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Open Source

New Crowdfunding Campaign Offers Modular EOMA68 Computing Devices (crowdsupply.com) 9

A new crowdfunding campaign by Rhombus Tech "introduces the world's first devices built around the EOMA68 standard," which separates a "modular" CPU board from the rest of the system so that it can be easily used in multiple devices and upgraded more simply. Rhombus Tech is now offering a 15.6-inch laptop, a laser-cut wooden Micro-Desktop housing, and two types of computer cards, both using A20 dual-core ARM Cortex A7 processors. The cards are available with four flavors of the GNU/Linux operating system, and they're hoping to receive RYF certification from the Free Software Foundation.

"No proprietary software," explains their campaign's video. "No backdoors. No spyware. No NDAs." They envision a world where users upgrade their computers by simply popping in a new card -- reducing electronic waste -- or print new laptop casings to repair defects or swap in different colors. (And they also hope to eventually see the cards also working with cameras, phones, tablets, and gaming consoles.) Rhombus Tech CTO Luke Leighton did a Slashdot interview in 2012, and contacted Slashdot this weekend to announce: A live-streamed video from Hope2016 explains what it's about, and there is a huge range of discussions and articles online. The real burning question is: if a single Software Libre Engineer can teach themselves PCB design and bring modular computing to people on the budget available from a single company, why are there not already a huge number of companies doing modular upgradeable hardware?
Operating Systems

How (And Why) FreeDOS Keeps DOS Alive (computerworld.com.au) 211

FreeDOS was originally created in response to Microsoft's announcement that after Windows 95, DOS would no longer be developed as a standalone operating system, according to a new interview about how (and why) Jim Hall keeps FreeDOS alive. For its newest version, Hall originally imagined "what 'DOS' would be like in 2015 or 2016 if Microsoft hadn't stopped working on MS-DOS in favor of Windows" -- before he decided there's just no such thing as "modern DOS". An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: No major changes are planned in the next version. "The next version of FreeDOS won't be multitasking, it won't be 32-bit, it won't run on ARM," Hall said. "FreeDOS is still intended for Intel and Intel-compatible computers. You should still be able to run FreeDOS on your old 486 or old Pentium PC to play classic DOS games, run legacy business programs, and support embedded development."
By day, Hall is the CIO for a county in Minnesota, and he's also a member of the board of directors for GNOME (and contributes to other open source projects) -- but he still remembers using DOS's built-in BASIC system to write simple computer programs. "Many of us older computer nerds probably used DOS very early, on our first home computer..." he tells ComputerWorld. Even without John Romero's new Doom level, "The popularity of DOS games and DOS shareware applications probably contributes in a big way to FreeDOS's continued success." I'd be curious how many Slashdot readers have some fond memories about downloading DOS shareware applications.
Android

Microsoft 'Patch' Blocks Linux Installs On Locked-Down Windows RT Computers (fossbytes.com) 141

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes: Microsoft has released a security update that has patched a backdoor in Windows RT operating system [that] allowed users to install non-Redmond approved operating systems like Linux and Android on Windows RT tablets. This vulnerability in ARM-powered, locked-down Windows devices was left by Redmond programmers during the development process. Exploiting this flaw, one was able to boot operating systems of his/her choice, including Android or GNU/Linux.
The Register points out that since Windows RT is "a dead-end operating system" which Microsoft has announced they'll stop developing, "mainstream support for Surface RT tablets runs out in 2017 and Windows RT 8.1 in 2018. This is why a means to bypass its boot mechanisms is highly sought."
GNU is Not Unix

Slackware 14.2 Released, Still Systemd-Free (slackware.com) 179

sombragris writes: Slackware, the oldest GNU/Linux distribution still in active maintenance, was released just minutes ago. Slackware is noted for being the most Unix-like of all Linux distributions. While sporting kernel 4.4.14 and GCC 5.3, other goodies include Perl 5.22.2, Python 2.7.11, Ruby 2.2.5, Subversion 1.9.4, git-2.9.0, mercurial-3.8.2, KDE 4.14.21 (KDE 4.14.3 with kdelibs-4.14.21) Xfce 4.12.1... and no systemd!

