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Links 21/12/2018: Alpine 3.8.2, Coreboot 4.9, Rust 1.31.1

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • This alternative operating system is easier than Windows and Apple
      For the technologically inclined, trying out new operating systems can be an adventure. The rest of us, however, figure we have two choices: Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS because that's what comes installed on our computers.

      But there's a little secret that about 2 percent of the population has known about for a couple decades (according to NetMarketshare): The open-source operating system called Linux, which isn't new — it's been around since 1991 — has a new version that has techies abuzz.

      And, yes, it works on both PCs and Macs.

    • 6 Changes Windows Users Need to Accept to When Switching to Linux
      Making the jump from Windows to Linux isn’t always a walk in the park for long-time Windows users. That isn’t the say the experience isn’t a great one. It’s just that there are certain things you take for granted in Windows that are quite different in Linux.

      Some major differences include the need to become comfortable with the command line, a different approach to handling peripherals, and the need to switch to a new family of applications.

      The following are six of the most common things Windows users struggle with when they switch over to using a Linux distribution.

  • Server

    • Six Hot Linux Certifications for 2019
      Linux, the most widely-used open source operating system (OS), dominates the web server market. According to IDC, commercial and non-commercial Linux deployments in the worldwide enterprise segment registered considerable growth in 2017. It is now the standard for enterprise applications.

    • Linux: Cornerstone For Software-Defined Infrastructure
      Linux is ever more prevalent in SAP and non-SAP environments. Recent figures, published by IDC, are testimony to record sales numbers. In fact, the majority of systems already come with Linux pre-installed.

      Moreover, Linux has long since established itself in SAP environments. The shift from Unix to Linux of NetWeaver-based system with Any-DBs, the Hana consolidation and the use of Hana-based SAP applications contributed to the almost fixed position of Linux.

    • Why Replace Windows€® Server?
      Linux powers the servers that run 96.5% of the top web domains in the world (W3Cook) – and for good reason. Like moving to the cloud, swapping your Windows Server for a Linux one can save a tidy sum on your budget. You can say goodbye to licensing costs (i.e. CALs). Besides, many admins simply prefer working with Unix-based operating systems and many would argue Linux is more scalable and performant.

    • Security Considerations for Container Runtimes

    • Kubernetes in 2019: 6 developments to expect
      Plenty of emerging technologies get hyped. Few seem to gain the tangible kind of enthusiasm and traction that Kubernetes has enjoyed to this point.

      Yet for all of the attention paid to the container orchestration tool, widespread usage is really just beginning. Kubernetes resides at an increasingly high-traffic intersection of legacy and modern software development. So expect 2019 to include a mix of Kubernetes-related trends as more and more companies see Kubernetes as a signpost indicating that turn toward “modern” is imminent.

      Here are six particular developments to anticipate in the new year.

    • Why moving from a monolithic architecture to microservices is so hard, Gitlab’s Jason Plum breaks it down [KubeCon+CNC Talk]
      Last week, at the KubeCon+CloudNativeCon North America 2018, Jason Plum, Sr. software engineer, distribution at GitLab spoke about GitLab, Omnibus, and the concept of monolith and its downsides. He spent the last year working on the cloud native helm charts and breaking out a complicated pile of code.

      This article highlights few insights from Jason Plum’s talk on Monolith to Microservice: Pitchforks Not Included at the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon.

    • Thanos: long-term storage for your Prometheus Metrics on OpenShift
      Thanos is a project that turns your Prometheus installation into a highly available metric system with unlimited storage capacity. From a very high-level view, it does this by deploying a sidecar to Prometheus, which uploads the data blocks to any object storage. A store component downloads the blocks again and makes them accessible to a query component, which has the same API as Prometheus itself. This works nicely with Grafana because its the same API. So without much effort, you can view your nice dashboard graphs beyond the configured retention time of your Prometheus monitoring stack. and get an almost unlimited timeline , only restricted by object storage capacities.

      On top of these already awesome features, Thanos also provides downsampling of stored metrics, deduplication of data points and some more.

    • Eclipse Che 7 is Coming and It’s Really Hot (3/4)
      With a new workspaces model and full “dev-mode” for application runtimes—Eclipse Che the first kube-native IDE!

    • Red Hat Reports Third Quarter Results for Fiscal Year 2019
    • Integration of API management details (Part 4)
      This article takes you deeper into specific elements (API management and reverse proxy) of the generic architectural overview.

    • Open Outlook: Cloud-Native Application Development
      When I look at 2018, advancements made in the Kubernetes space helped cloud-native app development become a bigger focus for Red Hat and our customers. As we head into the end of the year, I want to discuss cloud-native application development from Red Hat’s perspective, how we got here and where we plan to go.

    • The APAC partner ecosystem is stronger together
      2018 has been another great year for Red Hat and our APAC partners, and I want to thank everyone for their outstanding contributions and commitment to supporting the Red Hat business. I am also very delighted by the positive feedback we received from many regional partners on our strategy presented at the 2018 Red Hat Partner Conference Asia Pacific, which took place in Bali this year. Particularly worth mentioning is the support from some of our local partners such as NTT Data and Fujitsu in Japan, and Deloitte in Australia for sharing our joint achievements at our partner conference.

    • Red Hat selects Team Rubicon for 2018 U.S. corporate holiday donation
      For the eleventh year in a row, our associates took an active role in selecting a worthy charitable organization to be the beneficiary of our holiday U.S. corporate donation. During the process, they nominated more than 100 charities and more than 1,200 associates participated in the final vote. For our 2018 corporate holiday donation, Red Hatters have chosen to support Team Rubicon with a $75,000 donation that will contribute to the organization's efforts to provide emergency response support to areas devastated by natural disasters.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • [Podcast] PodCTL – Reviewing KubeCon Seattle 2018
      In 2016, just over a 1,000 people gathered in Seattle for the first “large” KubeCon event. Just two years later, the event had grow to over 8,000 attendees (+ a long waiting list). The event has always been billed at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, and this year’s event finally felt like the CloudNativeCon name desired equal billing. This community is still Kubernetes-centric, but it’s grown to be much more than just Kubernetes. Operators, Service Mesh, and Serverless (via Knative) were hot topics this year, as well as the growth of the community. Red Hat kicked off KubeCon with a sold-out OpenShift Commons Gathering (see videos) on Monday, highlighted by the first public demonstration (developer preview) of OpenShift 4 – GO TRY IT OUT NOW! The rest of the week was highlighted with three keynotes from Brandon Phillips, Clayton Coleman and Rob Szumski.

    • S11E41 – Forty-One Jane Doe’s
      This week we have been playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate and upgrading home servers from Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04. We discuss Discord Store confirming Linux support, MIPS going open source, Microsoft Edge switching to Chromium and the release of Collabora Online Developer Edition 4.0 RC1. We also round up community news and events.

    • Python 101: Episode #39 – Python wheels
      In this screencast you will learn about Python wheels and how to make your own. A Python wheel is a packaging format that allows installing a package without the need for compiling or building.

    • Open Curiosity
      The best and brightest took us to the moon with the computing power of pocket calculators. Now they're taking us farther—and they're doing it with the tech we've been talking about all season. Open source is taking us to Mars.

      The Season 2 finale takes us to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Tom Soderstrom shares how much JPL has gained by embracing open source. Hila Lifshitz-Assaf explains that NASA is solving some of their greatest problems with open software and crowdsourcing. And Dan Wachspress describes how working with NASA means proprietary companies need to make some sacrifices—but they get to work on the most innovative projects in the world.

  • Kernel Space

    • WireGuard Issues New Snapshot, But Doesn't Look Like It Will Make It Into Linux 4.21
      WireGuard 0.0.20181218 is now available as another test release of this secure network VPN tunnel, but sadly it doesn't look like it will be landing in the upcoming Linux 4.21 cycle.

      There has been incredible interest in WireGuard this year with even Linus Torvalds looking forward to it being merged, but sadly it's not been queued up as of writing in net-next -- nor has there been any pull request or new round of patch review for WireGuard on the kernel mailing list in recent weeks.

    • Toward race-free process signaling
      Signals have existed in Unix systems for years, despite the general consensus that they are an example of a bad design. Extensions and new ways of using signals pop up from time to time, fixing the issues that have been found. A notable addition was the introduction of signalfd() nearly 10 years ago. Recently, the kernel developers have discussed how to avoid race conditions related to process-ID (PID) recycling, which occurs when a process terminates and another one is assigned the same PID. A process that fails to notice that its target has exited may try to send a signal to the wrong recipient, with potentially grave consequences. A patch set from Christian Brauner is trying to solve the issue by adding signaling via file descriptors.

      PIDs increase for each new process up to the maximum value, and then go back to the beginning. For the maximum value, most distributions use the conservative value of 32768 to avoid breaking legacy systems. However, users can consult and change the maximum value in /proc/sys/kernel/pid_max. Signal-related APIs identify processes by PID. The disadvantage of this method is that, in the lifetime of a system, the same PID is reused as processes are created and terminated. What happens if a process has finished and another one has taken its PID? The PID value stays valid. Other processes, unaware of the situation, may try to send signals to the wrong process. This may have consequences as serious as terminating the wrong service. This race condition requires the PID space to wrap between the creation of the two processes, which is not uncommon.

    • DMA and get_user_pages()
      In the RDMA microconference of the 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC), John Hubbard, Dan Williams, and Matthew Wilcox led a discussion on the problems surrounding get_user_pages() (and friends) and the interaction with DMA. It is not the first time the topic has come up, there was also a discussion about it at the Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit back in April. In a nutshell, the problem is that multiple parts of the kernel think they have responsibility for the same chunk of memory, but they do not coordinate their activities; as might be guessed, mayhem can sometimes ensue.

      Hubbard began by laying out the goals of the session. The idea is to make sure everyone knows about the problem; even though it has been discussed in various mailing-list threads and such, everyone may not be up to speed on it. He was hoping to get a consensus on a long-term fix; he has put out a few RFCs, but the solutions have been a bit contentious.

