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Links 4/5/2020: Linux 5.7 RC4, GNU/Linux Desktop Share Up Sharply

  • GNU/Linux

    • Windows 10 is losing users to macOS

      Popular Linux distro Ubuntu has also seen a significant increase over the past few months.

      It now boasts 1.89% market share – over double the 0.81% it had in January, and significantly higher than the 1.18% it had last month.

      Non-Ubuntu Linux distros have decreased their market share, however, falling below 1%.

    • Windows 10 market share drops as macOS, Linux record growth

      The combined market share of Linux and Ubuntu increased to 2.86%.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Raspberry Pis, Linux laptops, Chromebooks and more: How the cornonavirus forced us to look beyond the traditional PC

        In an attempt to reduce the spread of coronavirus, many millions of people are now working from home rather than commuting to offices.

        That has put huge pressure on technology teams to make working from home possible, and has also forced many of us to rethink the tools that we use.

        Foremost among those tools is the PC. Sales have been in steady decline, with occasional upticks, for some years now, and the first three months of this year continued that trend -- but for different reasons.

        Much of that first-quarter decline was down to limited supply, with China's PC factories closing early in the year due to the coronavirus. The impact of that shortage was amplified because once the coronavirus spread around the world, there was a sudden increase in demand for PCs as companies and consumers tried to get hold of laptops for work, education or entertainment at home.

        "Once coronavirus-related lockdowns expanded to other regions, there were new, sudden pockets of PC demand for remote workers and online classrooms that PC manufacturers could not keep up with," noted analyst firm Gartner.

        A minor but interesting consequence seems to be an increased interest in PC alternatives -- whether because of lack of supply or simply because businesses and consumers have had to respond to changing circumstances with limited budgets.

      • COVID-19, Telework, and Linux! Happy Anniversary, Mandriva Chronicles!

        Megatotoro and I decided to ditch Zoom and favored a more flexible online approach. This idea implied producing lots of audiovisual material --something that we have no training on. Thus, we had to learn how to produce videos in Linux for our courses. In a week, I taught myself Kdenlive and Openshot, became more proficient with Audacity, and relied more in the image-editing of the always trustable GIMP.

        In the meantime, other professors have been struggling trying to adapt their lessons to something they can deliver through Zoom meetings. How successful that attempt is I cannot say. Students claim that Zoom sessions generate anxiety and make them very tired, which has been confirmed in this article.

        So, yes, it has been a busy time. But, all, in all...

        Linux truly saved me from this technological virus that seems to be eroding the mental health of my colleagues...

    • Kernel Space

      • [Older] GNU Linux-Libre 5.6 Kernel Is Out

        Less than a day after the release of the Linux 5.6 kernel series, the GNU Linux-libre project announced the general availability of the GNU Linux-libre 5.6 kernel. The aim of the GNU Linux-libre project is to provide the GNU/Linux community with a version of the upstream Linux kernel that’s 100% free. Therefore, the GNU Linux-libre 5.6 kernel is a 100% free version of the Linux 5.6 kernel, shipping only with free and open source drivers. GNU Linux-Libre 5.6 kernel deblobs three new drivers that have been included in the Linux 5.6 kernel series, namely AMD Trusted Execution Environment, ATH11K WiFi, and Mediatek SCP remoteproc Additionally, it also cleans up the Nouveau, AMDGPU, and AMD PSP drivers.

      • Linux 5.7-rc4
        Things continue to look normal for the 5.7 release. If anything, rc4
        is a bit smaller than usual (it's the smallest rc4 since we had the
        tiny one over the Christmas week), and most of the discussions I was
        involved with this week were about future development and cleanups
        rather than any issues with the current release (although at least in
        some cases they were triggered by fixes that came in this release..)

        So things seem calm. Although I do suspect that part of "rc4 was small" is that it's one of those timing things, and there wasn't a networking pull this week, for example.

        The bulk of the rc5 stuff is drivers (gpu, dma, sound, rdma, hyper-v, md, i2c, mmc) and filesystems (btrfs and nfs).

        And misc small fixlets elsewhere.

        Anyway, it doesn't feel like there's anything worrisome going on, so come on in and test the waters..

      • Linux 5.7-rc4 Released As A Pleasantly Calm Kernel

        Linus Torvalds just announced the Linux 5.7-rc4 kernel release is up for testing.

        Even with everything going on in the world around COVID-19 and its impact, Linux 5.7 is shaping up to be a regular kernel in good shape for debuting next month. Last week Linus characterized the 5.7 state at the time as"in a world gone mad, the kernel looks almost boringly regular." With Linux 5.7-rc4, the kernel is still in good shape and possibly even slightly on the lighter side compared to the historical state of RC4 kernels.

      • Reducing jitter on Linux with task isolation

        Last week I gave a talk at the first virtual meetup on the history of task isolation on Linux (slides, video). It was a quick 15-minute presentation, and I think it went well, but I really wanted to include some details of how you actually configure a modern Linux machine to run a workload without interruption. That’s kinda difficult to do in 15 minutes.

        So that’s what this post is about.

        I’m not going to cover how to use the latest task isolation mode patches because they’re still under discussion on the linux-kernel mailing list. Instead, I’m just going to talk about how to reduce OS jitter by isolating tasks using Linux v4.17+.

        First, as the below chart shows, you really do need a recent Linux kernel if you’re going to run an isolated workload because years of work have gone into making the kernel leave your tasks alone when you ask.

    • Applications

      • Browse the Peer-to-peer Web With Beaker Browser

        The Internet as we know it has existed unchanged (more or less) for the last 50 years. People across the globe use their devices to retrieve data from huge servers dotted around the world.

        A group of dedicated technologists wants to change that to make the internet a place where people can connect and share information directly instead of relying on a central server (decentralization).

        There are a bunch of such decentralized services that we have already covered on It’s FOSS. LBRY as YouTube alternative, Mastodon as Twitter alternative are just a couple of such examples.

        And today I am going to cover another such product called Beaker Browser which is essentially for browsing the peer to peer web.

      • Linux Candy: oneko – animal chasing fun

        Who loves eye candy? Don’t be shy — you can raise both hands!!

