Links 24/12/2020: Krita 4.4.2 Beta 2 and LibreOffice 7.1 RC1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

    • Server

      • 10 of our favorite sysadmin stories | Enable Sysadmin

        Mastering scrum, remote work tips, advice for the junior admins, and how to identify failure are some of the top stories impacting sysadmin careers.

      • Server failure, Linux comprise 2020 data center management tips

        Linux is an industry standard for server and data center management, but there are some questions about what it is exactly and what it does in the data center. At the most basic level, Linux is an OS that you can run on your servers across your infrastructure.

        Linux is unusual because it is an open source OS, which affects licensing. The GNU General Public License states the terms under which you can use, modify and distribute the OS. With this license model, the idea is that this OS remains open source and is free for all to use.

        The other main distinction Linux has from macOS and Windows OS is the kernel. Because the open source community constantly maintains and updates the kernel, it is an ideal choice for a server infrastructure that requires real-time upkeep. The Linux kernel contains subsystems for memory management, process management, network stack, virtual file system and a system call interface, as well as arch and device drivers.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 886

        icewm, xfce, sansa clip, toys, happy holidays

      • The 2020 Tuxies | LINUX Unplugged 385

        Mike details his favorite python tools and his tricks for performance concerns.

        Plus a bunch of workspace improvment ideas, feedback, and more.

      • OBS V4l2Sink: Turn OBS Into A Virtual Camera

        Screensharing is various apps can be kind of a pain so instead of doing that why you just turn OBS into a camera and then just do everything from OBS instead, and we’re doing this with a simple plugin known as obs v4l2sink which will soon be a main part of OBS.

      • Open Source Security Episode 249 – Door 24: Information wants to be free

        Josh and Kurt talk about the idea of information wanting to be free. It’s Christmas, we should give it what it wants!

      • The SolarWinds Attack

        Doc Searls and Katherine Druckman talk to Kyle Rankin and Petros Koutoupis about the SolarWinds hack, and Facebook’s reaction to Apple privacy initiatives.

      • 5 reasons to use the Atom text editor [Ed: IBM's Red Hat says use a Microsoft text editor used to leverage Microsoft’s proprietary software monopoly, GitHub.]
      • (Audio Only) Interview with Igor Seletskiy on “Project Lenix”, an upcoming CentOS Replacement – YouTube

        With the recent demise of CentOS (as we knew it) many companies are struggling to determine which direction they should go to keep their servers supported. In this interview, I sat down with Igor Seletskiy from CloudLinux to discuss their plans of releasing their own fork of RHEL as early as first quarter 2021.

      • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S13E40 – Ravens

        This week we have been fixing network and audio noise and playing Hotshot Racing. We look back and celebrate the good things that happened in 2020, bring you some GUI love and go over all your wonderful feedback.

        It’s Season 13 Episode 40 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

      • 382: BSDNow Q&A 2020

        We asked for it, you answered our call. This episode features you interviewing us with questions that you sent in. JT, Allan, and Benedict answer everything that you ever wanted to know in this week’s special episode of BSDNow.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.11 Intel P-State Schedutil Tuned For Better Efficiency. Avoid Running “Too Fast” – Phoronix

        Last week the Linux 5.11 power management updates were merged while on Tuesday some additional new material was merged, primarily around Intel’s P-State CPU frequency scaling governor when running with the “Schedutil” governor that makes use of the kernel’s scheduler utilization data.

        With this pull request for P-State is a rework to its passive-mode fast-switch path so it avoids “running some workloads too fast” and will now side with better energy efficiency in select cases while still providing sufficient power for handling the current work. There is also another change to P-State to allow the guaranteed performance value for a given CPU to be increased after boot time.

      • Linux 5.11 Finally Flushes Out Its Qt4 Code For Configuring Kernel Builds UI

        Linux 5.11′s Kconfig build configuration updates are bringing some long overdue improvements to its “Qconf” Qt toolkit user interface option for configuring Linux kernel builds.

        Qt 5.0 was released eight years ago and earlier this month Qt 6.0 was christened. Most software was converted from Qt4 to Qt5 years ago but the Linux Kconfig code when firing up the Qt interface has retained support going back to Qt4. But for Linux 5.11 that is being remove to now focus on providing just a Qt5 interface (and presumably Qt 6, in due course) alongside the other Kconfig user interfaces from ncurses to GTK.

      • Reducing page structures for huge pages

        Kernel development is a constant exercise in reducing overhead; any resources taken by the kernel are not available for the workload that users actually want to run. As part of this, the page structure used to manage memory has been kept as small as possible. Even so, page structures typically take up just over 1.5% of the available memory, which is too much for some users. LWN recently looked at DMEMFS as one approach to reduce this overhead, but that is not the only work happening in this area. Two developers are currently working independently on patches to reduce the overhead associated with huge pages in particular.

      • Statistics from the 5.10 kernel development cycle

        Linus Torvalds released the 5.10 kernel on December 13 at the end of a typical nine-week development cycle. At that point, 16,174 non-merge changesets had been pulled into the mainline; that makes 5.10 a larger cycle than 5.9, but it falls just short of the record set by 5.8, which ended with 16,308 changesets. For the most part 5.10 is just another routine kernel release, but there are a couple of interesting things to be seen in the overall statistics.
        A total of 1,971 developers contributed to 5.10 — again, just short of the record set by 5.8. Of those developers, 252 (just under 13%) made their first contribution in 5.10; that is the lowest number seen since 5.6.

      • Reiser4 Updated For Linux 5.10 Compatibility, Reiser5 Effort One Year Old – Phoronix

        The out-of-tree Reiser4 file-system has now been ported to the week-old Linux 5.10 kernel code-base. This also comes days ahead of the one year anniversary since the “Version 5″ announcement.

        For those still relying upon this out-of-tree file-system, Reiser4 saw its port released today for the Linux 5.10.2 kernel. It was a straight-forward port from Linux 5.9 to 5.10 while in the process was a change around removing a legacy flushing flag.

      • AMD S2idle Support For Linux Getting Squared Away – Phoronix

        Just in time for the upcoming AMD Ryzen 5000 series mobile processors, it’s looking like the S2idle support is finally coming together on Linux for increased power savings.

        As previously covered, Linux 5.11 picked up an AMD SoC PMC driver that is responsible for handling S2idle transactions driven by the platform firmware on the SMU. Sent in on Tuesday as part of a secondary set of ACPI changes for Linux 5.11 is more AMD S2idle enablement work.

        This latest code is about providing initial support for S2idle (suspend to idle S0ix) while largely relying upon the existing kernel code written by Intel. The bit needed wrangling with this code was the BIOS implementation for ACPI methods like _DSM (device specific methods) not being standardized and thus needing vendor-specific handling. So with this code now in the kernel as of yesterday, the Linux S2idle code can correctly use the proper _DSM methods on Linux.

      • Linux 5.11 Is Looking Like A Wild And Bumpy Ride On AMD CPUs So Far

        A few days ago I noted nice AMD EPYC performance improvements with PostgreSQL when running on Linux 5.11 compared to prior kernels. I’ve confirmed that for even more AMD EPYC servers now that the PostgreSQL uplift is there, but other workloads are unfortunately regressing for both Ryzen and EPYC. Here’s the start of an exciting Christmas benchmarking adventure looking at this change with Linux 5.11…


        What the heck?! A number of the workloads regressing are mostly user-space applications not interacting with the kernel much or even much in the way of I/O… But that ended up jiving with my hypothesis in regards to the Linux 5.11 improvement for PostgreSQL. It’s about the CPU frequency invariance support in Linux 5.11 for AMD Zen 2 and newer.

    • Applications

      • The Review of GUI LVM Tools

        The LVM is a powerful storage management module which is included in all the distributions of Linux now. It provides users with a variety of valuable features to fit different requirements. The management tools that come with LVM are based on the command line interface, which is very powerful and suitable for automated/batch operations. But LVM’s operations and configuration are quite complex because of its own complexity. So many software companies including Red Hat have launched some GUI-based LVM tools to help users manage LVM more easily. Let’s review them here to see the similarities and differences between individual tools.

      • Darktable 3.4 Gives Open Source Photographers New Toys to Play With

        Users of the “virtual lighttable and darkroom” will find a more stable tethering view (with histogram support re-enabled) in Darktable 3.4, as well as a new module grouping feature and handy presets to get started with.

        “The module grouping feature allows users to create their own groups of modules. A number of pre-defined module groups are included as presets […] as well as a new default module group tab layout (technical / grading / effects), which beter organizes the modules according to their purpose,” (sic) Darktable devs explain.

      • Darktable 3.4 Released For Leading Open-Source RAW Photography Software

        Darktable 3.4 is out in time for dealing with any of your RAW holiday photos.

        The open-source, cross-platform Darktable software continues as one of the leading free, non-destructive RAW photo post-production software solutions available. Darktable 3.4 reworks the program’s camera tethering view, a new module grouping feature has been added, a new color calibration module has been added with better color correction abilities, an enhanced map view, reworks to some areas of the GUI, and dozens of other changes as well as bug fixes. There are also new additions to the supported camera list.

      • Darktable 3.4 Released with Revamped Tethering View, Module Grouping Feature

        Coming more than four months after Darktable 3.2, the new release introduces a revamped tethering view that now supports histogram, a new module grouping feature that lets you create your own groups of modules, and an enhanced module masking feature with scene-referred workflows and fully unbounded blending modes, supporting parametric masking in linear RGB or JzCzHz color spaces.

        A new color calibration module has been implemented as well in this release and stands as a full-featured hub for all your color correction needs. Moreover, Darktable 3.4 improves the Map view with support for grouping images that are close to each other and displaying a counter at the bottom-left corner, which boosts the performance when manipulating a large collection of images and makes movement of images easier.

      • [Zenwalk] AppImage for VLC 3 Media Player

        Maybe you like VLC and don’t want to install Qt5 just for that ?

        Here’s the fully platform independent AppImage for VLC 3.x :


        Hopefully it should work on any distribution without any dependency.

      • [Sparky Linux] Cozy

        There is a new application available for Sparkers: Cozy

        What is Cozy?

        A modern audio book player for Linux using GTK+ 3

      • Ventoy 1.0.31 – Neowin

        Ventoy is an open source tool to create bootable USB drive for ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)/EFI files. With Ventoy, you don’t need to format the disk over and over, you just need to copy the ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)EFI files to the USB drive and boot them directly. You can copy many files at a time and ventoy will give you a boot menu to select them. Both Legacy BIOS and UEFI are supported in the same way. Most type of OS supported (Windows/WinPE/Linux/Unix/Vmware/Xen…)

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to Print from Your Chromebook

        In Windows, you can install the driver for your printer and print document on your PC. What about Chromebook? With a lack of dedicated software for printing, it may seem confusing at first glance. Fortunately, it’s not confusing at all, and in just a few easy steps, Chromebook users will be on their way to printing documents, photos and more. Keep reading for all of the steps you need to know to print from your Chromebook. Addin

      • How to Install XWiki on CentOS 7

        In this tutorial, we are going to show you how to XWiki on CentOS 7. XWiki is a free and open-source advanced wiki software platform written in Java. It runs on servlet containers like JBoss, Tomcat, etc. which uses a database such as MySQL or PostgreSQL to store its information.

        We will use a VPS with CentOS 7 but you should be able to install XWiki following this tutorial on all Red hat based Linux distributions. Installing XWiki on CentOS 7 is a fairly easy task and it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to finish it.

      • How To Install IonCube Loader on Debian 10 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install IonCube Loader on Debian 10. For those of you who didn’t know, IonCube Loaders is basically an encryption/decryption utility for PHP applications that also assists in speeding up the pages that are served. It is often required for a lot of PHP-based applications.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of IonCube Loader on a Debian 10 (Buster).