    • Kernel quality control, or the lack thereof
      Filesystem developers tend toward a high level of conservatism when it comes to making changes; given the consequences of mistakes, this seems like a healthy survival trait. One might rightly be tempted to regard a recent disagreement over the backporting of filesystem-related fixes to the stable kernels as an example of this conservatism, but there is more to it. The kernel development process has matured in many ways over the years; perhaps this discussion hints at some of the changes that will be needed to continue that maturation in the future. While tracking down some problems with the XFS file cloning and deduplication features (the FICLONERANGE and FIDEDUPERANGE ioctl() calls in particular), the developers noticed that, in fact, many aspects of those interfaces did not work correctly. Resource limits were not respected, users could overwrite a setuid file without resetting the setuid bits, time stamps would not be updated, maximum file sizes would be ignored, and more. Many of these problems were fixed in XFS itself, but others affected all filesystems offering those features and needed to be fixed at the virtual filesystem (VFS) level. The result was a series of pull requests including this one for 4.19-rc7, this one for the 4.20 merge window, and this one for 4.20-rc4.

      More recently, similar problems have been discovered with the copy_file_range() system call, resulting in this patch set full of fixes. Once again, issues include the ability to overwrite setuid files, overwrite swap files, change immutable files, and overshoot resource limits. Time stamps are not updated, overlapping copies are not caught, and behavior between filesystems is inconsistent. Chinner's patch set contains another set of changes, almost all at the VFS level, to straighten these issues out.

    • A filesystem corruption bug breaks loose
      Kernel bugs can have all kinds of unfortunate consequences, from inconvenient crashes to nasty security vulnerabilities. Some of the most feared bugs, though, are those that corrupt data in filesystems. The losses imposed on users can be severe, and the resulting problems may not be noticed for a long time, making recovery difficult. Filesystem developers, knowing that they will have to face their users in the real world, go to considerable effort to prevent this kind of bug from finding its way into a released kernel. A recent failure in that regard raises a number of interesting questions about how kernel development is done. On November 13, Claude Heiland-Allan created a bug report about a filesystem corruption problem with the 4.19.1 kernel; other users joined in with reports of their own. Initially, the problem was thought to be in the ext4 filesystem, since that is what the affected users were using. Tracking the problem down took a few weeks, though, because few developers were able to reproduce the problem. There were some attempts at using bisection to find the commit that caused the problem, but they proved to be worse than useless, as they identified the wrong commits and caused developers to waste time on false leads.

      It took until December 4 for Lukáš Krejčí to correctly bisect the problem down to a block-layer change. Commit 6ce3dd6eec, added during the 4.19 merge window, optimized the handling of requests in the multiqueue block layer. If there is no I/O scheduler in use, and if the hardware queue is not full, this patch causes new I/O requests to be placed directly into the hardware queue, shorting out a bunch of unnecessary processing. It's a harmless-seeming change that should make I/O go a little faster.

      Things can go bad, though, if the low-level driver for the block device is unable to actually execute that request. This is most likely to happen as the result of a resource shortage — memory, perhaps, or something related to the hardware itself. In that case, the driver will return a soft failure, causing the I/O request to be requeued for another attempt later. While that request sits in the queue, the block layer may merge it with other requests for adjacent blocks, which should be fine. If, however, the low-level driver has already done some of the setup for the request, such as creating scatter/gather DMA mappings, those mappings may not be updated to match the larger, merged request. That results in only part of the request being executed by the hardware, with bad effects on the data involved.

      The problem was partially fixed with this commit, but one more fix was required to fix a new problem caused by the first. Both fixes were included in the 4.20-rc6 release; they also found their way into 4.19.8. The original patch was never selected for backporting to older stable kernels, so those were not affected.

    • Binderfs Queued Ahead Of The Linux 4.21 Kernel
      Greg Kroah-Hartman merged the Binderfs code to his char-misc-next branch on Wednesday, making it the latest feature set to premiere in the upcoming Linux 4.21 kernel.

      Binderfs is a file-system for Android's Binder IPC mechanism. The Binder inter-process communication code has been mainlined for years and used extensively on Android though not without any real adoption on the Linux desktop side even as the likes of BUS1 and formerly KDBUS have not taken off for in-kernel IPC on GNU/Linux systems.

    • The Most Notable New Features Of The Linux 4.20 Kernel
      As it's been two months since the Linux 4.20 cycle got underway with the feature-packed merge window and with this kernel expected out just in time for Christmas, here is a look back at some of the biggest and most notable features to this imminent kernel release.

      For those vastly behind on their Phoronix reading or just let slip all the new features of Linux 4.20, here is what I would say makes me most excited for the 4.20 kernel.

    • Outreachy - Round 17
      As one year ends and another begins, Collabora is proud to be once again an Includer sponsor for the latest round (#17) of Outreachy internships, which began earlier this month! More specifically, Collabora is sponsoring the Linux kernel projects for the December 2018 – March 2019 semester, which are detailed below.

      Outreachy is an internship program which helps people from groups traditionally underrepresented in free and Open Source software get involved by providing a supportive community for beginning to contribute any time throughout the year and offer focused internship opportunities twice a year with a number of free software organizations.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Open source, Kubernetes, and developers, according to Abby Kearns
        Kearns: When a large technology company acquires or merges with an open source-oriented organization, it has instant access to a vibrant open source community that has grown over time. These open source communities benefit from diverse collaboration from a variety of businesses across industries and locations. Open source is increasingly leading the cloud conversation and delivering innovation for businesses of all sizes as they provide customers with what they want: multi-cloud and multi-platform solutions, agility, portability, and scalability.

      • Cloud Foundry cloud forecast for 2019
        Key among concerns will be the need to engineer new automation services driven by AI — and (no prizes for guessing), 2019 will continue to be a year of cloud consolidation as companies coalesce, collude and combine.

      • More Members of Automotive Grade Linux
        AGL will have a presence onsite at CES 2019 in the Westgate Hotel Pavilion, booth 1614. The booth features a 2019 Toyota RAV4 along with 20 demonstrations of connected car services, audio innovations, instrument cluster, security solutions and other in-vehicle technologies all running on the AGL software platform. AGL members featured in the booth include: AISIN AW, Audiokinetic, Cognomotiv, DENSO, DENSO TEN, EPAM Systems, Fiberdyne Systems, ForgeRock, Igalia, LG Silicon Valley Lab, Microchip, NTT DATA MSE, Panasonic, Renesas, SafeRide Technologies, Tuxera and VNC Automotive. The booth will be open to the public during CES show hours from January 8-11, 2019.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD's ROCm 2.0 Radeon Compute Stack Being Prepared For Release
        Last month AMD commented they would be releasing ROCm 2.0 prior to the end of 2018 and it looks like they will make good on their word. ROCm 2.0 is being prepared for release - source code is available albeit the reference Ubuntu/RHEL binaries are not yet out.

        We've been looking forward to ROCm 2.0 for months as it's the release of the Radeon Open Compute stack delivering full OpenCL 2.0 support.

      • Radeon ROCm 2.0 Officially Out With OpenCL 2.0 Support, TensorFlow 1.12, Vega 48-bit VA
        Just in time for Christmas, the Radeon Open Compute "ROCm" 2.0 Linux stack is now available for AMD GPU computing needs with OpenCL 2.0, TensorFlow 1.12, and more.

        AMD reached their goal of delivering the feature-packed ROCm 2.0 in 2018. Yesterday I covered the primary highlights on this big Radeon Open Compute stack update when there were signs of ROCm 2.0 being prepared for release this week. That milestone has now been officially released with ROCm 2.0 now being available, including the RHEL/CentOS and Ubuntu ROCm 2.0 binaries for easy installation.

      • Freedreno Gets Patches For A2xx NIR Backend
        Should you still be utilizing Qualcomm Adreno 200 series graphics hardware, the open-source graphics driver support is getting better for this hardware that was Adreno's first offering a programmable pipeline and clock speeds up to 133MHz.

        Recently A2xx support was added to the MSM DRM driver for using this mainline kernel driver with these Adreno 45nm OpenGL ES 2.0 GPUs. That complements the A2xx GL/GLES support within the Freedreno driver.
      • Radeon Linux Driver Picks Up Support For Another Vega M GPU
        It looks like Intel might soon be launching a new CPU with the onboard Radeon "Vega M" graphics as another PCI ID was just added to the open-source Linux graphics driver.

        Since early this year the AMDGPU Linux driver has supported Vega M - the Radeon graphics found within Intel's Kabylake-G processors and branded as the Vega M GL and Vega M GH parts.

      • Linux Not Booting To A Desktop? Try Disabling The Nouveau Driver
        To be clear up front, this is exclusive to NVIDIA users, as Nouveau is the open-source driver for GeForce and Quadro. For some reason, current Linux installers seem to hate Nouveau on our X399-based PCs. Yes, that’s plural: both the MEG CREATION and Aorus’ X399 Gaming 7 deliver the exact same issue. In talking to others, I can’t find anyone else dealing with this, so I can’t really blame the platform as a whole, but it’s the only one giving me hassle right now.

        Despite using the exact same hardware as months ago, Ubuntu (and others) today require me to boot up with a special flag to disable the Nouveau driver. Fixing this particular issue is as simple as editing a line at the GRUB boot screen, adding nouveau.modeset=0 to the end of the blurb that starts with “linux” (as seen below). If you boot up and see only a purple screen without text, hit Esc as soon as you see it to reveal it.

    • Benchmarks

      • The RADV Radeon Vulkan Driver Performance Over 2018
        As the latest from our year-end Linux benchmarks, here are tests when seeing how Mesa's RADV open-source Radeon Vulkan driver performance has evolved for Linux gaming. With a Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card, the performance was looked at from Mesa 17.3 through Mesa 19.0-devel for showing the driver's evolution.

        The RADV Vulkan driver continued maturing a lot this year with support for countless new features, many fixes, improved support/performance particularly for GFX9/Vega, and countless optimizations thanks to Valve's developers, Bas at Google, David at Red Hat, and the others involved in maintaining the RADV Mesa driver as an alternative to AMD's official Vulkan Linux driver options.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Tableview performance
        In my previous blog post, I wrote about the new TableView for Qt-5.12. What I didn’t mention was how the new TableView performs compared to the old TableView in QtQuick Controls 1. However, the old version had some serious performance issues, which is what led us to implement a new one from scratch. The reason for the bad performance comes from the fact that it’s written on top of ListView. But ListView is designed and optimized to show only one column, which of course is problematic when you try to use it to show a table with multiple columns.

