemRescue 8.00 comes about five months after SystemRescue 7.00, which was the first version to ship with the new name instead of SystemRescueCd. The biggest change in this new release is the inclusion of the long-term supported Linux 5.10 LTS kernel series for improved hardware support.

        On top of that, SystemRescue 8.00 upgrades the default Xfce desktop environment used for the live session to the latest Xfce 4.16 release, which ships with numerous new features and improvements.

    • BSD

      • FreeBSD 13.0-RC1 Now Available
        The first RC build of the 13.0-RELEASE release cycle is now available.
        
        Installation images are available for:
        
        o 13.0-RC1 amd64 GENERIC
        o 13.0-RC1 i386 GENERIC
        o 13.0-RC1 powerpc GENERIC
        o 13.0-RC1 powerpc64 GENERIC64
        o 13.0-RC1 powerpc64le GENERIC64LE
        o 13.0-RC1 powerpcspe MPC85XXSPE
        o 13.0-RC1 armv6 RPI-B
        o 13.0-RC1 armv7 GENERICSD
        o 13.0-RC1 aarch64 GENERIC
        o 13.0-RC1 aarch64 RPI
        o 13.0-RC1 aarch64 PINE64
        o 13.0-RC1 aarch64 PINE64-LTS
        o 13.0-RC1 aarch64 PINEBOOK
        o 13.0-RC1 aarch64 ROCK64
        o 13.0-RC1 aarch64 ROCKPRO64
        o 13.0-RC1 riscv64 GENERIC
        o 13.0-RC1 riscv64 GENERICSD
        
        Note regarding arm SD card images: For convenience for those without
        console access to the system, a freebsd user with a password of
        freebsd is available by default for ssh(1) access.  Additionally,
        the root user password is set to root.  It is strongly recommended
        to change the password for both users after gaining access to the
        system.
        
        Installer images and memory stick images are available here:
        
        https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/ISO-IMAGES/13.0/
        
        The image checksums follow at the end of this e-mail.
        
        If you notice problems you can report them through the Bugzilla PR
        system or on the -stable mailing list.
        
        If you would like to use SVN to do a source based update of an existing
        system, use the "releng/13.0" branch.
        
        A summary of changes since 13.0-BETA4 includes:
        
        o An update to handle partial data resending on ktls/sendfile has been
          added.
        
        o A bug fix in iflib.
        
        o A fix to pf(4) for incorrect fragment handling.
        
        o A TCP performance improvement when using TCP_NOOPT has been added.
        
        o Several SCTP fixes and improvements.
        
        o Several other miscellaneous fixes and improvements.
        
        A list of changes since 12.2-RELEASE is available in the releng/13.0
        release notes:
        
        https://www.freebsd.org/releases/13.0R/relnotes.html
        
        Please note, the release notes page is not yet complete, and will be
        updated on an ongoing basis as the 13.0-RELEASE cycle progresses.
        
        === Virtual Machine Disk Images ===
        
        VM disk images are available for the amd64, i386, and aarch64
        architectures.  Disk images may be downloaded from the following URL
        (or any of the FreeBSD download mirrors):
        
        https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/VM-IMAGES/13.0-RC1/
        
        The partition layout is:
        
            ~ 16 kB - freebsd-boot GPT partition type (bootfs GPT label)
            ~ 1 GB  - freebsd-swap GPT partition type (swapfs GPT label)
            ~ 20 GB - freebsd-ufs GPT partition type (rootfs GPT label)
        
        The disk images are available in QCOW2, VHD, VMDK, and raw disk image
        formats.  The image download size is approximately 135 MB and 165 MB
        respectively (amd64/i386), decompressing to a 21 GB sparse image.
        
        Note regarding arm64/aarch64 virtual machine images: a modified QEMU EFI
        loader file is needed for qemu-system-aarch64 to be able to boot the
        virtual machine images.  See this page for more information:
        
        https://wiki.freebsd.org/arm64/QEMU
        
        To boot the VM image, run:
        
            % qemu-system-aarch64 -m 4096M -cpu cortex-a57 -M virt  \
        	-bios QEMU_EFI.fd -serial telnet::4444,server -nographic \
        	-drive if=none,file=VMDISK,id=hd0 \
        	-device virtio-blk-device,drive=hd0 \
        	-device virtio-net-device,netdev=net0 \
        	-netdev user,id=net0
        
        Be sure to replace "VMDISK" with the path to the virtual machine image.
        
        BASIC-CI images can be found at:
        
        https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/CI-IMAGES/13.0-RC1/
        
        === Amazon EC2 AMI Images ===
        
        FreeBSD/amd64 EC2 AMIs are available in the following regions:
        
          af-south-1 region: ami-024a37d8ee55504a9
          eu-north-1 region: ami-0f7e6ef964131a5c5
          ap-south-1 region: ami-0da383cf93cddac9d
          eu-west-3 region: ami-0c2e5eecf725c8480
          eu-west-2 region: ami-07e739abd39787f83
          eu-south-1 region: ami-042c036041ab5c683
          eu-west-1 region: ami-02b72374c39f164f4
          ap-northeast-3 region: ami-06b158bab2dc009b8
          ap-northeast-2 region: ami-0fbcb7db014004a7f
          me-south-1 region: ami-0a5040da848631036
          ap-northeast-1 region: ami-0ea2e5573427aa49c
          sa-east-1 region: ami-0e8ca0e56ecd00395
          ca-central-1 region: ami-08503cd732e74743f
          ap-east-1 region: ami-0fa7c7d12cd5c992f
          ap-southeast-1 region: ami-0adc820ff9c36b582
          ap-southeast-2 region: ami-0f031e3027fe5ed45
          eu-central-1 region: ami-0685d9bbc37652517
          us-east-1 region: ami-0dc102bfa2a63a6c0
          us-east-2 region: ami-0d65407784cf103ac
          us-west-1 region: ami-0d676e4b02aeac56e
          us-west-2 region: ami-0f2f2e90ae8956750
        
        FreeBSD/aarch64 EC2 AMIs are available in the following regions:
        
          af-south-1 region: ami-00bc7809c32164ef7
          eu-north-1 region: ami-079c3b3939e1422f5
          ap-south-1 region: ami-09f83dd115907186c
          eu-west-3 region: ami-0b466ac2ccb1d9a17
          eu-west-2 region: ami-03127626a3b795617
          eu-south-1 region: ami-04b543c7eca712cb2
          eu-west-1 region: ami-04bec8381d23b2d33
          ap-northeast-3 region: ami-08ec822521c26b950
          ap-northeast-2 region: ami-08b8dd381dcc36d65
          me-south-1 region: ami-07253323150004fb7
          ap-northeast-1 region: ami-0979ee58e90456542
          sa-east-1 region: ami-06effcb873d7718ef
          ca-central-1 region: ami-0c5838a8f4369ddb8
          ap-east-1 region: ami-0ee5d390ccfa85ec5
          ap-southeast-1 region: ami-0bda890b388931e8e
          ap-southeast-2 region: ami-069ccae98ade21bc2
          eu-central-1 region: ami-0c06b28ffd66f0a3c
          us-east-1 region: ami-04f0d8aef11064219
          us-east-2 region: ami-022f3e436ebcf74f2
          us-west-1 region: ami-037a2837218ac2a61
          us-west-2 region: ami-0f0a390fdd1ca6fba
        
        === Vagrant Images ===
        
        FreeBSD/amd64 images are available on the Hashicorp Atlas site, and can
        be installed by running:
        
            % vagrant init freebsd/FreeBSD-13.0-RC1
            % vagrant up
        
        === Upgrading ===
        
        The freebsd-update(8) utility supports binary upgrades of amd64 and i386
        systems running earlier FreeBSD releases.  Systems running earlier
        FreeBSD releases can upgrade as follows:
        
        	# freebsd-update upgrade -r 13.0-RC1
        
        During this process, freebsd-update(8) may ask the user to help by
        merging some configuration files or by confirming that the automatically
        performed merging was done correctly.
        
        	# freebsd-update install
        
        The system must be rebooted with the newly installed kernel before
        continuing.
        
        	# shutdown -r now
        
        After rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to install the new
        userland components:
        
        	# freebsd-update install
        
        It is recommended to rebuild and install all applications if possible,
        especially if upgrading from an earlier FreeBSD release, for example,
        FreeBSD 11.x.  Alternatively, the user can install misc/compat11x and
        other compatibility libraries, afterwards the system must be rebooted
        into the new userland:
        
        	# shutdown -r now
        
        Finally, after rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to remove
        stale files:
        
        	# freebsd-update install
        
      • FreeBSD 13.0-RC1 Released With TCP Performance Improvement, Other Fixes

        With plans of formally releasing FreeBSD 13.0 at month’s end, FreeBSD 13.0-RC1 is available this weekend and on-schedule for helping to test and evaluate this forthcoming major BSD operating system update.

        Over the prior betas, FreeBSD 13.0-RC1 has a TCP performance improvement when using TCP_NOOPT, SCTP fixes and improvements, and a variety of other low-level fixes and improvements. But at this stage most of the additions are mundane.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

      • Two PCLinuxOS Family Members Finally Meet

        I know that the question of meeting other PCLinuxOS users has, again, recently come up in the PCLinuxOS forums. While the middle of a pandemic might not be the best time to meet up with other PCLinuxOS users, it can be the perfect time to start planning a meeting for once this pandemic is in our rearview mirror.

        Meemaw and I, despite having “worked together” on The PCLinuxOS Magazine for many years, have never met face-to-face. We’ve burned up the email wires, and always do. We’ve “talked” extensively on IRC. We’ve texted each other on our cell phones. We’ve even talked to one another on the telephone. We are planning/hoping to get together for a trip to the Kansas City Zoo, just as soon as the weather turns decent. Even though Meemaw grew up in the Kansas City area, she hasn’t been to the Kansas City Zoo in many, many years.

        If you live near another PCLinuxOS user, reach out and try to meet them. PCLinuxOS has always had a close, family kind of feeling to it, especially among PCLinuxOS forum members. So, why not try to meet those other family members? If you do, let us know about it here at The PCLinuxOS Magazine. We might just feature your “getting to know you” escapades in a future issue. And remember … pictures, or it never happened!

      • PCLinuxOS Screenshot Showcase
      • OpenMandriva notable mention in social network

        FediFollows mentioned OpenMandriva in recommended follows of the week.

    • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

      • Fedora Community Blog: Contribute to Fedora Kernel 5.11 Test Week

        The kernel team is working on final integration for kernel 5.11. This version was recently released and will arrive soon in Fedora. As a result, the Fedora kernel and QA teams have organized a test week from Monday, March 08, 2021 through Monday, March 15, 2021. Refer to the wiki page for links to the test images you’ll need to participate. Read below for details.

      • Fedora Community Blog: Test Week: Internationalization (i18n) features for Fedora 34

        All this week, we will be testing internationalization (i18n) features in Fedora 34.

      • Short Topix: 10 Year Old Sudo Security Bug Patched

        As we reported in the January 2021 issue of The PCLinuxOS Magazine, RHEL announced that CentOS was changing directions as of December 31, 2020. CentOS is a favorite for servers across the world, and RHEL’s change of CentOS to CentOS Stream didn’t settle too well with CentOS users.

        In response, one of CentOS’s founding members, Greg Kurtzer, went back to work to create Rocky Linux. The Kurtzer-led replacement for CentOS is on track for a second quarter 2021 release.

        Meanwhile, CloudLinux has also chosen to fork CentOS into a new distribution, named AlmaLinux. It seems that CloudLinux is putting their money where their “mouth” is, by backing the new CentOS replacement with $1 million (US) annually. AlmaLinux currently has beta ISOs available on its website, and is based on the current RHEL 8. CloudLinux has promised to update AlmaLinux as RHEL is updated, just as has been done with CentOS over the years.

        According to an article on TechRepublic, everything on AlmaLinux works pretty much the same as on CentOS, with one exception. Currently, cPanel isn’t yet working on AlmaLinux. This should be remedied in subsequent releases of AlmaLinux, since cPanel currently works on CloudLinux.

        According to the statement on the AlmaLinux website, “we intend to deliver this forever-free Linux distribution in Q1 2021 — initially built by our own expertise, but owned and governed by the community.”

        It will be interesting to see the differences between AlmaLinux and the forthcoming Rocky Linux. As we mentioned in our first article, the whole situation with CentOS is rapidly evolving, and continues to evolve at a brisk pace.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Code Search: OpenAPI now available

        Debian Code Search now offers an OpenAPI-based API!

        Various developers have created ad-hoc client libraries based on how the web interface works.

        The goal of offering an OpenAPI-based API is to provide developers with automatically generated client libraries for a large number of programming languages, that target a stable interface independent of the web interface’s implementation details.

      • Sparky 2021.03

        Sparky 2021.03 of the (semi-)rolling line is out. It is the first snapshot in 2021 of Sparky which is based on the Debian testing “Bullseye”.

      • SparkyLinux Finally Gets a KDE Plasma Edition, Xfce Flavor Updated to Xfce 4.16

        Based on the Debian Testing repositories as of March 5th, 2021, where the development of the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 11 “Bullseye” operating system series takes place, the SparkyLinux 2021.03 release ships with Linux kernel 5.10 LTS, the Calamares 3.2.37 installer, and various updated components (see below).

        But what caught my attention is the fact that SparkyLinux now features a KDE Plasma edition! Until now, SparkyLinux shipped with the Xfce, LXQt, MATE, Openbox (MinimalGUI), and MinimalCLI (text-mode) editions.

    • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

      • Hirsute Yaru Call for Testing

        Ubuntu Hirsute – the development release which will become 21.04 enters User Interface Freeze on March 18th! That’s less than a fortnight away!

        [...]

        At this point you should start poking around the system. Especially focus on the default system user interfaces, dialogs and experience. Use it as you would any normal install too. Try the default applications, and install your favourite additional ones too.

  • Devices/Embedded

  • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

    • oneAPI Level Zero 1.2.3 Released For Intel’s Low-Level Interface

      With oneAPI Level Zero 1.2.3 they now support the Level Zero 1.1 specification, which is just a minor update over last year’s official Level Zero 1.0 specification. The original oneAPI Level Zero specification was tentatively published back at the end of 2019 as Intel’s direct-to-metal interfaces with a focus on offload accelerators. This is not to be confused with the oneAPI specification itself, which is working towards its v1.1 release later this calendar year, but is solely about the “Level Zero” specification. Yes, the oneAPI versioning scheme has become rather convoluted across its many different software components and specifications.

      [...]

      The new release does require an updated Intel Compute Runtime stack for hardware support. On that front yesterday marked the Intel Compute Runtime 21.09.19150 release that updates the Intel Graphics Compiler as its only listed change. The Intel Compute Runtime continues to list its Level Zero support as 1.0 in a pre-release stage, while also enjoying OpenCL 3.0 production support)

    • Five good reasons to try NextCloud in 2021

      I said so because I thought, and still think, that NextCloud is the most promising self-hosted, Free/Open Source alternative for the services that companies like Dropbox, Google, Facebook or Skype provide in exchange for users’ data, privacy and more.

      There were already plenty of good reasons to use NextCloud for those services in 2019, and there are many, many more in 2021. But don’t take my word for it. In case you missed NextCloud so far, here are X reasons to try NextCloud now, both personally, and for your company.

  • Leftovers

    • Opinion | Prince Redux: The Family’s Imprint Is Still Being Felt

      It’s hard not to marvel at their staying power.

