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Chromebooks: The smart person's guide

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Chromebooks are any laptop that, under license from Google, runs the Linux kernel-based Chrome OS. Chrome OS is incredibly lightweight, drawing almost all of its interface from the Chrome browser. It also supports Chrome apps, and as of late 2016 will be the only platform to get new Chrome apps.

Chromebooks are manufactured by a variety of vendors, such as Google, HP, Acer, Samsung, Dell, and others. They range in price from the mid $100 range to over $1,200 for the Google Pixel. Educational pricing is available as well.

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GNU Tools Released

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  • Gnuastro 0.2 released

    I am pleased to announce the second release of GNU Astronomy Utilities (Gnuastro).

  • grep-2.26 released

    There have been 110 commits by 5 people in the 23 weeks since 2.25. See the NEWS below for a brief summary.

  • GNUnet for Gentoo

    In summer 2015 I started to package GNUnet for Gentoo as contributor to the youbroketheinternet-overlay.

How Chromebooks Are About to Totally Transform Laptop Design

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  • How Chromebooks Are About to Totally Transform Laptop Design

    Google’s first Chromebook was the kind of laptop you’d design if you didn’t give a damn about laptop design. It was thick, heavy, rubbery, boring, and black. Black keys, black body, black trackpad, black everything. Everything about the Cr-48 was designed to communicate that this device was still an experiment. Even the name, a reference to an unstable isotope of the element Chromium, was a hint at the chaos raging inside this black box. “The hardware exists,” Sundar Pichai told a crowd of reporters at the Cr-48’s launch event in December of 2010, “only to test the software.”

    Moments later, Eric Schmidt took the stage and preached about how the “network computer” tech-heads had been predicting for decades was finally ready to change the world. “We finally have a product,” Schmidt said, “which is strong enough, technical enough, scalable enough, and fast enough that you can build actually powerful products on it.” Apparently already sensing the skeptical feedback Chrome OS would get, he gestured toward the audience and told them “it does, in fact, work.”

  • 7 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Chromebook

    Chromebook is a different thing from Netbooks with the fact that it does not have Windows being a huge difference. Chromebooks thus run on a fresh and different operating system that while it is not an old OS it isn’t a desktop kind of OS either but a mobile one.

    Chromebooks have pretty hardware, especially if the Haswell processors they are running on, which are energy efficient, are anything to go by. Nonetheless, there are many reasons why buying Chromebooks make a lot of sense.

VintOS Promises to Be the Chromium OS Fork You've Always Wanted and Needed

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Dylan Callahan from the Chromium OS for SBCs (Single-Board Computers) project, which unfortunately was discontinued due to lack of interest from users, informed Softpedia today, September 5, 2016, that he's working on a new Linux-based OS.

We have to admit that we're quite surprised to see that developers aren't giving up on their ambitions of creating the best fork of a well-known Linux kernel-based operating system, in this case Chromium OS. While Chromium OS for SBCs was aimed at embedded and IoT devices, the new one is targeted at all PCs.

World, meet VintOS! What's VintOS? Well, it's upcoming open-source fork of Chromium OS, the operating system on which the famous Google Chrome OS is based. To make a name for itself from the get go, VintOS is named after one of the founding fathers of the Internet, Vinton Cerf, and it's explicitly designed with educational purposes in mind.

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Gentoo Linux live DVD "Choice Edition"

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Gentoo One of the wonderful things about Linux is the diversity of the distributions available. Some distributions are very beginner friendly with installers that offer only a few basic options. Others are more complex, requiring knowledge of Linux and skills with the command line to install. Gentoo falls into the more complex category. There is no installer per se, the user just needs to follow instructions to perform several steps leading to a fully installed and configured system. This process is certainly harder than using Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer, but it is not that hard. The instructions are clear and do require previous experience with Linux, or the tenacity to keep going (or start over) when things go wrong when Gentoo is used in a "dive in head first" learning experience. Below, I take a look at the latest Gentoo Linux live DVD, the "Choice Edition," and briefly explore how Gentoo gets installed on a system by using a step by step set of instructions instead of an installer that takes care of most of the steps automatically.

