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Links 22/3/2021: The 5.12 Kernel Gets RC4, LibrePlanet Talks Aplenty

  • GNU/Linux

    • 9to5Linux Weekly Roundup: March 21st, 2021

      This has been an interesting week with some great releases, starting with UBports’ Ubuntu Touch OTA-16 software update for Linux phones and continuing with System76’s long-anticipated AMD-only Linux laptop. We also saw the release of Audacity 3.0 and PeaZip 7.8, as well as the launch of a new NVIDIA GPU driver.

      Ubuntu 21.04 and Fedora 34 are getting closer and closer to their final release and promise exciting new features. On top of that, I take a first look at the upcoming Ubuntu Budgie 21.04 operating system for Raspberry Pi 4. You can enjoy these and much more in the 9to5Linux Weekly Roundup for March 21st, 2021, below!

    • Desktop/Laptop

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Linux Action News 181

        Mobile Linux OSes are looking better than ever this week, a new effort to keep legacy applications running on Linux, and the signals indicating a Fuchsia release is nigh.

        Plus a PSA for GNOME users, and a recently improved tool for the Raspberry Pi.

    • Kernel Space

      • Open-Source Drivers for Razer Devices OpenRazer Version 3.0 Released With New Hardware Support

        Razer is a multinational computer peripherals manufacturer famous for its gaming hardware. However, there are currently no official drivers for any Razer peripherals in Linux. But, luckily for Linux users, the open-source community came up with OpenRazer.

        In case you didn’t know, OpenRazer is an entirely open-source driver and user-space daemon that allows you to manage your Razer peripherals on GNU/Linux.

        Recently, the developers released OpenRazer 3.0 with support for persistent storage of effects in daemon which allows for the front-end to retrieve the effects for a device that had been set. On top of that, several new devices were added to the list of supported hardware.

      • Kernel prepatch 5.12-rc4

        The fourth 5.12 kernel prepatch is out for testing. "So I'll just tempt the fates and say that everything looks pretty normal and this release seems to look good despite the rc1 hiccup."

      • Linux 5.12-rc4 Released - The 5.12 Kernel Is Still Looking Good

        The fourth weekly release candidate to Linux 5.12 is now available for testing ahead of its anticipated stable release next month.

        Linux 5.12 overall continues to be quite calm and much better off than early on when 5.12-rc1 was rocked by a nasty data corruption issue.

      • Linux 5.12-rc4
        Very much an average rc4, possibly just a tad on the smaller side of average.

        Nothing here particularly stands out. The diffstat looks a bit more spread out than it perhaps normally would do, because of the removal of the (never used) MODULE_SUPPORTED_DEVICE() thing that causes some trivial line removal in various drivers, but not only did it never do anything, it wasn't actually even all that common (ie it certainly wasn't a "most drivers" kind of situation).

        Anyway, drivers (sound, gpu, nvme, USB), some filesystem updates, io-uring (signal fixes and cleanups), arch fixes (mostly RISC-V and x86 kvm), and just random small things all over.

        So I'll just tempt the fates and say that everything looks pretty normal and this release seems to look good despite the rc1 hiccup,

      • OpenRazer 3.0 Released For Supporting Many More Razer Peripherals Under Linux

        While Razer has talked up Linux support in the past, so far they have not officially offered Linux support for their range of wares popular with gamers. However, thanks to the open-source community there has been the likes of OpenRazer offering up support for the company's keyboards, mice, and other peripherals under Linux thanks to reverse engineering. Today marks the release of OpenRazer 3.0 for furthering this effort.

        OpenRazer 3.0 is out as the fully open-source driver and user-space daemon for interfacing with Razer peripherals under Linux. OpenRazer allows configuring various device settings like LED lighting, mouse sensitivity, and more for Razer's keyboards, mice, mousemats, headsets, and other peripherals. OpenRazer supports pretty much all of the Razer peripherals of recent years and in turn is used by various Linux GUI solutions like Polychromatic.

      • man-pages-5.11 is released

        Alex Colomar and I have released released man-pages-5.11. The release tarball is available on The browsable online pages can be found on The Git repository for man-pages is available on

        This release resulted from patches, bug reports, reviews, and comments from around 40 contributors. A number of wide-ranging global edits by Alex and me have resulted in one of the largest releases since I became involved with man-pages some 20 years ago. The release includes around 480 commits that changed around 950 (more than 90% of the) manual pages. The diff runs to more than 50k lines (which makes it the third largest release measured by lines changed).

      • Better Support For Thrustmaster Steering Wheels Is Driving To The Linux Kernel

        It's looking like the Linux 5.13 kernel will better support some Thrustmaster wheels due to new driver code providing for proper USB device initialization.

        Linux has already supported some Thrustmaster racing wheels while special handling is now being added for others like the Thrustmaster FFB Wheel T150RS, T300RS, T300 Ferrari Alcantara Edition, T500RS).

        As part of the HID Git repository is now a for-5.13/thrustmaster branch where improvements to the Thrustmaster wheel support is queuing.

    • Applications

      • FreeCAD 0.19 Released For Advancing Open-Source CAD Software

        FreeCAD 0.19 was released this weekend as the newest major feature release for this respected open-source CAD solution / parametric 3D modeling solution.

        FreeCAD 0.19 is now "essentially complete" in its migration from Python 2 to Python 3 as well as Qt4 to Qt5. FreeCAD 0.19 at the UI level brings improvements to its navigation cube, new icon theme management, a new dark stylesheet, a lot of work on dynamic properties, improved backup file handling, glTF support, a new WebGL exporter, new Arch Fence and Arch Truss tools, continued work on the FEM Workbench, the Render Workbench added support for Blender's standalone Cycles renderer, and much more.

      • Meet Sleek: A Sleek Looking To-Do List Application

        For those not aware, Electron is a framework that lets you use JavaScript, HTML and CSS for building cross-platform desktop apps. It utilizes Chromium and Node.js for this purpose and this is why some people don’t like their desktop apps running a browser underneath it.

        Todo.txt is a text-based file system and if you follow its markup syntax, you can create a to-do list. There are tons of mobile, desktop and CLI apps that use Todo.txt underneath it.

        Don’t worry you don’t need to know the correct syntax for todo.txt. Since Sleek is a GUI tool, you can utilize its interface for creating to-do lists without special efforts.

        The advantage of todo.txt is that you can copy or export your files and use it on any To Do List app that supports todo.txt. This gives you portability to keep your data while moving between applications.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Conky & Lua

        Thanks to this article I became aware of how flexible conky's Lua configuration format is - it is effectively a Lua script. This opens almost endless new possibilities that go far beyond mere modularisation.

      • Paternoster: a CLI to invoke Ansible playbooks

        Paternoster, named after the lift, enables me to quite easily create a “program” which uses the Ansible API to actually invoke and run a playbook, mostly hiding this fact from the user. I’ve known of Paternoster since at least March 2018 when I PRed one of my infamous one-letter fixes and have since wanted to blog about it. Here goes.

      • How to deal with OpenVPN Client Runtime Issues?

        In my practical human trials, I have encountered issues mostly with availability. The most common issue in my experience has been that the openvpn process dies due to an error condition it cannot handle, such as socket availability or an error condition with the client-server communication that it cannot deal with in a controlled manner.

        To this end, I first experimented with ifstated(8), but found out that it is not really the right tool for the task, since openvpn getting stuck is a rarer event than it exiting due to an error condition. Moreover, it remained unclear to me how to gracefully handle multiple independent processes and their state through the configuration. [...]

      • How to Connect to Wi-Fi Through the Linux Terminal With Nmcli

        Need to connect to the internet on your Linux device, but don't have an ethernet port or access to graphical networking software? In this article, we'll learn how to connect to Wi-Fi in the Linux terminal using the nmcli command line tool.

      • How to Add a User to the Sudoers List in Linux

        Want to grant administrative privileges to a Linux user? Here's how you can add a user to the sudoers list.

        Adding a user to the sudoers list allows you to give administrative access to regular users. This way, you don't have to share the root password with other users on your system. Adding users to the sudoers list allows them to execute system commands with root privileges.

        Here's how you can grant administrator roles to Linux users by adding them to the sudoers list.

      • How To Install CloudPanel on Debian 10 - idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install CloudPanel on Debian 10. For those of you who didn’t know, CloudPanel is an open-source server management control panel designed to be fast, easy to use, and customizable. CloudPanel supports management of database servers, Domains, Linux services, Cron jobs, IP and Bots blocking, FTP server, User management, Cloud platforms support, among many others.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the CloudPanel Control Panel on a Debian 10 (Buster).

      • How to Install ClipGrab Video Downloader via PPA in Ubuntu 20.04 | UbuntuHandbook

        Want to install the ClipGrab YouTube video downloader via classic deb package? Here’s a PPA available for Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 20.10, and Linux Mint 20.

        ClipGrab is a free and open-source downloading and converting application for YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and many other video sites.

        Thanks to Youtube-DL and Qt framework, it provides a simple UI with ability to search videos via keywords. By clicking a video from the search result, it automatically inputs the video URL to “Downloads” tab.

      • How to Register a Domain Name on AWS

        Amazon Route53 comes to the rescue when it comes to buying a domain name on AWS. One can also transfer a domain name from other registrars to AWS. When you want to build a website or web applications, the first step is to buy a domain name, as it is an easier way to remember than the IP of the server. A domain name is a unique name that identifies the website, hence no 2 websites can have the same name on the internet.

        Any domain consists of Top Level Domain (TLD) and Second Level Domain (SLD). If we take an example of the domain name as "" .com is the Top Level Domain and my-example is the Second Level Domain. Additionally, you can create Sub-Domains under your Domain name for which you don't need to pay. In "" URL, "my-subdomain" is the Sub-Domain you can create it without paying any additional amount to your registrar.

      • How to install GCC on Ubuntu

        Need to install GCC on your Ubuntu system but can’t figure out how to set it up? If so, this guide is for you! Follow along below as we show you how to install GCC on Ubuntu!


        The GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) is installable on Ubuntu through the command-line terminal. To install it, you will need to download and set up the “build-essential” package on Ubuntu. To start the installation process, open up a terminal window.

        To open up a terminal window on the desktop, press Ctrl + Alt + T on the keyboard. Or, open up the app menu and search for “Terminal” to open it up.

        Once the terminal window is open, make use of the apt install command below and use it to install the “build-essential” package on Ubuntu.

      • How to enable and use Ubuntu remote desktop | TechRadar

        When you need to access a computer from outside your home or office, you’ll want to use the best remote desktop software. Having a remote desktop can enable you to access files on your work or home computer from anywhere. Or, you can access a client’s computer to offer technical support.

        Whatever your goal, it’s relatively easy to learn how to set up a remote desktop connection. In this guide, we’ll show you how to enable and use a remote desktop on the Ubuntu operating system.

      • How to deactivate or disable a user account in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

        If you want to disable any user to prevent that the user logs into his/her account on Ubuntu or lock the user’s account so he/she won’t be able to log in and access the privileged rights, you can do it in three ways through command line input (CLI). This article will explain and demonstrate these 3 ways through which you can perform the specified task.

      • Installing Fedora 33 Workstation With Btrfs And Full Disk Encryption

        This is my experience on installing Fedora 33 on my laptop with Btrfs and full disk encryption technologies. I use the Workstation 64 bit flagship edition that has GNOME user interface choice. As an addition, I included a short glossary at the end too. I've waited for a fairly long time to try out Fedora and now is my chance. I wish all dear readers o Ubuntu users will like it!

