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02.17.14

UEFI Booster Intel Could Not Even Bother Making GNU/Linux Bootable on NUC

Posted in Hardware at 7:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Intel had released Linux-hostile hardware before it finally fixed this

OVER THE PAST week or two there has been a lot of media hype about Intel NUC [1,2] (a lot of it was purely marketing), in part because Linux support was improved [3-5] (it was hard to install GNU/Linux on these machines) and there was a benchmark too [6]. One angle that was scarcely explored in the media should have included the simple question: why did Intel release a Linux-hostile machine in the first place?

Let’s expand that question.

Was it not properly tested? Does Intel not care about Linux? Recall how Microsoft fought Linux affinity at Intel.

There’s a lot of food for thought here, especially now that Intel wants to impose UEFI on everyone (with security risks). For ethical computing with no surveillance, no back doors, and no monopoly abuse people should avoid everything from Intel (where possible). They should say NUC you to Intel.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Install Fedora on Intel NUC: A Low-Power, x86-Ready Mini PC With Grunt

    The Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is a very compact computer with an Intel CPU at its heart. The NUC reviewed here has mini DisplayPort and mini HDMI ports, two memory slots, mSATA, USB 3.0, mini PCI Express, an IR receiver, and an internal SATA connector among other things.

  2. Intel sees strong growth in its NUC mini-desktop business
  3. New Intel NUC BIOS update fixes Linux installation woes

    The future of the desktop, Intel says, lies in the extremes: enormous tabletop all-in-ones and itty-bitty PCs like the company’s own diminutive Next Unit of Computing. And indeed, we were mighty impressed when we got our hands on Intel’s Core i5-powered NUC, which managed to crack PCWorld’s top products of 2013 despite being a bare-bones system that requires users to BYO RAM, SSD, and OS.

  4. New Intel NUC BIOS update fixes SteamOS, other Linux booting problems

    To recap briefly, UEFI-based systems all have a small partition on their hard drives where bootloader files are stored. These bootloaders, which usually have an .EFI file extension, direct the computer to begin loading the operating system from the drive’s main OS partition. The problem with older NUC BIOSes is that they didn’t always know where to look for Linux bootloader files. Linux distributions would install to the computer just fine, but by default the computer wouldn’t be able to tell that the internal hard drive could boot the system, and you would have to manually move the bootloader file where the computer could find it. The NUC team tells us that further improvements to the boot process are coming, but this update appears to at least fix the problems that we had—Ubuntu, Mint, and SteamOS all install and boot just fine with the latest BIOS update installed.

  5. Intel updates NUC for better Linux support

    While there’s plenty to recommend Intel’s teeny-tiny NUC desktops, early adopters have been experiencing one or two problems. The biggest show-stopped: a flaw in the BIOS which could prevent Debian-derived Linux distributions from booting correctly, by looking for the wrong bootloader. With Debian one of the longest serving Linux distributions around, and being the parent distribution of everything from Ubuntu Linux to Valve’s Steam OS, that wasn’t great news – even if the work-around, moving the bootloader, was a relatively speedy fix.

  6. Intel Bay Trail NUC Linux Performance Preview

    A full and proper comparison of the NUC DN2820FYK performance under Linux is forthcoming that will closely examine all areas of performance from Ubuntu 14.04 with the Linux 3.13~3.14 kernel. There will also be many other interesting Bay Trail Linux tests. Those results though are not done today and due to many Phoronix readers asking for some Bay Trail results, I quickly ran some tests this week against the CompuLab Utilite review numbers from the recent review of that nice ARM Linux PC.

Chromebooks Run GNU/Linux But Don’t Offer Freedom

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Now that GNU/Linux is sold/installed on many PCs (laptops in particular) we need to remember what Chrom* is all about

GNU/LINUX is doing just fine on the desktop. There are new stories that show its quiet expansion [1] and there is additional help from Chromebooks [2], which also essentially run GNU/Linux out of the box. A lot of people run GNU/Linux distributions other than Chrome OS on their Chromebooks and some distro developers optimise their distros for Chromebooks [3,4]. Google goes further than this by trying to facilitate Windows running (virtualised) on Chromebooks [5-8] while expanding the reach of Chrome “apps” [9] and the fitness of the browser [10] which runs very well on GNU/Linux, even with Wayland [11].

One must remember that Chrome and Chrome OS are proprietary, unlike their FOSS siblings (*ium), and they are very privacy-infringing (much more so than Ubuntu). Chromecast takes this even further by introducing additional limitations (APIs and SDK [12-16], no source code, and probably DRM).

Google is basically taking GNU/Linux mainstream with Chrome OS and Android, but Google shouldn’t be confused with respect for freedom. A lot of the apps are proprietary, the base system has a certain duality on freedom, and even Windows is now being facilitated. Chromebooks are not about freedom, but it’s easy to convert them into freedom-respecting machines.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. High School Rolls Out 1,700 Linux Laptops

    Penn Manor High School this semester gave a Linux laptop to each of its more than 1,700 students, grades 9-12. Student help desk apprentices helped with laptop configuration and testing, distribution and orientation.

