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Links 10/8/2017: Tails 3.1, GhostBSD 11.1 Alpha

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source is driving digital transformation, according to mainstream businesses
    Many of us declared victory for open source years ago, once it came to dominate key industry trends like big data, mobile, and cloud. But the real sign of winning is when mainstream enterprises talk about open source as part of their earnings calls. Once open source becomes a key component of financial performance, the momentum is unstoppable.

    Combing through the last few quarters of earnings transcripts, it's clear that open source has arrived...but to very different destinations, depending on the company.

  • 7 open source Twitter bots to follow
    We are quickly entering a world in which you may spend more of your day communicating with robots than with humans.

    Don't believe me? Ask yourself how many times you've used an automated checkout machine or ATM in lieu of a human, called the 1-800 number for a customer service need and been greeted by a machine, asked Google or Alexa what temperature to roast your brussels sprouts at, or interfaced with a website that gave you a personalized recommendation.

  • The best open source CRM software
    If you're a small business looking to take the next step in your evolution, you may be looking at implementing a customer relationship management (or CRM) solution. But with enterprise-grade vendors like Oracle and Salesforce charging such a high premium for their services, how can smaller companies afford to get started with CRM software?

    The answer lies in open source. As with many kinds of software, there are multiple vendors who provide open source CRM solutions that are completely free to use. They may have restrictions on them, such as limited features and support, but for small businesses looking to try out CRM, they can be an excellent starting point.

  • All Parts Of The Paranoid Android ROM Are Now Open Source
    Paranoid Android, one of the most popular custom ROMs on the Android scene, is now completely open source, with all parts of it now available for members of the community to use and modify. All of Paranoid Android’s original features like the Color Engine and Accidental Touch are hence open to anyone and can be compiled right alongside stock AOSP or put into other ROMs. The full codebase is available on GitHub and can be contributed to with approval, integrated into original projects, or simply recompiled from scratch for just about any Android device. This means that AOSPA can now expand to any device with a willing maintainer, rather than only those that the official AOSPA team wants to support on their own.

  • Open source network tools compete with shrinking vendor equipment
    Vendor equipment consolidation does a lot of things -- both good and bad -- to the service-provider buyer. It also affects network design and deployment -- including service automation and the tools that can make it happen -- and the potential for vendor lock-in, unless operators back open source network tools.

    To start with the good, the first effect of network vendor equipment consolidation is a reduction in vendor costs, which is what drives consolidation in the first place. That lets prices fall. Obviously, the price-reduction effect of consolidation can't last forever, which means, eventually, other pressures could make network vendor equipment consolidation a net risk to operators.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 55 Brings Virtual Reality to the Web
        If you are setting up WordPress on a new Linux VPS for the first time you may face some problems like missing some PHP extensions. One example is missing the MySQL extension and this is a common problem since the extension doesn't come by default with many operating systems. In this tutorial we will help you to fix the problem with the missing extension and complete the WordPress installation successfully.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Waiting for AOO
      Eleven months ago, Dennis Hamilton, the chair of the Apache OpenOffice (AOO) project's project management committee at the time, raised the idea of winding the project down. He worried that AOO lacked a critical mass of developers to keep things going, and that no new developers were coming in to help. At the time, various defenders came forward and the project decided try to get back on track. Nearly a year later, a review of how that has gone is appropriate; it does not appear that the situation has gotten any better.

      The project did manage to get the 4.1.3 bug-fix release — its first in nearly one year — out in October, but has not made any releases since. At the time, the plan was to move quickly to release 4.1.4, followed by a 4.2.0 feature release shortly thereafter. The 4.1.4 branch was created on October 11, shortly before the 4.1.3 release. Since then, it has accumulated 24 changesets (which map to about 30 changes in the original SVN repository). There have only been four commits to this branch since early February, at least one of which includes security fixes.

  • CMS

  • Education

    • Italy’s Trento province to boost open source in schools
      The autonomous province of Trento (Italy) is revitalising its promotion of the use of free and open source software in education. In the coming months, the province will provide schools with training on free software and open standards.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 11.1 Enters Alpha: FreeBSD 11.1 Paired With MATE, Xfce Desktops
      While TrueOS (formerly PC-BSD) is arguably the most well known desktop variant of FreeBSD, GhostBSD has been gaining ground as well as a FreeBSD-based desktop-friendly operating system. Today marks the availability of GhostBSD 11.1 Alpha.

