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 . Marking yet more milestones, the operating system “Is Getting Into The Magazine Business” , it runs in the record-breaking  PS4 (in some sense ). and it should be released some time this month . 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:
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.
The final beta build ahead of the long-awaited and delayed FreeBSD 10.0 has now been made available.
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.
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.
Sony has just launched its PlayStation 4 console, and it seems that the rumors about being based on FreeBSD are actually true.
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.
HAMMER2 file-system improvements have landed hot on the heels of the exciting DragonFlyBSD 3.6 release.
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Special relationships last even after death
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. █
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“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”
Summary: SCO’s proxy battle is not over and more stories emerge which serve as reminders of proxy wars
According to SCO specialist/expert Groklaw, IBM has responded to this continued effort by SCO to revive litigation more than ten years after it started. It is being summarised as follows:”IBM has filed its response [PDF] to SCO’s motion asking for reconsideration of the Court’s order denying SCO’s motion to reopen the SCO v. IBM case. I have it as text for you.
“Is SCO selling a lie again?”“IBM tells Judge David Nuffer that it doesn’t oppose reopening the case at all — in fact it says it should happen. IBM has an proposed outline on how to proceed thereafter. Its plan differs from SCO’s.”
The Microsoft booster, in the mean time, took McBride’s claims at face value and wrote: “Darl McBride, the former chief executive officer of SCO, says he was offered $2 million by the Utah attorney general in May 2009 in exchange for taking down a website criticizing an area business person. Still pursuing the years-long legal battle against Novell and IBM over Unix and Linux intellectual property, SCO needed money at the time.”
“Microsoft mostly had the press on its side when it engaged in rackteering, spinning that as ‘licensing’, so the press was complicit.”Pamela Jones wrote in her site that “So many people sent me this url, I am posting the story. Otherwise I wasn’t going to. I don’t personally believe for a moment that this is the entire story. Darl has always been good at getting the media to print what *he* says is the story, invariably that he’s been wronged, but in time we get the rest of the story. For example, while he claimed for years that SCO owned the copyrights to Unix, it turned out to be untrue. So all the “wrongs” done were done to the media and court victims of SCO. So the real question is, why is he wanting the media to tell his side of the story now, after all this time? I note the article links to the Salt Lake Tribune, which says the FBI is investigating. That’s why I was going to wait until we have more information about all sides of the story before reaching any conclusions or even linking to the Darl McBride PR.”
And later, in the middle of the weekend, she added: “Here’s a question: on what basis would Darl McBride ask for $2 million to shut down a web site that the target alleged was defamatory? Or any web site? Allegedly the target owed $200,000 or so, although he denied it, so where does the $2 million figure come in? Why would he even agree to such a deal, if he did?”
“How likely is it that trolls like these wage war at the behest of someone else.”Is SCO selling a lie again? And if so, how about fact-checking? Are mere allegations guarantee of news coverage? Maybe it depends on who’s doing it. Microsoft mostly had the press on its side when it engaged in rackteering, spinning that as ‘licensing’, so the press was complicit.
It is worth mentioning that the company dismantled by Singer’s Mafia (Elliott Associates, the vulture fund) shows its effect in weaponising patents, having just seen patents (and copyright also) on load balancers being used for extortion. One report says: “Of 33 prospective jurors that were considered, five of them had patents of their own. (This trial was in the same court where a patent-owning jury foreman was likely instrumental to Apple’s blockbuster patent win over Samsung last summer.) No word yet on whether any terms of the settlement will be made public.”
This comes amid intervention by the same thugs who gave Novell’s patents to Apple and Microsoft (CPTN). Motorola came under fire from another vulture fund, Mr. Icahn, before it nearly gave its patents to Microsoft and Apple (Google needed to grossly overpay to outbid this duopoly of patent aggressors).
