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Links 29/8/2019: Thunderbird 68.0 and HPLIP 3.19.8

Posted in News Roundup at 12:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop

      • Linux on Chromebooks getting Ansible integration for enterprise package management

        This seems to be a big week for Chromebooks in the enterprise. First, we heard the joint announcement between Google and Dell for new, high-end Latitude Chromebooks. And now I’ve found some code commits indicating that Project Crostini wasn’t just about adding Linux to address a Chrome OS “app gap” but also to add new services for enterprise users.

        There are at least a dozen recent Chromium code commits that mention both “crostini” and “Ansible”. Not knowing what the latter was, I did some searching and quickly found that Red Hat Ansible is an open-source project to automate IT through these main areas…

      • New App Makes Linux Firmware Management A LOT Simpler

        But there are times when a user either needs to or wants to find out more about the firmware that their devices are running on. They might, for instance, have encountered issues and want to perform more advanced tasks, like downgrading firmware version.

        Today, to do that, to check firmware versions and gauge other details about connected hardware, users get directed to the command line (indeed, this is where I had to go when trying to update the firmware of my 8BitDo controller).

      • GNOME Wants to Make Linux Firmware Updates Easier to Deploy with New Tool

        Long-time GNOME developer Richard Hughes talks in his latest blog post about a new tool that will be integrated in future versions of the GNOME desktop environment to make deployments of firmware updates easier for all users.

        At the moment, the GNOME Software Center only displays devices when firmware updates are pending, but Richard Hughes and Andrew Schwenn, an intern from Dell, have been working lately on a new tool that would be integrated as a panel into GNOME Control Center, which promises to make it easier for users to install new firmware versions for their hardware.

        Meet GNOME Firmware Updater, a new power user tool that would help you keep your hardware secure and up-to-date at all times by allowing you to more easily install new firmware updates that are available from the vendor.

      • Pinebook Pro ($199) Linux Laptop Pre-Orders are Available to Everyone

        Pine64 was launched Pinebook in April 2017. Pinebook is a lightweight and low cost Linux notebook, which is based on the Pine A64 single board computer and it costs 89 or 99 USD for the 11,6″ and 14″ model respectively.

        It is very lightweight and comes equipped with a full-sized keyboard and large multi-touch trackpad. It runs numerous mainline Linux distributions as well as *BSDs and Android.

      • Google and Dell team up to tackle Microsoft with first Chromebook Enterprise laptops

        Chromebooks are mighty popular with cheapskate students and in the education sector, but they haven’t exactly taken the rest of the world by storm; Windows machines dominate in the enterprise world, and MacBook Pros are the go-to for moustachioed matcha latte-chugging creative types.

        While Google isn’t ready to take on the latter, it seems to want to square up to the former. And the Dell Latitude 5300 2-in-1 Chromebook Enterprise and Latitude 5400 Chromebook Enterprise could be the ticket for it to do so. Both machines will go on sale on 27 August, with prices starting at £699 and £449, respectively.

    • Server

      • [Older] Why choose Puppet for DevOps?

        If you’re like most in the DevOps world, you’re always interested in automating tasks and securing your infrastructure. But it’s important to find ways that won’t sacrifice the quality or lose efficiency. Enter Puppet for DevOps. Forty-two percent of all DevOps businesses currently use this handy tool, for good reason.

        Puppet for DevOps is unique because it allows you to enforce automation, enhance organization, boost security measures, and ramp up the overall speed across an entire infrastructure. Puppet’s special abilities are clearly game-changing. And a big part of this sharp setup is due to the initialization of the module authoring process.

      • BT bets big on Canonical for core 5G network

        The foundations for the future of BT’s 5G network will be open source, with practically every virtualised aspect of the future infrastructure to be delivered and managed with Canonical’s Charmed Openstack distro.

      • IBM

        • OpenPOWER opens further

          n what was to prove something of a theme throughout the morning, Hugh Blemings said that he had been feeling a bit like a kid waiting for Christmas recently, but that the day when the presents can be unwrapped had finally arrived. He is the executive director of the OpenPOWER Foundation and was kicking off the keynotes for the second day of the 2019 OpenPOWER Summit North America; the keynotes would reveal the “most significant and impressive announcements” in the history of the project, he said. Multiple presentations outlined a major change in the openness of the OpenPOWER instruction set architecture (ISA), along with various related hardware and software pieces; in short, OpenPOWER can be used by compliant products without paying royalties and with a grant of the patents that IBM holds on it. In addition, the foundation will be moving under the aegis of the Linux Foundation.

