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02.02.15

OLPC Lessons Not Learned: Imposing Microsoft Windows on Young Students Using Embrace, Extend and Extinguish of Raspberry Pi

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Raspberry Pi offers help or extends an olive branch to Microsoft despite the long-known pattern of Embrace, Extend and Extinguish (EEE)

Raspberry Pi is an exciting British project that resembles OLPC in many ways. It targets young people (albeit not exclusively) and it is very affordable. Coupled with the UK-based ARM it enables students to learn and build real computers as opposed to memorisation of menu items in proprietary software or purchasing of ‘i’ devices which are so rigid that they are virtually useless for education. Many people here in Britain purchase Raspberry Pi in order to improve their technical skills, to experiment, to learn. These values are almost antithetical to proprietary software. Moreover, proprietary software tends to be expensive (especially in the long term), so it is too prohibitive for public sectors. Unless the goal of the public sector, especially education, is to create customers for corporate clients, it makes absolutely no sense to spread Windows, Office, etc. That’s why OLPC antagonised both Apple and Microsoft (offers of ‘gratis’ operating systems) until it gave up, removed these defenses, and died quickly thereafter (downward spiral and mass resignations).

Raspberry Pi should be careful not to repeat OLPC’s mistakes by associating in any way with Microsoft. It follows a similar and highly reminiscent direction right now, choosing a disturbing mode of operation that neglects core values and goals of the project. Raspberry Pi compromises where it oughtn’t and Eben Upton wastes time speaking with Microsoft right now, repeating the mistakes of OLPC as if OLPC never happened.

Most of the news [1-12] has been about the latest hardware from Raspberry Pi, but some sites play along with the Microsoft angle [13,14] (some look more like Microsoft press releases). What’s with all this Vista 10 propaganda in relation to Raspberry Pi? First, Vista 10 is not out; second, it’s hype; third, it lacks hardware support. Raspberry Pi is not strong enough for a bloated system from Microsoft; the same happened with OLPC and it wasted effort/focus of the project. OLPC and Raspberry Pi were supposed to be about education, programming/hacking etc. Clearly enough, and few can refute this, the proprietary spyware from Microsoft is not compatible.

Linux Veda wrote an article in response, starting with focus on the hardware. To quote: “Raspberry Pi needs no introduction. It’s a credit card size computer which can do a lot of things that your quad core desktop would do. The device is extremely popular among enthusiasts and developers. And the foundation that develops the device has announced the version 2 of the devices – Raspberry Pi 2.”

The article also says that Raspberry Pi “had been working with Microsoft for the last six months”. Embrace, Extend and Extinguish in action. It makes no sense unless Microsoft paid money for this distortion of the project. We would like to know how much money flow came from Microsoft and proxies like “Microsoft Open Technologies” to the Foundation (Raspberry Pi) because given the effort that went into Windows, it is possible that there were also monetary arrangements of some kind. We need transparency here.

Based on the reactions we see in social networks right now, Raspberry Pi faces a real risk as it may alienate the community and distract from important efforts that focus on education, not indoctrination for Microsoft’s profit and lock-in.

That Cyanogen is becoming a Microsoft tool is not shocking because Cyanogen has always been Free software-apathetic if not Free software-hostile. But we expected better from Raspberry Pi. 20+ years of dead companies due to “deals” and “partnerships” with Microsoft are apparently no strong and compelling enough a warning sign to Raspberry Pi. This is the time for Microsoft to dust off the “how we killed OLPC” files and pick them off the shelves. Raspberry Pi should have known better, having witnessed what Microsoft did to Nokia in recent years.

Gordon Fletcher from the University of Salford (just a couple of miles from our house) cited Techrights earlier today, writing that “Microsoft’s embrace of open source is driven by commercial practicality not principle”. To give some background: “Raymond’s “cathedral” is a thinly veiled reference to Microsoft’s absolute commitment to proprietary software development – a technocratic priesthood that kept the secrets within the temple. In 1999 a closed, proprietary approach was seen as the primary – if not the only way – to profit from software. This software business model followed the lead of computer hardware manufacturers, who would strive to “lock in” buyers to the firm’s ecosystem of products – compatible with each other but more often than not incompatible with those of other manufacturers.”

He ends by relating this to the Cyanogen move: “Open-source activists are correct to wonder whether Microsoft has more of the same planned: most of its current open-source manoeuvres such as investing in Cyanogen follow the same approach of previous acquisitions. The key difference is that software developed in the bazaar has developers and users who are passionate about the project. For them open-source software is not just a commodity to be bought and sold; whether there is any place for the cathedral in the bazaar is yet to be seen.”

As we wrote today and yesterday, this is not about embracing FOSS but about attacking Google with proprietary software (e.g. Office on top of Android).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Raspberry Pi 2 Released with Six Times the Power, Same $35 Price

    Raspberry Pi 2 is a new mini PC from the Raspberry Pi Foundation that follows in the footsteps on the previous devices, which has managed to take the world by storm.

  2. The Raspberry Pi 2 Makes A Big Difference Even For Web Browsing
  3. Raspberry Pi gets quad-core SoC, keeps $35 price

    The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B moves up to a 900MHz, quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU with 1GB RAM, and offers backward compatibility and the same $35 price.

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a much faster new version of the world’s leading community-backed, hacker-friendly Linux SBC. The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B moves from Broadcom’s 700MHz, ARM11 based Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-chip to a new quad-core Broadcom BCM2836 SoC clocked at 900MHz, and doubles RAM to 1GB.

  4. Raspberry Pi 2 review – not all the same

    We’ll be honest, when the Raspberry Pi 2 hit our desk in mid- January we were very excited to crack it open and try it out. From what we had been told this was basically the Raspberry Pi everyone had ever wanted, at least in terms of power. It was a bit of a have-your-cake-and-eat-it moment though, as we hooked up the board that was essentially a Model B+ and began using a very familiar Raspbian layout.

  5. Raspberry Pi 2 Goes On Sale, Includes A Quad-Core ARMv7 CPU

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced “Raspberry Pi 2″ today, a new powerful Pi which has the same form-factor and price ($35) as the old Model B+.

  6. Turbocharged Raspberry Pi 2 unleashed: Global geekgasm likely
  7. Raspberry Pi 2 Launches With Quad-Core ARM SoC
  8. Video: Raspberry Pi 2 Hands-On
  9. Raspberry Pi robot and hobby kit robot guide part 2
  10. Snappy Ubuntu Core Available For New Raspberry Pi 2 Mini PC

    With the launch of the new Raspberry Pi 2 today now equipped with a quad-core processor Microsoft has already announced that it will be making a version of its Windows 10 operating system available for free to the maker community.

  11. Raspberry Pi 2 arrives with quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM, same $35 price

    Three years after the launch of the first Raspberry Pi, second generation hardware will go on sale today for the same $35 price while offering a lot more power.

  12. New Raspberry Pi Has Quad-Core CPU, 1GB RAM

    Raspberry Pi was originally meant as a small, credit card-sized PC that students could use at school to learn device programming and engineering.

  13. Raspberry Pi 2 can run Windows 10, Ubuntu Core (and more)
  14. Raspberry Pi 2 launch: Six times faster with Windows 10 and Ubuntu support

    A major update to the credit card sized Raspberry Pi board is introduced, with a boost to the CPU and memory expected to help it run as a general-purpose PC.

Links 2/2/2015: Linux 3.19 RC7, Kodi 14.1

Posted in News Roundup at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Welcome the New Breed of Linux Users

    Some people don’t like any changes made to Linux user space which makes the operating system easier to use or configure for casual users. They would rather the user be befuddled and helpless, because according to them, people who don’t know how to open a terminal and edit a configuration file in Emacs have no business sitting at a computer keyboard for any purpose.

  • Videos: 10 Interesting Technical Talks from LinuxConf.Au 2015

    Many Linux and open source leaders gave presentations at LinuxConf.Au 2015 a few weeks ago, including Linux Creator Linus Torvalds. All of the conference videos are available on YouTube, and there were many excellent presentations — so many it would be impossible to watch them all. The range of topics covered everything from open source governance and community management, to inspiring uses of Linux and open source technologies, to technical talks and tutorials. Here are ten interesting technical talks focused on Linux and the kernel. (Disclaimer: I have not watched every single minute of all of these videos. I’ll leave it to you to decide how captivating they are.)

  • Which Linux Desktop is Right For You?

    Over the years, the debate over the best Linux desktop environment has raged on. KDE, Gnome, one of the lighter weight Linux desktops – there are so many options to choose from. In this article, I’ll examine the variety of desktops available and compare them accordingly.