        To work around this limitation, the old TableView implements a little hack: it takes each column delegate and puts them side-by-side to create one fat row delegate. From ListViews point of view, it looks like a normal list delegate. The result is that whenever a new row is flicked in, all the items inside that delegate (which is one item for each column) will be instantiated in one go. Although this is not a disaster for a table with only a handfull of columns, performance takes a major hit when a table is of a non-trivial size. And to be fair, the old TableView was never designed to handle anything else. But for tables where you have, lets say, hundred columns or more, you will create hundred new items for each row flicked in. And most of them ends up hidden outside the viewport. And that is actually the best case; a delegate is normally composed of many items, so the item count will be even higher. The video underneath shows how scrolling can grind to a halt when using a model with only thirty columns.

      • QmlBook gets CI/CD
        Christmas is coming and a long and exciting fall is coming to and end. One of my projects during this fall has been to update the QmlBook. This was made possible by The Qt Company who generously stepped in and sponsored my work on this – thank you all!

        I’ve worked away during the fall adding a whole bunch of new contents and the documentation people over at The Qt Company has joined in and helped with a language review. One frustrating aspect of the QmlBook project has unfortunately been that the CI/CD system has been broken for a very long time. This means that even the small typo fixes made over the past months has not made it beyond the source git repository.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GUADEC 2018 - Product Management In Open Source
        This year at GUADEC in Almería I was lucky enough to give a talk entitled “Product Management in Open Source”. I’ll give a text synopsis of the talk below but if you prefer you can watch the whole thing as delivered at the Internet Archive or have a look at the slides, which are entirely mysterious when viewed alone:

        The talk begins like so: I’m Nick Richards. I’ve been a GNOME User for 20 years and a contributor and Foundation Member - 10 years (off and on). These days, the Free Software project I’m most passionate about is Flathub.

        These days I’m a Product Manager at Endless. Endless OS ships a customised, forked version of GNOME shell and a plain version of the rest of the GNOME platform. It’s currently based on 3.26 but with plenty of activity going on upstream.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Q4OS: A Diamond in the Rough Gets Some Polish
        Q4OS has a focus on security, reliability, long-term stability and conservative integration of verified new features. This operating system is a proven performer for speed and very low hardware requirements. That performance is optimized for both new and very old hardware. For small business owners and high-tech minded home office workers, Q4OS is well suited for virtualization and cloud computing.

        One of the hallmarks of this distro is to be a suitable powerhouse platform for legacy hardware. So the developers continue to resist a trend among Linux devs to drop support for old 32-bit computers.The 32-bit versions work with or without the PAE memory extension technology.

    • New Releases

      • Alpine 3.8.2 released
        The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 3.8.2 of its Alpine Linux operating system.

        This is a bugfix release of the v3.8 stable branch, based on linux-4.14.89 kernels and it contains bugfixes.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1 Beta Bringing Java 11, LLVM 7, BCache Installer Support
        Released this past summer was SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 while being worked on for its official debut next summer is the first service pack release.

        To kick off some end-of-year testing, SUSE today announced the SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 1 beta that represents six months worth of changes since the 15 GA release.

      • How SUSE Organizes Its Server Linux Operating Systems
        In order to enable a server, an operating system is needed to run applications and enable services. For many servers today, Linux is a primary choice, and when it comes to Linux, server administrators have many choices as well.

        One of the leading enterprise Linux distribution vendors has long been SUSE. While SUSE has been providing enterprise Linux support for well over a decade, the way in which SUSE builds and develops its Linux distributions has changed somewhat over the years.

        In a video interview with ServerWatch, SUSE CTO Thomas Di Giacomo explains how the SUSE operating system portfolio is set up and how it is built.

        At the top of the portfolio is SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), which is currently at version 15. The SLES 15 Service Pack 1 (SP1) update entered beta on Dec. 19 and is expected to become generally available in June 2019.

      • The Many Faces of Global Services: Jason Hill, Head of Global Services, EMEA
        As we wind down the year, we also wind down our series “The Many Faces of Global Services.” For this installment, we travel back to Europe to speak with Jason Hill, Head of Global Services in EMEA. Jason is responsible for a diverse team of Consultants, Engineers, and Services Support Specialists across Europe. Read on to find out why Jason is the perfect fit for this role!

    • Debian Family

      • Debian's Anti-Harassment Team Is Removing A Package Over Its Name
        The latest notes from the Debian anti-harassment team on Wednesday caught my attention when reading, "We were requested to advice on the appropriateness of a certain package in the Debian archive. Our decision resulted in the package pending removal from the archive." Curiosity got the best of me... What package was deemed too inappropriate for the Debian archive?

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • An ‘App Store’ for robots? It’s coming and it’s a game-changer [Ed: Canonical targets the robotics market with Ubuntu]
            Subscription-based robotics models are already being implemented in an industrial setting by Small Robot Company, with farming-as-a-service ensuring farmers only pay for the exact work achieved by the robot, rather than the robot itself.

            Businesses will then be able to learn on the job and develop solutions on top of the hardware, such as real-time packaging or predictive maintenance. Value, therefore, is extended beyond the initial point of sale.

            Increasing robots’ longevity and usefulness through apps could hold the answer to accelerating their adoption across different industries for years to come.

            As we learned from the Apple App Store, democratizing software distribution can be a game-changer and make a device much greater than the sum of its parts.

          • [ubuntu] Design and Web team summary – 19 December 2018

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 19.1 ‘Tessa' released into public availability
              Linux Mint 19.1 ‘Tessa’ has finally been released for public consumption. The new version is still based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and will be supported until 2023. Prospective users shouldn’t be fooled by the point release as it actually brings with it Cinnamon 4.0 which brings to option of switching to the Modern desktop layout or the Traditional version.

              The final release of Linux Mint 19.1 comes just two weeks after beta builds were released for enthusiasts to try out and find any lingering bugs. Some other nice features in this release include support statuses for mainline kernels, this lets you know whether you ought to be using your current kernel or whether you should upgrade it. Additionally, there is a button that allows you to quickly remove your old kernels so that you can clear space in the boot partition.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 MATE Screenshot Tour

            • Linux Mint 19.1: The better-than-ever Linux desktop
              I was just reminded again why I use Linux desktops. Two-and-a-half months after its release, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update is finally recommending "advanced users" can install it. Personally, I like running operating systems that don't destroy my data or come with Blue Screens of Death. It also doesn't hurt any that the latest long-term support (LTS) release of Linux Mint, Mint 19.1, is a superb desktop.

              As before, I really like Mint's traditional windows, icons, menus, and pointers (WIMP) interface. The default Cinnamon 4.0 desktop is faster and snappier than ever.

              What's that? You like the newer desktop styles? Well, Mint 19.1 has you covered, too.

            • [Lubuntu] Sunsetting i386
              Lubuntu has been and continues to be the go-to Ubuntu flavor for people who want the most from their computers, especially older hardware that cannot handle today’s workloads. However, the project and computing as a whole has drastically changed in many ways since its origin ten years ago. Computers have become faster, more secure, and most notably, have moved off of the traditional 32-bit i686 (generalized as i386 in Debian and Ubuntu) architecture.

              As an increasing number of Linux distributions have focused their attention on the 64-bit x86 architecture (amd64) and not on i386, we have found that it is harder to support than it once was. With i386-only machines becoming an artifact of the past, it has become increasingly clear to the Lubuntu Team that we need to evaluate its removal from the architectures we support. After careful consideration, we regret to inform our users that Lubuntu 19.04 and future versions will not see a release for the i386 architecture. Please do note that we will continue to support Lubuntu 18.04 LTS i386 users as a first-class citizen until its End of Life date in April of 2021.

            • Lubuntu Will Stop Providing 32-Bit Releases - Starting With 19.04
              The Lubuntu developers have announced today that their LXDE/LXQt downstream of Ubuntu Linux will no longer be offering 32-bit x86 releases moving forward while Lubuntu 18.04 LTS will continue to be supported.

              Earlier this month Xubuntu announced that their Xfce spin would stop offering 32-bit ISOs for future releases. That left Lubuntu as the last of major Ubuntu derivatives providing 32-bit ISOs. But now the team announced today they too are parting ways with 32-bit releases.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Open-Source NVIDIA PhysX 4.0 Code Is Now Available
    Earlier this month NVIDIA announced their latest plans for an open-source PhysX and at the time put out the PhysX 3.4 SDK under a three-clause BSD license. Now the PhysX 4.0 release is available.

    When making the open-source PhysX announcement at the beginning of the month they also implied the upcoming 4.0 release would see its code dropped too. With PhysX 4.0 availability today, NVIDIA has uploaded the sources under the same BSD license.

  • Announcing coreboot 4.9
    The 4.9 release covers commit 532b8d5f25 to commit 7f520c8fe6 There is a pgp signed 4.9 tag in the git repository, and a branch will be created as needed.

    In the little more than 7 months since 4.8.1 we had 175 authors commit 2610 changes to master. The changes were, for the most part, all over the place, touching every part of the repository: chipsets, mainboards, tools, build system, documentation.

    In that time we also had 70 authors made their first commit to coreboot: Welcome and to many more!

  • Coreboot 4.9 Released With 2,600+ Changes, Ports To 56 New Motherboards
    The Coreboot folks are ending out 2018 with the release of version 4.9 that has 2,610 changes since their previous release just over a half-year ago.

    The Coreboot 4.9 release features a number of code clean-ups to the different motherboard ports and all over, the Coreboot documentation is now hosted within the repository, the Intel FSP binaries are now integrated within the build system, and a number of older boards have been deprecated.

  • Bitnami Unifies Lifecycle Management for Kubernetes Tools
    Bitnami has created a curated stack of open source software to provide consistent tools that can be deployed across multiple instances of Kubernetes.

    Simon Bennett, vice president of products for Bitnami, says the Bitnami Kubernetes Production Runtime (BKPR) open source project is intended to make it easier for IT organizations to deploy the most common tools employed to manage a Kubernetes environment. BKPR includes Prometheus for monitoring, Elasticsearch, Fluentd and Kibana for logging, and cert-manager, oauth2-proxy and NGINX for managing access. BKPR also offers automatic publishing of endpoints on DNS and TLS termination, including automatic and managed issuing of X.509 certificates.

