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OSS Leftovers

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  • Workarea Commerce Releases Platform to Open Source Community

    Workarea, the enterprise commerce platform built to unify commerce, content management, merchant insights and search, is releasing its software to the open source community. Built upon open source technologies from inception, including Ruby on Rails, MongoDB, and Elasticsearch, Workarea touts unparalleled flexibility and scale in modern cloud environments. The platform source code and demo instructions are now available on GitHub.

  • Debating the Cryptographic Autonomy License

    If one were to ask a group of free-software developers whether the community needs more software licenses, the majority of the group would almost certainly answer "no". We have the licenses we need to express a range of views of software freedom, and adding to the list just tends to create confusion and compatibility issues. That does not stop people from writing new licenses, though. While much of the "innovation" in software licenses in recent times is focused on giving copyright holders more control over how others use their code (while still being able to brand it "open source"), there are exceptions. The proposed "Cryptographic Autonomy License" (CAL) is one of those; its purpose is to give users of CAL-licensed code control over the data that is processed with that code.
    Van Lindberg first went to the Open Source Initiative's license-review list with the CAL in April. At that point, it ran into a number of objections and was rejected by the OSI's license review committee. The license has since been revised to address (most of) the objections that were raised; a third version with minor tweaks was posted on August 22.

    At its core, the CAL is a copyleft license; distribution of derived products is only allowed if the corresponding source is made available under the same (or a compatible) license. The third version added one exception: release of source can be delayed for up to 90 days if required to comply with a security embargo.

  • Six Reasons COBOL Has Survived to Age 60

    This month in 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of COBOL. That’s right: In a world in which something can be outdated almost as fast as it moves off the shelf, COBOL (common business-oriented language), a code technology that predates Microsoft Windows, UNIX, Java and Linux, is 60 years old.

    COBOL is a high-level programming language for business applications. It was the first popular language designed to be operating system-agnostic and is still in use in many financial and business applications today.

    COBOL was designed for business computer programs in industries such as finance and human resources. Unlike some high-level computer programming languages, COBOL uses English words and phrases to make it easier for ordinary business users to understand. The language was based on Rear Admiral Grace Hopper's 1940s work on the FLOW-MATIC programming language, which was also largely text-based. Hopper, who worked as a technical consultant on the FLOW-MATIC project, is sometimes referred to as the "grandmother of COBOL."

  • Mozilla Cloud Services Blog: A New Policy for Mozilla Location Service

    Several years ago we started a geolocation experiment called the Mozilla Location Service (MLS) to create a location service built on open-source software and powered through crowdsourced location data. MLS provides geolocation lookups based on publicly observable cell tower and WiFi access point information. MLS has served the public interest by providing location information to open-source operating systems, research projects, and developers.

    Today Mozilla is announcing a policy change regarding MLS. Our new policy will impose limits on commercial use of MLS. Mozilla has not made this change by choice. Skyhook Holdings, Inc. contacted Mozilla some time ago and alleged that MLS infringed a number of its patents. We subsequently reached an agreement with Skyhook that avoids litigation. While the terms of the agreement are confidential, we can tell you that the agreement exists and that our MLS policy change relates to it. We can also confirm that this agreement does not change the privacy properties of our service: Skyhook does not receive location data from Mozilla or our users.

    Our new policy preserves the public interest heart of the MLS project. Mozilla has never offered any commercial plans for MLS and had no intention to do so. Only a handful of entities have made use of MLS API Query keys for commercial ventures. Nevertheless, we regret having to impose new limits on MLS. Sometimes companies have to make difficult choices that balance the massive cost and uncertainty of patent litigation against other priorities.

    Mozilla has long argued that patents can work to inhibit, rather than promote, innovation. We continue to believe that software development, and especially open-source software, is ill-served by the patent system. Mozilla endeavors to be a good citizen with respect to patents. We offer a free license to our own patents under the Mozilla Open Software Patent License Agreement. We will also continue our advocacy for a better patent system.