  • February 2015 Issue of Linux Journal: Web Development

    I think it was in the late 1990s, possibly into the 2000s, when it was common to put a cutesy graphic on the bottom of your Web page letting everyone know your site wasn’t finished. Generally the graphic was an animated GIF file of a little construction guy shoveling a pile of gravel. Mind you, this was before animated GIF files were the most annoying thing on the Internet, and long before they started getting cool again. The thing that makes me smile isn’t how clever we were to make such graphics, it’s the naiveté of the concept that a Web site might ever be truly finished.

  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 3.19 RC7 Is Out, Last One Before Stable

      Linux kernel 3.19 RC7 was announced by Linus Torvalds and it’s probably the last release in this development cycle before the branch becomes stable, most likely next week.

    • Linux 3.19-rc7 Kernel Released: Linux 3.19 Final Coming Soon

      The seventh and likely last release candidate to the Linux 3.19 kernel is now available.

    • 4 Useful Cron Alternatives For Linux

      For those who are familiar with the Unix system, you will also be familiar with the cron application that allows you to schedule and automate tasks to run on their own. We even have tutorials that show you how to get started with cron and crontabs. However, cron is not perfect, as it requires your system to be running 24 hours a day. If you have a habit of turning off your computer at night, and a cron job is scheduled in the sleeping hours, the task won’t be executed. Luckily, there are several cron alternatives that can do a better job than cron. Let’s check them out.

    • Gummiboot UEFI Boot Loader To Be Added To Systemd

      The newest feature being worked on for systemd? A boot loader, of course! It was revealed this weekend that systemd developers are looking at integrating Gummiboot into systemd.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Interview with Lucas Falcão

        I think Krita is doing great and I really like the direction it’s going, the software it seems to be made for artists, at least I have this impression when I use the tools to work on the creation and painting of textures. I don’t hate anything in Krita, and I don’t use all the tools, but I think usability could always be improved.

      • digiKam Quick Tip: Using Album Categories

        Did you know that you can assign categories to albums in digiKam? To do this, right-click on an album, choose Properties from the context menu, and the desired category from the Category drop-down list.

      • SoK Final Report – Theme Designing for Pairs

        Theme designing for pairs is my Season of KDE project, mentored by Heena Mahour. In this project i created new themes for KDE-Edu project “Game Pairs”.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • I Messed Up GRUB2… What a Happy Mistake!

        Yesterday, I was using my daughter’s desktop computer, which is a Mageia 4/PicarOS dual-boot, when I noticed something that has happended before: after running an update of packages, Mageia changes GRUB2 and erases the entry to boot PicarOS.

        I am not very GRUB2 literate. Last time that it happened, I solved the problem with GRUB Customizer, but it wouldn’t help this time.

        I tried the Mageia GRUB tool in the Control Center to no avail.

        Then I installed the KDE package that lets one configure GRUB2… and that’s when I messed up: trying to recover the PicarOS boot entry, I seemed to have installed a useless boot entry on the MBR and the computer, logically, could neither boot PicarOS not Mageia.

        I looked for the Mageia 4 install DVD to run the rescue tool but, since I could not find it, I ran the rescue tools from the Mageia 3 install DVD instead. It did not work; GRUB2 could not be rescued.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Tried to boot my laptop from a cafe…

        Today I tried to boot it in a cafe, off-line and without the extra disk. It was not possible. Systemd would just wait indefinitely for some start-up jobs (it was waiting for the missing disk to come on-line among some other things). Fortunately, I had the extra disk with me, so I attached it and tried again. Still for no use. Systemd now waited for the network interfaces. So I had to actually connect an ethernet cable to a router just to get the crap to boot, and then unplug it and walk back to my table.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Why can Ubuntu dethrone Android and iOS?

            Next week we will finally get to see the first commercially available Ubuntu smartphone when the BQ Aquaris e4.5 rolls out of its incubation unit. It feels like years since the Ubuntu Edge’s doomed for failure crowdfunding campaign…failed, yet there is still a whole lotta love for the mobile OS that some genuinely think has a chance at rivalling Android. Why is it so popular though?

            Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu OS, has spent a couple of years stripping down Android to the bare bones and replacing it with technology that allows it to keep the OS constantly updated at a level not enjoyed by Android users. The OS back end is divided into a trio of partitions that are comprised of three separate sections of code: one each for the device, manufacturer or carrier, and Ubuntu. It means that each one can deliver bug fixes as-and-when they are needed, and customisation specific to the carrier or manufacturer will be far easier to implement. Basically if you’re an Android user constantly bemoaning the time it takes for your update to arrive, we think you’ll have a lot of joy here.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Should You Upgrade From Windows 7 To Windows 8.1 Or Linux Mint?

              Upgrading your computer from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 is not guaranteed to be a seamless experience whereby you click a few buttons and hey presto it works.

              To prove this point I took a Windows 7 computer and installed Windows 8.1 in two different ways to see what would happen. In both cases the result was the same.

              The computer that I used for this experiment was a Dell Inspiron 3521. After upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 the video drivers were lost and I was left with a fuzzy low resolution screen. The network drivers were also a bit ropey. The same thing happened when I installed Windows 8.1 straight from disk as a clean installation.

              To fix the problems all I had to do was download the correct drivers and install them but that meant navigating the Dell website (which isn’t a particularly easy affair) and download the correct drivers and install them in the correct order.

              Whilst the task in hand was fairly straight forward it clearly shows that Windows doesn’t just work in the same way that when you install Linux for the first time you might have to install extra drivers and codecs as well.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • The Driver’s Licence on the Mobile Phone? Its Now Live. Not in the country you thought: it happened first in Dubai

        Its part of the Police App that they have here, which will for example let you do an accident report if you had a fender-bender type accident, and post it in 3 minutes, so for example for insurance claims etc. You take a few pictures of the car and register the accident report with your Driver’s Licence number and your car licence plate, plus the other car’s licence plate, and thats it. The police will review both sides of the story, the pictures from both cars, and issue the official police report for your insurance agency. If the police department has to send an officer to come see the accident, that costs about 2,000 dollars per visit in the time the police have to allocate. Now everything is done electronically and you get your official police accident report by the next day – straight to your mobile phone haha. Brilliant.

      • Delaware aims to be 1st with digital driver’s licenses

        Delaware is aiming to be the first state to offer virtual driver’s licenses accessed through a secure smartphone app.

      • Android

        • Android 5.0 Lollipop Update For Galaxy Note 4 Delayed Further

          The Android 5.0 Lollipop update for Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has been delayed by Oculus. Samsung already started rolling out the software update for various handsets such as the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4. However, the Android 5.0 Lollipop is yet to arrive on the South Korean tech giant’s latest phablets, the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note Edge.

        • Applications? Yes, The Applications Set Android/Linux On Fire

          Remember when folks were telling us that GNU/Linux wouldn’t fly because it lacked applications? Consider Android/Linux. It had zero applications a while back but now it’s on fire. 2 billion applications downloaded a day. Amazing.

        • Taiwan amid top-5 Google Play markets globally, says Google Play executive

          There have been more than one million free and chargeable applications at Google Play, with two billion downloads a day on average from about 190 countries. Google paid a total of US$5 billion to developers of Google Play applications during June 2013-June 2014.

        • Lollipop-based Paranoid Android 5 Alpha 1 is here!

          The Paranoid Android team just announced the release of the first alpha version of the Lollipop-based Paranoid Android 5.

        • Android just achieved something it will take Apple years to do

          It’s easy to be negative about Android’s outlook these days. Apple just posted the most profitable quarter of any company ever, largely on the back of runaway iPhone sales. And Google faces an unprecedented threat from “forked” versions of Android — independently developed offshoots out of Google’s control.

        • Android 5.1 Lollipop to release next month?

          Amidst the problems and issues surrounding the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, its alleged major update Android 5.1 is finally taking shape. Latest whispers say that the OS update will be rolled out near the end of February.

Free Software/Open Source

  • How Pivotal cracked the one-billion-dollar code

    Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry, an open source Platform-as-a-Service offering, just clocked the largest first-year financial bonanza in open source history: spun out of EMC and VMware in 2013 and trading since February 2014 Pivotal pulled in $40m during three quarters of active selling it said last week. As good as this is for Pivotal, it’s perhaps even better for would-be open source entrepreneurs, who may finally have a blueprint for large-scale financial success.

  • Four open source networking projects explained

    Open source projects and protocols have huge potential for networking. Initiatives such as OpenStack and OpenDaylight have attracted the attention both of end-users, as evidenced by the Open Networking User Group (ONUG), major vendors participating in OpenDaylight, OpenFlow and OpenStack, and telecoms creating their own open source efforts like the Open Networking Lab.

  • Zimbra gets back to open source roots

    The open source market landscape is growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s at a time like this that it’s important for Zimbra, a provider of collaboration software, to reinvigorate its open source roots. Here’s how we plan to encourage increased participation in community open source projects in 2015.

  • Good design matters for open source projects

    The design of everyday things is an important cultural movement. Of that, most of us have no doubt. We want our tools to work flawlessly and naturally. And open source projects are catching up on this too.

