Links 8/5/2020: Mesa 20.1 RC2, WirePlumber, and ThinPro

Posted in News Roundup at 11:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Lenovo is Jumping on the Linux Laptop Bandwagon

        PC and laptop maker Lenovo is set to release ThinkPad laptops, pre-installed with Fedora Linux.

        One issue Linux has faced over the years is there was never enough off-the-shelf hardware that included the open source operating system. Things started to change when System76 came into existence. Since then a number of hardware makers have jumped onto the bandwagon.

        You can now count Lenovo among those numbers. In his latest blog, Matthew Miller, Fedora Project Leader, announced, “Fedora Workstation will be available on Lenovo ThinkPad laptops!” Miller continues, “Yes, I know, many of us already run a Fedora operating system on a Lenovo system, but this is different. You’ll soon be able to get Fedora pre-installed by selecting it as you customize your purchase.”

      • Windows Continues OS Domination as Ubuntu, macOS Gain Ground

        The major PC operating systems are constantly fighting for market dominance. Though Microsoft’s Windows rarely has its No. 1 position challenged, and continues to see growth and expansion of its OS solutions, the COVID-19 pandemic may have thrown a slight wrench in their continued success.

        Microsoft, overall, has seen growth in Windows 10 over the last several years; it was reported in a blog post by the Chief Product Officer for Windows & Devices that Windows 10 saw a 75% year-over-year increase in time spent by users. However, even with that growth, April 2020 saw an overall loss in market share for Windows, while Ubuntu & macOS saw their user numbers increase.

      • This HP USB drive promises to transform and secure any old PC

        Plug it into an existing device to transform it into what HP calls a secure Linux-based HP thin client. This allows workers to boot into the firm’s ThinPro OS and access cloud apps and virtual machines.


        According to HP, the ThinPro Go is scalable to thousands of endpoints and can be managed easily with the HP Device Manager console.

        At the heart of the device is the HP ThinPro 7.1 SP6 OS, which uses Ubuntu v16.04. The minimum hardware requirements should be met by almost all personal computers released over the past 10 years, making the ThinProGo ideal for remote workers.

        Curiously, HP decided to eschew its traditional storage partner Biwin, which produces HP products like the P700.

      • Open Up: Benefits of Open Source Software

        Pop!_OS 20.04 LTS is open source software built atop layers of previously established open source software. It’s like an onion of software. But why open source? What benefit does it add for System76 and our users? Reduced cost certainly plays a role, as most open source software is free to download; however, the real magic sauce is the community.


        Linux provides a highly personalized user experience. People with strong preferences for a specific window manager or application launcher often want to see it available across distros, even if it means building it themselves. With a swath of tweaks available to you, personalizing your software is easy. Extensions like Dash to Dock or Dash to Panel bring your application launcher to your desktop. The Isolated Workspaces extension, meanwhile, allows you to open new instances of an application in a separate workspace. And of course, the new Pop!_Shell is available as an extension on distros using the GNOME desktop environment.

    • Kernel Space

      • Graphics Stack

        • mesa 20.1.0-rc2
          Hi all,
          I'd like to announce the second release candidate for the 20.1 branch,
          Mesa 20.1.0-rc2.
          As always, please test it and report any issues you may find to
          And to help us track issues and merge requests relevant to this branch,
          please add them to the 20.1.0 release milestone:
          There aren't that many fixes for an -rc2 and not many open issues, which
          can either indicate that master was in a remarkably good state when the
          branch was cut, or that things haven't been thoroughly tested yet.
          We'll see in the next two weeks how things go.
          The next release candidate is scheduled for 7 days from now, on
        • Mesa 20.1-RC2 Released For Vetting This Set Of Open-Source OpenGL / Vulkan Drivers

          On Wednesday marked the second weekly release candidate for the forthcoming Mesa 20.1.

          Mesa 20.1 serves as the Q2’2020 feature release for this set of predominantly OpenGL/Vulkan open-source drivers commonly used by Linux systems. Over the past week a number of RADV Vulkan driver fixes landed including some for the ACO compiler back-end, some updates to the Etnaviv OpenGL driver, several RadeonSI updates, and a few Intel fixes too. Overall though this is a fairly small release candidate for being just one week past the feature freeze.

    • Applications

      • 10 Useful Free OCR Tools

        Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into searchable, editable documents. OCR software is able to recognise the difference between characters and images, and between characters themselves.

        The use of paper has been displaced from some activities. For example, the vast majority of journeys on the London Underground are made using the Oyster card without a paper ticket being issued. We have witnessed talk of a paperless office for more than 40 years. However, the office environment has shown a resistance to remove the mountain of paper generated. Things have changed in the past few years, with a marked shift in the paperless office concept. Paper documents contain a wealth of important management data and information that would be better stored electronically. There is computer software that makes this conversion possible. The benefit of scanning documents is not purely for archival reasons. OCR technology is vital for gaining access to paper-based information, as well as integrating that information in digital workflows.

        The selection of the right OCR tool is dependent on specific needs. For some, online OCR services may be useful, but there are privacy concerns and file size limitations. This article focuses on desktop, open source OCR software that offer good recognition accuracy and file formats. We cover OCR engines as well as front-end tools.

        OCR software is not mainstream so open source alternatives to proprietary heavyweight software are fairly thin on the ground. Matters are also complicated by the fact that OCR computer software needs very sophisticated algorithms to translate the image of text into accurate actual text. The software also has to cope with images that contain a lot more than text, such as layouts, images, graphics, tables, in single or multi pages.

      • WirePlumber, the PipeWire session manager

        My colleague Julian blogged about PipeWire earlier this year, mentioning that at Collabora, as part of our work for Automotive Grade Linux, has been developing a PipeWire session manager called WirePlumber. In this post, I will attempt to explain a bit more about WirePlumber and give some context for future blog posts on this subject.


        In traditional setups, applications have direct access to devices. This means they need to choose themselves the device they want to open and set it up according to their media requirements (i.e. choose an audio sample rate, a format, a video resolution, etc). While system configuration can exist to have a “system default” device (ex. in ALSA), in some setups this is not the case, burdening the application developer to provide a way to configure device selection. Furthermore, such setups do not allow transparent switching of devices (ex. switch audio playback from laptop speakers to a bluetooth headset while music is playing), unless the application implements the complex operations required to do so. In some cases, another issue is that devices are controlled exclusively by a single application, not allowing more complex use cases where sharing a device is required. Last but not least, accessing devices directly increases the complexity of the applications’ media pipelines in order to handle multiple device formats or deal with mis-behaving / non-standard devices.

        PulseAudio has improved this situation significantly for audio applications. In PulseAudio, audio devices are opened and configured internally and audio applications can just create streams of any desired format and request to play or capture from the “default” device. Application developers no longer have to provide a means to configure which device to use, although they still can if they want to. PulseAudio maintains this “default” device preference internally and automatically creates the necessary internal links to make things work when a new stream comes in from an application. This default device preference can be changed at runtime and application streams can be transparently redurected to another device, abstracting away all complexity. The problem here, however, is that while this logic is great for most desktop applications, it does not scale well to other use cases. Also, PulseAudio does not handle video streams…

        On the other side there is JACK, which deals with a specific use case as well: professional audio. JACK similarly allows applications to just create a stream and forget about the device. But unlike PulseAudio, it implements no connection logic internally. This is left to an external component: the session manager. The session manager watches for applications connecting or disconnecting and uses its own logic to link them to a device or a peer application. This may involve a “default” device target, but it normally follows a set of more complex user-configurable rules that allow flexibility in setting up the audio processing stage for professional audio applications. The problem here, however, is of course that JACK does not handle well the typical desktop use case and is complex to use for a non-professional.

        Which brings us back to PipeWire… Combining parts of all these designs together, PipeWire provides a flexible media server that can be used to implement desktop, embedded, professional and non-professional use cases for both audio and video. To its best interest, PipeWire is also powered by a session manager, similar to the one in JACK, but with even more powers available.

      • PipeWire Gets A Session Manager With WirePlumber

        In most basic terms, PipeWire session managers are responsible for connecting audio/video streams to the relevant hardware/software device. But PipeWire session managers also need to deal with security/permission aspects, device monitoring, and other policy decisions. WirePlumber is a new PipeWire session manager being developed by Collabora. The WirePlumber session manager has a modular design and other more advanced features compared to the basic session manager shipped currently by PipeWire.

      • Daniel Stenberg: qlog with curl

        I want curl to be on the very bleeding edge of protocol development to aid the Internet protocol development community to test out protocols early and to work out kinks in the protocols and server implementations using curl’s vast set of tools and switches.

        For this, curl supported HTTP/2 really early on and helped shaping the protocol and testing out servers.

        For this reason, curl supports HTTP/3 already August 2019. A convenient and well-known client that you can then use to poke on your brand new HTTP/3 servers too and we can work on getting all the rough edges smoothed out before the protocol is reaching its final state.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Chroma: Bloom And Blight is an ambitious upcoming competitive card game – on Kickstarter and demo up

        Chroma: Bloom And Blight was quite a surprise to be told about today, a very ambitious upcoming competitive card game that will have full Linux support.

        What makes it interesting, it’s that it will be fully free to play. They won’t even be selling card packs, only cosmetics to ensure a truly level game for everyone. Not only are they planning Linux support, it’s already in there and you can play the demo right now on Steam. They’re currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, with about 5 days left to go and they’re seriously close to hitting their goal but they do require a little push to make it.

      • As Stellaris prepares to turn 4, Paradox have a big free update ready for this month

        Engage hype number one! Stellaris, the awesome grand strategy space game from Paradox Development Studio and Paradox Interactive turns four years old soon and it’s getting a big free update.

        Paradox have now confirmed the 2.7 ‘Wells’ update will launch on May 12! It’s going to touch on a huge amount of existing content to expand it. Lots of new visual effects, new ambient planet reveals, various sound upgrades (“70+” sound bits remastered), a home system each for Tiyanki and Space Amoebas, a new roaming Space Cloud, numerous AI upgrades, improved modding support and loads more.

      • Codemasters have announced DIRT 5 and it will be available on Stadia in early 2021

        Codemasters have announced the first ‘next-gen’ racer with DIRT 5, and the good news for Linux fans is that they’ve already confirmed a Google Stadia release so you can stream it in early 2021.

        Sounds like it’s going to be quite feature-filled. There’s a Career Mode with a narrative voice cast led by the legendary Troy Baker and Nolan North, split screen support for up to four players and of course online play support too full of different events to race through. They also teased a new game mode reveal later this year something that we “have never seen before from the DIRT franchise”.

      • Humble Store has a massive Spring Sale on with Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation FREE to claim

        Humble Store just announced their massive Spring Sale is live, with tons of games discounted and you can grab a free game too.

        Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is the freebie this time, which sadly didn’t come to Linux although it was planned and they said future titles should be thanks to the work done towards it! You can try your luck with Steam Play Proton otherwise.

        Quite a few big publishers have their games on sale for this including: Team17, Square Enix, Jackbox Games, Codemasters and more. Thanks to those and more, plus hundreds of indie developers there’s some excellent Linux games you can pick up.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Ktown Plasma5 packages for Slackware 14.2 will go offline soon

          For a short while after an official stable Slackware release, I keep providing ‘ktown’ packages for the most recent stable Slackware version (which is 14.2 at the time of writing) but once the stable and development releases of Slackware start to diverge too much, I stop updating the Plasma5 packages for the stable release. After all, ‘ktown’ is meant to be the bleeding edge playground for a future Slackware release.

          I recently noticed that people are still downloading and installing my ageing ‘ktown’ packages for Slackware 14.2. Those packages have not been touched since end of 2017, they may contain security holes, and they do not represent the state of development of the KDE software today.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • GNOME is not the default for Fedora Workstation

          We recently had a Fedora AMA where one of the questions asked is why GNOME is the default desktop for Fedora Workstation. In the AMA we answered why GNOME had been chosen for Fedora Workstation, but we didn’t challenge the underlying assumption built into the way the question was asked, and the answer to that assumption is that it isn’t the default. What I mean with this is that Fedora Workstation isn’t a box of parts, where you have default options that can be replaced, its a carefully procured and assembled operating system aimed at developers, sysadmins and makers in general. If you replace one or more parts of it, then it stops being Fedora Workstation and starts being ‘build your own operating system OS’. There is nothing wrong with wanting to or finding it interesting to build your own operating systems, I think a lot of us initially got into Linux due to enjoying doing that. And the Fedora project provides a lot of great infrastructure for people who want to themselves or through teaming up with others build their own operating systems, which is why Fedora has so many spins and variants available.

          The Fedora Workstation project is something we made using those tools and it has been tested and developed as an integrated whole, not as a collection of interchangeable components. The Fedora Workstation project might of course over time replace certain parts with other parts over time, like how we are migrating from X.org to Wayland. But at some point we are going to drop standalone X.org support and only support X applications through XWayland. But that is not the same as if each of our users individually did the same. And while it might be technically possible for a skilled users to still get things moved back onto X for some time after we make the formal deprecation, the fact is that you would no longer be using ‘Fedora Workstation’. You be using a homebrew OS that contains parts taken from Fedora Workstation.


          So for RHEL we now only offer GNOME as the desktop and the same is true in Fedora Workstation, and that is not because we don’t understand that people enjoy experimenting with other desktops, but because it allows us to work with our customers and users and hardware partners on fixing the issues they have with our operating system, because it is a clearly defined entity, and adding the features they need going forward and properly support the hardware they are using, as opposed to spreading ourselves to thin that we just run around putting on band-aids for the problems reported.

        • Experimental Linux Live OS For Showcasing Wayland Updated With Latest Desktops

          Years ago long before GNOME had great Wayland support and was used by default on the likes of Fedora Workstation and long before other Wayland compositors had mature support along with other areas of the stack, there was a Linux distribution offering up an experimental Linux “Live DVD/USB” OS for showcasing Wayland. That distribution is now out with a new release.

          It’s been a few years since last hearing anything of that OS given the relatively mature Wayland support these days and it being easy to use it as an alternative to X11 on many Linux distributions. But this week RebeccaBlackOS saw a new release.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Elementary OS 5.1.4 Review: Parental Control Finally Works?

