03.14.13

Links 15/3/2013: Kali 1.0, Fedora 19 Test Days

Posted in News Roundup at 8:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • If Linux were a dog

    As I zoned out this morning, sipping coffee and watching my dogs wrestle on the couch, I wondered, “If my dogs were Linux distributions, which ones would they be?” Yes, these are the thoughts that run through my head as I get started in the morning.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • OverlayFS File-System Proposed For Linux 3.10 Kernel

      The Overlay File-System has been in development for several years and is used by some notable Linux distributions, but has yet to be merged into the mainline Linux kernel after having to be pulled a few times in the past. The new plan is to merge OverlayFS for the Linux 3.10 kernel.

      With the patches now up to their sixteenth revision, Miklos Szeredi has called upon Linus Torvalds and Al Viro (the VFS maintainer) to consider pulling OverlayFS for inclusion into the Linux 3.10 release.

    • Graphics Stack

      • 2D Support Still Coming To NVIDIA’s Open Tegra

        The 2D graphics acceleration support for NVIDIA Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 ARM SoCs is still maturing and going through code revisions before entering the mainline Linux kernel, hopefully for Linux 3.10.

        The latest NVIDIA Tegra 2D patches were published on Wednesday by Terje Bergstrom and can currently be found on the kernel mailing list. These patches are currently up to their seventh revision.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • the case: brand

        This is part of the “Case for KDE” series of blog entries in which I explore various non-technical aspects of KDE. What follows are my personal thoughts and observations rather than an officially sanctioned position statement by the KDE community.

        I figured I would start with the topic of branding as it is a fairly simple topic .. a nice way to ease into this little adventure. It’s also a topic that has been getting increasing amounts of attention in the Free software communities in the last few years as products become more successful, projects progress and more companies appear on the scene.

      • KDE SC 4.11 Planned For Release In Mid-August

        The release schedule for KDE SC 4.11 has been set and the next major release of the KDE Plasma desktop will come in mid-August.

        Albert Astals Cid announced the KDE SC 4.11 release schedule, which can be found on the KDE.org Wiki.

      • KDE Homerun (Search & Launch Button/Containment)
      • PCManFM Qt port is 85% finished now!

        This is the Qt port of PCManFM with desktop management feature turned on. The desktop icons and the wallpaper were painted by PCManFM-Qt, just like the gtk+ version of the original PCManFM. The new Qt port is in a pretty good shape now.
        Although it’s not yet ready for production use, it’s almost there. About 85% of the planned features are finished.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Gnome throws its weight behind Wayland

        Gnome developer Matthias Clasen has proposed to make Gnome work on Wayland. Clasen made this proposal after meeting with X and Wayland developers (most X developers are the ones working on Wayland).

        In order to make Gnome work on Wayland, GNOME shell needs to be turned into a Wayland compositor. The team also needs to complete the GTK+ Wayland backend and all the X dependencies in the desktop infrastructure need to be replaced by Wayland equivalents.

      • GNOME plans to promote Wayland port
      • In Defense of GNOME Icons

        Recently I saw a few people commenting along of ‘GNOME 3 icons being crap’ so I investigated what the actual core of the issue might be. When dissing the years of work that went into creating the system theme and pushing app icons upstream, most of the commenters seem to actually have a problem with the folder icon.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots

    • Red Hat Family

      • A new ESB and messaging platform join Red Hat’s middleware

        Red Hat has announced the addition of two new products to its middleware portfolio. The company acquired JBoss Fuse and JBoss A-MQ with the takeover of Progress subsidiary FuseSource last year. The first product is an open source Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) that builds on the Apache Camel Enterprise Integration framework; Red Hat notes that it now employs 25 contributors to that Apache project.

      • Red Hat Introduces JBoss Fuse And JBoss A-MQ

        Red Hat, Inc., the global provider of open source solutions, has announced that it has added Red Hat JBoss Fuse and Red Hat JBoss A-MQ to its enterprise middleware portfolio. The products are based on technologies acquired from FuseSource in Sept. 2012 and are designed to enhance Red Hat’s enterprise integration and messaging capabilities.

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Linux Mint Debian 201303 RC Sneak Peek

          Linux Mint Debian 201303 RC is has been released. Linux Mint Debian is one of my favorite distros, so I’m very happy to see an update to it.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 13.04 ‘Raring Ringtail’: Beta 1 preview

            Despite having cut back on the milestone releases, the Beta 1 release for Ubuntu 13.04, codenamed Raring Ringtail, has appeared on schedule. As yet, though, there’s not a great deal new to report.

          • Ubuntu developer offers a peek at core apps

            Back in January Canonical reached out to the Ubuntu community for help designing the core apps for Ubuntu Touch. Although the SDK preview for the platform is just over two months old Canonical already has something to show from the development of its key apps. A post on Michael Hall’s blog this week has revealed screenshots for some of the core apps giving a good idea of what they’re going to look like when finished and of the general design language.

          • Canonical: The Next Apple

            “On the verge of success, [Shuttleworth] is waving the white flag, demanding defeat if he cannot be like Apple and M$,” said blogger Robert Pogson. “It’s a Greek tragedy, where the winner sees defeat and commits suicide. Sometimes great leaders are “just greatly wrong. The error here seems to be based on the idea that a single GUI should somehow work on huge monitors or tiny smartphones.”

          • Ubuntu Q&A This Week
          • Refining and Improving Virtual UDS

            Last week we ran our very first virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit. The event lasted two days and gave us an opportunity to try out a new format and to see how well it worked. Generally it seems we got some pretty favorable feedback, but there are definitely some areas in which we want to sand off the rough edges and improve the structure of the event.

            I would like us to get the Virtual UDS format so tight and refined that it could be used to organize any kind of ad-hoc online set of meetings. As an example, I can imagine a similar event but focused explicitly on LoCo teams, or documentation, or translations. We want to make the format reliable enough and repeatable enough that anyone in our (or any other community) can use it. This will help our community to plan more regularly and get together more to do cool and interesting things.

          • Ubuntu SDK Apps are coming
          • Ubuntu Linux Gets Certified on Dell 12G Servers

            When the Intel Xeon E5 first debuted, both HP and Dell revealed that their respective servers would be certified for Red Hat and SUSE Linux. Canonical, the lead sponsor behind Ubuntu Linux, indicated at the time that it too would be certified with major server vendors on the Xeon E5 as well.

            This week Canonical announced that Ubuntu 12.04 has now been certified across the latest generation of Dell 12G servers powered by the Intel Xeon E5.

          • Unity 7.0 Desktop Coming To Ubuntu 13.04

            The Unity 7 desktop has been granted a feature freeze exception so that the updated desktop with “a lot of new code” can be landed in Ubuntu 13.04.

            Michael Hall of Canonical in a new blog post covers some of the Unity 7 work that will soon be found in Ubuntu 13.04. A PPA is being used for testing the Unity 7 packages for about two weeks before being pushed into the Ubuntu “Raring” repository, but it will happen in time for the April release of Ubuntu 13.04.

          • Unity 7 Fast-tracked Into Ubuntu 13.04

            Michael also addresses the 100 scope promise for 13.04 and has pre-maturely announced that thay’ve fallen short, but does mention that there “will be more scopes installed on the client than in previous releases, and even more that we will be able to implement on the server-side.” Hall also touches on the ever-present privacy concerns of Ubuntu users saying we’ve “tried to strike a balance between control and convenience, privacy and productivity”, but seems to allude to the idea that more data-sharing components of the dash will be activated by default. So, expect controls to turn off more than just Amazon.

          • Canonical and Dell collaborate on PowerEdge server support
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Trisquel to focus on LTS versions with Trisquel 6.0 release

              Based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, the latest release of Trisquel comes with GNOME Fallback Mode (from GNOME 3.4) as its default desktop environment. Trisquel 6.0 LTS, code-named “Toutatis”, uses the 3.2 Linux-libre kernel that removes all non-free elements from the upstream kernel.

              Trisquel is an FSF-approved distribution, and as such does not include any packages that cannot be considered free software, which is also the reason it is continuing to release with GNOME’s Fallback Mode. The developers cannot assume that the target computers for their distribution will have 3D acceleration available because of the lack of proprietary driver modules in the kernel.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • A developer’s perspective on Google’s self-driving cars (video)

      One of the most interesting sessions at last month’s Embedded Linux Conference in San Francisco was a keynote presentation about the technologies, capabilities, and challenges associated with Google’s self-driving cars, which have now traversed some 400,000 miles on public roadways. Think of it as “Prius meets The Matrix.”

    • Embedded Linux dev kit supports Intel’s 3rd Generation Core CPUs

      Wind River has added support for Intel’s 3rd generation Core processors to its embedded Linux distribution and tools suite. The added Core processor support comes in the form of an integrated hardware/software Embedded Development Kit (EDK) bundle.

