Links 16/12/2019: Linux 5.5 RC2, 4MLinux 31.0, FreeDOS 1.3 RC2

Posted in News Roundup at 9:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Relive Linux history with the ROX desktop

      The ROX desktop is no longer being actively developed, but its legacy resounds today, and even when it was active, it was a unique take on what a Linux desktop could be. While other desktops felt roughly similar to old Unix or Windows interfaces, ROX belongs solidly in the BeOS, AmigaOS, and RISC OS desktop camps.

      It focuses on drag-and-drop actions (which makes its accessibility non-optimal for some users), point-and-click actions, pop-up contextual menus, and a unique system of app directories for running local applications with no installation required.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Google is blocking some smaller Linux web browser from its services

        GOOGLE HAS PUT a block on access to its services from several Linux web browsers.

        Although there’s not been anything official from the Big G, a post on Reddit over the weekend about one browser led to the discovery of several more.

        The three browsers affected are Qutebrowser, and the better known Konqueror and Falkon (nee Quipzilla).

        The issue manifests if you try and log in to your Google account. Instead of doing so, you’re advised to switch to a different browser as it “may not be secure”.

        There’s an option to ‘Learn More’, which takes you to a support link and suggests it could be an issue with Javascript, with extensions that aren’t compatible, are running automation testing frameworks or the browser is embedded in a different application.

      • Google Now bans some Linux web browsers

        Google is now banning the popular Linux browsers named Konqueror, Falkon, and Qutebrowser from logging into Google services because they may not be secure.

        According to Bleeping Computer logging in to Google services with Konqueror or Falkon was impossible with multiple machines. Google was saying “Try using a different browser. If you’re already using a supported browser, you can refresh your screen and try again to sign in.”

      • ‘Couldn’t Sign You In’ — Google Denies Access to Several Linux Browsers

        Scores of Reddit users reporting issues when attempting to load Google services like Gmail, Maps and Google Docs in Falkon, Konquerer and other niche Linux web browsers.

      • Best Laptops for Arch Linux in 2020

        When selecting a laptop for Arch Linux, the first thing you should always do is to check the ArchWiki and see if the laptop already has its own page. If it does, you can learn what works and what doesn’t work and decide if the laptop is worth it to you.

        It’s also a good idea to search the Arch Linux Forums for any useful information about the laptop. The chances are that at least a couple of Arch users who already own it shared their experience with others or asked the Arch community for help when trying to get Arch Linux to work on the laptop.

        If you can’t find any useful information, you should make things easier for yourself and select a laptop with hardware components that are known to be compatible with Linux in general. It used to be that Intel and Nvidia hardware was the only way for Linux users, but that’s no longer the case. AMD has really stepped up its game, offering reliable open-source GPU drivers and value-oriented CPUs.

        As long as you avoid latest-generation hardware and do a very basic compatibility check before you confirm your purchase, you should be good to go.

      • What’s your favorite Linux package manager?

        Package managers are an important part of working with modern Linux distributions. In the early days of Linux, life was more complicated. If you wanted to install a piece of software, you had to download a file (or files) and then configure the software to run on your particular system. This didn’t make it very easy to install software.

        Therefore, packages and package managers were invented to combat the complexity involved with installing software on Linux and Unix systems. Software packages are comprised of multiple data files combined into a single archive, which makes for easy portability and storage, and package managers allow you to download and install software easily.

    • Server

      • All the world’s top 500 supercomputers run Linux

        All of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers use Linux, and the aggregate processing capacity of the top 500 has now grown to 1.65 exaflops.

        The 54th edition of the TOP500 supercomputing list shows that the entry level to the list has also grown to 1.14 petaflops, up from 1.02 petaflops from the previous list released in June.

        The top 10 systems remain unchanged from the previous list, with IBM-built Summit and Sierra remaining in first and second place with speeds of 148.6 petaflops and 94.6 petaflops respectively. Both employ Power9 CPUs and NVIDIA Telsa V100 GPUs.

      • IBM

        • Cloud Walkers Makes LPARs More Native On IBM i

          There are a few different technologies that have been grafted onto the OS/400 and IBM i platform from the outside that are just architected differently from and run somewhat counter to the integrated nature of that platform, and all of them are involved, in one way or another, with managing logical partitions on the Power Systems platform and all of them make IBM i shops cranky.

          They are, in no certain order: the PowerVM hypervisor, the Hardware Management Console (HMC), the Virtual I/O Server (VIOS), the PowerVC variant of OpenStack that is native to Power Systems, and external disk arrays, usually of the Storwize V5000 or V7000 SAN variety but sometimes the DS8000 SAN series. In one way or another, once customers get to a certain size and complexity when it comes to logical partitions on their IBM i machines, they have to wrestle with these things on anywhere from an occasional to a daily basis. And it is a lot.

          So Bartlomiej Grabowski, the founder and chief executive officer of Cloud Walkers, a software startup based in Prague in the Czech Republic, is doing something about it with his LPARKit set of tools for the IBM i platform.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Linux Action News 136

        The first desktop Office 365 app arrives, Ubuntu commits to current and future Raspberry Pi boards, and why the near-term future of Linux gaming looks a bit rocky.

        Plus, our concerns with Google’s clever long-term Fuchsia strategy.

      • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 174 – GitHub turns security up to 11; A discussion with Rob Schultheis

        Josh and Kurt talk to Rob Schultheis from GitHub about some of the amazing projects GitHub is working on. We discuss GitHub security advisories, getting a CVE from GitHub, and what the new GitHub Security Lab is doing. It’s a great conversation about how GitHub is working to make security better for all of us.

      • GNU World Order 13×51

        The **which** and **xfs-progs** from the **a** Slackware package set.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.5-rc2 Kernel Release

        On schedule with one week since the closure of the Linux 5.5 kernel merge window and subsequent release candidate, Linux 5.5-rc2 is out this evening for testing.

        Linux 5.5 is going to be a grand kernel release that will ultimately ship around the end of January. As covered in our Linux 5.5 feature overview there are many interesting changes in tow: support for the Raspberry Pi 4 / BCM2711, various performance changes still being explored, support for reporting NVMe drive temperatures, a new Logitech keyboard driver, AMD HDCP support for content protection, wake-on-voice support from Chromebooks, the introduction of KUnit for unit testing the kernel, new RAID1 modes that are quite exciting for Btrfs, and much more. (See that feature overview for the more thorough listing.)

      • Linux 5.5-rc2
        You all know the deal by now: another week, another rc.
        Things look normal - rc2 is usually fairly calm, and so it was this
        week too. All the stats look normal too - the bulk of this is drivers
        (gpu, rdma, networking, scsi, usb stand out, but there's noise
        elsewhere too), with the rest being random things all over - io_uring,
        filesystems (ceph, overlayfs), core networking, arch updates, header
        files, etc etc.
        So peeps - go build it, install it and boot it, and report back any
        problems you see,
      • Kernel prepatch 5.5-rc2

        The second 5.5 kernel prepatch is out. “Things look normal – rc2 is usually fairly calm, and so it was this week too.”

      • XFS – 2019 Development Retrospectie

        We frequently hear two complaints lodged against XFS — memory reclamation runs very slowly because XFS inode reclamation sometimes has to flush dirty inodes to disk; and deletions are slow because we charge all costs of freeing all the file’s resources to the process deleting files. Dave Chinner and I have been collaborating this year and last on making those problems go away.

        Dave has been working on replacing the current inode memory reclaim code with a simpler LRU list and reorganizing the dirty inode flushing code so that inodes aren’t handed to memory reclaim until the metadata log has finished flushing the inodes to disk. This should eliminate the complaints that slow IO gets in the way of reclaiming memory in other parts of the system.

        Meanwhile, I have been working on the deletion side of the equation by adding new states to the inode lifecycle. When a file is deleted, we can tag it as needing to have its resources freed, and move on. A background thread can free all those resources in bulk. Even better, on systems with a lot of IOPs available, these bulk frees can be done on a per-AG basis with multiple threads.

