Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 9/8/2014: Knoppix 7.4.0, GNU Linux Libre 3.16

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • SDN blogs: Ansible for server automation; open source tools on the rise
    Ansible for server automation, open source tools and the different types of network automation were top-of-mind for this week's SDN bloggers.

  • Machine Learning Goes Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome 37 Beta Fixes the Tab Layout Option
        The Beta branch of Google Chrome, a browser built on the Blink layout engine that aims to be minimalistic and versatile at the same time, is now at version 37.0.2062.68.

        The Google Chrome developers have been working around the Beta branch, but now a new release has been made and it packs a few changes and improvements.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox On Wayland Is Progressing
        Collabora remains interested in seeing Mozilla's Firefox web-browser with Gecko layout engine on Wayland.

        As reported on Phoronix a few times, the GTK3 port of Firefox is still being worked on along with the Wayland port. The GTK3 version of Firefox hasn't yet hit the mainline code-base, but progress is being made and for allowing Firefox/Gecko to avoid its hard dependencies on X11 interfaces.

        While there's still some work to go, Frederic Plourde of Collabora has reminded us it's still being worked on and their experimental code continues to allow Firefox to run natively on Wayland's Weston compositor.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • How to Roll Your Own Cloud
      As I noted in this post, last week marked the release of ownCloud 7 Community Edition, the new version of the ever popular open source file-sharing and storage platform for building private clouds. Among the benefits you can get from running ownCloud is a unique server-to-server sharing feature, which lets you share files with other users on separate instances, without having to use file sharing links. For many people, ownCloud has become an essential open platform.

    • ownCloud numbers
      We have good reasons to keep an eye on that. Open Source projects typically have a huge turnover (60%/year is normal), requiring us to keep attracting new contributors. Not only that, ownCloud Inc. has hired many community members and, through its marketing and sales machine, is increasing the number of ownCloud users enormously. We do numbers on our user base internally, and the number we make public (about 1.7 million at the moment) is a rather conservative estimate. And growing quickly: Germany's upcoming largest-ever cloud deployment will bring ownCloud to half a million users!

  • CMS


  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing

    • On Navigating Laws and Licenses with Open Source Projects
      A few years ago, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst made the prediction that open source software would soon become nearly pervasive in organizations of all sizes. That has essentially become true, and many businesses now use open source components without even knowing that they are doing so.

    • Oracle Embargoes FLOSS (Java)…
      So, Oracle is pushing the limits but apparently is legally doing so. Whether FLOSS can legally be embargoed by government is beyond me. After all, the source is out there and can’t be put back in the bottle. Further, if every country in the world had a random set of embargoes against every other country in he world, FLOSS could not be international at all. That would be a crime against humanity. If Java, why not Linux, itself? If such embargoes apply, Russia, Iran, Cuba etc. could just fork everything and go it alone. They certainly have the population to support a thriving FLOSS community behind their own walls.

  • Openness/Sharing


  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Kurdish pleas for weapons may finally be heard
      That raises the question of whether the CIA has begun providing weapons in secret to the Kurds, something U.S. officials will not confirm nor deny. The CIA declined to comment on whether it was sending arms.

    • US drone kills 3 suspected al-Qaida militants in Yemen
      The U.S. drone strike killed three suspected al-Qaida men in Yemen's central province of Marib on Saturday, Yemeni security officials said.

      The strike targeted a house in Wadi Abida area in Marib province, killing three men and injuring two women, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

    • Six months later, no one knows exactly who died in an American drone strike in Yemen
      December 12, 2013, began on a happy note for members of two Yemeni tribes as they celebrated the union of a young couple. After the wedding, a convoy of men took off to escort the bride to her new home. Twelve of them never made it.

    • US plan in jeopardy
      The bombing of wedding parties revealed much about the directionless and aimless war in Afghanistan.

