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04.14.14

Techrights Rising

Posted in Site News at 2:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Site traffic in March-April (2014) is increasing

Techrights traffic in 2014

Summary: Effective immediately, Techrights will do what it takes to bring back old volume and pace of publishing

LAST year was a slow year for the site for purely personal reasons. Recently we have been able to post new material regularly, even if just in links form, resulting in heavier load on the 4 cores of the site’s server (with Varnish) and also increased traffic, which peaked in the past week. In prior years like 2009 we were able to publish almost a dozen posts per day; we’ll strive to get back to that. We are going to try to improve the Drupal side of the site and maybe get out of WordPress soon, for it is having security issues and is now pushing an automatic remote update feature that can act as a back door. Two more changes are imminent: daily news links will be back (we have not done those since last summer) and TechBytes, the audiocast, will be regularly released, starting this week.

03.28.14

Ubuntu News From Later March

Posted in Site News at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pundits

  • Ubuntu and the Unspoken Rules

    In the same way, the conflicts between Ubuntu and its commercial counterpart Canonical on the one hand and other free software projects on the other hand are not just about Unity, the wording of the Canonical Contributors’ License Agreement, the technical differences between Mir and Wayland, or any of the half dozen other issues being so passionately discussed at any given time.

  • Graduating from Ubuntu

    Ubuntu is famous for being a distribution where newcomers can discover Linux in a community environment. With ample support and tons of software in the repositories, it’s a distro that seems to have it all.

E-mail

Tablets

Phones

‘Apps’

  • Ubuntu Developers set Roadmap for New Software Store

    The Ubuntu developers have set out a roadmap for the new Ubuntu Software Store during a session at the Ubuntu Developer Summit. The current Software Centre in Ubuntu is pretty good and has come a long way since its creation in 2009. It gives users a way to search for new software, read and write reviews, and rate the programs they download. However the Developers seem to doing a significant overhaul of the current system for its inclusion in Ubuntu Touch. The reason for this is to make it more focused on Mobile, have better user experience and to incorporate their mobile packaging format ‘Click’.

  • Canonical founder “pretty confident” about Ubuntu app growth

    Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth (pictured) said he is “pretty confident about the pace of the app ecosystem growth” for the Ubuntu platform in the mobile market, despite the fact that it has not so far been available in commercial devices.

Ubuntu 14.04

HiDPI

Mir and Unity

Wil Wheaton

Misc.

  • Troubleshooting Ubuntu One Cloud Storage on Linux

    Ubuntu One is my go-to cloud storage system. It’s a cross-platform (Linux, Mac, Android, IOS, Windows), easy to use, robust tool that anyone can use as their cloud storage. But, even the best systems can stutter or fail to work.

  • Linux 3D graphics support for Rockchip RK3188 devices

    Developers have been porting Ubuntu and other operating systems to run on tablets and TV boxes with Rockchip RK3188 quad-core chips since mid-2013. The RK3188 chip is one of the fastest ARM Cortex-A9 processors around, and Ubuntu is surprisingly snappy on devices with the processor… but up until now there’s been no Linux support for hardware-accelerate graphics.

  • Introduction to Linux and Ubuntu

    For some, the first thing that comes in mind when asked this question is “Linux is an operating system.” This is not necessarily false, but it isn’t completely true either. Linux per se is only the kernel of the operating system, the core part of it. A Linux-based operating system comprises the Linux kernel, the GNU tools and utilities (like the Bash shell, the GCC compiler or the file manipulation tools), and, on top of these, entire desktop environments (like KDE, GNOME or Xfce), along with other applications (like a music player or an image editor) and games. That being said, it is safe to call Linux an operating system when referring to it as Linux as a whole, with everything that accompanies it.

03.19.14

Covert Apparatus Still Under Fire: Surveillance, Interventions, Drones and Beyond

Posted in Site News at 6:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Privacy

Interventions and Ukraine

  • When Lavrov Was Right

    There is no sign of any referendum on self-determination for the people of Chechnya and Dagestan.

