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Fedora Appreciation Week, Qt Announces the Deprecation of Qbs, D Language Front End Merged with GCC, Security Bug in Systemd and IBM Acquires Red Hat

Linux Journal - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 08:41

News briefs for October 29, 2018.

The first ever Fedora Appreciation Week will run November 5th to the 11th. This week-long event takes place during the 15th anniversary of the Fedora Project and was organized by the Fedora Community Operations team to "to celebrate efforts of Fedora Project contributors and to say 'thank you' to each other." Go here to see how to participate.

The Qt Company announced the deprecation of Qbs. The last Qbs release will come out in April 2019, and the company intends to improve support for CMake significantly and eventually switch to CMake for building Qt itself.

The D language front end has finally merged with GCC 9. According to Phoronix, "The code is merged for GDC including the libphobos library (D run-time library) and D2 test suite. Adding the D support touches more than three thousand files (most of which is test suite cases) and 859,714 lines of code....Yes, the better part of a million new lines."

A security bug was discovered in systemd last week that can crash a Linux machine or execute malicious code. The Register reports that the "maliciously crafted DHCPv6 packets can try to exploit the programming cockup and arbitrarily change parts of memory in vulnerable systems, leading to potential code execution. This code could install malware, spyware, and other nasties, if successful". The vulnerability is in the DHCPv6 client of the systemd management suite.

And finally, you've likely already heard that IBM yesterday announced its acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion. Interesting note: Bob Young, founder of Red Hat, was Linux Journal's first editor in chief.

News Fedora qt D language GCC Security systemd Red Hat IBM
Categories: Linux News

Lunduke + Linux Journal

Linux Journal - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 08:38

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Categories: Linux News

Papa's Got a Brand New NAS: the Software

Linux Journal - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 07:00
by Kyle Rankin

Who needs a custom NAS OS or a web-based GUI when command-line NAS software is so easy to configure?

In a recent letter to the editor, I was contacted by a reader who enjoyed my "Papa's Got a Brand New NAS" article, but wished I had spent more time describing the software I used. When I wrote the article, I decided not to dive into the software too much, because it all was pretty standard for serving files under Linux. But on second thought, if you want to re-create what I made, I imagine it would be nice to know the software side as well, so this article describes the software I use in my home NAS.

The OS

My NAS uses the ODROID-XU4 as the main computing platform, and so far, I've found its octo-core ARM CPU and the rest of its resources to be adequate for a home NAS. When I first set it up, I visited the official wiki page for the computer, which provides a number of OS images, including Ubuntu and Android images that you can copy onto a microSD card. Those images are geared more toward desktop use, however, and I wanted a minimal server image. After some searching, I found a minimal image for what was the current Debian stable release at the time (Jessie).

Although this minimal image worked okay for me, I don't necessarily recommend just going with whatever OS some volunteer on a forum creates. Since I first set up the computer, the Armbian project has been released, and it supports a number of standardized OS images for quite a few ARM platforms including the ODROID-XU4. So if you want to follow in my footsteps, you may want to start with the minimal Armbian Debian image.

If you've ever used a Raspberry Pi before, the process of setting up an alternative ARM board shouldn't be too different. Use another computer to write an OS image to a microSD card, boot the ARM board, and at boot, the image will expand to fill the existing filesystem. Then reboot and connect to the network, so you can log in with the default credentials your particular image sets up. Like with Raspbian builds, the first step you should perform with Armbian or any other OS image is to change the default password to something else. Even better, you should consider setting up proper user accounts instead of relying on the default.

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Categories: Linux News

Weekend Reading: Privacy

Linux Journal - Sat, 10/27/2018 - 07:59
by Carlie Fairchild

Most people simply are unaware of how much personal data they leak on a daily basis as they use their computers. Enter this weekend's reading topic: Privacy.

FOSS Project Spotlight: Tutanota, the First Encrypted Email Service with an App on F-Droid by Matthias Pfau

Seven years ago Tutanota was built, an encrypted email service with a strong focus on security, privacy and open source. Long before the Snowden revelations, Tutanota's team felt there was a need for easy-to-use encryption that would allow everyone to communicate online without being snooped upon.