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Also: Why did Gentoo Linux fade into obscurity?

Desktop News

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  • Business users force Microsoft to back off Windows 10 PC kill plan

    Microsoft has backed down on its plan to hustle owners of certain PCs to Windows 10 by crimping support options.

    Redmond revealed the plan last January, when it decreed that PCs running 6th-generation Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs and Windows 7 would only get limited security and stability support until mid-2017. By March it backed off a little, extending support for another year and promising critical patches would flow until end of life.

  • People Demand Control Of Their PCs

    You can no longer dictate to the world what folks will do with the hardware they own.

  • The Best Chromebook You Can Buy Right Now (Aug. 2016)
  • Attention, College Students: Chromebooks Are About to Get Awesome

    Here’s some unhelpful back-to-school advice: Don’t buy a laptop. Borrow one, steal one from a family member, buy a piece of junk for 40 bucks on Craigslist. If you can find a way to wait a couple of months before dropping serious coin on a new clamshell, you’ll be glad you did.

    Later this fall, Apple’s almost certainly going to release a new MacBook Pro, which is desperately in need of a revamp. And there will be Windows PCs practically falling from the ceiling—maybe even a few made by Microsoft itself. But the real reason to hold off on your purchase is to wait for the new breed of Chromebooks that are on their way.

Gentoo-Based Pentoo 2015.0 Linux Distro for Ethical Hackers Gets New RC Release

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The Pentoo Linux development team proudly announces today, August 2, 2016, the availability for download of the fifth Release Candidate (RC) build towards the Pentoo 2015.0 GNU/Linux operating system.

We don't write so often about the Pentoo GNU/Linux operating system because new releases are being made available to the public online when a new DEF CON event (the world's largest annual hacker convention) is taking place. So yes, it's now a tradition to see a new Pentoo release around a DEF CON conference.

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In a Quiet Market for PCs, Chromebooks are Marching Steadily Forward

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It's no secret that Chrome OS has not been the same striking success for Google that the Android OS has been. And yet, Chromebooks--portable computers running the platform--have not only found their niche, but they are also introducing a new generation to cloud computing. Chromebooks are firmly entrenched in the education market, where many young users have become used to the convention of storing apps and data in the cloud.

Now, according to new research from Gartner, Chromebooks are ready to hit new milestones. Analysts there report that Chromebook shipment growth will be in the double digits this year. At the same time, though, Chromebooks have not become fixtures in the enterprise, replacing Windows PCs.

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Sabayon 16.07 Ships with Linux Kernel 4.6.3, Introduces the First LXQt Flavor

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Today, June 28, 2016, the developers of the Gentoo-based Sabayon Linux computer operating system have had the great pleasure of announcing the general availability of new respin ISO images for the month of July 2016.

Right on the schedule, Sabayon 16.07 Live ISO images are now available for download, switching the OS to the latest Linux 4.6.3 kernel from the deprecated Linux 4.5 branch that shipped with the May ISO respins of the GNU/Linux distribution, Sabayon 16.05.