  • Double Standards and Hypocrisy: Where are the Sanctions against the West?

    As the US and the European Union impose sanctions on 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine for helping the people of Crimea to make a democratic choice to become a part of the Russian Federation, one specific question arises – where were all the sanctions when the West was carrying out genuinely illegal wars and interventions that resulted in destruction and thousands of innocent civilians being killed?

  • Russophobia and Islamophilia

    At the tactical level, US policy has devolved to “regime change.” At the strategic level, US policy is simply incoherent, if not nihilistic; swapping corrupt oligarchs for neo-fascists or religious zealots. The logic for supporting recent coups have little to do with common sense — or democracy. And with Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, and now the Ukraine, language needs to be coined to avoid words like coup.

  • If Mankind Is To Survive It Must Prosecute US NATO Genocide

    Sooner or later, leaders in nations cleverly slandered by a monopolized media and brutally attacked by USA covert violence and murderous interventions will defeat this evil by quoting to the world the outraged words of famous Americans who bravely condemned their nation’s many atrocities – the most recent three of whom were shot to death.

Drones

  • Obama’s Drones Made Simple
  • The New Center of Obama’s Drone War
  • Column: The new center of Obama’s drone war shifts locations

    Last month I noted that we’re in the midst of the longest pause in drone strikes in Pakistan since the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency. The pause corresponds with the Pakistani government’s halting efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban, but also reported discussions within the U.S. government about whether to kill a U.S. citizen accused of collaborating with al-Qaida in the country.

  • Operation Peace: Drones’ real calling to help civilians instead of striking them dead
  • CODEPINK Snow Day at the Department of Homeland Security

    When the documentary ended, to our surprise, Johnson himself came out to talk to us. After an intense discussion about the ethics and efficacy of drone warfare, he invited us for a follow-up meeting once he was confirmed at the DHS.

  • Our nation on the hot seat

    On March 14 the U.N. Human Rights Committee meeting in Geneva began a two-day examination of the U.S. human rights record, its first since 2006. The Committee is charged with upholding the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a U.N. treaty that the U.S. ratified in 1992. At this meeting the U.S. came under sharp criticism for its counter-terrorism tactics of using unmanned drones to kill al-Qaida suspects, its transfer of suspects to other countries that practice torture, and its failure to prosecute any of the officials responsible.

    The U.S. rejected this criticism, however, stating its belief that the rights treaty “imposes no human rights obligations on American military and intelligence forces when they operate abroad.” “The United States continues to believe that its interpretation—that the covenant applies only to individuals both within its territory and within its jurisdiction—is the most consistent with the covenant’s language and negotiating history.”

  • Exclusive: U.S. Boycotts U.N. Drone Talks

    Pakistan is trying to push a resolution through the United Nations Human Rights Council that would trigger greater scrutiny of whether U.S. drone strikes violate international human rights law. Washington, though, doesn’t want to talk about it.

  • US seek to hide deadly drone attacks in Yemen, civilians killed by mistake

    The almost weekly US anti -terror attacks in Yemen and Pakistan rarely make American newspapers’ headlines. But when there are claims that innocent civilians have died in a drone strike mistake it creates news around the world. In one of those deadly drone attacks in Yemen on a convoy of 11 trucks carrying 60 men to a wedding, between 12 and 17 people were killed in four vehicles and many others wounded turning the wedding procession into a slaughter.

  • Four U.S. citizens killed in Obama drone strikes, but 3 were not intended targets

    As LaRouche Democrat and U.S. Senate candidate Kesha Rogers of Texas calls for the impeachment of Democratic President Barack Obama, she lists among her reasons the “assassination” of U.S. citizens.

    Rogers says on her campaign website that Obama violated the Fifth Amendment “with the avowed assassination of at least four American citizens, Anwar Al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son, Samir Khan, and Jude Mohammed, without benefit of due process of law. Indeed, the death warrants against these individuals were effectively signed in secret, in a committee which is overseen directly by the president.”

