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Open source vs free software: what's the difference?

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GNU
OSS

February 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the official recognition of open source software. However, the debate regarding the differences, if any, between 'open source' and 'free' software continues unabated.

Richard Stallman, who is credited with developing the concept of 'free software' in the 1980s, says the term 'free software' has nothing to do with cost. For him, free software is a social movement, a philosophy, while open source is a development methodology.

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IWD 0.2 Released for Linux, Microsoft Desperate to Stop GNU/Linux

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GNU
Linux
Microsoft
  • IWD 0.2 Released For Advancing Intel's Linux WiFi Daemon

    Last week marked the release of IWD 0.2, the second public release of this WiFi daemon for Linux systems destined as a replacement for WPA Supplicant.

    It was back at the end of 2016 that the code was made public while now there is finally the second version release. IWD 0.2 brings support for several new features as well as several bug fixes.

  • Microsoft's Linux Adoption: How Things Change [Ed: Surely Matt Hartley understands how Embrace, Extend, Extinguish works, no? Seems so...]

    When Microsoft began promoting themselves as the company that "Loves Linux," some Linux community members were skeptical. Some even believed that Microsoft's move to embrace Linux was based on the once tried and true “embrace, extend, extinguish” approach to technology we've seen in the past. And this concern is based on a hisory of the past use of this strategy.

    While it's a valid to worry about Microsoft's motivation behind their self-claimed embrace of Linux, I think Microsoft's motivation is more selfish than a desire to extinguish Linux would suggest. Based on their activity with cloud computing and more recently, the Internet of Things (IoT), I believe Microsoft is looking to utilize technology that has proven itself in those fields - Linux is that technology.

    Linux is a means to an end for Microsoft. It allows the software giant to participate with greater efficiency by utilizing existing toolsets. The official reasoning that Microsoft offers is Linux and open source in general provides a great ecosystem. An ecosystem Microsoft is now (apparently) motivated to give back code to. My own concern, however, is how much of this code being given back upstream is good for the community.

     

    The concern that I have is I believe the code being sent upstream must always benefit Microsoft directly or indirectly in some way. I haven't seen any examples of Microsoft providing code that benefits projects that are unrelated to their own efforts. Perhaps I missed something along the way, but due to their anti-FoSS history, it's unreasonable to expect Microsoft to give back to projects that might not benefit them directly or indirectly. And yes, Microsoft's sponsorship of various Linux conventions is an example of indirect benefit to Microsoft.

GNU/Linux on Laptops/Desktops

Filed under
GNU
Linux
  • Chrome OS to get neat new tricks alongside support for Linux apps
  • What's new in Chrome OS and Chromebooks at Google I/O 2018
  • Google Chrome OS now has a built-in Linux virtual machine and aims to be a better tool for coders
  • The Eric Lundgren Story: When Free isn’t Free

    If you told me that one day I might be writing an article defending Microsoft’s draconian ideas on software licenses, I’d never have believed it. Yet here we are. I don’t like the way Microsoft licenses their software, and I imagine many Hackaday readers feel the same way. But at the same time I recognize they have the right, as the creator of said software, to license it however they see fit. If we celebrate legal victories over those who would violate the terms of the GNU GPL license, we cannot in the next breath condone the violation of proprietary licenses simply because they run counter to the hacker ethos.

    As a community we fought back against people selling prints of Creative Commons Non-Commercial models downloaded from Thingiverse, a scenario nearly identical to the one Eric has found himself in. Ignorance to the fine print doesn’t absolve you from being held accountable; just because you found it for free online doesn’t mean you can put it into mass production and pocket a profit.

    When he chose to use proprietary software for his computer refurbishment plans, he took on the burden of following the restrictive licenses such software is bound by. Had he decided instead to put into production install discs for Ubuntu or any other GNU/Linux distribution, things would have gone very differently. His goals of putting old computers back into service would have been met, and he would have not been in violation of the software’s license. But that’s not the choice he made.

  • Open Source Software: What Is It and Which is the Best?

    Linux is probably the most well known of the open source projects, which first came into being in 1991. Due to the source code being freely available and viewable, it is easy to make and distribute your own version. You obviously have to have the programming chops for that though.

