02.03.21

Links 3/2/2021: LibreOffice 7.1 ‘Community’ Edition, Solus 4.2, and KeePassXC 2.6.4

Posted in News Roundup at 12:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • From Unix to Linux: Key Trends in the Evolution of Operating Systems (Part 4)

      We saw earlier in this series that BSD appealed to many users because they didn’t have to pay the stiff fees that AT&T charged for Unix. Richard Stallman, hacker extraordinaire, saw an even greater opportunity in the mid-1980s. With a characteristic flourish, he announced a Unix clone not with a press release, but with a manifesto. In addition to listing his technical roadmap in some detail, this manifesto issues a head-on challenge to the notion of intellectual property (a term Stallman later identified as harmful in itself) and hinted at a new way to release software, which Stallman eventually codified in the historic GNU General Public License, also called “copyleft.”

      Stallman had been making creative contributions to computing for a long time. At the point when he started his GNU project, the technical achievement for which he was best known was Emacs, a text editor that ran on a huge range of systems and had been ported to Unix. Although Bill Joy’s vi editor has always been more popular among Unix and GNU/Linux users, a vociferous defense of Emacs rings out across mailing lists. People on both sides get quite emotional. At a recent conference I attended, the Code of Conduct explicitly prohibited harassment based on race, gender, nationality, sexual preference, disability, or choice of text editor.

      But why would Stallman choose Unix as the model for his new operating system? As his manifesto candidly asserts, “Unix is not my ideal system, but it is not too bad.” The key lay in the many thousands of users who had pledged allegiance to Unix. Therefore, “a system compatible with Unix would be convenient for many other people to adopt.”

      As mentioned in the first article of this series, Unix dates back to about 1970. Already, in the succeeding 15 years, computing had changed tremendously. The GNU project had lots of good ideas to take advantage of the new environment.

      For instance, many Unix utilities dealt with limited memory by imposing arbitrary limits on all kinds of things, such as the number of tokens that a program could use (limited by the yacc compiler) or the number of arguments allowed on a command line (leading to a special utility called xargs). By imposing limits, Unix developers could just allocate one memory buffer of fixed size and avoid the overhead of expanding the buffer during the program run. The GNU project didn’t stand for this laziness. Its coding standards said, “Avoid arbitrary limits.”

    • What is Unix: The Base of All Operating Systems? [Ed: Very awful article, but added for amusement]

      You may have heard of several operating systems other than the normal Android/iOS, Windows/Mac binaries. There are several operating systems based on Linux like Gnome, PureOS, etc. However, there is one which is at the root of them all which barely gets discussed. It’s Unix.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Running Modern Linux on Older Computers – The Dell Latitude E6430 – YouTube

        This is a fun idea for a series I decided to try out – finding older laptops and seeing how well they run modern Linux distros! The goal is to find good laptops that can be purchased used for less than $350 (preferably, less than $300). In this video, I try out a few distributions on the Dell Latitude E6430 laptop, which is certainly an odd machine…

      • GNOME 40ified | LINUX Unplugged 391

        We try out GNOME 40 and its new workspace layout. Who we think this works well for, and who might want to avoid it.

        Plus Wimpy, Ubuntu’s Desktop lead, chats with us about his future after Canonical.

        Special Guests: Carl George and Martin Wimpress.

      • mintCast 353.5 – Well Oiled Machine

        1:44 Linux Innards
        21:01 Vibrations from the Ether
        33:46 Check This Out
        38:03 Announcements & Outro

        In our Innards section, we say how we’ve got on with Linux Mint 20.1 over the past two weeks

        And finally, the feedback and a couple suggestions

    • Kernel Space

      • Intel Linux Driver Patches Yield 10~63% Faster Performance For Select Gen12/TGL GPUs – Phoronix

        Users of various Intel Tiger Lake graphics and other “Gen12″ graphics SKUs like the DG1 discrete graphics cards could soon be seeing a huge performance speed-up with the open-source Linux driver.

        It turns out there is a sizable performance bottleneck right now in the Intel Gen12 graphics driver support on Linux when using hardware with less than 96 execution units. In turn with patches to address this shortcoming, OpenGL/Vulkan performance improvements can be north of 10% to 63% faster compared to the current state.

      • Intel Working On A VirtIO DMA-BUF Driver For Multi-GPUs, Virtualized Environments – Phoronix

        Intel engineers have been working on “Vdmabuf” as a VirtIO-based DMA-BUF driver for the Linux kernel. This driver is intended for their growing multi-GPU use-cases and also in cases of GPU virtualization where wanting to transfer contents seamlessly to the host for display purposes.

      • Lenovo Laptop Platform Profile Support Queued Ahead Of Linux 5.12 – Phoronix

        Lenovo continues working on a number of contributions to the upstream kernel thanks to their work on preloading various Linux distributions on a number of different devices. In cooperation with Red Hat engineers over the past year we have seen a lot of Lenovo related improvements and the latest set to come with the Linux 5.12 cycle is ACPI platform profile support for their laptops.

    • Benchmarks

      • Alejandro Piñeiro: v3dv status update 2021-02-03

        So some months have passed since our last update, when we announced that v3dv became Vulkan 1.0 conformant. The main reason for not publishing so many posts is that we saw the 1.0 checkpoint as a good moment to hold on adding new big features, and focus on improving the codebase (refactor, clean-ups, etc.) and the already existing features. For the latter we did a lot of work on performance. That alone would deserve a specific blog post, so in this one I will summarize the other stuff we did.

      • Raspberry Pi’s V3DV Vulkan Driver Has Been Picking Up More Extensions, Wayland WSI – Phoronix

        The V3DV open-source Vulkan driver in Mesa for Broadcom graphics most notably used by the Raspberry Pi 4 and newer continues maturing nicely.

        The V3DV driver since reaching Vulkan 1.0 conformance has continued picking up more extensions like EXT_private_data, KHR_display, KHR_maintenance1, and others. Other bits of Vulkan functionality have also been added like timestamp queries. Plus there is also now Wayland windowing system integration (WSI).

    • Applications

      • Audacious 4.1 Open-Source Music Player Adds Dual Qt+GTK Build, Initial Qt 6 Support

        It’s been almost a year since Audacious 4.0 saw the light of day as a major new release featuring Qt 5 support and numerous additions, and now Audacious 4.1 is here with initial support for the next-generation Qt 6 open-source application framework and a dual Qt + GTK build by default.

        This would make it a lot easier to switch between the Qt and GTK modes, which can be done right from the Settings window, without editing .desktop files. On top of that, Linux users would be pleased to learn that support for the Meson build system is now feature complete.

      • Linux at Home: Learn an Instrument with Linux

        We are told by our governments that in the current crisis the single most important action we can take is to stay at home and minimise the amount of contact with others. The new variant of Covid-19 is much more transmissible than the virus’s previous version. The advice to stay safe is therefore even more important. It’s only with everyone abiding by the law can we protect our health services and save lives.

        In this series, we look at a range of home activities where Linux can play its part, making the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged. The change of lifestyle enforced by Covid-19 is an opportunity to expand our horizons, and spend more time on activities we have neglected in the past.

      • Improve your productivity with this Linux automation tool

        AutoKey is an open source Linux desktop automation tool that, once it’s part of your workflow, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without. It can be a transformative tool to improve your productivity or simply a way to reduce the physical stress associated with typing.

        This article will look at how to install and start using AutoKey, cover some simple recipes you can immediately use in your workflow, and explore some of the advanced features that AutoKey power users may find attractive.

      • Bwall Is An Animated Battery Wallpaper For Linux (Bash Script)

        Bwall (Battery Wallpaper) is a Bash script to use a set of images that show your current battery level as your desktop wallpaper.

        The wallpaper is animated while the battery is charging. When not charging, Bwall shows the battery level, changing according to the current battery percentage.

        This animated battery wallpaper script supports multiple desktop environments and window managers, like KDE, Pantheon, Gnome, Deepin, Cinnamon, Xfce, LXDE, MATE, Openbox, i3wm, bspwm, awesomewm, Fluxbox, Fvwm and Swaywm.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to List All Upgradable Packages in Ubuntu, Debian & Mint

        A .deb is a software package file containing application files of a particular software and metadata file about its dependencies and versions. The software can be installed from the deb file using dpkg (Debian Package Manager) from the command line or from graphical applications (which use dpkg in the backend).

        This format is used in all Debian-based Linux distributions, for example, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc. Usually, these distributions have another installation utility that runs on top of dpkg and performs the task of dependency management, which is done by the apt package manager.

      • How to Install ReactJS on Ubuntu

        Developed by Facebook in 2011, React (also referred to as ReactJS) is a Javascript library used for creating fast and interactive user interfaces. At the time of writing, it’s the most popular Javascript library for developing user interfaces. React trounces its counterparts – Angular and Vue JS in terms of functionality and popularity.

        Its popularity stems from its flexibility and simplicity and this makes it the first choice in the development of mobile apps and web applications. More than 90,000 sites use React including tech giants such as Facebook, Netflix, Instagram, Airbnb, and Twitter to list a few.

      • How to Monitor Disk I/O performance in Linux

        Do you know, what tools are used to troubleshoot or monitor real-time disk I / O performance issues on Linux?

        In General, top command will be used to view system performance, when an application performance is slow,

        This is the first level of troubleshooting which is widely performed by Linux Administrator in the real world.

      • The Unofficial Way To Migrate To AlmaLinux From CentOS 8 – OSTechNix

        AlmaLinux beta is already out! You can read the details in our previous post. I hope you all are exploring the beta version. Some of you might be wondering when will the AlmaLinux developers release a tool to migrate CentOS to AlamaLinux. While there is no news from the AlamaLinux team yet, I came across an unofficial way to migrate to AlmaLinux from CentOS 8 on Reddit.

      • How to automate system reboots using the Ansible reboot module | Enable Sysadmin

        Reboots are sometimes necessary. Automate the process by using the Ansible reboot module.

      • Install the latest version of VirtualBox on openSUSE

        The main openSUSE repository does not feature the latest version of VirtualBox. To obtain the latest version of the software, one may use VirtualBox’s own repo for openSUSE. Details are available on the virtualbox.org project website. However, I am reproducing them here for a quick reference & also to address some quirks that you might encounter if you simply add the repo & install VirtualBox.