          Blemings also wrote about the changes in a blog post at the foundation web site. To set the stage for the announcements to come, he played a promotional video (which can be found in the post) that gave an overview of the foundation and the accomplishments of the OpenPOWER architecture, which includes underlying the two most powerful supercomputers in the world today.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Reconsidering unprivileged BPF

        The BPF virtual machine within the kernel has seen a great deal of work over the last few years; as that has happened, its use has expanded to many different kernel subsystems. One of the objectives of that work in the past has been to make it safe to allow unprivileged users to load at least some types of BPF programs into the kernel. A recent discussion has made it clear, though, that the goal of opening up BPF to unprivileged users has been abandoned as unachievable, and that further work in that direction will not be accepted by the BPF maintainer.
        The BPF verifier goes to great lengths to ensure that any BPF program presented to the kernel is safe to run. Memory accesses are checked, execution is simulated to ensure that the program will terminate in a bounded period of time, and so on. Many of these checks are useful to ensure that all programs are safe and free of certain types of bugs, but others are aimed specifically at containing a potentially hostile program — an obvious necessity if the kernel is to accept BPF programs from unprivileged users.

        Much of this work was done in 2015 for the 4.4 kernel; in particular, a great deal of effort went into preventing BPF programs from leaking kernel pointer values to user space. Those pointers could be highly useful to an attacker who is trying to figure out where specific data structures or code are to be found on a target system, so making them easily available to unprivileged processes is clearly a bad idea. “Constant blinding” was added for 4.7. In essence, this mechanism will exclusive-OR constant values in programs with a random number (repeating the operation at run time when the values are actually used), preventing an attacker from sneaking in unverified BPF code disguised as constants. Other patches have been aimed at preventing speculative-execution attacks by BPF programs.

      • On-disk format robustness requirements for new filesystems

        The “Extendable Read-Only File System” (or “EROFS”) was first posted by Gao Xiang in May 2018; it was merged into the staging tree for the 4.19 release. There has been a steady stream of work on EROFS since then, and its author now thinks that it is ready to move out of staging and join the other official filesystems in the kernel. It would seem, though, that there is one final hurdle that it may have to clear: robustness in the face of a corrupted on-disk filesystem image. That raises an interesting question: to what extent do new filesystems have to exhibit a level of robustness that is not met by the filesystems that are currently in heavy use?
        As suggested by its name (and its acronym), EROFS is a read-only filesystem. It was developed at Huawei, and is intended for use in Android systems. EROFS is meant to differ from existing read-only filesystems in the area of performance; it uses a special compression algorithm that creates fixed-length blocks that, it is claimed, allows random access to compressed data with a minimum of excess I/O and decompression work. Details can be found in this USENIX paper [PDF] published in July.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Virglrenderer and the state of virtualized virtual worlds

          With the release of virglrenderer 0.8.0, getting accelerated OpenGL within a virtual machine (VM) made a big leap forward. Since virglrenderer-0.7.0, the code base has seen ~600 commits, and by providing more than 80% of these contributions, Collabora took the lead in this development cycle.

          On the technical side the work has been focusing on more conformance, and performance. One specific aim was to support hosts that support only OpenGL ES to a point that within the VM guest also OpenGL 4.3 applications can be run, an aim that was fully acheived as we can now run games like Alien Isolation ™ within qemu on certain devices that support only OpenGL ES 3.2 and a number of extension. On the performance side, thanks to the excellent work by done by Alexandros (Collabora), and Gurchetan and Chau-i Wu (Google ChromeOS team) on buffer transfers we can now run many games at a decent speed.

        • Accelerated OpenGL in a virtual machine is advancing with virglrenderer

          Collabora put out a fresh technical blog post today to talk a little about virglrenderer, with the latest version 0.8.0 (released recently) enabling a big leap for accelerated OpenGL within a virtual machine.

          The work they talk about, which Collabora took the lead on this dev cycle with help from Google Chrome OS team, is aimed at essentially creating a virtual 3D GPU for use in QEMU virtual machines (more on that here). Quite a different approach to GPU Passthrough!

        • Virglrenderer 0.8 Offers Better Open-Source OpenGL Support To KVM/QEMU Guests

          Virglrenderer 0.8 was released last week as one of the components to the “Virgl” graphics stack for getting OpenGL acceleration working within KVM+QEMU guests that is in good enough shape for handling relatively recent GL/GLES Linux games and other workloads.

          The Virgl stack continues maturing and getting better with its OpenGL support for its Mesa/Gallium3D driver as well as faster performance thanks to varying optimizations throughout. Collabora, Google, Red Hat, and others continue working on this leading open-source means of 3D graphics support for VMs as alternatives to VirtualBox or VMware 3D solutions.

