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June 2020

Now firmware can depend on available client features

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

At the moment we just blindly assume the capabilities of the front-end client when installing firmware. We can somewhat work around this limitation by requiring a new enough fwupd daemon version, but the GUI client software may be much older than the fwupd version or just incomplete. If you maintain a text or graphical client that uses fwupd to deploy updates then there’s an additional API call I’d like you to start using so we can fix this limitation.

This would allow, for instance, the firmware to specify that it requires the client to be able to show a runtime detach image. This would not be set by a dumb command line tool using FwupdClient, but would be set by a GUI client that is capable of downloading a URL and showing a PNG to the user.

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Also: LVFS Serves Up Over 17 Million Firmware Files To Linux Users

GNOME Shell's Icon Grid Could See Almost Double The Performance

Filed under
GNOME

On top of an optimization to lower render times and reduce power usage and fixing window culling as another performance optimization, Canonical's Daniel van Vugt also came across another serious optimization for GNOME Shell's icon grid performance.

Due to hundreds of primitives being recopied from the CPU to GPU each frame, the icon grid performance was being slowed down dramatically. Daniel van Vugt has proposed a change to keep labels now pre-rendered on the GPU rather than having all these unnecessary copies made each frame.

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DeaDBeeF Player 1.8.4 Released with Updated Soundtouch Plugin

Filed under
Software

The forth bug-fix release of deadbeef music player 1.8 series was released a day ago with many fixes.

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Python Programming and GSoC

Filed under
Development

Mozilla: Extensions in Firefox 78, uBlock Origin and What UX Writers Can Learn From Poetry

Filed under
Moz/FF
Web
  • Extensions in Firefox 78

    In Firefox 78, we’ve done a lot of the changes under the hood. This includes preparation for changes coming up in Firefox 79, improvements to our tests, and improvements to make our code more resilient.

  • UBlock Origin - a powerful Internet purification tool

    Every now and then, I receive an email from a reader asking me why I'm not using uBlock Origin. Or rather, why Adblock Plus and not uBlock Origin? Alas, the question is based on a wrong assumption. I do use it, I use them both (not at the same time), and it's on several of my recommended software lists. But I've never given it a proper review. Time to rectify that.

    The modern Internet is a cesspit. A filthy place with tiny, isolated pockets of goodness. Adblocking isn't there to kill revenue streams for indie websites, it's there to stop nonsense from becoming the dominant force of any and every Web experience. Helping turn the tide are a few brave champions. I've already reviewed uMatrix, and you know my all-time-favorite Noscript. Now, let's have a look at uBlock Origin.

    [...]

    UBlock Origin will only block ads and trackers by default. But you can do more. You can disable Javascript, media files, fonts, as well as popups. Then, you can also pick elements from a loaded page and manually remove (zap) them, if you like. This can be helpful if you encounter annoyances that aren't picked up by your filters, or perhaps you want to get rid of something you consider harmful or silly, but it doesn't fall under any existing category.

    [...]

    All in all, uBlock Origin is a fantastic tool. It's powerful, versatile, robust - and it doesn't cause any browser slowdown. Some extensions can be heavy, but in this case, the impact is minimal. Very refreshing and useful. Then, the simple/advanced mode offers the best of both worlds - ordinary users and nerds alike will find the level of control they need and feel comfortable with. Being able to turn Javascript off is another valuable asset.

    I don't have anything bad to say really - some extra rigor is needed now and then, just to make sure you don't end up with legitimate content being blocked. But from what I've seen - we're talking long testing on multiple systems, over a couple of years, the false positives, when they do occur, are far and few in between and usually related to fonts. Ublock Origin does a great job, and its biggest challenge is making a difficult, complex task even easier to present. Should one deliberately seek drawbacks, the abundance of options stored in a small UI could be its Achilles' Heel. It's not easy creating visual minimalism without sacrificing actual functionality, but at the moment, uBlock Origin might be somewhat daunting to those less tech-savvy. Highly recommended, and I hope this finally answers the myriad emails on this topic. May your Internet be pure.

  • The Poetics of Product Copy: What UX Writers Can Learn From Poetry

    Word nerds make their way into user experience (UX) writing from a variety of professional backgrounds. Some of the more common inroads are journalism and copywriting. Another, perhaps less expected path is poetry.

    I’m a UX content strategist, but I spent many of my academic years studying and writing poetry. As it turns out, those years weren’t just enjoyable — they were useful preparation for designing product copy.

    Poetry and product copy wrestle with similar constraints and considerations. They are each often limited to a small amount of space and thus require an especially thoughtful handling of language that results in a particular kind of grace.