    • GhostBSD 11.1 ALPHA1 is ready!
      This first alpha development release of GhostBSD 11.1 is ready for testing. All MATE and XFCE image is available with i386 and amd64 architectures. We hope to see a lot of people helping to test this next release.

  • Programming/Development

    • JDK 9: First Release Candidate
      There are no unresolved P1 bugs in build 181, so that is our first JDK 9 Release Candidate.

    • Java JDK 9 Sees Its First Release Candidate
      The first release candidate of Oracle's Java JDK 9 is now available for testing.

      Java 9 is running behind schedule compared to its plan to ship in July but now available is the first release candidate of JDK 9. Delays of Java 9 have happened largely because of "Project Jigsaw", Java's new module system.

    • NASA/EOSDIS Earthdata
      he book, it goes without saying, focused on Python for the analysis and interpretation of satellite data (in one of the many topics covered). After that I spent some time working with satellite and GIS data in general using Erlang and LFE. Ultimately though, I found that more and more projects were using the JVM for this sort of work, and in particular, I noted that Clojure had begun to show up in a surprising number of Github projects.

    • Making pay transparent at Basecamp retains talent
      There are no negotiated salaries or raises at Basecamp. Everyone in the same role at the same level is paid the same. Equal work, equal pay.

      We assess new hires on a scale that goes from junior programmer, to programmer, to senior programmer, to lead programmer, to principal programmer (or designer or customer support or ops . . .). We use the same scale to assess when someone is in line for a promotion.


      No scheme of pay is perfect, but at least with a model like this, nobody is forced to hop jobs just to get a raise that matches their market value. Which is reflected in the fact that we have lots of people at Basecamp who've been here for a long time with no plans to leave.


  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday

    • Mastering matplotlib: Acknowledgments

    • More Details on the PACER Vulnerability We Shared with the Administrative Office of the Courts
      PACER/ECF is a system of 204 websites that is run by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO) for the management of federal court documents. The main function of PACER/ECF is for lawyers and the public to upload and download court documents such as briefs, memos, orders, and opinions.

      In February we reported that we disclosed a major vulnerability in PACER/ECF to the AO. The proof of concept and disclosure/resolution timeline are available here.

    • Endpoint security firm leaking terabytes of data

      Endpoint security software vendor Carbon Black has been found to be exfiltrating data from several Fortune 1000 companies due to the architecture of its Cb Response software, the information security services and managed services provider DirectDefense claims.

    • Teenagers charged over allegedly running huge DDoS operation

      Two Israeli teenagers, who have been alleged to have co-founded and run a company used for launching distributed denial of service attacks, have been arrested and indicted on conspiracy and hacking charges.

    • HashiCorp Vault Brings Disaster Recovery to Secrets Management
      HashiCorp has released new versions of both its open-source and enterprise editions of its Vault secrets management platform, providing new scalability and security operations capabilities.

      Vault helps organizations securely store and access application tokens, passwords and authentication credentials, which collectively are commonly referred to as "secrets" in an information security context.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Madman With Nuclear Weapons is Donald Trump, Not Kim Jong-un
      FOR ONCE, Donald Trump has a point. “We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that,” he told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the transcript from their bizarre phone conversation that was leaked to The Intercept in May.

      The madman the U.S. president was referring to, of course, was North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The madman the rest of us should be worried about, however, is Trump himself, who — lest we forget — has the sole, exclusive and unrestricted power to launch almost 1,000 nuclear warheads in a matter of minutes, should he so wish.

    • 9 Ways Trump Has Endangered National Security

    • ISIS Remote Control Agent OPSEC
      From a security point of view, they are a disaster — because as they migrate from civilian to terrorist, their journey is easily spotted and tracked by security forces. Security for an illicit group is partially a factor of how much communication traffic it generates. The less traffic there is to monitor, the more secure they are. A remote control agent requires a huge amount of traffic, from recruitment to training to badgering and cajoling them into taking action. This is an operational security nightmare. So, lets look closer at how ISIS has implemented their operational security for handling remote control agents.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Alaskan towns at risk from rising seas sound alarm as Trump pulls federal help
      The US government’s withdrawal from dealing with, or even acknowledging, climate change may have provoked widespread opprobrium, but for Alaskan communities at risk of toppling into the sea, the risks are rather more personal.