  2. Six Clicks: 2014′s top Linux desktops

    For years, we’ve talked about the Linux desktop becoming important. Now, it finally is. But thanks to Chromebooks and Android PCs, it’s not the Linux desktop we expected. Instead of desktop distributions from smaller groups such as Arch or Mint, or companies such as Canonical, we’re seeing Chrome OS and Android, thanks to Google and top vendors such as Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo — who are robbing market share from the moribund Windows PC industry.

  3. Acer C720 Review – Perfect Little PC

    By default the C720 comes with Chrome OS preinstalled – if you are happy with that skip onto the next section.

  4. Improvements to Bodhi’s Chromebook Support

    Just a quick update to let folks know about a few updates our special installers for Bodhi Linux on Chromebook hardware.

  5. Google taps VMware to bring Windows access to Chromebooks
  6. VMware, Google, team to target corporate Chrome OS adopters

    Google teaming up with VMware therefore makes Chrome OS more attractive because it means those organisations that already have VMware VDI infrastructure now have an easier way to pipe those legacy apps into a shiny new Chromebook, or just into Chrome. Or the myriad other devices Horizon View can target.

  7. VMware and Google Partner to Bring Windows Desktops to Chromebooks
  8. VMware, Google Partner for DaaS Chromebooks

    Google exec says solution is a ‘fantastic opportunity’ for VMware partners

  9. Google Means to Take Chrome Apps to Every Major Platform
  10. Google’s revamped JavaScript engine cures Chrome’s stutters

    Google has begun testing a new version of its V8 JavaScript engine for the Chrome browser that improves application performance by executing and compiling JavaScript code at the same time.

  11. Chromium Browser Is Running Great On Wayland

    For several months now Intel developers have been working on a new Ozone-Wayland project that allows Google’s Chrome/Chromium browsers and other applications to work on Wayland. Google’s Ozone component provides the windowing system / input abstraction layer that is where this implementation for Wayland is being plugged into. After much investment, the Chromium browser is now starting to run great with Wayland.

  12. Google Opens Chromecast to App Developers with New SDK, APIs
  13. Google releases Chromecast SDK
  14. Google waves its Chromecast dongle in front of developers

    Google has released the final version of the Google Cast Software Development Kit (SDK), paving the way for broader support for its $35 Chromecast media-streaming dongle.

  15. Google Ships Cast SDK For Chromecast
  16. Ready to cast: Chromecast now open to developers with the Google Cast SDK

    Back in July we announced the developer preview of the Google Cast Software Development Kit (SDK), the underlying Chromecast technology that enables multi-screen experiences across mobile devices (phones, tablet, laptops) and large-screen displays. Starting today, the Google Cast SDK is available for developing and publishing Google Cast-ready apps.

Mozilla Responds to Controversy Over Embedded Ads in Firefox

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Mozilla uses the yuppie-Nuremberg defense to justify selling away users’ privacy

Mozilla is a company with plenty of good people — good as in ethical. There are great new browsers coming out [1] (latest release at start of the month) and plans for even better [2] and accelerated browsers [3], not to mention powerful derivatives [4] that often come installed by default in GNU/Linux distributions. The recent decision to embed ads in Firefox was therefore a bit baffling and definitely surprising. Mozilla’s official account in Twitter responded to us, taking note of a formal statement from the management (Mitchell Baker [5]) — a statement later cited by some sites [6,7]. There is an online debate about Mozilla’s policy [8,9] after some revealing bias (against ads) even from sites that bombard visitors with ads [10] (sometimes Microsoft ads around GNU/Linux stories).

After reading the response from Mitchell Baker we remain unconvinced that lipstick can be put on the pig. It’s the yuppie-nuremberg defense. There is nothing wrong with making money, but the question is how. Moreover, one’s need for money does not justify an immoral act. Mozilla helps surveillance on Firefox users. It’s hardly even triggered by keystrokes and a trigger action (Chrome is no better in that regard). In the next post we are going to deal with Chrome, which is even worse than Mozilla when it comes to privacy. We recommend Rekonq or some Firefox derivatives like GNU IceCat and Debian’s IceWeasel.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Firefox 27: Faster, more secure and more social
  2. Mozilla Debuts New Australis Interface for Firefox 29 Aurora Browsers

    Mozilla is making a new interface available to users of its open-source Firefox Web browser as an alpha release. Firefox is developed in multiple branches—the mainline release, beta, Aurora (alpha) and Nightly branches. Until Friday, Feb. 7, the new Firefox Australis interface was only available in a Nightly branch for Firefox and has now moved into the alpha phase for what will become Firefox 29. The Firefox 29 Aurora release came in the same week as the mainline Firefox 27 browser debuted, providing users with fixes for 13 security advisories. The new Australis user interface in the Firefox 29 Aurora release has been making the rounds in the Firefox Nightly release channel since at least August 2013.