        Linux Candy is a series of articles covering interesting eye candy software. We’re only featuring open-source software in this series.

        If you spend all day embroiled in political in-fighting, battling red tape nonsense, coding an innovative program in Python, sit in countless meetings wishing you were relaxing on a Caribbean island, you’ll need some light relief at the end of the day. And what better way by making your desktop environment a bit more fun.

        You couldn’t get anything more candy like than oneko, a program that creates a cat chasing after your mouse cursor. Makes me want to watch some Tom & Jerry cartoons.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Create interactive learning games for kids with open source

        Schools are closed in many countries around the world to slow the spread of COVID-19. This has suddenly thrown many parents and teachers into homeschooling. Fortunately, there are plenty of educational resources on the internet to use or adapt, although their licenses vary. You can try searching for Creative Commons Open Educational Resources, but if you want to create your own materials, there are many options for that to.

        If you want to create digital educational activities with puzzles or tests, two easy-to-use, open source, cross-platform applications that fit the bill are eXeLearning and JClic. My earlier article on eXeLearning is a good introduction to that program, so here I'll look at JClic. It is an open source software project for creating various types of interactive activities such as associations, text-based activities, crosswords, and other puzzles with text, graphics, and multimedia elements.

        Although it's been around since the 1990s, JClic never developed a large user base in the English-speaking world. It was created in Catalonia by the Catalan Educational Telematic Network (XTEC).

      • Valve Drops SteamVR for macOS, as Linux and Windows Now the Key Focus

        Valve has surprisingly decided to abandon SteamVR for macOS, with the company to only focus on Linux and Windows going forward.

        While it’s not known why the company has decided to drop the support for the macOS version of SteamVR, Valve says that developers continue building apps for Apple’s operating system, only that no new feature or bug fixes will be released in the future.

        Needless to say, this isn’t necessarily good news for macOS developers who invested in SteamVR, but Valve says from this point, it’ll only focus on the development of the platform on Windows and Linux.

      • Valve suddenly ends SteamVR support for macOS to focus on Windows, Linux
      • SteamVR canned for Apple's Macs

        Valve has directed Mac users to continue using what is now a legacy platform while it now shifts its full development focus for SteamVR to Windows and Linux.

      • Steam ends Mac support for SteamVR

        The move was announced in a short post on SteamVR’s news page, laid out in a single sentence: “SteamVR has ended macOS support so our team can focus on Windows and Linux.” Mac users will still have some access to the feature, however, via legacy builds. One door closes, another will surely open. Right?

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KaOS Linux 2020.05 Released with Linux 5.6, Latest KDE Apps
          In fact, KaOS Linux 2020.05 comes two months after the previous ISO release as the March and April snapshots have been skipped, most probably due to the COVID-19 crisis.

          Compared to the previous version, this one ships with a newer kernel from the latest Linux 5.6 series, namely Linux kernel 5.6.8, a new graphics stack from the Mesa 20.0 series, namely Mesa 20.0.6, and all the latest KDE apps.

          The default desktop environment shipped in the KaOS 2020.05 release is KDE Plasma 5.18.4 LTS, which is accompanied by the latest KDE Frameworks 5.69.0 and KDE Applications 20.04.0 software suites, all compiled against Qt 5.14.2.

        • KaOS 2020.05 Released: One Of The Best KDE Linux Distros For Desktop

          KaOS is a conservative Linux distribution built from scratch with a limited size of repositories to offer high-quality applications. It mainly focusses on one desktop environment (KDE), one toolkit (QT), and one architecture (x86_64).

          Following the monthly development cycle, KaOS has released a new stable version v2020.05. Unlike the previous KaOS 2020.02, the latest release comprises more of package rebuilds and updates than new features. So, let’s take a look at the list of new enhancements in KaOS 2020.05.

        • Contributing to KDE is easier than you think – Phabricator patches using the web interface

          This post will be ridiculously brief and simple, albeit filled with screenshots.

          As usual: This is a series of blog posts explaining different ways to contribute to KDE in an easy-to-digest manner.

          The purpose of this series originated from how I feel about asking users to contribute back to KDE. I firmly believe that showing users how contributing is easier than they think is more effective than simply calling them out and directing them to the correct resources; especially if, like me, said user suffers from anxiety or does not believe they are up to the task, in spite of their desire to help back.

          Last time I explained how translators with a developer account have a really straightforward workflow and how the entire localization process for KDE works. I’ve also posted a little article I made some time ago on how to create a live-test environment to translate Scribus more easily, given that Scribus might become a KDE application in the future.

          This post explains the process of sending your first patch to KDE. This tutorial, of course, is only useful for small patches, likely those which alter only one file, as the web interface is convenient for such cases but not when there is a ton of files from the same project.

        • Akademy 2020 — Call for Proposals

          Akademy 2020 is getting closer and the KDE Community is warming up for its biggest yearly event. If you are working on topics relevant to KDE, this is your chance to present your work and ideas to the community at large.

          Akademy 2020 will take place online from Friday the 4th to Friday the 11th of September 2020. Training sessions will be held on Friday the 4th of September and the talks will be held on Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th of September. The rest of the week (Monday - Friday) will be Birds-of-a-Feather meetings (BoFs), unconference sessions and workshops.

          If you think you have something interesting to present, tell us about it. If you know of someone else who should present, encourage them to do so too.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Review: Ubuntu 20.04

          Ubuntu, along with its many community flavours, is one of the world's mostly widely used Linux distributions. Ubuntu ships four official editions (Desktop, Server, Cloud, and a minimal Core). There are additional community editions which provide alternative desktop and configuration options. Just over a week ago, Canonical launched Ubuntu 20.04 which offers five years of support for official editions and three years of support for community editions.

          The new Ubuntu release includes version 5.4 of the Linux kernel and support for WireGuard. The Desktop edition ships with GNOME 3.36 as the default desktop and includes experimental support for installing the operating system on the ZFS advanced filesystem. The release announcement mentions that, along with ZFS, Ubuntu will offer “state saving” of the filesystem using a tool called Zsys. From the context, it sounds as though “state saving” here means taking filesystem snapshots as we are also told ZFS integrates with the GRUB boot loader in order to allow users to rollback system changes. (This is a similar feature to the boot environments provided by openSUSE and FreeBSD.) This version of Ubuntu ships with Python 3.8, though Python 2.7 (while unsupported upstream) is available in the distribution's repositories.