      The Trump administration has moved to dismantle climate adaptation programs including the Denali Commission, an Anchorage-based agency that is crafting a plan to safeguard or relocate dozens of towns at risk from rising sea levels, storms and the winnowing away of sea ice.

      Federal assistance for these towns has been ponderous but could now grind to a halt, with even those working on the issue seemingly targeted by the administration. In July, Joel Clement, an interior department official who worked with Alaskan communities on climate adaptation, claimed he had been moved to a completely unrelated position because of the administration’s ideological hostility to the issue.

  • Finance

    • Gina Miller afraid to leave her home after threats of acid attacks
      Gina Miller, the campaigner who won a Brexit legal challenge against the government, has revealed that she has been receiving threats of acid attacks for months and is afraid to leave her home.

      The businesswoman said that if the threats continued and became too much to bear she would “seriously consider” leaving the UK.

      “I have been getting threats of having acid thrown in my face for months and months now. When I see someone walk towards me on the street with a bottle of water or something, I just freak out,” she told Verdict magazine.

      With the backdrop of a spate of acid attacks across the country, she said: “My life has completely changed.”

    • VR rail monopoly to end – Six effects of the coming transport reform {sic}

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The Google memo and the new blacklisting

      Google’s sacking of Damore matters not only because the tech giant is so well-known, and has been accused of sexist hiring practices (31 percent of its employees are women). It resonates with wider society because it suggests that there is only one ‘correct’ view on certain topics, like diversity, and that if you dare to question the ‘correct’ line you should be punished. Indeed, it has been striking to see that so many, including self-described progressives, rushed to denounce Damore’s memo and applaud Google for wielding the axe.


      My biggest concern is the number of people who don’t understand how distribution differences aren’t stereotypes and can’t be applied to individuals. It’s basic statistical logic.

    • Australian Public Servants Warned Against Liking Social Media Posts That Are Critical Of Government Policies
      The Internet effectively turns everyone into a publisher, able to promulgate their ideas in a way that was not open to most people before. That's great for the democratization of media -- and terrible for governments that want to control the flow of information to citizens. The Australian government is particularly concerned about what its 150,000 public servants might say. It has issued a "guidance" document that "sets out factors for employees to consider in making decisions about whether and what to post".

    • Facing libel lawsuit, Techdirt takes large donations to broaden coverage

      In the wake of an ongoing, expensive libel lawsuit that could drag on for years, Mike Masnick, the founder of Techdirt, announced Wednesday that his website would accept more than $250,000 in donations "to further reporting on free speech."

    • Facebook, Twitter Consistently Fail At Distinguishing Abuse From Calling Out Abuse
      Time and time again, we see that everyone who doesn't work in the field of trust and safety for an internet platform seems to think that it's somehow "easy" to filter out "bad" content and leave up "good" content. It's not. This doesn't mean that platforms shouldn't try to deal with the issue. They have perfectly good business reasons to want to limit people using their systems to abuse and harass and threaten other users. But when you demand that they be legally responsible -- as Germany (and then Russia) recently did -- bad things happen, and quite frequently those bad things happen to the victims of abuse or harassment or threats.

      We just wrote about Twitter's big failure in suspending Popehat's account temporarily, after he posted a screenshot of a threat he'd received from a lawyer who's been acting like an internet tough guy for a few years now. In that case, the person who reviewed the tweet keyed in on the fact that Ken White had failed to redact the contact information from the guy threatening him -- which at the very least raises the question of whether or not Twitter considers threats of destroying someone's life to be less of an issue than revealing that guy's contact information, which was already publicly available via a variety of sources.