The Wire by Shawn Powers

In the US, there has been recent concern over ISPs turning over logs to the government. During the past few years, the idea of people snooping on our private data (by governments and others) really has made encryption more popular than ever before. One of the problems with encryption, however, is that it's generally not user-friendly to add its protection to your conversations. Thankfully, messaging services are starting to take notice of the demand. For me, I need a messaging service that works across multiple platforms, encrypts automatically, supports group messaging and ideally can handle audio/video as well. Thankfully, I found an incredible open-source package that ticks all my boxes: Wire.

Facebook Compartmentalization by Kyle Rankin

Whenever people talk about protecting privacy on the internet, social-media sites like Facebook inevitably come up—especially right now. It makes sense—social networks (like Facebook) provide a platform where you can share your personal data with your friends, and it doesn't come as much of a surprise to people to find out they also share that data with advertisers (it's how they pay the bills after all). It makes sense that Facebook uses data you provide when you visit that site. What some people might be surprised to know, however, is just how much. Facebook tracks them when they aren't using Facebook itself but just browsing around the web.

Some readers may solve the problem of Facebook tracking by saying "just don't use Facebook"; however, for many people, that site may be the only way they can keep in touch with some of their friends and family members. Although I don't post on Facebook much myself, I do have an account and use it to keep in touch with certain friends. So in this article, I explain how I employ compartmentalization principles to use Facebook without leaking too much other information about myself.

Protection, Privacy and Playoffs by Shawn Powers

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Categories: Linux News

A Painting Created by Open-Source AI Sells for $432K, SELKS5 Beta Released, Mirantis Launches the Mirantis Cloud Platform Edge, the MixedEmotions Open-Source Toolkit Announced and Red Hat Improving the GFS2 Filesystem

Linux Journal - Fri, 10/26/2018 - 09:01

News briefs for October 26, 2018.

A painting created by an open-source neural network sold this week for $432K at a London auction house. Obvious is the group behind the work that "used 19-year-old Robbie Barrat's GAN package, available here on Github, and sourced paintings from Wiki Commons" to create the painting. See the post on TNW for details on the "first portrait ever sold at auction that was made with the assistance of an AI".

The SELKS5 beta, the live and installable network security management ISO based on Debian, was released today. New features include the latest Suricata intrusion-detection engine, major upgrade from Elasticsearch/Kibana/Logstash (ELK) 5.x to the ELK 6 stack, Scirius 3.0 and more. See the release announcement for download links, setup instructions and a visual tour.

Mirantis recently announced its new Mirantis Cloud Platform Edge (MCP Edge), a "Kubernetes-based effort to enable containers and virtual machines to run at the edge of the network", eWeek reports. MCP Edge does not run OpenStack; it's Kubernetes plus Virtlet. eWeek quotes Mirantis co-founder Boris Renski, "You can still run VMs [virtual machines] using Virtlet, with direct access to hardware acceleration like SRI-OV [Single-Root Input/Output Virtualization], but Kubernetes is the only resource scheduler."

A team of European researchers has created MixedEmotions, an open-source toolkit that can automatically assess emotions in text, audio and video. According to PhysOrg, "There is a growing demand for automatic analysis of emotions in different fields. The possible applications are wide, including call centers, smart environments, brand reputation analysis and assistive technology." Read more here about emotion detection and the complexities involved in adapting these tools to other languages.

Red Hat developers are improving the GFS2 filesystem. According to Phoronix, "recent developments around the GFS2 shared-disk file-system include performance optimizations around iomap writes, new resource group header fields, expanded journal log header information, and other low-level improvements." Future plans include "a faster fsck for GFS2 that uses AIO and larger reads, process-shared resource group locking, trusted xattrs, and deprecating the "meta" GFS2 file-system fork".

News AI Security Debian Cloud Kubernetes Red Hat GFS2
Categories: Linux News

Ubuntu Desktop in the Hyper-V Gallery, an Interview with Canonical and Microsoft

Linux Journal - Fri, 10/26/2018 - 08:08
by Petros Koutoupis

Late last month, Canonical made an astonishing announcement: an optimized image of Ubuntu Desktop is now available from Microsoft's Hyper-V gallery. This wonderful new feature is primarily intended for Windows 10 Pro desktop users needing to run Ubuntu Desktop guest virtual machines.

Although the announcement itself came as a bit of a surprise, even more so when you consider the long tumultuous history between both Microsoft and Linux, it does, however, indicate that times (and the company) have been changing. In recent years, Microsoft has been making a concerted effort to embrace open source and open-source technologies.