        • AMD Renoir APUs Bringing “DCN 2.1″ Display Engine

          Raven Ridge APUs brought the DCN 1.0 “Display Core Next” engine, Navi GPUs upped that to a DCN 2.0 implementation for the display engine, and now the Renoir APUs are ushering in DCN 2.1. This is a bit interesting particularly with Renoir being a Vega-based GPU and not Navi as one would have hoped prior to the Vega confirmation in the earlier patches.

        • AMD Navi 14 Support To Be Backwards Compatible With Mesa 19.2 And Arrive In Lower-End Affordable Graphics Cards?

          AMD is yet to officially confirm its Navi 14 GPU. However, the AMD’s Navi 10 GPU which uses the RDNA 1.0 architecture and is made using a 7 nm production process at TSMC, could debut soon, indicated multiple entries. The Navi 10 GPU succeeds the ‘Polaris’ GPU, indicated a Linux driver and even the CompuBench database that appeared last month. It is interesting to note that AMD is expected to backport the Navi 14 support to the Mesa 3D Graphics Library. The Mesa3D’s Mesa 19.2 version, which could be released within the next 30 or so days, should include the support for the latest Navi 14 GPU.

    • Applications

      • Nikola – Static Site Generator for your webz

        The modern web is all about dynamic content. But in most cases, this is a technological illusion. A large number of website uses dynamically generated pages, i.e. stuff gets read from a database and rendered on the screen when requested, even for things that don’t necessarily require any interaction. This takes resources, and might even be considered less secure, because bad or malformed instructions could theoretically generate something undesired.

        The old Web was all about static content – HTML pages with links and images and not much else. Not bad, very light on the resources, and as secure as the Web server what does it. But then, not much interaction happens, and updating content can be tedious. What if there was something midway between the two worlds? That would be Nikola, a static site generator.

      • HP Linux Imaging & Printing Drivers Now Support Linux Mint 19.2 and Debian 10

        The HP Linux Imaging and Printing 3.19.8 software is now available with support for several new HP printers and scanners, among which we can mention HP DesignJet T1530 Postscript, HP DesignJet T2530 Postscript, HP DesignJet T930 Postscript, HP DesignJet T1600 Postscript Printer, and HP DesignJet T1600dr Postscript Printer.

        Additionally, the HP DesignJet T2600 Postscript MFP, HP LaserJet Pro MFP M329dn, HP LaserJet Pro MFP M329dw, HP LaserJet Pro M305d, HP LaserJet Pro M304a, HP LaserJet Pro M305dn, and HP LaserJet Pro M305dw printers are supported as well in the HP Linux Imaging and Printing 3.19.8 release, which also adds support for new GNU/Linux distributions.

      • HPLIP 3.19.8 Released with Linux Mint 19.2, Debian 10 Support

        HPLIP 3.19.8, HP developed printer and scanner drivers for Linux, was released today with new devices and new Linux Distro’s support.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Rogue Rocks, a new take on classic Asteroids gameplay with upgrades and more

        Rogue Rocks from AUX-IN Games is a recent release, one that aims to bring the classic gameplay of Asteroids “into the modern era”.

      • Soldak Entertainment have officially released Din’s Legacy, their latest action RPG

        Something I am always in the mood for are more action-RPGs and Din’s Legacy is certainly an interesting and unique game overall. Note: Key from the developer.

      • Spiritfarer continues to look like it will be an incredible experience

        Spiritfarer, a game that’s described as “a cozy management game about dying” was a big surprise a few months ago when it was announced. Turns out we missed their newer trailer this month!

        It looks absolutely gorgeous and seems like it will be a pretty wholesome experience. You travel around, looking after spirits until they’re ready to be released into the afterlife. Check out the newer trailer below:

      • Yacht Club Games have shown off quite a lot of upcoming Shovel Knight content

        The retro-inspired platformer continues to get love from its developers five years on from launch. Expect more content in December and as well as a new spinoff game sometime in the future.

        If you’re not familiar with Shovel Knight, it’s 2D side-scrolling platformer that is heavily inspired by the 8-bit era of video games. I’m a big fan of what the developer has accomplished. The original campaign has players assume control of the titular Shovel Knight and wield his sharp shovel on an adventure to rid the land of evil and rescue his beloved. The game world is large and colorful, the music memorable and its gameplay is both fun and challenging.

        Shovel Knight has gotten a steady drip of new content from its developers over the years in the form of spinoff campaigns and other goodies. Owners of the original game (renamed Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove) have gotten all of them for free and the two upcoming addons will be no exception. In a presentation earlier today, the developer has shown off more of what’s in store for Shovel Knight.

      • The Humble Spooky Horror Bundle 2019 is out with a few quality Linux games inside

        While not all of the games in this latest bundle support Linux, those that do are some great picks to have a go.

