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Links 8/4/2016: OpenMandriva Lx3 Beta 1, ubuntuBSD 15.10 Beta 4

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Free Software/Open Source

  • Free Software’s ultimate irony is its pretended lack of credibility
    Fortunately, this issue is evolving in a more positive way as the industry realizes the ubiquity of Free Software and the existence of FOSS successful businesses; change is a bit too slow to my taste however. I’ve already written this many times and I’ll write it again: FOSS is here to stay, and no amount of proprietary offers will pose a true existential threat to it. What threatens Free Software is neither bad licensing, compliance or failed projects. It’s the twisted attitude of some who refuse to consider Free Software as a viable choice while using it to generate revenue without fairly compensating its authors. A sad irony, in the end.

  • Signal: Now You Can Use Snowden’s Favorite Open Source And Encrypted Chat App
    Snowden’s favorite messaging app Signal is now available to public as there is no more invite-only option. Signal works in Chrome and can be downloaded from Chrome app store. This app is also an open source software and its code is available to view on GitHub. It biggest strength is the end-to-end encryption feature.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • OpenStack Mitaka, the 13th Version, Arrives
      The evolution of OpenStack continues. The OpenStack community has released Mitaka, the 13th version of the open cloud platform, with a focus on manageability, scalability and end-user experience. The latest version is positioned as "an integration engine that can manage bare metal, virtual machines, and container orchestration frameworks with a single set of APIs."

    • Hadoop Player MapR Wraps in SQL and JSON with Apache Drill 1.6
      MapR Technologies, which offers a popular distribution of Apache Hadoop that integrates web-scale enterprise storage and real-time database capabilities, announced the availability of Apache Drill 1.2 in its distribution back in Octobrer of last year. The company also announced a new Data Exploration Quick Start Solution, and had previously wrapped Apache Spark into its platform. Steadily, primarily through embracing cutting-edge open source tools, MapR has building out what it refers to as a fully "converged data platform."

  • Databases

    • Customers no longer “at the mercy” of Oracle with release of ColumnStore open source analytics engine - says MariaDB CTO ’Monty’ Widenius
      After making SQL databases accessible and affordable with its open source solution MariaDB has added a big data analytics tool to its portfolio

      The godfather of the open source MySQL database Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius and CTO at MariaDB says customers no longer have to be “at the mercy” of vendors like Oracle following the announcement of its ColumnStore big data analytics engine.

    • MariaDB continues assault on competitors
      Open Source database vendor MariaDB has announced its latest update a big data analytics engine called MariaDB ColumnStore. The company claims that this is a significant milestone for the MariaDB open source community and that the release is: “… the industry’s first to enable transactional and massively parallelized analytic workloads under the same roof.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice


    • IceCat 38.7.1 release
      GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0.

    • GNUnet und Informationsmacht: Analyse einer P2P-Technologie und ihrer sozialen Wirkung
      This thesis studies the GNUnet project comprising its history, ideas and the P2P network technology. It specifically investigates the question of emancipatory potentials with regard to forms of information power due to a widely deployed new Internet technology and tries to identify essential suspensions of power within the scope of an impact assessment. Moreover, we will see by contrasting the GNUnet project with the critical data protection project, founded on social theory, that both are heavily concerned about the problem of illegitimate and unrestrained information power, giving us additional insights for the assessment. Last but least I'll try to present a scheme of how both approaches may interact to realize their goals.

  • Public Services/Government

    • US Federal Source Code Policy: embrace more open source to save taxpayer dollars
      The United States White House and the federal government have already been widely reported to have adopted a degree of open source software, tools and platforms -- but this trend is now officially set to increase.

    • White House wants agencies to open source their code
      The US government is deepening its commitment to open source principles, proposing that federal agencies share software tools and release their code to developers.

      By the start of July, all federal agencies will be required to release at least 20 per cent of the software they have had specially developed.

    • Talend Announces Support for France's Inaugural Open Source School
      “We are very proud to support the open source community by participating in this public/private partnership and contributing to the establishment of the first school dedicated to open source,” said Laurent Bride, CTO, Talend. “Talend and its staff will lend their technical expertise to help develop the next generation of leaders in the field of open source, who will help further the advancement of major initiatives such as Big Data, IoT, and machine learning.”