          Elementary OS 5.1 Hera has received a point release with a handful of new features and bug fixes, and we will be reviewing the significant changes in this article. For those new to elementary OS, this Ubuntu-based Linux distribution uses their inhouse built Pantheon desktop environment and AppCenter.


          The User Accounts Settings now only shows more accurate reasons for settings being locked. Also, you will now see a lesser prompt for administrator permission on demand when enabling or disabling accounts.

          The AppCenter is made lesser resource hungry as it will now only check for updates at system startup, although you can force the update by launching the AppCenter yourself.


          Elementary OS 5.1.4 comes as a surprise major update to make the Linux distro reliable and lighter. I think there is still some work left in the new Screen Time & Limits feature. It works well in blocking the apps and setting the time limit for a user account. What do you think of the elementary OS? Do you have specific feedback to the dev team to make it better?

      • BSD

        • HamBSD Development Log 2020-05-07

          I worked on HamBSD today, still looking at improvements to aprsisd(8). My focus today was on writing unit tests for aprsisd.

          I’ve added a few unit tests to test the generation of the TNC2 format packets from AX.25 packets to upload to APRS-IS. There’s still some todo entries there as I’ve not made up packets for all the cases I wanted to check yet.

          These are the first unit tests I’ve written for HamBSD and it’s definitely a different experience compared to writing Python unit tests for example. The framework for the tests uses bsd.regress.mk(5). The tests are C programs that include functions from aprsisd.

          In order to do this I’ve had to split the function that converts AX.25 packets to TNC2 packets out into a seperate file. This is the sort of thing that I’d be more comfortable doing if I had more unit test coverage. It seemed to go OK and hopefully the coverage will improve as I get more used to writing tests in this way.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • QEMU 5, Kismet, BRLTTY Packages Update in Tumbleweed Snapshots

          There have been four openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots released so far this month and they are all trending stable at a rating of 99, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer.

          QEMU had a major version update in Tumbleweed this week and a new version of the BRLTTY daemon, which provides access to the Linux console for a blind person using a refreshable braille display, also updated in Tumbleweed earlier this week.

          Snapshot 202000504 brought a new version of GNOME’s photo management application Shotwell. The new Shotwell version fixed an access issue with YouTube via OAuth scope. The bootsplash package Plymouth had more than six months of updates for Tumbleweed users; there were numerous updates in this package and it added support for firmware-splashes with rotation status bit sets and added a plymouth-avoid-umount-hanging-shutdown.patch. The expressive, extensible templating engine python-Jinja2 package updated to version 2.11.2 and fixed about a handful of bugs; one of which fixed a hang when displaying tracebacks on Python 32-bit. Xfce’s window manager, xfwm4, fixed the compositor without the required X11 extensions and fixed the window decorations without XRender extension in version 4.14.2.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Over 80,000 people tune into virtual Red Hat Summit, crushing last year’s attendance record [Ed: This is a lie. People momentarily tuning into some webstream isn't the same as people flying to an event. Also, Red Hat paid publishers to write puff pieces to get people to click on things. Some publishers openly admitted that Red Hat had paid them for the puff pieces.]

          “We’ve shared the vision of open hybrid cloud for a long, long time,” Whitehurst said. “The issue has always been, obviously, that to land a horizontal platform, the company that kind of lands that platform, the same thing we did with Linux, needs to be able to work with everybody in the ecosystem. Down deep, Red Hat’s in the ecosystem building business.”

          But, he noted, “IBM competes with other members of that ecosystem. So the only way we feel we can confidently leverage the scale of IBM to help ensure that the world ends up with a hybrid horizontal choice of platform is to ensure that Red Hat can work with IBM competitors. Red Hat has to stand on its own so it can work with competitors of IBM, to ensure that the platform is neutral, it’s available to anyone, that any customer anywhere can feel comfortable, if they’re working with Red Hat, they can work with whoever else they want without any type of conflict. And IBM supports that but recognizes we have to leave that separate in order to ensure its success.”

        • Peter Hutterer: Wayland doesn’t support $BLAH [Ed: Red Hat's Peter Hutterer sort of misses the point; at the end of the day people lack things they need in current Wayland implementations]

          In most cases you may encounter (online or on your setup), saying “Wayland doesn’t support $BLAH” is like saying “HTTP doesn’t support $BLAH”. The problem isn’t in with Wayland itself, it’s a missing piece or bug in the compositor you’re using.

          Likewise, saying “I don’t like Wayland” is like saying “I don’t like HTTP”.The vast majority of users will have negative feelings towards the browser, not the transport protocol.

        • IBM Working On More Linux CPU Power Usage Optimizations For Latency-Sensitive Workloads

          The new patch series builds off earlier work published by IBM on providing a per-task “latency_nice” knob for scheduler hints. Latency_nice can be used for indicating latency requirements of a given task so the scheduler can make better decisions. With that latency_nice work published over recent months, among the use-cases talked about there was for better turbo/boost frequency decisions based upon grouping of tasks with similar latency requirements. Additionally, hypothetically having the scheduler not assign low-latency tasks to a CPU encountering AVX-512 based workloads where generally the core frequencies become quite limited.

          With the new patches from IBM’s Parth Shah is idle gating in the presence of latency-sensitive tasks. This work is about preventing the CPU idle governor from dropping to lower power levels when running a task indicated by latency_nice to be low-latency.

        • Open Data Hub 0.6 brings component updates and Kubeflow architecture

          Open Data Hub (ODH) is a blueprint for building an AI-as-a-service platform on Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based OpenShift 4.x. Version 0.6 of Open Data Hub comes with significant changes to the overall architecture as well as component updates and additions. In this article, we explore these changes.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Officially Released: This Remix Of Ubuntu 20.04 Ditches Gnome For Deepin

          Additionally, this new Linux distribution uses official Ubuntu repositories instead of Deepin ones, and the developers have tasked themselves with maintaining the DDE (Deepin Desktop Environment) packages for Ubuntu.

          I gave it a test run last month when the beta was still fresh, and I’m eager to see what refinements have been made since then.

          One other thing worth pointing out: I’m a sucker for projects that have polished websites, and UbuntuDDE comes out of the gate with not just a sharp looking portal, but also official support channels within Telegram and IRC, in addition to Forums.

          That’s likely because this project’s end goal is gaining the favor of Canonical and becoming an official Ubuntu flavor; right now it’s classified as a “Remix” similar to CinnaBuntu… sorry, I mean Ubuntu Cinnamon Edition.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Introducing Scylla Open Source 4.0

        With the release of Scylla Open Source 4.0, we’ve introduced a set of noteworthy production-ready new features, including a DynamoDB-compatible API that lets you to take your locked-in DynamoDB workloads and run them anywhere, a more efficient implementation of Lightweight Transactions (LWT), plus improved and new experimental features such as Change Data capture (CDC), which uses standard CQL tables.

        4.0 is the most expansive release we’ve ever done. After all, it’s rare to release a whole new database API in General Availability (GA), and our Alternator project has finally graduated. In 4.0 we also reach full feature parity with the database of our roots: LWT graduated from experimental mode and is now ready for prime time. Just yesterday, Scylla was tested with Kong, the cloud native API gateway, which relies upon LWT, and it worked as flawlessly as we hoped. This single Github issue of Kong integration shows the long journey we’ve completed to reach full feature parity. The issue was opened in 2015, just as we launched our company out of stealth mode. From that point forward, integration waited for counters, ALTER TABLE, materialized views, indexes, Cassandra Cluster Manager (CCM) integration and finally LWT.

      • The perfect combo with Prometheus and Grafana, and more industry trends

        As part of my role as a senior product marketing manager at an enterprise software company with an open source development model, I publish a regular update about open source community, market, and industry trends for product marketers, managers, and other influencers. Here are five of my and their favorite articles from that update.

      • How Tesla uses open source to generate resilience in modern electric grids

        Tesla can query at any node in this hierarchy to know the aggregate value at that location or query the latest telemetry from an individual site. It can also navigate up and down the hierarchy from any point. The services that perform this real-time hierarchical aggregation run in an Akka cluster. An Akka cluster allows a set of pods with different roles to communicate with each other transparently. The first roll is a set of linearly scalable pods that stream data off Apache Kafka, and they use Akka Streams for back-pressure, bounded resource constraints, and then low latency stream processing.


        If you look at the projects sponsored by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and the projects that have revolved around Kubernetes, they tend to be low-level infrastructure and operations oriented. You’re far less likely to find application development and middleware types of things.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • The Talospace Project: Firefox 76 on POWER

            Firefox 76 is released. Besides other CSS, HTML and developer features, it refines that somewhat obnoxious zooming bar a bit, improves Picture-in-Picture further (great for livestreams: using it a lot for church), and most notably adds critical alerts for website breaches and improved password security (both generating good secure passwords and notifying you when a password used on one or other sites may have been stolen). The .mozconfigs are unchanged from Firefox 67, which is getting good news, because we’ve been stable without changing build options for quite a while at this point and we might be able to start investigating why some build options fail which should function. In particular, PGO and LTO would be nice to get working.

          • High Performance Web Audio with AudioWorklet in Firefox

            AudioWorklet was first introduced to the web in 2018. Ever since, Mozilla has been investigating how to deliver a “no-compromises” implementation of this feature in the WebAudio API. This week, Audio Worklets landed in the release of Firefox 76. We’re ready to start bridging the gap between what can be done with audio in native applications and what is available on the web.

            Now developers can leverage AudioWorklet to write arbitrary audio processing code, enabling the creation of web apps that weren’t possible before. This exciting new functionality raises the bar for emerging web experiences like 3D games, VR, and music production.

            Audio worklets bring power and flexibility to general purpose real-time audio synthesis and processing. This begins with the addModule() method to specify a script that can generate audio on the fly or perform arbitrary processing of audio. Various kinds of sources can now be connected through the Web Audio API to an AudioWorkletNode for immediate processing. Source examples include an HTMLMediaElement resource, a local microphone, or remote audio. Alternatively, the AudioWorklet script itself can be the source of audio.

          • The Mozilla Blog: Mozilla research shows some machine voices score higher than humans

            In 2019, Mozilla’s Voice team developed a method to evaluate the quality of text-to-speech voices. It turns out there was very little that had been done in the world of text to speech to evaluate voice for listening to long-form content — things like articles, book chapters, or blog posts. A lot of the existing work answered the core question of “can you understand this voice?” So a typical test might use a syntactically correct but meaningless sentence, like “The masterly serials withdrew the collaborative brochure”, and have a listener type that in. That way, the listener couldn’t guess missed words from other words in the sentence. But now that we’ve reached a stage of computerized voice quality where so many voices can pass the comprehension test with flying colours, what’s the next step?

            How can we determine if a voice is enjoyable to listen to, particularly for long-form content — something you’d listen to for more than a minute or two? Our team had a lot of experience with this: we had worked closely with our colleagues at Pocket to develop the Pocket Listen feature, so you can listen to articles you’ve saved, while driving or cooking. But we still didn’t know how to definitively say that one voice led to a better listening experience than another.


            That raises a whole host of interesting questions, concerns and opportunities. This is a snapshot of computerized voices, in the last two years or so. Even since we’ve done this study, we’ve seen the quality of voices improve. What happens when computers are more pleasant to listen to than our own voices? What happens when our children might prefer to listen to our computer reading a story than ourselves?

            A potentially bigger ethical question comes with the question of persuasion. One question we didn’t ask in this study was whether people trusted or believed the content that was read to them. What happens when we can increase the number of people who believe something simply by changing the voice that it is read in? There are entire careers exploring the boundaries of influence and persuasion; how does easy access to “trustable” voices change our understanding of what signals point to trustworthiness? The BBC has been exploring British attitudes to regional accents in a similar way — drawing, fascinatingly, from a study of how British people reacted to different voices on the radio in 1927. We are clearly continuing a long tradition of analyzing the impact of voice and voices on how we understand and feel about information.

          • Mozilla starts funding open source coronavirus tech projects

            Mozilla has revealed the first set of open source projects that will receive funding for developing innovative technology for use during the coronavirus pandemic.

            On Wednesday, the non-profit said that three recipients, so far, have been selected from over 160 applicants from 30 countries.

            The COVID-19 Solutions Fund Awards were opened less than two weeks ago. The scheme, launched under the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) awards program, offers applicants up to $50,000 each to develop open source technology that tackles issues caused by COVID-19.

          • March Madness 2020 is cancelled (in May)

            Welcome to May 2020, where everything is terrible.

            Let’s take a look at a bug reported against a site rendered irrelevant by the world we find ourselves currently living in, one where March Madness 2020 was cancelled.

            That site is bracketchallenge.ncaa.com, which I’ve never used, but I gather is fun cross between Pogs and college basketball. But sponsored by a Fortune 500 American bank.


            So what are the “security flaws that allow for exploits of authentication” in non-Chrome Mobile browsers? The first rule of playing basketball pogs, it turns out, is to just fabricate nonsense. Actually, I can see why children and adults (and banks!) love March Madness so much.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • What’s Expected in LibreOffice 7.0. All You Need to Know.

          The upcoming major release of LibreOffice version 7.0 under development at the moment. I have extracted some information about the possible features and updates from official sites. Have a look.

        • Join the first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 7.0!

          LibreOffice 7.0 is being developed by our worldwide community, and is due to be released in early August 2020 – see the release notes describing the new features here. Of course, there’s still a lot more development to come, so more features will be added to that page in the coming months!

          In order to find, report and triage bugs, the LibreOffice QA team is organizing the first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 7.0 on Monday May 11, 2020. Tests will be performed on the first Alpha version, which will be available on the pre-releases server a few days before the event. Builds will be available for Linux (DEB and RPM), macOS and Windows, and can be installed and run in parallel along with the production version.

      • CMS

        • The Future of WordPress: The Block Editor Is Here to Stay

          Soviet-style mind manipulation and propaganda for certain unnamed companies.

          It is not all negative. Far more comments are from people who are ecstatic about the current editor and the upcoming features that will expand the block system to other areas of WordPress.

          However, I felt the need to address a recent request that we stop covering the block editor. While I cannot speak for our entire staff, there are two simple truths about why I write about blocks.