“Remember which company is scanning a lot of literature (it’s not Microsoft, which dropped these endeavours).”Here is an update from a case of patent trolls fighting Google/Motorola and another naming of patent trolls by the FRAND Blog that showed Apple and Microsoft ganging up against Android using FRAND/patent pools, whose purpose is to raise the cost of Android. The blog says: “Today brought the publication of what looks like is the first lawsuit of its kind — a complaint brought by a state attorney general (here, Vermont’s) against a non-practicing entity, alleging that the NPE’s patent assertion activities constitute unfair and deceptive trade practices under Vermont state law. (The suit was actually filed May 8, but it became publicly available today when the defendant was served.) The complaint was filed against MPHJ Technology Investments LLC, a company that has been characterized by some as the “scanner troll” — because it has sent demand letters to thousands of businesses that use scan-to-email technology.”
How likely is it that trolls like these wage war at the behest of someone else. Remember which company is scanning a lot of literature (it’s not Microsoft, which dropped these endeavours). █
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Summary: Why Microsoft ‘supports’ GNU/Linux (while attacking it) and why one must never rely on Microsoft products for managing UNIXy machines
Using Hyper-V hype for eternal deception, Microsoft wants people to believe that it is playing nice with the competition, but this article reveals that words are not actions:
Microsoft’s System Center platform includes a wide range of options for configuring and managing Unix and Linux systems. However, when it comes to rolling out and managing virtual machines and creating private cloud environments, there’s not much room for Unix.
The reason Microsoft has been pretending to support rivals is that those rivals are now market leaders and it is not getting easier for Microsoft because even its booster face the reality:
Maybe the PC isn’t dead, but the upgrade cycle may be at death’s door, according to an IDC analyst.
In the wake of very ugly numbers released today by market researchers IDC and Gartner, Windows 8 is getting a lot of the blame.
It deserves that. Vista 8 is a failure that even Microsoft folks admit is a failure; this is why Microsoft is now focusing on bringing Office to other platforms and wants to ‘play nice’ with Linux. It is everything to do with profit, just like the patent extortion. Without the desktop monopoly, Microsoft at the back end becomes irrelevant too.
Recalling antitrust testimonies from Microsoft’s patent troll, and writing about lack of technical edge in Microsoft products [1, 2] (today I had to explain to someone that many people use Windows definiteluynot out of choice),
Pogson says that desktops/laptops are on the decline, citing some more numbers and analyses. The end of Windows domination was long-awaited by many. We’re beyond the tipping point now. Patents are a threat right now and so is Restricted Boot, so the next two posts will deal with each in turn. █
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Summary: BSD developers called “zealots” in a magazine from the Association for Computing Machinery
THIS bizarrely-titled item from a respectable source got the attention of some BSD developers.
“I was just reading the April’s issue of the Communications of the ACM (the flagship magazine of the Association for Computing Machinery), and noticed that OpenBSD and its developers were mentioned in one article, in a rather negative way,” writes one person in the OpenBSD lists.
“Some FRAND-pushing lobbyists are using the CACM to criticize proponents of open standards,” wrote to us an informant, who noticed this redundant attack on developers who merely did the right thing. █
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Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie (username: dmr, September 8, 1941 — October 8/9, 2011) was an American computer scientist notable for developing C and for having influence on other programming languages, as well as operating systems such as Multics and Unix. He received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology 1998 on April 21, 1999. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. [Read on]
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Summary: UNIX in the Czech Republic amid Westernisation
According to the following Cablegate cable, “The CERGE-EI library [...] has been a depository library of the World Bank. Computer facilities include a UNIX lab with high-capacity works stations and several PC labs. The ratio of computers to students is among the highest in Europe.”
It is all in ¶10 of the following cable.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRAGUE 001415
USAID FOR GEORGE LIKE, DCHA/PVC-ASHA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EZ [Czech Republic]
SUBJECT: CZECH REPUBLIC: STRONG SUPPORT FOR (CERGE-EI)
CENTER FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH AND GRADUATE EDUCATION --
REF: STATE 159943
¶1. SUMMARY: Post strongly supports ASHA financial
assistance for CERGE-EI, the leading economics doctoral
program in the region, fully-accredited in both the Czech
Republic and the United States. CERGE-EI has the best
economics library in the country, containing a wealth of
American texts and journals that teach and promote
market-based economics. END SUMMARY.
