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LinuxSecurity - Security Advisories

  • Fedora 32: webkit2gtk3 2020-ab074c6cdf>
    Update to 2.28.3: * Fix kinetic scrolling with async scrolling. * Fix web process hangs on large GitHub pages. * Bubblewrap sandbox should not attempt to bind empty paths. * Fix threading issues in the media player. * Fix several crashes and rendering issues. * Security fixes: CVE-2020-9802, CVE-2020-9803, CVE-2020-9805, CVE-2020-9806, CVE-2020-9807, CVE-2020-9843, CVE-2020-9850,

  • Fedora 32: seamonkey 2020-7e974bd2bb>
    Update to 2.53.3 The database format of the stored passwords and certificates in the user profile are now changed. SeaMonkey should perform the changes hiddenly at the first run, just asking for the master password (if used). To avoid a hypothetical data loss, it is recommended to backup user profile before the update, or even drop master password temporary. After the change, new files

  • [$] Microsoft drops support for PHP
    For years, Windows PHP users have enjoyed builds provided directly by Microsoft. The company has contributed to the PHP project in many ways, with the binaries made available on being the most visible. Recently Microsoft Project Manager Dale Hirt announced that, beginning with PHP 8.0, Microsoft support for PHP on Windows would end.

  • [$] Creating open data interfaces with ODPi
    Connecting one source of data to another isn't always easy because of differentstandards, data formats, and APIs to contend with, among the manychallenges. One of the groups that is trying to help with the challenge ofdata interoperability is the Linux Foundation's Open Data Platforminitiative (ODPi). At the 2020Open Source Summit North America virtual event on July 2, ODPiTechnical Steering Committee chairperson MandyChessell outlined the goals of ODPi and the projects that are part of it.She also described how ODPiis taking an open-source development approach to make data moreeasily accessible.

  • Security updates for Friday
    Security updates have been issued by Fedora (curl, LibRaw, python-pillow, and python36), Mageia (coturn, samba, and vino), openSUSE (opera), and Ubuntu (openssl).

  • [$] LibreOffice: the next five years
    The LibreOffice project wouldseem to be on a roll. It produces what is widely seen as the leadingfree office-productivity suite, and has managed to move out of the shadowof the moribund (but brand-recognized) ApacheOpenOffice project. The LibreOffice 7 release is coming within a month, and the tenthanniversary of the founding of the Document Foundation arrives inSeptember. Meanwhile, LibreOfficeOnline is taking off and, seemingly, seeing some market success.So it is a bit surprising to see the project's core developersin a sort of crisis mode while users worry about a tag that showed up inthe project's repository.

  • Six new stable kernels
    Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced the release of the 5.7.8, 5.4.51,4.19.132, 4.14.188, 4.9.230, and 4.4.230 stable kernels. As usual, these allcontain important fixes; users should upgrade.

  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by CentOS (firefox), Debian (ffmpeg, fwupd, ruby2.5, and shiro), Fedora (freerdp, gssdp, gupnp, mingw-pcre2, remmina, and xrdp), openSUSE (chocolate-doom), Oracle (firefox and kernel), and Ubuntu (linux, linux-lts-xenial, linux-aws, linux-kvm, linux-raspi2, linux-snapdragon and thunderbird).

  • [$] Linux Mint drops Ubuntu Snap packages
    The Linux Mint project has made good on previous threats to actively prevent Ubuntu Snap packages from being installed through the APT package-management system without the user's consent. This move is the result of "major worries" from Linux Mint on Snap's impact with regard to user choice and software freedom. Ubuntu's parent company, Canonical, seems open to finding a solution to satisfy the popular distribution's concerns — but it too has interests to consider.

  • Security updates for Wednesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (roundcube), Fedora (chromium, firefox, and ngircd), Oracle (firefox and thunderbird), Scientific Linux (firefox), Slackware (seamonkey), SUSE (djvulibre, ffmpeg, firefox, freetds, gd, gstreamer-plugins-base, icu, java-11-openjdk, libEMF, libexif, librsvg, LibVNCServer, libvpx, Mesa, nasm, nmap, opencv, osc, perl, php7, python-ecdsa, SDL2, texlive-filesystem, and thunderbird), and Ubuntu (cinder, python-os-brick).

  • The "Open Usage Commons" launches
    Google has announcedthe creation of the Open UsageCommons, which is intended to help open-source projects manage theirtrademarks. From theorganization's own announcement: "We created the Open UsageCommons because free and fair open source trademark use is critical to thelong-term sustainability of open source. However, understanding andmanaging trademarks takes more legal know-how than most project maintainerscan do themselves. The Open Usage Commons is therefore dedicated tocreating a model where everyone in the open source chain – from projectmaintainers to downstream users to ecosystem companies – has peace of mindaround trademark usage and management. The projects in the Open UsageCommons will receive support specific to trademark protection andmanagement, usage guidelines, and conformance testing." Initialmembers include the Angular, Gerrit, and Istio projects.

