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July 2018

Games: Byte Driver and Steam Chat

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  • Byte Driver combines a retro driving game and a shooter that will test your reflexes

    Byte Driver from developer Vector Hat looks like an incredibly retro experience, currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter with a Linux demo available.

  • What are you playing this weekend?

    The weekend has arrived and for many of you this is likely your best time to boot up your favourite game, so what are you all playing?

    The weather over here has turned for the worst, we've gone from ridiculous heat to stormy showers and so the majority of my time will likely be staring at a brightly lit screen. Naturally, that means I will be playing some awesome Linux games.

  • Valve have restored the fully offline mode for the new Steam Chat system and more

    There's an update out for the new Steam Chat system for everyone along with changes only available for those in the Steam Client Beta.

    One niggle I saw a few people unhappy with in our comments, was the removal of the fully offline mode for the friends system. In the Steam Client Beta this has been restored. In addition, Valve has added a 'Do Not Disturb' mode to get no notifications from friends or groups which includes not opening windows or playing sounds for new messages.

Kernel: AMDKFD and Bootlin

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  • AMDKFD In Linux 4.19: Raven Ridge Support, GPU Reset Ability

    Coming in as a late pull request to DRM-Next for Linux 4.19 are the AMDKFD kernel driver changes that is the critical piece to the modern open-source AMD compute stack.

    The AMD Kernel Fusion Driver "AMDKFD" changes were sent in today by maintainer Oded Gabbay. The big changes for this AMDKFD feature update is initial support for Raven Ridge APUs by this kernel compute driver as well as integrating GPU reset support into the driver.

  • Allwinner VPU support in mainline Linux status update (week 30)

    This week’s progress in our VPU driver development effort was focused on two main tasks: submitting the sixth revision of the Cedrus VPU driver series to the mainline Linux kernel and starting the work on H265 decoding.

    The patch series for this new iteration of the driver was submitted on Wednesday and contains both functional and cosmetic changes. Most notably, we implemented support for video-specific quantization matrices in MPEG2, one of the final extension bits we were missing until then, but also cleaned up the register definitions for the driver. At this point, there are no undocumented registers or fields left, which makes the overall understanding of the hardware interactions much more straightforward. The driver was also moved to staging drivers, not because it was deemed of poor quality but rather because V4L2 maintainers want to keep the ability to change the controls that our driver is using even after it is merged.

  • Bootlin Starts Work On Allwinner H.265 Decoding

    Following the success of their work on open-source video decode for MPEG/H.264 following their crowd-funding campaign, Bootlin has now taken to working on H.265 video decode for the Sunxi-Cedrus open-source effort.

    Bootlin is still working to mainline their Cedrus driver for the Allwinner video hardware engine into the mainline kernel's staging area. That initial driver for mainline is handling MPEG2 and supporting the Allwinner A10/A13/A20/A33/H3 SoCs. While that mainlining effort and patch revising effort continues, they have also begun focusing on H.265 video decode too.

RIP, Gerv Markham

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  • Remembering Gerv Markham

    Gerv Markham, a friend and mentor to many in the Mozilla community, passed away last night surrounded by his family.

    Gerv worked at Mozilla for many years working in a variety of capacities including being a lead developer of Bugzilla and most recently working on special projects under the Mozilla Chairwoman.

    I had the pleasure of working with Gerv in the Thunderbird community and most recently on the MOSS Grants Committee as one of the inaugural members. Between these two areas, I often sought Gerv’s mentoring and advice, as he always had wisdom to share.

  • Daniel Glazman: Gerv, oh Gerv Sad

Graphics: Mesa 18.1.5, Wayland 1.16, Weston 5.0 (Betas), ETC2

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  • mesa 18.1.5

    I present to you the mesa 18.1.5 release, available now. The 18.1.5 cycle has been rather busy, in fact, it's the busiest cycle since 18.1.2! Radv has gotten the most work this cycle, with intel, nir, and the android build system coming up behind it.

  • Mesa 18.1.5 Released With Many RADV Fixes, Other Changes Throughout

    While Mesa 18.2 is on track for debuting as the next stable feature release by the end of August, for those sticking to the latest stable releases, that's now Mesa 18.1.5.

