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19,000 Blog Posts

Posted in Site News at 3:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Finally reaching another noteworthy milestone for this site, which is approaching one decade in age and has accomplished some important goals

WIKI AND BLOG posts combined would probably approach 20,000 pages, plus some pages in Drupal and in static HTML (exhibits, PDF files, IRC logs, etc.), but as far as the blog posts are concerned, we are now at 19,000, which is a very large number. Google to estimated have indexed 73,000 unique pages for Techrights, plus 9,200 for Boycott Novell. Thanks to all those who have supported us over the years. Readers are the motivation. There is a lot more to come, no matter the growing number of DDOS attacks against us (we have just upgraded our hardware to help defend against them).


Links 11/6/2015: Linux in DARPA Robotics Challenge, Fedora 22 Scientific

Posted in News Roundup at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux vs GNU/Linux – A Reader’s Response

    What’s in a name? I think it is bigger than a name. Whatever the name might or might not be, I for one am very grateful to everyone involved. One small plea, I get an impression that not enough people make donations to software producers. I suspect even small donations would be appreciated from time to time. Whatever the name it is a remarkable movement.

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • StackIQ Has New Open Source Linux Server Provisioning Tool

      StackIQ is now offering an open source version of Stacki (short for “Stack Installer”), a Linux server provisioning tool. StackIQ initiated the open source project with the goal of providing systems administrators with a tool to install Linux at high speed. Stacki is a streamlined version of the base installer from StackIQ’s flagship product StackIQ Boss.Z

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 340: VeraCrypt

      Randal and Aaron are joined by Mounir Idrassi to talk about VeraCrypt. VeraCrypt is a free disk encryption software brought to you by IDRIX and is based on TrueCrypt 7.1a.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Call For Translators: coala!

        coala is a code analysis framework designed to ease the task of static code analysis for both users and developers. In the last months the coala community has been growing more and more active so we’re able to get even better code out to the world of free software.

      • Outreachy week 2 – personas

        I am honored to work with Gina this cycle on usability testing, as part of Outreachy and GNOME. We are off to a great start. I wanted to share Gina’s excellent description of personas, and how they are used in usability testing.

  • Distributions

    • Calamares 1.1-RC1 Distribution Installer Released

      Version 1.1-RC1 of the Calamares Linux distribution installer framework is now available. This distribution-independent installer has garnered the interest of Manjaro, Kubuntu, and others seeking to make a more unified, better Linux installer. With Calamares 1.1, more features are coming.

    • New Releases

      • Calculating the Test Drive

        I’ve been thinking of looking around for a new distribution, not that Mint hasn’t been a wonderful and stable system. Sabayon 15.06 was released last week and looked attractive in Jeremy Garcia’s screencast and screenshots. Neil Rickert tempted me with his notes on Tumbleweed 20150608 and the IgnorantGuru made OpenBSD sound doable. But I think I’ll check out Calculate Linux.

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • My install for June

        I have been doing monthly installs of Tumbleweed, mainly to test out the installer. For June, I installed the 20150608 snapshot. I used the DVD installer (written to a USB), and this was for the 64-bit version.

    • Red Hat Family

      • CEO: Red Hat could outgrow Red Hat Tower in two years

        “It’s been fast,” says CEO Jim Whitehurst, adding that, at this pace, Red Hat Tower will be at capacity in two years. “We thought it would take a lot longer than that.”

      • CentOS 7 Linux 64-bit Vagrant Box Available Now

        Karanbir Singh had the great pleasure of announcing the immediate availability for download of 64-bit (x86_64) images for the Vagrant open-source and cross-platform virtual development environment creation software.

      • Red Hat Updates JBoss Enterprise App Platform for Faster, Simpler DevOps and Hybrid Cloud Projects

        To help companies get the most from their cloud adoption, the latest upgrade to Red Hat’s JBoss Enterprise Application Platform adds features across the lifecycle to make it far easier to bring Java apps – and Java skillsets – to the world of hybrid clouds.

        The release of the latest edition of JBoss EAP (version 6.4) comes as the cloud is triggering big changes in how Red Hat’s customers are developing and deploying applications, Mike Piech, Red Hat’s vice president for middleware told IDN.

      • Red Hat: Beware of scary OpenStack support

        A SENIOR MANAGER at Red Hat has warned the community of the importance of ensuring that OpenStack users have sufficient, qualified support for their infrastructure.

        Alessandro Perilli, general manager for cloud management strategy at Red Hat, made the point in a blog post this week entitled Beware scary OpenStack support.

      • The hidden costs of embargoes

        It’s 2015 and it’s pretty clear the Open Source way has largely won as a development model for large and small projects. But when it comes to security we still practice a less-than-open model of embargoes with minimal or, in some cases, no community involvement. With the transition to more open development tools, such as Gitorious and GitHub, it is now time for the security process to change and become more open.

      • Red Hat Summit, syslog-ng, Docker containers

        Based on user feedback and website stats a large part of syslog-ng users are running it on the Red Hat family of operating systems: Fedora, RHEL, CentOS and other RHEL derivatives. This is true both for the syslog-ng Open Source Edition and the syslog-ng Premium Edition. This is only one of the reasons that this year BalaBit is a sponsor of the Red Hat Summit and will be present with a booth. You will be able to ask BalaBit engineers about syslog-ng or any other software from our IT security portfolio: Shell Control Box, our privileged activity monitoring software and even our upcoming user behavior analytics software, Blindspotter. There are several interesting new features in syslog-ng to discuss: language bindings to Java and Python are coming to syslog-ng OSE 3.7, while Perl and Lua will stay in the syslog-ng incubator. The new, Java-based Elasticsearch destination helps to create a high performance Elasticsearch syslog-ng Kibana (ESK) stack. Kafka support is also coming, which is a high-performance distributed messaging system. It is gaining popularity as a centralized interface because it can consolidate a wide range of enterprise log data for downstream processing.

      • Change is brutal, even in an open organization

        Change management is one of the most popular topics in business literature, and something I first encountered during my evening MBA studies while I was working at Red Hat. The most surprising thing that I learned in business school, which I continue to think of often, is the fact that so many organizational change initiatives fail (some say more than 70%; my professor said 90%), despite the fact that we have a well documented and proven formula for their success. Do 70% of leaders of change initiatives forget to read the book?

      • Notable Session Mover: Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)

        A notable mover in today’s trading session is Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) as the stock opened the most recent session at 78.82 and at the time of writing the last Bid was at 78.30. In the current trading session the stock reached as high as 78.97 and dipped down to 78.11. Red Hat, Inc. Common Stock, a NYQ listed company, has a current market cap of 14.35B and on average over the past 3 months has seen 1358910 shares trade hands on a daily basis.

      • Red Hat: Don’t Cloud Over the Importance of Support

        A few months ago when Nebula folded, and then again this month when tech titans IBM and Cisco announced high-profile purchases of OpenStack-focused companies, we drove home the point that the OpenStack scene is starting to consolidate. Eventually, there will only be a few players of any significance, and I’ve made the point before that support will be the big differentiator as enterprises increasingly deploy OpenStack.

      • Fedora

        • HP Linux Imaging and Printing 3.15.6 Adds Support for Fedora 22

          HP was happy to announce earlier today, June 10, the immediate availability for download of the sixth maintenance release of its HPLIP (HP Linux Imaging and Printing) 3.15 software.

        • Fedora 22 Scientific

          As you can see, the new home for Fedora Scientific looks amazing. The “Featured Applications” section features the most important and useful tools in Fedora Scientific. I think that is a great idea. Everyone associated with it, thank you very much.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian-branded USB keys

        I’ve had some 8GB USB keys made, with the Debian swirl and text. By buying a reasonable number, I’ve got what I think is a good price for nice high-quality keys (metal body with a solid loop for attaching to a keyring). I’m now selling these for 7 pounds each, and I’m planning on bringing some to DebConf 15 too, where they’ll be 10 EUR.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) Is Now Rebased on Linux Kernel 4.0.5

            Canonical, through Joseph Salisbury, has announced the summary of the Ubuntu Kernel Team meeting that took place on June 9, 2015, which concerns their activity on the Linux kernel packages for the upcoming Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) operating system.

          • Canonical Patches Five Linux Kernel Vulnerabilities in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

            After releasing kernel updates for the Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating systems, Canonical announced on June 10 the immediate availability of a new kernel update of its Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) distro.

          • Ubuntu’s MAAS (Metal as a Service) 1.7 Update to Arrive Soon with Many New Features

            Canonical, through Andres Rodriguez, has recently announced that the 1.7 version of their MAAS (Metal as a Service) software that brings the language of the cloud to physical servers will arrive soon with multiple new features.

          • New Linux Kernel Vulnerabilities Patched in Ubuntu 15.04, 14.10, and 14.04 LTS

            After having announced the immediate availability of a new and important kernel update for the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) operating system, Canonical has announced that the Ubuntu 15.04, 14.10, and 14.04 LTS distros have also received new kernel updates.

          • First Snappy Ubuntu Core 15.04 Stable Version Is Out

            Snappy Ubuntu Core is a new version of Ubuntu, designed to work with transactional updates and aimed at clouds and embedded devices at least for now. A stable version, this new OS has been released by Canonical and joins the other flavors in the 15.04 cycle.

          • Unity 8 to Correct the Online Search Features from Unity 7

            The search in Unity has been the source of serious debates in the past few years, but that should change dramatically with the new Unity 8, which no longer needs the current privacy tab that is available in the options.