The announcement did leave me with a few questions, so I took the opportunity to sit down with Will Cooke, the Engineering Director for Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical, and Sarah Cooley, Program Manager at Microsoft.

Petros Koutoupis: Please introduce yourselves and describe your primary role both at your company and for this project.

Will Cooke: I am the director of engineering for Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical. Our team is responsible for putting together every Ubuntu Desktop release, selecting which packages and which features we're going to ship, making sure that each release is of the right quality and working with partners on projects around Ubuntu Desktop—for example, OEMs shipping Ubuntu Desktop on their hardware and, in this instance, Microsoft, to improve the virtual guest experience for Ubuntu Desktop on Windows 10. For this project, I worked with our internal teams to line up the requirements for supporting the enhanced session and to make sure the features we needed would be included in 18.04 LTS and with Microsoft engineers and product managers to make sure we were always in sync on the latest progress.

Sarah Cooley: I am a program manager on the virtualization team at Microsoft. We have been working closely with the developer platform team in Microsoft, Will Cooke's team in Canonical, and xRDP's community to improve the Linux virtual machine experience on Windows 10—starting with Ubuntu. To provide the experience you see today, Hyper-V developers contributed to xRDP to make sure open source communities can run Linux virtual machines in enhanced session mode while working with Canonical to provide all of the tools necessary for Ubuntu to run well with Hyper-V with no additional setup. Outside this effort, I also work on the Windows Subsystem for Linux and Linux containers on Windows.

PK: Why Hyper-V and why Ubuntu Desktop?

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Categories: Linux News

SUSE Joins OpenChain Project, Pine64 Making a Linux Smartphone, Linux Foundation Releases First Dev Kit for Its EdgeX Foundry Project, Mozilla Will Match Donations to the Tor Project and a New Version of RaspEX Linux for RPi Now Available

Linux Journal - Thu, 10/25/2018 - 08:50

News briefs for October 25, 2018.

SUSE recently joined the OpenChain Project, which makes "open source license compliance simpler and more consistent". HPCWire notes that "conformance with the OpenChain Specification confirms that an organization follows the key requirements of a quality open source compliance program, and builds trust between organizations in the supply chain". In addition, SUSE is the "first enterprise Linux distributor to earn conformance with the OpenChain Project Specification".

Pine64 is making a Linux smartphone that runs KDE Plasma. According to the FOSSBYTES post, the devices will be called PinePhone and PineTab, and Pine64 will begin sending the first PinePhone developer kits to selected devs for free in November. The open-source Linux smartphone is expected to start at around $100.

The Linux Foundation has released the first developer kit for its EdgeX Foundry project, which is for "developing open source edge computing middleware". The kit is Ubuntu-based and is "built around an octa-core Samsung Artik 710 Starter Kit teamed with a GrovePi+ I/O board. Future kits will include an Artik 530 kit, and eventually, a Raspberry Pi/GrovePi+ combination."

The Tor Project has announced that Mozilla will match all donations to the project through the end of the year. ZDNet reports that Mozilla matched $200,000 in donations to Tor last year. This year, Tor plans to use the funds to "increase the capacity modularization and scalability of the Tor network"; "better test for, measure, and design solutions around internet censorship"; and "strengthen development of the Tor Browser for Android".

A new version of RaspEX Linux for Raspberry Pi has been released. This new version as based on Ubuntu 18.10 and uses the LXDE desktop. According to Softpedia News, "RaspEX LXDE Build 181022 is powered by the Linux 4.14.76 LTS kernel built for the ARMv8 architecture, which means that it supports the original Raspberry Pi 3 Model B single-board computer, as well as the latest Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ variant. However, you can also use a 32-bit kernel, Linux 4.14.74 LTS." New packages included in this version are Raspotify (a Spotify Connect client for RPi), Putty, RealVNC and Samba.

News SUSE licensing open source Plasma Pine64 The Linux Foundation Ubuntu Tor Raspberry Pi
Categories: Linux News

Internationalizing the Kernel

Linux Journal - Thu, 10/25/2018 - 07:00
by Zack Brown

At a time when many companies are rushing to internationalize their products and services to appeal to the broadest possible market, the Linux kernel is actively resisting that trend, although it already has taken over the broadest possible market—the infrastructure of the entire world.

