Linux Journal

Qt 5.12.1 Is Now Available, Tor Browser 8.0.5 and Tails 3.12 Both Released with Important Security Fixes, Virt2real Launches StereoPi and Chrome Update for Android

1 month 3 weeks ago

News briefs for February 1, 2019.

Qt 5.12.1 was released today, marking the first patch release of the Qt 5.12 LTS series. It contains nearly 300 bug fixes and other improvements. See the Change Files for all the changes. Use the online installer's maintenance tool to make the update, or for new installations, download the latest installer from the Qt Account Portal or the qt.io Download page.

Tor Browser 8.0.5 was released this week. This release includes important security updates to Firefox and also updates Tor to the first stable release in the 0.3.5 series. NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere also were updated to their latest versions. You can view the full changelog here and download from here.

Tails 3.12 was released this week. The release fixes many security vulnerabilities, but the biggest change is to the installation method: "In short, instead of downloading an ISO image (a format originally designed for CDs), you now download Tails as a USB image: an image of the data as it needs to be written to the USB stick." This release also updates Linux to 4.19, the Tor Browser to 8.0.5 and Thunderbird to 60.4.0.

Virt2real has launched a Crowd Supply campaign for its $89 "StereoPi" stereoscopic camera board designed to work with the RPi Compute Module and dual RPi cameras. According to Linux Gizmos, the StereoPi is open-spec and "supports spatial awareness, 3D depth maps, and 3D video livestreaming". In addition, "The StereoPi can capture, save, livestream, and process real-time stereoscopic video and images for robotics, AR/VR, computer vision, drone instrumentation, and panoramic video".

The Chrome team announced an update for Android this week. Chrome 72 (72.0.3626.76) is now available on Google Play, and the release includes several stability and performance improvements. In addition, Softpedia News reports that "To tackle various security and privacy issues that users have reported since previous updates, Google decided to update the built-in Incognito Mode of the Chrome web browser by making the media player controls and notifications incognito as well, which means that they're now invisible to the naked eye." See the Git log for all the changes.

News qt Tor Tails Raspberry Pi Chrome Privacy
Jill Franklin

Ubuntu 18.04 Needs to Patching, Alpine 3.9 Released, Three New openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshots, Latest Version of Red Hat Infrastructure Migration Solution Now Available and Electric Cloud Announces ElectricAccelerator 11.0

1 month 3 weeks ago

News briefs for January 31, 2019.

Ubuntu 18.04 needs to be patched to fix several security bugs. ZDNet reports that Canonical is updating Ubuntu 18.04 to a new kernel, 4.15.0-44.47, which contains 11 security fixes. The most important of these addresses problems with the ext4 filesystem. If you use Ubuntu 18.04, patch your system as soon as possible. See also the Ubuntu security notice for more information and instructions on how to update.

Alpine 3.9 was released this week—the first release of the v3.9 stable series of the "security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution based on musl libc and busybox". New features include support for armv7, a switch from LibreSSL to OpenSSL and improved GRUB support. Go here to download.

Three new openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots were released this week that contained new versions of PHP7, poppler, GTK3 and LibreOffice. The first of the snapshots also included all the package upgrades for KDE Applications.

Red Hat this morning announced the latest version of the Red Hat infrastructure migration solution. New capabilities provide "greater customer choice, helping to further reduce infrastructure complexity and facilitating a pathway to open hybrid cloud environments". The two new target platforms are the Red Hat OpenStack Platform and the Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Virtualization.

Electric Cloud yesterday announced a new version of its software build and test acceleration platform, ElectricAccelerator 11.0. The press release notes that "the platform now offers new plug-and-play support for Android Open Source Project, accelerated embedded Linux builds based on the Yocto project, and cloud bursting for AWS and Kubernetes help businesses shrink development cycles and improve software quality."

News Ubuntu Canonical Security Alpine Linux openSUSE Red Hat Electric Cloud Cloud
Jill Franklin

Tamper-Evident Boot with Heads

1 month 3 weeks ago
by Kyle Rankin

Learn about how the cutting-edge, free software Heads project detects BIOS and kernel tampering, all with keys under your control.

Disclaimer: I work for Purism, and my experience with Heads began as part of supporting it on Purism's hardware. As a technical writer, I personally find ads that mask themselves as articles in technical publications disingenuous, and this article in no way is intended to be an advertisement for my employer. However, in writing this deep dive piece, I found that mentioning Purism was unavoidable in some places without leaving out important information about Heads—in particular, the list of overall supported hardware and an explanation of Heads' HOTP alternative to TOTP authentication, because it requires a specific piece Purism hardware.

Some of the earliest computer viruses attacked the boot sector—that bit of code at the beginning of the hard drive in the Master Boot Record that allowed you to boot into your operating system. The reasons for this have to do with stealth and persistence. Viruses on the filesystem itself would be erased if users re-installed their operating systems, but if they didn't erase the boot sector as part of the re-install process, boot sector viruses could stick around and re-infect the operating system.

Antivirus software vendors ultimately added the ability to scan the boot sector for known viruses, so the problem was solved, right? Unfortunately, as computers, operating systems and BIOSes became more sophisticated, so did the boot-sector attacks. Modern attacks take over before the OS is launched and infect the OS itself, so when you try to search for the attack through the OS, the OS tells you everything is okay.