      Wind River describes Wind River Linux 5 as a hardened embedded Linux distribution, with advanced tools and a rich partner ecosystem. As a combination of ready-to-use hardware and software, the company’s new EDK is intended to accelerate the development of devices based on the 3rd Generation Core processors.

    • Atheros open sources firmware for two wireless chips

      Qualcomm Atheros has released the source code of firmware for two of its 802.11n wireless chips on GitHub. The source code and build tools for the firmware are released partly under the GPLv2 and and partly under the MIT license. The GitHub page provides build instructions for those wanting to compile their own firmware.

    • Intel toolsuite supports Linux device software developers
    • Roku 3 review

      There are two things you should know about me right up front. One is the list of shows I’m currently watching: at this moment I’m at various points in The West Wing, Homeland, House of Cards, Scandal, Alias, Mad Men, Community, The Office, Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, Workaholics, The League, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Girls, New Girl, Modern Family, The Newsroom, 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Louie, and The Wire. (And those are just the ones I’ve watched recently.) I also watch a lot of movies, and religiously follow three different sports. The second thing you should know is that I don’t have cable, so I’m entirely reliant on the internet to get my fill.

      That combination has led me to audition nearly a dozen different set-top boxes over the last couple of years. I’ve used an Xbox 360 for my TV-watching needs; I’ve been a relatively happy WD TV Live Hub owner; my Apple TV remains one of the most-used gadgets I own; I at one point used a Chromebox for streaming movies straight through a browser; I’ve even repurposed a Mac Mini and an old Windows laptop as ersatz media centers. One device has just never done the trick for me, because I watch so many things and the industry is unfortunately in a place where almost no device or service has everything I need.

    • Phones

      • Ballnux

        • HTC announces unlocked version of the One

          HTC starts to get the hang of the Developer Edition trend, called a necessary compromise because the original plan to stop making smartphones with locked bootloaders didn’t worked as Peter Chou (HTC CEO) expected.

      • Android

        • Ouya newbies: First-time developers bet big on $99 Android console

          Marco Williams never knew how hard game development would be. He and the team at Hashbang Games—which included his brother and his best friend—spent eight months working on Orbital Blaster, a space shooter that pays homage to games like Galaga. The development process was riddled with problems from the get-go, and even the process of making a simple game turned out to be a bigger endeavor than expected. To make matters worse, Williams’ effort to fund the game’s development on Kickstarter failed at around three percent of its $75,000 funding goal.

        • Andy Rubin Steps Down as Chief of Google Android

          “Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android—and with a really strong leadership team in place—Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google,” Google CEO Larry Page wrote in a March 13 note on Google’s official blog. “Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps.”

        • 50 Android Apps for Business on the Go

          There’s no question that all the new Android devices make working outside the office and while traveling easy-peasey. But you can make your work easier still by using an app specifically designed to perform tasks on a smaller screen and with a minimum of input from your keyboard

          Take a look at these 50 Android apps on Google Play and see which ones fit your workflow best.

          1) OfficeSuite Pro 7. Think of this app as Microsoft Office lite. It does pretty much the same thing as the full version except it uses less memory and processing power on your phone. This app allows you to easily create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files directly on your phone. You can also open, read, and edit attachments, including PDFs using those same programs. $14.99

        • Leaked Motorola device tips Google influence

          So you want to see what a new, post-acquisition Motorola handset looks like now that Google is more (or not at all) involved. Behold the first few images and video of an unknown model that appears to be one of the first of such collaborations. To be clear, this is not the rumored X-Phone. This, rather, appears to be something entirely different.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open sourcing the Internet of Things

    Thingsquare, a company founded by Contiki OS creator Adam Dunkels, today released the code for its wireless networking system, Mist, which is designed to make it easy to connect low-power devices to the Internet.

    The company has posted the source code for the Thingsquare Mist firmware, which lets wireless-capable microcontrollers connect directly to the Internet.

  • Back to open source

    Open source has something of a poor reputation among certain developer communities. There can be potential issues with intellectual property, plus the challenge in loss of revenue through traditional sales. Then there’s the persistent fear of disclosing trade secrets to the benefit of the competition.

  • Events

    • Open Source at CeBIT 2013

      Open Source software has had a special area for itself at the CeBIT trade show for the last five years. The H went along to see what was new this year and in the process met Knoppix creator, Klaus Knopper, saw the latest in 3D printing, and talked with John “Maddog” Hall about Project Cauã.

    • The Big Tent of Open Source has Room for Anarchists, Intelligence Agencies and Businesses Alike

      I’ve always known that Open Source was a “Big Tent”. I worked at the Linuxcaffe (R.I.P.) in Toronto for 4 years, where I met a diverse clientele and was exposed to many exciting Open Source projects. The cafe’s atmosphere was inspired by the tolerance of the Open Source community, and made all sorts feel at home.

      That sense was reinforced when I went to this year’s Linux.conf.au conference at the end of January. It was my first conference of any kind, and the first time I had ever been surrounded by people who cared enough about Open Source to spend a week swimming in it.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • How to make Firefox the Fort Knox of browsers
      • Mozilla Provides An Early Peek At Its Updated Firefox OS Simulator

        Mozilla’s Firefox OS will soon be making its debut on devices sold around the world, but until then Mozilla is still working to get developers crafting web apps that will run nicely on Firefox hardware. To that end, Mozilla has seen fit to provide developers with an early preview of its updated Firefox OS simulator and all the new functionality baked into it.

        Mozilla has been pushing out these simulators and updates since late last year, but the most notable change with this 3.0 release is that developers can now push existing work-in-progress applications to a connected Firefox OS device (assuming devs have one floating around). Other additions to the mix include the ability to simulate a rotated display as well as support for mucking around with the geolocation API to generate longitude and latitude values.

      • All Things Appy: 5 Best Firefox Add-ons for Mobile-Desktop Syncing

        If you haven’t customized your Firefox browser, you’re missing a lot. Add-ons can provide a host of new features to improve the way your browser or application works for you. One indispensable category consists of add-ons that sync your preferences across a variety of devices and platforms. The five most useful syncing add-ons: LastPass Password Manager; Xmarks; Siphon; Pocket; and the Firefox browser for Android.

      • Mozilla Unveils Firefox OS Simulator Version 3.0
      • Firefox Not Coming to iOS Confirms Sullivan
  • SaaS/Big Data

    • ownCloud 5 Released, open competitor to Dropbox

      Cloud based storage and file syncing services like Dropbox or Google Drive wile offer great comfort of having access to your data while on move (you don need the internet), it does pose very serious security, privacy and ownership risks. Any data that you put on these public cloud storage service is accessible to these companies and is under government surveillance. The worst part is you can be blocked from accessing your data because of some gazillion issues. So, while such cloud data syncing or storage services have amazing advantages they have risk as well. It think it should be regulated and in case of blocked account as user must be allowed to download a copy of his data before he loses access to it.

    • Piston Cloud To Offer OpenStack Training Courses
    • Is BMW the ultimate open cloud driving machine?

      Cloud computing represents an unparalleled opportunity to deliver resiliency and scale to meet our business challenges.

      This is the opinion of Mario Mueller, chair of the Open Data Center Alliance and vice president of IT Infrastructure at BMW.

      In the spirit of true openness, Mueller has published BMW’s strategy for cloud adoption.

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Army making open-source physiology engine

      An open-source physiology engine that anyone can use to develop medical simulations is being developed by the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center.

    • Crowdfunded science exhibit encourages duplication
    • Open Access/Content

      • New claims of prosecutor misconduct in Aaron Swartz case

        The late activist’s lawyers have released complaint made to DoJ that prosecutors withheld evidence, overreached

        [...]

        In a letter (made public Wednesday) to an internal Justice Department ethics unit from January 2013, Swartz’s lawyers argue that Heymann engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by “withholding key evidence from Swartz’s defense team and overreaching in his attempt to coerce Aaron into waiving his right to trial.” A press release regarding the letter to the ethics unit noted:

        In the letter to the Justice Department, Swartz’s attorney, Elliot Peters, elaborates on a legal complaint made earlier in the month that indicates how Heymann had withheld exculpatory evidence at a December 2012 hearing that would have demonstrated whether the government had properly obtained a warrant to search Swartz’s computer and thumb drive. Email evidence later revealed that Heymann made false statements about his ability to provide and obtain those materials. In that December hearing, Swartz’s legal defense team was given that evidence only after the hearing had concluded.

      • Aaron Swartz’s lawyer accuses prosecutor of misconduct

        Lawyers will move to unseal evidence against Swartz later this week.

      • Aaron Swartz to receive posthumous ‘Freedom of Information’ award for open access advocacy

        Internet activist and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz is slated to receive posthumous recognition in Washington for his efforts promoting free access to taxpayer-funded research.

