Linux Journal

Vivaldi's New Qwant Privacy-Focused Search Engine, Microsoft Makes PowerShell Core a Snap, Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.6 Now Available, Apache Software Foundation's Annual Report and More

2 days 10 hours ago

News briefs for June 20, 2018.

Vivaldi Technologies has added a new privacy-focused search engine called Qwant to its Vivaldi web browser. Qwant doesn't store cookies or search history. Softpedia News quotes CEO and co-founder of Vivaldi Jon von Tetzchner: "We believe that the Internet can do better. We do not believe in tracking our users or in data profiling." You need version 1.15 of Vivaldi in order to enable Qwant.

Microsoft has made its PowerShell Core available in the Snap Store as a Snap application, OMG Ubuntu reports, allowing "Linux users and admins on various distros to run the latest version of PowerShell securely and safely across desktop, laptop and IoT."

Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.6 is now available. According to the press release, this new version "adds new content for automating across hybrid and multicloud environments, along with simplified connections to network APIs and updates for Ansible deployments overseeing Windows environments". It allows users "to more rapidly expand their infrastructure, without expanding manpower" and focuses on three areas of automation: multicloud, network and Windows.

Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook announced the Open-Source Data Transfer Project to promote universal data portability. Phoronix reports that the initiative "is to enable consumers to transfer data directly from one server to another, without the need for downloading/uploading of the content". See also the Google Open Source blog for more information.

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) released its annual report last week, which announced that the Foundation received open-source code worth more than $600 million by volunteer project contributors over a 12-month period. According to the post on IT Web, the report also covered one of the biggest crises for the ASF: "the Equifax data breach that affected 143 million consumers in the US and Canada as a result of a vulnerability in Apache Struts".

News Privacy Vivaldi Web Browsers Microsoft Snap Red Hat Ansible Cloud Apache
Jill Franklin

Atomic Modeling with GAMGI

2 days 10 hours ago
by Joey Bernard

For this article, I'm moving back into the realm of chemistry software—specifically, the General Atomistic Modelling Graphic Interface, or GAMGI. GAMGI provides a very complete set of tools that allows you to design and visualize fairly complex molecules.

GAMGI has the special ability to make creating repeating structures much easier, which is handy when you're trying to create crystalline structures.

GAMGI should be available in the package repositories of most Linux distributions. For example, on Debian-based distros, you can install GAMGI with the following command:

sudo apt-get install gamgi

There are also data and documentation packages (gamgi-data and gamgi-doc), and when you first start to use GAMGI, it's a good idea to install those packages as well.

Once the packages are installed, you can start GAMGI from the command line or from your desktop environment's menu system. When it starts up, you get a blank canvas to begin your work.

Figure 1. When you start GAMGI, you get a minimal set of tools to help begin your project.

This interface is probably one of the more minimal ones of the chemistry packages that you are likely to use, but it hides all of the functionality that is present within GAMGI. It is object-oriented, in that all of the main elements are treated as independent objects, with properties and relationships to other objects. These elements include atoms, bonds, molecules and crystal planes. Each of them are built up of a number of the earlier ones. One extra piece that GAMGI has is the ability to work with orbitals. Let's walk through an example of a salt crystal (NaCl) to show how you can use GAMGI to do graphical analysis.

When looking at a crystalline structure, you'll want to start by creating a cell in the window. You do this by clicking the Cell→Create menu item. Then you'll get a pop-up window where you can set several properties of the new cell.

Figure 2. When you create a new cell for crystal structures, you can set several different properties on how it will be constructed.

Since salt is a cubic crystal, you'll want to set the system value to c (for cubic), and set the lattice value to F (for face-centered). For each of these, you can get a full set of allowed values by clicking the associated "List" button. Clicking Ok creates the cell.

Go to Full Article
Joey Bernard

System76's New Manufacturing Facility, Ubuntu 17.10 Reaches End of Life, Google Cloud Platform Marketplace, Stranded Deep Now Available for Linux and Cutelyst New Release

3 days 11 hours ago

News briefs for July 19, 2018.

System76 has moved into its new manufacturing facility in Denver, Colorado. The company will begin making computers in the US, rather than just assembling them. See the System76 blog post for photos of the new digs.

Ubuntu 17.10 "Artful Aardvark" has reached end of life today, so there will be no more security updates for that version. If you're running Ubuntu 17.10, you need to upgrade to 18.04 now. See the post on It's FOSS for more information and instructions on how to upgrade.

Google has rebranded its Cloud Launcher platform, and it now will be called the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace (or GCP Marketplace). LinuxInsider reports that "it will offer production-ready commercial Kubernetes apps, promising simplified deployment, billing and third-party licensing."

