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- KDE-Powered Kubuntu Focus Laptop Coming in January 2020The Kubuntu Council, MindShareManagement Inc, and German TUXEDO Computers have collaborated to create a "officially authorized" laptop pre-loaded with Ubuntu's KDE spin Kubuntu. The Kubuntu Focus Laptop comes with a 6-core Intel i7-9750H CPU, 32 GB RAM, a 1 TB Samung 970 NVMe drive and a 16.1" 1080p IPS display which, even though this laptop is aimed at free software enthusiasts, is powered by a NVidia GTX 1060 GPU. A proprietary binary blob driver is required to make this laptop function properly.
- Linux Kernels 5.4.5 and 5.3.18 Are Released With Security-Related Networking FixesThe new stable-kernel versions 5.4.4 and 5.3.17 were released on Tuesday. Then the kernel developers decided to release yet another minor version late Wednesday - just a day after the prior release. This tends to happen when there is an urgent need to fix a security issue. A close-up inspection of the patch-set between 5.4.4/5.4.5 and 5.3.17/5.3.18 reveals that a lot of corner-case network-related issues were ironed out in the latest kernel releases.
- US Senators Shocked To Learn IPs Can Be Used For GeoLocationSenators Josh Hawley and Chris Coons were shocked and furious to learn that Facebook is able to show location-specific advertisements when smartphone users have turned location data off. They sent Facebook an angry letter to Facebook demanding a middle-school level introduction to how the Internet works. Facebook sent a 8 page long response letter on December 12th which outlines how they collect location data. The first three pages are public. The senators were not pleased with Facebooks response.
- Krita Gets $25,000 From Epic GamesEpic games, known for the proprietary Unreal game engine, has given the developers of the Krita paint program a $25,000 grant to improve Kritas development process.
- Momentum Botnet Infects Linux-based Routers And Smart Devices, Uses Them For DDoS AttacksCloud provider and security research firm Trend Micro reports that they are seeing "notable malware activity" on "devices running Linux" from a botnet called Momentum. The actual devices in question are IoT devices, security cameras, routers, copy machines and TV top-set boxes running a variety of exploitable software on top of a Linux kernel.
- Google Summer of Code 2020 AnnouncedGoogle has announced that their GSoC program will keep going for it's 16th year in 2020. This a program where free software projects can have Google pay students to work on their software as long as they provide a helpful mentor and follow some basic guidelines. Big and small free software project participated in it in 2019 with fruitful results for KDE, GNOME and other projects.
- Calligra Plan 3.2.2 Released With 4 Bug-FixesThe latest version of the KDE Office Suite Calligra's project planning tool Plan has four bug-fixes. Calligra Plan can be used stand-alone or together with the full Calligra office suite which contains a word processor, a spreadsheet, a vector drawing program and a database creator.
- Linux Kernel 5.5 RC2 Is ReleasedThe second release-candidate for kernel 5.5 has a lot of fixes for the kernel drivers for AMD and Intel GPUs and there are also some small fixes for the free nouveau Nvidia GPU driver. There are no new major features, those were added in the merge-window before the first release-candidate.
- AMD Joins The Blockchain Game AllianceThose who sold shovels during the California gold rush made a lot of money. It is therefore not strange that AMD would join Ubisoft and a long list of startups in a "Blockchain Game Alliance".
- Wine 5.0-rc1 Is Released. This Ends Active Development, Feature-Freeze And Bug-Fixes AheadThe Wine Is Not An Emulator compatibility later (WINE) project has made its first release-candidate for its upcoming 5.0 release. This marks the end of the active development release cycle and the beginning of a weekly release cycle with small bug-fixes only until Wine 5.0 is released. 37 bugs have been fixed since the last development release.
- BSD-Licensed NGINX Webserver In Copyright Dispute, Creator Arrested and InterrogatedThe Russian Police raided NGINX, Inc's Russian offices and arrested and interrogated Igor Sysoev, author of the popular NGINX web server which powers more than a third of all websites on the Internet, on Thursday. They did so after receiving a complaint from Russian search engine Rambler which states that they own the copyright to NGINX because Sysoev was employed there when he initially wrote it in his spare time.