  3. Mozilla’s Use Of GPUs For 2D Acceleration

    Bas Schouten of Mozilla presented at FOSDEM earlier this month about their use of graphics processors for accelerating 2D content on the web. Unfortunately no slides from the presentation have yet to widely surface, but as of this week there’s now a YouTube video (embedded below) for those interested in Mozilla’s use of GPUs for 2D content and the pros and cons they have experienced thus far.

  4. SeaMonkey – More than a Web Browser

    I actually first discovered SeaMonkey many years ago when trying out the many versions of Puppy Linux, where SeaMonkey was sometimes included as the default “web browser”. Of course, if I had actually paid enough attention, I would have realised it was labeled as an “all-in-one internet application suite”. But nevertheless, it looked and behaved like Firefox so I assumed it was just an off-shoot of that software.

  5. Content, Ads, Caution

    In the early days of Firefox we were very careful not to offer content to our users. Firefox came out of a world in which both Netscape/AOL (the alma mater of many early Mozillians) and Microsoft had valued their content and revenue sources over the user experience. Those of us from Netscape/AOL had seen features, bookmarks, tabs, and other irritants added to the product to generate revenue. We’d seen Mozilla code subsequently “enhanced” with these features.

  6. Mozilla clarifies, defends Firefox ad position

    Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, defends Firefox’s new ad program. Firefox users remain wary.

  7. Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker Gets Crystal Clear on Ads Headed for Firefox

    Just this week, Mozilla appeared to buckle under the weight of the Internet Advertising Bureau’s wishes as the company delivered an announcement that it is going to put “Directory Tiles” in front of Firefox users, which sound a lot like ads. Now, Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker has weighed in officially on the topic of ads in Firefox, and her response is worth a read.

  8. Is Mozilla Selling Ads in Firefox?
  9. Why ads in Firefox are no big deal
  10. Mozilla To Begin Pushing Ads To The New Tabs Page
  11. Mozilla To Sell Ads In Firefox Web Browser

    Wait, what? Mozilla made itself the villian of the online ad business early last year by announcing that the latest version of Firefox would block third-party ad technologies by default, a move the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s top lobbyist called “a nuclear strike” on the industry.

Proprietary Software Turns Users Into Informants Against Their Neighbours

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Intellectual Monopoly at 6:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An example of anti-social aspects of proprietary software and a look at recent news about intellectual monopolies that go way too far

ONE of the best examples of anti-social behaviour is Facebook, where people are basically carrying out surveillance on their friends, family, colleagues, etc. and then send it in image/video/text form to authorities and to other people. This may be counter-intuitive given the marketing with “social” theme, but that’s what it is. Taking this even further, the Apple- and Microsoft-backed front group BSA is now offering useds [sic] of Facebook money to rat on their ‘friends’ who may be using proprietary software without a licence. As TorrentFreak (a news site banned for some people in the UK, thanks to ever-increasing government censorship) has put it: “The Business Software Alliance, a trade group representing Adobe, Apple and Microsoft, is offering hard cash to Facebook users who report businesses that use unlicensed software. The anti-piracy group is running an ad-campaign luring people with the prospect of a “free” ski-trip.”

This is what proprietary software does to people. It sure seems like proprietary software promotes behaviour that alienates oneself, leaving people suspicious of one another and generally divided. Hopefully, now that Windows turns into a security threat to many (not just back doors), more people will turn to Free software through GNU/Linux. Not only XP users are being deserted. Vista users too are left out in the cold. There is news related to this. “Microsoft confirms both IE9 and IE10 contain vulnerability, urges customers to upgrade to IE11; leaves Vista users out in the cold,” Gregg Keizer writes. This is yet another example of neglect — a common symptom of proprietary software. Users are pressured to pay through the nose for an upgrade (or “die”).

There is clearly something wrong with this current system where copyright makes the singing of “Happy Birthday” an infringement [1] and even linking to a site an infringement (this is challenged by EU reforms [2] and court cases [3,4]) right now). In the US, which is run by the copyright monopoly [5] (at a legislative level), the military is trademarking everything [6,7] and the telecoms cartel trademarks even colours [8]. All sorts of trade deals are only threatening to make things worse (e.g. expansion to Europe), but fortunately the push back against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for example, is proving to be effective [9].