      • How to Install Linux on Windows With Dual Boot
      • dig Command in Linux with Useful Examples

        dig stands for Domain Information Groper, is a command line network tool for gathering domain name server information. The dig command is another powerful tool similar to nslookup for diagnosing dns related problems.

        We can use dig command to query various dns servers to fetch records like address record, CNAME, TXT, Mail exchange records etc… I also found an useful website showmydns.net to search dns records from multiple locations world wide.

      • How to Install and Uninstall a List of Packages From a File

        In some case you may need to install list of packages from one server to another server.

        For example, You have installed 15 packages on Server-A, and those packages needs to be installed on Server-B, Server-C, etc.,

        We can manually install all the packages but it’s time consuming process.

        It can be done for one or two servers, think about if you have around 10 servers.

      • Hestia Installation on Ubuntu 20.04: An open-source Linux web server control panel

        HestiaCP is based on another open-source project called Vesta Control panel, which is also free to download and use either from the official website or GitHub page.

        The users who want to create, configure, and handle Apache or Nginx web servers with PHP-FPM but via Graphical user interface can install the HestiaCP in just a few commands. Apart from the web servers, it also offers DNS server, Multiple PHP versions; MariaDB or PostgreSQL databases; POP/IMAP/SMTP mail services with Anti-Virus and Firewall with brute-force attack detection.

      • How to Install Xfce Desktop 4.16 in Ubuntu 20.04, Linux Mint 20

        Xfce Desktop 4.16 was announced as the new major release a few days ago. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 20.04, Linux Mint 20 for testing.

      • Building Encrypted Images for Confidential Computing [Ed: Confidential Computing is typically just a misleading euphemism of surveillance companies that steal your data and then pretend to value your privacy by encrypting the stolen data for themselves and their data brokers

        With both Intel and AMD announcing confidential computing features to run encrypted virtual machines, IBM research has been looking into a new format for encrypted VM images. The first question is why a new format, after all qcow2 only recently deprecated its old encrypted image format in favour of luks. The problem is that in confidential computing, the guest VM runs inside the secure envelope but the host hypervisor (including the QEMU process) is untrusted and thus runs outside the secure envelope and, unfortunately, even for the new luks format, the encryption of the image is handled by QEMU and so the encryption key would be outside the secure envelope. Thus, a new format is needed to keep the encryption key (and, indeed, the encryption mechanism) within the guest VM itself. Fortunately, encrypted boot of Linux systems has been around for a while, and this can be used as a practical template for constructing a fully confidential encrypted image format and maintaining that confidentiality within a hostile cloud environment. In this article, I’ll explore the state of the art in encrypted boot, constructing EFI encrypted boot images, and finally, in the follow on article, look at deploying an encrypted image into a confidential environment and maintaining key secrecy in the cloud.


        Traditionally grub is actually installed into the disk master boot record, but for EFI boot that changed and the disk (or VM image) must have an EFI System partition which is where the grub.efi binary is installed. Part of the job of the grub.efi binary is to find the root partition and source the /boot/grub1/grub.cfg. When you install grub on an EFI partition a search for the root by UUID is actually embedded into the grub binary. Another problem is likely that your distribution customizes the location of grub and updates the boot variables to tell the system where it is. However, a cloud image can’t rely on the boot variables and must be installed in the default location (\EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi). This default location can be achieved by adding the –removable flag to grub-install.

      • Jenkins dynamically parameterized pipelins for terraform execution

        Jenkins in the Ops space is in general already painful. Lately the deprecation of the multiple-scms plugin caused some headache, becaue we relied heavily on it to generate pipelines in a Seedjob based on structure inside secondary repositories. We kind of started from scratch now and ship parameterized pipelines defined in Jenkinsfiles in those secondary repositories. Basically that is the way it should be, you store the pipeline definition along with code you’d like to execute. In our case that is mostly terraform and ansible.

      • Listing Linux Services with Systemctl | Linuxize

        In Linux, a service is a program that runs in the background . Services can be started on-demand or at the boot time.

        If you are using Linux as your primary operating system or development, platform you will deal with different services such as webserver, ssh or, cron . Knowing how to list running services or check the service status is important when debugging system issues.

        Most of the recent Linux distributions are using systemd as the default init system and service manager.

      • Monitoring Linux system resources using SAR (System Activity Report) – LinuxTechLab

        Once the servers have created & have been deployed to development or production etc, main task of system admin is to make sure that servers keep running by continuously monitoring its resource usage like memory utilization, CPU utilization etc with the help of various utilities. One such utility that is used for monitoring RHEL/CentOS servers is, SAR.

        SAR or System Activity Report is used for monitoring Linux system resources . It can be used to generate reports relating to performance of a system i.e CPU reports, Memory reports, Disk reports etc. It saves reports in the form of log files on the system.

      • Netcat : The swiss Army knife You must have – The Linux Juggernaut

        Netcat (also known as ‘nc’) is a networking tool used for reading or writing from TCP and UDP sockets using an easy interface. It is designed as a dependable ‘back-end’ device that can be used directly or easily driven by other programs and scripts. Therefore, this tool is a treat to network administrators, programmers, and pen-testers as it’s a feature rich network debugging and investigation tool.

      • Alan Pope: Snap Tips

        As you may or may not be aware, I work for Canonical on Snapcraft and Ubuntu. I use Ubuntu as my daily driver, and spend a lot of time maintaining snap packages, and listening to developers and users talk about software packaging, publishing, delivery and use.

        Over time I’ve collected a bunch of virtual notes in my head. Much of it has been turned into documentation, but often the information is rather spread out. I wanted to “brain dump” a bunch of notes, for common things people ask me about snap, snapd and snapcraft. Here’s the first set, about snap / snapd. A later post will focus on snapcraft.

      • Does NVMe use PCIe?

        Data processing is at the core of every business. A PC with mediocre specs is decent enough for simple data processing, but on a larger scale, it will not suffice. As data continues to grow, businesses are always searching for the latest technologies that can accelerate data processing. High-speed computer components are crucial in processing big chunks of data real-time. One of the key components that require upgrading is the internal secondary storage device. These devices play a vital role in capturing, accessing, processing and transforming data, and these have evolved significantly to meet business demands. NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drive is the latest and by far the fastest evolution of storage devices. Before we delve deeper into NVMe, let’s briefly look at the different internal secondary storage media utilized today.

      • Linux Head command Tutorials and Examples for Beginners

        The Linux head command is a simple command-line utility that allows users to display the first few portions of a file. Most people use it for viewing the topmost part of configuration files. But you can also use it for inspecting any files. In this guide, we have illustrated a few examples of how to use the head command.

        By the end of this guide, you should be able to learn its proper usage. Once you do so, you will become much fluent at navigating files directly from the terminal. So, continue reading to find out more about the head command in Linux.

      • How to Install and Configure SeaweedFS Cluster on Ubuntu 20.04

        SeaweedFS is an open-source, simple, and highly scalable distributed file system to store and serve billions of files fast. It is very similar to other file systems including, Ceph, GlusterFS, and HDFS. It can be easily integrated with the cloud and achieve both fast access time without any client-side changes. It has a rich set of features including, Automatic master servers failover, Automatic entry TTL expiration, Parallel processing, Handle large and small files, Low-latency access to any file, and many more.

      • How to install Gimp 2.10.22 and plugins on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to install Gimp 2.10.22 and plugins on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • How to Find a File in Linux Using the Find Command – Make Tech Easier

        The Linux find command is one of the most important and handy commands in Linux systems. It can, as the name suggests, find files on your Linux PC based on pretty much whatever conditions and variables you set. You can find files by permissions, users, groups, file type, date, size and other possible criteria using the find command. Here we show you how to find a file in Linux using the find command.

      • How To Install LAMP With PHP 7.4 on Ubuntu 20.04

        In this guide, we will show you how to install LAMP With PHP 7.4 on Ubuntu 20.04.

      • How to Use GnuPG for Encryption on Linux

        Have you ever had sensitive information such as passwords or server login information you needed to send someone via email, but didn’t know how to send it securely to avoid the information falling into the wrong hands?

        Here you’ll learn how to securely transmit messages and files encrypted with PGP via the popular gnupg tool. Let’s dive right in, and learn how to secure our communications!

      • How to create an inventory configuration in S3

        S3 Inventory configuration helps to manage the storage on AWS. It generates audit reports on the replication and encryption status of S3 objects for business, compliance, and regulatory needs. S3 Inventory configuration generates comma-separated values (CSV), Apache optimized row columnar (ORC) or Apache Parquet (Parquet) output files.

      • How to play Among Us on your Chromebook

        Another way to play Among Us on a Chromebook is to install the Linux version through Steam. Google still classifies Linux support as “beta,” and it’s not available on all Chromebooks. If you’re not sure if your Chromebook can handle Linux, Google provides a list of supporting devices.

      • Connect to Ubuntu 20.04 from Windows 10 [Beginner's Guide]

        This beginner’s guide helps you remotely connect to Ubuntu 20.04 from Windows 10. We show you the easy steps with an example.

    • Games

      • Art of Rally: Artful Enough?

        Ever wondered what happened to racing games viewed from above? They used to be huge hits back in the heydays of 2D (or even the very beginning of 3D games, the first GTA was viewed from above). Yet they have completely disappeared by now. Well, almost. With Art of Rally, we get a surprising new take on a very popular racing genre. And despite what the trailer might have suggested, it does not play at all like Dirt Rally or anything in the Dirt series for that matter.

        The whole game takes a very minimalist approach. Menus are simple (black text on white without any kind of decoration), and all tracks use few main colors and almost no textures to depict the race and its environment. Visually, I do find it pleasant. It helps you focus on the core of the game, the driving, like the early 8-bit games which could not display much apart from the road.

      • Go to Canada with Promods for American Truck Simulator

        Instead of adding a trinket or two, changing some graphics or lighting, Promods is a huge project that practically gives you a new, much bigger game, adding over 80 new cities and several countries to the map, not to mention new cosmetics, skins, trailers, companies and so on. It is nearly 8 GiB in size and composed of about 15 mods (the number may vary depending on your options) that must be added in the right order with the mod manager.

        Since it’s that big of an undertaking, it is not in the Steam workshop and it is sort of a pain to update:you have to remove all previous versions of the mods and then add the new versions in the same order. Also, they need exact game versions and every new version of the modset takes 1-2 weeks to appear after each new version on Steam or GOG (it is suggested on their pages to use the “betas” properties tab for the game on Steam to select an older build while the synchronized version is not out).

        The modset also requires all official map DLCs to work — probably a very smart way to prevent conflicts of interest with SCS Software — and in the download page, it only allows you to download the mods at 300 kB/s if you do not wish to pay 1 Euro for the “premium” download.

        Even then, on thing can be said with confidence: passing all the obstacles, this modset is one of the best you can add to Euro Truck. It is worth every byte. It is not only a matter of quantity; it adds an enormous amount of quality to the game, more believable scenarios, companions, roads that actually offer alternate paths, meaningful missions and so much life to the landscape.

      • Nearly half a billion users played Among Us in November

        The success is even more remarkable because InnerSloth — the company that makes Among Us — only has four employees. That’s roughly 125 million players per person who works on the game. It’s proven to be so popular that the studio decided to cancel a sequel that was in the works and just put all its effort into improving the original. It even caught the attention of sitting congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who livestreamed herself playing it to try to encourage people to vote, with an audience on Twitch that peaked at over 400 thousand viewers.

      • How the Video Game Industry Quietly Powered Through a Pandemic

        Nielsen reported a bump in video game usage as stay-at-home orders went into effect across the globe. Over the week of March 23-29, a survey of roughly 3,000 game-playing individuals indicated a spike amid quarantine, with the U.S. seeing the highest increase at 45 percent, followed by France, the U.K. and Germany. After six long months of the pandemic, video game enthusiasm did not wane. In the third quarter overall, industry consumer spending hit $11.2 billion, an increase of 24 percent compared to a year earlier.

