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Microsoft

Proprietary Software Leftovers

Filed under
Microsoft
Software
Mac
Security
  • BuyDRM launches Linux support for DRM

    BuyDRM has announced Linux support for its MultiKey Server, a multi-DRM software platform specifically designed for deployments in remote or limited connectivity environments.

  • Some airlines are banning Apple’s MacBook Pros even if they weren’t recalled

    In June, Apple recalled the 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display, sold between September 2015 and February 2017, because the battery “may pose a fire safety risk,” and the FAA soon reminded airlines not to carry those laptops with defective batteries on board. But some airlines are now banning Apple laptops whether they’ve got a bad battery or not, as reported by Bloomberg.

  • More Airlines Ban MacBook Pros in Checked Luggage

    All 15-inch versions of Apple Inc.’s MacBook Pro must be carried in the cabin and switched off, Qantas said in a statement Wednesday. The rule went into effect Tuesday morning. Rival Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. went further on Aug. 26, banning all Apple laptops from checked-in luggage.

  • Popular PDF app was quietly plonking malware onto Android phones

    The security smart folks note that the app itself doesn't appear to be a malicious one, but rather it contains a trojan that gathers spyware and other malware from a malicious server and then runs in on a victim's phone. This trojan, dubbed Necro.n appears to have been sneaked into the app through the use of a legit-looking advertising library package.

    As such, the developers of the app, which has received some 100 million downloads, might not even realise their software is causing their users a malware headache.

  • [Cracker] Claims He Can ‘Turn Off 25,000 Cars’ At The Push Of A Button

    Your car’s immobilizer is supposed to be used for good. If a crook steals your car, it's possible for you to connect to the immobilizer, which tracks the vehicle and allows you to stop anyone from turning on the engine. But with one particular immobilizer - the U.K.-made SmarTrack tool from Global Telemetrics - an easy-to-hack vulnerability meant it was simple for researchers at Pen Test Partners to turn on the immobilizer permanently, without the customer knowing a thing.

    To prove it was possible, the researchers from British cybersecurity company Pen Test Partners hacked the vehicle of one of their own employees, disabling his car whilst they were in the U.K. and he was in Greece, not long before he was due to head to a wedding.

  • French cyberpolice, Avast and FBI neutralise global 'botnet' [iophk: Windows TCO]

    French police have neutralised a [cracking] operation that had taken control of more than 850,000 computers, mainly in Latin America, while also managing to remove the malware from the infected devices.

    The agents went into action last spring after the Czech antivirus firm Avast alerted them to the software worm, called Retadup, that was being controlled by a server in the Paris region.

  • Putting an end to Retadup: A malicious worm that infected hundreds of thousands [iophk: Windows TCO]

    Retadup is a malicious worm affecting Windows machines throughout Latin America. Its objective is to achieve persistence on its victims’ computers, to spread itself far and wide and to install additional malware payloads on infected machines. In the vast majority of cases, the installed payload is a piece of malware mining cryptocurrency on the malware authors’ behalf. However, in some cases, we have also observed Retadup distributing the Stop ransomware and the Arkei password stealer.

  • Authorities free 850,000 machines from grasp of Retadup worm [iophk: Windows TCO]

    After gaining persistence, Retadup goes on to distribute secondary malware on infected machines. It most commonly delivers a Monero cryptomining program, but also has been observed spreading over malware programs including Stop ransomware and the Arkei password stealer, Avast reports.

    The vast majority of Retadup victims whose infections were neutralized in last month’s crackdown are based in Latin American countries. However, the law enforcement operation itself specifically targeted C2 infrastructure based in France and the U.S.

  • Report finds majority of 2019 ransomware attacks have targeted state and local governments [iophk: Windows TCO]

    The majority of ransomware attacks in the U.S. in 2019 have targeted state and local governments, a report published Wednesday by cybersecurity group Barracuda Networks found.

    The report counted a total of 55 ransomware attacks on U.S. state and local government entities between January and July of 2019. These attacks involve a malicious actor or group encrypting a network and asking for money, often in the form of bitcoin, to allow the user access.