David Howells recently created some sample code for a new kernel library, with some complex English-language error messages that were generated from several sources within the code. Pavel Machek objected that it would be difficult to automate any sort of translations for those messages, and that it would be preferable simply to output an error code and let something in userspace interpret the error at its leisure and translate it if needed.

In this case, however, the possible number of errors was truly vast, based on a variety of possible variables. David argued that representing each and every one with a single error code would use a prohibitively large number of error codes.

Ordinarily, I might expect Pavel to be on the winning side of this debate, with Linus Torvalds or some other top developer insisting that support for internationalization was necessary in order to give the best and most useful possible experience to all users.

However, Linus had a very different take on the situation:

We don't internationalize kernel strings. We never have. Yes, some people tried to do some database of kernel messages for translation purposes, but I absolutely refused to make that part of the development process. It's a pain.

For some GUI project, internationalization might be a big deal, and it might be "TheRule(tm)". For the kernel, not so much. We care about the technology, not the language.

So we'll continue to give error numbers for "an error happened". And if/when people need more information about just what _triggered_ that error, they are as English-language strings. You can quote them and google them without having to understand them. That's just how things work.

[...]

There are places where localization is a good idea. The kernel is *not* one of those places.

He added later:

I really think the best option is "Ignore the problem". The system calls will still continue to report the basic error numbers (EINVAL etc), and the extended error strings will be just that: extended error strings. Ignore them if you can't understand them.

That said, people have wanted these kinds of extended error descriptors forever, and the reason we haven't added them is that it generally is more pain than it is necessarily worth.

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Categories: Linux News

Episode 4: All About Security

Linux Journal - Wed, 10/24/2018 - 10:36
Your browser does not support the audio element. Reality 2.0 - Episode 4: All About Security

Doc Searls and Katherine Druckman talk to Linux Journal's own Kyle Rankin about basic security hardening.

Categories: Linux News

KDE Holding a Bug Day on October 30, Qt Project Creating Its Own Code of Conduct, Linus Torvalds Discusses His Return, Tails 3.10.1 Is Out and OpenIndiana Hipster 2018.10 Released

Linux Journal - Wed, 10/24/2018 - 08:46

News briefs for October 24, 2018.

KDE is holding a Bug Day on October 30, 2018. The Bug Day will focus on Konsole, and you can join the #kde-bugs IRC channel on Freenode at any time to participate.

The Qt Project is creating its own Code of Conduct. Phoronix reports that the motivation is to "establish a formal line-in-the-sand about what is unacceptable behavior. We want new members of the Qt community to feel comfortable and accepted, and we want to foster a healthy working environment for both current and new members." You can find the proposed Code of Conduct here.

Linus Torvalds discusses his return to Linux in an interview with ZDNet, and says he's "starting the usual merge window activity now". Regarding the Code of Conduct, he says: "I want to leave it alone, and wait until we actually have any real issues. I'm hoping there won't be any, but even if there are, I want the input to be colored more by real and *actual* concerns, rather than just people arguing about it." See the article for more details on what he's been doing and other news from the Maintainers Summit.

Tails 3.10.1 is now available. This release fixes several security issues, so update as soon as possible. Also in this version Linux is updated to 4.8, the Tor Browser is updated to 8.0.3 and Thunderbird to 60.2.1. Tails version 3.11 is expected in December.

OpenIndiana Hipster 2018.10 was released today. Notable changes include MATE updated to 1.20, Python 3.5 was added, the Image Packaging System received many updates, and much more. See the release notes for more details, and download it from here.

News KDE qt Code of Conduct Linus Torvalds Tails Distributions OpenIndiana
Categories: Linux News

Simulate Typing with This C Program

Linux Journal - Wed, 10/24/2018 - 07:00
by Jim Hall

I recently created a video demonstration of how to do some work at the command line, but as I tried to record my video, I kept running into problems. I'm just not the kind of person who can type commands at a keyboard and talk about it at the same time. I quickly realized I needed a way to simulate typing, so I could create a "canned" demonstration that I could narrate in my video.

After doing some searching, I couldn't find a command on my distribution that would simulate typing. I wasn't surprised; that's not a common thing people need to do. So instead, I rolled my own program to do it.