      • [Older] Valve’s made Cyberpunk 2077 playable on Linux

        Among Valve’s many, many projects is Proton, a piece of software that acts as a compatibility layer, allowing Windows games to run on Linux operating systems. Originally launched in 2018, Proton integrates with Steam and makes playing supported titles on Linux as simple as pressing ‘play.’

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • New Xfce 4.16 Stable Version Is Out For UNIX-Like Operating Systems

        new stable version 4.16 of Xfce, the most popular lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems, has finally been released to supersedes the previous version 4.14.


        The most important update that version 4.16 includes is a drop of Gtk2 dependency support. With the removal of Gtk2, it has moved to GTK3 UI toolkit for modern user interface and better maintainability.

        Along with UI toolkit version, it has created a set of new icons for all core applications to make it consistent and extend Xfce visual identity.

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Manjaro ARM Plasma Mobile Beta 1 is now available for the PinePhone

          The Manjaro ARM team has been rapidly cranking out new builds of their smartphone operating system in recent months, with four public beta releases of Manjaro ARM with the Phosh user interface so far.

          But the developers have also been working on versions of Manjaro ARM featuring different user interfaces, having released alpha builds with the Lomiri and Plasma Mobile user interfaces earlier this year.

          Now the team has released Manjaro ARM Plasma Mobile Beta 1 for the PinePhone, marking the first beta release of this operating system to ship with something other than phosh.

        • Second Beta for Krita 4.4.2

          The Krita team is releasing the second beta of Krita 4.4.2. Ramon Miranda has just released a video of one of the star features of this release: mesh transforms…

          Compared to the first beta, the following issues have been fixed…

    • Distributions

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Arch Family

        • Kubernetes in Arch Linux

          Arch Linux got kubernetes packaged into the [community] repository the past week with the hard work of David Runge. I contribute to testing the packages so I thought it would be interesting to write up quickly the testing that was done. Originally I did the testing with docker but with the dockershim deprecation I rewrote the blog to utilize containerd instead.

          David has reworked the kubernetes archwiki article as well. It currently doesn’t cover all use cases and contributions welcome. I will try cover the containerd parts of this page to the wiki.

        • aurutils 3.0.0

          With the amount of changes, details spread over pull requests, git commit logs, and the documentation, I’ve written this post to detail the most important changes in aurutils 3.0.0. If you’ve used aurutils 2.3 before, I highly recommend reviewing the Transition table. Happy hacking!

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Rocky Linux: First release is coming in Q2 2021 say developers

          Rocky Linux, which aims to provide a new alternative for projects using Red Hat’s CentOS, should be available to test by the second quarter of 2021, according to its creators.Red Hat, CentOS’s Linux parent company, announced this month that it was moving its focus from CentOS Linux to CentOS Stream.

          Some users didn’t like the move and CentOS co-founder, Gregory Kurtzer, responded promptly with intentions to create his own CentOS alternative called Rocky Linux, with the aim of creating “seamless continuity of business operations for companies running CentOS 8 far beyond 2021.”

        • Changing CentOS in mid-stream

          CentOS was born out of an effort to build and distribute packages from the RHEL source provided by Red Hat. The initial CentOS release — CentOS 3.1 (based on the RHEL 3 release), came out in March 2004. There was also a CentOS 2 release (based on RHEL 2), but that showed up two months later. CentOS quickly attracted attention from users looking for a relatively stable system during a time when distributors were doing their best to separate free “community” distributions from the paid-for “enterprise” variants. LWN first mentioned CentOS in February 2004, and looked more closely in early 2005.

          CentOS proved to be the stable base it promised to be; that CentOS 2 release, for example, was supported until June 2009 and CentOS 3 had support until November 2010. There were some challenges, though; also in 2009, project co-founder Lance Davis disappeared, along with his control over the project’s domain name and bank account. That situation was eventually worked out, happily, but not before the project survived some significant turbulence, forcing it toward more transparency in its governance and finances.

          The project also had trouble making timely releases in 2009, a problem that would resurface the following year — and often thereafter. Creating a CentOS release is not a simple or particularly fun job, so volunteers have often proved hard to come by. In 2011, this problem caused the project to fall dangerously behind on security updates while trying to produce the CentOS 6.0 release — a problem that would plague the project for much of the year. In 2012, Oracle tried to use the update delays as a way to market Oracle Linux to CentOS users.

          At the beginning of 2014, Red Hat acquired the CentOS project, taking ownership of the trademarks and hiring several CentOS developers. At the time, a governing board was set up, and Red Hat promised that the project would be run in a “public, open, and inclusive” way. A small fuss over version numbers raised concerns about how a post-acquisition CentOS would be run but, for the most part, things continued as before, just on a more solid footing. The project announced a rolling release at the end of that year.

        • Red Hat Ceph Storage 5: Introducing Cephadm

          We’re delighted to announce availability of the new Alpha 4 release of Red Hat Ceph Storage 5, built on the upstream project’s Pacific release cycle. This post is the first of a series that will walk you through the enhancements coming with the next major upgrade of Red Hat Ceph Storage—well ahead of their production release—and give the details needed to facilitate testing with early-access releases.

          Today’s post centers on the new Cephadm interface to the orchestration application programming interface (API), which is intended to become the preferred bare-metal installation and management method for Ceph across the broader vendor community. You can find download details for early access releases at the end of this blog. Now, without further ado, on to what is new…

        • Forrester study indicates 95% of insurance firms realize benefits from cloud-native development initiatives

          As insurers strive to differentiate themselves, many have come to the realization that adding front-end innovation, while patching the core, is not a sustainable development model. To meet policyholders’ expectations for a connected and personalized experience, organizations are flocking to cloud-native development, with the desire to take advantage of DevOps principles to accelerate and expand delivered features and services with greater flexibility.

          The Critical Value of Cloud-Native Development for Insurance Firms, a Forrester Consulting industry snapshot commissioned by Red Hat, verifies an overwhelming majority of surveyed developers at insurance companies in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific reported benefits from cloud-native development initiatives, and recognized more work needs to be done.

        • DNF/RPM Copy-On-Write Eyed For Fedora 34 To Speed Up Package Installation – Phoronix

          Fedora 34 is shaping up to be another exciting Fedora Linux release on the feature front. Among the material to look forward to in this spring 2021 Linux distribution release is routing all audio through PipeWire by default, enabling systemd-oomd by default, an independent XWayland package, and more. The latest proposal involves making use of DNF/RPM copy-on-write support atop Btrfs with Fedora 34.

          Fedora Workstation 33 initiated the move to the Btrfs file-system by default. With Fedora 34 is further taking advantage of Btrfs and its reflinking capabilities for supporting RPM copy-on-write to speed up package installations/upgrades.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Session Messenger On Ubuntu Desktop And Android Phone

          Try Session! This new Australia based messenger is like a combination of Signal security and Tor anonymity and BitCoin network plus requiring no phone number. It’s available for both your desktop and phone platforms. Interesting, right? So now this tutorial will show you how to have Session in both devices Ubuntu desktop and Android phone.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Easily manage your company orders with this free Libre app: Hydra OMS

        If you have hundreds or thousands of orders every month and you suffer from a complicated business process for your accounting system or ERP solution, then Hydra OMS is for you.

        Hydra OMS is an open-source order management system (OMS) for small and medium-size companies. It helps company owners to manage hundreds of orders without breaking a sweat.

        It is a great option for support-based companies where they can manage support orders, track customer requests and follow-up with tasks with a straightforward procedure.

        It features full order automation, customizable business process models, a user-friendly interface and over-all simple flow-alike wizard.

        Hydra OMS offers a configurable process flow with a rich wizard system, which works is beneficial for companies with different workflows.

      • Inventory Manager: Free open-source warehouse manager

        Inventory Manager is a simple free inventory and stock manager for small and medium-size companies.

        It features several stock management tools which include asset tracking, advanced search, barcode/QR code scanner support and invoice manager.

      • State of the Source Presentations Available to Watch
      • Why I rewrote my open source virtual reality server

        Look! I wrote a virtual reality (VR) server and published it on GitHub! But why?

        Well, I’m your typical introverted hacker. I like to play with technology. Whenever something new comes out, I have to lay my hands on it and get them dirty. So, when I gifted myself Oculus Quest last year, I played a few games before I wanted to code something myself. And guess what? Everything is proprietary!

        Alright, this may be a bit of an overstatement. But my overall impression of the VR industry is exactly that—it’s all proprietary! Hardware and software vendors are trying to lock developers in to sell more devices and development tools than their competitors—deja vu, like the Unix wars in the last century.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra


          LibreOffice 7.1 will be released as final at the beginning of February, 2021 ( Check the Release Plan for more information ) being LibreOffice 7.1 RC1 the third pre-release since the development of version 7.1 started at the end of May, 2020. Since the previous release, LibreOffice 7.1 Beta1, 234 commits have been submitted to the code repository and 132 bugs have been fixed. Check the release notes to find the new features included in LibreOffice 7.1.

          LibreOffice 7.1 RC1 can be downloaded from here for Linux, MacOS and Windows.

        • LibreOffice 7.1-RC1 Released For Testing This Open-Source Office Suite

          For those with extra time around the holidays, the first release candidate of LibreOffice 7.1 is now available for testing.

          After the alpha in October and beta in November, LibreOffice 7.1 is ending out 2020 with their initial release candidate. There have been more than 200 new commits that landed ahead of the 7.1-RC1 release.

      • FSF

        • Replicant: A free mobile phone OS is more important than ever, and needs your help

          In 2020, mobile devices such as phones and tablets (which are full computers with powerful hardware running complete operating systems, with applications) are an increasingly important part in our computing. Hence, they are particularly subject to freedom and security concerns. So-called smartphones present a number of freedom, privacy, security, ecological, and social justice issues in a relatively small device.

          Replicant works hard to address these issues by enabling people to run fully free operating systems on supported devices. You can read more about the freedom, privacy, and security issues that Replicant addresses on the Replicant Web site. The site and wiki also give further information about Replicant, the devices it supports, installation instructions, the latest info about its limitations, and more.

        • Need a last-minute gift? Gift an FSF membership!

          Do you need a last-minute gift for the techie or activist in your life? Want something that will keep on giving for the rest of the year? Concerned about spending money on yet another dust collector or future regift? Is “retail therapy” actually not that therapeutic for you? Are the myriad options generating a cloud of anxiety over your head?

        • GNU Projects

          • A new release for GNU Octave

            On November 26, version 6.1 of GNU Octave, a language and environment for numerical computing, was released. There are several new features and enhancements in this release, including improvements to graphics output, better communication with web services, and over 40 new functions. We will take a look at where Octave fits into the landscape of numerical tools for scientists and engineers, and recount some of its long history.


            To understand Octave’s subsequent development requires some awareness of another tool, called MATLAB, which was also created as a Fortran alternative. MATLAB has an interesting origin story: it was created to enable students to use Fortran’s linear algebra routines without having to write Fortran programs. Its authors later turned it into a commercial product, which became quite successful. Now this powerful (and expensive) system is in use by millions of engineers and scientists all over the world. This created a market of people doing numerical computing who became used to MATLAB’s syntax, but lost access to it after leaving their employers or institutions; beyond that, some people were also interested in free-software alternatives.

        • Licensing/Legal

          • What makes the EUPL unique?

            A new December 2020 presentation details the implications of the EUPL vision of sharing software based on the clarification of key concepts: Open source, Reciprocity, Compatibility, Interoperability, Compliance with EU law and support by a strong community on Joinup.eu.

