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Links 9/4/2010: Ubuntu 10.10, Android's Contribution to Linux

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  • TLLTS Ep. #348 - Ogg

  • Becoming a "Linux Security Artist"
    As I mentioned before, the architecture of Linux follows closely the architecture of the Unix systems. A relatively small monolithic kernel with libraries and utilities that add functionality to it.

    This alone adds security value, since it allows the end user to turn off a lot of services (both hosted and network services) that they do not need, and if left to run on the system would create more avenues and possibilities for attacks.

    For example, the average desktop system acts as a client for services, not as a server. Turning off these services means that other people across the network cannot attach to them. In the early days of Linux a lot of distributions would be distributed with the services turned on when you installed and booted them the first time. This was under the mistaken impression that having the services running would make them easier to administer, but security people quickly pointed out that having the services running at installation time (before needed patches could be applied) also left the systems, however briefly, open to attack. Now most, if not all, distributions install with these services turned off and you are instructed to turn them on at the proper time, hopefully after you have applied needed patches.

  • Graphics Stack

    • Open-Source ATI Evergreen Acceleration Builds Up
      While up to this point AMD has only cleared Evergreen shader documents for release to the general public, the developers at AMD responsible for working on the open-source support have been working on some code too for this Radeon HD 5000 series support. The Linux 2.6.34 kernel has kernel mode-setting (KMS) support for the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series graphics cards, but it goes without any 2D/3D/X-Video acceleration support. There's also DDX Evergreen support allowing these "R800" class GPUs to work with user-space mode-setting. That's really been the extent of the open-source support though for these graphics cards that are a few months old.

    • Concerns Over Merging Drivers Back Into The X Server
      While development efforts within the X.Org community are now ramping up for the release of X Server 1.9 that should arrive in August, there is an ongoing discussion concerning a planned long-term change for the X Server: pulling the drivers back in.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • KDE 4.4 Positive Spin
      KDE 4 right now is an awesome desktop and doesn’t need to retroactively justify the earlier releases.

      Instead focus on a clear listing of the improvements and features, and maybe even engage in a little self-depreciation and poke a bit of fun at the 4.0 release along the way. Let people know what they are missing today if they decide not to give KDE another look.

      Try to re-capture those that might have left KDE! Don’t burn calories calling them liars – they obviously at one point cared enough to give 4.0 a try, I bet they could be convinced to give 4.4 a try as well –hopefully with a different result!

  • Distributions

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Beta 2 Has GNOME 2.30 and Revamped Installer
        A few minutes ago, the Ubuntu development team unleashed the second and final Beta release of the upcoming Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) operating system, due for launch at the end of this month. As usual, we've downloaded a copy of it in order to keep you up-to-date with the latest changes in the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS development.

      • Eye On Ubuntu 10.10
        As you may have heard, Mark Shuttleworth announced his vision for Ubuntu 10.10 a few days ago. Without prejudicing the more pressing release of Ubuntu 10.04 in a couple weeks, here are some thoughts on what Shuttleworth said, and what we can expect from Ubuntu 10.10 in October 2010.

      • Ubuntu: Consumer ready, Enterprise grade.
        What's the best new feature coming to Lucid? You could even call this one Lucid's killer feature.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 Released [Screenshots]
        Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 doesn't come with drastic visual changes, but there are quite a few minor improvements and tweaks. In this post I'll try to cover all the changes made since Beta 1 (see also: Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Beta 1 screenshots).

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Will Linux succeed through the Android OS?
      Last week I finally dumped my Blackberry smartphone and got myself one of the Verizon Droid phones; specifically the Droid Eris. I was waiting for the Nexus One to come to Verizon Wireless for quite some time and when I read that it was to be offered through Google only (unlocked and without a contract deal) for $530, I said forget about it. I will go to the store instead and get one of the Droid phones (Motorola Droid & HTC Droid Eris).

Free Software/Open Source

  • Let he who is without proprietary features cast the first stone
    If the recent debate about open core licensing has proven one thing, it is that the issue of combining proprietary and open source code continues to be a controversial one.

  • Oracle

    • Better Default Settings, Anyone?
      OK, OK! All of you who raised your hand and are hopping in your seats to get called upon for your suggestions, click here. If your hand is sort of wavering at shoulder height and you need a little more urging, read on for more info on "Better Defaults", the new subproject of Project Renaissance which just began in the UX community.


    • Why Is Free, Open Source Software So Great?
      All what I’m going to write here, is likely to be considered happening in a world that, even not perfect, is a bit better of the real world we all live in together; a world where software patents don’t exist, as they bring out the worst part of legal troubles, and heavily step into the Freedom given by Free Software.