Writing a program to simulate typing isn't as difficult as it first might seem. I needed my program to act like the echo command, where it displayed output given as command-line parameters. I added command-line options so I could set a delay between the program "typing" each letter, with an additional delay for spaces and newlines. The program basically did this the following for each character in a given string:

  1. Insert a delay.
  2. Print the character.
  3. Flush the output buffer so it shows up on screen.

First, I needed a way to simulate a delay in typing, such as someone typing slowly, or pausing before typing the next word or pressing Enter. The C function to create a delay is usleep(useconds_t usec). You use usleep() with the number of microseconds you want your program to pause. So if you want to wait one second, you would use usleep(1000000).

Working in microseconds means too many zeroes for me to type, so I wrote a simple wrapper called msleep(int millisec) that does the same thing in milliseconds:

int msleep (int millisec) { useconds_t usec; int ret; /* wrapper to usleep() but values in milliseconds instead */ usec = (useconds_t) millisec *1000; ret = usleep (usec); return (ret); }

Next, I needed to push characters to the screen after each delay. Normally, you can use putchar(int char) to send a single character to standard output (such as the screen), but you won't actually see the output until you send a newline. To get around this, you need to flush the output buffer manually. The C function fflush(FILE *stream) will flush an output stream for you. If you put a delay() before each fflush(), it will appear that someone is pausing slightly between typing each character.

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Categories: Linux News

Firefox 63 Released, Red Hat Collaborating with NVIDIA, Virtual Box 6.0 Beta Now Available, ODROID Launching a New Intel-Powered SBC and Richard Stallman Announces the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines

Linux Journal - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 08:35

News briefs for October 23, 2018.

Firefox 63.0 was released this morning. With this new version, "users can opt to block third-party tracking cookies or block all trackers and create exceptions for trusted sites that don't work correctly with content blocking enabled". In addition, WebExtensions now run in their own process on Linux, and Firefox also now warns if you have multiple windows and tabs open when you quit via the main menu. You can download it from here.

Red Hat this morning announced it is collaborating with NVIDIA to "bring a new wave of open innovation around emerging workloads like artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning and data science to enterprise datacenters around the world." Leading this partnership is the certification of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on NVIDIA DGX-1 systems, which will provide "a foundation or the rest of the Red Hat portfolio, including Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, to be deployed and jointly supported on NVIDIA's AI supercomputers."

VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 1 was released today. Note that this is a beta release and shouldn't be used on production machines. Version 6.0 will be a new major release. So far, some of the changes include Oracle Cloud Infrastructure integration and improvements in the GUI design. See the forum for more information.

ODROID recently announced it is launching a new Intel-powered SBC. According to Phoronix, the "ODROID-H2 and is powered by an Intel J4105 Geminilake 2.3GHz quad-core processor, dual channel DDR4 memory via SO-DIMM slots, PCIe NVMe storage slot, dual Gigabit Ethernet, dual SATA 3.0 ports, and HDMI 2.0 / DP 1.2 display outputs". It is expected to be available in late November. See the ODROID forum for further details.

Richard Stallman yesterday announced the "GNU Kind Communication Guidelines". Stallman writes that in contrast to a code of conduct with punishment for people who violate the rules, "the idea of the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines is to start guiding people towards kinder communication at a point well before one would even think of saying, 'You are breaking the rules'." The initial version of the GNU Kind Communications Guidelines is here.

News Firefox Red Hat NVIDIA AI OpenShift VirtualBox ODROID SBCs GNU Linux Richard Stallman Code of Conduct
Categories: Linux News

Pioneers in Open Source--Eren Niazi, Part I: the Start of a Movement and the Open-Source Revolution Redefining the Data Center

Linux Journal - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 08:06
by Petros Koutoupis

The name may not be a familiar one to everyone, but Eren Niazi can be credited with laying the foundation and paving the way to the many software-defined and cloud-centric technologies in use today.

When considering the modern data center, it's difficult to imagine a time when open-source technologies were considered taboo or not production-grade, but that time actually existed. There was a time when the data center meant closed and propriety technologies, developed and distributed by some of the biggest names in the industry—the days when EMC, NetApp, Hewlett Packard (HP), Oracle or even Sun Microsystems owned your data center and the few applications upon which you heavily relied. It also was a time when your choice was limited to one vendor, and you would invest big into that single vendor. If you were an HP shop, you bought HP. If you were an EMC shop, you bought EMC—and so on. From the customer's point of view, needing to interact with only a single vendor for purchasing, management and support was comforting.