According to the ChangeLog: "The long development cycle (the Linux community has lately been living in "interesting times," as they say) is finally behind us, and we're proud to announce the release of Slackware 14.2. The new release brings many updates and modern tools, has switched from udev to eudev (no systemd), and adds well over a hundred new packages to the system. Thanks to the team, the upstream developers, the dedicated Slackware community, and everyone else who pitched in to help make this release a reality." Grab the ISOs at a mirror near you. Enjoy!
The torrents page can be found here.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu-Based Peppermint 7 Released (peppermintos.com) 74

Softpedia reports on the newest version of Peppermint OS, "a lightweight, stable, elegant, and fast computer operating system based on GNU/Linux and Open Source technologies." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes their report: It's a bit earlier than expected, but the Peppermint OS 7 GNU/Linux distribution has been officially unveiled...based on the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system [with] a lot of packages from the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS distro, which means that it will also be a long-term support release.... "Along with the shift to the 16.04 (Xenial) code base, Peppermint 7 continues our policy of choosing the best components from other desktop environments, wherever that may be, and integrating them into a cohesive whole with our own software," reads today's announcement.
"Team Peppermint" says they're switching to Firefox as their default browser for site-specific browser functionality (similar to Chrome's -app mode) after Google dropped their 32-bit version of Chrome and moved to PPAPI plugins "which effectively ends Flash support in 32-bit Chromium"... But you can also still choose Chrome or Chromium for site-specific browsing (and the OS comes in 32-bit and 64-bit editions).
GNOME

Fedora 24 Featuring GNOME 3.20, Tons Of Improvements Released (betanews.com) 174

After several delays, the Fedora Project on Tuesday released Fedora 24 (download link), the latest version of its Linux-based operating system. Fedora 24 brings with it a number of interesting features and changes, including the GNOME 3.20 desktop environment. The latest version of GNOME comes with media-player controls in the notification panel, and improved search feature in the Files application. New GNOME will also let you easily upgrade to Fedora 25, by simply using its Software application. There's also improved font-rendering. Among other things Fedora 24 has an upgraded version of glibc, or GNU C Library, which comes with improved performance and bug fixes across the entire operating system. You can learn more about the features at TechRepublic..
Debian

Fedora QA Lead Pans Canonical 'Propaganda' On Snap Apps (happyassassin.net) 170

Long-time Slashdot reader JImbob0i0 shares a scathing article by Red Hat's Fedora QA "community monkey"/senior QA engineer on Canonical's announcement about their application delivery mechanism "snap"... ...and how it's going to unite all distributions and kill apt and rpm! This is, to put it diplomatically, a heaping pile of steaming bullshit... The press release and the stories together give you the strong impression that this thing called Snappy is going to be the cross-distribution future of application delivery, and it's all ready for use today and lots of major distributions are buying into it... The stories have headlines like "Adios apt and yum? Ubuntu's snap apps are coming to distros everywhere" and "Snap Packages Become Universal Binary Format for All GNU/Linux Distributions"...

Now, does Snappy actually have the cross-distribution buy-in that the press release claims (but never outright states) that it has? No... The sum total of communication between Canonical and Fedora before the release of this press release was that they mailed us asking about the process of packaging snappy for Fedora, and we told them about the main packaging process and COPR. They certainly did not in any way inform Fedora that they were going to send out a press release strongly implying that Fedora, along with every other distro in the world, was now a happy traveler on the Snappy bandwagon... They just decided to send out a wildly misleading press release and actively encourage the specialist press to report that Snappy was all set to take over the world and everyone was super happy with that.

GNU is Not Unix

Ubuntu 16.10 To Be Powered By Linux Kernel 4.8 (softpedia.com) 58

Reader prisoninmate shares a Softpedia report: We've been monitoring the Ubuntu 16.10 development cycle for quite some time now to see what Linux kernel version the upcoming GNU/Linux operating system will be based on, and for now, it remains powered by the same kernel packages as Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus). Also, it looks like Ubuntu 16.10 has been switched to a universal local DNS resolver service. However, the Ubuntu Kernel Team published the other day a new installation of their weekly newsletter, informing the community that Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) would soon be rebased on the latest stable Linux 4.6 kernels. Then, it will move to the Release Candidate builds of Linux kernel 4.7, and after that, the operating system will finally be switched to Linux kernel 4.8.
Encryption

RSA Keys Can Be Harvested With Microphones (theregister.co.uk) 157

Researchers have now demonstrated that even with modern laptop, desktop, and server computers, an inexpensive attack can harvest 4,096-bit encryption keys using a parabolic microphone within 33 feet -- or even from 12 inches away, using a cellphone microphone. An anonymous reader quotes this article from The Register: In both cases it took an hour of listening to get the 4,096-bit RSA key... As a computer's processor churns through the encryption calculations, the machine emits a high-frequency "coil whine" from the changing electrical current flowing through its components... The team recommends encryption software writers build in "blinding" routines that insert dummy calculations into cryptographic operations. After discussions with the team, GNU Privacy Guard now does this.
Bug