      • Oracle Talks Up Recent Features For XFS + Some File-System Improvements On The Horizon

        Oracle’s had quite the file-system history and looking ahead to 2020 they appear committed to the XFS boat on the Linux front. Oracle retains control over the upstream ZFS file-system and could push for better Linux integration of that file-system plus they formerly employed Btrfs creator Chris Mason during its infancy. But they also employ lead XFS maintainer Darrick Wong and in keeping in-line with Red Hat Enterprise Linux defaults embrace that as their primary file-system for Oracle Linux.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Raspberry Pi 4′s V3D Driver Adds OpenGL ES 3.2 Geometry Shader Support

          The Broadcom V3D Gallium3D driver within Mesa 20.0 now has initial support for geometry shaders as needed by OpenGL ES 3.2.

          Iago Toral of Igalia landed his OES_geometry_shader support into Mesa 20.0-devel overnight. Since Eric Anholt left Broadcom for Google, taking over maintenance of the V3D open-source code-base has been the folks over at Igalia. They have been working to iron out Open GL ES 3.1 and then OpenGL ES 3.2 with the big pieces like the now-accomplished geometry shaders support.

    • Benchmarks

      • Benchmarking 11 Linux Distributions Across Dozens Of Workloads On The Intel Core i9 10980XE

        If opting for a high-end desktop/workstation like the Intel Core i9 10980XE and even for smaller systems, your choice of Linux distribution can be a big factor in the performance potential out of the system. In benchmarking eleven modern Linux distributions across dozens of benchmarks, the performance difference can be more than 30% for the out-of-the-box Linux performance. Benchmarked this round on the i9-10980XE were multiple versions of CentOS, Clear Linux, Debian, Fedora Workstation, Manjaro, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Solus, and Ubuntu.

        The newly-released Cascadelake-X Core i9 10980XE was used for this round of benchmarking with the GIGABYTE X299X DESIGNARE 10GB motherboard, which has been working out well on all of the Linux distributions tested. The system had 4 x 8GB DDR4-3200 memory, Samsung 970 PRO 512GB NVMe SSD, and Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics. The eleven Linux distributions tested were…

      • Firefox 71 + WebRender vs. Chrome 79 Browser Benchmarks On Ubuntu Linux

        On Friday I published two years worth of Mozilla Firefox benchmarks in re-testing every browser release from Firefox 57 through Firefox 71 stable as well as the latest beta/alpha releases. One of the questions that came out of that was seeing the current Chrome performance on Linux against Firefox, so here are some fresh numbers there.

    • Applications

      • Best Linux log file management and monitoring tools

        In most Linux distros, system administrators would keep an eye on log files from time to time in production environments, in order to get a glimpse at the health of the system, the running state of applications, potential memory issues, events with high priority…This will help them improve the overall system performance and to proactively avoid future problems which might affect the users and their applications. Viewing and analyzing the log files is no easy task if done without using the appropriate tools and utilities.

        In this article, we will be looking at some of the best log file monitoring and management applications that are in use today.

      • Prime Numbers, Encryption and the Linux Factor Command

        Have you ever needed to print the prime factors of a number on the Linux command line? Me neither. However, a tool does exist for it. Enter the factor command.

        The factor command is part of the GNU Core Utilities package, therefore it is available on almost any Linux system. This little beauty has the singular purpose of producing the prime factors of any number. To me, this is pretty neat. To anyone interested in learning cryptography or number theory, this may be a useful, if not fun, little utility.

      • Best MySQL Clients for Ubuntu

        MySQL is very popular and one of the most widely used relational database management systems. Written in C and C++, it was developed and released by Oracle Corporation in mid 1995. Since then its popularity has only one direction i.e. northwards. Reason behind ever increasing popularity is that it is open-source and very easy to use, and integrates with various web apps and tools very easily. LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) is very popular combination and a backbone of various popular applications.

        There are many MySQL GUI clients for Windows users but if you’re working on Ubuntu then in this article I’m going to introduce you to the 5 best MySQL clients that you can use on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.

      • App Highlight: Open Source Disk Partitioning Tool GParted

        GParted is undoubtedly one of the best partition managers for Linux out there. The user interface is very simple and gets the job done.

        In some cases, you end up using GParted to fix or format your USB drive as well. I had a USB disk which I couldn’t format in Ubuntu using the “Disks” app – this is where GParted came to the rescue.

        So, it is a quite useful tool with a lot of good features. Let me highlight them for you.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • D9VK is no more as it merges with DXVK, making DXVK a D3D 9/10/11 to Vulkan layer

        It’s happened, the D9VK and DXVK projects have officially merged. This means DXVK is now the all-encompassing project to translate D3D 9/10/11 to Vulkan for Wine.

        Only a few hours ago the pull was request was accepted and so they’re now one awesome project, meaning D9VK will now be developed directly in the DXVK project now. This does make a lot of things easier and simpler overall, since you only need to keep track of one project and they will now update together.

      • D9VK Merged Into Upstream DXVK

        D9VK, the frog-themed Direct3D 9 over Vulkan translation layer originally based on DXVK, has now been merged into the upstream DXVK Direct3D 10/11 over Vulkan layer. In other words, a single project is now providing support from Direct3D 9 through Direct3D 11 for Vulkan acceleration in speeding up the Windows gaming on Linux experience.

        Overnight this merge request was honored for pulling in the Direct3D 9 support into DXVK. Lead D9VK developer Joshua Ashton summed it up as, “The reason being is D9VK is usable and mostly feature complete now, even having some additional features not exposed by other implementations, and it would be nice to have all our D3D implementations in one place/project!”

    • Games

      • Action RPG ‘Last Epoch’ full release delayed until Q4 2020

        Eleventh Hour Games have decided to slow down their roadmap, take a little more time and get it right with Last Epoch now moving to a full release being in Q4 2020.

        Originally planned to leave Early Access in April 2020, that’s quite a big delay. Speaking about it on their forum, they said they will be using “this extra time to ensure that we arrive at 1.0 at the highest possible quality while having adequate time to continue acting on your feedback”. Not something you can argue with, too many games release early.

      • GemRB, the FOSS game engine for Bioware’s Infinity Engine had a new release recently

        Here’s an open source game engine reimplementation you don’t hear about much. GemRB, for Bioware’s Infinity Engine games like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment games had a new release recently.

        Nice to see another FOSS project still going, with this being the first release in two years!

      • Intense top-down racer ‘Bloody Rally Show’ now has a demo available

        Currently in closed Beta while still in development, I’ve had access to the full version for some time now, with it already entering my regular rotation of games to jump into because of just how fun it actually is. It reminds me of many classic top-down racers I played on the Amiga, only it looks a lot better and has a much expanded feature set. This is one to keep on your wishlist.

      • Need to make some pixel art? Pixelorama is a cross-platform FOSS tool worth looking at

        It seems Godot Engine is good for more than making games, as the FOSS pixel art tool Pixelorama will show you. Only a few days ago, this impressive application had a big new update bringing in a new UI, options for each tool, a colour picker tool, rulers and guides, a mini-canvas preview area, a preferences window and a Greek localization.

      • Some thoughts on Linux gaming in 2019, an end of year review

        2019 is coming to a close, it’s been a pretty wild year for Linux gaming that’s for sure! Here’s some thoughts on the year and what to expect for 2020.

        Firstly, let’s look over all the games that came to Linux in 2019. As usual, very little AAA support but that doesn’t mean we don’t get awesome experiences. We’ve had a huge amount of quality games, which is the important thing. Not including those currently in Early Access, here’s a few random picks we’ve had released this year for Linux: Abandon Ship, AI War 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, DiRT 4, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, Sky Racket, Rise to Ruins, Indivisible, Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, Jenny LeClue – Detectivu, Police Stories, Overland, Devader, Dicey Dungeons, Oxygen Not Included, Streets of Rogue, Mosaic, The Eternal Castle: Remastered, Mindustry, Slay the Spire and so on.


        Sadly, this year we saw a few games drop Linux support entirely with Rust, Natural Selection 2, Forager and Throne of Lies. Not many, but even one dropping support is not good.