  • Threat Spotlight: Government Ransomware Attacks [iophk: this is disinformation which fails to steer potential victims away from Windows and towards GNU/Linux or one of the BSDs]

    Barracuda researchers have identified more than 50 cities and towns attacked so far this year. The team’s recent analysis of hundreds of attacks across a broad set of targets revealed that government organizations are the intended victims of nearly two-thirds of all ransomware attacks. Local, county, and state governments have all been targets, including schools, libraries, courts, and other entities.

    Here’s a closer look at state and local government ransomware attacks and solutions to help detect, block, and recover from them.

Simon Steinbeiß of Xfce, Dalton Durst of UBports, KDE Apps 19.08, Huawei – Destination Linux 135

Filed under
Microsoft

Simon Steinbeiß of Xfce, Dalton Durst of UBports, KDE Applications, CutiePi Open Source Tablet, Huawei To Create Open Source Foundation, Rust Removes Linux Support, Stranded Deep Survival Game Fix

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The best free alternatives to Windows and Microsoft Office

Filed under
Linux
Microsoft

Many people don’t realise that there is high-quality, free software available that can compete with Microsoft Office and the Windows operating system.

While you might feel comfortable using traditional programs and be hesitant to change, you could save thousands of rand just by choosing high-quality freeware over paid software.

With the right products, it is possible to run a suite of useful programs on your computer without spending a cent.

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'No Man's Sky Beyond' Just Got Patched For Linux, Even Though It's A Windows-Only PC Game

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Microsoft
Gaming

Yep, it's right there in the notes for Beyond Patch 2.08a: "Fixed Steam VR in Linux."

The game was recently treated to a massive update which makes it almost resemble an MMO. There are new social hubs, 16-32 player multiplayer, the addition of virtual reality, Vulkan API support and quite a bit more of everything.

As you probably know, Hello Games is a fairly small indie game studio, and it never developed a native Linux version of No Man's Sky. But that's OK, because the game proudly bears a "Gold" rating on ProtonDB, a website that tracks Steam Play compatibility with Windows games.

Because Proton translates Windows-exclusive game APIs like DirectX to Vulkan (an API that Linux understands), this allows thousands of games that never appeared on Linux to work anyway, simply by installing it on the Steam for Linux client. Proton also has support for SteamVR, meaning many VR titles also run well.

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Also: Zombie apocalypse action RPG Zombasite has a big update and a big sale to match

Microsoft’s latest Surface updates are causing CPU and Wi-Fi issues

Filed under
Microsoft

Microsoft is working to fix CPU throttling on the company’s latest Surface devices, while owners complain of Wi-Fi issues, too. “We are aware of some customers reporting a scenario with their Surface Books where CPU speeds are slowed,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to TechRepublic. “We are quickly working to address via a firmware update.”

The CPU throttling appears to be affecting both the Surface Book 2 and Surface Pro 6, according to a variety of complaints on Reddit. Processors are getting throttled all the way down to a measly 400MHz, and it’s not immediately clear what is causing the problems. TechRepublic reports that the throttling appears to be related to an Intel CPU flag being locked on by mistake, causing the CPU to throttle as it thinks it’s at a thermal limit.

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Goodbye PCs, it's been nice knowing you. Hello, desktop as a service

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Google
Microsoft

I don't think we'll see Windows 10 as a standalone desktop operating system fold. After all, you'll still need something to log into the virtual desktop -- and Microsoft and its partners won't want that to be a Chromebook, but you can see it from here.

Now, all that is fine with some people. They love their SaaS programs. I don't blame them. I love them, too. My Chrome OS-powered Pixelbook with Google Docs has become my go-to business laptop. They don't see why -- for all the good that you get with DaaS and SaaS -- this trend has a dark side, as well.

If we go all-in on SaaS, we're returning our power to large corporate IT firms. We're walking back to the 70s when IBM and DEC called the computing shots. Today, it will be Google and Microsoft, but it's the same model.

Going forward, if you want to call your own work shots at the keyboard, you're going to need either a Mac or a Linux desktop. That's one reason why I've always preferred the Linux desktop. On Linux, with open-source software such as LibreOffice, ultimately, I'm in charge of my computing experience.

The conventional Microsoft/Intel-based PC, that most of you have used for decades? It's on its way out. I'll miss it.