    • North Carolina Passes An Entirely Misguided Restore Campus Free Speech Act
      You will recall that we were just discussing a proposed law in Wisconsin that sought to do a number of things on college campuses, including limit the ability to protest and shout down controversial speakers, as well as mandating quite insanely that school administrations must "remain neutral" on the "controversial" topics of the day. It's a source of frustration for me that it's not immediately clear how bad an idea this is for any number of reasons. My two chief complaints about the law, built upon a legislative proposal from the Goldwater Institute, are how broad a range of topics this could conceivably cover and how it quite plainly seeks to favor one form of speech over another. Put simply, giving state governments oversight about which topics a university administration is allowed to opine while also mandating punishments for students who protest to shout down speakers is about as anti-free speech as it gets, even as the proponents of the legislation attempt to shroud themselves in that most sacred of American ideals.

    • ACLU of Maine Sues Paul Lepage For ‘Facebook Censorship’

    • Maine Governor Sued for Deleting Facebook Comments

    • Maine Gov. LePage Illegally Censoring His Facebook Page, ACLU Claims

    • ACLU of ME sues Gov. LePage over 'Facebook censorship'

    • ‘Censorship is for losers’: Assange offers fired Google engineer job at WikiLeaks

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Complaint Filed Over Sketchy VPN Service
      VPNs are important... for some situations. Unfortunately, the message that many have received in hearing about the importance of VPNs is that they somehow "protect your privacy." But that's always been wrong. They just move the privacy questions somewhere else. And sometimes it's a sketchy place. A few months back we discussed this very issue with some security experts on our podcast. All VPNs do is create a secure tunnel from where you are to somewhere else. That's useful if you don't want other people sitting in the Starbucks with you to pick up your unencrypted traffic (or other people in your hotel on the hotel WiFi), but it doesn't solve anything on larger privacy questions.

    • 70% of Windows 10 users are totally happy with our big telemetry slurp, beams Microsoft
      Microsoft claims seven out of ten Windows 10 users are happy with Redmond gulping loads of telemetry from their computers – which isn't that astounding when you realize it's a default option.

      In other words, 30 per cent of people have found the switch to turn it off, and the rest haven't, don't realize it's there, or are genuinely OK with the data collection.

    • Disney sued over potential child data harvesting apps

      The perennially popular Walt Disney Company is being sued by parents in California because of concerns that otherwise apparently children-friendly apps are actually data vacuums that know more about your kin than you do.

    • ACLJ Sending Legal Demands to NSA
      Reports just this month reveal that Samantha Power – President Obama’s Representative to the United Nations – is believed to have requested hundreds of so-called “unmaskings” of United States persons.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Extraordinary renditions and arbitrary detentions
      As a legalized concept of international acceptance, Human Rights is considered a ’modern’ instrument, brought by the United Nations in 1948 after the ‘horrors of the Second World War’. However, the legal protection of individuals under arrest can be traced centuries before. Persian king Cyrus the Great issued 2559 years ago a law establishing civil rights for all, to be applied event to those defeated in war, which included the detainees. The Romans followed suit in its “natural law” codex, then the Magna Carta of 1215, the French Revolution’s ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’ of 1789, etc.

      Through that historical context, it is difficult to find a more flagrant – and also a more comprehensive– violation to the individuals’ civil rights, than the practice of ‘extraordinary renditions’. In essence, ‘extraordinary rendition’ is about the kidnapping of a foreign citizen by Intelligence or enforcement government agencies, act which is perpetrated in yet another country. This practice was commenced by the US government in 1987, with the abduction of a Lebanese citizen from a yacht that was in Italian waters.

      After 2001, the U.S. implementation of ‘extraordinary renditions’ has required the secret collaboration of some EU governments and others around the world. For instance, Sweden collaborated secretly with the CIA in the rendition of two refugees that were transported from a Stockholm airport to a torture site in Egypt. Because of that, the United Nations HR sanctioned Sweden for violating the UN’s Absolute Ban on Torture. Furthermore, Lithuania and Poland had faced denounces of arbitrary detention and renditions before the European Court of Human Rights. These last named were two countries in Europe where CIA secretly held its prisoners, the so called ‘black sites‘.

    • North Korea: Pastor Lim Hyeon-soo released after more than two years of imprisonment

      Amnesty International welcomes the release of Lim Hyeon-soo to receive urgent medical treatment. The Canadian pastor and humanitarian worker has been detained in North Korea for the past two and a half years.

    • Indonesia Again Silences 1965 Massacre Victims
      Indonesian police and military personnel last week forced the cancellation of a public workshop on financial compensation for victims of the country’s 1965-1966 mass killings. Security forces “interrogated and intimidated” workshop organizers, claiming they lacked a permit.