    • Elegy

      Sundays, my brother returns as a trapezoid of light inching across the fading rug, showing me again that windows need cleaning. He returns each time a breeze brings the unpleasantness of rabbits in a half-shingled hutch, their timid ears pinned in place. Once, hiking through scrub oak, he pulled at a stalk of stubborn cheatgrass which sliced his palm open and his fist dripped blood all the way home. I ask if he remembers that or the forts we built of bedsheets. We secured each corner with volumes on the spider, the mummy, the solar system, and then used box fans for roof raising. How long was it, I ask, before the wind was too much? When did we grow bored? I sometimes forget that my brother’s bones are now ash and the rest of him a cloud. The fact is, my only memory of learning to read is pretending I couldn’t so he would do it for me. A book of illustrated Bible stories more often than not, its spine broken, pages missing, each figure on each page nothing more than hazy pastel. I ask if he remembers that book, if he knows where it is. He says, How should I know? I’m not even here.

    • Education

      • Weak Internet Faced by 31% of Philippine Home Schoolers: Poll

        Close to a third of families in the Philippines whose members take school classes online have poor internet connections, according to a Social Weather Stations survey.

        The poll of 1,500 adults conducted nationwide in November found that 31% of families with online distance learners have weak connections. A combined 68% said they have either strong or fair connections, and most of them are on the main Luzon island where the capital region is, pollster SWS said.

      • How a Single Anonymous Twitter Account Caused an ‘Indigenized’ Canadian University to Unravel

        But those PR dividends come at a cost: Insofar as Indigenization now signifies a system process of compulsory ideological programming among academics, it has led to dissonance in the way universities define themselves. Traditionally, scholars have been free to defy their own administrations in all sorts of ways—from their opposition to campus military recruiters during the Vietnam era, to divestment campaigns targeting oil in the 1990s, to the lengthy anti-racism strikes at Haverford College and Bryn Mawr in late 2020 (during which many teachers filled “teach-in” seminars with fiery denunciations of their own deans). But when it comes to Indigenization, Canadian universities have made it clear that there are to be no conscientious objectors. The result is that, as the following case study shows, even tiny, symbolic acts of ideological resistance can spark wholesale institutional dysfunction.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • AI Blackbox: What’s under the hood?

          To better understand the layers of the AI stack, one must understand the complexities of these ‘products’ or ‘complex ecosystems’ that it supports. Kumar elaborates on the concept as follows – These ecosystems consist of billions of entities (customers, assets, facilities), trillions of interactions (Transactions, Social network, content, etc.), millions of decisions (pricing, scheduling, logistics, etc.) that factor in the growth and existence of these ecosystems.

          Such a complex body needs a well-structured AI/API that smoothens the workings of these systems. The AI stack, as explained by Dr. Kumar, consists of eight layers. Starting with Layer 0 – Digitization, which is not really a part of the AI stack but it is equally necessary as it involves the conversion of raw data (printed material) into digital form, which is an essential part of using, and even starting, an AI stack.

        • Security

          • Move over, SolarWinds: 30,000 orgs’ email [cracked] via Microsoft Exchange Server flaws

            Four exploits found in Microsoft’s Exchange Server software have reportedly led to over 30,000 US governmental and commercial organizations having their emails [cracked], according to a report by KrebsOnSecurity. Wired is also reporting “tens of thousands of email servers” [cracked]. The exploits have been patched by Microsoft, but security experts talking to Krebs say that the detection and cleanup process will be a massive effort for the thousands of state and city governments, fire and police departments, school districts, financial institutions, and other organizations that were affected.

          • Microsoft [crack]: White House warns of ‘active threat’ of email attack

            Microsoft executive Tom Burt revealed the breach in a blog post on Tuesday and announced updates to counter security flaws which he said had allowed [attackers] to gain access to Microsoft Exchange servers.

          • More than 20,000 U.S. organizations compromised through Microsoft flaw: source [iophk: Windows TCO]

            Because installing the patch does not get rid of the back doors, U.S. officials are racing to figure out how to notify all the victims and guide them in their hunt.

            All of those affected appear to run Web versions of email client Outlook and host them on their own machines, instead of relying on cloud providers. That may have spared many of the biggest companies and federal government agencies, the records suggest.

            The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency did not respond to a request for comment.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Humanoid facial recognition arrives at German police

              When pursuing suspected criminals, some state police forces use a special ability of individual officers. Deployments often take place in major events

            • Email spies you

              During a survey, two-thirds of the emails left after filtering spam out contained a “spy pixel”, even after excluding for spam.

              Spy pixels are a common marketing tactic used by “many of the largest brands used email pixels, with the exception of the “Big Tech” firms”. Which is obvious, because those firms, especially Google and Facebook, have too many better ways to spy their users to need spy pixel.

            • The End Of The EU-US Privacy Shield: A Great Challenge for Businesses

              Back in the late 80′s, Europeans started to concern themselves with how their personal data was being stored and processed. As a consequence, came the Safe Harbor decision in 2000, establishing privacy principles on EU-US personal data transfers for commercial purposes. Nevertheless, the Amendments Act of 2008 to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), adding the controversial Section 702 empowering NSA’s PRISM program and exposed by Edward Snowden, resulted in an increasing distrust from the European side, resulting in its invalidation by the CJEU in 2015. Politicians and businesses tried to save the agreement with a slightly improved and patched version — the Privacy Shield –, in 2016. However, the CJEU didn’t swallow it and nullified the agreement. So, what to do now?

              Things don’t look very shiny for the American counterpart. As there was no period of grace in the court decision, at this time you or your contractor should already have implemented (or is implementing) the measures determined by the Court, with the risk of being fined by some European data protection agency. Some recent examples show that they are not taking it easy: on October 2020, H&M’s Service Center in Hamburg had a 35.3 million Euro fine for the unlawful monitoring of several hundred of its employees by its management, and Twitter was fined on more than US$ 500,000 on December 2020 by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission for having failed to notify a data breach on time and to adequately document the breach.

              Now you may be thinking, “I am in the US, so I am not under the jurisdiction of this European court, they have nothing to say about the way I run my business”. This is true, at least in part, because the European Union changed its approach toward the definition of personal data. With its growing importance as an asset to both companies and governments, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that entered into force in 2018, started to consider data as a highly valuable good, and as so, subject to certain export rules, as any other good. Therefore, when your company processes or stores personal data in the US, you are importing this good named “personal data” from the EU and executing the tasks your business partner asked you.

            • Don’t Breed Crows: How Big Techs Started Out As US Government Projects, And Today They Threaten Democracy

              There is an old Spanish saying that goes like this: “don’t breed Crows, they’ll sting your eyes,” and this saying fits perfectly with the class of American tech companies, the so-called Big Techs.

              Yes, with a few exceptions, most Big Techs were born as projects of the US government, US Army, CIA or NSA. Or, they are entwined with the American government, in one way or another.

              I stress that everything that has been written in this text is not secret. It is available on several websites on the internet, and, there is nothing new here. Just search, and anyone will find this information.

              [...]

              Microsoft The company that was born in 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a creator of BASIC interpreters for microcomputers, and then, through a series of misadventures, became the largest software company in existence, also has very deep ties to intelligence agencies.

              Microsoft has been working closely with U.S. intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency circumvent the company’s own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained and leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013. These documents show the complicity of several technology companies, in the so-called Prism project.

              [...]

              Now, I invite you to think a little. I’ve known Microsoft for many years, and this company amasses more flops than hits. Indeed, Microsoft, were it any other company, would have been bankrupt and closed for many years now. But no. It looks like they have a cash printer in Redmond, or does the American government not let the company break, to not lose its source of backdoors ? Something to think about.

              Other than these companies, In-Q-Tel invests in other, little-known companies ranging from video games and virtual reality, to big data and data capture from social networks.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Cancel the US Military

        “Cancel culture” is a common, almost viral, term in political and social discourse these days. Basically, somebody expresses views considered to be outrageous or vile or racist or otherwise insensitive and inappropriate. In response, that person is “canceled,” perhaps losing a job or being otherwise sidelined and silenced. In being deplatformed by Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites, for instance, this country’s previous president has, it could be argued, been canceled—at least by polite society. More than a few might add, good riddance.

      • F.B.I. Finds Contact Between Proud Boys Member and Trump Associate Before Riot

        Location, cellular and call record data revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House, the official said. The F.B.I. has not determined what they discussed, and the official would not reveal the names of either party.

        The connection revealed by the communications data comes as the F.B.I. intensifies its investigation of contacts among far-right extremists, Trump White House associates and conservative members of Congress in the days before the attack.

      • FBI Uncovers Contact Between Trump White House and Proud Boys Before Capitol Attack

        Klein, the first known Trump official to be arrested for crimes related to the insurrection, was charged with several felonies and was allegedly spotted in a video recording assaulting an officer with a riot shield. According to the Washington Post, the FBI said Klein “had a top-secret security clearance that was renewed in 2019” and “was still employed at the State Department as a staff assistant on Jan. 6.”

      • Somalia Fears New US Airstrike Guidance Is Benefiting al-Shabab

        Intelligence gathered by U.N. member states, and included in a report last month, raised further concerns about al-Shabab’s ability to attack in major towns and along key transportation corridors.

        The report also noted what it said was a “remarkable increase in al-Shabab propaganda and in the group’s online presence to enhance recruitment and radicalization.”

      • Starvation and Ethnic Cleansing Stalk Ethiopia

        A recent article in the Spectator about Tigray drew comparisons with Rwanda. When I reported in 2018 on social media users stoking ethnic violence in Ethiopia, I suggested that social media was playing a similar role to the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines broadcasts that spread much of the toxic hatred and disinformation that fuelled Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. At the time, I wavered about making the comparison to one of the international community’s most terrible and avoidable failures for fear of being alarmist. The worsening situation in Tigray is not yet on the scale of Rwanda. But just where and when should you draw the line?

    • Environment

      • Energy

        • Electric cars would save the world. If only…

          So where’s the power going to come from? In the US, and probably many other places too, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are already greener than cars running on gasoline even with our current electricity grid. But mass adoption only makes sense as part of a do-over of the entire energy system, so the question of what will power all these plug-ins is valid.

          [...]

          Electric cars are great. We should really talk electric, not driverless cars, because they can be extremely durable, and change forever how cars are designed. But no matter how we make cars, they cannot be anymore a mean of mass transportation, that is something doable in volumes big enough for masses.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | A Fragile Democracy

        In short, the former president’s behavior was criminal.

      • Rupert Murdoch prepares to hand over his media empire

        Fox News, where Fox made about 80% of its money last year, has problems of a different sort. Its close relationship with Donald Trump’s White House generated record ratings, but alienated advertisers and some investors. “Any company you hold, you want to see behave ethically,” says one large shareholder. Fox is “in that grey area right now. It’s defensible, but it’s far less defensible than it was.” Smartmatic, an election-software company, is suing the company for $2.7bn for airing ludicrous claims that it rigged the presidential election. (Fox says it will fight the “meritless” lawsuit.) That sum would exceed the phone-[cracking] payouts.

      • Pope Francis visits regions of Iraq once held by Islamic State

        There are fears the ritual could become a coronavirus super-spreader event.

        Iraq has seen a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections over the past month, and along with security fears over the pontiff’s visit, it is one of his riskiest trips yet.

      • Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia’s record turnout

        Georgia voting rights advocates are worried Republicans are clawing back hard-won progress made in the state after it saw record turnout among voters in November’s general election and the Senate runoffs earlier this year.

        A new batch of bills making their way through Georgia’s legislature are raising red flags among voting rights groups who say the state might not have seen the record turnout it did in the recent races if the bills were in place.

      • NYT David Brooks’s Project Funded By Facebook And Bezos’s Dad

        The New York Times columnist has been using his perch to promote the Weave Project — without disclosing his potential conflicts of interest to his readers.

      • Venezuela to introduce 1-million-bolivar bill
    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Biden’s Plan to End Long-Term Migrant Detention Does Not End Family Detention
      • Amazon Is Paying Consultants Nearly $10,000 a Day to Obstruct Union Drive
      • Abolish Guardianship, Preserve the Rights of Disabled People, and Free Britney

        Guardianship only makes the news when something goes terribly wrong. Take Rebecca Fierle-Santoian: Acting as a professional guardian, she placed a do-not-resuscitate order on an elderly man who said that he wanted to live. He died. Fierle-Santoian served as the guardian for some 450 people, and it was later discovered that many of them were placed under DNRs or denied life-sustaining medical care without their input or permission or that of family members or the courts. The Argument is a column where writers and thinkers propose a provocative idea that may not be politically realizable in the short term but that pushes one to think broader about a pressing issue of public importance.

      • Amazon Union Vote Hit By Conspiracy Theories, False Bezos Sighting

        The post-truth age has landed with a thud in Bessemer, where Amazon employees are deciding if they want union representation amid a cascade of conflicting claims, conspiracy theories and fake news. The contest between the world’s largest e-commerce company and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union is one of the most consequential in a generation, and a union victory could upend Amazon’s U.S. operations.

      • Facebook facing probe into ‘systemic’ racial bias in hiring: report

        A federal agency charged with defending civil rights in the workplace is investigating allegations of racial bias in hiring at Facebook and has reportedly given the probe a rare designation of “systemic.”

      • Exclusive: U.S. agency probes Facebook for ‘systemic’ racial bias in hiring, promotions

        Facebook operations program manager Oscar Veneszee Jr. and two applicants denied jobs brought a charge last July to the EEOC, and a third rejected applicant joined the case in December. They have alleged Facebook discriminates against Black candidates and employees by relying on subjective evaluations and promoting problematic racial stereotypes.

        The designation of the EEOC’s probe has not been previously reported.

      • Teen raped, asked to marry the accused when she turns 18

        Now you may see the above headlines and feel it is ridiculous, but the fact is that these orders were put or given by Madras High Court couple of months back. This was then reported by both Livelaw and BarandBench respectively. Now to be truthful, this news didn’t make much noise as it should have, probably as I had shared previously that the Govt. wants to lower the marriageable age to 15 or even less. And this is despite all the medical evidence on the contrary, because it assuages this Govt’s “masculinity.”

        Although, as shared this news was overtaken by other news and would have remained so, if not one of the leaders of the present Govt. , a Ramesh Jarkiholi, who hails from Belagavi region of north Karnataka was caught in a sex CD scandal basically asking sexual favors for a permanent Govt. job. He had made statements after the Madras High Court case applauding the judgement given by the judge. While, due to public pressure he had to resign, but not before stating that he had everybody ‘blue films’ including the Chief Minister of the State. And sad to report that six Karnataka Ministers rushed today or rather yesterday to put a petition in the civil court to restrain media from airing/printing/publishing any defamatory content against them. The court has granted a media gag against 68 media houses for the same. Sadly, the recent happening only reinforce what has been happening in Karnataka since a decade.

        Seems different laws apply to politicians vis-a-vis others. A recent example of Rhea Chakravarthy, an actress and girlfriend of Sushant Singh who was hounded in his suicide case and many accusations made on TV but no evidence till date. From what we know as facts, Sushant committed suicide as he was not getting work due to cronyism in bollywood. In fact, those who were behind it have white-washed themselves, deleted their tweets etc. and while the public knows, no accountability on them.

      • Even the blockchain can be imperialist

        The simplest possible definition of blockchain could be that it is a technology to create distributed public databases, not controlled by any single entity, and can record data of whatever kind in ways that make it impossible to alter it, once they have been inserted in the blockchain itself.

        The blockchain suffers the same problems of almost any other “new” digital technology from the Internet of Things to 5G networks or driverless cars: too many blockchain applications, or “disruption”, are overhyped solution in search of a problem, as exemplified by this popular internet meme…

    • Monopolies

      • [Guest Post] Appeals to the Appointed Person in the UK – the unappealing truth (part 3)

        A further 19 decisions have issued since the second article in this series and the success rate remains consistently low, with just two successful decisions in the period of September 2020 to December 2020 – this gives a total of eight successful appeals in 2020, out of 61 substantive decisions.