          • Ubuntu 15.10 Is Now Based on Kernel 4.0.5, But the System’s Final Version Will Use Kernel 4.1

            Canonical’s Joseph Salisbury has recently announced that Kernel 4.0.5 has been made the default kernel of Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf, being already used on the daily images.

          • Vimix Icons Another Great Lightweight Icon Set for Ubuntu/Linux Mint

            Vimix icon set is elegant, modern, lightweight designed for Linux desktop. It offers flat type style with a minimal use of shadows for depth. This icon theme is based on two icon sets are Numix Circle and Paper icons by snwh. Since this icon theme based on two icon sets, the creator recommends that install those icons as well to get enhanced and greater experience. Vimix icons offers two panel theme so if you are using dark theme then you can select Vimix dark and if you are using light theme then you can select light version. It is compatible with most of the Linux desktop environments such as Unity, Gnome, Cinnamon, Mate, Lxde, and others. For this icon theme most of the application icons available, still if you found any missing icon or bug in this set then report it. Ambiance Blackout Colors theme used in following screenshots. You can use Unity Tweak Tool, Gnome-tweak-tool or Ubuntu-Tweak to change themes/icons.

          • System76 unveils hardcore Serval WS laptop running Ubuntu Linux

            If you are a Linux user looking to buy a computer, System76 is one of the best manufacturers to target. Rather than buy a Windows machine and formatting the drive to install your favorite distro, the company’s machines come pre-loaded with Ubuntu. Even cooler, its laptops do not have the Windows logo on the super key, instead having the Ubuntu logo. Even if you are a fan of a different distro such as Fedora, supporting a Linux-focused seller is good for the overall community.

          • WIN! The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition

            The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition’s slim design and 4.5 inch screen are perfect to experience Ubuntu’s edge interactions and Scopes.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux powers DARPA Robotics Challenge winner

      A Xenomai Linux based robot from Korea’s Team KAIST called the DRC-Hubo won the $2 million DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, one of only three bots to complete the course on time.

      Judging by Silicon Valley’s reigning “Failure rocks!” mantra, this week’s DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals held earlier this week in Pomona, California, was a resounding success. Of the 23 teams that entered the event, which simulated a disaster response scenario, only three accomplished all eight major tasks in the allotted eight hours. The pit crews were kept busy with a field littered with falling robots.

    • Logic Supply Announces Linux-Compatible Fanless PC with Unparalleled Features

      Logic Supply, a renown industrial and embedded computer manufacturer, which you might remember from an article we wrote last week that the company sells Ubuntu-powered industrial and embedded systems, has announced recently that they will release a new series of ventless and fanless PCs with unmatched mix of performance, reliability, and I/O.

    • Raspberry Pi stays sky high in 2015 Hacker SBC Survey

      Last month, LinuxGizmos.com and the Linux Foundation’s Linux.com community website sponsored a 10-day SurveyMonkey survey that asked readers of both sites to choose their favorite three Linux- or Android-based open-spec single-board computers. This year, 1,721 respondents — more than twice the number from the 2014 survey — selected their favorites from a list of 53 SBCs, compared to last year’s 32.

    • DRC-HUBO Run Linux and It Just Won the DARPA Robotics Challenge

      The DARPA Robotics Challenge is now over, and the competition has been won by a team from South Korea with a robot called DRC-HUBO. It’s not hard to imagine that the robot is actually running a modified Linux distribution.

    • Top 10 Linux and Android Hacker SBCs of 2015
    • Top 10 Best Hacker SBC Boards of 2015
    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Corporate Russia to have a Secure Tizen Smartphone by the end of 2015

          The Tizen Smartphone has been released in India, Bangladesh and soon Sri Lanka, but there is another country that has firm Interest in Tizen, Russia. The federation has a historical mis-trust of Google & Apple and could find a new alternative to BlackBerry for its secure Corporate needs.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • DT Exec Pressures Vendors on Open Source

    One of Deutsche Telekom’s virtualization experts has said operators must pressure vendors into adopting open source practices or face the risk of depending on a single supplier for critical infrastructure.

  • SourceForge Not Making A Graceful Exit

    If SourceForge were a person and I were the New York Times, I’d make certain I had an obituary on file right about now. It’s obvious that the once essential code repository for open source projects is terminally ill, although it’s just as obvious that Dice Holdings, which took over ownership of the site nearly three years ago, has no plans of letting SourceForge go gently into the good night, so we’ll probably see more kicking and noise-making until the lights are inevitably extinguished.

  • SourceForge under fire again for Nmap page [Ed: SourceForge says that's not the case]
  • Open Sourcing Pinot: Scaling the Wall of Real-Time Analytics

    Last fall we introduced Pinot, LinkedIn’s real-time analytics infrastructure, that we built to allow us to slice and dice across billions of rows in real-time across a wide variety of products. Today we are happy to announce that we have open sourced Pinot. We’ve had a lot of interest in Pinot and are excited to see how it is adopted by the open source community.

  • Facebook open sourcing mobile bug analyzer Infer

    Among the apps within Facebook’s portfolio already using Infer include the standard Facebook apps for Android and iOS, Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

  • Facebook Open-Sources Infer To Help Developers Identify Bugs Before They’re Shipped

    Facebook today announced that it is open sourcing Infer, a static program analyzer the company uses to find bugs in mobile code before it’s shipped. Internally, the company uses this tool to analyze the Facebook apps for Android and iOS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and others.

  • Open Source Groups Release SDN and NFV Software

    Things are moving smartly forward in the world of upstart, disruptive networking technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), as open source stewards in both camps have come out with new software releases.

  • Events

    • How TYPO3 meetups help improve the technology, community, and business

      Peer-production is one of the strengths of open source projects. TYPO3, a self-organized project without corporate backing, always lived from the spirit of sharing ideas, work, and values. It’s not by accident that one of our core values is, “Inspire people to share.” Over the years, as a result of the massive success of TYPO3 as a product, core team members became increasingly decoupled from the work with clients. Instead, they focused on the core development. On one hand, this transition was great because it means a lot of people have contributed their time and passion into the product. But on the other hand, the change brought disadvantages.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • ownCloud 8.0.4 Brings Better Support for Internet Explorer 8 and 9

      ownCloud had the pleasure of informing us about the immediate availability for download of the fourth maintenance release of the ownCloud 8.0 DIY (Do It Yourself) open-source self-hosting cloud storage solution.

    • Bright Computing Offers Guided Private OpenStack Deployment Solution

      Are you looking for an automated, guided way to deploy OpenStack? Some people feel daunted relying on nothing but documentation, and want a wizard-style approach to a new software installation. That’s exactly what the folks at Bright Computing are banking on. At the recent OpenStack Summit, they showed off Bright OpenStack, billed as a complete, standalone OpenStack private cloud solution. It even features a wizard to guide you through installation.

  • Databases

    • Dutch land registry opens up to Postgresql

      The Dutch Kadaster (Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency) has switched to using Postgresql for four of its major business solutions. “Open source allows us to deliver services at lower costs”, says Paul Schluck, one of the database administrators at the land registry.

    • Postgresql to detect nuclear explosions

      France’s nuclear energy and defence research institute CEA is looking for help with maintenance of Postgresql, an open source relational database management system. The institute this week published a call for tender, aiming to design a seismic, infrasound, hydroacoustic and radionuclide monitoring system, as part of its task to monitor compliance to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

    • The NoSQL and Hadoop disruptive open source dividend

      Beyond the LAMP stack, open source technology for development of enterprise class applications has arguably become mainstream, especially in modern databases like NoSQL and Hadoop based systems. They are unlocking huge value.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Enables GTK3 VCL Plug-In Building By Default

      With the newest LibreOffice Git code, the GTK3 support code compiling is enabled by default. However, this is just building for the GTK3 VCL plug-in. At run-time, the GTK3 usage is still disabled by default. A –disable-gtk3 option is available for those not wanting to build with the GTK3 support.

  • Business

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD As A Linux Desktop Replacement

      I recently tried out OpenBSD as a possible answer to recent Linux engineering. I thought I’d share my notes here on my results, from a beginner’s and Linux user’s perspective. (I tried FreeBSD briefly before as well.) If you’ve used OpenBSD more extensively on the desktop, your feedback on any of this is welcome too – I’d like to know what you think of my opinions, you being a longer-term user.


  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • European Union’s 5-year roadmap for IT and open source

      While the DSM does not explicitly state it, to achieve a lot of these objectives, open standards will be essential. While many parts of the strategy are explicit in their proposed actions, this section has been written in broad strokes. For this reason, open source/open standards proponents must stay engaged both to help steer the DSM toward a positive outcome and for fear that the DSM may instead seek to secure the “free flow of data” via mandating contractual requirements and cumbersome and problematic data ownership definitions.

  • Licensing

    • Wayland’s MIT License To Be Updated/Corrected

      Bryce Harrington sent out the patches today for the in-tree license text to be updated. He clarified the situation a few weeks after the matter was brought to the attention of Wayland developers with the FAQ and license text not matching.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Google Made Its Secret Blueprint Public to Boost Its Cloud

      Craig McLuckie took the idea to Urs Hölzle, the man who oversees Google’s global network of computer data centers, and Hölzle didn’t like it.