        The James Madison Freedom of Information Award is administered by the American Library Association, and recognizes “individuals who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know national information.”

      • Open Thread: Evolving the library for the 21st century
      • House Judiciary Hearing on Investigating and Prosecuting Cyber Threats: CFAA – ~pj Updated

        Today, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations held a hearing to discuss “Investigating and Prosecuting 21st Century Cyber Threats”. Of course, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act took center stage.

        I know this interests many of you because of the Aaron Swartz case. So here’s the video of the entire hearing, including the testimony of Orin Kerr, which begins at around the 52:11 mark. His written testimony is here [PDF]. He’s been trying to get reforms of the CFAA for many years. And EFF has materials on what you can do, should you choose to, here.

    • Open Hardware

      • Lime Microsystems – First open-source RF hardware project set up to simplify design and further innovation

        Lime Microsystems has launched an open-source RF initiative to widen the community of developers and aid RF innovation. Launched as a non-profit initiative, Myriad-RF aims to give both hobbyists and experienced design engineers a range of low-cost RF boards and free design files available for general use. Future board designs will come from the wider Myriad-RF community, with the first board (Myriad-RF 1) designed by Taiwanese distributor Azio Electronics.

      • Arduino-compatible microcomputer speaks Bluetooth v4.0

        The RFduino from Nordic Semiconductor is an Arduino-compatible open-source microcomputer that can communicate wirelessly with any Bluetooth v4.0 compatible smartphone or tablet. The new microcomputer is based on an RFD51822 module with a Nordic nRF51822 SoC. The Nordic nRF51822 features a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0-based processor and is fully FCC and CE-compliant.

  • Programming

    • Fix a bug every 8.7 minutes

      With almost 30 years of active development under its belt, BRL-CAD is believed to be the second oldest open source codebase in the world that’s still under active development (VistA, the EHR of the Veterans Administration being the oldest). It has also been the primary tri-service solid modeling CAD system used by the U.S. military to model weapons systems for vulnerability and lethality analyses.

    • Spring and Groovy/Grails tool suites get performance boost

      SpringSource has released version 3.2.0 of the Spring Tool Suite (STS) and Groovy/Grails Tool Suite (GGTS). The new versions include updates to Eclipse Juno SR2, support for high resolution displays on Mac OS X, support for Spring Integration 2.2 and compilers for Grails 2.2.1 and Groovy 2.0.7.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Sun apologises to Gordon Brown over son’s medical records accusation

    Tabloid prints apology to former PM for claiming he had accused the paper of blagging details about his son having cystic fibrosis

  • Submission to DPP consultation on social media prosecutions

    In December 2012 the Director of Public Prosecutions launched a consultation on “interim guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media”. The guidelines “set out the approach that prosecutors should take when making decisions in relation to cases where it is alleged that criminal offences have been committed by the sending of a communication via social media.” This was in response to a number of cases through which people were subject to overzealous prosecutions for their comments on social networks, often under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. For more information see our wiki page.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Monarch Migration Plunges to Lowest Level in Decades

      The number of monarch butterflies that completed an annual migration to their winter home in a Mexican forest sank this year to its lowest level in at least two decades, due mostly to extreme weather and changed farming practices in North America, the Mexican government and a conservation alliance reported on Wednesday.

  • Finance

    • A market analogy

      “Let me translate that into economic language what Papa just said. A market is what Papa does not have and does not want in the house. He wants goods and services produced by household members distributed according to criteria of love, respect, need and desire. Mama didn’t charge family members for pieces of the turkey she bought, cleaned, cooked and served. You are not allowed to estabilish a market inside the house for the cleaning service you were asked to perform. The market is banned, Papa explains, because a market would destroy the love amongst us, would be incompatible with the family relationships.”
      – Richard Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Privacy

    • Wiretapping Firm Says Telecom Providers Could Be Handing Over More Data Than Authorized

      Wiretapping emails and phone calls has always been a contentious law enforcement tactic. But now surveillance is becoming more of a legal minefield than ever in the United States, thanks to a clash between European and American eavesdropping regulations—and some telecom firms could be handing over data on suspects without court authorization.

    • Facebook unfriends CISPA cybersecurity bill over ‘privacy’

      Authors of cybersecurity bill criticized for privacy invasions used Facebook’s enthusiasm to attract political support in D.C. Now the company’s execs have backed away from CISPA.

    • Why CISPA Could Actually Lead To More Hacking Attacks

      One thing we’ve talked about for years is that lawmakers are notoriously bad at thinking through the unintended consequences of legislation they put forth. They seem to think that whatever they set the law to be will work perfectly, and that there won’t be any other consequences. This is one reason why we’re so wary of simple “fixes” even when the idea or purpose sound good up front. “Protecting artists” sounds good… unless it destroys the kinds of services artists need. Cybersecurity sounds good, unless it actually makes it easier to violate your privacy. And, now, people are realizing that not only may cybersecurity rules like CISPA be awful for privacy, but they could potentially lead to more “cyber” attacks, as companies look to “hack back” against those who attack them.

    • Cyberattacks: The complexities of attacking back

      As digital malefactors continue raiding U.S. businesses for their most valuable corporate secrets, some in Washington are wondering whether companies should test the limits and cyberattack their cyberattackers.

      The private sector already can police its own computers and networks, but an uptick in serious intrusions from China and elsewhere is catalyzing a market for tools that might deceive or disrupt hackers and spies — a controversial development that has important limits under federal law.

    • As-it-happened coverage: SPD surveillance-cameras meeting on Alki – ‘We’re not hiding anything’
    • Sunshine Week: EFF Takes Fight Against Secret Surveillance Law to Federal Court

      Section 215 of the Patriot Act has been secretly interpreted by the government in ways, according to Senators briefed on the interpretation, that are misleading and would “stun” the American public. Today, EFF will ask a federal judge in Oakland to order the government to turn over those secret interpretations of the law.

      As we mentioned yesterday, this week is Sunshine Week – a week dedicated to celebrating the promise of transparent and accountable government. And what better way to celebrate than by fighting against secret surveillance law in federal court?

    • Democratic State Surveillance, Transparency and Trust – by Andrew Clement

      Those of us who believe that democratic governments have a central role to play in multi-stakeholder cyberspace governance have received in the past few weeks a bracing reminder of both the hazards of this ideal in practice and the importance of broad-based civil society mobilization. Democratic states, while not sufficient for effective internet governance, are necessary parties because no other institutions have yet emerged that combine as well as they do the inclusivity, legitimacy and resources to help manage the internet effectively in the broad public interest. However, when such states violate the democratic principles that they espouse and are built on, they seriously undermine their legitimacy as well as the viability of the internet governance project overall.

      Two events in February related to state surveillance in North America illustrate such problematic governmental behaviour and point to the importance of transparency for restoring trust in governance processes.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • France Proposes New Rules for Internet Equal Access

      The French government on Tuesday called for a law requiring Internet service providers to give all the traffic on their networks equal priority, saying existing rules were insufficient for protecting free speech online and ensuring fair competition among Web publishers.

Android/Google Under Patent Attacks, Calls for Other Companies to Stop the Patent Litigation Frenzy

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 1:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some proprietary software giants are ganging up against Android/Linux

Soldiers

Summary: Some news of interest about patents and lawsuits that target Google and Android in particular

The patent war on Linux/Android, by far the leader of the mobile pack, is led by a bunch of proprietary software giants, one of which is Apple. Here is some interesting news that we overlooked earlier this month:

  • Apple Asks Judge to Dismiss Suit Alleging IPhone Monopoly

    Apple Inc. (AAPL) urged a federal judge to dismiss a consumer lawsuit alleging the company maintains a monopoly over iPhone applications.

    Attorneys who filed the suit in 2011 claim that a monopoly exists because an iPhone user who doesn’t want to pay what developers charge for applications available through Apple’s App Store can’t go anywhere else to buy them. Apple requires iPhone software developers to turn over 30 percent of what they charge for an application, increasing prices and excluding competitors from the iPhone “aftermarket” of applications, they claim.

  • Samsung’s Patent Spat With Apple Spurs U.S. Lobbying Push

    Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) has doubled mobile-phone sales in the U.S. since 2008. As the company faces anti-dumping measures and a protracted court battle with Apple Inc. (AAPL), its U.S. lobbying bill is growing even faster.
    Samsung boosted spending on lobbyists to $900,000 last year from $150,000 in 2011 as it tries to influence the federal government on issues ranging from intellectual-property infringement to telecommunications infrastructure, regulatory filings show. The company also hired Sony Corp. veteran Joel Wiginton to run a new government-relations office in Washington.

