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Video Acceleration in Fedora 28 and the Rotting of MPEG Due to Software Patents

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  • Fedora 28 Planning For VA-API 1.0 Support

    The latest work by Fedora developers on feature work for Fedora 28 is shipping with VA-API 1.0 support for updated capabilities around the Video Acceleration API.

    The VA-API 1.0.0 API/ABI is provided by the libva 2.0 video acceleration library. Libva 2.0 was released last October with H.264 FEI support in its API, deprecating older parts of the API, fixing a race condition with the Wayland support, renaming some parts of the API, improving the logging capabilities, and various other changes. Libva 2.0 broke API/ABI compatibility with older versions of this Intel-developed Video Acceleration API.

  • A crisis, the causes and a solution [Ed: LWN says "this blog posting from Leonardo Chiariglione, the founder and chair of MPEG, on how (in his view) the group is being destroyed by free codecs and patent trolls."]

    Because there are rumours spreading about a presumed “MPEG-Video collapse” and Brownian motion-like initiatives trying to remedy – in some cases by the very people who have contributed to creating the “crisis”.

    [...]

    In its 30 years of operation MPEG has created digital media standards that have enabled the birth and continue promoting the growth of digital media products, services and applications. Here are a few, out of close to 180 standards: MP3 for digital music (1992), MPEG-2 for digital television (1994), MPEG-4 Visual for video on internet (1998), MP4 file format for mobile handsets (2001), AVC for reduced bitrate video (2003), DASH for internet streaming (2013), MMT for IP broadcasting (2013) and more. In other words, MPEG standards have had and keep on having an impact on the lives of billions of people.

    [...]

    In 2013 MPEG approved the HEVC standard which provides the same quality as AVC at half the bitrate. The licensing situation is depicted by the picture below (courtesy of Jonathan Samuelsson of Divideon): there are 3 patent pools, one of which has not published their licence and a significant number of patent holders that have not joined any pool (and not published their licences either).

     I saw the threat coming and one year ago I tried to bring the matter to the attention of the higher layers in ISO. My attempts were thwarted by a handful of NPEs.

    Alliance for Open Media (AOM) has occupied the void created by MPEG’s outdated video compression standard (AVC), absence of competitive Options 1 standards (IVC) and unusable modern standard (HEVC). AOM’s AV1 codec, due to be released soon, is claimed to perform better than HEVC and will be offered royalty free.

    [...]

    The work of patent pools would be greatly simplified because they could define profiles with technologies that are “available” because they would know who owns which tools. Users could switch on tools once they become usable, e.g. because the relevant owner has joined a patent pool.

    These are just examples of how the MPEG standard development process can be adapted to better match the needs of entities developing licences and without becoming part – God forbid – of a licence definition process.

    [...]

    Companies will slash their video compression technology investments, thousands of jobs will go and millions of USD of funding to universities will be cut. A successful “access technology at no cost” model will spread to other fields.

    So don’t expect that in the future you will see the progress in video compression technology that we have seen in the past 30 years.

More in Tux Machines

Databases: Cassandra/Instaclustr and MariaDB

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Cassandra integrations from Instaclustr
    Open-source managed solutions-as-a-service company Instaclustr wants to address some gaps in a few key integrations for the Apache Cassandra database management solution with the announcement of three new open-source projects. The first piece of the problem was finding a way for Kubernetes to more fully integrate with Cassandra. This is where the company’s newly announced open-source Cassandra operator comes in, it explained. “While running Cassandra on Kubernetes can be relatively simple to begin with, Kubernetes provides only a limited understanding of database functionality: it’s blind to key details of the database being written to, and has incomplete capabilities for storing data in-state,” the company wrote in the release announcement.
  • What is a software ‘connector’?
    Open source news to end the week looks to the somewhat incongruous connection between Menlo Park California and Helsinki — it can only be MariaDB Corporation with that HQ combo. Updates to end 2018 see the new availability of the MariaDB Connector for Node.js, giving developers a method to build Node.js applications on top of MariaDB’s enterprise relational database. MariaDB uses pluggable, purpose-built storage engines to support workloads that previously required a variety of specialised databases. Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript run-time environment that executes JavaScript code outside of a browser.

Openwashing: Bloomberg, Pimcore, Microsoft, Facebook and More

Programming: Fuchsia SDK, Python, PGI, JFrog, Microsoft as 'Authority' and Fun Maze Generator