A society of few proprietor and many people who are by design “infringers” (similar to incarcerating by wide classification like that of the “War on Drugs”) is a society of selected rulers and many slaves. We need to reject proprietary software and we need to encourage or promote a culture of increased sharing. It’s an ethical matter. It improves co-existence/cooperation and speeds up advancement.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. “Happy Birthday” copyright defense: Those “words” and “text” are ours

    There may be no song more widely sung in America than “Happy Birthday,” but it isn’t free to sing. Warner/Chappell music licensing, which has long claimed copyright to the words, typically dings filmmakers and TV producers a few thousand bucks for a “synchronization license” any time the song is used in video. Warner reported that by the 1990s the “Happy Birthday” licensing enterprise was pulling in upwards of $2 million annually.

  2. European Commission Public Consultation on Copyright: La Quadrature du Net’s Answer

    The European Commission’s public consultation on copyright reform is open until 5 March [The European Commission extended the deadline by a month]. This consultation represents an important opportunity for European citizens to demand that access to culture and knowledge be recognised as their fundamental right. It also allows the interests of authors and creators to be defended against those of the cultural industries, major distributors and intermediaries, and heirs of rightholders who currently receive the greatest share of income from copyrighted works. La Quadrature du Net therefore calls on the maximum number of citizens and organisations to reply to the consultation and support a positive reform of copyright.

  3. Hyperlinking is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules

    Does publishing a hyperlink to freely available content amount to an illegal communication to the public and therefore a breach of creator’s copyrights under European law? After examining a case referred to it by Sweden’s Court of Appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled today that no, it does not.

  4. Europe’s Highest Court Says Linking Doesn’t Require Permission

    Recently, Techdirt has reported on a number of important judgments from the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s highest court. Here’s another one that represents a good win for common sense. It concerns hyperlinking to copyright materials held on another site (pdf).

  5. Another Friend Of The Recording Industry Joins The House Subcommittee On Courts, Intellectual Property And The Internet

    There’s a new ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, and it’s another copyright maximalist. Mel Watt, the former ranking member and one of SOPA’s biggest supporters, has moved on to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Before Mel Watt, there was subcommittee chair “Hollywood” Howard Berman, whose nickname clearly spells out which side of the copyright argument he espoused.

  6. US Military Looking To Trademark Everything

    As we’ve noted plenty of times in the past, works produced by the federal government are not subject to copyright. However, they are (almost inexplicably) subject to both patent and trademark protection, where those things apply. A little while back, Jim Gourley over at Foreign Policy looked into how the Pentagon has gone trademark slap happy over the last five years or so (the headline of the article falsely implies that it has also gone copyright happy, despite barely mentioning copyright, and in the one spot it does, totally confusing copyright and trademarks).

  7. Jim Gourley’s Military Culture column: Who knew? The Pentagon is TM and ©

    Christmas is almost upon us, which means military brats, Twitter junkies, and Google Earth nuts around the world will gather online for NORAD’s yearly tracking of Saint Nick as he delivers presents across the globe. How the tradition began is a heart-touching story that demonstrates the holiday spirit. The tradition now enters its 58th year, and despite some PR snags you can keep faith that the Air Force will ensure it’s an authentic experience.

  8. Court orders AT&T to stop infringing on T-Mobile’s magenta color
  9. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is in Trouble Thanks to Grassroots Pressure

    Multilateral trade agreements like the TPP are virtually impossible to enact without fast track, which allows the executive branch to submit a treaty to Congress for an up or down vote, without amendments.

02.16.14

Programming News Picks: Focus on Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 6:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: 2014 news picks that focus on programming and development, especially of Free software or using Free software tools

Demise of Proprietary

  • Developer survey: HTML5 gaining, Windows slipping

    HTML5 developers queried recently by tools vendor Sencha remain dedicated to building apps via Web technologies, even as doubts have been cast on how effective HTML5 is vis à vis native development. Many of those same developers, however, have dropped support for the classic Microsoft Windows platform.

    Surveying 2,128 business application developers from the HTML5 development community, including users of its own tools, Sencha found that 70-plus percent of developers planned to do more with HTML5 in the 2013 timeframe than they had done the previous year. And 75 percent will work further with HTML5 in 2014. More than 60 percent of developers have migrated to HTML5 and hybrid development for primary applications. For the coming year, just 4 percent of HTML5 developers plan to cut back on HTML5.

  • The Enterprise Strikes Back On Open Source Contributions

    I still remember IBM’s provocative announcement in 2001 that it was putting $1 billion toward the development and promotion of Linux. While such billion-dollar commitments from IBM are now so routine as to be unremarkable, back then a billion dollars meant a lot. I was working for an embedded Linux vendor at the time, and most of our sales cycle was spent explaining why GPL-licensed Linux wasn’t the technology equivalent of terminal cancer. (Thanks in part to Microsoft’s contribution.)

Google

GitHub

  • Is Bitbucket or GitHub the host with the most?

    GitHub’s position as the repository of choice for open source community projects is today one of dominance, most would argue.

    Officially often referred to as a “web-based revision control service” (rather than simply a software code repository), this classification is an obvious nod to the site’s inherent level of active community involvement as open projects are continuously developed, refined and augmented.

