Restricting Use of Free (as in Freedom) Software in Surveillance, Censorship, Assassinations, and Wars

Posted in GNU/Linux at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Is the freedom to kill and maim really a legitimate “freedom”?


Summary: Notes of concern about the extensive use of GNU/Linux and Free software by those who are oppressing society

AN interesting discussion emerged in this post about Linux in rifles [1,2]. It led back to the role of Linux in CIA-run drone assassinations, which the UK plays a role in (and covers up [3,4]). This is a huge ethical/moral problem. A lot of innocent people are murdered by governments and nobody is being held accountable. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism paints a deceiving picture because “civilian” means “not adult male”, it doesn’t mean anything else. Every adult male killed is being labeled “militant”, so no wonder the numbers look like [5,6,7]. Drones, as a professor of political science has just put it [8], are inaccurately portrayed in the media as “against terrorists” when in fact “it’s difficult to evaluate the claim. One of the biggest problems about drone strikes is that we don’t have good information about who is killed.”

To quote the author of the article: “In the aftermath of a drone strike, normally the press or the U.S. military would report on the outcome.” They also block out competing reporters, jail some of them (there is a famous case in Yemen), and they are knowingly blasting rescuers (double- or -triple strikes, targeting the very same point with moderate intervals). This whole mentality of merciless assassination goes quite a few decades back. In Latin America [9], Mexico [10], and Canada [11] US drones or assassinations are being routinely used for political purposes. There are many examples (past and present) to be given, but these are just very recent ones. Op-Eds on this subject continue to be published [12,13] and imperialism as a whole is criticised [14,15,16] in light of what happened in the middle east. It’s not an American thing, as the UK is also involved (to a lesser degree Australia).

As a British resident who views the country rapidly descending to China-style censorship, attacks on the free press [1, 2, 3] and even assassination of citizens (with coverup to follow) I am deeply concerned. What’s most upsetting is that GNU/Linux is being used for much of it. Red Hat now has the NSA, which selects people to assassinate, as a major client (see latest comment), proving perhaps that a world dominated by GNU/Linux is not necessarily ethical and just. We need to look beyond brands if we pursue morality and we may need to adapt licences of Free software to make it harder for brutes in uniform (or medals-decorated costumes) to effectively spy, maim, kill, censor, and generally oppress in the name of “security”.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. US Army invests in Linux-powered, Wi-Fi capable ‘smart rifles’

    It seems that the United States military is investing in some next-gen firearms, which feature an internal computer, sensors that gauge environmental factors to help soldiers aim, and more, according to tech startup, Tracking Point.

  2. US Army testing precision guided ‘smart’ rifles – report

    The US military is investing in an advanced firearm that comes equipped with an internal computer system as well as sensors that gauge environmental factors to help a soldier aim, according to a technology startup known as Tracking Point.

  3. Bowing To ‘US PR Concerns,’ UK Court Blocks Lawsuit For Drone Death

    Noor Khan: ‘I used to think that Britain stood for justice, but now it seems as though the Government has put itself above the law’

  4. First UK legal challenge to CIA drones blocked by Court of Appeal (by Bureau of Investigative Journalism)

    An unprecedented attempt to discover if UK officials are complicit in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan has been stopped by the Court of Appeal.

    The court ruled that a case being brought by a Pakistani whose father was killed in a CIA drone strike on March 17 2011, could not go ahead as it could require an English court to pass judgements on the United States.

  5. US drones killed no more than 4 civilians in Pakistan in ’13: study
  6. U.S. drones killed no more than four civilians in Pakistan in 2013: study
  7. US drone strikes in Pakistan killed ‘four civilians in 2013′
  8. Beloit professor explores issue of U.S. drone strikes

    The professor of political science will talk about the use of drones for targeted killing in a public talk Wednesday on the Beloit College campus.

    “The U.S. argues that drone strikes are the most effective counter-terrorism tool that we have,” she said. “I’ll be looking at the different pieces of that argument and evaluating them.”

    Dougherty teaches courses in international politics, including Middle Eastern politics, human rights and U.S. foreign policy.

    “The most important claim about drones is that they kill terrorists and minimize civilian casualties,” Dougherty said. “But it’s difficult to evaluate the claim. One of the biggest problems about drone strikes is that we don’t have good information about who is killed.”

    In the aftermath of a drone strike, normally the press or the U.S. military would report on the outcome.