  • U.N. Urges Probe of Drone Strikes

    A new United Nations report has called for independent probes of a series of drone attacks that have killed civilians around the world. Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights, identified 30 drone strikes – most of them by the U.S. – in which civilians were killed, badly injured or threatened. They include a U.S. drone strike on a wedding party in Yemen that killed as many as 12 civilians in December. While drone strikes in Pakistan appear to have declined, strikes in Yemen increased and civilian casualties tripled in Afghanistan last year.

  • Drones: Obama’s dirty war
  • Locations of drone attacks changing to Afghanistan and Yemen
  • Drone sculpture construction begins

    DeLappe is hoping not only to memorialize those killed by American drones, but also to bring attention to America’s drone policies.

  • Adhere to U.N. report and lift veil on drone policy

Military

  • Army Makes Case Against Enlisting

    Jacobus claims that members of the military are not disproportionately from poor backgrounds, and indeed some studies seem to back him up. And, indeed, most members of the military, when asked if they joined to “serve their country” answer yes. But three-quarters also say they joined for education benefits, which makes one wonder what the impact on recruitment would be if the United States made education free or affordable the way other nations do. And, if that happened, what would be the further effect on susceptibility to Pentagon propaganda of a populace with a higher education level?

  • Why US Journalists Have Blood on Their Hands
  • The Air Force Isn’t Ready to Replace the A-10

    The less expensive option is using drones for close air support. The cost per flight hour of a Predator drone is just $3,769. However, as Cockburn’s piece illustrates, drone technology and cameras just aren’t there yet.

  • The Air Force Wants to Replace the U-2 with a Drone Program It Tried to Kill
  • Obama’s Imaginary Foreign Policy ‘Caution’
  • The Iraq War: Forgotten in Plain Sight

    This decontextualized rendering of violence in Iraq as a sort of atmospheric condition of the country is, sadly, typical of much of the reporting in Iraq today. It not only fails to explain political divisions and struggles in Iraq in a meaningful way for US readers. It also fails to explain how this violence is a direct consequence of the US invasion and occupation, blaming the victim for the violence that is our sour bequest to them.

CIA

Civil Rights

  • Convicted Hacker ‘Weev’ Gets Another Chance At Freedom

    Weev Appeal Andrew Auernheimer Appeal Identity Theft AT&T Ipad Hacker Technology News Cybersecurity Weev Auernheimer Weev Andrew Weev Auernheimer Hacker Ipad Hack Andrew Weev Auernheimer Goatse Security Security Researchers Andrew Auernheimer Technology News

Censorship

03.11.14

Education Freedom: Growth of FOSS and Sharing (e.g. Open Access) in Educational Institutes

Posted in Site News at 9:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Education

Open Access

02.16.14

Great News for Start of the Week: The H is Back!

Posted in Site News at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

H Online

Summary: Heise’s journalistic work covering Free and Open Source software is resurrected, thanks to pressure from concerned followers and former writers

EARLIER this year we sent many E-mails back and forth, exchanged ideas in social networks, and also wrote some articles urging Heise to bring The H back to the Web. A lot of effort was put into it before and behind the scenes. Last week there was a turning point and we seemed close to achieving our goal; with Linux Devices it took several months to achieve (and a lot of persistence/effort), but this time it took only weeks. Digital preservation is very important to Free and Open Source software. Without it, it’s hard to inform the public and improve the perception of Free/Open Source software.

“The H-Online UK archive appears to be up again,” said David Gerard from Wikipedia, “with old URLs working.” Fantastic!

In other news, after a day-long struggle we’ve managed to restore Tux Machines (news aggregation site) to a fully working order after some issues with caching (it turned out to be a conflict between Drupal cache and Varnish cache). Several improvements (security- and access-wise) were made in this process.

In the coming week we shall have plenty of interesting articles (opinions and original reporting) to share. We are starting to increase the pace of publication again, after a relatively slow 2013.