        The most recent set of decisions includes the first decision from the newest Appointed Person, Dr Brian Whitehead, but that decision related to an application for security for costs rather than a substantive decision.

        [...]

        SWIFT arrange money transfers between countries. In her decision O/524/20, Appointed Person Amanda Michaels initially dealt with a number of areas where SWIFT’s appeal amounted to no more than an attempt to reargue the Hearing Officer’s decision. However, SWIFT picked up on an inconsistency in the Hearing Officer’s assessment as to the impact of the substantial use which had been made of SWIFT’s mark. In relation to reputation for the purpose of s5(3) the Hearing Officer referred to a strong reputation but, in relation to the inherent distinctiveness of the marks, she indicated that distinctiveness was only enhanced to a medium or slightly higher than medium level. Also in relation to the assessment of the likelihood of confusion, the Hearing Officer made a detailed assessment of Swiffpay’s marks and the similarity to the earlier marks of SWIFT, but was extremely brief in her reasoning explain her global assessment of the likelihood of confusion. As the global assessment did not sit squarely with the detailed reasoning it was not possible for the Appointed Person to be certain that the Hearing Officer had properly accounted for all her findings. In combination with the discrepancy regarding reputation, the insufficient reasoning in relation to the global assessment was sufficient to overcome the high barrier relating to appeals on multifactorial issues such as the likelihood of confusion. The decision was remitted back for decision by another Hearing Officer.

      • Patents

        • Two Patents were fulfilled last week as the Mac Pro Tower and Beats Headphones Packaging Systems came to light
        • Software Patents

          • H.264 vs H.265: The Evolution Of Video Codecs [Ed: A big pool of patent trap with corresponding patent pools and legal landmines]

            Released in 2013, H.265 expands CTU capabilities from a 16×16 block of pixels, up to a CTU of 64×64, and an assortment of other enhancements that affect performance and file size. H.265 is also known as High Efficiency Video Coding. The open source version of the H.265 codec is also known as x265.

            Here’s the REAL upside to H.265: smaller file sizes. When a video is encoded with H.265 versus H.264, the H.265 video, when encoded at the same resolution as the H.264 video, will be 40 to 50 percent smaller in file size. So, users can expect clearer images compressed into a smaller space than ever before. In my own experiences, H.265 encoded video files were around 40 percent smaller than their H.264 encoded counterparts. Encoding was done on the same machine, under similar loads, at the same resolution.

            So, if there’s an upside, there’s always a downside. That downside is, due to the complexity of the video compression algorithm, encoding is much slower with H.265 than H.264. In my own tests, H.265 video took at least two to three times more time to encode than the same video encoded with H.264. Using Handbrake (available in the PCLinuxOS repository), converting a 93 minute *.webm encoded video to H.264 encoded *.mp4 video took roughly two hours to complete its encoding. Just changing the encoder to using H.265 (and leaving all the other settings the same as the H.264 encoding), that same 93 minute video took over five hours to encode in a H.265 encoded *.mp4 file.

            As far as the decoding part (which is what happens when you watch the playback of a compressed video), that appeared to be seamless and fully transparent to the end user … which is what you want. The non-technical consumer of video really doesn’t care about the encoding side of things. They are pleased to just be able to watch high quality video playback.

            H.265 appears to be the encoder d’jour, now represented by up to 40 percent of Blu Ray discs using the encoder to compress video. It offers disc makers and content creators a choice of either having smaller file sizes at the same resolution, enabling them to offer even more “extra” content on discs, or offering even higher resolution video than previously available in the same amount of space used by H.264 encoded video.

            The newer video compression standard supports up to 8K UHD video, and is the second most widely used video coding format, right after H.264/AVC.

            On a side note, this month’s Tip Top Tips column, featuring a tip from Archie, centers around converting video to H.265 using VLC. As with all tips, your mileage may vary, and mine did when attempting to do the conversion with VLC. My copy of VLC would crash whenever attempting to use it to convert any video to the H.265 encoder. Nearly all of my “experience” using the H.265 encoder has been with using Handbrake as the program that handles the re-encoding/transcoding. Using Handbrake, I’ve never experienced any problems, aside from my own impatience, brought on by the much slower encoding of H.265 video. In the end, I’m always pleased by the high quality video resolution of H.265 encoded videos and the significantly smaller file sizes.

      • Copyrights

        • Movie Pirates Don’t Mind Waiting For HD Quality Releases

          New data shared by piracy tracking company MUSO shows that most torrenting movie pirates prefer HD quality releases, even if they have to wait for months. The finding doesn’t come as a surprise. It means that piracy volumes tend to be relatively low when there are only CAM releases available, but not necessarily that longer release windows result in less piracy overall.

        • Search Engines Won’t Face Monopoly Investigation Over Pirated Content

          Pirated eBooks and similar content will remain in search results after Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service declined to take action following a complaint from an anti-piracy group. According to FAS, Yandex and Mail.ru did not abuse their dominant positions by denying access to takedown tools because unfair competition can only take place when the parties operate in the same market.

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, March 06, 2021

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:21 am by Needs Sunlight

HTML5 logs

HTML5 logs

#techrights log as HTML5

#boycottnovell log as HTML5

HTML5 logs

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#boycottnovell-social log as HTML5

#techbytes log as HTML5

text logs

text logs

#techrights log as text

#boycottnovell log as text

text logs

text logs

#boycottnovell-social log as text

#techbytes log as text

Enter the IRC channels now


IPFS Mirrors

CID Description Object type
 QmPko27aTjb5cyAC2JT4nEwRMUtzg9MxbJjJktmVcSuchh IRC log for #boycottnovell
(full IRC log as HTML)
HTML5 logs
 QmeZQeW3ADebtgY2DhhtU69nu4DKzkpdRFK7KRC16iCaVz IRC log for #boycottnovell
(full IRC log as plain/ASCII text)
text logs
 QmVXCFTbzvxcUC1ned5aibzBYrpS26ib4bHRHXWGK5paaG IRC log for #boycottnovell-social
(full IRC log as HTML)
HTML5 logs
 QmbETRpXApaPVxyspagDezdVrWHtaVjWd4TSUsEx928K5x IRC log for #boycottnovell-social
(full IRC log as plain/ASCII text)
text logs
 QmeVwVZXZdusjknb4HpGCag9wUG2Waufijv6XnJ6bvAKHP IRC log for #techbytes
(full IRC log as HTML)
HTML5 logs
 QmX4eVQBfRrncABF1HxGYnyGuTFV5toYCJZEix4S9fErqT IRC log for #techbytes
(full IRC log as plain/ASCII text)
text logs
 QmdXmhGRgqXSPASrek2d3QEPzPCPmirZMsdZKxiShQRV1G IRC log for #techrights
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 QmenZqKFgxRzjYSPBNaqZZvtws4aYxoCS4vhXXNu2WVtc7 IRC log for #techrights
(full IRC log as plain/ASCII text)
text logs

IPFS logo

Bulletin for Yesterday

Local copy | CID (IPFS): QmVqgUwgy82Dv9wbRCHDf8Az5JAxCfFrTdgSmUg7JHckhG

How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy — Part V: All The Rest

Posted in BSD, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 2:19 am by Guest Editorial Team

By Gavin L. Rebeiro

Contents

Cover

Copyright

1 Acknowledgements

2 Introduction

2.1 Prerequisite Knowledge
2.2 Apparatus

3 Fundamentals

3.1 Communication
3.2 Kernel Ring Buffer
3.3 Drivers
3.4 Operating Systems
3.5 Special Files

4 Doing The Task

4.1 Preparing The Boot Media
4.2 Connecting Physical Components
4.3 Using Picocom
4.4 OS Installation

5 YOU ARE HERE ☞ Thanks

6 OpenPGP Key

A Malicious Hardware

B Linux Kernel Source Tree Analysis

C Digital Multimeter Tests

Summary: The final part of a series on liberating the Raspberry Spy from an untrustworthy OS that secretly adds Microsoft keys and proprietary software repositories of Microsoft (see Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV)

THIS part is mostly addenda.

Chapter 5: Thanks

We’d like to take the opportunity to thank you, the reader. We believe everyone deserves a computing education; however, the topics of computing freedom and how computing affects our basic human rights are neglected in computing education today; at E2EOPS PRESS we strive to change this. Our goal is to inform, educate, and inspire. Computing is also a lot of fun! We want everyone to experience the joys of computing. We hope you enjoyed this issue of our periodical as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you!

Our work requires research, equipment, and infrastructure to deliver. We strive for the best quality in all we do. If you would like to support us, there are several ways you can do so. Any support we get from you enables us to bring you the best we possibly can.

We distribute all our periodicals via peer-to-peer technology. There are things we publish that some people don’t want out in the open. Thus, if you can contribute to the peer-to-peer sharing, you would be helping us out immensely!

If you would like to support us by making a cash donation, we have a Paypal account that you can send donations to:

• https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=B5VPZJBKLL2S6

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If you’d like to donate in some other way, you can send an email to donations@e2eops.io and have a chat with us about it.

For encrypted communications, you can use the OpenPGP Key provided in chapter 6.

And, as always, happy hacking!

Chapter 6: OpenPGP Key

At E2EOPS PRESS, we take your privacy seriously. If you want to send us an encrypted message, you can do so with the following OpenPGP key:

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Appendix A: Malicious Hardware

While doing research for this issue, I often ran into USB-to-UART bridges of the “FTDI” variety. Upon further digging,
an ugly bit of history surfaced. The FTDI modules have a reputation for sabotaging people’s hardware.

Sadly, we live in a world where this sort of thing is the norm. Pay close attention to the products you buy. You need
to practice vigilance in order to defend your computing freedom. Remember, you have control over your wallet. Don’t support malicious actors, if you have the choice (in this case you almost certainly do).

Appendix B: Linux Kernel Source Tree Analysis

The directory trees rooted at /sys and /proc are mapping of Linux kernel data structures and interfaces; you can read up on these in the Linux kernel source tree from:

• linux/Documentation/filesystems/sysfs.rst
• linux/Documentation/filesystems/proc.rst

You don’t have a local, up-to-date, copy of the Linux kernel source tree? You really should. Note that some of this
documentation is hilariously out-of-date; use the git log on a file to see the last time parts of a file was given an up-date:

 $ git log -p filename

This should give you what you need. Since the Linux kernel is developed with Git, it pays dividends to learn at least
the fundamentals of Git.

It’s a frequent occurence that people ask me how to make sense of the Linux kernel. You need the following prerequisites:

• A familiarity with the C programming language. The syntax is easy to pick up for most people because a lot of the popular programming languages in use today are based on C. Most operating systems today are written in C; the same goes for embedded systems. If you don’t have a good grasp of C, you can kiss any hopes on working on this stuff goodbye. C is not as hard as people make it out to be; just look at real code and don’t waste your time on pointless exercises. Start with the smallest real-world programs you can find – like echo(1); once you get the simple stuff, get more ambitious and look at more complicated things. The following resource is also invaluable to the novice C programmer: C reference.

• To make sense of other people’s C code (particularly spaghetti), you need a good source code tagging system. I recommend GNU Global because it works well on most Bourne Shells. Using GNU Global will enable you to look up definitions for things like functions and structs in C code easily.

• You need to learn GNU Autotools to automate the workflow of building makefiles and such. The old “./configure && make && make install” ritual stems from GNU Autotools. Learn it and embrace it. You can build truly portable software once you learn the fundamentals of GNU Autotools. You won’t understand head nor tail of embedded programming with the Linux kernel (and several other things) unless you have a grasp on the rudiments of GNU Autotools.

• Whether you like it or not, Git is an essential part of Linux kernel development. Without a firm grasp of Git fundamentals, you won’t get anywhere. While you’re at it, you should look into the standalone utilities GNU diff and GNU patch; Git is essentially an abstraction on top of these tools.

You should now have enough pointers to begin acquiring knowledge about how to make sense of the Linux kernel (and a whole lot of other things). The aforementioned prerequisites abstract to OS and embedded development and being an effective operator of your computer. These are the tools you really need to know to get anywhere.

All of this stuff applies to several other things. Once you start learning them, you’ll see what I mean. It really isn’t a lot to take in. Knowledge of this stuff will last you a lifetime. Don’t fall for the IDE X or framework Y bullshit; those are moving targets and are deliberately broken to keep people reliant on the dictators for “support”. Educate yourself; it’s the only path to computing freedom. Become an operator; don’t be a mindless consumer.

Appendix C: Digital Multimeter Tests

As always, follow the instructions in the manual of your Digital Multimeter (DMM). RTFM extra carefully, otherwise you end up with magic smoke (why you were recommended spares).

There really are only two simple things you need to test on your UTUB:

• Voltage coming out of the UTUB TX and RX pins.

• Current from the TX and RX pins.

There’s not really much more to be said here. The one bit of general advice is to use a breadboard and some jump wires, if you have access to one; crocodile clip test leads for your DMM also make life easier. Basically, try making sure you don’t short circuit your UTUB by having DMM test leads too close to each other.

Make sure the test leads are plugged into the appropriate terminals of your DMM. Always make sure the fuse of a DMM terminal is sufficient for what you’re measuring.

You can find GPIO voltage specifications of the Raspberry Spy in the official GPIO guide. Make sure you cross-check with the right CPU model’s datasheet.

You may end up needing to buy some resistors to get the right voltage and current. You can find background information useful to the novice hardware hacker from the excellent Sparkfun tutorial on pull-up resistors; follow the appropriate links to fill out gaps in your knowledge. However, most UTUBs are usable out-of-the-box (OOTB) so you shouldn’t really have much issue here. But it doesn’t hurt (unless you zap yourself) to get a bit of electronics background knowledge since you’re playing around with wires and electricity!

Index

[Editor’s note: this corresponds to the PDF version of the document]

lsblk -f, 28
sd(4), 34
/dev/ttyUSB0, 23
/proc, 43
/sys, 43
FTDI, 41
apropos(1), 18
cmdline.txt, 29
config.txt, 29
console=fb, 29
cp210x, 23, 24
dmesg(1), 18-20, 22, 25
echo(1), 44
enable_uart=1, 29
grep(1), 20
lsmod(8), 20, 25
lspci -k, 26
lsusb -t, 26
mknod(1), 24
modinfo(8), 19, 20, 23
picocom(1), 17, 24, 32,
33, 35
ttyUSB0, 23, 24
usbcore, 23
usbserial, 23
DMM, 15
EHCI, 20
HCI, 20
idProduct, 25
idVendor, 25
jump wires, 14
kernel ring buffer, 18
KRB, 18
OHCI, 20
PCI, 20
QC, 15
textttmodinfo(8), 25
UART, 17
UTUB, 13, 14

03.06.21

How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy — Part IV: Doing The Task

Posted in BSD, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Kernel at 7:59 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By Gavin L. Rebeiro

Contents

Cover

Copyright

1 Acknowledgements

2 Introduction

2.1 Prerequisite Knowledge
2.2 Apparatus

3 Fundamentals

3.1 Communication
3.2 Kernel Ring Buffer
3.3 Drivers
3.4 Operating Systems
3.5 Special Files

4 YOU ARE HERE ☞ Doing The Task

4.1 Preparing The Boot Media
4.2 Connecting Physical Components
4.3 Using Picocom
4.4 OS Installation

5 Thanks

6 OpenPGP Key

A Malicious Hardware

B Linux Kernel Source Tree Analysis

C Digital Multimeter Tests

Summary: We now spell out the steps taken to actually replace the Raspberry Pi OS with something more trustworthy (for background see Part I, Part II, and Part III)

We’ve now covered enough ground to make the installation of
NetBSD on our Raspberry Spy (over our UTUB) a relatively painless matter.

Let’s go through the process in little steps.