      • FSF

        • A roundup of recent updates to our licensing materials: November 2019 to April 2020

          The Hippocratic License 1.1

          This license is the latest addition to our license list, but unfortunately, it falls in the nonfree category. It restricts uses of the software “that actively and knowingly endanger, harm, or otherwise threaten the physical, mental, economic, or general well-being of individuals or groups in violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” While avoiding harm like this is of vital importance, a copyright license isn’t necessarily the correct tool for achieving it. A restriction like this on Freedom 0 (the freedom to run the program for any purpose) may be difficult to enforce, as well as for users to understand, and may cause unintended consequences that could worsen the same problems it aims to solve.

        • GNU Projects

      • Programming/Development

        • Carson Black (jan Pontaoski): Go and Parsing

          Go is one of the best languages to write a parser and tools that need some form of parsing in.


          Participle is a Go library that makes writing and parsing data into ASTs extremely easy. I’ll demonstrate a simple usage of it for authoring a better Wayland protocol syntax that can transpile to XML.

        • Python

          • Seaborn Line Plots: A Detailed Guide with Examples (Multiple Lines)

            In this Python data visualization tutorial, we will learn how to create line plots with Seaborn. First, we’ll start with the simplest example (with one line) and then we’ll look at how to change the look of the graphs, and how to plot multiple lines, among other things.

          • Core Workflow updates – Python Language Summit 202

            The PyCon 2015 sprint was the first time this blogger contributed to Python—or rather, I tried to. The three patches I submitted that year are awaiting a review to this day. In recent years, however, the core team has made bold changes to their development workflow to make their tasks easier, to spread responsibility more widely, and to improve the experience of contributors. When I submitted a patch in the 2018 sprints it was reviewed and merged in a few weeks. Mariatta Wijaya has led many of these changes. She presented the latest updates to the core workflow.

          • Sharing our research and licenses for going online with Python events

            In March 2020, we had to make a tough decision on whether to cancel EuroPython 2020 or run it online. Since we did not want to lose continuity and all the work we had already put into the in-person event, we decided to go for an online version.

            Now, just as many other in-person events, running the online version required a lot of research, experimentation, gaining knowledge in using online conference tools and finding a concept which would allow us to carry over as much of the in-person conference experience to the online version as possible.

        • Rust

          • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Announcing Rust 1.43.1

            The Rust team has published a new point release of Rust, 1.43.1. Rust is a programming language that is empowering everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

            If you have a previous version of Rust installed via rustup, getting Rust 1.43.1 is as easy as:

            rustup update stable

            If you don’t have it already, you can get rustup from the appropriate page on our website, and check out the detailed release notes for 1.43.1 on GitHub.

  • Leftovers

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux Foundation, ToIP Foundation Unite to Tackle Digital Trust

                Governments, nonprofits, and private sector firms across finance, health care, and enterprise software have teamed up with the Linux Foundation to build the Trust over IP (ToIP) Foundation, an independent project to enable trustworthy exchange and verification of data between any two parties on the internet.

                The ToIP Foundation aims to establish a common standard for consumers and businesses to ensure data is coming from a trusted source. Digital identity models that leverage interoperable digital wallets and credentials in tandem the new W3C Verifiable Credentials standard will be used to address these challenges and enable consumers, businesses, and governments to better manage risk, improve digital trust, and protect all forms of identity online.

                The “Trust over IP Stack” employs a dual-stack approach of technical interoperability and policy interoperability that originated out of the HyperLedger digital identity projects Indy, Aries, and Ursa. The umbrella HyperLedger open source project is focused on business applications of blockchain technology, as opposed to cryptocurrency applications.

              • SPDX 2.2 Specification Released [Ed: Linux Foundation outsourced SPDX to Microsoft]

                The SPDX technical community is delighted to announce that the 2.2 version of the specification has been released! We started working on the first version of the SPDX specification 10 years ago, and it has continued to improve and evolve to support the automation of more software bill of materials information over the years. This release incorporates a significant amount of input from our tooling and user communities to enable new use cases to be better represented.


                The project members would like to thank our recent contributors to this release, who have enriched it with their new perspectives, as well as our ongoing participants. A full list of those who have contributed by participating in the many discussions, adding comments, and making suggestions for improvements to the SPDX specification as it’s evolved over the last 10 years can be found at the Credits page!

        • Security

          • Critical security issue in Salt Stack

            Security reseachers have identified a critical security vulnerability in the salt stack management framework.

            If you salt “master” was reachable over the network by attackers, attackers could inject code into your salt managed hosts. At this time there are already reports of exploits in the wild.

            SUSE has released security updates for its salt packages, please update them as soon as possible.

          • GoDaddy suffers hack of SSH credentials

            GoDaddy, one of the domain registrars and web hosting companies in the world, has admitted customer usernames and passwords for connecting remotely to Linux servers via SSH have been compromised, forcing the providers to reset passwords on 28,000 accounts.

            “We recently identified suspicious activity on a subset of our servers and immediately began an investigation,” the company said in letters sent to customers, a copy of which was filed with California’s attorney general. “The investigation found that an unauthorized individual had access to your login information used to connect to SSH on your hosting account. We have no evidence that any files were added or modified on your account. The unauthorized individual has been blocked from our systems, and we continue to investigate potential impact across our environment.”

            GoDaddy told Forbes.com that it discovered the compromise on April 23rd, but there are news reports saying the breach occurred last October. If accurate, it took the company some six months to discover.

            Reducing the dwell time an attacker is in an environment is vital to reducing the impact of a breach of security controls. The longer an attacker is on a network the more time they have to find and exploit key assets. Some studies suggest the average time to detection of an attack is between 75 and 100 days.


            This breach underscores the importance of hosting providers forcing multi-factor authentication on customers, Rossi said, or disabling password authentication altogether and require strong public-key authentication for all SSH access.

            While GoDaddy has enforced password resets for affected accounts, Rossi cautioned that may not be enough. The attacker could have uploaded their SSH public key to the server (add it to the $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys file). If the public key is added for an account, the attacker can use it to bypass the password authentication, he said. This means that even if the password is reset, the attacker will have SSH access with the rogue SSH public key.

          • Security 101: Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

            In this part of my “Security 101” series, I want to talk about different mechanisms for two factor authentication (2FA) as well as why we need it in the first place. Most of my considerations will be for the web and web applications, and I’m explicitly ignoring local login (e.g., device unlock) because the threat model is so different.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Software Patents

          • Prior Art found on former Theranos patents being asserted against medical diagnostic companies

            Amid the COVID-19 crisis, non-practicing entity, Labrador Diagnostics, LLC, a NPE owned by Fortress Investment Group (Softbank), has asserted two diagnostic testing patents originally owned by Theranos, the now-defunct diagnostics company run by Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes is now under Federal indictment for fraud and listed as the lead inventor on both patents. Those patents read on testing for strains of coronavirus; the suit continues.

            In light of the important public interest concerns this raises, and as part of the Open Covid Pledge, Unified Patents asked the public for prior art or other grounds of invalidity for claim 1 of U.S. Patent 10,533,994 and for claim 1 of U.S. Patent 8,283,155. In addition to the submissions below, APEX STANDARDS, a standard-essentiality and patent-validity analysis provider, has shared US and non-US prior arts, as well as, corresponding claim charts against US 10,533,994 and US 8,283,155 (click on the links to view their results).

      • Trademarks

        • The Bad Spaniel Gets a Treat: VIP Products LLC v Jack Daniels Properties Inc

          Sometimes, even a bad dog is good enough to get a treat. In 2018, VIP Products – the makers of several dog toys resembling well-known beverage bottles with dog themes – was reprimanded with a ruling of trademark infringement regarding their product, the “Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker.”

          Whiskey maker, Jack Daniels brought the claims against VIP, alleging trademark infringement and dilution by tarnishment of their trademarks and trade dress resulting from sales of the Bad Spaniels toy. The court agreed on both claims, permanently enjoining future commercial exploitation of the Bad Spaniels toy.

          VIP appealed this ruling to the 9th Circuit, arguing that the Jack Daniels bottle was aesthetically functional and lacked distinctiveness and thus, the trademark rights in the bottle should be cancelled.


          Although the 9th Circuit declined to apply the Rogers test, this Kat finds it unlikely that the Bad Spaniels toy satisfies either prong. The toy is artistically relevant, as it is meant to evoke the Jack Daniels bottle design and trademarks through its shape, color, and labeling for the humorous juxtaposition of a dog using a human product. The artistic relevance may be further accentuated by the fact that dogs cannot and should not drink alcohol, as referenced by the name, Bad Spaniel.

          Regarding the second prong, it seems difficult to believe that consumers are explicitly misled as to the source or content of the work by the Bad Spaniels toy. Replacing “Old No. 7 Brand” with “The Old No. 2″ is not the sort of image that one may expect Jack Daniels to seek to portray, were it to begin making dog toys. Nothing about the toy suggests an association between the producer of the Bad Spaniel and the makers of Jack Daniels whiskey.

      • Copyrights

        • Does the duration of the storage matter? Live streaming providers as ‘online content sharing service providers’ under the DSM Directive

          At a time when physical proximity is strongly discouraged or prohibited tout court through various
          measures – ranging from ‘social distancing’ to ‘self-isolation’, from ‘quarantine’ up to strictly enforced ‘lockdowns’ – people have been discovering new or enhancing further the ways through which they connect at a distance, including online. Internet communities are not a new phenomenon, though the events that have been rapidly unfolding over the past few months, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, have contributed to the establishment of new forms of socialization.

          For instance, club and music festival goers have nowhere to go these days, but they can still enjoy their favourite DJ sets: the likes of Bob Sinclar, Diplo, and Luciano have been live streaming their mixes through various online platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch.


          Article 17 of the DSM Directive has introduced a detailed regime for OCSSPs, which moves from the assumption that these providers perform acts of communication/making available to the public. Article 2(6) provides a definition of ‘OCSSP’, which incorporates the ‘storage’ of protected subject matter as one of the relevant requirements or limitations. The provision does not clarify whether the storage is subject to any temporal requirements to be ‘storage’ for the purpose of Article 17, but there appear to be no particular requirements or restrictions in relation to the temporal dimension thereof.

          Live streaming providers that behave like Streaming Platform X in the example above are to be regarded as OCSSPs in principle, even if the storage made of UUC (in the example: a live stream, which also incorporates protected subject matter, e.g., third-party sound recordings) is limited in time. What is relevant for the qualification of a provider as an OCSSP is the purpose that the provider pursues (to store and give the public access to a large amount of protected subject matter uploaded by users for profit-making purposes) and, with that, the role that it performs (organization and promotion of such subject matter), not the duration (e.g., permanent or temporary storage of protected content) of the activity at hand. As such, like other OCSSPs, also providers behaving like Streaming Platform X appear in principle required to make best efforts to seek to conclude licences for the communication/making available of third-party protected content in order to eventually secure such licences or protect themselves from liability in accordance with the regime envisaged by Article 17(4) of the DSM Directive.

Links 7/5/2020: GCC 10.1 and postmarketOS Milestone

Posted in News Roundup at 11:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Entropy Overhaul
      • Entropy Overhaul | BSD Now 349

        Encrypted Crash Dumps in FreeBSD, Time on Unix, Improve ZVOL sync write performance with a taskq, central log host with syslog-ng, NetBSD Entropy overhaul, Setting Up NetBSD Kernel Dev Environment, and more.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD Ryzen 3 3100 + Ryzen 3 3300X Offering Great Budget Linux CPU Performance

        At the end of April AMD announced the Ryzen 3 3100 + Ryzen 3 3300X and these Zen 2 budget processors are now shipping. Here are our initial benchmarks of the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X processors running on Ubuntu Linux compared to an assortment of old and new Intel/AMD CPUs with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

        The AMD Ryzen 3 3100 is a four core / eight thread part with a 3.6GHz base clock and 3.9GHz boost clock. This CPU has a 16MB L3 cache and 65 Watt TDP rating. This CPU will retail for around $99 USD.

    • Applications

      • DeaDBeeF is an open source music player for Linux

        Foobar2000 is the go-to music player for many users (including myself). Though it isn’t available on Linux, you can opt for an alternative like DeadBeef.

        The program’s interface is minimal and the playback controls are at the top (its almost like Foobar), but DeadBeeF has a colorized progress bar and volume slider. The large pane below the controls is the playlist pane. It supports tabs, so you can open/manage multiple playlists at the same time.

        The pane has many columns inlcuding the current playing status, artist name, album, track number, title, and the duration of the track. Right-click on a column to edit/remove it. You can group columns too. Select the add column option to add any of the following: Album art, Year, Band/Album Artist, Codec, Bitrate or a Custom column.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Castle Game Engine looking to improve gamepad support thanks to SDL2

        Castle Game Engine might not be as well known as other free and open source game engines, however it does look rather useful and the developers continue to pull in improvements.

        A big improvement coming soon is a complete re-work of how they handle gamepads. This includes a “serious improvement of joysticks API, access to a huge joysticks database by SDL2 with hundreds of joysticks definitions, autodetection of joysticks, detection of connection/disconnection of joysticks”. It’s nice to see more developers look to use parts of SDL2 since it has excellent cross-platform support.

        The Castle Game Engine crew announced they’re needing some help, as they have a very limited set of hardware to test on. To speed things up, they built a Linux and Windows test application for detecting gamepads using this new code.

      • Get immersed in a classic MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) with Mudlet

        Open source, free and cross-platform is what we like to see here. Sometimes we cover some real classic gaming too and today we’re talking a bit about entering a MUD with Mudlet.

        What is Mudlet? Not something we’ve covered often that’s for sure. It’s an application that aims to enhance the MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) experience for both players and developers. MUDs are usually text-based adventures that take elements from RPGs while mixing in multiplayer and larger worlds. They’re quite a unique experience.

        Mudlet has been around for some time now, keeping the MUD scene alive and it’s regularly being upgraded with big new features to push what’s possible.

      • CHANGE: A Homeless Survival Experience does a good job to highlight issues and it’s out now

        This isn’t a comedy game, far from it, the team said it’s a “hate letter to the growing indifference in the world” created as a response to growing inequality and some of their own experience of nearly becoming homeless. They’re trying to help too, as 20% of the profits will also be going to “charities focused on the issue of homelessness”.