    Mesa 18.1 series release manager Dylan Baker released Mesa 18.1.5 on Friday as the newest update. There are close to a dozen RADV Radeon Vulkan driver fixes in this update ranging from a memory leak with a GFX9 code-path to enabling in-memory/API-level caching even if the shader disk cache is disabled, binning fixes, and more.

  • Wayland 1.16 & Weston 5.0 Hit The Beta Milestone

    The beta releases of Wayland 1.16 and the Weston 5.0 reference compositor are now available for testing.

    Friday's Wayland 1.15.92 release (1.16 beta) doesn't change much at all besides some build system alterations, removing the deprecated wl_buffer definition, and in the protocol allowing to send a zero physical output size. There wasn't a whole lot going on for the Wayland 1.16 development cycle.

  • RADV Vulkan Driver Introduces Support For ETC2 Compression

    Mesa's RADV Vulkan driver now has support for ETC2 texture compression on select GPUs.

Debian: DebCamp, DebConf and More

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  • DebCamp report 2018

    Being only here for one full day of DebCamp this year, I had not planned to do very much anyway. But it’s still been of benefit: amongst other things, Enrico and I held the traditionally impromptu maybe-annual meeting of Debian Account Managers.

  • DebConf18 Kicks Off This Weekend As The First Official Debian Conference In Asia

    Taking place this week was DebCamp while officially starting this weekend is DebConf18, the first DebConf (Debian Conference) to be held in Asia.

    DebConf18 is running over the course of next week in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Sponsorship of the event is being led by HP Enterprise as the sole platinum sponsor while gold sponsors include Google, Infomaniak, Collabora, and Microsoft. Notably not a sponsor of DebConf18 is Valve while they had sponsored some past years of DebConf due in part to their SteamOS being derived from Debian GNU/Linux.

  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise Platinum Sponsor of DebConf18
  • My free software activities, July 2018

    This is my monthly Debian LTS report.

    Most of my hours this month were spent updating jessie to catchup with all the work we've done in Wheezy that were never forward-ported (DLA-1414-1, fixing CVE-2017-9462, CVE-2017-17458, CVE-2018-1000132, OVE-20180430-0001, OVE-20180430-0002, and OVE-20180430-0004). Unfortunately, work was impeded by how upstream now refuses to get CVE identifiers for new issues they discover in the process, which meant that I actually missed three more patches which were required to fix the subrepo vulnerability (CVE-2017-17458). In other issues, upstream at least attempted to try identifiers through the OVE system which is not as well integrated in our security tracker but does allow some cross-distro collaboration at least. The regression advisory was published as DLA-1414-2.

    Overall, the updates of the Mercurial package were quite difficult as the test suite would fail because order of one test would vary between builds (and not runs!) which was quite confusing. I originally tried fixing this by piping the output of the test suite through sort to get consistent output, but, after vetting the idea one of the upstream maintainers (durin42), I ended up sorting the dictionnary in the code directly.

  • Build tool semantic aware build systems

    Laura and Ben talked about the struggles they had using build systems like make or Nix in data science applications. A build system like nix is designed around the idea that builds are relatively cheap, and that any change in a dependency ought to trigger a rebuild, just to be sure that all build outputs are up-to-date. This is a perfectly valid assumption when building software, where build times are usually minutes, or maybe hours. But when some of the data processing takes days, then you really really want to avoid any unnecessary builds.

OSS: OpenSim, Akka, GNU, GPL and Research

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  • Open-source software creates powerful, accurate simulations for movement research

    An open-source movement simulator that has already helped solve problems in medicine, paleontology, and animal locomotion has been expanded and improved, according to a new publication in the open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology. The software, called OpenSim, has been developed by a team at Stanford University, led by first authors Ajay Seth, Jennifer Hicks, and Thomas Uchida, with contributions from users around the world. The new paper reviews the software’s wide range of applications and describes the improvements that can increase its utility even further.


    “The software is like a Swiss Army knife for the movement scientist,” said the lead authors. “It allows researchers with no special expertise in biomechanics to perform powerful and accurate simulations to test hypotheses, visualize solutions to problems, and communicate ideas. Because it incorporates decades of research about how humans and other animals move, and is constantly being augmented and enhanced by the community of users from so many different fields, OpenSim can accelerate discoveries in any field in which biological movement plays a role.”