4.1 Preparing The Boot Media

I’m going to grab the appropriate NetBSD image by taking hints from the following:

NetBSD/evbarm on Raspberry Pi tells us everything we need to know to pick the right image. All the sections here related to booting are worth reading at least once. Also read sections about consoles and serial consoles at least once.

Raspberry Pi boot modes is useful if you want to dig deeper into the booting mechanisms of the Raspberry Spy. USB mass storage boot is particularly useful for booting off USB. Trust me, you don’t want to muck around with SD cards; they’re a nightmare.

NetBSD/evbarm can be referenced for general information about NetBSD on ARM boards.

The above links should give you a good idea of what’s going on and what needs to be done with regards to putting a NetBSD on a boot media that goes into a Raspberry Spy.

Let’s go through a concrete example.

My Raspberry Spy is of the model “3 B+” variety so I’m dealing with an ARM64 CPU architecture. We’ll follow along the instructions outlined in Installation procedure for NetBSD/evbarm; pay close attention to the section “NetBSD/evbarm subdirectory structure”; I follow these instructions as I explore Index of pub/NetBSD/NetBSD-9.1/evbarm-aarch64/.

I grab the appropriate image like so:

$ mkdir ~/Downloads/netbsd
$ cd ~/Downloads/minted
$ wget https://cdn.netbsd.org/pub/NetBSD/NetBSD-9.1/evb c
 → arm-aarch64/binary/gzimg/arm64.img.gz

Now that we’ve got the image, we can write it to our boot media. I’m going to assume you have an appropriate reader already plugged into your GNU/Linux box. I’ve got my USB thumb drive as “/dev/sdg” on my system. Use the right block device file on your system1. We base our procedure along the lines of “Installation for ARMv7 and AArch64 devices with U-Boot” section from Installation procedure for NetBSD/evbarm:

$ gzip --decompress --keep arm64.img.gz
# dd if=arm64.img of=/dev/sdg bs=1M conv=sync
 → status=progress
$ lsblk -f | grep sdg

We’re going to ignore the minutiae of writing to block devices, bootloaders, and other adjacent topics related to the utilities we just used; that’s left for another time. We care about learning how to use a serial console in this project so we must stay focused on our primary target.

We’re going to have a look at how to make a serial install possible via some editing of the “cmdline.txt” file that now resides in the boot media (on the boot partition which is of type “vfat”):

# mkdir /media/netbsd_image
# mount /dev/sdg1 /media/netbsd_image
# grep "console" < cmdline.txt
# root=ld0a console=fb
# grep "enable_uart" < config.txt
# enable_uart=1

The “console=fb” part is to get out OS image to use the HDMI output. We will get rid of that string from the file “cmdline.txt”. Who needs that anyway? One way to do it2:

# ed cmdline.txt
21
,p
root=ld0a console=fb
1
root=ld0a console=fb
s/console=fb//
,p
root=ld0a
wq
11
# echo ",p" | ed cmdline.txt
11
root=ld0a

Remember to check your edits!

We also ensure that “enable_uart=1” is set in the file “config.txt”:

# echo ",p" | ed config.txt
82
arm_64bit=1
kernel=netbsd.img
kernel_address=0x200000
enable_uart=1
force_turbo=0

Everything looks good! Additional useful information on the Raspberry Spy UART can be found in UART configuration. Pretty self-explanatory. That wasn’t so hard. Was it? Note that the following links document the files we’ve been messing around with:

The Kernel Command Line
config.txt

It’s a good idea to back up the state of your image, at this point3. We can now safely unmount our boot media and get on with the project:

# cd ~
# umount /media/netbsd_image

We change directory, before we unmount, so that we don’t get any “device busy” errors.

We’ve now got our boot media ready. Onwards!

4.2 Connecting Physical Components

Before you power up your UTUB, you should really check that the pins are working properly. The very basic test you should do is to check that the right voltage is being supplied. Check out Appendix C.

The pins on our UTUB and Raspberry Spy that we’re interested are the following:

• Raspberry Spy: Pin6 (Ground), Pin8 (GPIO14, TXD), Pin10 (GPIO15, RXD). You can find the layout in the official GPIO page.

• UTUB: I’ve got a CP2104 UTUB so I’ve got to only worry about the pins marked TX, RX, and GND. I have other pins on the module but they’re not relevant for this task.

We won’t be using any of the voltage pins on the boards because it’s more prone to errors. Just use the USB power supply that comes with your Raspberry Spy.

Don’t plug anything into power for the following sequence. Connect the jump-wires like so:

• Ground on UTUB to Ground (Pin6) on Raspberry Spy.

• TX on UTUB to RX (Pin10) on Raspbery Spy.

• RX on UTUB to TX on (Pin8) Raspberry Spy.

“We won’t be using any of the voltage pins on the boards because it’s more prone to errors.”Don’t make the rookie mistake of matching TX with TX and RX with RX; TX always goes to RX and RX always goes to TX. Keep this in mind, always, when working with UARTs. Colour-coding your jump-wires helps.

We’ll just go over the order of attaching the stuff to do with power on our devices:

• Attach the USB power adapter to the Raspberry Pi without plugging the adapter into the power outlet.

• Attach the UTUB to your GNU/Linux box.

• Attach your USB power adapter to your power outlet.

The logic for the above procedure is that you can ensure that your serial interface is up and running before you start getting input from your Raspberry Spy.

4.3 Using Picocom

Using picocom(1) is simple. All we need to do is select the correct baud rate and give the right device file as a parameter to picocom(1).

I’ll give you an extract from the manual page to enlighten you:

In effect, picocom is not an "emulator" per-se. It is a
simple program that opens, configures, manages a serial
port (tty device) and its settings, and connects to it
the terminal emulator you are, most likely, already
→ using
(the terminal window application, xterm, rxvt, system
console, etc).
When picocom starts it opens the tty (serial port)
given as its non-option argument. Unless the
--noinit option is given, it configures the port to
the settings specified by the option-arguments (or
to some default settings), and sets it to "raw"
mode. If --noinit is given, the initialization and
configuration is skipped; the port is just opened.
Following this, if standard input is a tty, picocom
sets the tty to raw mode. Then it goes in a loop
where it listens for input from stdin, or from the
serial port. Input from the serial port is copied
to the standard output while input from the standard
input is copied to the serial port. Picocom also
scans its input stream for a user-specified control
character, called the escape character (being by
default C-a). If the escape character is seen, then
instead of sending it to the serial-device, the
program enters "command mode" and waits for the next
character (which is called the "function
character"). Depending on the value of the function
character, picocom performs one of the operations
described in the COMMANDS section below.

We use “C-a C-x” (Ctrl+a followed by Ctrl+x)4 to tell picocom(1) to exit; for more, RTFM; in particular, pay close attention to the “COMMANDS” section.

Make sure you’ve set up all the physical connections, as advised. It’s time to attach our UTUB to our GNU/Linux box and then make sure we invoke picocom(1) correctly:

# picocom --baud 115200 /dev/ttyUSB0
picocom v3.1

port is         : /dev/ttyUSB0
flowcontrol     : none
baudrate is     : 115200
parity is       : none
databits are    : 8
stopbits are    : 1
escape is       : C-a
local echo is   : no
noinit is       : no
noreset is      : no
hangup is       : no
nolock is       : no
send_cmd is     : sz -vv
receive_cmd is  : rz -vv -E
imap is         : 
omap is         :
emap is         : crcrlf,delbs
logfile is      : none
initstring      : none
exit_after is   : not set
exit is         : no

Type [C-a] [C-h] to see available commands
Terminal ready

It really is that simple. You’ve now got a serial terminal ready and listening.

4.4 OS Installation

Now that you’ve got a serial terminal operational, all we have to do to install NetBSD on the Raspberry Spy is to plug the USB power adapter into the power outlet. Keep a close eye on what goes on in the output of your serial terminal:

...
[   7.4246937] root device:
[  11.6252523] use one of: mue0 sd0[a-p] ddb halt reboot
[  11.6252523] root device: sd0
[  13.9755661] dump device (default sd0b):
[  15.7257992] file system (default generic):
...

You should be promoted to pick a root device. I pick “sd0” as it’s the first ’disk’ offered by NetBSD (which can only be my boot media)5. I go for the suggested defaults, for everything else. No need to overcomplicate things, at this point.

You will probably see your Raspberry Spy reboot once or twice during the OS install process. Just pass the same parameters for the boot device, and you should be good to go.

Eventually, you should be met with the following:

...
NetBSD/evbarm (arm64) (constty)
...

login:

If you login as “root”, you should have a nice login shell presented to you.

And we are done! You’ve successfully done some tinkering over a serial terminal. That wasn’t so hard. Was it? You can shutdown your device (halt the OS) like so:

# shutdown -p now
...
[   910.5814809] The operating system has halted.
[   910.5814809] Please press any key to reboot.

You can now disconnect the power supply from your Raspberry Spy. Then just send “C-a C-x” to picocom(1); after which, you should see:

...
Terminating...
Thanks for using picocom
#

Welcome to the world of serial terminals; hack your heart out!
____
1 The command lsblk -f should help you out here. Don’t wipe the wrong device by accident.
2 If you use another text editor, that’s fine. You really should learn ed(1) at some point though, especially if you want to get into embedded systems.
3 At least keep track of the files that you tweaked. If you use some sort of version-control-system, you get bonus points.
4 I don’t know why the manual doesn’t bother to explicitly mention that these are GNU-Emacs-style key sequences.
5 See the NetBSD sd(4) manpage for details.

Corporations Do Not Represent Communities and Activists, They Just Exploit Them, Discredit Them, and Hijack Their Hard Work

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

sex-trolling

Video download link

Summary: The AstroTurfing and the Googlebombing campaigns of large corporations would have us believe that genuine activists are toxic and malicious people, whereas corporations exist to save the world from evil people; don’t fall for those Public Relations tactics (a gross inversion of narrative)

FOR quite a few years people have warned abut the hypocrisy of mega-corporations in the field of technology, arguing that they combat racism when they in fact profit from racism. Clyde W. Ford has mentioned this in relation to IBM, which he knows very well, and also Google [1, 2]. Even employees of those companies increasingly become aware that their salaries are paid by institutional racism. Some resign. Some don’t. Some just want to pay the mortgage.

Racism is a real and persistent issue, but it won’t be tackled by corporations that profit from racism. This past week Microsoft did a great deal of veiled racism to distract from its incompetence. The sad thing is that by hijacking popular movements against racism and sexism (Mozilla Corporation does this all the time, even yesterday) those corporations harm the grassroots efforts. They help portray the activists as corporate shills while at the same time berating and demonising real grassroots/community-led efforts.

The video above deals with this difficult subject. It’s considered difficult because of the risk of being taken out of context. In the video I mostly discuss issues we’ve long covered in Techrights and I also show the Googlebombing efforts undertaken by those most culpable. Shame on IBM, shame on Google (also for taking money from Bill Gates for reputation laundering, which he desperately craves and needs), and shame on Microsoft for attacking software freedom while bribing the Linux Foundation for openwashing and greenwashing.

Why the ‘Raspberry Spy’ Blunder is a Lot More Serious and Profound Than the Corporate Media is Willing to Acknowledge

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: As this video points out, the ongoing series by Gavin L. Rebeiro is justified by the fact that the ‘Raspberry Spy’ Foundation continues to work with and some might say for Microsoft; it sold out millions of customers

JUST over a month ago we broke the story about the ‘Raspberry Spy’ and more than a month since then we’re still covering the subject — an issue that has not yet been taken seriously or tackled in any meaningful way by the ‘Raspberry Spy’ Foundation (or RPF).

When we discovered the blunder over a month ago and turned it into a major scandal (lots of articles and videos about it since then) we worried about the misuse of data collected by Microsoft from millions of devices, bearing programms such as EDGI in mind. An associate of ours who suggested a fix said that “everyone so far has been distracted by privacy threat posed to individuals; Microsoft only attacks certain key individuals, everyone else is ignored; the real threat is that Microsoft will send a team to the institutions it detects through this programme: Did RPF just sell out the schools?”

It did, by virtue of helping Microsoft interject proprietary software and surveillance into classrooms. Instead of becoming a ‘Trojan horse’ for computing freedom today what we have is a Trojan horse for Microsoft. It all started in later January, back when the ‘Raspberry Spy’ Foundation secretly planted the malicious code. Here we are in March and there’s no sign of regret or rollback. This is why some have gone as far as wiping the OS from their ‘Raspberry Spy’.

Links 6/3/2021: “SLS” Mitigation and Exiv2/KDE Project

Posted in News Roundup at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux Developers Continue Discussing “SLS” Mitigation For The Kernel – Phoronix

        Disclosed by Arm last summer was the Straight Line Speculation (SLS) vulnerability and they were quick to introduce new safeguards against SLS in the GCC and LLVM compilers. The compiler-based mitigations to straight-line speculation involves adding speculation barrier sequences around the vulnerable instructions to prevent speculatively executing instructions around changes in control flow. While compiler developers were quick to add the options, so far the Linux kernel developers are in disagreement still over its importance and the proposed patches that would flip on this option when compiling the ARM Linux kernel.

        While compiler support is out there for hardening against straight-line speculation on ARM, seeing these options utilized by potentially affected software hasn’t been so quick. In February there were Google engineers proposing a kernel option for enabling the ARM SLS mitigation. The kernel patch is for basically enabling the “-mharden-sls=” compiler option for inserting speculation barrier (SB) instructions or otherwise DSB+ISB instructions around the instructions vulnerable to SLS.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How To Install VirtualBox on Manjaro 20 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install VirtualBox on Manjaro 20. For those of you who didn’t know, VirtualBox is open-source cross-platform virtualization software for x86 architecture and this software allows you to create and run guest operating systems (“virtual machines”) such as Linux and Windows on top of the host operating system.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of VirtualBox on a Manjaro 20 (Nibia).

      • How to Install and Configure Nagios in Ubuntu Linux

        Nagios is a robust continuous and real-time monitoring tool to monitor your organizations and servers. Nagios can be installed on Ubuntu Linux desktop and server system for both manual and automatic monitoring. If you have a company that runs server-level operations, you probably need continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) tools to make your production rate faster and better.

        Nagios can help you to grow your company by providing better analysis. However, if you have a software production company, you can look at the Jenkins server features. Jenkins and Nagios both can be used in Linux through a plugin arrangement.

      • Linux Filesystem Error: Transaction failed when using LXD – nixCraft

        I am a big fan of LXD, a next-generation Linux system container manager and default on Ubuntu. It allows me to run desktop apps or server apps in an isolated environment. Ubuntu provides LXD with robust security in mind. However, this might lead to undesired side effects, such as individual packages under OpenSUSE or CentOS Linux may not be updated. One such package is the filesystem package. Let us see how to fix Error: Transaction failed when you try to update filesystem package under CentOS, OpenSUSE, and other Linux containers running under LXD.

      • Creating Text | Inkscape

        This is the fourth of Inkscape For Students the series after we learned about Fonts before, now we will learn how to create text. When doing design with computer, you will find text is an important part — you will earn so much by just learning text alone. This is why this series invite you to practice firstly with text before shapes and colors. Now let’s learn and practice!

      • Making 12factor Elixir/Phoenix releases

        Elixir had a bad reputation for its deployment story due to the complex tooling and compile-time configuration preference. That is history now as we can easily make Elixir v1.11 releases with the runtime configuration to adhere to the 12factor style of deployment.

        If you don’t know what 12factor is, it’s a document made at Heroku with recommendations how to design your applications. Although the purpose was most likely about stirring people into making applications that would run smoothly on the Heroku platform, it’s a quite sensible set of recommendations.

        I don’t think you have to adhere to 12factor at all costs, but some points make sense. This post is namely about section III., which recommends storing configuration in an environment. Something a bit problematic in Elixir before, but something I always wanted.

