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Apple opening up OS X Yosemite beta program to 1 million users

Wednesday 23rd of July 2014 06:51:03 PM

Apple is offering a rare peek into the latest version of its operating system for the Mac. The company plans to release OS X Yosemite this fall. But if you can’t wait to see the brand-new look and tons of new features that the latest version of OS X has in store for you, here’s your chance.

The first public beta of Apple’s forthcoming OS X 10.10 software update will become available to download on July 24 for testing — for the first 1 million Mac users that sign up though.

“The OS X Beta Program lets you take part in shaping it by test-driving pre-release versions and letting us know what you think. Your comments will help us make OS X better for all Mac users,” Apple says on its official website.
Apple first revealed details about Yosemite at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco last month.

Mac OS X Yosemite includes “flat buttons, sharper corners, and much less of the skeumorphic design elements that have been the staple of the system since its inception.”

With the top-to-bottom redesign of the OS, app icons feature flatter designs, and the dock and windows of apps have sharper corners. The newly added user-selectable “dark mode” helps users with better focus while working as it turns the normally-light gray menu bars and dock to a darker gray.

The Notification Center has been updated with a new “Today” view which, according to Apple, can be extended even further with widgets from the Mac App Store. Apple has also redesigned its universal search tool, Spotlight, with more functionality, including instant results for web searches.

To be a part of the OS X Beta Program, you can sign up with your Apple ID. Once the beta software is ready, you will use a redemption code to download and install the OS X Yosemite Beta from the Mac App Store.

As with any beta, Apple recommends you to proceed with caution while installing Yosemite.

“We recommend installing OS X Yosemite Beta on a secondary Mac, since it may contain errors or inaccuracies. Please be sure to back up your Mac using Time Machine before you install the beta. This is beta software that is still in development, which means some applications and services may not work as expected,” the company adds.

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How Fred the monkey can help no-budget filmmakers

Wednesday 23rd of July 2014 06:23:03 PM

Hello, my name is Dominic Kennedy and I like to make films. I’m the man responsible for last year’s ‘The Quiet Leprechaun‘….. You can stop racking your brain now, it’s not a big feature or even another Warwick Davis leprechaun film, just a wee Irish comedy I made with my Dad that’s lurking around on Youtube.

Now that I’ve introduced myself, let’s get to the point. I needed a windjammer/dead-cat for my Azden SMX-10 microphone to help deaden the wind on the west coast of Ireland where my Dad, assorted family members, friends and I will converge to shoot the sequel to the previously mentioned film. (more of the same, but better)

I quickly discarded the notion of buying a bespoke windjammer as the prices were perilously close to and over what I paid for the mic itself (80 Euros including the postage from Hong Kong – 4 years ago)

Long-haired fake fur, what’d you’d use for arts and crafts purposes was looked into, and while not all that expensive, still, it would have hurt my dwindling stock of cash. So I googled along the lines of ‘DIY Windjammer’ and tucked away in a forum were the wise words which told me to get a long-haired cuddly toy, surgically remove a limb, skin it and there you have it – a very quick and simple, but more importantly – effective solution that cost only 3 Euros.

I tested it on the wind – and it proved itself to my satisfaction by smothering those high notes.

As you have seen from the picture of Fred the Monkey – I know I shouldn’t have got attached to him and given him a name, only to then have to detach him from his limbs- because the beauty of Fred is- he carries spares.

A word of warning to all father’s out there, do what I did, I brought 2 monkey’s – one for my daughter and one for my mic. Tears were avoided thanks to my in-shop brainstorm.

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NTL – New to Linux articles on The Mukt

Wednesday 23rd of July 2014 06:20:24 PM

We are starting a section called NTL – New to Linux where we accept useful posts from readers and community members. The focus is on enabling new Linux users in getting familiar with the huge potential of Linux, while helping them in doing different things that they often need. It could range from useful commands, to useful software to do things like video conversion, to new applications and their features.

Anyone can submit the story as long as the writer adheres to these points:


  • Story must be original and unpublished.
  • The focus should be on new users (try to explain terms and jargons so they get used to them)
  • Please provide us with images for stories
  • Send stories in .PDF and text format. The PDF will also us to know where you want to insert images.
  • Please provide needed links to the project pages or download locations


  • Don’t offer download files or scripts from private dropbox or other accounts. In order to ensure integrity of the code/files always give URL to the project download page.
  • Don’t copy-paste content from other sites. You can use other sites for reference or research work but don’t steal other people’s work.
  • Don’t repost old stories from your own blog. Give us new articles.

Each accepted story will be paid some remuneration depending on the length and quality of the story (you can inquire about the payment prior to sending the story). You can send your stories to ‘’.

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Microsoft imitates Ubuntu, will create one Windows to run on all screens

Wednesday 23rd of July 2014 05:03:57 PM

Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, for long pursued a single dream — that of acheiving a unified family of experiences on smartphones, tablets, PCs, and TVs through one operating system and one interface, Unity, which will adopt to the connected device. As Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical and Ubuntu’s founder said at last year’s OSCon, “Convergence is the core story. Each device is great, but they should be part of one family. On any device you’ll know what you’re doing. One device should be able to give you all the experiences you can get from any one of them.”

Now Microsoft seems to have taken cue from Canonical’s idea of offering one operating system for any device. The software company is working to unify its different Windows operating systems into a single OS, chief executive Satya Nadella made the announcement during Microsoft’s quarterly earnings call.