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  • Microsoft Announces It Won't Be the Ones Building PHP 8.0 for Windows
    Today I learned that Microsoft "has been providing support for the development and building of the PHP programming language on Windows," according to Bleeping Computer. "This support includes developing security patches for PHP and creating native Windows builds."   But that's going to change: Microsoft has announced that it will not offer support in 'any capacity' for PHP for Windows 8.0 when it is released... To add some clarity to Microsoft PHP Windows Lead Dale Hirt's post, PHP Release Manager Sara Golemon posted to Reddit explaining that this does not mean PHP 8.0 will not be supported in Windows. It just means that Microsoft will not be the one building and supporting it. "For some possibly missing context, Microsoft runs and produces all the official builds of PHP for Windows... This message means Microsoft aren't going to produce official builds for PHP 8 onwards. This message does NOT mean that nobody will."   Microsoft has not stated why they will no longer support PHP 8.0, but it could be due to the extensive PHP support already existing in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Microsoft has been actively developing WSL, which allows users to install various Linux distributions that run directly in Windows 10.   As these distributions already support PHP 7.4 and will support PHP 8.0 when released, Microsoft may see it as unnecessary to continue supporting a native PHP build in Windows.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Linus Torvalds Hopes Intel's AVX-512 'Dies A Painful Death'
    "Linux creator Linus Torvalds had some choice words today on Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX-512) found on select Intel processors," reports Phoronix: In a mailing list discussion stemming from the Phoronix article this week on the compiler instructions Intel is enabling for Alder Lake (and Sapphire Rapids), Linus Torvalds chimed in. The Alder Lake instructions being flipped on in GCC right now make no mention of AVX-512 but only AVX2 and others, likely due to Intel pursuing the subset supported by both the small and large cores in this new hybrid design being pursued.   The lack of seeing AVX512 for Alder Lake led Torvalds to comment:  I hope AVX512 dies a painful death, and that Intel starts fixing real problems instead of trying to create magic instructions to then create benchmarks that they can look good on.   I hope Intel gets back to basics: gets their process working again, and concentrate more on regular code that isn't HPC or some other pointless special case.   I've said this before, and I'll say it again: in the heyday of x86, when Intel was laughing all the way to the bank and killing all their competition, absolutely everybody else did better than Intel on FP loads. Intel's FP performance sucked (relatively speaking), and it matter not one iota.   Because absolutely nobody cares outside of benchmarks.   The same is largely true of AVX512 now - and in the future...   After several more paragraphs, Torvalds reaches his conclusion. "Stop with the special-case garbage, and make all the core common stuff that everybody cares about run as well as you humanly can."  Phoronix notes that Torvalds' comments came "just weeks after he switched to AMD Ryzen Threadripper for his primary development rig."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • iPhone User Sues Microsoft's LinkedIn For Spying Through Apple's 'Clipboard'
    "Microsoft's LinkedIn was sued by a New York-based iPhone user on Friday for allegedly reading and diverting users' sensitive content from Apple Inc's Universal Clipboard application," reports Reuters.  According to Apple's website, Universal Clipboard allows users to copy text, images, photos, and videos on one Apple device and then paste the content onto another Apple device. According to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court by Adam Bauer, LinkedIn reads the Clipboard information without notifying the user. LinkedIn did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.  According to media reports from last week, 53 apps including TikTok and LinkedIn were reported to be reading users' Universal Clipboard content, after Apple's latest privacy feature started alerting users whenever the clipboard was accessed with a banner saying "pasted from Messages..."   A LinkedIn executive had said on Twitter last week that the company released a new version of its app to end this practice... According to the complaint, LinkedIn has not only been spying on its users, it has been spying on their nearby computers and other devices, and it has been circumventing Apple's Universal Clipboard timeout.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Delays Reported For Possible Covid-Inoculating Plasma Shot
    "It might be the next best thing to a coronavirus vaccine," writes the Los Angeles Times. "Scientists have devised a way to use the antibody-rich blood plasma of Covid-19 survivors for an upper-arm injection that they say could inoculate people against the virus for months." Using technology that's been proven effective in preventing other diseases such as hepatitis A, the injections would be administered to high-risk health care workers, nursing home patients, or even at public drive-through sites — potentially protecting millions of lives, the doctors and other experts say. The two scientists who spearheaded the proposal — an 83-year-old shingles researcher and his counterpart, an HIV gene therapy expert — have garnered widespread support from leading blood and immunology specialists, including those at the center of the nation's Covid-19 plasma research.  But the idea exists only on paper. Federal officials have twice rejected requests to discuss the proposal, and pharmaceutical companies — even acknowledging the likely efficacy of the plan — have declined to design or manufacture the shots, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation... There is little disagreement that the idea holds promise; the dispute is over the timing. Federal health officials and industry groups say the development of plasma-based therapies should focus on treating people who are already sick, not on preventing infections in those who are still healthy...   But scientists who question the delay argue that the immunity shots are easy to scale up and should enter clinical trials immediately. They say that until there's a vaccine, the shots offer the only plausible method for preventing potentially millions of infections at a critical moment in the pandemic. "Beyond being a lost opportunity, this is a real head-scratcher," said Dr. Michael Joyner, a Mayo Clinic researcher who leads a program sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration to capitalize on coronavirus antibodies from COVID-19 survivors. "It seems obvious." The use of so-called convalescent plasma has already become widespread. More than 28,000 patients have already received the IV treatment, and preliminary data suggest that the method is safe.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Wells Fargo Tells Employees: Delete TikTok from Company Phones
    An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: Wells Fargo does not want TikTok on its employees' phones. According to The Information, the financial institution sent its employees a note, telling them to remove the app from corporate devices immediately...   A Wells Fargo spokesperson confirmed the company's move to The Information, explaining that it came to the decision due to concerns about TikTok's privacy practices:  "We have identified a small number of Wells Fargo employees with corporate-owned devices who had installed the TikTok application on their device. Due to concerns about TikTok's privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • TIOBE's Surprisingly Popular Programming Languages: R, Go, Perl, Scratch, Rust, and Visual Basic 6
    The R programming language is experiencing a surge in popularity "in the slipstream of Python," according to this month's TIOBE index, leaping into the top ten.  "For historical context, we wrote of R's spot in TIOBE nearly two years ago, and it had just made the leap from #50 to #39," writes programming columnist Mike Melanson.   ZDNet writes:  In May, when R crashed out of the top 20 for the first time in three years, Tiobe speculated that the language could be a victim of consolidation in statistical programming, with more developers in the field gravitating towards Python.  But there's been a lot of motion since then, Tech Republic reports: R rose one space to eighth place in July, but its comparison to 2019 is where the real surprise lies: It was in 20th place at the same time last year. TIOBE CEO Paul Jansen cites two reasons why R may be increasing in popularity:   - Universities and research institutes have moved away from commercial statistical languages like SAS and Stata in favor of open source languages Python and R.   - The increase in analytics being used to search for a COVID-19 vaccine....  The largest gainers in popularity between July 2019 and July 2020 are Go, which jumped from 16th to 12th place, Perl, jumping from No. 19 to No. 14, Scratch, jumping from No. 30 to No. 17, Rust, which moved from No. 33 to No. 18, and PL/SQL, which moved from No. 23 to No. 19.   Ruby fell the most, moving from 11th place to 16th, while SQL, MATLAB, and Assembly Language also slipped down the list.   ZDNet adds that "Besides R's upwards shift, Tiobe's July index doesn't show much movement in the popularity of the top languages. The top 10 in descending order are C, Java, Python, C++, C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, R, PHP and Swift."   Visual Studio magazine argues that the biggest surprise may be that the 29-year-old language classic Visual Basic is still in the top 20 — since its last stable release was 22 years ago, and by 2008 it was finally retired by Microsoft. "VB6 just refuses to go away, achieving cult-like status among a group of hard-core supporters."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Newly-Discovered Comet Neowise: Now Visible at Dawn and Dusk
    "A newly-discovered comet is giving skywatchers quite the show during the month of July," reports CBS News: Astronomers discovered the comet, known as Comet C2020 F3 NEOWISE, back in March. It was named for the NASA mission that spotted it, for the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer... But astronomers knew they found something unique when they spotted Neowise. On July 3, Neowise was closer to the sun than the orbit of Mercury, coming dangerously close to breaking apart. The sun heated up much of the comet's icy makeup, erupting in a large debris trail of gas and dust.   Measuring about 3 miles across, Neowise is considered a fairly large comet — providing skywatchers with a spectacular view from Earth. The comet, which has a bright opulent tail, has been putting on a stunning show in the early hours before sunrise in the Northern Hemisphere... But late sleepers need not worry — the comet will start appearing in the evening, just after sunset, starting Saturday.   To view it, people in the Northern Hemisphere can look to the northwestern sky, just below Ursa Major, commonly known as the Big Dipper constellation. Scientists say the comet will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere for about another month.   The comet is made up of material dating back 4.6 billion years, to the origins of our solar system, according to the article. "The event is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience — the comet takes about 6,800 years to complete its path around the sun, according to NASA..."   "NASA says it will be one of the brightest comets this century."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Is Our Solar System's Ninth Planet Actually a Primordial Black Hole?
    An anonymous reader quotes Forbes: Conventional theory has it that Planet 9 — our outer solar system's hypothetical 9th planet — is merely a heretofore undetected planet, likely captured by our solar system at some point over its 4.6 billion year history. But Harvard University astronomers now raise the possibility that orbital evidence for Planet 9 could possibly be the result of a missing link in the decades-long puzzle of dark matter. That is, a hypothetical primordial black hole with a horizon size no larger than a grapefruit, and with a mass 5 to 10 times that of Earth.  In a paper accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the co-authors argue that observed clustering of extreme trans-Neptunian objects suggest some sort of massive super-earth type body lying on the outer fringes of our solar system. Perhaps as much as 800 astronomical units (Earth-Sun distances) out...   If they exist, such primordial black holes would require new physics and go a long way towards solving the mystery of the universe's missing mass, or dark matter.    Their argument also constitutes a "new method to search for black holes in the outer solar system based on flares that result from the disruption of intercepted comets," according to a statement from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The paper was co-authored by Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard's astronomy department, who points out that "Because black holes are intrinsically dark, the radiation that matter emits on its way to the mouth of the black hole is our only way to illuminate this dark environment."  And in an explanatory video, Mike Brown, a planetary astronomy professor at CalTech, suggests another way it could be significant. "All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Disney World Reopened Today in Florida, Joining Sea World and Universal
    "Cinderella Castle has sat silent for 116 days..." reported CNN Business. But no more — at least, not at Disney World, which today began its grand reopening: "It's three times the size of Disneyland in terms of revenue," Michael Nathanson, a media analyst and founding partner at MoffettNathanson, told CNN Business. Nathanson estimates that Disney World alone generated $11.2 billion, or about 16% of the company's total revenue in 2019 and added that it's a massive driver of growth for the company. "It's probably their most important single asset," Nathanson said...   The Florida Department of Health reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the state's total to more than 220,000. [Roughly 1% of the state's entire population.] The significant uptick in cases over the last couple of weeks has led to petitions from employees asking to delay the reopening and the head of the union representing Disney World's service workers to warn that Disney "has to get it right" in terms of the reopening... When reached for comment, a Disney spokesperson pointed out a blog post by Dr. Pamela Hymel, the chief medical officer for Disney Parks. In the post, Hymel wrote that Disney remains "deeply committed" to focusing on the well-being of guests and employees...   Disney World is not the only theme park open in Florida. Other popular theme parks like Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando have already had guests. And Disney has opened some of its other theme parks overseas including Shanghai Disneyland, which returned on May 11. Disneyland, Disney's resort in California, was set to reopen this month, but was postponed. [It did, however, re-open the neighboring "Downtown Disney" business district.] But Disney World is different. It's not just the most popular theme park in America; it's the most popular theme park in the world, which can set the tone for the entire tourism industry, according to Robert Niles, editor of "This is the future of the travel industry at this point," Niles said.   "It's just wreckage throughout the entire industry at this stage... So somebody's got to figure out a way to make this work if this industry is going to survive, and Disney's got more resources than anyone else. This is an obvious leadership opportunity for Disney."   CNN reports that Disney World is allowing fewer people in the park, spacing them out in lines, requiring everyone to wear a mask — and taking everyone's temperature when they arrive at the park.   This week the "Disney Parks jobs" Twitter feed also shared a slick ad titled "Welcome Home" — but they've apparently since removed the tweet after facing criticism online.    "Some people on Twitter found the ad more eerie than welcoming," reports Newsweek, noting that the ad "ends with a stormtrooper from Star Wars putting his own spin on the greeting. 'Welcome, citizens,' he says."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Rust Programming Language To Use 'Allowlist' in Place of 'Whitelist'
    "Other terms are more inclusive and precise," reads a merged Pull request for the Rust programming language titled "Avoid 'whitelist'."   "This doesn't look like it affects any 'user visible' flags or anything like that," core developer Niko Matsakis had pointed out in a comment on the pull request, asking "It's purely internal...?"  The pull request has since been merged.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Register