        Sections on dependencies and logs are also relevant, while sections on stateless processes and concurrency might not apply to us as Beam has its own lightweight stateful processes. However, you can decide to keep Elixir nodes stateless and use something like Redis.

      • How to Use Scanline Sync and Cap FPS In RivaTuner – Make Tech Easier

        While RivaTuner Statistics Server (RTSS) is most well-known for being bundled with MSI Afterburner and used for monitoring and overclocking GPUs, RTSS actually has some use separate from Afterburner. Here, we discuss those functions and teach you how to use them to cap your FPS (frame per second) or enable Scanline Sync.

        [...]

        FPS in this context refers to Frames Per Second, and on PCs where you have an FPS exceeding your refresh rate (such as 100 FPS on a 60 HZ panel), you’re much more prone to screen tearing and highly-variable FPS. Both of these can be visually disorienting and a competitive disadvantage, but the seemingly only way to fix it in most games is to enable some form of V-Sync, which is much more visually consistent but adds a lot more input latency.

        Using an FPS cap, you can set your in-game framerate to just at or just under your screen refresh rate. If the game you’re playing offers an FPS cap, chances are high that you’ll want to use that cap instead of RivaTuner’s, but if you want to learn how to use RivaTuner’s for universal application, keep reading.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Itinerary @ German Open Transport Meetup

          The German Open Transport Meetup started mid last year, as a get-together for anyone interested or involved in mobility or transportation in general, and in Open Data/Free Software in that context in particular.

          Being forced to be virtual from the start due to the pandemic is probably what gave it the critical mass to keep up the unusual high pace for such an event with its bi-weekly rhythm, and with no shortage on topics in sight.

          Many of the things discussed at the meetup so far had immediate impact on KDE Itinerary (and the KPublicTransport library in particular), the biggest example probably being the rental bike/scooter support. A large number of the attendees actually working for local or national transport operators or public administration has also been invaluable for getting first-hand access and insights.

        • Exiv2 project submission to the KDE community
          Ladies and Gentlemen:
          
          I am writing to you on behalf of the Exiv2 project https://exiv2.org.
          
          Exiv2 is a C++ library and a command-line utility to read, write, delete
          and modify Exif, IPTC, XMP and ICC image metadata. It is widely used in the
          Linux ecosystem and part of many applications such as digiKam, Gimp,
          darktable and many more.
          
          The Exiv2 project is hosted at the moment on GitHub (
          https://github.com/Exiv2/exiv2). We would like to evaluate the possibility
          of onboarding the Exiv2 project into the KDE community.
          
          The project is in good shape and the next release is scheduled to ship May
          2021. There is a small group of people who frequently contribute to the
          project.  However the current maintainer, Robin Mills, is retiring at the
          age of 70 after 13 years of service to the project.  Robin has written a
          book about the project and discusses every aspect of both the Exiv2
          Architecture and Image Metadata Standards.
          
          https://clanmills.com/exiv2/book/
          
          Last Saturday (2021-02-27) there was a meeting concerning the future of the
          Exiv2 and we tried to find a new maintainer.  Regrettably because of the
          time demand imposed on the maintainer, no one volunteered.  By joining the
          KDE community we hope to address this issue and keep this important project
          alive. The meeting notes can be found on the GitHub issue (
          
          https://github.com/Exiv2/exiv2/issues/1466).
          
          In addition to finding a new maintainer, being part of KDE would bring
          Exiv2 into the Open Invention Network.  We are very interested in this
          aspect of KDE as it mitigates risks involved in patent discussions.
          
          Yours,
          
          Alex Esseling and Robin Mills
          
        • Exiv2 Looks To Team Up With The KDE Project

          Exiv2, the widely-used C++ metadata library / tools for dealing with image metadata via EXIF / IPTC / XMP standards and ICC profiles is looking to join the KDE project.

          This C++ library and CLI tools for dealing with image metadata is widely used already in the open-source world, including by several KDE programs like Krita, digiKam, and KPhotoAlbum. Software outside of KDE like GIMP and Darktable also leverage this image metadata library.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • Manage containers on Raspberry Pi with this open source tool

          Containers became widely popular because of Docker on Linux, but there are much earlier implementations, including the jail system on FreeBSD. A container is called a “jail” in FreeBSD terminology. The jail system was first released in FreeBSD 4.0 way back in 2000, and it has continuously improved since. While 20 years ago it was used mostly on large servers, now you can run it on your Raspberry Pi.

          Jails vs. containers on Linux

          Container development took a very different path on FreeBSD than on Linux. On FreeBSD, containerization was developed as a strict security feature in the late ’90s for virtual hosting and its flexibility grew over the years. Limiting a container’s computing resources was not part of the original concept; this was added later.

          When I started to use jails in production in 2001, it was quite painful. I had to prepare my own scripts to automate working with them.

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • The Document Foundation updates LibreOffice Community to 7.1.1

        A month after version 7.1 of LibreOffice hit the streets, the first update has landed replete with a swathe of bug fixes for the suite.

        The fixes lurk in the Community edition of LibreOffice, aimed squarely at enthusiasts and early adopters. The Document Foundation (TDF) would much prefer biz customers sign up for something from the LibreOffice Enterprise family of applications, with “long-term support options, professional assistance, custom features and Service Level Agreements” for a fee.

        The 90 or so fixes deal with a wide variety of niggles that came as part of the 7.1 release. Notable resolved issues include a regression that resulted in a crash when undoing a paste under certain circumstances, and a pesky enter character that could find its way into the input boxes of CALC after copying from a cell and pasting. Minor, for sure, but maddening if one was afflicted by it.

        More serious problems dealt with include a borked print range when CALC files with external links are saved and reopened and some full-on crashes around the COUNTIF function.

      • Daffodil Promoted To Being An Apache Top-Level Project

        Following the recent promotions of DataSketches and ECharts, the Apache Software Foundation has promoted Daffodil as their newest top-level project. Apache Daffodil is an open-source universal interchange implementation of the Data Format Description Language (DFDL).

        The Data Format Description Language (DFDL) standard is a modeling language for text and binary data in a standardized manner. DFDL basically aims to make data more portable thanks to providing an open framework for describing any data format.

  • Leftovers

    • Conspiracy Theories

      Sometimes they never come to light; more often, they do, but only after, sometimes long after, they are executed or aborted. And sometimes they happen in plain view.

      The term has negative connotations. Inasmuch as conspirators generally conspire for what they take to be worthwhile purposes, this is odd, to say the least. But the dictionaries insist.

    • Leftwing Pokémon

      A couple of years later, I testified at the Winter Soldier Hearings in Silver Springs, Maryland, where dozens of veterans shared stories about war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I arrived at the venue, an older Vietnam veteran came up to me and said, “Vinny! We’re gonna end this war! Those fuckers in the White House will have to respond to us now. No way they [the media and politicians] can ignore the vets!” He believed in the power of narrative and symbolic protest, a victim of the post-1968 left political culture.

      Unfortunately yet predictably, in hindsight, the powers that be did ignore the Winter Soldier Hearings — as did 99% of Americans who never even knew the event happened. Tens of thousands of dollars spent (perhaps hundreds of thousands). Leftwing media abound. The results? Some new donors and members. The strategy? There was none. The whole event was a performative and symbolic spectacle meant to “shift the narrative” — typical NGO babble.

    • ‘When Other People Tell Our Stories, They Get It Wrong and Cause Us Great Harm’

      The February 26, 2021, episode of CounterSpin included an archival interview Janine Jackson conducted with Joseph Torres of Free Press about his book News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media, originally aired December 23, 2011. This is a lightly edited transcript.

    • The Odyssey of An Wei, the Forest Gump of China

      Born in a small village some distance from the northwestern city of Xian, An Wei was seven years old when Mao took control of the country in 1949. As the son of peasants, he was part of the first generation of schoolchildren to get a Communist education. He participated in the new communes of the Great Leap Forward, starved during the famines of the early 1960s, and suffered through the Cultural Revolution. Working as an English translator, he helped China build bridges to the West and join the international community. Later in life, he served as a Communist Party leader in the remote village where he was born, fighting against endemic corruption and for grassroots democracy.

      In Nancy Pine’s fascinating biography, One in a Billion, An Wei emerges as the Forest Gump of China. He was not only present for all of the major events that took place after 1949 but even shows up in pictures cheek and jowl with famous personages like Jimmy Carter, Edward Heath, and Helen Foster Snow. But even China scholars will not likely be familiar with An Wei’s story, for he himself is not famous. He is neither a leader nor a dissident. He is just one of the many Chinese who have lived through tumultuous times far from the cosmopolitan cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

    • Don’t Stop Thinking About (Tom) Tomorrow

      Dan Perkins was born in Wichita, Kan., in 1961, back in the days when the future still existed. The Kennedy presidency and the New Frontier gave birth to the last plausible and widely shared utopian moment, one that outlived John Kennedy’s own assassination by a few years but ultimately withered in the face of increasing pessimism. It was the Apollo epoch, the time of the space race, of American engineering and technocratic mastery, of scientists in crew cuts who promised health and happiness via gizmos and pills, of slick and streamlined advertising and pulp art merging with high culture in the works of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, and of science fiction dreams entering the public imagination via Star Trek. In that giddy moment, even so misanthropic an artist as Stanley Kubrick could dream, as he did in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), of humanity making an alien-assisted evolutionary leap into the stars.1

    • Reporters’ Alert: Launching a New Website

      There are some fine reporters, like David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post, Charlie Savage of the New York Times, and David Brancaccio of NPR, who do pick up their phones or promptly return calls. When I asked Fahrenthold why he responds to calls he replied that that was how he gets stories. Years ago, that would have been such an obvious explanation, as not to be uttered.

      Citizen groups constantly have ideas and industry documents and materials they have obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that they are willing to share with reporters. But they too often cannot easily get through to key reporters. Some stop trying. They wonder why today’s media mavens do not replicate the reporting of their predecessors in the 1960s and 1970s. Their newsworthy reporting and editorializing helped mightily in the success with Congress by the emerging consumer, environmental, civil rights, and other reform groups. A better, safer country resulted from solid reporting on the drives for justice waged by citizen groups.

    • Award-Winning Playwright, Longtime Common Dreams Contributor Bill C. Davis Dies at 69
    • Planned Human Obsolescence

      Setting a time for meeting the class online is doable for some, but many lives are too disrupted to do so reliably, and so many students are choosing courses that are “asynchronous,” that is, which require participation at a time during each week when it works for the student, but no required time to all meet online as a class.

      This makes the cascading scheduling challenges for students with children more manageable. I see their written posts timestamped at odd hours, often when their children—who are themselves in school from home online for many hours a day—are asleep.

    • The Scarlatti App

      Hand-crossing was the domestic keyboard workout of choice for the eighteenth-century virtuoso and amateur. The most flamboyant purveyor of the technique was Domenico Scarlatti, born in 1685, the same year as Bach and Handel. An Italian who spent most of his career on the Iberian Peninsula, Scarlatti outlived his celebrated contemporaries. Maybe his keyboard calisthenics gave him the edge in the longevity race.

      The apparatus of choice the harpsichord, the piano still the new kid on the keyboard block. Either apparatus—or the organ—worked for Scarlatti’s self-improvement schemes. His collection of thirty sonatas (opening the catalog of his works as K. 1-30) were published as the Esserzici (exercises) in London in late 1738 or early 1739. For those who had the money to buy this sumptuous volume, here was a hand-crossing workout regime graduated in difficulty from the almost relaxed to the downright sadistic.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Bad Stimulus: the Problems with Biden’s COVID Relief Package

        Biden’s stimulus is not the stuff of economic revolution—it’s a mix of common sense and keeping the lights on. And the fundamental thinking behind the stimulus approach reflects a continuation of neoliberal policies of the past 40 years; instead of advancing broader social programs that could uplift the population, the solutions are predicated on improving individual purchasing power and family circumstances. Such a vision of society as a collection of enterprising individuals is a hallmark of the neoliberal policy formula—which, as the stimulus bill is about to make clear, is still prevalent within the Democratic and the Republican parties. This attention to individual purchasing power promises to be the basis for bipartisan agreement over the next four years.

        The reality is that social programs on health care and education, and a new era of labor and banking regulation, would put the wider society on sounder feet than a check for $1,400.

      • The Private Health Insurance Industry: Should It Be Eliminated?

        Despite the industry’s ongoing claims that it serves us well as the backbone of financing U. S. health care, it has abused the public trust and become a barrier to urgently needed health care reform that can assure access to affordable health care of improved quality for all Americans. Here are compelling reasons to replace the industry with a not-for-profit public financing system such as universal coverage under Medicare for All:

        With its dependence on a failing system of employer-sponsored coverage, an outdated private health insurance industry does not deserve ongoing federal bailouts. Dr. Atul Gawande, surgeon and public health researcher, is spot on with this insight:

      • House Progressives Urged to ‘Wield Their Power’ to Fight Senate Sabotage of Covid-19 Relief Bill

        “Democrats as a whole will pay the electoral price if they fail. The costs will not be simply borne by a few moderates who buck the Democrats’ popular agenda items.”

      • ‘We Need to Be on a War Footing’: Head of WHO Calls for Vaccine Patent Waivers to Halt Pandemic

        “Dr. Tedros is right,” said Oxfam International. “It’s time to end vaccine monopolies.”

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • At Least 30,000 U.S. Organizations Newly Hacked Via Holes in Microsoft’s Email Software

            At least 30,000 organizations across the United States — including a significant number of small businesses, towns, cities and local governments — have over the past few days been hacked by an unusually aggressive Chinese cyber espionage unit that’s focused on stealing email from victim organizations, multiple sources tell KrebsOnSecurity. The espionage group is exploiting four newly-discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server email software, and has seeded hundreds of thousands of victim organizations worldwide with tools that give the attackers total, remote control over affected systems.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Defence/Aggression

      • FBI Arrests Former Trump Appointee for Role in January 6 Capitol Breach
      • Why Are We Still Giving the Pentagon More Money?

        This country is in a crisis of the first order. More than half a million of us have died thanks to Covid-19. Food insecurity is on the rise, with nearly 24 million Americans going hungry, including 12 million children. Unemployment claims filed since the pandemic began have now reached 93 million. Given the level of damage to the less wealthy parts of this society, it’s little wonder that most Americans chose pandemic recovery (including the quick distribution of vaccines) as their top-priority issue.

      • Roaming Charges: No Neanderthal Ever Bombed Syria

        + But what about the airstrikes themselves, Barbara, and the people they killed? Are your objections merely procedural? Would they have been “OK” if Congress had authorized them, as they likely would have?

        + How to decode NYT stories: The headline proclaims Biden’s bombing targeted “Iran-backed militias.” The story itself says: “Little is known about the group, including whether it is backed by Iran or related to the organizations that used the facilities the American airstrikes targeted on Thursday.” But the headlines sell the wars…

      • Biden, Afghanistan and Forever Wars

        The Afghanistan imbroglio for US planners raises the usual problems.  Liberals and Conservatives find themselves pillow fighting over similar issues, neither wishing to entirely leave the field.  The imperium demands the same song sheet from choristers, whether they deliver it from the right side of the choir or the left.  The imperial feeling is that the tribes of a country most can barely name should be somehow kept within an orbit of security.  To not do so would imperil allies, the US, and encourage a storm of danger that might cyclonically move towards other pockets of the globe.

        It never occurs to the many dullard commentators that invading countries such as Afghanistan to begin with (throw Iraq into the mix) was itself an upending issue worthy of criminal prosecution, encouraged counter-insurgencies, theocratic aspirants and, for want of a better term, terrorist opportunists.