That's not to say modern defenses to this type of attack don't exist. Most modern approaches involve proprietary software that locks down the system so that it can boot only code that's signed by a vendor (typically Microsoft, Apple, Google or one of their approved third-party vendors). The downside, besides the proprietary nature of this defense, is that you are beholden to the vendor to bless whatever code you want to run, or else you have to disable this security feature completely (if you can).

Fortunately, an alternative exists that is not only free software, but that also takes a completely different approach to boot security by alerting you to tampering instead of blocking untrusted code. This approach, Heads, can detect tampering not only in the BIOS itself but also in all of your important boot files in the /boot directory, including the kernel, initrd and even your grub config. The result is a trusted boot environment with keys fully under your own control.

In this article, I describe some of the existing boot security approaches in more detail, along with some of their limitations, and then I describe how Heads works, and how to build and install it on your own system.

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Kyle Rankin

Game Review: Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements

1 month 3 weeks ago
by Marcel Gagné

Welcome, young initiate. Do you have what it takes to become a full-fledged mage?

I've been playing a pre-release version of Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements, a classic role-playing game from Himalaya Studios, done in the style of Sierra On-Line's classic King's Quest series. This is only so surprising given that the people behind this new game worked on creating those classics and their remakes. Mage's Initiation is a medieval-style fantasy game with puzzles, treasures, labyrinthine settings, magic, spell-casting battles and monsters. Mage's Initiation began its life as a Kickstarter where it has been hotly anticipated. If you want to check into all that, I link to the Kickstarter page at the end, but right now, I just want to tell you about the game.

In Mage's Initiation, you play a student mage, taken from your family at the age of six to a mystical tower in Iginor, a seemingly idyllic land. In the Mage's Tower, you spend years studying the power of the elements. After ten years, it's Initiation Day, and you are ready to discover which of the elements has chosen you as its champion. In my case, I wound up following the path of water, but you can play (or replay) any of the four classic elements.

Figure 1. Initiation Day, Following the Path of Water

My young initiate's name is "D'Arc", which is, of course, an interesting name partly in what it might conceal. You find out that D'Arc dreams of demons which, he is told, means greatness. He also learns that the road to greatness is dangerous.

The colorful two-dimensional animation is reminiscent of games I played more than 20 years ago, and it's wonderful. I was taken in right away. There are plenty of characters, all with their own personalities, and the voice acting is varied and excellent. In the first part of the game, you'll wander the halls of the Mage's tower, taking in details, talking to other students, collecting various items, and most important, gathering information about what is to come next. This is, after all, the day of your initiation, and you will face a number of quite possibly, deadly trials before the day is out. Ask lots of questions. Pay attention. No detail is too small.

There are several halls that you access by an element-themed transport pad with a large gem in the center (pay attention, and don't forget the combinations). Each hall may be populated with different characters who will provide you with what you need to continue.

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Marcel Gagné

Thunderbird 60.5.0 Released, System76 Introduces New "Darter Pro" Linux Laptop, Kodi 18.0 "Leia" Now Available, Slax 9.7.0 Is Out and Systemd Vulnerabilities Proof of Concept Published

1 month 3 weeks ago

News briefs for January 30, 2019.

Mozilla Thunderbird 60.5.0 has been released. New features include FileLink provider WeTransfer for uploading large attachments, more search engines (DuckDuck Go and Google offered by default in some locations) and various security fixes. You can download Thunderbird from here.

System76 introduces its new "Darter Pro" Linux laptop, which provides a choice of Ubuntu or Pop!_OS. According to Beta News, the Darter Pro is 15.6", has two USB-A ports, a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port and is "expected to last a full work day without needing a charger". The laptop will be available starting February 5th from System76. You can sign up here to be notified when it's available. Pricing info coming soon.

Kodi 18.0 "Leia" is now available for all supported platforms. This is a major release, reflecting nearly 10,000 commits, 9,000 changed files and half a million lines of code added. This new release features support for gaming emulators, ROMs and controls; DRM decryption support; significant improvements to the music library; live TV improvements; and much more. See the changelog for more details, and go here to download.

Slax 9.7.0 was released yesterday. You can download it for free or purchase a USB drive with Slax pre-installed from slax.org. New to this version: usb-modeswitch was added, the slax activate command now copies module to RAM only if necessary, and now Slax is even smaller—255MB compared to 265MB previously.

Capsule8 yesterday posted the first of a multipart series detailing new research on exploiting two vulnerabilities in systemd-journald, which were published by Qualys on January 9, 2019. "Specifically, the vulnerabilities were: 1) a user-influenced size passed to alloca(), allowing manipulation of the stack pointer (CVE-2018-16865) and 2) a heap-based memory out-of-bounds read, yielding memory disclosure (CVE-2018-16866)." See the post for details on the two vulnerabilities—CVE-2018-16865 and CVE-2018-16866—that systemd-journald with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) disabled.

News Mozilla Thunderbird System76 Laptops Slax Distributions Kodi systemd Security
Jill Franklin

Why Linux Is Spelled Incorrectly

1 month 3 weeks ago
by Bryan Lunduke

You ever see an injustice in the world—one so strong, so overwhelming—that, try as you might, you just can't ignore it? A crime that dominates your consciousness beyond all others? That drives you, even in the face of certain defeat, to action?