- TSMC Claims They Are "On Track" To Deliver 3nm Chips in 2022Current CPUs and GPUs and smartphone SOCs are mostly made on a 7nm production node at either Samsung's facilities in South Korea or TSMCs facilities in Chinese Taipei. TSMC started using a 14 nanometer node in 2014. They introduced their 7nm node in 2018, only four years later. TSMC claims they will be able to mass-produce 5nm computer chips Q2 2020 and they claim to be "on track" to deliver 3nm chips in 2022. Their American competitor Intel is still struggling with their 10nm process.
- New Stable-Series Linux Kernels 5.4.3, 5.3.16 and 4.19.89 Fixes KVM Crash VulnerabilityThe latest round of Linux kernels fixes a minor problem with KVM which allows anyone using a KVM-enabled virtual machine to to crash the host system. The problem, assigned CVE-2019-19332, was a lack of a out-of-bounds check in KVM_GET_EMULATED_CPUID. Providers of virtual machines should consider upgrading.
- Beautiful OpenBSD Root Exploit PublishedCloud provider Qualys published a beautiful Local Privilege Escalation exploit for recent versions of the OpenBSD on Wednesday the 12th of December. Any regular account can get full root access on a default installation. The OpenBSD developer team, lead by Theo de Raadt, were so embarrassed by this that they created a patch which fixes the vulnerability in less than 3 hours.
- Mesa 19.3.0 Is Released With ACO shader compiler for AMD GPUs And OpenGL 4.6 SupportThe ACO shader compiler for AMD's Vulkan graphics driver RADV, developed by Valve, is the biggest highlight in this latest release of the Mesa graphics stack for GNU/Linux desktops.
- Wasteland 2 Director's Cut Is Available For Free on GoG The Next 26 HoursThe Gog games store is having a Winter sale and they are giving away the game "Wasteland 2 Director's Cut", which is available for Linux, Windows and Mac, for the next 26 hours in order to attract new customers. Most of the other games in their catalogue are sold at discounts ranging from 10 to 70%.
- Linux Version Of Microsoft Teams Is Now AvailableMicrosoft have made a "public preview" a native Linux version of their Teams collaboration software available as .deb and .rpm packages. The announcement describes it as "the first Microsoft 365 app that is coming to Linux desktops".
- DXVK DirectX To Vulkan Translation Layer Development Halts To A GrindThe main developer of DXVK will no longer be adding features the optional DirectX 10/11 to Vulkan translation layer for WINE "because DXVK has become a fragile, unreliable and frustrating maintenance nightmare." DXVK is a crucial part of Valve's Proton layer used to run Windows games on their Steam games store.
- KDEs "Season of KDE 2020" Student Program is Open For EnrolmentThe KDE e.V. non-profit organization behind the K Desktop Environment has a student program similar to Google's Summer Of Code program. Students can participate in 40 or 80 day community projects and they do not have to be code-related. Students who want to write code can do that and get help from an experienced mentor. Those who prefer to work on other areas can choose a project related to KDEs documentation, websites, translations or other areas that are related to KDEs free software efforts.
- The American Senate Wants Secure Encryption With Government BackdoorsUS District Attorneys and Senators are convinced that Google and Apple are simply being difficult when they claim that it's a binary choice between actually secure encryption and government backdoors. You can, somehow, have your cake and eat it too. Don't worry if you see no practical way of doing this, a US senator just promised that he will figure out how to make seemingly impossible mathematics possible.
- Gooroom Cloud OS v2.0 RC1 Is Released With Focus Server-Side "Apps"The latest version of the Debian-based South Korean Gooroom operating system is even more like Google's ChromeOS than the previous versions were. All the regular software packages from Debian can be installed on Gooroom but that's not where it's focus is. This is foremost a "cloud"-based OS where closed-source proprietary "apps" are used from it's own re-branded Chromium web browser.
