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Proprietary Software: Microsoft Might Lose Big Contract, Cybercriminals Expoit Coronavirus/COVID-19

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  • Pentagon Reconsiders Microsoft Contract After Amazon Protest

    U.S. government lawyers said in a court filing this week that the Defense Department "wishes to reconsider its award decision" and take another look at how it evaluated technical aspects of the companies' proposals to run the $10 billion computing project.

    The filing doesn't address Amazon's broader argument that the bidding was improperly influenced by President Donald Trump's dislike of Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. Bezos owns The Washington Post, a news outlet with which Trump has often clashed.

  • [Attackers] are making malware-infected coronavirus maps to harvest personal information

    A journalist with expertise on cybercrime reported on Thursday that [attackers] are trying to take advantage of the public's concern about the COVID-19 pandemic to infect users' computers with malware.

  • Live Coronavirus Map Used to Spread Malware

    Cybercriminals constantly latch on to news items that captivate the public’s attention, but usually they do so by sensationalizing the topic or spreading misinformation about it. Recently, however, cybercrooks have started disseminating real-time, accurate information about global infection rates tied to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to infect computers with malicious software.

Best Download Managers for Linux

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Download managers provide a convenient way to download files without relying on web browsers’ built-in download mechanisms. Usually people look for batch download support, pausing and resuming ability and multi-connection download support while choosing a download manager. Multiple connections to the same file can speed up downloads specially when a file server throttles downloads. Do note that some file servers block pause and resume functionality and have mechanisms to prevent multi-connection downloads. This article will cover command line and graphical download manager apps for Linux.

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Wine 5.4 Released

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  • Wine Announcement
    The Wine development release 5.4 is now available.
    What's new in this release (see below for details):
      - Unicode data updated to Unicode version 13.
      - Builtin programs use the new UCRTBase C runtime.
      - More correct support for Internationalized Domain Names.
      - Support for painting rounded rectangles in Direct2D.
      - Text drawing in D3DX9.
      - Various bug fixes.
    The source is available from the following locations:
    Binary packages for various distributions will be available from:
    You will find documentation on
    You can also get the current source directly from the git
    repository. Check for details.
    Wine is available thanks to the work of many people. See the file
    AUTHORS in the distribution for the complete list.
  • Wine 5.4 Released With Unicode 13 Support, Text Drawing For D3DX9 To Fix 10 Year Old Bug

    Wine 5.4 is out as the newest bi-weekly development release and it comes with a number of improvements.

  • Wine 5.4 is out improving Direct2D, Unicode 13 and a real old D3DX9 issue is solved

    That last one is interesting, as it checks off a bug that was opened back in 2010, with many games having no text rendering. However, it might not be perfected across all games yet as the commit mentions how it's only a "very basic ID3DXFont_DrawText implementation". The commit itself from a CodeWeavers staffer, is also based upon some coded provided years ago by someone else. Every little helps though of course.

    Over 30 more bugs were marked as solved this release, although the usual applies: some were actually fixed in previous Wine releases, only now being noticed. Bug fixes include issues solved for: NieR: Automata, Divinity Original Sin 2, Final Fantasy V and plenty more too including a few bugs that affected numerous games and applications.

ffmpegfs Is A FUSE-Based Filesystem For Transcoding Video And Audio On The Fly When Opened

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ffmpegfs is a free and open source FUSE-based read-only transcoding filesystem which converts audio and video formats on the fly when opened and read. It supports many formats, including MP4, WebM, OGG, MP3, OPUS, MOV, ProRes (a MOV container for Apple Prores video & PCM audio) and WAV, among others.

This is useful in case you have many files in your media collection that can't be directly played by some hardware or software (e.g. DaVinci Resolve, which has limited codecs support in the free Linux version) - instead of transcoding the whole media collection you could use ffmpegfs to transcode the files on the fly, when they are accessed / played. You may also use this to easily transcode files: just drop some files in the folder that you've used as an input directory for ffmpegfs, then copy the files from the ffmpegfs output folder and the resulted files will be transcoded to the format you've specified for ffmpegfs.

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Darktable Updated with Major New Features

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Darktable, the open source alternative to Adobe Lightroom, is back with a new feature release — its first update of the year.

Building on the major changes intro’d in Darktable 3.0 last December is Darktable 3.0.1. The new stable uplift adds a further batch of new features, iterative improvements, and other compatibility fixes.

Big thanks to omg! reader Einar who gave me the heads up on this new release. I find it hard to stay on top of half of what’s happening out there in free software land, so all your news tips and article suggestions (even if I can’t get around to writing about them all) are deeply appreciated.

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Software: Wasmer, Mergify, k3s and Imaginario

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  • Wasmer 0.16 Released For Running WebAssembly Programs Anywhere

    Wasmer 0.16 is released as the newest version of this "universal WebAssembly runtime" for running WebAssembly programs on the desktop that could in turn be written in a number of different programming languages.

    Wasmer is one of the leading efforts for providing a WebAssembly run-time on the desktop and leading to great code portability and performance everywhere. Meanwhile Intel, Red Hat, Mozilla, and others continue investing in Wasmtime as a JIT-focused WebAssembly run-time.

  • One year of Mergify

    It has been close to a year now that I've incorporated my new company, Mergify. I've been busy, and I barely wrote anything about it so far. Now is an excellent time to take a break and reflect a bit on what happened during those last 12 months.