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Security News

  • Friday's security updates
  • World’s first hack-proof Wi-Fi router with open source firmware is here
    Turris Omnia WiFi Router, the world’s first hack-proof router with open source firmware launched yesterday at the CES Unveiled Show in Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Open-source hack-proof router aims to close cyber security gap
    Routers are the gateway of every home internet network. Yet, while many computers run antivirus software, little has been done thus far to protect routers against cyber threats. A new device, described as the world’s first hack-proof router, was launched on Thursday at the CES Unveiled Show in Prague. The main strength of the Turris Omnia router, a spin-out of a cyber security research project by Czech Republic’s domain administrator, is the fact that it automatically updates and patches vulnerabilities as they become known.
  • Adding a phone number to your Google account can make it LESS secure.
    Recently, account takeovers, email hacking, and targeted phishing attacks have been all over the news. Hacks of various politicians, allegedly carried out by Russian hackers, have yielded troves of data. Despite the supposed involvement of state-sponsored agents, some hacks were not reliant on complex zero-day attacks, but involved social engineering unsuspecting victims. These kinds of attacks are increasingly likely to be used against regular people. This recently happened to a friend of mine: Two weeks ago, an ex-colleague (actually, my officemate at Google way back in 2002) — let’s call him Bob — had his Google account compromised while on vacation in Hawaii. With his primary email account compromised, the attacker could have:
  • “Dirty COW”, the most dangerous Linux Bug for the last 9 years
    Red Hat, the leading open source software developer firm, has revealed that Linux Kernel has been infected with a serious bug for the past 9 years. The bug has been dubbed as Dirty Cow. It is deemed dangerous because through this bug, an attacker can get write access to read-only memory.
  • Serious Dirty COW bug leaves millions of Linux users vulnerable to attack
  • Rigging the Election
    When Dorothy discovers fraud in the land of Oz, she is told by the Wizard, "Don't look behind the curtain." But she does. In America, we demand truth and accountability in so many aspects of our daily lives, and yet somehow there's little public outcry for transparency within voting, the sacred cornerstone of our democracy. For the most part, we sleep soundly under the blanket of assurances from government officials. FBI Director James Comey even attempted a spin of irony recently, noting that our "clunky" voting process actually makes wholesale rigging more difficult. However, Comey misses the bigger picture. [...] Hardly anyone uses the same computer from 12 years ago, yet large sections of the country currently vote on aging electronic systems which utilize proprietary software that cannot be publicly examined. Unverifiable technology remains deployed in 29 states – including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida – and other key battleground states, which may determine our next president. Races in these areas are not evidence based, and consequently, we cannot be certain ballots reflect voter intent. Bereft of such knowledge, how can we put faith in the legitimacy of our government?
  • Cyber attack: hackers 'weaponised' everyday devices with malware to mount assault
    The huge attack on global internet access, which blocked some of the world’s most popular websites, is believed to have been unleashed by hackers using common devices like webcams and digital recorders. Among the sites targeted on Friday were Twitter, Paypal and Spotify. All were customers of Dyn, an infrastructure company in New Hampshire in the US that acts as a switchboard for internet traffic. Outages were intermittent and varied by geography, but reportedly began in the eastern US before spreading to other parts of the country and Europe. Users complained they could not reach dozens of internet destinations, including Mashable, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Yelp and some businesses hosted by Amazon.
  • Homeland Security Is ‘Investigating All Potential Causes’ of Internet Disruptions
    Cyber attacks targeting a little known internet infrastructure company, Dyn, disrupted access to dozens of websites on Friday, preventing some users from accessing PayPal, Twitter and Spotify. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the outages that began in the Eastern United States, and then spread to other parts of the country and Western Europe. The outages were intermittent, making it difficult to identify all the victims. But technology news site Gizmodo named some five dozen sites that were affected by the attack. They included CNN, HBO Now, Mashable, the New York Times,, the Wall Street Journal and Yelp.
  • Blame the Internet of Things for Destroying the Internet Today
    A massive botnet of hacked Internet of Things devices has been implicated in the cyberattack that caused a significant internet outage on Friday. The botnet, which is powered by the malware known as Mirai, is in part responsible for the attack that intermittently knocked some popular websites offline, according to Level 3 Communications, one of the world’s largest internet backbone providers, and security firm Flashpoint. “We are seeing attacks coming from a number of different locations. We’re seeing attacks coming from an Internet of Things botnet that we identified called Mirai, also involved in this attack,” Dale Drew, chief security officer at Level 3 Communications, said on a livestream on Friday afternoon.
