Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Legal

GNU and GPL Picks

Filed under
GNU
Legal
  • The decade long wait for Bash 5

    It's a coincidence that the Linux kernel and Bash jumped to version 5.0 at about the same time. While Linus assigns the numbers as he sees fit, Bash changes its version when major adjustments are made. Here's what users can expect in Bash 5.

    My last article about a Bash version change is 10 years old [1]. Version 4 was in the starting blocks at that time, but it took some time for all distributions to switch to this version. Nobody puts their production system at risk without good reason.

    Nevertheless, the change was very attractive for developers of complex scripts, because – thanks to associative arrays – a completely new data structure was introduced. The advantages were more elegant, simpler programs that were also easier to maintain. Other important changes included the coproc command (which supports parallelization) and redirection operators.

  • Stack Clash mitigation in GCC: Why -fstack-check is not the answer

    In our previous article about Stack Clash, we covered the basics of the Stack Clash vulnerability. To summarize, an attacker first uses various means to bring the heap and stack close together. A large stack allocation is then used to “jump the stack guard.” Subsequent stores into the stack may modify objects in the heap or vice versa. This, in turn, can be used by attackers to gain control over applications.

  • Cooperation and freedom for all

    The GPL's "freedom zero" can be applied to more than just open-source software.

    Recently, a discussion came up on one of the mailing lists for a GNU/Linux distribution, on which I feel it is necessary to comment. Because this discussion has a place in world politics today, I am bringing my input to this column.

    I started working for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1983. At that time, I had traveled only domestically in the USA, never internationally.

  • Software Freedom Conservancy Announces End to VMware Lawsuit

    Linux developer Christoph Hellwig has announced that he is discontinuing his lawsuit against VMware for non-compliance with the terms of the GPL. Hellwig and the Software Freedom Conservancy accused VMware of including GPLed code associated with vmklinux into VMware's proprietary vSphere product. A German appeals court dismissed the case on February 28. Hellwig and the Software Freedom Conservancy have decided they will not appeal the case further in German courts.

The mysterious history of the MIT License

Filed under
Legal

I say "seemingly straightforward" because the MIT License is one of the most popular licenses used by open source software. The MIT License, Apache License, and BSD license are the main permissive licenses, a term that contrasts with reciprocal licenses like the GPL, which require source code to be made available when software is redistributed.

Given its popularity, you'd think the license's inception would be well-documented. I found various clues that added up to a date in the late 1980s but nothing definitive. However, Keith Packard and Jim Gettys jumped on the thread to offer first-hand accounts of the license's creation. In addition to providing early examples of the license, their help also gave me the context to better understand how the license evolved over time.

Read more

What the new EU copyright law means for open source

Filed under
OSS
Legal

The global open source community was able to breathe a small sigh of relief as the controversial and, at times, bitterly opposed European Union's (EU's) Copyright Directive was finally approved last week. Some last-minute amendments a few weeks before the vote resulted in open source software development being left relatively, but not wholly, unscathed.

In its earlier iterations, the EU copyright proposal, specifically Article 13, made content-sharing platforms directly liable for copyrighted content that users upload. This, in effect, made it mandatory for software code sharing platforms to monitor all content that users upload for potential copyright infringement. The proposal was primarily aimed at music and video streaming platforms rather than software code but the wording was so broad that software code, and developing and sharing platforms like GitHub, Software Heritage, GitLab, GNU Savannah and SourceForge, would be caught in the net.

With the whole premise of open source software being the free and open sharing of code, the open source community was appalled. Several campaigns were launched to push back. The Free Software Foundation Europe and OpenForumEurope joined forces on a campaign, Savecodeshare.eu, to garner support for opposition to the proposed directive.

Read more

Licensing Tricks and Traps in Fake 'FOSS'

Filed under
OSS
Legal

Linux developer abandons VMware lawsuit

Filed under
Linux
Legal

In August 2006, well-known Linux developer Christopher Helwig spotted Linux source code being used illegally in the VMware ESX bare-metal virtual machine (VM) hypervisor. Helwig, with the aid of the Software Freedom Conservancy, eventually sued VMware, Now, after the German Hamburg Higher Regional Court dismissed Helwig's appeal, he has decided that it would be pointless to appeal the decision.