      Together with two other engineers in Google’s Seattle office, McLuckie wanted to recreate Borg as an open source project. Borg is the sweeping software tool that drives everything from Google Search to Gmail to Google Maps, letting the company carefully parcel computing tasks across that global network. For years, it was one of the company’s best kept secrets. And McLuckie wanted to share its blueprint—or at least some of it—with the rest of the internet.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Adopts new Software and Document License

      W3C today adopted a new Software and Document License, an update to the W3C Software License, as the default permissive license in cases such as relicensing of unfinished specs where W3C has decided to use a permissive license. The Software and Document License, compatible with the GPL, permits copying and modification with attribution (by inclusion of a reference to the original W3C document), and can be used in W3C Community Groups, among other venues. All work that W3C has previously made available under the prior W3C Software License is also made available under the new Software and Document License.


  • Mesosphere Datacenter OS available on AWS, coming to Azure soon

    DCOS is designed to help enterprises unlock the next generation of scale, efficiency and automation. The Mesosphere DCOS pools datacenter and compute resources, givesIT operators a much simple administration model, and improves developer velocity with more modern abstractions and APIs for writing distributed system.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • VIDEO: Making Polluters Pay Us Is Step 9 to Save the Economy

      Instead of investing in dirty fuels, let’s start charging polluters for poisoning our skies – and then invest the revenue so that it benefits everyone.

      Each ton of carbon that’s released into the atmosphere costs our nation between $40 and $100, and we release millions tons of it every year.

      Businesses don’t pay that cost. They pass it along to the rest of us—in the form of more extreme weather and all the costs to our economy and health resulting from it.

      We’ve actually invested more than $6 trillion in fossil fuels since 2007. The money has been laundered through our savings and tax dollars.

  • Finance

    • ‘Say Anything’ Time to Pass Fast Track

      Yes, folks, it’s desperation time for the supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). To get this sucker through, they will say anything, because, hey, making stuff up for the cause always sells in official Washington.

    • Thoughts on Greece

      I have witnessed IMF prescriptions in developing countries which have had abysmal results. Forcing African countries to break up their electricity utilities between producers and distributors in order to favour private electricity producers, has been an absolute disaster. It has simply meant that disproportionate percentages of electricity revenue – and effective tax subsidy of electricity prices for the majority population – has been diverted into the capacious pockets of international financiers and bankers. I have no doubt the result has been less electricity generated. I don’t even want to discuss the IMF’s immoral insistence that in Africa the very poor have to pay for clean drinking water.

    • As currency dies, Zimbabweans will get $5 for 175 quadrillion local dollars

      Zimbabweans will start exchanging ‘quadrillions’ of local dollars for a few U.S. dollars next week, as President Robert Mugabe’s government discards its virtually worthless national currency, the central bank said on Thursday.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Rupert Murdoch Reportedly Stepping Down As 21st Century Fox CEO

      Rupert Murdoch is preparing to step down as the CEO of 21st Century Fox, according to CNBC, planning to hand control of the media conglomerate to his son, James.

      CNBC, citing unnamed sources in the mogul’s family, said the announcement will come soon though it’s not clear when Murdoch would step aside.

    • James Murdoch Reportedly Taking Over As CEO Of Fox News’ Parent Company

      Rupert Murdoch is reportedly planning to step down as CEO of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox “and hand that title to his son James,” according to CNBC. James Murdoch previously resigned his role as the head of News International — which published several tabloids and newspapers abroad — amid the widespread scandal over phone hacking at News of the World, a since-shuttered UK tabloid he oversaw. As part of the fallout from that scandal, Murdoch also resigned his position as chairman of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

    • Rupert Murdoch preparing to step down as Fox CEO: reports

      Rupert Murdoch, the 84-year-old chief executive of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, is preparing to step down and name his son James as successor, CNBC reported on Thursday, citing sources close to the Murdoch family.

  • Censorship

    • Reddit censorship results in mass exodus to Voat.co

      Reddit, which has long billed itself as “the front page of the Internet” is facing a massive revolt by its members due to perceived censorship. The folks running Reddit have removed a number of subreddits and that’s what sparked the revolt and the mass exodus to Voat.co.

    • Will Reddit Revolt Against Ellen Pao?

      There are early indications that the Reddit admins may have finally crossed the Rubicon on the road to alienating their user base. User activity on their main competitor, Voat.co had been rising steadily since social media censorship became an issue during the #GamerGate controversy, but in the past few hours their figures have skyrocketed. At the time of writing, there are over 3,700 active users on Voat’s alternative to /r/fatpeoplehate —almost double its number of subscribers.

  • Privacy

    • UK intelligence agencies should keep mass surveillance powers, report says

      UK intelligence agencies should be allowed to retain controversial intrusive powers to gather bulk communications data but ministers should be stripped of their powers to authorise surveillance warrants, according to a major report on British data law.

      The 373-page report published on Thursday – A Question of Trust, by David Anderson QC – calls for government to adopt “a clean-slate” approach in legislating later this year on surveillance and interception by GCHQ and other intelligence agencies.

      However, Downing Street hinted that David Cameron was unlikely to accept one of his key recommendations: shifting the power to agree to warrants from home and foreign secretaries to a proposed new judicial commissioner.

      The prime minister’s spokeswoman said the authorities needed to be able “to respond quickly and effectively to threats of national security or serious crime”, which appears to suggest ministers are better positioned to do this than judges.

    • Fake mobile phone towers found to be ‘actively listening in’ on calls in UK

      More than 20 “intrusive” fake mobile phone towers that eavesdrop on public conversations have been found active in the UK, the first time the technology has been detected in the country.

      The IMSI catchers, also known as Stingrays, have been found to be operating in London, but the Metropolitan Police have refused to say who is controlling them or what is being done with the information they are gathering.

    • Fake mobile phone towers discovered in London: Stingrays come to the UK

      Fake mobile phone masts that can be used to eavesdrop on telephone conversations without users being aware have been discovered in London by Sky News. IMSI catchers, also known as “stingrays” after a US company that makes such devices, have been widely used in the US for years. They work by sending out a signal that tricks a mobile phone into connecting with the stingray, rather than a legitimate base station, allowing information to be gathered about the device and its conversations by carrying out a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack.

    • Anderson review: “It is time for a clean slate”

      The UK’s Independent Review of Terrorism Legislation has said, “it is time for a clean slate” when it comes to surveillance law in the UK. In his report published today, David Anderson QC condemned the current legislative framework as, “fragmented, obscure, under constant challenge and variable in the protections that it affords the innocent”.

    • Study: Surveillance will cost US tech sector more than $35B by 2016

      A new study says that the U.S. tech industry is likely to lose more than $35 billion from foreign customers by 2016 because of concerns over government surveillance.

      “In short, foreign customers are shunning U.S. companies,” the authors of a new study from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation write.

    • Exclusive: U.S. tech industry appeals to Obama to keep hands off encryption

      As Washington weighs new cybersecurity steps amid a public backlash over mass surveillance, U.S. tech companies warned President Barack Obama not to weaken increasingly sophisticated encryption systems designed to protect consumers’ privacy.

      In a strongly worded letter to Obama on Monday, two industry associations for major software and hardware companies said, “We are opposed to any policy actions or measures that would undermine encryption as an available and effective tool.”

      The Information Technology Industry Council and the Software and Information Industry Association, representing tech giants, including Apple Inc, Google Inc, Facebook Inc, IBM and Microsoft Corp, fired the latest salvo in what is shaping up to be a long fight over government access into smart phones and other digital devices.

    • The Computers Are Listening: NSA Won’t Say If It Automatically Transcribes American Phone Calls in Bulk

      When it comes to the National Security Agency’s recently disclosed use of automated speech recognition technology to search, index and transcribe voice communications, people in the United States may well be asking: But are they transcribing my phone calls?

      The answer is maybe.

      A clear-cut answer is elusive because documents in the Snowden archive describe the capability to turn speech into text, but not the extent of its use — and the U.S. intelligence community refuses to answer even the most basic questions on the topic.

      Asked about the application of speech-to-text to conversations including Americans, Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said at a Capitol Hill event in May that the NSA has “all sorts of technical capabilities” and that they are all used in a lawful manner.

      “I’m not specifically acknowledging or denying the existence of any particular capability,” he said. “I’m only saying that the focus needs to be on what are the authorities the NSA is using, and what are the protections around the execution of those authorities?”

      So what are those authorities? And what are the protections around their execution?

  • Civil Rights

    • Veteran police officer in Des Moines, Iowa, shoots unarmed Ryan Bolinger through car window

      A police officer in Des Moines, Iowa, shot an unarmed man dead on Tuesday evening, after he got out his vehicle and started “walking with a purpose” towards her car.

      Police officer Vanessa Miller, who has seven years’ experience, shot 28-year-old Ryan Keith Bolinger, after he led her and Ian Lawler, another senior officer, on a slow chase through the city streets.

    • Concocting a Crime-Ageddon to Promote Police Power

      The New York Post, the notorious right-wing tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, inspired a media stampede of stories highlighting increases in New York City’s crime statistics. The hysterical headline “You’re 45% More Likely to Be Murdered in de Blasio’s Manhattan” (5/26/15) served as a springboard for other local media outlets to question if the city was suddenly a crime-ridden hellhole under Mayor Bill de Blasio–presented by the Post as a liberal on policing.