    • FOSS: The Consideration Bridge
      Back in the days when the FSF was finding it’s feet Richard and others began this amazing process of taking functional proprietary tools and recreating these tools as free software, drop-in replacements. This process of “doing all the boring bits” really set the technical foundations and I think is why a lot of people were really amazed by the principled dedication and out of this grew respect.


      The open source movement grew out of the lack of compromise in the Free Software community, but it’s grown further from being just about inviting businesses into a friendly arena and into a more pragmatics’ hiding hole, there are no difficult questions to answer, and free as in beer software is how it’s all advertised with no further explanation about how it became free in the first place.


  • Lawsuits

    • How Pfizer And The US Gov't Set Up A Fake Subsidiary To Take The Brunt Of Lawsuit Over Falsely Marketed Drugs
      The pharmaceutical industry is a huge mess, which has little, if anything, to do with making people healthy. The way the system is currently designed, if it's more profitable for a pharmaceutical company to put you at greater risk, it will do so. And sometimes the US gov't will help them brush it under the rug. Reader Bill Pickett points us to a recent investigative report concerning the big, high-publicity lawsuit the US gov't filed against Pfizer, after the company blatantly went against FDA approvals and marketed a drug for all sorts of alternative uses, which the FDA had specifically noted could be dangerous and could put people at greater risk.

    • Son Files Harassment Charges Against Mother for Facebook Posts
      Denise New's 16 year old son filed charges against her last month and requested a no contact order after he claims she posted slanderous entries about him on the social networking site. New says she was just trying to monitor what he was posting.

    • Cuyahoga County Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold files $50 million lawsuit against The Plain Dealer and others
      A Cuyahoga County judge sued The Plain Dealer and affiliated companies Wednesday, claiming that they breached a Web site privacy policy when stories linked an e-mail account used by the judge to a series of online comments related to some of the judge's high-profile cases.

  • Science

    • Touring The Chernobyl Nuclear Accident Site In 2010
      While the nuclear accident of 1986 is what Chernobyl is known for, there were two other nuclear accidents of smaller magnitude that took place at this nuclear power plant before it was finally decommissioned in the year 2000. In 1982, there was a smaller accident within Chernobyl's Reactor #1, but it was not nearly as significant and the reactor returned to an operational state within months. In 1991, there was a fire in Reactor #2 that caused severe damage and ultimately led to the shutdown of this nuclear reactor. Reactor #4 is home to the infamous Chernobyl accident. The other reactors were not permanently shutdown immediately as Ukraine was dependent upon Chernobyl for its electricity production and for the country it would not make economic sense to prematurely discontinue the use of the other reactors. Reactor #1 was permanently decommissioned in 1996 and Reactor #3 was finally retired from operation in 2000.

  • Finance

    • MEPs scrutinise summit solutions to euro-zone's hardship
      European Council President Herman Van Rompuy found MEPs in trenchant mood Wednesday when he reported back to them on the conclusions reached by European leaders at their summit last month. MEPs took a critical look at the summit's solutions to the current euro-zone crisis, with many demanding a more ambitious European approach to current difficulties


      Austrian Socialist Hannes Swoboda disagreed, saying the summit was disappointing, especially on Greece. He said that leaving help in the hands of the IMF meant giving up a common economic policy in favour of a technocratic approach. "The Council is like the Titanic - they hit an iceberg and as a response they set up a task-force."

    • Goldman's spirited defence
      Of course, Goldman has become the proxy for all attacks on the role financial firms played in the crisis, so its boss does not enjoy the same latitude as Dimon. Nor are Blankfein's words likely to silence his critics -- short of closing the bank down, nothing will. His letter underscores the jam Goldman's in. But it is, at least, a spirited defence.

    • Goldman denies betting against mortgage clients
      The New York-based firm received $10 billion of taxpayer aid in the credit crisis, which it repaid in June. That money led politicians and pundits to blame Goldman Sachs for profiting from taxpayers. Labor unions led protests calling for bonus payments to be canceled, and a Rolling Stone magazine writer last year labeled the firm a "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity" and criticized it for selling securities backed by subprime mortgages.

    • Goldman Sachs calls for more financial regulation
      Why should Goldman have to pay for mitigating the risk of its deal-partners when the SEC or the Fed can do Goldman's work for it -- on the taxpayer dime?

    • Goldman Seeks Leave to Foreclose on Sawgrass Resort
      Goldman Sachs Mortgage Co., the lender to the owners of Florida’s Sawgrass Marriott Resort, asked a bankruptcy court for permission to take over and sell the company’s assets.

