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GNU Linux-Libre 4.16

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  • GNU Linux-libre 4.16-gnu: -ESTRBNYX

    GNU Linux-libre 4.16-gnu sources and tarballs are now available at
    It didn't require any deblobbing changes since -rc6-gnu. Binaries are
    expected to show up over the next few days; Jason Self's Freesh build
    should be done very shortly, probably even before you read this.
    Thanks, jxself!

    The major piece of news in this release is that the request_firmware
    machinery was slightly reworked, so that (Sleepy the reject_firmware
    variants return the expected -ENOENT, instead of -EINVAL; and (ii)
    reject_firmware_nowait now calls the named callback. With this, drivers
    that could proceed without firmware, but that failed because of -EINVAL,
    or because they did so in the nowait callback, should now work more
    seamlessly. Some radeon-controlled video cards for which we hadn't put
    in work-arounds might start working now (no promises, but if you find
    out such a card starts working again, that's why). Another example that
    is likely to start working due to this change is rtl8821ae cards: I got
    a report that at least some such cards would work even when the firmware
    loading failed, and these used _nowait. That's what prompted me to make
    this chnage. Thanks to temy on FreeNode for the report.

    Another significant change in this release is that it was pointed out
    that there were error messages in Linux suggesting users to update x86
    CPU microcode. Since such microcode is non-Free Software, such messages
    don't belong in GNU Linux-libre. We now have patterns to detect and
    clean up this sort of message. A number of them were introduced
    recently, relying on microcode changes to mitigate Spectre and Meltdown
    problems, but there might be others that go farther back. I haven't yet
    made my mind on whether to go back, check and possibly respin such
    earlier releases.

    Aside from the usual assortment of false positives and updated blob
    names, there's one new driver requesting proprietary firmware (mt76x2e)
    that had the requests deactivated. The lirc_zilog driver was removed,
    so its deblobbing directives were taken out, and some leftover Kconfig
    directives, that used to enable keyspan non-Free firmware before 4.15,
    were removed in 4.16, so the deblobbing directives that disabled them
    could be dropped from 4.16-gnu too.

    Finally, to celebrate Easter on this date, I couldn't help mentioning in
    this release announcement the Easter Eggs I put in. Let me know if you
    enjoy the surprises.

    Earlier today, I joked that this would be the first time we'd release a
    -libre tarball before Mr Torvalds' upstream release. His git repo is
    tagged and the tarball is available from the server, but as I finish
    writing this, the front page *still* says their mainline is 4.16-rc7, so
    I thank them all for their involuntary cooperation Wink

    For up-to-the-minute news, join us on #linux-libre of
    (Freenode), or follow me (@lxoliva) on Twister,
    Secure Scuttlebutt, GNU social at, Diaspora* at or at Check my web page (link
    in the signature) for direct links.

    Be Free! with GNU Linux-libre.

  • GNU Linux-Libre 4.16 Kernel Officially Released for Those Who Seek 100% Freedom

    If you're looking a 100% free kernel for your GNU/Linux operating system, you can now download the latest GNU Linux-Libre 4.16 kernel, which is based on the recently released Linux 4.16 kernel, but without any proprietary blobs.

    The GNU Linux-Libre 4.16 kernel is here for all those who seek 100% freedom for their personal computer and don't want to use any proprietary drivers. It brings all the goodies from the Linux 4.16 kernel, which was released over the weekend by Linus Torvalds himself, though it brings the usual deblobbing changes, as well as a slightly revamped request_firmware mechanism.

  • GNU Linux-Libre 4.16 Released, Won't Warn You About Spectre/Meltdown Microcode Updates

    The folks maintaining the GNU Linux-Libre downstream of the Linux kernel have released their kernel 4.16 release that pulls in yesterday's Linux 4.16 kernel but strips out parts that aren't entirely free software and eliminates support for loading binary-only modules, etc.

    One of their new changes on top of this deblobbed kernel is dropping error messages that suggest users update their CPU micrcode. These messages came in the wake of the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities and needing the microcode updates for fending off the branch target injection attacks effectively. But GNU Linux-Libre 4.16 is dropping these warning/error messages since they encourage the user to update the microcode, which is non-free software to their standards. So it sounds like they are more for allowing users to unknowingly run a potentially vulnerable system to Spectre rather than having to use binary-only CPU microcode.