Open-source voting for San Francisco

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To open-source fans, the lure of open-source voting systems is surely strong. So a talk at 2019 Open Source Summit North America on a project for open-source voting in San Francisco sounded promising; it is a city with lots of technical know-how among its inhabitants. While progress has definitely been made—though at an almost glacially slow speed—there is no likelihood that the city will be voting using open-source software in the near future. The talk by Tony Wasserman was certainly interesting, however, and provided a look at the intricacies of elections and voting that make it clear the problem is not as easy as it might at first appear.

Wasserman is a professor of software management practice at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley and a San Francisco resident; he was asked to serve on an advisory committee on open-source voting for the city. San Francisco is about 11x11km, with around 800,000 people; roughly 500,000 of those are registered voters and nearly 350,000 turned out for the November 2018 election. He said that 70% participation by registered voters is a pretty good turnout for the US.

There are two different organizations within the city government that handle elections: the elections commission and the elections department. The commission is tasked with making the policies and plans for elections, while the department actually implements them, runs the elections, and reports the results. The elections department also handles "problem" ballots and registrations; as part of that, it stores 20 years of paper ballots underneath city hall, which he found astonishing.

The goal of the project is to develop the country's first open-source voting system for political elections, which could potentially have a broad impact if it is successful, both locally and nationally. There are other justifications for it as well, including providing transparency for voters and the expectation of saving money. There are only three (down from four due to a merger) companies that sell election systems in the US; they are not cheap and moving to open-source would provide freedom from being locked into those vendors.

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In an internal conversation about some community pushback on something we did, I linked to - people often think that 'just' because a product is open source, it can't advertise to them, it has to be chock full of options, it has to be made by volunteers, it can't cost money and so on...

But if you want to build a successful product and change the world, you have to be different. You have to keep an eye on usability. You have to promote what you do - nobody sees the great work that isn't talked about. You have to try and build a business so you can pay people for their work and speed up development. Or at least make sure that people can build businesses around your project to push it forward.

I personally think this is a major difference between KDE and GNOME, with the former being far less friendly to 'business' and thus most entrepreneurial folks and the resources they bring go into GNOME. And I've had beers with people discussing SUSE's business and its relationship with openSUSE - just like Fedora folks must think about how they work with Red Hat, all the time. I think the openSUSE foundation is a good idea (I've pushed for it when I was community manager), but going forward I think the board should have a keen eye on how they can enable and support commercial efforts around openSUSE. In my humble opinion the KDE board has been far to little focused on that (I've ran for the board on this platform) and you also see the LibreOffice's Document Foundation having trouble in this area. To help the projects be successful, the boards on these organizations need to have people on them who understand business and its needs, just like they need to have community members who understand the needs of open source contributors.

But companies bring lots of complications to open source. When they compete (as in the LibreOffice ecosystem), when they advertise, when they push for changes in release cycles... Remember Mark Shuttleworth arguing KDE should adopt a 6-month release cycle? In hindsight, I think we should have!

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OSS Leftovers

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  • Kiwi TCMS: Open source sprints at PyCon Balkan in Belgrade

    Next month our team will be at PyCon Balkan, Oct 3-5 in Belgrade. Together with presentation and a workshop we are going to host open source sprints! These will be an informal gathering where participants will be able to learn more about how open source works and go through their first contributions. This is ideal for students and less experienced people but we welcome everyone. There will be tasks ranging from easy to very hard!

  • Mozilla’s Manifest v3 FAQ

    Chrome versions the APIs they provide to extensions, and the current format is version 2. The Firefox WebExtensions API is nearly 100% compatible with version 2, allowing extension developers to easily target both browsers.

    In November 2018, Google proposed an update to their API, which they called Manifest v3. This update includes a number of changes that are not backwards-compatible and will require extension developers to take action to remain compatible.

    A number of extension developers have reached out to ask how Mozilla plans to respond to the changes proposed in v3. Following are answers to some of the frequently asked questions.

