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Links 29/3/2021: 4MLinux 36.0, Linux 5.12 RC5, Stellarium 0.21.0, DigiKam 7.2.0

  • GNU/Linux

    • 9to5Linux Weekly Roundup: March 28th, 2021

      This has been a great week for Linux releases! We saw the launch of the GNOME 40 desktop environment, Debian GNU/Linux 10.9 “Buster” updated installation and live media, a new open-source Vulkan drive for ARM Mali GPUs, and a new Raspberry Pi OS powered by Linux kernel 5.10 LTS.

      On top of that, this week brought us a new releases of the Manjaro Linux, Porteus Kiosk, KaOS Linux, and Tails distributions, Mozilla Firefox web browser, Krita digital painting software, as well as qBittorrent torrent client. You can enjoy these and much more in the 9to5Linux Weekly Roundup for March 28th, 2021, below!

    • Linux Weekly Roundup #123

      Fedora 34 beta, Manjaro 21.0, KaOS 2021.03, ArcoLinux 21.03.11, and Debian 10.9 have been released.

    • Linux Weekly Roundup: Manjaro 21.0, GNOME 40, and More

      Here’s this week’s weekly roundup (Week Ending Mar 28, 2021) series, filtered for you from the Linux and the open-source world on application updates, new releases, distribution updates, major news, and upcoming highlights. Have a look.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Cubicle Chat | 27 Mar 2021

        Feel free to drop in next Saturday on either the YouTube Stream or show your face… if you want, using the openSUSE provided Jitsi service. We can talk Linux, tech or open source but it is a family friendly show so it’s really best to keep the language as friendly as possible. In the same way that was fostered by Rocco on the Genuine BDLL, lets get together, talk and have a good ‘ol Linuxy time.

      • This Week in Linux 144: GNOME 40 Released, Fedora 34, openSUSE MicroOS, Pinebook Pro, System76 | This Week in Linux

        On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ve got some big releases to talk about such as GNOME releasing of the anticipated GNOME 40. We’ve also got some distro news with Fedora 34 Beta, we’re going to talk about openSUSE’s MicroOS distro, and we’ll also check out the latest release of KaOS Linux. In hardware news, Pine64 has announces that pre-orders for the Pinebook Pro are coming soon. System76 has announced their new Pangolin laptop which is a high anticipated AMD-Powered Laptop. We’ll also check out the latest release of OpenRazer which is a project to make Razer products work with Linux based systems. Then later in the show, we’ll check out some news that might make Linux Get A Bit RUSTy and we’ll check out the latest release of the man-pages project with 5.11. There’s also some big news related to Richard Stallman being back on FSF Board of Directors, so I guess we’ll talk about that. All that and much more on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

      • Brave Browser Is Still Worth It: Here's Why

        I've had people ask me why I run the Brave Browser so I thought I'd take the time to explain, it's not because I have any love for the company, think it's a great privacy browser or anything like that. It's entirely for practical reasons and as soon as those reasons stop making sense I just don't care anymore.

      • Is PLASMA as good on MOBILE as on the desktop? - KDE Plasma Mobile review

        I'm continuing my tour of the state of the various mobile versions of popular desktop environments, and it's time to take a look at Plasma Mobile, the version of KDE tailored for smartphones, and touch screens. Let's see how it's advanced and how it works

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.12-rc5
        So if rc4 was perhaps a bit smaller than average, it looks like rc5 is
        a bigger than average.  We're not breaking any records, but it
        certainly isn't tiny, and the rc's aren't shrinking.

        I'm not overly worried yet, but let's just say that the trend had better not continue, or I'll start feeling like we will need to make this one of those releases that need an rc8.

        Most of the changes are drivers (gpu and networking stand out, but there's various other smaller driver updates elsewhere too) with core networking (including bpf) fixes being another noticeable subsystem.

        Other than that, there's a smattering of noise all over: minor arch fixes, some filesystem fixes (btrfs, cifs, squashfs), selinux, perf tools, documentation.

        io_uring continues to have noise in it, this time mainly due to some signal handling fixes. That removed a fair amount of problematic special casing, but the timing certainly isn't great.

        So again, nothing really scary, just rather more than I would have liked to have in an rc5.

        Shortlog appended for people who want to delve into the details,

      • Linux 5.12-rc5 Released - It's Bigger Than Average

        Today's release of Linux 5.12-rc5 is "bigger than average" for this stage of kernel development and if that keeps up is likely to result in an extra week's worth of testing / an -rc8 release ahead of Linux 5.12 final, but it's too early to call at this stage.

        While Linux 5.12-rc4 last week was smaller than average, Linux 5.12-rc5 ticked up to being larger than average. It's not too absurdly big or anything but enough that if the trend continues, it would result in an extra release candidate.

      • Squashfs-tools-ng 1.1.0 Brings Broken tar2sqfs Compressed Tarball Support

        squashfs-tools-ng is not squashfs-tools, they are completely different user-space utilities for squashfs. squashfs-tools development sort of died off a few years ago. A few developers decided to fork it and actively develop that fork. Those developers looked at the code they had forked, scratched their heads and decided to just scrap the whole thing and start over from scratch. Their efforts, which can be seen at their repository at, is what is now known as squashfs-tools-ng.

        The original squashfs-tools did not die; some developers blew life into it after squashfs-tools-ng had been developed. The repository for the original utility is now maintained at

        The latest squashfs-tools-ng version adds support for turning compressed tar archives (.tar.bz2 and tar.xz files) into squashfs with a tool called tar2sqfs. The competing squashfs-tools (notice no -ng utilities has no such tool.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mesa Considers Dropping Default Support For 16+ Year Old x86 CPUs

          The Mesa graphics stack supports a really wide range of hardware. The current stable 21.0 Mesa version works on really old 32-bit x86 computers with ancient graphics cards. By-default support for some of those old x86 computers could soon be a thing of the past, the Mesa developers are currently discussing if the SSE2 processor instructions should be a default compiler flag for Mesa builds. GNU/Linux distributions will still be able to set their own flags.