Mine is...Linux.

Not the existence of Linux. Linux is amazing. Linux powers the world. Linux is, as the kids say, totally tubular.

It's the name. It's the name that makes me Hulk out. Specifically, it's that confounded "X". It just plain should not be there.

Linux should be spelled L-I-N-U-C-S. Linucs.

Seriously.

That's not a joke.

To make my case for why I believe this, with every fiber of my being, let's start by understanding why "Linux" has that X in the first place. It happened back in the early 1990s, when the first snapshot of Linucs (ahem) code was first uploaded to an FTP server.

Back then, Linus Torvalds wanted to name his kernel "Freax" ("Free" + "Freak" + "Unix"). Linus felt naming the kernel after himself would be a bit, you know, weird. A friend of his disagreed, and when he uploaded the source, he named the folder "Linux".

See that "X" there at the end? It was meant to represent the "X" in UNIX. There's just one problem with that.

UNIX was never supposed to have an "X" in the name at all.

You see, "UNIX" originally was spelled U-N-I-C-S, which stands for UNiplexed Information and Computing Service. This was, itself, based off the name for an operating system made by some of the same folks—Multics (MULTiplexed Information and Computing Service).

(Note: neither Unics or Multics is spelled with an "X".)

The people that created, engineered and ran the project named it "Unics", and, here's the kicker, nobody is 100% sure where that X even came from. I cover the topic a bit further in my video "The Complete History of Linux (Abridged)" around the five-minute mark. But, the gist is this: the most viable, detailed theory for "the X" is that "maybe someone in PR did it?"

In other words, Linucs—possibly the most critical and valuable piece of software in human history—is incorrectly named "Linux" because an unknown person may or may not have accidentally written Unics as "UNIX" once. Maybe. We're not really sure.

But, because everyone else uses the X, so must I. In every article. Every video. Every presentation.

Whenever I write the word "Linux"—which is about 80 bajillion times every day—I let out a whisper-quiet, short, tortured scream, followed by a subtle wimper of defeated acceptance. If you've ever seen me at a conference, writing an article on my laptop, now you know why I look like a completely insane person.

It's that stupid, friggin' X.

So. There you have it.

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Bryan Lunduke

Firefox 65.0 Released, CO.LAB to Host First "Global Experience" at the Tate Modern, Electric Guitar with a Built-In RPi Synthesizer, Debian's Reproducible Builds Report and Update on Fedora's New Privacy System for User Stats

1 month 3 weeks ago

News briefs for January 29, 2019.

Firefox 65.0 was released to Channel users today. New features include enhanced tracking protection, better experience for multilingual users, support for HandOff on macOS, better video streaming for Windows users, and improved performance and web compatibility, with support for the WebP image format. Go here to download Firefox.

CO.LAB to host its first "global experience" at the Tate Modern in London. On Wednesday, "students from two London schools will participate in an all-day session learning a bit about coding, a bit about music and a lot about open source. The program is a collaboration between Red Hat and Femi Owolade-Coombes, better known as Hacker Femo. Femi, a 13-year-old coder known for his Young Coder Workshops in London, worked with us to provide a curriculum that extends the capabilities of the micro:bit, a pocket-sized codeable computer of which one million were delivered to England and Wales year 7 students in 2016. Differing from previous CO.LAB events, the curriculum will be led by Femi, and mentors will be both Red Hat experts and middle school girls from the Young Coders program." For more info about Red Hat's CO.LAB initiative, go here.

Lucern Custom Instruments from the UK teamed up with Tracktion Corporation of Seattle to create Spirit Animal, an electric guitar with a Raspberry Pi synthesizer built in. According to the Raspberry Pi Blog, the guitar "boasts an onboard Li-ion battery granting about 8 hours of play time, and a standard 1/4" audio jack for connecting to an amp. To permit screen-sharing, updates, and control via SSH, the guitar allows access to the Pi's Ethernet port and wireless functionality." See also the Gear News website and the Lucern Instruments Facebook page for more information.

Debian published its Reproducible Builds report for the past week. There are many updates of note, including "There was considerable progress towards making the Debian Installer images reproducible with a number of rounds of code review, a subsequent merge of Chris Lamb's merge request and the closing of the corresponding bug report for the time being, pending further testing."

Fedora's new privacy system for user statistics is making progress. Phoronix reports that "Earlier this month there was a change proposal announced that would give Fedora system's a new unique UUID tracking identifier to count systems. The intention isn't to track users but rather to provide more statistics about the Fedora install base compared to the current system that is just tracking unique IP addresses, but a revised proposal would improve the privacy while still offering up much of the same statistics potential." The revised proposal will work like this: "Rather than relying upon a unique identifier that is transmitted to the Fedora update servers, the revised proposal is focusing upon just transmitting the 'variant' (indicating if you are running Fedora Workstation or one of the other spins) and then a new 'countme' variable. That countme variable would be managed client-side and under current thinking would increment weekly to reflect the age of the Fedora system: that would allow Fedora to see the age of the systems, new vs. updating installs to new releases, the number of users just running in Docker/cloud/other short-lived instances, and other metrics but without relying upon a per-system UUID."