    Like, Elementary OS, an open source operating system that hopes to make the Linux desktop accessible for everyone. And many other open source web applications, like Ghost, Taiga, and the upcoming Flarum. Also, BeautifulOpen is a collection of open source projects with great websites and a great source for inspiration. They all have designers on their core team.

  • Events

    • Does open source power your entertainment media center?

      Open source media center solutions have really taken off in the past few years, and there are now many more approaches to using both open source software and open hardware to power entertainment on your television. If you’re consuming media with the help of open source, we’re curious: how are you doing it? Are you running Kodi (formerly XBMC), MythTV, MediaPortal, or something similar on a custom-built machine? Or are you going slim and using a specialized Linux build on top of the Raspberry Pi? Or are you doing something else entirely?

    • FOSDEM 2015

      I had a chat with the Diaspora folks at the booth next to us and greatly look forward to the upcoming release. They had a nice flyer-y paper which also included some development stats with the number of active contributors and such, a very useful thing to have so you can quickly see how a project is doing. Diaspora had a hard time since the crazy start, but things are picking up again and 66 people contributed to this important project over the last year.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Report: Companies are Investing in Big Data, But Not All Succeed With It

      Capgemini, a consulting and technology services company, has announced the findings of a global survey into the use of Big Data in corporate decision-making. An Economist Intelligence Unit report “The Deciding Factor: Big Data & Decision making”, commissioned by Capgemini, shows that nine out of ten business leaders believe data is now the fourth factor of production, as fundamental to business as land, labor and capital.

    • Eucalyptus Cloud Originator Rich Wolski on the Cloud and Big Data

      All the way back in early 2008, OStatic broke the news about Eucalyptus, an open source infrastructure for cloud computing on clusters that duplicated the functionality of Amazon’s EC2, using the Amazon command-line tools. The project resided at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was driven and overseen by Rich Wolski, a professer there (shown here).

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Perl 6.0 Might Finally Be Released This Year

      It was revealed this weekend at FOSDEM in Brussels that the plan is to hopefully release Perl 6.0 by this Christmas.

      Larry Wall is hoping to finally see the Perl 6.0 release out this year, with version 1.0 of Perl 6.0 by Christmas. It’s not yet certain Perl 6.0 will make it out this year but that’s the goal.

      Perl 6 has been in development since 2000 as a big update over Perl 5. Perl 6 seeks to significantly improve the programming language and will break compatibility with Perl 5 though a compatibility mode is expected. Going back a while now have been multiple Perl 6 implementations albeit none complete; a basic overview of Perl 6 can be found via Wikipedia.

    • A peculiar development setup, again

      I never have enough screen real-estate. I sometimes keep six files open at the same time in split-screens, but that requires my Vim windows to be maximized, and then I don’t see the terminal. So I can not see the results of auto-tests (for example), and the relevant code at the same time.

    • 9 Best IDEs and Code Editors for JavaScript Users

      Web designing and developing is one of the trending sectors in the recent times, where more and more peoples started to search for their career opportunities. But, Getting the right opportunity as a web developer or graphic designer is not just a piece of cake for everyone, It certainly requires a strong mind presence as well as right skills to find the find the right job. There are a lot of websites available today which can help you to get the right job description according to your knowledge. But still if you want to achieve something in this sector you must have some excellent skills like working with different platforms, IDEs and various other tools too.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Norway finds first case of mad cow disease, says food safe

      Norway reported its first ever case of mad cow disease on Thursday, saying the instance was an isolated one and telling consumers it was still safe to eat beef and drink milk.

      Tests at a British laboratory confirmed the disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in a 15-year-old cow, which had been slaughtered, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority said.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • New Mexico toddler shoots both parents with one bullet after finding gun

      A toddler in Albuquerque, New Mexico, shot both his parents with just one bullet on Saturday, after apparently reaching in to his mother’s handbag to get her iPad and coming across a loaded gun instead.

      The 3-year-old and his 2-year-old sister were taken into the care of local authorities.

    • ‘There was no snowball fight’: Video showing New Rochelle police officer pulling gun on teens not what it seems: cops

      A video that appears to catch a New Rochelle police officer pointing a gun at a group of teenagers who were having a snowball fight — and went viral on the Internet — is not what it appears to be, cops said.

      “There was no snowball fight,” New Rochelle Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Murphy told the Daily News, calling the video a piece of “clever mischief.”

      He said police were responding to a 911 call around 4 p.m. Friday that a teenager standing in a group of six near the Heritage Houses had pulled a gun from his waistband and pointed it at another person.

    • UK government feared terrorists would weaponise Ebola

      British military experts were asked to draw up guidance at the height of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa late last year on the feasibility and potential impact of terrorists ‘weaponising’ the virus.

      The Ministry of Defence has released a heavily redacted report, prepared in October, that identified three different scenarios regarding the exploitation of Ebola for bioterrorism.

    • Drone wars: the gamers recruited to kill – video

      In tiny bunkers in the United States, young pilots are operating unmanned drones targeting ‘bad people’ in Pakistan. Recruited at video game fairs by military leaders who know the value of games that glamourise ‘militainment’, drone pilots are left traumatised by the civilian casualties – or ‘collateral damage’ – their strikes cause. Psychologically distanced from the enemy, are drones the future of warfare?

    • US rethinks arming Ukraine’s troops

      With Russia-backed separatists pressing their attacks in Ukraine, NATO’s military commander, General Philip M. Breedlove, now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev’s beleaguered forces, and an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position, US officials said Sunday.

    • U.S. considering giving arms to Ukraine forces, NYT reports

      Separatist leader says rebels plan to boost fighting force to 100,000 men; shells continue to fall in Donetsk, killing 15 over the weekend; Russian official: If U.S. government decides to go forward, it will lead to irreversible results.

    • Ukraine Conflict: US Mulls Giving Fresh Arms to Kiev Forces as Tensions Escalate Post Failure of Peace Talks

      The United States is mulling over supplying Ukrainian forces with defensive weapons and equipment as tensions have escalated in the region after peace talks aimed at ending the fight in eastern Ukraine failed on Saturday.

    • ‘Censored Voices’ film tears apart Israel’s heroic narrative of Six-Day War

      In the wake of Israel’s seemingly miraculous triumph in the Six-Day War in 1967, the country’s victorious soldiers were lionized as heroes.

      But in private, even just one week after the conflict, many of them didn’t feel that way. One describes feeling sick to his stomach in battle and collapsing into a trench.

      “I wanted to be left alone,” he says. “I didn’t think of the war.”

      Another talks about watching an old Arab man evacuated from his house.

      “I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil,” the soldier says.

    • Michael Jansen: Netanyahu the manipulator

      Binyamin Netanyahu’s latest scrap with Hizbollah has given his Likud bloc a boost in Israeli opinion polls, placing the Likud at the top of the line-up for the first time since the Labour and Hatnua parties merged on December 10 to form the Zionist Union.

    • Marwan’s calls tapped

      SUSPENDED national police chief Alan Purisima and US troops used Marwan’s wife as a “tracer” to pinpoint the precise location of the world’s most wanted terrorist, a police general privy to the ongoing probe of the Mamasapano massacre said Sunday.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Another Kind of Isolation

      In 2006 and 2008, the Bureau of Prisons quietly created new restrictive units for terrorists or other inmates they feared might coordinate crimes from behind bars. The Communication Management Units (CMUs) were designed to more tightly monitor and restrict inmates’ communication with the outside world. The units, at Terre Haute, Indiana and Marion, Illinois, operated largely in secret, without any formal policies or procedures in place — until last week.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The British Army is Creating a Battalion of “Facebook Warriors”

      Warfare is a constantly changing landscape, from the weapons that are used to the battlefields they’re fought on. Amidst mountains of Snowden leaks from the NSA and GCHQ, it’s no longer a mystery that the digital warfare is advancing quickly, and the British Army just upped its digital artillery.

  • Privacy

    • Verizon Will Now Let Users Kill Previously Indestructible Tracking Code

      Verizon says it will soon offer customers a way to opt out from having their smartphone and tablet browsing tracked via a hidden un-killable tracking identifier.

      The decision came after a ProPublica article revealed that an online advertiser, Turn, was exploiting the Verizon identifier to respawn tracking cookies that users had deleted.

    • Without broadband under Title II, Verizon will get off scot-free for ‘supercookies’

      Revelations this week that Verizon Wireless secretly used “supercookies” to track customers’ browsing habits underlines a less-talked about benefit of the FCC’s potential reclassification of broadband as a Title II public utility — consumer privacy protection.

    • New e-mail shows feds considered snooping on cars parked at gun shows

      Nearly six years ago, two federal law enforcement agencies considered using license plate readers (LPRs) at gun shows—at least in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

      LPRs scan plates at a very high speed—often 60 plates per second—and record the date, time, and precise location that a given plate was seen. Typically, on a patrol car, that plate is then immediately compared to a list of wanted or stolen cars, and if a match is found, the software alerts the officer. But all scans are routinely kept by various law enforcement agencies for long periods of time, sometimes as long as years or more.