        It’s not even a wild idea for a game. We see games constantly come out focused on over the top violence, sex, drugs and more but rarely do we see games focused solely around issues like homelessness.

      • Channelling inspiration from Zelda, the open-world ‘Adventure In Aellion’ launches on July 22

        Adventure In Aellion is an upcoming drop-in / drop-out co-op adventure game, which the developers claim ‘evokes the spirit of Legend of Zelda’.

        With a big open-world to explore full of secrets to find, dungeons to explore and more it can be played entirely in solo. However, it will also have cross-platform online play so that others can join you to solve puzzles and help with battles.

      • Slavic fantasy exploration adventure ‘The End of the Sun’ is up on Kickstarter now

        Time travelling slavic fantasy adventure, The End of the Sun, is now crowdfunding on Kickstarter and they plan to have full Linux support. One we’ve talked about here a few times now, as the setting has certainly piqued our curiosity.

        Set in the world of slavic rites, beliefs, legends, and their everyday life. The End of the Sun is set in a small village where the line between myth and reality began to fade perilously. As someone with the ability to travel through time, you’re following the trail of the secretive fugitive when you come across the village but it’s empty. What happened here? That’s for you to find out apparently.

      • Awesome looking adventure ‘BEAUTIFUL DESOLATION’ should now look great on AMD & Intel GPUs

        BEAUTIFUL DESOLATION the latest game from THE BROTHERHOOD (CAYNE / STASIS), has been updated for Linux and it now appears to work great across AMD and Intel GPUs with the open source Mesa drivers.

        BEAUTIFUL DESOLATION is a 2D isometric adventure game set in the distant future. Explore a post-apocalyptic landscape, solve puzzles, meet new friends and make powerful enemies, mediate conflicts and fight for your life as you unravel the secrets of the world around you.
        Originally releasing in February this year, BEAUTIFUL DESOLATION then came to Linux in Beta shortly after in March. From there, the developer has continued to polish it showing some real care and attention on the Linux version.

        It seemed they were facing issues with Mesa drivers (AMD / Intel) and video rendering with the Unity game engine, thankfully they’ve now solved it. Explaining in a little more detail on Steam, they mentioned using a shader to enhance video playback output but it wasn’t failing nicely and created a black box so they’ve managed to sort it—great! Now even more people can enjoy it easily on Linux.

      • Free to play MMO ‘Albion Online’ is going very strong with 500K monthly players during April

        Not many popular MMO games have Linux support but Albion Online does and it appears that in terms of player population overall they’re doing well.

        Right now a lot of games are seeing a surge in player numbers, thanks in part due to millions more staying at home due to the worldwide situation with the Coronavirus. It seems Albion Online has also grown thanks to this, as they’ve shown off in a recent update.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE/Plasma 5.18.5 for Debian

          After the KDE Apps update 20.04, now the recently released Plasma 5.18.5 is ready for Debian.

          Furthermore, since the most recent version of the KDE frameworks have been uploaded to Debian/experimental, I have adapted the packages to make upgrades to the versions in experimental – and hopefully soon in unstable – smooth. I am also working with the Debian KDE Qt Team to update KDE Apps and Plasma in Debian proper. Stay tuned.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • How Ubuntu Made GNOME Shell Faster in 20.04


          So you won’t be surprised to hear that this particular developer has once again played a major role in delivering major performance improvements to the desktop, as on show in the recent Ubuntu 20.04 LTS release.

          Not all knights ride on horseback or wear shiny armour.

          Now, in a forum post Daniel explains some of his canny-code changes in more detail and I won’t lie: some of the engineering effort taking place beneath the hood, in the engine is …incredibly complicated sounding.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • DragonFlyBSD 5.8.1 Released Due To HAMMER2 Bugs, Kernel Fixes

          DragonFlyBSD 5.8 debuted in March while now shipping is v5.8.1 as the latest update for this BSD operating system.

          While just over two months have passed since the v5.8 milestone, DragonFlyBSD 5.8.1 has less than two dozen changes. Making up this point release are some compilation fixes, minor optimizations and random fixes to the kernel code, fixing two “serious deduplication bugs”, a “serious memory leak” in the nmalloc code of their libc, and other fixes.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Oracle Linux 8 Update 2 Released, Now Defaulting To UEK R6 Kernel For New Installs

          Following the recent release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2, Oracle has now released Oracle Linux 8 Update 2 as their RHEL8-based distribution with various extra features on top and even an alternative kernel option.

          Oracle Linux 8 Update 2 has the RHEL 8.2 changes plus more. One interesting change is that beginning with this release, the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is included as part of the install image and is in fact the default kernel on first boot for new installations. The Red Hat Compatible Kernel will remain available, but UEK R6 is their now default kernel.

        • The future of Fedora Community apps

          The Community Platform Engineering team (formerly Community Infrastructure) indicated in July of 2019 that they have a higher workload than the team can bear. To ease this, they evaluated the applications that fit their mission statement. The applications that didn’t fit the mission were proposed for hand off to the community.

          I am happy to say there is a lot being done to preserve the applications that our community values. I have been working with the Fedora Project Leader (FPL), Fedora Program Manager (FPgM), Community Platform Engineering team (CPE), and the Open Source Program Office (OSPO) at Red Hat to transition app hosting and maintenance from CPE to OSPO.

        • Fedora Classroom Session “IRC101”

          In short, the IRC101 session will be a guide for newcomers to How to get started with IRC with the Fedora community & hang out with other contributors in IRC. After finishing the session you will have the knowledge to setup your IRC client and start communicating with other Fedora People.

        • OpenShift Container Storage 4 and logging with Elasticsearch and Cluster Logging Operators

          Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform cluster administrators can deploy cluster logging using a few CLI commands and the OpenShift Container Platform web console to install the Elasticsearch Operator and Cluster Logging Operator. The cluster logging components are based upon Elasticsearch, Fluentd, and Kibana (EFK). The collector, Fluentd, is deployed to each node in the OpenShift Container Platform cluster. It collects node and container logs and writes them to Elasticsearch (ES).

        • Red Hat’s Virtual Summit Crowds Hint at Future Conference Models [Ed: 3 false words in the headline. It was just a webstream and press releases to accompany the stream. No "crowds", no "summit", no "conference". Red Hat did pay some publishers to produce puff pieces.]

          In what could be a trial run for more of the same, Red Hat last week held a first-ever virtual technical summit to spread the word about its latest cloud tech offerings.

          CEO Paul Cormier welcomed online viewers to the conference, which attracted more than 80,000 virtual attendees.

          The company made several key announcements during the online gathering and highlighted customer innovations around Kubernetes, hybrid cloud and next-generation computing.

          As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous tech events around the world have been canceled, postponed or turned into online-only events. This year’s Red Hat Summit was the biggest yet, according to Cormier.

          Cormier’s keynote focused on the history of open source, virtualization, and hybrid and cloud technologies. While all of those concepts began as ideas, they now are integrated deeply into our daily lives, he said, especially hybrid cloud.

          One of his prevailing themes was the role innovation plays in the operations of tech companies. Cormier emphasized Red Hat’s pursuit of innovation in the use of hybrid technology, which he said is essential in order to scale. To that end, he detailed the growing partnerships with industry leaders including Ford Motor Company, Verizon, Intel, Microsoft and Credit Suisse.

          “Hybrid requires a common development, operations, security and automation environment. This is essential in order to scale. Hybrid isn’t a trend. It’s a strategic imperative,” he said.

        • Beginner guides, Windows, networking, and more Ansible news
        • Linux stories: When backups saved the day

          One day, I was on vacation, having a barbecue and some beer, when I got a call from my colleague telling me that the terminal server with the ERP application was broken due to a failed update and the guy who ran the update forgot to take a snapshot first.

          The only thing I needed to tell my colleague was to shut down the broken machine, find the UI of our backup/restore system, and then identify the restore job. Finally, I told him how to choose the timestamp from the last four hours when the restore should finish. The restore finished 30 minutes later, and the system was ready to be used again. We were back in action after a total of 30 minutes, and only the work from the last two hours or so was lost! Awesome! Now, back to vacation.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • QEMU and libvirt enhancements in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

          Ubuntu is the industry-leading operating system for cloud hosts and guests. Every day millions of Ubuntu instances are launched in private and public clouds around the world. Many launched right on top of Ubuntu itself. Canonical takes pride in offering the latest virtualization stack with each Ubuntu release.

          In Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa), users can find the recently released QEMU version 4.2 and libvirt version 6.0 available on day one. These new versions have brought a number of key updates to the virtualization stack. Here are the most notable ones…

        • How to preserve old software – with snaps

          If you have been using computers for some time now, you probably have fond memories of this or that piece of software from the past, an application or a game that was fun, useful and just plain great, but which isn’t available any longer. For those who have had a chance to experience the digital boom of the 90s and early 2000s, software has gone from spartan DOS applications shared on floppy disks to large, network-connected tools that can solve complex problems, often using detailed, realistic graphics. The revolution also led to significant changes in underlying technology and formats, and almost overnight “old” tools became obsolete. And of course, there’s the steady onward march of progress, and we often have to leave software behind.

          However, sometimes, there is still time and place for old applications in the modern world. This could be legacy software that your business relies on, and which may not have suitable (modern) replacements. There could also be the question of cost and complexity in replacing these legacy tools, as they are often deeply woven into workflows, with delicate setups and intricate workarounds. As the old adage goes: if it ain’t broken, don’t touch it.

          Old applications may not necessarily solve or address every contemporary use case, but they can be of real, practical value. Or you may want to use them out of pure nostalgia, like perhaps the old games. Indeed, there are ways to preserve ancient content, even if it’s no longer available in standard online archives. Leave no (software) behind – with snaps!

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Funding

        • There Are Many Interesting Google Summer of Code 2020 Open-Source Projects

          Google this week announced accepted projects for Summer of Code 2020 as their virtual engagement for getting students involved in open-source development. As usual, there are a lot of interesting GSoC projects.

          Google Summer of Code is the annual project funded by Google where they pay student developers to get involved in open-source development by working on different defined tasks.

        • Announcing Google Summer of Code 2020 projects

          We are very happy to announce The NetBSD Foundation Google Summer of Code 2020 projects:

          Apurva Nandan – Benchmark NetBSD
          Jain Naman – Curses library automated testing
          Nikita Gillmann – Make system(3) and popen(3) use posix_spawn(3) internally
          Ayushi Sharma – Enhance the syzkaller support for NetBSD
          Aditya Vardhan Padala – Rumpkernel Syscall Fuzzing
          Nisarg Joshi – Fuzzing the network stack of NetBSD in a rumpkernel environment
          Jason High – Extending the functionality of the netpgp suite

          The community bonding period – where students get in touch with mentors and community – started on May 4 and will go on until June 1. The coding period will be June 1 to August 24.

      • FSF

      • Programming/Development

        • Daniel Stenberg: Review: curl programming

          Not long ago I discovered that someone had written this book about curl and that someone wasn’t me! (I believe this is a first) Thrilled of course that I could check off this achievement from my list of things I never thought would happen in my life, I was also intrigued and so extremely curious that I simply couldn’t resist ordering myself a copy. The book is dated October 2019, edition 1.0.

          I don’t know the author of this book. I didn’t help out. I wasn’t aware of it and I bought my own copy through an online bookstore.

        • Learn at home: a guide for parents #2
        • Perl/Raku

          • Conference in the Cloud

            At the Conference in the Cloud, expect to see Perl and Raku presentations. Core presentation topics in the past have included Perl 5 and Perl 6 (now Raku) and organizers plan to continue the same way moving forward. Just like the Perl and Raku Conference, The Conference in the Cloud is organized and run by volunteers. There will be two or more presentation tracks, each with 20-50 minute talks on a variety of technical topics throughout each day.

        • Python

          • Understand global variables scope in python

            Two types of variables can be defined in most of the programming languages. These are global variables and local variables. The variables which are defined outside the function is called a global variable. This variable is accessible and changeable from anywhere in the script. The variable which is declared inside the function is called the local variable. But if the same variable name exists as global and local variables then the variable inside the function will get the priority and the value of the global variable will be ignored. The scope of the global variable in the python script is shown in this tutorial using various examples.

          • How to use union on python set

            The unordered collection of items is called set in Python. Any item can be added or removed from the set but the value of any item in set is not changeable like a tuple. Every item in the set must be unique. Set does not contain any index like list or tuple, so each item of the set can’t be accessed by index like list or tuple. Sets are mainly used for different types of mathematical operations in Python like union, intersection, difference, etc. Different symbols are used to perform different types of operations. Pipe ( | ) is used for union operation on sets. How to declare sets and perform union operation on them are explained in this tutorial.

          • Remodeling Data Relationships – Building SaaS #55

            In this episode, we’re remodeling! I changed the model relationship between GradeLevel and Course from a ForeignKey (1 to many) to a ManyToManyField. We talked through the change and started fixing all the tests that broke.

            After explaining the change that I wanted to make and why I want to make it, I explained how a foreign key and many to many relationship at the database level.

            Once we had the conceptual foundation in place, I started with the documentation. We looked at the ManyToManyField and what changes were needed to convert a ForeignKey to a ManyToManyField.

          • My Software Development Journey – Read Time: 4 Mins

            As the saying goes “It takes a Village to Raise A Child” has never been ringing true to me till this day. Looking back in the amount of work getting back to upgrade my skill to be relevant for the local startup scene as a developer in Singapore. Devouring endless amount of youtube video, books, podcast, and Udacity React Nanodegree one bite at a time has helped to shape me into who I am now.

            I think it might make sense to put it here as if there wasn’t anyone like them creating technical content has helped to be my mentors to guide me on what I know now. People like Justin Michel from Coding for Entrepreneurs, Chris Hawkes in Chris Hawkes, Brad from TraverisMedia with lastly Daniel Roy Greenfield & his wife Auredy Roy Greenfield for Two Scoops of Django helped a lot while I am stumbling to stand up.