  • Eco-Friendly Machine Learning: How the Kubeflow Ecosystem Bootstrapped Itself
    How do you bootstrap an open source project that aims to provide stability, composability, and portability for machine learning? You use Kubernetes and its rich ecosystem to implement the pieces of infrastructure that you need to deliver a comprehensive ML platform for data scientists and DevOps engineers alike. This talk will explore the various integrations that have enabled Kubeflow to quickly emerge as the de-facto machine learning toolkit for Kubernetes. We’ll look in detail at not only how Kubeflow leverages Ambassador, Argo, Ksonnet, and JupyterHub, but also examine integration with complementary projects such as Pachyderm and SeldonIO. You will leave this talk with a better understanding and inspiration of how a particular project can rapidly achieve its potential by working with other projects, and that those inter-project collaborations enrich the entire Kubernetes community.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Create, test, innovate, repeat.
        Imagine you are somewhere that is familiar to you such as your home, or your favorite park.

        Imagine that everything around you is connected and it has a link.

        Imagine you have the internet in your ears and you can speak directly to it.

        Imagine that instead of 2D screens around you, the air is alive with knowledge and wonder.

        Imagine that you are playing your favorite game with your friend while they are virtually sitting next to you.


        Today, Mozilla is launching a new Mozilla Labs. This is our online space where anyone can find our latest creations, innovations, and cutting-edge technologies.

      • Extensions in Firefox 65
        In lieu of the normal, detailed review of WebExtensions API coming out in Firefox 65, I’d like to simply say thank you to everyone for choosing Firefox. Now, more than ever, the web needs people who consciously decide to support an open, private, and safe online ecosystem.

        Two weeks ago, nearly every Mozilla employee gathered in Orlando, Florida for the semi-annual all-hands meeting. It was an opportunity to connect with remote teammates, reflect on the past year and begin sharing ideas for the upcoming year. One of the highlights was the plenary talk by Mitchell Baker, Chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation. If you have not seen it, it is well worth 15 minutes of your time.

      • Latest Firefox Focus provides more user control
        The Internet is a huge playground, but also has a few dark corners. In order to ensure that users still feel secure and protected while browsing, we’ve implemented features that offer privacy and control in all of our products, including Firefox Focus.

        Today’s release truly reflects this philosophy: Android users can now individually decide which publishers they want to share data with and are warned when they access risky content. We also have an update for iOS users with Search Suggestions.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Open source support was central to 2018 data deals
      series of big mergers and acquisitions among top data vendors marked 2018.

      Taken together, these moves point to directions big data may take in 2019. And open source support has staked its place in that future.

      A key was the merger in early October of Cloudera and Hortonworks, two leaders in the 10-year-plus rise of large-scale, open source Hadoop distributed data processing.

  • Databases

    • DataStax reconnects with Apache Cassandra
      Breaking up is hard to do. A couple years ago, DataStax vacated leadership of the Apache Cassandra project that it created as the community demanded a bigger voice. New players had to move into new roles, while the annual community event was allowed to lapse. Members of the community voiced their angst.

      As the Apache Cassandra community ventures down the homestretch of readying release 4.0 of the open source platform for release, there is light at the end of the tunnel as DataStax has started reconnecting with the community. It's releasing commercial support of the current open source version, reinstating a Cassandra community event, and taking a higher profile on its contributions, which continue to include documentation and free training, plus some stability enhancements for the upcoming Apache 4.0 release.

    • The Time for Time Series Data
      More than four years ago, we launched InfluxDB, an open source time series platform. In the years since, time series technology has become increasingly popular; according to DB-Engines, over the last 24 months time series has been the fastest growing database category. This popularity is fueled by the “sensorification” of the physical world (i.e., IoT) and the rapidly increasing instrumentation requirements of the next generation of software. InfluxDB has millions of downloads, an expanding list of enterprise customers and a growing community that is always finding new ways to deploy and build on our platform and we believe we are just scratching the surface.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding


    • grep-3.2 released [stable]
      This is to announce grep-3.2, a stable release.

      There have been 55 commits by 6 people in the 77 weeks since 3.1. [note also the 867 gnulib-related changes]

      See the NEWS below for a brief summary.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Confluent joins Redis and MongoDB in restricting its open source licensing for competitors

    • Confluent Creates New 'Open Source' License to Stop Cloud Poaching
      The problem is that such restrictions run afoul of the Open Source Definition used by the Open Source Initiative, the standards organization that decides which licenses qualify as open source. The restriction also means that any code covered by the license probably can't be used within any other open source project.

    • John Sullivan - "Who wants you to think nobody uses the AGPL and why" (FOSDEM, Brussels, Belgium)
      The GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) is an important tool for protecting user freedom on the network. Detractors have criticized it for being both too weak and too strong/demanding. In 2018, it was in the news more than ever. Are the interests of corporations that are afraid of their free code being turned into network services run by competitors starting to align with users losing their freedom to such services?

      Historically, the AGPL has been the target of criticism from entities that want to extinguish it. Some companies have banned it from their premises, sowed fear about how it operates, and propagated a myth that nobody is using it.

      Others claim that the AGPL is being used primarily by companies seeking to strong-arm downstream users into purchasing a proprietary version of the covered software -- by catching those users being out of compliance with the AGPL, and telling them that they must buy the software under a proprietary license to avoid being taken to court for copyright infringement.

      A third group of companies is now claiming that the AGPL doesn't go far enough to protect their software against being turned into services that deny users freedom -- though freedom may not be their primary concern.

      In fact, the AGPL is being used today by a variety of interesting and important projects, including ones started by governments, nonprofits, and even businesses. I'll highlight some illustrative examples. I'll also do my best to separate understandable concerns that people have about using the AGPL from attacks on user freedom masquerading as concerns, and see if there is any synergy between the concerns of the third group above and those of individual users.

      While not a full solution to the problems raised when users replace software running on their own machines with software running on someone else's machine, the AGPL is a tool that is being embraced and should be embraced even more.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • That's A Lisp Machine In Your Pocket
        Computer languages have always advanced faster than computer hardware. Case in point: we’re just now getting CPU instructions for JavaScript floating point numbers. The 1970s and 80s wasn’t the garbage fire of JavaScript instructions in silicon, instead they were all about garbage collection. Lisp machines were CPUs designed to run Lisp efficiently. They were great, until the companies responsible realized you had to sell a product to stay in business. Combine an interesting architecture with rarity and historical interest, and you have a centerpiece of any retrocomputing enthusiasts collection. Yes, we all want a Lisp machine.

        Now there’s an interesting project on CrowdSupply that will make that possible. It’s the MakerLisp Machine, a credit card-sized computer that runs bare-metal Lisp.

        We first saw the MakerLisp Machine in its raw prototype form at VCF West last August, and it was in a very, very raw state. That was just a prototype, though, but the MakerLisp business card-sized computer still features the Zilog eZ80 running at 50MHz. The basic board includes a USB port for a serial connection and a microSD card slot for storage. It boots into a Lisp environment, and you don’t even have to use a NuBus card. We’re living in the future here.

      • DARPA Delegates Look to POSH Chips, Page 3 for Defence Inspiration
        As contributor Eric Brown puts it: “Such divergent applications often require highly divergent mixes of processors, including novel chips like neural net accelerators. DARPA envisions the tech world moving toward a wider variety of SoCs with different mixes of IP blocks, including highly customized SoCs for specific applications. With today’s semiconductor design tools, however, such a scenario would bog down in spiraling costs and delays. ERI plans to speed things up.”

      • Vidtoo Technology Licenses Codasip's Bk3 RISC-V Processor for High-Performance Computing SoC
        Codasip, the leading supplier of RISC-V€® embedded processor IP, announced today that Vidtoo Technology, a leader in semiconductor products for machine learning and high-performance computing, has selected Codasip’s Bk3 processor for future HPC chips.

      • 'Big Plans' for RISC-V
        Without question, 2018 was the year RISC-V genuinely began to build momentum among chip architects hungry for open-source instruction sets. That was then.

        By 2019, RISC-V won’t be the only game in town.

        Wave Computing (Campbell, Calif.) announced Monday (Dec. 17) that it is putting MIPS on open source, with MIPS Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) and MIPS’ latest core R6 available in the first quarter of 2019.

  • Programming/Development

    • Large files with Git: LFS and git-annex
      As readers probably know, Linus Torvalds wrote Git to manage the history of the kernel source code, which is a large collection of small files. Every file is a "blob" in Git's object store, addressed by its cryptographic hash. A new version of that file will store a new blob in Git's history, with no deduplication between the two versions. The pack file format can store binary deltas between similar objects, but if many objects of similar size change in a repository, that algorithm might fail to properly deduplicate. In practice, large binary files (say JPEG images) have an irritating tendency of changing completely when even the smallest change is made, which makes delta compression useless.

      There have been different attempts at fixing this in the past. In 2006, Torvalds worked on improving the pack-file format to reduce object duplication between the index and the pack files. Those changes were eventually reverted because, as Nicolas Pitre put it: "that extra loose object format doesn't appear to be worth it anymore".

      Then in 2009, Caca Labs worked on improving the fast-import and pack-objects Git commands to do special handling for big files, in an effort called git-bigfiles. Some of those changes eventually made it into Git: for example, since 1.7.6, Git will stream large files directly to a pack file instead of holding them all in memory. But files are still kept forever in the history.

      An example of trouble I had to deal with is for the Debian security tracker, which follows all security issues in the entire Debian history in a single file. That file is around 360,000 lines for a whopping 18MB. The resulting repository takes 1.6GB of disk space and a local clone takes 21 minutes to perform, mostly taken up by Git resolving deltas. Commit, push, and pull are noticeably slower than a regular repository, taking anywhere from a few seconds to a minute depending one how old the local copy is. And running annotate on that large file can take up to ten minutes. So even though that is a simple text file, it's grown large enough to cause significant problems for Git, which is otherwise known for stellar performance.

