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12.12.13

LinuxDevices is Coming Back as Subdomain of LinuxGizmos

Posted in Site News at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LinuxDevices

Summary: QuinStreet agrees to license a decade of news stories from LinuxDevices for republication and long-term preservation

BACK in the summer we campaigned to bring LinuxDevices back to the Web (after QuinStreet had bought it and took it offline).

Well, Techrights activism in conjunction from other pressure (from site authors) over this issue has finally paid off. The founder of that site told us yesterday that he would bring back the site after all these efforts to influence QuinStreet. He got his Christmas gift a little early. He was writing for a company (for profit) and he will soon be hosting his own work that he worked hard on to produce for many years, informing a lot of people in the GNU/Linux world (especially embedded/device developers).

In essence, we have managed to rescue ~10,000 high-quality articles from ‘Internet bitrot’. It’s massive!

In the near future LinuxDevices content will be republished under LinuxGizmos.com. “It will live on a subdomain of LinuxGizmos,” the founder of the site told us. This is still work in progress (a developer is currently working on data conversions). When all the articles get indexed (which they will) all the information and other useful data will be easily reachable again. This is a victory to those who advocate for preservation, as some of us are (other Techrights members silently played a role in this).

The lesson to learn from this whole saga is that authors should insist on ownership (or copy rights) of their work. Without it, valuable work can go down the digital dustbin when a corporation has no interest in it, or it may take years and lots of immense effort to retrieve anything from this dustbin.

12.05.13

Custom-built Distributions and the 2,000+ GNU/Linux Distributions Listed by Softpedia

Posted in Site News at 8:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Archlinux

Summary: Customisation for different users, localisations, system ages etc. motivate plurality and diversity, which now yields thousands of packaged (for installation) GNU/Linux images

JUST A COUPLE of months after this previous release Arch Linux has a new final release [1,2], which even former Microsoft employees are exploring [3]. This release uses Linux 3.12 and it is targeting advanced GNU/Linux users.

The nice thing about Arch is that it’s very much custom-built by the users. It can be suitable for almost anything, including old computers which are now targeted by many different distributions [4] (Softpedia now counts as many as 2,000 distros [5]).

There are many options out there other than the well-known distros, such as Fedora, Ubuntu, and Debian. For instance, in the past few weeks/days alone we found some reviews of SolydXK SolydK 2013.11 [6], SparkyLinux 3.1 [7], AntiX 13.2 [8] Emmabuntüs 2 [9], Elementary OS [10], and Salix Ratpoison 14.0.1 [11]. These are all viable options which are typically derived from better-known distros but make some further improvemens/customisations (for those who don’t know how to build their own systems with Debian, Arch, or Gentoo). It is important to support lesser-known distros, which are the equivalnt of many automotive makers with different customisations on different models.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Arch Linux 2013.12.01 Is Now Available for Download

    Another month, another ISO image of the amazing Arch Linux operating system is now available for download, released today, December 1, 2013, on the official website.

  2. Arch Linux Is Now Powered by Linux Kernel 3.12

    This was a lot faster than expected, but the Arch Linux developers have just pushed a few minutes ago, November 14, 2013, the final and stable packages of the recently released Linux kernel 3.12.

  3. Arch Linux on a HiDPI Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro
  4. Distros For Old Computers

    Defining hardware as “older” is tricky. Newer resource hungry software levering on the pace of hardware developments is rendering even relatively newer hardware obsolete. Examples of these relatively recent “older” hardware would be single-core or dual-core AMD Athlons and Intel Pentiums.

  5. Softpedia Now Lists More than 2,000 Linux Distributions

    Yes! We are proud to announce that we have just crossed the mark of 2,000 Linux distributions, right here on our Softpedia Linux section, as you can see from the counter situated on the top right of the page.

  6. SolydXK SolydK 2013.11 review

    SolydK is the KDE edition of a line of distributions published by SolydXK, an outfit made up of an odd 4-man team. For home users they publish two distributions – SoldK and SolydX. The latter uses the Xfce desktop environment. Both distributions began as community or unofficial Linux Mint Debian projects, before the founder decided to go solo.

  7. Everyday Linux User review of SparkyLinux 3.1 Razor-Qt Edition

    The SparkyLinux website describes SparkyLinux as a lightweight, fast and simple distribution designed for old and new computers.