      • Trump and Biden’s Secret Bombing Wars

        The Western media reported the U.S. airstrike as an isolated and exceptional incident, and there has been significant blowback from the U.S. public, Congress and the world community, condemning the strikes as illegal and a dangerous escalation of yet another Middle East conflict.

        But unbeknownst to many Americans, the U.S. military and its allies are engaged in bombing and killing people in other countries on a daily basis. The U.S. and its allies have dropped more than 326,000 bombs and missiles on people in other countries since 2001 (see table below), including over 152,000 in Iraq and Syria.

      • Killer Kim Reynolds and the Fascist State of Iowa

        Trumpism-fascism is far from dead in Iowa (and in many other “red states”). The anti-science white nationalist MAGA party has a stranglehold here. It holds the governors’ office, 32 of 50 seats in the state senate, 59 of 100 seats in the state house, 5 of the 7 state supreme court seats, both of the state’s 2 US Senate seats, and 3 of the state’s 4 US House seats.

        I have no love for the dismal, dollar-drenched, neoliberal Democrats in Iowa or anywhere else, but this lopsided Republifascist representation (enabled to no small extent by the Weimar-like Dems) comes with lethal consequences.

      • ACLU to Biden: Do Not ‘Review’ Drone Killing Program—End It Once and for All

        “Tinkering with the bureaucracy of this extrajudicial killing program will only entrench American abuses,” said the group’s national security expert.

      • Taking War Personally

        So wrote Stephen Zunes, in the wake of Joe Biden’s first act of murder as president . . . excuse me, his first act of defensive military action: bombing a border post in Syria last week, killing 22 of our enemies. This action, of course, will quickly be forgotten. “The United States has bombed Syria more than 20,000 times over the past eight years,” Zunes notes, adding:

        “The United States began bombing these ancient lands 30 years ago, at the start of the Gulf War. The U.S. has continued bombing Iraq and neighboring countries on and off ever since. Each time, we have been told that doing so would protect American interests and help bring peace and stability to the region. Yet each period of airstrikes has brought more suffering, more violence, less security and greater instability.”

      • Opinion | Biden’s Bombing of Syria Is a Dangerous Step Backward

        Latest military attack shows that the new President hasn’t broken from the failed policies of the past.

      • ‘We Need to Make Sure It’s Done Right’: Peace Advocates Welcome Biden Move to Limit War Powers

        The president and Congress, said one leading anti-war campaigner, “must work together to actually end the decades long fighting, killing, dying, and spending that is on automatic pilot.”

      • When Do the Rules Apply?

        Biden had campaigned on revitalizing U.S.-Iran relations by rejoining the nuclear deal that Trump had walked away from. Yet, like so many presidents before him, he reached for the military option rather than a diplomatic one.

        This isn’t surprising. But it is illegal.

      • Hugo Chávez’s Legacy: Unity and Anti-imperialism
      • As Labor Secretary, Will Marty Walsh Represent All Workers?

        This responsibility has been much on my mind in recent weeks with President Joe Biden’s nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be his administration’s secretary of labor.

        On the surface, one might think that I should join much of the rest of the press corps in celebrating this as a good common sense move on Biden’s part. In fact, given my background as a “labor guy” and Walsh’s lifelong commitment to the labor movement, it would seem the height of petulance for me to do anything other than sing his praises and express excitement that someone from “my team” is in charge of labor policy for the federal government.

      • NATO Video Talks ‘Diversity, Respect, Embrace’ But Critics See Through the Wash Job

        Earlier this week, NATO put out a promotional video celebrating their diversity. The heavily-produced video featured a range of smiling people of all ages, genders and races, painting the international military alliance as a progressive force.

      • Blood for Oil

        Thirty years ago, when the United States launched Operation Desert Storm against Iraq, I was a member of the Gulf Peace Team. We were 73 people from 15 different countries, aged 22 to 76, living in a tent camp close to Iraq’s border with Saudi Arabia, along the road to Mecca.

        We aimed to nonviolently interpose ourselves between the warring parties. Soldiers are called upon to risk their lives for a cause they may not know much about. Why not ask peace activists to take risks on behalf of preventing and opposing wars?

      • Biden Acts with Impunity (to Send Iran a Message, by Attacking Iraqis in Syria)

        In March 2003, in the worst crime of the 21st century, a war-based-on-lies led by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the U.S. invaded and destroyed the modern country of Iraq, generating mass flight and civil war. Half a million people were killed and the suffering continues.

        Too soon do we forget the magnitude of the atrocity, including the cheerful murderous bombing sprees revealed by Wikileaks, the Abu Ghraib torture, the ignorant mishandling of Sunni-Shiite issues, the civil war and terror engendered by the criminal occupation. During the Trump years our attention’s been focused on one evil man, who happens to have actually pursued a policy of withdrawal from the Middle East. We forget how the man now president supported this war enthusiastically and praised his son Beau for his “service” in Iraq in 2008-9 when the oppressive, imperialist nature of the (de facto ongoing) occupation was perfectly clear.

      • US, Allies Drop 46 Bombs Per Day for 20 Years in Middle East and Africa

        The United States and its allies have dropped at least 326,000 bombs and missiles on countries in the greater Middle East/ North Africa region since 2001. That is the conclusion of new research by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies of anti-war group CODEPINK.

      • We Must Protect the Squad!

        What’s being done to ensure members of the squad are protected from future attacks by violent white terrorists? No, really—I’m asking. This group of Black and brown congresswomen has long been the target of right-wing terror. In 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib received so many death threats that they asked to be informed only if they were “credible and imminent.”

      • Withdrawing US Troops From Afghanistan Is Only a Start. We Have to End the Air War Too.

        In recent months talk of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan has increased once again. It’s not the first time during the course of the nearly two-decades-long war that we’ve heard this, and at several points since the war began in 2001, some troops have actually been withdrawn. But somehow, almost 20 years in, there still isn’t very much talk about what it will actually take to end US actions that kill civilians. We hear talk about the “forever wars,” of which Afghanistan is of course the longest, but not much about what their first perpetrator, President George W. Bush, named the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT)—and the effect that that’s had.

    • Environment

      • ‘Good Jobs for All’: Sunrise Movement Launches Campaign to Fight Climate Crisis With Work Guarantee

        “With so much work to do building a better society that works for all of us, there’s no reason anyone in the richest country in the history of the world should be unemployed, underemployed, or working a job that isn’t in the public interest.”

      • Approaching a Risky 1.5°C Global Overshoot

        As described in the report, nations are not meeting their voluntary commitments to decrease carbon emissions, especially based upon the Paris ‘15 goals to decelerate CO2 emissions of cars, trains, planes, and collectively, the human-generated colossus. (Source: We Are Nowhere Near Keeping Warming below 1.5°C Despite Climate Plans, NewScientist, February 26, 2021)

        According to data provided by the 74 nations that have reported to the much-heralded Paris climate accord, collectively, their plans are to reduce emissions by 2030 to 0.5% of 2010 levels, which is inadequate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly stated that global emissions be reduced by 45%, otherwise, there’s no chance of staying below 1.5°C. (Source: Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C, Summary for Policymakers, IPCC, 2018)

      • Economic Growth is the Cause of Climate Change, Not the Solution to It

        This relationship between GDP and greenhouse gas emissions is more than a statistical anomaly. It is evidence of the causal relationship between them. And because GDP can be stated in terms of income, responsibility for climate change is approximated through the distribution of income. Those with higher incomes are responsible for a greater quantity of climate change than those with lower incomes. This assignment of responsibility works at the level of nations and economic class. Rich nations are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than poor. And the global rich bear more responsibility than the global poor.

        In a world where capital is both fungible and mobile, the framing of greenhouse gas emissions within national geographical boundaries— as the Paris Climate Accord and other environmental agreements do, substantively misrepresents the political economy that produces them. Additionally, while technological innovation is both welcomed and encouraged here, the declining rate of economic growth since the neoliberal epoch began explains the declining rate of growth in greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, bottom-up theorizing about the impact of green technologies isn’t yet showing up in this top-down data.

      • Ancient tree shows result of magnetic pole switch

        A preserved ancient tree trunk records the story of a climate catastrophe more than 40 millennia ago. It could happen again.

      • From the Murder of Berta Cáceres to the Dam Disaster in Uttarakhand

        In addition to being sacred to the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras, the Gualcarque River is a primary source of water for them to grow their food and harvest medicinal plants. Dams can flood fertile plains and deprive communities of water for livestock and crops. The Lenca knew what could happen if the company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) were to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque. As Nina Lakhani describes in Who Killed Berta Cáceres?, the La Aurora Dam, which started generating electricity in 2012 “left four miles of the El Zapotal River bone dry and the surrounding forest bare.”

        In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize for organizing opposition to the Agua Zarca. She had been a co-founder of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The following year, thousands of Lenca marched to the capital Tegucigalpa demanding schools, clinics, roads and protection of ancestral lands. Indigenous groups uniting with them included Maya, Chorti, Misquitu, Tolupan, Tawahka and Pech. Lakhani describes that “From the north coast came the colorfully dressed, drumming Garifunas: Afro-Hondurans who descend from West and Central African, Caribbean, European and Arawak people exiled to Central America by the British after a slave revolt in the late eighteenth century.”

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

    • Finance

      • ‘They Should Be Ashamed’: With Jobless Benefits to Expire in 9 Days, Republicans Pull Out All Stops to Obstruct Relief Bill

        “When Sen. Johnson voted to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans, he didn’t force staff to read the bill. But now that working people need help, he’s forcing a delay.”

      • Paid Sick and Family Leave Can’t Wait

        I was consumed with anxiety not just about her health, but also about money. How much time would she need to take off work? Would her rent and bills be paid on time or at all? Could I afford to help cover some of these costs for her?

        My mother works a low-wage job in medical billing at a small doctor’s office. Unlike me, she doesn’t have the option to work from the safety of her home and physically interacts with patients on a daily basis. Her job offers only three paid sick days a year — with no other form of paid leave.

      • How Financial Policy Drives Economic Inequality…and How to Fix It
      • Opinion | Jobs Report Shows Congress Must Pass Full $1.9 Trillion Relief Package Immediately

        The $1.9 trillion relief and recovery bill being considered in Congress this week is exactly what workers and their families need right now.

      • Princes Among Thieves

        Throughout the trump White House years, she was the Secretary of Education. In that capacity she did so many great things for the education of wealthy children that it is hard to recall them all.  A couple of her more recent ones, however, serve as good examples of her efforts on their behalf. During the second month of the COVID 19-pandemic in 2020, she demanded that public schools reopen in the fall.  She said that if they didn’t she’d send their money to private and religious schools.  In May she used federal coronavirus relief funds to create a $180 million voucher program for private and religious schools.

        The good works of Betsy and her family were not limited to helping private and religious schools.  In May 2020 it was disclosed that Betsy and other family members had funded the Honest Election Project.  Its  goal was to fight efforts to expand vote-by-mail options in the 2020 elections. Betsy’s brother, Erik Prince, was also  involved in assorted companies that were engaged in non-education ventures.  One of them was Blackwater USA.

      • Digital Currencies Like Bitcoin And Etherium And Tokens Based On Them Are Practically Useless As Of March 2021

        Digital crypto-currencies, based on free open source software, promised banking for the poor and the unbanked, cheap and quick transactions, micro-transactions and a financial revolution. Several cryptocurrencies have great success as speculative instruments and stores of value, but that’s it. All the bigger ones have become practically useless for just about everything else and so have all the smaller ones that don’t have their own blockchain.

        [...]

        A European SEPA bank transfer is either completely free or very cheap. A VISA debit card will typically have a monthly fee around $3 and a zero per-transaction fee. Credit cards are mostly completely free as long as you pay your bill on time. They do become very expensive very quickly if you don’t.

        Sweden has a very popular and widely adopted bank-to-bank payment smartphone application called Swish. Using it is free. Having the application is free in some banks, others charge a $2-3 monthly fee.

        It is very hard to call a $20 transaction fee competitive or even remotely attractive for someone who wants to send $100 worth to a friend. It is even more ludicrous to pay a $20 fee if you buy a $30 T-shirt in an online store. $20 would, on the other hand, be a small price to pay if you are buying a shiny new electric car from a rocket scientist.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Why Congress Must Pass Voting Rights Reform Now
      • The Supreme Court Is Poised to Find New Ways to Disenfranchise Black Voters

        Earlier this week, the Supreme Court entertained a frontal attack on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Republicans in Arizona, likely still eating their feelings after losing both the presidential election and another Senate seat, have instituted a pair of new voter restrictions aimed directly at depressing the minority vote.

      • “Moderate” Democrats May Obstruct Fundamentally Essential Electoral Reform
      • Media Find ‘Heroes’ in Republicans Who Oppose Trump…and Also Democracy

        Major media outlets have largely come around—a day late and a dollar short—to calling out Trump’s extremism and lies, particularly the Big Lie that the election was stolen (FAIR.org, 1/7/21). But this rejection of Trumpism and the Big Lie goes hand in hand with the elevation of a “reasonable” or “admirable” wing of the GOP, whose own extremism and undermining of democracy are thereby whitewashed.

      • Justice Finally Catches up With Sarkozy

        This is a legal landmark for the French judicial system for two main reasons. First, no former president had been sentenced to an actual prison sentence since France’s collaborationist leader Marshal Pétain in 1945. (This said, Sarkozy’s one-year jail sentence will probably not be spent behind bars, but under house arrest with an electronic tag). The former president Jacques Chirac received a two-year suspended sentence in 2011 for embezzling public funds when he was Paris mayor.

        And second, the French judicial system has long been seen as being deferential to the government of the day in sensitive political cases. This court decision definitely runs counter to this tradition. It took a lot of tenacity on the part of the Parquet National Financier (the judicial institution in charge of tracking down complex financial crimes) to counter attempts by Sarkozy and his allies to undermine its authority. In the end, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law prevailed. It was also the triumph of democracy: evidence that no citizen, however powerful he or she might be, is above the law.

      • Marching Through Georgia
      • Opinion | The Choice for Democrats in Congress: Go Big or Go Home.

        The precedent created by letting one or two moderates derail popular legislation supported by the rest of the caucus is truly dangerous.

      • Missing Voters and Missing Unemployed Black Workers

        Just as many people decline to respond to political pollsters, people are increasingly refusing to respond to the various surveys the government’s statistical agencies field to gather data about people’s work, income, and spending patterns. The Current Population Survey (CPS), the main source for information on employment, unemployment, health care coverage, and income has seen a substantial decline in response rates over the last four decades. As of last year, the coverage rate was just over 85 percent, meaning that the CPS did not get responses from almost 15 percent of the households that were targeted for the survey.

        The rates of non-response differ substantially by demographic group. Older people and white people tend to respond at much higher rates than the young and people of color. The lowest response rate is for young Black men, where the coverage rate is less than 70 percent.

      • Late Winter Riot Flicks for the Coming Summer Uprising

        That’s because the 2020 Summer Uprisings were bigger than George Floyd and the institutional racism that lynched him. It was about a whole damn nation pushed to the brink by a daughtering old police state that can lock up half of New Africa but can’t manage a goddamn virus. This nation needed to vent fire and it felt good, even to cripples like me who were too damn sick, even before Covid, to join in the festivities. We could shake our canes from our prison cells and shout ‘give em holy hell’ from behind the bars, and holy hell they did indeed give. So that’s why in these loathsome last days of Winter 2021, this veteran agoraphobic couch potato has picked ten movies to prep you for the next uprising. Most are about social upheaval in one shape or form. Some are merely about the factors that create this discord. All are must see cinema for anyone getting through the night with a brick in their hand. Enjoy!