        However, don’t get too down about the above point. There’s a huge amount of moving pieces, certainly when it comes to the future of Linux gaming. Right now, if you truly don’t care about any details and just want to play games on Linux—you’ve never had it better. We have Steam Play, enabling Proton (and other tools like Boxtron) to run games through Steam not designed for Linux like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, No Man’s Sky, Elite Dangerous, Deep Rock Galactic and plenty more. Wine also came along tremendously and when paired with DXVK/D9VK, even more games can be played easily on Linux like Overwatch.

        I don’t personally think Steam Play Proton/Wine should ever replace proper support, to make that clear. The last thing we need is more lock-in because developers end up seeing less of a point in using cross-platform tech and open APIs. For now though, while we’re a niche, Steam Play Proton and Wine fill a big gap and they’re definitely important for that. Eventually when more people try out Linux and enjoy the experience and the market share rises as a result, then we can look to get proper support from more developers. Until then, be sure you keep supporting those who do put out Linux versions of their games.

        We also have the rise of streaming platforms like Google Stadia further taking away barriers to playing bigger titles on Linux. There’s also whatever Steam Cloud Gaming turns out to be, that’s going to be very exciting to find out more on. Hopefully Valve won’t keep us waiting too long on it. Streaming platforms still have a long way to go though, and they have their own barriers of entry (especially internet speeds and bandwidth).

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Analyzing Cinnamon keyboard shortcuts

        Hello yet again, once again! For those who are not acquainted with this series, I am in an endeavor to analyze keyboard shortcuts in most major DEs so that we, the KDE community, can decide on the best defaults for KDE Plasma. Last time I analyzed MATE, and before that, XFCE.

        This time we analyze Cinnamon, a non-keyboard-driven environment that quite surprised me. I didn’t recall it was the case (I’ve used Cinnamon as a replacement for Windows 7 for some time in an old machine), but Cinnamon is actually quite similar to Plasma. It has quite surprised me, but this will stay for another day.

        One thing of note I will do on my next post in the series will be breaking the order I’ve followed until now for which DE to analyze, which was the list I made on the Phabricator task which is being tracked in this blog series. This is so because we’re close to Plasma 5.18, which is an important milestone to KDE—it will be an LTS version which should likely ship with LTS Kubuntu. Thus, I’ll focus first on keyboard-driven environments and speed things up for quicker decision-making.

        Oh, and I’ve had my birthday on the 12th of December! As a treat to myself, I tweaked the blog a bit. Weirdly enough, if I schedule my posts correctly, this post should be up three days after my birthday, the next should be three days prior to christmas and the next should be three days prior to New Year’s eve!

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Best KDE/Plasma distro of 2019

          The end of the year is an important part of the, ehm, year. One of the cardinal reasons is the tradition of watching the best Christmas movie of all times, Die Hard. The second reason – and tradition – is to reflect upon the past twelve months of distro testing, and come up with a winner. But before we do that, we ought to have a little game. We should examine the Linux systems based on their desktop environment first.

          Let’s start with Plasma. Last year, I selected Kubuntu 18.04 as my winner, because Slimbook, with Manjaro in second place. I was rather happy with how things went yesteryear. I even had a sense of optimism imbue my brain cells, hoping that the Linux desktop world can, this time, despite the odds, sustain the momentum, grow and flourish. So let’s explore 2019, and see what happened, Plasma style. After me.

        • Randa Meetings 2016 Part III: Translation System Troubles

          IMHO new technology should adapt by default to our cultures. Not our cultures to technology, especially if the technology is enforced on us by law or other pressures. Surely technology should instead allow to enhance cultures, extending options at best. But never limiting or disabling.

          One motivation to create technology like Free/Libre Software is the idea that every human should be able to take part in the (world) society. A challenge here is to enrich life for people, not to just make it more complex. Also should it not force them into giving up parts of culture for the access to new technology. Code is becoming the new law maker: if your existing cultural artifacts are not mapped in the ontology of the computer systems, it does not exist by their definition. One has to be happy already then if there is at least any “Other” option to file away with.

          Sure, e.g. for producers targeting more than their local home culture it would be so nice-because-simple if everyone would use the same language and other cultural artifacts (think measurement units). But who is to decide what should be the norm and how should they know what is best?

          When it comes to software, the so called “Internationalization” technologies are here to help us in the humanity being. Adding variability to the user interface to allow adaption to the respective user’s culture (so called “Localization”).
          Just, for some little irony, there is also more than one “culture” with Internationalization technologies. And getting those into synchronized cooperation is another challenge, sadly one which is currently not completely mastered when it comes to the software by the KDE community.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • ArcMenu 38 Adds KRunner Inspired Layout + More

          ArcMenu 38 touts a couple of really interesting changes, including a crop of new app menu layouts inspired by other operating systems and desktop environments.

          Now, if you checked out the previous release of ArcMenu back in October then you’ll be more than familiar with the configurable set of app menu layouts it introduced.

          But if you’re not? It’s something that makes the extensions really worth checking out, particularly if you’re into desktop customisation and theming.

          ArcMenu is a free, open source software designed for the GNOME Shell desktop environment.

          The latest version of the add-on is available to install from the GNOME Extensions website (below) on GNOME Shell 3.28 and above.

    • Distributions

      • Best Linux Distributions for Beginners in 2019

        2019 is almost coming to an end and it’s finally time for you to check out this so-called “Open-source Linux operating system” for yourself to see what the hype is all about. Or maybe you’re not all that new to Linux but you would like to reset your journey with a distro that is designed with ease of use in mind. Either way, you’re in luck.

        Different from my article on the Best Linux distros for developers in 2019, my focus today is on a list of the best Linux distros that any beginner – new to computing or the Linux world – can get up and running with.

      • Analyzing Distrowatch Trends

        Free software is so diverse that its trends are hard to follow. How can information be gathered without tremendous effort and expense? Recently, it occurred to me that a very general sense of free software trends can be had by using the search page on Distrowatch. Admittedly, it is not a very exact sense — it is more like the sparklines on a spreadsheet that show general trends rather the details. Still, the results are suggestive.

        As you probably know, Distrowatch has been tracking Linux distributions since 2002. It is best-known for its page hit rankings for distributions. These rankings do not show how many people are actually using each distro, but the interest in each distro. Still, this interest often does seem to be a broad indicator. For instance, in the last few years Ubuntu has slipped from the top ranking that it held for years to its current position of fifth, which does seem to bear some resemblance to its popularity today.

        However, Distrowatch’s search page for distributions is less well-known. Hidden in the home page header, the search function includes filters for such useful information as the version of packages, init software, and what derivatives a distro might have, and lists matching distros in order of popularity. Although I have heard complaints that Distrowatch can be slow to add or update the distros listed, it occurs to me that the number of results indicates general trends. The results could not be plausibly used to suggest that a difference of one or two results was signficant, but greater differences are likely to be more significant.

      • Reviews

        • Review: OpenIndiana 2019.10 Hipster

          For me, the conclusion after battling with OpenIndiana for a few weeks is quite simple: the operating system’s aim is to “ensure the continued availability of an openly developed distribution based on OpenSolaris” and it clearly achieves that goal. However, it does very little beyond that modest aim, and the lack of documentation makes it difficult to use OpenIndiana for people unfamiliar with OpenSolaris and/or Solaris.

          My advice for Linux users like me is to take plenty of time to get familiar with the operating system. At times I found using OpenIndiana hugely frustrating but that was largely because things weren’t working as I expected. I am fairly confident that I would have solved most of the issues I encountered if I had spent more time with OpenIndiana. Some issues may be show-stoppers, including OpenIndiana’s struggle with connecting to wireless networks and the limited amount of applications that are available. Many of these issues can be solved though.

          One of the main struggles I faced was finding documentation. The best place to look for information appears to be Oracle’s Solaris documentation. Unfortunately, OpenIndiana’s Hipster Handbook is not much use. It is mostly populated with content placeholders and the section on web servers counts exactly two words: “Apache” and “nginx”. Even new features, such as the “native and metadata encryption” for ZFS and an option to disable hyper-treading are not mentioned in the handbook.