          • PyCharm 2020.1.1

            PyCharm 2020.1.1 is out and we’ve fixed small issues, including usability problems introduced by version 2020.1. Update from within PyCharm (Help | Check for Updates), using the JetBrains Toolbox, or by downloading the new version from our website.

          • Python Development Setup Using Visual Studio Code
  • Leftovers

    • A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith

      Back in early March, before “social distancing” and travel restrictions became the norm, before in many ways literally and figuratively (except online, at home, and in our hearts), the music died – killed by the coronavirus – one of my wildest dreams as a reggae fan came true.

    • “Is There No Balm in Gilead?”

      The biblical prophet Jeremiah was bemoaning the spiritual sickness of the people of the Kingdom of Judah in the sixth century BCE.

    • How Kraftwerk’s Synth Wizard Florian Schneider Rewired the World

      Kraftwerk pioneered the idea of a synthesizer group that didn’t pretend to be anything else, challenging the boundaries between organic and artificial sounds. As Schneider said in Rolling Stone, “We don’t make a distinction between an acoustic instrument as a source of sound and any sound in the air outside or on a manufactured tape. It’s all electric energy, anyway.” They had the air of artists born into a history they rejected, building a musical world where they could be permanent aliens. They mocked the Seventies rock ideal of youth as a utopia — they were still in their twenties when they posed as Old Hollywood mad scientists on Trans-Europe Express, one of the decade’s most brilliant album covers.

    • Etsy sales doubled in April thanks to homemade masks

      Etsy began pushing homemade masks in early April, and the results panned out in a big way: total sales on the platform doubled last month, by and large thanks to a surge in face mask sales. For comparison, Etsy’s marketplace sales figures between January and March were up only 16 percent.

      More than 12 million face masks were sold during April, totaling around $133 million in sales. Etsy says they represented the second largest category of product sales across the entire site during the month of April.

    • Education

      • College Students Are Considering Gap Years If Classes Are Still Remote In the Fall

        One main reason behind students’ reluctance to return to campus in the fall is their disappointment in how remote learning has gone this semester. Many students feel that the quality of education has nosedived. Students can no longer go to office hours to get face time with their professors or go to the library to study, and taking classes online can be tricky if a professor or student does not have their own computer or a reliable internet connection. What’s more, many students have expressed that trying to focus on school in the middle of a global health crisis has taken a huge emotional toll.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Our Slaughterhouses Aren’t Just for Cattle, Hogs, and Poultry Anymore. Add People.

        Some businesses make us feel all warm and cuddly. Like bakeries. Who can resist smiling just thinking about the smell of newly baked bread? But other businesses — like meatpacking — we do our best to ignore. Who wants to think about blood and guts and squealing pigs?

      • Russian government proposes three-step plan for lifting quarantine restrictions

        Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s public health authority, Rospotrebnadzor, has presented a three-step plan for the gradual easing of quarantine restrictions.

      • Third Russian Cabinet member diagnosed with COVID-19

        Russia’s Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. She is now the third Russian Cabinet member to test positive for the disease.

      • For the fourth consecutive day, Russia confirms more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the country’s official count over 165,900

        On the morning of May 6, Russian officials announced that the country recorded 10,559 new coronavirus infections in the past day (there were 10,102 new cases than the day before), bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 165,929 patients.

      • Head doctor quits Omsk hospital after media reports dozens of healthcare workers forming long lines for COVID-19 testing

        The head doctor at the Kabanov City Hospital No.1 in Omsk willingly resigned on May 5, after media reports drew attention to the clinic’s staff forming a long lineup outside of the hospital building the day before. The employees were reportedly waiting to undergo coronavirus testing. The Omsk region’s Health Minister, Irina Soldatova, said that Sobolev, “was unable to save his team and could not take the necessary measures [to ensure] epidemiological safety.”

      • The TSA Hoarded 1.3 Million N95 Masks Even Though Airports Are Empty and It Doesn’t Need Them

        The Transportation Security Administration ignored guidance from the Department of Homeland Security and internal pushback from two agency officials when it stockpiled more than 1.3 million N95 respirator masks instead of donating them to hospitals, internal records and interviews show.

        Internal concerns were raised in early April, when COVID-19 cases were growing by the thousands and hospitals in some parts of the country were overrun and desperate for supplies. The agency held on to the cache of life-saving masks even as the number of people coming through U.S. airports dropped by 95% and the TSA instructed many employees to stay home to avoid being infected. Meanwhile, other federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs’ vast network of hospitals, scrounged for the personal protective equipment that doctors and nurses are dying without.

      • Reporter Laurie Garrett Warns COVID-19 Pandemic May Last 36 Months or More

        As President Trump starts to reopen the country, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett predicts the pandemic will last at least 36 months. Meanwhile, a top government vaccine specialist says he was forced from his job after he resisted the administration’s promotion of untested treatments for COVID-19. Garrett predicted the pandemic. In an extended interview, she discusses what’s next.

      • COVID-19 Task Force to Refocus on “Opening” the US Despite FEMA and HHS Doubts

        President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday that the coronavirus task force would not be disbanding, as had been previously reported, but will transition to focus on the task of “opening up” the United States’ economy, shifting away from its present task of mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 across the country.

      • Coronavirus and the Banality of Evil

        The UK government’s failure to respond swiftly and effectively to the pandemic can and should be considered evil.

      • ‘Trump Death Clock’ Unveiled to Spur Accountability for President’s Fatal Covid-19 Failures

        “This suffering cannot be forgotten,” says project’s creator.

      • Moscow reportedly bought tons of not very-accurate Chinese-made coronavirus tests

        Moscow authorities purchased hundreds of thousands of test kits for coronavirus antibodies from the Netherlands at the end of April. However, these rapid tests are actually made in China, and are not very accurate, reveals a new report from the investigative outlet IStories. 

      • To Prevent the Next Pandemic, We Need Meaningful Oversight of Animal Agribusiness

        We must act now to protect animals, workers, and public health from the meat industry. 

      • Body Bags Instead of Requested Covid-19 Testing Kits for Native American Clinic Seen as Cruel Metaphor

        “Are we going to keep getting body bags or are we going to get what we actually need?”

      • Native American Clinic Receives Body Bags Instead of COVID-19 Testing Kits

        A Seattle-area Native American health center in April received body bags instead of requested equipment to handle the coronavirus in what tribal officials described as a “metaphor” for how the Indigenous population is being treated by local, state, and federal governments around the country as the pandemic continues to rage.

      • How Safe Are Nursing Homes Near Me? This Tool Will Help You Find Out.

        Nursing home residents have been among those hardest hit by the new coronavirus. In some states, more than half of the recorded deaths have been long-term care residents. Some of the homes have been cited for putting residents at “immediate jeopardy” of harm or death, our analysis showed.

        And many of the affected homes have been previously written up for violating federal standards. That’s true in California, New Jersey and New York.

      • Episode 82 – The COVID Chronicles #4: New York City – Along The Line Podcast
      • US Commission on the Pandemic of 2020: No Culpability, No Accountability for 70,000 Americans Killed in 60 Days

        There will likely be a US Commission on the Pandemic of 2020, the verbiage of which will mirror the 911 Commission Report. Fault will be placed on a lack of federal, state and local coordination and sharing of medical intelligence among the three levels of American government. The US federal administration will be admonished with a few tough words and that, as they say, will be that.

      • Kachchh Camel Herders: Lockdown Last Straw?

        “I am selling some vegetables, but there’s not much profit in it. We all are sitting at home, idle, mostly. The local cement factory is running, but we aren’t going to work,” Karim Jat tells me on the phone from Mori, his village in Lakhpat taluka of Kachchh district. Karim Jat is a maldhari of the Fakirani Jat community. In the Kachchhi language ‘mal’ refers to animals, and ‘dhari’ means guardian or possessor. Across Kachchh, the maldharis rear cows, buffaloes, camels, horses, sheep and goats.

      • Whistleblower alleges Trump administration ignored coronavirus warnings

        In his complaint, Bright claims he was excluded from an HHS meeting on the coronavirus in late January after he “pressed for urgent access to funding, personnel, and clinical specimens, including viruses” to develop treatments for the coronavirus should it spread outside of Asia.

      • Fact check: Trump falsely claims Obama left him ‘nothing’ in the national stockpile

        “When we left, there was a pandemic plan,” Lurie said. “There was a checklist about where you’re supposed to do when. All of that stuff was in place, and it was quite comprehensive. That plan should have been activated that first week in January, and if you look at Rick Bright’s whistleblower complaint, you see multiple attempts to do that.”

        She said that the Obama administration had left a crucial contract in place to speed the production of masks but that the contract was dropped after Trump took office in 2017. Another plan created under the Obama administration that would have developed reusable masks was deployed too late to boost current efforts, she said.

        Fugate said the stockpile was supposed to be the first line of defense — not the only resource in an emergency.

      • Australian government fails to recoup clopidogrel costs from Sanofi

        “The Commonwealth sought to recover part of its expenditure on Sanofi’s drug Plavix (clopidogrel) under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), being the additional amount it said it paid to subsidise the cost of the drug to patients during the period when Apotex was restrained from entering the market with its generic version of clopidogrel. As is usual, in return for an interlocutory restraint by the Court and pending a decision about the validity and infringement of its patent, Sanofi was required to provide an undertaking that it would compensate any person adversely affected by the interlocutory injunction (interlocutory injunction decision here). The relevant patent was upheld in part in the first instance judgment but revoked on appeal. Special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia was refused.

        This paved the way for claims for compensation by any person adversely affected by operation of the interlocutory order. Apotex made a claim, which was ultimately settled. The terms of the settlement have not been made public save that a provision preventing Apotex from assisting any other party in a claim was held to be unenforceable because it had a tendency to interfere with the administration of justice.

        The Commonwealth also made a claim for compensation. A threshold question of whether certain statutory provisions in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) established an exhaustive statutory code limiting the Commonwealth’s right to recover under the undertaking given by Sanofi was referred as a stated case directly to Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, which held that it did not.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Finland’s Nokia to Buy Back Its 2021 Bond Worth 500 Million Euros and Issue a New One

          The purpose of the tender offer is to manage Nokia’s overall indebtedness, it said a statement. Nokia also announced it planned to issue new euro-denominated fixed-rate notes.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Thursday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (firefox-esr, keystone, mailman, and tomcat9), Fedora (ceph, firefox, java-1.8.0-openjdk, libldb, nss, samba, seamonkey, and suricata), Oracle (kernel), Scientific Linux (firefox and squid), SUSE (libvirt, php7, slirp4netns, and webkit2gtk3), and Ubuntu (linux-firmware and openldap).

          • World Password Day — Privileged Password Management Best Practices and Benefits
          • The Complicated Firewall

            Until recently, I was content using the Uncomplicated Firewall that comes built-into Ubuntu. And it’s called uncomplicated for a reason: its complicated counterpart – the iptables. It’s not to say that iptables are difficult to comprehend or even impossible to use, but is rather massive. In other words, it has immense capacity and functionality, and as such is perhaps a lot more complicated.

            Iptables are used for ipv4 packet filtering as well as NAT. For ipv6, there’s ip6tables. Iptables allows its users to configure incoming/outgoing traffic to be modified, allowed, denied or re-routed. An incoming packet is passed through the table rules one by one. If it matches an existing rules, the action is carried out. If it does not, by default, it is allowed in.

          • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

            • Kaiji: New Chinese Linux malware turning to Golang

              It is not often that you see a botnet’s tooling written from scratch. The Internet of things (IoT) botnet ecosystem is relatively well-documented by security specialists. New threat actors are generally discovered quickly due to the inherent noise caused by DDoS operations, both in terms of infecting new machines and conducting operations. Simply, it is difficult to hide such overt activities. Most DDoS actors do not invest resources in creating custom tooling, unless they require specific capabilities, and resort to using well-known botnet implants (e.g. Mirai, BillGates).

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Harrisburg University Researchers Claim Their ‘Unbiased’ Facial Recognition Software Can Identify Potential Criminals

              Given all we know about facial recognition tech, it is literally jaw-dropping that anyone could make this claim… especially without being vetted independently.

            • UK City Leaves Nearly Nine Million License Plate/Location Data Records Exposed On The Open Web

              Government officials always remind us that the price of order and lawfulness requires us, as a society, to give up some of our privacy and liberty. It shouldn’t be that way, but it almost always is.

            • Cryptoparty Ann Arbor: A Case Study in Grassroots Activism

              Grassroots activism, in its many forms, allows a community to mobilize around a shared set of ideals and creates an environment whereby participants can share information and resources to help facilitate the advancement of their common aims.

              The Electronic Frontier Alliance (EFA) is a grassroots network of community and campus organizations, unified by a commitment to upholding the principles of the EFA: privacy, free expression, access to knowledge, creativity, and security.  An active member of the EFA, Cryptoparty Ann Arbor, connects with their community by hosting digital security workshops with an emphasis on educating people about privacy issues in the digital age.

            • Second Paraguay Who Defends Your Data? Report: ISPs Still Have a Long Way Towards Public Commitments to Privacy and Transparency

              Keeping track of ISPs’ commitments to their users, today Paraguay’s leading digital rights organization TEDIC is launching its second edition of ¿Quién Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?), a report in collaboration with EFF. Transparent practices and firm privacy commitments are particularly crucial right now. During times of crisis and emergency, companies must, more than ever, show that users can trust them with sensitive information about their habits and communications. While Paraguayan ISPs have made progress with their privacy policies and taking part in forums pledging promotion of human rights, they still have a long way to go to give users what is needed for fully building this trust.

              Paraguayan ISPs should make greater efforts in being transparent about their practices and procedures as well as having stronger public commitments to their users, such as taking steps to notify users about government data requests.

            • Growing storm over UK’s coronavirus tracing app shows how not to do it

              As this blog noted a couple of weeks ago, many governments around the world are looking to introduce coronavirus tracing apps to help take their countries out of lockdown. The hope is that such apps can be used by millions of people to pinpoint potential new cases of Covid-19 so that medical interventions can be made quickly and efficiently. Most countries are opting for a decentralized approach, which is better able to protect the highly personal data that is collected. In the EU, France and Germany had both chosen a centralized approach. But Germany has now reversed its position, and said that it will be building a decentralized app using the Apple-Google framework. The French government is under pressure to change its mind too. But the most fervent supporter of the centralized approach is the UK.

