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LWN.net is a comprehensive source of news and opinions from and about the Linux community. This is the main LWN.net feed, listing all articles which are posted to the site front page.
Updated: 3 hours 12 min ago

[$] Kernel symbol namespacing

4 hours 43 min ago
In order to actually do anything, a kernel module must gain access to functions and data structures in the rest of the kernel. Enabling and controlling that access is the job of the symbol-export mechanism. While the enabling certainly happens, the control part is not quite so clear; many developers view the nearly 30,000 symbols in current kernels that are available to all modules as being far too many. The symbol namespaces patch set from Martijn Coenen doesn't reduce that number, but it does provide a mechanism that might help to impose some order on exported symbols in general.

Stable kernel updates

Tuesday 17th of July 2018 03:16:03 PM
Stable kernels 4.17.7, 4.14.56, 4.9.113, and 4.4.141 have been released. The 4.17.7 kernel is broken for i386 systems. "I did this release anyway with this known problem as there is a fix in here for x86-64 systems that was nasty to track down and was affecting people. Given that the huge majority of systems are NOT i386, I felt this was a safe release to do at this point in time." Beyond that, these kernels all contain the usual set of important fixes.

Security updates for Tuesday

Tuesday 17th of July 2018 03:03:02 PM
Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (thunderbird), Debian (ruby-rack-protection), Fedora (firefox and soundtouch), Red Hat (kernel), Scientific Linux (gnupg2), SUSE (perl and python-paramiko), and Ubuntu (policykit-1).

[$] Python post-Guido

Tuesday 17th of July 2018 02:38:30 PM

The recent announcement by Guido van Rossum that he was stepping away from his "benevolent dictator for life" (BDFL) role for Python was met with some surprise, but not much shock, at least in the core-developer community. Van Rossum has been telegraphing some kind of change, at some unspecified point, for several years now, though the proximate cause (the "PEP 572 mess") is unfortunate. In the meantime, though, the project needs to figure out how to govern itself moving forward—Van Rossum did not appoint a successor and has left the governance question up to the core developers.

Security updates for Monday

Monday 16th of July 2018 02:57:43 PM
Security updates have been issued by CentOS (firefox, gnupg2, kernel, python, and qemu-kvm), Debian (389-ds-base, cups, imagemagick, kernel, mailman, ruby2.1, sssd, thunderbird, and znc), Fedora (glpi, hadoop, kernel, rubygem-sprockets, singularity, thunderbird, wordpress, xapian-core, and xen), Mageia (cantata and flash-player-plugin), openSUSE (exiv2, libvorbis, nodejs6, nodejs8, openslp, singularity, slurm, and tiff), and SUSE (kernel-azure and openssl).

Kernel prepatch 4.18-rc5

Sunday 15th of July 2018 08:49:30 PM
The 4.18-rc5 kernel prepatch has been released. "For some reason this week actually felt very busy, but the rc5 numbers show otherwise. It's all small and calm, and things are progressing nicely."

[$] Tracking pressure-stall information

Friday 13th of July 2018 09:51:00 PM
All underutilized systems are essentially the same, but each overutilized system tends to be overloaded in its own way. If one's goal is to maximize the use of the available computing resources, overutilization tends not to be too far away, but when it happens, it can be hard to tell where the problem is. Sometimes, even the fact that there is a problem at all is not immediately apparent. The pressure-stall information patch set from Johannes Weiner may make life easier for system administrators by exposing more information about the real utilization state of the system.

Security updates for Friday

Friday 13th of July 2018 01:50:01 PM
Security updates have been issued by Debian (cinnamon), Fedora (docker, firefox, jetty, and knot-resolver), Oracle (gnupg2), Scientific Linux (gnupg2), SUSE (gdk-pixbuf, java-1_8_0-openjdk, libopenmpt, php7, and rsyslog), and Ubuntu (dns-root-data, dnsmasq, and thunderbird).

Guido van Rossum resigns as Python leader

Thursday 12th of July 2018 06:00:38 PM
Python creator and Benevolent Dictator for Life Guido van Rossum has decided, in the wake of the difficult PEP 572 discussion, to step down from his leadership of the project. "Now that PEP 572 is done, I don't ever want to have to fight so hard for a PEP and find that so many people despise my decisions. I would like to remove myself entirely from the decision process. I'll still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I'll still be available to mentor people -- possibly more available. But I'm basically giving myself a permanent vacation from being BDFL, and you all will be on your own."

[$] Six (or seven) new system calls for filesystem mounting

Thursday 12th of July 2018 03:00:51 PM
Mounting filesystems is a complicated business. The kernel supports a wide variety of filesystem types, and each has its own, often extensive set of options. As a result, the mount() system call is complex, and the list of mount options is a rather long read. But even with all of that complexity, mount() does not do everything that users would like. For example, the options for a mount operation must all fit within a single 4096-byte page — the fact that this is a problem for some users is illustrative in its own right. The problems with mount() have come up at various meetings, including at the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. A set of patches implementing a new approach is getting closer to being ready, but it features some complexity of its own and there are some remaining concerns about the proposed system-call API.