  • Open-Source Finance: From Scarcity To Abundance

    A relatively new branch of economic theory that extends out of chartalism, MMT seeks to explain the way money works in practice today. With the advent of fractional reserve banking and practices like “quantitative easing,” it’s evident that governments can generate money out of thin air, or to use the fancier Latin term, ex nihilo. On top of this so-called monetary mass (M0), the banking system creates asset-backed money (called M3) through the emission of debt. As MMT researcher Dr. Randall Wray explains, a balanced budget — in which tax revenues always equal government spending — is a fallacy and actually limits full employment and the creation of new value. In fact, I believe we could, in theory, do away with taxes and just print the corresponding monies into circulation, adding to the supply instead of taking out by taxation. MMT describes that it’s not a shortage of capital that limits growth and innovation, but how that money is spent.

  • Humbleness key to open source success, Kubernetes security struggles, and more industry trends

    As part of my role as a senior product marketing manager at an enterprise software company with an open source development model, I publish a regular update about open source community, market, and industry trends for product marketers, managers, and other influencers. Here are five of my and their favorite articles from that update.

  • Report from July 2019 ISO C++ Meeting (Core Language)

    The summer 2019 C++ meeting was in Cologne, Germany, 10 years since our last meeting in Germany. As usual, Red Hat sent three of us to the meeting: I attended in the Core language working group (CWG), Jonathan Wakely in Library (LWG), and Thomas Rodgers in SG1 (parallelism and concurrency).

  • USB 4.0 "USB4" Specification Published

    As expected after Intel provided Thunderbolt 3 to the USB Promoter Group royalty-free earlier this year, the USB 4.0 "USB4" specification was published today and indeed based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification.

Charging Money For Linux Distros And Open Source Software? It's More Successful Than You Think

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Daniel Foré is the founder of elementary OS, a boutique Linux distribution developed by a small startup that scraped by on user donations and merchandise sales. Then, inspired by an established business tactic in the gaming space, Foré and his team flipped a somewhat controversial switch that led to a massive increase in the company's income: they simply started charging money for it.

That just makes sense when you look at the potential audience elementary OS wants to serve: anyone.

"We started out with a donation thing, but you know, donations are such a small scale that it doesn't match what we need in order to serve all the people who are interested in using elementary OS," Foré says in the upcoming September 4 episode of Linux For Everyone. "Even Patreon is a small portion of what we bring in."

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EU turns from American public clouds to Nextcloud private clouds

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Just like their American counterparts, more than half of European businesses with over 1,000 employees now use a public cloud platform. But European governments aren't so sure that they should trust their data on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, Google Cloud, or the IBM Cloud. They worry that the US CLOUD act enables US law enforcement to unilaterally demand access to EU citizens' cloud data -- even when it's stored outside the States. So, they're turning to private European-based clouds, such as those running on Nextcloud, a popular open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud.

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The birth of the Bash shell

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Shell scripting is an essential discipline for anyone in a sysadmin type of role, and the predominant shell in which people write scripts today is Bash. Bash comes as default on nearly all Linux distributions and modern MacOS versions and is slated to be a native part of Windows Terminal soon enough. Bash, you could say, is everywhere.

So how did it get to this point? This week's Command Line Heroes podcast dives deeply into that question by asking the very people who wrote the code.

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OSS Leftovers

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  • Two "Life-Changing" Firefox Add-ons

    I'm a diehard Firefox fan. Having used it since it came out, it just works the way I want and need it to work. And, just as for any Firefox user, I have a collection of must-have add-ons that I use with it. Yes, the switch to Firefox Quantum was a little painful for me, since I had to give up a few of my absolute favorite must-have add-ons. The developers of those add-ons had chosen to not conform to the new add-on architecture that Firefox Quantum brought with it. But, I found replacements for most of them, and life went on.

  • Mozilla Rust Considered for Linux Drivers

    When Graydon Hoare of Mozilla (and later others) designed Rust, they wanted a fast, concurrent, memory-safe language without garbage collection because web browsers need to be fast and resistant to malware. Their decision was to create Rust, which provides these features by forcing restrictions on the developer. Now that the language has reached a decent level of maturity, third parties are looking into it.

  • Mind Your Step: A New Rant Series

    Sadly, another blow to the existence of 32-bit computing came with the Document Foundation making the decision to no longer produce a 32-bit version of LibreOffice.