        The Humble Spooky Horror Bundle 2019 went live today, with a total of seven games.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Sam Thursfield: Blog about what you do!

          Am I the first to blog from GUADEC 2019? It has been a great conference: huge respect to the organization team for volunteering significant time and energy to make it all run smoothly.

          The most interesting thing at GUADEC is talking to community members old and new. I discovered is that I don’t know much about what people are doing in GNOME. I discovered Antonio is doing user support / bug triage and more in Nautilus. I discovered that Bastian is posting GNOME-related questions and answers on StackOverflow. I discovered Britt is promoting us on Twitter and moderating discussions on Reddit. I discovered Felipe is starting to do direct user support for Boxes. I wouldn’t know any of this if I hadn’t been to GUADEC.

          So here’s my plea — if you contribute to GNOME, please blog about it! If everyone reading this wrote just one blog post a year… I’d have a much better idea of what you’re all doing!

          Don’t forget: Planet GNOME is not only for announcing cool new projects and features – it’s “a window into the world, work and lives of GNOME hackers and contributors.” Blog about anything GNOME related, and be yourself — we’re not a corporation, we’re an underground network with a global, diverse, free thinking membership and that’s our strength.

    • Distributions

      • Arch Family

        • BlackArch Linux Ethical Hacking OS Adds over 150 New Tools in Latest Release

          Powered by the Linux 5.2.9 kernel, the BlackArch 2019.09.01 ISO snapshot for September 2019 is now available featuring more than 150 new tools for ethical hacking and penetration testing tasks, the Terminus font for all supported window managers, and an updated installer (blackarch-installer) to version 1.1.19.

          New ~/.vim and ~/.vimrc configuration files for the Vim text editor have been added as well in BlackArch 2019.09.01, along with an updated look and feel consisting of a brand-new BlackArch theme that’s available for all supported window managers, as well as for the bootloaders (GRUB and Syslinux).

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu 19.10 OS for Raspberry Pi

          Based on the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 “Eoan Ermine” operating system, due for release on October 17th, the new RaspEX release includes packages from the GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” operating system series and the open-source Linaro software for ARM SoCs, and it’s powered by the Linux 4.19.63 kernel.

          “I have upgraded the whole system and replaced the old kernel 4.19.50-exton-v7+ with kernel 4.19.63-raspex-v7l+. RaspEX Build 190807 is a Linux ARM system for Raspberry Pi 4, 3 Model B, 3 Model B+ and Raspberry Pi 2. It is based on Debian 10 Buster, Ubuntu 19.10 and Linaro (Open Source software for ARM SoCs),” says Exton.

        • Canonical joins the ROS 2 Technical Steering Committee

          We at Canonical care deeply about robotics. We firmly believe that robots based on Linux are cheaper to develop, more flexible, more secure, and faster to market. One of the contributing factors to this being the case is the Robot Operating System (ROS). ROS is by far the most popular middleware for creating Linux-powered robots. It provides all sorts of open source tools and libraries and pre-made components that solve common problems encountered during robot development. This allows roboticists to avoid needing to reinvent the wheel and instead focus on what really makes their robot unique. Of course, another reason we care about ROS is that most of the ROS community use Ubuntu. We love our users, and we want to make sure the experience they have on Ubuntu is consistently stellar!

          We also care deeply about security, and that permeates everything we do. We’ve all seen how the IoT wave has been going in this regard: badly. IoT devices are low-margin, and no one has any incentive to keep them up to date or ensure that they’re secure in the first place. Manufacturers want to drive costs down, and users don’t consider the devices computers and don’t give a second thought to connecting them to the internet. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances.

          We think that the best way out of this situation is to make security and maintenance so easy that it becomes the obvious choice. If it was suddenly easier and cheaper for device manufacturers to create secure devices that can be automatically updated, why wouldn’t they do it? That’s the premise behind snaps and Ubuntu Core: by making complex topics like security and updates transparent and straightforward, we can make the entire ecosystem better for everyone.

        • Rough, tough Coffee Lake industrial PC offers Ubuntu BSP

          Logic Supply’s rugged “Karbon 700” industrial PC runs Ubuntu or Windows on Intel Coffee Lake chips with 3x DP, 6x USB 3.0, 2x mini-PCIe, 3x M.2, 3x GbE, and optional 2x SATA and dual PCIe.

          We typically associate Logic Supply with mini-PCs, but the company also offers more feature-rich industrial computers such as its Intel Kaby Lake based MC850-50. Now the company has launched a more advanced system with its ruggedized, Coffee Lake based Karbon 700. The system supports challenging environments for data loggers NVRs, or edge devices “in heavy industrial, in-vehicle or remote installations in the manufacturing, physical security and energy management industries,” says Logic Supply. The rugged system offers a number of automotive-focused features.

