Links 8/6/2017: Chrome 59, Tor Browser 7.0

Posted in News Roundup at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Free Software/Open Source

  • Google releases open-source platform Spinnaker 1.0

    Google is giving the open-source community another tool for continuous delivery and cloud deployments. This week, Google released Spinnaker 1.0, an open-source multi-cloud continuous delivery platform, which companies can use for fast, safe and repeatable deployments in production.

    Back in November 2015, Netflix and Google collaborated to bring Spinnaker, a release management platform, to the open-source community. Since that initial release, Spinnaker has been used in several organizations like Netflix, Waze, Microsoft, Oracle, and Target.

  • Colu Open-Sources Protocol to Help Central Banks Issue Digital Currencies

    VC-backed startup Colu is open-sourcing its banking infrastructure known as Bankbox in an effort to remove the technical barriers and reduce costs for central banks that want to issue digital currencies.

    The Israeli firm’s technology was previously based on the bitcoin blockchain, but the company is overhauling its approach for its Colored Coins initiative, evolving into a more blockchain-agnostic platform.

  • Despite call for open source software, SF approves $30M contract for Microsoft products [Ed: Microsoft corruption is powerful enough at San Francisco]
  • ‘Unforgivably negligent’ not to adopt open source

    While few organisations are able to adopt open source tools and technologies for everything IT at present, it is “unwise” not to at least consider doing so as much as possible – and it will be “unforgivable negligent” to fail to do this within a few years.

    This is the view of Paul Miller and Lauren E Nelson, authors of Forrester Research’s “Open Source Powers Enterprise Digital Transformation” report.

  • SoftBank’s ‘Open Source’ Source Is a Slovakian Startup

    Founded last year, and based in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, Frinx claims to offer a “fully supported” version of OpenDaylight and is one of a crop of new companies that sees a business opportunity in open source technology.

    For anyone that’s forgotten, OpenDaylight is an open source SDN platform that is managed by the Linux Foundation. The project includes some of the biggest names in the technology industry, with Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) all listed as “platinum” members on the organization’s website.

  • Help us celebrate 23 years of FreeDOS

    This year on June 29, FreeDOS will turn 23 years old. That’s pretty good for a legacy 16-bit operating system like DOS. It’s interesting to note that we have been doing FreeDOS for longer than MS-DOS was a thing. And we’re still going!

    There’s nothing special about “23 years old” but I thought it would be a good idea to mark this year’s anniversary by having people contribute stories about how they use FreeDOS. So over at the FreeDOS Blog, I’ve started a FreeDOS blog challenge.

  • Open Source Software and Hardware for the Internet of Things

    Fast forward to the present and Torvalds’ open source operating system has been adapted for use in embedded components, routers, access points, devices and data center applications — all important aspects of generating, transmitting and receiving the huge amount of data produced by the booming Internet of Things.

  • coreboot Joins Conservancy as a Member Project

    Software Freedom Conservancy proudly welcomes coreboot as Conservancy’s newest member project. coreboot is is an extended firmware platform that delivers a lightning fast and secure boot experience on modern computers and embedded systems.

  • Coreboot Joins The Software Freedom Conservancy

    Coreboot has joined the Software Freedom Conservancy as a member project.

    The Software Freedom Conservancy as a reminder is the non-profit working to promote FLOSS projects and takes care of managerial tasks and other non-development/documentation related tasks for the project. Basically, member projects are absorbed by this non-profit and provide some legal representation, among other services.

  • LZ4m: Taking LZ4 Compression To The Next Level

    The developers behind LZ4m plan to use this new compression algorithm for a real-world in-memory compression system. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any code for LZ4m yet nor much more besides this white paper for the 2017 IEEE conference. Hopefully we will learn more soon and see a useful code drop. Thanks to markg85 pointing out this work.

