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12.10.13

FreeBSD Lost Trust in Hardware Makers, Alleging NSA Tampering

Posted in BSD, UNIX at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FreeBSD

Summary: FreeBSD believes that the NSA tampered with hardware-level random number generators

LINUX may have been made vulnerable by the NSA et al. [1, 2, 3, 4]. There are a lot of speculations and even active discussions about random number generation in Linux, especially as implemented in hardware (e.g. by Intel). Without sufficiently high entropy in random number generators, not only would Linux as a kernel be vulnerable; SSL and SSH too would suffer.

Some of these issues we have covered here before, noting that Red Hat works a little too closely with the NSA. Right now we are quite fascinated by the news [1,2] that FreeBSD won’t use Intel’s and Via’s hardware random number generators. Why? NSA.

In other news about FreeBSD, version 10 is approaching [3,4] after 20 years of development and it should have better graphics support [5]. Marking yet more milestones, the operating system “Is Getting Into The Magazine Business” [6], it runs in the record-breaking [7] PS4 (in some sense [8]). and it should be released some time this month [9]. FreeBSD is not the only BSD game in town (DragonFlyBSD gets some attention [10,11]), but it it the leading among the BSDs, so its voice when it comes to privacy and security issues sure counts.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. FreeBSD won’t use Intel & Via’s hardware random number generators, believes NSA has compromised them
  2. “We cannot trust” Intel and Via’s chip-based crypto, FreeBSD developers say

    Developers of the FreeBSD operating system will no longer allow users to trust processors manufactured by Intel and Via Technologies as the sole source of random numbers needed to generate cryptographic keys that can’t easily be cracked by government spies and other adversaries.

    The change, which will be effective in the upcoming FreeBSD version 10.0, comes three months after secret documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor Edward Snowden said the US spy agency was able to decode vast swaths of the Internet’s encrypted traffic. Among other ways, The New York Times, Pro Publica, and The Guardian reported in September, the NSA and its British counterpart defeat encryption technologies by working with chipmakers to insert backdoors, or cryptographic weaknesses, in their products.

  3. FreeBSD 10.0 Beta 4 Has Surfaced

    The final beta build ahead of the long-awaited and delayed FreeBSD 10.0 has now been made available.

  4. It Doesn’t Look Like FreeBSD 10 Will Ship This Year
  5. A Roadmap For FreeBSD Graphics Support

    The latest FreeBSD code (for 10.0) supports not only Intel KMS but also the open-source AMD Radeon driver ported from the Linux kernel. This Intel/Radeon KMS support has since trickled into DragonFlyBSD and other BSD platforms. However, not all is up to par when it comes to graphics support on FreeBSD. Here’a a road-map and test matrix with some other items still on the BSD developers’ agenda.

  6. FreeBSD Is Getting Into The Magazine Business
  7. Record Breaking Launch For PS4

    Sony’s PS4 has well and truly landed, becoming the fastest selling video game console in UK history. It overturns the 8 year record held by the original PSP and eclipses the launch week sales of both PS3 and Xbox One.

  8. It’s Official, Playstation 4 Runs FreeBSD Kernel

    Sony has just launched its PlayStation 4 console, and it seems that the rumors about being based on FreeBSD are actually true.

  9. FreeBSD 10.0 Is Still Running Behind Schedule

    There were plans originally to ship FreeBSD 10.0 as stable in November, but that isn’t going to happen. It’s not even clear if FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE will be ready to ship before the end of the calendar year, but at least progress is being made and when the release does happen there’s a great number of new features.

  10. HAMMER2 File-System Gets Stabilization Improvements

    HAMMER2 file-system improvements have landed hot on the heels of the exciting DragonFlyBSD 3.6 release.

  11. DragonFlyBSD 3.6 Does Intel/AMD KMS, DPorts, Better SMP

11.19.13

FreeBSD is Having an Impact on Leading Gaming Consoles

Posted in BSD at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FreeBSD

Summary: The role of FreeBSD in PlayStation 4 is explained and news from the FreeBSD world may suggest plenty of promise in version 10.0

NOT too long ago, FreeBSD turned 20. It has some unique features but also antifeatures. Some companies may prefer it because they can turn it into proprietary. The licence permits this. One such company was rumoured to be Sony and there is new evidence surfacing [1]. In the FreeBSD world, according to Phoronix, there is a move from GNU (GDB) to LLDB and there is also a discussion about the Bhyve virtualization hypervisor [3], which FreeBSD 10.0 is expected to boast.