    • The FBI’s plan to collect everyone’s DNA just got a huge boost from congress

      In 2011, 1 in 25 Americans was arrested. In a few years, if the FBI has its way, the federal government will possess the DNA of all of those people and more. Under the radar of most lawmakers and journalists, the Bureau—with private industry and congress’ help—is pushing the most massive expansion of biometric state surveillance since the invention of the fingerprint.

    • Attorney General Nominee: NSA Surveillance is “Constitutional and Effective”

      On Capitol Hill, attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch will return today for day two of her confirmation hearing. If confirmed, Lynch will become the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general. During Wednesday’s hearing, Lynch described the National Security Agency’s spying programs as “constitutional and effective” and defended the government’s surveillance operations.

    • Watchdog: White House has done little on surveillance reform

      A federal privacy watchdog tasked with reviewing the National Security Agency’s controversial spy programs said Thursday the White House has agreed to many of its suggested reforms but taken little action.

    • Privacy Board Says NSA Doesn’t Know How Effective Its Collection Programs Are, Doesn’t Much Care Either

      The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) has just released its assessment [pdf link] of the NSA’s ability to follow instructions. One year ago, it assessed the Section 215 bulk records collection. Six months later, it assessed the Section 702 program, which hoovers up email communications. Now, it has followed up on its recommendations and found the NSA surprisingly cooperative.

    • PGP creator Phil Zimmermann: ‘Intelligence agencies have never had it so good’

      The recent hack against Sony Pictures is likely to have made companies of all sizes consider upping their cybersecurity measures. Perhaps, though, it’s also a different kind of wake-up call: a reason to think less about security, and more about privacy.

      That’s the belief of Phil Zimmermann – the creator of email encryption software Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), and now president and co-founder of secure communications company Silent Circle – initially expressed in a blog post, and expanded on in an interview with the Guardian.

      “Sony had all kinds of things: intrusion detection, firewalls, antivirus … But they got hacked anyway. The security measures that enterprises do frequently get breached. People break in anyway: they overcome them,” says Zimmermann.

    • Hackers Use Old Lure on Web to Help Syrian Government

      Mr. Assad was also the victim of cyberattacks, but of a far more advanced nature.

      A National Security Agency document dated June 2010, written by the agency’s chief of “Access and Target Development,” describes how the shipment of “computer network devices (servers, routers, etc.) being delivered to our targets throughout the world are intercepted” by the agency. The document, published recently by Der Spiegel, the German magazine, came from the huge trove taken by Edward J. Snowden; this one shows a photograph of N.S.A. workers slicing open a box of equipment from Cisco Systems, a major manufacturer of network equipment.

    • ‘Anonymized’ Credit Card Data Not So Anonymous

      Credit card data Relevant Products/Services isn’t quite as anonymous as promised, a new study says. Scientists showed they can identify you with more than 90 percent accuracy by looking at just four purchases, three if the price is included — and this is after companies “anonymized” the transaction records, saying they wiped away names and other personal details. The study out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published Thursday in the journal Science, examined three months of credit card records for 1.1 million people.

    • Nullification Season: 200 State Bills and Counting

      It’s less than one month into the 2015 state legislative season and the Tenth Amendment Center counts more than 200 bills seeking to block or limit federal power.

    • “Prism” Exhibit and SSMU Art & Expression mixer

      Ever feel like you’re being watched? Well, chances are, you’re probably right. If you’ve ever wondered about modern surveillance but have been too creeped out to pursue your curiosity, it might be time to face your fears and check out the “PRISM” exhibit this week. A solo exhibition by Vancouver-based David Spriggs, “PRISM” is a series of works that explore modern surveillance and its uncanny omnipresence in our daily lives. The name of the exhibit alludes in part to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) program, which was exposed by Edward Snowden in 2009. Looking at different modes of surveillance, from cameras to digital scanners, Spriggs’ large-scale works are bound to inform and probably also intimidate. If you really want to know how closely Big Brother is watching, “PRISM” may offer some creative insight.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Swedish Schindler who disappeared

      During World War Two, a young Swedish diplomat saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis. But in January 1945 Soviet troops arrested him – he was never seen in public again.

    • China is world’s worst jailer of the press; global tally second worst on record

      More than 200 journalists are imprisoned for their work for the third consecutive year, reflecting a global surge in authoritarianism. China is the world’s worst jailer of journalists in 2014.

    • Greste family joy at journalist son’s release

      The family of Australian journalist Peter Greste has thanked everyone who helped secure his release from an Egyptian jail after 400 days.

      ‘Peter Greste is a free man,’ brother Andrew Greste said, with his delighted parents Lois and Juris by his side, in Brisbane on Monday.

    • Peter Greste: Australian journalist on his way home after being released and deported from Egypt

      Australian journalist Peter Greste has been deported from Egypt after 400 days behind bars, and has flown to Cyprus on his way home to Australia.

      Greste was set free by order of Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi under a new law allowing foreign prisoners to be deported.

    • Glimmer of Hope for Assange

      There is a window of hope, thanks to a U.N. human rights body, for a solution to the diplomatic asylum of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in the embassy of Ecuador in London for the past two and a half years.

    • John B. Geer had hands up when shot by police, four officers say in documents

      John B. Geer stood with his hands on top of the storm door of his Springfield, Va., townhouse and calmly said to four Fairfax County police officers with guns pointed at him: “I don’t want anybody to get shot . . . . And I don’t wanna get shot, ’cause I don’t want to die today.”

    • The controversial punishment of Barrett Brown: A deep dive

      I’ve read a lot of criticism recently about the sentencing of Barrett Brown. The online commentary mostly portrays Brown’s sentence as a disturbing example of prosecutorial abuse, in which the Obama Administration’s war on journalists and war on hackers came together to shred First Amendment freedoms. I wondered, is that true? What really happened in the case, and was Brown’s sentence troublesome or not?

    • Fox Host Tells Caller Her Bipolar Disorder Is “Made Up” And “The Latest Fad” For Money

      Fox News Radio host Tom Sullivan told a caller who said she suffered from bipolar disorder that her illness is “something made up by the mental health business” and just “the latest fad.” When the caller told Sullivan that she “would not be alive today” if she hadn’t received mental health treatment, Sullivan wondered if “maybe somebody’s talked you into feeling and thinking this way.”

    • The Coming Biological Infowar: US Proposes DNA Database

      While precision medicine is indeed a powerful tool in fighting disease and repairing injury – in fact, truly the future of medicine – those appointing themselves as its arbiter in the US have already demonstrated they cannot be trusted with such a responsibility.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Time Warner Cable’s 97% Profit Margin on High-Speed Internet Service Exposed.

      In our Petition for Investigation of Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Comcast, we point out that TWC’s High-Speed Internet service has a 97% profit margin and a number of people asked how that statistic was derived. Simple. Time Warner Cable provides the information, (with some caveats).

      Below is the actual financial information excerpted from the Time Warner Cable, 2013 SEC-filed annual report. (Please note that this same mathematics is also used by Comcast and probably Verizon and AT&T, though they do not explicitly detail their financials in this way.)

      Moreover, we need to put this financial information in context to what customers are paying, and more specifically with the Time Warner Cable Triple Play bill that’s been featured in previous articles.

    • Before Net Neutrality: The Surprising 1940s Battle for Radio Freedom

      As we again set policies that define core power relationships for a new medium, we might look to our past to discern lessons for charting our future. For the media system we’ve inherited—one dominated by a small number of corporations, lightly regulated in terms of public interest protections, and offset by weak public alternatives—was not inevitable or natural; it resulted from the outcomes of specific policy battles, and from specific logics and values triumphing over others.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Downloading Fatwa Issued By Turkish Religious Leaders

        Turkey’s top religious body has handed down a fatwa in response to a question raised on the issue of illegal downloading. Obtaining content without permission from creators is forbidden, the Diyanet said. Meanwhile, a Catholic Church debate on the same topic raised an interesting dilemma.

CyanogenMod Dumped by Major Partner Shortly After Funding From Microsoft Revealed

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MS-CM
Image credit: Linux Veda

Summary: Now that Cyanogen acts more like a Microsoft attack dog than a real independent entity there is backlash from many and OnePlus dumps CyanogenMod

Cyanogen is not about privacy, not about software freedom, not even about choice. It’s about “anti-Google”. It has been like this for a while and it got a lot worse once Microsoft paid Cyanogen, almost as though Microsoft rewards Cyanogen for the "Scroogled"-type rhetoric and seeks to use Cyanogen as a Trojan horse or carrier of Microsoft's proprietary and privacy-hostile 'apps' for Android.