          The Desktop edition of Ubuntu is a 2.5GB download. Booting from the supplied media will, if we do not interfere, load a graphical environment where we can choose to try a live desktop environment or immediately launch Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer. At the start of the boot process we can press a key to bring up a menu where we can preemptively choose to run the live desktop or load the installer directly. (Practically this does not make a difference and just means we are making our choice to try or install the distribution from a text-based boot menu rather than a graphical welcome screen.) While the operating system is loading it performs an integrity check on the local media to make sure the operating system was not corrupted during the download. We can optionally skip the media check by pressing Ctrl-C.

      • BSD

        • Diving Into OpenBSD Administration

          Modern developments continue, and the release cycles have been consistent with bi-annual releases. Their constant efforts and fixation on being the most secure operating system has really captured my attention. Their documentation is also top notch. Read a Linux manual page then read an OpenBSD man page for the same tool and tell me you don’t notice a difference. While sometimes subtle, the effort leans towards the OpenBSD docs in my experience.

          Now that you have a brief, raw, unfiltered peak into the history of OpenBSD, you may begin to understand why I decided to use the operating system to host a variety of my services and sites. I even went as far to install it on my ThinkPad T480 to use as a portable workstation.

        • What OSes we use here (as of May 2020)

          OpenBSD is used in an assortment of roles, some of which are historical. Our largest use is for firewalls, where we value its stability and we really like OpenBSD's PF firewall rule system (and we also have a lot of experience with it and a lot of current PF firewall rules). This extends to our VPN servers (both OpenVPN and L2TP), because they have firewalls as part of the VPN service and in general we've had good experiences with OpenBSD based VPNs. We also use OpenBSD for our internal DNS resolvers, our official public DNS primary, and as the DHCP server for most of our internal 'sandbox' private networks.

          (Our DNS stealth master and the DHCP servers for our 'laptop network' and our wireless network are all Ubuntu LTS machines, though.)

          We're most strongly attached to OpenBSD for firewalls and for VPN servers. It's possible that we'd move other services from OpenBSD to Ubuntu in the future, but at the same time our motivation for doing so is low. For all that I've griped about this issue in the past, moving from OpenBSD version to OpenBSD version is generally very easy for us; almost all of the time, everything just drops into place in the new version. Moving to Ubuntu LTS would likely be more work.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • 4 cool new projects to try in COPR for May 2020

          COPR is a collection of personal repositories for software that isn’t carried in Fedora. Some software doesn’t conform to standards that allow easy packaging. Or it may not meet other Fedora standards, despite being free and open source. COPR can offer these projects outside the Fedora set of packages. Software in COPR isn’t supported by Fedora infrastructure or signed by the project. However, it can be a neat way to try new or experimental software.

          This article presents a few new and interesting projects in COPR. If you’re new to using COPR, see the COPR User Documentation for how to get started.

        • Red Hat's strategy for achieving hybrid cloud dominance

          That approach, as the company sees it, offers customers a unique value proposition in the cloud era—a portfolio of integrated solutions that ease life for developers who simply want to write code, and have little, if anything at all, to do with selecting, provisioning and managing infrastructure.

          Red Hat changed its annual Summit to a virtual affair this year because of the coronavirus crisis. After Tuesday’s keynotes at the Red Hat Summit 2020 Virtual Experience, executives and product leaders -- including newly minted CEO Paul Cormier -- participated in an online panel discussion, elaborating on the company’s vision for conquering the hybrid and multi-cloud market with its entirely open-source technology stack.

        • Sundry Systems Software And CoD Power Systems Announcements

          There is a steady drumbeat of new stuff that always comes out of IBM for the Power Systems hardware platform, and sometimes it is Big Blue banging on the big kettle drum and sometimes it is using the brushes on the little snare drum.

          Now that IBM owns Red Hat, we can expect for IBM to be making a certain amount of noise every time a piece of Red Hat technology becomes available on Power and demonstrates that both Red Hat and IBM – which have two distinct cultures as well as announcement streams – are committed to the idea that all Red Hat products should be ported to Power and be a peer to Intel’s Xeon SPs, AMD’s Epycs, and Ampere Computing’s and Marvell’s respective Altra and ThunderX lines of commercial Arm processors. And as much as we think it would be interesting to highly tune RHEL and the systems software to run best on IBM Power iron (and still run well on System z mainframe iron), that is not going to happen. Power iron will have to live by its own merits, as it has had to do. At least now, we can hope that those merits – high throughout cores with second-to-none threading, high clock speeds, lots of caches, high memory bandwidth and capacity, and great gobs of I/O with support for the widest variety of protocols at the highest speeds – will be quickly expressed in the software rather than take months and months.

        • Fedora rawhide – fixed bugs 2020/04
      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Managed OpenStack cheaper than self-managed?

          Outsourcing OpenStack operations can significantly accelerate the OpenStack deployment process. Although most organisations are successful with the initial roll-out of the cloud, many struggle to operate it effectively post-deployment. Under certain circumstances, a fully managed OpenStack can also be a cheaper option than the self-managed one. We have recently published a webinar in which we demonstrated a detailed cost analysis of both options. We have also created an interactive TCO (total cost of ownership) calculator which anyone can use to play with the numbers.

          But hold on a second. What is “managed OpenStack”? And how can it be cheaper than a self-managed one?


          In case organisations cannot afford to manage OpenStack by themselves, they should consider outsourcing OpenStack operations to a trusted managed service provider. Canonical is one such provider, offering managed services for OpenStack at the best possible price. When choosing Canonical’s Managed OpenStack option the cloud is designed, deployed and maintained by Canonical’s team of cloud experts. However, at any given time organisations can take control of their cloud back, avoiding additional costs and vendor lock-in.

          So when is it more economical to go with Canonical’s Managed OpenStack than with the self-managed option? In order to answer this question, organisations should use the TCO calculator to evaluate yearly operational cost of Canonical-managed and self-managed options. Canonical offers managed services for OpenStack at the price of $4,275 per host. This makes the pricing model clear and fully predictable. Whenever it is cheaper to outsource OpenStack operations to a trusted service provider, organisations should always consider it as an option.