 offline for now


  • Intel AMX Support Lands In The GNU Assembler
    Intel's open-source compiler engineers have been quite timely in getting the Advanced Matrix Extensions (AMX) support out in the relevant components since Intel formally outlined AMX in last month's programming reference manual...

  • Canonical Is Using Mir To Bring Flutter To Wayland
    This week Canonical and Google announced they were working together to bring the Flutter application toolkit to Ubuntu/Linux. Flutter is the cross-platform, open-source UI toolkit developed by Google for use from Android to Linux and iOS and Fuschia as well as for web interfaces...

  • KDE Plasma 5.20 Seeing More Wayland Fixes
    While KDE Plasma 5.19 is already in fairly good shape with regards to its Wayland session, Plasma 5.20 is looking to offer even better support for this native Wayland environment along with many other enhancements...

Engadget"Engadget RSS Feed"

  • Watch Ubisoft's summer games show right here at 2:40pm ET

    It’s Ubisoft’s turn to show off this summer, after live virtual events from Sony, Microsoft and EA. Ubisoft has prepared a 45-minute, pre-recorded stream that kicks off at 3pm ET — but we’ll be live on the Engadget YouTube channel at 2:40pm ET to put the entire show into context. Then, watch the show alongside Engadget UK bureau chief Mat Smith and myself, and we’ll break down the news and trailers afterward.

    Ubisoft is poised to talk about a handful of major titles, including rash of allegations of misconduct, ingrained sexism and sexual harassment from current and former employees. Just this weekend, three executives — including Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët — left the studio amid these claims. Previously in July, Ubisoft VP of editorial Maxime Béland resigned following accusations of misconduct.

    Ubisoft will not address these issues in today’s stream, called Ubisoft Forward, “because all the content has been pre-recorded,” the studio said in a tweet.

  • VR time machine helps an inventor relive his past

    Life is made of fleeting moments that you may easily forget, but one inventor might have found a way to remember it... much of it, anyway. As PetaPixel reports, Lucas Rizzotto recently developed a virtual reality “time machine” that lets him revisit any moment recorded using camera-equipped Snap Spectacles. He just needs to dial in a Back to the Future-style “destination time” to see what he was doing at a given moment from his perspective, complete with flashy effects.

    While it’s ultimately stereoscopic video, Rizzotto said it feels like something more. You “remember everything connected to that moment,” he said. It’s akin to being your “own ghost,” following your own life without knowing exactly what will happen.

    This wouldn’t be an easy project to recreate, and it’s not an ideal solution whether or not you can write VR software. Spectacles only record up to a minute at a time and have limited storage, so you aren’t going to capture everything even if you wear the glasses every waking moment. And then there’s archiving all that footage — Rizzotto needed a massive pile of hard drives to preserve everything.

    It’s still a clever project, and it also raises philosophical questions as wearable technology matures. Privacy is a concern, of course — Google Glass sparked an uproar in 2013, and it would only get worse if people knew you were recording everything. And if that wasn’t an issue, would you really want instant access to your past knowing you could indulge in obsessions or stumble across a painful memory? Rizzotto appreciated the feelings the VR time machine evoked, but he was well aware of the dangers of being “stuck in the past.”