FSFE urges Denmark to make its contact tracing app free software

Filed under
GNU
  • FSFE urges Denmark to make its contact tracing app free software

    The European arm of the Free Software Foundation has urged Denmark to put its Smittestop contact tracing app under a free software license in accordance with the guidance issued by the World Health Organization. According to the Danish government, the source code is not being released to the public because of the supposed risk of security breaches but the FSFE has rebutted this saying that “IT security does not arise through an attackers’ ignorance of the system under attack”.

    [...]

    FSFE’s effort to have the app put under a free software license is a part of its wider Public Money? Public Code! campaign which urges governments to create legislation which would see any publicly financed software designed for the public sector to be made publicly available under a free software license. It argues that public bodies can benefit from each others' work which will lead to independence from single vendors, potential tax savings, more innovation, and better IT security.

  • Denmark keeps source code of Coronavirus tracing app secret

    Like many other European countries, Denmark also tries to track Sars-CoV-2 infections with a mobile phone tracing app. However, against advice by health organisations and despite positive examples by other countries, the app is proprietary, so not being released under a Free Software (also called Open Source) license.

    Smittestop, the official tracing app released by the Danish government, is supposed to supplement the more traditional ways of combatting the Coronavirus with contact tracing. But instead of releasing the source code of the app under a Free Software license and thereby empowering the public as well as the scientific community to inspect, verify, improve and experiment with it, the app's source code is kept hidden.

    This goes directly against the most recent recommendations from the WHO as well as the EU Commision's eHealth network. In the referenced paper, the WHO specifically states that:

    "There should be full transparency about how the applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) operate, and publication of open source and open access codes. Individuals should also be provided with meaningful information about the existence of automated decision-making and how risk predictions are made, including how the algorithmic model was developed and the data used to train the model. Furthermore, there should be information about the model's utility and insights as to the types of errors that such a model may make."

Android Leftovers

Filed under
Android

AMD EPYC 7F72 Performance On A Linux FSGSBASE-Patched Kernel

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks

Slated for Linux 5.9 is finally mainlining the FSGSBASE patches that have been floating around the kernel mailing list for years. Testing last week showed the tentative x86/fsgsbase patches helping Intel Xeon Linux performance but with AMD also supporting this instruction set extension going back to Bulldozer, how is it looking on the likes of AMD? Here are some benchmarks.

In continuation of the Intel benchmarks last week and our various articles in recent times of the FSGSBASE wiring up for the Linux kernel, this article is quite straight-forward in providing some metrics for the AMD impact. For this round of testing an AMD EPYC 7F72 server was used. Assuming the upstream developers don't have second thoughts and not send the support in for Linux 5.9, I'll be back with more desktop/server tests when the 5.9 cycle gets underway in August.

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Diskonaut – A Terminal Disk Space Navigator for Linux

Filed under
Software

diskonaut is a simple terminal disk space navigator built using Rust and supports Linux and macOS. To use it, specify an absolute path in your file system, for example, /home/tecmint or run it in the directory of interest, it will scan the directory and maps it to memory enabling you to explore its contents. It allows you to inspect space usage even during the scanning process.

When the scanning is complete, you can navigate through subdirectories, getting a visual treemap representation of what’s consuming your disk space. diskonaut allows you to delete files and directories and as a result, tracks the amount of space you have freed up in the process. It also supports keyboard shortcuts to ease navigation.

Read Also: How to Find Out Top Directories and Files (Disk Space) in Linux

In this article, you will learn how to install and use diskonaut in Linux systems.

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IBM/Red Hat: Sysadmins, Success Stories, Apache Kafka and IBM "AI" Marketing/Hype

Filed under
Red Hat
  • Sysadmin stories from the trenches: Funny user mistakes

    I was a noob IT guy in the late 90s. I provided desktop support to a group of users who were, shall we say, not the most technical of users. I sometimes wonder where those users are today, and I silently salute the staff that's had to support them since I left long ago.

    I suffered many indignities during that time. I can chuckle about the situations now.

  • Sneak peek: Podman's new REST API

    This one is just between you and me, don't tell anyone else! Promise? Okay, I have your word, so here goes: There's a brand new REST API that is included with version 2.0 of Podman! That release has just hit testing on the Fedora Project and may have reached stable by the time this post is published. With this new REST API, you can call Podman from platforms such as cURL, Postman, Google's Advanced REST client, and many others. I'm going to describe how to begin using this new API.

    The Podman service only runs on Linux. You must do some setup on Linux to get things going.

  • Red Hat Success Stories: Creating a foundation for a containerized future

    Wondering how Red Hat is helping its customers succeed? We regularly publish customer success stories that highlight how we're helping customers gain efficiency, cut costs, and transform the way they deliver software. This month we'll look at how Slovenská sporiteľňa and Bayport Financial Services have worked with Red Hat to improve their business.