  • FOX News Explaining GitHub is the Funniest Thing You’ll See Today

    So, what’s the problem? Well, that’s simple. It seems that Fox News’ technology department –run by a motley crew of half-witted quick-study-types– failed to explain GitHub, and also disregarded both spelling and punctuation in favor of adopting what I would describe as a rogue journalistic style; a style that exists far beyond the confines of traditional English language rules. It is now with great pleasure that I flog the holy-hell out of the following screen capture in an attempt to make them cry.

  • How to deal with a difficult programmer on an open source project?

    I have an open source script for a specific site (I’m trying not to call anything by name here) that a few other developers and I recently moved to GitHub. We’ve been joined by several new developers since we moved to the new system, including one very active one in particular. However, this active one has started changing a lot of the project.

    First of all, he deleted our versioning system (not like Git, but like that—we called it versions v4.1.16) and said it would be better to simply push the code to the site when we think it’s ready. Now there’s no centralized place to put release notes, which has become annoying.

  • Video interview with GitHub co-founder Scott Chacon on a future beyond code

    GitHub has become the de facto repository for open source projects. So, we were excited for the opportunity to sit down with GitHub’s co-founder and CIO Scott Chacon during the All Things Open Conference in Raleigh, NC.

Python

  • Zato—Agile ESB, SOA, REST and Cloud Integrations in Python
  • Puerto Rico Python User Group Celebrates First Anniversary

    One year ago the Puerto Rico Python Interest Group (prPIG) was founded on one purpose; to create a sustainable user community based on software development in Puerto Rico. On February 20, 2014 we will celebrate our first anniversary with an open format meeting with lightning talks from the community.

  • 10 Best Programming Languages For 2014

    Programming languages are crucial to a programmer as they boosts their productivity. Keeping in mind the fact that programmers may not be comfortable with all the coding languages around, we thought of compiling a list of programming languages set to make it big in 2014.

  • About Python 3

    Python community, friends, fellow developers, we need to talk. On December 3rd, 2008 Python 3.0 was first released. At the time it was widely said that Python 3 adoption was going to be a long process, it was referred to as a five year process. We’ve just passed the five year mark.

  • Why Python is perfect for startups
  • Will Python Kill R?

    In an article entitled “Python Displacing R As The Programming Language For Data Science,” MongoDB’s Matt Asay made an argument that has been circulating for some time now. As Python has steadily improved its data science credentials, from Numpy to Pandas, with even R’s dominant ggplot2 charting library having been ported, its viability as a real data science platform improves daily. More than any other language in fact, save perhaps Java, Python is rapidly becoming a lingua franca, with footholds in every technology arena from the desktop to the server.

  • Read and Write Video Frames in Python Using FFMPEG

Git

LLVM

Ruby

  • Ruby 2.1.0 is released

    Ruby 2.1 has many improvements including speedup without severe incompatibilities.

  • Ruby 2.1 Brings Faster Performance

    The Ruby project has done a new major release on Christmas for their popular programming language. Ruby offers performance speed-ups but without severe incompatibilities, according to the release announcement.

Misc.

  • Statistical computing and graphics begin with R
  • Rails and PostgreSQL

    Regular readers of this column won’t be surprised to hear that I love both Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL. Rails has been my primary server-side Web development framework for about eight years, and it has managed to provide solutions for a large number of consulting and personal projects. As for PostgreSQL, I’ve been using it for about 15 years, and I continue to be amazed by the functionality it has gained in that time. PostgreSQL is no longer just a relational database. It’s also a platform supporting the storage and retrieval of many types of data, built on a rock-solid, ACID-compliant, transactional core.

  • Open Source PHP 5.5 and 5.4 Updated
  • What open source means to a young programmer

    In the sometimes dark and mysterious world of computers, I see open source programming and community around it as a force of good. Open source sparks and kindles a connection between people that I think is hard to find elsewhere in programming. Working with open source, a programmer builds important and powerful collaboration skills. This is significant because many of us (programmers and self-proclaimed nerds) are rather antisocial. Open source programming helps us cultivate social behaviors like sharing, improved communication, and collaborating towards a common goal.

  • The Rise And Fall of Languages in 2013
  • Your kids’ chances of becoming programmers? ZERO

    So by the mid-1980s, programming in schools was surging…

  • Compojure
  • Want to Pitch a Silicon Valley VC? It’s Your Time to Shine!
  • Recipes from open source thought leaders
  • Autovala: Auto-Generating CMake Files For Vala Code
  • Checkpoint-Restore Hits v1.0: Freeze Your Linux Apps

    The Checkpoint-Restore Tool has reached version 1.0 as part of the CRIU project. Checkpoint/Restore In Userspace allows for users to freeze running applications and checkpoint it to the hard drive as a file and that checkpoint can then be restored to a running process later on. CRIU is different from suspend-and-resume with the Linux kernel in that this is a tool for handling individual programs and it is implemented in user-space.