The heart of the lawsuit had been that Hypervisor vSphere VMware ESXi 5.5.0 violated Linux's copyright. That's because VMware had not licensed a derivative work from Linux under the GNU General Public License (GPL). True, VMware had disclosed the vmklinux component under the GPL, but not the associated hypervisor components.

Read more

James Bottomley: A Roadmap for Eliminating Patents in Open Source

Filed under
OSS
Legal

The realm of Software Patents is often considered to be a fairly new field which isn’t really influenced by anything else that goes on in the legal lansdcape. In particular there’s a very old field of patent law called exhaustion which had, up until a few years ago, never been applied to software patents. This lack of application means that exhaustion is rarely raised as a defence against infringement and thus it is regarded as an untested strategy. Van Lindberg recently did a FOSDEM presentation containing interesting ideas about how exhaustion might apply to software patents in the light of recent court decisions. The intriguing possibility this offers us is that we may be close to an enforceable court decision (at least in the US) that would render all patents in open source owned by community members exhausted and thus unenforceable. The purpose of this blog post is to explain the current landscape and how we might be able to get the necessary missing court decisions to make this hope a reality.

What is Patent Exhaustion?

Patent law is ancient, going back to Greece in around 500BC. However, every legal system has been concerned that patent holders, being an effective monopoly with the legal right to exclude others, did not abuse that monopoly position. This lead to the concept that if you used your monopoly power to profit, you should only be able to do it once for the same item so that absolute property rights couldn’t be clouded by patents. This leads to something called the exhaustion doctrine: so if Alice holds a patent on some item which she sells to Bob and Bob later sells the same item to Charlie, Alice can’t force Bob or Charlie to give her a part of their sale proceeds in exchange for her allowing Charlie to practise the patent on the item. The patent rights are said to be exhausted with the sale from Alice to Bob, so there are no patent rights left to enforce on Charlie. The exhaustion doctrine has since been expanded to any authorized transfer, even if no money changes hands (so if Alice simply gave Bob the item instead of selling it, the patent still exhausts at that transaction and Bob is still free to give or sell the item to Charlie without interference from Alice).

Of course, modern US patent rights have been around now for two centuries and in that time manufacturers have tried many ingenious schemes to get around the exhaustion doctrine profitably, all of which have so far failed in the courts, leading to quite a wealth of case law on the subject. The most interesting recent example (Lexmark v Impression) was over whether a patent holder could use their patent power to enforce any onward conditions at all for which the US Supreme Court came to the conclusive finding: they can’t and goes on to say that all patent rights in the item terminate in the first authorized transfer. That doesn’t mean no post sale conditions can be imposed, they can by contract or licence or other means, it just means post sale conditions can’t be enforced by patent actions. This is the bind for Lexmark: their sales contracts did specify that empty cartridges couldn’t be resold, so their customers violated that contract by selling the cartridges to Impression to refill and resell. However, that contract was between Lexmark and the customer not Lexmark and Impression, so absent patent remedies Lexmark has no contractual case against Impression, only against its own customers.

Read more

Copyright Threats to FOSS: Copyrights on APIs and Upload Filter (for Code Also)

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • No Allies for Oracle’s Win Against Google

    The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has received over a dozen amicus briefs in support of Google against Oracle in a long-lasting battle for Java API (software interface) usage. Among others, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Microsoft, Red Hat, Mozilla, Python Software Foundation, Developers Alliance, along with IP scholars, computer scientists, software innovators, start-ups, and investors raised their concerns about the rulings of the Federal Court of Appeals in 2014and 2018.

  • Support for Google mounts as its Oracle petition is considered

    Google’s argument that it used Oracle’s copyright fairly – with $8.8 billion in the balance – finds support as it hopes for US Supreme Court review

    Google’s petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court represents its last effort in a protracted copyright battle with software company Oracle. The near-decade-long conflict centres on Oracle’s Java programming application, which Google admitted to using...

  • Copyright reform: it’s the final countdown

    This Tuesday MEPs will cast the final vote in a long running process to reform the EU’s copyright law. Their decision will define whether consumers will be able to continue enjoying the internet as a place where they can easily share content with friends and family or be at risk of seeing their uploads systematically blocked by automated filters.