Our ambition to save those inactive sites (with no new articles in them) from going offline was partly driven by concerns that journalism is drying up a bit when it comes to software freedom (less so when it comes to Linux). Some Linux-oriented events may as well still be alive (e.g. SCALE 12x [1,2]), but audiocasts are becoming fewer [3,4] (there are new arrivals though [5]), magazines are becoming fewer (Linux Journal is still going [6], but its Web site is hardly active), emerging Linux-related events are about proprietary software [7] with DRM or other restrictions [8] (taking place in Seattle, near Microsoft), leaving interview and such interactions to few community sites [9]. Keeping existing literature and references alive is the least one can do to secure an identity and defend from misinformation, revisionism, etc. Groklaw has always been exceptionally serious when it comes to long-term preservation of information, but it too is now an inactive site. Slashdot seems to be going down the same path.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. SCALE 12x: Penguins Invading Los Angeles
  2. SCaLE 12X
  3. arkOS
  4. Podcast Season 6 Episode 0 – pilot
  5. Bad Voltage in 2014

    In 2013 we kicked off Bad Voltage, a fun and irreverent podcast about technology, Open Source, gaming, politics, and anything else we find interesting. The show includes a veritable bounty of presenters including Stuart Langridge (LugRadio, Show Of Jaq), Bryan Lunduke (Linux Action Show), Jeremy Garcia (LinuxQuestions Podcast), and myself (LugRadio, Shot Of Jaq).

  6. February 2014 Issue of Linux Journal: Web Development
  7. Steam Dev Days Videos Are Online
  8. Humble Audiobook Bundle released
  9. Interview With Sancho Lerena From Pandora FMS

    Hello Unixmen readers, today we have a special guest here at our desk! Ladies and gentlemen, we present you our friend Sancho Lerena from Pandora FMS. In case it doesn’t ring you any bell, Pandora FMS is a monitoring software which helps you to detect problems before they happen, managing your IT infrastructure: servers, networking and applications. So, if you want to find a job or if you are currently employed as Linux/Network Administrator then you should be aware of it. Here’s a little summary of Pandora from Unixmen.

02.10.14

Techrights Joins ‘The Day We Fight Back’

Posted in Site News at 4:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

header

Summary: A Tuesday protest, titled ‘The Day We Fight Back’, has got our support

TECHRIGHTS has covered mass surveillance for a number of years now. Information about the NSA, for example, has been mostly accessible, but it was not widely published (corporate media was complicit) and there were no leaked documents to factually support key claims. At times, the truth did get published, only to be followed by puff pieces and clever denials by the abusers and their accomplices or collaborators (people like Rupert Murdoch). Noise outweighed the signal and left some people uncertain.

This week, just ahead of ‘The Day We Fight Back’, a new site run by two journalists who personally spoke to Snowden in Hong Kong and then broke NSA stories officially became public. There are some stories derived from it below. A lot of the stuff we now know is not necessarily new, but the public reaction, press reaction, etc. leave us hopeful that ‘new media’ is possible, even if the publisher cannot be trusted.

  • NIST continues using SHA-1 algorithm after banning it

    The SSL certificate for www.nist.gov is signed using the SHA-1 hashing algorithm, and was issued by VeriSign on 23 January 2014, more than three weeks after NIST’s own ban came into effect. Also issued this year, NIST’s “Secure File Transfer Service” at xnfiles.nist.gov uses a SHA-1 certificate.

    An attacker able to find SHA-1 collisions could carefully construct a pair of certificates with colliding SHA-1 hashes: one a conventional certificate to be signed by a trusted CA, the other a sub-CA certificate able to be used to sign arbitrary SSL certificates. By substituting the signature from the CA-signed certificate into the sub-CA certificate, certificate chains containing the attacker-controlled sub-CA certificate will pass browser verification checks. This attack is, however, made more difficult by path constraints and the inclusion of unpredictable data into the certificate before signing it.

  • IBM developing Self-Destructing Microchips for US Defense

    Science Fiction Movies always show the possible direction of the development of technology and gives us the opportunity to think about it. The U.S. Government is also trying to develop such technology that was introduced in movies like Star Trek and TERMINATOR i.e. Self destructing Network of computers, Sensors and other devices.

