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Obits

Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil Remembered

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Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam

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  • Report: Syrian-Palestinian Open Internet Advocate Bassel Khartabil Has Been Executed

    Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian-Palestinian open-source developer credited with helping to bring a free internet to Syria, was confirmed dead today by Creative Commons, the open internet non-profit Khartabil volunteered with. He was 36.

  • Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam

    Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian open source developer, blogger, entrepreneur, hackerspace founder, and free culture advocate, has been executed by the Syrian authorities. Noura Ghazi Safadi, his wife, received confirmation of her husband's death by the Assad-led Syrian government yesterday. The execution took place in secret in November 2015. It has taken the Syrian government nearly two years to officially communicate that fact to his friends and family.

    Bassel had been imprisoned by the Syrian authorities since his abduction from the streets of Damascus on March 15, 2012. He was originally taken, interrogated and tortured in secret in a facility controlled by the country's General Intelligence Directorate. After a worldwide campaign by international human rights groups, together with Bassel's many colleagues in the open Internet and free culture communities, he was moved to Adra's civilian prison, from where he was able to communicate with his family and friends.

Statement on the death of CC friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil

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We are deeply saddened and completely outraged to learn today that our friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil has been executed by the Syrian regime.

Bassel was Creative Commons’ Syrian project lead, an open source software programmer, teacher, Wikipedia contributor, and free culture advocate. He was also a devoted son and husband, and a great friend to many people in the open knowledge community around the world. The projects and communities he helped to build live on across the globe, and will remain a tribute to his leadership.

In March of 2012, Bassel was taken from the street in Damascus amid a wave of military arrests. He was jailed for several years, during which time he was allowed to infrequently communicate with family members. Then, in October 2015, he was abruptly transferred to an undisclosed location. At that time, all communications between Bassel and the outside world ceased. The Creative Commons board publicly called for Bassel’s immediate release, and the MIT Media Lab offered Bassel a research position in its Center for Civic Media. His family and friends prayed for his safe return, and are heartbroken today to learn the awful and terrifying news of his execution.

Over the past several years, a variety of human rights groups called for Bassel’s release. Amnesty International launched a campaign through its Urgent Action network that encouraged the public to write letters to Syrian authorities and urge them to grant Bassel access to his family, a lawyer, and medical attention. The US State Department singled him out on International Human Rights Day in 2015 as a “prisoner of conscience.”

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Goodbye To Bob Chassell

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It's fortunately more common now in Free Software communities today to properly value contributions from non-developers. Historically, though, contributions from developers were often overvalued and contributions from others grossly undervalued. One person trailblazed as (likely) the earliest non-developer contributor to software freedom. His name was Robert J. Chassell — called Bob by his friends and colleagues. Over the weekend, our community lost Bob after a long battle with a degenerative illness.

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[The founder of Linux Malta] Ramon Casha, chairman of the humanist association, passes away

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GNU
Linux
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Tributes are flowing in this evening for Ramon Casha, chairman of the Malta Humanist Society, civil rights campaigner and a frequent commenter on Times of Malta, who has passed away.

Michael Briguglio, former chairman of Alternattiva wrote in a Facebook post: Rest in peace Ramon Casha: honest, free-thinking and non-partisan civil society campaigner within Malta Humanist Association and so many causes.

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Remembering a friend: Matthew Williams

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One of the things about working in open source software communities is that you are always moving forward. It’s hard not to get a sense of momentum and progress when it seems you are constantly striving to improve and build on the work you and others have done before.

But sometimes you have to pause to reflect, because sometimes there is loss.

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Farewell to Rob Collins

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We would like to share with you the sad news, that Rob Collins has passed away earlier this month, on November 2nd, after a short but intense illness.

Many of you may know Rob from the sponsored massage sessions he regularly ran at EuroPython in recent years and which he continued to develop, taking them from a single man setup (single threaded process) to a group of people setup by giving workshops (multiprocessing) and later on by passing on his skills to more leaders (removing the GIL) to spread wellness and kindness throughout our conference series.

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Pieter Alexander Hintjens: 3 December 1962 – 4 October 2016

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After a long and painful illness, a battle with cancer over the last six years, my brother has died in Brussels, aged only 53.

My love for him has always been the adoring, muted kind that looked up to the light he shone, that basked in his enthusiasm and tried, and failed, to keep up with the thousand-and-one ideas he gave voice and form to. Many of his passions were beyond my comprehension but very real, nevertheless. As a computer programmer, writer of internet protocols and founder of on-line communities, his interests went way over my head. As an author, latterly, we connected and I was able to collaborate with him on one of his books – The Psychopath Code – an involvement for which I am profoundly grateful: Not only has this particular book helped me to navigate a few tricky moments in my own life, but the understanding we shared was like coming home.

I can’t begin to do justice to my brother’s legacy as a professional innovator, thinker, and networker. Pieter was one of these rare people totally unafraid to take chances, to think not just outside the box but into the next universe. How he maintained his enthusiasm and energy, where his inspiration came from, I shall not know in this lifetime.

His death last Tuesday has opened up a hole in my life, a tear in the fabric of my normal. Poignantly – and painfully – it is only as his legacy becomes clearer that I notice the loss of his quiet, determined contribution in my life. Always, in the background, he encouraged me, supporting my modest hopes for an ordinary life: my ambitions to study, to write, to marry and have a child. In all these attempts he was unwaveringly supportive, while seeking so little from me in return. Of course, elder brothers are looked up to, and often expected to take the lead. But lately, in these last few years, while he faced pain and uncertainty – about which he has written so candidly on his blog – while he battled fear and the shadows of disappointment with his trademark wry humour, he faced these challenges fearlessly and with a fiery determination that is frankly awe-inspiring.