  • Swedish MEPs Announce Support For Article 13, Demonstrate Near Total Ignorance Of What It Actually Entails

    As MEPs get ready to vote on the EU Copyright Directive -- and specific amendments concerning Articles 11 and 13 -- many have not yet said how they are going to vote. However, two Swedish MEPs, Jytte Guteland and Marita Ulvskog, who many had believed would vote against the plan, have suddenly switched sides and say they plan to vote for it. In a rather astounding interview with reporter Emanuel Karlsten the MEPs reveal their near total ignorance of what Article 13 does and what it would require.

    Guteland spoke to Karlsten by phone, and he asked all the right questions. It's worth reading the entire conversation, but here are a few snippets with my commentary.

  • New Report: Germany Caved To France On Copyright In A Deal For Russian Gas

    In the hours leading up to the vote in the EU Parliament on the EU Copyright Directive, the German publication FAZ (which has been generally supportive of the Directive) has released quite a bombshell (in German), suggesting that the reason Germany caved to France on its terrible demands concerning copyright was in order to get France's approval of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.

    If you don't recall, the German delegation had actually pushed back on the more extreme versions of Article 13 -- and, in particular, had demanded that a final version have a clear carve-out for smaller companies, so as not to have them forced out of business by the onerous demands of the law. However, after some back and forth, Germany caved in to France's demands, with many left scratching their heads as to why. However, some noted the "coincidence" in timing, that right after this, France also withdrew its objections to the pipeline which is very controversial in the EU (and the US, which is threatening sanctions).

  • EU Copyright Directive Vote, GNU nano 4.0 Released, Redox OS 0.5.0 Announced, Sailfish OS 3.0.2 "Oulanka" Now Available and Linux Kernel 5.1-rc2 Released

    Members of the European Parliament vote tomorrow on the Directive on Copyright. Those in the EU can go to SaveYourInternet to ask their representatives to vote against Article 17 (previously Article 13). See this Creative Commons blog post for more information. From the post: "The dramatic negative effects of upload filters would be disastrous to the vision Creative Commons cares about as an organisation and global community."

    [...]

    Sailfish OS 3.0.2 "Oulanka" is now available. Named after the Oulanka national park in Lapland and the Northern Ostrobothnia regions of Finland, this new version fixes more than 44 bugs. In addition, "With this new update you will find that the Top Menu has a new switch for silencing ringtones and there's a new battery saving mode to make the most out of low battery in those moments you need to stretch productivity. Email app supports now sending read receipts to inform that you have read the senders' email. Connectivity was improved in terms of firewall and global proxy. As for the user interface, home screen had memory optimizations for handling wallpapers, freeing memory for running other apps."

  • Inside GitHub’s fight to protect devs from EU’s disastrous Copyright Reform [Ed: Microsoft is a patent and copyright maximalist, this time it just doesn't suit one site.]
  • European Parliament to vote on EU Copyright Directive
  • How #Article13 is like the Inquisition: John Milton Against the EU #CopyrightDirective

    Fundamentally, policing of speech can happen at one of two points: before content disseminates, or after. Policing content after it disseminates involves human agents seeing and reporting content and taking action or requesting action. This can happen on a huge scale or a tiny one: Facebook’s content flagging system, obscenity law in much of the EU and USA, parents who object to books assigned in schools, and China’s 50 Cent Army of two million internet censors, all these act to silence content after it disseminates.

  • The EU votes on a confusing new copyright law Tuesday

    Both provisions are maddeningly vague—laying out broad goals without providing much detail about how those goals can be achieved. This is partly because the EU's lawmaking system occurs in two stages. First, EU-wide institutions pass a broad directive indicating how the law should be changed. Then each of the EU's member nations translates the directive into specific laws. This process leaves EU-wide legislators significant latitude to declare general policy goals and leave the details to individual countries.

    Still, if the legislation's goals are incoherent or contradictory, then something is going to have to give. And critics warn that the package could wind up damaging the Internet's openness by forcing the adoption of upload filters and new limits on linking to news stories.

  • Music Labels Forgot Their ‘Secret’ Article 13 Weapon, So Dan Bull Used it Against Them

    Music is widely acknowledged as one of the most potent and emotive ways to tell a story and send a message. Yet, inexplicably, no major artists in favor of Article 13 have used their talent to tell the world why it should pass. In that silence, UK rapper Dan Bull (with support from Grandayy and PewDiePie) has now seized the day - to explain why it shouldn't.