  9. Otis Pike, Congressman Who Took On C.I.A., Dies at 92

    Otis G. Pike, a longtime congressman from New York who spearheaded an inquiry in the 1970s into accusations that the intelligence establishment had abused its power, died on Monday in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 92.

  10. CIA drug operations heat up in Mexico with civilians caught in crossfire

    Civilians trapped in US-backed drug war cross-fire

  11. Column: The future of war includes drones, cyber-sieges and space

    An unmanned drone is used to patrol the U.S.-Canadian border.


    Changes in the nature of warfare profoundly shape both the manner in which the state is organized and the law itself. An obvious example of this is how the adoption of gunpowder warfare and the emergence of small standing armies helped to produce the absolute monarchies of the 16th and 17th centuries. In turn, the levee en masse — the mass mobilization of conscripts — by Napoleon’s revolutionary armies helped spell the beginning of the end for those monarchies. The need to raise and maintain ever-larger armies also required the creation of the apparatus of the modern state such as a census, universal taxation and basic education.

  12. America Needs Sense of Humanity

    America lives in a “disconnect” world being unaware of the surrounding real world.

  13. The trend now is towards peace

    When war broke out in August 1914, crowds in Trafalgar Square cheered. In Ger­many, even the liberal novelist Thomas Mann exulted, “War! We felt a cleansing, a liberation.” The “world of peace” had bored him.

    His words show how far we have come since. Most recent commentaries about 1914 emphasise current risks of war. Yet today’s overriding reality is peace — more widespread internationally and domestically than probably ever before. Armed conflict and violent crime are declining, as the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker describes in his seminal The Better Angels of Our Nature. What if trends are towards even more peace?


    . Armies will increasingly commit violence in secret, using drones or camera-free interrogation chambers. No US government will again allow a televised war like Vietnam.

  14. The day I tried (and failed) to arrest Tony Blair for war crimes: An encounter between the former Prime Minister and Shoreditch barman Twiggy Garcia
  15. Former US Commander Stanley McChrystal warns Afghanistan could descend into civil war when foreign troops leave
  16. For America, Denial Is a River in Iraq

    In 2006, three years into the bloody War on Iraq, 63% of Americans aged 18-24 couldn’t find the “target-rich” nation on a map.

    To be fair, only half could find New York State on a map, so it is unsurprising that, in spite of its then-dominance of the news cycle, they couldn’t locate the principal fixation of American foreign policy on a map that still brims with U.S. military bases and deployments.

NSA Watch: Latest News About Privacy

Posted in Action at 6:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New links about privacy violations and legal/Constitutional violations

New Leaks

  • New documents: NSA provided 2-3 daily “tips” to FBI for at least 3 years

    According to newly-declassified court orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the National Security Agency (NSA) was (and may still be) tipping off the FBI at least two to three times per day going back at least to 2006.

    Hours after President Barack Obama finished his speech last Friday on proposed intelligence and surveillance reforms, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) declassified a number of documents from the nation’s most secretive court.


  • Obama’s “Big” Speech on NSA Delivers So Little

    I doubt whether many people had high expectations of President Obama’s “big” speech last week about NSA spying. After all not only has he showed few signs of being willing to admit the value of Snowden’s revelations, he has, in general, been an immense disappointment to many who had placed such great hopes in his election. But at least this time he did not disappoint us, because what he announced was as disappointing as everyone expected.

  • Obama’s Lies, NSA Spies, and the Sons of Liberty

    Remember, Obama is the chief executive of a super secretive surveillance state whose overarching purpose is to remain in power by any means available. As such, he and his surveillance state cohorts have far more in common with King George and the British government of his day than with the American colonists who worked hard to foment a rebellion and overthrow a despotic regime.

    Indeed, Obama and his speechwriters would do well to brush up on their history. In doing so, they will find that the Sons of Liberty, the “small, secret surveillance committee” they conveniently liken to the NSA, was in fact an underground, revolutionary movement that fought the established government of its day, whose members were considered agitators, traitors and terrorists not unlike Edward Snowden.

  • Half of Americans unaware of Obama’s proposed changes to NSA surveillance – poll


Human Rights Watch

Microsoft-Funded But ‘NSA-free’

  • F-Secure’s Hypponen leads RSA refuseniks to NSA-free infosec chatfest

    The one-day TrustyCon, to be held on 27 February at the AMC Metreon Theatre in San Francisco, has drawn Mikko Hypponen as its keynote, giving “The talk I was going to give at RSA”. So far, the only other confirmed speakers are ISEC Partners’ Alex Stamos; Marcia Hofmann (EFA) and Christopher Soghoian (American Civil Liberties Union) who dropped out of the RSA Conference; Google’s Chris Palmer; and Black Hat’s Jeff Moss.