  • After Math: With the kids away, it's time to play

    Since it looks like the fall school semester is happening whether we’re ready for it or not, you’ll finally have dibs on “next game” on that console your kids have been bogarting for the past quarantined four months. Lucky for you, there are plenty of upcoming titles — and some solid streaming selections — to help you fill the day while your kids hit the books.
    Blizzard Blizzard makes it free to change gender in 'World of Warcraft'
    Used to be that if you wanted to reassign the gender of your World of Warcraft’s character, you’d need to shell out $15 — that’s in real cash money, not in-game currency. But with the forthcoming release of WoW’s 'Shadowlands' expansion, players will be able to change is as the see fit.
    Mike Blake / Reuters Sony invests $250 million in ‘Fortnite’ developer Epic Games
    In case Epic Games’ year wasn’t already going swimmingly, the team behind battle royale juggernaut Fortnite just received a quarter-billion dollar financial infusion from Sony. For its investment, Sony will hold a minority stake in the company and given the PS5’s imminent release, it’ll be interesting to see how Sony will leverage its newfound inside access to the Unreal 5 engine.
    Superhot Team Superhot's standalone expansion will be free if you bought the original
    Now that your controller has finally cooled down from the last time you tried Superhot’s hyperintense gunkata action, the team behind it is back with an all-new standalone sequel. Best of all, if you already own a copy of the original, the Mind Control Delete expansion will cost you absolutely nothing. However, if this is your first foray into the franchise, you’ll have to spend $25 when it drops for the PS4, Xbox One and PC on July 16th.
    TBS/EA 12 Sims players will compete for $100,000 on a TBS game show
    Twitch has pretty convincingly proven that letting people on the internet watch you play video games can be a successful and lucrative pastime. Now TBS hopes to get in on the gaming action with its upcoming reality game show, The Sims Spark’d, wherein, a dozen aspiring overlords will compete to create “the most unique characters, worlds and stories.” But where will it end? Are we destined for a future filled with SimCity 2000 showdowns or a Rollercoaster Tycoon Tournament of Champions? I really hope so.
    Engadget Peacock will stream over 175 Premier League matches next season
    Now if you want to give your thumbs a rest and watch other people play games instead — especially if that game is fútbol — Peacock (NBC’s new streaming service) and CBS All access have you covered. While CBS All access will carry this year’s UEFA Champion’s League, Peacock has managed to acquire the rights to broadcast nearly 200 of next season’s EPL matches and that’s something to strut about.

  • 'Fall Guys' brings mini-game battle royale to PS4 and Steam on August 4th

    If you want a battle royale-like experience but want something more family-friendly than announced that Steam on August 4th. It’s not quite as ambitious as originally intended, with ‘only’ 60 players per round instead of 100, but it still appears every bit as frantic.

    The title revolves around a collection of mini-games where only one player can emerge victorious, such as obstacle courses with falling fruit. While it’s relatively non-violent (unless you count being smacked by fruit as violent), much of the tension of a battle royale game remains — you’re still fighting to be the last one standing. In that sense, this might be viable for anyone who wants a large-scale party game but still has a vicious competitive streak.

  • Microsoft and Google team up to bring more web apps to the Play Store

    Microsoft’s support for Android is going beyond native apps and devices like the Surface Duo. Thurrot reports Microsoft is collaborating with Google to help bring more (and importantly, better) progressive web apps to Android devices through the Play Store. Apps built using Microsoft’s PWABuilder tool will use Google’s Bubblewrap utility and library to take advantage of new features, including a new standard for web shortcuts, “deeper” push notifications and visual customizations. Web apps should feel more at home on your phone, to put it simply.

    The expanded features shouldn’t require significantly more effort to implement, Microsoft said.

    It will likely take a while before you see apps making use of the new features. It could lead to more and improved apps reaching your phone, though. And it’s not surprising to see Microsoft and Google working together in a case like this. This gives creators more reasons to use Microsoft’s toolkit, while Google gets more developers who build Android-friendly web apps instead of pointing people to generic apps inside a browser.

  • Devolver made a free game about a canceled game convention

    E3 and virtually every other in-person gaming expo for 2020 has been canceled due to the pandemic, but that isn’t preventing Devolver Digital from doing something to fill the void in a very self-referential way. It just released a free Devolverland Expo game on Steam that — what else? — has you sneaking through a canceled convention. It’s ultimately a plug for upcoming games like Shadow Warrior 3 and Carrion, but it’s a real game that has you dodging “advanced security systems” to watch videos and find secrets.

    The game itself isn’t violent (unless you count the kind of gun you’d use to shoot t-shirts), but the videos you see generally won’t be suited for kids.

    Devolver isn’t even shy about calling this a “marketing simulator,” and you’ll probably be on to something else before long. However, its very existence is notable. Most publishers have turned to video events (including Devolver — that’s how it announced Devolverland Expo) to announce game news at a time when any significant public gathering is dangerous. This at least gives you a taste of that convention experience, minus the crowded hallways and overpriced food.

  • US court finds Russian national guilty of hacking LinkedIn, Dropbox

    A San Francisco jury has found Russian national Yevgeniy Nikulin guilty of one of the biggest data breaches in US history. Nikulin has been convicted of hacking LinkedIn and Dropbox back in 2012, which resulted in the theft of 117 million usernames and passwords that he tried to sell to other people on Russian—language forums. He was also found guilty of trafficking Formspring data. The massive breach served as a catalyst for Dropbox to roll out two-factor authentication and an automated feature that checks on suspicious activity.

    Nikulin was arrested in the Czech Republic and charged with nine felony counts back in 2016. He has since been incarcerated in various jails. Both the US and Russia submitted extradition requests for him, but the Czech Republic ultimately decided to extradite him to the US in 2018.

    According to Cyberscoop, Judge William Alsup questioned the evidence the prosecution provided and expressed doubts that the government could prove its case. Regardless of Alsup’s doubts, Nikulin is now scheduled to be sentenced on September 29th. He’s facing up to 10 years on prison for each count of selling stolen logins and installing malware, as well as five years for each count of hacking and conspiracy. US Attorney David Anderson said in a statement:

    “Nikulin’s conviction is a direct threat to would-be hackers, wherever they may be. Computer hacking is not just a crime, it is a direct threat to the security and privacy of Americans. American law enforcement will respond to that threat regardless of where it originates.”

  • Tesla drops Model Y price by $3,000

    Tesla just gave would-be Model Y buyers an unexpected treat: a sudden price drop. Electrek has discovered that Tesla lowered the cost of a Long Range AWD variant by $3,000 to $49,990 before taxes and incentives. The electric crossover still isn’t a trivial purchase at that price, but it might be easier to justify if the earlier price was just a little too hard to swallow.

    There are perks if you’re willing to spend more, too. The Performance trim (priced at $59,990) now includes the previously optional Performance Package as standard. That nets you a higher 155MPH top speed, 21-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, a lowered suspension and aluminum alloy pedals. You will take a hit in range due to those wheels, down from 316 miles on the Long Range to 291 miles, but this saves you money if you were already set on getting a maxed-out Model Y.