          At times OpenIndiana felt like an operating system that belongs in a museum. The set-up is quite old-school, the theme looks very dated and everything felt sluggish; the system is slow to boot and launching applications always took just a little too long for my liking. OpenIndiana’s stand-out features are also nothing new – they are what made OpenSolaris a powerful operating system a decade years ago. Yet, in the Linux world there aren’t many distros – if any – that have something like the Time Slider. openSUSE comes close but, in my humble opinion, OpenIndiana’s Time Slider is more advanced and easier to use than OpenSUSE’s Snapper.

          I am hoping Linux will catch up when it comes to OpenIndiana’s ZFS goodness. Ubuntu is working on integrating ZFS, and I for one hope that in time there will be a Time Slider in file managers such as GNOME Files and Dolphin.

      • New Releases

        • Zorin OS 15.1 Linux Distro Released With GameMode & Other Features

          Zorin OS is a Linux distro that has been developed with the aim of bringing the power of Linux to those who are shifting from Windows and macOS. To prove this, Zorin OS 15, which was released 6 months ago, had 65% downloads from users coming from macOS or Windows platform. Now the Zorin Group has released the latest version of the distro – Zorin OS 15.1.

          Like its predecessor, Zorin OS 15.1 aims to make the desktop experience user-friendly especially for those who are migrating from Windows 7 with its end of support due in a month.

        • 4MLinux 31.0 STABLE released.

          The status of the‭ 4MLinux 31.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Edit your documents with LibreOffice and GNOME Office (AbiWord 3.0.2, GIMP 2.10.14, Gnumeric 1.12.44), share your files using DropBox ‬85.4.155,‭ surf the Internet with Firefox 71.0 and Chromium ‬78.0.3904.108,‭ send emails via Thunderbird 68.3.0, enjoy your music collection with Audacious 3.10.1, watch your favorite videos with VLC 3.0.8 and mpv 0.29.1, play games powered by Mesa 19.1.5 and Wine 4.21. You can also setup the 4MLinux LAMP Server (Linux 4.19.86, Apache 2.4.41, MariaDB 10.4.10, PHP 5.6.40 and PHP 7.3.12). Perl 5.30.0, Python 2.7.16, and Python 3.7.3 are also available.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Debian Family

        • Happy 10th birthday, TAILS — the real Paranoid Linux!

          In my 2008 novel Little Brother, the underground resistance uses a secure operating system called “Paranoid Linux” that is designed to prevent surveillance and leave no evidence of its use; that was fiction, but there’s a real Paranoid Linux out there: Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, and it turns 10 today.

          Tails is a fork of Debian, a popular GNU/Linux operating system, stripped down and re-engineered so that you can boot most PCs from a Tails thumbdrive, use the web securely and anonymously, and shut the system down again without leaving any trace behind.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • FreeDOS 1.3 RC2

        We are moving toward the FreeDOS 1.3 release. FreeDOS 1.3 Release Candidate 2 is now available for download. Please help us test this new version!
        A big feature in FreeDOS 1.3 will be booting into a LiveCD version of FreeDOS. You can test this by downloading FD13-LiveCD.zip, which contains FD13LIVE.ISO. This media is similar to the LegacyCD. However instead of relying on the BIOS floppy disk emulation, it uses SYSLINUX and MEMDISK to boot an emulated floppy disk. Along side support to perform a Plain and Full installation FreeDOS, this media is also able to run FreeDOS live from RAM or CD (depending on computer system and hardware) without installation to an internal hard disk drive. You can also download FreeDOS 1.3 RC2 in “Full” and “Lite” versions, and a “Legacy” CDROM version that is set up to let the CDROM boot on older hardware. Most users should try the LiveCD version.

      • FreeDOS 1.3 RC2 Released With “Live CD” Support

        On Christmas it will mark three years since the release of FreeDOS 1.2 while it appears FreeDOS 1.3 is right around the corner and could potentially be released around that same time. FreeDOS continues going strong as a complete DOS-compatible open-source environment and with this next release can even function as a DOS Live CD.

      • 10 tips for onboarding open source contributors

        Contributors are the lifeblood of many open source projects because they enable smaller projects to grow and improve without a lot of financial support and they bring fresh perspectives to the project. That is the case at Ushahidi, a non-profit organization that is building and using software to help raise the voices of underserved, marginalized communities. Our products enable local observers to submit reports about local humanitarian crises (such as political unrest and natural disasters) using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events.

        Ushahidi always strives for openness, but it’s very hard to evaluate how open your organization works from the inside. Staff and longtime contributors know too much: they are cursed by knowledge and access to the people who know how things work. While a crisis brings out the good in people who want to help, getting involved with an open source project during a crisis is complex. The maintainers are usually going through a stressful time. New requests for features are coming every day. New bugs are being reported all the time.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • ArcticFox 27.9.19 release

            Code has been fixed to support newer compilers. On Linux, currently, the highest supported compiler remains gcc 6.5, more recent versions do compile now with this release, but fail to link afterwards with errors on very standard symbols. Help appreciated! On NetBSD gcc 7 now works fine instead.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

      • Funding

      • Programming/Development

        • Rav1e Achieves Another ~20% Speed-Up For Rust-Based AV1 Video Encoding

          Rav1e’s weekly-ish pre-releases for this Rust-written AV1 encoder have been focusing a lot on better performance via hand-written x86 Assembly, making use of SIMD extensions, and other fine tuning of their encoder. With this newest pre-release, another ~20% speed-up was obtained.

          Today’s rav1e p20191215 build is around 20% faster thanks to porting more Assembly optimizations from the dav1d AV1 decoder over to rav1e. There is also now forward-transform SIMD support and simplifications/refactoring to the motion estimation and scene change code.

        • Announcing Google Summer of Code 2020!

          Are you a university student interested in learning how to prepare for the 2020 GSoC program? It’s never too early to start thinking about your proposal or about what type of open source organization you may want to work with. You should read the student guide for important tips on preparing your proposal and what to consider if you wish to apply for the program in mid-March. You can also get inspired by checking out the 200+ organizations that participated in Google Summer of Code 2019, as well as the projects that students worked on.

        • Decentralised SMTP is for the greater good

          In August, I published a small article titled “You should not run your mail server because mail is hard” which was basically my opinion on why people keep saying it is hard to run a mail server. Unexpectedly, the article became very popular, reached 100K reads and still gets hits and comments several months after publishing.

          As a follow up to that article, I published in September a much lenghtier article titled “Setting up a mail server with OpenSMTPD, Dovecot and Rspamd” which described how you could setup a complete mail server. I went from scratch and up to inboxing at various Big Mailer Corps using an unused domain of mine with a neutral reputation and describing precisely for each step what was done and why it was done. The article became fairly popular, nowhere near the first one which wasn’t so technical, but reached 40K reads and also still gets hits and comments several months after publishing.

          The content you’re about to read was part of the second article but it didn’t belong there, it was too (geo-)political to be part of a technical article, so I decided to remove it from there and make it a dedicated one. I don’t want the tech stack to go in the way of the message, this is not about OpenSMTPD.

        • C, what the fuck??!

          A trigraph is only a trigraph when the ??s are followed by one of the nine string literals. So in this case, the C preprocessor will replace the code above with the following: [...]

        • Perl / Raku

          • Rewriting Perl Code for Raku IV: A New Hope

            Back in Part III of our series on Raku programming, we talked about some of the basics of OO programming. This time we’ll talk about another aspect of OO programming. Perl objects can be made from any kind of reference, although the most common is a hash. I think Raku objects can do the same, but in this article we’ll just talk about hash-style Perl objects.

            Raku objects let you superclass and subclass them, instantiate them, run methods on them, and store data in them. In previous articles we’ve talked about all but storing data. It’s time to remedy that, and talk about attributes.