    [...]

    The project announced a year back, known as Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR), which is dedicated to developing a CMOS microchip that self-destructs when it receives a certain frequency of radio signal from military command, in order to fully destroy it and preventing it from being used by the enemy.

  • Glenn Greenwald’s New Site Goes Live With NSA Allegations

    Glenn Greenwald’s new site devoted to the security leaks of Edward Snowden and broader “adversarial journalism” has launched as The Intercept.

    The site is led by Greenwald and two other noted investigative journalists – Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. Scahill takes the lead bylines with Greenwald on the site’s first major story – an investigation of the NSA’s role in locating targets for U.S. drone strikes.

  • NSA Refuses to Confirm or Deny Whether It Has Documents on Spy Program It Already Talked About

    I’m getting a kick out of the letters the National Security Agency (NSA) has been sending me in response to my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

    A couple of weeks ago, the NSA refused to release 156 pages of draft talking points the agency created in the wake of the Edward Snowden leak, citing a “grave threat” to national security if any portion of the documents were declassified and released.

    Now, the NSA is refusing to confirm or deny whether it has documents on a top-secret surveillance program the agency has acknowledged exists and discussed publicly.

    This is the backstory.

    On January 16, The Guardian published a report based on documents the newspaper obtained from Snowden identifying an NSA program called DISHFIRE, which captures 200 million text messages a day from around the globe, “pretty much everything it can,” according to an internal NSA document published by The Guardian.

  • New Photos of the NSA and Other Top Intelligence Agencies Revealed for First Time

    Over the past eight months, classified documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have exposed scores of secret government surveillance programs. Yet there is little visual material among the blizzard of code names, PowerPoint slides, court rulings and spreadsheets that have emerged from the National Security Agency’s files.

  • Gov’t Officials Leak Classified Info To Journalists To Discredit Snowden For Leaking Classified Info To Journalists

    We already mentioned the bizarre NY Times article from over the weekend that described how Snowden apparently used some basic web crawler software to collect the documents he later leaked. As we noted, the basic story itself is unremarkable, other than for how the NY Times tried to turn “man uses basic tool” into a story. However, there is a really good quote from Snowden himself (via his lawyers) in response to the article. Since most of it involves senior government officials telling NYT reporters about security problems at some NSA facilities, Snowden was quick to point out the irony:

    “It’s ironic that officials are giving classified information to journalists in an effort to discredit me for giving classified information to journalists. The difference is that I did so to inform the public about the government’s actions, and they’re doing so to misinform the public about mine.”

  • What Key NSA Overseers Don’t Know About the Phone Dragnet

    Is the National Security Agency collecting and storing data on fewer telephone calls than we thought? So say reports in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and New York Times. “Although intelligence officials have indicated since last summer that the National Security Agency was vacuuming up nearly every American telephone record for counter-terrorism investigations,” the L.A. Times reports in its version, “officials acknowledged Friday that the spy agency collects data from less than a third of U.S. calls because it can’t keep pace with cellphone usage.”

  • GCHQ – Don’t Spy On Us

    On Tuesday, internet users all over the world are standing up to say no to GCHQ and the NSA’s mass surveillance. Over the last eight months we’ve heard plenty about how intelligence agencies monitor us on the Internet.

  • ‘The Day We Fight Back’ against NSA spying is Tuesday

    Even though the movement is mainly aimed at pushing the U.S. government to take action, more than 5,000 websites from around the world have committed to participating in some way to speak up for privacy protections. Some notable names taking part include the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and the Libertarian Party, which will run banners on their websites asking users to write their legislators and raise hell.

  • Report: NSA Relies on Unreliable Phone Data for Drone Strikes
  • NSA spying undermines separation of powers: Column

    The program makes it easy for the president to spy on and blackmail his enemies.

  • Omidyar online magazine launches with fresh NSA story

    The online news venture backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar debuted Monday, featuring fresh revelations about US intelligence from investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald.