MS-CM, or the Microsoft-backed fork and FUD source against Android, is having issues. Partners leave. Maybe that alone is a reason for leaning on Microsoft. Maybe the “anti-Google” angle is becoming the business model. Days ago Linux Veda wrote: “Today’s announcement may now mean that OnePlus devices will now longer ship with Cyanogen OS at all, if it turns out that they have made their own ROM.”

Only two days later a followup said that “OnePlus kicks Cyanogenmod out, announces two new ROMs”. As the article puts it: “After a disappointing spat with Cyanogen, OnePlus have decided to ditch the once community driven, now Microsoft-back custom ROM – CyanogenMOD – and bring their own ROMs to the market.”

So at this stage it was known that Microsoft had become a backer of CyanogenMod and prior to it there was a decent response from Swapnil Bhartiya. The way Bhartiya put it, “I find Google Android to be the most open platforms out there; if it was not ‘open’, Cyanogen wouldn’t even exist in the first place. Try building an iOS or Windows clone.”

As Bhartiya put it: “This is the same CEO who broke a contract with OnePlus, over an email sent from his iPad (and not an Android device) in India just because they got a bigger player Micromax.

“The community was deeply disappointed with what CM did to OnePlus. Now the move to shake hands with Microsoft may further rip the community.

“So how is this going to work for Microsoft? A hypothesis. Enemy of an enemy is a friend. Microsoft will invest in Cyanogen to ensure they have regular stream of revenue and can continue to become a Google rival. The more market Google loses, the more Microsoft gains. Then Microsoft may push their services to be integrated with Cyanogen.

“Are we going to see the triple ‘e’ again: Embrace, extend and extinguish?”

There are quite a few Linux-based mobile OSes that are proprietary, either entirely or partly (e.g. Sailfish OS). Thankfully, Android has been largely FOSS (AOSP), except many of the apps (especially not those that Google makes), and it’s this platform that really took off, not webOS for example (although webOS too is being further liberated over time). In automotive telematics and other areas it’s common to see platforms that are proprietary and built on top of Linux.

A lot of the “Google controls Android with an iron fist” type of characterisations came from Microsoft-friendly sites like The Verge (I first spotted this and wrote about it in 2013). It’s not that it’s 100% untrue, but they have accentuated this to incite against Google and then tried to use it to poison the minds of OEMs while Microsoft (and proxies like Nokia) attempted an antitrust angle, not only in the US but in Europe too.

Microsoft is, as usual, playing dirty. This is the latest example of it and those who give CM the benefit of the doubt do so at their own peril. MS-CM (maybe CMS, as in Cyanogen MicroSoft) is definitely trying to just commit suicide by aligning itself with Microsoft, like many other dead ‘partners’ (or convenience).

Agenda at The Verge ‘Bought’ by Microsoft, Bill Gates Now Editor and It Already Shows

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 6:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill Gates in The Verge
The front page of The Verge today

Summary: Bill Gates’ $300,000,000 per annum ‘investment’ in the media is paying off as The Verge too becomes a Microsoft mouthpiece

A COUPLE of years ago one The Verge journalist who had approached me out of the blue conducted a one-hour interview with me about abuses by Bill Gates (specifically the use of his personal money to shamelessly derail GNU/Linux adoption, which had been spread through OLPC), but the piece never saw the light of day, almost as if the piece got spiked by the editor/publisher. As I clarified during the interview, I had already expressed concerns about the founder of The Verge because of his attacks on Android, facilitation/grooming of paid Microsoft lobbyists as “experts” (giving them a platform), etc. There was already some “bad blood” there. Over time, albeit very gradually, The Verge became more of a Microsoft propaganda network and source of Android FUD, as we noted last year on numerous occasions. They have distorted some facts and portrayed Android in a way that Microsoft sought to portray it. It also demonised Google over its role as Android/AOSP patron (more on that in our next post). All in all, we repeatedly urged readers to be wary and sceptical of The Verge.

According to this new analysis from Swapnil Bhartiya (titled “Microsoft’s iOS Outlook app is pure evil; don’t use it”), the Microsoft-friendly The Verge has been advertising Microsoft Outlook (with NSA PRISM, Microsoft being the first PRISM joiner) in quite a shameful fashion, despite Outlook app being horribly dangerous (as we noted yesterday). “A few days ago,” wrote Bhartiya, “The Verge wrote an exciting piece about the Outlook app for iOS, which was full or praise. I don’t know how many Gmail users became the Outlook user after reading the post.”

We have had our longtime suspicion that The Verge was in Microsoft’s pocket (not literally) reaffirmed when we found out last week that Bill Gates is the editor this month. That explains a lot, doesn’t it? Yet another publication infiltrated by Microsoft.

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

‘Quality’ of Software Patents Demonstrated

Posted in Patents at 5:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: “January’s Stupid Patent of the Month” shows how low a standard the United States patent office has adopted

WRITING about software patents from the USPTO, the EFF has this good article about “January’s Stupid Patent of the Month”, which serves as a reminder of what it means to have patents on software. Here are some key portions: “What does White Knuckle claim to have invented? The patent covers a computer “configured” to “provide a sports video game” with “parameters” that can be updated over the Internet. Of course, White Knuckle didn’t actually invent computers, sports video games, or the Internet.”

“The SCOTUS ruling in favour of the defendant in the Alice case helps bring us closer to a world where software patents are verboten.”As they put it in short, “This is insane. You wouldn’t consider a “car that can drive in San Francisco” to be a different invention from “a car that can drive in Los Angeles.” It’s just a car. But the Patent Office lets applicants draw technologically irrelevant distinctions like this all the time. In essence, White Knuckle’s patent is just a claim to remotely updating software. There’s nothing technologically special about updating a video game (at least, no such problems are discussed and solved by this patent).”

Hopefully we can live in a world free from software patents, not only in Europe but also in the US and east Asia (where such patents exist to some degree). The SCOTUS ruling in favour of the defendant in the Alice case helps bring us closer to a world where software patents are verboten.

Benoît Battistelli and Jesper Kongstad Continue to Blame Everything on SUEPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trying the bogeyman theory again

Jesper Kongstad
Jesper Kongstad. Photo from the Nordic Patent Institute.

Summary: A protest over perceived Battistelli-Kongstad collusion against staff rights and against oversight culminates in press coverage

Following the Techrights articles about an EPO protest in front of the Danish Consulate in Munich we would like to share a news report about the protest.

“Kongstad from Denmark must have become somewhat of a liability (embarrassment) not just for European authorities but also for Danish diplomats in Germany.”Kongstad from Denmark must have become somewhat of a liability (embarrassment) not just for European authorities but also for Danish diplomats in Germany. See photos from the protest and also our coverage of this protest. Our earliest coverage about Kongstad supplies some context and serves as background for those who don’t yet know what is wrong about Kongstad.

In trying to bypassing the paywall, we have managed to get the full text in Danish. We decided to use an automated translation tool and work around the results in order to avoid copyright-related issues and to improve the English, too.

Notice the statements from Benoît Battistelli and Jesper Kongstad at the bottom. Here is the article:

The powerful European organisation European Patent Office (EPO) is plagued by a poisonous dispute between employees and their management.

Employees have repeatedly carried out strike over changes to working conditions and on Wednesday SUEPO demonstrated in front of the Danish Consulate in Munich, the city where the EPO has its headquarters.

The reason for the Danish role is that the Director of the Patent and Trademark Office in Denmark, Jesper Kongstad, is President of the EPO Board.

The flyers attacked the chairman for failing to ensure adequate monitoring of the EPO’s French President, Benoît Battistelli.

___________
Benoît Battistelli is President of the European Patent Office (EPO); Photo: EPO
___________

The Frenchman is viewed by the disgruntled employees as the real problem.

He is accused of driving “management by fear” and of overriding fundamental employee rights, including the right to organise and the right to strike.

Conversely, Management maintains that there is a need to reform conditions by bringing them more in line with the general European labour market.

“We are dealing with an organisation where employees have been running the show for many years, and where the union has provided effective management. It hurts them when it is changed, and then so they are screaming, but we must move on,” says Jesper Kongstad.

___________
Jesper Kongstad is the director of the Patent and Trademark Office Photo: Mikkel Berg Pedersen
___________

Among the new initiatives are, among other things, options that employees should stay at home for a certain period of time if they are off sick, so that EPO can choose to send a doctor to visit. Another new rule is for when employees can conduct strikes.

The relationship between the President and the disgruntled employees has been bad for several years, and already, last year, SUEPO declared that people no longer trust Battistelli.

Facts

Benoît Battistelli says in an email to [us] that he has always been in favour of respectful dialogue, but that SUEPO systematically opposes the organisation. He also noted that the reforms have had a significant positive impact on the organisation’s effectiveness.

We have not managed to get a comment from the employees’ union, SUEPO.