News Firefox Privacy Fedora Education Raspberry Pi Music CO.LAB Red Hat Debian ReproducibleBuilds
Jill Franklin

FOSS Project Spotlight: Mender.io, an Open-Source Over-the-Air Software Update Manager for IoT Devices

1 month 3 weeks ago
by Ralph Nguyen

Mender is an open-source (Apache 2.0) project to address over-the-air (OTA) software update management for Linux-based IoT devices. When we researched this five years ago, there were no open-source end-to-end (device-to-server) options to manage the lifecycle of OTA updates for connected devices. Some open-source options were available, but they either had a proprietary management server, or they were client-only and required integration with another back-end server.

In short, the options available to IoT device-makers either had vendor lock-in or simply were too kludgy. Thus, we created Mender, which has two components: the runtime client integrated into the device and the management server with an intuitive user interface to manage updates at scale for large fleets.

Figure 1. The Mender Server's User Interface

We found in our initial research phase that many embedded systems developers created their own remote update mechanism, which usually took risky shortcuts around security and robustness. Embedded development traditionally has been a very diverse space, and the lack of technology standardization generates a lot of custom work for device-makers. Unlike web development and accepted standards, such as the LAMP stack, device-makers had to create much of their stack. This includes the fundamental capability of remote updates. And, most developers had no other choice but to build their own, given how exotic hardware and OS combinations could be for connected devices. We created a community repository called Mender Hub to allow developers to create and reuse tested and validated integrations to enable OTA updates for any combination of hardware and OS.

A consequence of the growth of IoT devices is the increase of easy targets for malicious actors, evident in the proliferation of malware targeting poorly secured IoT devices. There have been an increasing number of malware attacks infecting poorly secured connected devices. The 2016 Dyn DDoS attack was one of the clearest examples of the ramifications of poorly secured IoT devices, which was executed through the Mirai malware infecting a large number of IoT devices and enslaved them into a botnet. The IoT botnet attack caused major outages across internet platforms and services, including Amazon, GitHub and Netflix.

The increasing connectivity of cars, medical devices and more is making IoT security a serious public health issue. We created Mender to help with baseline security-hardening, and security patching is fundamental. But remote updates is quite challenging and has a lot of nuances to consider to establish a secure and robust OTA process.

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Ralph Nguyen

Episode 14: Digital Sovereignty

1 month 3 weeks ago
Your browser does not support the audio element. Reality 2.0 - Episode 14: Digital Sovereignty

Katherine Druckman and Doc Searls talk to Elizabeth Renieris about digital identity, ethics, boiled frogs, and horses with lasers.

Doc Searls

Raspberry Pi Launches Computer Module 3+, MakuluLinux Core Is Now Live, Nextcloud Introduces Virtual Drive, Linux 5.0-rc4 Is Out and LXQt 0.14.0 Released

1 month 3 weeks ago

News briefs for January 28, 2019.

Raspberry Pi announces its Computer Module 3+ (CM3+) is now available for $25. The CM3+ is the "newest version of our flexible board for industrial applications offers over ten times the ARM performance, twice the RAM capacity, and up to eight times the Flash capacity of the original Compute Module." The company also has released a refreshed Compute Module Development kit. The CM3+ will be available until at least January 2026.

MakuluLinux Core is now live. This marks the first release for 2019, and the OS is designed for "extreme ease of use and comfort". With this version, "The Optional Gesture System will let users navigate their computers with barely even having to touch a keyboard if that is their wish. The more Traditional users don't have to enable gestures, they can simply use the operating system in much the same way they are used to navigating Linux. Core Also offers many 'Instant Access' features like a one click wallpaper changer or one click 3D option, easily control every aspect of your OS with a simply few clicks." Go here for download links and more details.

Nextcloud introduces a Virtual Drive in the Nextcloud Desktop Client. According to the press release, the virtual drive "replaces the traditional files in a locally synchronized folder with a virtual view on all files the user has, available on demand and with a smart caching strategy." At this time, the virtual drive is available as a tech preview and is not recommended for daily use. In addition, Nextcloud today announced "it more than doubled its customer base amidst massive growth of website visits and interest in compliance solutions to secure and control data during the course of 2018." It also is launching a new Customer Advisory Board, which will be kickstarting on March 12, 2019, on Enterprise Day in Stuttgart.

Linux 5.0-rc4 is out. Linus writes that "things look pretty normal, and nothing huge stands out." He also mentions that "Size-wise, rc4 has a bit more commits that the last few releases have had at this point, but it's not even remotely a new record size, and not all that much of an outlier anyway. I _do_ hope that things will start to calm down for rc5 onwards."

The LXQt team recently released LXQt 0.14.0, the Lightweight Qt Desktop Environment. With this release working toward LXQt 1.0.0, new features include split view is added to pcmanfm-qt, the "Desktop can have icons like Computer, Network, User-Dir and Trash", "custom terminal margins and history-based tab switching are added to qterminal" and more. See the release notes for all the changes, and you can download it from download.lxqt.org or GitHub.

