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OSS

Indians on open source honour roll

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OSS

Sayan Chowdhury couldn't believe his name would be etched on the wall of fame along with other Mozillians. The Mozilla Monument outside the company's office in San Francisco recognizes contributors who've helped the maker of the Firefox browser and other products keep the internet alive, open and accessible. Chowdhury is one among the 5,000-odd Mozilla volunteers doing his bit for the love of code.

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Stanford dropout returns to teach open-source startup class

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OSS

Nine years ago, Sam Altman was a Stanford University computer science student. And then he dropped out to start a startup.

This year, he's returned to campus -- not to finish his degree, but to teach a class called "How to Start a Startup."

Altman, whose mobile location startup Loopt eventually sold for a cool $43.4 million, is now 29 years old and the president of Y Combinator, an accelerator that provides seed funding and guidance to fledgling startups. He launched the class to make the wealth of knowledge Y Combinator gives to a select group of startups more publicly available -- not only by giving it to a class of 300 Stanford students but to everyone.

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Elasticsearch director tells us how the magic happens

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Interviews
OSS

I was introduced to open source nearly 15 years ago by a friend when I asked him what that foot thing was bouncing around on his screen saver. He then explained what GNOME was and what open source software was. I was hooked immediately; the philosophy and methodology made perfect sense to me. It took awhile for it to become the focus of my career, but it's been an incredibly rewarding path.

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Operating systems war story: How feminism helped me solve one of file systems’ oldest conundrums

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Linux
OSS

I was working on another human-centered file system feature, union mounts, when I heard that a friend of mine had been groped at an open source conference for the third time in one year. While I loved my file systems work, I felt like stopping sexual harassment and assault of women in open source was more urgent, and that I was uniquely qualified to work on it. (I myself had been groped by another Linux storage developer.) So I quit my job as a Linux kernel developer and co-founded the Ada Initiative, whose mission is supporting women in open technology and culture. Unfortunately, as a result of my work, several more Linux storage developers came out publicly in favor of harassment and assault.

That’s one reason why I’m so excited that Ceph developer Sage Weil challenged the open storage community to raise $8192 for the Ada Initiative by Wednesday, Oct. 8 – and he’ll personally match that amount if we reach the goal! The number of Linux file systems and storage developers who both donated to Sage’s challenge and wanted to be listed publicly as supporters is reminding me that the vast majority of the people I worked with in Linux want women to feel safe and comfortable in their community. I love file systems development, I love writing kernel code, and I miss working with and seeing my Linux friends. And as you can tell by the lack of something like union mounts in the mainline kernel 21 years after the first implementation, Linux file systems and storage does not have enough developers, and can’t afford to keep driving off women developers.

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Bringing Open Source to Scientific Research

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OSS

I already knew that academia is behind the curve when it comes to IT, from my non-tech part time job at a local university library. For starters, there’s the overreliance on Windows. Then there’s the use of poorly designed proprietary products when perfectly acceptable GPL solutions exist — not to mention the look of scorn and fright coming from the IT people whenever the term “free and open source” is uttered within their hearing.

Although I already knew there was a problem, I didn’t know how deep the problem is until I spoke with GitHub’s Arfon Smith. It seems that academia’s inability to catch up with the twenty-first century even puts careers in jeopardy — especially in the sciences.

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Markdown throwdown: what happens when FOSS software gets corporate backing?

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OSS

Markdown is a Perl script that converts plain text into Web-ready HTML; it's also a shorthand syntax for writing HTML tags without needing to write the actual HTML. Markdown has been around for a decade now, but it hasn't seen an update in all that time—nearly unheard of for a piece of software. In that light, the fact that Markdown continues to work at all is somewhat amazing.

Regrettably, "works" and "works well" are not the same thing. Markdown, despite its longevity, has bugs. But here, the software has an advantage. As free and open source (FOSS) software, licensed under a BSD-style license, anyone can fork Markdown and fix those bugs.

Recently, a group of developers set out to fix some of those bugs, creating what they call a "standard" version of Markdown. From a pure code standpoint, the results are great. Yet there was no surplus of gratitude. Instead, the "standard" group found itself at the center of a much larger and very contentious debate, one that's ultimately about who we want in control of the tools we use.

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Open Source Lures The Killer App Closer

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Server
OSS

A comment like that will draw some fire from IBM. Big Blue has megabucks invested in Linux and is tooting the Eclipse horn to prove its openness in developing software such as Rational Developer for i. Zend Technologies has had success with PHP, as has other application development vendors such as Profound Logic and BCD. And newcomer to the IBM i community, PowerRuby, has joined the app dev party as well.