    • Benchmarks

      • Many New/Updated Benchmarks For March With New SDR/Radio Tests, More Code Compilation

        This month saw many new and updated test profiles for the Phoronix Test Suite and for carrying out fully-automated, reproducible cross-platform benchmarking.

        Ending out March there are 646 unique test profiles (software packages available for testing) via the Phoronix Test Suite with 2,191 revisions to those test profiles. There are 179 different test suites available as collections of tests. For anyone crazy enough to want to run every single test and option of those 646 unique test profiles, the average run-time is now over 35 days... Thankfully, most users are interested in just the number of tests/suites of relevance to their particular workload(s).

    • Applications

      • Stellarium 0.21.0 Released with Lunar Libration [Ubuntu PPA]

        The free and open-source planetarium software Stellarium 0.21.0 was released today. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 21.04, Ubuntu 20.10, Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 18.04 via PPA.

        The new release completed the work on accurate planet axes, including Lunar libration. It also features visualisation of Earth shadow for Lunar eclipses, the latest algorithms for planet magnitudes. Planets are now scalable and Solar glare switchable for didactic applications.

      • Stellarium v0.21.0 has been released!

        The major changes of this version:

        We have finally completed our work on accurate planet axes, including Lunar libration Visualisation of Earth shadow for Lunar eclipses Better texture for the Lunar surface Added the latest algorithms for planet magnitudes Enhanced Calendars plugin Replaced “arabic” by more accurate “al-Sufi” skyculture Planets are now scalable and Solar glare switchable for didactic applications

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • zypper package management tool examples for managing packages on SUSE Linux

        The zypper package management tool performs the same function for SUSE Linux as yum and apt perform for RedHat and Debian based systems respectively. SUSE (Software and System Entwicklung (Germany) meaning Software and System Development, in English) Linux runs on top of the open-source Linux kernel. The SUSE Linux distribution is available in two variants, a community-driven project named OpenSUSE and a commercial version named SUSE Linux Enterprise. Zypper and YaST are the two command line tools used for package management in OpenSUSE and SUSE Enterprise Linux platforms. Both tools work on top of RPM. Zypper uses the libzypp library which provides the ZYpp package manager. ZYpp is a Linux software management engine and open source project originally sponsored by Novell and provides a powerful dependency resolver and a convenient package management API.

      • How to install Inkscape 1.0.2 on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to install Inkscape 1.0.2 on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

        If you have any questions, please contact us via a YouTube comment and we would be happy to assist you!

      • Linux: test disk speed [Guide]

        Need to test your hard drive speed on Linux but can’t quite figure it out? We can help! Follow along with this guide as we go over how you can test your disk speed on Linux!

      • Ubuntu: check kernel version [Guide]

        If you use Ubuntu, at some point you may be curious what your kernel version is. Unfortunately, in Ubuntu, the developers don’t tell you how to check the kernel info. In this guide, we’ll show you 4 ways you can check your kernel version on Ubuntu.

      • How to install Debian on an existing LUKS container

        LUKS (Linux Unified Key Setup) is the de-facto standard encryption method used on Linux-based systems. While the Debian installer is perfectly capable of creating a LUKS container, it lacks the ability to recognize and therefore re-use an already existing one. In this article we see how we can workaround this problem using the “DVD1” installer, and running it in “advanced” mode.

      • How to Install Tig on Ubuntu 20.04

        Tig is a text-mode interface for git. It mainly serves as a Git repository browser. Written as a ncurses-based text-interface, it can also assist in staging changes for commit at the chunk level. When the input is provided via the stdin, tig enters the Pager mode. Tig works on Linux, macOS, and Windows.

      • How To Install UVdesk on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS - idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install UVdesk on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, UVdesk is an open-source helpdesk system that provides complete support solutions for any business process to deliver the best customer service. UVdesk also organizes internal and external communication through clear structures and optimized processes allowing IT teams to avoid errors and complete tasks quickly and efficiently.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the UVdesk on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa). You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian-based distribution like Linux Mint.

      • How To Install Arduino IDE on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS - idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Arduino IDE on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, Arduino integrated development environment (IDE) is a cross-platform application between Processing and Wiring, its software work with Arduino hardware, and it introduces programming to artists and other newcomers unfamiliar with software development. The Arduino IDE contains an editor that is used to write and upload programs to the Arduino board. Before starting to create projects via Arduino, users need to set up the IDE for the programmable board.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of Arduino IDE on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa). You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian-based distribution like Linux Mint.

      • Create React App – How to Create and Deploy a React Application to Production

        React is an open-source JavaScript library developed by Facebook used for creating web frontend and UI components. It is often used for developing Web Applications or Mobile Apps. With React, you can create reusable components that are independent of each other. You can also use React with other libraries including, Axios, JQuery AJAX or the browser built-in window.fetch.

      • How to install FlightGear on Linux Mint 20.1 - YouTube

        In this video, we are looking at how to install FlightGear on Linux Mint 20.1.

