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Obits

Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil Remembered

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Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam

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  • Report: Syrian-Palestinian Open Internet Advocate Bassel Khartabil Has Been Executed

    Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian-Palestinian open-source developer credited with helping to bring a free internet to Syria, was confirmed dead today by Creative Commons, the open internet non-profit Khartabil volunteered with. He was 36.

  • Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam

    Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian open source developer, blogger, entrepreneur, hackerspace founder, and free culture advocate, has been executed by the Syrian authorities. Noura Ghazi Safadi, his wife, received confirmation of her husband's death by the Assad-led Syrian government yesterday. The execution took place in secret in November 2015. It has taken the Syrian government nearly two years to officially communicate that fact to his friends and family.

    Bassel had been imprisoned by the Syrian authorities since his abduction from the streets of Damascus on March 15, 2012. He was originally taken, interrogated and tortured in secret in a facility controlled by the country's General Intelligence Directorate. After a worldwide campaign by international human rights groups, together with Bassel's many colleagues in the open Internet and free culture communities, he was moved to Adra's civilian prison, from where he was able to communicate with his family and friends.

Statement on the death of CC friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil

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We are deeply saddened and completely outraged to learn today that our friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil has been executed by the Syrian regime.

Bassel was Creative Commons’ Syrian project lead, an open source software programmer, teacher, Wikipedia contributor, and free culture advocate. He was also a devoted son and husband, and a great friend to many people in the open knowledge community around the world. The projects and communities he helped to build live on across the globe, and will remain a tribute to his leadership.

In March of 2012, Bassel was taken from the street in Damascus amid a wave of military arrests. He was jailed for several years, during which time he was allowed to infrequently communicate with family members. Then, in October 2015, he was abruptly transferred to an undisclosed location. At that time, all communications between Bassel and the outside world ceased. The Creative Commons board publicly called for Bassel’s immediate release, and the MIT Media Lab offered Bassel a research position in its Center for Civic Media. His family and friends prayed for his safe return, and are heartbroken today to learn the awful and terrifying news of his execution.

Over the past several years, a variety of human rights groups called for Bassel’s release. Amnesty International launched a campaign through its Urgent Action network that encouraged the public to write letters to Syrian authorities and urge them to grant Bassel access to his family, a lawyer, and medical attention. The US State Department singled him out on International Human Rights Day in 2015 as a “prisoner of conscience.”

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Goodbye To Bob Chassell

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It's fortunately more common now in Free Software communities today to properly value contributions from non-developers. Historically, though, contributions from developers were often overvalued and contributions from others grossly undervalued. One person trailblazed as (likely) the earliest non-developer contributor to software freedom. His name was Robert J. Chassell — called Bob by his friends and colleagues. Over the weekend, our community lost Bob after a long battle with a degenerative illness.

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[The founder of Linux Malta] Ramon Casha, chairman of the humanist association, passes away

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Tributes are flowing in this evening for Ramon Casha, chairman of the Malta Humanist Society, civil rights campaigner and a frequent commenter on Times of Malta, who has passed away.

Michael Briguglio, former chairman of Alternattiva wrote in a Facebook post: Rest in peace Ramon Casha: honest, free-thinking and non-partisan civil society campaigner within Malta Humanist Association and so many causes.

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Remembering a friend: Matthew Williams

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One of the things about working in open source software communities is that you are always moving forward. It’s hard not to get a sense of momentum and progress when it seems you are constantly striving to improve and build on the work you and others have done before.

But sometimes you have to pause to reflect, because sometimes there is loss.

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Farewell to Rob Collins

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We would like to share with you the sad news, that Rob Collins has passed away earlier this month, on November 2nd, after a short but intense illness.

Many of you may know Rob from the sponsored massage sessions he regularly ran at EuroPython in recent years and which he continued to develop, taking them from a single man setup (single threaded process) to a group of people setup by giving workshops (multiprocessing) and later on by passing on his skills to more leaders (removing the GIL) to spread wellness and kindness throughout our conference series.

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Pieter Alexander Hintjens: 3 December 1962 – 4 October 2016

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After a long and painful illness, a battle with cancer over the last six years, my brother has died in Brussels, aged only 53.