    We’ve asked Tesla for comment. A cut like this makes sense, though. Tesla has a habit of reducing prices as production and economies of scale improve, and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disastrous effect on car sales — even if EVs represent a rare bright spot. Cuts like this, as well as earlier price drops for the Model S and Model X, could keep Model Y sales humming even as the pandemic continues and the car’s initial novelty wears off.

  • Trump confirms cyberattack against Russian trolls during 2018 midterms

    The US is normally secretive about its cyberattacks against Russia, but it just acknowledged one of them. President Trump confirmed to the Washington Post in an interview that he authorized an attack against the Internet Research Agency (a troll team key to Russian interference with US elections since 2016) that started on the day of the 2018 US midterm elections and lasted several days. Trump characterized the move as effective. “Look, we stopped [Russia],” he told the Post.

    He also incorrectly claimed that former President Obama “said nothing” about Russian interference during the 2016 election. Obama publicly criticized Russia in October 2016 for targeting the Democrats, and imposed sanctions in December. Reports also surfaced of Obama launching a secret cyber operation in August of that year after learning of Russian attempts to hack American election systems.

    The 2018 US attack on Russia was reportedly meant to disrupt efforts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of midterm results, which saw the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives.

    The confirmation is a change of tune for Trump. He previously claimed that Russia had stopped cyberattacks agains the US and has supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of interference in the 2016 election despite evidence. Here, Trump is directly confirming at least one Russian interference attempt.

    It’s not certain how Russia will respond to Trump’s statement, although history suggests it’s unlikely to acknowledge the IRA’s activities. As it stands, American intelligence agencies and internet giants have shifted much of their attention to potential Russian actions during the 2020 election — those officials and companies will want to know if Trump’s statement will lead to a similar crackdown.


  • Microsoft and Google team up to make PWAs better in the Play Store
    We’re glad to announce a new collaboration between Microsoft and Google for the benefit of the web developer community. Microsoft’s PWABuilder and Google’s Bubblewrap are now working together to help developers publish PWAs in the Google Play Store. is Microsoft’s open source developer tool that helps you build high quality PWAs and publish them in app stores. Bubblewrap is Google’s command line utility and library to generate and sign Google Play Store packages from Progressive Web Apps. I hope this further improves PWAs, since they are a godsend for smaller operating systems and even bigger ones that are not macOS or Windows. Sure, nothing beats a proper native application, but if the choice is no application or a reasonably integrated PWA  Ill take the PWA.

  • Resurrecting BeIA
    Did you ever wonder what BeIA really was? A lot of people talked about BeIA back in the days Be, Inc. was still developing its OS for internet appliances, but after Be, Inc. closed its doors, BeIA vanished as well. A thread over on the Haiku discussion forums  which began as a talking point for how Haiku could recreate a BeIA style concept  turned in to a treasure trove of BeIA information, including examples of BeIA running and an overview of some of the process of building BeIA distributions. This video shows it all in action, including BeIA running under emulation. Theres also a wonderful video shot in Be, Incs offices where a Hungarian UG member gets a tour and shown BeIA hardware, with terrible framerate and resolution, but well worth checking out.

  • Canonical and Google enable Linux desktop app support with Flutter through snap
    It has long been our vision for Flutter to power platforms. We’ve seen this manifest already at Google with products like the Assistant so now we’re thrilled to see others harnessing Flutter to power more platforms. Today we are happy to jointly announce the availability of the Linux alpha for Flutter alongside Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, the world’s most popular desktop Linux distribution. I welcome any additional investment in Linux or other operating systems that arent the macOS or Windows, but this one has a major downside: its all tied to Canonicals snaps and Snap Store. In case you are unaware  snaps are quite controversial in the Linux world, and Linux Mint, one of the most popular Linux distributions, has taken a very proactive approach in removing them. Their reasoning makes it very clear why snap is so problematic: Applications in this store cannot be patched, or pinned. You can’t audit them, hold them, modify them or even point snap to a different store. You’ve as much empowerment with this as if you were using proprietary software, i.e. none. This is in effect similar to a commercial proprietary solution, but with two major differences: It runs as root, and it installs itself without asking you. On top of all this, the snap server is closed source. Snap is simply a no-go, and Im saddened Google decided to opt for using it. Then again, Google has never shown any interest whatsoever in desktop Linux  preferring to simply take, but not give. None of their applications  other than Chrome  are available on Linux, and opting for snap further demonstrates Google doesnt really seem to understand the Linux ecosystem at all. All they had to do was release a source tarball, and for a few extra brownie points, maybe a .deb and/or .rpm, but that isnt even necessary. If your tool is good enough, it will be picked up by distributions and third parties who will make those packages for you. Google opting for snap instead indicates they have little faith in their own product being good and valuable enough to be embraced by the Linux distribution community. And if they dont have any faith, why should I?

  • Microsoft and Zoom join Hong Kong data pause
    Microsoft and Zoom have said they will not process data requests made by the Hong Kong authorities while they take stock of a new security law. They follow Facebook, Google, Twitter and the chat app Telegram, which had already announced similar pauses! in compliance over the past two days. China passed the law on 30 June, criminalising acts that support independence, making it easier to punish protesters. This feels more like a lets get some good press in the west while we resume normal operation in aiding the genocidal Chinese regime when people stop caring! than a real principled stand, but with how everybody just rolls over for China, Ill take any element of resistance  no matter how weak sauce  I can get. It doesnt get much weaker than pausing!, though. Apple says it is assessing! the rules. Oh turns out I was wrong. It does get weaker.

  • The super duper universal binary
    A question I got repeatedly the last couple days was, now that AARM (Apple ARM) is a thing, is the ultimate ARM-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binary possible? You bet it is! In fact, Apple already documents that you could have a five-way binary, i.e., ARM64, 32-bit PowerPC, 64-bit PowerPC, i386 and x86_64. Just build them separately and lipo them together. Youll be able to eventually build a binary that contains code for every Mac hardware and software platform starting from Classic all the way up to macOS Big Sur, and from m68k all the way up to ARM. I doubt anyone will use it, but that doesnt make it any less cool.

  • Nokia to add open interfaces to its telecom equipment
    Finland’s Nokia on Tuesday became the first major telecom equipment maker to commit to adding open interfaces in its products that will allow mobile operators to build networks that are not tied to a vendor. The new technology, dubbed Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN), aims to reduce reliance on any one vendor by making every part of a telecom network interoperable and allowing operators to choose different suppliers for different components. Im definitely not versed enough in low-level networking equipment to understand just how significant it is, but on the face of it, it does sound like a good move.

  • The Document Foundation clarifies Personal Edition! label for LibreOffice 7.0
    Due to draft and development work in the area of branding and product naming, some speculation, in particular related to the “Personal Edition” tag shown in a LibreOffice 7.0 RC (Release Candidate), has started on several communication channels. So let us, as The Document Foundation’s Board of Directors, please provide further clarifications: 1. None of the changes being evaluated will affect the license, the availability, the permitted uses and/or the functionality. LibreOffice will always be free software and nothing is changing for end users, developers and Community members. Basically, The Document Foundation intends to offer  through partners  professional paid-for support for LibreOffice to enterprise customers, and hence the tentative name to differentiate the LibreOffice we all know from the supported one.