What this would mean is that whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, notebook or desktop, if the device is running Windows, a user will be able to experience the same look and feel on all devices.

“We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes,” he said.

“We will unify our stores, commerce and developer platforms to drive a more coherent user experience and a broader developer opportunity,” Nadella added.

Nadella also went on to discuss the benefits of merging the Windows Phone OS with the other versions of the system. “One of beauties of universal Windows app is it aggregates for the first time for us all of our Windows volume,” Nadella noted.

“An app that runs with a mouse and keyboard on the desktop can be in the store, and you can have the same app run in the touch-first [mobile devices].

“[It] gives developers the entire volume of Windows, which is 300 plus million units as opposed to just our 4% share of mobile in the US or 10% in some countries.”

Microsoft is struggling in the post-PC era and whether one code to run on all devices will help it is something time will tell.

The post Microsoft imitates Ubuntu, will create one Windows to run on all screens appeared first on The Mukt.

Take control of your ‘cloud’ with ownCloud 7

Wednesday 23rd of July 2014 03:30:07 PM

The best cloud is the one that you own. Once ownCloud was founded I never used public cloud offered and hosted by a company to keep my files. I do use Dropbox and Google Drive, but the primary purpose is to share files with a set of people. With each release ownCloud is becoming a very serious contender to these commercial offerings when it comes to file storage, syncing and sharing. OwnCloud Documents are already an impressive alternative to Google Docs and offer full ODF support which is missing from Google Docs.

In a nutshell, ownCloud is what an enterprise, government, organization or privacy concerned individual needs. With the release of version 7 Community Edition, ownCloud has add many new capabilities to this Open Source solution.

Now ownCloud users will be able to share files with other ownCloud user (running their clouds on different servers) without share links, thanks to its unique Server-to-Server Sharing.

OwnCloud team explains, “Server-to-Server Sharing enables users on one ownCloud instance to seamlessly share files with users on a different ownCloud installation without using share links. Both users retain the privacy and control of a private, hosted ownCloud, but gain the flexibility and ease-of-use of a public cloud.”

“Server-to-server sharing is a game changer, allowing individuals – and organizations – to more easily share across private clouds, while still maintaining complete control of their data,” said Frank Karlitschek, founder and leader of the ownCloud project.

The new version also brings a more ‘Dropbox-like’ experience “complementing the security and privacy on the back end – with an entirely new web interface, mobile web browser support, file activity notifications in emails or the activity stream, and significant performance improvements.”

ownCloud Community Edition is similar to any other Free Software project whether it be WordPress, Drupal, MariaDB or Fedora where anyone can download and use the software for free of cost and get free community based support. Those who do want a commerical or paid support can simply choose the Enterprise Edition. It’s just the same code base with commercial grade support and updates.

ownCloud can be downloaded from here. I have been using it as my primary remote storage and file sharing service for over a year now. I don’t think we should be using non-free/proprietary cloud-services in the post-PRISM era.

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UK to use Open Document Format for government documents

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 07:49:03 PM

There is a perfect script for a science-fiction or techno-thriller novel sitting in my diary where in future a government is unable to access its own achieve from way back in 1990s as it was saved in a proprietary, vendor locked format which became obsolete after the company went out of business and died. The government has ‘lost’ 3 decades of its data due to the use of a non-standard, vendor locked technology.

I remember a few weeks ago there was a post circulating on social network where an Apple user was not able to open his documents saved in Apple’s non-free format as the support for the version he created the document is had reached end of life.

Saving documents using non-standard or vendor locked technologies (no matter how popular they are at the moment) is a risk government should not take. No company has drank ‘Amrit’ or elexier. We have seen mega companies die.

UK has made the right decision by choosing ‘open standards’ for sharing and viewing government documents. The announcement was made by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

“The standards set out the document file formats that are expected to be used across all government bodies. Government will begin using open formats that will ensure that citizens and people working in government can use the applications that best meet their needs when they are viewing or working on documents together,” said the official press release.

It means setting government documents free of vendor locked. Now UK citizens won’t need specialist software offered by only one vendor open or work with government documents.

Interchangeability is a huge mess, thanks to Microsoft’s non-standard document formats which leads to data loss when accessed by software offered by other vendors or open source projects. By moving to open standard the UK government has ensured data integrity.

The government has selected compatible standards for commonly used documents. It will use PDF/A or HTML for viewing government documents and Open Document Format (ODF) for sharing or collaborating on government documents.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said, “Our long-term plan for a stronger economy is all about helping UK businesses grow. We have listened to those who told us that open standards will reduce their costs and make it easier to work with government. This is a major step forward for our digital-by-default agenda which is helping save citizens, businesses and taxpayers £1.2 billion over this Parliament.

One of the primary objectives of this move is to create a level playing field for suppliers of all sizes. The move must put some pressure on Google to offer full support for ODF in Chrome, Android and Google Docs.

Follow Swapnil Bhartiya on Google+ to read more posts like these.

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Firefox 31 comes with better download security

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 05:02:56 PM

Mozilla has release a new version (v 31) of Firefox web browser which brings many notable changes. One of the most notable changes is addition of search field to the new tab page., which means when you open a new tab of Firefox you will see a search field. So there are now three search fields in Firefox – the address bar, the side tab and on tabs page. Google, due to their deal which fund Mozilla, is the default search engine, but it can be easily changed from settings.