However, shifting focus back to the present, the landscape is quite different. Instead, you'll find an environment of mixed offerings provided by an assortment of vendors, both large and small. Proprietary machines work side by side with off the shelf commodity devices hosting software-defined software, most of which are built on top of open-source code. And half the applications are hosted in virtual machines over a Hypervisor or just spun up in one or more containers.

These changes didn't happen overnight. It took visionaries like Eren Niazi to identify the full potential of open-source software technologies. He saw what others did not and, in turn, proved to an entire industry that open source was not merely production-ready, but he also used that same technology to redefine the entire data center.

His story is complicated, filled with ups and downs. Eren faced his fair share of trials and tribulations that gave him everything, just to have it all taken away. But, let's begin at the beginning.

Born in Sunnyvale, California, a little more than 40 years ago, Eren grew up down the street from Steve Jobs, and on many occasions, he engaged the legendary Apple co-founder in inspiring conversations. The two shared many characteristics. Neither ever finished college. Both are entrepreneurs and inventors. Niazi and Jobs each were driven from their own companies, only to return again. Around age 12, Eren became fascinated with computers and learned how to develop code. However, his adventures in open-source technologies didn't truly start until the year 1998.

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Categories: Linux News

Linux Kernel 4.19 Released, Linus Torvalds Is Back, Linspire 8.0 RC1 Is Out, IPFire 2.21 Now Available and Recently Discovered Apache Vulnerability

Linux Journal - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 08:45

News briefs for October 22, 2018.

Greg Kroah-Hartman released Linux kernel 4.19 this morning and handed the kernel tree back to Linus, writing "You can have the joy of dealing with the merge window."

Linus Torvalds "is meeting with Linux's top 40 or so developers at the Maintainers' Summit", at the Open Source Summit Europe in Edinburgh, Scotland, ZDNet reports. He isn't scheduled to speak, but "this is his first step back in taking over Linux's reins."

Linspire 8.0 RC1 was released over the weekend. The stable release is expected in December (don't use this release in production environments), and RC2, which should be more feature-complete, is expected in November. Among other changes, in this version, iMac Pro support has been improved and Oracle Java is now in the repositories. It uses the MATE 1.20.1 desktop, kernel 4.15 and Chrome 69.

IPFire 2.21 - Core Update 124 is out, and according to the release announcement, it "brings new features and immensely improves security and performance of the whole system". It's now available on AWS EC2, is updated to kernel version 4.14.72 and the security of its SSH daemon has been improved, among other new features.

A recently discovered Apache vulnerability could affect thousands of applications. Dark Reading reports that the issue is with "the way that thousands of code projects are using Apache .htaccess, leaving them vulnerable to unauthorized access and a subsequent file upload attack in which auto-executing code is uploaded to an application."

News kernel Linus Torvalds Linspire IPFire Security Apache
Categories: Linux News

Review: System76 Oryx Pro Laptop

Linux Journal - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 06:30
by Robert J. Hansen

Can "by hackers, for hackers" sell laptops? System76 sold an Oryx Pro to Rob, and he's here to tell you about it.

I should start by saying that although I'm definitely no newbie to Linux, I'm new to the world of dedicated Linux laptops. I started with Linux in 1996, when Red Hat 4.0 had just adopted the 2.0 kernel and Debian 1.3 hadn't yet been released. I've run a variety of distros with varying degrees of satisfaction ever since, always looking for the Holy Grail of a desktop UNIX that just plain worked.

About 15 years ago after becoming frustrated with the state of Linux on laptop hardware (in a phrase, "nonexistent hardware support"), I switched my laptops over to Macs and didn't look back. It was a true-blue UNIX that just plain worked, and I was happy. But I increasingly found myself frustrated by things I expected from Linux that weren't available on macOS, and which things like Homebrew and MacPorts and Fink could only partly address.

My last MacBook Pro is now four years old, so it was time to shop around again. After being underwhelmed by this generation of MacBooks, I decided to take the risk on a Linux laptop again.

Oh my, an awful lot has changed in 15 years!