  8. AntiX 13.2 – More Modern But Still Some Quirks

    Blimey, it’s been a long time since I reviewed antiX already and it’s about time to give it a second look. The overall judgement may have been a bit harsh last time around and I’m going to see whether we can write a more positive piece this time. Some of the issues raised seems were valid though as the distribution has changed a bit since then. Enough of that, let’s hop right in.

  9. The Joint Contest of Emmabuntus and Linux notes from DarkDuck

    You probably know that Emmabuntüs community prepares the next release of their operating system: Emmabuntüs 2. This is the reason why I am happy to announce today a joint contest from Linux notes from DarkDuck and Emmabuntüs community.

  10. The origin and evolution of Elementary OS
  11. Salix Ratpoison – An Esoteric Distro For The Alpha Geeks

    If you don’t care much about fancy desktop bling, and think the keyboard is still the best means of interacting with the computer, then you’ll find yourself at home with Salix Ratpoison 14.0.1.

    If you haven’t heard of it before, think of Salix OS as Slackware with the convenience of a package manager.

    The developers of Salix OS think of the distro a bonsai: small, light and a product of infinite care. They prune the list of apps that make up a release to make sure they aren’t packing in multiple apps for the same job.

12.03.13

GNU is Not Linux: Richard Stallman Explains the Origins of GNU

Posted in Site News at 10:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another series of interviews coming…

Richard Stallman on chair

Summary: Stallman tells Techrights/TechBytes lesser-known details about the birth of GNU in the early 1980s

Freedom is appreciated by more and more people who now understand how freedom gets covertly derailed, either by corporations, by authorities, or both. The NSA leaks have helped people reassess their views.

A lot of the digital oppression that we now suffer from was vaguely foreseen decades ago. Back doors and other malicious features were only a few years or decades away back then; trust in computers was maintained owing to secrec; behind the scenes computers and networks turned from instruments of enablement to instruments of control (restriction, surveillance, and more). The trend we are seeing was predictable to pessimists. As times goes by the words of warning from Richard Stallman find support from a wider audience of former optimists.

Stallman’s life as a freedom activist mostly began 30 years ago. Our readers regularly ask for him to come back and share his views. Iophk pointed out that GNU’s anniversary was an opportunity to speak about the past. “Any kind of interview, either via e-mail or via SIP,” he said, “would be great.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen any retrospective yet covering where progress has actually been made. There are a lot of things that have become so common that we almost take them for granted or forget their origins.”

The interview with Stallman tries to focus on GNU as a movement and as a software project. It does cover some topics outside the area of software, but any topic other than software is not the main topic this time around. Some questions came from readers, giving an opportunity to receive a video response. Others were written in advance in order to address contemporary issues. The overview is as follows:

Part 1: the Origins of GNU

- – Can you recall the text/code editor (amongst other tools) used to initially create GNU and over time render proprietary software non-obligatory for development work?

- – What was the first GNU program?

- – How did the number of active participants vary over the years back in the 1980s?

Part 2: the Achievements of GNU

- – What is it among the goals of GNU which has not been fulfilled yet (if any)?

- – If the GNU operating system was widely preinstalled on restrictive hardware and preloaded with binary blobs, would that, in your view, be better than lesser ubiquity for GNU?

- – What will it take to break the desktop monopoly and tackle the OEM bundling trap?

Part 3: the Future of GNU

- – Do you believe that GNU receives as much credit as it deserves?

- – To what extent does attribution to GNU (which usually accompanies understanding of its principles) contribute to its sustainability as a long-term project?

- – Are you optimistic or pessimistic with respect to the future of computing as increasingly free/libre?

The interview took a short time compared to the 2.5 hours I spent with Stallman, mostly speaking off the record. Questions were also taken from readers and then answered. Someone asked me to ask “Richard what he thinks about Google? is it evil? is it lesser evil, just like in RMS’s example of lending a copy of software to your friend, even though this copy should not be copied?”

Questions were also asked about darknets and such. One person sought Stallman’s opinion on “i2p, freenet and the meshnets that are rising like Hyperborea with the altDNS deal.”

One reader wanted to “ask him to join Diaspora!”

For all those questions and much beyond them be sure to keep an eye on Techrights.

Among the topics covered we also had trolls, or those who focus on reputation damage to the Free Software Foundation, the GPL, and people who are associated with these. The interview will get split into segments and then edited as before, probably to be released over the span of the next 3 months (I work full time, so I must pace this editing process accordingly).

