GNU is Not Unix

Talos Secure Workstation Is Free-Software Centric — and $3100 [Updated] 114

jones_supa writes: These days, the motivation to use open source software for many people is to avoid backdoors placed by intelligence organizations and to avoid software that has hidden privacy-intruding characteristics. For the operating system and userspace software, open choices are already available. The last remaining island has been the firmware included in various ROM chips in a computer. Libreboot has introduced an open BIOS, but it is not available for newer systems featuring the Intel ME or AMD PSP management features. Talos' Secure Workstation fills this need, providing a modern system with 8-core POWER8 CPU, 132 GB RAM, and open firmware. The product is currently in a pre-release phase where Raptor Engineering is trying to understand if it's possible to do a production run of the machine. If you are interested, it's worth visiting the official website. Adds an anonymous reader about the new system, which rings in at a steep $3100: "While the engineers found solace in the POWER8 architecture with being more open than AMD/Intel CPUs, they still are searching for a graphics card that is open enough to receive the FSF Respect Your Freedom certification." Update: 02/08 18:44 GMT by T : See also Linux hacker and IBM employee Stewart Smith's talk from the just-completed linux.conf.au on, in which he walks through "all of the firmware components and what they do, including the boot sequence from power being applied up to booting an operating system." Update: 02/08 23:30 GMT by T :FSF Licensing & Compliance Manager Joshua Gay wrote to correct the headline originally appeared with this story, which said that the Talos workstation described was "FSF Certified"; that claim was an error I introduced. "The FSF has not certified this hardware," says Gay, "nor is it currently reviewing the hardware for FSF certification." Sorry for the confusion.
Operating Systems

GNU Hurd Begins Supporting Sound, Still Working On 64-bit & USB Support (phoronix.com) 312

An anonymous reader writes: GNU developer Samuel Thibault presented at this weekend's FOSDEM conference about the current state of GNU Hurd. He shared that over the past year they've started working on experimental sound support as their big new feature. They also have x86 64-bit support to the point that the kernel can boot, but not much beyond that stage yet. USB and other functionality remains a work-in-progress. Those curious about this GNU kernel project can find more details via the presentation media.
Hardware Hacking

Collecting Private Flight Data On the World Economic Forum Attendees With RTL-SDR (qz.com) 88

An anonymous reader writes: Every year politicians and business men meet at the World Economic Forum in the small mountain town of Davos, Switzerland to discuss various topics and create business deals. This year Quartz, an online newspaper/magazine sent a journalist to the forum tasked with writing a unconventional story about the forum: he was asked to monitor the private helicopter traffic coming in and out of Davos from transponder broadcast of ADS-B data. Using an $20 RTL-SDR dongle, Raspberry Pi and ADS-B collinear antenna they monitored the flights over Davos. From the data they were able to determine the flight paths that many helicopters took, the types of helicopters used and the most popular flight times.
GNU is Not Unix

GNU Emacs Now Has Native Support For GTK Widgets (phoronix.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes: The GNU Emacs text editor now has merged the X Widgets branch. What this work allows is for embedding GTK+ user interface widgets within Emacs for features like landing MPlayer or a full web browser in Emacs. This allows now for more endless opportunities for the 40 year old GNU text editor. The X/GTK widgets support will come with GNU Emacs 25.1.
GNU is Not Unix

Remix OS in Violation of GPL and Apache Licenses (tlhp.cf) 180

An anonymous reader writes: You may have heard recently of the Remix OS, a fork of Android that targets desktop computing. The operating system, which was created by former Google employees and features a traditional desktop layout in addition to the ability to run Android apps, was previewed on Ars Technica a few weeks ago, but it was not actually released for end-users to download until earlier this week. Now that Remix OS has been released, The Linux Homefront Project is reporting that the Android-based operating system, for which source code is not readily available, violates both the GPL and the Apache License. The RemixOS installer includes a "Remix OS USB Tool" that is really a re-branded copy of popular disk imaging tool UNetbootin, which falls under the GPL. Additionally, browsing through the install image files reveals that the operating system is based on the Apache Licensed Android-x86 project. From the article: "Output is absolutely clear – no differences! No authors, no changed files, no trademarks, just copy-paste development." Is this a blatant disregard for the GPL and Apache licenses by an optimistic startup, or were the authors too eager to release that they forgot to provide access to the repo?
Open Source

