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Remembering Tom Wallis, The System Administrator That Made The World Better

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So it was a shock to get an email this week that Tom had married for the first time at age 54, and passed away four days later due to a boating accident while on his honeymoon.

Tom was a man with a big laugh and an even bigger heart. When I started a Linux Users Group (LUG) on campus, there was Tom – helping to arrange a place to meet, Internet access when we needed it, and gave his evenings to simply be present and a supporter.

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Debian: Staszek Wawrykiewicz (TeX Live Team) Dies and Other DD News

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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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More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • Google Patches All Intel Chromebooks Against Spectre Variant 2 with Chrome OS 65
    Google released a new stable version of its Linux-based Chrome OS operating system for Chromebooks, build 65.0.3325.167 (Platform version: 10323.58.0/1) bringing the Meltdown and Spectre mitigations to more devices and a bunch of other improvements.
  • VIDEO: Cooking With Linux: Lots and Lots of Word Processors! The Tuesday Linux Journal Show
  • How to use netstat in GNU/Linux
  • Cutelyst 2 released with HTTP/2 support
    Cutelyst the Qt/C++ web framework just got a major release update, around one and half year ago Cutelyst v1 got the first release with a stable API/ABI, many improvements where made during this period but now it was time to clean up the mistakes and give room for new features.
  • Fedora 28 and GNOME 3.28: New Features for Eastern Europe
    This time this is not fake, edited, patched, nor a custom build from COPR but the real screenshots of the unmodified downstream Fedora 28 planned to be released on May 1 this year. Here is how the default calendar widget in GNOME Shell looks in Greek, Polish, and Ukrainian:
  • Stephen Smoogen: /usr/bin/whoami
  • Debian CEF packages
    I've created some Debian CEF packages—CEF isn't the easiest thing to package (and it takes an hour to build even on my 20-core server, since it needs to build basically all of Chromium), but it's fairly rewarding to see everything fall into place. It should benefit not only Nageru, but also OBS and potentially CasparCG if anyone wants to package that.
  • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #151
  • Porting L4Re and Fiasco.OC to the Ben NanoNote (Part 1)
    For quite some time, I have been interested in alternative operating system technologies, particularly kernels beyond the likes of Linux. Things like the Hurd and technologies associated with it, such as Mach, seem like worthy initiatives, and contrary to largely ignorant and conveniently propagated myths, they are available and usable today for anyone bothered to take a look. Indeed, Mach has had quite an active life despite being denigrated for being an older-generation microkernel with questionable performance credentials. But one technological branch that has intrigued me for a while has been the L4 family of microkernels. Starting out with the motivation to improve microkernel performance, particularly with regard to interprocess communication, different “flavours” of L4 have seen widespread use and, like Mach, have been ported to different hardware architectures. One of these L4 implementations, Fiasco.OC, appeared particularly interesting in this latter regard, in addition to various other features it offers over earlier L4 implementations. Meanwhile, I have had some success with software and hardware experiments with the Ben NanoNote. As you may know or remember, the Ben NanoNote is a “palmtop” computer based on an existing design (apparently for a pocket dictionary product) that was intended to offer a portable computing experience supported entirely by Free Software, not needing any proprietary drivers or firmware whatsoever. Had the Free Software Foundation been certifying devices at the time of its introduction, I imagine that it would have received the “Respects Your Freedom” certification. So, it seems to me that it is a worthy candidate for a Free Software porting exercise.
  • Samsung Announces Galaxy Tab Active2, a Rugged Android Tablet for Mobile Workers
    Samsung announced today the Galaxy Tab Active2 rugged Android tablet designed for mobile workers conducting business outdoors in industrial locations, under harsh weather, and other difficult conditions.

Games Leftovers

  • Atari reboots Ataribox as Atari VCS, teases April pre-order date
    Legendary game company Atari set retro hearts aflutter last year when it launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for something called the Ataribox, a living room device running Linux and supposedly combining the features of a PC with a video game console -- complete with some Atari classic games. But the December 14 pre-order date Atari set was abruptly canceled after an unspecified technical issue, and it looked like the Ataribox would never reach any actual customers. This week, however, the company has emerged at the Game Developers Conference with some very similar hardware, albeit with a new name.
  • The Rocket League 'Spring Fever' event is live promising lots of flower power
    Ready to earn some more cosmetic items? The Spring Fever event in Rocket League [Steam] is now live and you can earn yourself some new items using Flowers you earn while playing like this:
  • Epic Games releases the assets from Paragon, for Unreal Engine developers
    In a move that's both surprising and rather welcome, Epic Games has decided to release the assets from their FPS MOBA Paragon for Unreal Engine developers, since they're shutting it down. This will include 20 AAA-quality characters, with their respective skins, animations, VFX and dialogue, along with over 1,500 environment components from Paragon. Here's where it's a bit insane, this all cost Epic Games around $12 million! It's pretty insane how much it costs to make AAA-like games now—eye watering.
  • Game engine Construct 3 adds a remote preview, new runtime is coming to improve game performance
    I'm a huge fan of drag and drop creation tools like Construct 3 [Official Site], that allow you to create games by building simple events sheets and it seems they've continued making Construct 3 more awesome to use.
  • Open-source re-implementation of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 'OpenRCT2' has a fresh update
    Miss the days of playing RollerCoaster Tycoon 2? Miss them no more, as OpenRCT2 [GitHub, Official Site] is alive and well with a fresh update. Like many open source game engines, it allows you to play RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 on systems not designed for it—like Linux. Naturally, it comes with tons of improvements like user interface theming, fast-forwarding gameplay, multiplayer and so on.
  • Zombasite - Orc Schism, the expansion to the action RPG is out adding more content
    Here's one I sadly missed, released back in December (oh my!), Zombasite - Orc Schism [Steam, GOG] is an expansion to the dynamic zombie apocalypse action RPG.

GNOME: GitLab Migration and More

  • IMPORTANT: GitLab mass migration plan
    I know some fellows doesn’t read desktop-devel-list, so let me share here an email that it’s important for all to read: We have put in place the plan for the mass migration to GitLab and the steps maintainers needs to do.
  • ED Update – week 11
  • Reflections on Distractions in Work, Productivity and Time Usage
    For the past year or so I have mostly worked at home or remote in my daily life. Currently I’m engaged in my master thesis and need to manage my daily time and energy to work on it. It is no surprise to many of us that working using your internet-connected personal computer at home can make you prone to many distractions. However, managing your own time is not just about whipping and self-discipline. It is about setting yourself up in a structure which rewards you for hard work and gives your mind the breaks it needs. Based on reflections and experimentation with many scheduling systems and tools I finally felt I have achieved a set of principles I really like and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today. [...] Minimizing shell notifications: While I don’t have the same big hammer to “block access to my e-mail” here, I decided to change the order of my e-mail inboxes in Geary so my more relevant (and far less activity prone) student e-mail inbox appears first. I also turned off the background e-mail daemon and turned off notification banners in GNOME Shell. [...] Lastly, I want to give two additional tips. If you like listening to music while working, consider whether it might affect your productivity. For example, I found music with vocals to be distracting me if I try to immerse myself in reading difficult litterature. I can really recommend Doctor Turtle’s acoustic instrumental music while working though (all free). Secondly, I find that different types of tasks requires different postures. For abstract, high-level or vaguely formulated tasks (fx formulating goals, reviewing something or reflecting), I find interacting with the computer whilst standing up and walking around to really help gather my thoughts. On the other hand with practical tasks or tasks which require immersion (fx programming tasks), I find sitting down to be much more comfortable.

OSS, Openwashing and FUD