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February 2014

Tor developing anonymous instant messenger

Filed under
OSS
Security

The instant messenger is still in the early planning stages, but Tor's developers seem to be preparing to turn it around quickly. The messenger will be built on Instantbird, an existing open-source messenger, and development will largely involve adding in Off-the-Record Messaging encryption, making it send its messages over Tor, and stripping it of some automated logging and reporting features. Tor hopes to have its first step of work on the messaging app completed by the end of March, but it doesn't draw a timeline for the project out from there.

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Raspberry Pi marks 2nd birthday with plan for open source graphics driver

Filed under
Hardware

That "blob" is the closed source driver code that the Pi requires today. "In common with every other mobile graphics core, using the VideoCore IV 3D graphics core on the Pi requires a block of closed-source binary driver code (a 'blob') which talks to the hardware," Upton wrote. "Our existing open-source graphics drivers are a thin shim running on the ARM11, which talks to that blob via a communication driver in the Linux kernel. The lack of true open-source graphics drivers and documentation is widely acknowledged to be a significant problem for Linux on ARM, as it prevents users from fixing driver bugs, adding features and generally understanding what their hardware is doing."

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Linux Video of the Week: Hands-On with the $25 Firefox Phone

Filed under
Linux
Moz/FF

Mozilla has designed a phone that's even more affordable for emerging markets and thus redefines the entry level for smartphones. Mozilla engineers were able to accomplish this by adjusting the hardware requirements of the operating system to run on a 1 GHz CPU, single core Spreadtrum chipset with only 128 MB of RAM. That's only 25 to 50 percent of the RAM found in existing entry-level devices on the market, said Joe Cheng, product manager at Mozilla in this video demonstration of the prototype phone, below.

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Arduino-compatible open SBC taps Cortex-A5 SoC

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Newark Element14′s $79, Linux-ready “SAMA5D3 Xplained” SBC showcases Atmel’s SAMA5D3 processor, with features like dual LAN ports and Arduino compatibility.

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Ubuntu smartphones, wearables and going into space: Mark Shuttleworth talks to TNW

Filed under
Ubuntu

t’s the difference between momentary terror and long, drawn out gnawing fear. One of those will kill you and one will just give you a fright.”

That’s the response of Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu, when quizzed over whether it’s scarier to go into space or try to launch a unified OS platform. As the first citizen of an independent African country to travel to space and the public face of ensuring the Ubuntu OS makes it onto smartphones and tablets, he should know.

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Google Android chief: Android may be open, but it is not less secure

Filed under
Android
Google
Security

Does 'open' mean 'lack of security'?

According to Google, no. Instead, an open platform is the best path to take in order to make a platform as impermeable to threats as possible.

On Thursday, FrAndroid reported that Google's head of the Android division, Sundar Pichai, responded in a very candid way when asked about the operating system's security at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

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Gnome 3.12 won’t offer full support for Wayland

Filed under
GNOME

Gnome developers have been debating the full support for Wayland in 3.12 for a while. They at one point even considered delaying the Gnome release to keep the development in sync with Wayland. Finally, developers have decided to keep Wayland in ‘preview’ mode as there is still a lot of work to be done.

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Putting Tizen in Context

Filed under
Linux
Gadgets

From the very start, Tizen has had the concept of device profiles, where there's a common set of core software components (kernel, coreutils, networking stack, etc.) that are applicable to every type of device, and there are specializations specific to whatever it is you're using. Take your hand and open it flat. Ok? Good. Your palm is the core software stack, and your fingers are the device-specific profiles - handset, IVI, TV, etc. Chances are good that many elements of the core stack will be the same, and in all cases you want to optimize for lower power consumption and better performance, but what a smartphone presents to the user is generally quite different from an IVI system, or a wearable device, or a camera, or a TV, or a refrigerator, or... I'm sure you get the point. One size doesn't fit all, but you certainly can be smart about not reinventing the wheel for each product class.

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Linux Gamers Have More Choices Than Ever

Filed under
Linux
Gaming

After a number of years of remaining woefully behind other platforms, Linux is starting to be a gaming platform to take seriously. Late last year, I covered comments from Lars Gustavsson, a creative director for EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE), the Electronic Arts studio that does the Battlefield series, on the topic of Linux games. He had told Polygon that DICE would love to delve into Linux games, and that what Linux really needs is a "killer game." Now, as 2014 is underway, Linux gamers actually have a lot of good choices.

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First beta of Kubuntu 14.04 out for testing

Filed under
KDE

Ubuntu derivatives have announced the first beta for 14.04 release. Since ‘daddy’ Ubuntu releases only one beta before final release the images for Unity are not available. Being a KDE user I am definitely looking forward to Kubuntu which will come with KDE Applications 4.12.2 along with newest Muon Software Center. I did notice a bug in Kubuntu beta and that’s freezing of installer if you have more than one hard drive attached to the system. I hope developers will fix this ‘deal breaking’ bug before the final release. Other betas are from Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Gnome and other members of Ubuntu family.