Demonstration Center for American Ideas and Practices in
¶2. CERGE-EI was founded in 1991 "to meet the post-communist
countries' critical need for economists, to educate a new
economic leadership for the region in the region." CERGE-EI
provides an "american-style" education and is accredited by
the New York State Board of Regents. Its four-year doctoral
program consists of two-years of course work followed by
two-years of supervised dissertation research. The working
language of the institution is English, and CERGE-EI
encourages its students to conduct part of their dissertation
research at partner institutions in Western Europe and North
¶3. CERGE-EI's English Department is unique among major
doctoral programs in economics, and provides students with
the skills necessary to successfully participate in economic
research and publication at the highest levels. As
increasing percentage of students in doctoral programs in the
U.S. come from non-English speaking backgrounds, visitors to
CERGE-EI frequently observe that the innovative program at
CERGE-EI and the integral role English instruction plays in
its doctoral program provide a model that should be adopted
at their own institutions.
¶4. The Executive and Supervisory Committee of CERGE-EI draw
distinguished economists from top U.S. universities: Joseph
Stiglitz from Columbia University; Philippe Aghio of Harvard
University; Orley Ashenfelter, Richard Quandt and Henry
Farber of Princeton University; Jan Svenar and Jan Kemtna of
the University of Michigan; Gerard Roland, Michelle White
and Roger Gordon from the University of California system.
Importance and Quality of CERGE-EI in the Field of Education
¶5. One of CERGE-EI's primary goals is to educate future
economic leaders of countries in transition throughout the
world. The student profile is as follows: 60 percent men;
40 percent women; 25 percent from Russia, Ukraine and
Belarus; 24 percent from the Czech Republic, 20 percent from
the Balkans; 18 percent from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia; 11
percent other former Soviet states; 2 percent from the rest
of the world. 80 percent of CERGE-EI graduates are employed
in the region. The average grade point average of entering
students is above 3.6 (out of 4.0).
¶6. A glance at CERGE-EI alumni profile speaks to the
importance and quality of its program; 38 percent of CERGE-EI
graduates find employment in the public sector (ministries,
central banks and international organizations), 25 percent in
university teaching, and 37 percent in the private sector.
Graduates include economists at International Financial
Institutions (IFIs) such as the International Monetary Fund,
the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development. Czech National Bank Governor Zdenek Tuma is a
former CERGE-EI faculty member. Graduates in the private
sector are employed by private banks Citibank Komercni Banka)
and consulting firms (e.g. McKinsey & Company, the Boston
Consulting Group). Graduates teach in Universities in the
region, in Western Europe and in the U.S. (e.g., Tilburg
University in the Netherlands, University of Iowa). When the
World Bank commissioned a major study calling form reform of
Czech capital markets, CERGE-EI professors joined the study
team to provide local expertise and CERGE-EI students were
employed to conduct data analysis.
¶7. Recognizing the critical impact of economic training on
the success of reform, CERGE-EI offered to provide doctoral
study in Prague for two Iraqi students. As such, CERGE-EI
has been at the crux of transition countries' struggle to
from a totalitarian, centrally-planned economies to market
democracies. In the words of CERGE-EI, "experience in the
post-communist world has demonstrated that early intervention
to establish an effective higher education system is a
critical component of supporting the enormous political and
social changes necessary to build democracy and prosperity."
Competence in Professional Skills, Sound Management and
¶8. CERGE-EI is a tax exempt (IRS 501C3 status) institution
subject to U.S. audits. Its 2003 budget was USD 3.0 million,
excluding grant-finance expenditures on research and other
programmatic activities. 2003 income sources break down as
26.7 percent Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic;
22.1 percent affiliate Charles University;
13.5 percent Corporate Donations;
14.4 percent International Organizations;
8 percent Earned Income including Grant Overheads;
7.7 percent Individual Donations;
6.7 percent Interest & Endowment Income;
0.9 percent Foundation & Government grants.
2003 expenses breakdown as follows:
26.4 percent Permanent Faculty;
18.4 percent Student Stipends & Mobility;
12.7 percent Physical plant & Building renovation.