  • Clutter 1.16.2 Adds Wayland and X11 Improvements

    The development team behind the Clutter software, a library for creating compelling, portable, dynamic and fast graphical user interfaces (GUI), has announced a few days ago that the second maintenance release of the stable Clutter 1.16 branch is available for download.

  • Intel Makes Major Zlib Performance Improvements

    Jim Kukunas of Intel OTC published the set of 13 patches on Monday that include medium and quick deflate strategies, a faster hash function with SSE 4.2 support, PCLMULQDQ-optimized CRC folding, SSE2 hash shifting, and other changes/tuning.

Great News for Start of the Week: The H is Back!

Posted in Site News at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

H Online

Summary: Heise’s journalistic work covering Free and Open Source software is resurrected, thanks to pressure from concerned followers and former writers

EARLIER this year we sent many E-mails back and forth, exchanged ideas in social networks, and also wrote some articles urging Heise to bring The H back to the Web. A lot of effort was put into it before and behind the scenes. Last week there was a turning point and we seemed close to achieving our goal; with Linux Devices it took several months to achieve (and a lot of persistence/effort), but this time it took only weeks. Digital preservation is very important to Free and Open Source software. Without it, it’s hard to inform the public and improve the perception of Free/Open Source software.

“The H-Online UK archive appears to be up again,” said David Gerard from Wikipedia, “with old URLs working.” Fantastic!

In other news, after a day-long struggle we’ve managed to restore Tux Machines (news aggregation site) to a fully working order after some issues with caching (it turned out to be a conflict between Drupal cache and Varnish cache). Several improvements (security- and access-wise) were made in this process.

In the coming week we shall have plenty of interesting articles (opinions and original reporting) to share. We are starting to increase the pace of publication again, after a relatively slow 2013.

Our ambition to save those inactive sites (with no new articles in them) from going offline was partly driven by concerns that journalism is drying up a bit when it comes to software freedom (less so when it comes to Linux). Some Linux-oriented events may as well still be alive (e.g. SCALE 12x [1,2]), but audiocasts are becoming fewer [3,4] (there are new arrivals though [5]), magazines are becoming fewer (Linux Journal is still going [6], but its Web site is hardly active), emerging Linux-related events are about proprietary software [7] with DRM or other restrictions [8] (taking place in Seattle, near Microsoft), leaving interview and such interactions to few community sites [9]. Keeping existing literature and references alive is the least one can do to secure an identity and defend from misinformation, revisionism, etc. Groklaw has always been exceptionally serious when it comes to long-term preservation of information, but it too is now an inactive site. Slashdot seems to be going down the same path.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. SCALE 12x: Penguins Invading Los Angeles
  2. SCaLE 12X
  3. arkOS
  4. Podcast Season 6 Episode 0 – pilot
  5. Bad Voltage in 2014

    In 2013 we kicked off Bad Voltage, a fun and irreverent podcast about technology, Open Source, gaming, politics, and anything else we find interesting. The show includes a veritable bounty of presenters including Stuart Langridge (LugRadio, Show Of Jaq), Bryan Lunduke (Linux Action Show), Jeremy Garcia (LinuxQuestions Podcast), and myself (LugRadio, Shot Of Jaq).

  6. February 2014 Issue of Linux Journal: Web Development
  7. Steam Dev Days Videos Are Online
  8. Humble Audiobook Bundle released
  9. Interview With Sancho Lerena From Pandora FMS

    Hello Unixmen readers, today we have a special guest here at our desk! Ladies and gentlemen, we present you our friend Sancho Lerena from Pandora FMS. In case it doesn’t ring you any bell, Pandora FMS is a monitoring software which helps you to detect problems before they happen, managing your IT infrastructure: servers, networking and applications. So, if you want to find a job or if you are currently employed as Linux/Network Administrator then you should be aware of it. Here’s a little summary of Pandora from Unixmen.

Richard Stallman Talks About Diaspora and Whether It’s Worth Joining

Posted in TechBytes Video at 2:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, talks about Diaspora as a social networking platform


Made entirely using Free/libre software, heavily compressed for performance on the Web at quality’s expense

Weekend News: Surveillance, Espionage, Foreign Policy, and Assassination Debate

Posted in News Roundup at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Surveillance revelations, European and Indonesian reactions to espionage, drone protesters arrested and abducted

Surveillance and NSA

  • Since Spying to Benefit Monsanto Is Not Industrial Espionage, It’s Okay

    One of the examples I often raise to show how our government likely uses SIGINT to advantage specific businesses is the way the government helps Monsanto budge into markets uninterested in its products.

    One WikiLeaks cable showed the US embassy in Paris planned a “military-style trade war” to benefit Monsanto.

  • Spying by N.S.A. Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm

    The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: American lawyers.