    • BH 1.69.0-0 pre-releases and three required changes
      Our BH package provides a sizeable portion of the Boost C++ libraries as a set of template headers for use by R. It is quite popular, and frequently used together with Rcpp. The BH CRAN page shows e.g. that it is used by rstan, dplyr as well as a few other packages. The current count of reverse dependencies is at 159.

      Boost releases every four months. The last release we packaged was 1.66 from February---and a new Boost 1.69 just came out. So I packaged it, being somewhat careful as usual as CRAN insists on suppressing compiler diagnostics #pragma statements and a few other things, see the BH GitHub repo for details.

    • Advent of code presentation
      At Boston Python last night, I did a presentation about solutions to a particular Advent of Code puzzle.

      If you haven’t seen Advent of Code, give it a look. A new puzzle each day in December until Christmas. This is the fourth year running, and you can go back and look at the past years (and days).

    • Clean Architectures in Python: the book
      I'm excited to announce that the success of the post on clean architectures encouraged me to expand the subject and to write a book that I titled "Clean Architectures in Python. A practical approach to better software design". The book will be published on Christmas Day 2018, and will contain a complete introduction to TDD and clean architectures, two topics that I believe are strictly interconnected. So far the book is 170 pages long and it is complete, at least for a first edition, but I am already planning to add content that could not fit in this release for several reasons (mostly because still unclear in my mind).

    • Convert an image from one format to another with pillow

    • 2 years of PyBites, Our Pythonic Journey and the Creation of an Awesome Community

    • PGI 18.10 Compiler Benchmarks Against GCC 8.2, LLVM Clang 7.0
      Given the recently release of the PGI 18.10 Community Edition compiler by NVIDIA, I was curious to see how the performance on the CPU is looking for this proprietary compiler on Linux. For those curious as well, here are some benchmarks of the PGI 18.10 C/C++ compiler against the GCC 8.2.0 and LLVM Clang 7.0 open-source compilers.

      From an Intel Core i9 7980XE system running Ubuntu 18.10, I benchmarked the PGHI 18.10 compiler against GCC 8.2 and LLVM Clang 7.0 under a variety of C/C++ benchmarks to explore the performance of the resulting binaries. The PGI compiler also has great GPU offloading support with NVIDIA hardware, but for this initial 18.10 comparison was just exploring the CPU performance while maintaining the same CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS throughout testing.

    • Kubernetes for Python Developers: Part 1

    • Awesome Python Applications

    • A thing I learned about Python recursion

    • Upcoming PyPI Improvements for 2019
      The Python Package Index (PyPI) is far and away the largest and most visible service that the Python Software Foundation (PSF) supports for the Python community. Throughout the project’s 16 year history, it has primarily relied on volunteers and donated services to operate as it grew from an empty repository to one hosting more than 1.1 million releases for over 162,000 projects and serving more than 2.2 petabytes in 13.8 billion requests in the last month.

      In November 2017, we announced an award from the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program that made it possible to launch the ground up rewrite of PyPI’s backend in April of 2018. This milestone has offered lower maintenance overhead and helped put the codebase into a much better state to add new features, improved security, and increased accessibility for users.

      While some smaller features have already been proposed, designed, submitted, reviewed, and merged by volunteer contributors, other larger improvements warrant paid work. As 2019 approaches, we are excited to look forward to plans that will help deliver important improvements to the security and accessibility of PyPI.
    • Qt Announces Qt for Python, All US Publications from 1923 to Enter the Public Domain in 2019, Red Hat Chooses Team Rubicon for Its 2018 Corporate Donation, SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1 Released and Microsoft Announces Open-Source "Project Mu"
      Qt introduces Qt for Python. This new offering allows "Python developers to streamline and enhance their user interfaces while utilizing Qt's world-class professional support services". According to the press release, "With Qt for Python, developers can quickly and easily visualize the massive amounts of data tied to their Python development projects, in addition to gaining access to Qt's world-class professional support services and large global community."

    • Announcing Rust 1.31.1
      The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.31.1. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.


  • Science

    • A Middle Way Forward for Blockchain
      We have a track record here on commercializing technologies (Stockholm is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to the number of ?unicorns? that it produces per capita). C


      Viewing blockchain through this Swedish lens, I see a useful design logic for how this technology can evolve to address many of the well-documented limitations of existing platforms and open up new (currently hard to predict) paths to solve pressing business and social challenges.

    • The Current State of Blockchain - Panel Discussion (Part 2)
      This is a second part of a panel discussion on the The current state of blockchain. Here you can read the first piece.

      The final two panelists introduce themselves and share their views of the current state of the Blockchain world. We're joined by Richard Brown, CTO at R3 and David Gerard, journalist and author of "Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain".

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO To Form Expert Panel On Challenges Of Human Gene Editing
      “The recent application of tools such as CRISPR-Casp9 to edit the human genome have highlighted the need for the development of standards in this area,” according to a press release from the WHO Global Health Ethics section.

      The expert panel will review the current literature on the state of gene editing research and its applications, along with societal attitudes on the uses of this technology, it said.

      “WHO will then receive advice from the panel on appropriate oversight and governance mechanisms, both at the national and global level,” it explained.

      WHO will now approach leading experts around the world to join the panel and will publish the membership once it is confirmed.

    • WHO Report Shows Global Progress On Influenza Preparedness Response
      The World Health Organization has released a new report showing that significant progress has been made to build national and global preparedness for future influenza pandemics. This progress resulted from the collaborative multi-sectoral implementation of a WHO plan, funded by the benefit-sharing contributions of industry partners, to strengthen global health security against pandemic influenza.

  • Security

    • Measuring container security
      There are a lot of claims regarding the relative security of containers versus virtual machines (VMs), but there has been little in the way of actually trying to measure those differences. James Bottomley gave a talk in the refereed track of the 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) that described work that targets filling in that gap. He and his colleagues have come up with a measure that, while not perfect, gives a starting point for further efforts.

      Bottomley introduced himself as a "container evangelist" for IBM. He used to help convert businesses to becoming part of the open-source community. Working at Parallels on that is how he got involved with containers. He is also a kernel developer and maintainer.

    • A Container Hacker’s Guide to Living Off of the Land
      Sometimes as a pentester you find yourself in tricky situations. Depending on the type of engagement, you might want to try to avoid making a lot of noise on the network if possible. This blog post is going to talk about two techniques to use to gather information on your target while avoiding making too much noise as they pertain to container hacking. But for these to be useful, some other things have to have happened first.

    • Most Routers Have Terrible Security, But There’s One That Doesn’t Suck
      Of 28 widely used home routers, made by seven different manufacturers, examined by Parker Thompson and Sarah Zatko of the Cyber Independent Testing Lab, "not a single one took full advantage of the basic application armoring features provided by the operating system." All the routers placed on various publications' best-of lists. "Only one or two models" — the Linksys WRT32X and Netgear R7000, they said — "even came close, and no brand did well consistently across all models tested." Ten of the tested routers, made by Asus, D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, TP-Link and Trendnet, use the outdated MIPS processor architecture, which Thompson and Zatko says contains a "seemingly forgotten" flaw that completely undermines system security.

    • Most home routers lack simple Linux OS hardening security
      More disconcerting news for router owners – a new assessment of 28 popular models for home users failed to find a single one with firmware that had fully enabled underlying security hardening features offered by Linux.

      CITL (Cyber Independent Testing Laboratories) says it made this unexpected discovery after analysing firmware images from Asus, D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, Synology, TP-Link and Trendnet running versions of the Linux kernel on two microprocessor platforms, MIPS and ARM.

    • New attack intercepts keystrokes via graphics libraries [Ed: CBS is again overhyping old things, making them seem rather serious. And as usual it's drama queen Catalin Cimpanu.]
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Amazon Linux is Amazing - But Still Needs PROTECTing
      While many companies host their Windows and Linux distributions, such as Red Hat, servers in Amazon Web Services (AWS), more and more companies are starting to stand up and run the Amazon version of Linux, called the Amazon Linux Amazon Machine Image (AMI). This flavor of Linux is provided by AWS for use on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and even virtualized and local environments.

    • Keybase Pays $5,000 Bounties for Privilege Escalation Bugs in Linux and macOS Apps
      Keybase received two separate reports for security issues in its app for Linux and macOS that led to privilege escalation on the system. For each of them, the developer paid a bounty of $5,000.

      Both reports came via the HackerOne bug bounty platform, the first one submitted by Adam Chester on August 21 for the Keybase Desktop app for macOS.

    • Hacker Discloses New Unpatched Windows Zero-Day Exploit On Twitter
      A security researcher with Twitter alias SandboxEscaper today released proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit for a new zero-day vulnerability affecting Microsoft's Windows operating system. SandboxEscaper is the same researcher who previously publicly dropped exploits for two Windows zero-day vulnerabilities, leaving all Windows users vulnerable to the hackers until Microsoft patched them. The newly disclosed unpatched Windows zero-day vulnerability is an arbitrary file read issue that could allow a low-privileged user or a malicious program to read the content of any file on a targeted Windows computer that otherwise would only be possible via administrator-level privileges.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Guardian challenged over ‘fake’ Assange & Manafort story, as Luke Harding goes AWOL
      Leading journalists have called out the Guardian for not retracting their story that claimed Wikileaks’ Julian Assange met with ex-Donald Trump operative Paul Manafort despite a lack of evidence to support the claims. Led by ex-Guardian writer, now co-editor at the Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, various journalists and activists attacked the publication for going silent on the ‘bombshell’ story, while at the same time hailing that they are Britain’s most trusted news outlet.

    • Kamal Nath, new Madhya Pradesh chief minister, compromised national security: Wikileaks
      Kamal Nath, who swore-in as Madhya Pradesh chief minister on Monday, had compromised national security and was in touch with the United States embassy during the Emergency, according to Wikileaks.

      Wikileaks revealed a cable from during the Emergency era that Nath, who was then a close confidante of Sanjay Gandhi in West Bengal, had passed on sensitive information to US consul general Korn.

      According to an article in the Times of India, On November 29, 1976, Nath told the US Consul General in Calcutta that India was “making two more atomic bombs and has plans for one more peaceful explosion”.

