Kaspersky: Russian Nuclear Plant Runs Windows, Gets Infected With Malware Developed by the NSA (Stuxnet)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 7:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tsar Bomba mushroom cloud
Tsar Bomba mushroom cloud

Summary: New example of the high cost of Windows and a new example of FUD in the press, attributing an attack on SCADA to “Linux”

BY NOW, owing to leaks, people know where Stuxnet came from. Israel and the United States developed it and then used it to derail facilities in Iran. It is cyberwar, and it was started quite proactively. A lot of businesses around the world suffered from Stuxnet too, demonstrating quite clearly that the NSA’s criminal behaviour has a high price; others pay the toll, not just US taxpayers. Given the special relationship between Microsoft and the NSA, Stuxnet’s reliance on Windows is not surprising; it’s well known by now.

Putting aside the old news about Stuxnet, Kaspersky claims that Stuxnet infected a Russian nuclear plant. This is extremely dangerous because the US and Russia/USSR have been very close to nuclear war on numerous occasions in the past 30 years. A lot of people don’t know this because such material takes decades before it’s declassified.

“A lot of people don’t know this because such material takes decades before it’s declassified.”With clever phishing scams, not even strong passwords that computer scientists tend to choose can provide protection and it is no secret that Free software is penetrable due to incompetence during setup [1] or even delay in patching/maintenance (new examples in [2-8]). Underlying languages/frameworks can sometimes be the culprits [9,10], but that doesn’t mean that in practice it is easy to crack a GNU/Linux system. Evidence suggests that it is hard.

Having had Windows malware issues in space (USB sticks inside Windows), the International Space Station (ISS) recently moved to Debian GNU/Linux [1. 2]. But this weird article tells a dubious story. It says that ISS got a malware infection from Russian astronauts and then adds this sentence: “The reason is that the space station uses computer-controlled SCADA systems in order to manage various physical components of the satellite. As these systems are based on Linux, they are open to infection.”

“The problem is prevalent in proprietary software not just of Microsoft and the solution may be to simply ban the use of proprietary software.”Really?

Stuxnet malware has been targeting SCADA systems and they run Windows. We’ve sent almost a dozen E-mails back and forth to verify the facts and we are pretty sure the above is a lie. Sosumi says “the rhetoric is made as if linux is the problem [...] the whole thing is fishy [...] it’s like I said, the article is done as if linux was the problem” (it’s not).

iophk wrote: “I would think that the PR people for all the major distros would be all over that article correcting it and demanding a retraction.” He later said: “If you have any contact at Red Hat and Canonical, they might want to find some way of correcting this article [...] It makes it look like the previous Windows infections were Linux.”

Nice FUD they got there.

“Hackers”, in the mean time, are being demonised by Microsoft, which simply misuses the term [11]. The US government cannot seem to understand that relying on Windows in critical systems is a bad idea [12,13] because even fonts open a back door [14,15]. The problem is prevalent in proprietary software not just of Microsoft [16] and the solution may be to simply ban the use of proprietary software [17]. It is improperly reviewed.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. SSL Study Shows Most Sites Incorrectly Configured

    Black Hat research takes a deep look at SSL security and finds it lacking due to a number of common configuration issues.

  2. Ubuntu: 2014-1: OpenSSH vulnerability
  3. Gentoo: 201310-17 pmake: Insecure temporary file usage
  4. Gentoo: 201310-16 TPTEST: Arbitrary code execution
  5. Gentoo: 201310-18 GnuTLS: Multiple vulnerabilities
  6. Gentoo: 201310-19 X2Go Server: Arbitrary code execution
  7. Debian: 2786-1: icu: Multiple vulnerabilities
  8. Debian: 2787-1: roundcube: design error
  9. Is PHP Secure?

    In a classic watering hole attack, hackers compromised a well-known, respected high-traffic Website and planted malware in a bid to infect unsuspecting visitors. On Oct. 24, Google began to flag PHP.net as being a site hosting malware, i.e., potentially a watering hole.

  10. PHP.net Compromised. Served Malicious JS
  11. M$ Denigrates Hackers
  12. DHS hammering out cybersecurity planning
  13. Database hacking spree on US Army, NASA, and others costs gov’t millions

    Federal prosecutors have accused a UK man of hacking thousands of computer systems, many of them belonging to the US government, and stealing massive quantities of data that resulted in millions of dollars in damages to victims.

  14. Microsoft in a TIFF over Windows, Office bug that runs code hidden in pics
  15. Not Again! M$’s OS Executes Data In Images…

    It’s such a simple concept. Data should not be executed. Images are data. But, no, M$ does not get that and randomly executes code contained in some TIFF images. Out of the bowels of M$’s complexity comes yet another invitation to millions of bad guys to post TIFFs all over the web damaging the systems of millions of users.

  16. 38 million Adobe users hacked, not 3 million

    Adobe has revealed the massive hack it suffered a month ago was far bigger than initially reported, with attackers obtaining data on more than 38 million customer accounts.