    A top-secret document, obtained by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, shows that an American law firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States. The disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a specific instance in which Americans were ensnared by the eavesdroppers, and is of particular interest because lawyers in the United States with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance.

  • NSA spied on U.S. law firm amid trade dispute, report says
  • US law firm was ‘caught in NSA surveillance net’ in Indonesia – report

    An unnamed US law firm was caught up in surveillance involving the National Security Agency and its Australian counterpart, according to a report released on Saturday.

    The New York Times reported that a top-secret document obtained by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed the firm was monitored “while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the US”.

    According to the Times, the government of Indonesia retained the law firm for trade talks which were under surveillance by the Australian Signals Directorate. The Australian agency offered to share information with the NSA.

  • Indonesia: Australia and US need to clean up their mess

    Presidential adviser responds to ‘perplexing revelation’ that ASD spied on a law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute

  • US law firm ensnared in spying by NSA ally
  • ‘I always wonder if someone is listening’: NSA spied on American lawyers but sometimes got other governments to do the work for them
  • Snowden leak: NSA snooped on Chicago law firm

    Chicago-based law firm Mayer Brown may have found itself snared by the National Security Agency’s wide-reaching surveillance program.

    The New York Times reports an American law firm representing a foreign government in trade disputes was monitored by the spy agency, possibly including “information covered by attorney-client privilege.”

  • U.S. law firm ensnared in NSA surveillance: NYT report

    An unnamed U.S. law firm was caught up in the global surveillance of the National Security Agency (NSA) and its overseas partners in Australia, according to a newspaper report on Saturday.

    A top secret document obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shows the firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States, according to The New York Times.

  • Aust-Indo ties worsening: Plibersek

    Australia and Indonesia are now in “open conflict”, and repairing the “worsening” relationship is imperative, deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek says.

    In the week Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta, Greg Moriarty, was reportedly called into the country’s foreign affairs ministry for a “dressing down” over the Abbott government’s border protection policies, Ms Plibersek said it was crucial the government act now to settle the rocky relationship.

    “It’s absolutely vital that Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop get on with repairing the relationship with Indonesia,” Ms Plibersek told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.

    “It’s of enormous concern that a huge nation, a growing democracy a nation that’s vital to our security but also to our economic prosperity is now in open conflict and calling the Australian ambassador in for a dressing down.”

  • Intel not for commercial use: Abbott

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia would never use its intelligence gathering for commercial purposes, after reports one of its spy agencies offered US counterparts information on trade talks with Indonesia.

    The New York Times says the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) offered to share with the US National Security Agency (NSA) its surveillance of an American law firm that was representing Indonesia in trade disputes with the US.

  • The Privacy Worm Turns: Now You Can Spy On The NSA
  • Video: US artist films NSA headquarters

    Artist Trevor Paglen has taken aerial photographs of the National Security Agency, National Reconnaissance Office and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to illustrate the scale of the secret state in the United States.

  • NSA protest results in tens of thousands of phone calls, emails
  • Russia’s Olympic Spying, Comcast Weds Time Warner & More…

    You needn’t wonder why we haven’t heard protests about this coming from Obama, Harper or Cameron. It’s long been established that the pot hasn’t the right to point a finger at the kettle. All three of these gentlemen might be well advised to keep quiet, lest they bring even more attention to their own online intelligence operations. Indeed, Bloomberg reports that recent revelations about the NSA are having a disastrous effect on the U.S. tech sector.

  • Samsung Enterprise Mobility Push Receives Boost From NSA And US Army

    Samsung’s enterprise plans are reportedly given the seal of approval from the US military and security agencies

  • NSA Drone Attacks Not What You Think: Scahill
  • So why aren’t young Americans spooked by NSA surveillance?

    Young people are very aware of privacy. But they seem to worry more about what their teachers, parents, coaches and peers know about their online activities than what the US government might have on them.

  • Former German Chancellor Surprised That NSA Continued to Spy on Merkel
  • Ex-German chancellor Schroeder surprised at NSA spying on Merkel

    Gerhard Schroeder, a former German Chancellor, now says he was surprised to hear that the United States National Security Agency, or NSA, spied on his country’s current head of government after he left office almost a decade ago.

  • Data protection: Angela Merkel proposes Europe network

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel is proposing building up a European communications network to help improve data protection.

  • EPIC Receives A Settlement For Legal Fees From The NSA In Its FOIA Lawsuit Targeting Presidential Cybersecurity Directives

    Some semi-good news to report here. EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) has received a settlement from the NSA in its long-running lawsuit (dating back to late 2012) against the agency for its withholding of documents related Presidential Directive 54, a national security directive on cybersecurity.

  • Privacy group reaches NSA settlement, appeals case
  • NSA Spying Poses “Direct Threat to Journalism,” Watchdog Group Warns
  • NSA’s mass surveillance of NZers online

    Part of my TEDx Queenstown talk next week is about mass surveillance online. How governments are building the modern Panopticon.