  • Samsung loses in UK in standards-essential patent claim against Apple

In other news, Microsoft too keeps up the pressure. Here is a report about it:

With that in mind, now take a look at the arguments Microsoft raises to try to rob Motorola of a jury trial. This litigation began as two cases. Microsoft started it by filing a breach of contract case in Seattle, this very one, #1823 [PDF], alleging that Motorola was breaching its contractual FRAND obligations by asking for too much for its patents. Then Motorola filed a defensive patent infringement action in Wisconsin, asking for a jury trial, and Microsoft answered with counterclaims that pretty much matched its breach of contract claims in Seattle. Then the two cases got consolidated. It’s actually a bit more complicated, but that’s the important part.

It wasn’t Motorola that wanted to consolidate in Seattle. It filed in Wisconsin after Microsoft filed in Seattle, so it was hoping against hope not to end up with everything being decided there. Nobody wants to go against Microsoft in its own backyard, I think we may assume. And watching this case unfold, I think you can see why. You can read the judge’s history of how it all happened in this order, #66 [PDF], which issued on May 31, 2011. In it, the judge notes that when Microsoft filed its answer to Motorola’s patent infringement claims, it filed more or less the same breach of contract issues as in its own contract case, and that’s why the judge in Wisconsin pushed them together into one case. And there they are.

Somewhere in that process of consolidation, Microsoft seems to think it has caught Motorola having dropped a stitch with respect to asking for a jury trial. Motorola wants a jury trial, and Microsoft doesn’t and Microsoft thinks it’s found a way to say it’s too late to ask for it now.

Google, in response to some of these dubious lawsuits, encourages companies to take action:

Google encourages companies to work together on patent licensing to stop patent trolls

Google has recently been taking a hard line on the US patent system, claiming that it over-rewards the work of coming up with an idea while taxing those who do the work of actually implementing it. The company also takes issue with excessive patent litigation from so-called “patent trolls,” and now Google is encouraging companies to work together to cross-license patents to help cut down on frivolous lawsuits. On a new site that Google launched today, the company outlines four different, royalty-free patent licensing agreements that it believes will help protect participants from patent trolls.

The royalty-free patent licensing, or elimination of patents, is imperative for the freedom of Free/libre software.

Here is evidence of Google’s hypocrisy when it comes to patents and here is a new article from Glyn Moody, who says that Microsoft is arming in alarming ways:

If Microsoft Shuts Down Google Maps In Germany, How Does That Benefit The Public?

[...]

As the claims make clear, it’s exactly what any half-way competent engineer would come up with given the task of providing certain kinds of information local to a geographical location. Moreover, it is of course implemented in software; given that Article 52 of the European Patent Convention explicitly excludes “programs for computers” from patentability, the fact that the EPO granted a patent here is an early example of how it circumvented that exclusion because a computer was used to run that software (well, doh.)

This is an example of rogue elements in the patent system.

Joe Mullin, a patent trolls expert, highlights this lawsuit over GUI, i.e. a software patent or design.

A patent appeals court has revived (PDF) one of the nation’s most controversial patent lawsuits—one that looked to be over in January 2012. Originally filed in 2007, Move, Inc. v. Real Estate Alliance Ltd. involves a patent that has become infamous in real estate circles: US Patent No. 5,032,989, issued to Mark Tornetta back in 1991. Tornetta and his lawyers say the patent covers just about any use of a real estate map online that has a “graphical interface” and “drill-down features.” Since online maps are ubiquitous in the real estate market, Tornetta and his lawyers believe they’re owed money by just about every real estate agent or service in the nation.
“It is a very broad-based patent,” said Louis Solomon, the attorney representing Tornetta. “We are seeking reasonable royalties that conservatively run into the hundreds of millions, plus interest. Given that the Federal Circuit has significantly expanded the liable parties, the damages will go up significantly.”
Litigation involving the ’989 patent began back in 1998 when inventor Mark Tornetta sued Microsoft, which at that time owned HomeAdvisor. Tornetta sued MapQuest that same year. Ultimately, he had to drop both lawsuits because he didn’t have the money to see the cases through.

Here is some new commentary about GUI patents in relation to Apple and Samsung:

The recent Apple v. Samsung litigation has consumed the media since August when a California Jury awarded Apple more than $1 billion for infringement. Of the three design patents involved in that judgment, one was for a graphical user interface (GUI). This landmark case is the first time that a U.S. court has considered infringement of a GUI design patent and may be just the tip of the iceberg beginning to emerge within the design patent landscape.

We are living in a time when everything from design to code — which copyrights already cover — are monopolised as concepts, not implementation. Google is rightly worried about it because everyone seems to be aiming at Android. Since Android is an Open Source project (whose head, Mr. Rubin, has just stopped down), it is not compatible with patents. The cartel of proprietary software companies is aware of it, hence the clear strategy that seeks to exploit FRAND and simply tax everything Android. It’s a case of patent stacking and it’s a collusion that should be ruled illegal. More people should speak out about it.

Software Patents Proponent Martin Goetz Groomed by a Microsoft Booster, Unrest Over Software Patents Evident in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 12:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Martin Goetz

Summary: More arguments over the issue which is software patenting and who’s behind it

A longtime booster of Microsoft gives a platform to software patents proponents, in this case the first person to acquire a software patents, or at least the most vocal such person (what constitutes a software patent is subjective):

Guest post written by Martin Goetz

The author, Martin Goetz, opposes lawyer Eric Goldman, whose position we wrote about before. “Unfortunately,” Goetz says in an ad hominem fashion, “Goldman is not only wrong on most of his statements which he presents as “facts,” he is viewing this controversy from his vantage point only as an IP lawyer and teacher. Had he worked in the software industry, he might have had a much different viewpoint. I say this after having spent over 35 years directly in the software industry and another 20 years as a software consultant and investor in software start-ups.”

Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, an opponent of the unitary patent in the EU, weighs in by saying:

@SCUHTLI I also disagree, @ericgoldman miss the point for #swpats, this is what is important: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20130310164408906 …

He links to the very good Groklaw article.

The placement from the Microsoft booster has been providing ammunition for patent boosters such as IAM Magazine (patent lawyers), to whom responses went like this (from the same person):

@ksnhlaw @IAM_magazine actually @ericgoldman ‘s critics were already bad and not shared by opponent to #swpats

Yes, Goldman is a lawyer and we do not agree with his proposed solution.

Meanwhile, points out another person, Europe gets flooded by US patents, including software patents (more on that in the next post). To quote this one tweet:

And the Unitary Patent will favor EU SMEs… really? RT @AchimMuellers: US No. 1 Country in Patent Filings with EPO http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-patent-office-epo-2012-annual-results-us-are-no-1-country-in-patent-filings-with-european-patent-office-2013-03-06#.UTdQ1zB0jnY.twitter …

We need more people to get involved and stop software patenting in Europe. The unitary patents was merely the first step and it helps import patents from the US.

Daniel Ravicher, interestingly enough, is still doing fantastic work by suing for fraud over Herbalife:

My first thought upon reading a new shareholder derivative complaint accusing directors and officers of JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America of facilitating a pyramid scheme by extending a total of $1.2 billion in credit to the controversial nutrition company Herbalife was that it was an interesting new development in the weird hedge-fund showdown between Herbalife short-seller William Ackman of Pershing Square and Herbalife investor Carl Icahn. My second thought, when I noticed that the pro se plaintiff was a lawyer named Daniel Ravicher, was, “Wait. That can’t be Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation.”

But it is. The well-known IP public interest lawyer, who’s co-counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union in the Myriad gene patent case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, is moonlighting as a private lawyer in the Herbalife derivative suit and in a companion fraud complaint against Icahn, also filed Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan. In a phone interview Ravicher told me that he’s stepping out of the realm of intellectual property because he’s convinced Herbalife is taking advantage of unwary, unsophisticated consumers. His girlfriend, he said, knows someone who became an Herbalife distributor and nearly became one herself. “This struck a chord with me personally,” he said. “Herbalife is hurting people.”

It is sad to lose one like him to a different (but important) cause. This leaves fewer people to fight for patent reform in the US (the USPTO is a disease) and prevention of software patents in Europe. There is a lobbying war going on and if developers don’t participate in this debate, the lawyers and the monopolists which pay them will win.

More Microsoft Employees as ZDNet ‘Writers’, Microsoft Bribes Bloggers for AstroTurfing

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Perlow velociraptor in the park
Photo with permission from Jason

Summary: ZDNet’s Microsoft bias becomes ever more simple to see; it is fair to say that it is corrupt as a publication

TECH TABLOID/PR rag ZDNet was not corrupted by accident. It was corrupted by design, and sadly enough it saturates news feeds and now works with a conglomerate, CBS.

Mr. Perlow, who was promoting Miguel de Icaza and other Microsoft agenda at times, is now working directly for Microsoft.