      Recruitment for the school has already begun and its six campuses located in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Montpellier, Nantes and Paris will open in September.


  • Security

    • Linux botnet attacks increase in scale
      Hackers are using malware which targets Linux to build botnets to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS attacks) security researchers have warned.

      The so-called BillGates Trojan botnet family of malware - apparently so named by the virus writers because it targets machines running Linux, not Windows - has been labelled with a "high" risk factor in a threat advisory issued by Akamai's Security Intelligence Research Team.

    • Mumblehard takedown ends army of Linux servers from spamming
      One year after the release of the technical analysis of the Mumblehard Linux botnet, we are pleased to report that it is no longer active. ESET, in cooperation with the Cyber Police of Ukraine and CyS Centrum LLC, have taken down the Mumblehard botnet, stopping all its spamming activities since February 29th, 2016.

      ESET is operating a sinkhole server for all known Mumblehard components. We are sharing the sinkhole data with CERT-Bund, which is taking care of notifying the affected parties around the world through their national CERTs.

    • Ubuntu patches Linux kernel security bugs

    • Linux Kernel Security Bugs Patched
      Ubuntu users can install the update via the Unity Dash. To update, search the Unity Dash for the Software Updater utility and allow the program to reload the software repositories and search for new drivers. Once the Software Updater has found the updates, simply click on the "Install All" button to install them on your machine. Since this is a kernel update, you will need to reboot your device after the update. Canonical notes that the kernel updates have been given a new version number, which may require some users to recompile and reinstall all third party kernel modules.

    • Google reveals its shift to an open security architecture
      Google has revealed how it completely changed its security architecture, shifting from a traditional infrastructure to a more open model in which all network traffic is treated with suspicion.

      The project, called BeyondCorp, shifted the company from a perimeter security model to one where access to services and tools are not gated according to a user's physical location or their originating network, but instead deploys access policies based on information about a device, its state and associated user.

    • Several Linux Kernel Vulnerabilities Patched in Ubuntu
      Several patches have been released for Ubuntu, addressing vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel, including a use-after-free and a timing side-channel vulnerability.

    • DDoS Attacks with BillGates Linux Malware Intensify
      Over the past six months, security researchers from Akamai's SIRT team have observed a shift in the cyber-criminal underground to using botnets created via the BillGates malware to launch massive 100+ Gbps DDoS attacks.

    • Cisco Pushing Open-Source Snort and ClamAV Forward

      Martin Roesch, started the open-source Snort network intrusion prevention system project in 1998, eventually evolving into the base of SourceFire which he sold to Cisco for $2.7 billion in 2013. Now Roesch is the Chief Architect for the Cisco Security Business Group and Snort is still very much on its mind.

    • OSVDB shutdown leaves questions for vulnerability databases
    • Open-source vulnerabilities database shuts down

    • Vivaldi 1.0.435.42 Update Now Live to Patch Address Bar Spoofing Vulnerability
      We've just been informed by Ruarí Ødegaard of Vivaldi about the immediate availability for download of the first minor point release in the stable branch of the web browser.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Introducing the Open Source Policy Center
      Wikipedia’s content and the Android phone software are examples of the open source philosophy. Open sourcing policy analysis means that the public is empowered to contribute its skills, expertise, and passion to make government better.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Two widely used pesticides likely to harm 97% of endangered species in US
      Almost all of the 1,700 most endangered plants and animals in the US are likely to be harmed by two widely used pesticides, an alarming new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis has found.

      Malathion, an insecticide registered for use in the US since 1956, is likely to cause harm to 97% of the 1,782 mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and plants listed under the Endangered Species Act. Malathion is commonly used to treat fruit, vegetables and plants for pests, as well as on pets to remove ticks.

      A separate pesticide, chlorpyrifos, is also a severe risk to 97% of America’s most threatened flora and fauna. Chlorpyrifos, which smells a little like rotten eggs, is regularly deployed to exterminate termites, mosquitoes and roundworms.