System76

System76 is a Denver-based firm with a "by hackers, for hackers" ethos. It's not the first outfit to have tried to deliver on this promise, nor will it be the last. It follows in a long line pioneered by Red Hat and VA Research, and it will continue in the future with businesses yet to be founded. At this moment in history though, System76 seems to be doing a pretty good job of maintaining that standard.

Inquiries

My initial contact with System76 came by visiting the website and requesting a quote for one of its third-generation Oryx Pro models. The sales staff were responsive, polite and didn't seem to have their personalities obliterated into uniform perfection like the Stepford Salesforce of Lenovo or Dell. I also never caught a whiff of a hard sell from any of them. On three occasions just before being able to put down my hard-earned dinero on an Oryx Pro, my life went sideways, and my laptop fund went to pay for strange emergencies that arose out of nowhere, but the System76 sales staff were cheerfully uncaring about this. The impression I got was they believed they knew were going to miss a sale right then, but whether they missed it forever depended on how they behaved in that instant. It's an enlightened view from which more vendors could stand to learn.

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Categories: Linux News

Weekend Reading: Tor and Tails

Linux Journal - Sat, 10/20/2018 - 09:04
by Carlie Fairchild

Tails is a live media Linux distro designed to boot into a highly secure desktop environment. Tor is a browser that prevents somebody watching your internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.

Learn why anonymity matters and how you can protect yourself with this Linux Journal Weekend Reading.

Tor Hidden Services 

Why should clients get all the privacy? Give your servers some privacy too!

Tails above the Rest: the Installation

How to get and validate the Tails distribution and install it. We will follow up with what Tails can and can't do to protect your privacy, and how to use Tails in a way that minimizes your risk. Then we will finish with some more advanced features of Tails, including the use of a persistent volume (with this feature, depending on your needs, you could conceivably use Tails as your main Linux distribution).

Tails above the Rest, Part II

Now that you have Tails installed, let's start using it. Read on to find out how to get started.

Tails above the Rest, Part III

In the first two parts on this series, we gave an overview of Tails, including how to get the distribution securely, and once you have it, how to use some of the basic tools. Here, we cover some of the more advanced features of Tails, such as some of its log-in options, its suite of encryption tools and the persistent disk.

Tor Security for Android and Desktop Linux 

The Tor Project presents an effective countermeasure against hostile and disingenuous carriers and ISPs that, on a properly rooted and capable Android device or Linux system, can force all network traffic through Tor encrypted entry points (guard nodes) with custom rules for iptables. This action renders all device network activity opaque to the upstream carrier—barring exceptional intervention, all efforts to track a user are afterwards futile.

A Bundle of Tor

The best way to set up Tor on your personal machine.

Dolphins in the NSA Dragnet

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Categories: Linux News

When the Problem Is the Story

Linux Journal - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 12:02
by Doc Searls

Linux isn't a story anymore.

That's a good thing, but not an interesting one. Let me explain.

Journalism's main product is the story. In newsrooms, the three words uttered most often by editors to reporters are "What's the story?"

As I was taught by an editor long ago—and as I have found to be true constantly ever since—all stories are about three things:

  1. A character. Usually human, but not always. Could be a cause. A sports team. A political party. Could be good, or bad, or neither. All that matters is that the character is interesting. You can also have more than one, but a single one is better.
  2. A problem or conflict. A situation that challenges the character, or characters, further defining them and making them more interesting. Problems and conflict keep people interested, so they keep reading, watching, listening, turning pages, talking to others about it, and "move the narrative along" (as the news watchers like to say).
  3. Movement toward resolution. Doesn't matter if the end never arrives. Hell, look at soap operas. You just have to keep the story moving in the direction of conclusion. Newsroom aphorism: "No story ever starts with 'Happily ever after'." Another: "If your team is up forty points with five minutes left, your new story is about how you get out of the parking lot ahead of traffic."

All three of those are why Linux isn't much of a story any more, even though it's bigger in the world than it has ever been.

Linux had character when it was easy to cast as an underdog operating system, and the problem was beating Windows. Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux, did his best not to be interesting, but his fans made him interesting anyway:

Us included. The above is from a slide show that was featured in a story I wrote back in 2002 that's off-web at the moment, but also beside the point, which is that Linus and his penguins were characters in stories that were interesting at the time and aren't anymore.

That's because Linux has achieved the world domination it longed for in the early years.