    The news site dubbed “The Intercept” launched with two articles, including one co-authored by Greenwald stating that the US National Security Agency is relying on electronic surveillance, such as cell phone location, rather than human intelligence, to locate targets for lethal drone strikes.

    The report said the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone for raids and drone strikes to capture or kill suspected terrorists.

  • NSA ‘drone strikes based on mobile phone data’

    The US National Security Agency (NSA) uses electronic surveillance rather than human intelligence in lethal drone strikes, it has been reported.

    The new publication headed by Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the news of US government surveillance in The Guardian, claims the revelations were made by a former US drone operator.

  • The Intercept, the first online publication from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, is now live
  • Omidyar’s ‘Intercept’ launches with new NSA revelations
  • Lights Out for NSA? Maryland Lawmakers Push to Cut Water, Electricity to Spy Agency Headquarters

    The National Security Agency’s headquarters in Ft. Meade, Md., will go dark if a cohort of Maryland lawmakers has its way.

    Eight Republicans in the 141-member Maryland House of Delegates introduced legislation Thursday that would deny the electronic spy agency “material support, participation or assistance in any form” from the state, its political subdivisions or companies with state contracts.

    The bill would deprive NSA facilities water and electricity carried over public utilities, ban the use of NSA-derived evidence in state courts and prevent state universities from partnering with the NSA on research.

  • Surveillance by NSA violates 4th amendment

    What is the NSA, and what does it do? The NSA is the National Security Agency. This program is funded by the “government” – in other words, us.

    As it says at nsa.gov, its commitment is to combat terrorism around the globe, support and protect our troops in the field and adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the laws and regulations of the United States.

    The NSA began to expand its programs after the 9/11 incident in New York. George W. Bush was president at the time. President Obama is now enforcing and expanding the program.

  • Death By Metadata: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Reveal NSA Role in Assassinations Overseas

    In the first exposé for their new venture, First Look Media’s digital journal The Intercept, investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal the National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes. The NSA identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cellphone tracking technologies, an unreliable tactic that has resulted in the deaths of innocent and unidentified people. The United States has reportedly carried out drone strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cellphone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike. Scahill and Greenwald join us in this exclusive interview to discuss their report and the launch of their media project.

  • NSA Metadata Used For Drone Strikes

    Contrary to the continual rationalizations by NSA defenders such as President Obama that metadata is benign – that it is only used to see patterns not identify individuals – it is now being reported that metadata alone is the basis for lethal drone strikes. According to First Look Media metadata, not human intelligence, is the tool the NSA is using to locate people to be assassinated by drone strikes.

  • Snowden accused of using hacking’s greatest weapon to access NSA files: wget

    Exfiltrated data said to be using previously unknown port 80. Experts remain amused by media hype.

    [...]

    So this is where the FUD and comical nature of this story starts. In essence, the big news here is that Snowden used wget, or something similar, to mirror the NSA’s SharePoint archives. This isn’t mastermind-level hacking, it’s something at any network administrator would know how to do.

  • 75 Percent of Defense Contractors Say NSA Revelations Changed Their Security Practices
  • When NSA Error Leads to Innocent People’s Deaths

01.24.14

Amid NSA Scandals and Revelations Delhi Government and European Governments Are Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

Posted in Site News at 8:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A torrent of migrations and policy changes (facilitating imminent migrations) serve software freedom, not just in lip service but also in practice

TIMES are exciting for Free/libre software, especially if you work with the public sector (as my wife and I do). Governments are rapidly moving towards software that can be audited, partly motivated by scandals that revolve around pricing/lock-in, privacy, and digital autonomy (independence from developers abroad).

To give some recent examples of success stories and transformations, the Delhi government is about to switch to Free software following Stallman’s visit [1] and the German state of Schleswig-Holstein is following the footsteps [2] of Munich [3,4], which now uses GNU/Linux, not just Free software. Moving a little southwards, Regione Umbria (Italy) is moving to Free software [5], probably for financial reasons [6] and also a desire to conform to new policies [7-10]. Even here in the UK, which has traditionally been Microsoft-friedly, pro-FOSS policies are being made stronger [11-12] and it shows (hawks in Ireland get slammed for going the opposite way [13]).