Single-player survival game Stranded Deep is now available for Linux, GamingOnLinux reports, although users were reporting a few issues earlier this week. Stranded Deep is available on Steam.

Cutelyst, a C++ web framework based on Qt, has a new release. The update includes several bug fixes and some build issues with buildroot. See Dantti's Blog for all the details. Cutelyst is available on GitHub.

News System76 Ubuntu Google Kubernetes gaming qt
Jill Franklin

Using the Best CPU Available on Asymmetric Systems

3 days 11 hours ago
by Zack Brown

Dietmar Eggemann posted a patch from Quentin Perret to take advantage of energy-efficient CPUs on asymmetric multiprocessor (AMP) systems. AMP is distinguished from SMP (symmetric multiprocessor) systems in that an SMP system uses several instances of only one type of CPU, while an AMP system might use CPUs of differing speeds, feature-sets and so on.

Quentin's patch was an effort to take advantage of differences in power consumption between the CPUs on an AMP system. It attempted to identify the most efficient CPU that was not already saturated with processes and assign newly awakened processes to it. If no CPUs fit the bill, standard SMP-type methods of processor assignment would be used instead.

Dietmar explained, "The selection of the most energy-efficient CPU for a task is achieved by estimating the impact on system-level active energy resulting from the placement of the task on each candidate CPU. The best CPU energy-wise is then selected if it saves a large enough amount of energy with respect to prev_cpu."

He acknowledged that this algorithm was a brute-force approach that could work well only on systems with a relatively small number of CPUs. He said, "This patch is an attempt to do something useful, as writing a fast heuristic that performs reasonably well on a broad spectrum of architectures isn't an easy task."

Patrick Bellasi and Joel Fernandes had no serious objections to the patch and offered some technical suggestions. The discussion delved into various technical issues and specific ways of addressing them, with no one raising any controversial issues.

This is the type of situation with a patch where it might look like a lack of opposition could let it sail into the kernel tree, but really, it just hasn't been thoroughly examined by Linux bigwigs yet. Once the various contributors have gotten the patch as good as they can get it without deeper feedback, they'll probably send it up the ladder for inclusion in the main source tree. At that point, the security folks will jump all over it, looking for ways that a malicious user might force processes all onto only one particular CPU (essentially mounting a denial-of-service attack) or some such thing. Even if the patch survives that scrutiny, one of the other big-time kernel people, or even Linus Torvalds, could reject the patch on the grounds that it should represent a solution for large-scale systems as well as small.

Go to Full Article
Zack Brown

Google Fined by EU for Antitrust Violations, Qt Creator 4.7.0 Now Available, New ownCloud Version 10.0.9, pfSense Gold to Be Free with the 2.4.4 Release, Kobol Relaunches Helios4

4 days 10 hours ago

News briefs for July 18, 2018.

Google is being fined $5 billion USD for Android antitrust violations, The Verge reports. The EU Commission claims Google has abused Android dominance in three ways: "Google has been bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system. Google has also allegedly blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android, and 'made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators' to exclusively bundle the Google Search app on handsets." It has 90 days to bring its "illegal conduct to an end in an effective manner". Google plans to appeal this decision.

Qt Creator version 4.7.0 is now available. The release announcement notes that with this release, the Clang code model now is on by default to keep up with developments in C++. In addition, "the Clang code model provides much better information about issues in code without going through the edit-compile-analyze cycle explicitly." You can download the open-source version here.

ownCloud's new version 10.0.9 includes improved password policy, S3 Object Storage integration and pending shares feature. According to the ownCloud press release, this new version increases security as "password policies can now be defined for all users, and a password history prevents previously used passwords from being set and the ability to accept or reject pending shares of received files provides additional control and security." You can download ownCloud here and its corresponding apps here.

Netgate announces that pfSense Gold will be free with the 2.4.4 release, including all services previously offered under the pfSense Gold subscription, such as the pfSense Book and monthly online Hangouts (video conferences). In addition, AutoConfigBackup (ACB) also will be free and will conform to GDPR best practices. The 2.4.4 release is planned for September 2018.

Kobol is relaunching Helios4 via its own funding campaign. The open-spec NAS SBC and fanned system "runs Debian on a Marvell Armada 388 SoC with 2GB ECC RAM and offers 1x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, and 4x SATA 3.0 ports for up to 48TB". According to the Linux Gizmos post, "So far, the Full Kit is half funded while the Basic Kit has drawn little interest. Kobol says that it will refund the money if the campaign doesn't reach its 500-unit goal by Aug. 5. Shipments are due in October."

News Google Android EU qt OwnCloud pfSense Security Hardware Embedded
Jill Franklin

At Rest Encryption

4 days 12 hours ago
by Kyle Rankin

Learn why at rest encryption doesn't mean encryption when your laptop is asleep.