  • Google’s Brotli Compression Format Nearing v1.0

    This LZ77-derived open-source data compression library used by all the major web browsers has made much progress since its public debut in 2015 for HTTP compression and other purposes.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Tor Browser 7.0 is released

        The Tor Browser Team is proud to announce the first stable release in the 7.0 series. This release is available from the Tor Browser Project page and also from our distribution directory.

        This release brings us up to date with Firefox 52 ESR which contains progress in a number of areas:

        Most notably we hope having Mozilla’s multiprocess mode (e10s) and content sandbox enabled will be one of the major new features in the Tor Browser 7.0 series, both security- and performance-wise. While we are still working on the sandboxing part for Windows (the e10s part is ready), both Linux and macOS have e10s and content sandboxing enabled by default in Tor Browser 7.0. In addition to that, Linux and macOS users have the option to further harden their Tor Browser setup by using only Unix Domain sockets for communication with tor.

      • Firefox-Based Tor Browser 7.0 Officially Released for Anonymous Web Surfing
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD


    • GNU Taler 0.3.0 released

      We are happy to announce the release of GNU Taler 0.3.0.

      GNU Taler is a free software electronic payment system providing anonymity for customers. Payments can in principle be made in any existing currency, or a bank can be launched to support new currencies. Merchants are not anonymous, and–due to income-transparency–the state can perform effective tax audits.

    • Taler 0.3 Released: GNU Still Striving For A Free Software Payment System

      Among the lesser-known GNU projects is Taler, which is trying to be a free software electronic payment system. Today marks its v0.3 release, but it only works so far with toy currencies.

    • Reports from the fellowship group in Vienna

      We organised an FSFE information booth on Linuxwochen Wien from 4 to 6 of May and at Veganmania at the MQ in Vienna from 24 to 27 May. Like every year it went very well and especially at Veganmania we could reach many people not yet familiar with free software. Since during the Veganmania there was a Wikipedia event in Vienna at the same time we even encountered some people from all over the world. For example an FSF activist from Boston in the US.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Study: Dutch govt should reverse attitude to ICT

      Public administrations have to understand the importance of ICT for their core processes, and must be able to implement ICT themselves, a Dutch government advisory group says. Dutch politicians, policy makers and officials are underrating the importance ICT, the group writes: ‘Government digitalisation requires a radical reversal of attitude.’


      The report, published in April, is written by 13 ICT policy experts from the commercial and public sector. They recommend following the UK’s ‘Government as a Platform policy’. This includes embracing open ICT standards and breaking-up large-scale ICT projects into small reusable services and components. The group promotes the agile development method, experimenting and creating public development projects that involve citizens and the private sector.

    • Italy approves 3-year digital transformation plan

      According to Diego Piacenti, a former VP at Amazon who heads the Digital Transformation Team, the 3-year plan outlines the technological vision of a public sector operating system. Key words include agile development methods, mobile first, security, interoperability, scalability and reliability, he writes, adding that “open source and collaboration are the new paradigm.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Tanzania: Strengthening Farmers’ Seed System Through ‘Open Source’

      The National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (NPGRC-Tanzania), in collaboration with Hivos, Bioversity International, Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Africa and other partners are currently implementing a project, which explores possibilities of the ‘open source seed systems’.

      When someone mentions open source, you automatically think software, an open source software movement, which was a response to increased concentration of power of a few large multinational profit oriented corporations, limiting innovation by making software a proprietary resource.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open hardware groups spread across the globe

        After our group of friends founded a small open hardware community in El Salvador a few years ago, we felt alone in the region. The open hardware movement had developed in a creative explosion of projects and (thanks to the popularization of 3D printing and digital technologies such as Arduino) under a common understanding of how to develop new physical products.

      • Why you should certify your open hardware

        The open source hardware movement has been gaining momentum since 2010 with new industries joining the community at a rapid pace. In fact, the maker and 3D printing markets are expected to become a US$ 8.5 billion market by 2020.

  • Programming/Development

    • HHVM 3.20

      HHVM 3.20 is released! This release improves compatibility with PHP7, and adds a couple new features. Packages have been published in the usual places; see the installation instructions for more information.