        La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz (1995)–  “Its about society in free fall.” La Haine (French for ‘Hate’) may be the greatest riot movie since The Battle of Algiers because it deals so intimately with what inspires just such an uprising. In stark black and white, La Haine follows three young men through twenty hours between a riot started by the racially charged police murder of a friend and another shocking act of violence that will inevitably inspire the exact same results to repeat themselves all over again. The sense of nihilism is thicker than smog as these lifelong friends struggle not just to escape the ghetto but to escape a fate that seems as inevitable as the sun rising. In spite of the glib humor I use to cope with these issues, an uprising of any kind is nothing to take lightly. It all too often leads to a cycle of pointless violence if it isn’t held with the proper perspective on social justice. “Hatred breeds hatred” as Hubert says. Be careful not to fall into this trap and remember always that the abyss stares back.

      • Rep. Mondaire Jones: Voting Rights Bill H.R. 1 Is of “Foundational Importance” to U.S. Democracy

        The House of Representatives has approved sweeping legislation protecting the right to vote with the For the People Act, which has been described as the most sweeping pro-democracy bill in decades. The legislation is aimed at improving voter registration and access to voting, ending partisan and racial gerrymandering, forcing the disclosure of dark money donors, increasing public funding for candidates, and imposing strict ethical and reporting standards on members of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. The bill, which comes amid a nationwide attack on voting rights in courthouses and statehouses, is heading to the Senate, where it is expected to die unless all 50 Senate Democrats unite to end the filibuster. Democratic Congressmember Mondaire Jones of New York says H.R. 1 is “of foundational importance” to preserving U.S. democracy against Republican attacks on voting. “The modern-day Republican Party cannot compete on the merits of its policy ideas,” says Jones. “Rather, it is seeking to disenfranchise large swaths of the American electorate, especially Black and Hispanic people in Southern states.”

      • Meet the ‘foreign agents’ Drawing on their own pasts, Russian charity workers at Humanitarian Action are helping thousands overcome drug addiction

        Russia’s Justice Ministry added “Humanitarian Action,” a charity based in St. Petersburg, to its list of “foreign agents” in late 2020. The organization works mainly with drug users and people living with HIV, but the authorities decided that it is also engaged in “political activities,” including its employees’ criticisms of government policy on HIV and drug dependence. Humanitarian Action helps thousands of people every year, some of whom manage to overcome their substance abuse. Meduza spoke to three people at the group who now use their own experiences with overcoming addiction to help others.

      • Opinion | Corporate Media Praise Republicans Who Oppose Trump, but Whitewash Their Extremism and Undermining of Democracy

        Their own credulous coverage of the little lies of vote fraud, which went on for decades and their willingness to lionize purveyors of those lies to this day, have played no small role in allowing it to happen.

      • Leftist and Liberal Unite!

        For Peterson, everyone in power was a cultural Marxist, so how could he point to any one person? What is the state of the American left if their symptom is nearly the same as Peterson’s? Of course, it’s more complicated for the American left. Zizek claims the difference between the Stalinists and the Nazis is that the Stalinists sincerely believed in what they were doing. Likewise there is a difference between the American left and American right. The American right sees liberals and leftists as the same. The American left sees itself as the Marxist the right fears, just without the cultural priority. Instead, the left claims to be material.

        Of course here is where I think while the postmodern shift was too critical of Marx, they were at least structural thinkers in the same way as Marx. Thus, when they claimed there was no reality they had a real material argument. Now it’s almost the reverse. Instead of having leading leftist thinkers actively responding to Marx we have an embrace of Marx that isn’t Marxist at all.

      • ‘If Only The President Knew’ – That State of The Union Address You’ll Never Hear or See.

        Well ‘hats off/ tug of forelock ‘as opposed to the more traditional as became Nazi, sense of raise of one arm to Corporatism (the MICC) as similar abuse of belief goes; ‘Amerika ‘now representing a ‘State of Disunion ‘ such the circling of the drain’ as medically abbreviated ‘CTD’ such the austerity as pretension to perspicacity goes?

        Nowadays it’s not the raise of an arm as much as the roll up of sleeve on arm prior to jab accepted, such the fervour ‘patriotic” as faith evidenced?

      • ‘It Has to Go’: The Demand to End Filibuster Intensifies in US Senate

        “The filibuster didn’t come from the Constitution, or from our founders,” argued Sen. Tina Smith, one of a growing number of Democrats now coming out against the arcane procdure. 

      • Opinion | I’ve Made Up My Mind: The US Senate Must Abolish the Filibuster

        The filibuster has long been the enemy of progress. In fact, it’s been a highly effective tool to thwart the will of the people.

      • Against Neoliberalism, a Search and Struggle For an Authentic Living in La Marea: A Film Review

        The film carries a youthful layer of optimism with a subtle dialectic framework between the Mexican filmmaker who immigrated to the United States and his conational who decides to pursue the Mexican Dream. The main protagonist, Jorge, affirms his place of dwelling in the world distant from the major metropolises of Mexico and the global North.

        Novelo pans across Seybaplaya, Campeche (Mexico), a town of fishermen in the most circular time frame. It is a sequence that runs, walks and moves at the pace of a non-urban town, unlike other films where time is squeezed, rushed, sliced, flattened and linear. It is a moment with a movement. Unlike most urban cities with chaotic dissonance of noises stacked on top of each other with no rhythm, La Marea’s soundtrack evokes the common living elements of nature: thunder, rain and lighting, which sing differently to a town that grasps the notes of flashes, drips, and singing roosters with a distinct tempo of organic rhythms and meaning. Seybaplaya’s surrounding nature “is not a landscape, it is, memory.” It is Jorge’s and his town’s biography.[2]

      • Social Media Microtargeting and the Evolving Ministry of Truth

        If you’ve ever wondered how that cookware ad happened across your internet browser window after you’d spent ten minutes searching for a turkey baster last Thanksgiving, the answer is that you – or more precisely, the devices you use to surf the net – have been microtargeted.

      • South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem Is a Deadlier, More Delusional Alternative to Trump

        South Dakota has suffered more than the vast majority of states since the coronavirus pandemic hit. Though it’s one of the least populous states in the nation, its Covid-19 per capita death rate is the eighth highest in the nation. Its per capita case rate is even worse: number two in the United States, after neighboring North Dakota.

      • Will Neoliberalism Morph into Fascism in the United States?

        Some of these measures included massive liquidity injections, lowering interest rates to zero, credit and loan guarantees, Federal Reserve purchase of government bonds and as pitifully small and delayed one-time direct payment to most Americans.  The fiscal stimulus packages already enacted are a quarter larger than those put in place during the Great Recession of 2008 and Biden recently proposed an additional $1.9 trillion coronavirus package in new federal spending.

        This episodic intervention in a crisis can be seen as another selective intervention by the state to ensure class rule. But the larger context includes the countless, irrefutable examples of the state’s welcome intervention to redistribute wealth upward and in prescribing critical market state functions in terms of policing, incarceration, surveillance, militarization and a host of other supportive services. U.S. interventions around the globe in support of the empire are so transparently obvious as to not warrant further elaboration.  Lapavitsus speculates on whether this massive state intervention in the economy could result “…in a more authoritarian form of controlled capitalism in which the interests of the corporate and the financial elite would remain paramount.” Unless there’s a mass mobilization from below there is no evidence suggesting that whatever is done will address the needs of working people.  Although Lapavitsus never explicitly suggests that neoliberalism will be transfigured into fascism, it’s not implausible to draw that conclusion.

      • The ReTrumplican Party

        The list goes on, but you get the idea. At CPAC, it was business as usual, with Trump lying his head off and his lemmings-like followers drinking all the Kool-Aid he offered.

        Following the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol building, there were some noises being made about the need for the Republican Party to, perhaps, make some changes in the way it conducts business. But can the powerful CPAC be seen as a barometer of the current situation, and maybe an omen of things to come? Not necessarily; while CPAC doesn’t represent the entire party (there was nary a RINO (Republican in Name Only) present, and they do exist), it is quite the activist base.

      • Ouchy, Fauci and Ron Klain: The Equivocator and the Prevaricator

        And then, like Biden and 97% of the subservient U.S. CongressWimps, he had to equivocate on whether Israel is morally and legally obligated to allow COVID-19 vaccinations to enter Occupied Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) where 5.5 million Palestinians are living under the world’s most brutal occupation that has gone unabated for the last 73 years.

        Was Fauci’s equivocation politically motivated? And, was he condoning and supporting Israeli Medical Apartheid in what is proving to be a perpetual Mengele style genocidal strangulation of Palestinians in their own land?

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Is The Digital Services Act Going To Make A Huge Mess Of Website Liability In The EU?

        I’ve been so focused of late on issues related to Section 230 in the US, that I’ve had barely any time to devote to the Digital Services Act in the EU, which is the EU’s ongoing efforts to rewrite intermediary law in the EU. The reports I have followed have been a mix of concerns, with the admission that it at least appeared that EU politicians were trying to get a good grasp on the issues and trade-offs and not rush in with a totally horrible plan. That doesn’t mean the end result is good, but so far it does not appear to be totally disconnected from reality, as with many similar proposals we’ve seen around the globe.

      • Reporter Sues DOJ To See If It Is Trying To Help Devin Nunes Unmask @DevinCow Twitter Account

        As I’m pretty sure most of you know, Rep. Devin Nunes has been filing a ton of blatant SLAPP lawsuits trying to silence criticism and mockery of him, as well as critical reporting. Kind of ironic for a guy who co-sponsored a bill to discourage frivolous lawsuits and who has regularly presented himself as a free speech supporter. What kicked off those lawsuits, somewhat incredibly, was a satirical Twitter account, @DevinCow (mocking Devin Nunes for repeatedly holding himself out as a “dairy farmer” from Tulare California when it turns out his family farm moved to Iowa years ago).

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Freedom of Thought and the Death of Ideology

        If global and national challenges are to be met fully and whole-heartedly, creative reimagining, free of doctrine, is required; independent thinking outside the ideological box. Decrepit systems must be reappraised, the good retained the rest rejected; values realigned, belief systems revised and expanded. Humanity has been wedded to ideologies of one kind of another for eons. Our devotion to them strengthens self-identity, albeit limited and false, and provides a degree of comfort and order in a chaotic world which has no easily discernible logic or purpose to it. This is particularly so in relation to organised religions with their defined order, fixed doctrine and mapped-out route to ‘God’.

        Capitalism, democracy and Christianity (2.2 billion believers) are the most pervasive global ideologies, but there are a host of others. In the religious field there’s Islam, the fastest growing religion (1.8 billion); Hinduism (the world’s oldest, one billion), which is not really a religion but a collection of traditions and ancient philosophies; Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism, plus a bundle of sub-sects. Then there are the socio-economic/political structures: Socialism, Neo-liberalism, Communism, Fascism, and the many divisions; on and on it goes.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Hell in Every Way: My Life Inside a Temporary Refugee Camp on Lesbos

        I think all the refugees have now been assessed, except for the latest arrivals. Asylum seekers need three separate cards to complete their documentation, but the UN refugee office has not yet opened in the camp, as a result of which many refugees’ cards remain burned or damaged from the Moria fire. When we protest, we are told that we have to wait for the UN office to open.

        Moria was hell in every way. It is true that I lived in the Dutch section, but the overcrowding caused tents to be erected on both sides of each road and access to sanitation and food was not easy. There was no respect for law and order in the camp and Greek police paid no attention.

      • “We Do This ’Til We Free Us”: Mariame Kaba on Abolishing Police, Prisons & Moving Toward Justice

        Outrage over police brutality and the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people has generated calls to defund and abolish the police. Longtime organizer Mariame Kaba’s new book, titled “We Do This ’Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice,” brings together collected essays, interviews and other writings that she and numerous collaborators produced between 2014 — the year of the uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police killing of Michael Brown — and today. Kaba says the book grapples with “the fact that so many people around the country recognize the complete and utter failures and limits of so-called reform” to systems of injustice. “People are impatient with incrementalism and are impatient with solutions that don’t actually address the root causes of violence.”

      • Innocent and Framed: Free Mumia Now!

        The movement to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the most prominent political prisoner in the U.S., from the slow death of life imprisonment and the jaws of this racist and corrupt injustice system is at a critical juncture. The battle to free Mumia must be is as ferocious as it has ever been. We continue to face the unrelenting hostility to Mumia by this racist capitalist injustice system, which is intent on silencing him, by all means.

      • Biden Needs to Keep His Promises on Immigration

        In January, Biden kicked off his presidency with splashy executive orders ending the Muslim ban, protecting young undocumented people from deportation, and making sure immigrants are counted in the Census.

        In February, he introduced a massive immigration reform bill that would, among other things, provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people. And on the first day of March, his administration announced plans to reunite families separated at the border under former president Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.

      • ‘Saving Lives Is Never a Crime’: Aid Groups Reject Charges Over Mediterranean Refugee Rescue Missions

        “This is a political declaration of intent to criminalize solidarity, and it has a deadly consequence: people die, when they could be saved,” said the crew of the vessel Iuventa.

      • The Test of Our Endurance

        In Belgium, businesses are going under at an alarming rate. Figures for France are no better. Stores and hotels are shuttered everywhere you look. In Holland, riots broke out in January over the imposition of a new confinement. Madrid, an anarchist friend laments, “is TOO open,” with theatres, movie houses and bars doing brisk business. He blames it on the “right wing, ex-Falange, all-business president” of the Comunidad Autonoma. Museums are reopening in Italy, while new lockdowns threaten. Someone will explain how that’s going to work. Two museums in France tried – in Perpignan, under a Rassemblement National mayor, and Issoudun, with a Socialist in charge – before the courts got in the way. (Musée Saint Roch in Issoudun remains closed provisoirement, temporarily. You can translate that, too hot for the judge to handle.) Our twice daily dip in the petri-dish underground is sanctioned but standing in front of a painting is not.

        Covid is hollowing out our politics. Big issues have been swept aside – provisoirement. It’s all Covid all the time. Regional elections have just been delayed for three months. In Paris the political jockeying continues, to humorous effect. A junior minister at city hall argues for a short, sharp 3 week confinement, hoping that this places Paris at the avant garde of the Do Something battalion. Unfortunately for him the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, one eye on next year’s presidential race, promptly elbows him aside, declaring weekend confinements inhumane, essentially reducing people to the status of worker drones, a point made in the interview below. The terribly difficult, if not insurmountable, dilemma is how to make draconian confinements sound palatable and politically correct – in short, how to make them sound good for you. They aren’t, and people know it.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Monopolies

      • Parler Drops Its Loser Of A Lawsuit Against Amazon In Federal Court, Files Equally Dumb New Lawsuit In State Court

        As you may recall, Parler had filed a ridiculously weak antitrust lawsuit against Amazon the day after it had its AWS account suspended. A judge easily rejected Parler’s request for an injunction, and made it pretty clear Parler’s chances of succeeding were slim to none. Parler, which has since found a new host, had indicated it would file an amended complaint, but instead it chose to drop that lawsuit in federal court and file an equally laughable lawsuit in state court in Washington (though with some additional lawyers).

      • Copyrights

        • Spanish Supreme Court applies Cofemel and rules that bullfighting cannot be protected by copyright

          A bullfight (in Spanish: corrida; the final stages are called faena) is a contest that involves a bullfighter (a matador) and a bull, in which the former seeks to subdue, immobilize or kill the animal in accordance with a set of rules. The best-known type of bullfighting is the Spanish-style one, which has been traditionally regarded as both a sport and performance art.

          In relation to the latter qualification of bullfighting, a question that has recently arisen is whether a bullfight might be regarded as a work protectable under copyright law.

          The Spanish Supreme Court answered this question in the negative last month, when it delivered its judgment in a longstanding copyright saga, which had first begun after a well-known Spanish matador, Miguel Ángel Perera Díaz, was refused registration – by the Madrid Copyright Registry – of a faena of his.