    • Influential cypherpunk and crypto-anarchist Tim May dies aged 67
      However, the list's two largest legacies were not to be felt for another decade. The cryptocurrency Bitcoin was informed by the cypherpunk principle of using cryptography to solve trust problems, and also its philosophy of decentralisation, bypassing the state. Bitcoin was, and is, a deeply political project. And WikiLeaks followed the trail blazed by John Young's Cryptome.

    • WikiLeaks threatens to sue Louise Mensch after she posts wild theory about Snowden and Putin
      WikiLeaks has suggested it could sue prolific conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch after she tweeted that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had released his secret US military documents “under Putin’s direct orders.” It all started when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted a link to an interview it had conducted with Snowden about the concept of blockchains — an interview which seems to have instantly outraged Mensch, who has made a name for herself in recent years as one of Twitter’s most creative Russiagate conspiracy mongers.

      Responding to the ACLU’s interview with Snowden, Mensch, a former conservative British MP, did what she does best and made everything about Russia.

    • SEP (Australia) meeting announces rallies in defence of Julian Assange
      The Socialist Equality Party announced at a public meeting last Sunday that it will organise demonstrations in defence of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange next March in Sydney and Melbourne. Delivering the main report at the Sydney meeting, which was livestreamed internationally on Facebook, SEP national secretary James Cogan stated that the protests, on March 3 in Sydney and March 10 in Melbourne, would be aimed at mobilising the widespread support for Assange among workers and young people. The rallies would expose the role of the entire Australian political establishment in the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder, Cogan said. They would reiterate the demand that the Australian government take immediate action to secure Assange’s return to Australia, with a guarantee against extradition to the United States, which is seeking to prosecute the journalist and publisher for his role in the exposure of war crimes, illegal diplomatic intrigues and mass spying.

    • Mensch Libels Snowden and WikiLeaks as Russian 'Assets', Legal Action to Follow?
      Louise Mensch - the former Conservative MP and 'chicklit' author turned-ardent Russophobic neoconservative pundit - may have finally gone too far in her anti-Kremlin conspiracy theorizing. On December 15, the American Civil Liberties Union published an article on Blockchain, with input from famed NSA-leaker Edward Snowden. Mensch responded to the piece on Twitter, suggesting the Snowden's exposures were committed on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

      Mensch continued with these baseless smears, causing WikiLeaks to enter the fray — the organization's official account asked Snowden whether he'd like them to launch legal action on his behalf. Unbowed, Mensch proceeded continued with her slanderous postings.
    • Leftist German lawmakers rebuke Trump over Assange impasse
      German lawmakers followed a rare meeting Thursday with Julian Assange by accusing the Trump administration of violating U.S. and international laws in pursuit of the wanted WikiLeaks publisher. Sevim DaÄŸdelen and Heike Hänsel, German parliamentarians and members of the nation’s Left Party, denounced the international custody battle over Mr. Assange while addressing reporters after visiting the Australian-born publisher at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, his residence since 2012. “United Kingdom has to take the measures, now, to bring to a solution which is in the frame of international law, and not in the frame of the U.S. administration, who is against international law and against, actually, the U.S. law, against the First Amendment,” said Ms. DaÄŸdelen, the Left Party’s deputy leader. “We have to actually protect them from themselves not to violate the First Amendment.”
    • German MPs meet Julian Assange at London's Ecuadorian embassy
      Assange first took asylum in the embassy in 2012, but in recent years his relationship with Ecuador has grown increasingly tense. Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno has said he does not like his presence in the embassy.

      In October, the Ecuadorian imposed new rules that require him to receive routine medical exams, following concerns he was not getting the medical attention he needed.

      The rules also ordered Assange to pay his medical and phone bills and clean up after his pet cat.

    • Met Police lose FOIA appeal over documents on WikiLeaks journalists
      In a win for WikiLeaks, a journalist has won a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeal with the Met Police to defend press freedom and reveal the existence of communications, between UK & US authorities, about WikiLeaks editors. Stefania Maurizi, a La Repubblica journalist and longtime media partner on WikiLeaks releases, has been pursuing various multi-jurisdictional FOIA requests about WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange over the past few years, and secured a victory against the Met at a first-tier Tribunal appeal.

      “The victory in Stefania’s case is important first step,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Hrafnsson told RT, adding that the tribunal decision sets “an important example for journalists in FOIA cases.”

    • Investigative journalist wins FOI appeal against Met Police
      The First-tier Tribunal has overturned a decision by the Information Commissioner and ordered the Metropolitan Police ("Met Police") to confirm or deny whether it holds correspondence with the United States Department of Justice concerning three WikiLeaks journalists: Kristinn Hrafnsson (former WikiLeaks' spokesperson and current WikiLeaks' editor), Sarah Harrison (former WikiLeaks' investigative editor) and Joseph A. Farrell (WikiLeaks' section editor).

      All three individuals had been the subject of search warrants served by the US Department of Justice in March 2012 requiring Google to hand over all of their e-mails. Google complied but did not inform the individuals it had done so until almost three years later.

    • U.K. police will have to disclose documents about WikiLeaks journalists
      London police will be forced to reveal the existence of communications between U.K. and U.S. law enforcement about WikiLeaks editors after investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi won an important tribunal appeal on Tuesday.

      Maurizi, who works for Italian newspaper La Repubblica and is a media partner for WikiLeaks, has used freedom of information (FOIA) requests for several years to acquire information held by governments and law enforcement about the transparency organization and its founder Julian Assange.

      The journalist brought a challenge against the London police department after its decision to neither confirm or deny shared correspondence in response to one of her FOIA requests.

      Maurizi sought the disclosure of information held about editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, current editor Joseph Farrell, and former editor Sarah Harrison.

      On Tuesday, Hrafnsson praised the appeal ruling as an “important first step” and “an important example for journalists in FOIA cases.”

    • You Don’t Have To Like Julian Assange To Believe His Journalism Deserves A Defence
      Remember WikiLeaks? The maverick publisher that won infamy dumping the raw material of war crimes, corporate malfeasance and diplomatic bastardry into the public domain? Since 2006 they’ve been providing unfiltered windows into the violence of power, from Inside Somalia to the Iraq War Logs to the Saudi Cables and beyond.

      Despite this remarkable publishing record, almost nobody in the mainstream press writes about the disclosures themselves. Instead, commentary is drawn almost exclusively to the character and conduct of founder and editor Julian Assange. In twelve years he’s gone from dissident publisher to object of mockery and derision across the political spectrum.

      With a few important exceptions, most media comment now focuses on allegations of ties to the Trump regime or how well he looks after his cat. A botched investigation into sexual assault allegations against Assange dragged out for six years, with the British Crown Prosecution Service working behind the scenes to persuade Swedish prosecutors not to interview Assange in London. The investigation eventually lapsed without any charges being laid, denying any form of justice to the accusers or the accused.

    • Assange Performed a Great Public Service: An Interview with Peter Tatchell
      WikiLeaks' founder "is a hero, not a criminal," says British human rights activist Peter Tatchell, for whom Assange should never be tried: "The US government and military must be tried."

      According to Tatchell, Assange on trial would undermine freedom of information, "important human rights principles."

      Based in London, Tatchell questions why The Guardian and The New York Times, which published Assange's revelations, are not charged with the Australian journalist. "The diminution of a vigilant, probing media weakens an important check and balance on the Washington elite," states the Peter Tatchell Foundation's founder.

    • ‘Thousands’ of European Union diplomatic cables hacked: Report
      Hackers apparently connected to China accessed thousands of sensitive EU diplomatic cables, the New York Times reported Wednesday, in the latest embarrassing data breach to hit a major international organisation.

      The cables from the EU’s diplomatic missions around the world reveal anxiety about how to handle US President Donald Trump as well as concerns about China, Russia and Iran.

      The leak, discovered by cybersecurity firm Area 1, recalls the publication by Wikileaks of a vast haul of US State Department cables in 2010, though in the EU case the trove is much smaller and consists of less secret communications, the NYT reported.

    • Chill, it's not WikiLeaks 2: Pile of EU diplomatic cables nicked by hackers
      The New York Times has published what it says are excerpts from hacked EU diplomatic cables that a cybersecurity company apparently made available to reporters.

      The US newspaper said 1,100 diplomatic cables were handed to it by infosec startup Area 1, which it described as "a firm founded by three former officials of the National Security Agency".

      Last time the NSA was in the news in connection with hacking of state secrets was when its former sysadmin contractor, Edward Snowden, revealed the American state agency's ongoing mission to compromise the world's internet communications.

    • Hacked European Cables Reveal a World of Anxiety About Trump, Russia and Iran
      Hackers infiltrated the European Union’s diplomatic communications network for years, downloading thousands of cables that reveal concerns about an unpredictable Trump administration and struggles to deal with Russia and China and the risk that Iran would revive its nuclear program.

      In one cable, European diplomats described a meeting between President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland, as “successful (at least for Putin).”

      Another cable, written after a July 16 meeting, relayed a detailed report and analysis of a discussion between European officials and President Xi Jinping of China, who was quoted comparing Mr. Trump’s “bullying” of Beijing to a “no-rules freestyle boxing match.” The techniques that the hackers deployed over a three-year period resembled those long used by an elite unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army. The cables were copied from the secure network and posted to an open internet site that the hackers set up in the course of their attack, according to Area 1, the firm that discovered the breach.

    • Glenn Greenwald on Sucker Journalists—and Why There’s No Silver Bullet Coming for Trump
      Glenn Greenwald brought The Guardian the biggest scoop of the Obama years when he reported on U.S. agencies collecting metadata on its citizens—turning whistleblower Edward Snowden into a household name, while defining the national conversation surrounding government surveillance. But in the Trump era, the national security wonk’s relationship with The Guardian is… tenuous, at best.


      After The Guardian published an uncorroborated report by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns alleging Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange at London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, Greenwald called out the reporters for failing to vet the information—accusing the publication on Twitter of behavior that “erodes trust in journalism and undermines the work of journalists everywhere.” From Greenwald’s perspective, it was indicative of a much more frightening trend in media: the reliance on government sources for scoops and information

      “I think journalists ought to be aware that when you’re using intelligence [sources], there’s always a high risk you’re being deceived, lied to, propagandized or manipulated since that is what those agencies are designed to do,” explained Greenwald. “That’s clearly what happened here.”