    • Do Palestinians Living in Israel Count?
      This is important because the exclusion of Palestinians from public opinion polling in Israel is actually quite common–though it's not always reported clearly. A recent Washington Post article (7/29/14) ran with a headline proclaiming, "Israelis Support Netanyahu and Gaza War, Despite Rising Deaths on Both Sides." The Post cited various polls demonstrating support for the Israeli government’s current campaign in Gaza:

    • Here’s what I learned about reducing civilian deaths as an Israeli major
      The brutal Hannibal procedure seems to me to break all rules of war. It should be thrown out of the window and never used again in Gaza.

    • Cairo negotiators plead for return to ceasefire as Gaza hostilities resume

    • Israeli Shells Pound Gaza As Fighting Resumes
      Israel says Hamas has fired six rockets across the border since the 72-hour ceasefire ended on Friday morning.

    • Obama-Putin Relations
      Prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin and China blocking Obama's wish to send NATO planes into the Syria conflict, relations between Obama and Putin were pretty good.

    • US strikes targets in Iraq with drones and jets
      U.S. forces launched a second wave of air strikes against Islamic extremists near Arbil in northern Iraq on Friday, destroying a militant convoy and killing a mortar team, the Pentagon said.

    • Obama moves US move deeper into Iraqi morass by authorising targeted airstrikes against Islamic State
      Obama has authorized targeted air strikes on Islamic State to protect US personnel. He also authorized air drops of humanitarian aid to members of the Yazidi minority who fled to the mountains and Christians as well.

    • Let us jointly develop arms: PM Narendra Modi to US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel
      Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told visiting US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel that India would like to work with US defence majors on a joint development and co-production model as part of Delhi's efforts to achieve self-reliance and reduce arms import.

    • Fifty years since the Gulf of Tonkin incident which triggered the Vietnam war
      Most historians and military experts have since concluded that the second attack on American warships did not occur, many blaming misread sonar pings. “Review of action makes many recorded contacts and torpedoes appear doubtful,” the Maddox commanding officer reportedly communicated after evading the alleged torpedo attacks. “Freak weather effects and overeager sonar men many have accounted for many reports.”

    • America’s Recruitment of Nazis–Then and Now
      I assume, in jest, that at least a tiny part of the media blackout over the “anti-terrorist” wonton brutalities against civilians in southeastern Ukraine (Novorossya) may be the result of the decidedly unsexy quality of the fascist cohort participating in the Kiev junta’s campaign there. Foot soldiers of Svoboda and Right Sector paramilitary army (the Kiev junta’s so-called National Guard, formed as a volunteer army after the coup) look comically lumpen. Moreover, they feel like a postmodern pastiche of the original Nazis—and so does their cult, a virtual fan club, of Stepan Bandera, the Galician butcher who notoriously collaborated with the Axis forces in the extermination of Jews, Ukrainians, Poles, and other undesirables in the East. Ideologically, they seem unreal, as though they had just crawled out of a deep bomb hole in history, which had not been quite repaired in the post war, absurdly calling out for “Glory to Ukraine.” A glimpse at fascist-parade photographs and videos of their subterranean, wormy faces set in the bully’s obstinate scowl, their heads shaven kapo style, hobnail-booted and pudgily stuffed in fascist-regulation black, makes one think of hastily rounded up layabouts as extras for an implausible B-movie about an improbable skin-head warfare in a high school anywhere in the USA. Despite their obvious fantasies, Aryan warriors headed for Valhalla they are not. So, if they can’t be advertised as shining knights in America’s democracy armor or as specimen of a superior brand of military men, why were these retrogrades recruited to lead the Western-backed “pro-democracy” crusade in the Kiev Maidan and its aftermath?