Ed: Microsoft-funded means not NSA-free. Microsoft receives a lot of money from the NSA.


  • Manchester ORG hosts second Crypto Party – 6th Feb

    Cryptoparties provide a great way for anyone to learn how to install and use encryption technology and other tips to keep you anonymous online. Tech facilitators will be there to help you with encryption of email, live chat and how to browse the web without being tracked. All are welcome to come learn and share skills in a fun environment.


  • Vietnamese hackers target EFF staffers, journalist in phishing attack

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published details of an attempted malware attack on two of its employees by a group of hackers associated with the Vietnamese government. The hacker group, known as Sinh Tử Lệnh, has targeted Vietnamese dissidents and bloggers in the past; it now appears that the campaign has been extended to attacks on US activists and journalists who publish information seen as critical of the Vietnamese government.

  • Vietnamese Malware Gets Very Personal


New Screenshots Galleries

Posted in GNU/Linux at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Newly-released distributions demonstrated visually

GNU News (December-January)

Posted in FSF at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: GNU, FSF, and Free software news from the past month or so

BSD Update: OpenBSD Saved, PC-BSD 10.0 is Coming, and FreeBSD 10.0 is Released

Posted in BSD at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News about the world of BSD, led by a generous donation to OpenBSD and a major new release of FreeBSD



  • PC-BSD 10.0 RC3 Improves Hybrid Graphics Support

    PC-BSD 10.0 RC3 for this week pulls in the latest upstream FreeBSD 10 changes. As noted in their weekly digest is also improved detection of AMD Hybrid Graphics systems. With the FreeBSD/PC-BSD open-source graphics drivers being ported from the Linux kernel, their hybrid (dual) GPU graphics support isn’t any better than Linux, and these improvements is just better detection if trying to load the X Server off the first GPU fails. Improved NVIDIA Hybrid/Optimus support for PC-BSD/FreeBSD support still needs to be investigated.


  • FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE Announcement
  • FreeBSD 10.0 Has Finally Been Released

    FreeBSD 10.0 uses Clang as the default compiler in place of GCC, TRIM support is available for SSDs with ZFS as are other ZFS file-system improvements, AMD Radeon KMS driver support, and a wide-range of packages have been updated. I have already written at length about the best FreeBSD 10 features and other interesting features so check out the dozens of FreeBSD 10.0 articles on Phoronix for more information.

  • The 10 Best Features Of FreeBSD 10.0
  • FreeBSD 10, Kali Nuclear Option, and Why Linux Lost?
  • KMS Drivers Break The Console In FreeBSD 10

    The problem has been corrected within FreeBSD HEAD, which is aligned for FreeBSD 11-CURRENT. The problem was fixed by writing a new VT console driver (the “Newcons” project). However, this won’t benefit users of FreeBSD 10.0 and can only hope that it will be back-ported to a FreeBSD 10.x point release rather than waiting some years for FreeBSD 11.0.

  • FreeBSD 10.0 RC3 Is Here To End Out 2013

    The third and final FreeBSD 10.0 release candidate is out ahead of the hopeful general availability in early January.

    FreeBSD 10.0 didn’t make it out this year as was originally planned with the first target release date being months ago. Fortunately, the release is progress with a day-after-Christmas update.

  • FreeBSD 10.0 Kernel Comes To Debian

    Advancing prudently but quietly within the Debian camp is the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD operating system that pairs Debian’s GNU user-land with the FreeBSD kernel. For Debian 8.0 “Jessie” there are continued improvements on this spin that does away with the Linux kernel. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Jessie/Sid currently defaults to the FreeBSD 9.2.0 kernel, but a FreeBSD 10.0 development kernel has already landed in Debian and is the focus of today’s benchmarks.