The most important improvement is more secure downloads through the browser. The secure download feature comes from Google which offered an application reputation feature to detect malicious downloads in Firefox. Even if Google doesn’t provide any documentation for the feature Mozilla has tried to implement the feature correctly despite the absence of official API documentation.

Now when a user tries to download a file from the web, Firefox can block the download if it’s tagged malicious, thus keeping the user PC secure. This feature is separate from the detection of phishing and malware pages, though both features use some of the same mechanisms, says Mozilla.

This feature would be mostly helpful to unsuspecting Windows users as GNU/Linux-based systems are mostly never the target of such malware; it’s almost always aimed at Windows systems. Since it’s Open Source, a user can disable the blocking feature if it blocks legit files for reasons unknown.

Another important feature, for Windows users, is the ability to handle audio/video .ogg and .pdf files handled by Firefox if no application is specified. There are a lot of new tools for developers which can help in development of sites as well as debugging.

Since Firefox has moved to ‘rolling-release’ kind of update, you won’t have to manually download and update the software. If you don’t have Firefox installed on your system, it in the official repositories of all major distros and you can easily install it on your system. Windows and Mac users can install it from here.

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Exclusive interview with Agustin Benito Bethencourt on joining Linaro

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 03:52:08 PM

I met Agustin Benito Bethencourt during FOSDEM 2013 and we discussed Open Source software. Recently he moved to Linaro, one of the most promising and important Open Source projects, so we talked to him to understand his role at Linaro and to learn more about what Linaro does. Read on….

Swapnil Bhartiya: You come from SUSE/KDE e.V. so how is the transition or how does the prior experience work here?
Agustin Benito Bethencourt: Driving the openSUSE Team at SUSE has been very valuable. The experience I got there, making compatible the company and the community interests, is going to be important throughout my career. My previous experience as ASOLIF Manager Director is helping me a lot too. They have a lot in common. Both, Linaro and ASOLIF are business ecosystems (non-profits), both have a strong Free Software culture, are heavily distributed environments…

But most of what I know about Free Software communities and working in the open I learnt it in KDE. I wouldn’t have a chance to join Linaro otherwise. KDE is a first class learning ecosystem, and not just in pure technical areas. It has been, it is, the most important professional and personal experience I’ve had, together with my years as an entrepreneur back in the Canary Islands, Spain.

Agustin Benito Bethencourt

SB: What will be your role at Linaro?
ABB: I am Director of the Core Development Group. I direct four engineering teams: kernel, power management, security and virtualization. All together makes around fifty engineers. Some of them are Linaro employees and some others are assignees, that is, engineers employed by our members but working with us full time. We mostly work upstream, developing and maintaining technologies that our members are interested in. We also develop features requested by other Linaro Groups or specific members. Core Development engineering teams are heavily involved in FLOSS communities, especially in the Linux Kernel.

Linaro is growing fast so I am currently focused on management and development processes. Together with the technical leads and the project managers, my goal is to keep high levels of efficiency within the Group while growing, keeping the Free Software culture that has made Linaro so successful.

SB: Can you tell us a bit about Linaro? What do they do and how are they associated with Free Software and Linux?
ABB: As I mentioned, Linaro is a four-year old ecosystem of corporations collaborating around a non-profit organization. Our main focus is GNU/Linux and Android on ARM. In summary, Linaro does:

  • Development. Most of it takes place, or is pushed, upstream, in a variety of FLOSS communities.
  • Products (in the FLOSS sense). We release software on a regular basis that is used by our members and the community, for many different purposes. Check for instance our Linaro Stable Kernel (LSK).
  • Services to our members, taking advantage of the expertise we get working on the two previous areas. Testing our software in members hardware is one of them. There are many more.

Probably most people know us for our work in the Linux Kernel community and Android (ASOP), but we do many other things. Currently Linaro has more than 200 engineers.

SB: Android often doesn’t get credit for a fully Open Source project as AOSP. From what I see it fully adheres to the 4 freedoms FSF talks about and it has enabled competitors like Amazon to create competing platforms, what is your opinion about it?
ABB: Free Software used to be black or white. Now there is a lot of grey. It is the consequence of becoming mainstream. Android has opened, to some extent, an industry that was completely closed. It represents a huge step in the right direction. There is a lot left to do though. Probably many thought that Android (Google) was going to lead the industry further toward openness. Those unfulfilled expectations might be the reason why a lot of the criticism is focused on Android and Google. Others deserve that criticism way more than they do.

Linaro is doing a lot to “close the gap”, by the way.

Having more initiatives that show the way, even if they are small, would speed up this transition. And by “showing the way” I mean both, being open/free and being profitable. It is a big challenge but at some point somebody will succeed, like in other “impossible” industries.

SB: When we talk about company developed Open Source projects vs community developed open source projects, where do you see more innovation? Do ‘deadline’ that ‘companies’ reinforce and ‘better’ fed developer do a better job? I am asking you think question as you were related to KDE and that’s more or less a community driven project.
ABB: Innovation requires not just a lot of talent but also leadership together with a sustained effort over a period of time. You can find all that in both, companies and communities, at any given time. But if you take a look over a long time window, you realize how successful some communities have become with very limited resources.

To me, the answer depends a lot on the selected time frame and the variables you want to use to determine the ROI. In terms of investment vs. innovation, communities seem to be unbeatable. If we talk about disruptive innovation, then probably a company is a more successful set up since they have both, the capacity to invest a lot in a specific technology and to reach many users in a short period of time.