There are many steps you can take to harden a computer, and a common recommendation you'll see in hardening guides is to enable disk encryption. Disk encryption also often is referred to as "at rest encryption", especially in security compliance guides, and many compliance regimes, such as PCI, mandate the use of at rest encryption. This term refers to the fact that data is encrypted "at rest" or when the disk is unmounted and not in use. At rest encryption can be an important part of system-hardening, yet many administrators who enable it, whether on workstations or servers, may end up with a false sense of security if they don't understand not only what disk encryption protects you from, but also, and more important, what it doesn't.

What Disk Encryption Does

In the context of Linux servers and workstations, disk encryption generally means you are using a system such as LUKS to encrypt either the entire root partition or only a particularly sensitive mountpoint. For instance, some Linux distributions offer the option of leaving the root partition unencrypted, and they encrypt each user's /home directories independently, to be unlocked when the user logs in. In the case of servers, you might leave root unencrypted and add encryption only to specific disks that contain sensitive data (like database files).

In a workstation, you notice when a system is encrypted at rest because it will prompt you for a passphrase to unlock the disk at boot time. Servers typically are a bit trickier, because usually administrators prefer that a server come back up after a reboot without manual intervention. Although some servers may provide a console-based prompt to unlock the disk at boot time, administrators are more likely to have configured LUKS so that the key resides on a separate unencrypted partition. Or, the server may retrieve the key from the network using their configuration management or a centralized secrets management tool like Vault, so there is less of a risk of the key being stolen by an attacker with access to the filesystem.

The main thing that at rest encryption protects you from is data loss due to theft or improper decommissioning of hard drives. If someone steals your laptop while it's powered off, your data will be protected. If someone goes into a data center and physically removes drives from a server with at rest encryption in place, the drives will spin down, and the data on them will be encrypted. The same goes for disks in a server that has been retired. Administrators are supposed to perform secure wiping or full disk destruction procedures to remove sensitive data from drives before disposal, but if the administrator was lazy, disk encryption can help ensure that the data is still protected if it gets into the wrong hands.

Go to Full Article
Kyle Rankin

Open Source at 20

5 days 9 hours ago
by Doc Searls

Open source software has been around for a long time. But calling it open source only began in 1998. Here's some history:

Christine Peterson came up with the term "open source software" in 1997 and (as she reports at that link) a collection of like-minded geeks decided on February 3, 1998 to get behind it in a big way. Eric S. Raymond became the lead evangelist when he published Goodbye, "free software"; hello, "open source" on February 8th. Bruce Perens led creating the Open Source Initiative later that month. Here at Linux Journal, we were all over it from the start as well. (Here's one example.)

"Open source" took off so rapidly that O'Reilly started OSCON the next year, making this year's OSCON, happening now, the 19th one. (FWIW, at the 2005 OSCON, O'Reilly and Google together gave me an award for "Best Communicator" on the topic. I was at least among the most enthusiastic.)

Google's Ngram Viewer, which searches through all scanned books from 1800 to 2008, shows (see above) that use of "open source" hockey-sticked quickly. Today on Google, "open source" gets 116 million results.

But interest has been trailing off, as we see from Google Trends, which follows "interest over time." Here's how that looks since 2004:

Go to Full Article
Doc Searls

IBM's New Security-First Nabla Container, Humble Bundle's "Linux Geek Bundle", Updates on the Upcoming Atari VCS Console, Redesigned Files App for Chromebooks and Catfish 1.4.6 Released

5 days 9 hours ago

News briefs for July 17, 2018.

IBM has a new container called Nabla designed for security first, ZDNet reports. IBM claims it's "more secure than Docker or other containers by cutting operating system calls to the bare minimum and thereby reducing its attack surface as small as possible". See also this article for more information on Nabla and this article on how to get started running the containers.

Humble Bundle is offering a "Linux Geek Bundle" of ebooks from No Starch Press for $1 (or more—your choice) right now, in connection with It's FOSS. The Linux Geek bundle's books are worth $571 and are available in PDF, ePUB and MOBI format, and are DRM-free. Part of the purchase price will be donated to the EFF. See the It's FOSS post for the list of titles and more info.

More information on the upcoming Atari VCS console due to launch next year has been released in a Q&A on Medium with Rob Wyatt, System Architect for the Atari VCS project. Rob provides more details on the hardware specs: "The VCS hardware will be powered by an AMD Bristol Ridge family APU with Radeon R7 graphics and is now going to get 8 gigabytes of unified memory. This is a huge upgrade from what was originally specified and unlike other consoles it's all available, we won't reserve 25% of hardware resources for system use." In addition, the Q&A covers the Atari VCS "open platform" and "Sandbox", compatible controllers and more.