    • Kiir, Machar must reach peace deal
      Western influence on conflict resolution processes in Africa and other parts of the world is usually associated with anarchy and regime change. According to the grapevine, US foreign relations agenda is driven by the CIA whose main aim is to puppetise political leaders in the world to embrace and advance American interests. Where such efforts are rejected, the US cunningly orchestrates regime change to either cause total chaos in a country or ensure a leader of their choice gets to the helm of political power. The modus operandi involves luring targets with cash handouts and/or pledges of donor funding.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • ALEC Annual Conference: New Bills, New Spin-Offs, Same Corporate Backers
      The American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," met in Dallas on July 30 for its annual meeting. ALEC brings together state legislators and corporate lobbyists to vote on "model" legislation behind closed doors, before those bills are introduced in state houses across the country, stripped of their ALEC origins. As the Kansas City Star has noted, what happens at ALEC meetings "provides a preview for the next state sessions" in legislatures around the country.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • NSA struggles to find employees after spying scandal

      The US National Security Agency is struggling to attract top technology workers after revelations of widespread eavesdropping practices damaged its reputation.

    • Google Will Rank Encrypted Sites Higher
      In the cyber age, no website is completely secure and our data is open for everyone to pry upon. Whether it’s a hacking incident or the case of the NSA snooping on our mails – nothing is confidential. In such an era, it just makes sense to build a more secure Web.

    • Hacking Airliners, Ships, and More Through Satellite Communications
    • Nissan investigates claims its Infiniti car is 'most hackable'

    • Hackers Can Easily Disrupt Aircraft Satellite Links
      How hard is it to hack into satellite communications? Not that hard, according to researcher Ruben Santamarta of Seattle-based security company IOActive. He's found a number of flaws in several widely-used satellite communication (SATCOM) terminals, the ground-based devices that communicate with orbiting satellites.

      Speaking at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas yesterday (August 7), Santamarta showed how SATCOM devices work and what kinds of flaws, including hard-coded credentials, backdoors and insecure and undocumented protocols, are present in them.

    • NSA Uses Private Sector Data Collection for Public Sector Purposes: Impacts on Big Data and Commerce
      The National Security Agency (NSA) now has access to virtually all online and mobile communications, as well as most credit card transactions, conducted in or through the U.S. The NSA is also tapping into the most popular smartphone applications, including Angry Birds, Google Maps, and Twitter. However, the NSA is far from the only entity treading on personal privacy to achieve its objectives; the private sector is teeming with examples of companies obtaining personal user data through questionable means and deploying it in even more questionable ways.

    • Crypto Daddy Phil Zimmerman says surveillance society is DOOMED
      A killer combination of rapidly advancing technology and a desire for greater privacy among the public should condemn current surveillance state to an historical anachronism, according to PGP creator Phil Zimmermann.

      In an extended talk at Defcon 22 in Las Vegas, Zimmermann said it might seem as though the intelligence agencies have the whip hand at the moment but mankind had faced this situation before. He also said the abolition of slavery and absolute monarchy, and the achievement for civil rights, also once looked unlikely but were achieved.

    • Berlin seeks names of secret service agents
      Berlin has asked all foreign diplomatic missions to provide names of secret service agents working in Germany, news weekly Der Spiegel reported on Friday, amid a rift with Washington over allegations of US spying.

    • Berlin asks embassies to name secret service agents in Germany: report

    • Spiegel: Germany asks other countries to name their spies

    • Snowden copycat a mole for U.S. public
      Whistle-blowers come in packs, so it’s a wonder no one followed the example of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden for so long. Now, there seems to be a second leaker, and he or she is, like Snowden, feeding information to the press rather than peddling it to foreign intelligence services. It’s a sign that there’s a flaw in the U.S. approach to national security.

      After WikiLeaks published its trove of U.S. military and diplomatic documents in 2010, copycat sites sprang up throughout the world. Even established media outlets set up their own. The information released on these Web pages was not always sent in by whistle-blowers. I was present at the birth of YanukovychLeaks, the Ukrainian site where documentation plundered from former president Viktor Yanukovych’s abandoned residence was published. The “leaks” component in the names, however, pointed to the original project spearheaded by Julian Assange.

    • FinFisher in Middle East Media Spying Scandal
      Earlier this week on the social news and media aggregation website Reddit, the user “PhineasFisher” revealed that he had hacked into the central servers of the spying software company FinFisher, and discovered they had been assisting oppressive Middle Eastern regimes in Egypt and Bahrain to spy on journalists and activists since the first Arab Spring.