  17. [Bruce Schneier:] Understanding the Threats in Cyberspace

    The primary difficulty of cyber security isn’t technology — it’s policy.

If What We Have is Really Democracy, Then Corporations Are People

Posted in Finance at 6:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The two latest candidates of the Business Party, which won the elections again

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

Summary: What TAFTA and Washington’s surrender to corporate power can teach us about the state of this widely-celebrated “democracy”

SEVERAL years ago, Wikileaks’ Cablegate helped show the degree of corruption that’s used to sign deals like NAFTA. It is all about corporate power and TAFTA is more of the same, only expanding to another continent (Europe) [1]. Over in the US people are protesting against corporate takeover of the government [2] and PR Watch keeps showing how corporations bribe politicians (recent examples in [3,4,5].) It is no surprise when Washington votes for GMO giants [6] and nations which reject GMO or US corporate power get demonised in corporate media. Someone who regularly reads this site supported this claim with evidence; we have been shown examples of spin on US-based television channels like Fox, trying to describe nations without McDonalds [7] as not fortunate or simply “anti-American”. Banks also play a considerable role in controlling politics, as Professor Wolff explains in his good new article about austerity [8]. In his personal blog he goes further and explains why the GOP/corporate-driven Tea Party is doing a massive disservice [9] to the nation where capitalism just became “rule of the corporations” [10] (hence undemocratic). Had there been a real democracy, presidents like Obama would have listened to actual people — not corporations — and called those pseudo ‘trade’ deals off, possibly taking legal actions against their conspirators.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. TAFTA: Down with Anti-Democratic US-EU Negotiations!

    While the second negotiation round of the US-EU Trade Agreement, TAFTA (also known as TTIP), has just started, La Quadrature du Net issues a solemn warning to all negotiators against the risk of elaborating policies that would impact hundreds of millions of citizens without any form of democratic legitimacy. La Quadrature du Net calls on citizens to participate to its effort to expose the TAFTA negotiators and their eventual conflicts of interests, while urging individuals with access to negotiation documents to leak them to the public without delay.

  2. More on the #NHR March (in NH) (in January)

    Plans are coming together for the march against corruption in January across New Hampshire.

  3. ALEC Posts Legislative Agendas while Hiding Its Very Special Interests
  4. Kohler Heir and Walker Backer Plumbs Dark Money Depths

    Wisconsin industrialist Terry Kohler has deeper ties to the controversial United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation — the beneficiary of a controversial $500,000 “sweetheart deal” cut by a Walker administration appointee — than previously reported. Kohler is one of the top GOP donors in the country, and his array of political spending raises new questions in light of a special investigation into potential campaign finance violations by third-party groups in Wisconsin.

  5. The Kochs Win Some and Lose Some in 2013 Elections

    The Kochs had a hand in numerous local and state races in yesterday’s elections. Because the Kochs fund so many entities and because many types of spending are not required to be disclosed, a full accounting of their activities may not be possible. Below CMD runs down some of the known spending, races, and results influenced by the Koch brothers or Koch-funded entities such as David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

  6. Washington votes against GMO labeling – preliminary results
  7. FINALLY! A Whole Nation Rejects McDonalds

    McDonald’s happy image and its golden arches aren’t the gateway to bliss in Bolivia.

  8. The great austerity shell game

    Here’s how the capitalist scam works: let government borrow for crisis bailouts, then insist cuts pay for them. Guess who loses

  9. What GOP-Tea Party Risks With Block of New New Deal

    Ironically, if the New Deal actually saved capitalism from what might otherwise have happened – e.g., fascism as in Germany, Japan, or Italy – a haunting question arises. Does the right’s blockage of another New Deal now risk contributing to what was avoided in the 1930s?

  10. Capitalism Works (or Not) for Me

Environmental Ignorance and Global Warming Denial Kill Orders of Magnitude More People Than Terrorists Kill

Posted in Action at 7:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fossil fuel protest

Summary: How the fossil fuel and other dirty energy industries contribute to the deaths of probably millions in lesser-developed nations

If the NSA was truly serious about fighting terrorism, then it would not abuse privileges and expand to fighting drug peddling, tax evasion, etc. If the NSA was serious about saving people’s lives, then it would bother about none of these relatively small problems and start dealing with healthcare-centric cartels, fossil fuel advocacy that distorts and corrupts our press and literature, and perhaps even car accidents.

It is true that there is terrorism in this world (even state terrorism, as demonstrated by the CIA/NSA), but that doesn’t automatically make it the only subject which needs to worry us. Greenpeace, despite an aggressive approach at times [1], does seem to understand where activism matters. The extinction of our species is possible not just because of events outside of Earth (like meteor/asteroid risks that Nature recently covered [2]); it is possible when too many of us fight for food and water amid unprecedented climate which knocks us off equilibrium. In Hong Kong one can see how human greed and nastiness drive some of the planet’s biggest species into extinction [3] and Japan needed to learn from a nuclear disaster (and future cancer epidemic) before waking up. Solar energy is promoted by Japan following yet another nuclear disaster [4], but isn’t it too late? It’s never too late.