  • Booting a 486 from floppy with the most up-to-date stable Linux kernel
    Since I wanted to see how Linux would detect the drive that meant I needed to find a way to boot Linux. After a bit of googling I discovered the make tinyconfig option which makes a very small (but useless) kernel, small enough to fit on a floppy. I enabled a couple of other options, found a small enough initramfs, and was able to get it to boot on the 486. And as expected Linux has no problem with seeing that the drive is connected and the drives full capacity. Next step is to actually get Linux installed to the hard drive. Id rather not roll my own distro but maybe Ill have to. Another possibility is to boot Linux from floppy and then download a kernel and initrd from a current distro and kexec over to it. But that feels to me like reinventing iPXE. Thats version 5.8 of the Linux kernel running on a 486. I shouldnt be surprised that this is possible, yet Im still surprised this is possible.

  • Google-backed groups criticize Apples new warnings on user tracking
    Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules. Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued. Cry me a river. Theres an interesting note later in the linked article: Apple engineers also said last week the company will bolster a free Apple-made tool that uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure whether advertising campaigns are working and that will not trigger the pop-up. But of course it doesnt. Its made by Apple, after all, and we all trust Apple, right? Its not like Apple rushed to sell out everything privacy-related to a regime committing genocide, so we clearly have nothing to worry about when Apple forces itself into the advertising business by leveraging its iOS platform.

  • Hands-on: 85+ new macOS Big Sur changes and features
    After going in depth with iOS 14 earlier this week, today we focus on macOS Big Sur. The biggest takeaway from my hands-on time with the follow up to macOS Catalina is that Apple’s latest OS is clearly being designed with the future in mind. Although it’s unmistakably Mac, Big Sur is a departure from previous versions of macOS in terms of aesthetics. Everything, from the dock, to the menu bar, to window chrome, icons, and even sounds have been updated. A good overview of the many, many changes in Big Sur. Interesting sidenote: with both Windows and macOS now heavily catering towards touch use, this leaves Linux  and most of the smaller platforms, like the Amiga or Haiku  as one of the last remaining places with graphical user interfaces designed 100% towards mouse input. Big buttons, lots spacing, lots of wasted space  its coming to your Mac.

Linux Journal - The Original Magazine of the Linux Community

  • Linux Journal Ceases Publication: An Awkward Goodbye
        by Kyle Rankin    IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM LINUX JOURNAL, LLC: On August 7, 2019, Linux Journal shut its doors for good. All staff were laid off and the company is left with no operating funds to continue in any capacity. The website will continue to stay up for the next few weeks, hopefully longer for archival purposes if we can make it happen.  –Linux Journal, LLC

    Final Letter from the Editor: The Awkward Goodbye

    by Kyle Rankin

    Have you ever met up with a friend at a restaurant for dinner, then after dinner you both step out to the street and say a proper goodbye, only when you leave, you find out that you both are walking in the same direction? So now, you get to walk together awkwardly until the true point where you part, and then you have another, second goodbye, that's much more awkward.

    That's basically this post. 

    So, it was almost two years ago that I first said goodbye to Linux Journal and the Linux Journal community in my post "So Long and Thanks for All the Bash". That post was a proper goodbye. For starters, it had a catchy title with a pun. The post itself had all the elements of a proper goodbye: part retrospective, part "Thank You" to the Linux Journal team and the community, and OK, yes, it was also part rant. I recommend you read (or re-read) that post, because it captures my feelings about losing Linux Journal way better than I can muster here on our awkward second goodbye. 

    Of course, not long after I wrote that post, we found out that Linux Journal wasn't dead after all! We all actually had more time together and got to work fixing everything that had caused us to die in the first place. A lot of our analysis of what went wrong and what we intended to change was captured in my article Go to Full Article          

  • Oops! Debugging Kernel Panics
        by Petros Koutoupis   
    A look into what causes kernel panics and some utilities to help gain more information.

    Working in a Linux environment, how often have you seen a kernel panic? When it happens, your system is left in a crippled state until you reboot it completely. And, even after you get your system back into a functional state, you're still left with the question: why? You may have no idea what happened or why it happened. Those questions can be answered though, and the following guide will help you root out the cause of some of the conditions that led to the original crash.

    Figure 1. A Typical Kernel Panic

    Let's start by looking at a set of utilities known as kexec and kdump. kexec allows you to boot into another kernel from an existing (and running) kernel, and kdump is a kexec-based crash-dumping mechanism for Linux.
     Installing the Required Packages
    First and foremost, your kernel should have the following components statically built in to its image:
    You can find this in /boot/config-`uname -r`.

    Make sure that your operating system is up to date with the latest-and-greatest package versions:
      $ sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade  
    Install the following packages (I'm currently using Debian, but the same should and will apply to Ubuntu):
      $ sudo apt install gcc make binutils linux-headers-`uname -r`  ↪kdump-tools crash `uname -r`-dbg  
    Note: Package names may vary across distributions.

    During the installation, you will be prompted with questions to enable kexec to handle reboots (answer whatever you'd like, but I answered "no"; see Figure 2).

    Figure 2. kexec Configuration Menu

    And to enable kdump to run and load at system boot, answer "yes" (Figure 3).

    Figure 3. kdump Configuration Menu
     Configuring kdump
    Open the /etc/default/kdump-tools file, and at the very top, you should see the following:
        Go to Full Article          

  • Loadsharers: Funding the Load-Bearing Internet Person
        by Eric S. Raymond   
    The internet has a sustainability problem. Many of its critical services depend on the dedication of unpaid volunteers, because they can't be monetized and thus don't have any revenue stream for the maintainers to live on. I'm talking about services like DNS, time synchronization, crypto libraries—software without which the net and the browser you're using couldn't function.

    These volunteer maintainers are the Load-Bearing Internet People (LBIP). Underfunding them is a problem, because underfunded critical services tend to have gaps and holes that could have been fixed if there were more full-time attention on them. As our civilization becomes increasingly dependent on this software infrastructure, that attention shortfall could lead to disastrous outages.

    I've been worrying about this problem since 2012, when I watched a hacker I know wreck his health while working on a critical infrastructure problem nobody else understood at the time. Billions of dollars in e-commerce hung on getting the particular software problem he had spotted solved, but because it masqueraded as network undercapacity, he had a lot of trouble getting even technically-savvy people to understand where the problem was. He solved it, but unable to afford medical insurance and literally living in a tent, he eventually went blind in one eye and is now prone to depressive spells.

    More recently, I damaged my ankle and discovered that although there is such a thing as minor surgery on the medical level, there is no such thing as "minor surgery" on the financial level. I was looking—still am looking—at a serious prospect of either having my life savings wiped out or having to leave all 52 of the open-source projects I'm responsible for in the lurch as I scrambled for a full-time job. Projects at risk include the likes of GIFLIB, GPSD and NTPsec.

    That refocused my mind on the LBIP problem. There aren't many Load-Bearing Internet People—probably on the close order of 1,000 worldwide—but they're a systemic vulnerability made inevitable by the existence of common software and internet services that can't be metered. And, burning them out is a serious problem. Even under the most cold-blooded assessment, civilization needs the mean service life of an LBIP to be long enough to train and acculturate a replacement.