      • Outlining in LibreOffice: A Survival Guide

        LibreOffice offers many tools necessary for outlining, but not in an easy-to-use single module. Here’s a survival guide to get the most out of LibreOffice’s outlining features, along with a wish list for a better outlining tool.

        Outlining is an essential part of a writer’s workflow. For an inexperienced writer, an outline gives direction. For a writer of longer works, an outline avoids confusion. Unsurprisingly, LibreOffice Writer has many of the functions needed for outlines. What is strange, however, is that LibreOffice has never combined those functions into a single effective module. The following article, which also functions as wish list, describes the available LibreOffice outlining tools, as well as what is missing, and shows you how to navigate through Writer’s confusing attempts at outline tools.

        In this context, an outline is a hierarchy of numbered paragraphs. The top level is reserved for the highest level of information, such as the human body. The next level of information might be about the organs, and the third level the parts of complicated organs, such as the brain. The hierarchy can begin as many times as needed, but in every case, a higher-level topic contains the ones below it in the hierarchy. Most of the time, each level in the hierarchy has a different numbering system — for instance, the top level might use uppercase Roman numerals, the second level uppercase letters, and so on.

      • How to Install Python in Ubuntu

        Need to install Python on your Ubuntu computer? Here’s everything you need, from installation command to updating and beyond.

      • How to Configure Nginx as a Web Server and Reverse Proxy for Apache on CentOS 8

        As you know, Apache and Nginx both are free, open-source, and powerful web servers around the world. Apache is known for its power while the Nginx is known for its speed. Both have some drawbacks and benefits. Nginx uses PHP-FPM to load the PHP files while Apache loads PHP on its own. Apache is used for the dynamic part of the website while Nginx serves static files like graphics, CSS, and js files.

        It is a good idea to use both of them on a single server and get benefits from both. In this tutorial, we will show you how to use the Nginx as a web server and reverse proxy for Apache web server on CentOS 8.

      • Install Conky Manager on Ubuntu 20.04

        Conky is a very efficient system monitoring software that is used to display information regarding your system’s activities and performance. However, if we talk about the interface to configure this system monitor, then there is much room for improvements. Nevertheless, Conky Manager is there to resolve this issue. This tool provides a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for managing the Conky system monitor hence enhancing the user’s experience with Conky to the fullest. In today’s tutorial, I will show you how to install Conky Manager on Ubuntu 20.04.

      • How to Process a File Line by Line in a Linux Bash Script

        Each programming language has a set of idioms. These are the standard, no-frills ways to accomplish a set of common tasks. They’re the elementary or default way to use one of the features of the language the programmer is working with. They become part of a programmer’s toolkit of mental blueprints.

        Actions like reading data from files, working with loops, and swapping the values of two variables are good examples. The programmer will know at least one way to achieve their ends in a generic or vanilla fashion. Perhaps that will suffice for the requirement at hand. Or maybe they’ll embellish the code to make it more efficient or applicable to the specific solution they are developing. But having the building-block idiom at their fingertips is a great starting point.

        Knowing and understanding idioms in one language makes it easier to pick up a new programming language, too. Knowing how things are constructed in one language and looking for the equivalent—or the closest thing—in another language is a good way to appreciate the similarities and differences between programming languages you already know and the one you’re learning.

      • Compiling and installing the Gentoo Linux kernel on emerge without genkernel (part 2) | Daniel Lange’s blog

        The first install of a Gentoo kernel needs to be somewhat manual if you want to optimize the kernel for the (virtual) system it boots on.

        In part 1 I laid out how to improve the subsequent emerges of sys-kernel/gentoo-sources with a small drop in script to build the kernel as part of the ebuild.

      • How to Mirror Your Android Mobile Screen to Linux

        Using a screen of a remote computer is often using VNC (Virtual Network Computing), or other remote desktop solutions. These come in both commercial and open source flavors. But how do you go about mirroring, and using, your Android mobile phone to and from your Linux desktop?

        It is all possible via ADB – the Android Debug Bridge, which is included in the stock Android SDK (Software Development Kit) and is available as an easy install on most modern Linux distributions. Setting up ADB and configuring is not the focus of this article, and you can find detailed instructions on how to do so in our How to Use ADB Android Debug Bridge to Manage Your Android Mobile Phone article.

      • 5 Tweaks to Customize the Look of Your Linux Terminal

        The terminal emulator or simply the terminal is an integral part of any Linux distribution.

        When you change the theme of your distribution, often the terminal also gets a makeover automatically. But that doesn’t mean you cannot customize the terminal further.

        In fact, many It’s FOSS readers have asked us how come the terminal in our screenshots or videos look so cool, what fonts do we use, etc.

    • Games

      • Saber Interactive / Embracer Group acquire Aspyr Media, Gearbox | GamingOnLinux

        Another day another acquisition with Saber Interactive / Embracer Group acquiring Aspyr Media and so we see the continuing worrying trend of consolidation in the games industry.

        For those not aware, Aspyr Media are well known for their porting efforts to both macOS and Linux. For Linux specifically they ported the likes of Borderlands 2, Civilization V, Civilization VI, STAR WARS Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords and more so it’s interesting to follow for their history and future.

      • How about a nice game of Chess with Lichess | GamingOnLinux

        Chess, it’s a classic right? So how about a nice game of Chess? I am in fact talking about Lichess, a free and open source browser-based online Chess game.

        You might think it funny but until recently, I had somehow never heard of it. It’s been around since 2010, starting off a simple hobby project and it has since grown into one of the most popular Chess websites around. Ten years later it’s still kept the original promises of remaining free and open source and it just seems to have continually grown. If you believe Alexa rankings, it’s in the top 2,000.

      • Story-driven tactical RPG ‘The Way of Wrath’ up on Kickstarter

        Ready for your next story-based RPG? The Way of Wrath plans to fully support Linux and it’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and it does look quite good.

        With an open world setting, a full story and a hand-crafted world The Way of Wrath sounds rather promising. Blending together “tactical party-based combat, detailed branching dialogue and a rich, dynamic story (Baldur’s Gate, Divinity: OS) with the interactivity and immersion of 3D open-world games (Gothic, Zelda, Skyrim)”.

      • Godot 4.0 Game Engine Seeing Many Exciting CPU / GPU Optimizations – Phoronix

        On top of Godot 4.0 having a Vulkan renderer, native Wayland bits, and other graphics improvements, it’s also seeing significant CPU and GPU optimizations.

        Juan Linietsky, the lead developer of this open-source cross-platform game engine, has been spending much time working on various CPU/GPU optimizations for yielding faster render times.

        CPU side work that recently has included various CPU cache handling optimizations, culling improvements and is now multi-threaded, support for threaded rendering, instancing is now used to render similar objects, and better caching of the render state.

      • Try out a new FMV adventure in the The Parrot That Summons Demons demo | GamingOnLinux

        Mixing together FMV with a Visual Novel adventure, The Parrot That Summons Demons will be bringing the deep, dark and unsettling story by the creators of Bloody Service to Linux.

        Like a lot of games, they’re going to be participating in the Steam Game Festival that goes live later today. However, their demo is already live and they mentioned to us their plan to support Linux with it which we weren’t aware of. The game is currently in development and this demo features two small chapters from Samantha’s timeline. Full game is going to feature multiple chapters for every member of the McCauley family.

      • In need of a good interactive story? Sarawak is out now | GamingOnLinux

        Love to curl up with a good book? Sarawak from Cowleyfornia Studios LLP is out now and it looks fantastic.

        Text-based adventures might not be the most flashy genre but, depending on where you look, they’re very much alive and well with plenty releasing all the time. Sarawak is a delightful piece of interactive fiction, so you’re playing out a mystery game set in Oxford and Borneo.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Shortcut configuration in 2020

          Last year I spent some time working one the (formerly global) shortcuts settings module, including rewriting it from scratch. Given that Plasma 5.21 is to be released soon, I though it was a good opportunity to do a write up of what has happened in this area in the past year. I want to apologize in advance for the size of this blog post that turned out longer than I expected.

        • Kaidan 0.7 released

          This release enables the users to send files via drag and drop. Furthermore, it is possible to see which chat client and operating system a contact is using. Additionally, newlines can be inserted into a text message with ShiftEnter now. We are working on some major features such as message history synchronization (MAM) and typing notifications. They are nearly finished and we hope to ship them in Kaidan 0.8 very soon™.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Solus 4.2 Released

          We are proud to announce the immediate availability of Solus 4.2, a new Solus 4 “Fortitude” series release. This release delivers new desktop environment updates, software stacks, and hardware enablement.

        • Solus 4.2 released

          Version 4.2 of the desktop-oriented Solus distribution is available.

        • Solus 4.2 Released With Linux 5.10 Kernel, Other Updated Packages

          For fans of the Solus Linux distribution, Solus 4.2 is now available as the project’s latest release for this optimized, desktop-minded platform.

          Solus 4.2 ships with the Linux 5.10.12 kernel, providing a wealth of new and improved hardware support. Solus 4.2 also brings other prominent package upgrades like Mesa 20.3.3, FFmpeg 4.3.1, GStreamer 1.18.2, PulseAudio 14.1, and many other package updates to improve the user experience.

      • BSD

        • TwinCAT/BSD offers alternative operating system for Beckhoff Industrial PCs

          The FreeBSD system – and thus also TwinCAT/BSD – supports ARM CPUs up to Intel Xeon processors, providing a scalable platform from small embedded controllers to high-performance IPCs. With this scalable new solution, Beckhoff presents a new operating system that combines the advantages of Windows CE – low cost and small footprint – with the numerous features of large Windows operating systems. Therefore, TwinCAT/BSD is also an alternative to Windows 7 or 10 in many applications.

      • Arch Family

        • Chromium losing Sync support in early March

          Google has announced that they are going to block everything but Chrome from accessing certain Google features (like Chrome sync) starting on March 15. This decision by Google is going to affect Arch’s chromium package a bit earlier, on March 2, when Chromium 89 gets released.