Of course they try to blame it all on SUEPO or “disgruntled employees”. It’s the same old storyline and it is often proving to be effective because journalists are reluctant to make a story out of “rotten apples” (even if a third of EPO, i.e. thousands of insiders, walk out to revolt). Never mind if judges, stakeholders and many others are complaining.

02.01.15

Links 1/2/2015: Devil-Linux 1.6.8, SymphonyOS 15.0

Posted in News Roundup at 8:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Navy’s Newest Linux-Powered Command Center Is Right Out Of Star Trek

    The DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer could very well revolutionize the way the Navy does its surface warfare business. One of its biggest innovations is ditching the cramped, darkly lit Combat Information Center (CIC), a fixture for many decades on past USN combat ships, and replacing it with the state-of-the-art, spacious, Star Trek bridge-like Ship’s Mission Center.

  • Desktop

    • GOL Survey Results: January

      Thanks to GOL reader Fedso, we now have month-by-month comparisons for the survey as well as an automated program which takes the raw survey data and makes graphs. This is pretty exciting stuff since now one of the main goals of the survey project has been achieved and we can observe trends over time.

  • Server

    • Report: Docker Not Yet Widely Used in the Cloud

      Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind the open-source Ubuntu Linux operation system, has published its latest Ubuntu Server and Cloud Survey, showing the emerging trends in server and cloud deployments.

    • CoreOS ‘Rockets’ Ahead With Docker Alternative

      Linux operating system distribution vendor CoreOs aims to expand its own vision for container-based virtualization.
      CoreOS is moving forward on its plans to displace the Docker application virtualization technology and expand its own vision for container-based virtualization. CoreOS got its start in 2013 as a clustered operating system project focused on the optimized delivery of Docker containers but has found fault in the Docker model that it aims to correct with its own Rocket approach.

    • CoreOS Linux: it’s how Google, Facebook & Twitter run at scale
  • Kernel Space

    • Witcher 2 Bug Prompts Linux Creator To Recommend Devs Play Steam Games

      It’s common for NVIDIA and AMD to tweak their drivers to optimise specific titles, but patches to operating systems just for games? Usually developers work around platform quirks, but that’s not good enough for Linus Torvalds, the man behind Linux. When crashes in The Witcher 2 were caused by Linux’s core software, Torvalds not only requested the bug be fixed, but that Steam games should be used in the future as “good tests of odd behaviour”.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Flattr Is the Icon Pack with the Flattest Icons for Linux Systems – Gallery

      Users who like flat icons might want to give Flattr a try. It’s probably the flattest theme that you can find on the Linux platform and it’s been recently updated.

    • Elementary Extensions for Python-EFL

      For those who are unaware the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries and Elementary are the tools that power the Enlightenment desktop and a growing number of other applications. To learn more about getting started with Elementary and python you should check out the full API reference here, the examples on git, or stop by #e.py on Freenode.

      I have been working on a number of small applications using Elementary. While building these applications I found myself reusing a few of the same gadgets in different places, so I had the idea others might find some of them useful as well.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Children’s book with Krita

        Today we’ve got a guest article by John Gholson. John is an artist who is currently working on a big project — an illustrated children’s book. As far as we know, it’s the first time an artist is using krita to illustate a whole children’s book project. So, over to John!

  • Distributions

    • If You Like the Terminal, You Will Love the Terminal-Only Alpine Linux OS

      Security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution Alpine Linux is based on based on musl libc and Busybox, which make up the terminal, has been upgraded once more and is now available for download.

    • New Releases

      • BackBox Linux 4.1 Is a Powerful Penetration Testing Distro Based on Ubuntu 14.04.1

        BackBox Linux is a distribution based on Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS, that is built to perform penetration tests and security assessments. A new version has been released and is now available for upgrade and testing.

      • Devil-Linux 1.6.8 released

        Devil-Linux 1.6.8 has been released! This release brings lots of software updates and resolves the GHOST glibc vulnerability (CVE-2015-0235). Please see the change log for details.

      • Black Lab Professional Desktop 6.0 SR3 released

        Today we are pleased to announce the release of Black Lab Professional Desktop 6.0 Service Release 3 or SR3. Black Lab Pro Desktop 6.0 SR3 is a major upgrade to our pro desktop line of distributions. With this release we worked on a few issues with memory consumption, security and speed. With the Black Lab Pro Desktop we deliver it in two different desktops, KDE and GNOME Shell . While these are commercial releases we do offer a cut down version of it available for download from our website. While we do not release for download all of the features of the retail release it is far from being crippled. The KDE release boots only consuming 480 mb of RAM and the GNOME Shell release boots using only 545 mb of RAM

      • Release: SymphonyOS 15.0

        I am pleased to announce the release of SymphonyOS 15.0. This release continues improvements to the Mezzo 4 desktop bringing it to a much more stable state.

    • Red Hat Family

      • ‘Enterprise customers are now more willing to implement open source’

        Jim Whitehurst expects India to play a larger role in NYSE-listed Red Hat’s global strategy, thanks to the rapid pace of infrastructure creation.

        “When a new system’s put into place, it’s increasingly likely that it may be built on open source. We like places where there is a lot of infrastructure going in,” Whitehurst, President and Chief Executive Officer, Red Hat, said. Red Hat is the world’s largest commercial distributor of the open source-based Linux operating system. Open source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. In an interaction with BusinessLine, Whitehurst throws light on the opportunities in the Indian marketplace for open source. He also explains why the company is keen to increasingly move more support functions to India.

      • Fedora

        • I Switched (Back) Over To Fedora As My Main OS & It’s Going Great!

          Before this long stint with Ubuntu on my main system, I was using Fedora (Core) and before that was openSUSE, Mandrake, and others. I stopped using Fedora (Core) due to some of the releases being less reliable than others with at the time less of a focus on shipping quality releases and at times just feeling like a dirty testing ground for RHEL. With being very pleased with Fedora 20 and Fedora 21 on the many test systems around the office, I decided to give Fedora another go on my main system. I’ve also been very interested in Fedora.Next and how Fedora 22 is shaping up. Fedora these days seems to be back on a solid footing for end-users with a bright future ahead; Fedora 22 might even ship on time for a change while not sacrificing quality! Fedora 21 brings back a lot of good memories for me of the early Fedora days.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Raspberry Pi robot and hobby kit robot guide part 1

      The rise of our robot overlords is well underway – give it another five years and we’ll all be watched over by Pi-powered machines of loving grace. In the meantime, though, we’ve rounded up the very best DIY robotics kits available to buy right now that are designed to work with your Raspberry Pi, so you can get a head start on the inevitable revolution. Whether they’re Arduino or Raspberry Pi-based, we’re getting all of our robots to listen to our master Pi controller and showing you how to do the same with your kit. We’ll also be scoring these robotics kits to identify their strengths and weaknesses in terms of their build quality, functionality out of the box, the construction process and of course their programmability, to help show you which kit is right for you and where you can get hold of your own.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • 2014 was a record-breaking year for Android smartphones

          Apple may be selling more iPhones than ever before, but 2014 was a record-breaking year for Android too: New analyst figures show that one billion smartphones running Google’s mobile OS were shipped over the 12 month period. That’s a rise of 30 percent over the previous year and means that 81 percent of the mobile phones shifted in 2014 were running Android.

        • Android Wear just got very, very smart

          Google’s Android Wear software just got smart – very smart – simply because it integrates Google Now top to bottom. With an update to Google Now comes an update to Android Wear, and what we’re seeing today is an explosive update that’ll make the suggestions for directions and sports scores you’ve been getting so far seem like drops in a barrel of friendly, and I daresay helpful, updates from apps of all kinds. Everything from eBay auction updates to the ability to “Download Venice” – all on your wrist, very soon.

        • Some HTC One versions will get Android 5.0 later than expected

          Some carrier versions of HTC One (M8) and One (M7) will get updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop a bit later than expected. HTC initially promised to update all versions of its 2013 and 2014 flagship smartphone within 90 days of receiving the Android 5.0 code.

        • New Nexus 7 Android 5.0.2 Lollipop Updates Imminent

          After nearly three months of silence, Google’s finally spoken. The missing Nexus 7 Android 5.0 Lollipop updates for the cellular versions of the Nexus 7 2012 and Nexus 7 2013 will start rolling out soon and the two models will be getting bumped from Android 4.4 KitKat to Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, Google’s newest update.

        • Nexus 7 2012 Android 5.0.2 Update Review

          The Nexus 7 2012 Android 5.0.2 update is one that many users could not wait to install, but after a week of using the latest version of Android Lollipop on the oldest Nexus 7 tablet we came away less than impressed. It’s not out of the ordinary for old devices to run new software at a slower pace, but the Nexus 7 2012 exhibits annoying lag while using common functions like switching apps and opening apps for the first time since a restart.

        • Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Android 5.0 Lollipop update rolls out in Russia

          Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in Russia finally received the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop OS update, according to reports. XDA developers reminded Russian users to constantly check the notifications panel as the much awaited major Android update is now rolling out.

        • You can print 3D objects from Android App

          Makerbot has some of the most popular 3D printers which are powered by Linux. The company is now offering an app for Android devices which allows users to control your 3D printer right from your palm.

        • Android apps 2014 – A year in review

          2014 was an exciting year. We saw the release of Lollipop and with it, a whole new design standard we now call Material Design. It saw the release of Android Wear and the second themer revolution with the Android Wear watch faces. Games are slowly becoming higher quality with better graphics, controls, and premises than any prior year. It was the most successful year in Android apps and games of all time. Let’s take a look at just how it good it was on paper.

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • A new kind of DDoS threat: The “Nonsense Name” attack

      There’s a new species of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack targeting name servers, which could be called the “nonsense name” attack. It can wreak havoc on recursive and authoritative name servers alike, and some of our customers at Infoblox have fallen victim to it—but it’s not always clear whether they were actually the targets.

    • Key rotation in OpenSSH 6.8+

      Something that’s bugged me about the SSH protocol is its lack of key continuity – key algorithm changes and key rotations are basically unsupported, as there is no in-protocol way for a client to learn updated host keys for hosts that the user already trusts. About the best one can do is cat /etc/ssh/*.pub once logged in to manually learn the host’s other keys, but this only works if you have shell access and is a kludge anyway…

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Retroactively Authorizing War

      They went largely unnoticed, four words President Obama ad-libbed during the State of the Union address last month as he asked lawmakers to provide legal cover for America’s military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

      “We need that authority,” the president said, adding a line to the prepared remarks on his teleprompter that seemed to acknowledge a reality about which his administration has been inexcusably dishonest.

      As the new Congress gets settled in, the debate over the scope and legal authority of Washington’s new war in the Middle East has resurfaced amid strikingly disparate views. The White House is consulting with lawmakers from both parties on the parameters that would retroactively establish ground rules for the bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria that began in September.

    • Drones Are Now Appearing on Afghan Rugs

      When it comes to what to depict on rugs, Afghan weavers traditionally turn to what’s most familiar. So in the 1980s, when the Mujahedeen were fighting back the Soviet occupation, some local weavers abandoned flowers and water jugs to illustrate what their days consisted of back then: war.

    • Kadyrov Says CIA is Recruiting Russians for Islamic State

      Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has accused the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies of using fake social media accounts to draw young Russian men into the Islamic State and other terrorist networks.

    • Drone strikes kill at least ‘45 militants’ in Somalia

      At least 45 suspected al-Shabaab militants have been killed in drone strikes in Southern Somalia on Saturday, a government official said.

    • Book review: A Theory of the Drone – the morality of killing by remote control

      In May 2009, a former adviser to General David Petraeus named David Kilcullen wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for a moratorium on drone strikes carried out by the US against al-Qaeda and its associates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The military advantages of using drones (the US Army defines a drone as a “land, sea or air vehicle that is remotely or automatically controlled”) are outweighed, Kilcullen argued, by their costs.

    • Conor Friedersdorf: Research on killer drones could backfire on Americans

      Americans would react no differently to a commencement of drone attacks on our soil.

    • Droning the truth

      For Pakistan, drone attacks have become something like the forbidden fruit. These attacks, which have suddenly increased since December 16, 2014, are decidedly illegal, immoral and they undermine the country’s sovereignty. A United Nations (UN) resolution urges member states “to ensure that any measures taken or means employed to counterterrorism, including the use of remotely piloted aircraft, comply with their obligation under international law, including the Charter of the UN human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality.”

    • CIA tested 25 bombs before helping Mossad kill top Hezbollah figure – report

      The US helped Mossad assassinate a top Hezbollah figure in Syria in 2008 by lending bomb expertise and surveillance on the ground, Washington Post reported. The joint operation marked CIA’s post-9/11 drift toward modern-day drone killings.

    • Focus on Research: Drone strikes: Legal weapon against terror or violation of the right to life? [pro-drones]
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • 100,000 flock to Madrid for Podemos rally against austerity

      Four years ago, Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square belonged to los indignados – an impromptu revolt of thousands, camping out for weeks and rallying against a political establishment felt to be out of sync with the people.

      On Saturday, up to 100,000 people again filled the square, determined to show the world that 2015 would be the year that the change demanded by the indignados would come about.

    • Thousands Attend Spain’s Left-Wing Podemos Anti-Austerity March

      Spain’s new party believes that politicians should “serve the people, not private interests,” and has gained huge support.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Facebook censors images of Muhammad

      Only two weeks after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a strongly worded “Je suis Charlie” statement on the importance of free speech, Facebook has agreed to censor images of Prophet Muhammad in Turkey – including the very type of image that precipitated the Charlie Hebdo attack.

    • How Mark Zuckerberg Should Have Responded to Turkey’s Censorship Order

      On Monday, Reuters reported that a Turkish court ordered Facebook to remove pages the government deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. They even threatened to block Turkish access to Facebook entirely if it did not comply. As a result, Facebook has prohibited access to at least one page already.

      There was an alternative to compliance: Facebook could have refused to honor Turkey’s court order. And Mark Zuckerberg could have delivered the message himself. After all, who better to stand up for freedom of expression than the head of the world’s biggest social network?

    • Does Censorship Make Us Safer?

      Democratic societies are always exploring the proper relationship between security and liberty. We should not lose sight of the fact that our right to view websites such as North Korea’s, or to look at dirty pictures, however tawdry they might be, constitute important liberties that should not be surrendered without constituting a clear and present danger.

    • Thailand junta squelches forum on media censorship

      Thailand’s junta has effectively forced a German foundation to cancel a forum discussing new restrictions on the media, scheduled to be held Friday in Bangkok, raising concerns among journalists and right advocates about the junta’s efforts to curtail press freedom and political dissent in what has long been a relatively open society in the region.

    • Thailand Internet Censorship: Junta Defends Cybersecurity Laws, Orders Press Freedom Briefing Canceled

      Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is pushing for the country’s business and government sectors to be better integrated with the Internet, but he has brushed aside criticism that his junta government’s recent attempts to introduce cybersecurity laws infringe on freedom of expression and the press. At the same time, the junta has also ordered a German rights group to cancel a press freedom briefing scheduled to be held in a Bangkok hotel Friday.

    • Opinion: Bill to ban a word is just censorship

      But the willingness to violate the First Amendment and censor politically incorrect speech is not confined to academe. And proof of that is found in Assembly Bill 30, which would bar California high schools from using “Redskins” as sports team names.

    • The state of online censorship around the world

      In the UK, policies that restrict the flow of information across the Internet are generally met with outcry and consternation for contradicting our fundamental right of free speech, but for many individuals widespread Internet censorship is the norm.

      However, online censorship is much more pervasive than one might initially think, with Ethiopia, Russia and even the UK currently listed as Enemies of the Internet by the French non-governmental group Reporters without Borders (RWB).

    • China doubles down on counterproductive censorship

      China operates the world’s largest and most sophisticated Internet censorship infrastructure. Colloquially called the “Great Firewall,” this infrastructure blocks a huge amount of content deemed contrary to China’s interests as a nation. However, as with any such censorship infrastructure, people will try to access content despite the restrictions–creating a game of cat and mouse between censors, citizens, and online service providers.

  • Privacy

    • What Uber Still Won’t Say About Your Data

      Uber has since refocused its attention on riders’ privacy, rewording its data policy and hiring an outside attorney to conduct an investigation.

    • Shameless: rogue Lords sneak Snooper’s Charter back in AGAIN

      Last Friday, four rogue Lords copy/pasted the repeatedly defeated “Snooper’s Charter” spying bill into a pending bill as an amendment, only to withdraw it on Monday after the Lords were bombarded by an aghast public — and now, incredibly, these Lords have reintroduced the same language as a new amendment.

    • The Intercept’s Invitation to Criminality—and to Intelligence Agencies

      But let’s say I were with some other intelligence agency, either one allied with our forces or one hostile to it. I might noticed that The Intercept is trafficking in really neato stolen goods. They’re soliciting more. And what’s more, they’re advertising what could be a really great, so to speak, phishing hole—that is, a mechanism to send them files and maybe get them onto their computers. If I were a foreign intelligence agency, I’d be looking at this as a great way to send enticing-looking documents, maybe even real ones, that contain some nifty bits of executable code that offered visibility for me onto the activities of people with access to the Snowden materials, people who are talking to and recruiting other leakers. Or maybe I’d be drop some honey-pot files, some files that beacon their location. Or maybe I’d just use the opportunity to drop disinformation on journalists who have shown they will believe just about anything if it’s disparaging of U.S. intelligence.