  • Make SSL certs easy with k3s

    Traefik (which comes pre-bundled with k3s) actually has Let's Encrypt support built-in, so you may be wondering why we are installing a third-party package to do the same thing. At the time of this writing, Traefik's Let's Encrypt support retrieves certificates and stores them in files. Cert-manager retrieves certificates and stores them in Kubernetes secrets. Secrets can be simply referenced by name and, therefore, easier to use, in my opinion. That is the main reason we are going to use cert-manager in this article.

  • Need a fast way to tag faces in many images? Try Imaginario!

    Today I've released Imaginario 0.9. The big feature coming with this new release is a face tagging flow which I believe will be the fastest and simplest you've ever used, despite it being all manual. I even sat down and spent some quality time with Blender to prepare a video to show it off:

VideoLAN's dav1d 0.6: Release and Benchmarks

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  • dav1d 0.6.0 'Gyrfalcon', the fast and lean AV1 decoder
    dav1d 0.6.0 'Gyrfalcon', the fast and lean AV1 decoder
    This is a major update of the dav1d, the fast and lean AV1 decoder,
    codename 'Gyrfalcon'.
    0.6.0 brings major improvements in 10/12bit decoding on ARMv8 CPUs,
    up to 2.5 times faster than 0.5.2.
    It also brings new AVX-512, AVX2 and SSSE3 optimizations and improves
    the existing optimizations on all platforms.
    Finally, it also fixes some decoder mismatches and minor crashes.
  • Dav1d 0.6 AV1 Video Decoder Delivering Healthy Improvements For Intel + AMD Processors

    Given this week's release of dav1d 0.6, here are some fresh benchmarks of this open-source AV1 video decoder on a few different Intel and AMD systems so far.

    Dav1d 0.6 has various AVX2 and AVX-512 optimizations that excite us plus 10/12-bit video decoding improvements for ARMv8 hardware. With waiting for some more exciting ARM server platforms still to arrive, this round of testing is just looking at the Intel/AMD x86_64 CPU performance.

  • VideoLAN's dav1d 0.6 Released With More AVX2 + AVX-512 Optimizations

    Dav1d 0.6 is now available as a big update to this open-source AV1 video decoder developed by the VideoLAN crew.

    Dav1d already is quite fast on most CPUs but now is even faster on x86_64 hardware thanks to enabling AVX-512 optimizations and also extending their AVX2 and SSSE3 optimizations.

gThumb 3.9.1 Released with Various Changes, New App Icon

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A new stable release of gThumb, the GTK-based photo manager and image viewer for Linux desktops, is now available to download.

I wrote about how to install gThumb on Ubuntu a couple of months back and figured that the latest update may be of interest to those of you who use it!

gThumb 3.9.1 isn’t a game-changing release, but it touts a number of notable enhancements, bug fixes, and feature tweaks. It even has a spiffy new app icon (right) designed according to the new GNOME icons style.

Elsewhere, the photo management app now lets you customise keyboard shortcuts to suit your tastes, and adds a shortcuts “cheat sheet”.

Users can press ctrl + f1 with the app in focus to reveal it. This is part of a wider GNOME initiative to make keyboard shortcuts more discoverable among GTK applications.

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FocusWriter - Text editor gone minimalistic

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A few weeks ago, I was looking around for some nice Linux software, and I came across the home page of the person who had created the Whisker Menu for Xfce. Since I really like this one - I even included it as my favorite desktop menu in the 2018 best Linux apps compilation, I was intrigued by the other software in the repertoire, and decided to do some random testing. A program called FocusWriter drew my attention.

Well, FocusWriter is meant to be a simple, straightforward, distraction-free advanced text editor, designed to provide those using it with maximum productivity. In other words, you don't waste time managing the software, you don't waste time getting your fleeting attention span diverted, you get stuff done. Well, that's the core idea on paper. As someone who writes books, I found the concept curious and inviting. Perhaps I could be doing something more effectively? Well, let's find out.

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Voting and Petitioning With Proprietary Software

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  • Voters struggled with LA’s fancy new voting machines on Super Tuesday

    Jennifer Cohn, an attorney and election integrity advocate, aggregated at least 100 social media or news reports related to the new voting system. They’re all bad.


    It’s all supposed to be high tech, but the system has been showing some low-tech flaws since it debuted earlier this year. In late February, during California’s early voting period, CBS reported that some of the new voting machines were going unused because of issues with equipment, and that about 30 out of 229 total locations didn’t open on time because of issues with the tech.

  • On Super Tuesday, America's voting technology will be under intense scrutiny

    While election technology will continue to evolve to meet new threats, Heikki Nousiainen, CTO of the open-source technology company Aiven, said that companies hoping to safeguard the process will always have to split the difference between verifying a vote and protecting the voter's anonymity. He suggested that an open-source model could help achieve this.

  • Boulder makes strides toward online petitions for 2021 election

    Council, on the whole, agreed that open-source may not be the way to go for elections-related systems. (Open-source software was not a criteria in the Request for Proposals.)

    “With elections stuff, you want to move slowly and include a lot of security,” said councilman Aaron Brockett, a software industry professional “I think we’re on the right path.”

    Two council members, Adam Swetlik and Rachel Friend, wanted to issue a new RFP, due to what they saw as a lack of transparency during the lass process. City leaders convened what Carr called a “courtesy” meeting of the disbanded Campaign Finance/Elections Working Group to update them on the process and gather input.

  • Boulder Council minority skeptical of online petitioning system’s development process

    MapLight produced two “open source” systems, in which the programming code for the petitioning software can be accessed by the public and scrutinized and updated, but those were built outside the formal city bidding process. When MapLight responded to the city’s request, the offer was not for free development, according to a city staff memo to the council.

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