    (If that made you wonder—yes, in fact, I am training an apprentice. Different problem for a different article.)

    Alas, traditional centralized funding models have failed the LBIPs. There are a few reasons for this:
        Go to Full Article          

  • Documenting Proper Git Usage
        by Zack Brown   
    Jonathan Corbet wrote a document for inclusion in the kernel tree, describing best practices for merging and rebasing git-based kernel repositories. As he put it, it represented workflows that were actually in current use, and it was a living document that hopefully would be added to and corrected over time.

    The inspiration for the document came from noticing how frequently Linus Torvalds was unhappy with how other people—typically subsystem maintainers—handled their git trees.

    It's interesting to note that before Linus wrote the git tool, branching and merging was virtually unheard of in the Open Source world. In CVS, it was a nightmare horror of leechcraft and broken magic. Other tools were not much better. One of the primary motivations behind git—aside from blazing speed—was, in fact, to make branching and merging trivial operations—and so they have become.

    One of the offshoots of branching and merging, Jonathan wrote, was rebasing—altering the patch history of a local repository. The benefits of rebasing are fantastic. They can make a repository history cleaner and clearer, which in turn can make it easier to track down the patches that introduced a given bug. So rebasing has a direct value to the development process.

    On the other hand, used poorly, rebasing can make a big mess. For example, suppose you rebase a repository that has already been merged with another, and then merge them again—insane soul death.

    So Jonathan explained some good rules of thumb. Never rebase a repository that's already been shared. Never rebase patches that come from someone else's repository. And in general, simply never rebase—unless there's a genuine reason.

    Since rebasing changes the history of patches, it relies on a new "base" version, from which the later patches diverge. Jonathan recommended choosing a base version that was generally thought to be more stable rather than less—a new version or a release candidate, for example, rather than just an arbitrary patch during regular development.

    Jonathan also recommended, for any rebase, treating all the rebased patches as new code, and testing them thoroughly, even if they had been tested already prior to the rebase.

    "If", he said, "rebasing is limited to private trees, commits are based on a well-known starting point, and they are well tested, the potential for trouble is low."

    Moving on to merging, Jonathan pointed out that nearly 9% of all kernel commits were merges. There were more than 1,000 merge requests in the 5.1 development cycle alone.
        Go to Full Article          

  • Understanding Python's asyncio
        by Reuven M. Lerner   
    How to get started using Python's asyncio.

    Earlier this year, I attended PyCon, the international Python conference. One topic, presented at numerous talks and discussed informally in the hallway, was the state of threading in Python—which is, in a nutshell, neither ideal nor as terrible as some critics would argue.

    A related topic that came up repeatedly was that of "asyncio", a relatively new approach to concurrency in Python. Not only were there formal presentations and informal discussions about asyncio, but a number of people also asked me about courses on the subject.

    I must admit, I was a bit surprised by all the interest. After all, asyncio isn't a new addition to Python; it's been around for a few years. And, it doesn't solve all of the problems associated with threads. Plus, it can be confusing for many people to get started with it.

    And yet, there's no denying that after a number of years when people ignored asyncio, it's starting to gain steam. I'm sure part of the reason is that asyncio has matured and improved over time, thanks in no small part to much dedicated work by countless developers. But, it's also because asyncio is an increasingly good and useful choice for certain types of tasks—particularly tasks that work across networks.

    So with this article, I'm kicking off a series on asyncio—what it is, how to use it, where it's appropriate, and how you can and should (and also can't and shouldn't) incorporate it into your own work.
     What Is asyncio?
    Everyone's grown used to computers being able to do more than one thing at a time—well, sort of. Although it might seem as though computers are doing more than one thing at a time, they're actually switching, very quickly, across different tasks. For example, when you ssh in to a Linux server, it might seem as though it's only executing your commands. But in actuality, you're getting a small "time slice" from the CPU, with the rest going to other tasks on the computer, such as the systems that handle networking, security and various protocols. Indeed, if you're using SSH to connect to such a server, some of those time slices are being used by sshd to handle your connection and even allow you to issue commands.

    All of this is done, on modern operating systems, via "pre-emptive multitasking". In other words, running programs aren't given a choice of when they will give up control of the CPU. Rather, they're forced to give up control and then resume a little while later. Each process running on a computer is handled this way. Each process can, in turn, use threads, sub-processes that subdivide the time slice given to their parent process.
        Go to Full Article          

  • RV Offsite Backup Update
        by Kyle Rankin   
    Having an offsite backup in your RV is great, and after a year of use, I've discovered some ways to make it even better.

    Last year I wrote a feature-length article on the data backup system I set up for my RV (see Kyle's "DIY RV Offsite Backup and Media Server" from the June 2018 issue of LJ). If you haven't read that article yet, I recommend checking it out first so you can get details on the system. In summary, I set up a Raspberry Pi media center PC connected to a 12V television in the RV. I connected an 8TB hard drive to that system and synchronized all of my files and media so it acted as a kind of off-site backup. Finally, I set up a script that would attempt to sync over all of those files from my NAS whenever it detected that the RV was on the local network. So here, I provide an update on how that system is working and a few tweaks I've made to it since.
     What Works
    Overall, the media center has worked well. It's been great to have all of my media with me when I'm on a road trip, and my son appreciates having access to his favorite cartoons. Because the interface is identical to the media center we have at home, there's no learning curve—everything just works. Since the Raspberry Pi is powered off the TV in the RV, you just need to turn on the TV and everything fires up.

    It's also been great knowing that I have a good backup of all of my files nearby. Should anything happen to my house or my main NAS, I know that I can just get backups from the RV. Having peace of mind about your important files is valuable, and it's nice knowing in the worst case when my NAS broke, I could just disconnect my USB drive from the RV, connect it to a local system, and be back up and running.

    The WiFi booster I set up on the RV also has worked pretty well to increase the range of the Raspberry Pi (and the laptops inside the RV) when on the road. When we get to a campsite that happens to offer WiFi, I just reset the booster and set up a new access point that amplifies the campsite signal for inside the RV. On one trip, I even took it out of the RV and inside a hotel room to boost the weak signal.
        Go to Full Article          

  • Another Episode of "Seems Perfectly Feasible and Then Dies"--Script to Simplify the Process of Changing System Call Tables
        by Zack Brown   
    David Howells put in quite a bit of work on a script, ./scripts/, to simplify the entire process of changing the system call tables. With this script, it was a simple matter to add, remove, rename or renumber any system call you liked. The script also would resolve git conflicts, in the event that two repositories renumbered the system calls in conflicting ways.

    Why did David need to write this patch? Why weren't system calls already fairly easy to manage? When you make a system call, you add it to a master list, and then you add it to the system call "tables", which is where the running kernel looks up which kernel function corresponds to which system call number. Kernel developers need to make sure system calls are represented in all relevant spots in the source tree. Renaming, renumbering and making other changes to system calls involves a lot of fiddly little details. David's script simply would do everything right—end of story no problemo hasta la vista.

    Arnd Bergmann remarked, "Ah, fun. You had already threatened to add that script in the past. The implementation of course looks fine, I was just hoping we could instead eliminate the need for it first." But, bowing to necessity, Arnd offered some technical suggestions for improvements to the patch.