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Akka

    This week’s open-source project of the week wants to help developers build reactive, concurrent and distributed apps. Akka is a toolkit for message-driven Java and Scala apps.

    According to the team, with the container market expected to reach $2.7 billion by 2020, developers need a programming model for distributed computing. Distributed computing is the technology inside containers, that is managed by Kubernetes, the team explained.

    “We believe that writing correct concurrent & distributed, resilient and elastic applications is too hard. Most of the time it’s because we are using the wrong tools and the wrong level of abstraction.” the project’s GitHub page states. “Akka is here to change that.”

  • FSF Blogs: GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 15 new GNU releases!


  • Collaboration in open source license enforcement — a community movement is happening

    In approaching the topic of open source license enforcement, it is important to consider Lincoln’s advice. Collaboration during open source license enforcement is a key to successful compliance just as it is an important element to success in the software development process. In assessing license enforcement tactics, you need to ask whether they will foster greater collaboration in open source software development. If the ultimate result of excessive or abusive enforcement is that developers and enterprises are turned off from participating in upstream open source communities, the ecosystems will wither and we all suffer as a result.


    For those who review and negotiate commercial contracts on a regular basis, the idea of a reasonable notice and opportunity to fix problems may seem obvious but this wasn’t always the case for the GPL. Version 2 of the GPL and LGPL do not contain express “cure” periods to fix problems before the licenses are terminated. In an earlier era, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) owned the copyrights for nearly all GPL-licensed code and was the only copyright holder regularly engaged in license enforcement. At that time, the idea of automatic termination in the hands of a benevolent license steward may have seemed appropriate to encourage and enforce license compliance. But, over time, there was an increasing volume of GPL and LGPL-licensed software that was distributed by a growing body of copyright holders (i.e., many potential license enforcers). A consensus began to form that automatic termination could result in potential unfairness and opportunities for abusive enforcement. When the FSF, with the guidance and assistance of the Software Freedom Law Center, ultimately released GPLv3 in 2007, one of its new features was the introduction of a cure period for license noncompliance and mechanisms for license reinstatement when compliance errors were promptly fixed.

  • New research agreement opens up for universities and companies

    Many companies partner with universities on research to develop new products, improve their existing products, or simply increase their profits by leveraging university research and development (R&D) capabilities. Generally, these relationships use a proprietary standard research agreement (PSRA); for historical reasons, these agreements contain significant intellectual property (IP) monopoly language and restrictions on both the company and the university.

    These standard research agreements create a barrier to collaboration for companies using a libre model and the universities they wish to collaborate with, as both parties must invest significantly on attorneys' fees to restructure the contracts. This is money that could be better spent to drive innovation in the labs. Worse, time spent on contract restructuring creates delays that hamstring cutting-edge research.

Software: Docker, VMs and Graphic Design

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  • 10+ top open-source tools for Docker security

    For container security, you'll find plenty of open-source tools that can help prevent another debacle like the one at Tesla, which suffered a Kubernetes cluster breach. But container security is still tricky, so you need to know which utilities to add to your arsenal.

    Sure, there are commercial container security products out there, but open-source projects can take you pretty far. Many focus on auditing, tracking Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) databases and benchmarks established by CIS, the National Vulnerability Database, and other bodies. Tools then scan the container image, reveal its contents, and compare the contents against these manifests of known vulnerabilities.

    Automating container auditing, as well as using other container security processes, can be a huge boon for enterprises by helping teams catch problems early in the build pipeline.

    While there are plenty of open-source container security tools out there, here are the best, most mature ones with the largest user communities.

  • ANNOUNCE: virt-viewer 7.0 release

    I am happy to announce a new bugfix release of virt-viewer 7.0 (gpg), including experimental Windows installers for Win x86 MSI (gpg) and Win x64 MSI (gpg). The virsh and virt-viewer binaries in the Windows builds should now successfully connect to libvirtd, following fixes to libvirt’s mingw port.

  • 5 GNU/Linux Graphic Design Apps in AppImage [Ed: Inkscape, GIMP, Scribus, Krita, and Drawio]

Belated GUADEC Coverage

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  • The Developer Center Initiative – Call for Participants

    The Developer Center Initiative had a call after the GUADEC BoF. We had 13 participants which I think is a great start. We need the manpower too!