As a side note I would like to mention that the last few years communities driven by consortium/groups of companies are becoming very popular, in parallel with the adoption of Free Software in many industries. It will be interesting to follow their evolution from an innovation perspective, compared to “people driven” communities.

SB: With Android and Chrome becoming leading forces in the desktop space do you see traditional Linux desktop has become less relevant? I mean most people now already use non-Microsoft or non-Apple products. So have these two platforms liberated us?
ABB: Traditional desktops are very successful and relevant, more than ever. I talked about it in 2012 at Akademy. KDE is these days releasing the next generation of its desktop. It will be the fifth generation in a little more than 15 years. In this industry, I would consider that a success. Sun, Nokia, IBM, Novell, …. probably would consider it too

Definitely GNU/Linux distributions do consider it and I hope that Apple, Microsoft also will… sooner than later.

Traditional Linux based desktops are better than ever and have hundreds of young contributors working with passion to make them even better. They also have more users than ever before.

It is easier nowadays to convince a user to try one of these desktops. Companies are closer than ever to business models based on Free Software so it is easier for us to attract them. The investment in FLOSS is now huge. I see more opportunities now than 10 years ago.

It is true though that these desktops missed a couple of trains… but as long as we stay healthy as communities, new opportunities will knock at our doors.

But we cannot achieve “world domination” with our current levels of investment. The desktop space is simply too big now (yes, what you use in your phone is a desktop) and requires levels of polishing and channels to “go to market” that we cannot achieve by ourselves at this point. Either we include organizations/companies into our models and promote entrepreneurship within our communities or we focus on other goals, more adapted to our current model. The key is accommodating our expectations with our future actions (and vice-versa) while keep being very ambitious.

SB: Can you talk a bit about how development happens at Linaro?
ABB: It happens mostly upstream or in the open (with upstream in mind).

For instance, Linaro is one of the top 5 company contributors in the kernel. You cannot achieve that by working inbound and then simply submitting your code. You need to be fully involved upstream. We directly participate in many other upstream communities and promote this development culture among our members.

As mentioned before, we also provide services and develop code for our members. Part of that code ends up upstream later on and part never does.

Check the videos from our events called Linaro Connect. All the information about this particular topic is there.

SB: Can anyone contribute?
ABB: Since most of our work happens directly upstream or in the open, everybody can contribute. Beyond our contributions on communities, we drive our own initiatives too. Probably LAVA is the most important one, and yes, anyone can contribute. In some other areas you need to be a Linaro Member to benefit from our ecosystem. We are a non-profit organization, not a charity

Following the example above, if you want to contribute to LAVA, this page is a good start.

In general, the best way to interact with us is working upstream in ARM (or multi-architecture) related topics. The kernel is the natural place. Others are OP-TEE, XEN, Android (ASOP) or QEMU, for instance.

Linaro is hiring so please check our Career website[3] if you are interested in joining us. The best way to learn about Linaro is joining us at Linaro Connect. LCU14 is the next one. If you are interested in joining a great upstream community, KDE is one of the very good ones. Coming to Akademy is the best way to start. If you want to help KDE, please consider donating.

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It’s now easier to install SailfishOS on Android devices

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 03:21:26 PM

Sailfish OS is a new venture by ex-nokia employees which aims to bring a new independent partner friendly mobile operating system to wireless devices. However, as the mobile ecosystem today is quite fragmented, a new OS brings in a lot of work for developers to port the new OS in their existing devices. The Sailfish OS team knew this problem and have come out with a Hardware Adaptation Dev kit which will help developers to port and run Sailfish OS on any device capable of running Cyanogen Mod 10.1.x.

Sailfish OS was earlier ported to Nexus 4. As the release was in alpha stage, a lot of things didn’t work, however, with frequent updates, it got better and more stable. Jolla, the company behind Sailfish OS is now asking developers to port and test Sailfish OS to other devices. The only requirement here is that your device must be able to run Cyanogenmod 10.1.

Some of the salient features of Sailfish OS include:

  • Mer core: The Linux userspace core
  • Android Hardware Adaptation (HA/HAL), consisting of:
  • Device-specific Android Kernel
  • Binary device drivers taken from an Android ROM (e.g. CyanogenMod)
  • The libhybris interface built against the binary drivers
  • Middleware packages depending on hardware-specific plugins
  • A Qt/Wayland QPA plugin utilizing the Android hwcomposer
  • Sailfish OS components

The Sailfish OS team have set up a wonderful guide for those interested in trying this kit while it is hot. Head out to this link and start experimenting with your phone to have a taste of Sailfish OS before it hits devices in the market.

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Scientists kick out HIV virus from cultured human cells

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 03:16:06 PM

There is currently no cure for HIV infection. The reason being the HIV-1 virus installs its deadly genome into human DNA so insidiously that it stays there forever, forcing the victim to be hooked on drugs for life. But now, for the first time, scientists from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia have designed a way to snip out the integrated HIV-1 genes for good.

“This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS,” says Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple.

Khalili and his colleague, Wenhui Hu, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Temple, led the work which marks the first successful attempt to eliminate latent HIV-1 virus from human cells.

The discovery is exciting enough as it’s a proof of concept that we’re moving in the right direction, added Dr. Khalili, who is also Director of the Center for Neurovirology and Director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at Temple.

However, it’s not yet ready to go into the clinic.

Khalili and colleagues explain how they created molecular tools to delete the HIV-1 proviral DNA. When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) hunt down the viral genome and excise the HIV-1 DNA. From there, the cell’s gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together – resulting in virus-free cells.