    • Tolerance and Tim Hunt

      You can’t tolerate that which to you is inoffensive. Toleration necessarily implies putting up with people who hold views or exhibit behaviour which you do not like. The hounding of Professor Tim Hunt from his University position is an exhibition of extreme intolerance.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • House Tries To Use Appropriations Bill To Kill Neutrality Rules, Strip FCC Authority And Funding

      For most of the last few months the House has been holding a series of “investigative” hearings into the FCC’s passage of net neutrality rules. On the surface, the hearings claim to be aimed at ensuring the FCC is operating transparently and within the confines of its authority, but in reality the hearings have been about one thing: publicly shaming the FCC for standing up to deep-pocketed campaign contributors like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Of course this never-ending “fact finding mission” has accomplished absolutely nothing in relation to finding notable facts, but it has proven useful in riling up a base utterly convinced that net neutrality rules destroy the Internet. All on the taxpayer dime, no less.


      Obviously these lawsuits could go on for several years, and well into the term of a new Administration, one many House members hope would then strike the rules from the books. Of course much like the never-ending hearings shaming the FCC, this is largely a partisan patty cake show pony, since it won’t be signed by the President. Still, it’s very sweet of the House to be so incredibly worried about consumers and the health of the Internet that they’ll work tirelessly to protect ISPs’ god-given right to abuse the lack of last mile broadband competition.

    • Net neutrality rules to go into effect after court rejects bid to block them

      In what FCC chairman Tom Wheeler calls ‘a huge victory,’ the rules will go into effect Friday despite a handful of lawsuits challenging them

  • DRM

    • EC opens antitrust probe into Amazon’s iffy e-book agreements

      THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has opened yet another investigation into Amazon and is this time probing the company’s allegedly questionable e-book distribution agreements.

    • Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigation into Amazon’s e-book distribution arrangements

      The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into certain business practices by Amazon in the distribution of electronic books (“e-books”). The Commission will in particular investigate certain clauses included in Amazon’s contracts with publishers. These clauses require publishers to inform Amazon about more favourable or alternative terms offered to Amazon’s competitors and/or offer Amazon similarterms and conditions than to its competitors, or through other means ensure that Amazon is offered terms at least as good as those for its competitors.


Links 10/6/2015: New Krita/Calligra and Clonezilla

Posted in News Roundup at 4:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Blockstream to Release First Open Source Code for Sidechains

    Blockstream has announced it will release an open source codebase and testing environment for its signature sidechains project.

  • Huawei Certified to Offer Apache Spark Open Source Big Data Processing Framework

    Huawei, this week announced that it has become the first global ICT vendor to obtain certification by Databricks for distribution of the Apache Spark open source big data processing framework. Databricks, a company founded by the creators of Spark, has developed the “Certified Spark Distribution” program to highlight and recognize third party vendors distributing Spark. Leveraging the high-performance big data computing architecture and the complete ecosystem of Spark, the Huawei-Spark platform is designed to help customers realize the full potential of data assets to drive agile operation and business innovation.

  • Teradata to Advance Big Data Analytics with Support for Presto Open Source SQL Query Engine

    To help users extract insights from data lakes,Teradata has made a multi-year commitment to contribute to Presto’s open source development. Based on a three-part roadmap, Teradata’s says its contributions will be 100% open source under the Apache license and will advance Presto’s code base, scalability, iterative querying, and ability to query multiple data repositories.

  • Why an open web is important for India

    Priyanka Nag is a technical writer for Red Hat and Mozilla Rep from India. Priyanka has been contributing to open source projects for the past four years. She started by editing Wikipedia pages, and then was introduced to Mozilla during an event at her college. She says that Mozilla was love at first sight, and soon after she became a Mozillian, she was hooked on the project. Now Priyanka is also a regular speaker at community events in India. I recently caught up with Priyanka to learn more about her work in the Mozilla Community and her thoughts on the importance of the open web in India.

  • What TODO means for open source community

    Open source software is not just meant for still-struggling start-ups that can’t afford to pay the licensing fees for proprietary software, and budget-conscious, modest small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMEs) hoping to cut down on IT costs. This was proven in late September when several major companies – running the gamut from technology, right through to retail and media – came together to form the TODO project.

  • 8 excellent open source data visualization tools

    Data visualization is the mechanism of taking tabular or spatial data and conveying it in a human-friendly and visual way. There are several open source tools that can help you create useful, informative graphs. In this post we will take a look at eight open source, data visualization tools.

  • Wine Will Migrate Away from SourceForge

    If you’re reading the news lately, you might know that the SourceForge project hosting website has been accused of hijacking open-source software that have been abandoned by their maintainers or did not have some activity for an extended period of time.

  • The Cloud vs. Open Source

    For years, Linux and free software were perceived as threatened by cloud computing, the online storage of data. However, over the last few years, something ironic happened — free software became a major player in cloud computing.

  • Events

    • Graphics Microconference Accepted into 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Although the Year of the Linux Desktop has yet to arrive, a surprising number of Linux users nevertheless need graphics support. This is because there have been a number of years of the Linux smartphone, the Linux television, the Linux digital sign/display/billboard, the Linux automobile, and more. This microconference will cover a number of topics including atomic modesetting in KMS, buffer allocation, verified-secure graphics pipelines, fencing and synchronisation, Wayland, and more.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla responds to Firefox user backlash over Pocket integration

        Pocket is a service for managing a reading list of online articles (it allows you to save stories, videos, and websites to check out later). Pocket is already offered as a Firefox add-on, and although Mozilla was developing a homegrown Reading List feature for the browser, the company decided to simply integrate Pocket directly into Firefox.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Cisco, IBM Bet Big on OpenStack

      Cisco and IBM are doubling down on OpenStack, hoping “the result lets them develop a solution that will scale. Neither company is yet willing to abandon OpenStack, and both feel there’s still a solution in it someplace,” said tech analyst Rob Enderle. By acquiring Piston Cloud Computing and Blue Box Cloud, they “may correct some of the problems with OpenStack, which should improve penetration.”

  • Business

  • Funding

    • Rancher Labs is the Latest to Cash in on Container Technology

      Container technology remains red hot and VC money is flowing toward it. Rancher Labs, a startup developing Docker infrastructure software, has announced $10 million in Series A funding from Mayfield and Nexus Venture Partners. “With the rapid adoption of container technology, the company’s open source software has grown in popularity by allowing organizations to run containers in production, across any cloud,” Rancher Labs’ leaders have stated.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Dutch government agency switches core services to open source

      Public administrations that switch to open source regain financial scalability, says Jan-Taeke Schuilenga, IT architect at DUO, the Dutch government agency managing the financing of the country’s educational institutions. “We had reached the limit of proprietary licence possibilities. Switching to open source gave us freedom of choice.”

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Licensing Standards that Include Code: Heads or Tails?

      Once upon a time, standards were standards and open source software was open source software (OSS), and the only thing people worried about was whether the copyright and patent rules relating to the standards would prevent them from being implemented in OSS. Actually, that was complicated enough, but it seems simple in comparison now that OSS is being included in the standards themselves. Now what?

      If this sounds unusual and exotic, it isn’t. In fact, code has been creeping into standards for years, often without the keepers of the intellectual property rights (IPR) Policies governing the standards even being aware of it.


  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Republicans Trashed Democracy in Michigan. Now They Want To Trash It in Your State, Too.

      One city neglected to inform its residents that its water supply was laced with cancerous chemicals. Another dissolved its public school district and replaced it with a charter school system, only to witness the for-profit management company it hired flee the scene after determining it couldn’t turn a profit. Numerous cities and school districts in the state are now run by single, state-appointed technocrats, as permitted under an emergency financial manager law pushed through by Rick Snyder, Michigan’s austerity-promoting governor. This legislation not only strips residents of their local voting rights, but gives Snyder’s appointee the power to do just about anything, including dissolving the city itself—all (no matter how disastrous) in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”

    • 5 Ways Powerful People Trick You Into Hating Protesters

      Let’s say that tomorrow you are elected Secret Ruler of the USA, a position that gives you total power over the government, economy, and the culture at large — everything that hippies refer to as “the system.” Now, your first job is to not get beheaded by rioting peasants, which means your first job is really to maintain “stability” (i.e., “keeping things mostly the way they are”).

      Immediately you’ll find that you’re facing a never-ending stream of protests from disgruntled groups who say they’re being treated unfairly or otherwise getting left out — this group over here is upset that somebody got abused by the police; this other bunch is demanding better wages or something. How do you handle it? Sure, you could crush their movements with an iron fist, using violence to kill, intimidate or arrest their most vocal members. But that can backfire, often turning them into martyrs and proving them right in the process — you’ve seen Star Wars; somebody always finds the exhaust port.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Why Did It Take the Pentagon a Month to Figure Out Its Files Were Compromised?

      Edward Snowden’s leaks exposed a federal government unable to protect its most sensitive secrets.

    • Feds Must Encrypt Government Websites by Dec. 2016

      The White House now requires all publicly accessible federal websites and services to use a secure HTTPS connection.

      Government agencies have until Dec. 31, 2016 to comply with the new HTTPS-Only Standard directive.

      Unencrypted HTTP connections “create a vulnerability and expose potentially sensitive information about users,” U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott said in this week’s announcement. That includes data like browser identity, website content, search terms, and other user-submitted details.

    • Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore public court’s decision on spying

      The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.

      The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop.