BSD and GNU/Linux have co-existed for decades and there is no reason why they cannot continue to co-exist. Each has its strengths (or weaknesses) and its philosophical aspects which may appeal more (or less) to corporations. it is easy to see why a crude company like Sony — and Apple likewise — prefers BSD.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Sony’s new PlayStation 4 and open source FreeBSD: The TRUTH

    The PS4′s Orbis OS is based on the tech.

  2. Why FreeBSD Is Liking LLDB For Debugging

    Yesterday I had written how the Leadwerks Linux developer has some issues with GDB for debugging — as do other game developers. Besides game developers, BSD developers also have issues with GDB and seek for better alternatives beyond just a more liberal code license.

  3. The State Of FreeBSD’s Bhyve Virtualization

    This week in California was a one-day FreeBSD Vendor Summit and during the event was an update on the Bhyve virtualization hypervisor that is playing an important role in FreeBSD 10.0.

11.07.13

FreeBSD Turns 20

Posted in Apple, BSD at 6:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FreeBSD

Summary: A leading force in the BSD world, FreeBSD, is celebrating an important anniversary

“FreeBSD was released 1 Nov, 20 years ago,” writes iophk, “if Wikipedia is accurate.”

Here in Techrights we generally support FreeBSD, whose 10th version (as in 10.0) is almost ready [1]. Like PC-BSD 9.2, whose reviews are improving [2], FreeBSD is mature enough for people to use on the desktop (as colleagues of mine do). FreeBSD contributed towards creation of proprietary operating systems like Mac OS X, which misuse the word “free” to simply mean gratis (no cost, except the hardware that’s tied to it [3]). Therein lies some common opposition to the BSD licence, which is liberal to the extent that it allows companies to remove the liberty of downstream users.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. FreeBSD 10.0 Beta 3 Released

    The latest beta release of FreeBSD 10.0 is now available for testing.

    FreeBSD 10.0 Beta 3 features many bug-fixes, a POWER hypervisor interpartition ethernet driver, an Altera Triple Speed Ethernet MegaCore driver, a “pkg bootstrap” command, and numerous other system-level changes.

  2. PC-BSD 9.2: The daemon is in the details

    As to running PC-BSD, my experience had me constantly swinging back and forth between two thoughts: “Wow, this is a great feature, I wish more projects did this!” and “Drat, another bug, this is frustrating!” There was not a lot of middle ground between these two thoughts while running PC-BSD. It seems as though the developers tried to supply several new features for this release, all of them good ideas, but some of the implementations still have problems. Let’s start with the system installer. This is a fine piece of software. I really like that the installer can detect our hardware and warn us if some hardware support is missing. I also like the various guided disk partitioning options and the optional package selection screen. Both of these features were well implemented and I had no issues at all with the installer.

  3. Operating systems want to be free

    Two of the three major desktop operating systems are now free. And it’s likely to be a trend

10.18.13

The BSD Camp Adds Compelling New Features Like Better ZFS

Posted in BSD at 11:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FreeBSD

Summary: New releases of FreeBSD and the relevance to GNU/Linux

Free software is not a one-man race. There are numerous camps with slightly varying opinions on what freedom means. FreeBSD, one of the giants in the BSD world, is gradually approaching release 10 [1,2], having just updated 9.2 [3,4]. GhostBSD, which is derived from FreeBSD, is also worth noting [5]. Those systems not always compete with the GNU/Linux camp because there is a lot of sharing of code and packages between those two camps. Starting an argument over the level of freedom or meaning of freedom would be a waste of time and effort.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. First Alpha for FreeBSD 10 Released

    Glen Barber from the FreeBSD team announced the availability of the first alpha download of FreeBSD 10 on their mailing list. FreeBSD 10 appears to be a significant upgrade from 9, with a long list of improvements and new features. However, as is standard with FreeBSD, the most interesting features are under the hood.

  2. FreeBSD 10.0 Now In Beta With Faster ZFS LZJB

    FreeBSD 10.0 has been in alpha for just one month but announced today is the first beta of the forthcoming FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE.

  3. FreeBSD 9.2 Is Behind Schedule, RC4 Released

    The release of FreeBSD 9.2 was supposed to happen by the end of August, but instead we’re now up to the fourth release candidate.

  4. FreeBSD 9.2 Brings ZFS TRIM, ZFS LZ4, Updated DTrace

    After being challenged by days and while FreeBSD 10.0 is up to Alpha 4, the FreeBSD Foundation and its developers released FreeBSD 9.2 today as stable.