  • Fuchsia Friday: A first look at the Fuchsia SDK, which you can download here
    With the significant news this week that the Fuchsia SDK and a Fuchsia “device” are being added to the Android Open Source Project, now seems like a good time to learn more about the Fuchsia SDK. Today on Fuchsia Friday, we dive into the Fuchsia SDK and see what it has to offer developers who might want to get a head start on Fuchsia.
  • Python, signal handlers, and exceptions
  • Create a power bar for pygame project
    In this chapter, we are going to create the last piece of game feature which is the player’s power bar, after this, I will do all the touches up to this game project which certainly includes to tidy up the game code before uploading the game to the pygame portal. Alright, let’s get to work. The first file which we will need to edit is the score manager file where we will create a power bar object on the lower right corner of the game scene. What we will do here is to deduct the height of the original power bar whenever an enemy missile hits the player ship.
  • PGI 18.10 Community Edition Compiler Relased For High-Performance Multi-Core CPUs & GPUs
    The PGI 18.10 Community Edition compiler was recently released that is geared for HPC workloads and aims to deliver optimal performance on multi-core processors and GPUs.
  • JFrog to open freebie central repository for Go fans in the new year
    Self-proclaimed "Database of DevOps" JFrog is about to fling open the first central repository for Go modules in the form of GoCenter. Originally developed by Google, the open-source language Go, which celebrated its ninth anniversary last month, has seen impressive growth over the years. It hovers in fifth place in Stack Overflow's 2018 survey of most-loved languages (above the likes of JavaScript) and third in rankings of languages devs most want to learn. Python reigns supreme, of course.
  • GitHub and Kotlin: What is this Fastest Growing Language? [Ed: Another disturbing example of the corporate media treating a privatised site of Microsoft as though it's the complete set of all programming and Free software, licences etc.]
    What’s the fastest growing language on GitHub? The repository is seeing a “clear trend toward more statically typed languages focused on type safety and interoperability” the company said this week, including Kotlin, TypeScript and Rust – and it is the former that is surging fastest.
  • The world's most popular programming language is JavaScript, but why? [Ed: Microsoft as reference again?]
    Much of the work done using JavaScript still seems to be carried out by front-end web developers, despite the language finding new uses in areas such as back-end development in recent years. Now the code repository service GitHub has shed further light on what's fuelling the continued popularity of JavaScript, as part of a round-up of which technologies spawned the most new open-source projects on GitHub in 2018. [...] "In 2018 alone, we saw more new users than in our first six years combined, and we celebrated hosting over 100 million repositories. All of this growth is thanks to the open source community," writes Thomas Elliott, data scientist at GitHub
  • Maze Generator Keeps Plotter (and Kids) Busy
    The generator itself is written in Java, and should work on whatever operating system your box happens to be running thanks to the *nix and Windows wrapper scripts [Jon] provides. To create a basic maze, one simply needs to provide the script with the desired dimensions and the paper size. You can define the type of paper with either standard sizes (such as --paper a4) or in the case of a plotter with explicit dimensions (--paper 36x48in).

Security Leftovers

  • Iranian phishers bypass 2fa protections offered by Yahoo Mail and Gmail

    Attackers working on behalf of the Iranian government collected detailed information on targets and used that knowledge to write spear-phishing emails that were tailored to the targets’ level of operational security, researchers with security firm Certfa Lab said in a blog post. The emails contained a hidden image that alerted the attackers in real time when targets viewed the messages. When targets entered passwords into a fake Gmail or Yahoo security page, the attackers would almost simultaneously enter the credentials into a real login page. In the event targets’ accounts were protected by 2fa, the attackers redirected targets to a new page that requested a one-time password.

  • Ships are just giant floating computers, filled with ransomware, BadUSB, and worms

    The document recounts incidents in which infected ships were stranded because malware caused their computerized navigation to fail, and there were no paper charts to fall back on; incidents where fleet owners paid off ransomware demands to keep ships at sea safe, and where the entire digital infrastructure of a ship at sea failed due to malware that spread thanks to weak passwords.

  • Are Chinese spying fears just paranoia?
    The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, and the daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, has highlighted growing fears in the West about China’s ascendancy in advanced technology sectors that will increasingly underpin the global economy. Meng’s arrest (in Vancouver, on a US arrest warrant) is not related to corporate espionage, let alone state espionage. Rather, she is accused of using a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom to evade US sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2014. US prosecutors allege she publicly misrepresented Skycom as being a separate company from Huawei, and deceived banks about the true relationship between the two companies. But although the Meng case is not about spying, it reflects a growing unease among Western policymakers that has been brewing for years. Should the West trust a Chinese telecoms giant to supply us with critical infrastructure?
  • Notes on Build Hardening
    Modern languages (Java, C#, Go, Rust, JavaScript, Python, etc.) are inherently "safe", meaning they don't have "buffer-overflows" or related problems. However, C/C++ is "unsafe", and is the most popular language for building stuff that interacts with the network. In other cases, while the language itself may be safe, it'll use underlying infrastructure ("libraries") written in C/C++. When we are talking about hardening builds, making them safe or security, we are talking about C/C++. In the last two decades, we've improved both hardware and operating-systems around C/C++ in order to impose safety on it from the outside. We do this with options when the software is built (compiled and linked), and then when the software is run.
  • Survey Results: Open-Source Repo Managers Should Get Paid
    We asked, you answered: Yes, developers should be paid for open-source repositories they maintain. Last week, we asked you whether open-source repository maintainers should be compensated for their time. The catalyst for our survey was an instance where an overworked maintainer for a very popular JavaScript framework decided to bring others in to help them manage the repo. In doing so, one of the managers surreptitiously linked to an outside repo that was pinching cryptocurrency data. All indications are the new manager knew what they were doing. The library’s main manager claims they were simply unprepared to continue managing a burdensome repository for free, so they sought help. Open source, after all, is the exchange of data without being compensated.