  • EU backs controversial copyright law

    The European parliament has backed controversial copyright laws which critics say could change the nature of the internet.

  • Even after today's EU Parliament vote, we can still kill Article 13 through pressure on German government to prevent formal adoption by EU Council

    Under normal circumstances, today's outcome of the European Parliament's plenary vote would mean we lost the fight against Article 13 ("upload filters") definitively because a 348-274 majority adopted the bill without amendments after an incredibly narrow 317-312 majority disallowed votes on individual amendments. The latter result indicates a majority against Article 13 was in striking distance, given that no amendment had nearly as much as momentum as the one that would have deleted Article 13 (now named Article 17). Some folks may have given up prematurely, but that's another story.

    If we organize another and even bigger round of street protests in Germany, work with opposition parties, and put maximum pressure on Merkel's junior partner (the Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD), we may be able to prevent Germany from allowing the directive to pass into law. But we only have two weeks to make it happen. Let me explain step by step.

  • EU’s Parliament Signs Off on Disastrous Internet Law: What Happens Next?

    In a stunning rejection of the will five million online petitioners, and over 100,000 protestors this weekend, the European Parliament has abandoned common-sense and the advice of academics, technologists, and UN human rights experts, and approved the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive in its entirety.

    There’s now little that can stop these provisions from becoming the law of the land across Europe. It’s theoretically possible that the final text will fail to gain a majority of member states’ approval when the European Council meets later this month, but this would require at least one key country to change its mind. Toward that end, German and Polish activists are already re-doubling their efforts to shift their government’s key votes.

    If that attempt fails, the results will be drawn-out, and chaotic. Unlike EU Regulations like the GDPR, which become law on passage by the central EU institutions, EU Directives have to be transposed: written into each member country’s national law. Countries have until 2021 to transpose the Copyright Directive, but EU rarely keeps its members to that deadline, so it could take even longer.

Licensing: Amazon AWS, CAST and Free and Open source Software (FOSS) Licences

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • Amazon Ups Its Game On Open Source, Elastic Shares Down By 5%

    After the year of ups and downs with its relationship with Elastic, AWS has launched its independent library of open source-code known as Open Distro.

  • With its Elasticsearch distribution, Amazon Web Services sends more shockwaves through open-source software

    Nobody really knows what lies ahead for the future of open-source software as cloud computing becomes the dominant force in enterprise tech, but the times are definitely changing.

    Just about anything that Amazon Web Services does has massive ripple effects throughout this world, and last week’s decision to release its own open-source version of Elasticsearch, a popular engine for searching and analyzing internal company data maintained by newly public company Elastic, was no exception. AWS open-source czar Adrian Cockcroft was careful to describe the Open Distro for Elasticsearch as a distribution, rather than a fork, but the move underscores a fundamental conflict between companies based around open-source projects and the growing popularity of cloud service providers.

  • Debunking the open source sustainability myth [Ed: Mac Asay siding with the exploitation and the closing of code (former employer)]

    Open source vendors are draping themselves in the flag of "sustainability" to try to garner support against AWS—it's not working. Here's why open source sustainability is fake news.

  • Open source a silent killer? CAST talks about their new alliance with Software Heritage [Ed: That typical pretense that proprietary software does not have security issues (it has back doors too) and proprietary licensing is somehow "safe" and "predictable" (the opposite is true). FUD by omission.]

    Combine IP lawsuits with the aforementioned security concerns and organisations could really have a problem on their hands, which is why the market for software composition analysis (SCA) tools is picking up a bit of steam. SCA tools aim to provide a ‘diagnostic' view of the all the OSS components that exist within a business and determine whether or not there is a vulnerability or particular licencing requirement to consider. CAST is one of these vendors, and they've just announced a new alliance with source code archival not-for-profit Software Heritage, with the aim of taking SCA one step further.

    Essentially CAST is working with Software Heritage, who oversee the world's largest open archive of software source code, to develop a ‘provenance index' which allows users to trawl through Software Heritage's archive using CAST's Highlight SCA software to identify the original occurrence of any given source file, and all of its subsequent occurrences. CAST says this will allow users to assess any third-party source code within Software Heritage's library of five billion plus known source code files, weeding out and vulnerabilities and licencing risks they present.