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More in Tux Machines

Avidemux 2.6.13 Open-Source Video Editor Gets AAC/ADTS Import and Export

The developers of the Avidemux open-source and cross-platform video editor software have announced a new maintenance update in the 2.6 series, bringing multiple improvements, bug fixes, and a handful of new features. Read more

5 Best Linux Distros for Security

Security is nothing new to Linux distributions. Linux distros have always emphasized security and related matters like firewalls, penetration testing, anonymity, and privacy. So it is hardly surprising that security conscious distributions are common place. For instance, Distrowatch lists sixteen distros that specialize in firewalls, and four for privacy. Most of these specialty security distributions, however, share the same drawback: they are tools for experts, not average users. Only recently have security distributions tried to make security features generally accessible for desktop users. Read more

Linux Foundation and Linux

  • How IoTivity and AllJoyn Could Combine
    At the Embedded Linux Conference in April, Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) Executive Director Mike Richmond concluded his keynote on the potential for interoperability between the OCF’s IoTivity IoT framework and the AllSeen Alliance’s AllJoyn spec by inviting to the stage Greg Burns, the chief architect of AllJoyn. Burns briefly shared his opinion that not only was there no major technical obstacle to combining these two major open source IoT specs, but that by taking the best of both standards, a hybrid could emerge that improves upon both. Later in the day, Burns gave a technical overview of how such a hybrid could be crafted in “Evolving a Best-of-Breed IoT Framework.” (See video below.) Burns stated in both talks that his opinions in no way reflect the official position of OCF or the AllSeen Alliance. At the time of the ELC talk in April, Burns had recently left his job as VP of Engineering at Qualcomm and Chair of the Technical Steering Committee at the AllSeen Alliance to take on the position of Chief IoT Software Technologist in the Open Source Technology Center at Intel Corp.
  • ​Linus Torvalds' love-hate relationship with the GPL
    Linux's founder appreciates what the GNU General Public License has given Linux, but he doesn't appreciate how some open-source lawyers are trying to enforce it in court.
  • Linus Torvalds reflects on 25 years of Linux
    LinuxCon North America concluded in Toronto, Canada on August 25th, the day Linux was celebrating its 25th anniversary. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, and Dirk Hohndel, VP and chief of open source at VMware, sat down for a conversation at the event and reflected upon the past 25 years. Here are some of the highlights of that conversation.
  • 6 things you should know from Linux's first 25 years
    Red Hat was founded in 1993, two years after Linux was announced and the company has been one of the top contributors to Linux. There is a symbiotic relationship between the company and the project. Whitehurst pointed out that it’s hard to talk about the history of Red Hat without talking about Linux and vice versa.
  • There Is Talk Of Resuming OpenChrome VIA KMS/DRM Driver Development
    Two or so years back or so it was looking hopeful that the mainline Linux kernel would finally have a proper VIA DRM/KMS driver for the unfortunate ones still have VIA x86 hardware and using the integrated graphics. However, that work was ultimately abandoned but there is talk of it being restored.

Security News

  • New FairWare Ransomware targeting Linux Computers [Ed: probably just a side effect of keeping servers unpatched]
    A new attack called FaireWare Ransomware is targeting Linux users where the attackers hack a Linux server, delete the web folder, and then demand a ransom payment of two bitcoins to get their files back. In this attack, the attackers most likely do not encrypt the files, and if they do retain the files, probably just upload it to a server under their control.
  • How do we explain email to an "expert"?
    This has been a pretty wild week, more wild than usual I think we can all agree. The topic I found the most interesting wasn't about one of the countless 0day flaws, it was a story from Slate titled: In Praise of the Private Email Server The TL;DR says running your own email server is a great idea. Almost everyone came out proclaiming it a terrible idea. I agree it's a terrible idea, but this also got me thinking. How do you explain this to someone who doesn't really understand what's going on? There are three primary groups of people. 1) People who know they know nothing 2) People who think they're experts 3) People who are actually experts
  • Why the term “zero day” needs to be in your brand’s cybersecurity vocabulary
    Linux is “open source” which means anyone can look at the code and point out flaws. In that sense, I’d say Linus Torvalds doesn’t have to be as omniscient as Tim Cook. Linux source code isn’t hidden behind closed doors. My understanding is, all the Linux code is out there for anyone to see, naked for anyone to scrutinize, which is why certain countries feel safer using it–there’s no hidden agenda or secret “back door” lurking in the shadows. Does that mean Android phones are safer? That’s up for debate.