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Myanmar to build open source e-government platform

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OSS

Myanmar is to build an open source e-government platform with help from Vietnam.

The first phase of the platform will be launched at the end of the year with functions allowing officials to manage citizen data and exchange information with other ministries and local governments, according to Vietnamese media reports.

The platform will be upgraded in 2015 with cloud technology, and capabilities to handle more complex datasets and mobile users, it added.

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qAndora - A Cross Platform, FOSS, Pandora Radio Player

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OSS

One of my goals for this year is to become proficient in a cross platform GUI tool kit. The toolkit I've chosen to get my hands dirty with is Qt because in addition to being cross platform it also has a fantastic amount of documentation.

I always find I learn programming easier when I am building some practical instead of going through various tutorials that you just throw away when you are done. So with that, my "learn Qt" project is something I'm calling qAndora.

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Open source's "shallow bugs" theory hasn't been Shellshocked

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OSS
Security

It hasn't been a good year for open source. Not for its generally golden reputation for software quality and security, anyway. But in a rush to lay blame for the Bash Shellshock vulnerability (and previously for Heartbleed) some, like Roger Grimes, want to dismantle some of the cardinal tenets of open source, like the suggestion that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."

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Black Lab Brings Real-Time Kernel Patching to Its Enterprise Desktop 8 Linux OS

A few moments ago, Softpedia has been informed by Black Lab Software about the general availability of the sixth DP (Developer Preview) build of the upcoming Black Lab Linux Enterprise Desktop 8 OS. Sporting a new kernel from the Linux kernel from the 4.2 series, Black Lab Linux Enterprise Desktop 8 Developer Preview 6 arrives today for early adopters and public beta testers with real-time kernel patching, which means that you won't have to reboot your Black Lab Linux Enterprise OS after kernel upgrades. "DP6 offers you a window into what's new and whats coming when Black Lab Enterprise Desktop and Black Lab Enterprise Desktop for Education is released. As with our other developer previews it also aids in porting your applications to the new environment," said Roberto J. Dohnert, CEO, Black Lab Software. Read more

USB stick brings neural computing functions to devices

Movidius unveiled a “Fathom” USB stick and software framework for integrating accelerated neural networking processing into embedded and mobile devices. On April 28, Movidius announced availability of the USB-interfaced “Fathom Neural Compute Stick,” along with an underlying Fathom deep learning software framework. The device is billed as “the world’s first embedded neural network accelerator,” capable of allowing “powerful neural networks to be moved out of the cloud, and deployed natively in end-user devices.” Read more

ImageMagick Security Bug Puts Sites at Risk

  • Open Source ImageMagick Security Bug Puts Sites at Risk
    ImageMagick, an open source suite of tools for working with graphic images used by a large number of websites, has been found to contain a serious security vulnerability that puts sites using the software at risk for malicious code to be executed onsite. Security experts consider exploitation to be so easy they’re calling it “trivial,” and exploits are already circulating in the wild. The biggest risk is to sites that allows users to upload their own image files. Information about the vulnerability was made public Tuesday afternoon by Ryan Huber, a developer and security researcher, who wrote that he had little choice but to post about the exploit.
  • Huge number of sites imperiled by critical image-processing vulnerability
    A large number of websites are vulnerable to a simple attack that allows hackers to execute malicious code hidden inside booby-trapped images. The vulnerability resides in ImageMagick, a widely used image-processing library that's supported by PHP, Ruby, NodeJS, Python, and about a dozen other languages. Many social media and blogging sites, as well as a large number of content management systems, directly or indirectly rely on ImageMagick-based processing so they can resize images uploaded by end users.
  • Extreme photo-bombing: Bad ImageMagick bug puts countless websites at risk of hijacking
    A wildly popular software tool used by websites to process people's photos can be exploited to execute malicious code on servers and leak server-side files. Security bugs in the software are apparently being exploited in the wild right now to compromise at-risk systems. Patches to address the vulnerabilities are available in the latest source code – but are incomplete and have not been officially released, we're told.

Canonical to Offer Snappy Ubuntu 16 Images for Raspberry Pi 2, DragonBoard 410c

As you may know (or not), the Ubuntu Online Summit for Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) is taking place these days, between May 3 and May 5, on the Ubuntu On Air channel, where the Ubuntu devs are laying down plans for the future. We've already reported the other day that the next major release of the popular Linux kernel-based operating system, Ubuntu 16.10, which has been dubbed by Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth as Yakkety Yak, won't ship with the long-anticipated Unity 8 desktop interface as the default session. Read more