    • French Surveillance Bill: Public Liberties Abandoned as Senators Cast Disastrous Vote

      The Surveillance Bill was adopted today by the French Senate with 251 votes for, 68 against and 26 abstentions. This bill was fast tracked and discussed under the pressure of a government wielding the argument of an extreme terrorist risk to impose massive spying of the French population with expansive purposes. It will put France under a surveillance all at once diffuse, intrusive, indiscriminate and without effective control. La Quadrature du Net bitterly regrets the blindness of the French Parliamentarians and calls on citizens not to give up on their liberties.

  • Civil Rights

    • Six lies they told me about the anti-Israel boycott

      The bulk of recent incidents concerning the anti-Israel boycott, which are mainly symbolic for now, could have served as a warning sign. But a mixture of nationalistic and false statements is blinding the Israeli public and preventing a real discussion of the issue. Here are a few examples.

    • British tourist Eleanor Hawkins arrested for naked photo on top of Malaysian mountain

      A British woman arrested in Malaysia for posing naked on top of a sacred mountain has been named as Eleanor Hawkins.

      The 24-year-old Southampton University graduate from Derby was detained on Tuesday at Tawau airport, as she was flying out from the island of Borneo to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

    • Theresa May Condemns Majid Ali and Defies Scotland

      Despite numerous representations and an Early Day Motion signed by the large majority of Scotland’s MPs, Theresa May has ordered that Majid Ali, a Glasgow City College student, be deported back to almost certain torture and probable death in Pakistan in just twenty minutes from now. I attended the demonstration on his behalf yesterday at the Scottish Office.

      Majid is a member of the much persecuted Baloch minority. Two of his immediate family have been “disappeared” by the Pakistani military since his asylum application was submitted. There is no doubt that given the numerous MP’s who have raised his case, and the well-supported early day motion, civil servants will have put the decision to May personally. She was however not even prepared to grant a delay for a look at the evidence. May is very likely not merely pandering to the racist UKIP voting electorate – she is on the far right of politics herself. The callous sacrifice of Majid Ali is proof, if any more were needed, that this Conservative administration is nothing to do with Cameron’s purported “compassionate conservatism.” They are the nasty party indeed.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • EU Commission Tries to Rip Citizens Off Net Neutrality

      The European Commission attacks Net Neutrality again, by introducing a “compromise document” that refuses to enshrine a definition of this crucial principle into the law. A strong coalition including the EU Council, the European Commission and a handful of MEPs is working against the general interest by including loopholes that will be used by the telecom lobby to circumvent the proposed protections against discrimination, thereby undermining fundamental rights and innovation.

    • EU digi-chief to meet ministers and sort out the net neutrality thing

      Gaffe-prone Gunther H-dot, Europe’s digital chief, has waded into the net neutrality debate once again, but has vowed to sort everything out in a meeting with national ministers next Friday.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • EU vice-president: Copyright legislation is “pushing people to steal”

        Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, has admitted that EU copyright law is “pushing people to steal,” because they seek out illegal copies of works that are not available to them legally because of the widespread use of geoblocking in Europe.

      • Elsevier Cracks Down on Pirated Scientific Articles

        Academic publishing company Elsevier has filed a complaint at a New York District Court, hoping to shut down the Library Genesis project and the SciHub.org search engine. The sites, which are particularly popular in developing nations where access to academic works is relatively expensive, are accused of pirating millions of scientific articles.

      • Kim Dotcom’s MegaNet Preps Jan 2016 Crowdfunding Campaign

        Kim Dotcom’s dream of a people-powered, censorship-resistant Internet will rely on the goodwill of supporters to get off the ground. In an announcement this morning, the entrepreneur confirmed that his MegaNet project will seek equity via a crowd-funding campaign set to launch on the January 2016 anniversary of the raid on Megaupload.

More European Politicians Pressure and Sometimes Slam the European Patent Office (EPO) Amid New Scandals

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Elżbieta Bieńkowska
Elżbieta Bieńkowska – Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz, CC BY-SA 3.0

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) cannot catch a breath these days, as its management comes under yet more fire from more directions and more nations

EARLIER this year we wrote about French politicians' complaints about Benoît Battistelli, taking note of French Senator Jean-Yves Leconte’s letters [1, 2] and Philip Cordery’s letters.

“EPO criticism is acceptable and popular now.”Mr. Cordery has some new letters [PDF], whose French originals were posted in his site. As SUEPO put it: “Earlier in February, Philip Cordery, member of the French Parliament, had published an article criticising the “antisocial policy of the EPO” and sent a letter to European Commisionner [sic] Elzbieta Bienkowska calling upon her to intervene. Philip Cordery has now published the letter of reply (printable version) from Elzbieta Bienkowska.”

Here is Bienkowska‘s (of Poland) response in English:

Brussels, 28.05.2015

Dear Sir,

I wish to thank you for your letter of 20 February last, informing me of your concerns with regard to the social climate which is presently prevailing at the European Patent Office (EPO).

The European Patent Organization (the “Organization”), of which the EPO is the executive body, is an independent international institution, which has no organic links with the European Union. Apart from the EPO, it is composed of a legislative body, the Administrative Council, on which sit the representatives of the States which constitute the Organization (38 States, of which 28 are Member States of the European Union), whose task is, in particular, to monitor the activity of the EPO, for which the President assumes responsibility. The Commission has only the role of an observer within this assembly. I have been informed of the social tensions which have transpired between the management of the EPO and the staff representatives, and which have been widely reported in the press.

As you point out in your letter, the EPO will be in charge of the issue and management of the Unitary European Patent. With this in mind, I have issued instructions to my staff who represent the European Commission as observers on the Administrative Council to monitor the developments of the situation closely.

I have also requested the President of the EPO to make every effort to return to a constructive social dialogue.

In this respect, I have welcomed with interest the initiatives which have been recently announced, and the determination of the Administrative Council of the EPO to address this matter as an issue of priority.

I hope that this will be the harbinger of a process of sustained return to a social dialogue of appropriate quality within the EPO.

Yours faithfully

Elżbieta Bieńkowska

Considering the previous cowardly approach of the European Commission (or that of the European Parliament), this can be considered another small escalation. They are at least intervening this time. It puts pressure on the EPO.

Today, as already noted in our previous post, we increasingly see European politicians taking more shots at the EPO’s legitimacy, partly motivated by media coverage that has made them aware of the issues and much better informed. In our humble assessment, EPO management is very much concerned about the European media. We’ve always been getting the vibe that it’s the media which they fear more than disgruntled staff. It’s the media that’s being attacked. EPO criticism is acceptable and popular now. It’s not the subject of taboo anymore and journalists are not so afraid of retribution, for which the EPO had become infamous (or notorious).

Incidentally, the recent events pertaining to patents in Europe have gotten the attention of corporate media in the United States. Hosuk Lee-Makiyama writes: “Europe continues to compete with the United States and Asia in the high-tech global economy, both through business and government. Intellectual property in particular is a contentious issue that has continued to divide Europe ever since its grassroots derailed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in 2012. But with patent reform a major political priority in the United States, and countries like China modernizing their intellectual property systems, Europe’s IP regime risks falling behind. This decline has lessons for the United States, as Congressional leaders embark on the latest round of U.S. patent reform.”

At the moment, the US patent system really needs a reform because it is more out of control than the EU system. But if we do nothing to stop Benoît Battistelli and his ilk, things in Europe are about to get worse very rapidly. Things are already getting worse; UPC is just the beginning of that.

“They [EPO examiners] claim that the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated.” —Expatica, European Patent Office staff on strike


EPO Comes Under Fire From the Bavarian Data Protection Supervisor After the Spying Scandal

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) has just come under fire from the political establishment in Germany

TECHRIGHTS published 5 articles about the EPO yesterday (surely an all-time high), including two articles about keyloggers that the EPO is using. SUEPO’s public site heralds right now that “EPO hits the news in Germany” because of the “Spy scandal”.

Süddeutsche has just published another article (it wrote about the EPO several times before). “Bavarian Data Protection Supervisor calls for external oversight at the EPO,” wrote Wikinaut about the article, citing Süddeutsche (again) with today’s big article.

The EPO’s management is being very naughty with this tactless last resort to blackhat surveillance methods. Comments in IP Kat focus on who was aware/involved and ultimately who is accountable. When will the German police get involved? It’s clear who the criminal is; it’s clear whose favour the courts ruled in; it’s clear who’s not obeying the law.

A translation of the Süddeutsche article would be very much appreciated, if any of our German-speaking readers are able to provide it (e.g. post it in the comments below).


Links 10/6/2015: BQ’s Second Ubuntu Phone on Sale, Desura and Bankruptcy

Posted in News Roundup at 6:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Warning: Don’t Download Software From SourceForge If You Can Help It

    “SourceForge are (sic) abusing the trust that we and our users had put into their service in the past,” according to the GIMP project. Since 2013, SourceForge has been bundling junkware along with their installers — sometimes without a developer’s permission.

    Don’t download software from SourceForge if you can help it. Many open-source projects now host their installers elsewhere, and the versions on SourceForge may include junkware. If you absolutely have to download something from SourceForge, be extra careful.

  • SourceForge: The end can’t come too soon

    Fifteen years ago, the deep tech side of the Internet was a vastly different place. Geek news aggregator Slashdot was the place to go for all the latest IT and open source news and discussion, and SourceForge was the spot for open source project hosting and distribution. Much like MySpace, it seemed that these two stalwarts of the open source community would reign forever.