      • Introduction to the aptitude package manager for Ubuntu - The Linux Juggernaut

        In our ongoing series of articles covering various software management tools, we have already covered, dpkg,apt-get and apt. In this article, we’ll cover the aptitude tool for package management on our Ubuntu 16.04 system. The aptitude command is a very useful, text-based utility for managing packages on your server. Some administrators use it as an alternative to apt. The aptitude package management software provides a command line utility named aptitude but a powerful text user interface as well. The TUI displays a list of software packages and allows the user to interactively pick packages to install or remove. The aptitude text user interface is based on the curses computer terminal library, with which it provides an interface that incorporates some elements commonly seen in graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

      • Fedora 34 beta visual Installation guide
      • Switching to FAI (Fully Automatic Installer) for creating Vagrant Boxes

        Have you heard of Vagrant ? It is a command line tool to get ready to use, disposable Virtual Machines (VM) from an online catalog. Vagrant works on Linux, FreeBSD, Windows and Mac and you only need three commands to get a shell prompt in a VM (see the Debian wiki).

      • 12 DPKG command examples - The Linux Juggernaut

        The package manager for Debian and distros derived from Debian is called dpkg or Debian package. As users, we can use dpkg directly or use higher level programs like apt(advanced package management tool) which gives us a few more features. Utilities such as dpkg-deb and dpkg-query use dpkg as a front-end to perform some actions.

        In this article, we will demonstrate how you can use the dpkg package manager to list, install, uninstall and query package on an Ubuntu 16.04 system.

      • APT-CACHE and APT-GET commands for package management in Ubuntu - The Linux Juggernaut

        In an earlier article, we demonstrated how you could use the dpkg package manager to install, remove and query information about software packages in the Ubuntu OS. In this article, we will show you how to use apt-cache to search for and query information about packages available in online and local repositories and we will also show you how to use apt-get to install and uninstall packages.

        Essentially apt-cache is the tool we use to query the apt software cache to obtain information about packages and apt-get is the tool we use for installing packages and modifying the state of packages installed on the system.

        All the examples demonstrated in this article were performed on an Ubuntu 16.04 system.

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Staging 6.5 Comes In A Bit Lighter Thanks To Upstreaming Many Patches

        Two weeks ago Wine-Staging 6.4 was at nearly 700 patches while this weekend's release of Wine-Staging 6.5 lowers that to 661 patches thanks to a number of them being upstreamed.

        Wine-Staging 6.5 saw a number of patches reach upstream Git including the Windows.Media.Speech and Windows.Gaming.Input DLLs, the OpenCL 1.1/1.2 support, Windows.Globalization work, and more.

    • Games

      • Flax Engine 1.1 Released For This Impressive Open-Source 3D Game Engine

        While Godot receives much of the - well deserved - attention when it comes to open-source, cross-platform game engines, another deserving contender is the Flax Engine that just reached v1.0 last year after going public in 2018.

        Flax Engine 1.1.6217 was released today as its first post-1.0 / v1.1 series release. Flax Engine 1.1 brings its game editor to Linux, new spline tools, continued work on expanding the engine's networking support, new visual scripting features, a third-person shooter game sample, 2D/3D sprite renderer support, the ability to utilize volumetric fog particles, and other improvements.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • digiKam 7.2.0 is released

          After more than one year of development, the digiKam team is proud to present version 7.2.0 of its open source digital photo manager.

        • digiKam 7.2 Open-Source Photo Management App Released with Numerous Improvements

          digiKam 7.2 comes seven months after digiKam 7.1 and introduces lots of improvements to Albums management to better support wildcards and item grouping with special use cases, speed up user queries, improv removable media support, and better homogeneous in views about items properties.

          Once again, the digiKam development team made a huge effort to further improve the face detection and recognition of the software, adding a new data model called Yolo to detect more faces on images with complex shot conditions, improve red eye detection, and simplify the use of face tags in the faces workflow.

        • DigiKam 7.2.0 released

          Version 7.2.0 of the digiKam photo-management application has been released. Changes include better renaming tools, improved album management, a reworked internal database, and more.

        • Krita, Qt and OpenGL — again.

          I have previously written about this subject, and back then couldn’t reach any conclusion. The options open to us were all confusing: we could try to write Krita’s canvas directly in Metal, OpenGL and Direct3D and show those in native windows in our QtWidgets based application.

          We could try to rewrite our canvas in QRhi, the semi-private GPU API abstraction Qt 5.15 and up provides — though it might not have enough functionality for us, since it us just written for what Qt needs for QtQuick.

          We could try to rewrite all of Krita in QtQuick and integrate our canvas into QtQuick’s render loop: but yes, that means a complete rewrite, because you cannot put a QWidget in a QtQuickWindow, and putting QtQuick into a QWidget window means you’re rendering using OpenGL, which breaks on Windows, now that Qt6 doesn’t come with an Angle option.

          So we had a big blue button meeting on Friday, where we discussed this issue and some other issues.

        • Sok Update 4

          Here is another update on my Sok Project :

          Paul and I finally decided on a name for the project - : Kockatoo

          Cockatoos are a family of parrots which chirp very loudly and hence get the message across to far away. They are very social birds as well . Hence the name

          So Kockatoo now supports reddit and I have ironed out a lot of just general bugs in the logic in the past 15 days.

    • Distributions

      • 8 Best Linux distro for gaming in 2021 to install on PC or laptop

        All of these work fine on Linux except for Windows games. To play Windows games on Linux we have to use tools like Wine, Phoenicis, CrossOver, GameHub, or Lutris. One might also be inclined to use Steam as it uses a compatibility layer to run Windows-only games on Linux. Keep in mind though that all of these workarounds impact performance. This is an inversely proportional problem to the specs of your PC. In simpler words, high-performance systems will face lesser impacts due to these.


