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- Richard Stallman has resigned from his position as president of the Free Software Foundation
The FSF has released a very short statement saying "On September 16, 2019, Richard M. Stallman, founder and president of the Free Software Foundation, resigned as president and from its board of directors.
- Linux Kernel 5.3 is released
The latest Linux kernel is the first kernel with support for AMDs Navi GPUs which were released this summer. It also adds support for a series of special umwait instructions present on upcoming low-power Intel x86 CPUs. These instructions allows CPUs to wait for processes using far less power than NOP (No Operation) loops. Intel has also added Speed Select support for their Xeon servers to this kernel. A new lightweight hypervisor called ACRN may be of interest to those developing very light IoT devices. There is also support for the Chinese x86 Zhaoxin CPU in Linux Kernel 5.3.
- Linux Kernel 5.3 rc8 is released and 5.3 final is coming soon
The next Linux kernel is shaping up to be a interesting release with it's support for existing as well as future AMD Navi GPUs in addition to support for the mysterious CometLake-H and CometLake-LP platforms on the Intel side.
Quote of the week
"The purpose of a non-free program is to subjugate people. And typically that leads to malicious functionalities. Many of the most widely non-free programs are MALWARE. Now, note that malware is totally different issue, a different consent. The difference between free software and proprietary software is a matter of how the program is distributed to users, on what conditions for instance it's distributed. And the same code, any code, could be distributed as free software, any code could be distributed as proprietary software. Sometimes the same code is distributed both ways in parallel. It's a matter of how the code is distributed. It is not a technical issue, it is not a technical distinction between free and proprietary. Technical distinctions are things like what features does the program have, how does it work, how was the code written? Those are all technical things. This is a social, ethical and political distinction which is why it is so important."
Latest software reviews
- Endless OSEndless OS from Endless Computers is a GNU+Linux operating system loosely based on Debian with a tablet-like skin on top of a customized GNOME 3 desktop environment. It is designed to be very easy to use and people with little to no computer skills who are somewhat familiar with smartphones and tablets may feel right at home. It has automatic updates with no user interaction and license terms which are so bad they make the licenses of competing operating systems like Windows and MacOS sound free in comparison.
- Tzclocktzclock, short for "Timezone Clock", is a very nice-looking configurable analog clock program for GNU/Linux desktops. It is by default dull and uninteresting and it default face doesn't even have a second hand. Don't let that fool you, it is very configurable and it is easy to make it be a very nice analog clock.
- StrawberryStrawberry is a database-oriented music player made for enjoying large music collections. It supports all the common audio file formats. It has many more advanced features like metadata tag editing, album art and song lyric fetching, audio analyzer and equalizer and "scrobbler" support for a variety of services. Strawberry started as a fork of the long-dead Clementine player which was based on Qt4. Strawberry uses the more modern Qt5 framework for it's graphical interface. It is a decent player as of version 0.6.3.
- F-Droid 1.7.1 availableThere's not much new in the latest version of the free software Android appstore. There is no mention of version 1.7.1 in the changelog and there is no news on the f-droid website. A close-up inspection of the gitlab repository indicates that only a donation related file has been changed since 1.7 was released early last month.
- Qt Creator 4.10.0 released with Android targets for CMake and Qbs projectsThe latest version of the cross-platform IDE for developing software with the Qt toolkit has a new "pin" files feature which allows you to make files stay on top and never go away even if you bulk close all files in a project. There's also support for installing all files that are installed by your build system's install step on remote targets.
- Mesa 19.2 rc2 released with support for Navi and "unreleased" AMD chipThe second Mesa 19.2 release candidate is now available for hardcore and bleeding edge GNU/Linux users who want the latest in graphics technology. Mesa 19.2 will be the first Mesa version to support the AMD Navi GPUs released this summer as well as a mysterious "unreleased" AMD chip referred to as "Navi14". There is also improvements in the Intel Iris graphics driver for Intel iGPUs.
- Warzone 2100 3.3 released with better graphics and high resolution monitor supportIt has been 3 years since the last release of the free open source strategy game Warzone 2100 from 1999. Warzone 2100 has been free software since 2004 and it's small hardcore community has been making small incremental improvements ever since. Version 3.2 could not get into scaling which made it unusable on modern monitors. The latest version has a brand new "Display Scale" option which works well on modern 4K displays. There's also better and smoother graphics and the lagging which would sometimes be noticeable when a lot of things were going on is gone. The new version is available for GNU/Linux, Windows and MacOS. There is no Android version.