Google's Chrome OS team is working on redesigning its Files app for Chromebooks "with a new 'My Files' section that promises to help you better organize your local files, including those from any Android and Linux apps you might have installed." See the Softpedia News post for more information on this redesigned app for Android and Linux files and how to test it via the Chrome OS Canary experimental channel.

Catfish 1.4.6 has been released, and it has now officially joined the Xfce family. According to the announcement, it's "lightweight, fast, and a perfect companion to the Thunar file manager. With the transition from Launchpad to Xfce, things have moved around a bit. Update your bookmarks accordingly!" Other new features include an improved thumbnailer, translation updates and several bug fixes. New releases of Catfish now can be found at the Xfce release archive.

News IBM Containers Nabla Security Books gaming Google ChromeOS Chromebooks Catfish XFCE
Jill Franklin

A Look at Google's Project Fi

5 days 11 hours ago
by Shawn Powers

Google's Project Fi is a great cell-phone service, but the data-only SIMs make it incredible for network projects!

I have a lot of cell phones. I have iPhones (old and new), Android phones (old, new, very old and funny-shaped), and I have a few legacy phones that aren't either Android or iPhone. Remember Maemo? Yeah, and I still have one of those old Nokia phones somewhere too. Admittedly, part of the reason I have such a collection is that I tend to hoard nostalgic technology, but part of it is practical too.

I've used phones as IP cameras for BirdTopia (my recorded and streamed bird-feeder collection). I've created WiFi-only audiobook devices that I use when I'm out and about. I've used old phones as SONOS remotes, Plex players, Chromecast initiators and countless other tasks that tiny little computers are perfect for doing. One of the frustrating things about using old cell phones for projects like that though is they only have WiFi access, because adding multiple devices to a cell plan becomes expensive quickly. That's not the case anymore, however, thanks to Google's Project Fi.

Most people love Project Fi because of the tower-hopping features or because of the fair pricing. I like those features too, but the real bonus for me is the "data only" SIM option. Like most people, I rarely make phone calls anymore, and there are so many chat apps, texting isn't very important either. With most cell-phone plans, there's an "access" fee per line. With Project Fi, additional devices don't cost anything more! (But, more about that later.) The Project Fi experience is worth investigating.

What's the Deal?

Project Fi is a play on the term "WiFi" and is pronounced "Project Fye", as opposed to "Project Fee", which is what I called it at first. Several features set Project Fi apart from other cell-phone plans.

First, Project Fi uses towers from three carriers: T-Mobile, US Cellular and Sprint. When using supported hardware, Project Fi constantly monitors signal strength and seamlessly transitions between the various towers. Depending on where you live, this can mean constant access to the fastest network or a better chance of having any coverage at all. (I'm in the latter group, as I live in a rural area.)

The second standout feature of Project Fi is the pricing model. Every phone pays a $20/month fee for unlimited calls and texts. On top of that, all phones and devices share a data pool that costs $10/GB. The data cost isn't remarkably low, but Google handles it very well. I recently discovered that it's not billed in full $10 increments (Figure 1). If you use 10.01GB of data, you pay $10.01, not $20.

Go to Full Article
Shawn Powers

Debian "stretch" 9.5 Update Now Available, Red Hat Announces New Adopters of the GPL Cooperation Commitment, Linux Audio Conference 2018 Videos Now Available, Latte Dock v0.8 Released and More

6 days 9 hours ago

News briefs for July 16, 2018.

Debian "stretch" has a new update, 9.5, the fifth update of the Debian 9 stable release. This version addresses several security issues and other problems. You can upgrade your current installation from one of Debian's HTTP mirrors.

Red Hat announced that 14 additional companies have adopted the GPL Cooperation Commitment, which means that "more than 39 percent of corporate contributions to the Linux kernel, including six of the top 10 contributors" are now represented. According to the Red Hat press release, these commitments "reflect the belief that responsible compliance in open source licensing is important and that license enforcement in the open source ecosystem operates by different norms." Companies joining the growing movement include Amazon, Arm, Canonical, GitLab, Intel Corporation, Liferay, Linaro, MariaDB, NEC, Pivotal, Royal Philips, SAS, Toyota and VMware.

The Linux Audio Conference announced that all videos from the 2018 conference in Berlin are now available. You can find the links here.

Latte Dock v0.8 is now available. New features include multiple layouts simultaneously, smart dynamic background, unify global shortcuts for applets and tasks, and much more. Latte v0.8 is compatible with Plasma >= 5.12, KDE Frameworks >= 5.38, Qt >= 5.9. You can download it from here.