“The Philippines is taking much of the toll of global warning denial/ignorance in top polluting nations, which just couldn’t care less about what poor people in the other hemisphere or near the equator.”Noam Chomsky, in his usual nonchalant way, speaks about fracking [5] after indigenous people in Canada, who had immigrated from Asia thousands of years ago, were being crushed for protesting against this attack on their land (by European immigrants) [6].

All that pollution is not without victims. They may be far away, but they do exist. The Philippines is taking much of the toll [7] of global warning denial/ignorance in top polluting nations, which just couldn’t care less about what poor people in the other hemisphere or near the equator. A huge number of deaths gets reported [8] (record-breaking levels, due to unprecedented force of typhoons) and it’s not even the end of it [9] (yet another typhoon is coming). Sandy (the storm affecting eastern parts of the United States) was hardly a wakeup call because the United States continues to be a world leader in denying climate change. Europe is not much better and even if it can acknowledge the problem it is too slow to react to it. Financial considerations drive policy and the cost of some “poor people” dying in a distant nation is not high enough; their plea is hardly a factor to be weight by politicians, let alone billionaire oil tycoons and their billionaire investors (like Bill Gates).

As usual, among those who try to reduce dependence on oil (fossil fuel), there are open-source proponents [10]. This is really a matter that should be treated as a top priority; it’s too bad that Western politicians instead try to distract us with mundane and irrelevant problems. Perhaps the fact that they are lobbied and funded by fossil fuel giants plays a role in this.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Seeing Red: Dutch King pelted with tomatoes during visit to Moscow
  2. Risk of massive asteroid strike underestimated

    Meteor in Chelyabinsk impact was twice as heavy as initially thought.

  3. Elephant Ivory Seized in Hong Kong

    In October 2013, Hong Kong officials seized large shipments of elephant tusks from West Africa. The city’s border control found 189 tusks, weighing over 1,600 pounds and with a black market value of more than one million dollars. The seizure came about two months after the last major haul of 1,000 elephant tusks from Nigeria, which also contained rhino horns and leopard skins worth more than $5 million.

  4. Kyocera completes Japan’s largest offshore solar energy plant in Kagoshima

    As if to highlight the recent anti-nuclear sentiments – politicians who will no longer have anything to do with nuclear energy – Japanese tech giants Kyocera opened on Monday what is currently the biggest solar power facility in Japan. The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Plant is 1.27 million square meters of solar panels – 290,000 of them, to be exact – which will be able to generate 70 megawatts of power, able to supply electricity for about 22,000 local households, making it the biggest solar generation plant in Japan.

  5. Chomsky Attacks Rush to “Destroy the Environment as Fast as Possible” with Fracking and Tar Sands

    But indigenous peoples in Canada blocking fossil fuel developments are taking the lead in combatting climate change, he said. Chomsky highlighted indigenous opposition to the Alberta tar sands, the oil deposit that is Canada’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions and is slated for massive expansion despite attracting international criticism and protest.

  6. Anti-Fracking Activists Blockade the West Side Highway in NYC to Protest Spectra Pipeline

    The action commenced at Gansevoort Pier, where activists staged a lock-down against Spectra last year, and marched to the West Side Highway. The fracktivists then deployed a yellow and purple banner stating “Radioactive Gas Shut Down This Highway,” and blocked traffic

  7. Typhoon Haiyan: at least 10,000 reported dead in Philippine province

    Estimated death toll soars as path of destruction leaves many parts of Philippines inaccessible to government and aid officials

  8. Typhoon Haiyan: ‘Every single building. Every single house. Destroyed’ – Governments pledge millions, but the ruined city of Tacloban still waits
  9. New storm to pass same route of Yolanda?

    A senior meteorologist based in the United States said another tropical disturbance is threatening the country, especially the areas already devastated by the havoc of super typhoon Yolanda.

    “A tropical disturbance spinning north of Papua New Guinea is expected to track through the Philippines in a very similar fashion to Haiyan (Yolanda) at midweek,” Accuweather.com’s Kristina Pydynowski said.

  10. Hyperloop Project Revs Up

    Musk did not feel he had the time to develop his idea further, so he made his plans open source, inviting others to work on their execution.

The War is Over: Sharers Won, the Copyright Cartel Resorts to DRM on the Web

Posted in DRM at 7:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Draconian Restrictions at Microsoft

Summary: How the Internet, a platform of mass dissemination, cracked the copyright monopoly and how this monopoly is trying to get back in the old game

SHARING is not about breaking the law. It is about making information — however it’s stored — available for free, maximising dissemination without exploiting financial limitations (as typically done so divisively for profit). A society which maximises sharing and cooperation is better equipped to fight and perhaps end poverty. It can distribute generic drugs (developed with grants to the public sector, never to be privatised), maximise one’s access to material (video, audio, text, etc.), so rather than preach greed and competition we should aspire to incentivise sharing, punishing/penalising those who hoard and resort to protectionism (like trans-national/continental/oceanic deals).