      • Docker File vs Docker Compose: What's the Difference?

        Docker File vs Docker Compose: What's the Difference? I've seen many people get confused between a Dockerfile and a Compose file. This is primarily because both are used to modify a Docker image in a way, though it's not technically correct.

        It is easy to confuse the two terms, but it's also necessary to understand the difference when making a conversation with a colleague or your (potential) employer.

        Dockerfile is what's used to create a container image, and a Compose file is what's used to deploy an instance of that image as a container.

        Let me go in a bit of detail so that you properly understand the difference between Docker Compose and Dockerfile.

      • How To Install PyCharm on Manjaro 20

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install PyCharm on Manjaro 20. For those of you who didn’t know, PyCharm is an intelligent and fully-featured IDE for Python developed by JetBrains. It also provides support for Javascript, Typescript, and CSS, etc. You can also extend PyCharm features by using plugins. By using PyCharm plugins you can also get support for frameworks like Django, Flask. We can also use PyCharm for other programming languages like HTML, SQL, Javascript, CSS, and more. PyCharm is available in three editions: Professional, Community, and Edu. The Community and Edu editions are open-source projects and they are free, but they have fewer features. PyCharm Edu provides courses and helps you learn to program with Python. The Professional edition is commercial and provides an outstanding set of tools and features.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the PyCharm CE on a Manjaro 20 (Nibia).

      • How Do I Escape Spaces in Paths for Scp in Linux?

        The Secure Copy tool (scp) is an easy way to securely copy files to and from remote computers. But frustration can easily set in when scp does not work correctly due to spaces in file names and/or folder paths.

        In this tutorial, we will show you 3 ways to avoid scp errors arising from having spaces in path names.

      • How to get any browser on Chrome OS

        If you have a Chromebook then you know Google Chrome is the pre-installed web browser. But that doesn’t mean it has to be your only browser. Since Chrome OS can now run Android, Linux, and even Windows apps, you can browse the web through third-party browsers like Microsoft Edge or Mozilla Firefox.

        Whether you’re looking to take advantage of a specific tool on a different browser or are simply tired of Google Chrome, here’s how to install any other full-fledged browser on Chrome OS.

        There are three ways you can access a new browser on your Chromebook. You can install its Android app, Linux client, or a compatible Windows desktop program through a cross-platform virtualization service called CrossOver. As long as the desired browser has a counterpart for any one of these platforms, you should be all set. Here’s how to employ each of these methods.

      • Why I use exa instead of ls on Linux

        We live in a busy world and can save time and effort by using the ls command when we need to look for files and data. But without a lot of tweaking, the default ls output isn't quite soothing to the eyes. Why spend your time squinting at black and white text when you have an alternative in exa?

        Exa is a modern-day replacement for the regular ls command, and it makes life easier. The tool is written in Rust, which is known for its parallelism and safety.

      • 5 everyday sysadmin tasks to automate with Ansible

        If you hate performing repetitive tasks, then I have a proposition for you. Learn Ansible!


        Typically, many of these essential daily tasks require manual steps that depend upon an individual's skills, creating inconsistencies and resulting in configuration drift. This might be OK in a small-scale implementation where you're managing one server and know what you are doing. But what happens when you are managing hundreds or thousands of servers?

        If you are not careful, these manual, repeatable tasks can cause delays and issues because of human errors, and those errors might impact you and your organization's reputation.

      • Monitor Node.js applications on Red Hat OpenShift with Prometheus

        A great thing about Node.js is how well it performs inside a container. With the shift to containerized deployments and environments comes extra complexity. One such complexity is observing what’s going on within your application and its resources, and when resource use is outside of the expected norms.

        Prometheus is a tool that developers can use to increase observability. It is an installable service that gathers instrumentation metrics from your applications and stores them as time-series data. Prometheus is advanced and battle-tested, and a great option for Node.js applications running inside of a container.

      • How to Create and Use Ansible Roles in Playbook

        Ansible is an opensource configuration management and orchestration tool that makes it easy to automate IT tasks in a multi-tier IT environment. With a single command, you can configure multiple servers and deploy applications without logging into each of the servers and doing the configuration by yourself. In doing so, Ansible simplifies tasks that would otherwise be time-consuming and tedious.

        With the increase in the number of playbook files executing various automation tasks, things can get a bit complex. And that’s where Ansible roles come in.

      • How To Install Swift Programming Language on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS - idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Swift Programming Language on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, Swift is a modern open-source high-performing programming language. Mainly it is used for iOS app development but, you can use it for systems programming, cloud services, and design other applications. It was developed by Apple and released in 2014. Swift was designed as a replacement for the older Objective-C language.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of Swift Programming Language on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa). You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian-based distribution like Linux Mint.

      • How to install RStudio on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to install RStudio and R base on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

        This tutorial will only work on Chromebooks with an Intel or AMD CPU (with Linux Apps Support) and not those with an ARM64 architecture CPU.

      • Top 16 Tar Command with Examples in Linux

        Tar is an archiving software utility for the computer for compressing multiple files and directories into one archive file. It’s an acronym for Tape Archive that is broadly used in Linux/Unix. Tar archiving is mostly used for the purpose of data backup or distribution of source files or packages. Tar command is used for archiving, compressing, and extracting as it has a variety of its types, the most popular ones are tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2.


        As tar command supports various archive file formats but its default archive format is .tar. In order to create a .tar archive, you need to add the hyphen c (-c) option which denotes creating an archive and the hyphen f(-f) option which denotes archive name. Then, determine the archive name with extension (.tar). Lastly, provide filenames or directories you want to archive. You can also pass the -v option to view verbose of process operation.

      • Exporting LibreOffice Guides to XHTML (Part II)

        In the previous blog post I explained the reasons and some issues on exporting LibreOffice Guides to the xHTML format. Now it is time to give more technical details.

        I choose to use the extension writer2xhtml available in the Extension website, because the produced HTML5 look less cluttered than the native XHTML export. Nevertheless there it will be necessary to add some extra HTML5 lines, to load the CSS and a Javascript file.

        Invisible changes in chapter files that can go upstream

        There are some changes that should go upstream, because it does not change the resulting PDF or ODT book layout.

        Each image must be anchored “as character” in the document. The image becomes a character and must be single in the paragraph. The paragraph must be centered in the page, using a style that aligns in the center, for example, the “Figure” paragraph style. The image caption paragraph must have style “Caption”. The wrapping frame that holds the image and the caption must also be anchored “as character” in a paragraph with style “Figure” as well. This arrangement is transparent when producing ODT, PDF and HTML5 documents.

        Tips, Notes and Cautions headings use graphics as bullet. Many of these paragraphs have the bullet enabled by direct formatting and this is invisible to the user in LibreOffice, but will show when exporting to HTML5 with an ugly black circle.

    • Games

      • Arrow is a new open source app for developing text adventures and game narratives | GamingOnLinux

        Are you designing a game narrative or want to make some sort of text adventure? Even if it's just prototyping or storyboarding the free and open source app Arrow can help. Under the MIT license, Arrow has no barrier to entry and it's quite fully featured. It's also built with Godot Engine, so extending it should be easy enough too.

      • Free and open source multiplayer voxel RPG 'Veloren' has a huge 0.9.0 release | GamingOnLinux

        The community of volunteers building up the next-generation open source multiplayer RPG named Veloren have pushed out another massive release, which includes some big new features. Veloren is a multiplayer voxel RPG written in Rust. It is inspired by games such as Cube World, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft.

        It's getting to the stage now where Veloren has quite a lot to see and do, as it continues evolving into a full game experience. This release is quite an important one as it continues laying the ground-work to enable future content and it's worth checking out.

      • GOG have their absolutely huge Spring Sale live now

        Running until April 5, DRM-free store GOG have announced their Spring Sale is now officially live to get some great games for cheaps. You know the drill by now, there's tons of titles that you can look through to see if something takes your fancy.

      • Mixing strategy, puzzles and cards 'Astral Towers' comes to Linux with the latest update | GamingOnLinux

        Combining together a turn-based card game that needs strategy and a little puzzle solving, Astral Towers along with the open source game engine powering it comes to Linux. Developed by Ivan Polyacov of Apus Software, who also made Spectromancer and Astral Heroes, it's powered by their home-grown game engine Apus Game Engine which is available on GitHub under the BSD license.

      • Rakudo Weekly News: 2021.12 Games Begin

        Longtime Raku developer Jeffrey Broadwell has released a platform for game service development called MUGS (Multi-User Gaming Services). It is intended for creating client-server and multi-user games by abstracting away the boilerplate of managing player identities, tracking active games and sessions, sending and receiving messages and actions, and so forth.

      • OpenRA has a massive new release improving the classic Westwood RTS games | GamingOnLinux

        A day I've been waiting for! OpenRA, the game engine reimplementation of Command & Conquer, Red Alert and Dune 2000 has a huge new release out for 2021 and a flashy new website.

        While it's not yet ready, a lot of work in this release went towards getting their support for Tiberian Sun into a working state. Progress is slow going on it but it is advancing and eventually it will be playable which is extremely exciting. OpenRA is still the best way to play Command & Conquer, Red Alert and Dune 2000 on any platform and eventually will be for Tiberian Sun too.

      • Terraria hits another milestone with 35 million sold, the number 1 user rated Steam game

        Despite being nearly 10 years since the full release, Terraria appears to show absolutely no signs of slowing down with more milestones being hit and a tease of more content to come.

        In a new announcement Re-Logic confirmed that Terraria has officially passed 35 million units sold with 17.2 million of those being on PC. Not only that, according to Steam Top 250 we can see that Terraria has officially become the number 1 game on Steam for user reviews which is an absolutely incredible feat as they've now beaten Portal 2 and The Witcher 3.

        What's amazing is that this new milestone is less than a year since they hit 30 million sales, so the momentum around Terraria is not slowing down. More is to come including full Steam Workshop support and they're also looking into full cross-play across the different platforms. While the Journey's End update is out now Re-Logic say "the journey for Terraria is far from over!".

      • The open source Epic Games client for Linux, Heroic Games Launcher can now run offline | GamingOnLinux

        The open source Heroic Games Launcher is a game launcher that currently works with the Epic Games Store, providing Linux users with an easy way to manage it and play games.

        Since Epic themselves don't provide official Linux support, it's down to the community and nowadays it's the only place for new people on PC to get the likes of Rocket League. With the Heroic Games Launcher that combines with the Wine compatibility layer and the Legendary client, things get that little bit easier.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Gear 21.04 Apps: Send us Your Features
          KDE Gear is the new name for the app (and libraries and plugins) bundle of project that want the release faff taken off their hands. It was once called just KDE, then KDE SC, then KDE Applications, then the unbranded release service and now we’re banding it again as KDE Gear.

          We’re working on an announcement now for 21.04 so if you have a project being released as part of KDE Gear send us your new features on this merge request.

        • KDE Applications Open-Source Software Stack Rebranded as KDE Gear

          Well, I noticed this change a while back, but I didn’t want to say anything until it was officially announced by the KDE Project, which finally happened today. The announcement comes from renowned KDE developer and maintainer of the KDE neon distribution Jonathan Riddell, who made the big change public today on his personal blog.