Ubuntu has improved the user interface of its Snap Store website. It's FOSS reports that the updates make "it more useful for the users by adding developer verification, categories, improved search".

News Debian Audio/Video multimedia licensing Red Hat Ubuntu Snap open source Desktop KDE
Jill Franklin

Opinion: GitHub vs GitLab

6 days 12 hours ago
by Matt Lee

Free software deserves free tools, not Microsoft-owned GitHub.

So, Microsoft bought GitHub, and many people are confused or worried. It's not a new phenomenon when any large company buys any smaller company, and people are right to be worried, although I argue that their timing is wrong. Like Microsoft, GitHub has made some useful contributions to free and open-source software, but let's not forget that GitHub's main product is proprietary software. And, it's not just some innocuous web service either; GitHub makes and sells a proprietary software package you can download and run on your own server called GitHub Enterprise (GHE).

Let's remember how we got here. BitMover made a tool called BitKeeper, a proprietary version control system that allowed free-of-charge licenses to free software projects. In 2002, the Linux kernel switched to using BitKeeper for its version control, although some notable developers made the noble choice to refuse to use the proprietary program. Many others did not, and for a number of years, kernel development was hampered by BitKeeper's restrictive noncommercial licenses.

In 2005, Andrew Tridgell, working at OSDL, developed a client that bypassed this restriction, and as a result, BitMover removed licenses to BitKeeper from all OSDL employees—including Linus Torvalds. Eventually, all non-commercial licenses were stopped, and new licenses included clauses preventing the development of alternative version control systems. As a result of this, two new projects were born: Mercurial and Git. Created in a few short weeks in 2005, Git quickly became the version control system for Linux development.

Proprietary version control tools aren't common in free software development, but proprietary collaboration websites have been around for some time. One of the earliest collaboration websites still around today is Sourceforge. Sourceforge was created in the late 1990s by VA Software, and the code behind the project was released in 2000.

Quickly this situation changed, and the project was shuttered and then became Sourceforge Enterprise Edition, a proprietary software package. The code that ran Sourceforge was forked into GNU Savannah (later Savane) and GForge, and it's still use today by both the GNU Project and CERN. When I last wrote about this problem, almost exactly ten years ago, Canonical's ambitious Launchpad service still was proprietary, something later remedied in 2009. Gitorious was created in 2010 and was for a number of years the Git hosting platform for the discerning free software developer, as the code for Gitorious was fully public and licensed under favorable terms for the new wave of AGPL-licensed projects that followed the FSF's Franklin Street Statement. Gitorious, also, is sadly no longer with us.

Go to Full Article
Matt Lee

Python and Its Community Enter a New Phase

1 week 2 days ago
by Reuven M. Lerner

On Python's BDFL Guido van Rossum, his dedication to the Python community, PEP 572 and hope for a healthy outcome for the language, open source and the computing world in general.

Python is an amazing programming language, there's no doubt about it. From humble beginnings in 1991, it's now just about everywhere. Whether you're doing web development, system administration, test automation, devops or data science, odds are good that Python is playing a role in your work.

Even if you're not using Python directly, odds are good that it is being used behind the scenes. Using OpenStack? Python plays an integral role in its development and configuration. Using Dropbox on your computer? Then you've got a copy of Python running on your computer. Using Linux? When I purchased Red Hat Linux back in 1995, the configuration was a breeze—thanks to visual tools developed in Python.

And, of course, there are numerous schools and educational programs that are now teaching Python. MIT's intro computer science course switched several years ago from Scheme to Python, and thousands of universities all over the world made a similar switch in its wake. My 15-year-old daughter participates in a program for technology and entrepreneurship—and she's learning Python.

There currently is an almost insatiable demand for Python developers. Indeed, Stack Overflow reported last year that Python is not only the most popular language on its site, but it's also the fastest-growing language. I can attest to this popularity in my own job as a freelance Python trainer. Some of the largest computer companies in the world are now using Python on a regular basis, and their use of the language is growing, not shrinking.

Normally, a technology with this much impact would require a large and active marketing department. But Python is (of course) open-source software, and its success is the result of a large number of contributors—to the core language, to its documentation, to libraries and to the numerous blogs, tutorials, articles and videos available online. I often remind my students that people often think of "open source" as a synonym for "free of charge", but that they should instead think of it as a synonym for "powered by the community"—and there's no doubt that the Python community is strong.

Such a strong community doesn't come from nowhere. And there's no doubt that Guido van Rossum, who created Python and has led its development ever since, has been a supremely effective community organizer and leader.