  5. Open source snapshot: GhostBSD

    GhostBSD is a FreeBSD derived, Gnome-based desktop operating system.

08.09.13

Apple Sees Ever-Developing Exodus of Key Apple People as Its Litigation Strategy Fails and Becomes Political Strategy

Posted in Apple, BSD, Patents, UNIX at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Special relationships last even after death

Obama and Jobs

Summary: Nepotism incarnated; Apple now appeals to politicians rather than judges, having lost the technical race to Linux; Apple’s top UNIX guru quits

Apple’s patent chief recently left the company, joining some prominent technical people who left this declining marketing and litigation company. The latest departure is that of Apple’s operating systems asset, who quit. As one article put it, “Hubbard left Apple last month to return to the world of open source UNIX, taking the chief technology officer post at a iXsystems, a company that offers servers and other data center hardware that runs FreeBSD.”

Concurrently, Apple continues pursuing embargo against Android devices. Apple uses the ITC and also litigates against Google through Motorola.

Mr. Pogson said, “When Is Prior Art Not Prior Art? When The US Federal Circuit Ignores It.

Yes, Apple enjoys special treatment again. As Pamela Jones put it, “Apple started the show in this particular tent of the overall smartphone patent wars circus, suing Motorola at the ITC for infringement of various claims of Apple’s ’607 and ’828 patents, which are about touchscreens and multi-touch.”

“Apple keeps trying to cheat and game the system; when its claims are found to be empty it cries to its government and gets its way.”And let’s not forget the recent pardon to Apple from the president of drone assassinations, illegal surveillance and torture. The US government is superseding the law especially for Apple as the Obama administration pushed back against an embargo. Jones had this to say about it: “So, it was a bit like the papal special dispensations of history, where the law said X, but you are let off the hook from having to keep it. That makes Apple’s reported public response particularly offensive, when it said, “Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.” Samsung didn’t abuse the patent system. It was, as you will see, exactly the opposite, according to the ITC Opinion. And while the President can do whatever he wishes regarding public policy, the ITC followed the statute, since it has no policy powers. In short, one unavoidably must conclude that if Samsung had been the US company and Apple the Korean one, there would have been no pardon. That’s the bottom line, I’m afraid. As Jamie Love tweeted, “What Froman and USTR will now have to explain is why India and other countries can’t also consider public interest in patent cases.” As I’ll show you, one of the things the ITC considered was public comments warning that changing the terms for FRAND patent owners would make sweeping changes to trade laws, and Korea has already registered its concerns. I’m all for reforming the patent system, as you know, but if you want to reform it, how about making it *more* fair, not less? Playing favorites based on country of origin doesn’t aim for that noble goal. It’s indisputable that this has harmed Samsung, and since the ITC, which examined the facts in detail, found it was the innocent party in this picture, what can be the justification for Apple’s comment?”

The US press and the US government have given Apple special treatment for far too long. The corporate press covers this like it’s a sporting match, not science. Apple keeps trying to cheat and game the system; when its claims are found to be empty it cries to its government and gets its way. One writer for CNN (corporate press) wrote:

Apple and Samsung’s fiercest battle isn’t playing out in the smartphone market.

This is simply not true. Be sure to watch the image they use. Samsung was the one attacked by Apple, it’s not mutual.

03.31.13

UEFI Continues to be a Headache for GNU/Linux Users

Posted in Antitrust, BSD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flags

Summary: Further commentary about the UEFI Restricted Boot complaint and a new interview with the lawyer behind it

The Microsoft-friendly press has been trying to demonise the group which complained about UEFI Restricted Boot. Some links were given in IRC and it would be wiser not to feed them further. Many of the responses are ad hominem in nature.

In IRC, one reader pointed out that the FreeBSD project, despite its attempts to catch up, is having problems with UEFI (not Restricted Boot yet), so it works on implementation.

Whereas OpenBSD complained early on, FreeBSD says:

UEFI Support

The FreeBSD Foundation is pleased to announce that Benno Rice has been awarded a grant to implement the ability to boot FreeBSD in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) boot environment.

The work to be done includes a new version of the loader, kernel modifications to support starting from a UEFI environment and the ability to create install media for pure UEFI systems.

“UEFI support is critical for FreeBSD’s future on the amd64 platform and I’m really pleased to be able to ensure that FreeBSD gains support for it,” said Benno.

This project is expected to be completed in March 2013.

“Here’s an example of the headaches that restricted boot causes end users,” writes the aforementioned reader. “It’s probably what Microsoft had in mind when forcing it on the OEMs.”