    • HHVM 3.20 Released With Performance Improvements, Better PHP7 Compatibility

      Facebook developers have released HHVM 3.20 as the newest release of their alternative PHP interpreter and also what serves for their Hack programming language.

    • Running Your First Programs in C – Part 2
    • Python 101 session this Sunday

      There were around 10 participants, and all of them wrote code before in various languages. A few had previous experiences with Python. Because of different Operating Systems, and also not being able to install things on a corporate laptop, my idea of using Microsoft Azure notebook service in this session helped. This also made sure that all of us were using the same version of Python (3.6) and the same environment.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • [Old] On the Futility of Email Regex Validation
  • Science

    • NSF Cuts PhD Training Grant

      The federal science agency discontinued a funding stream for graduate students in environmental science because of administrative workload.

    • You Are Not Google

      This is not how rational people make decisions, but it is how software engineers decide to use MapReduce.

    • UK universities fall down global league tables after budget cuts

      Britain’s universities are being dragged down by falling levels of research funding and employing fewer highly qualified staff than their international rivals, according to the compilers of a prestigious world university league table.

      The QS world university rankings for 2018, published on Thursday, show the majority of British universities slipping down its table, with 57 of the 76 UK institutions receiving lower ratings than last year despite British universities occupying four of the top eight places.

      “Put simply, this year’s results indicate that the UK’s universities are becoming less competitive as research-driven institutions,” said Jack Moran, rankings auditor for QS, a London-based higher education thinktank.

      The UK’s relative performance has deteriorated because of weaker research performance, with fewer research citations received from fellow academics, and lower scores on academic reputation at home and abroad, according to QS researchers.

    • Tim Peake’s next trip to space is in doubt thanks to Brexit, the falling pound, and a spat with the European Space Agency

      Britain’s fight with Europe has far-reaching implications, stretching all the way into outer space.

      In January, the UK announced that it would send its star astronaut, Tim Peake, to the International Space Station for a second time. But the trip is now in doubt, according to the Financial Times, which reports (paywall) that the UK has denied a request to increase its contributions to the European Space Agency (ESA).

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Vault 7: WikiLeaks exposes Pandemic, CIA infection tool for Windows machines

      After having disclosed information about CIA’s spyware tool Athena only last week, WikiLeaks has published new information from Pandemic, another alleged CIA project that “targets remote users by replacing application code on-the-fly with a trojaned version if the program is retrieved from the infected machine.”

      Part of the Vault 7 series of documents that were either leaked following an inside job or stolen from the CIA by hackers, Pandemic basically turns Windows machines from a targeted network into Patient Zero. It then covertly infects other computers linked to the system by delivering infected versions of the requested files. Because it is very persistent, the original source of infection is difficult to detect.

    • Hand in your notice – by 2022 there’ll be 350,000 cybersecurity vacancies

      General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will force European organisations to expand their cyber workforce, causing demand to outstrip the supply of expertise.

      Two in five governments and companies will expand their cybersecurity divisions by more than 15 per cent in the next 12 months, according to a survey by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2. This will lead to a shortfall of 350,000 cyber workers across the continent by 2022.

      Europe’s cyber workforce will expand faster than any other region in the world. Demand is driving record salaries with 39 per cent of UK cyber workers commanding annual salaries of more than £87,000.

    • uCareSystem – All-In-One System Update And Maintenance Tool For Ubuntu/LinuxMint

      uCareSystem Core is a thin utility that automates the basic system maintenance activity, in other hand it will reduce system administrator task in many ways and save some good amount of time. It doesn’t have any GUI and offers purely command line interface to perform the activity.

    • Matt Mitchell of CryptoHarlem is building an open source tool to help organizations prepare for data breaches

      This morning on the stage of TC Sessions: Justice, Matt Mitchell of CryptoHarlem discussed his views on the link between surveillance and minority oppression and the importance of taking a preventative approach to security and privacy. Mitchell, a specialist in digital safety and encryption, is dedicating time to creating Protect Your Org, a free, open source, tool for all organizations to prepare for inevitable data breaches.