Go to Full Article
Reuven M. Lerner

FOSS Project Spotlight: Pydio Cells, an Enterprise-Focused File-Sharing Solution

1 week 2 days ago
by Italo Vignoli

Pydio Cells is a brand-new product focused on the needs of enterprises and large organizations, brought to you from the people who launched the concept of the open-source file sharing and synchronization solution in 2008. The concept behind Pydio Cells is challenging: to be to file sharing what Slack has been to chats—that is, a revolution in terms of the number of features, power and ease of use.

In order to reach this objective, Pydio's development team has switched from the old-school development stack (Apache and PHP) to Google's Go language to overcome the bottleneck represented by legacy technologies. Today, Pydio Cells offers a faster, more scalable microservice architecture that is in tune with dynamic modern enterprise environments.

In fact, Pydio's new "Cells" concept delivers file sharing as a modern collaborative app. Users are free to create flexible group spaces for sharing based on their own ways of working with dedicated in-app messaging for improved collaboration.

In addition, the enterprise data management functionality gives both companies and administrators reassurance, with controls and reporting that directly answer corporate requirements around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other tightening data protection regulations.

Pydio Loves DevOps

In tune with modern enterprise DevOps environments, Pydio Cells now runs as its own application server (offering a dependency-free binary, with no need for external libraries or runtime environments). The application is available as a Docker image, and it offers out-of-the-box connectors for containerized application orchestrators, such as Kubernetes.

Also, the application has been broken up into a series of logical microservices. Within this new architecture, each service is allocated its own storage and persistence, and can be scaled independently. This enables you to manage and scale Pydio more efficiently, allocating resources to each specific service.

The move to Golang has delivered a ten-fold improvement in performance. At the same time, by breaking the application into logical microservices, larger users can scale the application by targeting greater resources only to the services that require it, rather than inefficiently scaling the entire solution.

Built on Standards

The new Pydio Cells architecture has been built with a renewed focus on the most popular modern open standards:

Go to Full Article
Italo Vignoli

Chrome Browser Launching Mitigation for Spectre Attacks, The Linux Foundation Announces LF Energy Coalition, Kube 0.7.0 Now Available, New Android Apps for Nativ Vita Hi-Res Music Server and More

1 week 2 days ago

News briefs for July 13, 2018.

Google's Chrome browser is launching site isolation, "the most ambitious mitigation for Spectre attacks", Ars Technica reports. Site isolation "segregates code and data from each Internet domain into their own 'renderer processes', which are individual browser tasks that aren't allowed to interact with each other". This has been optional in Chrome for months, but starting with version 67, it will be enabled by default for 99% of users.

The Linux Foundation yesterday launched LF Energy, a new open-source coalition. According to the press release, LF Energy was formed "with support from RTE, Europe's biggest transmission power systems provider, and other organizations, to speed technological innovation and transform the energy mix across the world." Visit https://www.lfenergy.org for more information.

Version 0.7.0 of Kube, the "modern communication and collaboration client", is now available. Improvements include "a conversation view that allows you to read through conversations in chronological order"; "a conversation list that bundles all messages of a conversation (thread) together"; "automatic attachment of own public key"; "the account setup can be fully scripted through the sinksh commandline interface"; and more. See kube.kde.org for more info.

Nativ announced new iOS and Android apps for its Nativ Vita Hi-Res Music Server. The new apps, available from the Google Play Store, "give customers convenient control and playback functionality from their iOS or Android Smartphone or Tablet".

KDE released the third stability update for KDE Applications 18.04 yesterday. The release contains translation updates and bug fixes only, including improvements to Kontact, Ark, Cantor, Dolphin, Gwenview, KMag, among others. The full list of changes is available here.

NVIDIA announced its Jetson Xavier Developer Kit for the octa-core AI/robotics-focused Xavier module. According to Linux Gizmos, "the kit, which goes on sale for $1,300 in August, offers the first access to Xavier aside from the earlier Drive PX Pegasus autonomous car computer board, which incorporates up to 4x Xavier modules. The kit includes Xavier's Linux-based stack and Isaac SDK."

Mozilla announced the winners of 2018H1 Mozilla Research grants. Eight proposals were selected, "ranging from tools to fight online harassment to systems for generating speech. All these projects support Mozilla's mission to make the Internet safer, more empowering, and more accessible." See the Research Grants page for more info on the grants and how to apply.

News Chrome Spectre Google Security Browsers The Linux Foundation open source KDE Desktop Collaboration multimedia Android NVIDIA Mozilla
Jill Franklin

Empowering Linux Developers for the New Wave of Innovation

1 week 2 days ago
by Evan Dandrea

New businesses with software at their core are being created every day. Developers are the lifeblood of so much of what is being built and of technological innovation, and they are ever more vital to operations across the entire business. So why wouldn't we empower them?