News Raspberry Pi Embedded MakuluLinux Nextcloud kernel LXQt Distributions Desktop
Jill Franklin

Data Privacy Year

1 month 3 weeks ago
by Doc Searls

Today is Data Privacy Day, known in Europe as Data Protection Day.

It's not new. Though created in 2006, it commemorates the Council of Europe treaty creating "the first binding international instrument which protects the individual against abuses which may accompany the collection and processing of personal data and which seeks to regulate at the same time the transfrontier flow of personal data." The treaty was signed on January 28, 1981, a date when the ancestors of today's PCs were still in the wombs of IBM and Apple. Hats off to Eurocrats who were decades ahead of a problem that's worse than ever.

Clearly, a day isn't enough—not when most humans are still naked as newborns in the digital world, and not much better equipped to protect and project their privacy there.

See, like nature in the physical world, the digital world came without privacy. But while we've had millennia to make privacy meaningful in the physical world, we've had only a few decades here in the virtual one where you're reading this now. And so far we've failed.

Sure, most of us alpha geeks are adept at guarding our private lives and spaces in the digital world, but let's face it, that world is a jungle where the apex predators are vampires living off the blood of personal data, and the sum of victims rounds to everybody.

So, although we salute the organizations celebrating this day, we are looking instead at the gigantic pile of work to be done before humans begin to enjoy the same degrees of personal privacy online as they've had in the offline world since the invention of clothing and shelter.

That work is the job of the world's hackers, which is us. And that's why we're declaring 2019 Data Privacy Year. Because a year should be enough at least to start making real progress toward personal data privacy online.

It should help to know two things:

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Doc Searls

Dell Launches New XPS 13 9380 Developer Edition Laptop with Ubuntu Preloaded, Purism Announces Its PureOS Store to Use Flatpak, openSUSE Tumbleweed's Latest Snapshots, Google Urged Less Protection for Activist Employees and DNS Hijacking Attacks

1 month 4 weeks ago

News briefs for January 25, 2019.

Dell launched its new XPS 13 9380 Developer Edition laptop, which runs Ubuntu out of the box. According to Forbes, highlights include Intel 8th generation i3, i5 and i7 processors; Ubuntu 18.04 LTS preloaded; InfinityEdge display with top camera placement; and much more. See Dell.com for more information.

Purism yesterday announced that its free ecosystem of desktop and mobile apps for Librem products will "revolve around Flatpak, which we believe is the best technology for what we want to achieve today. We are eager to partner with the Flatpak community, and hope to rapidly build an app store centered around our core values—Free Software and Reproducible Builds." In addition, Purism announced that the Lollypop music player will be available for the Librem 5 phone and Librem laptops (or any device running PureOS) soon in Purism's PureOS Store.

openSUSE Tumbleweed recently received two new snapshots: 20190121 includes updates of KDE Applications 18.12.1 and Frameworks 5.54.0, along with several bug fixes, and 20190115 sports kernel 4.20.0 and Thunderbird 60.4.0, as well as a grep update, several performance improvements and more.

Google urged less protection for activist workers. According to Bloomberg, "While Google publicly supported employees who protested company policies, it quietly asked the government to narrow the right to organize over work email." Evidently, counter to Obama-era protections that "broadened employees' rights to use their workplace email system to organize around issues on the job", in filings in 2017 and 2018, "Google's attorneys wrote that the 2014 standard should be overruled' and a George W. Bush-era precedent—allowing companies to ban organizing on their employee email systems—should be reinstated."

The US Department of Homeland Security published a security alert earlier this week regarding recent DNS hijacking attacks coming out of Iran. ZDNet reports that the emergency directive "government agencies to audit DNS records for unauthorized edits, change passwords, and enable multi-factor authentication for all accounts through which DNS records can be managed". It also "urges government IT personnel to monitor Certificate Transparency (CT) logs for newly-issued TLS certificates that have been issued for government domains, but which have not been requested by government workers".

News Dell Laptops Ubuntu Purism Flatpak Google Security DNS
Jill Franklin

Redefining the Landscape of System Monitoring: an Interview with Pulseway's Founder

1 month 4 weeks ago
by Petros Koutoupis

Pulseway provides a product of the same name that's built to enable IT personnel and give them the ability to monitor, manage and automate their systems and the tasks or applications that they host. And, the best part is that they can do all of these things anywhere and everywhere, from their pockets. In fact, I wrote about Pulseway once before, so check out that article for an introduction.

Pulseway is the Swiss Army knife of IT management, all accessible from your fingertips. You don't need to be glued to physical computer or connected to your employer's network. You are able to manage everything from either a web browser or mobile device—all you need is internet access.

I recently sat down with the founder and CEO of Pulseway, Marius Mihale, to ask him not only about exciting new things going on with the company, but also to find out where the company is heading.

Petros Koutoupis: Please, tell us a bit about yourself.

Marius Mihale: I am the Founder and CEO of Pulseway. I created both the software and solution about eight years ago. I initially designed the product with the goal of making the lives of IT administrators easier. It all started when I was attempting to shut down a server remotely but could not find a mobile application to aid me in this. This is how Pulseway was born. And while users can also access the same administration functions via a web browser and through our website, our core application is the mobile app: you can monitor Windows, Linux and Mac OS alongside various applications from your mobile device and take the necessary actions as they are needed.