Fedora Linux Might Drop Incremental Upgrades (happyassassin.net) 91

prisoninmate writes: As you might know, Fedora and many other GNU/Linux distributions require users to do an incremental upgrade when attempting to move from an older version of the operating system to the most recent one. For example, if you want to upgrade from Fedora 21 to Fedora 23, you will have first to upgrade to Fedora 22. Lately, Fedora upgrades have become more stable and reliable, mostly because of some brand-new technologies, such as the DNF package manger. Fedora's Adam Williamson theorizes about an innovative method that might support official upgrade of the Fedora Linux operating system across two releases in the future.
Linux Business

Video GNU/Linux Desktops with No User Knowledge Needed (Video) 85

Joey Amanchukwu is co-founder and CEO of Transforia, a company that leases computers pre-loaded with Red Hat Enterprise Linux -- a distro choice that may have been made at least partly because Joey used to sell for Red Hat.

There have been other companies that tried to sell Linux desktops and laptops on a "don't worry about a thing; we'll administer them for you, no problem" basis. Not a lot (maybe none) of those companies have survived, as far as we know. Will Transforia manage to make it big? Or at least become profitable? We'll see.
GNU is Not Unix

The FSF Is 30 Years Old; Where Should They Go From Here? (fsf.org) 231

An anonymous reader writes: The Free Software Foundation is conducting a survey to gather feedback on where they should be focusing their efforts over the next five years. Should they concentrate on IP issues, UX issues, or something else? Is their stance on Free Software versus Open Source a battle that's already lost, and should they compromise? What do users think an ideal world would look like in 2020? And how miserable could things get? Without the FSF (and GNU), today's computing landscape would sure look a lot different.
Debian

APT Speed For Incremental Updates Gets a Massive Performance Boost 162

jones_supa writes: Developer Julian Andres Klode has this week made some improvements to significantly increase the speed of incremental updates with Debian GNU/Linux's APT update system. His optimizations have yielded the apt-get program to suddenly yield 10x performance when compared to the old code. These improvements also make APT with PDiff now faster than the default, non-incremental behavior. Beyond the improvements that landed this week, Julian is still exploring other areas for improving APT update performance. More details via his blog post.
Ubuntu

Porting Ubuntu For Raspberry Pi 2 Just Got a Lot Easier (softpedia.com) 32

prisoninmate writes: Ubuntu Pi Flavour Maker is an open source tool, a shell script that lets anyone port any of the official or unofficial Ubuntu Linux flavors for the Raspberry Pi 2. Ubuntu Pi Flavour Maker is officially supported on the Ubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME flavors, and uses the traditional apt and dpkg package management systems from Debian GNU/Linux.
Operating Systems

DragonFlyBSD 4.4 Switches To the Gold Linker By Default (phoronix.com) 26

An anonymous reader writes: DragonFlyBSD 4.4 is now available for download (x86_64 ISO) and is a feature release that presents many improvements and new features. DragonFlyBSD now uses the Gold Linker by default rather than GNU Ld, updates the Intel and Radeon graphics support against the Linux 3.18 kernel, improves its experimental HAMMER2 file-system updates the locale system and provides collation for named locales, changes out its regex library, and has new hardware drivers. More details on the 4.4 release page.
The Courts

Video The FSF's Donald Robertson Talks About Secretive Trade Negotiations (Video) 32

Donald Robertson, is the Free Software Foundation (FSF) copyright administrator (and wearer of several other hats as well), so he's the FSF person to turn to when you want to discuss trade agreements, how they are negotiated, and how info on these (typically) secret) goings-on get leaked so that we can see what our negotiators are up to. And don't think, even for a second, that the TPP is the only trade agreement our government is working on, or necessarily the worst. After that, we learn how Don Robertson hooked up with the FSF and got what may be the best job in the world for an attorney who likes (and uses) GNU/Linux. (And for more, check out yesterday's interview with Mr. Robertson.)
Chrome

Google To Drop Chrome Support For 32-bit Linux 175

prisoninmate writes: Google announces that its Google Chrome web browser will no longer be available for 32-bit hardware platforms. Additionally, Google Chrome will no longer be supported on the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) and Debian GNU/Linux 7 (Wheezy) operating systems. Users are urged to update to the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) release and Debian GNU/Linux 8 (Jessie) respectively. Google will continue to support the 32-bit build configurations for those who want to build the open-source Chromium web browser on various Linux kernel-based operating systems. Reader SmartAboutThings writes, on a similar note, that: Microsoft is tolling the death knell for Internet Explorer with an announcement that it will end support for all older versions next year. Microsoft says that all versions older than the latest one will no longer be supported starting Jan. 12, 2016. After this date, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older Internet Explorer versions. Furthermore, Internet Explorer 11 will be the last version of Internet Explorer as Microsoft shifts its focus on its next web browser, Microsoft Edge.
The Gimp