        • Python

          • Function-Based Views vs Class-Based Views in Django

            When I had just started learning Django. There is always a problem for me to choose from.

            Which views should I used that is either function-based views or class-based views.

            I believe this is one of the core reasons why Django is hard to pick up for beginners.

            Therefore I believe that this article could allow you to understand the basic functionality of these views.

            To make a choice in your development on which is needed to be based upon your use cases.

          • Python 3.7.5 : Simple intro in CSRF.

            CSRF or Cross-Site Request Forgery is a technique used by cyber-criminals to force users into executing unwanted actions on a web application.
            To protect against web form CSRF attacks, it’s isn’t sufficient for web applications to trust authenticated users, must be equipped with a unique identifier called a CSRF token similar to a session identifier.

          • Mike Driscoll: PyDev of the Week: Ted Petrou

            I graduated with a masters degree in statistics from Rice University in Houston, Texas in 2006. During my degree, I never heard the phrase “machine learning” uttered even once and it was several years before the field of data science became popular. I had entered the program pursuing a Ph.D with just six other students. Although statistics was a highly viable career at the time, it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today.

            After limping out of the program with a masters degree, I looked into the fields of actuarial science, became a professional poker play, taught high school math, built reports with SQL and Excel VBA as a financial analyst before becoming a data scientist at Schlumberger. During my stint as a data scientist, I started the meetup group Houston Data Science where I gave tutorials on various Python data science topics. Once I accumulated enough material, I started my company Dunder Data, teaching data science full time.

          • Authorized Google API access from Python (part 2 of 2)

            In this final installment of a (currently) two-part series introducing Python developers to building on Google APIs, we’ll extend from the simple API example from the first post (part 1) just over a month ago. Those first snippets showed some skeleton code and a short real working sample that demonstrate accessing a public (Google) API with an API key (that queried public Google+ posts). An API key however, does not grant applications access to authorized data.

            Authorized data, including user information such as personal files on Google Drive and YouTube playlists, require additional security steps before access is granted. Sharing of and hardcoding credentials such as usernames and passwords is not only insecure, it’s also a thing of the past. A more modern approach leverages token exchange, authenticated API calls, and standards such as OAuth2.

            In this post, we’ll demonstrate how to use Python to access authorized Google APIs using OAuth2, specifically listing the files (and folders) in your Google Drive. In order to better understand the example, we strongly recommend you check out the OAuth2 guides (general OAuth2 info, OAuth2 as it relates to Python and its client library) in the documentation to get started.

            The docs describe the OAuth2 flow: making a request for authorized access, having the user grant access to your app, and obtaining a(n access) token with which to sign and make authorized API calls with. The steps you need to take to get started begin nearly the same way as for simple API access. The process diverges when you arrive on the Credentials page when following the steps below.

          • Friendly Mu
  • Leftovers

    • How big advertisement companies are taking away people’s daylight: ‘We just don’t have the resource to fight them’

      Despite this evident breach of the original consent order, Hackney Council’s challenge was unsuccessful. Up against a large, well-resourced advertisement company with a savvy legal team, and working with planning laws that have been branded “outdated” in dealing with the current scale of outdoor advertising – the council stood little chance.

      It is concerning that the hoarding across the Dalston residents’ homes was not a unique case. There are numerous other banners covering flats in Hackney alone.

    • Science

      • Steggall’s Chicken On Nuclear Family, While Party Politics Buggers Inquiry

        When a scientific debate becomes political, facts are often the first thing to suffer. Our future and safety is not far behind, writes Geoff Russell.

      • The Snapchat cat filter shows how little we know about cat cognition

        In a video compilation making the rounds online, cats look at a phone screen that shows their owners with a cat face filter. The cats whip their heads around to look up at the human, and then back to the screen. “It appears the cat recognizes that their owner’s face should be on the phone, but it is not,” Kristyn Vitale, who studies cat behavior at Oregon State University, said in an email to The Verge.

      • Artificial Intelligence: Threat or Menace?

        Let’s get back to the 90/9/1 percent distribution, that applies to the components of the near future: 90% here today, 9% not here yet but on the drawing boards, and 1% unpredictable. I came up with that rule of thumb around 2005, but the ratio seems to be shifting these days. Changes happen faster, and there are more disruptive unknown-unknowns hitting us from all quarters with every passing decade. This is a long-established trend: throughout most of recorded history, the average person lived their life pretty much the same way as their parents and grandparents. Long-term economic growth averaged less than 0.1% per year over the past two thousand years. It has only been since the onset of the industrial revolution that change has become a dominant influence on human society. I suspect the 90/9/1 distribution is now something more like 85/10/5 — that is, 85% of the world of 2029 is here today, about 10% can be anticipated, and the random, unwelcome surprises constitute up to 5% of the mix. Which is kind of alarming, when you pause to think about it.

    • Hardware

      • Amazon is joining a project that could upend network chipmakers such as Broadcom

        Amazon is contributing to a new piece of open-source software that could give it a leg up in its physical stores. The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit organization that maintains the Linux operating system and open-source software, announced the new networking operating system, called Dent, in a statement on Friday.

        Dent is a proposed operating system for switches, which are pieces of hardware used to route data around networks, usually within companies or between companies and the internet. The market has traditionally been dominated by big companies such as Broadcom, which provides a lot of the underlying silicon chips, and Cisco, which sells finished assembled product.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Advocates call for ObamaCare open enrollment extension after website glitches

        For the 38 states that use healthcare.gov, Sunday is the last day to sign up for ObamaCare plans for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2020. According to advocacy groups, technical problems with the website have been preventing people from signing up.

        “Given that serious technical problems also significantly impacted the first day of Open Enrollment, preventing approximately 100,000 people from signing-up, an extension is critical to make sure all consumers who want to take advantage of the quality, affordable coverage options available at HealthCare.gov are able to do so,” said Joshua Peck, co-founder of Get America Covered who oversaw enrollment efforts for the Obama administration.

      • Dozens of female genital mutilation victims seen by NHS in Bradford

        Dozens of new victims of female genital mutilation have been seen by NHS services in Bradford so far this year.

        And the National FGM Centre is warning that more girls could be flown abroad to undergo illegal procedures during the Christmas holidays.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Large Hospital System Hit by Ransomware Attack

          The attack forced hospitals to reschedule nonemergency surgeries and doctors and nurses to deliver care without access to electronic records.

          The system said it was advised by experts not to disclose until Friday that it had been the victim of a ransomware attack. It said that its network’s primary clinical systems had returned to being operational, and that information technology specialists were working to bring all of its applications back online.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • FUSE for macOS: Why a popular open source library became closed source and commercially licensed

              In May this year, users of popular open source project FUSE for macOS noticed the source code for the latest update was missing. The project had become closed source and was no longer free for commercial use. But as The Reg discovered when we had a talk with its maintainer, there was a very good reason for that – and it’s not a good look for the many companies that used it.

              FUSE stands for File System in Userspace and lets developers create a custom filesystem without writing code for the kernel. If you have a database or a cloud storage system, for example, and you want it to appear to the operating system as just another set of files and folders, you can use FUSE.

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux Foundation Aims to Make a DENT in Old Guard’s Dominance with New Networking OS Project

                Project will “benefit customers by eliminating vendor lock-in and allow hardware vendors to compete on a level playing field”

                The Linux Foundation has a brand new open source baby with some heavyweight godparents: the new project, DENT, aims to create a new, non-proprietary network operating system (OS) that can tackle the issue of networking vendor lock-in head-on.

                In particular, DENT’s members intend to build a lightweight, Linux-based networking OS stack suitable for “remote” locations, they said late Friday, using the Linux kernel, Switchdev (a Linux kernel driver model for Ethernet switches) and other Linux projects to allow developers to “treat networking ASICs and silicon like any other hardware.”

        • Security

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • “Ag-Gag” Laws Expose Whistleblowers to Prosecution for Reporting Animal Abuse

        The U.S. has a long history of claiming (and often failing) to protect those who report injustice, corruption and unethical behavior in government and industry. The first law to protect whistleblowers was approved in 1778 — shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed. In the intervening centuries, additional state and federal laws have been enacted to shield whistleblowers from retaliation.