You Can Now Run Arch Linux on the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Computer with RaspArch

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RaspArch developer Arne Exton released today a new build of his Arch Linux-based operating system designed for Raspberry Pi single-board computers (SBCs), adding support for the recently launched Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ computer.

Powered by the Linux 4.14.31 kernel and using the latest packages from the software repositories of the acclaimed Arch Linux operating system, RaspArch Build 180402 was especially created for Raspberry Pi Foundation's new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ single-board computer, but it can also be used on the older Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and Raspberry Pi 2 Model B SBCs.

RaspArch is a derivative of the Arch Linux ARM operating system, and it uses the lightweight LXDE desktop environment by default, along with popular Open Source applications like the Mozilla Firefox web browser, GIMP image editor, Yaourt graphical package management tool, and PulseAudio sound server. According to the developers, RaspArch is a ready-to-go ARM system.

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Safespaces: An Open Source VR Desktop

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  • Safespaces: An Open Source VR Desktop

    In this post, I will go through the current stages of work on a 3D and (optionally) VR desktop for the Arcan display server. It is tentatively called safespaces (Github link) as an ironic remark on the ‘anything but safe’ state of what is waiting inside. F

  • “Safespaces” Is The First Open Source VR Desktop Environment For Linux

    When it comes to VR, we are mostly familiar with Google Daydream and other popularized names. But VR has made its way into the Linux as well. Although, people’s experience of things like SteamVR hasn’t been that great.

    But how about getting your hands on a Linux desktop environment in virtual reality? The minds who developed the Arcan display server are now up to something new: Safespaces.

GNU: Open Educational Resources (OER) and emacs, sed 4.5 Released

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  • OER figures with license meta-data in emacs-reveal

    As described last year, I created an infrastructure called emacs-reveal to produce HTML presentations as Open Educational Resources (OER) from Org Mode text files in GNU Emacs for my own teaching. If you believe in the values of free software, I’m sure that you will find the values of OER appealing as well (despite the choice of “open” as main characteristic), whose licenses are supposed to permit 5 Rs, namely Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute.

  • sed-4.5 released

    This is to announce sed-4.5, a stable release.

    There have been 110 commits by 8 people in the 60 weeks since 4.4.
    Thanks especially to Assaf Gordon for so much fine work.

    See the NEWS below for a brief summary.

Linux Mint Monthly News – March 2018

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We’d like to send a huge thank you to all the people who donate to us. Many thanks also to all of you for your feedback, ideas, and contributions to our project.

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Manjaro 17.1.6 Hakoila Xfce - Whither goest thou?

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Manjaro 17.1.6 Hakoila Xfce edition is a decent distro. But it's different from the Plasma version, and that's not good. These two systems have a radically different user experience, hardware support, and overall quality, and there's little overlap among them. Almost as if they were developed in isolation. Xfce does media and smartphone support well, but it has sucky network support by default.

It's stable, robust overall, very fast, but the visual side of things is tricky, especially the fonts. You will need to invest time taming the distro, and I'm not talking just about pure subjective aesthetics. Most of the problems that I encountered are solvable, so why not just fix them from the start? If you're looking for a good, friendly Linux desktop, Hakoila is a reasonable choice, partly because it gives you Microsoft Office Online in a way no other distro does. Which makes the Samba and printing issues confusing. The Xfce version has some brilliant moments, marred by incomplete execution and various visual bugs. Overall, 7.0/10, I'd say, and it could easily be much much more with some attention to detail.

Lastly, I deeply worry about the inconsistencies between the Plasma and the Xfce versions. Neither was Hakoila perfect in any form, and worse yet, Gellivara was actually better. Lots of homework required, but then, Manjaro is at the forefront of innovation, a rare thing in Linux nowadays. Despite what we saw today, I'm quite optimistic about this distro. Let's see how it evolves.

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ArcoLinux Kirk Release 6.6

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At the time it seemed not a big task to change names from ArchMerge to ArcoLinux but in retrospect we had quite a big drain in resources because of it. It involves everything till the social media channels, websites etc. But luckily not a financial drain thanks to our partner

We are happy with the new name as it shows we do more then just merge 3 desktops in one iso.