    As of Version 6.3 (the current version as of this writing), LibreOffice will be available as a 64-bit only product. The 32-bit version of LibreOffice 6.3 is available only for Windows. There is no 32-bit Linux or Mac OS-X binary available for download.

  • Interactive Investigations | Coder Radio 373

    We debate the best way to package scripting language apps then explore interactive development and the importance of a good shell.

    Plus npm bans terminal ads, what comes after Rust, and why Mike hates macros.

  • 9 Django Concepts Part 3 - Read Time: 3 Mins

    Welcome to the final part of the 9 Django Concepts for aspiring Django developers.

    For this, I will be covering parts like deployment, testing and supporting front-end framework.

    Which is a project that any Django developer who is building it for a Javascript based front-end framework.

    If you had miss part 1 or part 2, I would suggest you go to those before reading this part 3 to not miss out on it.

  • GnuPG for e-mail encryption and signing

    GnuPG, originally released 20 years ago, offers encryption for everyone. However, like every piece of software, it neither is flawless nor perfect. Recent attacks like ROCA, SigSpoof, Efail, and signature flooding revived the discussions about its security.

  • Building interactive SSH applications

    On the server, there are three steps which you can meddle with using OpenSSH: authentication, the shell session, and the command. The shell is pretty easily manipulated. For example, if you set the user’s login shell to /usr/bin/nethack, then nethack will run when they log in. Editing this is pretty straightforward, just pop open /etc/passwd as root and set their shell to your desired binary. If the user SSHes into your server with a TTY allocated (which is done by default), then you’ll be able to run a curses application or something interactive.

    However, a downside to this is that, if you choose a “shell” which does not behave like a shell, it will break when the user passes additional command line arguments, such as ssh user@host ls -a. To address this, instead of overriding the shell, we can override the command which is run. The best place to do this is in the user’s authorized_keys file. Before each line, you can add options which apply to users who log in with that key. One of these options is the “command” option. If you add this to /home/user/.ssh/authorized_keys instead: [...]

5 open source speed-reading applications

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English essayist and politician Joseph Addison once said, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Today, most (if not all) of us are training our brains by reading text on computer monitors, television screens, mobile devices, street signs, newspapers, magazines, and papers at work or school.

Given the large amount of written information we take in each day, it seems advantageous to train our brains to read faster by doing specific exercises that challenge our classical reading habits and teach us to absorb more content and data. The goal of learning these skills is not just to skim text, because reading without comprehension is wasted effort. The goal is to increase your reading speed while still achieving high levels of comprehension.

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OSS Leftovers

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  • A managed open-source approach can improve the health of your open-source supply chain

    Led by open-source industry veterans, many whom were on the original Red Hat Enterprise Linux team—including Fischer—Tidelift has partnered with a network of developers who typically are the original creators and maintainers of open-source components. Maintainers collaborating with Tidelift, or “lifters,” are compensated to deliver vetted updates as they’re released and then Tidelift delivers them to its subscribers. As part of the service, Tidelift helps organizations select and identify all the components within an environment. The service also draws on knowledge from Tidelift’s database of information on 3.3 million open-source packages.

    “We’re providing as a service, a stream of known, good, open-source packages, where it’s somebody’s job to keep those patches, keep the licenses in compliance and ensure the quality is there around those open-source components,” he says. “Our customers don’t need to do their own due-diligence and research. Certain things break, it’s not their problem to fix it, it’s our problem to fix it, they just consume it, like they would consume any sort of raw open source without all of those issues that would come with raw open source.”

  • Do You Rely on Open-Source Software? Offer Your Support.

    A recent scheme by a programmer to attempt to fund his open-source project through advertising drew heavy backlash among fellow programmers, but his bigger point is one associations can appreciate.

    The “free as in freedom” mindset of open-source software, which is increasingly finding its way into mainstream work environments, is starting to show some cracks.

    The latest crack appeared within the terminal screen—an experiment by a developer who was trying to find some way, any way, to financially support his widely used work.