Security updates for Thursday

Thursday 12th of July 2018 01:16:56 PM
Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (qutebrowser), CentOS (firefox), Debian (ruby-sprockets), Fedora (botan2, git-annex, kernel, kernel-tools, and visualboyadvance-m), Mageia (chromium-browser-stable, graphviz, mailman, nikto, perl-Archive-Zip, redis, and w3m), openSUSE (nextcloud), Oracle (gnupg2), Red Hat (flash-plugin, gnupg2, and kernel), Slackware (bind and curl), SUSE (java-1_8_0-openjdk, php7, rsyslog, slurm, and ucode-intel), and Ubuntu (cups, libpng, and libpng, libpng1.6).

[$] LWN.net Weekly Edition for July 12, 2018

Thursday 12th of July 2018 12:51:39 AM
The LWN.net Weekly Edition for July 12, 2018 is available.

[$] Signing and distributing Gentoo

Wednesday 11th of July 2018 06:55:44 PM

The compromise of the Gentoo's GitHub mirror was certainly embarrassing, but its overall impact on Gentoo users was likely fairly limited. Gentoo and GitHub responded quickly and forcefully to the breach, which greatly limited the damage that could be done; the fact that it was a mirror and not the master copy of Gentoo's repositories made it relatively straightforward to recover from. But the black eye that it gave the project has led some to consider ways to make it even harder for an attacker to add malicious content to Gentoo—even if the distribution's own infrastructure were to be compromised.

A set of stable kernel updates

Wednesday 11th of July 2018 04:44:31 PM
Greg Kroah-Hartman has released stable kernels 4.17.6, 4.14.55, 4.9.112, 4.4.140, and 3.18.115. As usual, they contain important fixes and users should upgrade.

[$] Emacs & TLS

Wednesday 11th of July 2018 03:35:58 PM

A recent query about the status of network security (TLS settings in particular) in Emacs led to a long thread in the emacs-devel mailing list. That thread touched on a number of different areas, including using OpenSSL (or other TLS libraries) rather than GnuTLS, what kinds of problems should lead to complaints out of the box, what settings should be the default, and when those settings could change for Emacs so as not to discombobulate users. The latter issue is one that lots of projects struggle with: what kinds of changes are appropriate for a bug-fix release versus a feature release. For Emacs, its lengthy development cycle, coupled with the perceived urgency of security changes, makes that question even more difficult.

Security updates for Wednesday

Wednesday 11th of July 2018 03:12:01 PM
Security updates have been issued by Debian (cups), Oracle (kernel and qemu-kvm), Red Hat (ansible, kernel, kernel-rt, and qemu-kvm), Scientific Linux (kernel and qemu-kvm), Slackware (thunderbird), and Ubuntu (curl, firefox, imagemagick, and xapian-core).

Malware found in the Arch Linux AUR repository

Tuesday 10th of July 2018 10:09:28 PM
Here's a report in Sensors Tech Forum on the discovery of a set of hostile packages in the Arch Linux AUR repository system. AUR contains user-contributed packages, of course; it's not a part of the Arch distribution itself. "The security investigation shows that shows that a malicious user with the nick name xeactor modified in June 7 an orphaned package (software without an active maintainer) called acroread. The changes included a curl script that downloads and runs a script from a remote site. This installs a persistent software that reconfigures systemd in order to start periodically. While it appears that they are not a serious threat to the security of the infected hosts, the scripts can be manipulated at any time to include arbitrary code. Two other packages were modified in the same manner." This thread in the aur-general list shows the timeline of the discovery and response.

[$] Spectre V1 defense in GCC

Tuesday 10th of July 2018 08:48:52 PM
In many ways, Spectre variant 1 (the bounds-check bypass vulnerability) is the ugliest of the Meltdown/Spectre set, despite being relatively difficult to exploit. Any given code base could be filled with V1 problems, but they are difficult to find and defend against. Static analysis can help, but the available tools are few, mostly proprietary, and prone to false positives. There is also a lack of efficient, architecture-independent ways of addressing Spectre V1 in user-space code. As a result, only a limited effort (at most) to find and fix Spectre V1 vulnerabilities has been made in most projects. An effort to add some defenses to GCC may help to make this situation better, but it comes at a cost of its own.

Security updates for Tuesday

Tuesday 10th of July 2018 03:07:50 PM
Security updates have been issued by Debian (ruby-sprockets), Red Hat (ansible and rh-git29-git), Scientific Linux (firefox), SUSE (ceph), and Ubuntu (libjpeg-turbo, ntp, and openslp-dfsg).