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Joey Hess on LibrePlanet and Other Events, LibrePlanet GPL Talk

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  • Joey Hess: three conferences one weekJoey Hess: three conferences one week

    First was a Neuroinformatics infrastructure interoperability workshop at McGill, my second trip to Montreal this year. Well outside my wheelhouse, but there's a fair amount of interest in that community in git-annex/datalad. This was a roll with the acronyms, and try to draw parallels to things I know affair. Also excellent sushi and a bonus Secure Scuttlebutt meetup.

    Then LibrePlanet. A unique and super special conference, that utterly flew by this year. This is my sixth LibrePlanet and I enjoy it more each time. Highlights for me were Bassam's photogrammetry workshop, Karen receiving the Free Software award, and Seth's thought-provoking talk on "incompossibilities" especially as applied to social networks. And some epic dinner conversations in central square.

  • A usability study of the GPL

    We want software creators to use the GPL and its cousin licenses. We also know that people make mistakes in the process, or don’t even try because they’ve heard it’s "too complicated." Just as we do when we develop software, we would do well to study these failures and use them as opportunities to improve the usability of the GPL. This talk aims to start that process by identifying some known problems and considering some possible solutions. (None of these solutions are a new version of the license!)

Become an Arch Power User with Pacli and PacUI

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Before I introduce you to these applications, let me explain what they are and why you may find them useful.

Both of these applications are designed to help you install packages on Arch and Arch-based Linux distros (both from the repos and from the Arch User Repository). They are also designed to fix some system errors. Both of them run in the terminal and both give you access to complex commands with the tap of a key.

In terms of usability, they stand somewhere between using pacman (Arch’s package manager, generally used from the terminal) and Pamac (the graphical frontend for pacman).

For some, pacman (and other terminal package managers) are difficult to use because they don’t know all of the possible commands. The man is a couple keyboard strokes away, but it can be difficult to understand at times. On the other hand, when you use Pamac, you might have to search through a number of menus to find what you are looking for.

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Latest Few LibrePlanet Talks

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  • It's real! Free software has been changing Mexico

    The use of free software in the research and development of technology in the educational field is essential for a better society with more solid values. Mexico has initiated the development and use of free software, thanks to the creation of free software labs in higher education institutions. In this talk, we will discuss the creation of these labs, and the positive impact it has generated.

  • The dark side of free software communities

    When you think of free software, what things come to mind? Freedom, obviously, but what others? A shared community? An open culture? Within free software culture, there is a perception and expectation of openness and collaboration within the community: all are welcome to the table, and your contributions speak for you. When you get outside the community by enough, however, the answer changes. Contemptuous, confusing, elitist, and abrasive are words that some outsiders use to describe free software communities. Some go out of their way to avoid the communities we've worked so hard to build. Why?

  • Browsing the free software commons

    The ambition of the Software Heritage project is to collect, preserve, and share the entire body of free software that is published on the Internet in source code form, together with its development history.

    Since its public announcement in 2016, the project has assembled the largest collection of freely available software source code for about 4 billion unique source code files and 900 million commits, coming from more than 60 million projects.

    Initially focused on the collection and preservation goals -- which were at the time urgent, due to the recurrent disappearances of development forges -- Software Heritage has since rolled out several mechanisms to peruse its archive, making progress on the sharing goal.

    In this talk, we will review the status of the Software Heritage project, emphasizing how users and developers can, today, benefit from the availability of a great public library of source code.

  • Pathways for discovery of free software

    Software dependencies. Software citation. Scientific reproducibility. Preservation of legacy software. These phrases bring to mind times we need to communicate about free software. From people who write software to people who organize and provide documentation of software, to end users searching for software, we all need to unambiguously refer to software in its complexity.

    We are representing two different initiatives actively building the semantic web of free software by sourcing software metadata, and creating mappings and links to software artifacts. Morane is the metadata lead for Software Heritage, an initiative striving to become the Library of Alexandria for software by collecting all publicly available software in source code form, together with its development history. Kat is metadata lead for Wikidata for Digital Preservation, a collaboration between the Wikidata community and the digital preservation community. Together, we are working to ensure that our approaches to solve the software metadata challenge are interoperable.

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