  • Types of open source software and Licenses

    Free and Open source software (FOSS) is a very popular term in the world of software because their license distribution terms.

    There are many open source software in the market. Many people may think that the most obvious feature of open source software is free, but it is not the case. They widely recognize because the availability of source code of the open source software available for anyone to modify.

    It means any developer or community can change the software to improve, adds features, fixing of bugs, distribution under own branding and more. However, the open source system also has copyright, which is also protected by law.

    While using/distribution of open source projects for some commercial or personal use, the users should not only indicate the products are from open source software and the name of the source code writer but also submit the modified products to open source software community, otherwise the modified products can be regarded as an infringement. The indifference of copyright awareness is the biggest obstacle to the development of open source.

Licensing Dirty Tricks and Openwashing

Filed under
Microsoft
Legal
  • What do WLinux and Benedict Cumberbatch have in common? They're both fond of Pengwin [Ed: Benedict Cumberbatch stabs Wikileaks for GCHQ. WLlinux stabs Linux for Microsoft.]
  • The Cloud and Open Source Powder Keg

    The idea that the adoption of open source by developers within enterprises at scale had transformed the nature of procurement was consistent with RedMonk’s own views, of course. To some degree, it has been a core belief all along, and has been surfaced explicitly over the years with pieces such as this one from 2011 entitled “Bottom Up Adoption: The End of Procurement as We’ve Known It.” What was interesting about the proposed model wasn’t what it told us about the present, however, but rather what it failed to tell us about the future.

    Conspicuously unmentioned at this event was the cloud. The cited competition for both investor and commercial OSS supplier was proprietary software; no special attention or even explicit mention was made of Amazon or other hyperscale cloud providers. A question on the subject was brushed off, politely.

    Which was interesting, because RedMonk had by that point been judging commercial open source leadership teams based on their answer to the simple question of “who is your competition?” If the answer was a proprietary incumbent, this suggested that the company was looking backwards at the market. If the answer was instead the cloud, it was safe to assume they were more forward-looking.

  • Norway Joins List of Countries Canceling Elsevier Contracts

     

    Norway has become latest country to cancel its contracts with Elsevier following a dispute over access to research papers. In a statement published yesterday (March 12), the Norwegian Directorate for ICT and Joint Services in Higher Education and Research (UNIT), which represents a consortium of research institutions in the country, rejected Elsevier’s offer to lower some of its costs for Norwegian institutions because it didn’t go far enough to promote free access to published research.

  • GNU licensed KLog Logbook software v.0.9.7 released

    Jaime, EA4TV, released KLog v.0.9.7, a multiplatform free hamradio logging program which is able to run in Linux, Windows and macOS.

    The latest release allows the user to add, remove or edit satel- lites to the KLog DB allowing import or export of satellites data.
    KLog supports ADIF as a default file format.

    Additional features of KLog include QSO management, QSL management, a DX-Cluster client, DXCC management, ClubLog integration, WSJT-X, and DX-Marathon support. Several languages are supported including Catalan, Croatian, Danish, English, Finish, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

GNU, Licensing and Programming, GCC Included

Filed under
Development
GNU
Legal
  • David Rheinsberg: Goodbye Gnu-EFI!

    The recommended way to link UEFI applications on linux was until now through GNU-EFI, a toolchain provided by the GNU Project that bridges from the ELF world into COFF/PE32+. But why don’t we compile directly to native UEFI? A short dive into the past of GNU Toolchains, its remnants, and a surprisingly simple way out.

    The Linux World (and many UNIX Derivatives for that matter) is modeled around ELF. With statically linked languages becoming more prevalent, the impact of the ABI diminishes, but it still defines properties far beyond just how to call functions. The ABI your system uses also effects how compiler and linker interact, how binaries export information (especially symbols), and what features application developers can make use of. We have become used to ELF, and require its properties in places we didn’t expect.

  • GNUnet 0.11.0 released

    We are pleased to announce the release of GNUnet 0.11.0.