          We know for sure that data syncing will stop working (passwords, bookmarks, etc.). Other features such as geolocation or enhanced spell check might continue to function for a bit longer. Extensions integrating with Google Drive might misbehave and LibreOffice will lose access to documents stored there.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • The Unofficial Way To Migrate To AlmaLinux From CentOS 8

          AlmaLinux beta is already out! You can read the details in our previous post. I hope you all are exploring the beta version. Some of you might be wondering when will the AlmaLinux developers release a tool to migrate CentOS to AlamaLinux. While there is no news from the AlamaLinux team yet, I came across an unofficial way to migrate to AlmaLinux from CentOS 8 on Reddit.

          A Reddit user has provided a simple workaround for the impatient users who wants to migrate to AlmaLinux. I followed the steps and It worked! I can able to successfully convert CentOS 8 to AlmaLinux beta version using the steps provided below. The migration process was smooth and straightforward!

        • STIG Security Profile in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7

          Red Hat has recently updated the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) Profile to include more coverage of automated content and improve the profile’s stability. In this post, we’ll talk about how Red Hat contributes to the creation of new SCAP content and automation and how you can consume the latest updates for the RHEL 7 STIG Profile to more effectively apply security hardening policies.

          [...]

          Red Hat has been developing the automation of hardening systems via STIGs for many years, and since then, the STIG for RHEL 7 has been updated several times by DISA. Red Hat also takes part in STIG development by suggesting improvements and reporting issues to the guide back to DISA. Red Hat works to keep automated remediations up to date to provide customers with automated solutions to help harden their systems and help bring them into compliance.

        • The evolution of Co.Lab – bringing STEM learning home

          So much of 2020 was focused on figuring out how to do old things in new ways. For years, we have been focusing on bringing people together in as many ways as possible, but when the world went remote we had to adjust. This went beyond business needs. We had to adjust almost everything, including our STEM program.

          Co.Lab, presented by Open Source Stories, is a learning experience that introduces young students to the power of collaboration, community and open source. Using open hardware and open source methodologies, Red Hat mentors teach students why being open is a better way to work together and a more effective way to solve problems. Since its launch in 2017, Co.Lab primarily existed as in-person events that shared the principles of open source and collaboration with more than 700 middle school students in 12 countries.

        • Visualizing System Performance with RHEL 8 Part 3: Kernel Metric Graphing with Performance Co-Pilot, Grafana, and Bpftrace

          Picking up from where we left off in the last post, the purpose of this post will be to show how we can use Performance Co-Pilot (PCP) and bpftrace together to graph low-level kernel metrics that are not typically exposed through the usual Linux tools. Effectively, if you can get a value from the kernel into an eBPF map (generic key/value data structure used for storing data in eBPF programs) in a bpftrace script, then you can get this graphed with Performance Co-Pilot.

        • Using Node.js? The OpenJS Foundation would like to hear your feedback

          Node.js is an Impact Project under the OpenJS Foundation. The aim of the 2021 Node.js User Survey is to learn who is using Node.js, and how it is being used. It’s also an opportunity for Node.js users to share any feedback with the project. The survey should take around 20 minutes, and the results are anonymized.

        • Deliver your applications to edge and IoT devices in rootless containers – Red Hat Developer

          Applications are often developed, tested, and delivered in containers, and Red Hat OpenShift is a great platform for that purpose. Sometimes, however, the target machine is much smaller than a Kubernetes cluster. It might be an embedded server, industry PC hardware, or a single server.

        • EMEA EN: Italy’s leader in tourism chooses Red Hat open hybrid cloud solutions to redesign its infrastructure and take its business into the future
        • CloudLinux CentOS Replacement, AlmaLinux, Released In beta

          CloudLinux has announced the release of AlmaLinux, the open source enterprise-level Linux distribution created as an alternative to CentOS in, beta with most RHEL packages.

          A stable release is planned for the end of the Q1 2021.

          AlmaLinux is a 1:1 binary fork of RedHat Linux Enterprise Linux (RHEL), backed with a $1 million annual sponsorship by CloudLinux, with support provided until at least 2029. The new distro is based on a community-driven approach to fill the gap left by the CentOS stable release’s demise.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • This new Ubuntu release will help secure IoT devices

          Canonical, the developers of the Ubuntu desktop Linux distro, have announced a containerized version of the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS release designed especially for use on embedded and IoT devices.

          According to Canonical, Ubuntu Core already powers “tens of thousands of industrial and consumer IoT devices run Ubuntu Core, brought to market by Bosch Rexroth, Dell, ABB, Rigado, Plus One Robotics, Jabil, and more.”

          The company describes the new Ubuntu Core 20 as a major release, with special emphasis on its security enhancements. “Ubuntu Core 20 enables innovators to create highly secure things and focus entirely on their own unique features and apps, with confinement and security updates built into the operating system,” remarked Canonical’s CEO and founder Mark Shuttleworth.

        • Canonical Introduces Ubuntu Core 20 To Secure IoT Devices & Embedded Systems

          Canonical just introduced Ubuntu core 20, which is a minimal version of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS made primarily for IoT devices and large container deployments.

          They announced that Ubuntu Core 20 is now generally available, and the main focus is on providing security for IoT and edge devices. Moreover, this release also brings in some new features such as secure boot, full-disk encryption, and secure device recovery.

        • Better security for IoT devices promises Ubuntu Core 20

          Canonical’s Ubuntu Core 20, a minimal, containerised version of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS for the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and embedded systems, is now generally available. This version claims to bolster device security with secure boot, full disk encryption, and secure device recovery.

          Ubuntu Core 20 addresses the cost of design, development and maintenance of secure devices, with regular, automated and reliable updates included. Canonical works with silicon providers and ODMs to streamline the entire process of bringing a new device to market. The company and its partners offer SMART START, a fixed-price engagement to launch a device that covers consulting, engineering and updates for the first 1000 devices on certified hardware, to reduce IoT project risk.

          Today’s release builds on established strengths for Ubuntu Core. Best-in-class security updates support controlled and cost-effective unattended software updates for OEM fleets that fix everything, everywhere, fast. A minimal attack surface for OS and apps, with no unused software installed in the base OS, reduces the size and frequency of security updates. All snaps on Ubuntu Core devices are strictly confined and isolated, limiting the damage from a compromised application. Provable software integrity and secure boot prevents unauthorised software installation, with hardware roots-of-trust. Full disk encryption eases compliance with privacy requirements for sensitive consumer, industrial, healthcare or smart city applications.

        • Containerize all the things with Ubuntu Core 20

          Canonical released Ubuntu Core 20 today, and it is now available for download. If you’re already familiar with Ubuntu Core, the standout new feature is added device security with secure boot, full-disk encryption, and secure device recovery baked in. If you’re not familiar with Ubuntu Core yet… read on!

          The key difference between regular Ubuntu and Ubuntu Core is the underlying architecture of the system. Traditional Linux distributions rely mostly on traditional package systems—deb, in Ubuntu’s case—while Ubuntu Core relies almost entirely on Canonical’s relatively new snap package format.

          Ubuntu Core also gets a full 10 years of support from Canonical rather than the five years traditional Ubuntu LTS releases get. But it’s a bit more difficult to get started with, since you need an Ubuntu SSO account to even log in to a new Ubuntu Core installation in the first place.

        • Ubuntu getting a new installer, desktop lead to leave Canonical

          Two big bits of news from Canonical and Ubuntu to cover today and both about the future of the Linux distribution.

          Firstly, the sad news to get it out of the way: the current desktop lead for Ubuntu, Martin Wimpress, will be leaving Canonical and moving over to slim.ai. Wimpress wasn’t in the role particularly long, taking over from when Will Cooke stepped down in October 2019. However, it’s not all sad news. Wimpress will be continuing to lead Ubuntu MATE which is a passion project so you can expect that to continue as normal.

          We wish Martin Wimpress all the best and continued success with life and Ubuntu MATE.

        • Ubuntu Core 20 released for secure Linux IoT devices and embedded systems

          Canonical has just released Ubuntu Core 20, a minimal, containerized version of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS for IoT devices and embedded systems. The company highlights several security improvements and features of the new version of the Linux-based operating system with secure boot, full disk encryption, secure device recovery, and secure containers.

          Ubuntu Core 20 is said to come with all benefits from Ubuntu 20.04 LTS such as regular, automated updates, the ability to manage custom app stores, and offers a longer 10-year support window.

        • Ubuntu Desktop Lead Martin Wimpress Is Leaving Canonical

          Yes, you heard it right as Martin Wimpress, Ubuntu desktop lead is leaving Canonical. He joined Canonical in 2017 as a desktop lead in 2019, taking over the role from Will Cooke.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Securing your open-source software supply chain with Tidelift catalogs

        Do you think about what routines, sub-programs, libraries, and routines go into the software you use? You should. The Solarwinds security disaster, which will be causing trouble from now until the end of 2021, happened because the company fouled up its software supply chain. This, in turn, screwed millions of users. Open source can help prevent such disasters, but open-source methods need more supply chain improvements too. Now, Tidelift, an open-source management company has a way to help manage the open-source software supply chain’s health and security with Tidelift catalogs.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 7.1 Community released by The Document Foundation

          LibreOffice 7.1 Community, the volunteer-supported version of the best open source office suite for desktop productivity, is available from https://www.libreoffice.org/download. The Community label underlines the fact that the software is not targeted at enterprises, and not optimized for their support needs.

          For enterprise-class deployments, TDF has strongly recommended the LibreOffice Enterprise family of applications from ecosystem partners – for desktop, mobile and cloud – with long-term support options, professional assistance, custom features and other benefits, including SLA (Service Level Agreements): https://www.libreoffice.org/download/libreoffice-in-business/.

          Despite this recommendation, an increasing number of enterprises have chosen the version supported by volunteers over the version optimized for their needs. This has had a twofold negative consequence for the project: a poor use of volunteers’ time, as they have to spend their time to solve problems for business that provide nothing in return to the community, and a net loss for ecosystem companies.

        • Download Now: LibreOffice 7.1 Released, This is What’s New

          The Document Foundation say the changes assembled within this release, which is the first major update to the vaunted productivity software this year, help make it the “best open source office suite ever”.

          In this post we run you through the key changes and additions on offer in this release, so read on for that. If you want to download LibreOffice 7.1 right now you can skip to the download section at the bottom of the post to avail yourself of various options.