- Linux Kernel 5.5 "Kleptomaniac Octopus" RC1 Is Released With Live Patching, Reworked Fair Scheduler And MoreLinux Torvalds has slammed the merge window for version 5.5 of the Linux Kernel shut with the first release-candidate leading up to the next major version. A close-up inspection of the changed source files reveals that 5.5 will support live patching, parallel CPU microcode updates, NVMe temperature support and much more. There appears to be a unusually large array of new features coming to Linux Kernel 5.5 which is, apparently, named "Kleptomaniac Octopus".
- Firefox 71 Released With Built-In MP3 Decoding, 12 Security Fixes and Some BreakageIt's been a while since the patents on the long-outdated lossy-compressed MP3 audio file format expired. This means that free software projects based in countries where software patents is a thing can include the codec and the latest version of Firefox finally does. There's also a new re-designed about:config page where some of the configuration options who once made Firefox a great browser remain available.
- Systemd Opened Security Hole In Linux, VPNs Could Be CompromisedAttackers on the local network could discover that someone on the same network is using a VPN and they could, potentially, find out what sites are visited and even inject packets into a VPN users datastreams. This is all thanks to a change in systemd late 2018 which has now been adopted by all the major GNU/Linux distributions.
- Amazon Is Following Chinas Lead Towards a ARM Based Cloud FutureThe American Cloud provider Amazon AWS announced the availability of instances powered by a their second-generation in-house ARM processors Graviton2 this week. Their new 64-bit ARM chips are made on TSMC's 7nm process and they promise faster performance at lower latency. Instances with 1-64 vCPUs and up to 512 GB RAM will become available.
- Nvidia Could Be Changing Their Hostile Attitude Towards Free Software DriversNvidia-employed kernel developer John Hubbard is scheduled to hold a talk with the rather interesting title "Open Source, Linux Kernel, and NVIDIA" at Nvidia's "GPU Technology Conference" scheduled to be held March 23rd to 26th 2020. Its description mentions "contributions to Linux kernel" and "supporting Nouveau". This could signal a shift from outright hostility towards free software to something the Linux community could benefit from.
- Mesa 19.3.0 Will Be Released Next WeekThe GNU/Linux graphics driver stack Mesa released two new versions Wednesday: 19.2.7 and 19.3.0-rc6. The former is a bug-fix release for the stable Mesa branch and the latter is likely the last release-candidate for Mesa 19.3.0 which is filled with goodies such as new Vulkan extensions, Valve's Radeon ACO shader compiler, the faster Intel Iris graphics stack for Intel GPUs and more.
- Purism Announces US-Manufactured Librem 5 Model For $1999 USDThe Librem 5 smartphone from San Francisco based Purism is almost entirely powered by free and open source software - except for the modem which relies on binary blob firmware. It has therefore been highly praised and recommended by organizations such as the Free Software Foundation. That the hardware specifications are those of a 3 years old $100 smartphone while it's price-tag is $699 is apparently only a minor concern to those who get promotional models for free. Purism just announced that they will make a special US-made version of this phone available at a hefty price of just $1999.
- Linux Kernel Could Support Automatic Closing Of CD/DVD Drive Trays On Mount (Again)The Linux kernel would automatically close open CD/DVD drive trays on mount two decades ago. Updates to various kernel subsystems broke that functionality ages ago. This breakage was "fixed" by adding some ugly hacks to the
mountcommand and other user-space utilities from the
util-linuxpackage. Various kernel changes added over the last few years broke those hacks. The util-linux maintainer is flat out refusing to add more ugly hacks to fix it. Michal Suchanek from German Linux vendor SUSE has submitted a series of patches to the kernel mailing list which re-adds proper support to the Linux kernel - where it belongs - many times the last few years. It could finally get through to git master in time for Linux 5.5.
- Libxfce4ui 4.15.0 Is Released, Drops GTK2 SupportThe first version of the Xfce user interface library in the 4.15 series which will eventually become a stable 4.16-release late next year has 10 bug-fixes, a lot of translation updates for international users and build-requirement of GTK3 3.22. GTK2 support is, as expected, dropped as of this release.
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