            • India’s Covid-19 Contact Tracing App Could Leak Patient Locations

              Independent security researcher Baptiste Robert published a blog post today sounding that warning about India’s Health Bridge app, or Aarogya Setu, created by the government’s National Informatics Centre. Robert found that one feature of the app, designed to let users check if there are infected people nearby, instead allows users to spoof their GPS location and learn how many people reported themselves as infected within any 500-meter radius. In areas that have relatively sparse reports of infections, Robert says hackers could even use a so-called triangulation attack to confirm the diagnosis of someone they suspect to be positive.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Trump’s Anthem Has Always Been “Live and Let Die.” Now We See the Consequences.

        A seamless vision of this country’s ever-flowering dystopia unspooled itself in Arizona yesterday. Donald Trump, in furtherance of his quest to reopen the U.S. economy in the middle of the beginning of a lethal pandemic, visited a Honeywell International face mask factory in Phoenix… and refused to wear a mask, despite the big sign at the door telling visitors to WEAR A MASK.

      • Our History Is the Future: Lakota Historian Nick Estes on Indigenous Resistance to Climate Change
      • Mapping Militarism 2020

        A new collection of maps found here displays what militarism looks like in the world. Here’s a brief guide to using and understanding them.

      • Suspected DNC & German Parliament Hacker Used His Name As His Email Password

        You may have seen the news reports this week that German prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Dmitry Badin for a massive hack of the German Parliament that made headlines in 2016. The reports about the German arrest warrant all mention that German authorities “believe” that Badin is connected to the Russian GRU and its APT28 hacking group.

      • US Mercenaries Captured in Venezuela After Failed Coup Attempt

        We look at an incredible story unfolding in Venezuela of a failed coup attempt. Did a former Green Beret mastermind it? Two Americans have been arrested in Venezuela. President Nicolás Maduro claims the U.S. was behind the plot. “It looks like a bad Rambo movie, or a really bad telenovela,” says Miguel Tinker Salas, author of The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela. He notes that “the U.S. is seeking regime change … and the consequences for Venezuela could be very dire going forward.”

      • The Washington Post’s Neocons are Beating Cold War Drums…Again

        The Washington Post has a reputation as liberal and even left-of-center, although its editorial pages are dominated by neoconservatives who support the idea of American exceptionalism and the extreme operational tempo of America’s military.  In the past week, we have been treated to a series of oped essays that are supportive of expanded American military power and a political, if not military, confrontation with China.

      • Beware the Pentagon’s Pandemic Profiteers

        At this moment of unprecedented crisis, you might think that those not overcome by the economic and mortal consequences of the coronavirus would be asking, “What can we do to help?” A few companies have indeed pivoted to making masks and ventilators for an overwhelmed medical establishment. Unfortunately, when it comes to the top officials of the Pentagon and the CEOs running a large part of the arms industry, examples abound of them asking what they can do to help themselves.

      • Westrop and Smith: Jamaat-e-Islami More Dangerous in the U.S than Muslim Brotherhood

        According to Westrop, Western counter-Islamism analysts have long focused the bulk of their attention on the Muslim Brotherhood and its various offshoots in the U.S. and Europe. While the Brotherhood is indeed dangerous, other Islamist groups “have flourished under the lack of spotlight, and no group has flourished quite so well and so successfully as Jamaat-e-Islami.” Founded in India in the 1940s and today “very active here in the US,” it has proven very adept at advancing its ideology, yet “until about a year or two ago, very few in America had heard of the group.”

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • The Press Is Amplifying a Dangerous Know-Nothing Ideology

        The anti-lockdown protests aren’t the first time the media has been swindled into cheerleading an extremist faux libertarianism.

      • [Older] Fox News Is Desperately Trying to Turn Coronavirus Protests Into the Next Tea Party

        Hogan’s deputy communications director also noted that Monday’s Reopen Maryland–organized rally in Annapolis saw “more media inquiries” than actual protesters. Indeed, the gatherings have typically featured attendees in the dozens or low triple figures, making Michigan’s Thursday crowd of roughly 3,000 an outlier. Though the likes of Fox have framed the protests as an organic grassroots push, a good number have been organized through a network of Facebook pages that appear to have been launched by a right-wing activist family known for using pro-gun and anti-abortion social media posts to harvest data, per reports from the Washington Post and NBC News. Aaron, Ben, Chris, and Matthew Dorr are reportedly behind pages that have accumulated more than 200,000 members in total, such as New Yorkers Against Excessive Quarantine and Minnesotans Against Excessive Quarantine. However, given Facebook’s newly announced ban on groups advocating for social distancing violations, it’s unclear how much longer these groups will be allowed to exist on the platform. The family declined requests for comment from NBC News and the Post, but Ben Dorr called accusations of them running a scam operation “fake news” in a response to the Philadelphia Inquirer. In one of the Dorrs’ most successful pushes, over 100,000 Facebook users have joined a Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantines group, and at least 300 of those members RSVP’d for an “Operation Gridlock” protest next week. (The group’s creator, Ben Dorr, lives in Iowa, NBC News found.) The scheduled rally is a rip-off of Michigan’s “Operation Gridlock,” which was staged by a group backed by the billionaire family of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

    • Environment

      • US farm workers face worsening lethal heat

        By 2100, US farmers can expect more lethal heat, the equivalent of two months when it’s unsafe to pick crops.

      • Energy

        • Anti-Immigrant Trump Promotes Burning Fossil Fuels That Will Displace Millions Toward U.S.

          Some 3.5 billion people are going to end up living in places where it is unbearably hot by 2070. And likely a lot of them will have to leave for somewhere else.

        • Fossil Fuel Firms Linked to Trump Get Millions in Coronavirus Small Business Aid

          U.S. fossil fuel companies have taken at least $50 million in taxpayer money they probably won’t have to pay back, according to a review of coronavirus aid meant for struggling small businesses by the investigative research group Documented and the Guardian.

        • Colorado Plans to Eliminate Emissions from Road Transportation

          The state’s Energy Office recently released the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020, an update to the 2018 EV plan that established a target of 940,000 EVs by 2030. The new plan retains that target and lays out a vision for a “large-scale transition of Colorado’s transportation system to zero emission vehicles.” That vision includes electrifying all light-duty vehicles and making all medium and heavy-duty vehicles zero-emission (including electric, hydrogen, and other zero emissions technologies).

        • House Democrats Highlight Impacts of Trump Admin’s Favors for Fossil Fuels During Pandemic

          The discussion, titled “Behind the Curtain: The Trump Administration’s Fossil Fuel Agenda During the Pandemic,” was part of an ongoing series of live-streamed forums hosted by the Committee on coronavirus impacts on at-risk populations. The conversation, which included several guest speakers, highlighted how vulnerable communities are hit with the simultaneous impacts of the virus, industrial pollution, and the climate crisis. In addition, the discussion voiced concerns over the way federal agencies have been bestowing favors upon fossil fuel corporations while restricting public input.  

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • We Created the Anthropocene, and the Anthropocene Is Biting Back

          It’s clear from a recent litany of disasters—from the coronavirus pandemic to America’s deadliest wildfire in a century—there are forces that cannot be domesticated.

        • India readies the world’s first safe zone for sea cucumbers

          According to Hisham, sea cucumbers are crucial to the marine ecosystem, performing similar functions to earthworms in the land ecosystem. Their extinction will have a devastating impact on the marine ecosystem, he said.

          Till 2001, there were no legal hurdles in catching sea cucumbers. The blanket ban came into effect after the implementation of the Wildlife Protection Act of 2001. In the past, sea cucumbers were directly caught and shipped overseas. Now the hunters clean and freeze and add preservatives before shipping to the market hubs.

        • Chainsaw Medicine on the Ochoco

          Hurray for Central Oregon Land Watch and Oregon Wild for suing the Ochoco National Forest over its proposed Black Mountain Vegetation Management Project near Big Prairie.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • What the President Continues to Say (About the Plague)

        In two previous pieces in CounterPunch I compiled Donald Trump’s statements on the COVID-19 pandemic up to April 19th (early evening). Here is a continuation of that list.

      • Trump Must Choose Between a Global Ceasefire and America’s Long Lost Wars

        As President Trump has complained, the U.S. does not win wars anymore. In fact, since 1945, the only 4 wars it has won were over the small neocolonial outposts of Grenada, Panama, Kuwait and Kosovo. Americans across the political spectrum refer to the wars the U.S. has launched since 2001 as “endless” or “unwinnable” wars. We know by now that there is no elusive victory around the corner that will redeem the criminal futility of the U.S.’s opportunistic decision to use military force more aggressively and illegally after the end of the Cold War and the horrific crimes of September 11th. But all wars have to end one day, so how will these wars end?

      • The Joker We Deserve: Unmasked Power and Our “Slicey Dicey” President

        Donald Trump has done it again. Will wonders ever cease? Trump, who is not a doctor but is, in his own words, “like a person that has a good you know what” as he plays at being one on TV, attempted to shed new light on the coronavirus by “jokingly” suggesting Americans inject themselves with bleach and, in the process, exposed himself to ridicule and renewed doubts about both his credibility and his sanity.

      • Victory for ‘Basic Democracy’ as Judge Orders New York to Reinstate Sanders, Yang, and Others to 2020 Primary Ballot

        “I hope that the New York Board of Elections takes from this ruling a newfound appreciation of their role in safeguarding our democracy,” Andrew Yang said in a statement.

      • Back to Work! Trump’s COVID-19 Capitalist Cure Back to Work!

        U.S. capitalism’s would-be savior, the “moron” President Donald Trump, sees his re-election prospects tied to a “re-invigorated” economy based on sending U.S. workers back to work close to the height of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. 63,000 Americans have died of this pandemic as of this writing. Another 2,000 more perish daily. Yet “back to work” is ever on the agenda of Trump and the ruling rich, whose statisticians hunt for a “safe” mathematical formula that factors in ever-changing rates of infections and deaths with corporate profits lost. Few deny that whatever the calculations regarding the safety of a generalized return to work, they will soon after become obsolete when an inevitable second wave of this terrible disease, estimated to be far worse than the present horror, takes its tolls.

      • ‘We’ll Fight This’: Groups Outraged Over DeVos ‘Gutting’ Title IX Protections for Survivors of Sexual Violence

        “We refuse to go back to the days when rape and harassment in schools were ignored and swept under the rug.”

      • Senator Wyden And Others Introduce Bill Calling The DOJ’s Bluff Regarding Its Attempt To Destroy Section 230 & Encryption

        One of the key points we’ve been making concerning Attorney General William Barr and his DOJ’s eager support for the terrible EARN-IT Act, is that much of it really seems to be to cover up the DOJ’s own failings in fighting child porn and child exploitation. The premise behind the EARN IT Act is that there’s a lot of child exploitation/child abuse material found on social media… and that social media companies should do more to block that content. Of course, if you step back and think about it, you’d quickly realize that this is a form of sweeping the problem under the rug. Rather than actually tracking down and arresting those exploiting and abusing children, it’s demanding private companies just hide the evidence of those horrific acts.

      • McConnell’s Pandemic Priority Is Appointing Conservative Judges

        Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and President Donald Trump have exhibited a unique determination to appoint young, far right judges to the federal bench over the past three and a half years.

      • Mitch McConnell Pours Dark Money Into Maine Sen. Susan Collins’s Reelection

        A dark-money group aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is dropping more than half a million dollars on an advertisement shielding Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, an embattled Republican incumbent, from criticism of her response to the coronavirus outbreak.

      • If Joe Biden Drops Out, Bernie Sanders Must Be the Democratic Nominee

        A major party’s presumptive nominee enmeshed in multiple sexual harassment and assault scandals dropping out months before the general election is the sort of thing that seems like it could never actually happen — until it does. My bet is still that Joe Biden will power through the uproar over Tara Reade and accept the Democratic nomination in a few months down the road, but I’m not a fortune teller, and neither is anyone else.

      • Hungarian government suspends EU data protection rights

        The Hungarian government has announced plans to suspend its obligation to certain protections laid out in EU data protection law until the current ‘state of emergency’ period has been declared over.

        The new measures, announced on Monday (4 May), include the suspension of the rights to access and erasure of personal information, and those who lodge a complaint or exercise their right to a judicial remedy will also have to wait for the proceedings to start until after the government proclaims an end to the state of danger.

        The decree also relaxes the obligation of authorities to notify individuals when collecting personal data, when certain authorities act with the purpose of “coronavirus case prevention, recognition, exploration, as well as prevention of further spreading.”

        In this vein, strict notification requirements are to be replaced with general information published electronically and made available about the “purposes, legal grounds, and scope” of processing.

        In response, opposition politician Bernadett Szél said she will turn to the Hungarian Constitutional Court.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Muting Justice: Rescheduling Julian Assange’s Hearing

        It is suitably repugnant that this theatre continues even as British politicians sing the praises of press freedom. Last week, Britain’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab added his name to those of the Dutch, French and German foreign ministers to “celebrate the crucial role journalists play around the world,” thereby doing their little, and inconsequential bit, to commemorate World Press Freedom Day. What was particularly repellent in the statement was the cap doffing to this year’s theme, being very WikiLeaks, as it were, and equally shunned in practice. “This year’s theme ‘Journalism without fear or favour’ emphasises the importance of taking action to secure independent journalism as a prerequisite for a functioning society.”

        The statement also rings hollow when considering the entire scope of Assange’s hearings, which have been poorly conducted, appallingly managed and meagrely rationed in terms of resources. Those covering the case have also been treated with mild contempt. The very fact that it has dragged on in purgatorial fashion for so long suggests a form of torment by prolongation, a macabre display of institutional corruption. The US imperium wants its man and Britain will deliver, but must be seen to be observing some due process, however shoddy.