      • Programming/Development

        • Perl/Raku

        • Python

          • Speeding up CPython

            Python, at least in the CPython reference implementation, is not a particularly speedy language. That is not at all surprising to anyone who has used it—the language is optimized for understandability and development speed, instead. There have been lots of efforts over the years to speed up various parts of the interpreter, compiler, and virtual-machine bytecode execution, though no comprehensive overhaul has been merged into CPython. An interesting new proposal could perhaps change that, though it is unclear at this point if it will take off.

            Mark Shannon posted a message about his ideas to the python-dev mailing list in late October. He noted that CPython is slow, “yet little is done to fix it”; he would like to change that. He has a four-phase plan to get there on the technical side, along with some ideas on how to fund the effort.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

        • Rust

          • 10 ways we learned Rust in 2020

            The Rust language is getting more and more popular, as the combination of memory safety and zero-cost abstractions makes it a good fit for handling many tasks.

            In addition, frequent releases, consideration for development ergonomics, and high-quality documentation are leading more people to learn Rust.

            Whether you’re new to Rust or have been using it for a while, you’ll learn something new in Opensource.com’s top 10 articles about Rust in 2020.

          • This Week in Rust 370
  • Leftovers

    • Concrete validation Expert Andrey Kurilkin explains why Russian officials and billionaires are building monuments and buying doctorates

      As some countries face disputes over the demolition of monuments, others are seeing an increasing number of figures on pedestals popping up. In Moscow, the development of monument culture is especially intense. The December news cycle has featured a dispute over a memorial to actor Vladimir Etush, plans to create a monument to singer Iosif Kobzon, sculptor Zurab Tsreteli agreeing to memorialize actor Valentin Gaft, and the unveiling of the “Atom of the Sun” statue in memory of the Moscow Art Theater’s artistic director Oleg Tabakov. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs — an organization that unites the country’s billionaires — have been fighting against the “Last Address” project, an initiative aimed at memorializing the victims of Stalin’s Great Terror. For Meduza, producer and publisher Andrey Kurilkin, the director of the platform InLiberty and the author of the project “New Monuments for a New History,” explains what the creators of these new monuments want to tell society — and what they are causing people to forget. 

    • ‘Right Vibration’ by Farmer Dave & The Wizards Of The West
    • Top 10 Protest Albums Of 2020

      *The following is a collection of some of the best albums of protest music released in 2020. They were selected by Kevin Gosztola and C.J. Baker, who publishes writing regularly at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs. They are in alphabetical order by artist.

    • Esports Milestone: Esports Becomes A Medal Event At The Asian Games

      While we’ve continued to cover the rise of esports as an emerging force in the competitive games marketplace, the rise in popularity and adoption of it have started to grow exponentially. Some of this has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, with esports first taking the place of shut-down IRL sporting events and then cementing its position as a viewing spectacle almost perfectly designed to be consumed from home. But the fact is that the growth and rise of esports was occurring prior to the pandemic and was always going to continue its rise, with professional sports organizations jumping on board, and major marketing and apparel players in the sports world jumping in as well.

    • 2020 in Review

      It almost seems appropriate that EFF turned 30 this year, a year of extreme highs and lows. A year where being able to get and stay online became vital to everyday life. A year where people took the streets in protest and in celebration – and where mass surveillance often tracked them at both.

      We are grateful to our over 37,000 members at last count, who allowed us to fight for digital rights this year and the last 29. We always feel the importance of our work, but we took on new challenges this year under very difficult circumstances. And it was you, our supporters, who helped us rise to meet them. Our goal this birthday year is to welcome 30,000 new or renewing members before July, and you have helped us get over halfway there so far. 

      We began the year with a fight that ended in a major victory: saving .ORG from falling into the hands of private equity. At the end of 2019, The Internet Society (ISOC) announced that it intended to sell the Public Interest Registry (PIR, the organization that oversees the .ORG domain name registry) to a private equity firm. Eventually, petitions to reject the sale received over 64,000 signatures, and nearly 900 organizations signed on. Joining them in their concerns were Members of Congress, UN Special Rapporteurs, and state charity regulators. This culminated in an April decision by ICANN to disapprove the sale of .ORG, representing a win for the public interest Internet.

    • Science

      • Scientists discovered a radio signal from the nearest star and want to know if it’s from aliens

        A narrow beam of radio waves was detected over a period of 30 hours in April and May 2019 by the Parkes telescope in Australia, according to The Guardian. The researchers studying the wave emission have not yet been able to identify any Earthly origin, whether a satellite in or something on the ground. As a result, scientists at the Breakthrough Listen project — an organization based at the University of California, Berkeley that searches for radio signals from intelligent extraterrestrial life forms in the universe — believe that the radio signal could originate from extraterrestrial intelligent life.

    • Education

      • Teachers’ Unions See Biden Choice of Cardona for Education Secretary as Promising Choice

        “Unlike Betsy DeVos, Secretary-designate Cardona will ensure that the federal government’s role in education is to ensure access and opportunity for every student.”

      • Opinion | Why Biden Nominee Miguel Cardona Should Make Sure Facial Recognition Stays Out of Schools

        The man Biden intends to nominate to lead the Education Department cares deeply about racial and class inequality. This is one way to show it.

      • Biden’s Education Secretary Pick Must Overturn DeVos’s Attack on Public Schools
      • Diane Ravitch: Biden’s Pick for Education Secretary Must Overturn DeVos’s Attack on Public Schools

        President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Connecticut public schools commissioner Miguel Cardona for secretary of education, tapping a third Latinx person to join his Cabinet. Cardona is a former teacher who represents a sharp break from outgoing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who urged career employees at the Education Department earlier this month to “be the resistance” to the incoming administration. He is Puerto Rican and began his career as a fourth grade teacher, becoming the state’s top schools official just last August, the first Latinx person to hold the position. “He’s not Betsy DeVos, and every educator in America, or almost every educator, will be thrilled about that,” says Diane Ravitch, a writer and historian of education who served as assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. “He’s been in public schools throughout his career, and that’s a big plus for many people who’ve been watching the attacks on public education, on teachers, for the past four and more years.”

      • ExamSoft Flags One-Third of California Bar Exam Test Takers for Cheating

        It is clear that at least some of these flags are technical issues with ExamSoft.

        This is outrageous. It goes without saying that of the 3,190 applicants flagged by the software, the vast majority were not cheating. Far more likely is that, as EFF and others have said before, remote proctoring software is surveillance snake oil—you simply can’t replicate a classroom environment online, and attempting to do so via algorithms and video monitoring only causes harm. In this case, the harm is not only to the students who are rightfully upset about the implications and the lack of proper channels for redress, but to the institution of the Bar itself. While examinees have been searching for help from other examinees as well as hiring legal counsel in their attempt to defend themselves from potentially baseless claims of cheating, the California Committee of Bar Examiners has said “everything is going well” and called these results “a good thing to see” (13:30 into the video of the Committee meeting).  

        That is not how we see it. These flags have triggered concern for hundreds, if not thousands, of test takers, most of whom had no idea that they were flagged until recently. Many only learned about the flag after receiving an official “Chapter 6 Notice” from the Bar, which is sent when an applicant is observed (supposedly) violating exam conduct rules or seen or heard with prohibited items, like a cell phone, during the exam. In a depressingly ironic introduction to the legal system, the Bar has requested that students respond to the notices within 10 days, but it would appear that none of them have been given enough information to do so, as Chapter 6 Notices contain only a short summary of the violation. These summaries are decidedly vague: “Facial view of your eyes was not within view of the camera for a prolonged period of time”; “No audible sound was detected”; “Leaving the view of the webcam outside of scheduled breaks during a remote-proctored exam.” Examinees do not currently have access to the flagged videos themselves, and are not expected to receive access to them, or any other evidence against them, before they are required to submit a response.

      • Universities say student cheating exploding in Covid era

        The base-level problem, several experts said, was that the sudden shift to virtual environments rapidly increased student stress levels while multiplying their opportunities for furtively answering test questions with online assistance.


        “Academic misconduct is not a micro-problem, it’s not even a macro-problem – this is a mega-problem,” said Sarah Eaton, an associate professor of education at Calgary and a programme organiser with the International Center for Academic Integrity. “This is rippling across the globe right now.”

      • Chicago Teachers Pledge Collective Action as January Reopening Approaches
    • Health/Nutrition

      • Smoking Meat, Hoping to Survive

        Columbia, South Carolina—Yeah, it is hard as hell operating a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic. Very f-ing hard.

      • Opinion | The Coming Battle Over Vaccines

        Natural scientists have done their part by creating vaccines. To get people to take them, we need social science.

      • Paul Farmer on How We Tell the Story of a Pandemic

        For more than three decades, Dr. Paul Farmer has been on the front lines delivering medical care to some of the most poverty-stricken regions in the world, amid dire outbreaks of cholera, Zika, Ebola, and now Covid-19. He first visited rural Haiti in 1983 to learn Creole and figure out what kind of doctor he wanted to be, shortly before enrolling in Harvard’s medical school, and throughout his education, traveled between central Haiti and Cambridge, Mass. The sharp contrast between the resource-poor regions in Haiti and the abundant resources available to him on campus, where he now chairs the department of global health and social medicine, has informed his entire career.

      • “Worse Than Being in Iraq”: Veteran & ER Doctor Says Pandemic Is Pushing Hospitals to Breaking Point

        As the U.S. averages more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, we speak with Dr. Cleavon Gilman, an emergency physician who has been treating patients since the beginning of the U.S. outbreak, first in New York City and now in Yuma, Arizona. Dr. Gilman is also an Iraq War veteran who served as a Marine combat medic, and has kept a public diary of his experiences treating COVID-19 patients. He was fired after tweeting that Arizona’s ICU beds were full, and then got his job back after public outcry. “This pandemic is worse than being in Iraq,” says Dr. Gilman. “This virus is a Trojan horse, and it just hides in people, and you can bring it home to your family and infect every person in your house.”

      • Helping the NYT Understand Its Own Reporting: China Was not the Cause of the Worldwide Spread of Coronavirus
      • US Airports Are Portals for Disease Spread. Venezuela Shows Another Way.
      • The Justice Department Sues Walmart, Accusing It of Illegally Dispensing Opioids

        More than two years after the federal government was preparing to indict Walmart on charges of illegally dispensing opioids, the U.S. Department of Justice is finally taking action. But it’s seeking a financial penalty, not the criminal sanction prosecutors had pushed for.

        On Tuesday, the Department of Justice brought a civil suit against Walmart in U.S. District Court in Delaware, accusing the retailing behemoth of illegally dispensing and distributing opioids, helping to fuel a health crisis that has led to the deaths of around half a million Americans since 1999.

      • Medicare Fraudster Who Exploited the Elderly in $1.3 Billion Scheme Embodies ‘Grotesque’ Corruption of Trump Clemency Orders

        “The corrupt, the criminal, murderers of children—that’s who Donald lets off the hook. We can never forget and never forgive the unspeakable cruelty.”

      • ‘Our Government Needs to Protect Workers, Not Corporations’

        Janine Jackson interviewed Jessica Martinez about worker safety and Covid relief for the December 18, 2020, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. 

      • FedEx Prioritizes Packages Over Employee Safety, Workers and Experts Say

        MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fannie Stanberry had been on the job for two months as a package handler at FedEx Express’ massive World Hub when, toward the end of her overnight shift, packages started to fall from a huge shipping container that rolled past her.

        As Stanberry, then 61, bent to pick up the packages, she fell and became trapped between the catwalk she’d been standing on and the wheeled platform carrying the shipping container, also known as a dolly. “I thought I was a goner,” Stanberry said. She broke eight ribs and her left arm and lacerated her liver, she said. “I had to learn how to walk over again.”

      • Wildfires fueled by climate change threaten toxic Superfund sites

        With wildfires heightened by climate change threatening 234 Superfund sites across the country, according to the federal government, the OU3 Libby Asbestos Site presents a kind of worst-case scenario in which a wildfire could send asbestos-contaminated ash into nearby communities. Some firefighters worry a plume of smoke could carry the forest’s toxins hundreds of miles away.