    • Devices/Embedded

  • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

    • Jitsi Meet – Free Video Conferencing

      Jitsi Meet is fully encrypted, so everything you tell your participants is safe. And since no accounts are created, no personal information can be leaked either. However, if you choose to NOT generate a password for your meeting and the meeting name is something that can be easily guessed, someone might attend who you did not invite. Therefore, you should use a password for extra security. Read more about the security of Jitsi at “Jitsi Meet Security & Privacy.”

    • Startup DarwinAI says interest in its open-source project that helps identify coronavirus in x-rays growing

      Waterloo startup DarwinAI and researchers from the University of Waterloo are confident its open-source project, COVID-Net, and a sprinkle of AI could help radiologists spot COVID-19 in patients much faster and provide deeper insights into patients’ symptoms.

      While the Canadian Association of Radiologists has made it clear that the final diagnosis of COVID-19 infection should be confirmed by a positive RT-PCR test, not a CT chest scan, Dr. Alexander Wong, lead researcher on the project, said the additional information from CT chest scans can be hugely beneficial for radiologists.

    • SaaS/Back End/Databases

      • Define and optimize data partitions in Apache Cassandra

        Cassandra Query Language (CQL) uses the familiar SQL table, row, and column terminologies. In the example diagram above, the table configuration includes the partition key within its primary key, with the format: Primary Key = Partition Key + [Clustering Columns].

        A primary key in Cassandra represents both a unique data partition and a data arrangement inside a partition. Data arrangement information is provided by optional clustering columns. Each unique partition key represents a set of table rows managed in a server, as well as all servers that manage its replicas.

    • CMS

      • How an Open-source Headless CMS Can Help Remote Newsrooms

        To cope with operational disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries have been forced to embrace remote work. The news industry is no exception. Media organisations around the world have turned off the lights in their newsrooms and sent reporters and editors into isolation at home.

        But as anyone following the coronavirus story can attest, news has not stopped during this period of disruption. On the contrary, more news is being produced and consumed than ever before, even as newsrooms stay dark. How has a business long reliant on facetime excelled during this work-from-home era?

    • FSF

      • GNU Projects

        • MediaGoblin 0.10.0 released

          We’re pleased to announce the release of MediaGoblin 0.10.0!

          It’s been a while between releases for MediaGoblin, but work has continued steadily. Highlights of this release include a new plugin for displaying video subtitles and support for transcoding and displaying video in multiple resolutions. There have also been a large number of smaller improvements and bug fixes which are listed in the release notes.

          After enabling the new subtitles plugin, you can upload and edit captions for your videos. Multiple subtitle tracks are supported, such as for different languages. This feature was added by Saksham Agrawal during Google Summer of Code 2016 and mentored by Boris Bobrov. The feature has been available for some time on the master branch, but it definitely deserves a mention for this release.

        • GNU Guix maintainer collective update

          This blog post is to announce a change of hands in the Guix co-maintainer collective: Ricardo Wurmus is stepping down from his role, and Mathieu Othacehe will be filling in to ensure continuity, after being elected by the other Guix co-maintainers.

          Ricardo has been around since the start, and has been invaluable to the project. He has been key in maintaining the infrastructure Guix runs on, contributed countless packages, core APIs and tools (importers, build systems, and Docker image creation to name a few). Over the years, he's also brought us a fair share of cool hacks such as a nifty issue tracker, and generously spent time helping Guix users in the IRC channel and mailing lists. Equally important was his taking care of many administrative tasks such as expanding the build farm and organizing Outreachy participation. We're sad to let him go, and hope he'll stick around as time permits :-).

          On the happier side of things, the appointment of Mathieu Othacehe as a co-maintainer means Guix will benefit from renewed energy and vision to grow further. Mathieu has already made valuable contributions to Guix; the graphical installer that allows users to easily install the Guix System on their machine is one of them. He has also demonstrated the qualities we expect from a co-maintainer. We're thrilled to make official his new role as a Guix co-maintainer!

    • Programming/Development

      • Best Open Source CSS frameworks for frontend Web Development

        A website for your business has become a necessity at the present day. Along with the necessity, the need for the web page developers is also on the peak. There are also many people out there who possess enough qualification by themselves to design their own website, just they do not possess the experience and the practice. Among those laymen users and the pro or upcoming web developers, there are many who are still confused about many of the web development aspects. Most of the people still think about, HTML scripts or JavaScript when they are talking about Web development while. As many of them usually forget about advanced techniques of web developments which are there designed mainly for people with less experience and fewer skills. The Web development technologies which have far more impact on the easy web development ability.

        Yes, I am talking about the CSS (cascading style sheets), as CSS is the easiest way how you can manipulate through your web development and designs. In the 90s even at the early 20s, the developers had to develop their CSS by their own, in order to create a website. But nowadays there are many application out there which are providing the ready-made CSS framework so that anyone starts with their web development projects easily. But, unfortunately for many individuals, CSS is a forgotten part of any web development, and due to that, they can not go ahead with their newly innovate project idea on their own.

      • Introducing T^4: Tips, Tricks, Tools, and Toys

        For way too long now something I had meant to start was a little series about tips, tricks, tools, and toys. I had mentioned the idea a few times to a friend or two, and generally received a thumbs up or a ‘go for it’. But it takes a little to get over the humb and get going. And it turns out that last week’s r^4 talk on upgrading to R 4.0.0 hit some latent demand as we are now at 1400 views on YouTube. Wowser.

      • Perl/Raku

        • Let's talk meta

          When I wrote this, I spent a lot of time thinking whether I should add a footnote or extra sentence saying, roughly, that I'm not claiming that there are no people under 35 who know Perl, but that it is a skill that has gotten quite rare compared to ye olden times. The reason for adding extra text is that I feared that someone would inevitably come in and derail the discussion with some variation of "I'm under 35 and I know Perl, so the entire post is wrong".


          Contrary to the claim made above, the Internet has not, in fact, ruined everything. The statement is hyperbole, stemming from the author's feelings of frustration. In reality the Internet has improved the quality of life of most people on the earth by a tremendous amount and should be considered as one of the greatest inventions of mankind.