        • Multi-tenancy in MAAS

          In this blog post, we are going to introduce the concept of multi-tenancy in MAAS. This allows operators to have different groups of users own a group of resources (machines) without ever even knowing about other groups of users enabling enhanced machine utilisation.

          A common use case for medium and large-scale environments is to provide a different set of machines for different users or groups of users. MAAS has historically approached this by allowing users to pre-reserve machines (allocate) for later use. However, as of MAAS 2.4 we introduced the concept of resource pools.

        • Ubucon Europe 2019: Our first gold sponsor – ANSOL!

          Our first gold sponsor of this event is ANSOL (Associação Nacional para o Software Livre), the Portuguese national association for free and open source software.


          Thanks to them, we have received significant support to sustain our event and our journey to give you one of the best open source experiences in Sintra.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • DeepMind introduces OpenSpiel, a reinforcement learning-based framework for video games

        A few days ago, researchers at DeepMind introduced OpenSpiel, a framework for writing games and algorithms for research in general reinforcement learning and search/planning in games. The core API and games are implemented in C++ and exposed to Python. Algorithms and tools are written both in C++ and Python. It also includes a branch of pure Swift in the swift subdirectory.

      • Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 19.08

        The stated theme of this year’s road map is “bridging worlds”, which expresses our ambition to smoothen the practical use of Genode-based systems such as Sculpt OS. The current release pays tribute to this ambition by addressing a great number of practical concerns: How to accommodate the staggering variety of keyboard layouts out there? (Section Flexible keyboard layouts) How can the system gracefully respond when confronted with exotic USB devices? (Section Storage-stack improvements) How to set the system time from within the system? How does SNTP fit in here? (Section General system time concept) How to approach the remote administration of the system? (Section Enhanced SSH terminal) How to copy and paste text securely between mutually distrusting subsystems? (Section Clipboard) Or how to overcome the captive portal of a Hotel WiFi with Sculpt OS? (Section Disposable VM for handling captive portals) By providing answers to those questions, we believe to make Genode – and Sculpt OS in particular – generally more useful.

        As another take on “bridging worlds”, we continue our effort to bring the rich Sculpt OS software stack to the 64-bit ARM world, in particular to our most loved SoC family, namely NXP i.MX. Section 64-bit ARM and NXP i.MX8 reports on our progress in this direction.

      • Genode OS 19.08 Released With Better POSIX Compatibility, Qt 5.13 Support

        Genode OS Framework 19.08 ships with better keyboard layout support, extended 64-bit ARM support and i.MX8 SoC support, various POSIX compatibility improvements, a new SMBIOS decoder, a better SSH terminal, Qt 5.13 is now included, and many other updates.

      • curl exercises

        Recently I’ve been interested in how people learn things. I was reading Kathy Sierra’s great book Badass: Making Users Awesome. It talks about the idea of deliberate practice.

        The idea is that you find a small micro-skill that can be learned in maybe 3 sessions of 45 minutes, and focus on learning that micro-skill. So, as an exercise, I was trying to think of a computer skill that I thought could be learned in 3 45-minute sessions.

        I thought that making HTTP requests with curl might be a skill like that, so here are some curl exercises as an experiment!

      • Altruism Still Fuels the Web. Businesses Love to Exploit It

        In practice, if not in theory, you’re no doubt familiar with the free rider problem: the roommate who doesn’t help with the dishes but happily eats from clean plates; the student assigned to a group project who lets everyone else do the work, knowing they all get the same grade. It’s a basic tenet of analysis in social science, especially in economics and political science. And yet Linux exists. Wikipedia exists.

        Here’s how I’d explain these apparent grand exceptions to our visitor. Under the right conditions, there are clearly some people who will put in a lot of work simply because it’s rewarding to contribute to something larger than themselves. And when the number of people who can theoretically collaborate on a project scales up into the billions, your chance of yoking together a critical mass of volunteers goes up exponentially. Then, suddenly, things that look impossible, like Wikipedia or Linux, can happen.

        But there’s a rub. The free rider problem does emerge in the realm of open source software, and with a vengeance. Because even though humans aren’t incorrigibly or universally selfish, we’ve built plenty of institutions that do act that way.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla Thunderbird 68.0 Released with Many New Features and Improvements

            Many months in the works, the Mozilla Thunderbird 68.0 release if finally here, bringing lots of new features and improvements. Highlights include the ability to mark all folders of an email account as read, improved filter logging and support for running filter periodically, TCP keepalive support for the IMAP protocol, as well as OAuth2 authentication support for Yandex.