      • The Inside Story of How Sweden Botched Its Coronavirus Response

        The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nov. 19 report concluded that Sweden fared worst among 35 European countries in multiple coronavirus management metrics including lowering the spread of infection, reducing people’s mobility, and discharging patients from intensive care units.

      • Colorado COVID numbers continue downward as potential arrival of mutant strain looms

        Colorado on Tuesday experienced its lowest new daily COVID-19 case count since late October, as the state’s seven-day average of new cases continued to decline ahead of the holidays and the potential arrival of a mutant new strain of the virus.

        Deaths, too, were down sharply, with Monday’s seven-day average of nearly 15 deaths the lowest since Nov. 1.

      • ‘Mom’s worth it’: US holiday travel surges despite outbreak

        Some are elderly and figure they don’t have many Christmases left. Others are trying to keep long-distance romance alive. Some just yearn for the human connection that’s been absent for the past nine months.

        Millions of Americans are traveling ahead of Christmas and New Year’s, despite pleas from public health experts that they stay home to avoid fueling the raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 nationwide.

        Many people at airports this week thought long and hard about whether to go somewhere and found a way to rationalize it.

      • 2020 in review: Food security

        Conflict, poverty, and economic shocks drove food crises in “hotspots” in almost every region of the world in 2020.

        While Burkina Faso, northeastern Nigeria, and Yemen are said to be on the brink of famine, “famine-like” conditions were reported at the end of 2020 in the remote east of South Sudan as a result of floods and intercommunal clashes.

        In Yemen, 13.5 million people are facing “high levels of acute food insecurity”, a number predicted to rise to 16.2 million – more than half the population – in the first six months of 2021. The country’s severe hunger problem is the result of a dangerous mixture that includes fighting, a currency crash, and rising prices.

        Burkina Faso has been one of the world’s fastest deteriorating food crises. The violence between jihadist groups, communty militia, and government forces has seen the number of people in need of emergency food aid triple to 3.2 million this year. In what is a broader Sahelian conflict, more than 7.4 million people have also been displaced across the region.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • A Major Wireless Network Flaw Is Still Being Exploited To Track User Locations

          In 2017, hackers and security researchers highlighted long-standing vulnerabilities in Signaling System 7 (SS7, or Common Channel Signalling System 7 in the US), a series of protocols first built in 1975 to help connect phone carriers around the world. While the problem isn’t new, a 2016 60 Minutes report brought wider attention to the fact that the flaw can allow a hacker to track user location, dodge encryption, and even record private conversations. All while the intrusion looks like ordinary carrier to carrier chatter among a sea of other, “privileged peering relationships.”

        • The cyber attack that rocked the nation [iophk: Windows TCO]

          “Mistakes were made,” acknowledged founder and deposed CEO Ville Tapio—not “I made mistakes,” but the passive voice dodge. Left unmentioned was the fact that, as Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at Finnish cyber security firm F-Secure, pointed out, the company left the door wide open to [crackers].

        • Security

          • Security updates for Thursday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (spip and sympa), Gentoo (c-ares, cherokee, curl, dbus, firefox, gdk-pixbuf, haproxy, libass, nss, openssl, pdns, pdns-recursor, php, samba, tomcat, and webkit-gtk), and SUSE (java-1_8_0-ibm, openexr, and python3).

          • Cross-layer attacks: New hacking technique raises DNS cache poisoning, user tracking risk

            As many as one in 20 web servers could be vulnerable to a weakness in the Linux kernel, according to security researchers.

            The same weakness could also expose millions of Android device users to increased risk of tracking.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Proposed FinCEN regulation would create financial surveillance net for cryptocurrency transactions

              FinCEN is only able to attempt to exert control over cryptocurrencies by leveraging the licensed money service businesses (MSBs) that serve as the most used on and off ramps for cryptocurrencies: exchanges and other custodial wallets that are based in the United States and favored by users precisely because they are seen as regulated by American authorities.

            • In memoriam of Karsten Loesing

              It’s with deep sorrow that we share that our dear friend, colleague, and Tor core contributor Karsten Loesing passed away on the afternoon of Friday, December 18, 2020. No one is prepared for such an unimaginable loss. Our deepest sympathies go to Karsten’s family at this moment, his wife and his children.

              Karsten was part of the Tor community for 13 years and an amazing, smart, thoughtful, and gentle person who has touched us all. Over the course of these years we saw him not only grow as a colleague at Tor but as a father to his family. His positive, attentive, and kind presence helped us grow as people as well.

            • Facebook Joined by Human Rights Groups to Fight Spyware Maker

              Facebook last year initiated the lawsuit against NSO Group, accusing the company of reverse-engineering WhatsApp and using the popular chat service to send spyware to the devices of approximately 1,400 people, including attorneys, journalists, human rights activists, government officials and others. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014.

              NSO Group is now trying to overturn a federal court decision that allowed the case to proceed.

            • Facebook Worries Smaller Rivals With Openness on Liability

              Facebook Inc. says it’s time to rethink the legal immunity that protects it from lawsuits over what users post online, a position that’s leaving smaller websites concerned about the cost of accepting more responsibility for what appears on their platforms.

              The social-media giant has been prominent in the debate in Washington over the liability shield contained in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which may be the subject of a proposal by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in coming days.

            • Telegram gets Discord-like group voice chats

              Telegram is adding a new group voice chats feature that’s similar to an always-on Discord room. Voice chats are now part of existing text chats, and operate as a persistent option to speak live with friends or family. As they’re always available, you can dip in and out of voice chats just like you would in a Discord room or call.

              Telegram is supporting “a few thousand participants,” so even bigger groups for things like live events will include voice chats. The feature appears at the top of an existing group chat, if enabled, allowing anyone to join the conversation freely. On the desktop versions of Telegram for Windows and Mac, you can also use a push-to-talk key for voice chats to control your microphone input.

            • Telegram to Start Putting Ads in Public Channels in 2021

              Telegram has been known for its good user experience that it provides for users wishing to have a WhatsApp alternative. With its many user-friendly features and being ad-free, millions of users migrated to it away from Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but that migration could start to face some issues in the future.

              Today, Telegram’s product manager and Co-founder Pavel Durov announced that the platform is approaching 500 million active users, and that they no longer can keep it ad-free. Starting from 2021, they will serve ads that are “user-friendly, respects privacy and allows us to cover the costs of servers and traffic”.

              The nature of these “user-friendly” advertisements are still unknown as of this moment, and the Telegram team is expected to start revealing details in the next few months of 2021. It is unclear whether they will take the look of native Telegram messages, or whether some extra data-collection mechanisms are going to be introduced to target users beneficial to certain advertisers.

            • Zoom Reportedly Developing Email and Calendar Services

              There’s no doubt Zoom achieved extreme popularity this year in the face of the global health pandemic. Workers and students were forced to turn to Zoom to communicate with bosses, teachers, and each other online and fell to various video-conferencing platforms, with Zoom being the undisputed king of them all. Zoom may be realizing that its run may be nearing an end once the pandemic has finally been extinguished as it is reportedly considering expanding to offer email, calendar, and messaging services.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • FBI’s Newest Prerogative: Shooting Subway Passengers

        Thirty-six years ago, Bernie Goetz pulled a pistol and shot four youths who were shaking him down on the New York subway. This was front-page news for weeks and spurred a deluge of anti-gun denunciations as well as condemnations of routine subway violence. Goetz was later acquitted by a jury on criminal assault and attempted murder charges.

        Last Tuesday, an FBI agent pulled out his gun and repeatedly shot a passenger on the Washington subway. At the bottom of B6 in Saturday’s Washington Post – buried past an article headlined, “Despite the upcoming solstice, winter has already arrived” is a short piece headlined: “Police:‘Verbal exchange’ preceded Metro shooting.” There were zero news reports or disclosures for the two days after the shooting – except for a brief FBI note that there had been an “officer-involved shooting” on the subway.

      • Experts on Military-Industrial Complex Blast Trump Plan to Sell Nearly $750 Billion in Bombs to Criminal Saudi Regime

        “The United States simply should not be selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, especially given their role in exacerbating the suffering in Yemen.”

      • Senior UN Human Rights Official ‘Deeply Concerned’ by Trump’s Pardons for Mercenaries Who Massacred 17 Iraqi Civilians

        “Pardoning them contributes to impunity and has the effect of emboldening others to commit such crimes in the future.”

      • Leaving Out Assange, Who Exposed US War Crimes, Trump Pardons Blackwater Guards Jailed for Massacring Iraqi Civilians

        “While U.S. Army contractors convicted of massacring civilians in Iraq are pardoned, the man who exposed such crimes against humanity, Julian Assange, rots in Britain’s Guantanamo.”

      • Trump Pardons Blackwater Guards Jailed for War Crimes Against Iraqi Civilians
      • Inside Trump and Barr’s Last-Minute Killing Spree

        In its hurry to use its final days in power to execute federal prisoners, the administration of President Donald Trump has trampled over an array of barriers, both legal and practical, according to court records that have not been previously reported.

        Officials gave public explanations for their choice of which prisoners should die that misstated key facts from the cases. They moved ahead with executions in the middle of the night. They left one prisoner strapped to the gurney while lawyers worked to remove a court order. They executed a second prisoner while an appeal was still pending, leaving the court to then dismiss the appeal as “moot” because the man was already dead. They bought drugs from a secret pharmacy that failed a quality test. They hired private executioners and paid them in cash.

      • Lawyer Lyubov Sobol handed petty fine following arrest outside FSB operative’s home

        Moscow’s Perovsky District Court has fined Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), 1,000 rubles (about $13) following her arrest near the home of Konstantin Kudryavtsev — one of the FSB operatives allegedly involved in poisoning Navalny.

      • German physicians publish case report on Navalny’s treatment for ‘Novichok’ poisoning

        A team of physicians from the Charité Hospital in Berlin, where Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was treated following his poisoning in August, have published an article in the scientific journal The Lancet on the case of a 44-year-old man from Russia suffering from Novichok nerve agent poisoning. While the patient isn’t identified in the scientific article itself, the Charité Hospital confirmed in a press release that the case report details Navalny’s treatment. 

      • Armed fascists storm Oregon state Capitol building

        Despite the violent nature of the protest, police confirmed that they made only four arrests, mostly for trespassing. Throughout the roughly six- hour protest, Patriot Prayer founder Gibson was seen conversing with police. In February 2019, Willamette Week reported that Portland Police Lt . Jeff Niiya kept in regular contact with Gibson, including passing along information about upcoming leftist protests and advising Gibson on how to avoid being arrested during protests. Niiya also tipped off Gibson when alleged “Antifa” protesters were nearby.

      • Nothing to see here: Why media keeps downplaying Trump’s coup attempt

        In their efforts to downplay the dangers of Donald Trump’s ongoing coup against democracy, too many members of the commentariat and other “professional smart people” are attempting to use a form of the Jedi mind trick on the American people.

        Based on the lack of broad public outrage about Trump’s continuing effort to overturn the 2020 election, it would appear that many Americans may in fact be vulnerable to such a ploy.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Stalemate

        Stalemate, though, is not victory, in chess or otherwise.  In a stalemate the game ends in a draw.  That said, it seems likely Trump will depart—in spite of the hysteria peddled by so many in media and cyber-flackery—without anything faintly resembling the Reichstag Fire, or even a Proud Boys version of the shootout at the OK Corral.  He’ll go with a whimper, not a bang.

        So the crisis ends in victory?  Or has it indeed been a sort of draw?  We’ve been assured from authoritative quarters, in the most decisive terms, that, in his mulish, petulant refusal to take no for an answer to his grandiose ambitions, Trump has done irreparable damage to the Great Institution of our Electoral Democracy; that his dogged denial of his loss, and utter rejection of the protocols of cordial transition have sorely undermined, and perhaps even fatally shaken, our collective faith in the purity and justice of our Constitutional process and its benign functioning.