    • iPhones Can Rat You Out To NSA, Snowden Claims

      iPhones have been getting a lot of heat from privacy advocates for years. It’s likely that privacy concerns will continue to be a public relations nightmare for Apple iPhones despite company efforts to include encryption features in its mobile operating system iOS8. Recent comments from Edward Snowden’s lawyer reveal that the NSA whistleblower doesn’t use iPhones due to professional concerns over security.

    • 45 Percent Of British Consumers Think Online Privacy Is More Important Than National Security
    • Mississippi Action Alert: Help Stop NSA Spying, Support SB2753

      Mississippi SB2753 would deny much-needed material support and resources to the NSA and all federal illegal spying operations. The bill must pass through the Senate Judiciary, Division A Committee before it can receive a vote in the Senate.

  • Civil Rights

    • Prosecutors used the same legal strategy against Barrett Brown as they did me. Are you next?

      When it happened to me, I dismissed it as an anomaly. The government – while trying to access the private emails of my company’s 410,000 users – made material misrepresentations to the courts in a coordinated campaign to portray me as obstinate and uncooperative. Their intent? To manipulate a judge into accepting an unconstitutional legal theory. It cost me my business.

    • Ladar Levison Weighs in on Barrett Brown Case

      Okay, Ladar has a piece in the Guardian today that you should read. As of 9:49 a.m. Central Standard, the piece appears to link to the same cache of hacked Stratfor information that Barrett got busted for linking to. (!) But that’s not really the most interesting part of Ladar’s story. Ladar reveals that the FBI agents that forced him to shut down his business (the email service that Edward Snowden used) were the same agents that busted Barrett.

    • My Post Cyberpunk Indentured Servitude

      Not long ago I was a mild-mannered freelance journalist, activist, and satirist, contributing to outlets like the Guardian and Vanity Fair. But last Thursday I was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison in a case that Reporters Without Borders cited as a key factor in its reduction of America’s press freedom rankings from 33 to 46. As inconvenient as this is for me, the upside is that for the first time in the two and a half years since I was arrested, I am at last able to speak freely about what has been happening to me and why—and what it means for the press and the republic as a whole.

    • The government loves the policy ‘technology for me but not for thee’

      Three seemingly unrelated events explain a lot about the federal government’s complicated and hypocritical reaction to the proliferation of drones and other technology – technology they love to use to track millions of citizens but to which they don’t want citizens to have access.

    • At retreat, Dem staffers escort reporters to restroom

      Reporters covering the House Democrats’ retreat in Philadelphia this week are having a much different experience than when they’re on their home turf on Capitol Hill.

      Reporters are being escorted to and from the restroom and lobby and are being barred from entering the hotel outside of scheduled events, even if they’ve been invited by a member of Congress.

      During Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks at the retreat Friday, reporters were required to have a staff member, usually a junior member of the press team, escort them when going to the bathroom or to the lobby. The filing center for reporters was at a separate hotel from where the retreat was taking place, so access was limited to members of Congress specifically made available to the press.

    • What it’s like to come home to America if your name is “Ahmed”

      Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is a respected journalist who holds US citizenship. Every time he returns to his home in New York, he is detained for many hours by the DHS, subjected to humiliating questioning and detention without evidence or charge, because he fits a “profile” that seems to consist entirely of “brown dude with Arabic name who visits the middle east.” He recently returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos and found himself detained for hours, despite having been assured that his name had been removed from the DHS’s watch-list.

    • CIA did use United Kingdom territory for secret terror interrogations, says top US official

      Terror suspects held by the CIA were interrogated on the British‑owned island of Diego Garcia despite the repeated denials of London and Washington that any such incidents took place, a senior American official said today.

    • Cameron hints at new independent inquiry into Britain’s role in CIA torture

      David Cameron has raised the prospect that Britain’s alleged role in torture could be the subject of a second investigation by an independent inquiry.

      The move, which would be applauded by human rights groups, could see the intelligence and security services forced to give evidence before a judge, which may present an unwelcome distraction for MI5 and MI6 as they seek to combat the growing threat from radical Islamist groups.

    • Westminster child abuse scandal: KGB and CIA kept secret dossiers on Britain’s VIP paedophiles

      Russian and US spies compiled their own secret dossiers on paedophile MPs and other VIP abusers , it has been claimed.

      Police are investigating missing files put together by UK campaigners which allege a powerful network at the heart of Westminister in the 1970s and 80s.

      The Sunday People can reveal that agents from the Russian KGB and the American CIA were also said to have compiled their own intelligence in search of “dirt” on key individuals at the height of the Cold War.

    • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, Updated Edition, by William Blum
    • Feinstein and CIA step up war over spying on Senate

      Sen. Dianne Feinstein intensified her long-running battle with the CIA on Tuesday, accusing the agency of trying to whitewash its spying on Senate computers when the California Democrat was leading an investigation into the government’s use of torture.

    • Tony Abbott dismisses social media as ‘electronic graffiti’, again

      The Prime Minister has dismissed as “electronic graffiti” a medium that his own government and corporate Australia spend millions of dollars a year monitoring and engaging in.

    • Australian Prime Minister: Social Media Is Like Electronic Graffiti

      That acceleration, and the loss of control it implies, probably goes a long way to explaining the fear and loathing that many leading politicians display towards digital technologies — and not just in Australia.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • The NFL wants you to think these things are illegal

        The Super Bowl is the NFL’s flagship event each year, and the league has invested a lot in the event’s branding and broadcasting. In light of that investment, it’s understandable that the NFL would be protective of its trademarks and copyrights surrounding it. But that protectiveness has led to the NFL, and other businesses around it, perpetuating a number of myths about what you can and can’t do with the Super Bowl—including the words “Super Bowl.”

Boycott Cyanogen/CyanogenMod If Its Anti-Google Rhetoric and Microsoft Funding Continue

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 8:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CyanogenMod Microsoft

Summary: Cyanogen, which makes CyanogenMod, has become more of a Microsoft proxy than a real company, just like Nokia after Elop took over

BACK in 2013 we wrote that those seeking liberation from Google in Android should turn to Replicant, not CyanogenMod. CyanogenMod never really cared about software freedom and it is likely to make Android/AOSP more proprietary, not more free. Don’t expect freedom. It’s just not what the company is about. CyanogenMod is an alternative, but not the right alternative. In recent weeks CyanogenMod got even more provocative and we then found out that it had been paid by Microsoft, a company that is desperate to derail Android by any means possible. We covered it here some days ago, noting that Microsoft is now shoving Office/Outlook into Android and using CyanogenMod as a proxy against Android, just like Facebook and Nokia (never mind Amazon, which also hired many top-level executives from Microsoft several years ago, shortly before ‘bastardising’ Android).

Coverage about this important news from the Google-hostile and News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal has since then spread to many news sites. One said that Cyanogen’s “stated goal is to develop a version of Android that’s independent of Google’s control, at a time when the Chocolate Factory is putting increased pressure on smartphone vendors to ship their devices with an OS that’s more uniform and includes fewer customizations.” (this is a myth mostly promoted by Microsoft’s talking heads and Microsoft-friendly publications)

See articles like “Microsoft ‘showers gold’ on anti-Google Cyanogen and its Android alternative” or this analysis that says: “The potential investment hints at a larger battle to grab real estate on your phone’s homescreen” (not a very profound analysis, but it correctly serves to show that the goal might be to put Microsoft software on Android, out of the box even).

Microsoft targets Apple’s iOS in a similar way and some now warn that it attacks the underlying security of the operating system. As The Inquirer put it, “Outlook for iOS MICROSOFT’S NEW VERSION of Outlook for iOS and Android was released to rave reviews yesterday, but it now looks like it’s on a one-way ticket to Borksville, calling at Securitygeddon and Hackesberg.”

It is “no different than elsewhere,” a reader of ours has remarked on it, quoting the part that says: “The only advice I can give you at this stage is block the app from accessing your company’s mail servers and inform your users that they shouldn’t use the app.”

The original warning stated that “Microsoft’s Outlook app for iOS breaks your company security” (that’s the headline) and not just because Microsoft works closely with the NSA.

What we generally have here is a reminder that Microsoft bankrolls proxies, such as Novell, in order to facilitate infiltration into the competition (Novell did this in OpenOffice, Linux, and more). CyanogenMod is no exception to that and another recent example is Tuxera. It’s an extension of the “embrace, extend, and extinguish” (EEE) strategy which Microsoft champions.

Earlier this year we urged readers to boycott Tuxera file systems because Tuxera helps Microsoft inject its patent traps and fees into GNU/Linux and Android. We have just found this new article about Tuxera’s latest attempt to spread its proprietary file systems:

Tuxera released Tuxera Flash File System for Linux and Android, which is optimized to run on flash storages such as eMMC and SD.

There are already fine (and free) implementations of file systems for flash storages, so the last thing we need is dependence on a Microsoft partner that seemingly does not even obey the GPL (some say it is a GPL violator, but the company denies it).

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