    • Ransomware: UK firms hoarding Bitcoin in fear of attacks

      A survey of 500 IT decision-makers in British companies that have more than 250 employees has found that 42% are stockpiling digital currencies, like Bitcoin, in anticipation of a ransomware attack.

    • Internet cameras have hard-coded password that can’t be changed

      Security cameras manufactured by China-based Foscam are vulnerable to remote take-over hacks that allow attackers to view video feeds, download stored files, and possibly compromise other devices connected to a local network. That’s according to a 12-page report released Wednesday by security firm F-Secure.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • German spy agency warns of Saudi intervention destabilizing Arab world

      The BND document entitled “Saudi Arabia – Sunni regional power torn between foreign policy paradigm change and domestic policy consolidation” singled out Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as trying to strengthen his place in the royal succession while putting Saudi Arabia’s relationship with erstwhile regional allies in jeopardy.

      “The careful diplomatic stance of older members of the Saudi royal family has been replaced by an impulsive policy of intervention,” the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) said.

      The spy agency accused bin Salman, second in line to the throne, and his father, King Salman, as trying to create an image of Saudi Arabia being the leader of the Arab world. The BND added that bin Salman’s quest to cement his place in the nation’s leadership could also irritate other members of the royal family.

    • FactCheck Q&A: Is Saudi Arabia funding ISIS?

      The conversation about Islamic extremism should begin with “Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology,” Jeremy Corbyn has said.

      The accusation is common: that the House of Saud is allowing a flow of money to finance ISIS. But the Saudi government has completely rejected the “false allegations”, dismissing them as a “malicious falsehood”.

      We can’t answer this one with absolute certainty, since any financing is highly secretively. All we can do is weigh up the documents and research that are currently available.

    • Islamist Perpetrator of Attack at Paris Cathedral Was Award-Winning Journalist in Sweden

      The Islamist terrorist who attacked a police officer outside the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Tuesday was an award-winning journalist who previously worked as freelancer for Swedish public radio, Swedish media outlets reported on Wednesday.

      The suspect in the attack, 40-year-old Algerian-born Farid Ikken, is said to have moved to Sweden in 2004 after marrying a Swedish woman.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Can Commit All the High Crimes He Wants. Republicans Aren’t Going to Impeach Him.

      To imagine Republicans might turn on Trump over the Russia scandal to the point of deposing him from office is to misunderstand how they have been thinking about Trump and the presidency all along.

    • Trump Is Sending a Murderer to Do a Diplomat’s Job

      About one out of every four of those killed by drones during that time where blithely labeled “other militants,” by the CIA. In other words, the CIA had no idea whom they were killing.

    • The Three Scenarios For The U.K. Election

      On the morning of the U.S. presidential election, we pointed out that there were three scenarios for what might transpire that night, each of which were about equally likely.

    • Trump’s in way over his head: Ignorant Qatar tweets make a bad situation worse
    • Theresa May’s vanity election: What’s driving her political gamble?
    • Daily Mail devotes 13 pages to attack on Labour ‘apologists for terror’
    • Jeremy Corbyn just ran the campaign of his life, while Theresa May led one of the worst in recent history

      Psephologists had puzzled for long hours over quite what last minute polling analysis had led Jeremy Corbyn to begin his final marathon day campaigning in Glasgow, and then pass through Runcorn, Colwyn Bay, Watford, Harrow and Wealdstone before the big Islington homecoming.

      Such people are not experts on West Coast Main Line stations.

      While Theresa May spent her last campaign day private-jetting between what expensively commissioned internal research indicated were seats that could still be swung her way, Team Corbyn’s strategy was less “our private polling indicates” and more “let’s get off every third stop”.