      • The Myth of a Golden Age of American Liberalism

        Micklethwait and Woodridge write:

        There is no doubt a grain of truth in that. But not much more than a grain.

      • Trump’s Carnage: Testing America’s “Democracy”

        Alexander Hamilton, one of the least democratic members among the Founding Fathers, nevertheless made the case in the “Federalist Papers” for establishing restraints in the government in order to deal with the possibility of a corrupt president and the abuse of power.  He favored a “complicated system for choosing a president; a Congress to restrain him; and impeachment to remove him.”

        Donald Trump is the poster child for the corrupt president that Hamilton feared.  For the past four years, Trump has been at war with the tenets of our democracy—particularly the rule of law, and our elections.  His war against the Department of Justice and the justice system itself, as well as his abuse of the pardon power, have undermined the foundations of our rule of law.  His war against the intelligence community has politicized intelligence and compromised our national security.  His war against the military culminated last month with an unprecedented purge of senior leaders of the Department of Defense.  Worst of all, his war against science and reason has contributed to unnecessary deaths; the United States is the global leader in cases and deaths attributed to the pandemic.  Perhaps we should have paid more attention to Trump in 2015, when he used a campaign appearance in Iowa to proclaim, “I’ve had a lot of wars of my own.  I’m really good at war.  I love war….”

      • The Trump Administration’s Final Push to Make It Easier for Religious Employers to Discriminate

        It was the hectic week before Thanksgiving, and Amrith Kaur — the legal director of an advocacy group called the Sikh Coalition — was not prepared for a surprise update from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that could have dramatic consequences for her clients.

        With little warning, the EEOC published a 112-page overhaul of its guidance on religious discrimination in the workplace. The feedback period was proceeding with no time to spare — she would have to file any comments by Dec. 17.

      • Calling Trump to Account with Sticks and Stones, and Words As Well

        Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has sprouted a left wing too extensive and organized for that wretched party’s leaders and donors to marginalize. Even after the Occupy movements of 2011 and the Sanders campaign in 2016, this too was unexpected. It is also, by far, the best thing that has happened in American politics in decades.

        It probably would not have happened but for Trump. Who would have expected that? Who could have imagined that his unmitigated vileness and his incompetence would have had that unintended effect?

      • Some Republican Senators Are Clinging to Election Denial, Fearful of Losing Base
      • How the Movement for Black Lives Helped Defeat Trump in Arizona

        The same day police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, Department of Public Safety Trooper George Cervantes shot and killed Dion Johnson in Phoenix. In the weeks that followed, protesters in Phoenix and other Arizona cities joined those across the United States to demand the abolition of the system that killed the two men. Arizona has one of the highest rates of police violence nationwide; in 2018, Phoenix police fired their guns at more people than officers in any other department in the nation. Now, the movements to counter that violence are gaining in numbers—so much so, they played a significant role in mobilizing voters, activists say, and helped turn the state blue in this year’s election.

      • Bill Barr Accused of Arresting Impeachment Witnesses to Shield Trump
      • ‘Long Awaited and Long Overdue Victory for Democracy’ as New York Approves Automatic Voter Registration

        “At a time in our country when voting rights are under assault, New York is living up to our potential as a progressive leader.”

      • Why Progressives Must Not Give Biden a Political Honeymoon

        People on the left did very little to challenge Bill Clinton after he won the presidency in 1992. Two years later, a big Republican wave took control of Congress.

        People on the left did very little to challenge Barack Obama after he won the presidency in 2008. Two years later, a big Republican wave took control of Congress.

      • Opinion | Voters Delivered a Progressive Mandate. Now Joe Biden Must Deliver

        “Embracing humanity and dignity is both a sound moral choice and a winning electoral strategy.”

      • The Final Days of Donald Trump, Absentee President

        The soaking seems to get worse every hour and day that remains before the swearing-in of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and for me and many others, that sometimes creates a worn out feeling just from being flooded by all the nutty news. As the Stevie Smith poem goes, “I was much further out than you thought, and not waving but drowning.”

        This generates a funny kind of writer’s block—and believe me, I know what I’m describing is the mosquito bite-sized problem of a privileged white guy, especially when compared to the tremendous suffering so many of us have endured during the year. But fact is, the source of so much of our pain and fatigue, Donald Trump, is becoming more and more frantic even as the writing on the White House wall becomes impossible to obliterate with bombast and bullshit. Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, Diaper Don—the clanging you hear isn’t just in your head, it’s the sound of more than 81 million voters who chose the “let’s save democracy” option and cast you out.

      • Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal (Or No?) Undermined By Incompetence

        “The markets were calm. The pound did not collapse. The British government immediately launched a highly effective and popular campaign across the Continent to explain that this was not a rejection of ‘Europe’, only of the supranational EU institutions; and a new relationship was rapidly forged based on free trade and with traditional British leadership on foreign policy, crime-fighting, intelligence-sharing and other intergovernmental cooperation”.

        Nearly everyone knows that BoJo’s avidity for his own fictions and any attendant chicanery almost rivals that of Donald Trump.

      • A Tale of Two Elections: U.S. and Bolivia

        But just over a year ago, a similar effort was launched in Bolivia, and it actually prevailed. The country’s democratically elected president, Evo Morales, was toppled three weeks after the October 20 vote, before his term was finished. He left the country after the military “asked” him to resign.

        The similarities are remarkable. Leaders of the Bolivian opposition indicated before the votes were counted, as Trump did, that they would not accept the result if they lost. Like Trump, they had no evidence for their allegations of fraud when the votes were counted. And as with Trump, the falseness of their charges was obvious from day one.

      • Opinion | From Trump to Bolivia and Back: A Tale of Two Coups

        Bolivian right would not have succeeded, where Trump has failed, if not for an important difference: the Bolivian right had powerful help from outside the country in pulling off their coup.

      • Trump’s Chaos Makes Christmas Come Early for Nancy Pelosi

        Jeb Bush, even as a member of a political dynasty distinguished for its verbal ineptitude, is not an eloquent man. Yet one comment he made in 2015 during his run for the presidency is worth preserving: He referred to Donald Trump as a “chaos candidate” who is likely to become a “chaos president.” Trump has indeed governed in a tumultuous fashion—and with a month left to go, his administration is only becoming more shambolic.

      • An unbeatable disappearing act New legislation in Russia will dramatically reduce transparency when it comes to state officials and their relatives. We asked investigative journalists how this affects their work.
      • Russian State Duma adopts law expanding ‘foreign agent’ concept

        On Wednesday, December 23, the Russian State Duma adopted a law on expanding the concept of “foreign agent” in its third reading. The law makes it possible for associations that aren’t registered legal entities to be labeled as foreign agents, as well as individuals, including foreign journalists covering politics.

      • As Georgia Senate Runoffs Near, Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s Scandals Are Piling Up
      • A Campaign Under Quarantine

        A September 30 post on the Facebook feed of Manuel’s Tavern shows two photos of the parking lot outside the six-decade-old Atlanta bar and restaurant, taken four years apart. In the first photo, taken on election night of 2016, hundreds are on their feet, covering every possible inch of the pavement, except that occupied by tables to be set with drinks or food, and a smoking, outdoor grill. The second, taken hours before it was posted, shows about two dozen people sitting, some slouching, before a 75-inch screen, watching one of the Trump-Biden debates.

      • California Is 40% Latinx. In Alex Padilla, It Will Finally Have Its First Latinx Senator

        California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has been named by Governor Gavin Newsom to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate, making history as the first Latinx senator to represent the state. Padilla was first elected to public office at 26, when he joined the Los Angeles City Council, and went on to serve two terms in the state Senate, followed by two terms as the state’s secretary of state. “This is really a reflection of the historic importance of Latinos,” says Fernando Guerra, professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University. He is also the director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Once Again, Section 230′s Authors Feel The Need To Tell Everyone That Section 230 Is Not The Evil You Think It Is

        For not the first time this year, Section 230′s authors — Ron Wyden and Chris Cox — have felt the need to speak up and debunk some of the many, many myths around Section 230. Their team-up in a filing to the FCC remains one of the most thorough and comprehensive debunkings of 230 myths out there that it should be required reading for anyone criticizing the law. But apparently no one actually reads FCC filings, so they’ve now taken to the pages of USA Today (which recently ran a nearly fact free attack on 230) to explain once again why Section 230 is so important to the open internet.

      • Trump vetoes $740 billion defense bill after Section 230 complaints

        Earlier this month, Trump threatened to veto the $740 billion spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, unless Congress included a provision that would repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Congress approved the measure by veto-proof margins in December. House lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill on Monday for a vote to override the president’s veto, according to Politico’s Connor O’Brien.

      • Sharyl Attkisson and Rachael Jolley – The Project Censored Show

        Then Rachael Jolley, former editor-in-chief for the Index on Censorship, joins the program from the UK to explain how the coronavirus pandemic has changed the work of reporters – in Europe and elsewhere. She notes that even while the pandemic has squeezed media outlets’ revenue, communities are searching for reliable local news more than they previously did.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • U.S. Considers Granting Immunity to Saudi Prince in Suspected Assassination Attempt

        The Trump administration is considering a request to grant Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia immunity from a federal lawsuit that accuses him of trying to kill a former Saudi intelligence official living in Canada, legal documents related to the case show.

        If the request is granted, the State Department’s recommendation could potentially provide a legal basis to dismiss other cases against the prince, most notably one where he is accused of directing the assassination of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, a person familiar with the case said.

      • ‘Freedom Is Blossoming’: After Dismembering a Journalist, Saudi Arabia Goes on a PR Spree

        “Freedom is blossoming.” That is how, without a shred of irony, CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson describes Saudi Arabia in his recent article (CNN, 12/5/20). Visiting the kingdom, he informs us, it has “changed beyond recognition” since his last stay. All around him, there was “a sense of lightness, a freedom to make choices.” And this is all thanks to one man: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “Now our lives as Saudis completely changed,” says one interviewee. “Actually from all the decisions taken by Mohammed bin Salman. All Saudis now is happy about all these changes.”

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Alibaba Says It’s Not Going After Uighurs (At Least Not Yet)

        Oh my. Be mindful about the suddenly sensitive Chinese government. Let’s not accuse them of things they want to do when those things haven’t been done yet.

      • Beyond Prisons Podcast: Study And Struggle Feat. Garrett Felber

        Garrett Felber joins the Beyond Prisons podcast to discuss Study and Struggle, which he helped launch in 2020 as “a bilingual political education program on abolition and immigrant justice which supports and collaborates with grassroots organizations in Mississippi.”

        (NOTE: This episode was recorded a few weeks before Felber was wrongfully fired by the University of Mississippi for speaking out against its racist donors and role in perpetuating the carceral state; you can find out more about what happened here.)

      • ‘Not just a drop in the sea’: Ten years ago, riots broke out in Moscow. The media blamed soccer fans, but it was actually right-wing activists. This is the story of their violence.

        On the night of December 6, 2010, twenty-eight-year-old Spartak soccer fan Egor Sviridov was killed in a street fight outside of a Moscow cafe. The shooter and his friends, immigrants from the North Caucasus, were all arrested and taken to the police station, but in the morning, the police let most of them go free. The following day, about a thousand soccer fans gathered outside of the Investigative Committee building and marched in peaceful protest, covering Leningrad highway.

      • The USOPC Defends Olympic Athletes’ Right To Protest

        There is an old joke that floats through Olympic circles: How many members of the International Olympic Committee does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The Answer? Zero. They are too busy screwing over athletes who wish to express political dissent. Indeed, the IOC has a long history of punishing and threatening athletes who have the temerity to speak out on social justice issues, whether it’s John Carlos and Tommie Smith after their iconic medal stand protest in 1968 or Damien Hooper, the Australian boxer who at the 2012 Olympics wore a T-shirt into the ring celebrating his Aboriginal roots.