- Git v2.23.0 is released and availableBig websites like Microsoft github and GitLab Inc is where the vast majority of people encounter git for the first time. It is actually free open source software and you can and should install it on your own server instead of surrendering control over vital code to large multi-national corporations. The latest version of git has many fixes both server and client-side. It is also "futureproof".
- Fedora 31 is branched: Here are the high-lights in the next Fedora versionThe next version of IBMs beta-test distribution for Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been branched off from Fedora's bleeding edge "rawhide" tree. The first beta verison of Fedodra 31 will be released September 29th and the final version will be released in the end of October. The high-lights in Fedora 31 are CgroupsV2 resource control, Python 3 as the default python interpreter and updated versions of the KDE, GNOME, XFCE and DeepinDE desktop environments. There will be no i386 or i686 versions of Fedora 31.
- Creating Worms exploiting Windows Remote Desktop Vulnerabilities knock on port 3389Microsoft has announced that their Windows OS has yet another critical security hole which allows anyone to take control over machines running that operating system if remote desktop services are enabled. The result is that you may be seeing attempts to connect to port 3389 in your firewall. These can be safely be ignored since they are only targeting Windows-infected computers.
- Happy Birthday DebianThe community distribution Debian is 26 years old today. The Debian Project was founded by Ian Murdock on August 16th, 1993. The first version, Debian 0.01, wasn't released until one month later on September 15th, 1993.
- AMD finally submits kernel patch for broken RDRAND on older AMD APUsIt only took 5 years for AMD to submit a kernel patch which doesn't even fix RDRAND being broken on older AMD APUs after suspend. Their kernel patch "fixes" the problem by completely disabling the RDRAND instruction on all family 15 and 16 APUs and CPUs from AMD - even those not affected by this particular issue.
- Tor Snowflake launched as a censorship countermeasure for the The Onion Router networkThe Onion Router's many nodes are banned by quite a few tyrannical regimes around the world. Tor has a feature called "bridges" which helps by-pass local censorship. Bridges are computers who act as middle-men between end-users and the Tor network. They are not listed in the Tor directory and they are meant to be hard to learn. It is, of course, possible to pretend you are a lots and lots of end-users in order to learn all the bridges. Tor's new "Snowflake" browser-plugin aims so make Tor even more censorship-resistant by allowing anyone with that browser plugin to act as a proxy for Tor's bridges.
- Treasure-trove of internal Google documents showing censorship and bias leaked by insiderA now former Google employee who went on camera talking about Google election meddling and other illegalities in June has made a 300 MB compressed archive filled with internal Google documents available through Project Veritas. The documents include censorship blacklists and plans which outline a clear political agenda.
- Linux Kernel 5.3-rc4 releasedThe forth release-candidate of the upcoming Linux Kernel 5.3 is the largest release candidate "in years". A lot of the changes since rc3 are network-related and quote a few of those are related to WIFI drivers like the iwlwifi driver for Intel wireless network cards. There's also a notable amount of changes related to Logitech input devices. There's also new Spectre v1 swapgs mitigations in this kernel; fixes for Intel CPU security flaws keep piling onto the already huge pile of fixes for Intel's highly insecure Swiss-cheese products.
- Xfce 4.14 ReleasedThe leading GNU/Linux desktop environment Xfce has released a new stable version after almost 5 years of development. The latest version is based on GTK3 instead of GTK2 and it uses GDBus instead of GLib under the hood. There's entirely new components like Xfce's new screensaver and many small and large improvements to the existing applications in Xfce 4.12 such as the file-manager Thunar, the video player Parole, the Xfce4-terminal terminal emulator.
- Xfce Image Viewer Ristretto 0.10.0 releasedThis is the first version of Ristretto which is based on GTK3+. It is essentially the same as the GTK2 version. It has some bug-fixes and translation updates but nothing new in terms of features, the port to GTK3 is the big high-light in this release.
- IBM subsidiary Red Hat has joined the RISC-V foundationThe move was not entirely surprising given that IBM is one of the RISC-V foundations founding members. There is no announcement of Red Hat distributions like Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux becoming available for RISC-V any time soon. However, this does signal that they have plans in that direction.