            Also new is the ability to link to attachments in an email instead of uploading them, support for selecting language packs in Advanced Options, a policy engine that allows for customized enterprise deployments of Thunderbird using a cross-platform JSON file or Windows Group Policy, and complete Unicode support for MAPI interfaces, including MAPISendMailW.

          • Thunderbird 68.0 Released As A Big Update For The Mozilla Mail Client
          • Mozilla Thunderbird: What’s New in Thunderbird 68

            Our newest release, Thunderbird version 68 is now available! Users on version 60, the last major release, will not be immediately updated – but will receive the update in the coming weeks. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the features that are most noteworthy in the newest version. If you’d like to see all the changes in version 68, you can check out the release notes.

            Thunderbird 68 focuses on polish and setting the stage for future releases. There was a lot of work that we had to do below the surface that has made Thunderbird more future-proof and has made it a solid base to continue to build upon. But we also managed to create some great features you can touch today.

          • Thunderbird 68 Released with New App Menu, Other UI Changes

            Yes, a brand new version of the Thunderbird e-mail client is now available to download for Windows, macOS and, er, that “not big or professional” project a Finnish student started back in 1991. Freax?

            Thunderbird 68 features a revamped app menu, an improved dark theme, and ‘full colour support’ throughout the app.

            Yes folks: with this release you can finally make all of the text of every email you read pink — if you want to, that is!

      • BSD

        • In-Kernel TLS | BSD Now 313

          OpenBSD on 7th gen Thinkpad X1 Carbon, how to install FreeBSD on a MacBook, Kernel portion of in-kernel TLS (KTLS), Boot Environments on DragonflyBSD, Project Trident Updates, vBSDcon schedule, and more.


        • FSF News: Alexandre Oliva joins Free Software Foundation board of directors

          A longtime free software activist and founder of FSF Latin America, Oliva brings decades of experience in the free software movement to the FSF board. In the community, he is held in especially high regard for being the chief developer of the GNU Linux-libre project, a version of the kernel Linux that removes all nonfree bits from the kernel’s source code, enabling users around the world to run fully free versions of the GNU/Linux operating system, and is a program of vital importance in the cause for software freedom. For his deep commitment and tireless work in free software, Oliva was the recipient of the 2016 Advancement of Free Software award given annually by the FSF.

          Aside from being a contributor to the GNU Project since 1993, Oliva is an accomplished public speaker and author on the importance of software freedom. He worked as a computer engineer at Red Hat from 2000 to 2019, making large contributions to crucial components of the GNU toolchain like GCC and the GNU C library. Most recently he has announced the founding of the 0G project, a vision for mobile phones that free users from the constant danger posed by bulk surveillance.

        • Developer forks GIMP image editor over naughty name

          One of the world’s biggest photo editors, GIMP, suffers from an image problem (pun absolutely intended).

          It’s an undeniably sophisticated piece of software, and since 1995 has served millions as a free alternative to Adobe’s photoshop. But many also wince at its unfortunate name.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Hardware/Modding

          • $5 Longan Nano GD32V RISC-V Development Board Comes with LCD Display and Enclosure

            There’s been some exciting news about RISC-V microcontrollers recently with Gigadevice announcing GD32V, one of the first RISC-V general-purpose microcontrollers, which outperforms its Arm Cortex-M3 equivalent in terms of performance and power consumption.

            The company also announced some development boards, but they are not quite that easy to purchase being listed on Tmall website in China. The good news is that Sipeed has introduced Longan Nano development board powered by GD32VF103CBT6 microcontroller, and it’s up for sale on Seeed Studio for $4.9.

      • Programming/Development

        • FLOSS Weekly 544: Perl

          Perl 5 is a highly capable, feature-rich programming language with over 30 years of development. Perl 5 runs on over 100 platforms from portables to mainframes and is suitable for both rapid prototyping and large scale development projects.

        • This Week in Rust 301
        • Python, the perpetual time suck

          The thing that should have been apparent to me long ago is that the Python folks don’t appear to care about end users. They seem to have lost touch with the fact that Python is very popular! Each and every time they make core language behavior changes, API changes, and deprecate things, a lot of code has to accommodate. It’s a non-trivial amount of work to keep Python code working. Especially so if you’re trying to support code that has to run across multiple versions spanning many years. The test matrix just keeps on getting bigger. The code hacks to accommodate versions becoming more and more intrusive.