          "Ye olden times" was not written as "þe olden times" because in the thorny battle between orthographic accuracy and readability the latter won.

          The phrase "flying blind" refers neither to actual flying nor to actual blindness. It is merely a figure of speech for any behaviour that is done in isolation without external feedback. You should never operate any vehicle under any sort of vision impairment unless you have been specifically trained and authorized to do so by the appropriate authorities.

        • Perl Weekly Challenge 058: Compare Version and Ordered Lineup
      • Python

        • Property-Based Testing for Python builtins and the standard library - Python Language Summit 2020

          Hatfield-Dodds told the Language Summit, handwritten tests are "fantastic for testing particular edge cases, they're great regression tests," but they're limited by the developer's understanding of the system under test. "We can't write tests for bugs we don't know could occur." We can overcome this limit with exhaustive testing, checking our code's behavior with every possible input; if that is impractical, coverage-guided fuzz testing can generate random inputs and evolve them, trying to explore every branch in the code under test. Fuzzers are very good at finding inputs that crash a program, but they're not as well suited for finding other kinds of bugs.

        • Use this Python script to encode binary in Base94

          Humans transfer information in many different ways. On the internet, the primary format is text, which is how you're reading this article. However, there is other data on the internet, such as images and sound files and so on. It might seem easy to post an image online or attach a document to an email, until you realize that HTTP/1.1 and SMTP are text-based protocols. Data transferred over such protocols must be represented as a subset of ASCII text (specifically, characters 33 to 126).

          A digital image is already encoded as binary data by the computer that displays it. In other words, a digital image isn't like a physical photograph that's printed on paper: it's a collection of computer shorthand that is decoded by whatever image viewer you're using to look at it, whether that image viewer is a web browser, a photo-editing application, or any software that can display images.

          To re-encode an image into ASCII, it's common to use Base64, a system of binary-to-text encoding rules that can represent binary data as an ASCII string.

        • Rockstar Python Developers Need Great communication Skills Too

          I wonder how people get into software programming, whether it be for a job or hobby?

          It's one of the first things I often listen for at the start of Michael Kennedy's Talk Python To Me podcast.

          Who was it that inspired you?

          What was it about their character that got you fired up and writing print("hello world") for the first time?

          How did someone make you feel when they recently guided you to a solution that you came up with by yourself?

        • PyDev of the Week: Samuel Hinton

          This week we welcome Samuel Hinton (@samreayh) as our PyDev of the Week! Samuel has written quite a few projects in Python and given lots of talks on astronomy. If you are interested in either of those topics, then you should definitely check out his website or his Github profile.

        • Django bugfix release: 3.0.6

          Today we've issued the 3.0.6 bugfix release.

          The release package and checksums are available from our downloads page, as well as from the Python Package Index. The PGP key ID used for this release is Mariusz Felisiak: 2EF56372BA48CD1B.

  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • Coronavirus: David Icke's channel deleted by YouTube

        Last month, a live-streamed interview with Mr Icke posted by another account prompted YouTube to ban all conspiracy theory videos falsely linking coronavirus symptoms to 5G mobile phone networks.

        The tech firm subsequently went further by banning any material that:

        suggests coronavirus does not exist

        contains medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice about the virus

        explicitly disputes the efficacy of guidance about social distancing and self-isolation that has been issued by the WHO and/or local health authorities

    • Health/Nutrition

      • True Resilience Involves Pushing Forward From COVID-19, Not Just Bouncing Back

        Do we really want to just “bounce back?”

      • What Asian Nations Know About Squashing Covid

        We can save ourselves and our economy, if we look to and learn from the achievements of other nations.

      • Uprooting the Farm Crisis in Times of COVID-19

        When we finally turn toward recovery from the COVID-19 crisis we must thoroughly re-examine the policies that left us so vulnerable not only to the disease but also to the cascade of problems in our economy, including the food and farm system.

      • “Similar to Times of War”: The Staggering Toll of COVID-19 on Filipino Health Care Workers

        When Alfredo Pabatao told his family that he had helped move a suspected coronavirus patient through the hospital where he’d worked as an orderly for nearly 20 years, he didn’t make a big deal out of it. “My parents are the type of parents who don’t like to make us worry,” his youngest daughter, Sheryl, recalled. But Sheryl was concerned that her father’s vulnerabilities weren’t being given more consideration as he toiled on the pandemic’s front lines in hard-hit northern New Jersey. “Why would they let a 68-year-old man with an underlying heart condition … transport a suspected COVID patient when there’s younger transporters in the hospital who could do it?”

        Sheryl’s mother, Susana, was an assistant nurse in a long-term care facility where she often pulled double shifts, saving money for her annual trips back to the Philippines. At 64, she wasn’t much younger than the elderly patients she helped bathe and feed, and she had diabetes, which increased her risk of severe complications if she got sick. The nursing home wasn’t providing adequate personal protection equipment, Susana reported, so Sheryl brought home a stash of surgical masks for her mother to wear on the job. That didn’t go over well with Susana’s managers, Sheryl said: “They gave her a warning, saying she shouldn’t be wearing that. … She was really mad.”

      • Jared Kushner smacked down by Michigan Gov. Whitmer for blatant lies about coronavirus support

        Addressing armed protesters who stormed the state capitol in Michigan demanding stay at home restrictions be dropped, Whitmer began by stating, "We've lost in the last 24 hours almost the same number of Americans that were killed on 9/11, and that's just in the last 24 hours. We need to listen to the expertise and our institutions of higher learning and our health system and make decisions that are going to protect the lives of everyone. whether you agree with me or not."

    • Integrity/Availability

      • systemd

        • Understanding systemd at startup on Linux

          x In Learning to love systemd, the first article in this series, I looked at systemd's functions and architecture and the controversy around its role as a replacement for the old SystemV init program and startup scripts. In this second article, I'll start exploring the files and tools that manage the Linux startup sequence. I'll explain the systemd startup sequence, how to change the default startup target (runlevel in SystemV terms), and how to manually switch to a different target without going through a reboot.