      • Opinion | Christians as Dangerous Good Samaritans

        Honest Christians must unapologetically assert that Jesus’s message is totally at odds with society’s dominant culture. 

      • Opinion | Restoring the Soul of America

        It’s time for Democrats to matter: to become a party that stands for something again, to be more than simply safe, bipartisan Republicans-lite, whose MO is to offer voters the lesser evil candidate on Election Day.

      • Moscow lawmaker Yulia Galyamina sentenced to two years probation

        On Monday, December 23, Moscow’s Tverskoy Court sentenced municipal deputy Yulia Galyamina to two years probation.

      • Amazon workers in Alabama inch closer to union vote

        After three days of hearings that concluded Tuesday, the union and Amazon came to an agreement on which workers can participate in the upcoming vote.

        The NLRB has yet to set a date on a vote, but it is expected to take place early next year.

        If the push in Alabama is successful, it would establish the first labor union representation at an Amazon facility in the U.S.

      • Black Lives Matter
      • Air Force: Black people more often investigated, punished

        Black service members in the Air Force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested, face disciplinary actions and be discharged for misconduct, according to a new report that looked at racial disparities across the service.

        The report by the Air Force inspector general, released Monday, said Black members of the Air Force and Space Force are less likely to be promoted to higher enlisted and officer ranks, and one-third of them believe they don’t get the same opportunities as their white peers. And it concluded that “racial disparity exists” for Black service members, but that the data did not explain why it happens.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • AT&T Is Sad Because Nobody Wants To Overpay For DirecTV

        U.S. Telecom providers, as companies that have spent the better part of the last century as government-pampered monopolies, are adorable when they try to innovate or seriously compete in more normal, competitive markets. Verizon’s attempt to pivot from curmudgeonly old phone company to sexy new ad media darling, for example, has been a cavalcade of clumsy errors, missteps, and wasted money.

      • Apparently Trump Refuses To Allow The Government To Do Anything At All Until The Open Internet Is Destroyed

        Well, the government is closing out the year with quite a mess. As threatened, President Trump today vetoed the massive National Defense Authorization Act, living up to his promise to veto it if it didn’t include the complete revocation of Section 230 of the Communications Act, which has nothing to do with funding our military. Trump, for no reason at all, says that repealing Section 230 is important for “national security”, which makes no sense at all (nor does he provide any rationale for this statement). Senate Armed Service chair and Trump buddy Senator Jim Inhofe had already threatened to override the veto should Trump go this route — and has (correctly!) said that 230 has nothing at all to do with the NDAA. Inhofe has already responded to Trump’s veto by asking Congress to “join me in making sure our troops have the resources and equipment they need to defend this nation.” In other words, he’s asking Congress to override the veto.

      • How We Saved .ORG: 2020 in Review

        Nonprofits and NGOs around the world were stunned last November when the Internet Society (ISOC) announced that it had agreed to sell the Public Interest Registry—the organization that manages the .ORG top-level domain (TLD)—to private equity firm Ethos Capital. EFF and other leaders in the NGO community sprung to action, writing a letter to ISOC urging it to stop the sale. What follows was possibly the most dramatic show of solidarity from the nonprofit sector of all time. And we won.

        Oversight by a nonprofit was always part of the plan for .ORG.

        Prior to the announcement, EFF had spent six months voicing our concerns to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) about the 2019 .ORG Registry Agreement, which gave the owner of .ORG new powers to censor nonprofits’ websites (the agreement also lifted a longstanding price cap on .ORG registrations and renewals).

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Bundesrat passes bill of UPC ratification [Ed: This 'article' did not age well]

          Should Germany ratify the UPC Agreement without any issues, the provisional application period will be able to commence in 2021.

        • The German Federal Constitutional Court receives further challenges [Ed: This is rebranded]

          On 18th December 2020 the German government approved the legislation required to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement. This allows the German government to trigger the arrival of the new European patent court and pan-European patent, which might now happen in 2021. However, since the legislation was approved, we hear that the German Federal Constitutional Court has received two new constitutional complaints. The last such complaint delayed the new system by several years, but it is currently not clear whether the new complaints will cause a similar length of delay.

          The new system provides both the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and the Unitary Patent (UP). UPs would be a new option for the fate of an application granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) following prosecution as at present. The UPC is planned to be a new system for litigating UPs and some conventional EPO patents in Europe. A UP would have unitary effect across all participating member states. The UPC would have exclusive jurisdiction over UPs and, eventually, all EPs granted by the EPO, potentially including those already granted (subject to transitional provisions). The UPC’s rulings would be enforceable across all of the participating member states. More information on the new system can be found on our website here.

          The arrival of the new system was previously delayed by a long running court battle in Germany, where ultimately the German Federal Constitutional Court largely dismissed a constitutional complaint against the UPC Agreement. The only reason the complaint was upheld relates to a voting formality and that issue has now been addressed by the new legislative process completed on 18th December 2020. Other delays were caused by the UK’s decision to leave this new system, which means at some point the participating member states may need to reallocate some of the UK’s UPC responsibilities, in particular choosing a state to host the Central Division for life science disputes. The German government’s consultation document suggests these amendments could be made once the new system is up and running, with references to the UK in the existing agreement simply being struck through in the meantime. While the UK government has stated that it will not be seeking involvement in the UP/UPC system, this will not impact the current European patent system: patent applications filed at the EPO will still cover the UK and will be litigated in the UK national courts as usual.

          We now wait with interest to see whether these two new constitutional complaints affect the possible timing for the arrival of the UPC system. Regardless of how the UP and UPC project develops there are no implications for the current European patent system run by the EPO, which is unconnected to the EU. We are looking forward to offering clients the chance to both obtain UPs using the existing EPO procedure and enforce their patents across Europe using the UPC when the system is finally up and running.

        • A post-CRISPR perspective

          For the past ten years or so the question of whether the right to claim priority has been validly transferred has been raised on a fairly regular basis in contentious proceedings in Europe and particularly the EPO. The nature of the right to claim priority is set out in Article 4A(1) of the Paris Convention (which is mirrored in Article 87(1) of the European Patent Convention).

          At its heart, the issue seems to be a very simple one: when filing a subsequent patent application (such as a PCT application) which is claiming priority from an earlier patent application (such as a US provisional application), the party which is the applicant for the subsequent application must be the same as or the successor in title to the party which was the applicant for the earlier application.

          This article explains the main principles surrounding how priority rights are assessed in Europe and by the EPO in particular, using this year’s CRISPR case as a powerful example. We also briefly look at the EPO’s joint-applicants approach to rescue priority entitlement in certain situations that US applicants have frequently found themselves in. Finally we touch on a remedial approach which in some circumstances can be used to safeguard the right to claim priority.

        • Most popular posts in 2020

          As topics such as the EPO and the UPC usually – and also this year – dominate the top ten of most popular articles, we’d like to start with some posts ranked just a bit lower, but in our eyes equally interesting and a good display of the variety of articles on the blog. To begin with the blogpost 2020 is set to be a crucial year for Standard-Essential Patent litigation in Europe. The article discusses the divergences between various states in their interpretation of CJEU jurisprudence and the importance of the – then – upcoming judgment of the UK Supreme Court in Unwired Planet v Huawei. “The subsequent litigation in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK indicates that more detailed guidance is required from the CJEU in order for a harmonised approach to be taken by national courts. It remains to be seen what position the UK Supreme Court takes on the issue of SEPs and FRAND, and whether it will continue to reference the CJEU Huawei guidance in future litigation that takes place, post-Brexit.”

        • Board of Regents of the University of Texas System v. Baylor College of Medicine (Fed. Cir. 2020) [Ed: Boosters and profiteers of patent litigation over life itself on "denying sovereign immunity from PTAB proceedings for state universities"]

          Any patent litigant unwilling to acquiesce to an adverse judgment from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) can appeal to the Federal Circuit. 28 U.S. Code § 141. But the right to appeal is not the same as the wisdom of filing an appeal, as illustrated by the decision of the Federal Circuit last week in Board of Regents of the University of Texas System v. Baylor College of Medicine.


          It can only be surmised that UT is now preparing a certiorari petition of its own to test whether “the University of Minnesota panel applied the wrong standards and reached the wrong conclusion” in its decision denying sovereign immunity from PTAB proceedings for state universities. On the other hand, perhaps UT has a licensee with a license provision mandating an appeal on any matter involving a licensed patent. More unlikely is the possibility that being UT they believed they could be more persuasive than MN in making their case. But not having been the beneficiary of a Christmas miracle, the IPR proceeding should proceed against UT before the PTAB in due course.

        • Request for Comments on the National Strategy for Expanding American Innovation [Ed: A typical expansion of monopolistic agenda dressed up as the cause of diversity]
        • Microsoft accused of infringing patents related to cloud computing, EPO extends closure of offices and more

          A company by the name of Daedalus Blue has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Inc. for infringing its patents related to cloud computing. Daedulus has named five patents in its lawsuit against the tech-giant, namely – U.S Patent Nos. – 7,177,886; 7,437,730; 8,381,209; 8,572,612 and 8,671,132. The company has filed the lawsuit in the Western District of Texas and is now seeking a declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction, an award for damages and royalty payments.


          The European Patent Office has announced that its offices in Berlin, Munich and The Hague will remain closed atleast until the 10th of January 2021 from December 24th, 2020 due the COVID situation across most of Europe. Most countries in Europe such as Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece to name a few have already announced a lockdown between now and the 7th of January 2021.

        • Patent Office Updates You Need to Know

          The European Patent Office (EPO) has released updated information on conducting remote oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal, available here.


          The German Patent and Trademark Office will be closed to visitors from December 24, 2020 to January 1, 2021. The Office has also notified applicants to expect delayed processing of all requests between December 16, 2020 and January 10, 2021.

        • What does the expiry of the Brexit transition period mean for your IP [sic] rights? [sic]

          The European Patent Office (EPO) is not an EU institution and hence European patents will be unaffected by Brexit. European patent applications will continue to designate the UK, and we will remain European Patent Attorneys able to represent clients at the EPO.

        • Software Patents

          • Digitisation and medtech – threat or opportunity? [Ed: Marks & Clerk LLP, a litigation firm, is (as usual) promoting illegal software patents using a bunch of buzzwords and meaningless hype waves ("on a computer" or "tech" as 'novelty' in its own right)]

            Necessity is often the mother of invention and, whilst COVID-19 has been a significant challenge for the medtech sector, it has also put a spotlight on medtech innovation. As global demand for ventilators grew and supply chains failed, medtech manufacturers worked together to 3D print ventilator parts quickly, giving a lifeline to numerous intensive care units.

            This served to highlight the power of 3D printing and other ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies to the medtech sector. These technologies will be of increasing importance to medtech in coming years and this episode demonstrates how companies embracing these technologies can have an edge over those that do not.

            Industry 4.0 aims to merge physical production with smart digital technology to improve efficiency. It involves an increased reliance on computing systems to improve automation within manufacturing, supply chain logistics and industrial practices.

            The increased centrality of these digital technologies to innovation is reflected in recent statistics published by the European Patent Office. Whilst medtech has for a number of years been the largest single category for patent filing at the EPO, in the last 12 months for which full data is available it was overtaken by patent filings in the category of ‘digital communications.’

          • IP Investments Group entity patent challenged as likely invalid

            On December 22, 2020, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 6,560,613, owned by DataCloud Technologies, LLC, an NPE and an IP Investments Group entity. The ‘613 patent relates generally to disambiguating file types on a computer system. The patent has been asserted against Box, Extreme Networks, F5 Networks, 1&1 Ionos, and Wix.com.