    Much like MySpace today, these two sites now live mainly on the margins, and at least in the case of SourceForge, that’s been of its own doing.

  • SourceForge Tries to Win Back Trust of Open-Source Developers

    After drawing the ire of the open-source community over the past couple of weeks, SourceForge published a blog post today explaining how it will generate ad revenue going forward.

    The online software repository landed itself in hot water after it was found to be bundling adware with free and open-source software downloads, most notably the Windows version of the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP).

  • 10 Open Source Docker Tools You Should Be Using

    You may have heard of this thing called Docker. You know, the one which has fostered over 20,000 open source projects (including orchestration tools and management frameworks) and over 85,000 Dockerized applications?

  • Apple to tailor Swift into a fully open-source language – for Linux, too
  • Apple may regret its choice of a permissive open source license for the Swift programming language

    The whole Oracle v. Google Android-Java copyright infringement litigation would never have happened if Google had adopted Java under the GPL (the license under which Sun Microsystems already made Java code available before being acquired by Oracle), but it feared that copyleft would prevent its device makers from differentiating through proprietary add-ons.

  • Apple To Open-Source & Support Linux With Its Swift Programming Language
  • Apple to open source Swift programming language

    Apple brought out the big guns, from CEO Tim Cook to musical performer Drake, but perhaps the loudest reaction at the company’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference Monday in San Francisco resulted from news that the Swift programming language is being open sourced.

  • Apple Announces Swift 2, Open Source for iOS, OS X and Linux

    Apple today announced Swift 2, the latest version of its programming language for iOS, OS X and watchOS with all-new Whole Module Optimization technology. Apple executive Craig Federighi also announced that Swift will be open source and made available for Linux later this year.

  • ​Docker certification program eyes long-term partnerships

    Docker has dominated the container business since it first exploded on the scene. Now, with its new certification program, Ecosystem Technology Partner (ETP), it’s trying to turn its current momentum into long-term partnerships.

  • Proof of Concept: Dell OPNFV Infrastructure-as-a-Service
  • It Is Rocket Science! NASA Releases Abundance of Free Code

    This week, NASA released its second annual Software Catalog, a giant compendium of over 1,000 programs available for free to industry, government agencies, and the general public. The Software Catalog contains the actual advanced engineering and aeronautics codes NASA engineers purpose-built for their daily work.

  • Events

    • Announcing Apache: Big Data and ApacheCon: Core

      A year and a half ago, we forged a partnership with the Apache Software Foundation to become the producer of their official ASF events. The ASF has long blazed a trail of innovation in open source and our work with them has yielded results in successful developer collaboration and events. It’s been a great partnership, in our opinion, led on our side by my colleague Angela Brown.

    • Mautic Association Extends Global Reach with Open Source Initiative Affiliate Membership

      The Mautic Association provides resources and a network for people to connect and grow both personally and professionally through collaboration and co-creation.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • New Fixes Released For PostgreSQL Open Source Database

      Every once in a while, a software developer releases a long-awaited update to much fanfare and user enthusiasm…and then it bombs miserably. We’re not saying that’s what happened with PostgreSQL, but just in case you didn’t love the way it runs after you updated it last, the publisher has released a new update that addresses most of the necessary bug fixes from the last update.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • Why the Ubuntu developer portal moved to DjangoCMS

      Canonical has used a variety of content management systems throughout the years, including Drupal and Zope, and a large number of our websites have run on WordPress; in fact, many still do. Our developer portal was one of these standard WordPress instances, which worked well enough for a simple website that didn’t get very heavy traffic, but we began to outgrow it. The launch of the Ubuntu phone project, and its accompanying SDK for app development, meant that this site was going to start getting a lot more attention—from a very different audience—and it needed to do a lot more than it currently did.

  • Funding

    • Rancher Labs Raises $10 Million for Docker Container Cloud Tech

      Virtualization startup Rancher Labs today announced that it has raised a $10 million Series A round of funding from Mayfield and Nexus Venture Partners. Rancher Labs’ founders are well-known in the cloud industry as the founders of cloud.com, which was sold to Citrix and evolved to become the Apache CloudStack cloud platform.

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Now Supports Parallelized Kernel Module Building

      Matthew Dillon’s latest addition to DragonFlyBSD will help those that build out the full kernel themselves: parallelized kernel module builds. This change for developers allows the the kernel build process to be multiple times faster when doing a full kernel build.


    • Pragmatism in the History of GNU, Linux and Free/Open Source Software

      If you ask a lot of people why Linus Torvalds and the Linux kernel that he wrote became one of the most prominent open source projects of all time, while Richard Stallman’s GNU project has received much less attention beyond hacker circles, they’ll tell you the difference has to do with Stallman’s excessive commitment to an uncompromising ideology. Is that really accurate?

    • Historical Permission Notice and Disclaimer added to license list

      We recently updated our list of various licenses and comments about them to include the Historical Permission Notice and Disclaimer(HPND). The HPND is a simple permissive license, compatible with all versions of the GPL. The HPND is actually more of a template, allowing developers to select a few options, such as whether to include a disclaimer.

  • Licensing

    • 5 Practical Ways for Legal Counsel to Advise Developers on Open Source

      As an essential member of an open source compliance program’s advisory board, legal counsel provides numerous services to ensure a company’s products comply with open source copyright and licenses. They provide approval around the use of FOSS in products, for example, advise on licensing conflicts, and advise on IP issues associated with the use of FOSS. (See the previous article, 5 Essential Duties of Legal Counsel in an Open Source Compliance Program.)

  • Programming

    • HHVM Is Now Running Even Faster, Beating PHP7 By Wider Margins

      The Facebook team working on the HHVM project for being a faster PHP interpreter and powering their Hack language have just come out of a two-week, open-source performance lockdown. Over the past two weeks they focused on making strides to make HHVM’s compelling performance even better.

    • BFP Proposed To Become A First-Class Backend In LLVM

      When it comes to taking advantage of the Linux kernel’s (e)BPF in-kernel virtual machine, LLVM has served as the compiler of choice for targeting this virtual machine

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Dutch MP wants sanctions to enforce open standards

      Public administrations that continue to ignore the policy to implement open standards in their ICT solutions should be fined, says Dutch MP Astrid Oosenbrug. “Public administrations should come to grips with open data, open standards and open source. With all their talk about regaining the trust of their citizens and creating a participatory society, public administrations should take a cue from open source communities.”

    • Sweden refines specifications of open standards

      Sweden’s governmental procurement specialists at Statens inköpscentral are fine-tuning the list of ICT standards that public authorities may use as mandatory requirements when procuring software and ICT services. The procurement agency is working with standardisation specialists at the University of Skövde, to check which ICT standards are truly open.


  • Queen Elizabeth II Will Visit Bergen-Belsen, Former Concentration Camp In Germany

    For the first time, Queen Elizabeth II will travel to a former Nazi concentration camp on her trip to Germany this month, the Associated Press reported Monday. In addition to Bergen-Belsen, where Anne Frank and her older sister, Margot, died, the queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, will visit Berlin and Frankfurt during the June 23-26 trip.

  • Lord Janner claim investigated by Police Scotland

    Police in Scotland are understood to be investigating claims Labour peer Lord Janner abused a boy there in the 1970s.

  • Science

  • Security

    • How secure is your email?
    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Dangerous minds: Are maths teachers Australia’s newest threat?

      Australian academics who teach mathematics may need to run new ideas by the Department of Defence before sharing them or risk imprisonment.

      Some academics are set to become much more familiar with the department’s Defence Export Control Office (DECO), a unit that enforces the Defence Trade Control Act 2012, Australia’s end of a 2007 pact with the US and UK over defence trade.

    • Why the “biggest government hack ever” got past the feds

      In April, federal authorities detected an ongoing remote attack targeting the United States’ Office of Personnel Management (OPM) computer systems. This situation may have gone on for months, possibly even longer, but the White House only made the discovery public last Friday. While the attack was eventually uncovered using the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Einstein—the multibillion-dollar intrusion detection and prevention system that stands guard over much of the federal government’s Internet traffic—it managed to evade this detection entirely until another OPM breach spurred deeper examination.

    • U.S. Army public website compromised

      On Monday afternoon, the site was disabled after it displayed messages including, “YOU’VE BEEN HACKED” and “YOUR COMMANDERS ADMIT THEY ARE TRAINING THE PEOPLE THEY HAVE SENT YOU TO DIE FIGHTING,” according to NBC News.

      The U.S. Army confirmed to CNN the web page had been compromised.

      “Today an element of the Army.mil service provider’s content was compromised. After this came to our attention, the Army took appropriate preventive measures to ensure there was no breach of Army data by taking down the website temporarily,” spokesman Brig. Gen. Malcom B. Frost said in a statement.

  • Finance

  • Privacy

    • Senators Introduce Legislation Calling For Mandatory Data Collection On Police-Involved Shootings

      If you’re looking for the number of citizens killed by police officers, don’t ask the government. It just doesn’t know. The DOJ is nominally in charge of compiling this information, but it has not made anything resembling an honest effort to do so.

      To begin with, it has mostly ignored the federal law ordering the compilation of stats on excessive force by law enforcement officers. And it has ignored this for the last 20 years. To make things worse, it has turned over the duty of collecting data on police-involved shootings to the FBI, which has even less interest in ensuring the comprehensiveness of its “collection.”