          I'll also look at two important systemd tools. The first is the systemctl command, which is the primary means of interacting with and sending commands to systemd. The second is journalctl, which provides access to the systemd journals that contain huge amounts of system history data such as kernel and service messages (both informational and error messages).

          Be sure to use a non-production system for testing and experimentation in this and future articles. Your test system needs to have a GUI desktop (such as Xfce, LXDE, Gnome, KDE, or another) installed.

          I wrote in my previous article that I planned to look at creating a systemd unit and adding it to the startup sequence in this article. Because this article became longer than I anticipated, I will hold that for the next article in this series.

        • systemd, 10 years later: a historical and technical retrospective

          10 years ago, systemd was announced and swiftly rose to become one of the most persistently controversial and polarizing pieces of software in recent history, and especially in the GNU/Linux world. The quality and nature of debate has not improved in the least from the major flame wars around 2012-2014, and systemd still remains poorly understood and understudied from both a technical and social level despite paradoxically having disproportionate levels of attention focused on it.

          I am writing this essay both for my own solace, so I can finally lay it to rest, but also with the hopes that my analysis can provide some context to what has been a decade-long farce, and not, as in Benno Rice’s now famous characterization, tragedy.

          In the first chapter, on the basis of contemporary mailing list posts, I discuss efforts to modernize init, rc and service management that took place before systemd, and what were the prevailing motives at the time. I begin with a preface on the cultural cleavages between different classes of Linux users.

          In the second chapter, I discuss the early history and design philosophy of systemd, and what factors drove its adoption.

          The third chapter is a technical critique of systemd. It assumes prior familiarity with systemd and it is heavy on discussion of implementation details. I also include a few “case studies” based on bug reports to better illustrate some of the drier theory.

          The fourth chapter discusses other historical parallels to systemd in FOSS development, wraps up some of the threads in the first and second chapters, and concludes with some conjectures about the future of low-level Linux userspace.

        • Security

          • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 195 - Is BPG actually insecure?

            Josh and Kurt talk about the uproar around Cloudflare's "Is BGP safe yet" site. It's always interesting watching how much people will push back on new things, even if the new things is probably a step in the right direction. The clever thing Cloudflare is doing in this instance is they are making the BGP problem something anyone can understand. Also send us your funny dog stories.

          • Hackers break into open-source Android mobile platform LineageOS

            Hackers have broken into the core infrastructure of LineageOS, a free and open-source operating system for smartphones, tablet computers and set-top boxes, based on the Google Android mobile platform.

            In a tweet, the company admitted the breach happened on Saturday night and it was detected well within time before the attackers could do any harm.

            "Around 8PM PST on May 2nd, 2020 an attacker used a common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) in our saltstack master to gain access to our infrastructure," said the company.

            "We are able to verify that: Signing keys are unaffected, Builds are unaffected, Source code is unaffected," added LineageOS.

          • Hackers break into open-source Android mobile platform LineageOS
          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Big Tech’s Worries Should Worry You

              As the big tech companies talked about dollars and cents this week, pride was the prevailing mood. The bosses at Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook know we’re leaning hard on their products and services. They believe — correctly — that they’ll benefit if we permanently live, work and shop more online.

            • One of Amazon’s Most Powerful Critics Lives in Its Backyard

              A liberal Democrat, Ms. Jayapal wanted to raise concerns about Amazon’s dominance and treatment of its workers. But her district, which includes much of Seattle, is home to many white-collar Amazon employees who may be unsympathetic to attacks on the company.

              She hoped to address her concerns privately. As the hours wore on, though, Ms. Jayapal felt she was getting nowhere, she said in her first extended interview about her relationship with Amazon. She would raise a concern, only to be told by the executives that there was no truth to the stories that had been reported.

              Now, after months of rising frustration with the company, she is taking her concerns public. “I try to have these discussions,” she said, “but I’m at the end of the private line.”

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

      • Energy

        • Big Oil Fears Keystone XL Ruling Means End of Easy Pipeline Permits

          The oil and gas industry has taken notice. Seemingly just a ruling on Keystone XL — the subject of opposition by the climate movement for the past decade — the ruling could have far broader implications for the future of building water-crossing pipelines and utility€ lines.

        • Solar and Wind Cheapest Sources of Power in Most of the World

          The prices are even lower in countries including the U.S., China and Brazil. Equipment costs have come down, technologies have improved and governments across the world have boosted clean-power targets as they seek to combat climate change. That could squeeze out coal and natural gas when utilities develop new power plants.

        • Planet of the humans: A reheated mess of lazy, old myths

          Not only is the documentary bad, it’s old bad. Please join me on this journey back in time. It won’t be fun, but I’m glad you’re here with me.

          All of the stuff in this documentary is ancient

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Corporate Looting as ‘Rescue Plan,’ Robber Barons as ‘Saviors’

        It’s quite telling who counts as “the economy” and what measures are considered “necessary” or “adequate.”

      • Beware of Trump’s China Box

        Our best path out of the Trump China box is to put him in a box he can’t get out of.

      • 'Belongs in The Hague': Online Disgust Follows Glowing Praise for George W. Bush's Covid-19 Message

        Key aspects of the 43rd president's administration were highlighted this weekend after Trump critics appear to have whitewashed Bush's legacy.

      • Coronavirus Class Politics: Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

        The crisis can lead to a more fair and just society.

      • Column: Haunting photos from Kent State made me wonder: Where were the black students?

        Monday is the 50th anniversary of that American tragedy. And the photos taken that day offer a sobering glimpse of a nation at war with itself — a nation not so different from the one we live in today, steeped in conflict and struggling to manage fractious ideological, social, racial and generational splits.

      • Kent State Shootings: A Lot of People Were Crying, and the Guard Walked Away

        One night, Alex had spoken to his mother and argued about his aunt, who thought more students should have been shot, ending up by convincing his mother to send a protest letter to president Nixon, and then had gone with Charles to down to the little dock on the Lake in back of the house. The barbarian barber who lived next door had finally stopped clanking his Lawn Boy, and it was quiet and peaceful for a while, the sun sliding down into the water by inches, and then two Kent students, two of Alex’s pupils, had arrived. They’d been up in Toronto since the shooting, they said, taking advantage of the school break, but now they were worried about their grades, how they were going to get credit for all the work they’d done the past quarter if the school stayed closed?