    • By prosecuting WikiLeaks, Trump could stifle reporting on Russian interference
      IT’S BEEN ONE MONTH SINCE the Justice Department accidentally let slip that the Trump administration has secret charges filed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The specific charges remain under seal, as a federal judge has delayed ruling on a motion by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to make them public. At least for now, Assange remains legally free, ensconced in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      If the charges focus on WikiLeaks publishing activities or interacting with sources, the case could have disastrous implications for on press freedom. Ironically, charging WikiLeaks—which has been accused of “helping” Trump by publishing DNC and Clinton campaign emails allegedly hacked by Russia during the lead up to the 2016 election—could be just the precedent Trump craves for stifling much of the journalism that has enraged him about the media’s coverage of the Russia investigation.

      Of course, Assange has been intensely criticized by much of the media for years. But even the most ardent Assange critics should have ample reason to fear how the Trump administration is wielding its power and the potential impact on journalists around the United States.
    • Julian Assange's father says his Wikileaks founder son should be allowed to leave Ecuadorian embassy after six years of 'torment' without fear of being extradited to US
      Julian Assange's father has called for his son's 'torment' to end after he visited him inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      The WikiLeaks founder has been living inside the embassy for more than six years amid fears he will be extradited to the United States if he leaves.

      He was visited on Thursday by his father John and two German MPs who are campaigning for Mr Assange to be able to leave the embassy without being extradited.


      He said he was not yet certain if he could see his son on Christmas Day because of restrictions to visitors imposed by the Ecuador government earlier this year.

      German MPs Heike Haensel and Sevim Dagdelen spent more than an hour inside the embassy meeting Julian Assange.

      They called on European governments to help break the deadlock and prevent any extradition to the US.
    • WikiLeaks says it is locked out its official Twitter account
      According to Hrafnsson, the organization attempted to reach out to Twitter but so far has received no response or explanation for what is happening.

      The Daily Dot contacted Twitter for comment. A representative told the Daily Dot that the company was “looking into it.”

      A similar search issue was experienced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in July, whose two accounts failed to appear in the function’s drop-down results. At the time, conservatives accused Twitter of shadowbanning the congressman—a charge the company denied entirely.

      Some believe that Rep. Gaetz fell victim to Twitter’s new ranking behavior and search algorithms, thought to be part of an overall plan announced in May to tackle “troll-like behavior” on the platform.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • What America Still Stands to Lose as Zinke Leaves Interior and Ex-Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt Stands by
      With the resignation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, environmental and public lands advocates are asking: Will the new leader be any better for the environment than the previous one? And from their perspective, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

      David Bernhardt, the current Deputy Interior Secretary, a former oil industry lobbyist, is likely to become Acting Secretary when Zinke leaves at the end of the year. He shares the same types of conflicts of interest his boss does. The Western Values Project (WVP), a pro-public lands group, has documented Bernhardt’s many conflicts, illustrating how his work helps special interest groups — including some of his former clients — in advancing agendas that often undermine protections for public lands and wildlife.

      “Ryan Zinke’s tenure at the Department of Interior was a disaster for public lands of historic proportions,” WVP’s executive director Chris Saeger wrote in a recent statement. “The public and Congress should continue their commitment to vigilant oversight over the ongoing ethical abuses at Interior in order to repair its reputation.”

      Saeger finds little to celebrate with the latest turnover in the Trump administration: “The musical chairs that have become the hallmark of this administration mean that at least in the interim, Trump is just replacing one scandal-plagued Secretary with the ultimate DC swamp creature and ex-lobbyist David Bernhardt.”

  • Finance

    • Oligarchy Is Destroying Our Society and the Planet
      Is capitalism on the brink of joining the dustbin of history? And what would a post-capitalist society and a sustainable economy look like?

      Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the world has experienced historically unprecedented levels of growth, with capitalism raising the standard of living of many nations. At the same time, capitalism has generated immense contradictions (exploitation of labor and nature, huge economic inequalities and gross social injustices), and these traditionally have been the main foci of radical political movements advancing the vision of a just socioeconomic order. But is the era of capitalist growth now coming to an end?

      Renowned economist James Boyce, senior fellow at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, offers critical insights on all of these questions, which should be food for thought for all progressives in the age of the revival of democratic socialism. Professor Boyce is the author of the forthcoming books Economics for People and the Planet: Inequality in the Era of Climate Change and The Case for Carbon Dividends.
    • Blockstream Boosts Bitcoin Satellite Service With Lightning Payments
      Bitcoin users’ ability to send transactions through outer space has just been given a boost.

      Blockchain technology firm Blockstream announced Monday that it has expanded its satellite service to the Asia-Pacific region. It’s also added support for lightning network transactions, allowing users to pay for its service using the “layer 2” scaling solution.
    • Blockstream Satellite Launch – Bitcoin Blockchain Broadcast from Space to Every Major Land Mass on Earth
      A new age in bitcoin may be here as start-up Blockstream uses satellites to broadcast the entire bitcoin blockchain to all major populated landmasses on earth, shoring up the network’s resilience and availability throughout the planet.
    • Can an Unequal Earth Beat Climate Change?
      We either keep fossil fuels in the ground, or all of us are going to fry. So essentially posits still another new blockbuster study on climate change, this one just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Our fossil-fuel industrial economy, the study details, has made for the fastest climate changes our Earth has ever seen.

      “If we think about the future in terms of the past, where we are going is uncharted territory for human society,” notes the study lead author Kevin Burke from the University of Wisconsin.

      “In the roughly 20 to 25 years I have been working in the field,” adds another researcher on the effort, Wisconsin’s John Williams, “we have gone from expecting climate change to happen, to detecting the effects, and now, we are seeing that it’s causing harm,” as measured in property damage and deaths, in intensified flooding and fires.

    • Ethereum Startup Parity Launches DIY Blockchain Tool Substrate
      The firm announced Tuesday that Substrate is now available as a beta version, adding that the open-source tech was designed to be “as generic as possible” to allow flexibility when designing blockchains. The included API also lets users create their own consensus mechanism or they can utilize “most” existing algorithms.

      Substrate is integrated with the firm’s blockchain interoperability protocol Polkadot and is written in the programming language Rust, while a JavaScript implementation can run in web browsers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Inside the Temple of Covert Propaganda: The Integrity Initiative and the UK’s Scandalous Information War
      Recent hacked documents have revealed an international network of politicians, journalists, academics, researchers and military officers, all engaged in highly deceptive covert propaganda campaigns funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), NATO, Facebook and hardline national security institutions.

      This “network of networks”, as one document refers to them, centers around an ironically named outfit called the Integrity Initiative. And it is all overseen by a previously unknown England-based think tank registered in Scotland, the Institute for Statecraft, which has operated under a veil of secrecy.

      The whole operation appears to be run by, and in conjunction with, members of British military intelligence.

      According to David Miller, professor of political sociology in the school of policy studies at the University of Bristol and the director of the Organization for Propaganda Studies, the Integrity Initiative “appears to be a military directed push.”

      “The most senior government people are professional propagandists and spooks,” Miller explained. “The ‘charity’ lead on this [Chris Donnelly] was also appointed as a colonel in military intelligence at the beginning of the project — a truly amazing fact that suggests this is a military intelligence cut out.”

      A minister for the UK FCO has officially confirmed that it has been funding the Integrity Network.

      In addition to conducting diplomacy, the FCO oversees both the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) the UK equivalent to the National Security Agency, and the Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) commonly known as MI6.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NAACP Launches Boycott of Facebook: Platform Is Unhealthy for African Americans & U.S. Democracy
      Facebook is under fire again, this time for new revelations that Russian trolls targeted African Americans on social media in an effort to influence the vote ahead of the 2016 election. A pair of bipartisan reports published by the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday claim the Russian government focused on African Americans in its effort to suppress the turnout of voters likely to cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, spreading fake news and sowing discord in the run-up to the election. The NAACP has launched a Facebook boycott in response, demanding the social media giant be held responsible. We speak with Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.

    • Why Privacy Needs All of Us
      There is one American city that is the furthest along in creating a workable solution to the current inadequacy of surveillance law: Oakland, California — which spawned rocky road ice cream, the mai tai cocktail, and the Black Panther Party. Oakland has now pushed pro-privacy public policy along an unprecedented path.

      Today, Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission acts as a meaningful check on city agencies — most often, police — that want to acquire any kind of surveillance technology. It doesn’t matter whether a single dollar of city money is being spent — if it’s being used by a city agency, the PAC wants to know about it. The agency in question and the PAC then have to come up with a use policy for that technology and, importantly, report back at least once per year to evaluate its use.

    • How much is social media worth? Estimating the value of Facebook by paying users to stop using it
      Facebook, the online social network, has more than 2 billion global users. Because those users do not pay for the service, its benefits are hard to measure. We report the results of a series of three non-hypothetical auction experiments where winners are paid to deactivate their Facebook accounts for up to one year. Though the populations sampled and the auction design differ across the experiments, we consistently find the average Facebook user would require more than $1000 to deactivate their account for one year. While the measurable impact Facebook and other free online services have on the economy may be small, our results show that the benefits these services provide for their users are large.

    • Most People Are Ready To Quit Facebook For $1,000, Study Finds
      A study published in the journal PLOS ONE reveals that it will take just more than $1,000 for users to deactivate their Facebook account for one year. The study intends to calculate the “consumer surplus” which, in terms of economics, is “the difference between the total amount that consumers are willing and able to pay for a good or service and the total amount that they actually do pay.”

    • Debunking "ghost users": MI5's plan to backdoor all secure messaging platforms
      When lawmakers and cops propose banning working cryptography (as they often do in the USA), or ban it outright (as they just did in Australia), they are long on talk about "responsible encryption" and the ability of sufficiently motivated technologists to "figure it out" and very short on how that might work -- but after many years, thanks to the UK's spy agency MI5, we have a detailed plan of what this system would look like, and it's called "ghost users."