Yes, Linus as a character got interesting for a few minutes last month (top results in a Google News search for "Linus Torvalds" range from 22 to 29 days old), but that story is too stale to be interesting now, even though the issues around it still matter.

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Categories: Linux News

openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshots Update, Nominations Now Open for 2019 Red Hat Women in Open Source Awards, OpenSSH 7.9 Released, Some VestaCP Servers Compromised by New Linux/ChachaDDOS Malware and Kraft 0.82 Now Available

Linux Journal - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 08:48

News briefs for October 19, 2018.

Two new openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots provide KDE users with a newer version of Applications 18.08.2, and all Tumbleweed users can update kernel 4.18.13. Last week's snapshots included newer versions of KDE's Plasma 5.14 and Frameworks 5.50.0. For more info on the recent updates, visit opensuse.org.

Nominations are open for 2019 Red Hat Women in Open Source Awards. This is the fifth year of the awards that "were created and are sponsored by Red Hat to honor women who make important contributions to open source projects and communities, or those making innovative use of open source methodology". Nominations are being accepted until November 12, 2018. See the 2019 Women in Open Source Award Page for further details.

OpenSSH 7.9 was released today. It's available from the mirrors here.

ZDNet reports that some VestaCP servers were compromised by a new malware strain called Linux/ChachaDDOS. The unknown attacker "contaminated the project's source code with malware that logs passwords, open shells, and can launch DDoS attacks." Evidently the malicious code was added to the official GitHub repository on May 31 and removed June 13. See the ESET report for more information.

A new release of Kraft, "the Qt- and KDE based software to help to organize business docs in small companies", is now available. Version 0.82 reworks the calculation dialog that does calculations for templates and also sending documents via email was improved. See the Changelog for more details.

News openSUSE KDE Red Hat Women open source OpenSSH Security Kraft
Categories: Linux News

Doing Date Math on the Command Line - Part II

Linux Journal - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 08:13
by Mitch Frazier

In part II of this series of articles on doing date math from the command line we want to try to solve a problem we noted in part I: passing the date command a date specification something like "the first Monday after some date".

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Categories: Linux News

Ubuntu 18.10 "Cosmic Cuttlefish" Due Out Today, Arm Launches IoT-Focused Mbed Linux, GitHub's New Security Features, MongoDB Announces New Server Side License and Google to Charge for Apps on Android Handsets Sold in Europe

Linux Journal - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 08:31

News briefs for October 18, 2018.

Ubuntu 18.10 "Cosmic Cuttlefish" expected to be released today. According to Phoronix, the biggest change for users will be the revised default theme for the GNOME Shell experience, now known as "Yaru". Ubuntu 18.10 will also have the Linux 4.18 kernel, "which means better hardware support, various performance improvements, and other optimizations compared to Ubuntu 18.04's Linux 4.15".

Arm launches the IoT-focused Mbed Linux OS and also extends Pelion IoT Platform services. According to Linux.com, Mbed Linux "combines the Linux kernel with tools and recipes from the Intel-backed Yocto Project. The distro also integrates security and IoT connectivity code from its open source Mbed RTOS". In addition, the Pelion IoT Platform "will align with Intel's Secure Device Onboard (SDO) provisioning technology to make it easier for IoT vendors and customers to onboard both x86 and Arm-based devices using a common Pelion platform. Arm also announced Pelion related partnerships with myDevices and Arduino."

GitHub updated its platform this week, which included many developer-centric changes and security features, but the most notable change is the "expansion of the Security Alerts feature, which also now supports Java and .NET projects, on top of the original JavaScript, Ruby and Python", ZDNet reports.

MongoDB recently announced it will be released under the new Server Side Public License: "The SSPL clarifies the conditions for making MongoDB publicly available as a service, to ensure we can continue to invest in building MongoDB for our users rather than in costly litigation over enforcing the AGPL. All subsequent versions and patch releases to prior versions of MongoDB made after October 16th, 2018 will be issued under the new SSPL."

Google plans to charge smartphone makers to pre-install apps like Gmail and YouTube on Android handsets sold in Europe. The Verge quotes Android leader Hiroshi Lockheimer, "Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the [European Economic Area]."

News Ubuntu Distributions GNOME ARM IOT GitHub Security MongoDB licensing Google Android Mobile
Categories: Linux News
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