      • Kent State massacre: The shootings on a college campus 50 years ago changed the country

        By Monday, May 4, things reached a boiling point, and students weren't just protesting the war anymore but also the armed guards stationed on their campus with military-grade weapons. Lewis was among the estimated 2,000 people who gathered that afternoon in a demonstration beset by the "toxic waters of the 60s flowing together in one place," according to historian Howard Means, who wrote a book on the incident, "67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence."

        "You had this combination of naive students, a politically ambitious governor, and a laissez-faire administration all deeply complicated by terrible leadership in the National Guard," Means said. As the National Guard ordered Lewis and his fellow students to disperse, they refused. The guardsmen used tear gas, but it proved largely useless because of the wind, and students threw rocks. While this was all happening, the important school administrators were out to lunch, Means said.

        Then, the guardsmen, at least 60 yards from most of the students protesting, started firing. In 13 seconds, 61 to 67 shots were fired. Lewis was hit twice, four students were killed, eight others were injured, one of whom was permanently paralyzed, and the course of history was altered.

      • Kent State University marks 50 years since seminal shooting

        Fifty years ago, on a sunny May Monday, students in jeans faced National Guardsmen in gas masks on Kent State University’s Commons.

        Student unrest had unnerved the nation, as college kids protested the Vietnam War.

        And in small town Kent, tensions had been escalating all weekend.

        Then, in 13 seconds, 13 college kids were shot.

        Four students died, and nine were injured. The senselessness was unfathomable.

        The shooting was a seminal moment in the country, making a far-away war far too real to Americans. It helped turn public opinion toward peace.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • World Press Freedom Day: The Prosecution of Julian Assange
      • Press freedom

        Thereby is the fiction of a ‘free and independent media’ sustained. Consider that no less than 25pc of the violations documented in the Freedom Network report comprise written or verbal threats of dire consequences, with offline and online harassment making up 14pc.

        The third category included 11 cases of murder or attempted murder (12pc). The perpetrators most often were state authorities (42pc) while 16pc of the incidents were attributed to political parties.

      • 'What's Lost Is Truth': In Yemen, Harassment, Arrests and Torture Drive Reporters from Profession

        Seven years ago, I met a fearless freelance journalist in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, covering weapons trafficking, extreme poverty and al-Qaida. He was arrested and, after a month, released.

        The journalist, whose name is being withheld to protect his safety, told me he was beaten in jail, but not to worry. This was normal, and at least he was freed. It was not safe to be a journalist in Yemen, and this was not his first arrest.

        Since then, things have gotten worse. Much worse.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • For Families Divided by ICE, the Pandemic Compounds the Nightmare

        On March 25, Alexandra Seo’s mother sent her a message: “Alexandra. Call 911 for me. We don’t have any water.” Seo watched as more messages came in: Her mother told her there was no bathroom she could use. There was a foul chemical smell in the air that made it hard to breathe. And there was no running water for her to wash her hands to try to protect herself from the coronavirus. “It’s panic around here,” she messaged. “Everyone is going crazy. Tell dad please.” Seo felt nauseous as more texts arrived.

      • Auschwitz Museum denounces woman holding Nazi sign at Illinois protest

        "Those words became one of the icons of human hatred," the museum tweeted. "It's painful to see this symbol instrumentalized & used again to spread hate. It's a symptom of moral & intellectual degeneration."

        In a statement Saturday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is Jewish, addressed those carrying "signs filled with hate" at the protest against his strict lockdown measures.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • To Invent is Human: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Rejects AI System as an Inventor

          The patent application in question is directed to controlling light emissions from beacons to make them more noticeable to humans.[2] The application listed a single inventor with the given name indicated as “DABUS” and family name “(Invention generated by artificial intelligence)”. The individual who filed the application, Stephen L. Thaler[3], identified himself as the legal representative of DABUS[4] and the application’s assignee.

          Application documents submitted by Thaler concerning inventorship noted that the invention was conceived by a “creativity machine” named “DABUS” (i.e. an AI system), a series of neural networks trained with information relevant to the field of technology.

          The USPTO objected to the application as being incomplete because it did not identify each inventor by his or her legal name. Thaler petitioned to have the objection dismissed without success. Thaler then filed a second petition requesting reconsideration of the dismissal of his first petition on the grounds that inventorship should not be limited to natural persons, and therefore, that naming DABUS as the inventor was proper.

        • Argentum Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2020)

          The appeal arose over U.S. Patent No. 9,187,405, with several parties having filed inter partes review petitions, for which the PTAB granted joinder under 35 U.S.C. ۤ 315 (c). These parties included Apotex Inc. and Apotex Corp. (who filed the first granted petition); Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc., and Sun Pharma Global FZE (collectively, Sun); Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and Actavis Elizabeth LLC; and Argentum Pharmaceuticals LLC. The PTAB determined that the petitioners had not demonstrated unpatentability under 35 U.S.C. ۤ 314(a); petitioners appealed. However, before the Federal Circuit could render a decision, all petitioners except Argentum settled with Novartis and withdrew their appeals.

          Novartis filed a motion to dismiss Argentum's appeal, on the grounds that Argentum lacked standing. Anyone (other than the patent holder) has standing to petition for inter partes review under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. Paradoxically, petitioners who fail to establish that at least one challenged claim is invalid do not automatically have standing to appeal. Here this was not an issue initially, because only one party to an appeal needs to have standing and it was undisputed that the other petitioners did so. Once those unsuccessful petitioners settled, however, only Argentum remained in the appeal. As argued by Novartis, the question of Argentum's standing was a threshold issue that the Court was required to settle before reaching the merits, citing Phigenix, Inc. v. Immunogen, Inc.

        • UK High Court rules innovator Akebia can launch anaemia drug

          The UK High Court has handed down its judgment following a two-week trial involving seven patents for an anaemia drug. Defendant Akebia, alongside its licence partner Otsuka, can now launch its own product in the UK. The new biological mechanism at the heart of the dispute is of great scientific and commercial significance.