    • PM’s line on human rights is ‘outrageous’ – Amnesty chief

      British Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to weaken human rights protections to fight terrorism is outrageous and a gift to autocratic strongmen globally, Amnesty International head Salil Shetty said on Wednesday.

      In the final days of an election campaign that has been interrupted by terror attacks in London and Manchester, May has stepped up her rhetoric against Islamist extremism, pledging to ensure security services had the powers they needed.

      “What I’ve been clear about is if human rights law gets in the way of doing those things which I think are necessary as the threat evolves then we will change those rules,” she said on Wednesday, the eve of the election.

    • Go out and vote today, but know this – our grotesque system needs reform

      Canvassers out today on a frantic door-knock to get their vote out will often hear that heart-sinking refrain: “What’s the point? Voting makes no difference.” Or “I’m not political”, as if it were an optional hobby. Earnest volunteers may want to wring the necks of the apathetic, the clueless and the idle who are so hopelessly indifferent to the value of democracy.

      But pause a moment and consider how right people are to be dubious. Whether they precisely know it or not, phlegmatic non-voters may intuit how useless most votes will be today. Under our grotesque voting system very few ballot papers will make a difference to the result.
      First-time voter? Here’s everything you need to know in one handy guide | Hannah Jane Parkinson
      Read more

      In 2015 the Conservatives won with a seven-point lead, but so distorted is our electoral system that the Electoral Reform Society says if just 639 voters in only six Tory seats had switched their vote from Tory to Labour, there would have been a hung parliament. Just 639!

    • General election: Would rain on voting day be bad for Labour?

      Labour voters are said to be more likely to be put off going out to vote if it is raining. But is it true?

      “Bands of rain or showers affecting the UK, with the risk of hail and thunder on Thursday,” says the Met Office. Traditionally, this is said to be bad for Labour, as its voters are supposed to be more likely to be put off by the rain. Shami Chakrabarti, a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, blamed the rain in Copeland for Labour’s defeat in the by-election there in February, because Labour voters are less likely to have cars.

      But is it true? It seems to be true in the United States, where a 2007 study of 14 presidential elections found an association between turnout and the weather. An inch of rain reduced turnout by 1 percentage point. This tended to hurt the Democratic candidate more than the Republican, and may have helped George Bush beat Al Gore in 2000.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Most UK ISPs block Private Internet Access by default

      VPN websites, like that of Private Internet Access, are actively being censored by internet service providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom (UK). The website blocks were first put into place by UK ISPs on government order in an effort to censor pornography in 2014. Since then, more ISPs have joined in default blocking. However, research has shown that the blocks are overreaching – with 1 in 5 websites being blocked when the censorship program first rolled out. UK ISPs initially incorrectly blocked everything from civil rights blogs to used car sales sites; what’s worse, these blocks are on by default.

      Open Rights Group, a London-based organization, created a tool at blocked.org.uk that allows you to check whether or not a website is being blocked by UK ISPs. This crucial tool has revealed that most UK ISPs block Private Internet Access by default if the content filter is on.

    • Where’s the outrage over the killing of Christians?

      Christians around the world are being slaughtered by Islamists. They need our solidarity.


      All of this is simply the manifestation of a reality about Islamist militants that we have long known from their actions in Syria and Iraq: their special hatred for Christians, whom ISIS recently declared its ‘favourite prey’. Wanton rape, torture and murder have all played a part in the concerted effort of religious cleansing in the Middle East and anywhere else Islamists have been able to gain a foothold. However much such ideologues violently loathe and attempt to attack the West, it pales in comparison, both in terms of scale and intensity, with the bloody persecution of Christians across the world, and most especially in the Middle East.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • FCC security denies that guards pinned journalist against a wall

      The reporter who made the allegation stood by his account when contacted by Ars today.

    • Honesty About Ideology Of Islam, Not Candles And Teddy Bears

      Honesty about this is our best shot of doing anything about it.