          So there you have it, KDE Applications (or KDE Apps for short) is now known as KDE Gear, and the new name will be reflected in the upcoming release, versioned 21.04, due out on April 22nd, 2021.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Tobias Bernard: Drawing GNOME App Mockups

          I’ve written about designing GNOME apps at a high level before, but not about the actual process of drawing UI mockups the way we do on the GNOME design team. In this tutorial we’ll pick up the Read It Later example from previous tutorials again, and draw some mockups in Inkscape from scratch.

          Before we start, let’s look at the sketches we’re going to base this on. I’ve re-drawn some of the sketches from my last app design blog post with just the parts we’ll need for this tutorial.

        • Sriram Ramkrishna: Extensions Rebooted: Porting your existing extensions to GNOME 40

          This will be the first blog post in a series to help get extensions quickly updated after each release. While communications have been quiet, we have not been idle! For the past few months, we have been working on building the structure to building a robust extensions community.

          GNOME 40 will be released soon and it will be important to know what that means for extension developers. Since there have been significant changes in GNOME Shell – it will be important to understand where those changes are and how they might affect the various extensions that are out there.

          The changes in GNOME Shell have been primarily around the overview as you can imagine if you’ve been keeping up with the GNOME Shell blog posts and the preferences. Previously preferences were GTK3 base and now require using GTK4.

          To help with updating your extensions, community member Just Perfection has created a porting guide that you can use to learn how to modify your extension to work with the GNOME 40 shell release. With the advent of the porting guide, we hope that porting will be a lot smoother than it has in the past.

          It’s also important to highlight an important change that has also taken place and that is GNOME Shell will once again perform strict version checking. Because there are numerous changes, and that some distros will still be using GNOME 3.38 – we will be enforcing version checking here on in for GNOME 40 compatible extensions. If you do not set your version to the correct GNOME Shell version – it will fail to load.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Review: Running an always on desktop with Shells

          Shells is a service which provides an Internet-based virtual machine running a pre-configured desktop environment. The Shells website describes its service as follows: "Shells are Intel powered cloud computers that are always on, just like a desktop computer." A virtual machine (or "shell") is accessed through a web browser, such as Firefox or Chrome. "Shells provides you with a 1-click, powerful virtual desktop environment, driven by a cloud computer, without leaving your browser!"

          The idea is we sign into the website, select which operating system we want to run and the system logs us in, running the remote desktop session in our web browser. We can run desktop software on the remote machine, work on documents, and listen to music, all through our web browser. We can then login to the same remote machine from another location or device, using any Internet connected smart phone, tablet, Xbox, PlayStation, or laptop.

          This basically gives us a virtual private server (VPS) with a pre-configured desktop environment we can sign into at any time from any location with an Internet connection. Once signed in we have a full featured Linux distribution where we can run desktop applications, install software, access the command line, and set up services.

      • New Releases

        • EndeavourOS review - It en-devoured my disk ...

          Well, that was fun. Not. What did we learn today? Not much, and then a lot. Xfce doesn't do scaling well. Xfce is simply way behind when it comes to usability and ergonomics, and making it look and behave is far from trivial. EndeavourOS ships with sub-optimal visuals, which need a lot of work, and that work can't really be done easily in Xfce. Trying to go down the Plasma route didn't yield amazing results. No easy package manager, incomplete setup, subsequent problems with Plasma itself.

          Then, trying the online option was even worse - black screen in the VM and a completely destroyed setup on physical hardware. I've yet to actually boot a new distro on the IdeaPad. Hopefully, the resident Windows and Ubuntu have actually survived the borked installation. What little actually hands-on work I did in EndeavourOS wasn't special in any way, but then I never really got a chance to try the distro properly. In fact, as far as EndeavourOS is concerned, my experience was a total disaster. Over the years, not too many distros died mid-install, so be careful with your attempts. Hopefully, you'll have more luck or fun. But if you have to Arch, then Manjaro seems like the safest, most elegant option.

      • BSD

        • WireGuard for FreeBSD in development for 13.y – and a note of how we got here

          I’m pleased to announce that WireGuard now runs inside the FreeBSD kernel, with a driver called if_wg. It has full support of wg(8) and wg-quick(8) [5], as well as general integration into FreeBSD userland. Performance should be decent. The implementation in FreeBSD’s main branch should pretty much work, though it’s something of a so-so work in progress. To learn what I mean there, read on…

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Gentoo Family

        • Gentoo-Based Porteus Kiosk 5.2 Brings Linux 5.10 LTS, Updated VAAPI Stack

          It’s been about five months since the release of Porteus Kiosk 5.1, and Porteus Kiosk 5.2 is here as the second major update to the Porteus Kiosk 5.0 series announced last year in March bringing an updated kernel from the long-term supported Linux 5.10 LTS branch.

          Linux 5.10.25 LTS is present in the Porteus Kiosk 5.2 installation images, which adds a new layer of hardware support to the kiosk-oriented distro. Basically, this means that you should now be able to install Porteus Kiosk on hardware where it wasn’t possible using previous releases.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Compiler in the News: Advanced Optimization and New Capabilities of GCC 10

          My colleague Martin Jambor has joined forces with Jan Hubička, Martin Liška, Richard Biener, all experts from our SUSE Labs and toolchain development team as well, and Brent Hollingsworth from AMD, to write a new SUSE Best Practices document about the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) 10. Now we are happy to share that we recently published this paper on our documentation portal under the title “Advanced Optimization and New Capabilities of GCC 10”.

          The focus of the document is on how to select appropriate optimization options for your application and stressing benefits of advanced modes of compilation. Although chapter two is aimed mostly at SUSE customers, the paper as a whole is definitely useful and interesting for any GCC user.

        • Carhartt works together with SUSE to achieve zero downtime, saving millions of dollars

          Family owned Carhartt has come a long way since it was founded in 1889 and is now a globally recognized workwear and fashion brand.

          In 2018 Carhartt embarked on a mission to modernize its infrastructure and create an omnichannel experience for customers, delivered through a cloud-first strategy. The purpose was to target its consumer base more efficiently, diversifying operations to include direct-to-consumer and direct-to-business channels.

      • Arch Family

        • Pamac 10, A Quick Overview Of The Main Improvements

          Pamac is Manjaro’s Package Manager. It enables users to search for and install applications on their computer with easy-to-follow steps. Users can also browse for new applications, check for updates, and uninstall unwanted packages.

          Pamac is based on libalpm with AUR and Appstream support. It’s focuses on providing an easy to use interface while still providing a powerful set of features. The latest v10 comes with a new software-mode, speed improvements, optimized DB interaction and uses systemd dynamic users to build as root your AUR packages.

        • Linux Weekly Roundup #122

          Welcome to this week's Linux Roundup.

          Manjaro 21.0 RC1 has been released this week.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Productivity with Ulauncher

          Application launchers are a category of productivity software that not everyone is familiar with, and yet most people use the basic concepts without realizing it. As the name implies, this software launches applications, but they also other capablities.

          Examples of dedicated Linux launchers include dmenu, Synapse, and Albert. On MacOS, some examples are Quicksilver and Alfred. Many modern desktops include basic versions as well. On Fedora Linux, the Gnome 3 activities overview uses search to open applications and more, while MacOS has the built-in launcher Spotlight.

          While these applications have great feature sets, this article focuses on productivity with Ulauncher.

        • IT modernization with ChatOps

          Collaboration and automation play critical roles in the enterprise and should therefore be integrated into any IT management solution. In this blog post, we will be sharing our thoughts on making ChatOps relevant for most businesses today.


          Let’s use ChatOps applied to the incident management process as an example of this. It’s a fascinating area that we can quickly understand, and IBM has done quite a bit of work around this space. It can help practitioners to promptly understand what the issue is by providing timing and valuable insights. Hopefully, it also gives directions on how to solve the incident (IBM has done some great work in this space with Watson AIOps as an example). However, a well thought out ChatOps strategy can take us well beyond this.

        • IBM Lands Last Minute POWER10 Updates Into GCC 11 Compiler - Phoronix

          In addition to the last minute AMD Zen 3 "znver3" tuning in GCC 11, also landing rather late are scheduling updates for the GNU Compiler Collection around the IBM POWER10 processor target.

          Initial POWER10 support for the GCC compiler has been brewing for two years now. Even prior to IBM formally announcing POWER10, the enablement work started out in 2019 as the "future" POWER processor target and POWERXX. Since then that work on ensuring good POWER10 ISA support has continued and with GCC 11 should be in good shape.

        • New software service for the supply chain, fuzzing Java, and more

          As part of my role as a principal communication strategist at an enterprise software company with an open source development model, I publish a regular update about open source community, market, and industry trends. Here are some of my and their favorite articles from that update.

        • The 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge has launched!

          Today, IBM in partnership with Call for Code creator David Clark Cause, Charitable Partner United Nations Human Rights, and the Linux Foundation announced the launch of the 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge. In its fourth year, Call for Code invites developers, problem solvers, and innovators from around the world to build solutions to solve the world’s most pressing issues while leveraging and building skills on the latest open source-powered technologies. The team with the winning solution receives $200,000 USD and support from IBM Service Corps, technical experts, and ecosystem partners like the Linux Foundation to further develop and deploy their technology to communities in need.

          This year, Call for Code aims to tackle the imminent and existential threat to Planet Earth: climate change. As the United Nations describes, “The impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.” The level of urgency surrounding the threats of climate change require immediate action, and Call for Code is arming its growing community of 400,000 developers and problem solvers across 179 nations with the tools to build tech solutions that can fight back.

        • OpenPOWER Microwatt To See Chip Fabrication Thanks To Google + Skywater

          Announced back in 2019 was the OpenPOWER Microwatt FPGA Soft CPU Core. OpenPOWER's Microwatt is a VHDL-based design for an open-source POWER ISA processor. core. The Microwatt is a basic 64-bit POWER core that can be run for software simulations or on FPGA hardware. But now Microwatt will actually see chip fabrication thanks to a program sponsored by Google.

          The VHDL 2008 soft core of Microwatt remains available via GitHub while now it will actually be fabbed thanks to the Efabless Open MPW Shuttle Program. This Open MPW Shuttle Program sponsored by Google provides for fabrication of fully open-source projects using the SkyWater Open-Source PDK (Process Design Kit). This program is to provide those with fully open-source designs the ability to see fabrication without bearing the costs. The costs of fabrication, packaging, and evaluation boards are covered by Google.

        • OpenPOWER Foundation | OpenPOWER Foundation Provides Microwatt for Fabrication on Skywater Open PDK Shuttle

          The OpenPOWER based Microwatt cpu core has been selected to be included in the Efabless Open MPW Shuttle Program. Microwatt’s inclusion in the program represents a lower barrier to entry for chip manufacturing. It also demonstrates the ability to create fully designed, fabricated chips relying on a complete, end-to-end open source environment – including open governance, specifications, tooling, IP, hardware, software and manufacturing.

        • Liquid Prep intelligent watering solution now hosted by the Linux Foundation as a Call for Code project

          Over the past several decades farmers have been depending increasingly on groundwater to irrigate their crops due to climate change and reduced rainfall. Farmers, even in drought-prone areas, continue to need to grow water-intensive crops because these crops have a steady demand.