    This is a major release after about five years of development. In terms of usability, users should be aware that there are still a large number of known open issues in particular with respect to ease of use, but also some critical privacy issues especially for mobile users. Also, the nascent network is tiny (about 200 peers) and thus unlikely to provide good anonymity or extensive amounts of interesting information. As a result, the 0.11.0 release is still only suitable for early adopters with some reasonable pain tolerance.

  • Open source database company MongoDB is giving up on an important battle in its fight against the major cloud computing providers

    After a months-long fight to get a stamp of approval from the Open Source Initiative, MongoDB is withdrawing from the process of having its controversial new software license approved to be called open source.

  • Considering Fresh C Extensions

    Matthew Wilcox recently realized there might be a value in depending on C extensions provided by the Plan 9 variant of the C programming language. All it would require is using the -fplan9-extensions command-line argument when compiling the kernel. As Matthew pointed out, Plan 9 extensions have been supported in GCC as of version 4.6, which is the minimum version supported by the kernel. So theoretically, there would be no conflict.

    Nick Desaulniers felt that any addition of -f compiler flags to any project always would need careful consideration. Depending on what the extensions are needed for, they could be either helpful or downright dangerous.

    In the current case, Matthew wanted to use the Plan 9 extensions to shave precious bytes off of a cyclic memory allocation that needed to store a reference to the "next" value. Using the extensions, Matthew said, he could embed the "next" value without breaking various existing function calls.

    Nick also suggested making any such extension dependencies optional, so that other compilers would continue to be able to compile the kernel.

  • Return the probability of drawing a blue marble

    It seems like I have not decide yet which project am I going to create next so why not just work on another python solution on CodeWars in this chapter. I think I will work on a few more python questions in the next few chapters before starting a brand new python project.

  • GCC 9 will come with improved diagnostics, simpler C++ errors and much more

    The team added a left-hand margin that shows line numbers. GCC9 now has a new look for the diagnostics. The diagnostics can label regions of the source code in order to show relevant information. The diagnostics come with left-hand and right-hand sides of the “+” operator, so GCC highlights them inline. The team has added a JSON output format such that GCC 9 now has a machine-readable output format for diagnostics.

Syndicate content

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • Hardware Review - The ZaReason Virtus 9200 Desktop
  • Chrome OS 76 will disable Crostini Linux backups by default
    Essentially, this is still a work in progress feature. And I shouldn’t be terribly surprised by that, even though in my experience, the functionality hasn’t failed me yet. That’s because we know that the Chromium team is considering on a way to backup and restore Linux containers directly from the Files app on a Chromebook. That proposal is targeted for Chrome OS 78, so this gives the team more time to work that out, as well as any other nits that might not be quite right with the current implementation.
  • Andrei Lisita: Something to show for
    Unfortunately along with the progress that was made we also encountered a bug with the NintendoDS core that causes Games to crash if we attempt to load a savestate. We are not yet 100% sure if the bug is caused by my changes or by the NintendoDS core itself. I hope we are able to fix it by the end of the summer although I am not even sure where to start since savestates are working perfectly fine with other cores. Another confusing matter about this is that the Restart/Resume Dialog works fine with the NintendoDS core and it also uses savestates. This led me to believe that perhaps cores can be used to load savestates only once, but this can’t be the problem since we re-instantiate the core every time we load a savestate. In the worst case we might just have to make a special case for the NintendoDS core and not use savestates with it, except for the Resume/Restart dialog. This would sadden me deeply since there are plenty of NintendoDS games which could benefit from this feature.
  • OSMC's June update is here with Kodi v18.3
    Team Kodi recently announced the 18.3 point release of Kodi Leia. We have now prepared this for all supported OSMC devices and added some improvements and fixes. Here's what's new:

