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FSF and FSFE: Showcase and Community Meeting in Bolzano, Italy

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  • The FSF tech team: doing more for free software

    At the Free Software Foundation (FSF), we like to set big goals for ourselves, keeping a relatively small group of dedicated activists determined to cover a lot of ground in a short time.The FSF tech team, for example, has just four members -- two senior systems administrators, one Web developer, and a part-time chief technology officer -- yet we manage to run over 120 virtual servers. These run on about a dozen machines hosted at four different data centers. These include many public-facing Web sites and community services, as well as every single IT requirement for the staff: workstations, data storage and backup, networking, printing, accounting, telephony, email, you name it.

    We don't outsource any of our daily software needs because we need to be sure that they are done using only free software. Remember, there is no "cloud," just other people's computers. For example: we don't outsource our email, so every day we send over half a million messages to thousands of free software hackers through the community mailing lists we host. We also don't outsource our Web storage or networking, so we serve tens of thousands of free software downloads -- over 1.5 terabytes of data -- a day. And our popularity, and the critical nature of the resources we make available, make us a target for denial of service attacks (one is ongoing as we write this), requiring constant monitoring by the tech team, whose members take turns being ready for emergency work so that the resources our supporters depend on stay available.

    As hard as we work, we still want to do more, like increasing our already strict standards on hardware compliance, so in 2020, we will finish replacing the few remaining servers that require a non-free BIOS. To be compliant to our own high standards, we need to be working with devices that are available through Respects Your Freedom retailers. We plan to add new machines to our farm, so that we can host more community servers like the ones we already host for KDE, SugarLabs, GNU Guix, Replicant, gNewSense, GNU Linux-Libre, and FSFLA. We provide completely virtual machines that these projects use for their daily operations, whether that's Web hosting, mailing lists, software repositories, or compiling and testing software packages.

    We know that many software projects and individual hackers are looking for more options on code hosting services that focus on freedom and privacy, so we are working to set up a public site that anybody can use to publish, collaborate, or document their progress on free software projects. We will follow strict criteria to ensure that this code repository hosts only fully free software, and that it follows the very best practices towards freedom and privacy.

  • Report from the 2019 FSFE Community Meeting in Bolzano, Italy

    Report from the 2019 FSFE Community Meeting in Bolzano, Italy
    This year's FSFE Community Meeting took place from Friday 15 November to Saturday 16 November 2019 as part of SFSCon - an annual Free Software event in the city of Bolzano in South Tyrol, Italy. As in previous editions, embedding our community meeting in another event gave us the opportunity to meet different parts of our own community as well as to connect with people from other communities.

    On Friday, SFScon started officially and the NOI Techpark transformed into the interim capital of Free Software with talks and booths. Of course, the FSFE booth was also part of it and the booth team commandeered the whole area by installing a balloon chain and putting up posters. The rumours that the booth team gave away free pizza (not as in freedom) to gain more attention, are highly exaggerated, though.

What's new in the GNU Press Shop

  • What's new in the GNU Press Shop

    Greetings from the GNU Press Shop! This is an update on what's new and exciting at the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) online store, your source for GNU apparel, programming manuals, and more. We know at this time of year you'll be looking for GNU gifts for your favorite free software enthusiasts, and we have some terrific new picks for you to choose from! For holiday gifting, shipped within the US, we recommend placing your order before December 17th.

    For starters, we've got just the thing for the chilly season: we have replaced our extended selection of hooded sweatshirts with a single, user-friendly zip-up design. It still comes in our signature maroon color, but with an all-new "happy computer" graphic by the FSF's superstar 2019 intern Valessio Brito. Between this sweatshirt and the satisfying feeling of helping spread the word about software freedom, we think you'll be quite warm and cozy this winter.

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Programming Leftovers

  • Ravgeet Dhillon: Offline Toast notification in Nuxt/Vue app

    We have often seen apps telling us that “You are offline. Check your network status.”. It is not only convenient to do so but adds to a great UX. In this blog, we will look at how can we display a toast notification in a Nuxt/Vue app whenever the user goes offline or online. This will also help us to understand how to use computed and watch properties together. [...] Hurray! Our toast notifications are working perfectly fine. So using the combined magic of computed and watch properties, we can create outstanding workflows and take our Nuxt/Vue app to next level. If you any doubts or appreciation for our team, let us know in the comments below. We would be happy to assist you.

  • Stephen Michael Kellat: Leveraging LaTeX In This Time

    From time to time I like to bring up fun adventures in LaTeX. In these stranges times in the United States it is important to look at somewhat practical applications beyond the normal reports and formal papers most people think of. With a Minimum Working Example we can mostly look at an idea. The Comprehensive TeX Archive Network has a package known as newspaper which is effectively subject to nominative determinism. You can make things with it that look like newspapers out of the 1940s-1960s in terms of layout. The page on CTAN shows nice examples of its use and provides a nice story as to why the package was created. The example source file on CTAN has a bug in it, though. We're going to make a new one based on it. I am also going to add but not yet utilize the markdown package to the example.