          In 2019, as part of Call for Code, a team of IBMers came together and brainstormed on ideas they were passionate about – problems faced by farmers in developing countries due to more frequent drought conditions. The team designed an end-to-end solution that focuses on helping farmers gain insight into when to water their crops and help them optimize their water usage to grow healthy crops. This team, Liquid Prep, went on to win the IBM employee Call for Code Global Challenge.

          Liquid Prep provides a mobile application that can obtain soil moisture data from a portable soil moisture sensor, fetch weather information from The Weather Company, and access crop data through a service deployed on the IBM Cloud. Their solution brings all this data together, analyzes it, and computes watering guidance to help the farmer decide whether to water their crops right now or conserve it for a better time.

        • The Linux Foundation Wants To Help Water Farms From The Cloud

          Of the many possible areas for advancing Linux and open-source, the latest project being embraced by the Linux Foundation is Liquid Prep for helping farmers water their crops. It's a noble cause but not too Linux centered unless talking about cloud resources.

          Liquid Prep is the newest project to be hosted by the Linux Foundation after being started by various IBM engineers during an employee coding challenge. Liquid Prep ties into a hardware water sensor located on a farm/garden for measuring the moisture level of the soil. From there they have a "highly visual and easy-to-use" mobile web application that with the moisture data interfaces with The Weather Company -- an IBM business -- and crop data housed in the IBM Cloud for figuring out a water schedule to help the farmer decide if they should water their crops

        • It’s Harder To Hear The Pulse In The Server Market - IT Jungle

          More than any other piece of equipment that does into the datacenter, the server is an indicator of health and wealth. Over the more than three decades that The Four Hundred has been published, we have spent a lot of effort and time to understand how the world is investing in what kinds of servers, including Big Blue’s midrange systems running OS/400 and IBM i, and how the trends change over time. And we are committed to doing that going forward, even though it has just gotten a little bit more difficult.

        • Don’t Be A Blowhard - IT Jungle

          One of the things that made the AS/400 a great system, as well as the System/36 and the System/32 and System/34 before it, was that there were entry machines that had enough oomph to run support the data processing and storage needs of small businesses within a reasonable budget and in a system that didn’t need a datacenter or even a data closet. They could be tucked under a desk, or left to run beside them.

          Way back in the dawn of time, there were special machines, even smaller than the original AS/400-B10 and AS/400 -B20, that were even smaller and quieter. Think of the AS/400 C04 and C06 from 1990, the D02 and D04 and D06 from 1991, the E02, E04, and E06 from 1992, and the F02, F04, and F06 from 1993. The AS/400-150 from 1996. The AS/400 170 from 1998, and the AS/400-250 and AS/400-270 from 2000. The Model 10s and the Model 20s, which have more expansion, are also often used as deskside or office environment machines.

          These machines persist because they were well made and they do what is necessary for a small business that thinks very, very little about IT. They probably don’t even know what the state of the art in information technology is – and that is the beautiful thing about the System/36 and AS/400 and early iSeries business. Big Blue really understood that, and was able to better compete against Unix boxes and X86 boxes and the OS/400 ecosystem did pretty well for itself and its customers.

          We were talking to third party maintainer the other day about a customer it has in South Carolina, which makes specialty cast iron and grille products. This customer has an AS/400 Model F20 that is still running, and running just fine, that has been in the field for 28 years. I am lucky to get seven years out of a deskside PC workstation or a laptop, and even when I had my own servers running infrastructure at IT Jungle, which I did from 2003 through 2008, they were three years old when I got them from a failed dot-com through Hewlett Packard’s refurbished systems organization and they only lasted another five before the disk drives and then elements of the system boards died. That’s only eight years. I gave them to a friend of mine who ran an IT operation in Minnesota – the shipping cost me a fortune – but I just could not bear the idea of them being tossed in the dump because the processors and network cards and memory still worked.

          I was talking to another reseller last week, who had a customer with one of the “Invader” AS/400-270 machines, and this customer just decided to get all modern and go in for the long haul – as if this customer understood anything else but the long haul given the fact that this legendary Invader server – Remember these? The ones that kicked an X86 boxes ass down the street on real business workloads? Sent them to bed spanked with no dinner? Remember that, IBM? – has been in this customer’s office for 21 years now. There is no “back office” for these small and medium customers; there is just “the office.” And here is the problem: These modern Power9 machines can get loud. Drive you crazy loud.

        • IBM i Wish List: Add A Virtual IBM i Platform Like System z Wazi - IT Jungle

          Serendipity is a funny thing; part serene and part dippy, I suppose. I was poking around for something interesting that might be relevant to the IBM i platform, and ran across announcement letter 221-122, which was for something called IBM Wazi Developer for Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces. I had recently heard of CodeReady Workspaces because of the recent Power Systems announcements, but I had no idea what Wazi was.

      • Debian Family

        • Wouter Verhelst: Twenty years of Debian

          Ten years ago, I reflected on the fact that -- by that time -- I had been in Debian for just over ten years. This year, in early February, I've passed the twenty year milestone. As I'm turning 43 this year, I will have been in Debian for half my life in about three years. Scary thought, that.

          In the past ten years, not much has changed, and yet at the same time, much has. I became involved in the Debian video team; I stepped down from the m68k port; and my organizing of the Debian devroom at FOSDEM resulted in me eventually joining the FOSDEM orga team, where I eventually ended up also doing video. As part of my video work, I wrote SReview, for which in these COVID-19 times in much of my spare time I have had to write new code and/or fix bugs.

          I was a candidate for the position of DPL one more time, without being elected. I was also a candidate for the technical committee a few times, also without success.

          I also added a few packages to the list of packages that I maintain for Debian; most obviously this includes SReview, but there's also things like extrepo and policy-rcd-declarative, both fairly recent packages that I hope will improve Debian as a whole in the longer term.

          On a more personal level, at one debconf I met a wonderful girl that I now have just celebrated my first wedding anniversary with. Before that could happen, I have had to move to South Africa two years ago. Moving is an involved process at any one time; moving to a different continent altogether is even more so. As it would have been complicated and involved to remain a business owner of a Belgian business while living 9500km away from the country, I sold my shares to my (now ex) business partner; it turned the page of a 15-year chapter of my life, something I could not do without feelings one way or the other.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Interview with curl creator and Swedish software developer Daniel Stenberg

        Even if you do not use the curl command daily, the chances are high that you are still using curl and don’t know. IoT and tons of other services on the Internet depend upon libcurl for network operations. Daniel Stenberg is a Swedish software developer, recipient of the Polhem Prize 2017, on cURL. Recently I did a quick Q and A with Daniel about starting the curl project and his daily workflow.


        In the first half of the 1980s, when I was in my early teens, a few of my class mates and friends started with computers and I was immediately intrigued and interested. We could spend hours entering DATA-lines from the first computer magazines of the times to get a silly little game or something appear. It was the age of Commodore 64 and in the spring of 1985 I was eventually able to finally buy my own together with my younger brother, Björn. We immediately learned Basic on the thing and after a while we dove into assembler programming and learned how to write demos and games and really squeeze as much as possible out of the little thing (google “Horizon C64 demos“). From that age I’ve enjoyed software development.

      • Web Browsers

        • Chromium

          • Chromium monoculture marches on

            What’s the situation half a year later? Mixed, but the trajectory is clearly downwards. Three new sites that Clara and I frequent either mandate Chrome, or recommend it. Two further sites don’t mention Chrome, but specific functions no longer work. We raise complaints with the bank or site operators pointing out the accessibility concerns of their exclusionary designs, and how they’re in breach of their own charters and industry guidelines. But this needs to be a concerted effort, just as we all did before.

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla Firefox 87 Is Now Available for Download, Here’s What’s New

            Firefox 87 is apparently a small release that only improves the “Find in page” functionality to display marks that correspond to the position of the matches found next to the scrollbar, greatly simplifies the Web Developer and Help menu by removing some redundant items.

            Firefox 87 also removes some redundant items from the Library button, which Mozilla considered that they weren’t used so often by users or that can be accessed from other parts of the web browser.

          • Mozilla Security Blog: Firefox 87 trims HTTP Referrers by default to protect user privacy

            We are pleased to announce that Firefox 87 will introduce a stricter, more privacy-preserving default Referrer Policy. From now on, by default, Firefox will trim path and query string information from referrer headers to prevent sites from accidentally leaking sensitive user data.

          • New Release: Tor Browser 10.5a12 (Android Only)

            Tor Browser 10.5a12 is now available from the Tor Browser Alpha download page and also from our distribution directory.

            Note: This is an alpha release, an experimental version for users who want to help us test new features. For everyone else, we recommend downloading the latest stable release for Android instead.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Build Your Skills with the LibreOffice Project

          Look around the FOSS world, and you see all sorts of exciting projects being developed—specialized Linux distros, funky window managers, and hot new programming languages. But what about office suites? Can they be cool projects for contributors? The answer is yes. The words “office suite” might not get everyone itching to join in, but LibreOffice has some aces up its sleeve.

          For starters, it’s arguably the second most popular desktop FOSS app in the world (after Firefox). We at The Document Foundation estimate around 200 million active users of LibreOffice—and that’s on the conservative side. So, by contributing to LibreOffice, you not only gain experience in a very well-known and established free software project, but your changes—however small—can benefit millions of people around the world.

          Let’s take the NotebookBar, as an example. This is a new-ish user interface option, introduced in LibreOffice 6.2 and gradually expanded in subsequent releases. It provides an alternative to the “traditional” menu-and-toolbars approach, and many users love it. And guess what? Much of the implementation was done by one developer, in Vienna, in his spare time. Millions of people are using the UI he crafted, and he can be proud of that.

          So you can join and make a difference—and you don’t need to be a programmer to participate. But, first, I’ll provide some background on the project.

      • CMS

        • 6 WordPress plugins for restaurants and retailers |

          The pandemic changed how many people prefer to do business—probably permanently. Restaurants and other local retail establishments can no longer rely on walk-in trade, as they always have. Online ordering of food and other items has become the norm and the expectation. It is unlikely consumers will turn their backs on the convenience of e-commerce once the pandemic is over.

      • SFC

        • Free Software Foundation Honors Conservancy's Policy Fellow

          Bradley M. Kuhn, Policy Fellow and Hacker-in-Residence at Software Freedom Conservancy, on Saturday night received the Free Software Foundation's annual award for the Advancement of Free Software. This unique FSF award is currently the only award given for individual achievements in software freedom activism. Bradley received this award in his very first year of eligibility.

      • FSF

        • Richard Stallman returns to the FSF board

          At the LibrePlanet conference over the weekend, Richard Stallman announced that he has returned to the Free Software Foundation's board of directors. Video of the announcement is available, but there is little information beyond that.

        • Good News! Richard Stallman is Back at Free Software Foundation

          Stallman was 'cancelled' in 2019. He announced his return at FSF yesterday, though he is not the President of FSF anymore. I hope the 'cancel mob' spares him this time.

        • Richard Stallman returns to FSF 18 months after controversial rape comments [Ed: Microsoft booster back to Microsoft Peter (pedophile) site just to associate RMS with "rape" something. Ars Technica will try to lecture us on something to do with sexism while its own editors literally rape kids. Convicted, too.]
          Richard Stallman has returned to the Free Software Foundation's board of directors 18 months after his resignation over controversial comments about Jeffrey Epstein's sex-trafficking of a minor and age-of-consent laws.

