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Microsoft

Microsoft Against Libraries and Literature

Filed under
Microsoft
  • Linkedin to libraries: drop dead

    For years, libraries across America have paid to subscribe to lynda.com for online learning content; four years ago, lynda.com became a division of Linkedin, and this year, the company has informed libraries that they're migrating all lynda.com users to Linkedin Learning, which would be fine, except Linkedin only allows you to access Linkedin Learning if you create and connect a Linkedin profile to the system.

    If libraries accept this change, it will mean that any patron who uses this publicly funded service will also have to have a publicly searchable Linkedin profile. Linkedin's explanation of why this is OK is purest tech-bro PR bullshit, condescending and dismissive.

  • ALA urges LinkedIn Learning to reconsider changes to terms of service that impair library users’ privacy rights

    Under LinkedIn Learning’s new terms of service, a library cardholder will need to create a LinkedIn profile in order to access LinkedIn Learning. In addition to providing their library card number and PIN, users will have to disclose their full name and email address to create a new LinkedIn profile or connect to their existing profile. New users will have their LinkedIn profile set to public by default, allowing their full name to be searched on Google and LinkedIn.

    ALA has long affirmed that the protection of library users’ privacy and confidentiality rights are necessary for intellectual freedom and are fundamental to the ethical practice of librarianship. ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and its interpretations maintain that all library users have the right to access library resources without disclosing their personally identifiable information (PII) to third parties, and to be free from unreasonable intrusion into, or surveillance of, their lawful library use.

    “The requirement for users of LinkedIn Learning to disclose personally identifiable information is completely contrary to ALA policies addressing library users’ privacy, and it may violate some states’ library confidentiality laws,” said ALA President Wanda Kay Brown. “It also violates the librarian’s ethical obligation to keep a person’s use of library resources confidential. We are deeply concerned about these changes to the terms of service and urge LinkedIn and its owner, Microsoft, to reconsider their position on this.”

Here's why Windows 10 users are switching to other platforms

Filed under
Linux
Microsoft

People have been dealing with Windows 10 issues since the OS was first introduced in 2015. There are many die-heart Windows fans who prefer to deal with these issues rather than looking for other platforms.

Well, Linux has been around for years but many people are still reluctant to adopt Linux.

Recently, YouTuber Chris Titus Tech published a video to discuss the matter. The video discusses why Windows 10 keeps getting worse with each passing day.

Read more

Proprietary Spyware From Microsoft and Dropbox Targets GNU/Linux

Filed under
Microsoft
Software
  • Microsoft Teams client for Linux 0.4 Released with Stability Fixes

    Teams for Linux is an unofficial Microsoft Teams client for Linux using Electron. It uses the Web App and wraps it as a standalone application using Electron.

  • Dropbox Brings Back Support For ZFS, XFS, BTFS And eCryptFS On Linux [Ed: The NSA wants to slurp in all your files, irrespective of what file system you use]

    Dropbox stopped supporting folder syncing to drives with filesystems which it deemed "uncommon", which on Linux meant anything but Ext4, upsetting quite a few users. The reason cited for this was that "a supported file system is required as Dropbox relies on extended attributes (X-attrs) to identify files in the Dropbox folder and keep them in sync", which doesn't really make sense since there are many filesystems that support xattr (extended attributes) on Linux.

SAMBA versus SMB: Adversarial Interoperability is Judo for Network Effects

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Microsoft

Before there was Big Tech, there was "adversarial interoperability": when someone decides to compete with a dominant company by creating a product or service that "interoperates" (works with) its offerings.

In tech, "network effects" can be a powerful force to maintain market dominance: if everyone is using Facebook, then your Facebook replacement doesn't just have to be better than Facebook, it has to be so much better than Facebook that it's worth using, even though all the people you want to talk to are still on Facebook. That's a tall order.

Adversarial interoperability is judo for network effects, using incumbents' dominance against them. To see how that works, let's look at a historical example of adversarial interoperability role in helping to unseat a monopolist's dominance.