“Since HIV-1 is never cleared by the immune system, removal of the virus is required in order to cure the disease,” says Khalili, whose research focuses on the neuropathogenesis of viral infections.

The same technique could theoretically be used against a variety of viruses, he says.

The research indicates that these molecular tools also hold promise as a therapeutic vaccine; cells armed with the nuclease-RNA combination proved impervious to HIV infection.

Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has controlled HIV-1 for infected people in the developed world, the virus can rage again with any interruption in treatment. Even when HIV-1 replication is well controlled with HAART, the lingering HIV-1 presence has health consequences.

“The low level replication of HIV-1 makes patients more likely to suffer from diseases usually associated with aging,” Khalili says. These include cardiomyopathy – a weakening of the heart muscle – bone disease, kidney disease, and neurocognitive disorders. “These problems are often exacerbated by the toxic drugs that must be taken to control the virus,” Khalili adds.

“We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies,” Khalili says.

“We want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient. That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it.”

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Over 170 Primary Schools In Geneva Switched To Ubuntu For Classroom Teaching

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 12:51:54 PM

Over 170 primary schools and secondary schools in Geneva are switching to Ubuntu for PCs used by teachers and students, which were earlier using a proprietary software. The move has been successfully completed for all the primary schools. For the rest 20 secondary schools, the migration is expected to be completed by the next academic year.

According to Geneva’s IT department, the switch to Ubuntu was motivated by the fact that it is easier to maintain, faster and more secure. Also, the earlier non-free OS that the schools used is no longer maintained by the vendor, thus vulnerable to security threats and malware. While upgrading to a more recent version of the non-free OS could have minimized such threats, the department found it easier and cheaper to move to Ubuntu.

Gijs Hillenius writes at Joinup,” Making it easier to service the canton’s schools’ PC needs was one the main reasons for ‘Service écoles-médias’ (SEM), part of Geneva’s IT department, to switch the schools to Ubuntu, as the proprietary system is no longer being maintained. Secondly, it is easier for PC users to switch to this system than to move to a recent version of the proprietary operating system, explains Cyril Roiron, who heads the Open Standards and Free Software project at the Geneva State Department for Education (Département de l’Instruction Publique, de la Culture et du Sport).”

These PCs are primarily used by students aged 4 to 12 and their teachers for educational games, checking emails and browsing the Internet. Ubuntu already has a side project called Edubuntu which is specially made for such use cases. Providing a custom solution for needs of all user groups is one of the chief advantages that free software provides.

One of the challenges that this move faced was conversion of proprietary document formats that was used earlier by the teachers. While LibreOffice is a full featured free office suite, importing non-free formats to it is still a headache. Cyril Roiron, who heads the Open Standards and Free Software project at the Geneva State Department for Education says:

“We recommend that teachers install LibreOffice at home, or if that is not an option, to create PDFs for those documents they need to print at school. But that move is not exactly popular, even though training and support is available.”

We hope that Geneva will set an example how free software like Ubuntu can be used in schools to overcome problems such as vendor locking and lower the cost of IT in education.

The post Over 170 Primary Schools In Geneva Switched To Ubuntu For Classroom Teaching appeared first on The Mukt.

Suspicious NSA backdoor found in iOS

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 12:42:31 PM

If an analysis of iOS by a security expert is anything to go by, users’ data on millions of iPhones and iPads may not be as safe as Apple claims it to be.

In his presentation at the HOPE X hacker conference in New York last Friday, data forensics expert and author Jonathan Zdziarski revealed some data discovery tools in the iOS operating system that could be used by Apple – or any third-party agency like the NSA – to ‘spy’ on users.

Though Zdziarski’s analysis points towards a backdoor into iOS, it’s not as wide open as some reports have indicated.

“There are certain steps that have to be taken to get this data,” Zdziarski told The Register. “Backdoors are guarded, there are things protecting it – you don’t just type ‘Joshua’ for full access.”

His research shows that 600 million iOS devices, particularly those running the most recent version 7 builds, have data discovery tools (different from those used by the Cupertino firm for standard backup and storage) including a file-relay service that can snoop out data.

“This data includes a copy of the user’s address book, stored photos, the voicemail database and audio files, any accounts configured on the device such as iCloud, Facebook or Twitter, a cache of screenshots, keystrokes and the device’s clipboard, GPS data, and – on iOS 7 – metadata disk sparseimage of the iOS file system,” The Register said in a report.

Tools like are given automatic access to data, which in turn enables copying and relay of all data stored on iOS device.

Zdziarski clarified that he was NOT accusing “Apple of working with NSA, however I suspect (based on released documents) that some of these services MAY have been used by NSA to collect data on potential targets.”

“I am not suggesting some grand conspiracy; there are, however, some services running in iOS that shouldn’t be there, that were intentionally added by Apple as part of the firmware, and that bypass backup encryption while copying more of your personal data than ever should come off the phone for the average consumer,” he added.

Apple, on the other hand, termed the features ‘diagnostic’ in nature.

“We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues,” Apple said in a statement. “A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data. The user must agree to share this information, and data is never transferred without their consent. As we have said before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services.”

Apple’s explanation, however, failed to convince Zdziarski.

“The problem with this is that these services dish out data (and bypass backup encryption) regardless of whether or not “Send Diagnostic Data to Apple” is turned on or off, and whether or not the device is managed by an enterprise policy of any kind,” Zdziarski said in another blog post. “So if these services were intended for such purposes, you’d think they’d only work if the device was managed/supervised or if the user had enabled diagnostic mode. Unfortunately this isn’t the case and there is no way to disable these mechanisms.”