        Although, as I mentioned above all the Linux distros are almost the same when it comes to gaming because we don’t have a wide range of games that are developed to run on Linux like Windows. Thus, at the end of the day either we have a couple of available options or need to use Wine/PlayOnLinux which is only able to run some old games not the high-end and latest ones. That’s is the season why most PC gamers prefer the Windows system.

        Nevertheless, if you want to go for Linux, then one should look for the one that has compatibility with the system graphics out of the box.

      • EndeavourOS: Bug on our February release

        Our community and new users brought to our attention that the Welcome app on the live environment of the ISO has an annoying bug and we are very grateful for submitting these bug reports.

        After clicking on the update app button, the welcome app isn’t coming back and therefore prevents the user from installing the system. This issue is caused by the recent update from Yad, the package the Welcome app is based on, that requires the latest version of Glibc which isn’t shipped on the current ISO.

      • Reviews

        • Review: Void 20210218

          Void is an independently developed, rolling release distribution. The project features the XBPS package manager which allows for a hybrid approach to using both binary and source packages. Void also includes the runit init software which is minimal, lightweight, and works very quickly to bring the system on-line. The distribution offers several editions, including a minimal Base flavour, and several desktop editions that ship with the Cinnamon, Enlightenment, GNOME, LXDE, LXQt, Xfce, and MATE user interfaces. The distribution further supplies editions with two separate C libraries. The project offers separate install media for the glibc and musl libraries. These, along with multiple hardware architecture support that includes x86_64, i686, and ARM, means there are a lot of download options. The smallest edition of Void is Base which is about 468MB and the largest is GNOME at 1,050MB. Since I last tried the Xfce on musl combination, I decided to switch over to glibc and explore Xfce running on a glibc base, which is a 788MB download.

          Booting from the Void media brings up a graphical login screen. We can sign into a regular user account or the media's root account using the password "voidlinux". The login credentials for the live media are published on the distribution's Download page. Signing into an account brings up the Xfce desktop. A thin panel is placed across the top of the screen. An application menu sits in the upper-left corner while the system tray is in the upper-right. The middle of the panel functions as a task switcher. At the bottom of the screen we find a dock with quick-launch buttons on it. On the desktop we find icons for launching the Thunar file manager.

      • New Releases

        • 4MLinux 36.0 STABLE released.

          The status of the 4MLinux 36.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Edit your documents with LibreOffice and GNOME Office (AbiWord 3.0.4, GIMP 2.10.22, Gnumeric 1.12.48), share your files using DropBox 114.4.426, surf the Internet with Firefox 87.0 and Chromium 88.0.4324.96, send emails via Thunderbird 78.9.0, enjoy your music collection with Audacious 4.0.5, watch your favorite videos with VLC 3.0.12 and mpv 0.32.0, play games powered by Mesa 20.3.1 and Wine 6.1. You can also setup the 4MLinux LAMP Server (Linux 5.4.99, Apache 2.4.46, MariaDB 10.5.8, PHP 5.6.40 and PHP 7.4.15). Perl 5.32.0, Python 2.7.18, and Python 3.8.6 are also available.

          As always, the new major release has some new features. Support for NBD (network block device) protocol has been added. Support for exFAT file system is now available via exfatprogs and GParted. New applications: GTkHash (program to calculate checksums) and VeraCrypt (popular encryption tool). Additionally, UNetbootin (utility to create live USB) is now available out of the box. All Flash Player dependencies have been removed from the 4MLinux repositories.

        • 4MLinux 36.0 Distro Introduces NBD Support, Improved exFAT Support, and New Apps

          About three months in development, 4MLinux 36.0 comes with up to date core components and applications. The distro sticks with the long-term supported Linux 5.4 kernel series, but bumps the version number to Linux 5.4.99 for an extra layer of hardware support and performance to the distro.

          Among the new features, 4MLinux 36.0 introduces support for the NBD (network block device) protocol, which can be used to forward a block device from one computer to another, and improves support for the exFAT file system through the addition of the exfatprogs utility and the latest GParted release.

      • Gentoo Family

        • Gentoo Linux, A Powerful Distro For Advanced Users

          Gentoo Linux is not like other Linux distribution. Where more fashionable distributions worry about fast installation and ease of use, Gentoo worries about efficient compilation and degrees of customization. Gentoo Linux is one of the most advanced operating system in the open source world.

          Gentoo is a great way to learn about how your computer works. It is a special, different and powerful Linux distribution. Gentoo is a bare bones minimalist Linux distribution known for being hard to use and one of the hardest distributions to install. It is distributed as free and open source software and follows a rolling release model.

          In Gentoo the user must configure everything. Unlike a binary Linux distribution, the source code is compiled locally according to the user’s preferences and is often optimized for the specific type of computer. At the same time a precompiled binaries are available for some larger packages or those with no available source code.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Shedding the 'bleeding edge' label: If Fedora is only going to be for personal use, that doesn't work for Red Hat

          Fedora, the community Linux distro used by Red Hat for early implementation of new technology, is not just for experimentation, project leader Matthew Miller tells us.

          Miller is "ultimately accountable for everything that happens within Fedora and in particular is responsible for maintaining Red Hat's relationship with Fedora and vice versa," though he adds: "Although Red Hat sponsors it, Red Hat doesn't own it in a meaningful way. The community makes decisions about what's going to happen."

          It is well known that Fedora is the first place new Linux technology lands in the Red Hat family of Linux distributions. What is in Fedora, presuming it proves its worth, is likely to end up in CentOS Stream and then in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the company's commercial operating system. Fedora is therefore meant to be fast-moving, but what does that mean in terms of when it makes sense to use it? For example, is it fine for a personal laptop but not sensible for a production server?