“The goal is to educate people and help them realise that more sharing is more beneficial to more people.”Based on articles like [1], more people turn to the Web and take advantage of fair use or liberal licensing of videos in order to get “entertained” (to use a self-serving euphemism like “content” and “consumption”). Google, Microsoft, and Netflix (close partner of Microsoft) are trying to put DRM in Web standards and so far they have mostly succeeded [1, 2, 3]. This is very bad news. The Web has become a huge platform for commerce, communication, and so much more. Losing control of the Web (to corporations) would have devastating effects for decades to come.

According to news from [2], “European Parliament Members Explore Decriminalizing File-Sharing” and there is evidence that so-called “pirate” politicians are gaining public support [3]. The British Pirate Party (led by a man from Manchester) gains access to Parliament [4] and a French site advocating people’s rights [5] gets involved in the Committee of the European Parliament as well. Copyright destroys culture, sharing saves it. The Internet Archive building was damaged by fire last week [6], reminding us that just because a few people with a good cause choose to preserve information doesn’t guarantee preservation. We need to make sharing the norm (not too aggressively [7] as that just leads to blowback [8]). The goal is to educate people and help them realise that more sharing is more beneficial to more people. The gategeekers of the old world (far less than 1% of the population) are those who would lose from a culture that thrives in free sharing. As these people control our media and our politicians (and apparently the W3C too), it is too easy to overlook this simple fact. Their propaganda is taken for fact and absorbed by so many people out there.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Netflix, YouTube gobble up half of Internet traffic

    Netflix and YouTube together make up half of peak Internet traffic in North America while their main rivals barely register, a study says. At the same time, file sharing is a sliver of its former self.

  2. European Parliament Members Explore Decriminalizing File-Sharing

    Frustrated by the lack of copyright reform in Europe, several Members of European Parliament have started a coordinated platform to urge the European Commission to update its outdated policy. The MEPs are looking for a more flexible copyright system which benefits European citizens and businesses, including the decriminalization of file-sharing for personal use. The first steps towards these goals are to be made during an event in Brussels on Tuesday.

  3. Vote Christian For The Pirate Party EU Ballot – Here’s Why
  4. Pirates at the 8th Annual Parliament and Internet Conference

    This week two delegates (Governors Harley faggetter and Stephen Ogden) from the Pirate Party UK attended the Eighth Annual Parliament and Internet Conference on 31st October. The event, held by the Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum (PICTFOR) which is the leading all-party group in the technology sector in the Houses of Parliament, was attended by parliamentarians, regulators, delegates from technology industries, public interest groups and many more.

  5. The Castex Resolution on Private Copying Must Take Sharing Into Account!

    The “Legal Affairs” (JURI) Committee of the European Parliament will consider on Monday, November 4th, the draft resolution on Private copying levies of the Member of the EU Parliament Françoise Castex. The draft invites the EU Commission and Member States “to examine the possibility of legalising works sharing for non-commercial purposes so as to guarantee consumers access to a wide variety of content and real choice in terms of cultural diversity”, but has been the subject of numerous attacks to stall the debate on sharing once again. Ahead of the vote, citizens must mobilize and ask MEPs to maintain this reference, so as to force the Commission to consider all means for the recognition of sharing and to guarantee cultural rights in Europe.

  6. Internet Archive building damaged by fire

    The non-profit organisation behind the Internet Archive has made a plea for donations following a fire at its building in San Francisco.

  7. Too Much Cash Causes Pirate Admin to Quit, 43K Ebook Dump Imminent

    Faced with unmanageable euro revenues “in six digits” and a reluctance of publishers to legitimize the site, the administrator of a Tor-based download site developed to shake up the eBook market says he has been forced to leave the project. In other knock-on developments, TorrentFreak is informed that the site’s contents – around 43,000 eBooks – will today spill out onto the Internet, free of charge.

  8. Piracy Release Group Has Been Spying on Downloaders For 9 Months

New Evidence of Criminality in Spying Agencies, Going as Far as Exploiting FOSS Sites to Spread Malware

Posted in Action, Deception, Free/Libre Software at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

John McLusky illustration
An illustration of James Bond by artist John McLusky for the Daily Express newspaper.

Summary: The job of spooks in the US and the UK is anything but sexy and professional, new leaks continue to reveal

Bombshells regarding the NSA and its British offshoot GCHQ just can’t help coming. There is so much dirty laundry and Snowden et al. bring it out by the bucketload (to be attributed to Snowden). Techrights might have an exclusive story of its own pretty soon. We are still trying to ascertain/verify the facts in a case involving Arizona’s corrupt authorities (we asked for court documents to support the claims and to potentially publish). If the claims are true, then not only the NSA and FBI inject malware into people’s computers (e.g. CIPAV) but local authorities too are trying to do this, completely against the law. They spy without warrants, crack computers, and also pass new laws as means of revenge against people whom they are desperate to prosecute (but can’t). It sounds like a movie plot, but it sure seems to be real.