Our contributor Iophk says, “does the “mandatory author disclosure” show M$ Zack’s conflict?” He refers to other Microsoft folks who work as writers for ZDNet.

“ZDNet now needs to let Perlow go,” he says. “I was wondering why you all of a sudden started posting all these pro-MS blogs, and now I know why.”

"Windows 8" continues to be entire section in ZDNet and many Microsoft staff have been “writers”, so the bias makes sense. Why select people with conflicts of interest? After bashing Stallman Perlow wrote some FOSS-hostile pieces and now this: “Open-source and free software: Free, as in beer,” says his latest article.

The FTC has been cracking down on fake journalism (we filed complaints and got responses at times), so why the failure to identify simple cases? As this new article puts it:

The guidelines also take aim at bloggers who provide information or reviews in exchange for products or services. In one example, the FTC shows a blog post about house paint in which the writer states at the end that she received a free can of paint. According to the agency, such disclosures must be clear and conspicuous and not tucked away after a series of links or other distractions. The new guidelines may affect companies like Microsoft that have paid bloggers to ”astroturf” on their behalf.

We wrote quitw a lot about Microsoft AstroTurfing and gave many examples. Watch this as an example:

Is this is suitable article for a Microsoft employee to plant in news feeds through ZDNet’s brand? Paula, the Open Source writer in ZDNet, recently left or lost her job (like Dana Blankenhorn, who at times did decent work), leaving just Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols as a form of regularisation in ZDNet. While many Microsoft cronies like Mary Jo-Foley and Ed Bott praise Vista 8, he has been trying to give a reality check. Here is his latest go:

Windows 8, like Vista before it, is on its way to the trash heap of PC history unless Microsoft makes some big changes as soon as possible.

Meanwhile we learn about more technical problems in Vista 7, which ZDNet seems to have been paid to promote in the editorial — not advertisements — side of things.

The reality is, Windows is failing very badly (cannot complete with or imitate Android/Google), but ZDNet will hardly tell that to readers because it is corrupt. It chose to become agenda driver, not journalism.

BBC Spreads More Microsoft Propaganda, Calls Proprietary ‘Open’

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 12:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“As in this case the Silverlight shuffle,” as one reader told us, sending this screenshot

Silverlight

Summary: Microsoft’s deception campaign has various news sites including the BBC falsely call Kinect “open source”

With projects like Moonlight and Mono, Microsoft has been openwashing C# and Silverlight, but what about using Kinect openwashing (as noted the other day) to also portray C# as ‘open’? With nonsensical headlines calling Kinect code “open source” we are left wondering if journalism is dead. This bad journalism includes the MSBBC. Well, a site which is typically pro-Microsoft challenged the nonsense from the BBC:

The need for this news item arises because the BBC has a story with the headline “Microsoft shares source code for Kinect gadget”. This isn’t the case – Microsoft has open sourced some samples that use the Kinect.

The BBC is often taken to be the source of all truth and so it is important to correct it when it gets it wrong.

Do not let Microsoft engage in mass deceit, blurring the difference between close and open and thus devaluing Open Source as a brand.

Nokia is Suing Android Directly, Using Patents; Microsoft’s Elop to Blame

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nokia loves Microsoft’s agenda

Strawberry

Summary: Nokia, led by Microsoft, is suing Android players over their Android products

Stephen Elop, serial destroyer of companies, on numerous occasions said he would use Nokia's patents after he had infiltrated then company. Here is some news which shows that not only proxies like MOSAID are used by Nokia to harm Android (there are lawsuits already):

Somehow we missed this latter lawsuit. It is a clear case of Nokia attacking Android directly. It’s significant enough to note.

Links 14/3/2013: Atheros Publishes Open-Source Wi-Fi Firmware, W3C Behind DRM

Posted in News Roundup at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Multitasking with Chrome OS and Linux on the Chromebook Pixel
  • The ultimate Linux starter kit for small business

    Microsoft did its best to usher in a new era of desktop computing with the launch of Windows 8, but many businesses and individuals are opting out. Linux-based operating systems, meanwhile, present an increasingly compelling alternative. Benefits include tougher security and superior customization—not to mention that Linux is usually free.

  • Kernel Space

    • Atheros Publishes Open-Source WiFi Firmware

      Atheros has been more friendly towards Linux customers in recent years with open-source WiFi/network Linux drivers. Atheros has even been kind towards BSD users. The latest Atheros open-source contribution is the opening up of their firmware for two wireless chipsets.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Releases LLVM IR SDK Plug-In For Eclipse

        Intel announced the first version of an LLVM IR SDK. The LLVM IR SDK is comprised of an LLVM IR editor plug-in for the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment.

      • Intel Comes Up With A Linux Graphics Driver Installer
      • Gallium3D’s Direct3D 10/11 State Tracker To Be Nuked

        The Direct3D state tracker for Gallium3D that for a short time provided hope of a native Direct3D implementation for Linux of the Microsoft Direct3D 10/11 APIs without simply being a translator layer to OpenGL, is set to be nuked from mainline Mesa.

      • OSMesa State Tracker + LLVMpipe Support Published

        Brian Paul has published an initial OSMesa state tracker along with OSMesa support for the LLVMpipe and Softpipe drivers.

        OSMesa is the API exposing Mesa’s off-screen rendering capabilities. The off-screen rendering infrastructure isn’t dependent upon any specific operating system windowing system, or graphics hardware. OSMesa rendering is simply done in user-space with main system memory. An example use-case all along for OSMesa has been “to use Mesa as an off-line, batch-style renderer.”

      • GLAMOR Acceleration Might Work On Newer X.Org
      • Linaro Eyes Up OpenGL ES 3.0, Mesa Improvements

        Last week at Linaro Connect Asia 2013, there was a session about OpenGL ES 3.0 and what the Linaro working group can accomplish.

        The OpenGL ES 3.0 session at Linaro Connect Asia 2013 was to gather Linaro member requirements for GLES3, discussion the Mesa activity, and review the Piglit regression test framework. The open question asked as a goal is “Within OpenGL ES, WebGL, OpenVG, Renderscript where should [Linaro]
        be investing time?”

      • Linaro Developers Plan ARM LLVM Improvements

        Developers from the member companies involved with Linaro are planning continued improvements to the LLVM compiler infrastructure that will benefit ARM developers and customers. With this ARM LLVM work there should also be Gallium3D LLVMpipe enhancements.

        Last week at Linaro Connect Asia 2013, aside from talking about OpenGL ES 3.0 improvements, there were also sessions about improving LLVM ARM support.

      • AMD Publishes Compute Support For RadeonSI

        The AMD “RadeonSI” Gallium3D driver now has basic compute (GPGPU/OpenCL) support.

        There has been R600 Gallium3D OpenCL support for running basic OpenCL demos and now the support has come to the RadeonSI driver, which supports the Radeon HD 7000 series and there’s early Radeon HD 8000 series support.

      • Intel Continues Advancing OpenGL GLSL Support

        Intel Open-Source Technology Center developers continue advancing support for the OpenGL Shading Language. Their latest work is on supporting Interface Blocks for GLSL 1.50.

        Jordan Justen of Intel published the initial Interface Block support, as mandated by GLSL 1.50. The shading language 1.50 version is for matching OpenGL 3.2.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfce 4.12 Desktop Release Ends Up Behind Schedule

      While Xfce 4.12 was scheduled to be released on 10 March, the release didn’t happen and it looks like the release won’t be coming anytime soon.

      Last September plans were expressed with a road-map to release Xfce 4.12 in mid-March. Xfce 4.12 was possibly going to be ported to GTK3, but a full-port to GTK3 was decided later on to not be feasible for this release though some packages may be friendly towards the updated tool-kit.

    • LightDM Caught Off-Guard By Mir, Plans For Wayland

      Development of the LightDM display manager is now in an awkward state by Canonical’s announcement of developing — and ultimately switching to — the Mir Display Server rather than Wayland.

      David Edmundson, who for a long time has been working on LightDM and has led when it comes to LightDM-KDE, wrote an interesting blog post this morning about how Mir conflicts with LightDM — the display manager that’s also used by Ubuntu.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.8 Beta 2 Is Now Available for Testing

        Alejandro Piñeiro Iglesias from the GNOME Release Team was happy to announce a few days ago that the second and last Beta release of the upcoming GNOME 3.8 desktop environment was ready for download and testing.

        This time, the release has been delayed with only two days from the original schedule and it is available for download and testing on the main GNOME FTP server, bringing numerous updated components, several improvements across basic apps, new features, countless bugfixes and many updated translations.