      • Debian Family

        • Kernel 5.10.26 compiled for EasyOS Dunfell series

          There has been a hiatus in EasyOS development, as I have been in "hiking mode". Still am, but interest is rising to do some more things with Easy. Firstly, Feodor has been testing Samba in the Dunfell series, and reported that CUPS printing was broken.

          Almost all of the packages in the Dunfell series are compiled in OpenEmbedded, Samba included, and I discovered that the 'cups' package was not included as a dependency in the 'samba' build recipe. I recompiled samba in OE, and Feodor tested it, with success.

          That's great, so I should bring out a new release of EasyOS Dunfell series. Latest is 2.6.1. With that in mind, there are a few thing on the to-do list, one of which is the Linux kernel...


          A note about this: the English build of EasyOS boots in text-mode. I considered running Xorg and a GUI app from within the initrd to be a bit experimental, also choosing keyboard layout with Xorg running is good for non-English users, more choices.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Freedom

        • Alyssa Rosenzweig: Software freedom isn't about licenses -- it's about power.

          A restrictive end-user license agreement is one way a company can exert power over the user. When the free software movement was founded thirty years ago, these restrictive licenses were the primary user-hostile power dynamic, so permissive and copyleft licenses emerged as synonyms to software freedom. Licensing does matter; user autonomy is lost with subscription models, revocable licenses, binary-only software, and onerous legal clauses. Yet these issues pertinent to desktop software do not scratch the surface of today’s digital power dynamics.

          Today, companies exert power over their users by: tracking, selling data, psychological manipulation, intrusive advertising, planned obsolescence, and hostile Digital “Rights” Management (DRM) software. These issues affect every digital user, technically inclined or otherwise, on desktops and smartphones alike.

          The free software movement promised to right these wrongs via free licenses on the source code, with adherents arguing free licenses provide immunity to these forms of malware since users could modify the code. Unfortunately most users lack the resources to do so. While the most egregious violations of user freedom come from companies publishing proprietary software, these ills can remain unchecked even in open source programs, and not all proprietary software exhibits these issues. The modern browser is nominally free software containing the trifecta of telemetry, advertisement, and DRM; a retro video game is proprietary software but relatively harmless.

          As such, it’s not enough to look at the license. It’s not even enough to consider the license and a fixed set of issues endemic to proprietary software; the context matters. Software does not exist in a vacuum. Just as proprietary software tends to integrate with other proprietary software, free software tends to integrate with other free software. Software freedom in context demands a gentle nudge towards towards software in user interests, rather than corporate interests.

          How then should we conceptualize software freedom?

          Consider the three adherents to free software and open source: hobbyists, corporations, and activists. Individual hobbyists care about tinkering with the software of their choice, emphasizing freely licensed source code. These concerns do not affect those who do not make a sport out of modifying code. There is nothing wrong with this, but it will never be a household issue.

      • FSF

        • Norbert Preining: RMS, Debian, and the world

          Too much has been written, a war of support letters is going on, Debian is heading head first like Lemmings into the same war.


          Unfortunately, I don’t think the Anti-Harassment Team of Debian and others of the usual group of warriors will ever read – less understand – what is written there. So sad.

        • Linux Action News 182 [Ed: Shame on Jupiter Broadcasting for amplifying the "Reprehensible" Neil McGovern with his defamatory attacks on RMS. Then again, it's owned by Microsoft-connected people...]
        • Grass-roots Support-Letter For Richard Stallman Has Reached 3500+ Signers

          Big technology corporations with a vested interest in "open source" software, and FOSS organizations they directly or indirectly fund, wrote a "open letter" viciously demonizing Richard Stallman after he announced that he will be returning to the Free Software Foundations board in a live stream at the LibrePlanet 2021 virtual conference. Actual free software users wrote a competing open letter supporting Stallman in response. [...]

          Honorary doctor Richard Stallman is the man who popularized free software. He wrote the GNU General Public Software license. He founded the GNU Project in 1983 and the Free Software Foundation in 1985. He has written many important pieces of software such as the GNU Compiler Collection (gcc) and the emacs editor. Stallman was born on March 16th 1953, he is now 68 years old.

          Richard Stallman has always been a firm supporter of computer users rights and freedoms. He has, many times, said that every computer user should have four essential freedoms. These freedoms are what, according to Stallman, defines free software.

        • Veteran GCC developer calls for Stallman to leave steering panel [Ed: Sam Varghese continues his anti-RMS campaign]

          A long-time developer of GCC, the compiler created by the GNU Project and used in Linux distributions, has issued a call for the removal of Free Software Founder Richard Stallman from the GCC steering committee.

          Nathan Sidwell said in a post directed to the committee that if it was unwilling to remove Stallman, then the panel should explain why it was not able to do so.

          Stallman is also the founder of the GNU Project and the original author of GCC.

        • Welcoming Ian Kelling to staff seat on FSF's board of directors

          As the next step to implement the plan outlined in the board's announcements last Wednesday and Friday to improve governance at the FSF, at today's meeting we officially elected the staff's selection for their newly created seats on the board of directors and voting members.

          Union staff selected senior systems administrator Ian Kelling to be the first in this role. At the end of today's board meeting, we officially welcomed Ian to both bodies. The board and voting members look forward to having the participation of the staff via this designated seat in our future deliberations. This is an important step in the FSF's effort to recognize and support new leadership, to connect that leadership to the community, to improve transparency and accountability, and to build trust. There is still considerable work to be done, and that work will continue.

      • Programming/Development

        • A Smackerel of Opinion: A Common C Integer Multiplication Mistake

          Multiplying integers in C is easy. It is also easy to get it wrong. A common issue found using static analysis on the Linux kernel is the integer overflow before widening gotcha.