The first skirmishes of the PC wars were fought with incompatible file formats and even data-storage formats: Apple users couldn't open files made by Microsoft users, and vice-versa. Even when file formats were (more or less) harmonized, there was still the problems of storage media: the SCSI drive you plugged into your Mac needed a special add-on and flaky driver software to work on your Windows machine; the ZIP cartridge you formatted for your PC wouldn't play nice with Macs.

But as office networking spread, the battle moved to a new front: networking compatibility. AppleTalk, Apple's proprietary protocol for connecting up Macs and networked devices like printers, pretty much Just Worked, providing you were using a Mac. If you were using a Windows PC, you had to install special, buggy, unreliable software.

And for Apple users hoping to fit in at Windows shops, the problems were even worse: Windows machines used the SMB protocol for file-sharing and printers, and Microsoft's support for MacOS was patchy at best, nonexistent at worst, and costly besides. Businesses sorted themselves into Mac-only and PC-only silos, and if a Mac shop needed a PC (for the accounting software, say), it was often cheaper and easier just to get the accountant their own printer and backup tape-drive, rather than try to get that PC to talk to the network. Likewise, all PC-shops with a single graphic designer on a Mac—that person would often live offline, disconnected from the office network, tethered to their own printer, with their own stack of Mac-formatted ZIP cartridges or CD-ROMs.

[...]

Someone attempting to replicate the SAMBA creation feat in 2019 would likely come up against an access control that needed to be bypassed in order to peer inside the protocol's encrypted outer layer in order to create a feature-compatible tool to use in competing products.

Another thing that's changed (for the worse) since 1993 is the proliferation of software patents. Software patenting went into high gear around 1994 and consistently gained speed until 2014, when Alice v. CLS Bank put the brakes on (today, Alice is under threat). After decades of low-quality patents issuing from the US Patent and Trademark Office, there are so many trivial, obvious and overlapping software patents in play that anyone trying to make a SAMBA-like product would run a real risk of being threatened with expensive litigation for patent infringement.

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How the Open Source Operating System Has Silently Won Over the World

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Microsoft

The current and future potential for Linux based systems is limitless. The system’s flexibility allows for the hardware that uses it to be endlessly updated. Functionality can, therefore, be maintained even as the technology around the devices change. This flexibility also means that the function of the hardware can be modified to suit an ever-changing workplace.

For example, because the INSYS icom OS has been specifically designed for use in routers, this has allowed it to be optimised to be lightweight and hardened to increase its security.

Multipurpose OS have large libraries of applications for a diverse range of purposes. Great for designing new uses, but these libraries can also be exploited by actors with malicious intent. Stripping down these libraries to just what is necessary through a hardening process can drastically improve security by reducing the attackable surfaces.

Overall, Windows may have won the desktop OS battle with only a minority of them using Linux OS. However, desktops are only a minute part of the computing world. Servers, mobile systems and embedded technology that make up the majority are predominately running Linux. Linux has gained this position by being more adaptable, lightweight and portable than its competitors.

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Operating Systems: Debian, Clear Linux, OpenSUSE and Vista 10

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Microsoft
Debian
SUSE
  • John Goerzen: Tips for Upgrading to, And Securing, Debian Buster

    Wow.  Once again, a Debian release impresses me — a guy that’s been using Debian for more than 20 years.  For the first time I can ever recall, buster not only supported suspend-to-disk out of the box on my laptop, but it did so on an encrypted volume atop LVM.  Very impressive!

    For those upgrading from previous releases, I have a few tips to enhance the experience with buster.

  • Clear Linux Could Soon Be Faster Within Containers On AVX2 Systems

    While Clear Linux as part of its standard bare metal installations has long defaulted to having an AVX2-optimized GNU C Library installed by default, it turns out that it wasn't part of the default os-core bundle as used by containers. That though is changing and should yield even better out-of-the-box performance when running Clear Linux within containers.

    Intel's William Douglas sent out the proposal for adding the AVX2 version of the Glibc libraries into the os-core bundle in order to get picked up by containers and other bare/lightweight Clear configurations.