      A third pesticide, diazinon, often used on cockroaches and ants, threatens 79% of endangered species. The EPA study is the first of its kind to look at whether common pesticides harm US wildlife.

    • Volkswagen Picks Mirantis to Build Massive OpenStack Cloud
      Mirantis on Wednesday announced that Volkswagen Group has selected Mirantis OpenStack to power its cloud applications.

      The selection process involved a series of cloud-to-cloud performance trials between Red Hat and Mirantis, one of the last pure-play OpenStack companies that hasn't been shut down or acquired. It's ideally positioned to pursue and win large-scale deals like the Volkswagen project, according to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

  • Finance

    • Strauss-Kahn's LSK Set Up Offshore Firms in Tax Havens: Le Monde
      Leyne, Strauss-Kahn & Partners, the bankrupt Luxembourg investment company tied to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s name, helped several clients open offshore firms in tax havens, according to French daily Le Monde.

      The names of as many as 31 offshore firms set up by a LSK subsidiary were found in the registers of Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, Le Monde reported Wednesday. The subsidiary’s offshore activity began before Strauss-Kahn became board chairman at LSK, according to Le Monde.

      Offshore companies can created for legitimate purposes. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer, Jean Veil, didn’t reply to requests for comment.

    • Job Totals Trail Pre-Recession Levels in 10 U.S. States
      Every candidate shouts about job creation, and some talk about the recovery from the last recession. Every month the Department of Labor releases new statistics about how many jobs have been created, improvements in the unemployment rate, and on and on.

    • DC Press Corps Spins Itself Silly Over Sanders’ Specifics
      The Washington press corps has gone into one of its great feeding frenzies over Bernie Sanders’ interview with New York Daily News. Sanders avoided specific answers to many of the questions posed, which the DC gang are convinced shows a lack of the knowledge necessary to be president.

      Among the frenzied were the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza, The Atlantic‘s David Graham and Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen, with CNN‘s Dylan Byers telling about it all. Having read the transcript of the interview, I would say that I certainly would have liked to see more specificity in Sanders’ answers, but I’m an economist. And some of the complaints are just silly.

      When asked how he would break up the big banks, Sanders said he would leave that up to the banks. That’s exactly the right answer. The government doesn’t know the most efficient way to break up JP Morgan; JP Morgan does. If the point is to downsize the banks, the way to do it is to give them a size cap and let them figure out the best way to reconfigure themselves to get under it.

    • David Cameron admits he profited from father's offshore fund
      After three days of stalling and four partial statements issued by Downing Street he confessed that he owned shares in the tax haven fund which he sold for €£31,500 just before becoming prime minister in 2010.

      In a specially arranged interview with ITV News’ Robert Peston he confirmed a direct link to his father’s UK-tax avoiding fund, details of which were exposed in the Panama Papers revelations in the Guardian this week.

      Admitting “it has been a difficult few days”, the prime minister said he held the shares together with his wife, Samantha, from 1997 and during his time as leader of the opposition. They were sold in January 2010 for a profit of €£19,000.

    • David Cameron Offshore Fund Admission Prompts Inventive 'Curses' From Critics
      Cameron's admission over the fund, which was revealed in the leaked Panama Papers, prompted commenters to curse him with diabolical plagues, from having unevenly-flavoured crisps, to broken biscuits, and permanently crinkly shirts.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • FAIR Activists Get Two Responses From NPR on Fossil-Fuel Funding Controversy readers took action in response to “Did Sanders Lie About Clinton’s Oil Money? NPR Factchecker Can’t Be Bothered to Check” (4/1/16). They got a response from NPR ombud Elizabeth Jensen (4/5/16) and a do-over from NPR factchecker Peter Overby (4/6/16)—but NPR’s coverage still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of forthrightly addressing the issue of fossil-fuel funding in the Democratic presidential race.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Texas Electric Grid Security Summit Ignores Threat of NSA
      The threat posed to our liberty by the NSA is very real.
    • FBI Plays It Coy Regarding Their iPhone Exploit
      Every since the FBI announced that it had found its own way into Syed Farook's iPhone, people have been wondering exactly how it managed to do so, and how many people the exploit puts at risk. Unsurprisingly, the agency declined to share any details with Apple and tried to downplay the possibility that they'd be breaking into phones left and right — despite pretty quickly entertaining the idea of doing exactly that.