11.28.13

More Questions for Richard Stallman

Posted in Site News at 9:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Readers are invited to ask questions which Richard Stallman can answer tomorrow (on camera)

LAST Friday I very briefly attended Drupal Camp 2013 (the event was in Manchester) and tomorrow (Friday) I will travel to meet Richard Stallman in Lincoln. I plan to do some filming. If you have questions to Stallman or just subjects which you would like him to address, please get in touch by tomorrow morning. I am trying to get an extensive record of his views on many issues, not necessarily just software. I typically ask questions which people around the Web relay to me, so assume that your polite questions will be asked and answered.

11.19.13

GNU/Linux News Sites in 2014

Posted in Site News at 1:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paper

Summary: The scarcity of independent coverage of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and GNU/Linux and what it all means

2013 was an exceptionally bad year for news sites which focus on FOSS. The H ceased publication, Groklaw did too (this time for good), Tux Machines relinquished control due to lack of time (my wife and I keep it going now), and some blogs that focused on Linux and GNU no longer do. In addition, audiocasts which used to regularly cover FOSS no longer do (or rarely do).

“Real journalism tries to appeal to readers, not advertisers and sponsors.”For one who pursues news items and good reporting in this area, the sources became meager and some are repetitive/unoriginal. In order to keep the message out there and in order to prevent FOSS from being abducted by large corporations that sell proprietary software we really need to consider our options. If there is no light shed on the success stories of FOSS and actions of enemies of FOSS (those who seek to destroy it) we will definitely lose momentum. Sure, Linux and FOSS are everywhere, but without the community’s scrutiny companies like IBM and Google silently close down some parts (e.g. in Android) or turn them hostile (TPM, UEFI restricted boot, DRM and so on).

Free-as-in-freedom software is 30 years old, but the second half of its life (about 15 years) characterised corporate transformation under the “open source” wing or brand. Right now, even a hugely corrupt proprietary software giant like Microsoft affiliates itself with this movement. This is wrong.

Real journalism tries to appeal to readers, not advertisers and sponsors. The latter should be an afterthought and hardly a consideration at all. “Linux Voice” will be fresh breath of air because no more will its talented writers be pressured (implicitly) to write corporate sponsors-friendly articles (I have seen it from the inside); the sponsors are people who read the work and this is how it should be done. This is how independent news channels like “Democracy Now” work. It is the only way to guarantee that software patents get bashed (large corporations like IBM love them) and companies like Novell get treated very harshly for colluding with Microsoft to extort FOSS using patent lawsuit threats. The community’s voice has been an essential regulator and proactive enforcer of ethics.

“Those who honestly believe that profit-driven stewardship on its own will take us in a better direction should learn the history of Hippies and their movement.”In 2014 we won’t have many independent sites left. Those that remain deserve to get support from their readers. Ruling out a sellout, their only other option is to shut down, potentially paying for hosting to keep old stories accessible free of charge (some old newspapers turn to paywalls). Once we lose our collective voice as a community, it will all be left for corporate vultures to devour (companies like Cisco and Microsoft, which go out of their way to help the NSA).

There is an important point worth reiterating (we already made it earlier this month). Don’t count on the Linux Foundation to represent the community. It is all about corporations, which make up almost all of its budget. Recently, Juniper joined the circles of the Linux Foundation. Juniper is a company heavily occupied by many Microsoft executives who moved there. Former Microsoft staff inside those circles is now in management, too, not just membership.

Those who honestly believe that profit-driven stewardship on its own will take us in a better direction should learn the history of Hippies and their movement. The direction taken when corporations alone dominate a movement is surely good… for corporations. It gives them more power at people’s expense. They extinguish grassroots and leave activists a little sandbox to play in, mostly as a marketing exercise. In recent years it has felt like this is where the Open Source folks are taking us, unlike the FSF.

11.18.13

Privacy-Oriented GNU/Linux Advocacy a Priority

Posted in GNU/Linux, Site News at 7:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Why privacy is becoming a matter of priority in this Web site

TechRadar has a new article [1] about best GNU/Linux desktops, but it also started a wider discussion [2] about which distro is best for protecting the users’ privacy [3]. The author’s selections are IprediaOS, Liberté, Privatix, Tails, and Whonix. Most desktop users are still stuck with Windows, which is developed by the NSA and its partner Microsoft (both are involved in development), so there is a huge audience to whom we can advocate privacy-respecting operating systems. Techrightsin-progress redesign is emphasising privacy, not corruption from the likes of Novell or Microsoft. Software patents are also taking lower priority for the time being as it’s expected that more people will discover software freedom owing to privacy scandals, not outrageous patent policy or competitive abuses (which unlike privacy don’t affect them directly).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Best Linux desktop: which is ideal for you

    Linux is about choice, or so the popular mantra goes, and nothing represents this more than the plethora of desktop environments on offer. Most distros have at least five graphical environments in their repositories, and some offer double-digit numbers of choice. But why? What’s the point of all this? Surely it’s not a question of having a lot of desktop environments, but of having a single one that works properly. Well, maybe.