      • How a Government Censored an NSA Whistleblower

        “I viewed the extraordinary pressure to block me as an already-accepted speaker as a most alarming and Orwellian development.”

    • Environment

      • The Party That Ruined the Planet

        The most terrifying aspect of the U.S. political drama isn’t the revelation that the president has abused his power for personal gain. If you didn’t see that coming from the day Donald Trump was elected, you weren’t paying attention.

        No, the real revelation has been the utter depravity of the Republican Party. Essentially every elected or appointed official in that party has chosen to defend Trump by buying into crazy, debunked conspiracy theories. That is, one of America’s two major parties is beyond redemption; given that, it’s hard to see how democracy can long endure, even if Trump is defeated.

        However, the scariest reporting I’ve seen recently has been about science, not politics. A new federal report finds that climate change in the Arctic is accelerating, matching what used to be considered worst-case scenarios. And there are indications that Arctic warming may be turning into a self-reinforcing spiral, as the thawing tundra itself releases vast quantities of greenhouse gases.

      • US Denounced as ‘Threat to Humanity’ as COP25 Ends Without Deal on Big Polluters’ Responsibility to Frontline Nations

        “This year the masses mobilized, but our political leaders refused to rise above their own little agendas.”

      • Marathon Climate Talks in Madrid Fizzle to End With Slim Deal

        Marathon U.N. climate talks ended Sunday with a slim compromise that sparked widespread disappointment, after major polluters resisted calls for ramping up efforts to keep global warming at bay and negotiators postponed debate about rules for international carbon markets for another year.

      • Energy

        • Energy Loss on Electric Grid Is Overlooked Source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

          When it comes to strategies for slowing the effects of climate change, the idea of reducing wasted energy rarely gets a mention. But our recent Nature Climate Change article makes the case that reducing wastage in the power sector, focusing specifically on the grid, can be a critical lever in lowering national emissions.

    • Finance

      • Bosses Break the Law in Over 40 Percent of Union Campaigns

        Labor unions are more popular than they’ve been in over 15 years. Yet a record-low number of workers belong to them. The gap between the public perception of unions and their actual membership illustrates just how difficult it’s become for workers to organize.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Judge Orders More Than 200,000 Wisconsin Voters Purged From Rolls

        Pro-democracy advocates on Saturday vowed to ensure all Wisconsin voters are permitted to vote in the 2020 election after a state judge ordered more than 200,000 voters to be purged from the rolls.

      • Six Ways for Election Officials to Prepare for High Voter Turnout in 2020

        We are now less than one year away from Election Day 2020, and Americans are projected to turn out at levels not reached since the early 20th century.

      • ‘To Protect Our Democracy,’ Tuesday Night Rallies Planned In All 50 States to Demand Congress Votes to Impeach Trump

        “Americans from California to West Virginia are ready to hold their representatives accountable and declare that no one—not even the president—is above the law.”

      • Impeachment Inquiry Offers Chance to Derail Trump’s Political Heirs

        Republicans have made it clear throughout the impeachment investigation that they’ve decided to circle the wagons around Trump. This united opposition combined with the defensive posturing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shows it’s almost certain the Senate will not vote to remove Trump. But despite warnings by Republicans to the contrary, impeachment has already hurt Trump. And impeachment will continue to hurt Republicans, from pausing McConnell’s stuffing of the courts, to providing yet more airtime to Trump’s crimes, to creating the legacy of impeachment that will tarnish Trump’s political legacy.

      • Intentionally or Not, Progressives Are Coaxing Us Back Into a Corporate Party

        There’s a fundamental problem with the Democratic presidential debates. It’s not the number of candidates, the little talk of climate change or the debates’ “divisiveness.” It goes deeper than that. These debates operate on a flawed premise that runs right through the whole primary process: that what the candidates say now reflects how they’ll govern.

      • We Are All Female and We All Hate It

        So begins “Females,” the first book by critic Andrea Long Chu, whom you may know as Twitter’s @theorygurl or as the author of expertly savage recent reviews in Bookforum, Affidavit, and others. As this opening indicates, “female” is an existential category for Chu, defined not by genitals or modes of performativity, but rather by the universal, constitutive experience of “let[ting] someone else do your desiring for you, at your own expense.”

      • How Corporate PAC Money Gets to Democratic Challengers Who Say They Reject It

        Democrats’ narrow path to taking the Senate in 2020 goes through a handful of well-funded challengers, most of whom are banking on a pledge that worked wonders for the party during the 2018 midterms.

      • Voting Rights Advocates Vow to ‘Organize Harder Than GOP Can Suppress’ After Judge Orders 200,000 Voters Purged From Rolls

        “Don’t panic. Organize.”

      • The Lies We’re Told About Appalachia

        The old exploitative images are indelible: out of work, White, needy. They obscure the region’s diversity and long tradition of activism.

      • Comey: ‘Real Sloppiness’ in Russia Probe but No Misconduct

        Former FBI Director James Comey acknowledged Sunday that a Justice Department inspector general report identified “real sloppiness” in the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide and said he was wrong to have been “overconfident” about how the Russia investigation was handled.

      • CAP Is Spreading Disinformation About Bernie’s Health Care Plan

        But somehow Spiro’s belief on the correctness of Urban’s estimates turns primarily on which presidential candidate they are being applied to. This is the sort of deception that Spiro and CAP more generally are engaged in.

      • Our 2020 Democratic Primary Polling Averages

        Polls conducted after June 28, 2018, the date this page was published, are listed by the date that FiveThirtyEight collected them; polls conducted before then are listed under the last date that the poll was in the field. Polls from firms that are banned by FiveThirtyEight are not shown. Pollsters that did not release any horse-race polls within three weeks of an election since 1998 do not have a grade and are treated as a C+ by the grade filter.

      • A Sick U.K. Boy’s Story Was True. But False Posts Followed.

        But since Monday evening, journalists and researchers have tracked what appears to be a social media campaign to discredit the boy’s family. A message was shared widely on Facebook and Twitter from somebody claiming to know a nurse at the hospital who said the mother had staged the photo.

      • Sweden: Confronting Reality

        According to Säpo, individuals from Islamist groups are using public-funded schools, cultural associations and foundations as platforms to spread extremist ideology within Sweden.

      • Devin Nunes lives on a congressman’s salary. How is he funding so many lawsuits?

        Rep. Devin Nunes’ critics have obsessed over how he is paying for the six lawsuits he filed this year, but there are no public records showing how he has paid his Virginia lawyer.

        That means Nunes is either paying for the lawsuits out of his own pocket, promising to pay his lawyer a portion of any money they’re awarded in court at a later date, or flouting House Ethics rules that would require him to publicly disclose who is funding the legal work.

      • Lawmakers want former Ky. Gov. Bevin’s pardons investigated

        Outrage over a spree of pardons by former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin spread to the state capitol Friday as lawmakers called on federal and state prosecutors to investigate the orders, including one for a convicted killer whose family raised campaign money for the governor.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • In Pakistan, the merciless assassin: The blasphemy law

        According to various human rights groups, from 1987 to 2017, 1,549 blasphemy cases have been filed. The number of extrajudicial killings of blasphemy accused, without even reaching a court, is said to be more than 75 until 2017. Among the killed, 39 were Muslim, 23 Christian, 9 Ahmadi, 2 Hindus, and 2 unknown.

        Kill in the name of religion, you are a hero. The shrine of Qadri is a rose-shrouded testament to that. Live forgotten in a dark cell for eight years, while the perpetrator of the false accusation of blasphemy against you lives piously ever after without any remorse, without any legal consequence. Set on fire an entire colony of Christians to punish without a trial an alleged blasphemer, burning homes and churches and desecrating religious relics, without for a moment thinking, amidst the blind shrieking blazes, that Islam forbids it all–the unleashing of violence in its name. Be lynched in front of your two small children by the villagers you lived amongst in harmony despite your different faiths, as you watch them, in mind-numbing terror, turn into unrecognisable killing machines. Watch a fellow student’s lynching on an allegation of blasphemy, and videotape the various stages of his torture and murder, becoming a silent abettor in a medieval ritual of dehumanising the ‘other’.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • What’s the Secret to Success for Nonviolent Movements? Try Solidarity.