          "I have an announcement to make," Stallman said at the FSF's LibrePlanet conference. "I'm now on the Free Software Foundation board of directors once again... Some of you will be happy at this and some might be disappointed, but who knows. In any case, that's how it is. And I'm not planning to resign a second time."

          Video of Stallman's announcement is available at It's FOSS News. Stallman gave a talk at LibrePlanet yesterday on "growing injustices in computing," including "locked-down operating systems; user-restricting app stores; [and] requiring nonfree client software, including Javascript."

        • Making dollars and sense of free software funding's future

          "Sustainably funding public goods is hard, just ask your local government. We know free software benefits everyone, whether or not users contributed to its development. How then can we reach the world of everyone working on software they love while making a livable wage?"

        • Libre designers do exist (and survive)

          "Libre designers do exist (and survive). Let's explore the pros and cons, experiences, job opportunities and more, from experiences gathered for over 15 years in the field."

        • Usable security for end-users: How Tor improves usability without compromising user privacy

          The Tor network, used by 2.5 million users every day, protects their privacy via “onion routing,” which directs Internet traffic – email, instant messages, online posts, Web form visits, and more – through a multilayered network that obfuscates who the user is, thus concealing their identity and location.

        • IFixit: The Right to Repair

          What if everyone had free access to a repair manual for everything they owned? Making repair accessible to everyone is the best shot we’ve got at reducing e-waste and starting to make our high-tech lives sustainable.

        • A European Open Technology Fund: Building sustainable public funding for free software

          Julia Reda, former European Parliament member, and cofounder of the European Union's Free and Open Source Software Audit (FOSSA) project, argues that it is the governments responsibility to invest in the maintenance and improvement of free software - and that it is possible to make that happen.

        • The state of software in schools and what to do about it - LinuxReviews

          This talk will briefly addresses why free software is important in education and provide examples of how proprietary software is rapidly deployed in schools.

        • Freeing networks where we need freedom most - LinuxReviews

          The struggle for the freedom of Internet is ever growing. Corporations, and their partner in crime, governments, come up with new clever ideas to restrict free flow of information. Overlords of the truth are trying to recover old control, which the Internet has eroded everywhere in favor of the people.

        • User Respecting Software - free software development driven by users - LinuxReviews

          Why is it that some free software projects, although started at the same time as comparable propriety projects, are still playing catch-up in terms of number of users and desired features? Features comparisons as well as the network effect and how well known a piece of software is play into this, but what features do users find most important? We can’t make “better” software until we know what features users actually care about.

        • Openwifi project: The dawn of the free/libre WiFi chip - LinuxReviews

          In past decades, free software has played a key role towards the free and trusted Internet. In recent years, free software processor projects like RISC-V have pushed forward to construct free devices and computers. However, the radio connectivity of the device still relies on the black box silicons (WiFi, BLE, cellular chips).

        • Machine agency: Infrastructure for creative automation - LinuxReviews

          Keynote at LibrePlanet 2021: "How can we harness the precision of machines for the creativity of individuals? Automation and computer control of machines is increasingly widespread. However, it's often employed for dull, dirty, or dangerous tasks. This is partially because setting up these systems is complex and time consuming."

        • Plom: Paperless Open Marking - LinuxReviews

          We present Paperless Open Marking (Plom), a software system for giving tests on paper, but marking and returning them online. We (undergraduate students) worked on this software as a summer project.

        • REUSE: Simple steps to declare your copyright and licenses - LinuxReviews

          Free software licensing can be tiresome. But setting the conditions for the use and reuse of your code is extremely important. To make developers' lives easier, there is the REUSE initiative. This presentation explains simple yet powerful best practices for defining licenses and copyright holders.

        • Beyond "learning to code": How Tech Learning Collective merges IT training with emancipatory political action

          "What good is a pen if the paper it touches can refuse to show its ink? What good is your app when your API key is revoked? Through metaphor and with a unique apprenticeship-based pedagogy, Tech Learning Collective (TLC) is empowering users by doing exactly what code boot camps and corporate-funded "learn to code" programs don't: TLC tells students to ignore new Web frameworks and focus instead on the lowest layers of an IT stack like physical network and hardware storage devices."

        • Free Software Foundation Announces Support For Local Free Software Groups

          At the 2021 edition of its annual conference on free software and social justice, LibrePlanet, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) formally announced its plan to lend support for local free software groups and meetups through its LibrePlanet network for free software advocacy.

          These groups raise awareness on issues relating to software freedom, and encourage adoption of free software in local communities.

        • "Logiciel libre, société libre": Free software activism in France and Europe

          Founded in 1996, April is the main French advocacy association devoted to promoting and protecting free/libre software. Since 1996, it has been a major player in the democratization and the spread of free software and open standards to the general public, professionals and institutions in the French-speaking world.


          Free software cannot develop fully without a benevolent political and legislative environment. That is where April plays a crucial role in France and Europe, along with allied organizations. Its actions, thanks to its volunteers and its staff, are precious for everyone who produces and/or uses free software. It is the organization's small contribution to the free software movement. Étienne Gonnu, an April staff member, will present on how it operates, the current French and European issues April is working on, and share future perspectives, strategies, successes, and challenges.

        • A dispatch from the front lines of right to repair

          "FUD fighting on the front lines of right to repair: As our homes, workplaces and public spaces fill with Internet-connected "smart" stuff, a digital right to repair is critical to protecting consumer rights, property rights and civil liberties. Despite that, electronics giants like Apple, Samsung, LG and General Electric have snuffed out scores of proposed state laws seeking to create such a right. How? By scaring legislators with tales of device hacking, cyber stalking and identity theft."

        • An information theoretic model of privacy and security metrics

          "An information theoretic model of privacy and security metrics - or - how I learned to stop worrying about password meters and love the dice." From LibrePlanet 2021.

        • Empower users by asking them for money

          "I've always been a free software programmer, a contractor to the rich and already powerful so they could use free software to its fullest. But, users, normal everyday users, are left out, and their needs are often different from business, universities and other large organizations who can afford to pay developers."

        • How to make more users love free software: Double the love, double the freedom

          "In past years, free software projects have increased their usability considerably. Still, one of the main reasons users with no technical background don't use many free software projects in their daily routine is that some projects don't offer good usability, which drives them into choosing proprietary solutions." From LibrePlanet 2021.

        • Ten years of empowering activists AND everyday people through free mobile software

          "From bringing OTR, Tor, GnuGP, FFMPEG and SQLCipher to Android, to developing and supporting apps like Orbot, Tor Browser for Android, Onion Browser, F-Droid, ChatSecure, Haven and more, we at Guardian Project have been pretty busy for the last decade. Through ups and downs, iterations and improvements, we have a lot of interesting stories to tell about where we've been, and where we are headed." From LibrePlanet 2021.

        • Richard Stallman: Unjust computing clamps down

          Honorary Doctor Richard Stallman elaborated on the growing injustices in computing in a 46 minutes long talk at LibrePlanet 2021 on March 21st, 2021.

        • Informal chatter to formal decisions: How-to

          "So many repetitive conversations? No forward movement? Everyone getting along mostly, but not sure how to be decisive without clear hierarchy? What could legitimate authorization look like in a decentralized world anyway? This talk touches on specific steps anyone can take." From LibrePlanet 2021.

        • Care about your users: don't minify your JS!

          A lightning talk by Sebastian Crane at LibrePlanet 2021 where he argues that minifying free JavaScript code hurts users freedom and their ability read, understand and re-use it.

        • Labor movements and the free software community

          "The labor movement and free software are natural complements to one another. Both rely on (often decentralized) groups of workers that commit to a higher purpose in the pursuit of building something that will advance people on a larger scale."

        • Free/libre solutions to address the shortage of ventilators

          "Over 100 teams attempted to create free/libre solutions to address the shortage of ventilators caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; we created a large spreadsheet evaluating all of them along many coordinates."

        • LibrePlanet day two: Empowering users in real and virtual space

          The second day of the LibrePlanet 2021 conference is generally a calmer time for us here at the Free Software Foundation (FSF), because while there are still a lot of moving parts to manage (and here’s where I ask you to give a big round of applause to our tech team!), we’ve gotten to test out most of our plans and find, with relief, that everything is running smoothly and our guests are enjoying themselves. The Web sites work, the talks are running with not too much in the way of technical difficulties, attendees from all over the world are having a grand time socializing on LibreAdventure, we’ve given out Free Software Awards and announced a new ebook initiative, and now we can take a deep breath and just enjoy attending the conference a little.

          It’s also been nice to get feedback about how well the all-online conference has gone, and how much people are enjoying the opportunity to watch and participate all over the world. The morning keynote speaker, digital fabrication expert and University of Washington assistant professor Nadya Peek, started off her talk by mentioning that she had attended LibrePlanet in past years, which was convenient because she lived in Boston, but this year, it’s quite convenient to attend from elsewhere as well. Free software programmer Martin Owens, who gave the talk “Empower users by asking them for money” today, told me that the LibreAdventure setup has him “looking forward to the future of the online conference,” and suggested that we use a similar social program again in future years alongside in-person attendance.

      • Programming/Development

        • How to Choose a Programming Language to Learn

          Since you are here, you probably want to learn to program. Yet, the number of programming languages is so diverse that it might seem overwhelming to choose one. Start with asking yourself what exactly you expect to get from it. Here are the majoraspects to focus on.

        • NGRX Normalization

          Application state is the data required to render the views over time.

          One of the conceptual difficulties that makes Ngrx difficult is how to structure the state. There is no one answer because the source, usage and modification of the state is different in every app.

          This is how I approach it.

        • Three.js Tutorial - How to Build a Simple Car with Texture in 3D

          Putting together a 3D scene in the browser with Three.js is like playing with Legos. We put together some boxes, add lights, define a camera, and Three.js renders the 3D image.

          In this tutorial, we're going to put together a minimalistic car from boxes and learn how to map texture onto it.

          First, we'll set things up – we'll define the lights, the camera, and the renderer. Then we'll learn how to define geometries and materials to create 3D objects. And finally we are going to code textures with JavaScript and HTML Canvas.

        • JavaScript Number to String – How to Use toString to Convert an Int into a String

          The toString() method is a built-in method of the JavaScript Number object that allows you to convert any number type value into its string type representation.

        • Qt Creator 4.14.2 released

          We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.14.2 !

          Aside from some minor bug fixes (see the change log), this release fixes performance issues with LLDB, and that some controls vanished from Welcome mode with macOS Dark Mode.

        • C++ Keywords You Should Know

          C++ has various keywords, and you should know what they are and how to use them. So in this article, I will be talking about some of the most important keywords you'll find in the language.

        • How to Style and Theme an App With Jetpack Compose

          In this article, we will learn how to style and theme an application in Jetpack Compose.

          Compose is a new UI framework for Android (though Desktop and Web support is being developed), which replaces the old XML-based View system.

          While still in beta release as of writing this article, I do not expect this particular part of the library to change drastically for the stable release.

        • A few notes on message passing

          Message passing has always been central to Erlang, and while reasonably well-documented we’ve avoided going into too much detail to give us more freedom when implementing it. There’s nothing preventing us from describing it in a blog post though, so let’s have a closer look!