The big story in the news this week is that Slashdot got used by GCHQ to inject malware. This is criminal. When one is hijacking, infecting and distributing malware it is a serious crime — well, typically a crime when done by entities not connected to the government. The NSA-subsidised operations base known as GCHQ sure is damaging the British software industry [1] and the British “information commissioner” sure misses the point [2]; the real issue here is the illegal spying, not those who expose the illegal spying (whistleblowing/reporting). The British press which covers this the most is promoting Darkmail right now [3] and the ‘British Snowden’ explains to us how serious a problem we are dealing with [4]. Over 80% of US citizens are not satisfied with NSA oversight [5]. The NSA basically collects everything quite indiscriminately [6] and even phones that are switched off (powered off) are believed to be tracked by the NSA [7]. Services that require one’s real identity to use are getting more aggressive [8], the surveillance is being used for an expanding number of purposes (drug enforcement, taxes, etc.) [9], and even NIST turns out to be somewhat of a fraud with fake (moles-based) peer review [10].

Finally, for those who don’t know, Microsoft allegedly puts Windows back doors for the NSA [11]. What we know for sure is that Microsoft does tell the NSA how to remotely crack Windows PCs. Microsoft and the NSA are in bed together, so anyone who values his/her privacy should avoid everything from Microsoft and Microsoft-owned companies like Facebook. Now is a good time to move to Free/libre software. It’s never too late.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. GCHQ data snooping has “destroyed trust in British tech”

    GCHQ’s online surveillance has destroyed trust in British technology companies and irrevocably damaged the nation’s information security industry, according to a cryptography expert.

  2. Information commissioner voices fears over scale of NSA surveillance

    Liberty’s director, Shami Chakrabarti, asked about the impact of the Snowden revelations on the security services’ attempts to tackle terrorism, said: “I’m sure it creates challenges and irritations [but] any challenges are probably overblown. The serious bad boys know all about the technological possibilities.”

    Chakrabarti said Snowden had revealed “not just blanket surveillance and intrusion of privacy [but] that we got taken for mugs.

    “There was a big debate in this country about a snooper’s charter. That bill was dropped and now we find out they were doing this stuff anyway. That is not just a breach of privacy it is a fundamental breach of the rule of law, contempt for people, parliament and contempt of the law.

  3. Darkmail opens: New email encryption standard aims to keep government agencies out

    Silent Circle and Lavabit hope to respond to Snowden leaks with service stopping ‘state snoopers’ accessing email metadata

  4. The spies are called to account

    As the Snowden-related dis­clos­ures con­tinue to flow, each new one refut­ing the last dis­sem­bling state­ments of the des­per­ate spies, dip­lo­mats around the world must be curs­ing the over­ween­ing ambi­tions of the NSA and it vassals.

    Amer­ican ambas­sad­ors are being summoned from their for­ti­fied embassies to account for US mal­feas­ance in coun­try after coun­try: Brazil, Spain, France and, of course, Germany.

    In this last coun­try there has been scan­dal after scan­dal: first the hoover­ing up of bil­lions of private com­mu­nic­a­tions; the rev­el­a­tion that the Ger­man intel­li­gence agency, the BND, had been an enthu­si­astic part­ner of the NSA in devel­op­ing the XKey­Score pro­gramme and more; then, des­pite this, humi­li­at­ingly to learn that Ger­many is only con­sidered a 3rd Party intel­li­gence part­ner by the Yanks — put­ting them on a par with coun­tries like Iran, China and Russia.

  5. Less Than 20% Of Americans Believe That There’s Adequate Oversight Of The NSA

    One of the key responses from the NSA and its defenders to all of these Snowden leaks is that there is “rigorous oversight” of the NSA by the courts and Congress. Of course, that talking point has been debunked thoroughly, but NSA defenders keep trotting it out. It appears that the public is not buying it. At all. A recent poll from YouGov found that only 17% of people believe that Congress provides “adequate oversight” on the spying of Americans. A marginally better 20% (though, within the 4.6% margin of error, so meaningless difference really) felt that Congress provides adequate oversight of the NSA when it comes to collecting data on foreigners. Basically, that part of the NSA story just isn’t particularly believable in light of everything that’s come out. Oh, and people are paying attention to the news. A full 87% had heard something about the spying on foreign countries — with only 14% thinking that such a program has helped US interests abroad.

  6. Dan Geer Explains the Government Surveillance Mentality
  7. Samsung, Nokia say they don’t know how to track a powered-down phone

    Privacy International still awaits answers from Apple, BlackBerry, and others.

  8. Your Face and Name Will Appear in Google Ads Starting Today
  9. NSA’s Vast Surveillance Powers Extend Far Beyond Counterterrorism, Despite Misleading Government Claims
  10. Post-NSA Revelations, NIST Opens Review of All Crypto Standards
  11. Chrome Clamps Down, Bitcoin Vulnerability & More…

    Back when the Eric Snowden brouhaha first began, we said that this was going to have serious repercussions on the tech sector here in the United States, especially after it became evident that Microsoft was actively working with the spooks by allegedly designing back doors into their operating system and keeping federal intelligence agents informed about unpatched security holes that could be used against foreign governments and “terrorist,” which now days seems to be everyone who doesn’t work for the NSA, FBI or CIA.