Looking more broadly and generally, Red Hat recently wrote about “an open source policy that works in practice” [14] and Red Hat deserves credit for approaching politicians on these matters, making a real difference and inducing change. In European Parliament itself there are already changes under way [15] to address ill dependence on proprietary software that facilitates spying. After European parliamentarians found out that they had been spied on by the NSA, who can blame them? It’s espionage. No government should ever use proprietary software; it’s not just about transparency and savings (accountability to the public) but also national security. How can a nation depend on secret code from another country, or even secret code from a private company therein/within?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Delhi government to switch to free software

    Delhi: Delhi government is set to opt for free software. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held initial discussions with free software guru Richard Stallman. The meeting was facilitated by Joseph C Mathew, former IT advisor to the Chief Minister of Kerala V S Achuthanandan, before he was shunted out falling foul of the powerful official faction of the CPI {M} in Kerala. The first phase will be introduced in the education sector. Significantly, this new initiative follows close on the heels of Kejriwal’s announcement that monopolies will not be allowed in the retail sector. Stallman said that he shared the philosophy of the Aam Aadmi Party.

  2. More and more open source in Schleswig-Holstein

    The German state of Schleswig-Holstein is gradually increasing its use of free and open source. “The use of this type of software solution has increased over the last years, mostly in the area of web and application servers”, a state spokesperson explains. ” We still rely on closed-source products as they are required for specific governmental applications.”

  3. Summing Up Munich’s Migration To GNU/Linux
  4. LiMux – the IT evolution – An open source success story like never before

    In a process spanning ten years the Munich city administration has migrated from a proprietary, vendor-locked IT structure to a free, open-source and flexible Linux-based solution. Although this could save the municipality millions of Euros, other reasons and benefits make the changeover even more attractive.

  5. Regione Umbria awarded for the migration to LibreOffice

    LibreUmbria, the migration project of Regione Umbria to LibreOffice, has been awarded a prize for innovation – for metholodology and process – as one of top 10 Italian government projects in 2012/2013.

  6. The Italian Diet Crisis
  7. Italy is latest to promote open source software in public procurements

    In December, the Italian government issued final rules implementing a change to procurement law that now requires all public administrations in the country to first consider re-used or free software before committing to proprietary licenses. Importantly, the new rules include an enforcement mechanism, which can, at least in theory, annul decisions that do not follow these procedures.

  8. Italy puts Free Software first in public sector
  9. Italy posts benchmark open vs closed software

    The Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale (AGID) on Wednesday posted the criteria and guidelines on how to compare open source and proprietary software. The document is to help public administrations to give priority to free and open source solutions, and to the re-use of software paid for by public administrations. As part of the preparation, AGID during the past year held several meetings with industry experts, including free software specialists.

  10. Italian govt agencies to consider Free Software before commercial software

    The Italian Digital Agency has recommended that its government’s agencies consider Free Software alternatives before purchasing licenses for commercial software.

    Recommendations like this tend to come from European governments, never from government agencies over here in our America, even though it will save a ton of money.

  11. Freedom In Software And Hardware At The UK Cabinet Office
  12. First steps on the Cabinet Office technology transformation journey

    Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has led the drive to change how technology is used across government, yet he has acknowledged that the IT used by staff in his own department is poor.

  13. Fine Gael calls for open source browser crackdown

    Irish politician Patrick O’Donovan of the Fine Gael party has called for a crackdown on open-source browsers, calling them a gateway to an ‘online black market’ filled with ‘illegal goods such as drugs, weapons and pornography’ – but may, perhaps, be merely confused as to his terminology.

  14. An open source policy that works in practice

    While many customers are aware of open source software and encourage its use, they are also wary of intellectual property contamination—which is alright and understandable. There are customers who do not want to be bothered regarding each and every tool used, while others are extremely concerned and put every open source tool or program through an approval process. The policy can be tuned as per each customer’s preference. For example, a set of commonly used tools may be listed and pre-approved in the Statement of Work or other agreement prior to the start of project.