  • OpenSUSE Enables LTO By Default For Tumbleweed - Smaller & Faster Binaries

    The past few months openSUSE developers have been working on enabling LTO by default for its packages while now finally with the newest release of the rolling-release openSUSE Tumbleweed this goal has been accomplished. 

    As of today, the latest openSUSE Tumbleweed release is using Link-Time Optimizations (LTO) by default. For end-users this should mean faster -- and smaller -- binaries thanks to the additional optimizations performed at link-time. Link-time optimizations allow for different optimizations to be performed at link-time for the different bits comprising a single module/binary for the entire program. Sadly not many Linux distributions are yet LTO'ing their entire package set besides the aggressive ones like Clear Linux. 

  • Investigating why my 7-year old Windows 10 laptop became unbearably slow

    The laptop had also begun to run into blue screens of death (BSoD) whenever I used the built-in camera and when I opened Spotify or Netflix in a web browser. The slowdown and crashes were actually related, but I didn’t realize this at first. The camera-induced BSoD error message blamed the camera vendor’s driver without any further details. This sounds believable enough for a 7-year old laptop so I didn’t think any more of it.

Windows vs Ubuntu

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Microsoft
Ubuntu

Kubuntu is my favorite derivative of all the Ubuntu-based operating systems. I can not point out any features as favorite because I like all of them. Everything mentioned above is part of my daily workflow.

Now when you know all of this it is worth trying them out. I was skeptical at first but later when I built my flow and learned how to utilize these features I can do everything faster, with fewer keystrokes and the most important thing is that I have a nicely organized desktop that helps me to minimize brain fatigue while doing my job.

Kubuntu is a great distro to switch to if you’re coming from Windows. They have a quite similar UI, and Kubuntu has all the features Windows has, plus more.

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Best Linux Distro for Windows 7 Refugees: Manjaro KDE

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Microsoft

Manjaro is based off of Arch Linux, but I like to describe it to people as the “Ubuntu of Arch” for its user-friendly design choices and its particular attention to helping new Linux users to learn what they are doing. Another great perk of the Arch foundation underneath Manjaro is the use of the Arch Linux Wiki.

The Arch wiki is easily one of the largest resources of help, information, and know-how for all Linux users— regardless of distribution, many of the articles found can be applied.

Back in the spring of 2017 I wrote a series of articles discussing various Desktop Environments for Linux systems, such as Cinnamon and KDE just to name a couple, and overall for Windows users who have decided to take the plunge, I’m recommending KDE.

Regardless of distribution, KDE is filled with eye candy, is highly-customizable, one of the most powerful file-browsers available (Dolphin), and is deeply documented with a long-standing history (KDE was created in 1996).

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Confirmed: Microsoft Windows Zero-Day Exploit Used In Government Espionage Operation

Filed under
Microsoft
Security

It has been revealed that a threat actor once best known for cyber bank robbery in Russia has made a move to espionage. The highly targeted attacks against government institutions in Eastern Europe, which took place during June 2019, employed the use of a Microsoft Windows zero-day exploit. In and of itself this isn't unusual as there have been plenty of Windows zero-days discovered. However, this is the first time that researchers had seen the Buhtrap group using a zero-day attack, although the group has been involved in the cyber-spying business for some years now across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Anton Cherepanov, a senior malware researcher at security vendor ESET, explained how the zero-day exploit abused a local privilege escalation vulnerability in Microsoft Windows in order to run arbitrary code and install applications, and view or change data on the compromised systems. As soon as the researchers had properly analyzed the exploit, it was reported to the Microsoft Security Response Center, and a fix was included in the July 9 "Patch Tuesday" update.

The vulnerability itself only impacted older versions of Windows, specifically variations of Windows and Windows Server 2008. This is because, as Cherepanov explained, "since Windows 8 a user process is not allowed to map the NULL page. Microsoft back-ported this mitigation to Windows 7 for x64-based systems." The advice, predictably, is to upgrade to a newer version of the operating system if possible. Especially as critical security updates will disappear soon when extended support for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 ends in January 2020. Gavin Millard, vice-president of intelligence at Tenable, warns users not to be complacent seeing as the vulnerability is "now being actively exploited in the wild," advising that "patches should be deployed as soon as possible."