    I’m going to summarize our call meeting in a blog post soon, but first I want to introduce the people and their interests. Note: this list is so far only consisting of people who participated in the call. You can sign up below!

  • Alexandru Fazakas: GUADEC 2018

    This july I attended the Gnome Users and Developers European Conference taking place in Almería, Spain.

    Initially, I had no idea what to expect out of it. I have been told it’s a great event with people from all around the world and a lot of fun stuff going on. After booking both my flights and my lodging, first thing I did was sign up for the event. The registration process gave us the option of volunteering there. Having attended a few other events (read: music festivals, heh) as a volunteer and barely knowing anyone who would be at GUADEC (aside from my mentor and a couple of fellow GSoC students), I concluded this would be a good way to make new friends while helping around wherever needed. I am glad to say this was a great call and I enjoyed it a lot. Registration desk was mostly what I helped with, but at need, I also helped with introducing speakers (which also meant I introduced my mentor Carlos’ talk!), handing microphones at the Q&A part of the talks and a few other things. Volunteering felt great and (should I attend next year’s GUADEC) I’d love to get more involved in it, maybe even coordinate the volunteers or help coordinating them.

  • An overview of this summer’s community conferences

    This summer, we have been kept busy with a number of things. As you can see with the many blog posts from the Librem 5 phone development team (many more are scheduled to be published in the coming days and weeks), we have been heavily focused on preparing the software platform for the phone, as well as designing the hardware to be manufactured for the development kits and the components that will be used for the production phone.

    However, our work does not happen in isolation, hence why many of us attend FLOSS conferences as part of our collaborative development model. Whenever and wherever possible, we aim to supplement our attendance with sponsorship of those important Free Software events.

Devices: Raspberry Pi, Bridgetek’s Embedded Video Engine (EVE), NileCAM

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  • Get Started With Ethical Hacking Using Kali Linux and Raspberry Pi

    Ethical hacking is a great way to uncover your inner Mr. Robot. And what better way to build those skills than by using one of the foremost hacking toolkits?

    We’re talking Kali Linux on your Raspberry Pi 3! A Raspberry Pi 3 running Kali Linux is surprisingly formidable for hacking. The tiny computer is cheap, powerful, and versatile.

    In fact, Kali Linux comes packed with everything you need to expand your ethical hacking skills. Here’s how you load Kali Linux onto your Raspberry Pi 3.

  • Graphics Controller Gaining Ground In Open-Source Universe

    Bridgetek’s Embedded Video Engine (EVE) technology is reportedly gaining more traction within the global open-source community, as well as with larger OEMs. The integrated graphics controllers can handle the display, touch, and audio aspects of modern human machine interfaces (HMIs), As a result, they are finding their way into a growing number of products developed by small start-ups. The latest of these is the Sunflower Shield.

    Using the FT813 EVE IC, the Sunflower Shield allows makers to add a touch-enabled premium quality 3.5" (QVGA) TFT LCD display, to their Arduino projects. With the ability to render 24-bit color content in either landscape or portrait orientations, plus support for smooth 60fps animations, this compact board has a 5-point multi-touch capacitive touchscreen for delivery of intuitive operation and compelling user experiences.

  • HD-resolution GMSL camera kit available in USB and Jetson TX2 models

    E-con has released a four-board, 3.4MP “NileCAM30” camera system claimed to be the world’s fastest GMSL camera. Its available in either a USB 3.1 interface or a MIPI-CSI connection for linking to a Jetson TX2 module.

    E-con Systems has launched a four-board, fixed-focus 3.4-megapixel camera system with up to HD video resolution at 60fps and and GMSL technology for 80ms latency over a 15-meter cable. The NileCAM30 is available in two similar models: a NileCAM30_TX2 model that’s designed to plug into a Linux-powered, hexa-core Nvidia Jetson TX2 module by way of the Jetson TX2 Developer Kit and a NileCAM30_USB model with a USB interface that can work with any Linux- or Windows-driven, USB-enabled computer. The TX2 model also supports the earlier Jetson TX1.

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