      • Journalism in Egypt now ‘effectively a crime’, Amnesty International says

        Journalism in Egypt has effectively become a crime over the past four years as authorities clamp down on media outlets and muzzle dissent, Amnesty International has said in a report.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Hedge Fund ‘Asshole’ Destroying Local News & Firing Reporters Wants Google & Facebook To Just Hand Him More Money

        Have you heard of Heath Freeman? He’s a thirty-something hedge fund boss, who runs “Alden Global Capital,” which owns a company misleadingly called “Digital First Media.” His business has been to buy up local newspapers around the country and basically cut everything down to the bone, and just milk the assets for whatever cash they still produce, minus all the important journalism stuff. He’s been called “the hedge fund asshole”, “the hedge fund vampire that bleeds newspapers dry”, “a small worthless footnote”, the “Gordon Gecko” of newspapers and a variety of other fun things.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • ‘Job Creating’ Sprint T-Mobile Merger Triggers Estimated 6,000 Non-Covid Layoffs

        Back when T-Mobile and Sprint were trying to gain regulatory approval for their $26 billion merger, executives repeatedly promised the deal would create jobs. Not just a few jobs, but oodles of jobs. Despite the fact that US telecom history indicates such deals almost always trigger mass layoffs, the media dutifully repeated T-Mobile and Sprint executive claims that the deal would create “more than 3,500 additional full-time U.S. employees in the first year and 11,000 more people by 2024.”

      • China Is Happy to Fill the Leadership Vacuum Left by the U.S.

        The regime in Beijing was quick to recognize the opportunity the pandemic presented. The deeper the U.S. sunk into its crisis, the more China could prove its superiority. In March and April, Beijing dispatched teams of doctors to 16 countries. At the same time, it provided more than 125 countries and four international organizations with relief supplies. While Italy was begging Europe for help at the beginning of the crisis, the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma was supplying the EU with 2 million protective masks.

    • Monopolies

      • Facebook Removes Hundreds Of Disinformation Accounts Linked To Russia, Iran, And Georgia

        The suspended accounts were active on both Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns, and were linked to eight networks, the California-based social-media giant said.

        The networks based in Russia and Iran focused their content internationally, while two networks in the South Caucasus nation of Georgia, along with two in the United States and one each in Mauritania and Burma (also known as Myanmar), operated with domestic audiences in mind.

        All the networks were created before the coronavirus pandemic, but the company said it found people behind the campaigns had “opportunistically” used coronavirus-related posts to build an audience and drive people to their content.

      • Patents

        • PTO Patent Licensing Marketplace Shows Potential, But Will Licensors Embrace It?

          This month, the PTO announced that it would be opening up an online licensing market, “Patents 4 Partnerships.” The market, which will initially focus on COVID-related patents, is intended to provide a centralized and easily accessible database of U.S. patents and published patent applications that have been voluntarily made available for licensing.

          There’s a number of reasons to think that this would be good for the patent system—if patent owners actually use it and if license information is public. Unfortunately, that seems less than likely. And there’s some concerns with what’s already there.


          The real question is whether patent owners will actually put their patents up for license. It’s possible that some will, but many patent owners treat licensing activity as highly confidential and wouldn’t want to provide a list of the patents they’re licensing, much less making the terms or licensees public information. And they often have little interest in having a fixed set of license terms, preferring to negotiate extremely specific licenses that use differential pricing (i.e., different parties pay different prices) in order to maximize their profits.

          Given all that, it’s questionable whether many patent owners will participate. And if major licensors aren’t participating, it’s not clear what the value of this marketplace would be.

          Even if licensors were interested in openly announcing their patents and terms, it’s unclear whether potential licensees will use the marketplace. Engineers don’t tend to say “I want to make a robot arm, let me go look for robot arm patents to license,” they just figure out how to make a robot arm. (That’s reflected in the high rate of independent invention—most cases of infringement aren’t cases of copying, they’re cases of someone inventing the same thing a little later.) And if there’s no customers for licenses, it’s one more reason that patent owners won’t list their patents for licensing.

          The Patents 4 Partnerships program isn’t a bad idea if it sees use, but it’s not at all clear that it will.

        • Patent case: Drahtloses Kommunikationsnetz, Germany

          The case concerns the transfer of a priority right from an employee to his/her employer and the relevant time zone for determining the priority:

          1. The validity of the transfer of rights to an invention by the employer by claiming it as a service invention is governed by the law applicable to the employment contract.

          2. The rights and obligations of the contracting parties that result from a legal agreement on the transfer of a priority right are not to be judged according to the law applicable to the priority application, but according to the law applicable to contracts between the parties. If the agreement is made between the employee inventor and his/her employer, the agreement is governed by the law applicable to the employment contract.

        • Software Patents

          • Uniloc USA, Inc. v. LG Electronics USA, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2020)

            Uniloc, owner of U.S. Patent No. 6,993,049, brought an action for infringement of that patent against LG in the Northern District of California. The District Court granted LG’s motion to dismiss on the pleadings, agreeing with LG that the claims were directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Uniloc appealed.

            The patented technology relates to Bluetooth-enabled and similar networks. These networks involve a primary station and at least one secondary station that form ad hoc networks (piconets) with one another. Joining such a network involves an inquiry procedure, in which primary stations identify secondary stations and the secondary stations can request to join the piconet, and a page procedure, in which a primary station can invite the secondary stations to join the piconet. According to the patent, “it can take several tens of seconds to complete the inquiry and page procedures so that a device joins a piconet and is able to transfer user input to the primary station.”

            Further, secondary stations can be battery operated, and may enter a low-power “park” mode by stopping active communication with the primary station. A parked station must be polled in order to restore its ability to communicate with the primary station. This polling process may also take several tens of seconds.

      • Copyrights

        • RIAA’s Misuse of the DMCA Can’t Go Unpunished, Spinrilla Tells Court

          Popular mixtape platform Spinrilla wants the RIAA to be held liable for sending inaccurate takedown notices. Responding to a motion to dismiss from the music industry group, the mixtape service stresses that the RIAA was well aware of its wrongdoing and that it doesn’t matter whether any files were actually removed or not.

        • Jetflicks Streaming Site Founder Wants Evidence Suppressed, US Govt. Says No Way

          During a 2017 raid on homes owned by Kristopher Dallmann, the alleged founder of the Jetflicks streaming service, FBI agents removed him from the premises at gunpoint, declined his request for a lawyer, and insisted he waived his Miranda rights. On this basis, certain evidence should be surpressed, Dallmann now argues. This version of events is hotly contested by the US Government, which insists everything was done by the book.

        • The Oscars Ends DVD Screeners For Reasons Other Than Piracy, Which Will Of Course Continue

          Oscars DVD screeners, the DVDs that get sent out to judges that are up for an award, have been an on again, off again topic for years at Techdirt. These screeners were at one time a very prevalent source for pirated films that showed up on the internet. There was once some irony in the MPAA and film industry insisting that piracy could be solved by tech companies if only they would nerd hard enough, yet here are these screeners going out the doors that supposedly were secure and turned out not to be. It was all bad enough that the MPAA wanted to ban screeners entirely, which pissed off filmmakers enough that the lobbying group ended up having to back down.

        • Fans Port Mario 64 To PC And Make It Way Better, So Of Course Nintendo Is Trying To Nuke The Project

          I’m lucky enough to own a decades old Nintendo 64 and a handful of games, including the classic Mario 64. My kids love that game. Still, the first thing they asked when I showed it to them the first time is why the screen was letterboxed, why the characters looked like they were made of lego blocks, and why I needed weird cords to plug it all into the flat screen television. The answer to these spoiled monsters’ questions, of course, is that the game is super old and wasn’t meant to be played on modern televisions. It’s the story of a lot of older games, though many PC games at least have a healthy modding community that will take classics and get them working on present day hardware. Consoles don’t have that luxury.

Microsoft Cult-Like Tactics Destroy Hospitals by Ripping Apart Everything Microsoft (and the NSA) Cannot Control

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 9:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Back doors everywhere, or GTFO?

Pre-Microsoft, Post-Microsoft

Summary: Technical sabotage inside hospitals explained by people who know these from the inside and have witnessed troubling things, courtesy of Microsoft boosters in positions of power (decision-making, where bribes/kickbacks play a role)

IN THE previous part of this series (the series will be indexed and strung together at the end; here’s the previous part) we talked about poor journalism or intentionally bad coverage. “The linked article also shows some clever ass-covering,” our source told us after we had found an article of relevance. It’s rather clear that the reporter or ‘journalist’ didn’t pursue facts, instead printing the face-saving lies. That’s more harmful than helpful because it obscures and misplaces blame. From what we understand, Microsoft was a bit culprit, but the press keeps sidestepping in downplaying the role of Windows and other proprietary software with back doors (the NSA has software tools tailored for remote access and those tools sometimes leak out).

“They connived to eliminate the standards based, in-house e-mail infrastructure which ran on commodity free and open source software. The initial decision was to replace it with Microsoft Outlook / Microsoft Exchange and pretend that would be adequate.”
We’d like to put the gory (sometimes literally) details aside at a moment. We’d like to revisit the subject of retaliation — an aspect explored earlier in this series. There are parallels to be drawn to the case of Eric Lundgren, which we introduced in [1, 2, 3] before revealing the extent/lengths to which Microsoft went to destroy his life [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. We spoke to a friend of his a few weeks ago. He said that Eric is still trying to get his life back, starting with new projects after the legal aftermath which left him blackmailed into pleading guilty (for reduced sentence). Issues to cover next in his case, which we hoped to do using court documents included for evidentiary support: Silencing Media, Court Mischief, Legal and Financial Ramifications…

The whole thing was rigged from beginning to end. It’s almost as though the process was ‘fixed’…

Maybe one day we’ll get around to doing that story again; shall he be willing (the emotional burden on him was immense, not to mention the massive debt). The rule of thumb at Microsoft is, either you’re with the cult or against it. What’s the cult? Microsoft. If you’re not with Microsoft, you’re soon marked as an enemy to be eliminated (e.g. sacked or marginalised).

On “Microsoft vs healthcare,” one person once told us, there’s much to be said which extends beyond hospitals. I too have seen it in my career. The only solution to that is to never allow Microsoft ‘cultists’ into one’s company/institution in the first place. They tend to bring along with them yet more cultists; it’s like a gradual takeover and sooner or later everything that’s not Microsoft’s will be removed. Both people and technology.

“At one hospital,” we were told, “the parent organisation was partially infiltrated by microsofters at a level capable of influencing technology policy. They connived to eliminate the standards based, in-house e-mail infrastructure which ran on commodity free and open source software. The initial decision was to replace it with Microsoft Outlook / Microsoft Exchange and pretend that would be adequate. However, when people found out about that, there was an uproar. It was too late to save the infrastructure though but not too late to pivot to Google and GMail. It was not good compared to the original infrastructure but magnitudes less bad than what could have happened. However, within hours of that pivot, large numbers of Microsoft advisers and sales people swarmed the hospital and, without planning one iota, they went on a massive rip-and-replace spree, eliminating all non-Microsoft systems they could find in the infrastructure. It does not work very well.”

“Outlook, of course, is unusable and causes problems all the time through crap size limits, spam filtering legitimate mail, refusal to work with decent clients, etc.”
“Sounds typical,” told us one person privy to these details, “but I’m not that happy to have company.”

“Outlook, of course, is unusable and causes problems all the time through crap size limits, spam filtering legitimate mail, refusal to work with decent clients, etc. Lots of drama and ruin came from all of this, and we are just a tiny center with one or two doctors.”

If you’ve experienced similar things, please do contact us for future stories.

Geeks in the Age of Lock-down (and After Quarantine)

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 6:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What if “remote work” comes to mean “remote from home” (i.e. in some remote office)?

Rain Wilson: Works from the office; works from home

Summary: Technology is in a state of rapid transition; let’s make sure we’re left on the right side of it

THE PANDEMIC is being exploited by just about every business and businessperson. Mostly for publicity stunts, cuts, erosion of workers’ rights and so on. Almost everyone has witnessed a plethora of examples of this and in Daily Links we’ve included many (e.g. airlines that invite workers to ‘resign’ after receiving generous ‘bailouts’ for the Board and shareholders). It’s horrific and it hits people who require on-site access the hardest. Some jobs cannot be done from one’s home. It’s simply impossible. Also, particular businesses might never see resumption; when they shut down for quarantine — whether they realised it at the time or were mostly in denial about it — they were shutting down for good. Some workplaces will only ‘open’ to initiate a shutdown process. Many office spaces won’t be rented or attended again. Many places will become mostly or entirely vacant, even a lot of shopping malls. The dining (eating outside) business will collapse. Some ethnic groups will be hit very hard by this, depending on the country…

“Over the past month several people volunteered themselves to intern for us; it’s about truth and justice, not just “nerd stuff”…”We would be wrong to assume all our readers are geeks. Many are, but not all. Quite a few are EPO workers, a good proportion of our regular readers are on GNU/Linux and BSD, but there are also aspiring geeks who aren’t necessarily technical but are very interested in the ways computer/digital activism can bring about justice. Over the past month several people volunteered themselves to intern for us; it’s about truth and justice, not just “nerd stuff”…

So, even though we don’t know the demography of readers, it seems safe to assume many are geeks (but not all). And many nations start speaking about “reopening” (going back to work now or very soon); we’ve been observing news reports about it and the latest projections are presumption of the German football league (with no on-site spectators) and cancellation of the British (English/Welsh) one. But forget about sports… media likes to obsess/speak about non-essential things that help sell ads and gambling.

What does it all mean for geeks?

Not just Free software geeks…

“At the end of the day what will matter isn’t necessarily whether one writes Free or non-free (proprietary) software but what kind of software.”Not just computer geeks…

Not just GNU/Linux enthusiasts…

Well, right now a lot of businesses are forced to implement contingencies, transitions, migrations etc. In the education sector it’s stuff like online learning, which necessitates more technical people than teachers, janitors, administrators and so on. Budget is also a big factor.

Like we said yesterday, this downturn is favouring Free software. People won’t pay $1000 to Adobe or Microsoft just to get something ‘done’ at home. Many people are uncertain about their income and savings (or debt). Frugality becomes a survival skill. Usually, in the traditional economy (say goodbye to that economy), businesses were getting ‘blanket’ licences for all workstations — licences that workers instantaneously lose when they leave the employer. Who wants to take that risk? Who wants to merely rent when it’s possible to truly own and even participate with Free software? The learning curve and experience are better exploited with continuity (like using the same software for several decades, not having to retrain except when there are version bumps).