OSS Leftovers

  • A comparison of open source, real-time data streaming platforms
    A variety of open source, real-time data streaming platforms are available today for enterprises looking to drive business insights from data as quickly as possible. The options include Spark Streaming, Kafka Streams, Flink, Hazelcast Jet, Streamlio, Storm, Samza and Flume -- some of which can be used in tandem with each other. Enterprises are adopting these real-time data streaming platforms for tasks such as making sense of a business marketing campaign, improving financial trading or recommending marketing messages to consumers at critical junctures in the customer journey. These are all time-critical areas that can be used for improving business decisions or baked into applications driven by data from a variety of sources.
  • Amphenol’s Jason Ellison on Signal Integrity Careers and His Free, Open Source PCB Design Software
    Ellison, Senior Staff Signal Integrity Engineer at Amphenol ICC, gives his insight on the importance of networking, giving to the EE community, and his open-source signal integrity project. How does signal integrity engineering compare to other EE fields? What are open-source resources worth these days? What makes for a good work life for an engineer? Learn this and more in this Engineer Spotlight! Jason Ellison started down the path to becoming an electrical engineer because someone told him it was "fun and easy if you're good at math." In this interview with AAC's Mark Hughes, Ellison—a Senior Staff Signal Integrity Engineer at Amphenol ICC—describes how his career has grown from these beginnings into the rewarding and diverse work of signal integrity engineering.
  • Cruise open-sources Webviz, a tool for robotics data analysis [Ed: Releasing a little tool that's part of proprietary software so that it 'feels' more "open"]
    Cruise, the self-driving startup that General Motors acquired for nearly $1 billion in 2016, generates an enormous amount of data by any measure. It orchestrates 200,000 hours of driving simulation jobs daily in Google Cloud Platform, spread across 30,000 virtual cars in an environment running on 300,000 processor cores and 5,000 graphics cards. Both those cars and Cruise’s fleet of over 180 real-world autonomous Chevrolet Bolts make thousands of decisions every second, and they base these decisions on observations captured in binary format from cameras, microphones, radar sensors, and lidar sensors.
  • EWF launches world’s first open source blockchain for the energy industry
    The Energy Web Foundation this week announced that it has launched the world’s first public, open-source, enterprise-grade blockchain tailored to the energy sector: the Energy Web Chain (EW Chain). More than ten Energy Web Foundation (EWF) Affiliates — including utilities, grid operators, and blockchain developers — are hosting validator nodes for the live network, according to the company.
  • Pimcore Releases Pimcore 6.0, Amplifying User-Friendly Digital Experiences Through Open Source
    Pimcore, the leading open-source platform for data and customer experience management, has released the most powerful version of the Pimcore platform, Pimcore 6.0. The updated platform includes a new user interface that seamlessly connects MDM/PIM, DAM, WCM, and digital commerce capabilities to create more advanced and user-friendly experiences quickly and efficiently.
  • VCV Rack reaches version 1.0.0: free and open-source modular synth gets a full release
    VCV Rack is a free, open-source modular software synth that’s been gaining ground for a couple of years, but only now has it reached the significant milestone of version 1.0. Designed to replicate the feeling of having a hardware modular synth on your desktop, VCV Rack enables you to add both free and paid-for modules, and now supports polyphony of up to 16 voices. There’s MIDI Output, too with CV-Gate, CV-MIDI and CV-CC modules enabling you to interface with drum machines, desktop synths and Eurorack gear.
  • Flying Above the Shoulders of Giants
    Thanks to open-source platforms, developers can stand on the shoulders of software giants to build bigger and better things. Linux is probably the biggest...
  • MIT Researchers Open-Source AutoML Visualization Tool ATMSeer
    A research team from MIT, Hong Kong University, and Zhejiang University has open-sourced ATMSeer, a tool for visualizing and controlling automated machine-learning processes. Solving a problem with machine learning (ML) requires more than just a dataset and training. For any given ML tasks, there are a variety of algorithms that could be used, and for each algorithm there can be many hyperparameters that can be tweaked. Because different values of hyperparameters will produce models with different accuracies, ML practitioners usually try out several sets of hyperparameter values on a given dataset to try to find hyperparameters that produce the best model. This can be time-consuming, as a separate training job and model evaluation process must be conducted for each set. Of course, they can be run in parallel, but the jobs must be setup and triggered, and the results recorded. Furthermore, choosing the particular values for hyperparameters can involve a bit of guesswork, especially for ones that can take on any numeric value: if 2.5 and 2.6 produce good results, maybe 2.55 would be even better? What about 2.56 or 2.54?
  • Open-Source Cybersecurity Tool to Enhance Grid Protection
    A revolutionary new cybersecurity tool that can help protect the electric power grid has been released to the public on the code-hosting website GitHub.
  • Quick notes for Mozilla Whistler All Hands 2019
  • Deeper into the data fabric with MongoDB
    However, to gain access to rich search functionality, many organisations pair their database with a search engine such as Elasticsearch or Solr, which MongoDB claims can complicate development and operations — because we end up with two entirely separate systems to learn, maintain and scale.