  2. Best Linux distro for privacy protection?

    Privacy is in the news right now, with many people concerned about the NSA spying scandal, identity theft and hacker intrusion into their computers. TechRadar has an overview of the best Linux distros for protecting your privacy.

  3. Which Linux distro is best for protecting your privacy?

11.08.13

17,000 Posts, 7 Years of Techrights, and Imminent Expansion

Posted in Site News at 12:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tux Machines server
The previous Tux Machines server

Summary: Techrights turns 7, a milestone is reached again, and Tux Machines is acquired to help advance GNU/Linux

AS pointed out by some tech/FOSS sites, we are closing the deal to buy Tux Machines. The payment has been made and within days we should be running Tux Machines, advancing GNU/Linux by advocacy.

Days ago we also quietly crossed a milestone by posting our 17,000th blog post. That’s about 2480 posts per year! We have slowed down in recent years because readers’ help is needed. Yesterday this site officially turned 7 (depending on what data is considered most significant, boycottnovell.com’s creation date is 2006-11-07 14:21:00) and if you appreciate what we do here, please consider making a contribution. The sum of contributions to this site (over the course of 7 years) is just slightly above $100, so I must depend on another full-time job.

10.31.13

Back Door (Automatic Update) in WordPress and What It Means to Techrights

Posted in Site News at 8:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Matt Mullenweg

Author: Ronny Siegel

Summary: Techrights is moving to Drupal now that WordPress introduces back doors as part of the core package

Techrights was always a WordPress-based Web site. I have been with the WordPress for nearly a decade and I met its co-founder (Mike Little) for coffee about 8 years ago, back when I was more actively involved in the development side. That was around the time this Web site started. It used WordPress 2.0 for quite a few years (and since the very start) because this version was a long-term support release (as required for inclusion in Debian GNU/Linux software respositories). Contrary to some smears and lies, Techrights never got cracked in any way whatsoever. It’s build very securely and only DDOS attacks took it down. Around 2009 there was an upgrade which resulted in very little change to the site’s appearance as consistency was a priority. In response to DDOS attacks it also added a cache proxy and more CPU cores. To the outsider (visitor), this site today looks very similar to how it looked 7 years ago. But this aging look makes it less suitable for its breadth. In fact, a blogging platform was outgrown when we added a Wiki (later in the same year) and now we deal with issues of organisational nature. WordPress has just had a release with automatic updates [1,2] (security risk in itself, but it’s toggled off by default, for now) and there is already a bugfix release [3], which in many cases will get installed automatically even though it has no security-related fixes. This can be risky if the update mechanism gets hijacked (as has happened before to other companies). Governments can compel companies to misuse this mechanism or secretly take over it* in order to install Trojan horses in the background (targeting particular sites). In any event, automatic updates come with risks that are backdoor-like; Drupal, a European project, does not have this issue, at least not yet. The front page of this site is now Drupal-powered and it is a sign of things to come. The plan is — one way or another — to make Drupal the primary component of the site without disrupting or even changing the old pages. The transition can be slow, but we’re determined to make it happen.

____
* The NSA is good at covert action and Automattic would be easy pickings for it, not just because it’s US-based (packets can be sniffed and decrypted for passwords). While I have enormous trust and respect for Matt Mullenweg, who is a charming man of integrity, I very much doubt he can challenge his government technically and legally. An intervention-free remote update mechanism is a trade-off between security and so-called ‘national security’ (the oppressors’ power). Remember that WordPress got backdoored once before (core — not plugins — in version 2.1.1). Linux too was a victim, a few years earlier (it was developed and hosted in the United States at the time). The very existence of backdoor-like mechanism is begging to be abused. Experience teaches that it does get abused, and far more often than most of us choose to believe. The more subversive sites become, the bigger a target they become for authorities’ ‘legalised’ cracking teams.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. WordPress 3.7 introduces automatic updates

    The WordPress team has announced the release of version 3.7 which makes WordPress more secure. The release is named “Basie” in honor of Count Basie.

  2. WordPress 3.7 Debuts, Improving Security for Millions
  3. WordPress 3.7.1 Maintenance Release

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