        • LibreOffice 7.1 “Community” Edition Released
        • LibreOffice 7.1 Open-Source Office Suite Officially Released, This Is What’s New

          LibreOffice 7.1 introduces a new dialog that lets you select the User Interface flavor of your choice at first start, a new Additions Dialog that lets you search, download, and install extensions with a single click, as well as the ability to display all supported files when adding a new extension in the Extension Manager.

          LibreOffice 7.1 also improves the Print Preview dialog to make it update asynchronously and prevent it from blocking the user interface when adjusting settings in the Print Dialog. Moreover, this release improves the search functionality for a matching printer paper size for the printed document, and further improves the interoperability with Microsoft’s proprietary document formats (DOCX, XLSX and PPTX).

        • LibreOffice 7.1 Community released

          The LibreOffice 7.1 “Community” release is out. “LibreOffice 7.1 Community adds several interoperability improvements with DOCX/XLSX/PPTX files: improvements to Writer tables (better import/export and management of table functions, and better support for change tracking in floating tables); a better management of cached field results in Writer; support of spacing below the header’s last paragraph in DOC/DOCX files; and additional SmartArt improvements when importing PPTX files.” The announcement also goes on at length about the new “community” label and how this release “is not targeted at enterprises”.

      • CMS

        • The Month in WordPress: January 2021

          For WordPress, 2021 started on a high note. Read on to learn about updates from last month.

        • Top WordPress Alternatives | LinuxCloudVPS Blog

          One of the popular names in Content Management System (CMS) is WordPress but WordPress is not the only tool available to build and manage your website, there are other more useful alternatives available in the market.

          WordPress is scalable, powerful but it is also a complex software. Despite it offers the flexibility of customization, a wide range of themes and plugins, there are some disadvantages. If you are not technically sound, you will run into problems during the installation of WordPress and at some point, you may feel the need for hiring a developer for security checks and maintenance of your WordPress site. In order to avoid such situations, the article offers you a list of alternative tools.

      • Programming/Development

        • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® DataSketches™ as a Top-Level Project : The Apache Software Foundation Blog

          The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today Apache® DataSketches™ as a Top-Level Project (TLP).

          Apache DataSketches is a highly performant Big Data analysis library for scalable approximate algorithms. The project originated at Yahoo in 2012, was open-sourced in 2015, and entered the Apache Incubator in March 2019.

          “We are excited to be part of the ASF,” said Lee Rhodes, Vice President of Apache DataSketches. “We have learned a great deal from the incubation process and look forward to working with new users of our library that want to take advantage of sketching technology.”

        • Qt 6.0.1 Released

          We have released today Qt 6.0.1, the first patch release to Qt 6.0 series. As a patch release, Qt 6.0.1 does not add any new functionality but provides bug fixes and other improvements.

          Compared to Qt 6.0.0, the new Qt 6.0.1 contains over 200 bug fixes.

        • Qt 6.0.1 Released With Over 200 Bug Fixes – Phoronix

          Following the December release of Qt 6.0, the Qt 6.0.1 toolkit is available today with the first batch of bug fixes to further stabilize the Qt6 code-base.

          [...]

          With the Qt 6.1 feature freeze having begun this week already, new feature work is now focused on Qt 6.2. The Qt 6.1 feature release is expected to be out before the end of April.

        • Defining boundaries and interfaces in software development

          Zombies are bad at understanding boundaries. They trample over fences, tear down walls, and generally get into places they don’t belong. In the previous articles in this series, I explained why tackling coding problems all at once, as if they were hordes of zombies, is a mistake.

        • Releases

          • Andreas Schneider: socket_wrapper 1.3.0 and fd-passing

            A new version of socket_wrapper has just been released.

            In short, socket_wrapper is a library passing all socket communications through unix sockets. It aims to help client/server software development teams willing to gain full functional test coverage. It makes possible to run several instances of the full software stack on the same machine and perform locally functional testing of complex network configurations.

          • Daniel Stenberg: curl 7.75.0 is smaller

            There’s been another 56 day release cycle and here’s another curl release to chew on!

          • KeePassXC 2.6.4 released

            Today we are releasing the fourth 2.6 maintenance update, KeePassXC 2.6.4.

            This new version fixes various minor bugs, updates a vulnerable third-party dependency, and enables live theme switching. Whereas previously, the user had to restart KeePassXC in order to switch between light and dark mode, this can now be done at runtime without the need for a restart. On Windows and macOS, the application now also responds automatically to theme changes in the system, working much better with Big Sur’s “Auto” theme.

            The pre-built Windows and macOS binaries ship with an updated version of libgcrypt, (the third-party library we use for cryptographic primitives), which fixes a buffer overflow vulnerability. Since KeePassXC does not decrypt arbitrary untrusted data (TLS for fetching Favicons is not handled by libgcrypt), we believe the impact on our users to be low, but recommend upgrading ASAP nonetheless. AppImages for Linux ship with an older version of the library which was not affected.

          • KeePassXC 2.6.4 Released with Apple Silicon M1 Support

            The fourth maintenance update for KeePassXC 2.6 was released with various minor bug-fixes, and some new features.

            KeePassXC 2.6.4 now provides native ARM64 builds for the new Apple Silicon M1 Macs. For the time being, it comes without support for signed KeeShare containers due to dependency incompatibilities.

  • Leftovers

    • Ayu: Sri Lankan Film that Deconstructs the Structure of Samsara

      By the time I got the chance to watch the movie Ayu, I was personally experiencing a disturbed painful event. I was suffering from deep despondency due to a bitter and frightening experience I had to face at my workplace a day before my birthday. An event that I had never dreamed of was happening in front of me and it was difficult for me to even understand whether it was part of a movie or a real event that I would have to face in real life.

      Red eyes like a demon, a person full of evil behaviour and obscene words, threatening body language, death threats, etc. proved the complex mental confusion that a person suffers from. I thought that this was just another moment in my life as a devotee of the Buddha Dhamma. In other words, the practical reality of the Atalodahama (eight worldly conditions) preached by Gautama Buddha came before me. Living in this world, Buddha the enlightened-one says we constantly encounter the eight worldly conditions (Loka-dhamma), Labha (gain), Alabha (loss), Yasa ( fame/face ), Ayasa (obscurity), Ninda (blame ), Pasamsa (praise), Sukha (happiness), Dukkha (pain). As one author pointed out, “observing happiness and pain arising in the mind, and remaining open to them without attaching to or rejecting them, enables wisdom to grow in one’s heart, even in the most emotionally charged circumstances. Seeing these eight worldly states for what they are, and watching the mind’s reactions to them, gives rise to the liberating insight of the Buddha.”

    • Beware the Beginning of Unreason

      Ignorance doesn’t know it doesn’t know, so it’s hard to make a dent on it. When you add entitlement and hatred to it, ignorance hardens into violence and destruction.

      Our current state of affairs was long in the making but its undoing is happening quickly.

    • Sheltering In Place
    • The Resilience Doctrine: How Disasters Can Encourage Social Change

      Disasters sometimes have a way of focusing public attention on basic human needs and long-term ecological survival. According to the Shareable network, survival is not even possible without a “sharing transformation,” or “a movement of movements emerging from the grassroots up to solve today’s biggest challenges, which old, top-down institutions are failing to address….Amid crisis, a new way forward is emerging…The sharing transformation is big, global, and impacts every part of society. New and resurgent solutions are democratizing how we produce, consume, govern, and solve social problems….The sharing transformation shows that it’s possible to govern ourselves, build a green economy that serves everyone, and create meaningful lives together. It also shows that we can solve the world’s biggest challenges — like poverty and global warming — by unleashing the power of collaboration.”

      A focus on collaborative resilience can cut across ideological lines, and even take hold in normally conservative areas of the U.S. After a 2007 tornado leveled most of Greensburg, Kansas, city leaders decided to reconstruct the town using principles of sustainability. They rebuilt structures using energy-efficient designs, and ironically harnessed wind power to generate electricity. They also reoriented their local electoral systems around nonpartisan races, in order to increase political cooperation.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Small Amounts of All Drugs Are Now Decriminalized in Oregon
      • In Victory for Public Health, Federal Judge Scraps Trump’s Polluter-Friendly ‘Censored Science’ Rule

        “Science matters again, and it will again guide how to best protect people from dangerous pollution and toxic chemicals.”

      • ‘Pressure Works. And He’s Going to Need a Lot More’: Manchin Backs Fast Track Process for Covid-19 Relief

        The West Virginia senator also said he opposes raising the federal minimum wage to $15, setting up a potential clash with Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressives.

      • Latinx COVID Deaths Rise by 1,000 Percent in Los Angeles as Vaccine Rollout Lags
      • Latinx COVID Deaths Soar 1,000% in Los Angeles as Communities of Color Lag Behind in Vaccine Rollout

        Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Black and Latinx people in the United States have died at higher rates, and new data shows that they are getting vaccinated at much lower rates than white people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 60% of those vaccinated were white, while just 11.5% were Latinx, 6% were Asian, and just over 5% were Black. The CDC data is based on details gathered during the first month of the U.S. vaccination campaign that saw nearly 13 million Americans get a shot, though race and ethnicity was only known for about half of the recipients. Black and Latinx people continue to face a disproportionate risk for COVID-19 in their jobs as essential workers and are more likely to have preexisting conditions. “What we’re seeing illustrated is about 150 years of medical neglect,” says Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA School of Medicine. “These disparities didn’t suddenly appear nine months ago at the beginning of the pandemic. These disparities have been built in, decision by decision.”

      • FOSS Patents: Conservative politicians shouldn’t join Greens and communists in calls for compulsory licensing of COVID/mRNA vaccine patents

        This is the same Manfred Weber who lent unconditional support to the EPP’s Axel Voss MEP with respect to upload filters (EU Copyright Reform). In other words, he wants IP overenforcement against kids who upload videos from a private party to YouTube, with some commercial music playing in the background, but he wants to deprive the companies who made a miracle happen–the availability of multiple COVID-19 vaccines after such a short time–of their rights.