          The python 2 to python 3 debacle should have convinced everyone that the Python project cares more about the language and how they can make it better than the effect it has on the existing code written in it. One would have assumed that once the whole 2 -> 3 conversion was over, that things would have settled down. That the things that needed to be fixed would be done, but the incompatible changes just keep coming. It’s like the Python developers got a taste for change, perfection, they just can’t help themselves regardless of cost to the development community. I understand, it’s virtually impossible to get things exactly right the first time, but you have to let go and leave it alone. Once it’s out there, it needs to stay as is unless it’s a security hole. It’s totally fine to add features, improve performance etc., but horrible and inexcusable to break existing code.

        • A Review of ReportLab: PDF Processing with Python

          These days it’s easy to get swept up into the buzz around Python’s strengths as a data science package, but Python is also great for the more mundane, business process side of computing. One of the most important business processes is generating reports, and the most used and venerable form of report is the PDF. Python has a great library for generating and manipulating PDFs: ReportLab. I recently read more about this extremely useful library in ReportLab: PDF Processing with Python, by Michael Driscoll. With a few caveats, it’s an excellent resource.

          Python remains a great choice for the stuff that no one ever got rich on Patreon writing or talking about. Things like processing spreadsheets (which pandas is great at, by the way), mail-merge and of course, arguably one of the most important business activities, generating PDF reports. For this, Mike Driscoll’s book is a great introduction, tutorial, and resource for any Python programmer looking to get into the exciting world of programmatically generated Quarterly TPS reports!

        • PyPI Security Q4 2019 Request for Information period opens.

          The Python Software Foundation Packaging Working Group has received funding from Facebook research to develop and deploy of enhanced security features to PyPI.
          PyPI is a foundational component of the Python ecosystem and broader computer software and technology landscape. This project aims to improve the security and accessibility of PyPI for all users worldwide, whether they are direct users like project maintainers and pip installers or indirect users. The impact of this work will be highly visible and improve crucial features of the service.

          Specifically, this project aims to implement verifiable cryptographic signing of artifacts and infrastructure to support automated detection of malicious uploads to the index.
          We plan to begin the project in December 2019. Because of the size of the project, funding has been allocated to secure one or more contractors to complete the development, testing, verification, and assist in the rollout of necessary features.

        • Introduction to the Python Pyramid Framework

          In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to use the Pyramid framework in Python. It is an open source web development framework which uses the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture pattern and is based on Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI). The Pyramid framework has a lot of useful add-on packages that make web development a lot more convenient. Some other popular alternatives for web development in Python include Django and Flask.

        • Ruslan Spivak: Let’s Build A Simple Interpreter. Part 17: Call Stack and Activation Records

          To put it simply, it is a system for storing and accessing data in memory. At the hardware level, it is the physical memory (RAM) where values are stored at particular physical addresses. At the interpreter level, because our interpreter stores values according to their variable names and not physical addresses, we represent memory with a dictionary that maps names to values. Here is a simple demonstration where we store the value of 7 by the variable name y, and then immediately access the value associated with the name y:

        • PyCharm for Productive Python Development (Guide)

          As a programmer, you should be focused on the business logic and creating useful applications for your users. In doing that, PyCharm by JetBrains saves you a lot of time by taking care of the routine and by making a number of other tasks such as debugging and visualization easy.

        • Publishing my first Game

          My father and I, we built our first computer (a Pentium 286) and the first thing that I remember to do was to play some DOS games like Prince of Persia and Lunar Lander. I learned a bunch of CLI commands just to play my favorite games.

          The passion for playing and making games followed me as a hobby. I have a pygame series of posts on this blog, where I go through basic concepts of game development trying to explain them to someone who is starting to learn about it.

        • PHP and P++

          PHP is the Fortran of the world-wide web: it demonstrated the power of code embedded in web pages, but has since been superseded in many developers’ minds by more contemporary technologies. Even so, as with Fortran, there is far more PHP code out there than one might think, and PHP is still chosen for new projects. There is a certain amount of tension in the PHP development community between the need to maintain compatibility for large amounts of ancient code and the need to evolve the language to keep it relevant for current developers. That tension has now come into the open with a proposal to split PHP into two languages.
          PHP has been around for a long time; a previous version of the LWN site was implemented in PHP/FI in 1998. For most of its 25 years of existence, PHP has been criticized from multiple directions. Its development community has done a lot of work to address many of those criticisms while resisting others that, it was felt, went against the values of the language. Often these changes have forced code written in PHP to change as well; such changes tend to be the most controversial.

        • Find the maximum value within a string with Python

          In this chapter we are going to solve the above problem with a Python method. Given a string which consists of words and numbers, we are going to extract out the numbers that are within those words from that string, then compare and return the largest number within the given string.

        • Episode #227: Maintainable data science: Tips for non-developers

          Did you come to software development outside of traditional computer science? This is common, and even how I got into programming myself. I think it’s especially true for data science and scientific computing. That’s why I’m thrilled to bring you an episode with Daniel Chen about maintainable data science tips and techniques.