This new thread starts as follows:

Every Nightly Build of 13.04 has recently been Failing the DELL UEFI Security Check A.K.A. Secere Boot, and I refuse to Disable Dell UEFI Secure Boot just to run the Latest Nightly Build of Ubuntu, as I would be putting myself at a huge Security Risk if I were to get some kind of Virus/Malware that Targets Linux, Just FYI. I will return to Ubuntu Nightly Build Testing just as soon as Canonical fixes their Secure Boot Problem.

This is the type is story which shows why it’s essential to file a complaint. Even those who tried to go along with Microsoft’s anti-competitive scheme (e.g. Canonical) are being burned quite harshly.

Many articles about the antitrust complaint have been mentioned in IRC, but only one — a piece by Sam Varghese who spoke to the lawyer behind this complaint against UEFI — is worth noting. The introduction says: “The lawyer who has filed a complaint with the European Commission against secure boot in Windows 8 on behalf of some 8000 Linux users in Spain says the complaint takes “an user and developer perspective, it is an unprecedented approach to the problem of monopoly in operating systems in Europe”.”

Microsoft-friendly press mostly dances around these issues and tries to portray Microsoft as a poor victim, quoting Microsoft officials and selected European officials. It is their professional role to help the monopolist, so be careful and check whose words are being selectively presented.

03.08.13

FreeBSD Makes UEFI Mistake

Posted in BSD, Microsoft at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FreeBSD

Summary: UEFI is gaining support from FreeBSD, where Microsoft’s control over it makes this an error

MICROSOFT-controlled UEFI is a real problem. It’s about control; not control by the user but remote control by corporations. UEFI in general has been embraced by Apple, which also closed BSD to make its proprietary operating system that mistreats the users for ‘their convenience’.

The head of the OpenBSD project chastised Red Hat over UEFI restricted (by Microsoft) boot work (so did Torvalds), but FreeBSD seems to go down the wrong path by legitimising Microsoft’s anticompetitive tactics:

According to Rice, “UEFI support is critical for FreeBSD’s future on the amd64 platform and I’m really pleased to be able to ensure that FreeBSD gains support for it”. The Foundation expects the work to be completed in March 2013. Details of the work already done by Rice and what is still to be done is on the FreeBSD wiki’s UEFI page. Rice is also working on Secure Boot support for FreeBSD, but that project is still in its planning stages.

This is bad news. Ideally, complaints would have been filed against what Microsoft is doing.

10.14.12

Linux Wins the Devices OS War, Microsoft Tries to Lock it Out With UEFI

Posted in BSD, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UEFI

Summary: Microsoft responds to defeat by playing dirty, but many people speak out against this

STEVE Ballmer says that Microsoft Is a “Devices and Services Company”, notes Tracy. “Anyone else happy to see that? They don’t claim to be an OS company anymore” he says. “They are losing their grip on the market via the OS and the Windows mobile OS barely has any market share.”

Here is one such article which speaks of Ballmer’s revealing words. Some of the weakest points are being pushed forth as strengths.

Vista 8 has been slammed by several hardware companies, so what devices was Ballmer talking about? Microsoft needs a lot of brainwash to save the monopoly, so it throws billions into public relations with a dedicated shill who was appointed internally: “Guggenheimer had served as corporate vice president of Microsoft’s OEM division, and in his new role Guggenheimer replaces Walid Abu-Hadba.”

We wrote about Guggenheimer before [1, 2] due to ugly things which were done. It was about anti-competitive behaviour.

“As a side note, OpenBSD and the FSF should be praised whereas Linux Foundation denounced for playing along with this, even if passively.”Additionally, Microsoft makes Linux booting harder on hardware using UEFI requirements that writers complain about. As one put it: “EFI, and the later UEFI specification, is not the problem for Linux. The problem is Microsoft’s other requirement for any Windows 8-certified client: the system must support secure booting. This hardened boot means that all firmware and software in the boot process must be signed by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA).”

The Microsoft boosters hide the problem with UEFI, but notable figures speak out loudly: “The un-unified efforts by these distributions did not go very well with the entire open source community. OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt criticized both Canonical and Red Hat. “I fully understand that Red Hat and Canonical won’t be doing the right thing, they are traitors to the cause, mostly in it for the money and power. They want to be the new Microsoft.””

Theo de Raadt is right on this one.

Microsoft is losing the OS war because of devices. Linux and Android reign there. So Microsoft is resorting to dirty demands from device makers.

As a side note, OpenBSD and the FSF should be praised whereas Linux Foundation denounced for playing along with this, even if passively.

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