          The multiplication is performed using unsigned 32 bit arithmetic and the unsigned 32 bit results is widened to an unsigned 64 bit when assigned to ret. A way to fix this is to explicitly cast a to a uint64_t before the multiplication to ensure an unsigned 64 bit multiplication is performed:

        • Box86 Continues Quest For Running x86 Linux Programs On ARM, Other Archs

          An interesting open-source project that has been brought up now a few times by Phoronix readers is Box86 for allowing 32-bit x86 programs to run unmodified on non-x86 Linux systems like ARM.

          Box86 leverages some of the system's native libraries and in turn can often deliver better performance than say using QEMU to run x86 programs on other CPU architectures. Box86's design does as well easily allow running x86 OpenGL games and other graphical software too. With some workarounds, even Steam / Wine games in turn can run under Box86.

        • Dirk Eddelbuettel: RcppSpdlog 0.0.5 on CRAN: New upstream versions

          About three months after the last update, we can announce a new version 0.0.5 of RcppSpdlog. It contains releases 1.8.3, 1.8.4 and 1.8.5 of spdlog which were made in quick succession mid-week (while we were waiting on an update of CRAN's own machinery) and was processed yesterday and overnight.

        • Escape the Permission Trap with Healthy Habits

          If you’re struggling with how to get to tidy code, fast feedback loops, joyful work. How to get permission, or buy-in. Try team habits.


          I strongly agree, but I can see that some people might still be stuck with the how. Especially if you’re the only cook in the kitchen who seems to care that there is mess everywhere.

          I recently suggested every team should be paying attention to the delays in their feedback loops. Keeping time to production under 5 minutes. Running all programmer tests in a matter of seconds.

          Measuring what matters is a good step towards being able to improve it. But it’s not enough. Especially if your manager, product manager, or fellow developers seem unperturbed by the build time creeping up, the flaky tests in your build, or the accumulating complexity.


          Are you suffering from over-alerting? Do you have flickery production alerts that go off frequently and then resolve themselves without action? Use them as a trigger for a habit. Agree as a team that every time an alert fires the whole team will down tools, investigate and work together. Every time an alert happens: come up with your best idea to stop it going off again for the same reason.

          If that’s too extreme you could try with a nominated person investigating. The point is to make a habit. Pre-agree expected, good, behaviour in response to a common trigger. Then there’s no need to seek permission to do the right thing, plus there’s some social obligation to do the right thing.

        • Perl/Raku

          • [Personal Review] Codes from The Weekly Challenge Week 095-105
          • Russ Allbery: Pod::Thread 2.00

            I am slowly working towards collecting twenty years of static web site generation and release management tools into DocKnot. Pod::Thread is the component that turns POD documentation into HTML by converting it to thread, the macro language that is the backbone of my static site generator, and then letting spin turn the results into HTML.

            I wrote this module years ago and have had it around as a private Perl module, but since the version of DocKnot that incorporates spin will have it as a dependency, it seemed time to publicly release it.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • How to catch and handle errors in bash

            Writing a robust, bug-free bash script is always challenging even for a seasoned system administrator. While you cannot prevent all errors in your bash script, at least you should try to handle potential error conditions in a more predictable and controlled fashion. This tutorial introduces basic tips to catch and handle errors in bash.

  • Leftovers

    • Stephen Michael Kellat: Pondering the News Biz

      Sometimes the news about the business of news gets rather weird. There was a very brief news item on NPR’s Weekend Edition that mentioned a newspaper in Kansas City that published a blank front page. The Kansas City Star reported that it was not them that did it and explained which local weekly paper engaged in the stunt to highlight its dire economic condition.


      This does not create a stable environment for information to get around. With low newspaper readership and no other coverage of local news the only way people find out about what is happening locally is seemingly by the dreaded Facebook. Yes, that particular echo chamber that helped bring us the events of January 6th.

      Starting a competing newspaper is not an easy proposition economically right now. The idea driving the project to set things up in LaTeX as much as possible is not to be ornery and difficult but to be able to cut costs. Spending the time to do page layout costs money which is scarce. Reverting to a sort of 19th century layout style would allow for automated layout, easier ingestion of material through various CTAN packages, and other remove some human capital costs. Making it easier to ingest wire service-like content from sources like the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service and Ohio News Connection/Public News Service would ensure that that sort of content was there so that human capital could be spent on chasing down local stories. There would be other things to be hammered out such as finding commercial printing but theoretically this would be doable to launch. The question would be if anybody would actually read it in the current social climate.

    • Hardware

      • Semiconductors lead times in March 2021

        As we previously mentioned previously there is a serious chip shortage that will lead to supply issues and higher prices for single board computers and other electronics products. A few days ago, Hardkernel had o increase the price for ODROID boards using DDR4 memory with increases of $3 to $4 for ODROID-N2+, ODROID-C4, and ODROID-HC4 boards.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Advocates Want NIH to Use its Moderna Vaccine Patent to Push for Global Access
      • Patentability of diagnostic methods – has the Canadian Patent Office drawn the line? [Ed: Instead of saving lives companies are hoarding monopolies, in effect profiting from denial of life]

        The importance of medical diagnostic technologies has been brought to the fore with the COVID-19 pandemic. Rarely does a day pass when the media does not report on matters of approval and availability of tests, testing protocols and capacity. As of March 6, 2021, Health Canada had approved 60 COVID-19 testing devices, and 111 applications for authorization were under evaluation. At the same time, patentability of diagnostic technologies has been as fractious an issue in Canada as it has been in the United States.