    • What WhatsApp is not encrypting
      WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned popular messaging service, has turned on end-to-end encryption for its 1 billion users globally. This monumental move was announced on Tuesday in a blog post by company founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton: “From now on when you and your contacts use the latest version of the app, every call you make, and every message, photo, video, file, and voice message you send, is end-to-end encrypted by default, including group chats.
    • FBI crack could hit iPhone sales
      According to a poll carried out by Fortune, the FBI's cracking of the San Bernardino attacker's iPhone could have a knock-on effect on sales at a critical time for Apple.

    • Poll: Don’t Help Government Unencrypt Devices
      The results of our “Apple vs. the FBI” encryption poll are in. Most of our readers agree with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s decision to stand up to the FBI.

      Often when we run a poll on FOSS Force, the results only go to confirm what we already know. Our latest completed poll is an example. What we got was exactly what we expected. You don’t think the makers of encrypted devices, or encryption software, should help the G-Men get inside — not even with a warrant.

      The poll was our effort to check the pulsebeat of our readers during the recent attempts by the feds to force Apple to crack open the iPhone used by alleged terrorist Syed Farook, who killed 14 and wounded 27 coworkers in San Bernardino in December. Although the FBI’s actions, both their botched attempts to open the device and their ever shifting legal claims, seemed much like something out of a Keystone Cops flick from 100 years ago, the implications were too chilling for most of us to be disposed to do much laughing.

    • Open Letter from the OLN to the WP29 and the European Parliament on the Privacy Shield
      The Privacy Shield, a framework for personal data transfers towards US-based companies, is currently under negotiation. This new agreement follows the invalidation of the Safe Harbor by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), who ruled that it did not uphold a substantially equivalent protection for personal data of people protected under European law, and suggested new measures to address it. Since the draft Privacy Shield does not take these measures into account, the resulting agreement is bound to reduce the fundamental rights of Europeans.
    • Opposition mounts to NSA’s data-sharing plans
      Civil liberties and government transparency groups are rallying to oppose a new plan that would allow the National Security Agency (NSA) to share more of the information that it collects about people’s communications and activity on the Internet with other federal agencies.

      On Thursday, 33 advocacy groups signed on to a letter insisting the changes “could allow agencies like the FBI to circumvent constitutional protections and will pose new threats to the privacy and civil liberties of ordinary Americans.

      “Moreover, the reported changes would fatally weaken existing restrictions on access to the phone calls, emails, and other data the NSA collects,” they added.

      The changes, which top intelligence community lawyer Robert Litt attempted to outline last month, will give more agencies access to the reams of data the NSA picks up as part of its work.

    • California Lawmakers Manage To Turn Encrypted Phone Ban Legislation Into Encryption Backdoor Legislation
      The California Assembly has been tinkering with Assemblyman Jim Cooper's smartphone encryption ban… and for the worse. First noticed by EFF Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker, legislators have turned the proposed ban into something that accomplishes the same goals without actually "banning" anything.
    • Back Door Legislation Won't Have The White House's Support (Nor Its Opposition, Most Likely)

      Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr have been talking about legislation that forces tech companies to help law enforcement break into encrypted devices for quite a while now. Nearly a month ago, they suggested it was almost ready to be formally introduced, but indicated that the White House's response would determine when exactly that happened.

      Now, Reuters is reporting that sources in the administration told them backdooring encryption will not have the President's support, adding another question mark to when we'll actually see this bill (though there's a chance it will show up this week).
    • Adding End-To-End Encryption To WhatsApp Is Great...But Not Quite As Secure As People May Think
      Der Spiegel notes that end-to-end encryption is only available if all the participants in a conversation are using the latest version of the software. If one of them isn't, group chats will be unencrypted. That lack of consistency will make it very easy to communicate in the mistaken belief that everything is hidden, when in fact it is taking place out in the open.

    • NSA data-sharing plan opens door to mass surveillance, say rights groups
      A coalition of more than 30 civil liberty groups says that a potential change in how the National Security Agency shares data with other US agencies could jeopardize millions of Americans' privacy.