  • FreeBSD 10.0 RC2 Brings Radeon KMS Fixes
  • Massively upgraded FreeBSD 10 to be released next week

    Latest version of the OS brings in Clang/LLVM, Hyper-V support, ARM additions, and compatibility with the Raspberry Pi

  • MEGACORE: FreeBSD Foundation and iXsystems collaborate to further the cause of FreeBSD Development

    What makes this monster server (code-named MEGACORE) interesting isn’t its scale (it’s a fairly common server we build) but rather its purpose. It was recently built by iXsystems for the FreeBSD Foundation, and will be used to test and push FreeBSD to its limits. The FreeBSD Foundation plans on making it available to FreeBSD’s developers and committers for the purposes of addressing SMP, memory, and general performance scalability. It will be the most powerful machine in the Project’s possession to date.

  • FreeBSD to support secure boot by mid-year

    Support for secure boot will be available in the FreeBSD 10.1 release which is due to be made later this year, according to Marshall Kirk McKusick, a senior developer of the operating system.

    McKusick told iTWire that work on FreeBSD’s boot process had been making steady progress. “Implementing UEFI booting is the first step, and last year the (FreeBSD) Foundation sponsored (developer) Benno Rice with a small project to implement a working prototype,” he said.

UEFI would be a bad idea for FreeBSD if FreeBSD wants to dodge back doors because of BIOS/EFI-level exploits.

Linux Devices Watch: Embedded and Device/Appliance News

Posted in GNU/Linux at 5:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Devices/appliances and embedded systems running Linux, as demonstrated by recent examples

GNU/Linux Rising in Mobile (Not Just Android)

Posted in GNU/Linux at 5:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Various Linux-powered operating systems for mobile devices are transforming the market


  • Jolla outsells iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s at Finnish carrier DNA

    Jolla began its retail journey in its home country Finland and a month later began selling across Europe. Initial sales data from Finnish carrier DNA, which is the only one to offer the Jolla smartphone at this point, shows that the phone is doing quite well. So much so that it managed to overtake the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s on its network.


  • Ultra-secure Blackphone to run Android-based PrivatOS

    Geeksphone and Silent Circle announced an Android-derived, ultra-secure “Blackphone,” and images of Geeksphone’s Intel-based “Revolution” phone broke cover.

  • The Blackphone vs. the NSA

    “I think that the Blackphone could be a useful tool for some people, but it is by no means a magic bullet,” said Google+ blogger Brett Legree. “Information security begins — and ends — with people and the processes they use.” People “‘in the know’ could use Android phones with custom firmware and selected applications … in concert with robust processes to keep their sensitive data protected.”

  • Is The Blackphone Really NSA-Proof?

    Geeksphone has announced a handset prioritising privacy and security, but is it NSA proof?


  • ZTE Geek smartphone with Tizen Linux on the way?

    Chinese phone maker ZTE is preparing to show off a smartphone running the Tizen operating system at Mobile World Congress in late February. It’s not clear if that means ZTE will definitely launch a Tizen phone this year, but the company’s clearly at least looking into the possibility.

  • Major setbacks for two new smartphone OSs, Tizen and Ubuntu Touch

    Will 2014 be the year when scrappy new challengers take on the might of Android and iOS? Never say never, but the challenge won’t come from Tizen nor Ubuntu Touch.

  • NTT DoCoMo backs away from early 2014 Tizen release

    NTT DoCoMo says it has scratched plans for a March launch of Samsung’s first Tizen smartphone, and the Japanese carrier offered no revised timetable.

  • NTT DoCoMo says two mobe OSes are enough, so sayonara to Tizen

    The open-source Tizen mobile OS has suffered another setback, with Japanese mobile giant NTT DoCoMo announcing that it has put off plans to launch a smartphone powered by the system this year.

    The carrier had earlier said that it would launch a Tizen device in March. But according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, a DoCoMo spokesman has said that it has shelved those plans for now.

  • First Tizen OS smartphone canceled in Japan

    Sorry Samsung, you’re stuck with Android for a little bit longer. Plans for the first Tizen phone have been cancelled as a phone network in Japan admits there’s no room for another player alongside Android and the iPhone.


x86 Collapse

New Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Linux 3.13 released, Linux 3.14 planned, maintenance releases, and graphics news

Linux Kernel 3.13

  • Linux Kernel 3.13 Officially Released with Support for NFC Payments

    Today, January 19, Linus Torvalds has proudly announced the immediate availability for download of the highly anticipated Linux kernel 3.13, which brings major improvements, numerous new and updated drivers, as well as a dozen of new features.