    • Christian preachers’ disappearance in Malaysia stokes fears of crackdown on religious minorities

      Months after they were abducted, human rights activists say police appear to have taken an uncharacteristically ‘casual’ approach to their cases

    • SFR Writer Indicted Following Inaugural Protest Coverage

      Aaron Cantú, a staff writer at the Santa Fe Reporter, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he participated in a riot while working as a journalist during protests in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day.

      Cantú faces eight felony counts—including inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot and five counts of destruction of property. The grand jury handed up the indictment last week.

    • Theresa May Vows To Tear Up Human Rights Laws To Tackle Islamist Terrorism

      Theresa May is vowing to tear up human rights laws that stand in the way of her fight against terrorism.

      In a speech this evening, the Prime Minister called for greater powers to restrict the movement of terror suspects – even if authorities are unable to convince a judge the measure is needed.

      May also called for longer prison sentences for people convicted of terrorist offences and promised to make it easier to deport foreign terrorists back to their home countries.

    • German NGO seeks arrest warrant for Donald Trump’s deputy CIA director
    • May: I’ll rip up human rights laws that impede new terror legislation

      Theresa May has declared she is prepared to rip up human rights laws to impose new restrictions on terror suspects, as she sought to gain control over the security agenda just 36 hours before the polls open.

      The prime minister said she was looking at how to make it easier to deport foreign terror suspects and how to increase controls on extremists where it is thought they present a threat but there is not enough evidence to prosecute them.

      The last-ditch intervention comes after days of pressure on May over the policing cuts and questions over intelligence failures, following terror attacks on London Bridge, Manchester and Westminster.

    • Jury awards $6.7M to inmate raped by guard in Milwaukee County Jail, shackled during childbirth

      A federal jury Wednesday awarded $6.7 million to a woman who was raped repeatedly by a guard when she was being held in the Milwaukee County Jail four years ago.

      The guard, Xavier Thicklen, was acting under his scope of employment when the sexual assaults occurred and therefore Milwaukee County is liable for the damages amount, the jury determined.

      The jury also found there was “no legitimate government purpose” to shackle the woman during childbirth labor, but jurors did not find she was injured and therefore awarded her no monetary damages, according to Theresa Kleinhaus, a Chicago attorney who litigated the case with other attorneys from the firm.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast Pinky Swears That The Death Of Net Neutrality Won’t Hurt In The Slightest

      That ignores history. You’ll recall that the FCC’s original 2010 rules were demolished by the Verizon lawsuit, with the courts saying that the FCC couldn’t impose such rules without first classifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II. So in 2015, former FCC boss Tom Wheeler did precisely that. Walking back that decision means stripping out the legal authority to actually enforce net neutrality, and Comcast certainly knows this. In fact we’ve repeatedly noted how the government’s plan is to effectively gut privacy, net neutrality and other broadband consumer protections, and to replace them with the policy equivalent of wet tissue paper.

    • Net neutrality: Amazon among top internet firms planning day of action

      Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter, Mozilla and Vimeo all intend to hold a day of protest on 12 July in opposition to plans by Donald Trump’s newly appointed telecoms regulator to neuter tough 2015 rules meant to protect “net neutrality” – the concept that all traffic should be equal online.

  • DRM

    • VMProtect Accuses Denuvo Of Using Unlicensed Software In Its Antipiracy DRM

      To date, the most remarkable aspect of the Denuvo story was the very brief stint it had as a successful DRM. Brief is the operative word, of course, as the past six months or so have seen Denuvo’s vaunted status devolve into one more typical of DRM stories, with defeats for the security software coming at rates measured in days and weeks of a game’s release.

      But now things have taken a turn towards the ironic. A security software firm called VMProtect, which makes software to protect against reverse engineering and developing cracks of applications, is accusing Denuvo of having used its software without properly licensing it. This is the kind of thing that folks who support DRM tend to call piracy. And, thus, Denuvo may have “pirated” another company’s software to make its anti-piracy DRM.

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