      The group that includes the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging the NSA not to pursue efforts to more widely distribute intelligence information it gathered for fear it would give law enforcement agencies access to warrantless domestic surveillance.

      "Sharing such information with US law enforcement agencies would allow them to circumvent the strict, constitutionally mandated rules of evidence gathering that govern ordinary criminal investigations,” according to a letter sent Thursday to NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • FOIA Documents Expose Details On TSA's $47,000 Coin Flipping App
      Time for yet another episode of "Your Tax Dollars Faffing About." According to documents liberated by Kevin Burke, the TSA spent a ridiculous amount of money on an iPad app that randomly generates a left or right arrow.

    • The TSA Randomizer iPad App Cost $1.4 Million
      You may have seen the TSA Randomizer on your last flight. A TSA agent holds an iPad. The agent taps the iPad, a large arrow points right or left, and you follow it into a given lane.

      How much does the TSA pay for an app that a beginner could build in a day? It turns out the TSA paid IBM $1.4 million dollars for it.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon's Attempt To Woo Millennials Is Equal Parts Creepy, Expensive And Sad
      For some time now Verizon's made it very clear it wants nothing to do with its core fixed-line broadband business. Instead, Verizon's taking a huge bet that it can transform ye olde phone company into a huge advertising and streaming media empire, with a focus on wooing (read: selling ads to) Millennials. To that end Verizon acquired AOL and its ad technology for $4.4 billion last year. It developed a highly-controversial stealth ad tech that can track these youngsters around the Internet without their consent, and it created its own "Go90" streaming video service specifically aimed at Millennials.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • South African Trade Minister Opens WIPO Conference With Call For Appropriate IP
      A two-day international conference on intellectual property and development opened today at the World Intellectual Property Organization with calls from speakers for the IP system to be applied by nations in ways appropriate to their economies, even if it means allowing copying – just as the biggest IP-holding nations did when they were developing years ago. The theme was set by the opening keynote speaker, South African Trade Minister Rob Davies.

    • Copyrights

      • Hollywood Forced SlySoft DVD Ripping Software Out Of Business, Only To Have It Return As RedFox
        It never made much sense that ripping CDs in the US is considered legal, while ripping DVDs is somehow horrible piracy. If anything, it seemed to be an artifact of history. Either way, it was much more difficult for people to rip DVDs. However, whenever the issue would come up, most people would point to SlySoft's AnyDVD product, which was a clunky, but functional bit of software for getting around DRM and ripping DVDs. The company was based in Antigua and had been around for years. So it took some people by surprise when it announced it was shutting down due to regulatory changes earlier this year. It looked like Hollywood had done what it normally does and scared an innovative company it didn't like out of business. But, as reader Derek points out to us, it looks like it only took a week or so before former SlySoft employees resurfaced in Belize with a new offering called RedFox, using a somewhat similar logo.
      • Copyright Troll Tries To Silence Anti-Troll Blogger With Law Enforcement Threats
        Okay, let's dive right into this one, because there are some details that need to be summarized before we get into the meat of this story. TCYK is a a company named after a Robert Redford film, The Company You Keep, which the company attempted to use as as a profit center by sending out threat letters to suspected copyright pirates in the UK, including to an 82 year old woman, because why the hell not? Copyright trolling and threat and settlement letters from folks like these aren't especially news-worthy, but what makes TCYK interesting is the convoluted shell-game it plays by operating from the United States and partnering with local UK businesses that barely exist just to extort money out of the public.
      • AG Wathelet: linking to unlicensed content should not be a copyright infringement per se
        GS Media was successfully sued before the Amsterdam District Court and the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, although these courts considered different aspects. The former held that by posting those hyperlinks, GS Media’s conduct had been unlawful because it encouraged visitors to GeenStijl to view the photographs illegally posted on which, without those hyperlinks, would not have been easy to find. In contrast, the Court of Appeal held that, on the one hand, GS Media had infringed copyright by posting a cut-out of one of the photographs on the GeenStijl website but, on the other hand, had not made the photographs available to the public by posting the hyperlinks on its website.

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