          Akebia and Otsuka, Fibrogen and Astellas all used firms experienced in conducting litigation for innovators in complex pharmaceutical cases. The pharmaceutical team at Hogan Lovells’ London office was the counsel of choice for Akebia. The case concerning the anaemia drug is the first time Akebia has instructed Hogan Lovells in patent litigation. The firm has previously worked with the innovator on regulatory cases. Hogan Lovells has represented other innovators against GSK, for example Merck Sharp & Dohme.

          Carpmaels & Ransford acted for Fibrogen. The 15-year relationship between Carpmaels and Fibrogen means the firm is responsible for the prosecution of patents in issue, as well as defending the patents in the EPO opposition proceedings. The patent attorneys at Carpmaels have been responsible for the EPO proceedings for a long time. Currently, these opposition proceedings remain ongoing both at Opposition Division level and Board of Appeal level. Carpmaels’ patent attorneys advised during the litigation aspects of the High Court case.


          The recent Court of Appeal judgment in Mexichem UK Ltd v Honeywell International Inc [2020] EWCA Civ 473 has upheld the first instance decision of Hacon J refusing to strike out Mexichem’s requests for Arrow declarations in relation to Honeywell’s patents and patent applications.

          An Arrow declaration is a negative declaration made by the Court that a product or process was old or obvious at a particular date. As such, any patent claims with a priority date after that date cannot both cover the product or process in question and be valid. The aim of such declaratory relief is to protect against future infringement allegations related to granted or yet-to-be-granted, and potentially unknown, patents. Arrow declarations take their name from the case of Arrow v Merck [2007] EWHC 1900 (Pat), the first case in which such relief was sought, with subsequent cases seeking to define the boundaries of this form of relief. The recent Court of Appeal decision is the latest such case.

        • Software Patents

          • USPTO Report on Patent Eligible Subject Matter: Greater Certainty Achieved? [Ed: Perpetuating a lie; certainty REDUCED]

            The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has released an eleven page report titled, “Adjusting to Alice: USPTO Patent Examination Outcomes After Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International,” on the impact of Patent Office changes on patent eligible subject matter. U.S. patent eligible subject matter law has been described by some as a “mess,” which breeds uncertainty and may impact incentives to innovate and patent. To address the apparently conflicting and confusing state of the law, the Patent Office has worked hard to provide guidance to examiners and applicants concerning the application of the law. The USPTO report notes that recent guidance provided by the Patent Office has had a positive effect on predictability and certainty concerning the doctrine. Of particular interest, the guidance provided by the Patent Office has a positive impact on Alice-effected technologies. The full report is available, here.

      • Copyrights

        • Federal Court of Appeal Deals Access Copyright Huge Blow As It Overturns York University Copyright Decision

          The Federal Court of Appeal delivered its long-awaited decision the York University v. Access Copyright case yesterday, setting aside the lower court ruling that I had described as “a complete victory” for Access Copyright. The latest ruling will not leave York University and the education community completely happy given the court’s fair dealing analysis, but winning on the mandatory tariff issue removes both the threat of mandated payments to Access Copyright as well as the possibility of a copyright infringement lawsuit by the copyright collective. That represents an enormous win both for York and for a fair approach to copyright licensing that ensures users have licensing choice.

          Access Copyright quickly claimed the decision was a “mixed outcome”, but losing on the mandatory tariff issue eliminates its ability to force the education community to enter into its licence. The copyright collective has spent much of the past decade lobbying the Canadian government to reverse the 2012 copyright reforms that added the education purpose to fair dealing. That approach was rejected by the Government’s copyright review, which opened the door to a further expansion with a “flexible fair dealing” model. But the real story of education and copyright in Canada for the past twenty years has been the string of appellate decisions that have largely unravelled the legal underpinnings of the Access Copyright model. The Supreme Court’s CCH decision brought user rights and an emphasis on fair dealing. The Access Copyright v. Alberta decision ended the claim that there was a meaningful distinction between student copying and teachers’ copying for students. This latest decision addresses the mandatory tariff issue, confirming that educational institutions can opt-out of the Access Copyright licence as appropriate and that any claims of infringement will be left to copyright owners to address, not Access Copyright.

        • Communication to the public online: protecting copyright or breaking the Internet?

          The exclusive right to communicate a copyright work to the public under Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive has been considered in detail by the CJEU. In the context of online communications, the decisions of the CJEU illustrate a tension between the interests of copyright owners and the right to access information and freedom of expression online.

          The leading CJEU case of Svenssonv Retriever Sverige AB [2014] 2 WLUK 451 concerned hyperlinking to copyright works online without the specific authorisation of the copyright owner. The CJEU held that by consenting to the work being freely accessible online, a rights holder had authorised worldwide communication of that work provided the subsequent communications took place by the same technical means, namely online. Any hyperlink to the work was not making the work available to a new public and so was not copyright infringement.

          In the recent case of WarnerMusic v TuneIn Inc [2019] EWHC 2923 (Ch), the High Court considered the right of communication to the public in the context of a radio aggregator website which hyperlinked to streams from over 100,000 radio stations worldwide. TuneIn's website relied on hyperlinks to the streams from the radio stations. The streams were freely available online and so could theoretically be accessed by anyone worldwide provided that they knew where to look. However, the TuneIn site was very different to the type of hyperlinking considered by the CJEU in Svensson. The TuneIn site allowed its users to access streams either through a search function, through recommendations based on the user's listening history or by searching by artist. Warner Music and others claimed that this was copyright infringement.

        • Denmark Blocked 141 Pirate Sites in 2019 But Pirates Are Bypassing The System

          Danish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance has revealed that during 2019 it had 141 'pirate' sites blocked by local ISPs. When compared to 2018, visits to pirate sites were down 40% in 2019, partly as a result. Interestingly, however, the number of people who pirate in the country remains unchanged as tech-savvy users deploy circumvention methods including VPNs and alternative DNS providers.

        • Charter Must Share Personal Info of Pirating Subscribers With Record Labels

          Internet provider Charter Communications must share the personal details of hundreds of alleged pirates with the major record labels. The requirement, signed by a Colorado federal court, is part of the discovery process in an ongoing legal battle. The targeted accounts include business subscribers and the most active copyright infringers. In addition, the ISP is also required to allow the music companies to match IP addresses to specific infringers.

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