10 percent library;
8.6 percent support staff
7.1 percent materials & supplies;
6.4 percent Development & Public Relations;
4.4 percent Senior Part-time faculty;
4.3 percent Computer Department;
1.7 percent seminar & research support
¶9. Established in 1992, it is simply the best economics
library in the Czech Republic, and one of the best in Central
and Eastern Europe. Econoffs toured the library and were
impressed by the number of recognizable U.S. economic texts
(used for introductory and intermediate micro- and
macro-economic courses) and U.S. economic journals. The
estimated number of registered users of the library is
currently about 2000. The library contains 25,000 books and
270 periodicals, including journals published by: American
Economic Association, American Statistical Association,
Brookings Institutions, University of Chicago Press,
University of Wisconsin Press, MIT Press, Cornell University.
Over 600 full-text on-line journals are available in the
¶10. The CERGE-EI library contains THE most extensive and
up-to-date economics collection in Central and Eastern
Europe, with over 80,000 printed items and subscribe to over
250 periodicals and electronic databases. One of the first
open-stack facilities in the region, the CERGE-EI library is
widely used by the general public as well as by students from
other institutions. Since December 1994, it has been a
depository library of the World Bank. Computer facilities
include a UNIX lab with high-capacity works stations and
several PC labs. The ratio of computers to students is among
the highest in Europe.
Local & Embassy Comments
¶11. Econoffs conducted interviews with four local contacts
from government and business sectors, as well as with
locally-hired staff at the Embassy who interact with
CERGE-EI. CERGE-EI is a highly regarded institution,
particularly known for its independent, intellectual and
theoretical academic content, and with the best library in
the country. Any criticism of CERGE-EI tends to be its
"over" emphasis on theory versus applied economics. In June
2005, the Ambassador commended CERGE-EI for its continued
leadership in higher education and success in building
partnerships with American and other international university
and training programs. In the Embassy's efforts to support
Czech-American cultural and educational exchanges, we are
continuing our partnership with CERGE-EI through the
Embassy's Office of Public Affairs.CABANISS
UNIX in general is hardly mentioned in Cablegate (only 3 occurrences in a quarter of a million cables). █
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Summary: Bad signs appear as Attachmate puts SUSE aside but continues to ‘hoard’ UNIX rights, dissociating one’s importance to the other
ATTACHMATE has been ensuring that it can maintain its status as a proprietary software company. Executives who were committed to a different agenda were mostly removed, expelled, or simply left. Mono developers were fired without exception and SUSE was relocated and relegated to Germany, where developers are now dependent on funding from Microsoft. What is actually left in Attachmate which is “open source”? Even Vibe was axed as we had predicted all along; it was in part based on Free software from Google (Wave).
Attachmate, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, is putting new people in charge and the Deccan Herald (insisting on just Internet Explorer or Netscape even in 2011) speaks about the spinoff called SUSE, which is basically partly funded by Microsoft now (to help put Microsoft tax on GNU/Linux servers). Attachmate is also the ‘owner’ of early UNIX copyrights, according to this latest report which adds:
“Novell’s board of directors adopted a resolution approving the sale, which specifically mentioned the copyrights were to be retained by Novell,” the judges said in the opinion.
This was the second time the appeals court ruled on this case. In the first appeal it reversed a lower-court ruling in Novell’s favor and sent the case back. After a two-week trial, the jury ruled Novell owned the copyrights. SCO appealed.
A spokeswoman for Linden, Utah-based SCO, Chantell Ferrin, didn’t immediately reply to messages seeking comment.
There is also a derailed analysis behind an apparent paywall at Lexology. We are still not sure what Attachmate will do with these copyrights. It is not as though the company has any commitment to Free software or to UNIX. Given the amount of time and money Novell has invested in this case, it is rather unlikely that UNIX will just be left there to rot and bring no revenue to Attachmate, even if through a sale. Unlike Novell, Attachmate has no need to keep up appearance and keep UNIX away from enemies of Linux. Will these be sold to IBM maybe? Or perhaps to some foe of Red Hat? This is a question that has generally bothered us since 2007 and we wrote about it many times before. We must pay attention to Attachmate’s actions and statements. █
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