          Erlang processes communicate with each other by sending each other signals (not to be confused with Unix signals). There are many different kinds and messages are just the most common. Practically everything involving more than one process uses signals internally: for example, the link/1 function is implemented by having the involved processes talk back and forth until they’ve agreed on a link.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Introduction to Linux Bash programming: 5 `for` loop tips

            Every sysadmin probably has some skill they've learned over the years that they can point at and say, "That changed my world." That skill, or that bit of information, or that technique just changed how I do things. For many of us, that thing is looping in Bash. There are other approaches to automation that are certainly more robust or scalable. Most of them do not compare to the simplicity and ready usability of the for loop, though.

            If you want to automate the configuration of thousands of systems, you should probably use Ansible. However, if you're trying to rename a thousand files, or execute the same command several times, then the for loop is definitely the right tool for the job.

          • Special Bash Variables with examples

            Bash is a great coding language, which allows you to do complex things like Big Data Manipulation, or simply create sever or desktop management scripts.

            The entry level skill required to use the Bash language is quite low, and one-liner scripts (an often used jargon, which indicates multiple commands executed at the command line, forming a mini-script), as well as regular scripts, can grow in complexity (and how well written they are) as the Bash developer learns more.

        • Rust

          • Once the Big Tech Battler, Open Source Is Now Big Tech’s Battleground

            Let’s first tackle the now, and then address the future (seems sensible, right?).

            Last month, Google and Microsoft led a cadre of tech companies in creating the Rust Foundation. Obviously, this is neither the first nor largest contribution to an open-source project by private tech vendors. The Linux kernel has been flush with cash from the most dominant tech companies out there for many years.

            Still, the creation of this new body marks another noteworthy instance in which proprietary software companies took the initiative to found and steward a nonprofit project. It’s not groundbreaking, but it doesn’t happen every day.

            The key difference between the birth of the predecessor organizations that would merge into The Linux Foundation and that of the nascent Rust Foundation is context. In essence, Big Tech is comfortable with open source now.

            Today, dozens of open-source projects, such as FreeBSD and Chromium, enjoy the Linux treatment, running on donations from tech companies valued in the billions; and when companies want a closer relationship than patronage, they’re fine with buying up open-source companies, as IBM did Red Hat a few years ago.

          • Rust getting closer to the Linux kernel [Ed: This is a bad thing]

            The dream that Rust fans have that the OS will be one day part of the Linux kernel seem to be getting closer

            In his This Week in Programming column, Mike Melanson noted that there is now an "intentionally bare-bones" inclusion in Linux-next, the development branch of the Linux kernel.

        • Java

          • Oracle Releases Java 16, enhances developer productivity

            Global software vendor, Oracle, today announced the release of Java 16 (Oracle JDK 16), bringing 17 enhancements which include new Java language improvements, tools, memory management, and incubating and preview features.

            Java, first released a little over 25 years ago on January 23, 1996, was created as a modern programming language for the Internet era. Its "write once, run anywhere" mantra brought it popularity on mobile and multimedia devices, while its strength and versatility saw it become a major player in enterprise application development.

            Minecraft, Wikipedia search, Netsuite, the Maestro Mars Rover controller, the Eclipse IDE, significant portions of Android, and more, are all notable Java applications in use today.

            Oracle updates Java every six months, providing developers with a predictable and planned release schedule, giving a steady stream of innovations and continued performance, stability, and security enhancements.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • [Old] 6LoWPAN: The wireless embedded Internet – Part 1: Why 6LoWPAN?

        The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) released the 802.15.4 low-power wireless personal area network (WPAN) standard in 2003, which was a major milestone, providing the first global low-power radio standard. Soon after, the ZigBee Alliance developed a solution for ad hoc control networks over IEEE 802.15.4, and has produced a lot of publicity about the applications of wireless embedded technology.

      • [Old] 6LoWPAN: The wireless embedded Internet – Part 2: 6LoWPAN history, market perspective & applications

        Early work on minimizing Internet protocols for use with low-power microcontrollers and wireless technologies includes €µIP from the Swedish Institute of Computer Science [Dunkels03] and NanoIP from the Centre for Wireless Communications [Shel03]. The IEEE 802.15.4 standard released in 2003 was the biggest factor leading to 6LoWPAN standardization. For the first time a global, widely supported standard for low-power wireless embedded communications was available [IEEE802.15.4]. The popularity of this new standard gave the Internet community the needed encouragement to standardize an IP adaptation for such wireless embedded links.

      • [Old] 6LoWPAN: The wireless embedded Internet – Part 3: 6LoWPAN architecture, protocol stack & link layers

        The Wireless Embedded Internet is created by connecting islands of wireless embedded devices, each island being a stub network on the Internet. A stub network is a network which IP packets are sent from or destined to, but which doesn't act as a transit to other networks.

        The 6LoWPAN architecture is made up of low-power wireless area networks (LoWPANs)2 , which are IPv6 stub networks. The overall 6LoWPAN architecture is presented in Figure 1.7. Three different kinds of LoWPANs have been defined: Simple LoWPANs, Extended LoWPANs, and Ad hoc LoWPANs.

      • [Old] 6LoWPAN: The wireless embedded Internet – Part 4: Addressing, etc. & a network example

        The main functionality of 6LoWPAN is in its LoWPAN adaptation layer, which allows for the compression of IPv6 and following headers such as UDP along with fragmentation and mesh addressing features. 6LoWPAN headers are defined in [RFC4944] which has been later improved and extended by [ID-6lowpan-hc]. 6LoWPAN compression is stateless, and thus very simple and reliable. It relies on shared information known by all nodes from their participation in that LoWPAN, and the hierarchical IPv6 address space which allows IPv6 addresses to be elided completely most of the time.

      • [Old] Top wireless standards for IoT devices

        The biggest complaint from OEMs is the cost of joining the alliance, the certification and lack of open GPL license. OEMs must become members of the alliance to use its technology.

  • Leftovers

    • The Late Dr. Bernard Lown Challenged Us to See the Invisible, Do the Impossible
    • John Cleese Of Monty Python Sells The Brooklyn Bridge As NFT

      The British comedy legend John Cleese is the latest celebrity to mint an NFT after he said “the World has gone terminally insane.” He is auctioning off his Brooklyn Bridge iPad drawing as an NFT which is now live on the OpenSea marketplace. There’s a bid of $50K already made by a collector named Cerwyn.

    • First ever tweet turns 15 years old

      Fifteen years ago Jack Dorsey typed out a banal message -- "just setting up my twttr" -- which became the first ever tweet, launching a global platform that has become a controversial and dominant force in civil society.

    • Hardware

      • Europe... "going alone at microchips"? Finally!

        That’s why, in order to not be pushed into a new Cold War over components so vital for all its industries and services, a few weeks ago the European Union officially announced that it is “seeking its own chip champions”.


        Almost the only thing that’s wrong in these announcements is why they weren’t made twenty or thirty years ago. Microchips a geopolitical issue? Gee, who could have thought?

        But better late than never. I am still very happy to read such declarations, and really hope they will concretize as soon as possible. Because me, I have been saying for nine years now that Europe should make its own microprocessors, FPGAs, and open microelectronics in general.

        These days, considering what is happening, and will continue to happen, between the US and China, every government should hail REGIONAL microprocessors. As far as Europe goes, a RISC-V processor may be the most important “Made in EU” product that doesn’t exist yet.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • 20 Rural Hospitals Closed in 2020. 13 Were in the South.
      • Covid: Masks and social distancing 'could last years'

        Prof Chris Whitty, the UK government's chief medical adviser, told MPs earlier this month that it was hoped "simple interventions like washing hands, face masks where appropriate, test-and-trace, and above all vaccines" would keep the virus controlled beyond the summer.

        Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, has also said face masks could be needed in certain situations if the number of infections rises in the winter, but that it was possible people will naturally behave in a way that promotes social distancing.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • This Guy Made A CGI Version Of Himself To Fool His Friends On Videochat

          The app was developed by the folks behind Unreal Engine, a 3D creation tool commonly used in video games that enables photorealistic animations, physics, and AI.

          MetaHuman is the company’s latest project that allows creators to make “photorealistic digital humans, fully rigged and complete with hair and clothing, in a matter of minutes,” according to its website.

          While the video is a fun show of the tool’s potential applications, it also hints at a host of ethical concerns. After all, what are the long-term implications of tech that allows people to transform into anyone with photorealistic accuracy?

        • VUW Accidentally Wipes Desktop Computers

          The email noted that due to the data wipe, there was a “huge volume” of IT calls to work through. “If you’ve lost REALLY critical files – ie your entire Phd, or lecture notes for an entire course, or irreplaceable research data reply to this email and let me know, and I’ll escalate it to the client tech team,” the email said.

        • Box tightens its integration with Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams

          Finally, Box said the Box Connector for Microsoft Graph that was released in preview mode in September will become generally available this summer. It enables any content stored in Box to be surfaced across the entire Microsoft ecosystem, including tools such as Office 365, Office Online search and SharePoint. That should make it easier to discover and explore content no matter which Microsoft app a user is working with.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • Blog moving back to

              Why? Recent events have made me not want to tie my public web presence to a particular company (especially a larger one, like Microsoft). I don’t have any immediate plans to move this blog off of github, but this gives me that option in the future. For those wondering, the original rationale for moving to github is in this post. Looking back, the idea of moving away from a VPS and WordPress made sense, the move away from my own domain less so. I think it may have been harder to set up static hosting (esp. with HTTPS) at that time… or I might have just been ignorant.

        • Security

          • Josh Bressers: Episode 263 – GitHub pulls exploits, LinuxFoundation sign all the things

            Josh and Kurt talk about how terrible daylight savings is. GitHub yanking some exploit code. And the Linux Foundation new project to sign all the things.

          • Security updates for Monday

            Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (chromium, ffmpeg, flatpak, git, gnutls, minio, openssh, opera, and wireshark-qt), Debian (cloud-init, pygments, and xterm), Fedora (flatpak, glib2, kernel, kernel-headers, kernel-tools, pki-core, and upx), Mageia (glibc, htmlunit, koji, and python-cairosvg), openSUSE (chromium, connman, froxlor, grub2, libmysofa, netty, privoxy, python-markdown2, tor, and velocity), Oracle (ipa), SUSE (evolution-data-server, glib2, openssl, python3, python36, and wavpack), and Ubuntu (linux, linux-aws, linux-aws-hwe, linux-azure, linux-azure-4.15, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-4.15, linux-hwe, linux-kvm, linux-raspi2, linux-snapdragon, linux-oem-5.10, and pygments).

          • Hackers are exploiting a server vulnerability with a severity of 9.8 out of 10 | Ars Technica

            In a development security pros feared, attackers are actively targeting yet another set of critical server vulnerabilities that leave corporations and governments open to serious network intrusions.

            The vulnerability this time is in BIG-IP, a line of server appliances sold by Seattle-based F5 Networks. Customers use BIG-IP servers to manage traffic going into and out of large networks. Tasks include load balancing, DDoS mitigation, and web application security.

          • Critical F5 Security Vulnerabilities Being Actively Exploited

            On March 10th, enterprise network provider F5 released a security advisory for its BIG-IP and BIG-IQ products, detailing four critical vulnerabilities.

            F5 promptly issued patches for the vulnerabilities; however, the problems did not end there. On March 19th, NCC Group researchers reported seeing “full chain exploitation” of CVE-2021-22986, an unauthenticated remote command execution vulnerability with a CVSS criticality score of 9.8.