    Here’s what happened: The open-source programmer Feross Aboukhadijeh, who develops a popular JavaScript programming tool called Standard, decided to create a new JavaScript package called Funding. Funding did something unique for an open-source package: Basically, a developer attached it to another package (which Aboukhadijeh did to Standard), and it showed a “banner” ad in the terminal. It was not a highly graphical ad—just a link and a line of text in a gray box—but it was enough to raise a contentious discussion in the open-source universe.

    Funding went down almost immediately, a victim of a massive backlash. (Someone even developed an ad blocker!) Explaining why he did it, Aboukhadijeh said he was concerned that the funding model for open-source software was “not working” and experimentation was needed.

  • Open source big data processing at massive scale and warp speed

    HPCC Systems (High Performance Computing Cluster), a dba of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, is an open-source big-data computing platform. Flavio Villanustre, vice president technology and CISO at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, explained HPCC Systems’s evolution came as a necessity.

    “In 2000 we were getting into data analytics, using the platforms, databases, and data integration tools that were available at the time. None of these tools would scale to handle the quantity of data and complexity of processes that we were doing.” He added, “That drove us to create our own platform, now known as HPCC Systems, a completely free, end-to-end big data platform.”

    According to Villanustre, Accurint is the first product that utilized the platform. Accurint began as a data lookup service that took large amounts of data from numerous data sets and provided basic search capabilities to other companies and organizations. Today, Accurint has evolved and developed capabilities to help detect fraud and verify identities.

  • Binance launches ‘Binance X’, aims at building open-source crypto software

    Binance X offers a fellowship program that is aimed at research and development of open-source blockchain software. The exchange has not yet disclosed any information on how much funds it will provide for the 40 project leads that have already signed on as Binance X fellows. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

  • FFmpeg Adds ZeroMQ Support To Let Multiple Clients Connect To A Single Instance

    An interesting new addition to FFmpeg's avformat library is ZeroMQ protocol support for enhancing its streaming abilities.

    The newly-added ZeroMQ support to FFMpeg improves the streaming options by allowing multiple clients to connect to a single FFmpeg instance without a separate server or multi-cast destination address setup as previously required.

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SDR dev kit builds on Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC

Avnet has launched an “RFSoC Development Kit” that extends Xilinx’s eval kit for its Linux-powered, Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC. The kit adds a Qorvo 2×2 Small Cell RF front-end for SDR prototyping and integrates MATLAB and Simulink. Xilinx launched its 5G-focused Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC variant of its Arm/FPGA hybrid Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoc last year and then announced a Gen3 update in early February. Avnet has now launched an extended version of the Linux-driven Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC ZCU111 Evaluation Kit that adds a Qorvo 2×2 Small Cell RF Front-end 1.8GHz Card and MATLAB support for software-defined radio (SDR) prototyping, Read more Also: SMARC 2.0 module runs Linux on i.MX8M Mini

today's howtos

PCLinuxOS 2019.09 updated installation media release

The KDE versions both full and the minimalistic Darkstar contain kernel 5.2.15 plus a fully updated KDE Plasma desktop. Plasma desktop 5.16.5, Plasma Applications 19.08.1 and Plasma Frameworks 5.62. The Mate Desktop was refreshed with kernel 5.2.15 and the applications and libraries were updated to their most recent stable versions from the previous release. The Xfce Desktop was tweaked and now uses the Whisker menu by default. A login sound was added and the applications were updated along with some minor bug fixes. In addition all ISOs now include the Nvidia 430.50 driver and will be used instead of the nouveau driver if your video card supports it. Hardware detection scripts were updated to provide better support for video cards that can use the Nvidia 430.50 driver. Pulseaudio has been updated to the stable 13.0 release. The Simple Update Notifier was reworked and now works for keeping you notified of system updates and the ability to update from the applet using apt-get. Small improvements were made to the Live media boot scripts. Vbox test media is also included on the installation media. This program allows you to quickly test an ISO on the fly or usbstick with various options without having to create a permanent VM in Virtualbox. Requires a valid Virtualbox installation. Thanks to the people involved for their contributions to this program. Read more

Android Leftovers