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ZeroMQ founder Pieter Hintjens dies

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Pieter Hintjens, Belgian software developer and past president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), gave much of his time and effort to the open-source community.

He did so even up until the day he planned for his own death, which was today.

Hintjens, who chose euthanasia today after dealing with terminal cancer, was a writer and a programmer who spent much of his life building large software systems and online communities, which he described as “Living Systems.”

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Debian Project mourns the loss of Kristoffer H. Rose

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Kristoffer was a Debian contributor from the very early days of the project, and the upstream author of several packages that are still in the Debian archive nowadays, such as the LaTeX package Xy-pic and FlexML. On his return to the project after several years' absence, many of us had the pleasure of meeting Kristoffer during DebConf15 in Heidelberg.

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OpenSUSE fonts – The sleeping beauty guide

Pandora’s box of fonts is one of the many ailments of the distro world. As long as we do not have standards, and some rather strict ones at that, we will continue to suffer from bad fonts, bad contrast, bad ergonomics, and in general, settings that are not designed for sustained, prolonged use. It’s a shame, because humans actually use computers to interface with information, to READ text and interpret knowledge using the power of language. It’s the most critical element of the whole thing. OpenSUSE under-delivers on two fonts – anti-aliasing and hinting options that are less than ideal, and then it lacks the necessary font libraries to make a relevant, modern and pleasing desktop for general use. All of this can be easily solved if there’s more attention, love and passion for the end product. After all, don’t you want people to be spending a lot of time interacting, using and enjoying the distro? Hopefully, one day, all this will be ancient history. We will be able to choose any which system and never worry or wonder how our experience is going to be impacted by the choice of drivers, monitors, software frameworks, or even where we live. For the time being, if you intend on using openSUSE, this little guide should help you achieve a better, smoother, higher-quality rendering of fonts on the screen, allowing you to enjoy the truly neat Plasma desktop to the fullest. Oh, in the openSUSE review, I promised we would handle this, and handle it we did! Take care. Read more

Today in Techrights

Direct Rendering Manager and VR HMDs Under Linux

  • Intel Prepping Support For Huge GTT Pages
    Intel OTC developers are working on support for huge GTT pages for their Direct Rendering Manager driver.
  • Keith Packard's Work On Better Supporting VR HMDs Under Linux With X.Org/DRM
    Earlier this year Keith Packard started a contract gig for Valve working to improve Linux's support for virtual reality head-mounted displays (VR HMDs). In particular, working on Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) and X.Org changes needed so VR HMDs will work well under Linux with the non-NVIDIA drivers. A big part of this work is the concept of DRM leases, a new Vulkan extension, and other changes to the stack.

Software: Security Tools, cmus, Atom-IDE, Skimmer Scanner

  • Security Tools to Check for Viruses and Malware on Linux
    First and foremost, no operating system is 100 percent immune to attack. Whether a machine is online or offline, it can fall victim to malicious code. Although Linux is less prone to such attacks than, say, Windows, there is no absolute when it comes to security. I have witnessed, first hand, Linux servers hit by rootkits that were so nasty, the only solution was to reinstall and hope the data backup was current. I’ve been a victim of a (very brief) hacker getting onto my desktop, because I accidentally left desktop sharing running (that was certainly an eye opener). The lesson? Even Linux can be vulnerable. So why does Linux need tools to prevent viruses, malware, and rootkits? It should be obvious why every server needs protection from rootkits — because once you are hit with a rootkit, all bets are off as to whether you can recover without reinstalling the platform. It’s antivirus and anti-malware where admins start getting a bit confused. Let me put it simply — if your server (or desktop for that matter) makes use of Samba or sshfs (or any other sharing means), those files will be opened by users running operating systems that are vulnerable. Do you really want to take the chance that your Samba share directory could be dishing out files that contain malicious code? If that should happen, your job becomes exponentially more difficult. Similarly, if that Linux machine performs as a mail server, you would be remiss to not include AV scanning (lest your users be forwarding malicious mail).
  • cmus – A Small, Fast And Powerful Console Music Player For Linux
    You may ask a question yourself when you see this article. Is it possible to listen music in Linux terminal? Yes because nothing is impossible in Linux. We have covered many popular GUI-based media players in our previous articles but we didn’t cover any CLI based media players as of now, so today we are going to cover about cmus, is one of the famous console-based media players among others (For CLI, very few applications is available in Linux).
  • You Can Now Transform the Atom Hackable Text Editor into an IDE with Atom-IDE
    GitHub and Facebook recently launched a set of tools that promise to allow you to transform your Atom hackable text editor into a veritable IDE (Integrated Development Environment). They call the project Atom-IDE. With the release of Atom 1.21 Beta last week, GitHub introduced Language Server Protocol support to integrate its brand-new Atom-IDE project, which comes with built-in support for five popular language servers, including JavaScript, TypeScript, PHP, Java, C#, and Flow. But many others will come with future Atom updates.
  • This open-source Android app is designed to detect nearby credit card skimmers
    Protecting our data is a constant battle, especially as technology continues to advance. A recent trend that has popped up is the installation of credit card skimmers, especially at locations such as gas pumps. With a simple piece of hardware and 30 seconds to install it, a hacker can easily steal credit card numbers from a gas pump without anyone knowing. Now, an open-source app for Android is attempting to help users avoid these skimmers.