        His party, the CSU, is the regional sister party (comparable to the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party vs. the Democratic Party) of Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). It’s unlikely that he would toss out such an idea if it hadn’t at least been floating around in those circles.

        The EU is obviously in deep-shit trouble. In yesterday’s New York Times there was an article entitled Slow Pace of Vaccinations Pushes Europe Toward Second Economic Slump. The numbers speak a clear language: as of the start of February, Israel had administered at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to almost 60% of its population, the United Arab Emirates to approximately 35%, the UK to approximately 15%, the U.S. to approximately 10%, and the EU only to about 2%-3%. As I explained early last month, the EU’s purchasing decisions were wrong at any given point in time just based on then-available information (New York Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker)–and liability issues do not serve as an excuse, as it’s simply a reality in a seller’s market that not only prices but also other terms are impacted by the demand-supply discrepancy. And money could have solved the problem at the right time by enabling certain companies to invest in European manufacturing capacities early on–just what ex-president Trump achieved with his Operation Warp Speed program.

        [...]

        What governments should do is incentivize such partnerships by making offers that enable both the inventor and the manufacturer to be generously rewarded. There’s this saying that you sometimes achieve more with a gun and a smile than with a smile alone. In this case, however, the solution is money, not governmental heavyhandedness like in a plan-based Soviet-style economy.

        I have to stress again that what I just wrote was only about COVID-19 vaccines. I do very much believe in the compulsory licensing of standard-essential patents (SEPs), as most of my readers know. But there’s a difference between a couple or a handful of patents reading on a COVID-19 vaccine, with enormous risks taken, and the hundreds of thousands of patents one could theoretically assert against a smartphone maker or automotive company–and no single one of which patents truly protects a major investment in research and development.

      • IFPMA interview: medicine access challenges ‘not remotely IP related’ [Ed: Liars and propagandists in the pockets of patent fanatics exploit the pandemic to reverse the truth and somehow claim that patents etc. are needed to combat COVID-19 (the opposite is true, they're an obstruction)]

        Komal Kalha reflects on the pharma industry’s response to COVID-19 and how the pandemic shows the need for a strong IP system

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Security

          • In Rust we trust: Shoring up Apache, ISRG ditches C, turns to wunderkind lang for new TLS crypto module • The Register

            At almost 26 years old, the Apache HTTP Server, known as httpd, has a memory problem: it is written in C, a language known among other things for its lack of memory safety.

            C requires programmers to pretty much manage computer memory themselves, which they don’t always do very well. And poor memory management can lead to memory errors like buffer overflows, null pointer dereferencing, and use-after-free() issues. The recent Libgcrypt bug offers an example of how C code snafus can cause problems.

            The httpd server has had memory safety bugs before, and because it’s still widely used, accounting for about a third of the web servers, the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) has decided to institute a repair program.

            [...]

            “We currently live in a world where deploying a few million lines of C code on a network edge to handle requests is standard practice, despite all of the evidence we have that such behavior is unsafe,” said executive director Josh Aas in a blog post seen ahead of publication by The Register. “Our industry needs to get to a place where deploying code that isn’t memory safe to handle network traffic is widely understood to be dangerous and irresponsible.”

          • Sudo Bug Impacting macOS, Not Just Linux and BSD, Expert Says

            Attackers don’t require much to pull out the attack, as there is only one condition needed to exploit the bug: the attacker should have access to the system they want to hack.

            Unfortunately, this could be done easily by infecting the system with malware, or they could brute-force low-privileged service accounts.

          • Latest macOS Big Sur also has SUDO root privilege escalation flaw [Ed: Conflating operating systems or kernels with pertinent tools like sudo means that there are more misleading headlines out there]
          • Sudo vulnerability in macOS could give root privileges to local users
          • Whitespace Steganography Conceals Web Shell in PHP Malware

            Last November, we wrote about how attackers are using JavaScript injections to load malicious code from legitimate CSS files.

            At first glance, these injections didn’t appear to contain anything except for some benign CSS rules. A more thorough analysis of the .CSS file revealed 56,964 seemingly empty lines containing combinations of invisible tab (0×09), space (0×20), and line feed (0x0A) characters, which were converted to binary representation of characters and then to the text of an executable JavaScript code.

            It didn’t take long before we found the same approach used in PHP malware. Here’s what our malware analyst Liam Smith discovered while recently working on a site containing multiple backdoors and webshells uploaded by hackers.

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

            • Kobalos – A complex Linux threat to high performance computing infrastructure [Ed: It is not at all a "Linux" thing and they don't say what gets it there]
            • Linux malware Kobalos steals credentials using hacked OpenSSH software

              A trojanized version of OpenSSH software is being used to steal SSH credentials from high performance computing (HPC) clusters, reports security firm ESET. The Linux malware has been dubbed Kobalos, and is described as “small, yet complex” and “tricksy”.

              Despite its diminutive size, the Kobalos backdoor is hitting some major targets including government systems in the US, universities in Europe, and a major ISP in Asia. Security experts report that while the multiplatform backdoor works on Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris, “there are also artifacts indicating that variants of this malware may exist for AIX and even Windows”.

            • High-performance computing malware targeting Linux, Solaris and possibly Microsoft | SC Media
            • A New Linux Malware Targeting High-Performance Computing Clusters [Ed: It is not "Linux malware" but some malware that somehow finds its way into systems that only sometimes happen to run GNU/Linux (because it dominates this space completely)]

              High-performance computing clusters belonging to university networks as well as servers associated with government agencies, endpoint security vendors, and internet service providers have been targeted by a newly discovered backdoor that gives attackers the ability to execute arbitrary commands on the systems remotely.

              Cybersecurity firm ESET named the malware “Kobalos” — a nod to a “mischievous creature” of the same name from Greek mythology — for its “tiny code size and many tricks.”

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • San Francisco Takes Small Step to Establish Oversight Over Business Association Surveillance

              The resolution—passed in the wake of an EFF investigation, a lawsuit brought by local activists, and a sustained local coalition effort—challenging police use of the USBID camera network to monitor last summer’s protests – is non-binding and it will be up to City agencies to determine whether and how to carry out the request. We’ll be watching to see if the city follows through, but one thing we already know: much more must be done to address the problem.

              Under San Francisco’s surveillance oversight ordinance, the San Francisco Police Department and other City agencies are generally forbidden from using new surveillance technology without Board approval and a public process. Despite this requirement, during the height of the Black-led protests against police violence, the USBID provided SFPD with live access to its network of hundreds of cameras. Police investigators also requested and received a “data dump” of all images from certain cameras covering large portions of the protest. On behalf of three protesters, EFF and the ACLU of Northern California filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to stop the SFPD from acquiring, borrowing, or using non-city networks of surveillance cameras absent prior Board approval. The City’s resolution rightfully calls for more surveillance transparency and accountability from business improvement districts, but the onus is still on the City to ensure its departments fully comply with the surveillance ordinance.

              Instead, this resolution focuses on the troubling growth of these public-private camera networks. Over the last few years, several San Francisco business improvement districts and community benefit districts (essentially non-profits approved by the city to collect and spend property assessments) have accepted money from private donors to build out camera networks equipped with advanced video analytic capabilities. Another—the Castro Community Benefit District—has been weighing its own surveillance camera network, but delayed its vote on the issue after an SF Examiner investigation found that police had also accessed BID cameras in order to monitor San Francisco’s 2019 Pride Parade as well as Super Bowl celebrations.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The 10 Steps Biden Can Take to Promote Peace

        When it comes to war, if personnel is policy, America is yet again in deep trouble.

      • Biden’s Most Urgent Challenge: More Countries Wanting Nukes

        President Joseph Biden cut the throttle by agreeing to a five-year extension with Russia on their remaining nuclear arms treaty: the New SALT Treaty. But that single act is not enough to keep the U.S., Russia, and other countries, from flying off to seek security in possessing nuclear weapons. There must be a plan.

        First, a quick review of the Trump administration’s actions is in order. On August 2, 2019, the United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It required the United States and the Soviet Union to verifiably eliminate all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. With these range restrictions, missiles from Russia’s furthest western and eastern boundaries could not reach the lower 48 states or Hawaii. The 32-year-old treaty initiated an intrusive inspection regime, including on-site inspections, to maintain compliance. Over the past decade, the United States and Russia have charged the other country with not complying with the INF Treaty. Trump decided to “terminate” the agreement accusing the Russians again of noncompliance. As a non-sequitur, Trump also said he had concerns about China’s missiles. China is not part of the INF treaty; that concern could have been dealt with separately.

      • Republicans Who Incited Insurrection Still a ‘Danger to Their Colleagues,’ Warns AOC in Harrowing Account of Mob Attack

        “My story isn’t the only story, nor is it the central story of what happened on January 6th. It is just one story of many of those whose lives were endangered at the Capitol by the lies, threats, and violence fanned by the cowardice of people who chose personal gain above democracy.”

      • Opinion | Will the Space Force take the Pentagon Budget to Infinity and Beyond?

        While the Space Force represents just a small sliver of the Pentagon budget, it is in many ways the poster child for a Pentagon that knows no bounds, either budgetarily or physically.

      • Opinion | Could This Be the Smoking Gun of Trump’s January 6 Treason?

        If some of the available evidence bears out, this goes far beyond incitement.

      • Warren Blasts ‘Unconscionable’ $740 Billion Pentagon Budget While Millions Suffer From Poverty, Joblessness, and Covid-19

        “A budget is about priorities,” said the Democratic senator.

      • November 17th, 1973 and the Legacy of State Terror

        As always, there’s a lot happening in the world.  Ongoing wars between countries, civil wars within them and threats of war elsewhere; at least one full-blown famine; dramatically growing rates of poverty and hunger all over the place; attempted coups in some countries and successful coups in others, various national elections, multiple assassinations of political activists and journalists — all just in January alone.

        And even if the winter of 2021 were not quite so eventful, Greece is far away for most people in the world.  Recent Greek history, even more distant.  Which always seems especially unjust being here in the United States of Amnesia, the most forgetful place on Earth, because as with so much of the world, the modern history of the US is inextricably tied up with the modern history of Greece, from the massacre that gave rise to 17N, to the fact that members of this long-disbanded armed group are being singled out for persecution in Greek prisons today.