    However, Linus Torvalds swooped in at this particular moment, saying:

    Ugh, I hate it.

    I'm sure the script is all kinds of clever and useful, but I really think the solution is not this kind of helper script, but simply that we should work at not having each architecture add new system calls individually in the first place.

    IOW, we should look at having just one unified table for new system call numbers, and aim for the per-architecture ones to be for "legacy numbering".

    Maybe that won't happen, but in the _hope_ that it happens, I really would prefer that people not work at making scripts for the current nasty situation.

    And the portcullis came crashing down.

    It's interesting that, instead of accepting this relatively obvious improvement to the existing situation, Linus would rather leave it broken and ugly, so that someone someday somewhere might be motivated to do the harder-yet-better fix. And, it's all the more interesting given how extreme the current problem is. Without actually being broken, the situation requires developers to put in a tremendous amount of care and effort into something that David's script could make trivial and easy. Even for such an obviously "good" patch, Linus gives thought to the policy and cultural implications, and the future motivations of other people working in that region of code.

    Note: if you're mentioned above and want to post a response above the comment section, send a message with your response text to
        Go to Full Article          

  • Experts Attempt to Explain DevOps--and Almost Succeed
        by Bryan Lunduke   
    What is DevOps? How does it relate to other ideas and methodologies within software development? Linux Journal Deputy Editor and longtime software developer, Bryan Lunduke isn't entirely sure, so he asks some experts to help him better understand the DevOps phenomenon.

    The word DevOps confuses me.

    I'm not even sure confuses me quite does justice to the pain I experience—right in the center of my brain—every time the word is uttered.

    It's not that I dislike DevOps; it's that I genuinely don't understand what in tarnation it actually is. Let me demonstrate. What follows is the definition of DevOps on Wikipedia as of a few moments ago:

    DevOps is a set of software development practices that combine software development (Dev) and information technology operations (Ops) to shorten the systems development life cycle while delivering features, fixes, and updates frequently in close alignment with business objectives.

    I'm pretty sure I got three aneurysms just by copying and pasting that sentence, and I still have no clue what DevOps really is. Perhaps I should back up and give a little context on where I'm coming from.

    My professional career began in the 1990s when I got my first job as a Software Test Engineer (the people that find bugs in software, hopefully before the software ships, and tell the programmers about them). During the years that followed, my title, and responsibilities, gradually evolved as I worked my way through as many software-industry job titles as I could:
     Automation Engineer: people that automate testing software.    Software Development Engineer in Test: people that make tools for the testers to use.    Software Development Engineer: aka "Coder", aka "Programmer".    Dev Lead: "Hey, you're a good programmer! You should also manage a few other programmers but still code just as much as you did before, but, don't worry, we won't give you much of a raise! It'll be great!"    Dev Manager: like a Dev Lead, with less programming, more managing.    Director of Engineering: the manager of the managers of the programmers.    Vice President of Technology/Engineering: aka "The big boss nerd man who gets to make decisions and gets in trouble first when deadlines are missed." 
    During my various times with fancy-pants titles, I managed teams that included:
        Go to Full Article          

  • DNA Geometry with cadnano
        by Joey Bernard   
    This article introduces a tool you can use to work on three-dimensional DNA origami. The package is called cadnano, and it's currently being developed at the Wyss Institute. With this package, you'll be able to construct and manipulate the three-dimensional representations of DNA structures, as well as generate publication-quality graphics of your work.

    Because this software is research-based, you won't likely find it in the package repository for your favourite distribution, in which case you'll need to install it from the GitHub repository.

    Since cadnano is a Python program, written to use the Qt framework, you'll need to install some packages first. For example, in Debian-based distributions, you'll want to run the following commands:
      sudo apt-get install python3 python3-pip  
    I found that installation was a bit tricky, so I created a virtual Python environment to manage module installations.

    Once you're in your activated virtualenv, install the required Python modules with the command:
      pip3 install pythreejs termcolor pytz pandas pyqt5 sip  
    After those dependencies are installed, grab the source code with the command:
      git clone  
    This will grab the Qt5 version. The Qt4 version is in the repository

    Changing directory into the source directory, you can build and install cadnano with:
      python install  
    Now your cadnano should be available within the virtualenv.

    You can start cadnano simply by executing the cadnano command from a terminal window. You'll see an essentially blank workspace, made up of several empty view panes and an empty inspector pane on the far right-hand side.

    Figure 1. When you first start cadnano, you get a completely blank work space.

    In order to walk through a few of the functions available in cadnano, let's create a six-strand nanotube. The first step is to create a background that you can use to build upon. At the top of the main window, you'll find three buttons in the toolbar that will let you create a "Freeform", "Honeycomb" or "Square" framework. For this example, click the honeycomb button.

    Figure 2. Start your construction with one of the available geometric frameworks.
        Go to Full Article          

  • Running GNOME in a Container
        by Adam Verslype   
    Containerizing the GUI separates your work and play.

    Virtualization has always been a rich man's game, and more frugal enthusiasts—unable to afford fancy server-class components—often struggle to keep up. Linux provides free high-quality hypervisors, but when you start to throw real workloads at the host, its resources become saturated quickly. No amount of spare RAM shoved into an old Dell desktop is going to remedy this situation. If a properly decked-out host is out of your reach, you might want to consider containers instead.

    Instead of virtualizing an entire computer, containers allow parts of the Linux kernel to be portioned into several pieces. This occurs without the overhead of emulating hardware or running several identical kernels. A full GUI environment, such as GNOME Shell can be launched inside a container, with a little gumption.

    You can accomplish this through namespaces, a feature built in to the Linux kernel. An in-depth look at this feature is beyond the scope of this article, but a brief example sheds light on how these features can create containers. Each kind of namespace segments a different part of the kernel. The PID namespace, for example, prevents processes inside the namespace from seeing other processes running in the kernel. As a result, those processes believe that they are the only ones running on the computer. Each namespace does the same thing for other areas of the kernel as well. The mount namespace isolates the filesystem of the processes inside of it. The network namespace provides a unique network stack to processes running inside of them. The IPC, user, UTS and cgroup namespaces do the same for those areas of the kernel as well. When the seven namespaces are combined, the result is a container: an environment isolated enough to believe it is a freestanding Linux system.

    Container frameworks will abstract the minutia of configuring namespaces away from the user, but each framework has a different emphasis. Docker is the most popular and is designed to run multiple copies of identical containers at scale. LXC/LXD is meant to create containers easily that mimic particular Linux distributions. In fact, earlier versions of LXC included a collection of scripts that created the filesystems of popular distributions. A third option is libvirt's lxc driver. Contrary to how it may sound, libvirt-lxc does not use LXC/LXD at all. Instead, the libvirt-lxc driver manipulates kernel namespaces directly. libvirt-lxc integrates into other tools within the libvirt suite as well, so the configuration of libvirt-lxc containers resembles those of virtual machines running in other libvirt drivers instead of a native LXC/LXD container. It is easy to learn as a result, even if the branding is confusing.
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Page last modified on October 08, 2013, at 07:08 PM