          [...]

          The Supreme Court considered it necessary to undertake a joint assessment of whether the object in question could be regarded as a work that is original.

          The Supreme Court reviewed the FAPL judgment and considered that, whilst relevant, it would not serve to exhaust the analysis, since a bullfight is not just a sporting event. Besides the physical performance and the athletic ability of the matador, there is something more in a bullfight: the artistic dimension thereof.

          The Court thus deemed it more helpful to look at another CJEU decision for guidance: Cofemel [Katpost here]. In that 2019 ruling, the CJEU consolidated its settled case law, starting as early as Infopaq [Kat-anniversary post here], and clarified – once and for all – that, under EU law, copyright protection arises when there is (1) a work, which is (2) original. Nothing further is required.

          [...]

          Considering the case of choreographic works, the Spanish court also suggested that the precision and objectivity that is needed to qualify as a work under Levola Hengelo is one that allows the ‘object’ to be reproduced. This, however, is a requirement that has never featured in CJEU case law and, in my view, should be rejected: the taste of the cheese at hand in, eg, Levola Hengelo is something that can well be reproduced (all Heks’nkaas boxes taste the same), yet it is not something that can be delineated with sufficient precision and objectivity, at least for the time being (see Levola Hengelo, at [43]). The test should thus be only one of precision and objectivity, not also replicability. There is and there should be room for improvisation in copyright law, including with regard to choreographic works, performance art, and similar ‘objects’.

How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy — Part III: Fundamentals

Posted in BSD, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 6:12 am by Guest Editorial Team

By Gavin L. Rebeiro

Contents

Cover

Copyright

1 Acknowledgements

2 Introduction

2.1 Prerequisite Knowledge
2.2 Apparatus

3 YOU ARE HERE ☞ Fundamentals

3.1 Communication
3.2 Kernel Ring Buffer
3.3 Drivers
3.4 Operating Systems
3.5 Special Files

4 Doing The Task

4.1 Preparing The Boot Media
4.2 Connecting Physical Components
4.3 Using Picocom
4.4 OS Installation

5 Thanks

6 OpenPGP Key

A Malicious Hardware

B Linux Kernel Source Tree Analysis

C Digital Multimeter Tests

Summary: Following the introductory and preliminary parts (Part I and Part II) we dive deeper into the steps taken to replace the Raspberry Pi’s GNU- and Linux-based OS with something like NetBSD

Now that you know what you need to get started, let’s gently walk through an overview of the fundamental ideas and topics that we’ll be engaging and experimenting with.

The order of topics may seem strange at first but things should make sense as you move on.

3.1 Communication

If we want two computers to communicate, there needs to be some protocol that they both speak.

If we want two computers to communicate, there needs to be a physical medium over which they can communicate.

Almost all computers and their peripherals communicate over USB these days. But when it comes to getting into the nitty-gritty details, you will often find UART humbly serving the same purpose it has for decades of computing. Fortunately for us, almost every embedded system these days supports UART; this includes the Raspberry Spy.

“Why bother with this anachronistic technology? Glad you asked!”We’ll be using our UTUB to install a new OS on our Raspberry Spy over a serial interface (UART). The program that we’ll be using to do this serial communication is picocom(1).

Why bother with this anachronistic technology? Glad you asked! Once you know how to operate something like a UTUB and a program like picocom(1), you can “break into” several devices and modify them how you wish. Routers, motherboards,
embedded systems, etc. all tend to have some sort of serial interface on them. Once you learn the basics, you are equipped to liberate yourself and gain more computing freedom.

But wait. Isn’t all this embedded stuff way too difficult and only for “experts”? HOGWASH! You can do it too. Don’t
fall for the propaganda. You are perfectly capable of doing a bit of serial hacking to liberate your devices. You paid for them, after all. You should be able to do whatever you want with them (and you will). Onwards!

3.2 Kernel Ring Buffer

What on earth is a “kernel ring buffer” (KRB)? Ever heard of dmesg(1)? dmesg(1) is what you use to read the KRB. Not so scary now. Is it?

Why is the KRB important? Well: when you plug in (or out) a device, you can see the messages show up in the KRB. If you learn how to pay attention to the KRB, when you are working with hardware, you will become a lot better at trouble-shooting your own problems. Take strings you don’t understand and plop them into your favourite search engine; try the apropos(1) command as well.

As we progress with our project, we’ll see how to leverage dmesg(1) to our advantage. Learning proper use of dmesg(1)
is an essential skill if you want to improve and maintain your computing freedom; dmesg(1) allows you to demystify the inner workings of your computer and get clues on how to fix problems yourself.

3.3 Drivers

Say you plug in your mouse or keyboard into your computer; or even plug them out. The software responsible for translating the physical signals from the mouse or keyboard, to the intermediary physical devices, to the more abstract layers of your operating system (like stuff you see on the screen) is called the kernel; this is the “Linux” part of GNU/Linux.

The kernel is the layer of software that sits between the physical hardware and the more abstract levels of software that gives you an “operating system”. When you plug in or out your keyboard or mouse, the Kernel has programs which recognise those types of devices and then loads the appropriate software required to use those physical devices; such software are called “device drivers”.

All of the above is a bit vague. Let’s take a look at what this looks like in practice; I’m going to plug out and plug back in my mouse while staring at dmesg(1):

1   # dmesg --human --follow
2   ...
3   [Feb19 17:26] usb 7-4: USB disconnect, device number 2
4   [ +25.036175] usb 7-4: new low-speed USB device number
            → 4 using ohci-pci
5   [ +0.193047] usb 7-4: New USB device found, 
            → idVendor=0461, idProduct=4d81, bcdDevice= 2.00
6   [ +0.000006] usb 7-4: New USB device strings: Mfr=0,
            → Product=2, SerialNumber=0
7   [ +0.000004] usb 7-4: Product: USB Optical Mouse
8   [ +0.007570] input: USB Optical Mouse as 
            → /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:16.0/usb7/7-4/7-4:1.0/0 c
            → 003:0461:4D81.0005/input/input18
9   [ +0.000303] hid-generic 0003:0461:4D81.0005: 
            → input,hidraw3: USB HID v1.11 Mouse [USB Optical
            → Mouse] on usb-0000:00:16.0-4/input0

We’ll briefly analyse this output and introduce a few important tools in the process.

The first thing to note is this string “using ohci-pci”. It’s time to bring in the Linux-specific tool modinfo(8); let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with:

1 $ modinfo ohci_pci
2   name:        ohci_pci
3   filename:    (builtin)
4   softdep:     pre: ehci_pci
5   license:     GPL
6   file:        drivers/usb/host/ohci-pci
7   description: OHCI PCI platform driver

That output is quite self-explanatory. We see the name of the kernel module; we see that its a builtin kernel module (which means it’s compiled into the kernel). “softdep” stands for soft dependency. We see that the license is GPL. We see the location in the kernel source tree this kernel module resides. And, finally, we see a short description of the kernel module.

I hope, at the point, you’ve realised that “kernel module” is synonymous with “driver”. See? Not that complicated.

So what does this have to do with our USB mouse? Well: when it comes to interfaces, there’s usually a few things that sit between your device and the userspace of your operating system. I’ll leave it as a research project for you to figure out what “HCI”, “OHCI”, “EHCI”, “PCI”, etc. mean.

The next crucial bit of driver information here is the “hid-generic” part; find out what this kernel module does with modinfo(8).

The next thing I want you to do is have a look at the output of the Linux-specific tool lsmod(8); Note the column headers. grep(1) through the lsmod(8) output for the following strings:

• usbhid
• hid_generic
• hid

The “USB HID v1.11 Mouse” from our dmesg(1) output should give us a good idea of what’s going on here. Don’t know what
“USB HID” means? Look it up. Find out what the above kernel modules do, from the stuff you’ve already learned so far.

Let’s take a look at some sample lsmod(8) output:

1 $ cat <(lsmod | head -n 1) <(lsmod | grep hid)
2 Module                     Size Used by
3 mac_hid               16384  0
4 hid_generic           16384  0
5 usbhid                57344  0
6 hid                  135168  2 usbhid,hid_generic

You’ve now got a bit of background knowledge to make sense of what’s going on when you plug things in and out of your GNU/Linux unit.

3.4 Operating Systems

We’re going to be a bit adventurous with our choice of OS to put on the Raspberry Spy. We’re going to go with NetBSD; this is a great OS for embedded systems and one you should be familiar with if you plan on doing any embedded work.

NetBSD is an OS with its own kernel and userspace. Thus, NetBSD runs the NetBSD kernel and NetBSD userspace utilities; this is in contrast to the Linux kernel and GNU userspace (GNU/Linux)1.

NetBSD is quite a beginner-friendly BSD because it has ample documentation; the fact that NetBSD has the primary focus of portability also means you can learn a great deal about portability from several perspectives.

A side note here. Avoid usage of package managers. They are bad for your freedom; to most people, package managers are entirely opaque systems that turn the computer operator into a mere consumer. Learn how to build your software from source code. This way you see all the dependencies2.

The opaque package manager is exactly how the Raspberry Spy Foundation smuggled in spyware into the Raspberry Spy. If you build all your programs from source code, you would be less vulnerable to these espionage tactics3.

You should be the operator of your computer, not a “user”. A “user” is effectively being “used” because they are treated like stupid consumers that get dictated to by other people. Don’t fall for this “user” trap. Be the operator of your computer; take back control; education is the true path to computing freedom.

Note that a lot of these operating systems we’re talking about follow some version of the POSIX specification (with varying degrees of compliance).

3.5 Special Files

It’s important to understand how special files relate to device drivers. What’s a special file? Glad you asked.

Let’s take a look at our friend dmesg(1) as we plug in our UTUB:

1  [Feb22 12:13] usb 7-1: new full-speed USB device number
    → 3 using ohci-pci
2  [ +0.202882] usb 7-1: New USB device found,
    → idVendor=10c4, idProduct=ea60, bcdDevice= 1.00
3  [ +0.000006] usb 7-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=1,
    → Product=2, SerialNumber=3
4  [ +0.000003] usb 7-1: Product: CP2104 USB to UART
    → Bridge Controller
5  [ +0.000003] usb 7-1: Manufacturer: Silicon Labs
6  [ +0.000003] usb 7-1: SerialNumber: 010C48B4
7  [ +0.024088] usbcore: registered new interface driver
    → usbserial_generic
8  [ +0.000010] usbserial: USB Serial support registered
    → for generic
9  [  +0.003272] usbcore: registered new interface driver
    → cp210x
10 [  +0.000025] usbserial: USB Serial support registered
    → for cp210x
11 [  +0.000081] cp210x 7-1:1.0: cp210x converter detected
12 [  +0.010528] usb 7-1: cp210x converter now attached to
    → ttyUSB0

Bit of a mouthful. Let’s break it down into pieces that we can actually digest:

• Take a look at the Linux kernel modules usbcore, usbserial, and cp210x with modinfo(8). Not so scary now. Is it?

• Next, have a look at the line “usb 7-1: cp210x converter now attached to ttyUSB0”. You should understand all the lines leading up to this one; however, we need to do a bit of digging to find out what this whole “ttyUSB0” business is about. We’ll look into some other helpful things in the process.

Here we have a special file called ttyUSB0; So uh where is this file? Let’s see:

1  $ find / -name "ttyUSB0" 2> /dev/null
2  /dev/ttyUSB0
3  /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB0
4  /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:16.0/usb7/7-1/7-1:1.0/t c
       → tyUSB0
5  /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:16.0/usb7/7-1/7-1:1.0/t c
       → tyUSB0/tty/ttyUSB0
6  /sys/bus/usb-serial/devices/ttyUSB0
7  /sys/bus/usb-serial/drivers/cp210x/ttyUSB0

The path we really want here is “/dev/ttyUSB0”4. Time to do a quick check:

1  $ ls -al /dev/ttyUSB0
2  crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 188, 0 Feb 22 12:13
      → /dev/ttyUSB0

The “c” in “crw-rw–” tells us that this is a character file. The “188, 0” tells us that the “major” and “minor” number, respectively, of this special “character file”. These files are created with mknod(1). The following can be a useful pointer, when you are lost:

1  $ file --mime /dev/ttyUSB0
2  /dev/ttyUSB0: inode/chardevice; charset=binary

Good stuff. We’re getting somewhere. To find a full list of what these major and minor numbers refer to, we can have a look in the Linux kernel source tree:

1  $ less linux/Documentation/admin-guide/devices.txt
2 ...
3  188 char       USB serial converters
4           0 = /dev/ttyUSB0     First USB
                    → serial converter
5           1 = /dev/ttyUSB1     Second USB
                    → serial converter
6             ...
7 ...

That’s that part demystified. Isn’t learning great? Now you know where to get the right numbers if you want to use mknod(1) manually on GNU/Linux systems5.

Now what does all of this mean? We essentially have “cp210x” which is a discrete Linux kernel module; this Linux kernel module is then “attached” to the special file ttyUSB0; it’s this special file ttyUSB0 that the program picocom(1) will be attached to, in order to perform serial communications.

You can also see where the different parameters like “idVendor” and “idProduct” come from by taking a look at the appropriate path in the Linux kernel source tree:

1  find ./ -regex ".*cp210x.*"
2  ./drivers/usb/serial/cp210x.c
3  $ less drivers/usb/serial/cp210x.c
4  ...
5  { USB_DEVICE(0x10C4, 0xEA60) }, /* Silicon Labs
        → factory default */
6  ...

On GNU/Linux systems, you should also take a look at the path /usr/share/misc/usd.ids:

1  $ less /usr/share/misc/usb.ids
2  ...
3  10c4 Silicon Labs
4  ...
5           ea60 CP210x UART Bridge
6  ...

Now let’s have a look at what it looks like when we pull out our UTUB:

1  $ dmesg --human --follow
2  ...
3  [Feb22 15:45] usb 7-1: USB disconnect, device number 3
4  [ +0.000384] cp210x ttyUSB0: cp210x converter now
       → disconnected from ttyUSB0
5  [ +0.000164] cp210x 7-1:1.0: device disconnected

There you have it! You should understand what’s going on in that output, with your new knowledge of Linux kernel internals. Remember, tools like lsmod(8), modinfo(8), and dmesg(1) are the first things you should look at when you plug things in and out of your GNU/Linux box. This stuff is incredibly simple, if you know where to look; now you know where to look! No need to be afraid.

Finally, we have the commands:

 $ lscpi -k

and

 $ lsusb -t

You now know enough to figure out yourself what you get from lspci -k and lsusb -t6.

You now have a healthy dose of knowledge injected into your grey matter to enable you to handle special files on GNU/Linux systems7.
_____
1 Technically, there’s also different bootloaders to worry about but we’re going to ignore bootloaders for now as we have enough to deal with. It’s also very unfair to GNU to just call it “userspace”; GNU gave the world things like the GNU Compiler Collection and GNU Autotools – things without which much of software today wouldn’t exist; there seems to be mass amnesia in the computing world around this, whether it be deliberate or not. And guess what? GNU was about freedom, first and foremost.
2 i.e., how much junk the software you want to use depends on. It’s a great way to filter out bloatware. You will also be able to learn to spot “common denominator” programs software of a certain type depends on. Often, this will enable you to refine your criteria for a program in order to find exactly what you need – opposed to what you think you need (or what others make you think you need).
3 However, don’t think you’re entirely immune, if you compile everything from source. Much has been infiltrated at the source code level.
4 The other paths are just as interesting. See Appendix B for details on the specifics.
5 A skill every GNU/Linux operator should have.
6 Don’t know what the options mean? RTFM.
7 Some of this special file handling knowledge applies to other POSIX-like operating systems as well, with minor details changed.

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