      • The New Humanitarian | Hunger deaths aren’t simply about famine or no famine

        But a declaration of famine – or the lack thereof – doesn’t tell the whole story: After years of violent conflict, lives are likely being lost every day in both Yemen and South Sudan from hunger and malnutrition-related causes.

        The way we analyse and determine famine – the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) system, which we are all involved in – frequently doesn’t have information about deaths in real time, and doesn’t assess cumulative mortality. Intended as a technical analysis of food security, it amalgamates different kinds of information into a single analysis, classifying the severity of a food security and nutrition crisis. These classifications, called “Phases”, range from no or minimal food insecurity, which is Phase 1, through to the most severe: famine, which is Phase 5.

        To designate a famine, specific thresholds of hunger, malnutrition, and mortality must be surpassed. But establishing this can be hard. In places that are difficult to access because of conflict, figures are frequently incomplete and some may be out of date. In South Sudan and Yemen, mortality numbers are often missing because authorities have not permitted country-wide data collection.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Opinion | The Oligarchy Knows Class Warfare Is the Real Fight—Why Don’t Liberals?

        The Democrats and Republicans have legalized a level of greed and fraud that even heirs of the robber barons thought unsustainable.

      • Opinion | So-Called “Moderates” Always Say Helping the Poor Costs Too Much—But Their Lavish Gifts to the Rich Give Them Away

        Are they totally without memory or shame? These are the same Republican senators who used reconciliation to pass the Trump tax cuts that larded billions in tax breaks on the richest Americans.

      • The Paradoxical Politics of the GameStop Pump

        We are now barreling into our third week of financial meme hell. Video game retailer GameStop’s stock rose over 1,000 percent after it was championed by the r/WallStreetBets subreddit. The stock fell 30 percent on Monday, however, leading many to believe a crash may be imminent.

      • Polls Show Major Support for Biden’s Stimulus Plan That GOP Wants to Undercut
      • The Politics of Debt Can Strangle a Society, Just Look at What Happened to Rome

        Creating massive amounts of debt is always the final and ultimately futile attempt of continuing a no longer viable status quo. In our case, the status quo is euphemistically known as the “American Dream” – the industrial, militaristic, resource intensive, hyper-consumptive, post-World War II American lifestyle. Every year for a half-century now, despite the massive rise of debt, the Dream increasingly moves beyond the grasp of an ever greater number of Americans and America itself.

        Excessive debt gradually becomes its own tyrant, the past rules exclusively, trampling on the future. A most relevant historical lesson is the Roman republic. In the last century of the republic’s five hundred year run, a debt drenched culture became a dominant political issue. Importantly, just as with the US today, debt was not a cause, but a symptom of a changed political economy. Once the economically distributed yeoman farm republic conquered the Mediterranean, the numerous independent small farms were gradually consolidated into a small number of massive slave plantations. Cheap goods poured in from across the sea, wealth concentrating in ever fewer hands. The Roman citizenry left the countryside and congregated in Rome.

      • Gamestop and the Game That Never Stops!

        The Facts

        Earlier in the week stock day traders gathered on the platform called Reddit in what’s called a  crowdsourcing event. They communicated among themselves in a forum called ‘WallStBets’ and as a group began betting up the stock price of Gamestop, using the no cost stock trading platform called ‘Robinhood’. Similar moves were made against the movie theater chain, AMC, also in big financial trouble, with little revenue coming in but loaded up with mountains of junk debt. A couple other companies in similar condition were targeted by the day traders as well.  Stock prices of these companies—all losers or about to be losers—were in a matter of hours driven to record heights in some cases—as if these companies were raking in profits like a Tesla or Google. But there were no fundamental reasons for the price acceleration; in fact just the opposite.  Betting so, hedge funds and other financial market speculators were short selling their stock, betting their price would fall; and by ‘short selling’ they were actually manipulating the stock to force a price decline.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | A Ten-Point Plan to Make Joe Biden a Peace-Time President

        After two decades of war and four administrations, it won’t be easy to work for peace—but it sure is worth the try.

      • Progressive PAC Wants to Find the “Next AOC” to Replace Manchin and Sinema
      • Opinion | On Sunday Shows, the Only Biden ‘Promise’ That Matters Is Compromise

        Democrats rode to victory in Georgia on a clear promise to give people $2,000 checks if they were given control of the Senate. But to hear corporate media tell it, the more important promise—and the only one they will hold him accountable for—is one Biden never even made.

      • At Long Last, a President Declares That the Era of Small Government Is Over

        President Biden’s first 10 days in office featured a blizzard of executive orders. As expected, most reversed various Trump catastrophes: rejoining both the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization, terminating the building of the border wall, scrapping the Muslim entry ban, and more. Given the new president’s past preference for compromise over boldness, one might have expected him to be content with a mere restoration of the status quo at the end of the Obama presidency. Surprisingly, however, in his first 10 days, Biden has demonstrated that he intends to be a transformative, not a transitional president—launching initiatives that go beyond those of the Obama era. At long last, a Democratic president is declaring that the era of small government is over.

      • Opinion | Biden’s Child Tax Credit Plan Could Right a Historical Wrong

        One lesson from 2020 is that economic and racial inequality are intrinsic challenges that have been either swept under the rug or addressed at the margins for far too long.

      • The Imperial Presidency Has Come Home to Roost

        Joe Biden’s got a problem—and so do I. And so, in fact, do we.

      • House Impeachment Managers Argue Trump Aimed Violent Mob at Capitol ‘Like a Loaded Cannon’

        Pre-trial brief says the former U.S. president bears “singular responsibility” for inciting January 6 insurrection.

      • Lindsey Graham Under Fire for Latest Blockade of Merrick Garland’s Senate Confirmation

        “If Sen. Graham refuses to work in good faith to quickly confirm President Biden’s highly qualified nominees, then it’s time for him to step aside and let more serious legislators get to work.”

      • Behind the Scenes: Personnel as Policy in the Biden Administration

        President Biden is filling out his administration with some of the most diverse, progressive appointees in history. That is no accident.

      • White House Briefings for Children: Jen Psaki Circles Back

        The press secretary’s job, in any traditional sense, is to dissemble, defend and justify the ill thought out or executed policies of the commander-in-chief. The briefing room is a place to stifle and shape rather than enlighten or inform. The new press secretary seems to think differently, she who is clear about “a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”

        Her January 20 briefing was tarted up by a deal of dangerous sincerity that marks the well-meaning ideologue. She reminded the press of having “travelled the world on trips to promote democracy, where I saw the power of the United States and, of course, the power of this podium, and the power of truth, and of the importance of setting an example of engagement and transparency.”

      • Russia Confronts International Law: Nyet, Nyet

        In the Trump era of autocratic hero worship, as rulers suppress protests and judges fawn before the executive branch, the fragility of international law has become more tenuous than usual. If domestic law is frequently sidelined, what chance has international law? For where domestic courts have clear jurisdiction with penalties if invoked, international courts like the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have moral authority but little more. International courts are to domestic courts as Chihuahuas are to Doberman pinchers – lots of noise with little bite.

        And yet. Last week the ECHR made two decisions that should be noticed. First, the court ruled that Russia committed serious human rights violations during its brief 2008 war with Georgia.

      • Trump Aimed His Mob “Like a Loaded Cannon” at Capitol, Impeachment Filing Claims
      • Giants: The Global Power Elite – Rebroadcast – The Project Censored Show
      • After Ignoring Reality Winner’s Case, MSNBC Uses Her To Attack Edward Snowden

        Three and a half years after NSA whistleblower Reality Winner was arrested and charged under the Espionage Act, MSNBC finally invited her mother Billie Winner-Davis on the network on January 29. Billie was able to share her message on why Reality Winner deserves compassionate release from federal prison during a pandemic.

        The segment on “The ReidOut,” hosted by Joy Reid, was a worthwhile opportunity to speak to a national audience and potentially reach staff in President Joe Biden’s administration. However, to justify giving Winner-Davis air time, the segment was crafted in a partisan and warped manner that demonized anyone who supports NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden over Reality Winner.

      • The Return of the Regulators

        During the first week and a half of the Biden administration, Americans have been treated to an unusual sight in Washington: regulators who believe in regulation. Donald Trump seemed to scour the earth for candidates who would produce the most liberal tears, appointing former lobbyists, financiers, ideologues and corporate titans.

        President Joe Biden’s appointees and nominees, by contrast, do not adamantly oppose the mission of the agencies they aspire to lead. More than that: Some of his early choices are among the most aggressive financial and corporate regulators of recent years.

      • AOC Says She Went Into Hiding Prior to January 6, Fearing for Her Life
    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Federal Court Tosses Constitutional Challenge Of FOSTA Brought By The Only Person The Feds Have Used FOSTA Against

        Another constitutional challenge to FOSTA has failed, at least for the time being. The bill no one in law enforcement thought would actually help combat sex trafficking became law in early 2018. Since then, it has had zero effect on sex trafficking. And the impetus for its creation — the prosecution of Backpage execs — proceeded right along without the law in place.

      • No Section 230 Has Nothing To Do With Horrific NY Times Story Of Online Stalker Getting Revenge For Decades’ Old Slight

        If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend Kash Hill’s incredible NY Times story about a clearly disturbed individual, who admits to “suffering from severe mental health illnesses,” who filled the web with horribly defamatory information about a random guy and everyone in his family. It turned out that the reason appeared to be that nearly 30 years ago, the guy’s father had fired the woman from her job in a real estate office. The story is all too familiar to anyone who has experienced harassment online. One of the tactics used was posting completely made up information on a variety of “gripe sites,” many of which do very little moderation, or will only take down information if you pay. These sites often fill up with garbage, and certain people have learned to abuse those sites. Indeed, there seem to be a few people who regularly attack everyone they feel has wronged them using such sites.

      • Professional Assholes Equate Consequences With ‘Cancel Culture’ To Obscure That They’re Finally Being Held Accountable

        You may recall, last summer, there was a big dustup regarding a letter published in Harper’s Magazine about cancel culture (though it didn’t use that term). I pointed out the irony of a bunch of very famous writers whining about being silenced and even took a shot at what a much better letter could have said. Harper’s even asked me to pen a response to the letter which it published (though, it only gave me a limited amount of space, and complained about some of what I originally submitted, which I — at least — found amusingly ironic).