  • How to Understand Today’s Internet Outage in 4 Words
    A massive DDoS attack against a major DNS service likely using a botnet of IoT devices resulted in Internet issues across the eastern United States Friday, making it hard for many users to access their favorite sites. Phew. That’s a lot of acronyms.
  • IoT Can Never Be Fixed
    This title is a bit click baity, but it's true, not for the reason you think. Keep reading to see why. If you've ever been involved in keeping a software product updated, I mean from the development side of things, you know it's not a simple task. It's nearly impossible really. The biggest problem is that even after you've tested it to death and gone out of your way to ensure the update is as small as possible, things break. Something always breaks. If you're using a typical computer, when something breaks, you sit down in front of it, type away on the keyboard, and you fix the problem. More often than not you just roll back the update and things go back to the way they used to be.
  • Hacked Cameras, DVRs Powered Today’s Massive Internet Outage
    A massive and sustained Internet attack that has caused outages and network congestion today for a large number of Web sites was launched with the help of hacked “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices, such as CCTV video cameras and digital video recorders, new data suggests. Earlier today cyber criminals began training their attack cannons on Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company that provides critical technology services to some of the Internet’s top destinations. The attack began creating problems for Internet users reaching an array of sites, including Twitter, Amazon, Tumblr, Reddit, Spotify and Netflix.
  • How an army of vulnerable gadgets took down the web today
    At some point this morning, one of the US’s critical internet infrastructure players was hit with a staggering distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that has taken out huge swaths of the web. Sites like Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Reddit, and many others — all clients of a domain registration service provider called Dyn — have suffered crippling interruptions and, in some cases, blanket outages. Details are now emerging about the nature of the attack. It appears the cause is what’s known as a Mirai-based IoT botnet, according to security journalist Brian Krebs, who cited cyber-threat intelligence firm Flashpoint. Dyn’s chief strategy officer Kyle Owen, who spoke with reporters this afternoon, later confirmed Flashpoint’s claim, revealing that traffic to its servers was clogged with malicious requests from tens of millions of IP addresses in what the company is calling a "very sophisticated and complex attack."
  • Fixing the IoT isn't going to be easy
    A large part of the internet became inaccessible today after a botnet made up of IP cameras and digital video recorders was used to DoS a major DNS provider. This highlighted a bunch of things including how maybe having all your DNS handled by a single provider is not the best of plans, but in the long run there's no real amount of diversification that can fix this - malicious actors have control of a sufficiently large number of hosts that they could easily take out multiple providers simultaneously. To fix this properly we need to get rid of the compromised systems. The question is how. Many of these devices are sold by resellers who have no resources to handle any kind of recall. The manufacturer may not have any kind of legal presence in many of the countries where their products are sold. There's no way anybody can compel a recall, and even if they could it probably wouldn't help. If I've paid a contractor to install a security camera in my office, and if I get a notification that my camera is being used to take down Twitter, what do I do? Pay someone to come and take the camera down again, wait for a fixed one and pay to get that put up? That's probably not going to happen. As long as the device carries on working, many users are going to ignore any voluntary request.
  • Indiscreet Logs: Persistent Diffie-Hellman Backdoors in TLS
    Software implementations of discrete logarithm based cryptosystems over finite fields typically make the assumption that any domain parameters they are presented with are trustworthy, i.e., the parameters implement cyclic groups where the discrete logarithm problem is assumed to be hard. An informal and widespread justification for this seemingly exists that says validating parameters at run time is too computationally expensive relative to the perceived risk of a server sabotaging the privacy of its own connection. In this paper we explore this trust assumption and examine situations where it may not always be justified. We conducted an investigation of discrete logarithm domain parameters in use across the Internet and discovered evidence of a multitude of potentially backdoored moduli of unknown order in TLS and STARTTLS spanning numerous countries, organizations, and protocols. Although our disclosures resulted in a number of organizations taking down suspicious parameters, we argue the potential for TLS backdoors is systematic and will persist until either until better parameter hygiene is taken up by the community, or finite field based cryptography is eliminated altogether.