Games and Graphics in GNU/Linux: Things Are Quickly Improving

Posted in GNU/Linux, Windows at 6:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michael Larabel
Michael Larabel, photo from Red Users

Summary: Signs of progress for GNU/Linux as a desktop platform owing to simultaneous improvements in the area of graphics drivers and game developers’ support

NAYSAYERS who insist that GNU/Linux cannot keep up with performance of games on Windows should eat their humble pie. Not only is Windows crippling the efforts and strengths of graphics cards (not supporting hardware features which Linux already supports); Windows also can’t demonstrate any performance advantages, based on new benchmarks that involve several different graphics cards [1]. This is noteworthy and now that Valve supports GNU/Linux there are a lot more games available on this free/libre platform, too. Looking at some recent news, there is just so much to say about gaming, even if most of them are proprietary.

GNU/Linux is on the rise, based on the Steam Hardware & Software Survey [2,3]. It has been only a year since it all started [4]. While it is true that ID Software goes the other way [5], Indie Game Bundle [6] and other efforts like Steam continue to deliver the goods. There are plenty of new games [7-12], including a lot which target Valve (GNU/Linux is one of several [13-18]). It’s a significant difference compared to where we were only a few years ago. SteamOS is still generating headlines [19,20] (it is GNU/Linux-based) because of NVIDIA, which also embraces Android games [21], drops 32-bit Linux support for CUDA [22]. NVIDIA’s work is constantly being tested by Michael Larabel’s benchmarks [23,24] who keeps a close eye on new releases [25], including those from AMD [26,27] and Intel [28,29]. He really helps them to compete against each other, trying to get positive publicity by treating Linux nicely. Benchmarks from his site [30] help compare performance of these “big three” and there is also good news from Wine [31] and X.Org Server [32]. It sure seems like now that games get tied to hardware (with GNU/Linux preinstalled), the race towards optimal Linux support bears a huge financial reward.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Ubuntu Linux Gaming Performance Mostly On Par With Windows 8.1

    Given the recent release of Microsoft Windows 8.1, at Phoronix we took 13 different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards and compared the performance between Ubuntu Linux and Windows 8.1 with the same hardware and set of OpenGL games/benchmarks. For AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards with their official drivers, the performance is largely similar between the competing desktop operating systems but there are some performance exceptions.

  2. Linux OS on the rise: Steam Hardware Survey

    According to the just-released Steam Hardware Survey from Valve, there has been a considerable increase in number of Linux-compatible games on Steam for Linux. This is indeed great for Linux users as hardware/software survey statistics for previous months were consistently down from when Steam debuted on Linux last year.

  3. Cheese Talks: The Steam Hardware & Software Survey

    With Valve’s content distribution/social/DRM platform, Steam, having supported all three major desktop platforms for nearly a year now, I’ve been intending to write something about the Steam Hardware & Software Survey for some time. In the coming months, the impact of Valve’s recent SteamOS and Steam Machines announcements is likely to begin shifting some attitudes, perceptions and ultimately (dramatically or subtly) changing the landscape that the survey results depict.

  4. Steam For Linux Has Its First Birthday Today!

    So today marks a whole year of having the Steam client on Linux, how will you celebrate or do you still refuse to use it?

  5. ID Software Moving Further Away From Linux, QuakeLive Going Native
  6. Here’s your October 18, 2013 Indie Game Bundle Update
  7. New Teaser Trailer For Gaslamp’s Clockwork Empires
  8. Voxatron Aims Big For Its 0.3 Release

    Voxatron – A world made of tiny colourful cubes sets the stage for a cast of cute characters on their quests to find courage, adventure, friendship, and sometimes just a way to get home.

  9. SCALE is a first-person puzzler that has you re-sizing the world

    Like Portal, SCALE is a fascinating first-person puzzler that replaces a traditional gun with an inventive new gameplay mechanic. In CubeHeart’s game, you have the ability to resize objects in the world: making bigger or smaller as you see fit. It’s easy to imagine the puzzling opportunities enabled by the scaling mechanic.

  10. Fully Bugged Little Cells Unveiled
  11. Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine is coming to Linux with new content

    Indie heist game Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine is going multiplatform. The developers announced on the game’s Facebook page that it is hitting Linux. Along with the game’s debut on Linux, it is also getting a bunch of new content as part of the package.

  12. Dark Matter brings survival horror to PC, Mac and Linux
  13. Rogue Legacy out now on Mac, Linux

    Cellar Door Games continued its Rogue Legacy by bringing it to Mac and Linux this week, where it’s available now via Steam. The “rogue-lite” that stars successions of heroes, each one differently debilitated, is also on the way to PS3, PS4, and Vita next year.