Machine learning and IoT in particular offer huge opportunities for developers, especially those facing the crowded markets of other platforms, to engage with a sizeable untapped audience.

That Linux is open source makes it an amazing breeding ground for innovation. Developers aren’t constrained by closed ecosystems, meaning that Linux has long been the operating system of choice for developers. So by engaging with Linux, businesses can attract the best available developer skills. 

The Linux ecosystem has always strived for a high degree of quality. Historically it was the Linux community taking sole responsibility for packaging software, gating each application update with careful review to ensure it worked as advertised on each distribution of Linux. This proved difficult for all sides.

Broad access to the code was needed, and open-source software could be offered through the app store. User support requests and bugs were channelled through the Linux distributions, and there was such a volume of reporting, it became difficult to feed information back to the appropriate software authors.

As the number of applications and Linux distributions grew, it became increasingly clear this model would not scale much further. Software authors took matters into their own hands, often picking a single Linux distribution to support and skipping the app store entirely. Because of this, they lost app discoverability and gained the complexity of running duplicative infrastructure.

This placed increased responsibility on developers at a time when the expectations of their role was already expanding. They are no longer just makers, they now bear the risk of breaking robotic arms with their code or bringing down MRI machines with a patch.

As an industry we acknowledge this problem—you can potentially have a bad update and software isn’t an exact science—but we then ask these developers to roll the dice. Do you risk compromise or self-inflicted harm?

Meanwhile the surface area increases. The industry continues a steady march of automation, creating ever more software components to plug together and layer solutions on. Not only do developers face the update question for their own code, they also must trust all developers facing that same decision in all the code beneath their own.

Go to Full Article
Evan Dandrea

Guido van Rossum Stepping Down from Role as Python's Benevolent Dictator For Life

1 week 3 days ago

Python's Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL) Guido van Rossum today announced he's stepping down from the role.

On the Python mailing list today, van Rossum said, "I would like to remove myself entirely from the decision process. I'll still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I'll still be available to mentor people—possibly more available. But I'm basically giving myself a permanent vacation from being BDFL, and you all will be on your own."

He credits his decision to step down as partly due to his experience with the turmoil over PEP 572: "Now that PEP 572 is done, I don't ever want to have to fight so hard for a PEP and find that so many people despise my decisions."

van Rossum says he will not appoint a successor and leave that to the development team to decide upon.

For old-time's sake, see Linux Journal's interview with Guido van Rossum from 1998.

News python Guido van Rossum
Carlie Fairchild

freenode Launches New Job Board, Two More Spectre Security Holes Discovered, Debian Joins KDE's Advisory Board, Android Malware Found in the Google Play Store and Stable Kernels Released

1 week 3 days ago

News briefs for July 12, 2018.

freenode has a new job board. jobs.freenode.net "aims to connect those looking to hire with the immense talent that can be found within the wider freenode communities". The job board is free to use, but companies that use it successfully are encouraged to make a donation to help support the freenode network, jobs.freenode.net and the annual freenode #live conference.

Two new Spectre-type security holes have been discovered. ZDNet reports that this affects any operating system running on AMD, ARM and Intel processors. Vladimir Kiriansky, PhD candidate at MIT, and independent researcher Carl Waldspurger found the new vulnerabilities and published a paper. ZDNet also notes that so far, no known attacks have occurred making use of these bugs, but that likely will change soon.

Debian has joined KDE's advisory board. Chris Lamb, Debian Project Leader, commented that "The KDE Plasma desktop environment is fully-supported within Debian and thus the Debian Project is extremely excited to be formally recognising the relationship between itself and KDE, especially how that will greatlyincrease and facilitate our communication and collaboration."

Yesterday Greg Kroah-Hartman released stable kernels 4.17.6, 4.14.55, 4.9.112, 4.4.140 and 3.18.115. Users should update right away. (Source: LWN.net.)

Android malware called Anubis has been found the Google Play Store. According to ZDNet, "a cyber crime group has sneaked apps onto the official Google Play Store which then serve up Trojan banking malware to Android users". In addition, "developers of the malware are regularly altering the capabilities of the malware and will slightly alter the code to ensure that it isn't detected by Google Play's security controls".

freenode jobs Spectre Security Intel AMD ARM Debian KDE kernel Android Mobile
Jill Franklin

Road to RHCA--Preparation Meets Opportunity

1 week 3 days ago
by Taz Brown

This article is the second in my series "Road to RHCA", where I'm charting my journey to the Red Hat Certified Architect designation—a designation that's difficult to come by. As an advocate and enthusiast of Linux and open source, and more important, as someone who works as a Linux professional, I am eager to change the current state of affairs around the number of women and people of color who know Linux and open source, study Linux and work in the Linux and/or open-source space.