Blockchain and FOSS

  • R3 Finally Open Sources Blockchain Project, Admits Budget Difficulty
    One major criticism on private Blockchain development initiatives led by banks and financial institutions has been the ambiguity in the coding language and structure of permissioned ledgers. The R3 Consortium is attempting to neutralize it by open sourcing its technology. R3 Corda, a private Blockchain platform specifically developed for financial establishments with massive transactional volumes by R3CEV, is officially rendered open source by the consortium after over 70 of its member financial institutions came to a consensus in setting a standard for the Blockchain technology.
  • Blockchain-Fueled Open-Source P2P Energy Trading System Wins Energy Hackathon
    Following a weekend of solution seeking, collaboration and competition, the highlight of the Hackenergy 2016 event was a blockchain-fueled peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading system called EcoCoin, which grabbed top honors.

Tizen News

  • New details revealed about future Samsung QLED TVs
    Samsung has unveiled the latest details of his stunning, next-generation TV. Named SUHD Qualmark Red TV, it’s based on the proprietary technology Samsung has pioneered: QLED, long for Quantum dot Light-Emitting Diode. According to sources from Samsung Electronics, the product will cover the high-end spectrum of the market, proposing itself as the top premium TV produced by the South Korean company. This move, which confirms Samsung’s continuos attention to innovation, proves the drive of the enterprise on delivering the highest quality products with consistency while maintaining a strong focus on research and development.
  • Samsung Z2 Officially Launched in Indonesia
    The Samsung Z2 launch which was initially planned for the month of September in Indonesia, however that didn’t turn out to be true. Samsung Indonesia have finally launched the Z2 in the country at an official launch event. The launch took place at the country’s capital Jakarta on Wednesday that is the 19th of October. The smartphone has been priced at 899,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($70 approx.). Samsung are also bundling a free Batik back cover with the smartphone for the early customers. This is also the first Tizen smartphone to be launched in Indonesia.
  • Game: Candy Funny for your Tizen smartphone
    Here is another puzzle type game that has recently hit the Tizen Store for you to enjoy. “Candy Funny” is brought to you by developer Julio Cesar and is very similar to Candy Crush. You have 300 levels available to play and all levels have 3 stars , the number of stars shows how good or bad you actually are. You don’t have much time to accumulate the highest score you can and unlock further screens.
  • Master Blaster T20 Cup 2016 Game for Tizen Smartphones
    Games2Win India Pvt. Ltd. ( an Indian app development company has more than 800 proprietary apps and games in all smartphone and tablet platforms. Now, they have 51 million downloads of their apps and games in all platforms. They have already got 8 games in the Tizen Store and today they added a new cricket game “Master Blaster T20 Cup 2016”.
  • Slender Man Game Series now available on Tizen Store

Red Hat and Fedora

  • Rivals Red Hat, Mirantis Announce New OpenStack Partnerships
    The cloud rivals both announce new telco alliances as competition in the cloud market heats up. Red Hat and Mirantis both announced large agreements this week that bring their respective OpenStack technologies to carrier partners. The news comes ahead of the OpenStack Summit that kicks off in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 24. Red Hat announced on Oct. 19 that it has a new OpenStack partnership with telco provider Ericsson. "Ericsson and Red Hat recognize that we share a common belief in using open source to transform the telecommunications industry, and we are collaborating to bring more open solutions, from OpenStack-based clouds to software-defined networking and infrastructure, to customers," Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager of OpenStack at Red Hat, told eWEEK.
  • Turbulent Week Ends, How Did This Stock Fare: Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)
  • Flatpak; the road to CI/CD for desktop applications?
    In this presentation I will introduce Flatpak and how it changes the software distribution model for Linux. In short it will explain the negatives of using packages, how Flatpak solves this, and how to create your own applications and distribute them for use with Flatpak. This presentation was given at the GNOME 3.22 release party, organized by the Beijing GNOME User Group.
  • The who in the where?
    The job is like many other roles called “Community Manager” or “Community Lead.” That means there is a focus on metrics and experiences. One role is to try ensure smooth forward movement of the project towards its goals. Another role is to serve as a source of information and motivation. Another role is as a liaison between the project and significant downstream and sponsoring organizations. In Fedora, this means I help the Fedora Project Leader. I try to be the yen to his yang, the zig to his zag, or the right hand to his right elbow. In all seriousness, it means that I work on a lot of the non-engineering focused areas of the Fedora Project. While Matthew has responsibility for the project as a whole I try to think about users and contributors and be mechanics of keeping the project running smoothly.