      • GNOME Will Move Full-Speed With Wayland Support

        We already know that KDE developers aren’t fond of Mir, Canonical’s display server for the Unity desktop not derived from X.Org and Wayland. KDE developers aren’t happy about it, some Xfce developers have also expressed dissatisfaction with the recent Canonical changes, and now there’s a GNOME response. What’s GNOME doing about Mir? They’re laying out plans right now to move hard and fast with Wayland support!

        There’s been experimental work on bringing the GNOME Shell and Mutter to Wayland/Weston, but nothing that’s been merged yet and ready for GNOME desktop users. The GTK3 tool-kit does have Wayland support and it’s continuing to be improved. Rather than GNOME jumping on the Mir bandwagon, they want to move now at a vicious rate in supporting Wayland.

  • Distributions

    • Kali Linux Is A Security-Testing Suite
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Dell, Canonical tag team on Ubuntu Server tune-up for PowerEdgies

            Enterprises don’t want to just know that an operating system will run on a piece of iron, they want to know who they are entitled to yell at when it stops working properly. And that’s why a new support agreement has been inked between Canonical, the commercial entity behind the Ubuntu Server distribution of Linux, and Dell, one of the largest server makers in the world.

            As David Duffey, director of technical partnerships at Canonical, explained in a blog post announcing the expanded relationship between the two companies, Dell fired up reference architectures for the PowerEdge-C density-optimized servers back in July 2011, and the following May these reference architectures were tweaked to support Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, the long-term support variant of Ubuntu that most enterprise customers go with for their iron.

          • Ubuntu Linux gets a new official flavor

            Ubuntu fans may recall Ubuntu GNOME Remix, the unofficial flavor of the Linux distribution that was launched last fall for users not fond of the software’s default Unity desktop environment.

          • More Mir Talking Points Come Out Of Canonical

            With the start of another week comes another round of information on the Mir Display Server out of Canonical.

            Mark Shuttleworth shared on Google+ a post by Christopher Halse Rogers about the Canonical motives for working on Mir. Interestingly, Mark claims, “Contrary to competitor FUD, from people who are not working as openly as they would have you believe, Mir is more likely to enable high-quality graphics for ALL flavours of Ubuntu, and any distro that chooses it. Graphics vendors have been happy to engage and ensure it works well on all architectures.”

          • Shuttleworth Comments On Future Ubuntu Releases
          • Ubuntu, Shuttleworth & rolling releases

            Canonical, Ubuntu Linux’s parent company, has an ambitious plan with a short time-frame: One operating system for computers, smartphones, tablets and TVs by early 2014. One problem with this is how do you get there fast enough and one answer, rolling releases, has got developers upset. Now, Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has a new proposal on how to handle rolling releases.

          • Ubuntu Linux Gets Certified on Dell 12G Servers
          • Dell, Canonical announce new Ubuntu 12.04 support for servers
          • Devs tease early screenshots of Ubuntu Touch Core Apps

            Ubuntu developer Michael Hall has posted screenshots of early versions of what Canonical is calling the “Core Apps” for Ubuntu Touch, the new flavor of the popular Linux distribution that’s being rewritten to run on mobile devices as well as PCs.

            There wasn’t much you could actually do with Ubuntu Touch when Canonical released the Developer Preview firmware images in February. The OS would boot, it supported basic internet access over Wi-Fi, and you could place calls with the smartphone version, but most of the preinstalled “apps” were actually just placeholders for software that had yet to be written.

            But according to Hall, work is already underway to build a set of apps to handle most of the everyday functions users expect from their phones and fondleslabs.

          • Dell, Canonical Partner on Ubuntu for PowerEdge Servers
          • Early apps for touch-based Ubuntu reveal a mostly clean aesthetic
          • New Ubuntu Spinoff Extends Life of Legacy Hardware

            It’s easy to assume, from the stunning rate at which OEMs roll out newer and better versions of PCs, phones, tablets and other popular hardware, that few consumers want to hold on to aging devices. But if a new community-based spinoff of Ubuntu named LXLE is any indication, there are those who are, in fact, keen on keeping legacy computers running–even if it means building the requisite software themselves.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Tiny computer module boasts 1.65GHz AMD APU, Linux

      AndersDX is shipping a miniature computer-on-module (COM) based on a dual-core 1.65GHz AMD G-Series APU. The CM-iGT provides rich graphics and multimedia capabilities and is supported with embedded Linux.

      The CM-iGT’s AMD G-Series APU integrates a dual-core, 64-bit x86 CPU clocked at up to 1.65GHz (depending on board model). The module also supports up to 4GB DDR3 DRAM and up to 32GB flash onboard memory.

    • Phones

      • Ballnux

        • HTC’s Mackenzie: We’re embracing our role as a challenger to Samsung, Apple

          HTC is searching for a comeback. After selling 43.2 million phones in 2011, according to research firm Gartner, HTC saw sales slide in 2012 down to 32.1 million units amid intense competition from the likes of Samsung Electronics and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) at the high end and Huawei and ZTE at the lower end of the market. HTC is plotting a return to prominence on the back of the HTC One, the Taiwanese smartphone maker’s latest flagship device. At the recent Mobile World Congress trade show, FierceWireless Editor Phil Goldstein talked with Jason Mackenzie, HTC’s global president of sales, about the company’s brand, the software features of the One and how the company can get its smartphone swagger back. The following is an edited version of the conversation.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • IBM CEO Rometty Says Big Data Are the Next Great Natural Resource

      IBM CEO schools executives on how to make data-based decisions and predicts the decline of management by gut instinct.

    • MIT Researchers’ Open Source Tool Can Optimize Databases in the Cloud

      In a steady fashion, almost all users of digital technology and devices are using open source, simply because so many open source software components help drive proprietary applications and platforms. The proliferation of open source components is starting to have a very positive effect on the cloud computing scene. As just one example, Netflix–which has a very robust cloud-based proprietary platform–has released Chaos Monkey and a number of other meaningful open source components that can make cloud deployments stronger.

      Now, news comes from MIT that researchers are open sourcing software components for cloud-based database-driven applications that could reduce hardware requirements by 95 percent while improving performance.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 4.0 Delivers Numerous Upgrades

      LibreOffice 4.0 is now available to download with user interface enhancements, and a multitude of fun new features. Here I will review many of the new features for all the LibreOffice lovers out there. This release delivers a cleaner interface and all-around improved usability.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • TN, UP, Rajasthan to splurge on proprietary software over open source; Microsoft, Adobe, Norton and McAfee get large govt orders

      India may have policy of preferring free and open source applications, but still the world’s largest software maker Microsoft and others, including Adobe, Norton and McAfee, have managed to weasel their way into some of the largest government purchases in the country’s history.

      Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are in the process of procuring over eight million laptops preloaded with proprietary software in clear violation of India’s national policy on information and communication technology and incurring avoidable expenditure of large sums of money, activists said.

    • Open source to run on PCs donated by Italian bank and France’s La Poste

      Switching to free and open source software contributes to sustainability by making a more efficient use of computer hardware, allowing to use PCs for longer than when following proprietary software vendor’s upgrade cycle, two very recent examples show.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • MIT’s role in Aaron Swartz prosecution assailed at memorial

        Friends, family and colleagues memorialized computer activist Aaron Swartz and put MIT’s role in his prosecution front and center on Tuesday afternoon at MIT Media Lab.

      • Startups And Innovators Speak Out In Favor Of Fixing CFAA

        The good folks over at the EFF have posted a letter from a group of startups and innovators to Congress seeking reform of the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act), which has been abused for years, most notably and recently, in the case against Aaron Swartz (full disclosure: I helped review the initial letter and helped the EFF get some of the signatures on the letter). This is important, because, as we have noted, plenty of innovators and entrepreneurs could have been charged under this law for some of their random hacking experiments, some of which directly led them to create amazing innovations.

      • Towards learning from losing Aaron Swartz

        When I learned that Aaron Swartz had taken his own life, I cried. I am still desperately sad, for him, his family, for the close friends who loved him, and for our community. We lost a rare and special person, one who did so much in his short life to make the world a better place. Any do-gooder, including myself, could be proud were we to accomplish as much. We don’t know what else he would have acheived were he to have lived. But I admit that I also cried for myself, because I felt guilty that I didn’t do more to help Aaron in his criminal case. This article is about part of that challenge, the challenge to improve computer crime laws, and the criminal justice system more generally. Hopefully in the end, there’ll be something that I, and you, can do about it.

      • Aaron Swartz Lawyers Accuse Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Of Misconduct

        Federal prosecutor Stephen Heymann engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by withholding key evidence from the defense team of Aaron Swartz, the late Internet activist’s legal team alleged in a letter to an internal Justice Department ethics unit.

Leftovers

  • Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Of Buenos Aires, Elected Leader Of Catholic Church
  • Google Reader Axed, Shutting Down July 1st
  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • ‘Iran can’t covertly produce atomic bomb’ – US intelligence chief
    • ‘What Palestinians Said Was Israeli Aggression’: The Death of Omar al-Masharawi

      And the Associated Press noted that the UN “couldn’t ‘unequivocally conclude’ that the death was caused by an errantly fired Palestinian rocket.”