  • 2021.03 Course Topped – Rakudo Weekly News

    The course of the Raku Programming Language by Andrew Shitov made it to the top 20 of Hacker News and spurred quite a few comments. The first associated Grant Report was also published.

  • GCC 11 Is On The Final Stage Of Development With 60+ High Priority Regressions - Phoronix

    GCC 11 entered its final stage of development today as it works towards releasing around the end of Q1 / early Q2 if their past cadence holds up. Before GCC 11.1 can debut as the first stable version, there are some 60+ "P1" high priority regressions that need to be resolved or otherwise demoted to lesser priority regressions. GCC 11 release manager Richard Biener this morning announced GCC 11 is now in stage four development meaning only regression fixes and documentation fixes are allowed. As of this morning the code-base is at 62 P1 regressions, another 334 P2 regressions, 35 P3 regressions, and more than 200 regressions of the lower P4/P5 status.

Devices: Xtra-PC, Arduino and Inventor Coding Kit

  • Xtra-PC Reviews – Best Linux USB-Stick? - Product Review by Rick Finn

    The Xtra-PC Linux USB-Stick might be your solution if you have problems with your old and slow PC. It's a small flash drive stick and it's using Linux OS to boost you PC's operations. Check out now.

  • Arduino Blog » Old keyboard turned into a new children’s learning toy

    Peter Turczak’s toddler son loves “technical stuff,” especially things like keyboards and computers that adults use. After discussing this with other likeminded technical parents, the idea of giving new life to an old (PS/2 or AT) keyboard as a teaching tool was hatched.

  • SiFive Helping To Teach Kids Programming With RISC-V HiFive Inventor Coding Kit

    SiFive in cooperation with Tynker and BBC Learning have launched a Doctor Who themed HiFive Inventor Coding Kit. This Initial HiFive Inventor Coding Kit is intended to help kids as young as seven years of age get involved with computer programming through a variety of fun exercises and challenges involving the RISC-V powered mini computer and related peripherals like LED lighting and speaker control. [...] So for those looking to get their kids involved with computer programming and looking for an IoT-type device with some fun sensors and various themed exercises to get them experimenting, the HiFive Inventor Coding Kit is worth looking into further. More details on the programming platform can be found via Tynker.com and on the hardware at HiFiveInventor.com. The HiFive Inventor Kit is available from Amazon.com and other Internet retailers for $75 USD.

Security Leftovers

  • Security updates for Monday

    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (atftp, coturn, gitlab, mdbook, mediawiki, nodejs, nodejs-lts-dubnium, nodejs-lts-erbium, nodejs-lts-fermium, nvidia-utils, opensmtpd, php, python-cairosvg, python-pillow, thunderbird, vivaldi, and wavpack), CentOS (firefox and thunderbird), Debian (chromium and snapd), Fedora (chromium, flatpak, glibc, kernel, kernel-headers, nodejs, php, and python-cairosvg), Mageia (bind, caribou, chromium-browser-stable, dom4j, edk2, opensc, p11-kit, policycoreutils, python-lxml, resteasy, sudo, synergy, and unzip), openSUSE (ceph, crmsh, dovecot23, hawk2, kernel, nodejs10, open-iscsi, openldap2, php7, python-jupyter_notebook, slurm_18_08, tcmu-runner, thunderbird, tomcat, viewvc, and vlc), Oracle (dotnet3.1 and thunderbird), Red Hat (postgresql:10, postgresql:12, postgresql:9.6, and xstream), SUSE (ImageMagick, openldap2, slurm, and tcmu-runner), and Ubuntu (icoutils).

  • About CVE-2020-27348

    Well this is a doozey. Made public a while back was a security vulnerability in many Snap Packages and the Snapcraft tool used to create them. Specifically, this is the vulnerability identified as CVE-2020-27348. It unfortunately affects many many snap packages… [...] The problem arises when the LD_LIBRARY_PATH includes an empty element in its list. When the Dynamic Linker sees an empty element it will look in the current working directory of the process. So if we construct our search paths with an accidental empty element the application inside our Snap Package could be caused to load a shared library from outside the Snap Package’s shipped files. This can lead to an arbitrary code execution. It has been common to put a definition of the LD_LIBRARY_PATH variable into a Snap Package’s snapcraft.yaml that references a predefined $LD_LIBRARY_PATH as if to extend it. Unfortunately, despite this being common, it was poorly understood that SnapD ensures that the $LD_LIBRARY_PATH is unset when starting a Snap Package’s applications. What that means is that where the author tried to extend the variable they have inadvertantly inserted the bad empty element. The empty element appears because $LD_LIBRARY_PATH is unset so the shell will expand it to an empty string.

  • Wait, What? Kids Found A Security Flaw in Linux Mint By Mashing Keys!

    Security flaws can be incredibly stupid and dangerous. Of course, I’m not judging anyone, we are humans after all. But this little incident is quite funny.

Audiocasts/Shows: Blender 2.91, Server Security, Linux in the Ham Shack and More