    • According To The Government, Clearing Your Browser History Is A Felony

      The “do something” resulting from the Enron scandal was Sarbanes-Oxley. To date, the law has done very little to curb corporate fraud — its intended target. But it has become a handy tool for prosecutors looking to stack charges against defendants far removed from the financial world.

    • Why we need anonymity on the Internet — even if it hurts

      I had a friend once who told me that after being abused by a stranger over the phone, she never picks up from numbers she doesn’t have in her phone. In fact, her phone doesn’t even ring. If somebody who doesn’t know wants to get in touch, she says, they can send her a text. She told me that her life improved dramatically after that decision: no more abuses, telemarketers, unwanted phone calls, ever. It’s an important lesson for me too: if an anonymous person is attacking you, you can always ignore them. What gives them power, is your responses. This way, everybody wins — and the trolls eventually will get bored of being ignored.

    • The encryption ‘access’ debate heats up

      Even as the US government bids adieu to Clipper Chip, an infamous episode that influenced the cryptography debate for years, there is renewed focus in a number of quarters that it should not repeated.

      The most recent evidence comes from a new report from the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). A Special Rapporteur, David Kaye, was appointed to look into the use of encryption and anonymity in digital communications. In preparing the report—which will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council later this month—he drew from research on international and national norms and jurisprudence, and received input from governments and civil society.

  • Civil Rights

    • For AP, Being Shot by a Cop Makes You a Suspect

      No, the “incidents” raising concerns have not involved black “suspects.” Freddie Gray was not a suspect, nor Akai Gurley. Tamir Rice and John Crawford held toy guns, and Ferguson officers evidently “suspected” Michael Brown of nothing more than not walking on the sidewalk. A number of those killed have been “suspected” of being mentally ill and in need of help.

      As a matter of fact, the presumption by law enforcement—and media—that any black person involved in an altercation with police must be a criminal suspect is part of the outrage driving public protest.

      Telling, too, that in its description of police killings in the news over the last several months—including one officer who went free after leaping on top of the car of two unarmed black people and firing dozens of bullets into them, and another who saw all charges dropped for a putting a bullet through the head of a 7-year-old girl sleeping on her living room sofa—the only thing AP sees fit to describe as “violent” are the protests.

    • Ayaan Hirsi Ali vs. Jon Stewart: Islam, liberals, and the media’s dangerous double standard

      Progressive critics enamored of the semantically fraudulent junk label “Islamophobe” are de facto aiding the assassins of free-thinkers, abetting the oppressors of women, and shielding razor-happy butchers slicing off the clitorises of little girls. And at no time do they betray the ideals for which they supposedly stand more than when they call ex-Muslims living in the West “Islamophobe.”

      To understand why, let’s examine the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. No one exposes the faulty thinking, moral incoherence and double standards pervading the Western liberal reaction to Islam better than this Somali-born, self-professed “infidel” and “heretic.” Herself a survivor of female genital mutilation, civil war and forced marriage, and, for more than a decade now, the object of Islamist death threats, Hirsi Ali deserves the respect of all who cherish free speech, equality between the sexes, and the right to profess the religion (or no religion) of one’s choosing.

    • Lawsuit Claims Sheriff’s Dept. Perfectly Fine With Arresting Person 70 Lbs. Lighter And Six Inches Shorter Than Suspect Sought

      Towns is now suing the Clay County Sheriff’s Department for this mix-up, which resulted in some jail time for a crime he didn’t commit. His claim that his ID was stolen is backed up in the court filing, which includes a report made to another sheriff’s department in 2011. That report includes him informing the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Dept. that someone using his name and ID was cited for shoplifting earlier that year. He finally turned himself in to the Clay County Sheriff’s Dept. in 2013, presumably to clear the whole thing up. Obviously, that plan didn’t work.

    • Six inches too short, 70 pounds too light, he’s arrested in Clay County mistaken identity case

      A Jacksonville man and the State Attorney’s Office say that the Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested the wrong man in a case involving stolen cologne and missed court appearances.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Daniel Ek: Spotify and free music will save the industry, not kill it

        The music streaming pioneer has come under fire from critics such as Taylor Swift for giving away songs. Now he faces a new challenge from Apple

      • Team Prenda Gets Hit Hard With Contempt Sanctions For Lying To Court

        It looks like Team Prenda has been smacked around once again. This is in the Lightspeed case — which is one of the rare earlier cases where they were actually representing a real third party, rather than a made up entity that they really owned themselves. This was the case where they tried to drag Comcast and AT and T into the lawsuit and it all failed terribly. If you don’t recall, in late 2013, the district court smacked them around as judge Patrick Murphy clearly figured out what was going on: “The litigation smacked of bullying pretense.” Yup, you got that right. The defendant, Anthony Sweet, represented by Prenda killers Booth Sweet, asked for attorneys’ fees and got them at the end of 2013, with the court ordering Team Prenda to pay up $261k, saying that Team Prenda “flat-out lied” to the court.

      • Netflix: the crumbling borders of geolocation and the thieves who happily pay for what they “steal”

Full Translation of Süddeutsche Zeitung Article About Blackhat Tactics (Keyloggers) in EPO (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

See “Researchers link QWERTY keylogger code to NSA and Five Eye’s Regin espionage malware”

NSA slide

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) finds itself at the centre of attention (unwanted attention) because of rogue activities

A FEW hours ago we wrote about the EPO's use of keyloggers, a practice so controversial (to say the least) that one can end up locked up in a cell for using it. Süddeutsche Zeitung, which wrote about the EPO before, is really putting some big pressure on the EPO right now (perhaps someone will resign soon). The German article has just been published by IP Kat in English. For our record we present it below:

The European Patent Office carried out secret surveillance on employees using keyloggers

At the headquarters of the European Patent Office (EPO) two publicly accessible computers were fitted with cameras and surveillance technology during a period of several weeks.
They were used in an internal procedure which involves a patent judge who is accused of having disseminated defamatory communications about the President of the EPO and other managers over a period of months.
However, the action also affected many employees of the EPO, perhaps even members of the Administrative Council.
by Katja Riedel
The President of the European Patent Office (EPO) is set to travel to Brussels next week. There he will be received by the Legal Affairs Committee for “an exchange of views” according to the agenda. Benoît Battistelli is supposed to speak about the latest developments in patent law, the new patent courts and various other reforms.
There should be no lack of subjects for discussion in view of the ongoing state of crisis between Battistelli and many of the approximately 7,000 employees in Munich, Berlin, Vienna and The Hague. Since Battistelli initiated an extensive reform programme, which amongst other things has completely restructured the EPO’s career system, there have been vehement confrontations. Now a new and awkward subject has been added to the list: allegations of covert surveillance.

According to an internal document which the SZ has seen publicly accessible computers were placed under surveillance at the EPO towards the end of last year: by means of cameras and so-called keyloggers. This allows the recording of what the user types, which pages he accesses and how he communicates.

None of the users were aware that the devices had been installed

Some keyloggers are capable of taking snapshots of the screen. The camera records contemporaneously which person was operating the computer at the time in question. A particularly juicy detail here is that none of the users were aware that the devices had been installed – and the two computers which were equipped with these monitoring devices according to the confidential document of the internal investigation unit, were probably located on the first floor of the EPO headquarters at Erhardtstraße in Munich.

Namely, in a publicly accessible area, which was provided especially for the members of the Administrative Council – the highest authority in the European patent world – on which the representatives of the 38 member states sit. The visitors to the Patent Office who typically sojourn on the first floor also include patent attorneys. On Monday [8 June 2015] the EPO declined to comment on the internal document but did not contest its authenticity.

In the document drawn up by the Head of the EPO’s investigative unit and sent to the Data Protection Officer, the reason given for the surveillance measures was a defamation campaign against the President and other managers of the Office.

In fact, since the beginning of 2013, letters accusing Benoît Battistelli, and also his Croatian Vice President Zeljko Topic, of numerous misdeeds have been circulating. There were strong indications that these letters had been sent from the two computers in question to which not only every registered visitor but also every employee of the EPO could log in via a common password. Therefore, according to the internal communication, it was not possible to identify and monitor an individual user.

Covert surveillance of the terminals in question

Apparently the internal investigators had come across IP addresses that they could assign to both of the public computers. For this reason, according to their conclusion, there was no other option but to place the two machines in question under covert surveillance. If during the agreed six-week time window between 7th November and 18th December no further defamatory material was sent, neither the pictures nor the data would be analysed, it was stated. Until then, the information that was monitored would only be available to the members of the internal investigation unit and the IT technicians.

The matter is also particularly sensitive because during the period in which the surveillance was being carried out the 142th Meeting of the Administrative Council also took place in the building, namely on 10. and 11. December 2014.  In addition, the Budget and Finance Committee also met during the period in question.
The computers are apparently located near the room where the Council meets. Whether this body and the Office Administration, i.e. Battistelli, was involved in the procedure is unclear. This is not apparent from the document. This only includes handwritten notes of two of the signatories but the signatures are missing.

Even insiders expressed reservations

In fact not only was material sent, but also a suspected letter-writer was caught – hence the data were also analysed. A member of the Boards of Appeal of the Office, a patent judge, was apparently caught in the act and Battistelli immediately subjected him to a “house ban”. This was equal to a suspension and consequently a legally impermissible interference with the independence of that department [i.e. the Boards of Appeal], which was retroactively rubber-stamped by the Administrative Council.