      MI5's idea is for secure messaging platforms to create a backdoor in their systems that allows law enforcement to be an invisible part of every encrypted chat.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • US bank 'sorry' for calling police on black man cashing pay cheque
      A bank in Ohio has apologised for calling police on a black man who was attempting to cash his pay cheque. Paul McCowns, 30, had gone to the Huntington Bank branch in Brooklyn, Ohio - a suburb of Cleveland - with his first cheque from his new job. After providing two forms of ID and giving his fingerprints, as requested, the bank staff refused to cash the cheque, and asked him to leave. Unbeknownst to Mr McCowns, they also called police who later detained him. "It was highly embarrassing," Mr McCowns told Cleveland 19 News.

    • 'This Is a Child Prison': Visiting Texas Detention Center, Democrats Demand Release of Children to Family Sponsors
      Democratic lawmakers joined protesters in a demonstration Saturday in the border town of Tornillo, Texas, where about 2,700 young immigrants are currently being held in a detention center—with some having languished there for months.

      The facility is better described as a "child prison," said the legislators, including Reps. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), and Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Forging a DRM-free future with DbD
      The Defective by Design (DbD) campaign is a project of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). In an effort to expand our work towards a world without Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), we are asking you to donate $10 or become a member of the FSF as part of its yearly fundraising drive.

      The state of DRM is as bad as ever -- restricting your rights every day, whether you realize it or not. Intentionally or unintentionally, you are caught by these digital handcuffs. Looking back on 2018, we see new themes around DRM, largely concerning access: Apple created a new chip to limit repairs of Apple products; Amazon released their SPEKE API making it even easier to include DRM on AWS servers; and we saw a year with EME on the Web. These are just a few of the new ways DRM infiltrated our lives in 2018.

      In addition to these examples of DRM technology, we've also had to deal with DRM in the policymaking world. I'd like to spend a little time highlighting net neutrality in the United States, a battle still raging in the US House of Representatives, and Article 13 of the European Copyright Directive. Both of these are issues being tackled by DbD's home organization, the Free Software Foundation, and they're just as important to the fight against DRM as they are to other digital rights.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • India Proposes Expediting Patents For Women, Small Entities, Waiving PCT Fees
      The Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion recently published draft amendments to the Patent Rules of 2003 that would expand the eligibility for expedited examination of patent applications to include women and small entities, and would waive the fees for online filing of international patent applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), among other changes.

      These amendments were published [pdf] in the Gazette of India on 4 December to be made public and taken into consideration for a period of 30 days, during which objections or suggestions can be submitted to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry before the amendments are finalised.

    • China is to Establish a National IP Appellate Court
      On October 26, 2018, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) issued a Decision, approving the establishment of a new IP Tribunal within the Supreme People’s Court (the “SPC”) as a national IP appellate court akin to the role of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the “CAFC”) in the United States.
    • Price Discrimination & Intellectual Property
      This chapter reviews the law and economics literature on intellectual property law and price discrimination. We introduce legal scholars to the wide range of techniques used by intellectual property owners to practice price discrimination; in many cases the link between commercial practice and price discrimination may not be apparent to non-economists. We introduce economists to the many facets of intellectual property law that influence the profitability and practice of price discrimination. The law in this area has complex effects on customer sorting and arbitrage. Intellectual property law offers fertile ground for analysis of policies that facilitate or discourage price discrimination. We conjecture that new technologies are expanding the range of techniques used for price discrimination while inducing new wrinkles in intellectual property law regimes. We anticipate growing commentary on copyright and trademark liability of e-commerce platforms and how that connects to arbitrage and price discrimination. Further, we expect to see increasing discussion of the connection between intellectual property, privacy, and antitrust laws and the incentives to build and use databases and algorithms in support of price discrimination.

    • Substance or device - a distinction without a difference?
      The Proprietor argued that the filler material had the properties of a substance or composition. Given that the use of the filler material was new, it was argued, the claim should therefore be considered novel under Article 54(5).

      Applying the principle proposed in T 2003/08 (Edwards Lifesciences), the TBA asked (a) how the therapeutic effect of the filler material was achieved ("the principle mode of action"), and (b) whether the effect was achieved by a chemical entity or composition of chemical entities. The TBA determined that the therapeutic effect was achieved by "physical displacement of the sensitive tissue". Particularly, the specification showed that the filler was effective by increasing the distance and occupying a volume, i.e. "by a physical effect of the accumulated mass and not due to its chemical constitution...The spacing effects were present for any filler material, which further underlined that the effect was a physical one, independently of the particular chemistry of the filler". The TBA thus concluded that the filler was a device and not a substance or composition.

      The proprietor had argued that the filler material, aside from providing the "filling" function, was also biocompatible, biodegradable and injectable. All of these properties, it was argued, contributed to the therapeutic effect. A biodegradable material, for example, removed the need for surgical removal of the material. It can also be noted that producing and demonstrating the effects of a material that is suitable for injection, is non-toxic, biodegrades and has advantageous therapeutic properties, is not a trivial task.

      However, the TBA noted however that biodegradability and biocompatibility were typical device features. They reasoned that "[i]f these effects were to be taken into account as prophylactic effects of the material, indirect second medical use protection of any device would be possible, contrary to the wording of the EPC". The TBA therefore agreed with the Opposition Division that the claim was not novel.

    • ITC Review of Qualcomm-Apple Decision Is Normal Practice
      Last week, the International Trade Commission (ITC) decided to review the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the Qualcomm v. Apple case at the ITC. Unfortunately, news reports have characterized this as Qualcomm persuading the ITC to review the initial decision, as if it were unusual.

      It isn’t unusual at all. The Commission frequently reviews the decisions of the ALJs it supervises. In fact, according to a veteran ITC attorney I spoke with, the “majority, even the vast majority” of decisions are reviewed by the Commission. That remains the case even when the Commission ultimately decides not to make any changes to the ALJ’s initial determination.

    • Was there really no reason for (any) SPC-referrals after Medeva? Some thoughts about Judge Meier-Beck’s interpretation of the CJEU’s case law
      In light of the Teva/Gilead-judgment handed down on 25 July 2018 by the CJEU (C-121/17) as well as the latest referral from the German Federal Patent Court dated 17 October 2017 in re Sitagliptin III (14 W (pat) 12/17), which is pending as C-650/17, Prof. Meier-Beck, the presiding Judge of the German Federal Supreme Court, summarized in a presentation given on 3 December 2018 for GRUR which issues regarding SPCs have actually been clarified and what questions still remain unanswered. Regarding the latter, according to Prof. Meier-Beck, one of the major unresolved issues is whether equivalents could be protected by SPCs.

      The (translated) title of his presentation “Teva/Gilead or: The product protected by a basic patent according to the SPC-regulation – any news from the CJEU?” already gave a strong indication to the audience about his interpretation of the CJEU-judgments. To cut a long story short, he has not seen the need for the numerous referrals to the CJEU since Medeva (C-322/10) was handed down. Hence, unsurprisingly to him at least, there is not any news in sight. In fact, his view seems to be that the CJEU has already back then given a clear guidance on how to interpret Art 3 (a) of the SPC-regulation.

    • Qualcomm wins envelope tracker patent case against Apple in Munich, but will the injunction ever be enforced?
      Presiding Judge Dr. Matthias Zigann of the Munich I Regional Court ("Landgericht München I") just announced his panel's decisions on, technically, ten Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement complaints. The key question is now whether a ban of Intel-powered iPhones up to the iPhone X (but not the latest models) will actually be enforced. The court based the infringement holding merely on an allegedly insufficiently-substantiated denial by Apple, not on actual clarification of how the accused chips operate . It's all because Qualcomm alleged.something and Apple couldn't deny it without violating Qorvo's secrets.

    • Munich I Regional Court scheduled ten Qualcomm v. Apple decisions for tomorrow (December 20)
      This morning, Judge Dr. Anne-Kristin Fricke, in her capacity as spokeswoman for the Munich I Regional Court on civil-law cases, confirmed that the court still plans to hand down decisions in, technically, ten Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement cases tomorrow (Thursday, December 20) at 2 PM local time (= 8 AM Eastern). The purpose of this preview post is to focus on the forest amid all the trees.

    • Funny photo: former Qualcomm president duct-tapes gate to avoid testifying at January FTC trial
      Last week the Federal Trade Commission requested the court's permission to serve trial subpoenas on former Qualcomm president Derek Aberle and former Qualcomm vice chairman Steven Altman by mail after the two "repeatedly evaded attempts to personally serve subpoenas seeking their apperance at [the January 2019 FTC v. Qualcomm] trial."

    • Don’t Buy Into Qualcomm’s Attempts To Distract From Its Anti-Competitive Behavior
      There’s been a lot of discussion about Qualcomm’s recent Chinese injunction against Apple. But that’s a distraction—the real story is, and remains, the trio of lawsuits against Qualcomm for anti-competitive practices that will be conducted over the first half of 2019. First, in January, the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit. Next, in April, Apple’s lawsuit. And finally, in June, one of the largest consumer class actions in history.

      With Qualcomm’s business model resulting in antitrust fines across the world[1][2][3] and continuing investigations in the U.S., including a decision by Judge Koh that significantly undercuts its ability to engage in unfair licensing practices, it’s unsurprising that Qualcomm wants to cling to minor victories. Unfortunately for Qualcomm, even those minor victories involve serious due process concerns—ironic, given Qualcomm’s complaints about a lack of due process when they’re the ones on the defense.

    • Copyrights

      • For the First Time in More Than 20 Years, Copyrighted Works Will Enter the Public Domain
        “Whose woods these are, I think I”—whoa! We can’t quote any more of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” because it is still under copyright as this magazine goes to press. But come January 1, 2019, we, you, and everyone in America will be able to quote it at length on any platform.

        At midnight on New Year’s Eve, all works first published in the United States in 1923 will enter the public domain. It has been 21 years since the last mass expiration of copyright in the U.S.

        That deluge of works includes not just “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which appeared first in the New Republic in 1923, but hundreds of thousands of books, musical compositions, paintings, poems, photographs and films. After January 1, any record label can issue a dubstep version of the 1923 hit “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” any middle school can produce Theodore Pratt’s stage adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, and any historian can publish Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis with her own extensive annotations. Any artist can create and sell a feminist response to Marcel Duchamp’s seminal Dadaist piece, The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) and any filmmaker can remake Cecil B. DeMille’s original The Ten Commandments and post it on YouTube.

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