Things haven't changed much in general when it comes to the numbers of women and people of color who enter the IT field, but those numbers drop significantly when it comes to Linux and open source. It's my goal to convince other women and people of color to study Linux and pursue open-source projects, because diversity of thought is invaluable in the world and in the enterprise. This world is not homogeneous; nothing else ever should be either. So I'd like to see more professionals who look like me in Linux and the Open Source community, and I'm starting to see a few, but there's still more work to be done.

Joining the RHCA ranks requires significant time and effort. Nothing worth anything comes easy, nor should it, but I can say with work, family, mentoring and now writing a book for Packt publishing, finding time to study will be more and more difficult for me, but it's my highest priority. At the time of this writing, I am five exams away.

You can choose from five areas of concentration, or you can select any combination of eligible Red Hat certifications to create a custom concentration. Those five concentrations are:

  • Data Center
  • DevOps
  • Application Platform
  • Cloud
  • Application Development

I decided the best route to my RHCA is for me to customize my concentration to include these five certifications in the order I plan to take them:

  1. Red Hat-Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation
  2. Red Hat-Certified Specialist in High Availability Clustering
  3. Red Hat-Certified Specialist in Red Hat OpenStack
  4. Red Hat-Certified Specialist in Linux Diagnostics and Troubleshooting
  5. Red Hat-Certified Specialist in OpenShift Administration

If you ask Red Hat the company, it obviously would recommend paying for and using one of its subscription options. The standard option costs $5,500, and the basic option costs $7,000. Having the subscription definitely would be beneficial, especially if you are working toward an RHCA, but it's not something that everyone can afford. You might be able to get your employer to cover the costs, but that's not always possible. So how does one without such resources become an RHCA? True grit, determination and a little creativity.

Go to Full Article
Taz Brown

Cooking with Linux (without a Net): Remote Linux System Administration Using Webmin and Virtualmin

1 week 4 days ago

Please support Linux Journal by subscribing or becoming a patron.

It's time for the "Cooking with Linux (without a Net)" show where I do cool Linux and open-source stuff, live, on camera, and without the benefit of post video editing, therefore providing a high probability of falling flat on my face. On today's show, we cover remote Linux system administration using Webmin, a web-based, do-it-all admin tool. As a bonus, we explore Virtualmin, a Webmin extension that can turn you into an ISP by making it easy to manage accounts, multiple users, domains, permissions and everything else you need. It's a completely free alternative to pricey products like cPanel. Finally, I take a shot at yet another never-before-tried Linux distribution: Trinity PCLinuxOS. Also, in case you don't already know, this is a prerecorded show of a live YouTube broadcast.

Show links:

Cooking with Linux SysAdmin video
Marcel Gagné

Xen Hypervisor 4.11 Released, New Browsh Text-Based Browser, Finney Cryptocurrency Phone, GNOME Hiring and More

1 week 4 days ago

News briefs for July 11, 2018.

The Xen Hypervisor 4.11 was released yesterday. In this release "PVH Dom0 support is now available as experimental feature and support for running unmodified PV guests in a PVH Container has been added. In addition, significant chunks of the ARM port have been rewritten." Xen 4.11 also contains mitigations for Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. For detailed download and build instructions, go here.

There's a new text-based browser called Browsh, Phoronix reports. Browsh can render anything a modern browser can, and you can use it from a terminal or within a normal browser to reduce bandwidth and increase browser speed. For more info and to download, see the Browsh project website.

Facebook to be fined the maximum (500k euros), and the UK's privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), has published a report called "Democracy Disrupted? Personal information and political influence" that outlines policy recommendations for how personal information is used in connection with political campaigns. According to the TechCrunch article, the report "calls directly for an 'ethical pause' around the use of microtargeting ad tools for political campaigning" and specifically "flags a number of specific concerns attached to Facebook's platform and its impact upon people's rights and democratic processes..."

Sirin Labs to launch the $1,000 Finney cryptocurrency smartphone this fall, Engadget reports. The Finney (named after Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney) is a "state of the art mobile device for the blockchain era" and runs on a forked version of Android. It has a slider on the back where "you'll find a secondary display, called the Safe Screen, that's only used for crypto transactions....The slider also activates the cold storage wallet that is designed to hold a significant number of different cryptocurrencies."

The GNOME Foundation is hiring. After receiving a generous grant in May of this year, The Foundation is recruiting for four posts: Development Coordinator, Program Coordinator, Devops/Sysadmin and GTK+ Core Developer. See the Positions available page for information on how to apply.

News xen Hypervisor Browsers smartphones Cryptocurrency Android Blockchain GNOME Privacy Facebook
Jill Franklin