    • Goldman Sachs' Revolving Door
      Crony Capitalism. Government influence buying. Insider information and trading schemes, derivatives and market manipulations, shadow banking.

      Goldman Sachs is arguably the most powerful financial institution since the House of Morgan, during the Robber Barron days of capitalisms 'Golden Age' of the turn of the 19th century.

    • Goldman Sachs Didn't Profit From Mortgage Defaults, But It Tried
      We're good guys, really!

      Goldman Sachs, the publicly vilified former investment bank famously nicknamed a "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity" by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi for the way its seemingly wraps its tentacles around every far flung money-making opportunity, issued a defense in its annual letter to shareholders this week. The company did not benefit by wagering that the mortgages behind the securities it originally issued and sold would default, it said. Goldman's chief operating officer Gary Cohn wrote in the letter: "The firm did not generate enormous net revenues or profits by betting against residential mortgage-related products, as some have speculated."

    • Goldman Sachs Has No Apologies
      The company, which received $10 billion in preferred stock investment from the U.S. Treasury through the Troubled Assets Relief Program in October 2008, downplayed the aid it received from the federal government in the midst of the crisis.

    • Why Is Goldman Sachs Revisiting AIG?
      Then there is AIG. In today’s letter Goldman continues to insist that its “direct economic exposure to AIG was minimal” and that Goldman limited “overall credit exposure to AIG through a combination of collateral and market hedges.” Goldman’s primary exposure to AIG was through some $10 billion of insurance Goldman purchased on super-senior CDO tranches. When AIG became insolvent, that insurance did not look too secure. But Goldman and other banks were made whole, collecting 100 cents on the dollar, by the U.S. government. First, AIG used bailout cash it received from the government to post collateral that Goldman was allowed to keep. Second, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York purchased the CDOs directly from Goldman and the other banks.

      As for Goldman’s hedges--they remain unclear. Tim Geithner, who headed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the time of the bailout, has said he never inspected them. The Special Inspector General for TARP has said Goldman might have had difficulty collecting on the credit protection it had bought on AIG. Goldman believes that it would have been able to collect.

    • Goldman Sachs Trader Hedayat Said to Leave Firm
      Ali Hedayat, co-head in the Americas of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s largest internal hedge fund, has left the firm, the second senior departure from the unit in less than a month, said three people familiar with the matter.

    • Another Executive Said to Exit Goldman Fund Unit
      In what would mark the second high-profile departure in less than a month from Goldman Sachs’s Principal Strategies unit, Ali Hedayat, the co-head in the Americas of the bank’s largest internal hedge fund has left the firm, Bloomberg News reported, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Pirate Party and Philip Nitschke teach seniors to hack filter
      Pro-euthanasia group Exit International is holding national hacking crash-courses in how to bypass the Federal Government's planned ISP-level Internet content filter with help from the Australian Pirate Party.

      The first of eight “Hacking Masterclasses” was held in Chatswood NSW on Thursday last week, and drew about 50 elderly people — some bearing laptops. Exit International director and controversial Australian physician, Philip Nitschke, created the class to help the elderly access euthanasia-assistance material online, following fears that the Internet filter will block access to the information.

    • ISP Privacy Proposal Draws Fire
      A proposal to let Internet service providers conceal the contact information for their business customers is drawing fire from a number of experts in the security community, who say the change will make it harder to mitigate the threat from spam and malicious software.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Verizon CEO: Other nations 'not even close' to U.S. in broadband
      Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg on Tuesday subtly slammed the premise of the FCC's National Broadband Plan, stressing the United States was already the envy of other countries in broadband adoption.

      Even though the FCC argues otherwise -- chiefly presenting its broadband recommendations as a way to expand high-speed Internet services while returning the U.S. market to the top of the world rankings -- Seidenberg said it was other nations that lagged behind.

      "One. Not even close," the CEO said of the U.S. market's broadband standing during a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations.

    • Verizon CEO: Studies be damned, US is tops in broadband
      Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg sat down for an on-the-record conversation yesterday at the Council for Foreign Relations, and he pulled no punches: the US is number one in the world when it comes to broadband. We're so far ahead of everyone else, it's "not even close."

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TheWrap's Cease & Desist Letter to Newser
      (“Newser”), and any agent or affiliate of Newser, immediately cease and desist using The Wrap as a source for Newser content. Newser is not following industry best practices, is intentionally misleading consumers/users at the expense of The Wrap and at the expense of other unnamed sources, and has effectually demonstrated no intention to allow consumers/users to logically and easily ascertain the source of Newser articles."