        Intellectual property offices have grappled with whether a medical diagnostic constitutes a traditionally patentable concrete or physical method or instead is merely an unpatentable and intangible abstract idea, untethered to the physical world. It is a difficult problem because although a new diagnostic tool typically is embodied in a physical device or method, often the principal advance lies in the recognition of a previously unknown correlation.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Apple iPhone 13: Patent Hints At Radically Different Innovation

              The next iPhone could have something other flagship phones already have: a fingerprint sensor buried in the display itself. But if that sounds like Apple is playing catch-up, a newly revealed patent suggests the company will approach this issue in an original and different way that’s not been seen before.

    • Monopolies

      • Around the Blogs

        Spicy IP considered further elements of jewellery protection in Indian intellectual property law, including the practical implications of bringing a trade mark, design or copyright suit, and whether other routes such as Geographical Indications might serve to protect traditional designs.

      • Protection of Jewellery: A Combination of Trademark, Design and Copyright Law? – Part II

        The name and logo of a jewellery brand can be protected under trademark law. Interestingly, in A. Sirkar v. B. Sirkar Jahuree Pvt. Ltd., the grounds claimed by the plaintiff were copyright infringement and passing off. This action could probably be entertained by the court, as there does not seem to be any provision preventing dual protection. In their contentions, the plaintiff had also claimed some of the pieces of their jewellery were eligible for protection as shape of goods. Additionally, the defendant had claimed that the plaintiff can only protect his right in the shape of goods under Section 2(m) of the Trademark Act, 1999. This issue was neither discussed nor decided upon by the court. It is surprising how both the parties agreed that jewellery could be protected as shape marks, when the law says otherwise. It would be interesting to see if the court examines this issue in detail. If we examine Section 9(3) of the Trademarks Act, 1999 which deals with the absolute grounds for refusal of trademark protection, it provides that ‘a mark shall not be registered as a trade mark if it consists exclusively of ….(c) the shape which gives substantial value to the goods.’ After a bare perusal of the above section, it appears that jewellery would be excluded from shape mark protection.


        The relevance of discussing the source of raw materials for Silver Filigree of Karimnagar, Thewa Art Work and Temple Jewellery of Nagercoil, is to understand if the quality, characteristic or reputation of the jewellery can be attributed to the geographical region (terrior) or if the same jewellery can be produced anywhere in the world. Article 22 of TRIPS provides that geographical indications are ‘indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.’ (emphasis supplied) As there appears to be no link between the characteristics of the jewellery and their place of origin, it does raise questions regarding the basis on which the GIs have been granted. In case of jewellery, the raw materials such as gold, silver, stones are generally sourced from other places and this could create a problem when trying to register GIs. The lack of TCE protection has forced the creators of traditional jewellery to shoe horn their products into GI protection, which is clearly not meant for products that do not derive any characteristics from their geographical origin. It’s difficult to understand why the GI Registry went ahead with these registrations when the essence of ‘GI’ is missing from the products applied for registration. Another issue with GI protection is that it only protects the name of the products, while the knowledge and specialised techniques associated with it are excluded.

      • Will Revised Patent Bar Qualifications Address Low Gender Diversity? [Ed: Under the guise of "Woke" mannerism the front groups of oligarchs and their troops (law firms besieging and threatening their rivals/opponents) push an inherently unjust system which discriminates against the poor, the vulnerable etc. Some call that "identity politics". An old blueprint.]

        The USPTO has issued a request for comments on proposed changes to requirements for admission to the patent bar. Last week I had an opportunity to speak with Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld, who currently is performing the functions and duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, about the proposed changes and the recent spotlight on the lack of gender diversity in the patent bar.

      • Patents

        • China’s Hatch-Waxman Act: Patent Linkage System Implemented in the 4th Amendment to the Chinese Patent Law [Ed: Shina copying an utterly absurd patent system designed to enrich the already rich and curtail actual innovation, competition etc.]

          The Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, adopted the Fourth Amendment to the 1984 Chinese Patent Law on October 17, 2020. The Fourth Amendment follows a series of amendments that were last adopted in 2008 and will become effective on June 1, 2021. Among the provisions is Article 76, establishing a new pharmaceutical patent linkage system modeled after the U.S. Hatch-Waxman Act. Article 76 of the Fourth Amendment was implemented in accordance with Article 1.11 of the Economic and Trade Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.[1]


          There are several key differences between the U.S. Hatch-Waxman system and the new Chinese law. China’s patent linkage system is not limited to small molecules and also includes biologics and traditional Chinese medicine. Further, China provides a much shorter stay period of only 9 months. This 9-month stay period only applies to small molecules and excludes biologics or traditional Chinese medicine. The market exclusivity period for first generic entrants (12 months), however, is far longer than that of the United States (180 days).

          The patent linkage system for pharmaceutical patents in China is just developing, and the resolution mechanism for patent disputes under Article 76 of the Fourth Amendment currently lacks detail for both generic market entrants and patentees. One notable piece of information missing in the current legislation is whether there is an obligation for the generic market entrants to notify the patentee of the non-infringement statement. In this regard, stay tuned for updates on finalized draft rules, which are expected to provide further guidance on China’s new patent linkage system.

      • Trademarks

        • [Older] Bluehost Misuses WordPress Trademark, Reigniting Controversy Over Recommended Hosts Page

          Bluehost was called out this week for misusing WordPress’ trademark, as the WordPress Foundation prohibits its use in advertising. The company has been featured on WordPress’ recommended hosting page for the past 16 years, as one of a handful of hosts that have been arbitrarily selected based on an incomplete list of criteria. The wording of the ad in this instance, “There is a reason WordPress officially recommends Bluehost more than any other hosting service,” was a visceral reminder to the hosting community of being excluded from the benefits that listing confers.