PK: What has the demand been for such a solution?

MM: In 2011, we released a trial version of our product and almost immediately received a lot of wonderful feedback from the industry. It was this feedback that helped us shape the application we have today. Today, there are more than 300K registered free user accounts and more than 4,500 paid business and managed service provider (MSP) accounts worldwide—more specially, in both Europe and the United States.

PK: How has the IT management landscape evolved in the past year?

MM: Most of the actions we take and the features we implement are based on the needs of our users. We pay careful attention to our customer feedback and requests. And we implement a lot of this feedback, with simplicity in mind.

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Petros Koutoupis

openSUSE's Kubic Distro Is Now a Certified Kubernetes Distribution, ModemManager 1.10 Released, The Linux Foundation Announces LF Edge, Creative Commons and the Cleveland Museum of Art and Kexi 3.2 Beta Ships

1 month 4 weeks ago

News briefs for January 24, 2019.

openSUSE's Kubic team announced that the Kubic distribution is now a Certified Kubernetes Distribution, making it the "first open source Kubernetes distribution to be certified using the CRI-O container runtime". The Cloud Native Computing Foundation validates the Kubernetes Conformance Certifications to ensure that "versions, APIs, and such are all correct, present, and working as expected so users and developers can be assured their Kubernetes-based solutions will work with ease, now and into the future."

Modem Manager 1.10 has been released. Phoronix reports that this new version of the FreeDesktop.org project for controlling mobile broadband devices/connections "improvements for fwupd integration, support for parallel enable/disable calls to the modem interface, support for exposing the network Protocol COnfiguration Options (PCO), allowing to configure the initial LTE default bearer settings, LTE Tracking Area Code (TAC) in 3GPP location information, support for injecting assistance data into the GNSS engine, fixes and improvements to voice call management, new MBIM features, the Dell plug-in now supports XMM-based devices and the DW5821e, and other new modem support". For the full list of changes, see the Git commit.

The Linux Foundation this morning announced LF Edge, an "umbrella organization to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system". From the press release: "LF Edge includes Akraino Edge Stack, EdgeX Foundry, and Open Glossary of Edge Computing, formerly stand-alone projects at The Linux Foundation. The initiative also includes a new project contributed by Samsung Electronics, which will create a hub for real-time data collected through smart home devices, and another project from ZEDEDA, which is contributing a new agnostic standard edge architecture."

Creative Commons yesterday announced that 30,000 high-quality digital images from the Cleveland Museum of Art are now available. The free and open digital images are now under the CC0 and available via their API. The "CC0 allows anyone to use, re-use, and remix a work without restriction." Museum Director William M. Griswold said "Open Access with Creative Commons will provide countless new opportunities to engage with works of art in our collection. With this move, we have transformed not only access to the CMA's collection, but also its usability—inside as well as outside the walls of our museum."

Kexi 3.2 Beta shipped earlier this week, with a focus on "improving stability of KEXI and KEXI frameworks, KDb, KProperty, KReport". Date/time support was greatly improved with this release, and there are several bug-fixes. Documentation for the frameworks also has been improved and is available here.

News openSUSE Kubic Kubernetes Cloud Native Computing Foundation ModemManager The Linux Foundation Edge Computing creative commons Kexi
Jill Franklin

Introductory Go Programming Tutorial

1 month 4 weeks ago
by Jay Ts

How to get started with this useful new programming language.

You've probably heard of Go. Like any new programming language, it took a while to mature and stabilize to the point where it became useful for production applications. Nowadays, Go is a well established language that is used in web development, writing DevOps tools, network programming and databases. It was used to write Docker, Kubernetes, Terraform and Ethereum. Go is accelerating in popularity, with adoption increasing by 76% in 2017, and there now are Go user groups and Go conferences. Whether you want to add to your professional skills or are just interested in learning a new programming language, you should check it out.

Go History

A team of three programmers at Google created Go: Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike and Ken Thompson. The team decided to create Go because they were frustrated with C++ and Java, which through the years have become cumbersome and clumsy to work with. They wanted to bring enjoyment and productivity back to programming.

The three have impressive accomplishments. Griesemer worked on Google's ultra-fast V8 JavaScript engine used in the Chrome web browser, Node.js JavaScript runtime environment and elsewhere. Pike and Thompson were part of the original Bell Labs team that created UNIX, the C language and UNIX utilities, which led to the development of the GNU utilities and Linux. Thompson wrote the very first version of UNIX and created the B programming language, upon which C was based. Later, Thompson and Pike worked on the Plan 9 operating system team, and they also worked together to define the UTF-8 character encoding.

Why Go?

Go has the safety of static typing and garbage collection along with the speed of a compiled language. With other languages, "compiled" and "garbage collection" are associated with waiting around for the compiler to finish and then getting programs that run slowly. But Go has a lightning-fast compiler that makes compile times barely noticeable and a modern, ultra-efficient garbage collector. You get fast compile times along with fast programs. Go has concise syntax and grammar with few keywords, giving Go the simplicity and fun of dynamically typed interpreted languages like Python, Ruby and JavaScript.

The idea of Go's design is to have the best parts of many languages. At first, Go looks a lot like a hybrid of C and Pascal (both of which are successors to Algol 60), but looking closer, you will find ideas taken from many other languages as well.