        Instead of “going it alone,” movements can amplify their message, leverage collective power, and build strength by seeking solidarity from aligned organizations and groups.

      • Yazidi women rescued from Isis captivity nine months after fall of caliphate

        A 17-year-old woman was found by Iraqi security forces in a desert hideout used by the jihadi group near the city of Ramadi, and two others aged 16 and 20 were found in separate locations in Syria, according to local media.

        The discoveries will fuel hopes that some of the thousands of Yazidi women still missing may yet be found in the territory formerly held by Isis.

      • Norway: A Fake “Translation”

        As explained in previous pieces here, the 30 or more police officers who were on hand at the event, which was organized by a group called Stop the Islamization of Norway (Stopp Islamiseringen av Norge – SIAN) were under secret orders from the chief of the Norwegian police, Benedicte Bjørnland, not just to douse any flaming Koran but to keep SIAN members from setting fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book in the first place. Bjørnland had maintained that the so-called “racism clause” of Norway’s criminal law gave her the power to issue such orders, while the Minister of Justice, Jøran Kallmyr, made the puzzling comment that while burning the Koran was legal, it could “become” a crime, a statement that made no more sense in Norwegian than it does in English.

      • Hundreds of Christians in Nigeria ‘slaughtered’ by Islamist militia this year

        Baroness Cox, who founded HART to promote and support peace and development groups in Nigeria, has recently returned from a research trip to the country. She explained that the Fulani, a nomadic ethnic group of about 20 million people across 20 West- and Central-African countries, were largely responsible for the new wave of violence. The terrorist group was listed as the fourth most deadly in the Global Terrorism Index in 2016 and 2017.

      • Iran Regime Hangs Another Woman; 98 Women Executed During Rouhani’s Presidency

        A woman who defended herself against rape was hanged this week in Iran, according to the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

        Somayyeh Shahbazi Jahrouii, 33, had been imprisoned for six years. She had committed murder in self-defense against rape, according to her relatives.

      • Indian police attacked university campuses on government order

        Yesterday, Indian police attacked protesting students across different university campuses. They fired tear gas shells inside of libraries; they lit buses on fire and then told that the students did it. They broke into a Mosque and beat up students there.

        The Internet has been shut down in Kashmir for over 130 days, and now few more states + different smaller parts of the country are having the same.

        Search for #JamiaProtest or #SOSJamia on twitter to see what is going on in India. I asked to my around 5k followers, to reply if they can see our tweets (only around 5 replied via the original tweet).

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • .ORG Update

        Public announcements made by PIR, ISOC, and Ethos Capital contain relevant facts that were not required in the request for approval. Today, we sent PIR an additional information request to ensure that we have a full understanding of this proposed acquisition. We have asked PIR to provide information related to the continuity of the operations of the .ORG registry, the nature of the proposed transaction, how the proposed new ownership structure would continue to adhere to the terms of our current agreement with PIR, and how they intend to act consistently with their promises to serve the .ORG community with more than 10 million domain name registrations.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Validity Goulash: Functional Claim Language, Patent Eligibility, and Pick-up Truck Drive Shafts

          In American Axle, the Federal Circuit found the patented method of manufacturing drifeshafts to be patent ineligible. U.S. Patent No. 7,774,911. The claims “tuned” the shafts in order to reduce multiple forms of vibrational resonance, and the court held that the claims were improperly directed to “Hooke’s law, and possibly other natural laws.” The majority opinion was written by Judge Dyk and joined by Judge Taranto; while Judge Moore wrote a vigorous dissent identifying the majority opinion as “validity goulash” (and not the good tasting kind).


          ‘911 patent Claim 1. The real question here is whether these functional claim limitations should be seen as too abstract. Or, instead, are they effective at providing a clear and limited scope once coupled with the specification disclosure and the knowledge of a skilled artisan?

      • Trademarks

        • CJEU rules on genuine use of collective trade marks

          The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that the indication of the affiliation with a local waste collection may influence consumers’ purchasing decision and consequently contribute to maintain or create a share in the market for the goods or services protected by the mark.

          Earlier this week, in its judgment in C‑143/19 P, the CJEU annulled the General Court (GC) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) decisions regarding the revocation of the collective mark “Representation of a circle with two arrows”. This judgement dealt, in particular, with the issue of the genuine use of collective trade marks and the assessment of the use of such mark on the market.


          The applicant invoked infringement of Article 15(1) of Regulation No 207/2009 together with Article 66 (now articles 18(1) and 74 of Regulation (EU) 2017/1001) claiming the use of the mark not only for the packaging of goods but also for the packaged goods at issue. According to Der Grüne Punkt, the contested mark indicates certain intangible characteristics of the goods at issue, namely the undertaking’s conduct.

          The CJEU, after recalling the case-law concerning both the function of collective trade marks and genuine use, stated that there is ‘genuine use’ of a collective mark where the mark is used in accordance with its essential function, which is to distinguish the goods or services of the members of the association from others which have another origin in order to create or preserve an outlet for the goods or services. [57]

          According to case law proving that the use of the mark create or preserve an outlet for the goods or services that bear the sign entails the use of the mark on the market for the goods or services protected by that mark. Such exam must be conducted considering all the facts and circumstances relevant to establishing whether the commercial exploitation of the mark is real, particularly whether such use is viewed as warranted in the economic sector concerned to maintain or create a share in the market for the goods or services protected by the mark, the nature of those goods or services, the characteristics of the market and the scale and frequency of use of the mark. (Ansul, C‑40/01)

          The CJEU pointed out that the GC did not perform the examination to establish the use of the mark on the market. In fact, the GC considered that the consumer understands that the packaging and not the product itself is part of a sound waste management system but it did not analyse if this indication is viewed as warranted in the economic sector concerned to maintain or create a share in the market for the goods or services protected by the mark. [68]

      • Copyrights

        • Cops storm Nginx’s Moscow offices after a Russian biz claims it owns world’s most widely used web server, not F5

          Nginx’s Moscow office was raided today by police after the ownership of the popular web server’s source code was disputed.

          We understand the cops showed up after Russian company Rambler Group formally complained it owned the code, and that Nginx was thus infringing its rights, highlighting the country’s rather interesting approach to intellectual property.

        • French Anti-Piracy Law Decreased Music Consumption Variety, Research Suggests

          Newly published research shows that the French anti-piracy law Hadopi has had a positive effect on digital music sales. This effect decreased over time but remained relatively stable for bigger artists. The same data further suggests that people’s music consumption became less varied during the same period. According to the researcher, the discovery element of piracy could benefit smaller artists.

        • Sky on a Mission to Purge Hundreds of Pirate IPTV Sites From Google

          As ‘pirate’ IPTV sellers continue to grow in both volume and popularity, efforts continue to bring the phenomenon under control. For Comcast-owned broadcaster Sky, that means sending large volumes of takedown notices to Google, claiming that the sellers not only infringe their broadcast rights, but also copyrights relating to their graphics and logos.

Recharging for 2020

Posted in Site News at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Colourful butterfly

Summary: Techrights prepares for another big year with more coverage than past years (we have become more efficient and our team grows)

Colourful seasons have gone. It’s cold. It’s dark. But we’re ready to rise again in 2020, maybe with a new operating system (we’re going to experiment around Christmas, as upgrades are long overdue). The site will definitely look the same, irrespective of what runs at the back end, as backward compatibility is very important to us and we don’t intend to change the look-and-feel any time soon, not even for so-called “smart” or ‘smart’ devices. The way things stand, the European Patent Office (EPO) is our top priority because nobody else covers it (not properly; puff pieces quoting EPO press releases don’t count), the USPTO affairs/matters at a policy level (pertinent court cases go into Daily Links), and we’ll keep an eye on software patents in Europe, which the EPO hopes to legitimise by smothering the national courts (with UPC, which António Campinos supports as much as Battistelli did).