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Upgrade from Windows 7 to Ubuntu Part 2: Releases

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Microsoft
Ubuntu

Knowing Ubuntu releases is important to understand it better. Ubuntu is released twice a year, more precisely, every April and October, hence the number 04 and 10 in every version. It has special release called Long Term Support (LTS) released once in two years, only when the year number is even, hence all LTS version numbers are ended with 04. More importantly, you will also see 3 different periods of Ubuntu Desktop, that have been going through GNOME2, Unity, and GNOME3 eras, with OpenOffice.org and then LibreOffice as the main office suite. You will also see Ubuntu siblings like Kubuntu and Mythbuntu. I hope this will be interesting enough for everybody to read. Go ahead, and learn more about Ubuntu!

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Report From LibreOffice Asia Conference and More Reasons to Move to LibreOffice

Filed under
LibO
Microsoft
OSS
  • LibreOffice Asia Conference Report: Part 2

    Foreword: the LibreOffice Asia Conference was successfully held in May 2019 in Tokyo. Kuan-Ting Lin, a university student and civic tech reporter also attended this conference and gives his observations here. In Part II, Kuan-Ting starts with the Open Document Format, and expounds on how to form an open government and better autonomy of Taiwan.

    The “Taiwanese Language channel” (tâi-gí-tâi) of the Public Television Service (PTS) in Taiwan started its broadcasting service in July 2019. This channel became possible only because the National Languages Act was approved in parliament. This policy was rooted by many in the decision to improve expression, alleviation of limits on speeches, and the consolidation of autonomy following the new law.

    After a long-time struggle, the state also sees a silver lining regarding another autonomy issue: document liberation.

  • Let's see what the sweet, kind, new Microsoft that everyone loves is up to. Ah yes, forcing more Office home users into annual subscriptions

    Microsoft is continuing its campaign to drive Office users onto a subscription plan by killing off its discounted Home Use program.

    The program covers individuals whose employer already has an Office subscription and allowed them to download standalone software on a separate home machine for a greatly reduced price of just $15. But no more.

    Eligible users will still get a discount – but only on an Office subscription package. No more standalone software. Microsoft is keen that everyone recognizes this change for the wonderful opportunity it is.

    "Microsoft is updating the Home Use Program to offer discounts on the latest and most up to date products such as Office 365, which is always up to date with premium versions of Office apps across all your devices," it chirpily announced in a new FAQ question this week, before noting that "Office Professional Plus 2019 and Office Home and Business 2019 are no longer available as Home Use Program offers."

    Why the change? You won't believe this but it seems money is at the root of it. Rather than pay $15 for a piece of software that you can then use for years, Microsoft's "update" will require home users (whose employers already have a subscription with Microsoft) to pay either $49 or $70 for the Personal and Home Office 365 services respectively. Every year.

Proprietary Software: Snip, Microsoft Ripoff and Critical New Holes in Windows

Filed under
Microsoft
  • New Snip Smartphone App Converts Math Screenshots Into LaTeX

    Not so long ago, mathematics students and researchers had to spend a tedious amount of time writing out equations in the technical and scientific documentation typesetting system LaTeX. The launch this April of the AI-powered desktop tool Snip changed that. Available for Mac, Windows and the Ubuntu system, Snip converts screenshots of mathematical formulas into LaTeX code in seconds. Snip went viral as an easy-to-use time-saver for the math and science community.

  • What Microsoft's upcoming 'outsourcing' licensing changes could mean for your business

    Microsoft's cloud competitors have been making a lot of noise about changes in Microsoft's licensing coming on October 1. And Microsoft, which has been positioning itself as an ally of customer choice, found itself on the wrong side of accusations of untrustworthiness and price-gouging.

  • Microsoft Warning Impacts 800M Windows 10 Computers

    Microsoft has warned users of 'critical' new vulnerabilities across all versions of Windows which have the potential to spread worldwide...

  • We checked and yup, it's no longer 2001. And yet you can pwn a Windows box via Notepad.exe

    Software buried in Windows since the days of WinXP can be abused to take complete control of a PC with the help of good ol' Notepad and some crafty code.