[$] IR decoding with BPF

Monday 9th of July 2018 03:46:19 PM
In the 4.18 kernel, a new feature was merged to allow infrared (IR) decoding to be done using BPF. Infrared remotes use many different encodings; if a decoder were to be written for each, we would end up with hundreds of decoders in the kernel. So, currently, the kernel only supports the most widely used protocols. Alternatively, the lirc daemon can be run to decode IR. Decoding IR can usually be expressed in a few lines of code, so a more lightweight solution without many kernel-to-userspace context switches would be preferable. This article will explain how IR messages are encoded, the structure of a BPF program, and how a BPF program can maintain state between invocations. It concludes with a look at the steps that are taken to end up with a button event, such as a volume-up key event.

More in Tux Machines

Games: HITMAN and Atari VCS

More Android Leftovers

  • A Look at Google's Project Fi
    Project Fi is a play on the term "WiFi" and is pronounced "Project Fye", as opposed to "Project Fee", which is what I called it at first. Several features set Project Fi apart from other cell-phone plans. First, Project Fi uses towers from three carriers: T-Mobile, US Cellular and Sprint. When using supported hardware, Project Fi constantly monitors signal strength and seamlessly transitions between the various towers. Depending on where you live, this can mean constant access to the fastest network or a better chance of having any coverage at all. (I'm in the latter group, as I live in a rural area.)
  • OnePlus 5 and 5T's latest OxygenOS Open Beta bring Google Lens support
    While the last OxygenOS Open Beta update for the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T was a significant upgrade bringing support for Project Treble, the latest versions for both devices offer smaller changes.
  • Google EU fine over Android likely this week
     

    The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, normally makes such announcements on a Wednesday.

  • Moment of truth for Google as record EU antitrust fine looms
     

    It comes just over a year after the Commission slapped a landmark 2.4-billion-euro ($2.8 billion) penalty on Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, for favoring its shopping service over those of competitors.  

    The EU penalty is likely to exceed the 2017 fine because of the broader scope of the Android case, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.  

OSS Leftovers

  • Medellín WordPress User Group Celebrates Open Source CMS Platform’s 15th Anniversary
    Medellín is well known for its innovative technology scene, with many active software and information technology user groups. One of those is the user group centered around open source content management software WordPress. A year ago the user group hosted Colombia’s first Wordcamp function, supported by the global WordPress community, and the user group recently gathered to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the first WordPress open source software release that took place May 27, 2003. WordPress is an free, open source software platform that allows amateur and professional users to create websites without writing programming code. Over the years it has grown into a powerful platform robust enough to run enterprise websites in many cases. For example, Finance Colombia runs on WordPress software.
  • Training: Embedded Linux and Security training day – Reading
    Providing detailed hands-on training, it is targeted at embedded engineers looking for an introduction to key embedded Linux and Security topics.
  • Amazing solar panel device that could change the world goes open source
    An innovative and simple solar panel efficiency device has just gone open source in order to get renewable energy to those who need it most. When you picture solar power, you might think of the enormous Ivanpah solar power plant in California (the largest in the world) or huge tracts of land in other sun-drenched parts of the globe. But not everyone has access to such enormous grids and particularly in remote villages in developing nations, there is only a need for a single or small group of solar panels that could maintain maximum efficiency to sustain a family or the village itself.
  • Meet the man in charge of Arduino

    I went to visit the Interaction Design Institute of Ivrea – a school that was started just six months before I went to visit them – and they asked me if I knew someone who could teach electronics to designers and to ask this question to my colleagues at the Politecnico.

    I went back and they said “No! Teaching electronics to designers? For us?” Those were guys working on highly sophisticated FGPAs, so they didn’t care about designers. I thought about Massimo – he had a real passion for electronics and he worked as a CTO for an internet provider at that point in time. I said, “Massimo, you could be the right person for this type of engagement – they’re designers, you love design, and you know electronics.” I introduced Massimo to the school and they hired him. That’s how the story started. When he was teaching at the Design Institute of Ivrea, they started the Arduino project as a way to standardise the electronics projects the students were doing. I introduced Massimo to the school and they invented Arduino, so I’m sort of the great-grandfather to some extent.

  • pinp 0.0.6: Two new options
    A small feature release of our pinp package for snazzier one or two column vignettes get onto CRAN a little earlier. It offers two new options. Saghir Bashir addressed a longer-standing help needed! issue and contributed code to select papersize options via the YAML header. And I added support for the collapse option of knitr, also via YAML header selection. A screenshot of the package vignette can be seen below. Additional screenshots of are at the pinp page.
  • OpenMP 5.0 Public Draft Released
    The public draft of the OpenMP 5.0 SMP programming standard is now available for review ahead of the specification's expected stable release before the end of 2018. OpenMP 5.0 is expected to succeed the OpenMP 4.5 parallel programming standard in Q4'2018, but for ironing out any last minute issues and allowing more compiler developers to begin implementing the standard, the public draft is now available.

FUD, EEE, and Openwashing