      The BBC (3/11/13) casts doubt on the attribution of the infant’s death to a Palestinian rocket, noting “that the Israeli military had reported no rockets being fired out of Gaza so soon after the start of the conflict.” It also pointed out that UN team, arriving four weeks after the attack, “did not carry out a forensic investigation, but said their team did not think the damage was consistent with an Israeli air strike.” Al-Masharawi’s father, for his part, calls the UN finding “rubbish.”

    • Tiny, Suicidal Drone/Missile Mashup Is Part of U.S.’ Afghanistan Arsenal
    • Interview: ‘The Terror Factory: Inside The FBI’s Manufactured War On Terrorism’

      But the problem with that is that Ali Soufan, in his review, and other agents I’ve talked to, consistently cite Faisal Shahzad, for example — he’s the man who came close to bombing Times Square — or Najibullah Zazi, who came close to bombing the subway system. They cite these men as examples of real terrorists and why sting operations are so necessary.

      But the problem with their argument, I think, is that neither of those men was actually caught in a terrorism sting operation. To date, we have yet to find the real would-be terrorist: Someone who was about to strike, who had the weapon, who had the means, who is thwarted by a sting operation.

    • Chinese authorities crack down on 18-day village uprising over landgrabs

      Chinese authorities have violently cracked down on an 18-day uprising over landgrabs in a southern Chinese village, arresting nine people and hospitalising dozens.

      This weekend, security forces stormed the village of Shangpu, a farming community of 3,000 in southern Guangdong province, cut the electricity supply and phone service, beat demonstrators and fired tear gas into crowds, injuring 30 to 40 people.

    • US Still Fighting “Threat” of Liberation Theology

      As just one example, an Embassy cable from June 9, 2009, explains how the former Colombian analogue of the FBI, the DAS, had been spying on and “Neutralizing” (a code word which can include actions up to assassination) particular human rights groups, including Father Giraldo’s group, the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (“CIJP” or “Justicia y Paz”). (12) This cable noted that this surveillance has been ordered by the then-President of Colombia himself, Alvaro Uribe. The cable noted that the “[s]urveillance included physical monitoring of individuals and their families (including minor children), phone and email intercepts, and collection of sensitive financial data. The unit appears to have also taken active measures to disrupt opposition events and intimidate human rights activists. . . . Journalists and human rights activists claim the surveillance [which began in 2004-2005] continues.” (emphasis added).

      One must seriously wonder whether, indeed, this state policy of “neutralizing” the CIJP continues even now, and whether the recent assassination attempt upon Father Alberto Franco of the CIJP on February 13, 2013, was indeed carried out pursuant to this policy. I myself will say for the record that should any further ill befall Father Franco or any other priest associated with the CIJP, the Colombian state and its U.S. backer must be held responsible.

    • Navy Linguist Faces Additional Charge of Violating Espionage Act

      A Navy contract linguist charged with two counts of violating the Espionage Act by unlawfully retaining “national defense information” has been hit with a third charge of violating the law.

      James F. Hitselberger was working in Bahrain as a translator. A document collector, as Secrecy News’ Steven Aftergood describes, Hitselberger is a “peripatetic collector of rare documents.” In his living quarters, where a “classified document was allegedly found in April” of 2012, newspapers and numerous books could be found. Some of his “discoveries over the years” have been donated “to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, which actually maintains a James F. Hitselberger Collection.” The collection includes “political posters and leaflets that he gathered in pre-revolutionary Iran.”

    • White House Changing Story on Anwar al-Awlaki? A Debate on NYT’s Inside Account of ’11 Drone Strike

      NASSER AL-AULAQI: I want Americans to know about my grandson, that he was very nice boy. He was very caring boy for his family, for his mother, for his brothers. He was born in August 1995 in the state of Colorado, city of Denver. He was raised in America, when he was a child until he was seven years old. And I never thought that one day this boy, this nice boy, will be killed by his own government.

    • CIA Boosts Support for Iraqi Militias

      The White House has directed the CIA to increase its cooperation and backing of Iraqi state militias to fight al-Qaeda affiliates there and cut off the flow of fighters pouring into Syria.

    • What, no Bible? Conservatives angered that Brennan took oath on Constitution
    • CIA Director Brennan sworn in on Constitution instead of Bible (Photos)
    • CIA Director John Brennan Turns Down Bible, Takes Oath Of Office On Constitution

      While there is nothing that prevents officials from being sworn in on a Bible, there’s certainly nothing wrong with following Brennan’s example and honoring the U.S. Constitution. Doing so not only sends a positive message, it frees government from giving the appearance of religious favoritism.

      When CIA Director John Brennan placed his hand on a copy of the U.S. Constitution last week to take his oath of office, did he defy the very document on which he swore? Absolutely not.

    • “Scientific Assassinations” Are Part of the CIA’s Modus Operandi

      Carroll also wrote that Chavez, himself, believed that the cancers that befell former leftist leaders of Latin America, including Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, diagnosed with colon cancer and Brazilian President Ignacio Lula da Silva, treated for throat cancer, were part of a CIA plot directed against left-wing leaders. Curiously, Carroll suggests that Uruguay’s former leftist president, Tabare Vazquez, also recovered from cancer.

    • “Poison Dart”: Secret CIA Weapon of Assassination, Triggers Heart Attack

      The astonishing information about this secret weapon of the CIA comes from U.S. Senate testimony in 1975 on rogue activities of the CIA. This weapon is only one of many James Bond-like discoveries of the Church Committee hearings, officially known as the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities.

    • Afghan Student Details Capture, Torture by CIA ‘Strike Force’

      Qayum reported that the strike force put a black hood over his head and took him to an “undisclosed location” where he was beaten and asked if he knew any “Taliban commanders.” They also asked if he could help them capture a neighbor from his home village.

    • The last surviving conspirator against Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler dies, age 90

      Ewald von Kleist, the last surviving member of a group of German officers who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944, has died at age 90. After the war von Kleist played a prominent role in transatlantic relations.

    • Rare first editions saved from Nazi book burnings returned to Austria after 75 years

      George Newman (formerly Hans Neumann) was 14 when he fled Vienna, fearing Nazi persecution, for England in 1938. Now, 75 years later, he has returned to Austria for a ceremony at the National Library, where he has donated hundreds of books and documents back to the Austrian nation which would otherwise have been burned by the Nazi regime.

    • U.S. Must Have Checks On Drone Killings

      John Brennan, newly confirmed director of the CIA, assured Americans in a speech last year on targeted killing that there is “absolutely nothing casual” about the process of targeted killing, including that of American citizens. He included in this the use of remotely controlled drone airplanes that have been used to strike and kill people identified as al-Qaida terrorists.

    • Drones: over there, over here?

      Congress is considering hearings into the use of deadly drones against terrorists, including U.S. citizens, overseas. It should expand its oversight to cover the entire subject of drones and their long-term implications.

      What matters immediately is the Obama administration’s indefensible secrecy about targeted killings overseas, particularly when U.S. citizens are the targets.

    • How To Regulate Drones

      I started to think about the intersection of robotics and the law in earnest a few years ago when I left private practice. In 2011, I came to the conclusion that drones had the potential to create a new Warren and Brandeis moment. Some combination of our visceral reaction to robotic technology, our fascination with flight, and our association of drones with the theater of war could, I thought, trigger a reexamination of privacy law. Drones have indeed captured the public imagination. And we are entering something of a policy window, to borrow a concept from Priscilla Regan. But just how citizens and lawmakers ultimately come down on the domestic use of drones remains to be seen. In this post, I will talk about what I think are the worst and best ways to regulate drones with respect to privacy.

    • Americans killed by American drones
  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Good report on Federal wildlife torture from a surprising source

      The story covers an investigation that was spurred, in part, by revelations that USDA “Wildlife Services” employee Jamie P. Olson had posted photos of his dogs tearing trapped coyotes to pieces on Facebook. (Previously, on Pharyngula.) The issue’s been kept on the front burner by my colleague Camilla Fox at Project Coyote; she and her organization deserve your attention and support.