    The most well-known version of Linux is arguably Ubuntu. But there are others which are just as popular including Debian, Puppy Linux (a very lightweight 200MB version ideal for older computers), Linux Mint, and Fedora. My personal favorite is a security-focused version called Tails which deserves an article all of its very own.

    Linux can be installed on a computer or it can be run as a Live CD or portable app. If you partition your computer, it can be dual-booted alongside Windows.

GNU/Linux Releases: CRUX 3.4, Antergos 18.5, SparkyLinux 4.8

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GNU
Linux

Best Linux applications (2018)

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Software

Over the years, I have compiled several articles detailing the best-of software for Linux and Windows, starting as early as 2008, and then making the last bundle in 2012. Six years is a very long time in the software sphere, so I thought about making another compilation.

My criteria for the inclusion and nomination are relatively simple: Applications need to be robust and stable, they need to accessible, the installation process should be relatively straightforward, and ideally, these will be cross-platform tools that run on other operating systems, too. There's a certain degree of personal taste, too, but I believe my choices are pragmatic, useful and fun. With the necessary expectation for a certain amount of hype, let us proceed. And do note, in some cases, you will see older and/or official screenshots, but that's mostly for aesthetic purposes.

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Also: Testing out Sumatra: a tool for managing iterations of simulations/analyses

System76 vs. The LVFS Firmware Updating Service

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Ubuntu

This week the latest open-source drama was a differing of opinions between Richard Hughes of Red Hat who maintains Fwupd and LVFS for Linux firmware updating from the desktop and that of Linux PC vendor System76.

Richard Hughes volleyed a blog post that recommend not buying System76 hardware for those wanting firmware updates via LVFS (the Linux Vendor Firmware Service). He wrote that post based upon System76 not currently using UEFI UpdateCapsule for BIOS updates, System76 developing a Rust tool to flash the embedded controller, and them rolling out their own firmware update handler that officially targets Ubuntu and Pop!_OS. Richard then encouraged Linux users to buy Dell XPS laptops instead.

Richard's post in full can be read here.

On Friday, System76 responded to those accusations. According to System76, Richard expressed via email that the approach System76 is using for firmware updating likely wouldn't work with LVFS and also their distributing of a proprietary firmware flashing tool likely wouldn't be approved by Red Hat legal and they also found flashing the embedded controler from user-space to be sub-optimal.

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Get Privacy Tools on Ubuntu 18.04

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Security

If you are already aware about 2013 global privacy case, I believe you care about your internet privacy by now. If you just switched to Ubuntu, here's a list of user-friendly programs (free software only) and search engine to protect your privacy. You will find my recommendation of a web search engine, a specific web browser, add-ons, email client enhancements, and password storage. This list accompanies the previous list of 20 useful programs for 18.04.

[...]

Free software is not gratis software but software that the user is free. Free software is about the user's right, either individually or collectively, to control over the software. If you run your activities with nonfree software (also called proprietary), you don't control the whole things software does within your computer, which only means there is somebody else controlling you and the computers. To protect your privacy, you should make sure you run only free software and relies only on privacy-respecting internet services.

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GNU: LibreJS 7.14, Hiring, and GNU Guix

Filed under
Development
GNU
  • LibreJS 7.14 released

    GNU LibreJS aims to address the JavaScript problem described in Richard Stallman's article The JavaScript Trap. LibreJS is a free add-on for GNU IceCat and other Mozilla-based browsers. It blocks nonfree nontrivial JavaScript while allowing JavaScript that is free and/or trivial.

  • Contract opportunity: JavaScript Developer for GNU LibreJS

    The Free Software Foundation (FSF), a Massachusetts 501(c)(3) charity with a worldwide mission to protect computer user freedom, seeks a contract JavaScript Developer to work on GNU LibreJS, a free browser add-on that addresses the problem of nonfree JavaScript described in Richard Stallman's article The JavaScript Trap. This is a temporary, paid contract opportunity, with specific deliverables, hours, term, and payment to be determined with the selected candidate. We anticipate the contract being approximately 80 hours of full-time work, with the possibility of extension depending on results and project status.