20 Years of GIMP (gimp.org) 352

jones_supa writes: Back in 1995, University of California students Peter Mattis and Kimball Spencer were members of the eXperimental Computing Facility, a Berkeley campus organization. In June of that year, the two hinted at their intentions to write a free graphical image manipulation program as a means of giving back to the free software community. On November 21st, 20 years ago today, Peter Mattis announced the availability of the "General Image Manipulation Program" on Usenet (later "GNU Image Manipulation Program"). Over the years, GIMP amassed a huge amount of new features designed for all kinds of users and practical applications: general image editing, retouching and color grading, digital painting, graphic design, science imaging, and so on. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, there is an update of the current stable branch of GIMP. The newly released version 2.8.16 features support for layer groups in OpenRaster files, fixes for layer groups support in PSD, various user interface improvements, OSX build system fixes, translation updates, and more.
Communications

Getting Started With GNU Radio (hackaday.com) 42

An anonymous reader writes: Software Defined Radio must be hard to create, right? Tools like GNU Radio and GNU Radio Companion make it much easier to build radios that can tune AM, FM, and even many digital modes. Of course, you need some kind of radio hardware, right? Not exactly. Hackaday has one of their video hands on tutorials about how to use GNU Radio with no extra hardware (or, optionally, a sound card that you probably already have). The catch? Well, you can't do real radio that way, but you can learn the basics and do audio DSP. The next installment promises to use some real SDR hardware and build an actual radio. But if you ever wanted to see if it was worth buying SDR hardware, this is a good way to see how you like working with GNU Radio before you spend any money.
GNU is Not Unix

GNU Hurd 0.7 and GNU Mach 1.6 Released 129

jones_supa writes: Halloween brought us GNU Hurd 0.7, GNU Mach 1.6, and GNU MIG 1.6. The new Hurd comes with filesystem driver improvements, provides a new rpcscan utility, and the Hurd code has been ported to work with newer versions of GCC and GNU C Library. The Mach microkernel has updates for compiler compatibility, improvements to the lock debugging infrastructure, the kernel now lets non-privileged users write to a small amount of memory, timestamps are now kept relative to boot time, and there are various bugfixes. MIG 1.6 is a small update which improves compatibility with newer dialects of C programming language. Specific details on all of the updates can be found in the full release announcement. jrepin adds some more details: The GNU Hurd 0.7 improves the node cache for the EXT2 file-system code (ext2fs), improves the native fakeroot tool, provides a new rpcscan utility, and fixes a long-standing synchronization issue with the file-system translators and other components. The GNU Mach 1.6 microkernel also has updates for compiler compatibility, improvements to the lock debugging infrastructure, the kernel now lets non-privileged users write to a small amount of memory, timestamps are now kept relative to boot time, and there are various bug-fixes.
GNU is Not Unix

FLIF: Free Lossless Image Format 311

nickweller sends a link to an informational post about FLIF, the Free, Lossless Image Format. It claims to outperform PNG, lossless WebP, and other popular formats on any kind of image. "On photographs, PNG performs poorly while WebP, BPG and JPEG 2000 compress well (see plot on the left). On medical images, PNG and WebP perform relatively poorly while BPG and JPEG 2000 work well (see middle plot). On geographical maps, BPG and JPEG 2000 perform (extremely) poorly while while PNG and WebP work well (see plot on the right). In each of these three examples, FLIF performs well — even better than any of the others." FLIF uses progressive decoding to provide fully-formed lossy images from partial downloads in bandwidth-constrained situations. Best of all, FLIF is free software, released under the GNU GPLv3.
GUI

What's New In GNOME 3.18 170

prisoninmate writes: In this release, GNOME improves the general user experience for users and new developers alike. GNOME 3.18 adds a feature called "Automatic Brightness," which, when enabled, it will make use of your laptop's light sensor to dim or increase the screen's brightness depending on the surrounding lighting. GNOME 3.18 also improves the touch screen experience, especially when selecting and modifying text, implements a new view in the Nautilus (Files) sidebar, which collects all the remote and internal locations in a single place.

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