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BitKey, a Debian based distro for your Bitcoin transactions

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 12:33:23 PM

Developers at TurnKey Linux have come out with a new Debian based distro for Bitcoin lovers. Named as BitKey, this distro boots from a read-only CD or a USB drive and allows you to check your bitcoin wallet, sign and do transactions over a secure network.

The distro needs two devices to function, one is termed as the Red USB stick where the BitKey image is stored which the user needs to boot from, and other is the Black USB stick which is used for persistent storage. Booting from the Red USB stick gives you the following menu, each mode having separate use cases and apps.

The distro comes with a minimal XFCE desktop and comes with a few apps such as:

  • Electrum Bitcoin client
  • chromium browser version 35
  • bitaddress generator
  • qrcode generator
  • zxcvbn password strength checker
  • Thunrar file manager
  • Network device manager

While you can download the BitKey iso anytime from their site, you need to carry the Black USB stick with you which stores your bitcoin wallet and other user specific configurations.

Users interested in trying this distro can download it from this address.

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Chrome OS to get comple overhaul with ‘Project Athena’

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 12:16:50 PM

If Google have not had their hands full with the official announcement of the soon-to-be released Android L, as well as Android TV, Auto and Wear it now seems Chrome OS is also on the agenda to receive a full overhaul.

The news of a Chrome OS update probably should not come as too much of a surprise. We recently reported leaked screenshots suggesting the Play Store will receive an update to be more in line with L’s Material Design guidelines. It now seems Chrome OS will also receive the same sort of update and fall more in line with Material Design.

Chrome OS is the operating system which runs on all Chromebook laptops and currently uses the Ash Window Manager. At the moment this is highly unconfirmed but we are receiving very early reports that “Project Athena” is the name given to the newer version of Chrome OS.

Although we currently have very little details on Athena (or even its existence) its timing suggests this is highly possible. With what seems to be a complete overhaul to Google services in general and largely due to the upcoming release of L it is expected that Athena is quite likely to be a reality.

François Beaufort works for Google and unexpectedly released screenshots of Project Athena as a work in progress.

In addition to the images François also alluded to its possible uses and purpose.

Athena is a brand new project the Chromium OS team is experimenting with in order to bring a new kind of user experience

With this in mind it is believed Athena will be a much more user-enabling OS with a heavier focus on touch-sensitivity, clearer imagery and generally a more L based format. Whether this will extend more widely to the Chrome browser on other devices is currently unknown. However it is likely that such an update to the Chrome OS will result in more app-based functionality and capability.

Francois also provided links to the source code allowing users to get a proper taste and feel to how and what the new update might entail.

By simply checking out the chromium source code and compiling the convenient “athena_main” target with ninja -C out/Release athena_main, you’ll be able to follow the Work In Progress

To view the Chromium source code click here.

To read Francois post in full click here.

Although Athena is in its earliest stages and largely unconfirmed (compared to L) this information along with the recent announcements of updates to multiple Google services does suggest that we may be getting blindsided by the smaller fragments of what Google really are planning. If you think more in the broader scheme, all of these smaller fragments viewed together suggest we are going to be presented with a completely new Google experience altogether.

Maybe the biggest Google announcement is still to come!

Either way let us know what you think. Are you a Chromebook owner? Do you want to see a newer more touch-based system?

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Google uses Qt to create VoltAir game

Monday 21st of July 2014 03:31:50 PM

Qt is already a dominant technology in may industries such as IVI systems in cars, recently we covered Dropbox’s switch to Qt. Google has also joined the Qtness (cuteness). The company published VoltAir, a single and multi-player game, on Google Play Store. It’s an open source game which is built using Qt.

Google gives the rationale behind using Qt, “QtQuick is one of the many frameworks provided by the Qt Project. It is best described as a 2D scene graph with an accompanying renderer. You can build up a tree of items, each of which represents some aspect of the scene: graphics, physics, input, audio, data storage, etc.”

Google did look around before picking Qt. They admitted that choosing Qt was a daring choice as there was (almost) no game developed in it, so there was nothing to look at and say that would work. Google found it challenging as well as interesting due to many factors mainly due to the future ability to extend it into a rich editor. The support from Digia was also a factor. Some other reasons included the fact that it provided a platform abstraction that allowed us to also develop and test on desktop, reducing iteration time; it included a scene graph and out of the box “serialization” mechanism; it allowed for easily building a fluid UI system that was good for games; it provided an object model with dynamic JavaScript bindings, properties, as well as callback mechanisms for easy scripting and prototyping and last but not the least, it contained a well integrated IDE (QtCreator)Included a flexible LGPL License.

Katherine Barrios of Qt team says, “VoltAir was developed to provide an example of a C++ game designed for both Android and Android TV and the folks at Google also tested it on Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Moto X by Motorola, Android TV, and some Samsung devices.”

The game is about a robot which is stuck on an alien planet. “Going as fast as his single wheel will carry him, he flies over ramps, zips around meteors, and rides geysers in his search for the portal that will take him home,” according to the game description by Google.

You can play the game on your Android devices, just install it from Google Play Store.

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EFF announces open wireless router firmware to share network

Monday 21st of July 2014 02:13:43 PM

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an organization fighting against illegal surveillance programs in the courts. It also contributes to a open and secure internet by funding the development of software like HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger.