  • Leftovers

    • Jeffrey Epstein and the Power of Networks

      Epstein was, in the parlance of the sciences, a marker. Like the radioactive tracer you get injected with before an fMRI, his villainy illuminates how the connections among a relatively small clique of American intellectuals allowed them, privately, to define the last three decades of science, technology, and culture. It was a Big-Ideas Industrial Complex of conferences, research institutions, virtual salons, and even magazines, and Jeffrey Epstein bought his way in.

      How did these geniuses find themselves cozying up to a child rapist? In putting his apologies on the record with Stat reporter Sharon Begley, Church chalked it up to “nerd tunnel vision.” Ito, who also let Epstein contribute to his personal technology investment funds, called it “an error in judgment.” (Two people affiliated with the Media Lab have announced their departures as a result.)

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availability)

      • Testing an OnlyKey hardware password manager

        So far I’ve experimented with simple passwords only, but it appears to support TOTP via Google Authenticator or Yubikey OTP as well, in addition to being OpenPGP compatible and a “plug and play encryption device”. These features are explained in the documentation. There’s also an OnlyKey SSH/GPG agent which looks as though it could work; unfortunately the documentation suggests using keybase.io to generate keys which is a shame. Basically what one has to do is to copy/paste a private RSA key onto the OnlyKey.

      • Making containers safer

        Administrators of these system containers will often give SSH access to the “host” to their users, who will run whatever they want on them. That is one of the reasons the project cares a lot about security. It uses every trick available, he said, to secure those containers: namespaces, control groups, seccomp filters, Linux security modules (LSMs), and more. The goal is to use these containers just like VMs.

        Since the project targets system containers, it builds images for 18 distributions with 77 different versions every day, Graber said. That includes some less-popular distributions in addition to the bigger names; it also builds Android images. Beyond that, LXD is being used as part of the recent Linux desktop on Chromebooks feature of Chrome OS. There are per-user VMs in Chrome OS, but the Linux desktop distribution runs in a container with some persistent storage, he said. It has GPU passthrough and other features to make the desktop seamlessly integrate with Chrome OS.

        All of the users of those distribution images built by the project can run any code they want inside those containers, which means that the Linux containers project needs to care a lot about security, Graber said.

      • Internet Society weighs up the cost to business of cyber security breaches [iophk: Windows TCO]

        The financial impact of ransomware rose by 60% in 2018, losses from business email compromise (BEC) doubled, cryptojacking incidents – the unauthorised use of others’ computing resources to conduct cryptomining – more than tripled, and there continued to be a steady stream of high-profile data breaches, according to a report from the Internet Society’s Online Trust Alliance.

      • Business losses to cyber crime data breaches to exceed US$5 trillion by 2024 [iophk: Windows TCO]

        Business losses to cybercrime data breaches will rise from US$3 trillion each year to over US$5 trillion in 2024, an average annual growth of 11%, according to a new global cybersecurity report.

      • How insurance companies are fueling a rise in ransomware attacks by paying the ransom [iophk: Windows TCO]

        “More often than not, paying the ransom is a lot cheaper for insurers than the loss of revenue they have to cover otherwise. But, by rewarding [attackers], these companies have created a perverted cycle that encourages more ransomware attacks, which in turn frighten more businesses and government agencies into buying policies. In fact, it seems [attackers] are specifically extorting American companies that they know have cyber insurance. After one small insurer highlighted the names of some of its cyber policyholders on its website, three of them were attacked by ransomware.

      • The Extortion Economy: How Insurance Companies Are Fueling a Rise in Ransomware Attacks [iophk: Windows TCO]

        The FBI and security researchers say paying ransoms contributes to the profitability and spread of cybercrime and in some cases may ultimately be funding terrorist regimes. But for insurers, it makes financial sense, industry insiders said. It holds down claim costs by avoiding expenses such as covering lost revenue from snarled services and ongoing fees for consultants aiding in data recovery. And, by rewarding [attackers], it encourages more ransomware attacks, which in turn frighten more businesses and government agencies into buying policies.

      • Dutch regulator looking into possible Microsoft Windows privacy breach

        The regulator says that Microsoft is remotely collecting data from users of Windows Home and Windows Pro, a discovery made while testing privacy protection changes in Windows made last year.

      • Dutch regulator sees potential privacy breach in Microsoft Windows

        Microsoft is remotely collecting data from users of Windows Home and Windows Pro, in a potential breach of privacy rules, the Dutch Data Protection Agency (DPA) said on Tuesday.

        The DPA said it had found the practices while it was testing privacy protection changes in Windows made last year by Microsoft at the agency’s request.

    • Environment

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