  15. EP Green/EFA to use open source to secure email

    The Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament “is reaching out to the Free Software community”, in order to achieve trustworthy email encryption, the group announced this weekend. The political block objects to the mass surveillance by companies and governments, as disclosed the past year by Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the US’ National Security Agency. The group is starting a test, laptop computers running a tailored version of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution.

12.25.13

Techrights Plans for 2014

Posted in Site News at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: As 2013 (nearly) comes to an end we look back at this year, reflecting and looking ahead at the coming years

2013 was a relatively slow year for Techrights, mostly for personal reasons and nothing related to the volume of news. In recent months there has been only scarce coverage of patent issues; this was due to lack of time but also a sense of despair. Allowing corporate influence in this area has taken us nowhere but fake ‘reforms’ which make elimination of software patents in the United States too distant a dream. The same thing in copyright policy motivated people like Professor Lessig (of Creative Commons fame) to ‘guerilla’ activism and sometimes suicide (Swartz). Lessig, a friend of Swartz, turns his attention to political corruption and next month he and many others will march in protest against such corruption. Without some political action we cannot expect good technology to be triumphant. It’s sad, but that’s how the world works.

As noted yesterday, 2013 was good for GNU/Linux and the future holds promise. In terms of journalism, however, 2013 was very bad. Putting aside the important leaks about the NSA (which served us well for the second part of the year), surveillance put an end to the excellent site Groklaw while several other excellent sites, including The H, pretty much died for financial reasons. By now it should be realised that unless we as readers support the sites we like they are likely to simply vanish or produce less output (I now work full time elsewhere and my wife does too). A few months ago Tux Machines was put on sale because the personal affairs of its founder threatened to put an end to it; my wife and I put our savings together to acquire and to keep running it. Now that site is very much focused on GNU/Linux and to a lesser degree on Free software in general. Here in Techrights things are getting more political, usually in a way that directly relates to technology. We oughtn’t shy away from politics. Good (as in benign, benevolent and technically better) policy will be imperative for progress. Without it, corruption like bribes (i.e. money) will determine who benefits from government contracts.

For quite a few years it has been possible for me to produce a daily (sometimes bi-daily) summary of links, informing readers of important news and sub-categorising it for easier absorption. I can no longer do this. It’s too much. A lot of readers appreciated it, but it’s no longer sustainable. Instead I occasionally post articles with relevant recent news appended and bits of commentary throughout. In 2014 it will stay the same unless readers have suggestions. Until a couple of years ago I was able to work on Techrights as though it was a full-time job (with salary of zero). Right now, if the goal is to keep the site going and always with both eyes on the ball, then cooperation is needed, e.g. contribution of articles, help in IRC (dropping links there can help), and even financial help. Of course one could turn rogue and serve privacy-infringing (remotely-hosted) ads — even full-page ads like Phoronix does — but that would defeat our goals and rightly make us look like hypocrites.

Techrights — like today’s Tux Machines (I’ve removed the ads from there) — is viewed as a public service. It’s not a business and not a job. It was never perceived that way. To help Techrights or Tux Machines is not to help some kind of business; it’s to help a cause, an idea, a process.

In 2014 we are going to release quite a few new videos that I recorded with Dr. Richard Stallman. These would already have been released if I had more time to edit. For those who wonder about TechBytes (audio), editing takes a long time (especially with music segments, as the rest is raw and unedited) and there are other issues because Tim, my co-host, may soon be moving to the United States. The show began in 2010 and in its current form it’s mostly centred around Richard Stallman, a person whom we agree with on many subjects.

As always, those who can financially support the site (to motivate more output) will be eternally remembered because currently there have been no more than half a dozen people who chose to do so. The sacrifice of time is ideologically driven, not business-driven. Techrights will never be anything resembling a business, just a site that gives readers what they want.

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