  14. Knytt Underground & Nihilumbra Platformers On Steam For Linux
  15. GamingOnLinux Reviews – Trine 2: Complete Story

    The original Trine (2009) first became notable to me after I had discovered that its developer Frozenbyte had given full permission to redistribute screenshots of the game under a Creative Commons license as long as an attribution back to them was preserved. This is a sadly underused marketing technique which also provides the added benefit of allowing a company’s game titles to have beautifully well illustrated articles on Wikipedia. By this point some of Frozenbyte’s earlier titles in the Shadowgrounds series (2005-2007) had already arrived on Linux in the form of somewhat underwhelming third-party ports, but with the knowledge I had gained from their policy regarding screenshots, I had discovered that the game’s original developers were well capable of trying new and better methods of interacting with their community. As such, I accordingly became quite confident that this situation would at some point improve upon itself.

  16. Left 4 Dead 2 Graduates Linux School, Now Officially Available
  17. Leadwerks is on the way to Steam Dev Days

    In June, we have already reported about the Software company Leadwerks porting its game development toolkits Leadwerks 3 to Linux. This should not only help to promote Linux as a gaming platform but also as a platform for the game development. After reaching its goal on Kickstarter.com, Leadwerks has started the beta testing Leadwerks 3.1 on Linux.

  18. Arma Tactics is now available on Steam

    You’ve crawled miles through the grass with a broken leg just to take that shot on your enemy, now it’s time to relive the entire Arma experience like never before – via a tactics game. As of today, you can get Arma Tactics through Steam for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android platforms. This tactic game will give you the full turn-based, close combat, strategy game experience.

  19. This is Valve’s Steam Machine prototype and SteamOS (hands-on)

    Take a good hard look at Valve’s Steam Machine, because it’s the last time you’ll see it. Er, something like that. Only 300 of the metal beast above will ship to beta testers, and then Valve says it’s cutting off its own supply of Steam Machines. “We’re really building this as a test platform, and there are many machines that are gonna be made by third-parties. They’re the ones that will be available commercially in 2014,” Valve designer Greg Coomer told Engadget.

  20. SteamOS to have NVIDIA developer tools from day one

    This week the folks at NVIDIA have suggested that their developer program GameWorks will not be limited to the likes of Linux and Android – not by any stretch of the imagination. NVIDIA made clear that not only would they be extending GameWorks support – developer tools for games, that is – for Ubuntu environments, but for SteamOS as well. In other words – those gaming developers hoping to optimize their games for Steam Machines with NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics cards will be able to do so.

  21. Nvidia Shield embraces Android games by the thousands

    Monday’s update brings Android 4.3 Jelly Bean to the game device, and a new “console mode” turns Shield into a portable living-room game console.

  22. NVIDIA Dropping 32-bit Linux Support For CUDA

    If you are reliant upon NVIDIA’s CUDA computing parallel computing platform, hopefully you’re running 64-bit Linux. NVIDIA announced their plans on Friday to deprecate the 32-bit Linux x86 CUDA Toolkit and the 32-bit Linux CUDA driver.

  23. 10-Way AMD & NVIDIA OpenCL GPU Linux Tests

    For some weekend Linux benchmarking we tossed six NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards against four AMD Radeon graphics cards to get some idea for how the new OpenCL Linux benchmarks are running via the Phoronix Test Suite.

  24. Updated NVIDIA GeForce Benchmarks On Ubuntu Linux With Team Fortress 2

    For those curious how Valve’s popular Team Fortress 2 game is performing atop the Source Engine with Ubuntu 13.10 and the latest NVIDIA Linux drivers, here’s updated benchmarks as we compare nine graphics cards spanning several GeForce generations.

  25. NVIDIA 331.20 Supports New Kernels, NvFBCOpenGL

    The NVIDIA 331.20 Linux graphics driver has been released today. The NVIDIA 331.20 Linux driver has a workaround to support the Linux 3.11 and 3.12 kernels along with introducing NvFBCOpenGL. The new NvFBCOpenGL is for NVIDIA OpenGL frame-buffer capturing that’s high-performance and low-latency.

  26. 9-Card AMD Radeon Team Fortress 2 Linux Benchmarks
  27. AMD Lands Open-Source “Hawaii” GPU Driver Code

    The Linux 3.13 kernel that is just entering mainline development stages already has Radeon DPM and HDMI audio by default. However, now there’s another Radeon DRM-Next pull and it provides support for the brand new AMD R9 290 “Hawaii” GPUs!

  28. Intel Merges HDMI Stereo/3D, New Code

    Intel has already queued up a fair amount of changes for their DRM graphics driver in the yet-to-be-started Linux 3.13 kernel, but there’s even more work ahead. A new set of patches were pushed into the Intel DRM driver’s kernel testing branch with a lot of “cool stuff” according to its developers.