The latest from EFF is the recent announcement of an experimental open wireless router firmware at the HOPE X (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference in New York City. This firmware is released as a project of EFF’s Open Wireless Movement. The project aims at a ubiquitous open internet where individuals and organizations can offer a portion of their wireless network bandwidth for public use. In addition to making network sharing easier, it will also speed up the internet experience and improve security. The announcement reveals the following design goals:

  • Allow small business and home users to easily enable an open network, so guests and passersby can get an Internet connection if they need one, while keeping a password-locked WPA2 network for themselves and their friends or coworkers.
  • Let you share a bounded portion of your bandwidth on the open network, so guest users cannot slow down your Internet connection or use a large portion of your monthly quota.
  • Provide state-of-the-art network queuing, so most users can expect an improved Internet experience—especially with latency-sensitive applications—compared to what commonly available consumer grade routers are delivering today.
  • Offer a minimalist, secure, and elegant Web user interface to set up and configure the router. Advanced, non-minimalist administrative options are accessible by SSH.
  • Advance the state of the art in consumer Wi-Fi router security and begin turning back the growing tide of attacks against them. Most or all existing router software is full of XSS and CSRF vulnerabilities, and we want to change that.
  • Include a secure software auto-update mechanism. In addition to using HTTPS, firmware signatures and metadata are fetched via Tor to make targeted update attacks very difficult.

Currently the firmware is in a pre-alpha state and meant for hackers. it only works on the Netgear WNDR3800. The future target is to support many more models where user can just download the firmware and flash it on the hardware.

The firmware can be downloaded here. The guide to flash (or install) the firmware is available here. Once again, remember that this is a very early release and tested only on the Netgear WNDR3800 at the time of writing.

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Millions of baby blood samples stored In Indiana warehouse without consent

Monday 21st of July 2014 12:28:48 PM

If your kid was born in Indiana after 1991, chances are his or her blood and DNA is one of an estimated 2.25-million specimens currently stored in an undisclosed state warehouse.

According to a report by 13 Investigates, “the Indiana State Department of Health is holding the blood samples of more than 2.25 million Hoosier children – without their parents’ permission.”

What is not an unusual practice is that when a baby is born in Indiana, the state conducts a newborn screening test as with most other states. A small sample of blood, taken from the heel of each newborn baby by a nurse or midwife, is collected on a special card and sent to the state’s Newborn Screening Lab in downtown Indianapolis for detecting health problems (if any).

At the lab, researchers test the sample to look for more than 50 medical disorders (deadly at times) that might otherwise go unnoticed and untreated.

“It’s really to prevent bad outcomes for these children so they can reach their full potential,” Bob Bowman, director of ISDH’s Genomics & Newborn Screening Program, was quoted as saying. “We can prevent severe mental retardation and even death.”

Physicians along with parents are then notified of the results.

But there’s something that ISDH never chose to share with these parents over the past 23 years.

“For decades, ISDH has been keeping the leftover blood samples for possible use in medical research. And the health department admits it never asked parents’ permission to do that,” the report added.

The leftover blood samples are currently stored in 666 bankers boxes in an undisclosed warehouse in Indianapolis, according to state health officials.

“Right now we have samples dating back to 1991, so there are approximately 2.25 to 2.5 million samples currently being held,” said Bowman. “We do have a lot.”

In other words, this large warehouse contains the DNA of native Hoosiers who are toddlers, teenagers and even recent college graduates.

Health officials have been storing all of the leftover blood just in case it is needed for medical research, which, according to Dr. Eric Meslin, director of the IU School of Medicine’s Center for Bioethics, is not good public policy.

The fact that the state health department never obtained the proper consent from parents is surely troubling.
The department changed its notification policy for newborn screening tests last year. Parents are now being asked up front whether they want their baby’s blood to be used for research.

The new policy, however, is applicable only to newborn screenings conducted within the last 1 year. The question still remains what about millions of baby blood samples stored away in boxes in a state warehouse? What would the state do with these samples, possibly unfit for scientific research now, even if it gets proper consent from parents?

“At this particular point in time we don’t even know how many of the older samples could be used for research,” said Bowman.

These blood samples might as well be useless, Bowman added.

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Top 5 Linux Gaming Emulators

Sunday 20th of July 2014 02:22:41 AM

The history of Linux in gaming is quite poor, but this year so many changes happened in this area that we might be able to review top commercial video games very soon. By commercial I mean those created by most significant gaming companies like Ubisoft or Bethesda, and not indie video games. Even though real gaming in Linux based operating systems got a boost this year, emulators were everywhere to be found, for most known video game consoles.

Strangely enough they were one part of Linux you can compare with other OS s mainly because of their vast quantity. Most emulators started as projects, long time ago, and stopped whether they were incomplete or “ready for action”.


FCEUX is a Nintendo Entertaining System emulator still being developed to this day. NES was the one gaming console which played such an important role in gaming history, so that many of its elements are still used in modern video game consoles. For example, NES introduced the world to the standard A, B, Start, Select and cross-like movement, controller. FCEUX is one of the best NES emulators in Linux. You can download the code from here and compile it for all systems, but in Ubuntu, all the latest releases, have it on the package manager under the name “fceux”. Just type “sudo apt-get install fceux”. For OpenSuse 12.2 and other distros you can check this site here and download the package you want.