      • Copyrights

Video: If Only Judges and Scientists Governed Today’s EPO…

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A reading of the latest EPO article and some thoughts on this new form of delivery (more efficient in terms of time and perhaps a little more interesting)

THE latest EPO article is ‘annotated’ (verbally) somewhat on the go. Scientists and judges ought to have been put in charge. If it’s a scientific institution, then they should elevate successful examiners (with good track record of accuracy, not something like so-called ‘production’) to management positions, not import a bunch of incompetent and deeply corrupt buddies from former employers of existing managers (INPI in the case of Benoît Battistelli and EUIPO in the case of António Campinos).

Techrights unwittingly became a vector for informants, communications, and dissemination of hard evidence.”The video above isn’t long; it’s a little more than a simple reading — the first attempt at such a thing. The delivery is done in one take, the first take, based on mental ‘notes’ (thoughts) and hopefully adds some context to the aforementioned story/text.

Over the past six and half years I’ve grown sufficiently close to EPO insiders and want to help them at least communicate with one another (knowing that EPO management tries to make that rather tough and increasingly scary while trowing lots of misinformation into the mix to breed mistrust, e.g. painting union leaders as unruly nazis who constantly look to seed institutional chaos). Techrights unwittingly became a vector for informants, communications, and dissemination of hard evidence. It’s difficult to muzzle us (they’ve threatened me repeatedly and still block the site; when blocking backfired because examiners can access the Web outside the workplace they started with malicious, baseless, ill-spirited blackmail). Typical union-busting tactics are employed, with military-connected (sometimes outright fascistic) elements actively deployed to make it scary to organise, to politely speak to staff representatives, and discreetly communicate with the press (what’s left of it to cover this; they play whack-a-mole to discourage transparency through media coverage by independent/investigative publishers).

Video: GitHub is Not Git and It’s Definitely Not Better Than Git

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 1:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The sun coming in and out (the sky was partly cloudy today) ruined the video somewhat, but it’s more about voice than visuals anyway

Summary: Unscripted new video (one take) about what GitHub actually is and why people oughtn’t touch it, except to occasionally fetch something from there (if no other repo/mirror exists)

THE previous post about GitHub — a guest post we might add — was a rebuttal to weak arguments we occasionally hear from people who use (or are rather used by) GitHub and defend this dependence on Microsoft’s ‘mercy’ (it has none).

“It’s CodePlex “take 2″…”This morning I turned on the camera and recorded a quick video (no preparations) about reasons why GitHub isn’t just unneeded but likely undesirable in all cases (except for Microsoft employees). It’s CodePlex “take 2″…

Will Git go away because of GitHub? Unlikely. But we need to make sure more people and more projects use and properly understand Git, not proprietary tooling of monopolistic Microsoft. Don’t let Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (E.E.E.) tactics take advantage of those too ‘sheepish’ to understand Microsoft’s history.

Goat joke; Free as in freedom

Microsoft could not gain any market share, so eventually it bought market share and it still pays a lot for it.

GitHub usersThe unfortunate thing is, right now it’s not exactly safe to roam around town, so getting a better camera is not a priority and lighting is a big problem, a longstanding issue, not just the appalling crispness. If we persist with this publication form, which seems likely, then some time after the server migration we’ll get better equipment.

EPO Scandals Are Closely Connected to the UPC Folly

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cuno Tarfusser

Summary: The lack of law at the EPO, Europe’s second-largest institution, is a symptom of the sorts of things we saw in Germany since summertime until Christmas (lobbyists of the lucrative patent litigation sector have infiltrated and captured agenda-setting seats)

THIS ought to be said more often, but Team UPC will never admit that its mischief is deeply connected to EPO abuses, which are excused by the very same entities that enabled Benoît Battistelli and nowadays censor/suppress comments critical of António Campinos. The last thing they want is someone like a former ICC judge (true story by the way, that’s Cuno Tarfusser at the top) entering the EPO and following the paper trail/paperwork, only to find endless instances of corruption, misuse of power, and even serious crimes that merit long prison sentences. If the EPO restores lawfulness, far fewer patents will be granted, examiners will do their job more properly (as they used to and still long for), and patent maximalist agenda will be ended, including the unlawful and unconstitutional UPC.

“The last thing they want is someone like a former ICC judge (true story by the way, that’s Cuno Tarfusser at the top) entering the EPO and following the paper trail/paperwork, only to find endless instances of corruption, misuse of power, and even serious crimes that merit long prison sentences.”PEB profiteers like CIPA would rather carry on cheering for the likes of Iancu and Breton (basically de facto ‘moles’ of theirs) and actively prevent a scientist or a judge regaining power of Europe’s second-largest institution (check early presidents of the EPO — ones who governed it when it was still about science rather than grifting, bribery, politics, and buzzwords).

Siegfried BroßWe know it’s Christmas Eve already and examiners would rather focus on their family (personal life than than work). But the news about UPC is very fresh and rather refreshing. Any time actual judges (and Justices) step in they express the sorts of horrors they find. That includes retired judges, such as one who openly and stubbornly defended SUEPO (Siegfried Broß, on the right). Where is he now?

Sometimes we hope he can step up and appear again in the German media; but if the media too has been thoroughly corrupted, will it offer a platform (air time) to Broß?

Nobody Needs GitHub for Anything

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:27 am by Guest Editorial Team

Summary: A reader explains why Rust is wrong to use GitHub and why the reasoning/excuses of many such projects are inherently flawed if not intentionally dishonest

This article is a discussion around the following thread.

Let’s bust some myths here.

Myth 0: GitHub is the only way to develop software in a distributed fashion.

“Software was developed in a distributed fashion since the dawn of software.”Let’s list things that were developed in a distributed fashion long before the existence of GitHub:

0) Git itself
1) GNU C compiler
2) GNU utilities
3) Linux Kernel
4) GnuPG
5) FreeBSD

Need we go on? Software was developed in a distributed fashion since the dawn of software.

Myth 1: GitHub is the only distributed development system.

Trying to market GitHub as the only way to develop software in a distributed fashion is a display of such ignorance that it is revolting. Which is why the statement “When there is a viable distributed alternative to guthub [sic] I am sure it will be seriously considered” could only be propaganda.

The Rust committee are spoiled for choice when it comes to distributed development systems. The market for interfaces built on top of Git is incredibly saturated. Gitea and GitLab are among two of the systems that are direct competitors to GitHub. So the problem here is not lack of a “viable distributed alternative” to GitHub. If the Rust committee wanted to migrate, they have many options available.

Myth 2: You need systems like GitHub or GitLab or Gitea to develop software in a distributed fashion, in the first place.

Distributed software development (DSD) is a social phenomenon; DSD is not tied to any one tool/system. People with experience in DSD know that projects usually have contributions coming in from several channels: email, forums, dedicated bug-trackers, IRC chats, etc.

Contributions that are worth something will get accepted, regardless of how they get into the hands of the maintainer(s) of a project.

Don’t believe the marketing propaganda that you NEED GitHub. If you want to use GitHub, you are free to do so. Just don’t fall for the lie that GitHub is the only option out there.

Myth 3: GitHub works for large projects.

Once your codebase and the necessary tooling required to develop your software gets complex enough, you will be met with the deficiencies of GitHub. GitHub chokes on large diffs; you are forced into the automation workflows imposed on you by GitHub; you can’t analyse the source code when something doesn’t work as you expect; these are only some of the deficiencies.

Myth 4: Your project is safe on GitHub.

Go browse the internet about what happened to the program youtube-dl. The following links are informative (and entertaining):

Free as in Freedom Should Not be Associated With Cost

Meme #0

Robotnik Button: Microsoft loves Open Source, Microsoft loves RIAA

Meme #1

Dhmis argument: EFF: Youtube-dl takedown is RIAA's fault, Youtube-dl: But Microsoft is in the RIAA, EFF: Look, it's not like we're going to tell people to delete GitHub, Elephant in the room: Didn't the EFF give an award to Microsoft recently?

[Meme] EPO Personal Targets

Posted in Europe, Humour, Patents at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What would you like for Xmas? New EPO Management. Why? So mommy can sit at the dinner table and quit chasing 'production targets'; Can't 'HEY HI' chase it?

One day 'targets' will be patents

Summary: The sorts of EPO ‘holidays’ one enjoys when working from home with EPO surveillance on one’s personal computer

The Case of UPC Misinformation and Propaganda Campaigns: The Web (and Google News) as a Noise and Disinformation Machine of Lobbyists and Oligarchy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: This morning we’re seeing lots of misleading and misinforming ‘news’ coverage regarding the Unified Patent Court (UPC), including many paid-for or financially-motivated puff pieces that drown out the signal (actual information that is accurate and up to date)

THIS morning I stumbled upon some truly ridiculous flood of misinformation from Team UPC, perhaps as should be expected based on past events. They totally dominate the media (or all media coverage regarding the UPC). The video above gives one notable example of this, but we’ll have more in the next batch of Daily Links.

“Is it merely a political apparatus used for financial gain by few Eurocrats?”In the meantime we’ve also taken note of the latest spammy ‘news’ from the EPO’s site (EPO.org), which apparently acts like EPO is a corporation now and merits an EPO.COM domain. They posted a ‘news’ item on the 23rd of the month, prefaced with text and containing many new links about ‘ViCo’ (we’ll spare the link/s).

EPO customersThe image on the right shows what the reader is presented with when clicking on at least one of those links. Other than the unnecessary personification (making António Campinos, who is very new at the EPO, seem like a patent guru), pay careful attention to the choice of words, which we’ve highlighted. Benoît Battistelli did not know patents until he was in his fifties and as far as we can tell Campinos too barely has any experience with them. Why does the EPO make such people ‘flag bearers’ for the Office? Is it merely a political apparatus used for financial gain by few Eurocrats? Or is that a scientific institution?

As side notes to the above issues, as we’ll note in Daily Links, this page says that the “European Patent Office (EPO) has released updated information on conducting remote oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal,” never mind if they’re legal or not (based on the EPC). As the ‘news’ from EPO.org makes clear (posted a day before Christmas Eve), they’ve quit caring about legality. They think they can just do everything over webchats (they cannot, at least not legally) and patent scope no longer seems to exist or matter to the Office.

Marks & Clerk LLP, a patent litigation firm, is (as usual) promoting illegal software patents at the EPO using a bunch of buzzwords and meaningless hype waves (“on a computer” or “tech” as ‘novelty’ in its own right — akin to “over the Internet” or “in a car”). This one marketing piece uses two propaganda terms from the EPO, “Digitisation” and “MedTech”… (both seem to increasingly exploit the pandemic to make patents on software seem like a “public good”).

It has also been noted that the “European Patent Office has announced that its offices in Berlin, Munich and The Hague will remain closed atleast until the 10th of January 2021 from December 24th, 2020 due the COVID situation across most of Europe. Most countries in Europe such as Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece to name a few have already announced a lockdown between now and the 7th of January 2021.”

“Lobbying for the UPC is rapidly becoming an awful public relations strategy.”That does not say that they force everyone to work from home regardless. Here in the UK many receive pay leave if there are severe closures. The EPO doesn’t offer anything like that…

Speaking of the UK, with the expiry of the Brexit transition period one law firm has just noted that the “European Patent Office (EPO) is not an EU institution and hence European patents will be unaffected by Brexit. European patent applications will continue to designate the UK, and we will remain European Patent Attorneys able to represent clients at the EPO.”

They don’t mention the UPC (EU), do they? Well, why would they? They too realise that it’s dead and buried; even the article shown above (link here) was changed as soon as the constitutional complaints became publicly known. They’re trying to save face now, as did many other boosters of the UPC. Lobbying for the UPC is rapidly becoming an awful public relations strategy.

As for Google News, it’s gamed by lobbyists and law firms. It’s not news. For many topics it is marketing noise.

IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:28 am by Needs Sunlight

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