      Phineas released his 40GB cache of plundered files to the open Internet, which revealed that the company had installed their spyware on close to 80 machines within both countries, including those belonging to several prominent human rights lawyers, as well as leaders of the opposition forces who have been jailed since 2010.

    • Defcon and feds in a ‘cooling off’ period
      Last year’s Defcon event saw blatant anger directed at the feds after Edward Snowden’s revelatory leaks about the National Security Agency’s metadata collection efforts ignited a global firestorm. But this year is different. The relationship between Defcon organizers and the feds has entered a cooling off period.
    • Australian Proposal Would Require Suspicionless Domestic Spying by ISPs
      The Australian government announced new anti-terrorism measures this week, in response to the alleged involvement of Australian citizens with extremist groups in countries including Syria and Iraq. Quietly omitted from the briefing at which those changes were announced, but separately leaked to the press this week, were the government's plans to introduce mandatory data retention requirements for Australian Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

    • Encryption Keeps Your Data Safe…Or Does It?
      In the post-Snowden era, many people have come to believe that the only way to maintain privacy is through encrypting everything. (Well, as long as your encryption doesn't use the flawed RSA algorithm that gave the NSA a backdoor.) A fast-moving session at the Black Hat 2014 conference challenged the assumption that encryption equals safety. Thomas Ptacek, co-founder of Matasano Security, noted that "nobody who implements cryptography gets it completely right," and went on to demonstrate that fact in detail.

    • American privacy values vs. European perceptions
      And in the United Kingdom, wiretaps are approved by the Home Secretary -- an executive official. It would be as if our own attorney general could approve the FBI’s wiretap requests. Perhaps even more notably, the Netherlands has the highest rate of wiretapping of any European country -- Dutch police can tap any phone they like, so long as the crime under investigation carries at least a three-year jail term.
    • Study: NSA monitors virtually all communications in U.S.
      Perhaps a whispered conversation between two people might still be private in the U.S., but little else – not even kids playing “Angry Birds” -- escapes the monitors at the National Security Agency, according to both a new report from a private data firm and a prominent U.S. Senator.

    • No More Anonymous Logins On Russia’s Public Wi-Fi; Government Demands Identity
      Russia is changing the way people use internet in the country. In a recent round of preventive measures taken by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a new law requires Russians to identify themselves before logging on to public Wi-Fi hotspots. The decree was signed by Medvedev on July 31 but was publicly announced Friday, according to Reuters.
    • Russia demands internet users show ID to access public Wi-Fi
      Russia further tightened its control of the internet, requiring people using public Wi-Fi hotspots provide identification, a policy that prompted anger from bloggers and confusion among telecom operators on how it would work.

    • Facebook Messenger Privacy Problem
      Most terrorists and spy agencies are aware not to use cell or Internet communication for their devious plots. They know cell phones can be turned on remotely.
    • NSA Tried To Delete Court Transcript In Lawsuit Over Deleting Evidence
      The National Security Agency secretly tried to delete part of a public court transcript after believing one of its lawyers may have accidentally revealed classified information in a court case over alleged illegal surveillance.

      Following a recent hearing in the ongoing Jewel v. NSA case, in which the Electronic Frontier Foundation is challenging NSA’s ability to surveil foreign citizen’s U.S.-based email and social media accounts, the government informed U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White it believed one of its attorneys mistakenly revealed classified information.

    • Privacy Files: On The Eastern Front
      Maybe Keith “Haystack” Alexander, who sold this country the pipe dream of mass surveillance and is now raking in the profits of fear and incompetence in the private sector. A modest man, he refuses to confirm his World Record Revolving Door fees of a million a month. “That number was inflated from the beginning,” he said.

      Of course, why would any self-respecting Russian hacker want to work for Haystack? Especially after Alexander’s old gang at the NSA got wiped out by a team of American techies in a friendly game of cyberwar.