      • Can Government Officials Block You on Social Media? A New Decision Makes the Law Murkier, But Users Still Have Substantial Rights

        It’s now common practice for politicians and other government officials to make major policy announcements on Twitter and other social media forums. That’s continuing to raise important questions about who can read those announcements, and what happens when people are blocked from accessing and commenting on important social media feeds. A new decision out of a federal appeals court affirms much of the public’s right to read and reply to these government communications, but muddies one particular, commonly occurring issue.

        This case, Campbell v. Reisch, involves a Twitter account belonging to Missouri state representative Cheri Reisch. In 2018, Reisch blocked her constituent, Mike Campbell, after Campbell retweeted a comment critical of her. Campbell filed a lawsuit arguing that the First Amendment protects his right to access information from Reisch’s account, and asked the court to order Reisch to unblock him. Reisch appealed to the Eighth Circuit, claiming that Campbell had no First Amendment right to follow her account because it was her personal campaign account and not her official government account. EFF filed an amicus brief in support of Campbell, as did the Knight First Amendment Institute.

        The Eighth Circuit joined other federal appeals courts that have addressed similar cases in acknowledging that the public has a right to access official communications on social media. Just as the Second Circuit found in Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump, the Eighth Circuit concluded that even government officials’ nominally private accounts can in fact be used for official purposes—in which case it would violate the First Amendment for these accounts to block followers based on their viewpoints. The Eighth Circuit made it clear that “the essential character of a Twitter account” is not “fixed forever,” explaining that “[a] private account can turn into a governmental one if it becomes an organ of official business.”

      • Spanish site-blocking ruling a ‘natural evolution’ of orders

        A court has barred access to websites offering technology circumvention methods, a move counsel say could spur a wave of new EU blocking orders

      • Op-ed by EU Commission president reflects floating border between censorship and competition issues surrounding digital platforms

        Policy makers and opinion leaders increasingly distinguish between the desirability (or at least understandability) of major digital platforms blocking Donald Trump’s accounts and the broader implications of private-sector regulators having such enormous power. It already came a bit of a surprise that German chancellor Angela Merkel, never one to like Trump’s political positions and style, raised concerns over Twitter’s decision to ban The Donald (for my position on impeachment, see this recent post). Last week, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a German-language op-ed that it might have been “tempting” for Twitter to block Trump’s account, but such a far-reaching restriction of the right to free speech shouldn’t be decided by companies: the framework must be set by lawmakers.

        President von der Leyen’s op-ed (which is a reply to an open letter by Axel Springer CEO Matthias Doepfner). Without making a clear distinction between censorship and competition, she acknowledges Mr. Doepfner’s concern over Big Tech’s unfettered power, and touts the Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act.

        On the subject of the Digital Markets Act I strongly recommend this panel discussion hosted by the UK-based Centre for Competition Policy. One of the panelists, Professor Damien Geradin of Brussels-based Geradin Partners, regularly writes about these policy topics on his Platform Law Blog, which I strongly recommend (just like I’ve repeatedly recommended Professor Thomas Cotter’s Comparative Patent Remedies blog on patent remedies and, particularly, FRAND licensing issues.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • ‘We Will Hold Him Accountable Until He Does’: 110+ Groups Demand Biden Close Gitmo Without Delay

        Rights advocates urged the president to act “in a just manner that considers the harm done to the men who have been imprisoned without charge or fair trials for nearly 20 years.”

      • The Body, the State, the Border: On Cristina Rivera Garza

        When writing about the contemporary US-Mexico border, many describe it as a space in flux—a place that is neither here nor there, a porous in-between zone created by the exchange of people, goods, and ideas that flow across it. It is a place that defies neat categorization, in part because of the many people who occupy the same lands their ancestors once did, long before our nations drew their current bounds. People whose lineages criss-cross and contradict this area’s divisions, whose languages are mixed and multiple, who embody a place that is always in between. 1

      • ‘Get These Agencies Under Control Immediately’: Despite Biden Moratorium, ICE and CBP Deport Hundreds

        “Don’t. Look. Away. We can’t trust ICE and CBP, even if their boss is a Democrat.”

      • Saxony’s New Nazis

        In contrast to West Germany, where the streets are well lighted and where flashy advertisements are continuously pushed into your face to sell things no one needs for money we don’t have in order to impress people we don’t even like, West-Germany’s counterpart – the Soviet-style German Democratic Republic – was less well lit and goods were on-sale in dingy state-run shops. Cold war rhetoric sold this as a moral darkness, while today, many would say it saved energy.

        Yet the term Dark-Germany also implies that people have been kept in the dark by something that might be called, in an allusion to the farming of mushrooms in basement tubs of manure: mushroom politics. Keep them in the dark and feed them shit. Over the past three decades since re-unification, Saxony has become unusually conservative, even by German standards. In 2019, Germany’s crypto-Neo-Nazi party AfD received almost 30% in Saxony’s state election, up from 25% in Germany’s 2017 federal election. Nevertheless, Saxony’s premier is a Merkel-type conservative, Michael Kretschmer.

      • Illinois May Be First State to Eliminate Money Bail, But the Fight Isn’t Over
      • Texas Immigration Lawyer Sues DHS, CBP Over Seizure And Search Of His Work Phone

        A Texas immigration lawyer is suing the DHS and CBP over one of its infamous border device searches. His attempt to keep the federal government from accessing privileged attorney-client communications was rebuffed by CBP officers who decided they’d just keep his phone until they were able to access the contents. This is especially problematic considering the lawyer, Adam Malik, is representing clients currently engaged in lawsuits and other legal actions against or involving both the DHS and CBP. (via ABA Journal)

      • Supreme Court sides with Germany: Immunity against Lawsuit for Taking Domestic Property

        The Supreme Court has issued a unanimous decision in the stolen-art case of Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp.

        The claimants in the case are heirs to German Jewish art dealers who purchased a set of medieval Christian relics known as the Guelph Treasure (Welfenschatz) from the Duke of Brunswick in 1929 (although by then the Duke had already abdicated).

        As the Nazi government rose to power, the dealers were coerced to sell the collection back to the State (Prussia), allegedly for for 1/3 of their value. After WWII, the US took possession of the collection but then later handed the collection back to Germany and the art is on display in a Berlin museum.

        The heirs perused claims in Germany, but the special German Advisory Commission for the Return of Cultural Property Seized as a Result of Nazi Persecution, Especially Jewish Property found that the sale had not been taken under duress.

      • The New Humanitarian | Rethinking Humanitarianism podcast: Inside the donor mindset

        Aly, director of The New Humanitarian, talks with Michael Koehler, deputy director general of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid arm, ECHO, and Ruairí De Búrca, director general of Irish Aid, to find out what it’s like to be in their shoes: what does the political economy of UN reform and localisation look like from a donor perspective; and how would they address rising needs at a time of likely shrinking donor budgets?

      • The New Humanitarian | Cubans find EU asylum challenges and false hope in French Guiana

        French Guiana in South America has emerged as a key destination and transit point for migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach Europe, attracting thousands in 2020 from as far away as Syria and Yemen, as well as many Haitians, Venezuelans, and now Cubans.
        Over the past six years, the influx has grown steadily, placing what little infrastructure there is in the French overseas territory under severe stress and leaving many of those hoping to start new lives struggling to get by and with little assistance.
        Boris R. Thebia, a Montreal-based photojournalist, recently returned to his hometown of Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, to discover how it had become a way station for Europe-bound asylum seekers.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • AT&T & Verizon Got Billions From Government, Yet Laid Off 95,000 People In Just Five Years

        You’d be hard pressed to find a sector that has benefited more from the Trump era than telecom. In the last four years, telecom monopolies not only received billions in tax cuts (AT&T nabbed an estimated $42 billion in tax breaks alone), they convinced the Trump administration to effectively neuter the FCC’s consumer protection authority, a move arguably worth countless billions more. In both instances these perks were doled out under the auspices that this would drive hiring and network investment. In reality, not only did that not happen, but the opposite happened.

      • Ofcom Details New UK Broadband ISP Switching Process for 2022 – ISPreview UK

        As expected the UK telecoms regulator has today published detailed proposals for a new simpler “one touch” switching process for all broadband customers, which from December 2022 will make it easier for consumers to switch between ISPs on physically separate networks (e.g. Openreach’s full fibre to Cityfibre or Virgin Media etc.).

        The planned changes were formally confirmed in Ofcom’s October 2020 statement (here), which covered their implementation plans for the new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC). However, this only set out a broad overview of what they planned to do, while the exact details were left until today.

    • Monopolies

      • Discussion with Peter Schiff about Patent, Copyright, and Bitcoin

        Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 316. At the prodding of Peter Schiff’s son, who, unlike his dad, is anarchist, pro-bitcoin, and opposed to intellectual property, I had a discussion with Peter about IP. Didn’t fully succeed in converting him to the anti-IP cause, but made a bit of headway.

      • How Will Harris Influence IP Law in the Biden Administration?

        In a previous column we probed some of intellectual property protection policies that the Biden administration may undertake in the coming months to put its own stamp on U.S. intellectual property (IP) law. Biden has already committed to treating intellectual property as a core national and economic security concern, and we can expect that his administration will continue many of the broad policy outlines established across the Bush, Obama, and even Trump presidencies.

        Today we take a closer look at the IP policies favored by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and in particular the DEFEND act, a piece of legislation sponsored by the incoming vice president during her time in the Senate. Harris had a history of pursuing IP violators even before she entered the Senate. As attorney general of California, she sued textile producers in India and China for copyright piracy, and also for the misappropriation of properly licensed software. As vice president, Harris will have influence both over executive branch policy and legislation while presiding over a closely divided Senate.

        [...]

        Overall, we can expect Harris’ influence on the Biden administration’s IP policy to be strongly in favor of creating and enhancing multifaceted policies for countering trade secret theft, framed within a general pursuit of relatively open trading policies. Taken together, the Biden-Harris intellectual property policies seem geared toward increasing protection for U.S. firms abroad while also enabling those firms to capture some of the gains of international supply chains. That represents a fine-tuning of Obama-Biden administration policies, and a turning away from some of the more protectionist measures pursued by the Trump administration.