Go is designed to be a simple compiled language that is easy to use, while allowing concisely written programs that run efficiently. Go lacks extraneous features, so it's easy to program fluently, without needing to refer to language documentation while programming. Programming in Go is fast, fun and productive.

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Jay Ts

Security Vulnerability Found in APT, Wine 4.0 Release, GPU Acceleration for Linux Apps on Chrome OS, Kickstarter Campaign for Polished Game Creation Tutorials for the Godot Free Game Engine, TUXEDO Computers Launch Two New High-Performance Laptops

1 month 4 weeks ago

News briefs for January 23, 2019.

All Debian and Ubuntu users (as well as users of their derivatives, such as Linux Mint, Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Lubuntu and Xubuntu) should update APT immediately. Softpedia News reports that Max Justicz discovered a vulnerability in the APT package that could "allow a remote attacker to trick APT into installing malicious packages that pose as valid ones, but which could be used for code execution with administrative (root) privileges after installation to gain control of the vulnerable machine." See CVE-2019-3462 for the details.

Wine 4.0 was released, representing a year of development and more than 6,000 changes. The main highlights include Vulkan support, Direct3D 12 support, game controller support and High-DPI support on Android. You can get the source here, or go here for binaries. See the release notes for more information.

GPU acceleration for Linux apps on Chrome OS is happening. According to IoT Gadgets, "Chromebooks with 'Eve' and 'Nami' baseboard should now, or very soon, be able to try GPU hardware acceleration." The article notes that "GPU acceleration for Linux apps should hit the Chrome OS Dev Channel soon. While it's not expected to run the most intense of games smoothly, some simpler games, and apps like photo/video editor should work better once given the full access to GPU."

Nathan Lovato from the Krita team is launching a Kickstarter "to create your own games with Godot, the free game engine". The campaign is to create "polished game creation tutorials" for the free 2D and 3D Godot game engine. With your pledge, they will create "free and accessible video series for the official Godot manual" and "a premium course to learn more advanced techniques that you will get as a Kickstarter reward". In addition, they plan to "produce a minimum of 60 high-quality video tutorials, on top of the Free game demos."

TUXEDO Computers announced the new XUX508 and XUX708 (XUX stands for Xtreme User Xperience) high-performance laptops. These gaming laptops have "a desktop processor that can be configured up to Intel's i7-9700K and i9-9900K. In addition, a GeForce GTX graphics card can be used as a 1060, 1070, or 1080 model from NVIDIA. They also feature a sophisticated cooling system with two extra-large fans and two additional synchronized heatpipes". Other specs include 15.6 and 17.3 inch displays (matt/anti-reflective), space for up to 64GB of RAM, two large 2.5" hard drives and two M.2 NVMe SSDs, Soundsystem of Onkyo 2.0 and SOUND BLASTER X-FI MB5 and USB 3.1 Typ-C incl. Thunderbolt 3. Plus, "all components are easy to maintain, clean or replace after removing the underside of the housing". Note: "TUXEDO Computers does not offer its customers standard Linux PCs, but systems specially designed for the customer. These are individually built computers/PCs and notebooks that are fully compatible with Linux and Windows."

News Security Debian Ubuntu Distributions Wine Chrome OS Krita gaming Tuxedo Computers Hardware
Jill Franklin

Is Privacy a Right?

1 month 4 weeks ago
by Doc Searls

Good question.

That's what people say when they don't have an answer yet.

And such is the case with the question in the headline.

I started wondering about it following  a tweeted response by Raouf Eldeeb (@raouf777) to Privacy is Personal:

It is also a fundamental right, not a privilege to be bestowed on anyone. The individual should have the right to determine the extent of his privacy.

While I agreed automatically with both of Raouf's points, I began to wonder about all kinds of rights, including privacy. That's because I was haunted by what Yuval Noah Harari says about rights in his book Sapiens—A Brief History of Humankind (Harper, 2011, 2104):

Sapiens rule the world, because we are the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers….We cooperate effectively with strangers because we believe in things like gods, nations, money and human rights. Yet none of these things exists outside the stories that people invent and tell one another. There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money and no human rights—except in the common imagination of human beings….

That's in Chapter 2. In Chapter 6, he also challenges the concept of equality, which informs much of our thinking and lawmaking around rights:

Is there any objective reality, outside the human imagination, in which we are truly equal? Are all humans equal to one another biologically? … Equally, there is no such thing as rights in biology. There are only organs, abilities and characteristics. Birds fly not because they have a right to fly, but because they have wings.

And yet, while Harari says rights are a collection of stories we tell ourselves, he also credits the role of belief in rights for holding civilization together and for advancing it. He points out, for example, that the story of rights America's founders told in the Declaration of Independence was a helluva lot more civilized than the Code of Hammurabi, which applied the death penalty to a huge roster of crimes (including lying), and codified women and slaves as forms of property. Harari also adds that the United States "would not have lasted 250 years if the majority of presidents and congressmen failed to believe in human rights". 

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Doc Searls

Canonical Announces Ubuntu Core 18 for IoT, Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 7.2 Now Available, Parrot 4.5 Officially Released, HP Launching Two New Chromebooks for Schools and Google Hit with $57 Million GDPR Fine

2 months ago

News briefs for January 22, 2019.