      The strong-arm reaction reflects a tenacious, decades-long official taboo on public discussions of the massacre as part of efforts by successive governments to absolve those responsible. That’s because in October 1965, the government gave free rein to soldiers and local militias to kill anyone they considered a “communist.” Over the next few months, at least 500,000 people were killed (the total may be as high as one million). The victims included members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), ethnic Chinese, trade unionists, teachers, activists, and artists.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Lies Again, Insists Net Neutrality Rules Will Hurt First Responders
      So one of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon's favorite bogus claims about net neutrality rules is that such consumer protections will somehow prevent the sick or disabled from getting the essential internet connectivity they need. For example, Verizon once tried to claim that the deaf and disabled would be harmed if large ISPs weren't allowed to create fast or slow lanes, or prioritize emergency traffic over say -- Netflix streams. Comcast recently tried to argue something similar, again implying that the hearing-impaired could be harmed unless ISPs are allowed to prioritize or deprioritize select classes of traffic.


      Right, "not even considered." Except for the fact that it was painstakingly considered, and AT&T knows it. It's a little grotesque to use the specter of 9/11 to attack popular net neutrality protections, but that's well in line with AT&T's behavior on this subject (including its recent use of the net neutrality protests to con its own customers into opposing net neutrality. In reality AT&T isn't worried about net neutrality rules harming medical services, since they've long-been exempted. AT&T's worried about one thing: any rules stopping it from abusing a lack of broadband competition to drive up prices and engage in anti-competitive behavior.

    • [Older] Internet giants need to be reined in for the public good

      A much bigger issue is the social cost of information monopolies. Facebook’s footprint as a distributor of news, for example, is expanding without any of the oversight you might expect from a press freedom watchdog. Yet we know that Facebook is a prolific vehicle for fake news, and that political agitators exploit the platform for their own ends (something that also makes Bannon’s position appear incongruous, given that he practically invented the genre).

    • As net neutrality dies, one man wants to make Verizon pay for its sins

      Nguyen is a recent college graduate living in Santa Clara, California. And for much of 2015, he spent his time digging through years of Verizon's public statements and actions, assembling more than 300 citations into a 112-page document that could well have been his master's thesis. (In fact, he studied computer science.) The document catalogs a dozen questionable actions Verizon has taken since 2012, assembling a body of evidence in an attempt to prove that the carrier has violated a number of open internet protections.

    • Maybe Americans don’t need fast home Internet service, FCC suggests

      Americans might not need a fast home Internet connection, the Federal Communications Commission suggests in a new document. Instead, mobile Internet via a smartphone might be all people need.

    • Demand That Congress Fight for Net Neutrality

      Take Action Now gives you three meaningful actions you can take each week—whatever your schedule.

    • Don’t Let Congress Compromise on Net Neutrality

      Next month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will host a hearing on net neutrality. It has invited all of the major Internet service providers, as well as large Internet businesses like Facebook, Google, and Netflix, to come and testify. While it may be encouraging to see Congress turning its focus to net neutrality, it’s troubling that lawmakers appear to be more interested in the thoughts of a handful of large corporations than those of the public that’s been overwhelmingly calling for the preservation of existing net neutrality protections.

  • DRM

    • Disney Pulls Content From Netflix As Users Face An Annoying, Confusing Rise In Streaming Exclusivity Silos
      On one hand, the increasing number of independent streaming services is certainly a good thing. This increase in competition is finally starting to apply pressure on incumbent cable TV providers to offer greater programming flexibility and to compete on price, even though many cable and broadcast execs falsely believe they can ignore the threat and do the exact opposite. But as everybody and their mother jumps into the streaming game, we're facing a new threat: the rise of fractured exclusivity silos that make consumers hunt and peck to obtain their favorite programs.

    • Disney Ditching Netflix Keeps Piracy Relevant

      Disney announced that it will end its US distribution deal with Netflix in 2019. This means that many titles won't be available on the popular streaming service but through a new Disney-branded platform instead. While the media giant expects to profit from the strategy, more fragmentation is not ideal for the public. In a way, one can argue that it keeps piracy relevant.

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