      • Patents

        • FOSS Patents: Latest litigation results (in Lenovo dispute) call into question whether Nokia is entitled to any H.264-related patent royalties

          The fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) royalty rate for Nokia’s entire portfolio of video codec patents allegedly essential to the H.264 standard may be ZERO. Or at least not much more than that, unless Nokia stages an unprecedented turnaround in its SEP dispute with Chinese computer maker Lenovo.

          When all is said and done, it’s possible that a number of licensing executives in the industry will realize they shouldn’t have met Nokia’s H.264-related royalty demands: they should all have defended themselves like Lenovo. Now it’s too late: license agreements generally don’t allow a recovery of fees that could have been avoided by litigation. Don’t feed the troll!

          Lenovo, by the way, is not merely defending itself super-successfully against Nokia’s infringement cases, but also brought a FRAND complaint against the failed handset maker in the Northern District of California late last year (allegations of ambush tactics included).

          The state of play in Nokia v. Lenovo is a total disaster so far for the Finnish plaintiff. The only victory in a German regional court that Nokia had scored was short-lived: the Munich Higher Regional Court stayed enforcement because the patent-in-suit appears invalid. Yesterday (February 02, 2021) the Mannheim Regional Court rejected Nokia’s complaint over EP1186177 on “a method and associated device for filtering digital video images.” That patent is so old that Nokia couldn’t have obtained an injunction anymore. On Friday (January 29, 2021) the same court held a trial over EP1512115 on “spatial prediction based intra coding” and urged Nokia to stipulate to a stay pending the parallel nullity proceeding before the Federal Patent Court. Nokia consented (otherwise the court would almost certainly have stayed the case anyway). And there was another Mannheim case I never reported on: EP1287705 on “video coding” was not infringed.

        • Ignoring Information Quality

          Entry into the patent system is guarded by an examination process to screen out applications that impose undue costs on the public without commensurate benefit. To do this, patent examiners rely heavily on various pieces of information—both provided by the patent applicant and independently discovered by the examiner—to assess whether an application should be granted. This Article shows that there are few mechanisms at the Patent Office to question the veracity of this information, even though it may be incorrect. Rather, patent examination often assumes that existence of information equals accuracy of information. Consequently, examiners may rely on information that is wrong and many decisions about patent grant may also be wrong.

          While it is well known that patent examiners make frequent errors, the existing scholarship is almost entirely about what this Article terms “matching” errors (where examiners do not find information that actually exists) whereas “digging” errors (where examiners find information but the information is wrong) may in fact be more common. Digging errors have serious harms: nuisance suits, decreased incentives for research, and slowed technological development. The matching-digging framework introduced by this Article not only reveals new errors, it also makes the case that existing policy tools to address examination errors will not prevent or resolve these errors. Existing policy tools require that errors be visible to the public, which is true for matching errors but is not true for digging errors. Solutions to digging errors should therefore be information-forcing to remedy this asymmetry; and this Article includes several recommendations. Further, this Article uses the matching-digging framework to reconceptualize examination as a system of quasi-registration that defers many decisions about patentability to litigation. Patents should thus not be given a presumption of validity and doctrines of patentability as applied in litigation should not mimic their prosecution counterparts.

        • The Damaging Myth of Patent Exhaustion

          Patent exhaustion enjoys a reputation as a well-established doctrine of “over 160 years” with a further “impeccable historic pedigree” reaching back to Lord Coke’s seventeenth century property writings. The doctrine allows purchasers of patented goods to use those items according to common expectations without obtaining a further license. Its impact is both widespread and hotly debated in our technology-based economy where innovative product distribution models are constantly introduced. But the doctrine’s historical reputation is not well deserved. In fact, the modern account of the doctrine’s origin is both thin and demonstrably wrong—it is based on selective quotes from Coke’s annotation of a real property treatise and Chief Justice Taney’s dicta from a mid-nineteenth century opinion, both of which are taken out of context and do not support any sweeping rule of exhaustion.

          The Supreme Court’s recent embrace of that modern account is not merely bad history; it also misses the serious implications that the revisionist history could have for central contract and property law mechanisms, including conditions precedent and subsequent. Either patentees have powerful work-arounds for a purported bright line exhaustion rule through the contractual clauses that maintain reversionary interests, or the common law of property and contract have suffered serious collateral damage in service of a historical myth. This Article introduces extensive original research on the history both of the rule against restraints on alienation of property and of “patent exhaustion” to argue that—contrary to the dominant modern account—certain restrictions on the use of purchased (patented) goods based on conditional transfers of property title have been carefully preserved by courts.

        • European patent firms increase hourly rates, despite coronavirus

          In Europe, the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on. Many economic sectors are close to being on their knees. Others, like the life sciences sector, are booming. This is thanks to the unprecedented demand for respirators, analytical equipment and vaccines to help combat the COVID-19 virus.

          Moreover, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has not fazed European patent firms. Patent law outfits have maintained, or even slightly raised, their hourly rates. Indeed, according to data from 52 firms from France, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands, during 2020 European patent firm fees saw an increase of between 3.5 and 4.8%.

          Interestingly, hourly rates for partners and associates have recently increased to different degrees. Firms did not raise their hourly rates evenly across litigation, prosecution and advisory work. However, rates in litigation experienced the weakest growth.

          [...]

          Purely in terms of the number of patent attorney firms in both countries, UK and Germany firms share the bulk of European prosecution work. UK firm partners charge around 150 euros more than their German counterparts, with UK firms charging an average of 60 euros more for an associate than a German firm. Partners and associates from French firms lag slightly behind. (See: No common market in European prosecution work)

          Here, differences in the filing of national patents may have an impact. But, since most of the firms’ work goes into filing European patents, the different hourly rates in this segment are surprising. After all, French, German and UK patent attorneys operate in a common market before the EPO.

          The question arises as to why a company should pay different fees to French, German or UK patent attorneys to file a European patent. Perhaps higher costs for travelling to Munich or The Hague could objectively justify this.

          But the EPO is looking to switch to more frequent oral hearings. As such, travel costs could cease to be a future argument. It is unlikely that patent attorney prices will come under pressure any time soon. On the contrary, only a few firms with a high backlog are likely to raise their hourly rates in coronavirus times.

        • Valve to lose $4 million for patent infringement with the Steam Controller | GamingOnLinux

          Valve are yet again hitting the spotlight for the wrong reasons following the ruling from the EU Commission over geo-blocking, a lawsuit involving game pricing and now the Steam Controller too.

          The lawsuit involved Ironburg Inventions (a subsidiary of Corsair Gaming), who have a patent for a game controller that has back paddles and they’ve held the patent since 2014. According to the press release, Valve lost the case and so “the jury unanimously found that Valve Corp infringed Ironburg’s 8,641,525 controller patent and awarded Ironburg over $4 million” additionally Valve were apparently aware of it and so the infringement was “willful”. Due to this, there’s a potential for “enhanced damages up to the statutory limit of treble damages” so the $4 million figure is only the beginning.

        • Software Patents

          • Personalized Media Communications, LLC v. Apple, Inc. (E.D. Tex. 2021)

            Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division ruled that Defendant Apple, Inc. (hereinafter “Apple”) failed to show that claims related to signal processing are patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

            Plaintiff Personalized Media Communications, LLC (hereinafter “PMC”) asserted that Apple infringed PMC’s U.S. Patent. No. 8,191,091 (the ’091 patent). Apple had moved to dismiss all claims of the ’091 patent as directed to ineligible subject matter. The Court denied this motion to dismiss, finding that the ’091 patent claims to be patent-eligible. Apple then moved for summary judgement that all the claims of the ’091 patent are invalid under § 101. (Apple’s motion also moved for relief under § 101 with respect to PMC’s U.S. Patent Nos. 8,559,635 and 7,752,649, but only the ’091 patent was addressed by the Court in the present decision due to it being the only patent set for trial at the time.)

            [...]

            The Court nevertheless proceeded with its § 101 analysis, referring yet again to its previous finding that, even if the claims were directed to an abstract idea, additional elements in the claims would transform them into patent-eligible applications of that idea…

          • Apple granted patent for face biometrics occlusion assessment

            A patent newly granted to Apple reveals a method for using ‘heat maps’ to biometrically identify and authenticate a Face ID user whose face is blocked by an object like a mask or their hair.

            The patent for ‘Occlusion detection for facial recognition processes’ was awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and describes heat maps estimating the location of facial features (or “landmarks”) like the user’s eyes, mouth and nose. The heat map can also include values to represent facial regions that are occluded, and use it in combination with the estimated feature locations to assess landmark occlusion by overlaying the occlusion heat map onto the map if features.

            That assessment can in turn be applied to control biometric authentication or other operations. The patent document says occlusion assessments above a certain threshold would prompt the system to discard the image, preventing the device from being unlocked with biometrics.

          • Apple fails to overturn VirnetX patent verdict, could owe over $1.1 billion

            A federal judge denied Apple Inc’s bid to set aside or reduce a $502.8 million patent infringement verdict favoring VirnetX Holding Corp, and awarded interest and royalties that could boost Apple’s total payout in two lawsuits above $1.1 billion.

            [...]

            Apple, based in Cupertino, California, and VirnetX, based in Zephyr Cove, Nevada, have battled in patent litigation for more than a decade.

            Last March, Apple paid VirnetX $454 million after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the iPhone maker’s appeal in an earlier patent case.

            In a Dec. 18 court filing, Apple said the latest award could boost its payout in both cases to $1.116 billion.

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  28. Links 3/5/2021: Sparky 5.15, Bill Gates Divorce, Netflix Fraud

    Links for the day



  29. Links 3/5/2021: New in OpenBSD 6.9 and Audacity Acquired By Muse Group

    Links for the day



  30. Adding, Seaming Together, Merging, or Concatenating Videos From the Command Line With FFMPEG (Scripting for Streamlining of Workflows)

    In order to enrich the looks of videos with almost no extra time/effort (all scripted, no GUIs should be needed) use ffmpeg with the concat operator; but there are several big gotchas, namely lack of sound and need for consistency across formats/codecs and even sampling rates


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