    On Tuesday, ace bug-hunter Tavis Ormandy, of Google Project Zero, detailed how a component of the operating system's Text Services Framework, which manages keyboard layouts and text input, could be exploited by malware or rogue logged-in users to gain System-level privileges. Such level of access would grant software nasties and miscreants total control over, and surveillance of, the computer.

    The flaw, designated CVE-2019-1162, is patched in this month's Patch Tuesday release of security fixes from Microsoft. The relevant update should be installed as soon as possible.

With Microsoft dumping MS Office, consider LibreOffice for your next PC office suite

Filed under
LibO
Microsoft

LibreOffice's Export as PDF has improved. It now fully supports PDF/A-2 document format. This is required by several organizations for long-term file storage. It also simplified its editable PDF forms by incorporating the Form menu into LibreOffice Writer.

A new feature, which security-minded businesses may find interesting, is that you can now "redact" information in documents. With this, you can remove or hide sensitive information such as personal data before exporting or sharing the file.

You can run LibreOffice on Linux, MacOS, and Windows. You can also use as a cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application, LibreOffice Online, by deploying it on a cloud you control.

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More in Tux Machines

Raptor Computing Is Working On More AMD Radeon Driver Improvements For POWER

Similar to 64-bit ARM (AArch64) improvements we've seen with time for the Radeon Linux driver, Raptor's Timothy Pearson has been working to improve the Radeon support for PowerPC or more specifically POWER9. While NVIDIA offers a POWER9 graphics driver for IBM POWER servers, AMD Radeon graphics jive much better with Raptor's target customers thanks to the open-source driver stack -- allowing a fully open-source graphics/compute stack with the AMD hardware sans the closed-source microcode required by the GPUs, but much better than the completely closed-up NVIDIA driver stack. Read more

Using Menus For Command Line Programs and Scripts

THE holidays are coming (Christmas approaching), so I've taken advantage of some spare time to menu-ise commands that I use frequently. Those commands aren't the mere opening of an application and they often require dealing with input and output (in the command line). So I've created menu.sh and used dialog to craft the following menu, e.g. for operations associated with Techrights. I invoke this menu with the click of one button (of the mouse).

Rianne has a similar menu for commands she often runs (which are long and would otherwise need pasting or typing in length). Her menu looks something like this:

Rianne's menu

Here's the code (bash file) that renders the menu above (it's really that simple!):

#!/bin/bash

HEIGHT=15
WIDTH=40
CHOICE_HEIGHT=4
BACKTITLE="Aloha, Rianne"
TITLE="Rianne @ Ted"
MENU="Choose one of the following options:"

OPTIONS=(1 "Start VPN"
         2 "REDACTED"
         3 "REDACTED"
	4 "REDACTED"
	5 "REDACTED"
	6 "REDACTED"
	7 "REDACTED"
)

CHOICE=$(dialog --clear \
                --backtitle "$BACKTITLE" \
                --title "$TITLE" \
                --menu "$MENU" \
                $HEIGHT $WIDTH $CHOICE_HEIGHT \
                "${OPTIONS[@]}" \
                2>&1 >/dev/tty)

clear
case $CHOICE in
        1)
            echo "You chose Option 1"
sh ~/vpn.sh ;;

        2)
            echo "You chose Option 2"
REDACTED COMMAND ;;
        3)
            echo "You chose Option 3"
REDACTED COMMAND ;;
        4)
            echo "You chose Option 4"
REDACTED COMMAND ;;
        5)
            echo "You chose Option 5"
REDACTED COMMAND ;;
        6)
            echo "You chose Option 6"
REDACTED COMMAND ;;
        7)
            echo "You chose Option 7"
REDACTED COMMAND ;;

esac

Hopefully this inspires other people out there to do the same. It takes a while to set up, but it's a big time saver over the long run.

Android Leftovers

10 Years of Using Linux: How It Was Before, And How it Became

2020 Marks my 10 years of using Linux, a decade of my life that I also spent in supporting, promoting and developing free software both in my local community and globally. But the Linux ecosystem today was nothing like 10 years ago, and we are here today to take a look at the past and how both the Linux ecosystem and other open source software developed through the decade. If you asked anyone who used Linux in 2010, what was your biggest issue? They would tell you: Drivers. Back then, drivers for literally everything on Linux were not that good, and in a lot cases didn’t even exist. Read more