Canonical announced the release of Ubuntu Core 18 "for secure, reliable IoT devices" this morning. The Canonical blog notes that "Immutable, digitally signed snaps ensure that devices built with Ubuntu Core are resistant to corruption or tampering. Any component can be verified at any time." In addition, "The attack surface of Ubuntu Core has been minimized, with very few packages installed in the base OS, reducing the size and frequency of security updates and providing more storage for applications and data." Ubuntu Core also "enables a new class of app-centric things, which can inherit apps from the broader Ubuntu and Snapcraft ecosystems or build unique and exclusive applications that are specific to a brand or model." You can download it from here.

Red Hat today announced that Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 7.2 is now generally available. This new version of the open-source Java EE 8-compliant application server "brings greater compliance with Java Enterprise Edition (EE) 8, JDK 11/Java SE 11, and further support for Microsoft Windows and enterprise Java microservices. With this release, Red Hat is continuing our commitment to Java EE 8 and Jakarta EE, the new home for cloud-native Java, a community-driven specification under the Eclipse Foundation." See the JBoss EAP 7.2 documentation for more information.

Parrot 4.5 was officially released yesterday with some major changes. Parrot 4.5 no longer provides live ISO files for the i386 architecture. With this version, Parrot has released "desktop virtual appliances in the OVA format that can be imported in VirtualBox, VMware and other famous virtualization environments". The default kernel is 4.19, and Parrot plans to support two branches: a stable kernel and a testing kernel, and it will provide updates for both. In addition, Parrot includes recently released Metasploit 5.0, that Parrot "immediately imported and tested". There are many more updates, so be sure to see the release notes for details and download links.

HP is releasing two new Chromebooks for schools. Engadget reports that the Chromebook x360 11 G2 Education Edition is an 11.6" update of HP's G1 convertible tablet that has options for a Wacom pen and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. It also sports "a much newer 1.1GHz Celeron chip, up to 8GB of RAM (not so common in budget Chromebooks) and as much as 64GB of expandable storage". HP also is launching the Chromebook 11 G7 Education Edition, which is an 11.6" touchscreen laptop with the same storage options as the Chromebook x360. HP plans to ship both Chromebooks in April, and "There's no listed pricing, but it's safe to say you're not buying one in a store. This is for institutions that will likely be purchasing in bulk, and you're more likely to see it in a kid's backpack than anywhere else."

Google is being slapped with a $57 million GDPR fine. According to BGR, "France's data protection authority has announced a $57 million fine against Google in the first such GDPR penalty levied against a US technology company. In a statement explaining the action, the French agency known as the CNIL noted that the fine is a result of deficiencies that include Google not being clear enough about the way user data is handled to present personalized ads." From the CNIL's statement: "the infringements observed deprive the users of essential guarantees regarding processing operations that can reveal important parts of their private life since they are based on a huge amount of data, a wide variety of services and almost unlimited possible combinations." The BGR article also notes that Google hasn't yet decided whether to appeal.

News Canonical Ubuntu Core Embedded IOT Red Hat Java Jakarta Eclipse Parrot Metasploit Security Distributions HP Chromebooks Google GDPR Privacy
Jill Franklin

Command-Line Tip: Put Down the Pipe

2 months ago
by Kyle Rankin

Learn a few techniques for avoiding the pipe and making your command-line commands more efficient.

Anyone who uses the command line would acknowledge how powerful the pipe is. Because of the pipe, you can take the output from one command and feed it to another command as input. What's more, you can chain one command after another until you have exactly the output you want.

Pipes are powerful, but people also tend to overuse them. Although it's not necessarily wrong to do so, and it may not even be less efficient, it does make your commands more complicated. More important though, it also wastes keystrokes! Here I highlight a few examples where pipes are commonly used but aren't necessary.

Stop Putting Your Cat in Your Pipe

One of the most common overuses of the pipe is in conjunction with cat. The cat command concatenates multiple files from input into a single output, but it has become the overworked workhorse for piped commands. You often will find people using cat just to output the contents of a single file so they can feed it into a pipe. Here's the most common example:

cat file | grep "foo"

Far too often, if people want to find out whether a file contains a particular pattern, they'll cat the file piped into a grep command. This works, but grep can take a filename as an argument directly, so you can replace the above command with:

grep "foo" file

The next most common overuse of cat is when you want to sort the output from one or more files:

cat file1 file2 | sort | uniq

Like with grep, sort supports multiple files as arguments, so you can replace the above with:

sort file1 file2 | uniq

In general, every time you find yourself catting a file into a pipe, re-examine the piped command and see whether it can accept files directly as input first either as direct arguments or as STDIN redirection. For instance, both sort and grep can accept files as arguments as you saw earlier, but if they couldn't, you could achieve the same thing with redirection:

sort < file1 file2 | uniq grep "foo" < file Remove Files without xargs

The xargs command is very powerful on the command line—in particular, when piped to from the find command. Often you'll use the find command to pick out files that have a certain criteria. Once you have identified those files, you naturally want to pipe that output to some command to operate on them. What you'll eventually discover is that commands often have upper limits on the number of arguments they can accept.

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Kyle Rankin