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright and wrong
        The moral case, although easy to sympathise with, is a way of trying to have one’s cake and eat it. Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right. From 1710 onwards, it has involved a deal in which the creator or publisher gives up any natural and perpetual claim in order to have the state protect an artificial and limited one. So it remains.

        The question is how such a deal can be made equitably. At the moment, the terms of trade favour publishers too much. A return to the 28-year copyrights of the Statute of Anne would be in many ways arbitrary, but not unreasonable. If there is a case for longer terms, they should be on a renewal basis, so that content is not locked up automatically. The value society places on creativity means that fair use needs to be expanded and inadvertent infringement should be minimally penalised. None of this should get in the way of the enforcement of copyright, which remains a vital tool in the encouragement of learning. But tools are not ends in themselves.

      • Yes, Authors Have Copyright Issues With Quoting Others As Well
        Much of his concern is how these costs will multiply in an age of ebooks, but it seems like a serious enough issue from the start. Just the fact that authors who are discussing and building on the works of others are being blocked due to copyright is hugely problematic. In this context, it hardly sounds like the new works would act as substitutes for the old works at all -- but could actually drive more interest in those original works. It's difficult to see why or how copyright policy makes sense in these cases.

      • If 'Piracy' Is Killing Filmmaking, Why Do Nigeria, China And India Have Thriving Movie Businesses?
        Another point that he found was that the movie makers recognized they needed to "compete" with unauthorized copies, and priced things accordingly -- so that the price wasn't all that different than the unauthorized VCDs. Now, that did mean that some of the movies produced in these countries were quite low budget -- but, again, if you combine a higher quality movie with a real reason to buy (see in the theater/additional benefits for buying) there's no reason why big Hollywood movies can't take advantage of the same economics.

      • Are There More Copyright 'Pre-Settlement' Groups Setting Up Shop In The US?
        We recently covered how a recently created outfit going by the name US Copyright Group, had launched tens of thousands of lawsuits (some of which appear to be quite questionable from a legal standpoint), as part of what appeared to be an attempt at copying the efforts of companies like DigiProtect and ACS:Law in Europe (where such practices have been widely condemned). The lawsuits appear to be a smokescreen to get contact information for people to whom this "company" can send "pre-settlement" letters, in which they're told to pay up to avoid the lawsuit.

        Considering that this pseudo-shakedown is apparently lucrative in Europe, perhaps others are preparing to do the same in the US as well. A reader who prefers to remain anonymous, but who works for a small ISP, passed along an email he recently received from what appears to be a newish operation called the Copyright Enforcement Group, whose website has a mock law enforcement shield on it.

    • ACTA

      • USTR Releases Openness Plan, While Celebrating That It's In The Pocket Of Industry Lobbyists
        We were confused a few weeks ago when the USTR started promoting letters from lobbyists in support of ACTA. After all, of course the lobbyists want ACTA. They're the ones who wrote much of it in the first place. In the meantime, thousands have been writing the USTR to express their concerns about ACTA... but the USTR doesn't bother mentioning them at all. It's as if the USTR is flat-out admitting that it's controlled by the lobbyists.

      • ACTA will undermine European Parliament's power in IP matters
        An ACTA Oversight Committee will undermine the European Parliament's power in intellectual property rights enforcement, according to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). A recently leaked Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) document shows negotiating parties want to create an "Oversight Committee", which is planned to supervise the implementation and consider the further development of ACTA. It may also address "disputes that may arise regarding the interpretation or application" of ACTA.

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • Digital economy bill rushed through wash-up in late night session

      • Digital Economy Bill: Proposed By The Unelected, Debated By The Ignorant, Voted On By The Absent
        With the UK's Digital Economy Bill rushed through with little real debate, it's worth looking at the ignorance behind those who supported and pushed through the bill. The more you look, the more you realize they didn't even understand the very basics of what they were talking about. As some have noted it was "a bill proposed by the unelected, debated by the ignorant and voted on by the absent."

      • Internet provider defies digital bill
        TalkTalk's refusal to cooperate with 'draconian' anti-piracy measures reflect growing resistance to the digital economy bill

      • Digital Economy Bill – it’s a wash up
        It looks like much of the Digital Economy Bill will make it through to get Royal Assent by the end of the week.

        The Bill is now in much better shape than when first tabled by the Government last year – the ability of the Government to impose disconnection at will has been checked and the Henry VIII clause that literally allowed the Government to do anything else to reduce copyright infringement has been removed.

        However, many draconian proposals remain such as the responsibility on customers to protect their home networks from hacking at a collective cost of hundreds of millions of pounds a year, the presumption that they are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent and, as in China, the potential for legitimate search engines and websites to be blocked.

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 3 - Episode 3: Enemies of the Environment (2006)

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