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Openwashing, Microsoft Censorship of FOSS, and Microsoft Making Traps 'Open'

Filed under
Microsoft
OSS
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Fedora IoT Review

With the rise in IoT use, we are witnessing a demand for ready-made operating systems to support smart device development. Currently, the race is between proprietary versions such as IoT Plug and Play by Microsoft and open source operating systems. One such emerging open source player is Fedora which has a workstation that supports virtualization and containers. Fedora is also slated to release an Internet of Things edition called “Fedora IoT” in future. Here is a review of the open source product’s support capabilities for IoT and relevant installation details. Read more

5 Practical Examples of the Read Command in Linux

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Programming: C++, C and Python

  • Extend C++ capabilities with LLVM STLExtras.h

    The LLVM compiler project provides a header file called STLExtras.h that extends the capabilities of C++ without any dependency on the rest of LLVM. In this article, we take a quick look at its basic functionality.

  • Rewriting Old Solaris C Code In Python Yielded A 17x Performance Improvement

    While we normally hear of rewriting code from Python and other scripting languages into C/C++ when its a matter of performance, in the case of Oracle Solaris it was taking old C code and modernizing it in Python 3 to yield a ~17x performance improvement. Shared today on Oracle's official Solaris blog was an interesting anecdote about their listusers command being rewritten in Python 3 from C. Oracle's Darren Moffat noted the C code was largely untouched since around 1988 and given its design at a time when systems were less dense than today with hundreds or even thousands of users per system.

  • Python Projects for Beginners: The Best Way to Learn

    Learning Python can be difficult. You can spend time reading a textbook or watching videos, but then struggle to actually put what you've learned into practice. Or you might spend a ton of time learning syntax and get bored or lose motivation. How can you increase your chances of success? By building Python projects. That way you're learning by actually doing what you want to do! When I was learning Python, building projects helped me bring together everything I was learning. Once I started building projects, I immediately felt like I was making more progress.

  • PyCon 2019: The People of PyCon

    I can’t tell you how amazing it was to meet the individuals I read, listen to, or who make the tools I use. I was so happy to meet the authors that helped me to grow over the last few years, especially Dan Bader, Peter Baumgartner, Matt Harrison, Reuven Lerner, Harry Percival , and Lacey Williams Henschel. I love podcasts, so it was wonderful to meet Michael Kennedy and Brian Okken in person. And I was happy to meet Paul Ganssle, Russell Keith-Magee, Barry Warsaw, and other maintainers and contributors. It was a delight to meet Bob Belderbos and Julian Sequeira from PyBites.

  • Find the first non-consecutive number with Python

    Your task is to find the first element of an array that is not consecutive. E.g. If we have an array [1,2,3,4,6,7,8] then 1 then 2 then 3 then 4 are all consecutive but 6 is not, so that’s the first non-consecutive number. If the whole array is consecutive then return None.

  • Perceiving Python programming paradigms

    Early each year, TIOBE announces its Programming Language of The Year. When its latest annual TIOBE index report came out, I was not at all surprised to see Python again winning the title, which was based on capturing the most search engine ranking points (especially on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube, and Baidu) in 2018.

OSI Announces Appointment of New Board Directors

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is pleased to announce the appointments of Deb Bryant and Tracy Hinds to fill the two vacant seats on the OSI Board of Directors. Their terms will begin immediately and run through October 2021. We hope you will join us in welcoming both to the OSI. Deb Bryant is returning to the OSI Board after spending several years away. After spending her days as the Senior Director of the Open Source Programs Office at Red Hat, Deb volunteers for open source organizations and supports the open source community. Bryant is passionate about open and transparent governments, bringing open source technology and ideas into the public sector. Tracy Hinds has an impressive history of managing development, operations, and growth for non-profit and for-profit organizations. Previous Education and Community Manager as well as Board Director of the OpenJS(formerly Node.js) Foundation, Hinds now works as Head of Platform at Samsung NEXT and is the president of GatherScript, where she works to support startup engagement and community, inspired by her prior work as a web engineer, community builder, OSS advocate, and strategist. Read more