My love for him has always been the adoring, muted kind that looked up to the light he shone, that basked in his enthusiasm and tried, and failed, to keep up with the thousand-and-one ideas he gave voice and form to. Many of his passions were beyond my comprehension but very real, nevertheless. As a computer programmer, writer of internet protocols and founder of on-line communities, his interests went way over my head. As an author, latterly, we connected and I was able to collaborate with him on one of his books – The Psychopath Code – an involvement for which I am profoundly grateful: Not only has this particular book helped me to navigate a few tricky moments in my own life, but the understanding we shared was like coming home.

I can’t begin to do justice to my brother’s legacy as a professional innovator, thinker, and networker. Pieter was one of these rare people totally unafraid to take chances, to think not just outside the box but into the next universe. How he maintained his enthusiasm and energy, where his inspiration came from, I shall not know in this lifetime.

His death last Tuesday has opened up a hole in my life, a tear in the fabric of my normal. Poignantly – and painfully – it is only as his legacy becomes clearer that I notice the loss of his quiet, determined contribution in my life. Always, in the background, he encouraged me, supporting my modest hopes for an ordinary life: my ambitions to study, to write, to marry and have a child. In all these attempts he was unwaveringly supportive, while seeking so little from me in return. Of course, elder brothers are looked up to, and often expected to take the lead. But lately, in these last few years, while he faced pain and uncertainty – about which he has written so candidly on his blog – while he battled fear and the shadows of disappointment with his trademark wry humour, he faced these challenges fearlessly and with a fiery determination that is frankly awe-inspiring.

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ZeroMQ founder Pieter Hintjens dies

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Pieter Hintjens, Belgian software developer and past president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), gave much of his time and effort to the open-source community.

He did so even up until the day he planned for his own death, which was today.

Hintjens, who chose euthanasia today after dealing with terminal cancer, was a writer and a programmer who spent much of his life building large software systems and online communities, which he described as “Living Systems.”

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Debian Project mourns the loss of Kristoffer H. Rose

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Kristoffer was a Debian contributor from the very early days of the project, and the upstream author of several packages that are still in the Debian archive nowadays, such as the LaTeX package Xy-pic and FlexML. On his return to the project after several years' absence, many of us had the pleasure of meeting Kristoffer during DebConf15 in Heidelberg.

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Linux Kernel: KPTI, SEV, CBS

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    For the Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) support currently within the Linux kernel for addressing the Meltdown CPU vulnerability it's currently limited to 64-bit on the x86 side, but for the unfortunate souls still running x86 32-bit operating systems, SUSE is working on such support.
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Graphics: Mesa and AMDGPU

  • Mesa 17.3.3 Released With RADV & ANV Vulkan Driver Fixes
    Mesa 17.3.3 is now available as the latest point release for the Mesa 17.3 stable series. This bi-weekly point release to Mesa presents several RADV Vega/GFX9 fixes, various Intel ANV Vulkan driver fixes, a DRI3 fix, and random fixes to the OpenGL drivers like RadeonSI, Etnaviv, and even Swrast.
  • R600g "Soft" FP64 Shows Signs Of Life, Enabling Older GPUs To Have OpenGL 4 In 2018
    Most pre-GCN AMD graphics cards are still limited to OpenGL 3.3 support at this time due to not supporting FP64. Only the HD 5800/6900 series on R600g currently have real double-precision floating-point support working right now so at present they are on OpenGL 4.3 rather than 3.3, but those other generations may be catching up soon thanks to the "soft" FP64 code.
  • AMDGPU DC Gets More Raven Ridge Improvements, Audio Fixes
    Harry Wentland of AMD has sent out the latest batch of patches for the AMDGPU DC display code stack. Fortunately it lightens up the DRM driver by about six thousand lines thanks to removing some unused code. Besides gutting out a chunk of unused code, the DC code has a few audio fixes (no word yet on supporting newer audio formats with DC), fixes on driver unload, a "bunch" of continued Raven Ridge display updates, and various other code clean-ups.
  • AMDGPU Firmware Blobs Updated For Video Encode/Decode
    There are updated AMDGPU microcode/firmware files now available for recent Radeon GPUs. The updated firmware files now available via the main linux-firmware.git repository are centered around the video blocks: UVD video decoding, VCE video encode, and the new VCN video encode/decode block with Raven Ridge.

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