    • Mali and Canadian mining in Africa

      The UK has just agreed to send 40 troops and another $5 million to support the French led operation and Harper is due to renew his contribution to the takeover on March 14. Other African nations have also begun to mobilize troops.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • EXCLUSIVE – U.S. to let spy agencies scour Americans’ finances
    • Boeing Declares War on Privacy in Washington State

      Washington state has led the way in many respects when it comes to the drone issue, something I highlighted recently in my article: Just Say NO: Seattle Residents Kill the City’s Drone Program. It’s not just Seattle though, there is a bi-partisan bill in the Washington state legislature, H.B. 1771, which limits drone use within the entire state. The bill has already passed its House Committee hearing and, as expected, the state’s corporate overlords have started to fight back. Specifically, Boeing. From the Examiner:

    • Era of the digital mercenaries

      “My computer was arrested before I was.” This perceptive comment was made by a Syrian activist who had been arrested and tortured by the Assad regime. Caught by means of online surveillance, Karim Taymour told a Bloomberg[1] journalist that, during interrogation, he was shown a stack of hundreds of pages of printouts of his Skype chats and files downloaded remotely from his computer hard drive. His torturers clearly knew as much as if they had been with him in his room, or more precisely, in his computer.

    • The Second Great Crypto War

      The first great conflict over cryptography and state power happened in the 1990s. In one corner were cryptographers equipped with subtle math, digital technologies, and new ideas. In the other were the Clinton administration and its National Security Agency (NSA), which sought to maintain and extend the federal government’s control over cryptography. They struggled over the concept that cryptography could be classified as munitions, over requirements to include NSA-friendly chips in communication hardware, and, in general, over the shape of post–Cold War security.

    • Hackers Attack Bank Minutes After NSA Chief Warns Senate About Hackers Attacking Banks

      The general wasn’t kidding. Within an hour or so of Alexander’s testimony reports that Chase Bank’s website had been hacked started to bubble up. Shortly before 7 p.m. Chase confirmed to CNBC that they had indeed been targeted. Hackers hit Chase with — you guessed it — a DOS attack, bringing down the company’s website. It’s unclear if any customer data was compromised. It’s also absolutely unclear if the hack has anything to do with the series of hearings in the Senate on Tuesday that mention cyber security and the threat of a cyber attack. Hacking into a bank’s website right after the head of the NSA warns the Senate about hackers hacking into banks’ websites is certainly a clever way to win attention.

    • Talking leadership with NSA’s deputy director
    • NSA Whistleblower Drake to Speak at NPC Luncheon

      This coming Friday, March 15, Government Accountability Project (GAP) client and National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Tom Drake will speak at a luncheon at the National Press Club (NPC).

      This event is part of the NPC’s involvement in Sunshine Week, a national initiative promoting open government and transparency.

      Drake will speak at 1:00 p.m., and a lunch preceding his remarks will be served at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are required for this event; more information about this and other details can be found on the NPC webpage. Journalists can also submit questions to Drake in advance, with instructions to do so contained on the NPC page.

    • Is This What Google Really Thinks About Privacy?

      His “ruminations” may indeed be his personal thoughts, and not official Google policy, but for that very reason represent his real opinions of issues, not just the public gloss that is put upon them. Given his pivotal role at Google when it comes to privacy, it is likely that the Google management team largely share those views – otherwise they would presumably have fired Fleischer and found someone else they felt more comfortable with. Thus his frank comments probably provide us with tantalising glimpses of what Google really thinks about privacy.

    • Apple Can’t Duck Giving Documents in Privacy Lawsuit

      Apple Inc. (AAPL) must show in detail how it’s complying with court orders to turn over evidence in a privacy lawsuit, a judge ruled, saying he can no longer rely on what the company tells him in the case.

      U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal in San Jose, California, issued the order after the plaintiffs’ lawyers claimed Apple withheld documents it had previously been ordered to produce. Apple is accused in the lawsuit of collecting data on the locations of customers through iPhones, even after the device’s geo-location feature was turned off.

    • JUDGE SLAMS APPLE IN PRIVACY SUIT, SAYS HE CAN NO LONGER TAKE WHAT COMPANY SAYS AT FACE VALUE
    • Apple finally fixes App Store flaw by turning on encryption

      Company moves to protect its iOS customers from security and privacy attacks over Wi-Fi by turning on encryption, at least half a year after being alerted to the problem.

  • Civil Rights

    • Gov’t won’t even give page counts of secret PATRIOT Act documents

      Lawsuits challenging government secrecy have fared pretty terribly in the post-9/11 era, with the most recent example being the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that a group of journalists and activists have no right to sue over the FISA spying law.

      Only a few cases of this sort are left, including two Bay Area lawsuits being pushed forward by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. One is the San Francisco case over NSA wiretapping, which the government is trying to shut down using the “state secrets” privilege. The other is EFF’s case demanding to see documents about how the government is interpreting Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.

    • US court says feds need reasonable suspicion to search laptops at borders
  • DRM

    • Disappointing: Tim Berners-Lee Defends DRM In HTML 5

      Berners-Lee is so good on so many issues (most of his talk seemed to be about the importance of openness) that this response really stands out as not fitting with his general view of the world. Cory Doctorow has responded eloquently to TBL, explaining why he should be against the DRM proposal.

      [...]

      The Big Content guys have been seeking to remake the web in their image (i.e., “TV”) for over a decade now, still believing that they’re the main reason people get online. They’re not. There’s room for them within the ecosystem, but professional broadcast-quality content is just a part of the system, not the whole thing. If the world moves to HTML5 without DRM, the content guys will whine about it… and then follow. Especially as the more knowledgeable and forward-looking content creators jump in and succeed.

    • What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM

      Adding DRM to the HTML standard will have far-reaching effects, incompatible with the W3C’s most important policies

    • Netflix kills third party app platform, current apps will continue to work

      In a blog post with the understated (to say the least) title “Changes to the Public API Program,” Netflix has announced that it’s shutting down its public API program. Effectively, that means that no new apps that take advantage of the data Netflix used to provide — for example, for searching for new shows and movies to watch — will be possible. Netflix director of engineering, Daniel Jacobson, writes that “existing and active affiliates” will still have access to Netflix’s APIs, so any third-party apps you currently use should still work as normally. Along with the changes, Netflix has set its developer forum to “read-only,” shut down its “OData catalog” for programmatically accessing Netflix’s catalog, and directed all developers to Stack Overflow for their questions.

    • NEW PHONE UNLOCKING BILL
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Mexico Will Ask To Join US-EU Transatlantic Trade Agreement

      That suggests that the US is actively involved in this latest move — maybe even its instigator — and would look favorably on Mexico joining TAFTA. There’s also a hint in the article quoted above that Canada too might join TAFTA. Having both Mexico and Canada on board would be consistent with the US’s past approach, where it allowed them to join the TPP negotiations, but on fairly humiliating terms that limit their scope of action.

      Whether or not Mexico and Canada become part of TAFTA, and under what terms, it’s pretty clear what the US strategy here is. Just today we learned that South Korea is likely to join Japan in asking to sign up to the TPP talks. That would make TPP the defining international agreement for the entire Pacific region. TAFTA obviously aims to do the same for the Atlantic. As well as establishing the US as the key link between the giant TPP and TAFTA blocs, this double-headed approach would also isolate the main emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India and above all China — if they refuse to join as presumably junior partners. That globe-spanning pair of trade pacts, it would seem, are what Obama hopes to be remembered for when he leaves office: his legacy to America — and to history.

    • Copyrights

      • Canadian Delusions: ACTA Supporters Pretend It’s Just About Counterfeit Goods

        One of the nastier tricks of copyright maximalists has been to lump together “counterfeiting” with “copyright infringement” in an effort to conveniently jump back and forth when making silly arguments. Basically, they can argue that copyright infringement is a huge issue, because of the massive amount of unauthorized sharing that happens online. But they have a lot of trouble showing real harm. On the other side, counterfeiting really isn’t that big of a problem when you look closely at the details, but there are a few, extremely limited cases (faulty counterfeit airplane parts, some fake drugs) where there could be real harm. So if you lump them all together you can claim “massive problems” with “real harm.” But that doesn’t work if you look at them individually.

        We recently wrote about some Canadian politicians introducing a bill to get Canada in compliance with ACTA, despite the fact that ACTA has been totally discredited around the globe. Some political opponents are now pushing back on that, calling the bill in question an attempt to get ACTA in “through the backdoor.” However, in response Canadian Industry Minister, Christian Paradis, just keeps repeating the “counterfeiting” mantra and ignoring the entire ACTA elephant in the room.

      • WordPress to fight “legally deficient and objectionable” Prenda subpoena

        Porn-trolling firm Prenda Law recently made another baffling move in a retaliatory defamation suit against its online critics: the firm sent a subpoena to Automattic, WordPress’ parent company, demanding a list of all of the IP addresses that have visited the anti-troll websites DieTrollDie and Fight Copyright Trolls, both of which are powered by WordPress. Prenda’s lawyer Paul Duffy wrote to Automattic in a letter accompanying the subpoena, “Due to the emergency nature of the requested information, it is imperative that your organization responds to the subpoena immediately.”

      • Copyright Trolls to Judge: Nope! We’re Not Coming to Scary Hearing

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