    I was therefore quite surprised yesterday when Prime Minister John Key said he has no reason to believe the NSA has undertaken mass surveillance on New Zealanders. To help the prime minister, let’s look at what we know about it and whether an objective person should come to the same conclusion.

    At the same time, let’s not overlook the FBI’s (NarusInsight) and GCHQ’s (Tempora) sterling efforts in collecting and making the data available to the NSA. In fact, the GCHQ collects even more metadata off international cables than the NSA.

  • Utah – Achilles’ Heel of the Surveillance State

    What do they need all that water for? To cool the mega-computers housing the NSA’s huge store of intercepted data – virtually all the emails transmitted in the country and beyond, including phone calls and our all-important “meta data.” The heavily fortified Data Center will store all this purloined information in four halls, each 25,000 square feet, with an additional 900,000 square feet for bureaucratic high mucka-mucks and their administrative and technical peons. The electricity bill alone is estimated at $40 million annually.

  • Former NSA Counsel Stewart Baker vs. Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg

    Former National Security Agency lawyer Stewart Baker and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg join us for a debate on Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the NSA’s massive spying apparatus in the United States and across the globe. Snowden’s leaks to The Guardian and other media outlets have generated a series of exposés on NSA surveillance activities — from its collection of American’s phone records, text messages and email, to its monitoring of the internal communications of individual heads of state. Partly as a consequence of the government’s response to Snowden’s leaks, the United States plunged 13 spots in an annual survey of press freedom by the independent organization, Reporters Without Borders. Snowden now lives in Russia and faces possible espionage charges if he returns to the United States. Baker, a former NSA general counsel and assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, is a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson and author of “Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism.” Ellsberg is a former Pentagon and RAND Corporation analyst and perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing the secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, prompting Henry Kissinger to call him “the most dangerous man in America.”

  • How The NSA Is Turning Your Apps Against You

    According to reports, spy organizations are looking to so-called “leaky apps” to gather information. It’s a term we’ve used quite often in our Mobile Threat Monday stories, one that Lookout’s Principal Security Researcher Marc Rogers defines as “Any app which is passing any kind of sensitive information without encryption.”

  • Dutch Minister of Interior Ronald Plasterk misled parliament by blaming NSA

    On Thursday, Dutchnews.nl reported that the Dutch Minister of Interior, Ronald Plasterk was asked by his political counterparts to explain why he supplied them with misleading information concerning the Dutch intelligence agencies illegal data collection practices. Dutch political party, Democrats 66 even went as far as filing a motion of no-confidence against Plasterk.

  • NSA Protest Garnered “Substantial” Support, Organizers Say

    Tuesday’s protest against the National Security Agency resulted in “substantial support” according to official numbers released by organizers.

  • World of surveillance is our responsibility

    Privacy should not have to be defended

  • Ex-CIA agent Edward Snowden posters damaged by vandals at university

Surveillance and the UK

Surveillance and CIA

Foreign Policy

  • 5 Examples of US Government Efforts to Destabilize Black Nations

    Kwame Nkrumah helped Ghana gain its independence from its British colonizers in 1957. Nkrumah became the country’s first prime minister (1957) and first president (1960). As a Pan-Africanist, Nkrumah was eager to unite Africa, and specifically, help Ghana become completely independent from the colonial trade system by reducing its dependence on foreign capital, technology and material goods.

  • Did CIA Official Suppress Benghazi Attack Narrative?
  • Did CIA official suppress Benghazi narrative? Accounts raise new questions

    New information about the intelligence available in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack raises questions about whether the former No. 2 at the CIA downplayed or dismissed reporting from his own people in Libya that it was a coordinated attack and not an out-of-control protest over an anti-Islam video.

  • The Shortsighted Presidency

    America’s foreign policy is now trending on Twitter.

  • War is business

    The successful Star Wars franchise captivated generations of worldwide audiences not only because it was – and still is – an enthralling science fiction drama, but also because it touches upon timeless social issues about the use and abuse of power, greed and humility, love and hate, trust and betrayal, domination and compassion, honour and envy.

    A movie like Revenge of the Sith can reveal much about what we value in our society because it can raise questions about the world that we live in now. For example, under what conditions do people change from being agents of peace and justice to being agents of death and destruction? Why does the wielding of absolute power end up corrupting people absolutely? And more importantly, what can we do as a people to right the wrongs committed from the abuse of such power?

  • Syria at the Edge of ‘Shock Doctrine’

    Disappointed that President Obama didn’t bomb Syria last year, the neocons and other war hawks are using the frustrations over initial peace talks in Geneva to ratchet up pressure for a “humanitarian” military assault now, as Rob Prince explains.

  • US hired Nazis to test CIA interrogation techniques

Drones

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