Super Nes or SNES emulator I definitely recommend BSNES. Now I know there might be some controversy here because ZSNES was considered to be the best emulator for the SNES console. I have tried them both and they are equally strong, but ZSNES has a bit weirder User Interface than BSNES. They work great on all distros and with all games. You can download the package for ZSNES here and for BSNES here.

3. Project64

Project64 is definitely the best emulator there is for Nintendo 64 in Windows. Most people might be confused by now, but the reason I am writing about Project64 is because it’s the best on Linux too. How? But of course Wine is the solution here. I’ve installed many emulators on my system, such as the not-so-user-friendly Mupen64plus of which the installation process was literally a pain in the ass. Although it ran perfectly it still had many issues with most games. So I installed Project64 through Wine and all the games ran perfectly. The installation didn’t require anything special, except of course, the latest version of Wine installed to your system. Just open the executable for Windows, that you will find on the site of Project64 and simply follow the instructions. After that open the program from your main Wine directory and you’re done.

4. ePSXe

PSX also gets its share on the emulator market with ePSXe, which is by far the best emulator in all platforms. For Linux, there is the version 1.6.0 which has packages for Mandriva and OpenSuse, precompiled, as you can see here. Of course Wine can be used to install the latest 1.8.0. version on any Linux system. Also another notable Playstation emulator is PCSX-Reloaded which has packages for all big distributions ready to download from this site. However after some test I did, there isn’t great game compatibility with the latter. BIOS files are necessary to run the emulator and games, but Google is your friend on this one.

5. PCSX2

PCSX2 is, without a doubt, the best Playstation 2 emulator that ever existed. It’s cross-platform. There is the option to compile the emulator from this site, after installing the dependencies. Mandriva and OpenSuse packages here just as ePSXe, in form of RPM packages. For Ubuntu-based distributions (such as Linux Mint) there is a ppa ready which makes it easier to install and update the emulator through the package manager. Just copy-paste the following line to the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gregory-hainaut/pcsx2.official.ppa -y && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install pcsx2 -y

There are of course emulators for many other consoles. In this article you can find the best emulators for the most popular video game consoles. For others, such as Sega Genesis there is the Gens emulator for which you can find Ubuntu packages here, or for Nintendo DS there is DeSmuME for native integration but I personally prefer the NO$GBA emulator through Wine. Also there is the infamous MAME for arcade games which you can find packages here and the SDL port here.

Written by George, re-posted from

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CyanogenMod’s Apollo Music Player modified for Android L

Sunday 20th of July 2014 01:48:22 AM

Once again we find ourselves talking about Android L. Over the past month we have received numerous reports on Android L, bringing you Android L features, themes, keyboard, Heads Up and the official L preview.

More recently we advised a full port available for Nexus owners providing an overall L experience. This was also followed by leaked screenshots suggesting the Play Store will be updated to be in more in line with L’s Material Design guidelines. Now we can bring to you what seems to be the first modified app to work solely with Android L.

Apollo is the standard out-of-the-box music player provided with all CyanogenMod (CM) downloads. This is CM’s stock music player and generally seems to be quite popular. So much so one of the developers over at xda as modified Apollo to work with L. The modified music player adopts the Material design look and feel presenting a more cohesive user experience for those lucky enough to already be on L.

HenryMP (Henry Music Player) so-called by the developer is based entirely on CyanogenMod’s Apollo but with the newer Material Design appearance. This is good news for CyanogenMod fans as recently CM officially announced they would not be implementing any L features in the near future. Although CM might not be so quick to jump on the L train it seems developers will make sure CM features will be available. Below is a screenshot of what the interface looks like.

As this is modified for L it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to learn the app does not currently work on KitKat or lower versions of Android. The developer has created a ‘backport’ version of the app for Android JB (Jelly Bean) and newer. Unfortunately if you are on KK or lower it’s either the backported version or stick to the stock CM Apollo app. However, If you are lucky enough to be running L (basically a Nexus owner) than you can download and install HenryMP now. If you do let us know what you think?

You can download either the normal L version or the backported JB (or newer) version by visiting the developer thread. You can also read more about the app by visiting the xda post.

Source: xda-developers

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Want to make your own CyanogenMod theme?

Saturday 19th of July 2014 09:15:22 PM

If you’re familiar with CyanogenMod (CM) or simply part of any of CM’s social network you will be well aware of the CM’s Theme Store. For those of you who don’t know this is simply a CM powered theme generator which allows users to instantly change the theme, fonts, and color-scheme for the UI. Some themes are available for free while most charge a small amount to download and install. These are lightweight items for your device and simply change the aesthetic appearance completely.

Part of CM’s popularity is they provided the framework for the generator as open-source allowing anyone to model their own themes and designs. As a result other ROM’s like OmniROM also use the standard CM theme generator. Due to its open-source nature, themes are rife on social network sites with unknown developer’s generating new themes on almost an hourly basis.

Ever thought of creating your own theme but were unsure of how to go about it? Or simply not too good at coding? Well now is your opportunity. One of the recognised contributors over at xda-developers has very kindly produced an in-depth how-to-guide to creating your own theme.

The guide covers

  • How to download, install and setup Eclipse,
  • The Android SDK
  • Android Developer Tools
  • Import the CyanogenMod theme template
  • Edit the Android Manifest
  • Run the theme
  • Fix any Issues

The guide covers both Windows and Linux users and should be definitely checked out if you want to get started making your own themes. Hey, if your theme is any good you can always start selling it.

For more information you can check out the xda official post or if you want to get straight into the action then head over to the CM Theme development guide to get going.


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