  • The 3.13 kernel is out

    This release includes nftables, the successor of iptables, a revamp of the block layer designed for high-performance SSDs, a power capping framework to cap power consumption in Intel RAPL devices, improved squashfs performance, AMD Radeon power management enabled by default and automatic Radeon GPU switching, improved NUMA performance, improved performance with hugepage workloads, TCP Fast Open enabled by default, support for NFC payments, support for the High-availability Seamless Redundancy protocol, new drivers and many other small improvements.

Linux Kernel 3.14

  • SCHED_DEADLINE To Be Added To Linux 3.14 Kernel

    The first 3.14 pull request worth pointing out on Phoronix are the scheduler changes sent in by Ingo Molnar. The most notable change with this pull is the initial implementation of SCHED_DEADLINE. SCHED_DEADLINE is a new CPU scheduler for the Linux kernel that’s been in development for several years and has undergone numerous revisions. SCHED_DEADLINE implements the Earliest Deadline First (EDF) scheduling algorithm.

  • Intel Merrifield MID Support Landing In Linux 3.14

    The Intel MID (Mobile Internet Device) platform updates for the Linux 3.14 kernel include supporting Merrifield and Clovertrail platforms. Clovertrail has been around for a while but Merrifield is Intel’s new smart-phone architecture focused on Android. Merrifield has a 22nm Atom SoC and it’s expected to start appearing this quarter.

  • Linux 3.14 Officializes Broadwell, Deprecates Legacy UMS

    Daniel Vetter of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center blogged on Wednesday about the major changes queued up for the Linux 3.14 kernel as it concerns their DRM kernel graphics driver. The main changes for Intel DRM in Linux 3.14 include runtime D3 support, wwatermark computation / frame-buffer compression fixes, a rewrite of the low-level backlight code, work on full PPGTT support, Bay Trail Atom improvements, and a kernel option to disable legacy fbdev support.

Old Linux Kernels

More Kernel

  • Kdbus Details
  • Intel vs. AMD Performance-Per-Watt On Ubuntu 14.04 Linux

    To complement the many Intel vs. AMD CPU/APU Linux benchmarks published earlier this week as part of our AMD A10-7850K “Kaveri” APU coverage, here’s some results mostly examining the performance-per-Watt and overall system power consumption of the many different Intel and AMD processors running Ubuntu Linux.

  • Linux Kernel’s Sysfs Logic Turns Into “Kernfs” For 3.14

    Kernfs is the sysfs logic that in turn can be taken advantage of by other subsystems in need of a virtual file-system with handling for device connect/disconnect, dynamic creation, and other attributes.

Graphics Stack

  • Wayland and Weston 1.3.93 (1.4 RC)

    We’re getting close to the 1.4.0 release date – well, actually that was supposed to be Jan 16, but we ended up slipping a week to get a more solid first beta (1.3.92) out. We tagged that Jan 10 and here’s 1.3.93, aka second beta or release candidate:

  • Linux Graphics News

    2013 has been a dramatic and controversial year for graphics in Linux, yet actual changes to the overall graphics stack have so far been more incremental than revolutionary. But with us closing in on several Linux distributions’ Long-Term Support releases this is to be expected, as stability weighs stronger than novelty among consumers of these products. This next summer may be a safer window for distros to undertake major transitions; we should expect to see major graphics system transitions in desktop distros at that point. The landing of XWayland support in the X server can be seen as an early indicator of a Wayland desktop future, since it’s a crucial prerequisite.



  • The Linux 3.13 Kernel Is A Must-Have For AMD RadeonSI Users

    The Linux 3.13 kernel that will be released in the very near future is very worth the upgrade if you are a RadeonSI user — in particular, the Radeon HD 7000 series GPUs and newer on the Gallium3D Linux graphics driver — but other open-source graphics driver users as well may also see nice improvements in the new kernel release. Here’s some benchmarks showing off the gains found with the Linux 3.13 kernel for Radeon HD and R9 graphics cards.

  • AMD A10-7850K Radeon R7 Graphics Comparison

    The latest benchmarks of the AMD A10-7850K APU to share on Phoronix and to complement yesterday’s Windows vs. Linux OpenGL comparison are benchmarks of the APU’s Radeon R7 Graphics compared to numerous AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards.

  • RadeonSI GLAMOR 2D Performance vs. Catalyst

    While the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver continues making much headway as the modern open-source AMD Gallium3D Linux graphics driver along with the GLAMOR library it depends upon for 2D acceleration, the 2D performance of the Linux desktop is still quite poor compared to the proprietary Catalyst driver.

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