  • Apache Kafka and Kubernetes is making real time processing in payments a bit easier

    The introduction of the real time payments network in the United States has presented an unique opportunity for organizations to revisit their messaging infrastructure. The primary goal of real time payments is to support real time processing, but a secondary goal is to reduce the toil of the ongoing operations and make real time ubiquitous across the organization.

    Traditional message systems, have been around for quite some time, but have been a bit clunky to operate. Many times, tasks such as software upgrades and routine patches meant the messaging infrastructure would be down while the update was performed, causing delays in payment processing.This may have been reasonable in a world where payment processing was not expected outside of normal banking hours, but in our always-on digital world, customers expect their payments to clear and settle in real time. Today, outages and delays disrupt both business processes and customer experience.

  • IBM and LFAI move forward on trustworthy and responsible AI

    For over a century, IBM has created technologies that profoundly changed how humans work and live: the personal computer, ATM, magnetic tape, Fortran Programming Language, floppy disk, scanning tunneling microscope, relational database, and most recently, quantum computing, to name a few. With trust as one of our core principles, we’ve spent the past century creating products our clients can trust and depend on, guiding their responsible adoption and use, and respecting the needs and values of all users and communities we serve.

    Our current work in artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing a transformation of similar scale to the world today. We infuse these guiding principles of trust and transparency into all of our work in AI. Our responsibility is to not only make the technical breakthroughs required to make AI trustworthy and ethical, but to ensure these trusted algorithms work as intended in real-world AI deployments.

  • IBM donates "Trusted AI" projects to Linux Foundation AI

    IBM on Monday announced it's donating a series of open-source toolkits designed to help build trusted AI to a Linux Foundation project, the LF AI Foundation. As real-world AI deployments increase, IBM says the contributions can help ensure they're fair, secure and trustworthy.

    "Donation of these projects to LFAI will further the mission of creating responsible AI-powered technologies and enable the larger community to come forward and co-create these tools under the governance of Linux Foundation," IBM said in a blog post, penned by Todd Moore, Sriram Raghavan and Aleksandra Mojsilovic.

  • IBM donates AI toolkits to Linux Foundation to ‘mitigate bias’ in datasets

    As artificial intelligence (AI) deployments increase around the world, IBM says it’s determined to ensure that they’re fair, secure and trustworthy.

    To that end, it has donated a series of open-source toolkits designed to help build trusted AI to a Linux Foundation project, the LF AI Foundation, as reported in ZDNet.

    “Donation of these projects to LFAI will further the mission of creating responsible AI-powered technologies and enable the larger community to come forward and co-create these tools under the governance of Linux Foundation,” IBM said in a blog post, penned by Todd Moore, Sriram Raghavan and Aleksandra Mojsilovic.

  • PionerasDev wins IBM Open Source Community Grant to increase women’s participation in programming

    Last fall, IBM’s open source community announced a new quarterly grant to award nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to education, inclusiveness, and skill-building for women, underrepresented minorities, and underserved communities in the open source world. The Open Source Community Grant aims to help create new tech opportunities for underrepresented communities and foster the adoption and use of open source.

  • Ansible 101 live streaming series - a retrospective

    That last metric can be broken down further: on average, I spent 3.5 hours prepping for each live stream, 1 hour doing the live stream, and then 1 hour doing post-production (setting chapter markers, reading chat messages, downloading the recording, etc.).

    So each video averaged $30 in ad revenue, and by ad revenue alone, the total hourly wage equivalent based on direct video revenue is... $5.45/hour.

    Subtract the cost of the equipment I use for the streaming (~$1,000, most of it used, though I already owned it), and now I'm a bit in the hole!

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Stable vs. Bleeding-Edge Linux Distros: Which One Should You Choose?

Linux distributions have multiple ways of delivering software to their users. But which one should you go for—stability or the latest software? One of the major choices that many Linux users face when choosing a Linux distribution is its stability, or how much the software changes. Some distros favor stable, tried-and-true software while others will include newer software that may not be as reliable, also known as "bleeding-edge," a play on "cutting-edge." So, which one should you choose? Let's find out. Read more

This week in NeoChat

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StarLabs StarLite is an Attractive 11-inch Linux Laptop

This dinky 11.6-inch Linux notebook, the latest from UK-based company StarLab, is modestly priced and moderately spec’d. Consciously so. See, not everyone needs to crunch code, battle orcs, or render 4K video. “More power” is nice, but when all you really do with a laptop is browse the web, e-email, Zoom, and binge-watch Netflix shows… A mid-range laptop can suffice. Problem is there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to mid-range (and well-made) Linux laptops in the lower price brackets. Read more