          Cape Horn is a rugged headland that lies at the southernmost point of Terra de Fuego, an archipelago at the very tip of South America. It is notoriously difficult to navigate, with unpredictable weather, high seas, strong winds and turbulent conditions. It is where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet and it took a Dutchman Jacob Le Maire to first circumnavigate this cape in 1616. Fast forward 400 odd years and we have a case report of a South African judge navigating the turbulent waters of a trade mark dispute between a licensor and its former licensee involving the brands PACIFIC and ATLANTIC for cigarettes. Can these trade marks mix in the marketplace, was the essential question.

          Judge Hughes of the Gauteng Division of the High Court was called upon to decide whether Carnilinx (PTY) Ltd, a former licensee of Open Horizon Ltd’s PACIFIC trade marks (whose license had been terminated for selling counterfeit PACIFIC BLUE cigarettes!), was infringing those trade marks through the use of the mark ATLANTIC. Illustrations of the marks in use are helpfully inserted in the judgment.


          Now knowing the outcome, the question is how this clause could have been strengthened to avoid such a situation. The good about this clause is that it contemplates that it would survive the termination of the agreement but it would have been better (for the licensor) had it also prohibited the use of marks that contained, for example, “ocean-like connotations” and made it clearer that it did survive termination of the agreement. Hindsight is an exact science but it does illustrate that care should be taken when considering standard clauses and adapting them to one’s brand. Too often short thrift is given to these clauses by licensors.

          The second lesson of this case lies in the attempt by Open Horizon to introduce a claim for unlawful competition at the very last moment. The argument is contained in para 41 of the decision:

          ‘Bearing in mind the history of this matter and the fact that the Respondent was previously licensed by the Applicant and its predecessor-in-title, STIP, there can be no doubt that the only plausible explanation is that the Respondent deliberately adopted its confusingly similar ATLANTIC marks and get-ups in order to imitate the Applicant's successful PACIFIC range of products, thereby obtaining a springboard advantage and taking unfair advantage of the Applicant's fruits and labours. The Respondent is also unlawfully interfering with the Applicant's exclusive rights in its PACIFIC trade marks and PACIFIC get-ups.’

      • Copyrights

        • “Framing” the right of communication to the public: the CJEU’s decision on the VG Kunst case

          On March 9th, 2021 the CJEU delivered its eagerly awaited decision on the VG Kunst case (C‑392/19).

          The facts of the case are interesting, since the question of the lawfulness of frame linking and of inline linking was not directly raised. Instead, it appears indirectly in the context of the assessment of licence terms requiring the licensee to apply technological protection measures against framing. In an insightful Opinion (see our comments here and here), the Advocate General (AG) Maciej Szpunar had, on the basis of an alternative reading of previous CJEU case law concerning the right of communication to the public, proposed different treatment for: (1) clickable links, including links using the framing technique, and (2) inline links which automatically display the resource to which the link leads on the webpage containing that link.

          While the CJEU adopted some of the arguments of the AG (such as applying some of the findings of the Renckhoff decision on hyperlinking, see para. 52 of VG Kunst), the Court has departed from the AG’s Opinion on important points, such as the differential treatment of unconventional links. Methodologically, the CJEU has permitted itself to interpret liberally its findings in previous case law (mainly Svensson (C‑466/12) and Bestwater (C-348/13)) by relying on the interpretative principle of individual assessment (paras 33, 34) in order to conclude that the concept of ‘communication to the public’ must be tailored to the individual case (para. 39).


          Another main finding of the decision is that the right of the copyright holder to control the access to protected content shall apply indiscriminately to all types of link. By treating all links alike the CJEU has departed from the thoughtful Opinion of the AG Spuznar on this point who proposed adoption of a differential treatment of hyperlinks depending on their functionalities and the modalities of interference with the copyright holders’ rights. For the AG, the modalities of providing access could serve as a balancing factor and should result in a differential treatment for clickable and non-clickable links. Clickable links (both simple hyperlinks and framing) should be seen as a different but usual way of accessing content by the same authorised public. On the contrary, automatic, non-clickable links should be considered as a more intrusive intervention by the linker who plays a decisive role in communicating the linked work to a new public which was not taken into account by the copyright holder when the work was initially made available (para. 98 of the Opinion).

          The CJEU avoids providing legal categorisations of links and any further scrutiny of the lawfulness of unconventional hyperlinks based on their technical particularities. By treating all kinds of linking techniques alike, the CJEU adopts a straightforward, technologically neutral and one for all approach. The need for simplicity has prevailed. At the same time, the all-encompassing character of this principle could lead to less calibrated results from a fundamental rights perspective.

          Even if the AG’s detailed inquiry on the modalities of various linking techniques was deemed to be inherently tied to technical specificities, it opened the door for a more tailored legal assessment on how the modalities of providing access to content interfere with the core of copyright law. However, in a digital ecosystem whose function and dynamics they often barely apprehend, Internet users and jurists would probably prefer simpler solutions.

        • Gating the Gatekeepers (2): Competition 2.0?

          The European Commission presented its Proposal for a Digital Markets Act with much aplomb in December. If adopted, the DMA would usher in a new era of market regulation for the ‘digital sector’, fundamentally changing the conduct and potentially the business models of so-called ‘gatekeepers’.

          Let’s take a whistle-stop tour through the scope of the DMA, before raising some reflections on the place of the DMA within the wider framework of competition policy.

          Gatekeepers providing core platform services

          Only a small number of companies should start preparing to abide by the obligations in the DMA. The DMA’s intended addressees are ‘gatekeepers’ providing ‘core platform services’ to users in the European Union (Article 1 of the Proposed DMA).

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