  29. Intel Core i7 4960X “Ivy Bridge-E” Is A Beauty On Linux

    The Core i7 4960X Extreme Edition processor is Intel’s new $1000+ CPU built atop their “Ivy Bridge” architecture and features six physical cores plus Hyper Threading. The i7-4960X is running at 3.6GHz with a 4.0GHz Turbo Frequency and is all around a super-fast processor. Under Linux, the performance is fantastic and it runs great on modern Linux distributions.

  30. 7-Way Low-End Open-Source Linux GPU Comparison

    If you’re in the market for a low-end graphics processor that’s compatible with Linux and the available open-source Mesa/Gallium3D graphics drivers, here’s a roundup of benchmark results for seven different AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA graphics processors.

  31. Wine 1.7.6 Supports Video Mixing Renderer 7

    Wine 1.7.6 is now available as the latest bi-weekly release of the Wine software for running Windows applications and games on Linux.

  32. The GLX Rewrite Lands For X.Org Server 1.15

    X.Org Server 1.15 hasn’t been too exciting with not many prominent changes, but just ahead of the closure of the merge window, but the GLX rewrite has landed. The GLX rewrite will simplify the X.Org Server’s use of OpenGL and drops a whole lot of code in the process.

New GNU/Linux Releases Include Pear OS 8 and OpenMandriva Lx 2013

Posted in GNU/Linux at 5:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


OpenMandriva Lx 2013 (Credit: Mandriva Linux Chronicles)

Summary: Some new or upcoming releases of GNU/Linux distributions, including OpenMandriva and a Mac OS X clone

AS we pointed out the other day, Mandriva is very much alive, especially thanks to derivatives. OpenMandriva is not as idle as some believe and a dedicated pro-Mandriva (and derivatives) blog called Mandriva Linux Chronicles says that OpenMandriva Lx 2013 is almost ready for release [1,2]. It is being tested [3], but this comes at the expense of Mandriva [4].

For people who like the theming styles of Apple there is a new release of Pear OS (not Apple OS), which is basically another derivative with not-so-unique looks [5,6]. It was already reviewed by a leading distro reviews site [7].

In less significant news, people can now see the new release of Alpine [8], OS4 OpenLinux 14.1 [9], and SuperX 2.1 [10]. There is no lack of decent new releases, only lack of coverage in the corporate press. There’s no money in promoting something which promotes freedom and won’t buy ads from corporate press (or buy the corporate press itself).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Right on Schedule! OpenMandriva LX RC1 has arrived!
  2. Good things happen during the weekend OpenMandriva LX is Coming!

    According to this post, OpenMandriva Lx will be seeing the light of day pretty soon: on November 22!

  3. OpenMandriva Lx 2013 RC1: A Quick Test Drive

    As promised, I took my OpenMandriva Lx 2013 RC1 home to install it to my desktop computer. A while ago, I installed the beta –after a tenacious fight, I must admit–, so it was time to upgrade it.

  4. Some changes around here

    With my recent installation of OpenMandriva Lx RC1, Mandriva is no longer present in any of my computers. I had to wipe Mandriva 2011 on both my desktop and laptop to make room for the new comer.

  5. Pear OS 8
  6. Pear OS 8 Screenshot Tour – Beautiful and Unoriginal

    Pear OS 8, a distribution based on Ubuntu and Debian that aims to make it easier for Mac OS users to switch to Linux, was released only one day ago, and now it’s time to take a closer look at it.

    Pear OS 8 is host to a number of unique applications developed specifically for this Linux distribution, and Mac OS users will easily recognize the designed used by Apple.

  7. Pear OS 8

    Pear OS 8 does a very good job of copying the look and feel of Apple’s operating system. And it comes about the closest I’ve ever seen to providing a Mac-like experience in Linux (it even offers its own version of Apple’s iCloud service). It stumbles a bit though when it comes to software accessibility and organization, and that clearly needs to be fixed in an update or future release.

    At the beginning of the review I mentioned the old saying that imitation is the most since form of flattery. But something else popped into my mind as I was using Pear OS 8. In the Lord of the Rings there is a description of Isengard – the fortress of the wizard Saruman – that seemed oddly appropriate to Pear OS 8.

    In this case Linux is Isengard, and Saruman is the developer of Pear OS 8. Apple, of course, is Barad-dur, the Dark Tower in Mordor.

    Here is the quote from the Lord of the Rings:

    “A strong place and wonderful was Isengard, and long it had been beautiful [...]. But Saruman had slowly shaped it to his shifting purposes, and made it better, as he thought, being deceived – for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child’s model or a slave’s flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury, prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding its time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.”

    Pear OS 8 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

  8. Alpine Linux Reaches Version 2.7.0 with OpenSSH 6.4

    On November 8, Natanael Copa has announced the immediate availability for download of the Alpine Linux 2.7.0 operating system for servers.

    Alpine Linux 2.7.0 is a major release that includes some of the latest Linux technologies, as well as the newly released OpenSSH 6.4 software, a SSH protocol suite of network connectivity tools.

  9. OS4 OpenLinux 14.1
  10. SuperX 2.1

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