However, the tide of indignation ran high. Off the record even insiders expressed their reservations about Battistelli’s actions. Politicians from individual member states and patent attorneys expressed their outrage in public and even spoke of violations of fundamental rights.

The EPO declined to comment on the sensitive document citing a pending procedure as its reason. The Administrative Council is due to decide on possible disciplinary action at one of its forthcoming meetings.

Merpel added: “This flagrant invasion of privacy comes in the wake of evidence that Mr. Battistelli has engaged a firm specialising in counter-surveillance and threat monitoring. Not because of any imminent terror threat, mind you: all this came about originally because it was suspected that an employee was circulating material alleged to be defamatory. One cannot help thinking in terms of the old cliche about using a sledgehammer to crack a mouse.”

“Merpel, who has grown rather tired of appealing to the Administrative Council members to hold the EPO management to the same governance standards as would be required in their own national Patent Offices and civil services, wonders if this latest news will convince some of those on the fence that a more robust approach is required when they next attend an AC meeting at the EPO.”

Our own remarks on it can be found in our prior article about it.

Update (15/6/2015): There are now more translations, including in additional languages, namely French and Dutch [PDF].

Microsoft’s Government Stranglehold Collapsing: As Expected, British Government Departments (Tax Authorities First) Dump Microsoft, Will Likely Embrace ODF; India and Sweden Likewise

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OpenDocument at 3:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital sovereignty gradually being restored


Summary: Despite Microsoft blackmail of British politicians, HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) moves to Google’s ODF-supporting office suite, dumping Microsoft’s biggest cash cow and notorious lock-in; India and Sweden too move in a positive direction with more Free software, despite Microsoft lobbying and bullying

THE BEGINNING OF this week has been great. It had lots to offer in terms of good news. It really started with a bang and hopefully it won’t end with a just a mere whimper.

Microsoft is evidently getting desperate in convincing people to sign its horrible deals (because fewer are willing to sign these) and it is losing some very major clients right now, including governments in wealthy and/or large countries. It’s not some home users and a company or two. It’s now a growing trend, including the world’s second population (by size) and the world’s biggest empire ever, in addition to a top GDP/capita economy. There are literally billions of dollars at stake.

Microsoft is still actively trying to derail Free/Open Source software (FOSS) in voting systems in the United States and it often gets away with it because it has plenty of influence in the United States government. Controlling the voting system and bribing political candidates (as it does, even personally) ensures interference in elections and thus government decisions regarding IT procurement. We are still seeing it in this new article from IDG, stating: “Microsoft’s new system not only provides for easy transmission of election results, but it also allows party administrators to view results as they come in and will automatically identify potential problem areas. Election officials can then contact the precinct representative to clear anything up. It also means that tech experts will be lending their security know-how to the process, which is a good sign since the Iowa Democrats’ press release announcing the system included spammy advertisements Friday for discount pharmaceuticals.”

We recently showed how Microsoft interfered not only in voting but was seemingly inserting anti-FOSS provisions into the law, via ‘trade’ agreements. Now our suspicions are further defended, seeing articles like “Revealed Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP”. This shows sick jokes, bribery, government capture, and how corporations (through their lobbyists) are writing the law. “One for Techrights stories,” wrote a reader to us regarding this news from TechDirt, summarising it with “How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP”.

“Watch has a full writeup showing how industry lobbyists influenced the TPP agreement,” he wrote, “to the point that one is even openly celebrating that the USTR version copied his own text word for word.”

Here is the direct quote: “Hi Barbara – John sent through a link to the P4 agreement. I have taken a quick look at the rules of origin. Someone owes USTR a royalty payment – these are our rules. They will need some tweaking but will likely not need major surgery. This is a very pleasant surprise. I will study more closely over the weekend.”’

TechDirt recalled: “Back in 2013, we wrote about a FOIA lawsuit that was filed by William New at IP Watch. After trying to find out more information on the TPP by filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and being told that they were classified as “national security information” (no, seriously), New teamed up with Yale’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic to sue. As part of that lawsuit, the USTR has now released a bunch of internal emails concerning TPP negotiations, and IP Watch has a full writeup showing how industry lobbyists influenced the TPP agreement, to the point that one is even openly celebrating that the USTR version copied his own text word for word.”

“We recently showed how Microsoft interfered not only in voting but was seemingly inserting anti-FOSS provisions into the law, via ‘trade’ agreements.”Here is the original article. “Leaked TPP emails talks about software patentability,” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) noted about it.

To quote IP Watch: “While a full range of stakeholders would be affected by the outcome of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement under secret negotiation by the United States and a dozen trading partners, corporate representatives have had a special seat at the negotiating table, as shown by hundreds of pages of confidential emails from the US Trade Representative’s office obtained by Intellectual Property Watch. The emails give a rare and fascinating perspective on how policy is developed in the trade office.

“Years into the negotiation, the TPP is said to be nearing completion and is the subject of a US congressional debate over renewal of fast-track negotiating authority for the president (limiting Congress to a yes or no vote). But the TPP text has never been made available to the public of the countries negotiating it, except through periodic leaks of parts of the text, making these emails timely for the debate.

“Through a US Freedom of Information Act request, Intellectual Property Watch has obtained some 400 pages of email traffic between USTR officials and industry advisors. Most of the content of the emails is redacted (blacked out), but they still give insight into the process.”

“The emails give a rare and fascinating perspective on how policy is developed in the trade office.”
      –IP Watch
This is significant because we recently found out about anti-FOSS parts in these agreements, likely to have been the result of lobbying by Microsoft or the likes of it. If so-called ‘trade’ agreements pass with the anti-FOSS sections and ISDS, then Microsoft can sue ones like the Indian government for choosing FOSS as a matter of policy. There is a lot of Microsoft lobbying in India, objecting specifically to this [1, 2, 3], but how about lobbying around trade agreements? Wouldn’t that be clever? It would demolish FOSS globally in one fell swoop, as long as corruptible politicians remain quiet enough and citizens are therefore too ignorant to prevent the signing of nasty (but secret) agreements.

India’s move to FOSS, or the increasing embrace of FOSS (with a FOSS-leaning procurement policy) was covered by Red Hat’s OpenSource.com the other day, noting: “The Government of India has implemented a remarkable new policy-level change for open source software (OSS) deployment. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has asked that open source software-based applications be included in Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for all new procurements. Note there is not a plan at this time to replace existing proprietary systems with open source software.”

This is still going on while Microsoft fights back viciously. If the aforementioned ‘trade’ agreements pass, Microsoft might even be able to sue the government, not for discrimination but for not obeying so-called ‘trade’ laws (newly-introduced). It’s a back door trick, negotiated behind closed doors.

Here in the UK the government is now in a good position to move to GNU/Linux, despite Microsoft's blackmail of British politicians. Dependence on Windows is already being reduced because, according to this article, “HMRC ditches Microsoft in favour of Google Apps”. To quote some relevant bits:

HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) has become the first major government department to dump Microsoft in favour of Google.

The Register reported that 70,000 HMRC staff will adopt Google’s cloud-based productivity apps over Microsoft’s Office 365 offering, joining 20,000 government employees who already use Google’s Gmail service.

HMRC has since confirmed the move in a statement. A spokesperson said: “HMRC has an ambitious digital future planned. This contract will make it easier for staff to collaborate on internal documents, providing greater flexibility and efficiency while reducing costs.

HM Revenues and Customs (British tax) dumping Microsoft is huge news; blackmailing politicians didn’t work out and one wonder if there are more government offices poised to follow suit. Surely they’ll watch how HMRC gets along. It has become abundantly clear that Microsoft is so scared/worried about FOSS and ODF (also Google) in the UK that it’s willing to blackmail or bribe.

Meanwhile, as revealed by Andy Updegrove, Sweden follows the UK government’s footsteps by choosing standards, including ODF. This is why Microsoft was so scared and then became aggressive over the decision that might later spread to the rest of Europe. One might wonder about Swedish politicians who led to this; will Microsoft blackmail them too?

“While the current list of approved standards in Sweden is short,” wrote Updegrove, “it does (as in the U.K.) include the ISO standard PDF/A-1, for uneditable documents, and OASIS’s ODF 1.2, for editable text. The ODF standard (adopted in an earlier version by ISO in 2004) was the subject of perhaps the most vigorously fought standards war of the last 20 years, raging on a global basis for several years. The contest was sparked by the decision of the Commowealth of Massachusetts to approve ODF, but not Microsoft’s competing XML-based standard, referred to as OOXML. That standard was also adopted by ISO, following Microsoft’s contribution of the original text to another standards body, called ECMA.

“Massachusetts ultimately adopted OOXML as well as ODF after severe lobbying pressure. Since then, the question of whether ODF, OOXML or both meets with the approval of cities, states and nations making such determinations has continued to be a contentious and closely watched matter.

“For this reason, it will be interesting to see whether additional EU countries follow the lead of the U.K. and Sweden.”

Scandinavia as a whole (not just Sweden it seems) is ‘plotting’/’scheming’ (to use negative terms) to embrace standards and dump proprietary blobs. North Europe seems to be eager to emancipate itself from NSA-leaning, Empire-serving blobs. There is a shift to FOSS, fostering local jobs and improving trust (no back doors from across the Atlantic). Open standards, suffice to say, tend to lead to FOSS.

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