- Bitcoin Core 0.18.1 ReleasedThe new minor version of the Bitcoin Core wallet software for storing and managing the crypto-currency BTC has some minor bug fixes, performance improvements and updated translations. Tor users will be happy to learn that this Bitcoin Core version does not hang for ages when it's shut down while it's connected to the Tor network. Bitcoin Core 0.18.1 is available for GNU/Linux, Windows and macOS.
- Xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin 2.3.3 releasedXfce's team describes the Whiskermenu as "An alternate menu". That may be true in theory but in practice it's the default standard menu on most distributions. The new version has translation updates for Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Galician, Icelandic and Nepali. It also removes a partial crash-fix for crashes caused by garcon.
- It's Over, The Linux Journal is Closing DownThe Linux Journal was the first magazine to write about the Linux kernel and operating systems based on it back when it launched in 1994. It was published as monthly printed magazines until September 2011 when it switched to publishing digital monthly editions. It was almost over in 2017 when the Linux Journal announced that it was closing it's doors. However, Private Internet Access stepped in with funding and the Journal kept going. Now, 25 years since it published it's first edition, it's over and the staff is let go.
- Mesa 19.1.4 is now available with fixes for hair oddities in Max Payne 3 on AMD/RADV
- KDevelop 5.4 released
- Linux Kernel 5.3-rc3 released
- The Japanese have NTP synchronized wall clocks
- Drift Into Eternity now available for Linux on Steam
- Manjaro Linux will not be installing the proprietary FreeOffice by default
- Linux Steam market share is on the rise
- Honorary Doctor Richard Stallman to do Speaking Tour in Russia
- GNU C Library version 2.30 released with Unicode 12.1 support
- Mesa 3d 19.2 Release Plan Announced
- Freedesktop Quietly adds Intel Code of Conduct Enforcer
- Latte Dock 0.9 for KDE Plasma released
Check out the news archive for more news.
Recent software reviews
- F-DroidF-Droid is a free software Appstore and software repository for the Android operating system. The F-Droid app can be used to install a large variety of free software from F-Droid's own community repository as well as other third party repositories. Only free as in freedom to view and modify the source software is allowed in the F-Droid repository. Software with botnet and tracking features are allowed. Such applications are marked as having "anti-features" and it is possible to configure them to be hidden from the list of visible applications.
- Teetee is a small program in GNU coreutils which can redirect input to a file while piping it on to another program as standard output. This can be really useful if you want to do two things with one program's output.
- RistrettoRistretto is a simple image viewer designed with Xfce in mind made using the GTK2 libraries. It can be used to browse through the images in one folder and that's about it. Ristretto does not have any easy way of quickly switching between folders and zoom settings applied to one image is not applied to the next. It is not great as a general-purpose image viewer.
- KDE ConnectKDE Connect is a KDE technology which allows you to securely synchronize and control devices. It is available for Linux, Android, Windows and Mac. A device with KDE connect can be used to control music playback or send SMS messages or transfer files and many other things on another device running KDE connect.
- JamiJami is both a peer to peer voice over IP client program which supports secure voice and video communication over the Internet using SRTP to carry communications data and a custom protocol for service discovery using a distributed hash table (DHT). Jami does not rely on or need central servers to call other people using the same program. Jami is a great choice for making secure phone calls over the Internet using Android phones as long as those you want to talk to are also using Jami. The Linux version is utterly useless.
- Eagle Island
- Gentoo LinuxGentoo Linux is a source-based Linux distributions for very tech savvy hobbyist who like to tinker with their operating system. It uses a BSD-style ports system called portage for package management. Gentoo is highly configurable and can be customized in ways other distributions can not. All software is compiled during installation and the way programs are compiled can be tuned with USE flags which decide what libraries and features will be included in a compile. Installing and maintaining Gentoo requires a lot more work and manual labor than most Linux distributions.
- SpeedCrunchSpeedCrunch is a very efficient and easy to use free calculator program for Linux, Windows and macOS. The homepage describes it as a "high-precision scientific calculator" and while that's true it is also the by far best general-purpose calculator available on Linux platforms. It's a great choice if you are looking for something to assign to that Calc(ulator) key found on many modern keyboards.
- The secret battle of encryption algorithms - In this video from LibrePlanet 2019 Amanda Sopkin explains some cryptography basics and dilemmas.
- Overtaking Proprietary Software Without Writing Code - "a few rough insights on sharpening free software". This lecture was given by Olivier Cleynen at the CCC in December 2007. The points in it were very good and remain relevant more than a decade later.
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