  • Paper on reproducible bioinformatics pipelines with Guix

    I’m happy to announce that the bioinformatics group at the Max Delbrück Center that I’m working with has released a preprint of a paper on reproducibility with the title Reproducible genomics analysis pipelines with GNU Guix.

    We built a collection of bioinformatics pipelines called "PiGx" ("Pipelines in Genomix") and packaged them as first-class packages with GNU Guix. Then we looked at the degree to which the software achieves bit-reproducibility, analysed sources of non-determinism (e.g. time stamps), discussed experimental reproducibility at runtime (e.g. random number generators, the interface provided by the kernel and the GNU C library, etc) and commented on the practice of using “containers” (or application bundles) instead.

Linux-based networking SBC features five GbE ports and optional SFP

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware

Gateworks has launched a rugged, headless “Newport GW6400” SBC that runs Linux on a dual- or quad-core Cavium OcteonTX with 3x mini-PCIe, 2x USB 3.0, 5x GbE ports (2x with PoE) and optional SFP.

Last November, Gateworks announced a new product family of rugged Newport SBCs that run OpenWrt or Ubuntu on Cavium’s dual or quad-core ARMv8.1 Octeon TX networking SoCs. The debut model was a 105 x 100mm GW6300 SBC. Now, Gateworks has followed up with the promised high-end, 140 x 100mm Newport GW6400 model, which has 5x Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of 3x on the GW6300. Later this year we’ll see a GW6100 with a single gigabit port and a GW6200 with 2x GbE.

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'Proper' GNU/Linux Software on Chrome OS

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Google
  • A closer look at Chrome OS using LXD to run Linux GUI apps (Project Crostini)

    Project Crostini is the Chrome OS project to add support to run Linux GUI apps on Chrome OS.

    The components that facilitate Project Crostini can be found at https://github.com/lstoll/cros-crostini That page has instructions for those that wanted to enable the running of Linux GUI apps on Chrome OS, when Project Crostini was still under development. Lincoln Stoll dissected the source of Chrome OS and created a helpful list of the involved repositories.

    The basic component is The Chrome OS Virtual Machine Monitor (crossvm), which runs untrusted operating systems through Linux’s KVM interface. The Linux distribution would run in a VM. The test repositories make reference to the X server, XWayland and Wayland. There is a repository called sommelier, which is a nested Wayland compositor with X11 forwarding support. It needs more searching to figure out where the source code ended into the Chrome OS repository and what is actually being used.

    Update #1: Here are the vm_tools in Chrome OS. They include garcon, a service that gets added in the container and communicates with another service outside of the container (vm_concierge).

    What is important, is that LXD runs in this VM and is configured to launch a machine container with a Linux distribution. We are going in depth into this.

  • Linux On Chromebooks Now Official

    Among other news from Google I/O 2018, Google is making it possible to code on Chromebooks. Whether it’s building an app or writing a quick script, Chromebooks will be available for coding projects.

  • Android apps on Chromebooks can finally access SD card storage

    It’s been nearly two years since Google started rolling out a feature that lets you run Android apps on Chromebooks. And while Android support has come a long way, there’s one thing Android apps couldn’t do on Chromebooks… until now: access an SD card.

    But starting with the latest Chrome OS beta, it looks like Android apps on Chromebooks can access the SD card… although it seems like the feature is still very much a work in progress.

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The Spectre microprocessor side-channel vulnerabilities were publicly disclosed earlier this year and discovered to affect billions of devices made in the past two decades. Unearthed by Jann Horn of Google Project Zero, the second variant (CVE-2017-5715) of the Spectre vulnerability is described as a branch target injection attack. The security vulnerability affects all microprocessors that use branch prediction and speculative execution function, and it can allow unauthorized memory reads via side-channel attacks if the system isn't patched. For example, a local attacker could use it to expose sensitive information, including kernel memory. Read more

PulseAudio 12 Open-Source Sound System Released with AirPlay, A2DP Improvements

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Automatically Change Wallpapers in Linux with Little Simple Wallpaper Changer

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