          • Microsoft Office 365 Attacks on the Rise[Ed: Office 360 itself is the attack because once you make a business dependent on it you've attacked productivity, security, budget etc.]
          • Microsoft admits Windows 10 updates are causing even more printer problems than first thought

            Following reports that a recent update to Windows 10 was causing blue screens as well as problems with printing, Microsoft issued a new series of updates to address the issues. But it seems that the problems caused by this month's Patch Tuesday updates are actually worse than first thought.

            Users with certain brands of printer experienced APC_INDEX_MISMATCH errors and blue screens, but now Microsoft has issued a warning that there may be additional problems with elements missing from print outs, or even entirely blank pages being output.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Trump adviser says former president will return to social media within months

              Droves of his supporters overran the Capitol as Congress worked to certify Electoral College votes that affirmed his defeat in the presidential election. During the insurrection, Trump tweeted asking his supporters to "remain peaceful" and support law enforcement who his supporters rushed past to break into the Capitol. A Capitol Police officer died as a result of the [insurrection].

            • Trump Advisor Says Former President Will Launch His Own Social Media Platform

              Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter and Facebook "due to the risk of further incitement of violence" after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building during a deadly [insurrection].

            • Tired of political text messages? A new 'score' might mean fewer

              The 2020 election campaign saw a flood of text messages, annoying many recipients, including some who said there was no easy way to get the messages to stop. Industry experts said the wireless carriers are grappling with the future of SMS text messaging itself, as more communication moves to data-based apps like WhatsApp.

              “It’s kind of a relic, like fax machines. There’s so much spam. I’m sure they’re excited to get rid of it some day,” said Sean Heiney, founder and chief operating officer of SignalWire, a tech company that provides some texting services.

              The possible crackdown by AT&T and T-Mobile is causing an uproar among progressive organizers who say the system is ripe for abuse. Organizers say the scores will be based on an undisclosed formula without any real possibility for appeal, raising the prospect for algorithmic bias, and that one third-party vendor handling the trust scores has ties to a major donor to former President Donald Trump.

            • Irish data regulator sparks row with EU colleagues on Facebook oversight

              That hearing last September focused on the legality of Facebook’s transfer of EU citizens data to the US, subject of a long-running complaint filed by Mr Schrems with the DPC.

              The LIBE committee agreed to her request but, on Wednesday, said “the Irish DPC has declined to participate in the meeting under the format set”.

            • DPC cancels Parliamentary Hearing on EU-US transfers

              Hearing requested and cancelled. The European Parliament regularly conducts hearings on various topics. The hearing on the EU-US data transfers took place in September 2020 with EU Commissioner Didier Reynders, the head of the EDPB (Dr Andrea Jelinek) and the noyb chair and plaintiff in the case (Max Schrems). It is common to have a panel representing different views in such hearings. It is entirely up to the Committee to decide who to hear. As Helen Dixon was not invited in September, she requested in two letters that she must be listened to in an additional hearing — a rather extraordinary request. When the Committee Members offered her a hearing after she insisted in a second letter, but also invited Dr Jelinek and Mr Schrems, Ms Dixon suddenly declined to participate.

            • Internet: Medium For Communication, Medium For Narrative Control — The Artifacts And Spaces: Memes & Cults

              However, even though [Internet] memes are associated with creative medium like funny image macros, this perception is limiting. Internet memes are “culturally resonant items easily shared and spread online”, and as with anything on this communication channel they have to follow its rules to succeed. As a consequence, the sharing and virality aspects are self-explanatory, these criteria are required of social media messages for them to pierce through bubbles. In that case, it isn’t surprising that the concept of memes, when applied to the [Internet], will have to be deliberately designed using attention grabbers such as visual content. In that sense, [Internet] memes are only instances of memes and not a brand new definition.

              However, unlike generic memes, the appearance of [Internet] memes is limited to what can be transported on the internet. This can be textual, audio, or visual.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Opinion | What Happened on January 6th was America, the Usual

        As the drama has unfolded, the powerful words from James Baldwin linger in my mind when he said “How much time do you want for your progress?”

      • Shattered Lands: A Short History of the Syrian Conflict

        It turns out that he did even better in 2007, when he got 97.29 of the vote, a total redolent of Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman’s studies of demonstration elections. But you had to avoid making such a charge since you didn’t want Assad to be mistaken with José Napoleón Duarte’s victory in El Salvador in 1984. He got 54 percent of the vote but—who knows—maybe Assad deserved such overwhelming support. Yes, it’s true that it wasn’t exactly an election but a referendum on whether he should take over for his father after Hafez’s death that year. With word of posters being plastered on Damascus’s walls and songs blaring from cars and loudspeakers “We love you”, who could deny his popularity? Of course, anybody caught writing graffiti on the walls denouncing such a rigged election might end up hanging upside down in a police station and beaten for hours. That would the norm in 2011, when Syrians lost their fear.

        Between 2007 and 2011, not much attention was paid to Syria. For many, the charms of the country were irresistible. Visits to Damascus and Aleppo were a perfect alternative to the usual resort spots. What could be more fun than strolling through the bazaars in search of cheap rugs? Even after the country had been torn apart by civil war, you could always count on Vanessa Beeley and Max Blumenthal to report back on the glories of the nightlife and their favorite hotels.

      • Yemeni army opens new front in Taiz, makes ‘great gains’ against Houthis | Arab News

        Yemen’s army on Wednesday made “great gains” in a major new offensive to break the Iran-backed Houthi siege of Taiz. Troops liberated several strategic locations and villages southeast of the city after launching a fresh drive against the rebel group, army spokesman Abdul Basit Al-Baher told Arab News. He said soldiers opened a new front in Taiz to distract

    • Environment

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Why Facebook’s proposed hate speech policy on Zionism would only add fuel to the fire

        Facebook is proposing yet another problematic hate speech policy that would undermine its users’ freedom of expression. Pressured to combat surging hate speech and anti-Semitism on its platform, the company is looking into how it should moderate the use of the word “Zionist,” and whether to add the term as a protected category under its hate speech policy. Access Now doesn’t think that is a good idea, particularly given Facebook’s inability to strictly adhere to human rights principles in its content moderation practices.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Internet shutdown in the Republic of the Congo on election day

        NetBlocks metrics confirm the Republic of the Congo is in the midst of an [Internet] blackout on the day of presidential elections, Sunday 21 March 2021.

        Real-time metrics show a near-total loss of connectivity from midnight local time. The information blackout is ongoing as of 6:00 am as polling is due to begin.

      • At a glance: Does the EU Digital Services Act protect freedom of expression?

        On 15 December 2020, the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal for a Digital Services Act (DSA). It is the culmination of several years of grappling with the difficulties inherent in the dissemination of illegal content online and growing concerns about the amplification of ‘toxic’ content and disinformation. In particular, the DSA seeks to consolidate various separate pieces of EU legislation and self-regulatory practices that address online illegal or ‘harmful’ content. It also seeks to harmonise the rules applicable to the provision of digital services across the EU rather than having a patchwork of potentially conflicting legislation such as Germany’s NetzDG or a revived version of the Avia Law in France.

        The DSA however goes further than consolidation and harmonisation. It is in many ways an ambitious piece of legislation that seeks to make ‘Big Tech’ accountable to public authorities through new significant transparency and due diligence obligations. On this count, it may well succeed. It also contains many provisions that could help protect users’ fundamental rights. Whether it will be successful at protecting freedom of expression from undue restrictions or reining in the power of Big Tech rather than cementing it, is, however, questionable. Here are their first thoughts on why. ARTICLE 19 will explore specific aspects of the DSA in more detail in subsequent blog posts.

      • Life Sentence for Christian Changed to Death Penalty

        Ruling in favor of an Islamist legal group’s petition, the Lahore High Court on March 10 changed a sentence of life imprisonment to the death penalty for a Christian convicted of sending a blasphemous text message in 2011.

        The high court’s approval of an appeal for the criminal code revision filed by the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Forum (KNF, or Movement for the Finality of the Prophethood) seeking the death penalty for such violations has raised fears of a surge in convictions under the controversial laws, sources said.


        Few Muslim lawyers are willing to put their life at risk by defending a person accused of blasphemy, particularly if they belong to a minority community, Malook said.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • History rhymes. First physically, then digitally

        (In 17th century England, and USA) “Freedom” was the slogan, but it applied only to some; the purpose of government was to protect property, not people.

      • West Papua: Rape The Women To Rape The Land

        The fact that remote places are a law unto themselves, or at least unto the musclemen running them, has quite an appeal for people like Elon Musk who like doing their thing without too much scrutiny. And for regimes like Indonesia’s, it’s handy to have a billionaire celebrity with a bizarre project to put a bit of celebrity gloss on its militarized barbarity, or to distract from it. Last December, Indonesian president Joko Widodo offered Musk part of Biak island (population, at least 140,000) to play with his SpaceX project (and bugger the traditional hunting grounds that will be devastated by the process of blasting-off of 12,000 satellites, if he actually gets the launches to work).

        But how did Indonesia get West Papua’s land to give it away so insouciantly? In a nutshell, the fraudulent UN-supervised “Act of Free Choice” of 1969 gave Indonesia—its military, to be precise—uncontrolled access to West Papua’s vast natural resources. And since a hefty part of the military’s budget comes from its control of extractive industries, these men are engaged in defiling and ravishing the land and, of course, its people. It’s calculated that at least half a million West Papuans have been murdered but this isn’t as much about “secessionism” (read: right to self-determination) as about land grabbing and keeping the military men rich and in power. On the receiving end, West Papuans rely on their ever-dwindling land for their economic, social, and cultural survival.

      • Opinion | As Attacks Spike, Anti-Asian Violence Gets Lost in Translation

        In America, everything is always about something else — even when it’s not.

      • The Curse of White Supremacy Must Be Fought, Not Handed Over to a Committee

        Naturally, the liberal city of Burlington, Vermont set up such a commission. After a summer of protests against the city’s police department and a couple of its overtly racist officers, Democratic mayor Miro Weinberger spoke the right words at the commission’s founding. His plan had the support of his constituency and most of the citizens to his left. This was in spite of the fact that the study would be outsourced to a company that profits from such things. Then, in what is almost a perfect example of how so many Americans really don’t understand racism in the US, he chose a white-skinned bureaucrat over a Black woman to oversee the study. When challenged, he told critics it was to make sure it was neutral, as if a white man would somehow be more neutral then a Black woman. The mayor was quickly challenged and reversed his decision, calling it a “mistake.” If there is one thing it wasn’t, that would be a mistake. A more accurate definition would be that it is one more proof of how racism works among white people in the USA. It is so pervasive and such a part of the mindset, neutrality is identified with whiteness despite the obvious contradiction. There are now those calling for his resignation. Personally, I don’t think that does a damn thing to address the racism of Burlington’s establishment. The mayor can go and nothing will change except for the face at the top. The issue is much deeper than one politician. The fact that he was forced to reverse his decision puts the anti-racist movement in a good place if they play it right.

        Racism in the United States is white people’s problem. They constructed it and they benefit from it. The assumed supremacy of the white-skinned European settler is essential to this nation’s philosophical founding and is the historical foundation of its economy. The mass murder of the indigenous peoples and the destruction of their traditional livelihood and culture was crucial to the early accumulation of wealth by those who colonized what we know as the United States. Likewise, the importation, breeding, and selling of African slaves intensified that accumulation exponentially, even for those who opposed slavery and owned no other human beings. This history and the political decisions that both strengthened and resulted from it are why the US continues to be a racist nation.