At the end of the day what will matter isn’t necessarily whether one writes Free or non-free (proprietary) software but what kind of software. Also, for remote work things may improve. System administrators rarely need physical access to anything, especially nowadays when there are remote switches (digital controls for as much as power-cycling one’s servers).

It seems reasonable to assert that automation will become a big thing; in a sense, it already is. That includes robotics. A lot of things which people used to do and machines can do instead will become more alluring, not just for financial reasons but also “health and safety”. Scripting skills may come in handy. Let’s take Techrights as an example. We’re at a point now where IRC logs are mostly an automated process, backups are almost 100% automated, monitoring is automated (with remote screens and actions associated with events that trigger them), and overall it makes us a lot more efficient. Usually, the main thing getting in the way of productivity is the remaining ongoing work that we’ve been investing since last summer. The technical debt is gradually being paid off. We’ll become a lot more rapid later this year; productivity keeps improving.

“We’ve been noticing growing levels of sheer resentment against Bill Gates with his puff pieces being spread senselessly in the corporate media.”In summary, now is the time for adaptation and efficiencies of all sorts; online purchasing — whether we tolerate it or not (privacy erosion is one factor) — will gain traction, but people will have less money to spend, so where possible people will just share stuff, download things, and keep a distance from other people. Introvert geeks may feel like they’re becoming more “normal” and demand will increase for people’s whose technical skills help lower expenditure.

Things won’t just get back to the way they used to do. There may be attempts to give us an illusion that the crisis is “over”, but we already know that coronavirus is a seasonal thing and there may be further mutations, depending on how successfully the mutated derivatives spread (contagious diseases are more “successful” ones from the microorganism’s perspective).

We’ve been noticing growing levels of sheer resentment against Bill Gates with his puff pieces being spread senselessly in the corporate media. People find out, even belatedly, about Bill’s obsession with depopulation (that obsession came from his father, who is still alive but clinically demented). Bill is not a geek. He never was. Unlike his father, he’s a failed/failing lawyer. He didn’t finish college (a degree in law) and he was arrested several times because he cannot obey the law. He got in trouble for technical sabotage not only at Microsoft but also in college. Bill is connected to high power from both sides of the family (his parents, as we covered before), so privilege rescued him from lifelong trouble as a juvenile in some cell. He was screaming like mad at his mother and he’s cursing again, seeing that many members of the public loathe him (and paying a billion dollars to media/press can’t make alternative reality ‘stick’). He’s telling to himself that all his “haters” are just “conspiracy theorists”, lumping every critic of his with some fringe group. Nice PR tactic you got there…

True geeks don’t do what Bill did; they don’t write open letters to strongly condemn collaboration and they don’t invest in some of the world’s nastiest corporations for profit. How much money does Bill need? He’s not giving anything away, he’s just hoarding more while disguising it as “charity”. Greed is like a mental condition — a chronic obsession with monetary gain (usually compensating for a lack of something) that most geeks don’t find appealing anyway. The money is all gone when one dies; just ask Paul Allen what happened to his money and that infamous yacht. You want to know a real geek? RMS. Richard M. Stallman. MIT had him removed to distract from real pedophiles.

“Writing non-free software is not an ethically legitimate activity, so if people who do this run into trouble, that’s good! All businesses based on non-free software ought to fail, and the sooner the better.”

Richard Stallman

IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:34 am by Needs Sunlight



#techrights log

#boycottnovell log



#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Microsoft’s WSL Program Manager Admits WSL Adoption Level Has Been Absurdly Low

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 1:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s fake ‘Linux’ (actually it is Windows with new clothing) is a laughable failure that cost Microsoft a lot of money and the target audience broadly rejects after nearly half a decade

WSL, WSL2; Number of users: unknown, ~150k

Summary: All those evasive responses from Microsoft employees make more sense now that someone with the insiders’ insight spills the beans; the person recently revealed just how appalling adoption had been; Microsoft is unable (or unwilling) to even refute

THE Microsoft folks will need to give some answers. We, together with former Microsoft staff who know Microsoft is hiding an embarrassment, have made inquiries and are patiently waiting; hours later and still no reply (although they very well know the answer, can give it offhand).

Sure, we welcome a belated response (or refutation) but strongly doubt any is actually on the way because it happened several times before. Empty promises that they would divulge some numbers — promises they keep breaking.

“The Microsoft folks will need to give some answers.”“I don’t expect a reply,” I told a former Microsoft employee, who keeps pressing Microsoft itself to admit that WSL and WSL2 have been utter failure.

A lack of reply too is newsworthy too, of course; they’re brag like nobody’s business if the numbers were high!

Let’s give it a day, I thought…

Well, a day or so has passed and Microsoft’s WSL Program Manager is giving a non-denying ‘denial’. “Dude seems bitter,” one reader told us. “IMO, the tone of his response, deflection, and ad hominem leads me to believe that your information is accurate.”

In other words, only about 150 thousand people actually use this thing. It’s ridiculously low, not only by Microsoft’s standards. They’ve already thrown millions of dollars into this thing, including fake (astroturfed) media coverage.

We are still waiting for a reply — if any — from “Rich Tur-minal-ner-d,” the Program Manager (his Twitter profile says “Sr. PM @ Microsoft. Modernizing the Windows Command-Line via Terminal & WSL, and improving the Windows Developer Platform” and he openly defends Microsoft’s patent blackmail, so you know how much he “loves” Linux).

“…only about 150 thousand people actually use this thing.”WSL has been almost exclusively promoted by Microsoft boosters or 'assets' embedded in the media (no need to name them again; we've known them for over a decade). They’ve done this for years.

“Sorry,” he said, “we don’t comment on unsubstantiated rumors nor absurd numbers…”

Those are not rumors. The source is reliable.

When pressed for actual numbers he then responded with: “Let me check.”

He said that last year as well. And he never got back to us.

“Check if it’s OK to say it’s more or less correct?”

That was my reply to him. He’s probably checking with Microsoft’s executive level how to spin their way out of this one…

And we agree it’s an absurd number. Absurdly low. And true…

“And why does Canonical help Microsoft promote this thing? How much has Microsoft paid Canonical to do this?”We think it’s safe for GNU/Linux news sites to just ignore WSL ‘news’. Scare quotes are fitting because it’s just PR, powered by embedded ‘stunts’… including misleading headlines. It’s the only kind of news that says “Linux” and we won’t post in Daily Links. Because it’s not about Linux, it is about Vista 10. They hijack the Linux brand to promote their malware, which includes keylogging.

WSL is a dead end; It’s a dying niche effort by Microsoft to hijack GNU/Linux the EEE way…

People can easily install, free of charge, proper GNU/Linux or even run it in something like VirtualBox. WSL (and WSL2) is obsolete, mimicking something like Cygwin from 2 decades ago. Who on Earth thought geeks would adopt such trash? Maybe the real goal was just to googlebomb “Linux” with Vista 10 “ads” (media space, or "mindshare" as Microsoft typically calls it). ZDNet and these Microsoft boosters currently googlebomb “Linux” with other Microsoft spam (Azure/Microsoft promotion) and this too we’ve omitted from Daily Links because it’s very clearly a PR stunt designed to distract from actual GNU/Linux news. They even got coverage in mainstream media that never mentions GNU/Linux at all. Microsoft has just got that media to play along. To them, it’s like GNU/Linux never exists at all except when Microsoft controls it and tells them to cover it. We’ve seen several more like this one; about half a dozen in total just yesterday (and it boils down to nothing but Microsoft offering some money… it’s only about money, not substance). “Slush funds” from a PR viewpoint.

About WSL, did Microsoft actually expect decent adoption? Who at Microsoft thought this was a good idea? And why does Canonical help Microsoft promote this thing? How much has Microsoft paid Canonical to do this?

Matthias Kirschner (et al) Should Not Have Taken Microsoft Money, as Per the Agreement With the Free Software Foundation (FSF)

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft at 12:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

15 years ago this was unthinkable; and Microsoft has not changed (except its entryism strategy)

FSFE Donors in 2005
People and firms that supported FSFE a year after the current President had joined

Summary: The corrosive impact of Microsoft money and why the FSFE wasn’t supposed to take it; supporting members would likely disapprove because Microsoft stands for the very things they sought to put an end to

WE RECENTLY wrote about the problematic payment from Microsoft to Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), which was founded 19 years ago, 5 years before the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC). The FSF-Relationship-Framework (2005) document is shown below, as it appeared sort of publicly on the Free Software Fellowship‘s mailing list.

To quote: “These things will never be done by any FSF: [...] Formally ally itself with an organization or person that develops or distributes non-free software or non-free software documentation.”

“The biggest fact is the memorandum,” told us a reader, “which has never been published.”

The reader saw it in the above mailing list. “Notice it is not a legal document,” the reader said, and “it doesn’t have the usual clauses that would allow FSF to terminate the agreement and protect their trademark. Maybe FSF was just naive, we can’t be sure. This document seriously dilutes the value of the FSF brand.”

“Months after SFC took money from Microsoft the SFC’s Web site called for the resignation/removal of RMS.”As we noted before, after RMS was ‘ousted’ (from the FSF’s Board, which he left after pressure) the FSF 'lifted its kimono' like the Linux Foundation had done, hoping to attract sponsors for LibrePlanet, which was eventually canceled due to the pandemic and became just a webstream (like many other cancelled events, still in denial about their cancellation in order to save face, calling webstreams “virtual events” or something ridiculous along those lines).

“Unfortunately,” our reader concludes, “anybody holding this document could go and create an FSF today.”

And then take money from Microsoft…

Marked in/as bold below is one of several relevant bits:

$Id: FSF-Relationship-Framework.txt 2221 2005-09-02 08:21:16Z greve $

Written by Lisa M. Goldstein, opus@gnu.org,
and Richard M. Stallman, rms@gnu.org

    A Relationship Framework for FSFs.

This a draft framework for the relationship between the FSF sister
organizations in various parts of the world.  It says which activities
are to be carried out which FSFs, either individually or working

FSF-NA refers to the original Free Software Foundation with
headquarters in Boston.  A "major FSF" refers to an FSF that covers a
region which is a whole continent or contains a large fraction of the
population of the continent it is in.  The hope is that the number of
major FSFs will be limited.

A. The following activities will be carried out initially by the
FSF-NA after consultation with the other FSFs.  We intend, in the
future, after we have gained experience working together, to develop a
system wherein these decisions are approved jointly by a specific list
of several major FSFs.

1. Set policy regarding free software licenses, including
   the criteria for free software, the development of licenses,
   and the criteria for choosing the license to use for a program.

2. Define official positions on major new circumstances, such as new
   technologies, new legal issues, etc, which globally impact the Free
   Software movement or our licenses, and publish position papers to
   state these positions.

3. Make major changes in the management of the GNU Project.

4. Approve translations of licenses into languages other than English.
   (Translation of licenses requires special care and we will have to
   approach this cautiously.)

5. Decide whether an organization qualifies as an FSF.

B. The following activities will be carried out by one particular FSF
initially, and may be extended to individual other major FSFs if need

1. FSF-NA: Certify as a service to businesses that products comply
   with the GPL.

2. FSF-NA: Be the official copyright holder on GNU software and manuals
   (when the developers do not keep the copyright).

3. FSF-NA: Hold the primary copies of the copyright assignments

4. FSF-Europe: Manage and operate the GNU Business Network.

C. The following activities are to be carried out by every FSF:

1. Encourage the development of globally-useful free software

2. Develop new free software and manuals, and adapt existing free
   software and manuals, to meet its region's special cultural and
   linguistic needs.

3. Following the overall policy set as in A, create and issue
   official positions for local events and new local laws that may
   have impact on the Free Software movement or its licenses.

4. Translate FSF position papers into local languages.

5. Advocate FSF official positions developed in A to national and
   local governments.

5a. Study possible local threats to software freedom and possible

6. Recruit more volunteers for the GNU Project and
   other free software projects.

7. Raise funds to spend on free software development and other
   free software activities.

8. Sell copies of free (as in freedom) software, free manuals, and
   other products to raise funds to pay for local staff and local
   events.  FSFs will resell their products to each other at cost for
   redistribution in other countries by sister groups.

9. Develop media relations to create awareness of the FSF and Free
   Software positions and events.

10. Advise free software developers on licensing matters
    and technical questions.

11. Enforce and defend the GPL and its sister licenses internationally
    for software that it holds copyright on.

12. Assist, in its region, efforts by other FSFs to enforce and defend
    the GPL and its sister licenses for the software they hold the
    copyright on.

13. When asked to, hold duplicate copies of copyright
    assignments and other legal papers for other FSFs.

14. Maintain a speaker's bureau.

15. Develop free (as in freedom) class materials for training and
    education in use of GNU and other free software.

16. Raise awareness of the unethical and antisocial nature
    of non-free software.

17. Assist other organizations in upholding the GPL
    and other activities that benefit the free software cause.

18. Encourage general cooperation with the GNU Project.

19. Send information about its main projects to the other FSFs.

19a. Keep its board of directors in contact with the boards of
     other FSFs, and keep its executives in contact with the
     executives of other FSFs.

20. Cooperate generally with all other FSFs.

D. These things will never be done by any FSF:

1. Distribute or develop non-free software or non-free software

2. Promote or encourage the use of any non-free program or non-free
   software documentation.

3. Formally ally itself with an organization or person that develops
   or distributes non-free software or non-free software

If FSFE is willing to take money from Microsoft — as SFC did last year and this year (in effect selling Microsoft a keynote speech in a conference about something Microsoft viciously attacks) — who next? What next? Days ago they spoke about their accomplishment in Munich. Will they still ‘disparage’ Microsoft (sponsor) by speaking about what Microsoft did to GNU/Linux in Munich? Months after SFC took money from Microsoft the SFC’s Web site called for the resignation/removal of RMS. Guess what the FSFE said in its press release when RMS stepped down (and before).

Imagine giving a portion of your salary for several years to support the same FSFE (or SFC) that treats the very founder of Free software like that. While taking money from Microsoft…

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