“We’ll keep fighting, we’ll fight for those who need it.”We don’t expect 35 U.S.C. § 101 to be successfully undermined, no matter what the hive of lawyers keeps telling us. So we won’t pay too much attention to that. Instead we’ll focus more on GNU/Linux and attacks on it, including the attacks on GNU/Linux that we see coming from the Linux Foundation (it nowadays helps Microsoft more than it has helped actual GNU/Linux users). As always, we welcome but refuse to beg for financial support. We accept donations through PayPal and we’re grateful for any contribution readers can make, even if as meager as a jar of coffee’s worth (I pay less than 2 pounds for a jar of coffee, which makes about 100 cups to keep me awake, to keep me reading and writing). My wife and I run the site at our own expense and we reject corporate money for the sake of complete autonomy. We live a very frugal life; almost all the food we buy is significantly price-reduced and we mostly walk (sometimes public transport gets used; I haven’t owned a car in over a decade). We never turn on the heating unless there’s a guest. The upside is, that’s good for the environment as well. My birthday is tomorrow and I’ve planned nothing for it; I will be writing, as usual…

We’ll keep fighting, we’ll fight for those who need it. European patent examiners (let’s face it, the scientists/examiners do want increased quality of patents!), Free software users, and marginalised people in need of privacy and a platform through which they can blow the whistle. We got dozens of those in 2019.

2020 will be our fourteenth year as we’re proud to say that all our sources have been kept safe. We definitely intend to keep it that way whilst ensuring maximal level of transparency (reducing opportunity for mischief and misconduct).

Startpage and System1: Lying for Almost a Year and Nowadays Making Things Personal/Ad Hominem (Shooting the Messengers)

Posted in Deception, Search at 5:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Startpage and its apologists have become abrasive and aggressive, just like spies

Startpage tweet
A surveillance company advises people to keep “personal information private!”

Summary: As more people become aware of what a scam Startpage is (and has clandestinely been for nearly a year) the strategy seems to be further obfuscation and even personal attacks (demonising the critics/exposers)

THE TWITTER feed of Startpage is good for eye-rolling. It’s a lot like the NSA’s. They say they value security and privacy, but in practice they undermine both, for gain.

For quite some time Startpage attempted to keep secret the System1 transaction. Later they came up with some fictional “Privacy One Group” to ‘come clean’. That didn’t go too well, did it? As one site put it a month ago, “Who owns Startpage now?”

“They say they value security and privacy, but in practice they undermine both, for gain.”“The exact answer to this question is not entirely clear,” it says, “and it seems that is intentional.”

“Also concerning is that the Privacy Policy of Startpage makes no reference to the new ownership structure and continues to suggest it is strictly a Dutch company,” it adds.

Also it says: “There is no mention of System1 or the Privacy One Group, the members of which now hold an “important stake” in Startpage. Questions about the exact ownership structure have gone unanswered, aside from general statements.”

“For quite some time Startpage attempted to keep secret the System1 transaction.”On “Privacy One Group” it says: “While some are suggesting that this entity may be just a facade of privacy for the parent company System1, I’m not going to speculate. Ultimately, we don’t know much about the company – and neither Startpage, nor System1, nor Privacy One Group are offering these details.”

Further down it adds: “So here we have an investor from New York and the co-founder of System1 sitting on the board of directors for Surfboard Hoalding BV, the parent company of Startpage. Ian Weingarten is currently the CEO of System1 and Robert Beens is the CEO of Startpage.”

About timing: “Also notice that this change happened on December 31, 2018. Yet Startpage’s leadership did not make any announcement of this change until October 2019, where they described it as a “most recent” change. I do not think that a nine-month delay is a “most recent” development.”

The author, Sven Taylor, concluded with this: “At the end of the day, an American ad-tech company that seeks to “gather as much data as possible” is still the majority owner of Startpage, a search engine that could be used to collect data.”

“We’ve meanwhile noticed Startpage and its apologists smearing their ‘opponents’, mocking articles that unmasked the surveillance because the articles aren’t in sites with encrypted connections, and not justifying decisions to relist surveillance sites in so-called ‘privacy’ directories.”That was a month ago and a lot has happened since then, including what we called lobbying by the CEO earlier this month. Martin Brinkmann, a GNU/Linux proponent, wrote about that 3 days later, also with the face-saving PR of Startpage. Did that work? Seems so. “The whole situation could have been avoided if Startpage would have been transparent about the deal,” Brinkmann concluded. “The publication reveals critical information about the deal and should reassure some users. Others may require additional information or clarification, e.g. whether data is shared with Privacy One Group Limited or System1.”

That’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? Consider how dishonest these people have been all along and for so long (until they got exposed, whereupon it wasn’t possible to hide anymore).

We’ve meanwhile noticed Startpage and its apologists smearing their ‘opponents’, mocking articles that unmasked the surveillance because the articles aren’t in sites with encrypted connections, and not justifying decisions to relist surveillance sites in so-called ‘privacy’ directories. We don’t want to link to these accusations (we’ve kept record and stock of these), which tend to be personal attacks that are substance-free. Startpage becoming as aggressive and as dishonest as spying companies may in fact be expected and predictable. After all, Startpage was bought by one and is now bossed by one.

When You Cannot Convert GNU/Linux Into Windows (Mono, DLL Files Etc.) You May Try to Make It Subservient to Windows (Vista 10 and WSL)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Ubuntu, Vista 10, Windows at 4:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Scoble on Mono

Summary: Microsoft needs people outside Microsoft to promote WSL; some of them have already entered GNU/Linux companies

THIS may not be very publicly visible (except to those who read our IRC logs, which are public), but we’ve been researching what drives WSL development and who takes the lead.

“There’s absolutely no practical reason to use WSL; it’s a lot easier and technically far better to get something like VirtualBox, which is also Free software, then install under it one’s distribution of choice.”Isn’t it curious that lawyers rather than geeks are in charge? Earlier this month we took note of their support for USPTO-granted software patents (despite 35 U.S.C. § 101) that Microsoft still uses against GNU/Linux, even this year.

We are still drilling and digging. Many parallels can be found between the people who promoted Mono inside GNU/Linux and are now Microsoft employees (they weren’t at the time).

There’s absolutely no practical reason to use WSL; it’s a lot easier and technically far better to get something like VirtualBox, which is also Free software, then install under it one’s distribution of choice. But WSL is a lot easier for Microsoft to spy on, remotely break/brick and add Windows-only “extensions” to (the second “E” in EEE). It doesn’t take a genius to foresee what Microsoft will seek to accomplish with WSL and one only needs to assess the background of those who promote it. They’re not GNU/Linux people but Microsoft/Windows people. They view GNU/Linux as something to merely be exploited.

“…Kirkland left after 10 years; hard to imagine he was proud to have turned Ubuntu into an ‘app’ for spyware disguised as an operating system with obligatory ads.”Months ago Will Cooke stepped down As Canonical’s Ubuntu Desktop Director (Rick Spencer, head of Ubuntu’s desktop a decade ago, had come from Microsoft) and Canonical also lost the person who initially announced WSL (on behalf of Canonical), Dustin Kirkland. He now works for Apex Clearing, having left his position at Canonical (Product Manager or VP Product).

“After 7+ years at IBM,” he once explained, “I joined Canonical in (February 2008)…”

So Mr. Kirkland left after 10 years; hard to imagine he was proud to have turned Ubuntu into an ‘app’ for spyware disguised as an operating system with obligatory ads.

All in all, there are many warning signs ‘in the air’ and while our investigation continues we’ll refrain from saying anything we cannot verify (at least not yet). Remember this: WSL is not good for GNU/Linux. WSL is good for Microsoft. WSL is promoted not by GNU/Linux people but by Microsoft proponents. Just like Mono was…

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 15, 2019

Posted in IRC Logs at 3:25 am by Needs Sunlight



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