      • Prison Laborers Are Paid Pennies to Maintain the Prisons They’re Incarcerated In
    • Monopolies

      • Report: Facebook could face UK antitrust probe within months

        Officials at the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority could launch an antitrust investigation into Facebook Inc. in the coming months, the Financial Times reported today.

        The probe will seek to determine whether the company uses the data it collects on users’ online activity to gain an unfair advantage over competitors, according to the paper’s sources. The tipsters said that the emphasis is on how Facebook’s business practices affected rival social networks and online advertisers.

        The scope of the investigation could reportedly change before the official announcement. However, it’s believed that the Competition and Markets Authority has already identified one area it intends to focus on: the competitive impact of Facebook’s Marketplace classifieds advertising service.

      • Patents

        • Nokia's opportunistic patenting and forum-(s)hopping failed: Federal Patent Court invalidates patent asserted against Daimler

          Even the best companies may lose a patent case. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. While it can always happen that a plaintiff acting in good faith overrates the strength of a patent or the merits of an infringement contention, some defeats come with a fishy smell--such as Nokia's latest defeat in Germany against Daimler and its suppliers.

          Last Wednesday (March 17, 2021), the Bundespatentgericht (Federal Patent Court of Germany) invalidated Nokia's EP1929826 on an "apparatus, method and computer program product to request a data rate increase based on ability to transmit at least one more selected data unit."

          The title of that patent all by itself shows that it's a software patent--and should never have been granted under the European Patent Convention--, but other companies obtain and assert such patents as well, so the problem is EPO-related and not specific to Nokia.

        • Next win for Eli Lilly against generics in German pemetrexed dispute

          The German pemetrexed dispute is drawing to a close. The Higher Regional Court of Munich has dismissed an appeal by generic manufacturers Hikma and Zentiva against a preliminary injunction handed down the Regional Court of Munich (case ID: 6 U 5222/20 and 6 U 4817/20).

          In July 2020, the Munich court ruled in the first instance that Hikma, Zentiva and Stada infringed Eli Lilly patent EP 13 13 508 with their generic pemetrexed products. Thus, the companies could no longer sell the products in Germany (case ID: 21 O 8568/20, 21 O 8569/20 and 21 O 8570/20). In this case, Stada accepted the ruling. However, Hikma and Zentiva both appealed.

          But the Higher Regional Court has now confirmed an equivalent infringement of EP 508 by Hikma and Zentiva. Both companies had stopped selling their drugs after the first-instance injunction. The court has ruled the companies cannot put their drugs back on the market until summer.

          In June 2021, the market for generic pemetrexed products will open again. However, this coincides with the EP 508 expiry date.


          Even the Higher Regional Court’s verdict is unlikely to be the end of the dispute over the cancer drug. Various generic drug manufacturers have been on the market with their imitation products between 2018 and 2020. So, the question of compensation remains.

          The question now is whether Hikma and Zentiva will agree to compensate Eli Lilly. If they do not, Eli Lilly is likely to file lawsuits on the merits to have the compensation determined by the court. Such lawsuits typically drag on for many years.

          Neither Eli Lilly nor the generics manufacturers have decided on the next steps, according to information from JUVE Patent.

        • FOSS Patents: Caltech seeks to extend billion-dollar patent win over Apple, Broadcom to Microsoft: new lawsuit in Western District of Texas over Surface, Xbox

          According to a patent infringement complaint filed on Friday, Microsoft--famously headquartered in Redmond, WA--has offices at 10900 Stonelake Boulevard, Austin, TX, USA 78759 and 401 East Sonterra Boulevard, San Antonio, TX. Those offices don't seem to be very large, but the per-square-foot cost of doing business there could be staggering: both these places are in the Western District of Texas, the most attractive venue for U.S. patent plaintiffs even ahead of the Eastern District of the same state.

          The Western District has displaced the Eastern District. Waco-based Judge Alan Albright is no less patentee-friendly (an understatement) than Judge Gilstrap, but many major tech companies from the West Coast have additional operations in the Austin area, while the Eastern District is rural and easy to avoid. For example, you won't find any Apple Store in the Eastern District by now (though some are just across the border of the federal judiciary district). A certain presence by a defendant is, however, what it makes it easy for patent plaintiffs to avoid that their cases get transferred out of their chosen district under the Supreme Court's TC Heartland case law (PDF).


          Caltech is trying to get the best of both worlds: while leveraging its victory in L.A. (though I wish Apple and Broadcom luck on appeal and don't expect the verdict to be upheld, at least not in full), Caltech transparently attempts to benefit from the Waco patent bonanza.

          Caltech is being represented by Quinn Emanuel and a small local firm, Mann Tindel Thompson. Quinn Emanuel is more often seen representing plaintiffs against Apple than against Microsoft, but this blog reported on various cases in which QE worked for Motorola against Microsoft, including the case in which Judge Robart's famous antisuit injunction came down.

        • FOSS Patents: Three fateful decisions will drive up Tesla's patent licensing costs: Avanci license, Austin factory, and German Gigafactory

          I've criticized those old-fashioned German car makers on numerous occasions, and chances are there'll be more reasons further down the road. Now I can't help but offer the prediction that Tesla is going to far outspend, on a per-car basis, everyone else in the automotive industry, and that's because of three decisions its management took without fully considering the ramifications it has for future patent licensing negotiations and infringement disputes.

          As the saying goes, you can't argue with success. But Tesla's market capitalization doesn't mean that the company doesn't make mistakes in its operational business that a company like Apple, with its far greater experience in--and more sophisticated and strategic approach to--patent licensing and litigation, would avoid. Tesla is going to pay hefty tuition fees before it will learn how to play this game like the pros in Cupertino.


          From a marketing point of view, it made a lot of sense for Tesla to build a "Gigafactory" in Germany. "Made in Germany" has always been, in no small part, about cars. It's a major market. And maybe Tesla hoped to generate political goodwill in the largest EU member state.

          However, Germany is exactly the jurisdiction to which patent holders flock in pursuit of injunctions. The judicial district in which you're based there doesn't matter: there's no forcible venue transfer, thus no TC Heartland equivalent either. The problem is that a patent injunction in Germany will not only disrupt Tesla's sales in that particular market, but will force it to halt production in its Gigafactory. Also, Tesla wouldn't be able to circumvent an injunction by exporting the products it makes in Germany to other markets.

          Tesla could have built a factory somewhere else in Europe. Just a little bit to the east of its Berlin-Brandenburg site there's Poland. In that jurisdiction it's likely that politicians would immediately take action and protect a major foreign investor against patent injunctions, should the Polish judiciary follow the German example. But in Germany there's no chance: even local players like Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW have failed (partly because their IP lobbying expertise is lacking and wanting) to persuade lawmakers to address the issue. As I explained in my most recent post on the subject, the proposed reform will not affect patent holders who make a licensing offer by the trial date. There won't be a proportionality analysis in such cases. And those are the cases that Tesla will be dealing with.

        • Who gets to become a Patent Attorney?

          The USPTO has released a new Request for Comments about changing the qualification rules to sit for the Patent Bar Exam (“Admission to the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases”) that are set forth in the General Requirements Bulletin (GRB).


          Dir. Hirshfeld noted that bigger changes may come later, such as addressing design patents and computer science; and considering the role that the registration requirements may play with regard to diversity. Eliminating the requirements altogether is really not even on the radar.

          Bigger policy changes are unlikely before a new director is appointed by President Biden.

          There has been a good amount of discussion regarding the artificial monopoly created by the GRB, and whether the requirements actually further American innovation. Back in December 2020, Senators Tillis, Coons, and Hirono sent a letter to USPTO Director Andrei Iancu seeking information about how the Office sets is criteria for who gets to become a patent attorney. Dir. Iancu responded just before leaving office in January 2021.

        • Cost and confidentiality challenge in-house in patent clearance [Ed: Is this an ad or article/reporting?

          Attorneys from Alvotech, Flex and one other company reveal how continuation applications make patent clearance challenging, and how outside counsel can help

        • Cross-examination of French Judges (Interview Part II: Global Issues) [Ed: Team UPC (litigation fanatics and profiteers) are boosting the corrupt INPI]

          In the first part of this interview (see here), I already mentioned some of the preconceived ideas about French Courts, which makes France almost systematically considered as one of the last territory to litigate: jurisdictions would be anti-patentee, slow, unable to order preliminary injunctions, even not “specialized”.

          The Cross-Examination Part I of Mrs. Nathalie Sabotier (Paris High Court i.e. “Tribunal Judiciaire de Paris”), Mrs. Françoise Barutel (Paris Court of Appeal i.e. “Cour d’appel de Paris”) and Mr. Philippe Mollard (French Supreme Court i.e. “Court de Cassation”) has defeated some of these preconceived ideas. This week, we’ll be looking at global issues and how Judges Sabotier, Barutel and Mollard appreciate them. Let’s go !


          Mrs. Sabotier: We always read with great interest EPO and foreign jurisdictions decisions, even if these decisions are without effect in France, thus, unlike the German judges for instance, we do not quote EPO and foreign decisions in our own judgments. Moreover, we may sometimes refer to the elements of the preliminary examination of the EPO.

        • VLSI Technology, LLC v. Intel Corp. (W.D. Texas 2021) [Ed: Michael Borella moans about fake patents being put to rest because he profits from litigation chaos, rather than justice.]

          After 35 U.S.C. ۤ 101 challenges, IPR filings, and summary judgment motions, plaintiffs are lucky if they are left with a few claims of one patent to bring to trial. Analogies have been made that patent portfolios are like Swiss cheese.

        • Software Patents

          • Apple ordered to pay $308.5 million after jury finds it infringed on digital rights management patent

            PMC, which is a patent licensing firm, originally sued Apple in 2015, claiming the tech giant had infringed seven of its patents. Apple successfully challenged the case to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, but an appeals court reversed the patent board’s decision last March, and the case went to trial.

          • U.S. jury tells Apple to pay $308.5 million for patent infringement

            Apple successfully challenged PMC’s case at the U.S. patent office, but an appeals court in March last year reversed that decision, paving the way for the trial.

            Sugarland, Texas-based PMC has infringement cases pending against companies including Netflix Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Inc.

          • How businesses get US software patents [Ed: IBM and think tank of patent extremists (UPC boosters, proponents of patent trolls etc.) for patents that are likely not valid]

            Counsel at Salesforce, IBM, Mastercard and two other companies say it’s important to demonstrate technical effect and stay out of 3600 at the USPTO

      • Copyrights

        • Nintendo Wants Google to Remove 'Infringing' AliExpress Links

          Nintendo continues its efforts to remove piracy-related links from search results. The gaming company is using anti-circumvention complaints to have Google remove links to RCM loaders on AliExpress, arguing that these help to bypass Nintendo's technical protection measures.

        • Fancy a Job Traveling The World, Annoying Pirates, Selling Denuvo?

          Denuvo is the most recognizable videogame anti-piracy system available on the market today. When it works as intended, it is loved by gaming studios and hated by pirates. Nevertheless, the product won't sell itself. A new listing reveals that Denuvo owner Irdeto is hoping to attract a highly skilled and experienced individual to get out there and make pirates' lives a misery.

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