Raspberry Pi 4 is here!

The latest version of the Raspberry Pi—Raspberry Pi 4—was released today, earlier than anticipated, featuring a new 1.5GHz Arm chip and VideoCore GPU with some brand new additions: dual-HDMI 4K display output; USB3 ports; Gigabit Ethernet; and multiple RAM options up to 4GB. The Raspberry Pi 4 is a very powerful single-board computer and starts at the usual price of $35. That gets you the standard 1GB RAM, or you can pay $45 for the 2GB model or $55 for the 4GB model—premium-priced models are a first for Raspberry Pi. Read more

Open Data, Open Access and Open Hardware

  • DoD’s Joint AI Center to open-source natural disaster satellite imagery data set
    As climate change escalates, the impact of natural disasters is likely to become less predictable. To encourage the use of machine learning for building damage assessment this week, Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute and CrowdAI — the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint AI Center (JAIC) and Defense Innovation Unit — open-sourced a labeled data set of some of the largest natural disasters in the past decade. Called xBD, it covers the impact of disasters around the globe, like the 2010 earthquake that hit Haiti. “Although large-scale disasters bring catastrophic damage, they are relatively infrequent, so the availability of relevant satellite imagery is low. Furthermore, building design differs depending on where a structure is located in the world. As a result, damage of the same severity can look different from place to place, and data must exist to reflect this phenomenon,” reads a research paper detailing the creation of xBD. [...]

    xBD includes approximately 700,000 satellite images of buildings before and after eight different kinds of natural disasters, including earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Covering about 5,000 square kilometers, it contains images of floods in India and Africa, dam collapses in Laos and Brazil, and historic deadly fires in California and Greece.

    The data set will be made available in the coming weeks alongside the xView 2.0 Challenge to unearth additional insights from xBD, coauthor and CrowdAI machine learning lead Jigar Doshi told VentureBeat. The data set collection effort was informed by the California Air National Guard’s approach to damage assessment from wildfires.

  • Open-source textbooks offer free alternative for UC Clermont students
    Some UC Clermont College students are avoiding paying hundreds of dollars for textbooks — and getting the content for free — thanks to online open-source textbooks, a growing trend among faculty at the college and throughout higher education. UC Clermont Dean Jeff Bauer, who is also a professor of business, said the benefits of open textbooks are many. “All students have the book on the first day of class, it saves them a lot of money, and the information can be accessed anywhere, anytime, without carrying around a heavy textbook,” Bauer said. “They don’t need to visit the bookstore before or after each semester to buy or sell back books, either.”
  • Open Source Computer Controlled Loom Knits Pikachu For You
    The origin story of software takes us back past punch card computers and Babbage's Difference Engine to a French weaver called Joseph Marie Jacquard.
  • Successful open-source RISC-V microcontroller launched through crowdfunding
    X-FAB Silicon Foundries, together with crowd-sourcing IC platform partner Efabless Corporation, launched the first-silicon availability of the Efabless RISC-V SoC reference design. This open-source semiconductor project went from start of design to tape-out in less than three months employing the Efabless design flow produced on open-source tools. The mixed-signal SoC, called Raven, is based on the community developed ultra-low power PicoRV32 RISC-V core. Efabless has bench-tested the Raven at 100MHz, and based on simulations, the solution should operate at up to 150MHz.
  • Open Hardware: Open-Source MRI Scanners Could Bring Enormous Cost Savings
    Wulfsberg explore the possibilities of open source MRI scanning. As open-source technology takes its place around the world—everywhere from makerspaces to FabLabs, users on every level have access to design and innovation. In allowing such access to MRI scanning, the researchers realize the potential for ‘technological literacy’ globally—and with MRIs specifically, astronomical sums could be saved in healthcare costs. The authors point out that medical technology is vital to the population of the world for treating not only conditions and illnesses, but also disabilities. As so many others deeply involved in the world of technology and 3D printing realize, with greater availability, accessibility, and affordability, huge strides can be made to improve and save lives. Today, with so many MRI patents expiring, the technology is open for commercialization.