      For those who tend to worry about the fate of their identities in small town Russia, the Times has some tips on re-thinking your password(s).
    • Banks’ new encrypted chat service could infuriate SEC
      The chat and instant-messaging service Goldman Sachs and five other banks are close to adopting has CIA-like encryption powers that could make life difficult for regulators, The Post has learned.

    • Spy court orders release of phone surveillance opinion
    • FISA Court Orders Government To Release Opinion Justifying Bulk Phone Data Collection
      The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court on Friday ordered the release of a partially declassified court opinion, which explains the government’s justification for the collection and surveillance of bulk telephone records by the National Security Agency.

    • Data protectionism, the real fallout from the NSA scandal; new contributor will make you care about global privacy issues
      Brazil is considering a law that would force U.S. companies like Google to store and keep data on its citizens only within Brazil’s borders – not at Google’s U.S. servers. Let’s call that data protectionism. Pandora, meet the NSA. This isn’t a story about Brazil. It’s a story about the future of technology, and about a lot of money.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Big four carriers accused of violating the only remaining net neutrality rule
      Only one portion of the FCC’s network neutrality rules survived a federal appeals court decision in January, and all four major US carriers have just been accused of violating it.

    • Obama Speaks Out As FCC Releases Net Neutrality Comments
      Just as the FCC released more than 1.4GB worth of net neutrality comments, President Barack Obama clarified his own thoughts on the proposed rules.

      During Tuesday's U.S.-Africa business forum, the president took a strong stance against net neutrality.

    • Dear FCC: Get Out of D.C. and Talk to the Over 1 Million Americans Who Support Real Net Neutrality
      The FCC is slated to close the written comment window for the net neutrality proceeding on September 10th, but that doesn’t mean that the FCC is going to make up its mind anytime soon. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that the FCC will be done hearing from the public. Technically, the public can continue to comment, and the FCC, if it decides to do so, can continue to listen to Americans who speak out against proposed rules that would allow Internet providers to discriminate against how we access parts of the Net.

  • DRM

    • Netflix surpasses HBO in subscriber revenue
      Netflix has surpassed HBO in subscriber revenue, according to a status update from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Wednesday. The company is now pulling in $1.146 billion compared to HBO's $1.141 billion, and it boasts 50.05 million subscribers, according to its second-quarter earnings reported in July.

    • It's Now Possible To Play Netflix Natively On Linux Without Wine Plug-Ins

    • Bestselling authors take out full-page New York Times ad against Amazon
      Readers of the New York Times will have to steel themselves this weekend, as the unseemly brawl between Hachette and Amazon erupts on to the tranquil pages of the Grey Lady. Perhaps the most incendiary item in Sunday's edition is due to be a full-page ad paid for by a group of bestselling authors – and backed by over 900 other writers – calling on Amazon "in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business".

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Tektronix Uses DMCA Notice To Try To Stop Oscilloscope Hacking
        Another day, another abuse of the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions to stop things that have nothing whatsoever to do with copyright. As pointed out by Slashdot, the Hackaday site recently had a post about how to clone some Tektronix application modules for its MSO2000 line of oscilloscopes. The post explained a simple hack to enable the application module to do a lot more.

      • Plagiarism ends Walsh’s Senatorial race, propels Biden to VP
        Senator Joe Biden plagiarized a campaign speech and became Vice President of the United States. Senator John Walsh, D-Mont., plagiarized a final paper and may have ended his political career. What’s the difference?

        On Thursday, Walsh dropped his bid to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Montana. He has served in the Senate since February, when he was appointed to replace Max Baucus, who was named ambassador to China. His campaign was already doing badly against that of his Republican challenger, Representative Steve Daines, when two weeks ago the New York Times reported that he plagiarized much of the final paper for his master’s degree at the U.S. Army War College.

      • Who Really Owns a Monkey's Selfie?
        Old wounds were reopened this week when Wikipedia released its first-ever transparency report, which cited a monkey selfie among its recent takedown requests.

      • Wikimedia votes to decide who owns monkey selfie
        Community’s decision on whether to keep or remove the photo could have ramifications as to who holds copyright to pictures posted online

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