Linux Kernel 4.6.1 Released; Some Users Report Boot Issue 161

Marius Nestor, reporting for Softpedia (condensed): Linux kernel 4.6.1 is already here, only two weeks after the official launch of the Linux 4.6 kernel series. For those not in the loop, Linux 4.6 branch is the latest and most advanced kernel branch available right now for GNU/Linux operating systems, but it looks like its adoption is a little slow at the moment. "I'm announcing the release of the 4.6.1 kernel. All users of the 4.6 kernel series must upgrade," says Greg Kroah-Hartman. "The updated 4.6.y git tree can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser."
Some users are apparently facing boot failure issue on the latest version. An anonymous tipster tells Slashdot: Several folks on the web have reported a regression in the latest Linux kernels, starting with 4.6.1 and including the 4.7 beta that prevents booting and drops to busybox, at least the one supplied by the Ubuntu PPA. The boot sequence ends with "address family not supported by protocol: error getting socket" and then, "error initializing udev control socket" (screenshot here).
United States

Al-Qaeda Calls For the Execution Of Bill Gates and Others To 'Damage the US Economy' (betanews.com) 486

An anonymous reader writes: Al-Qaeda's official online propaganda magazine, Inspire, contains a montage of violent images -- things like guns and blood -- next to an image of Bill Gates. The terrorist group is urging its followers to murder successful business folks, such as Gates, which is absolutely sickening. The terrorist group says that murdering high ranking people can damage the U.S. economy.
Google

Oracle V. Google Being Decided By Clueless Judge and Jury (vice.com) 436

theodp writes: The problem with Oracle v. Google," explains Motherboard's Sarah Jeong, "is that everyone actually affected by the case knows what an API is, but the whole affair is being decided by people who don't, from the normals in the jury box to the normals at the Supreme Court." Which has Google's witnesses "really, really worried that the jury does not understand nerd shit." Jeong writes, "Eric Schmidt sought to describe APIs and languages using power plugs as an analogy. Jonathan Schwartz tried his hand at explaining with 'breakfast menus,' only to have Judge William Alsup respond witheringly, 'I don't know what the witness just said. The thing about the breakfast menu makes no sense.'

"Schwartz's second attempt at the breakfast menu analogy went much better, as he explained that although two different restaurants could have hamburgers on the menu, the actual hamburgers themselves were different -- the terms on the menu were an API, and the hamburgers were implementations." And Schwarz's explanation that the acronym GNU stands for 'GNU is Not Unix' drew the following exchange: "The G part stands for GNU?" Alsup asked in disbelief. "Yes," said Schwartz on the stand. "That doesn't make any sense," said the 71-year-old Clinton appointee.

Debian

ZFS For Linux Finally Lands In Debian GNU/Linux Repos (softpedia.com) 150

prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: It took the Debian developers many years to finally be able to ship a working version of ZFS for Linux on Debian GNU/Linux. For those not in the known, ZFS on Linux is the official OpenZFS implementation for Linux, which promises to offer native ZFS filesystem support for any Linux kernel-based operating system, currently supporting Arch Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, openSUSE, and now Debian. And it looks like their ZFS for Linux implementation borrows a lot of patches from Ubuntu, at least according to the changelog for zfs-linux 0.6.5.6-2, the version that is now available in the unstable channel for Debian users to install and test.
Mozilla

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Available To Download; Mozilla To Offer 0-Day Firefox Releases Via Snaps 74

Reader prisoninmate writes: The latest, and hopefully, the greatest version of Ubuntu is now available to download. On the sidelines, Mozilla today announced the availability of future releases of its popular Firefox web browser in the snap package format for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Earlier today, Canonical unleashed the final release of the highly anticipated Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, bringing users a great set of new features and improvements. Also today, it looks like Canonical has renewed its partnership with Mozilla to offer Firefox as the default web browser on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and upcoming releases of the Linux kernel-based operating systems. As part of the new partnership, Mozilla is committed to distributing future versions of Firefox as a snap package. Having Firefox distributed in the snap format means that you'll have 0-day releases in Ubuntu 16.04. Yes, just like Windows and Mac OS X, users are enjoying their 0-day releases of Mozilla Firefox and don't have to wait for package maintainers of a particular GNU/Linux distribution to update the software in the main repositories. For Mozilla, having Firefox as a snap package means that they'll be able to continually optimize it for Ubuntu.
Google

Nest Reminds Customers That Ownership Isn't What It Used To Be (eff.org) 268

Alphabet-owned Nest recently announced that it will be turning off Revolv Hub next month. An anonymous reader shares an article on EFF, a privacy rights group: Nest Labs, a home automation company acquired by Google in 2014, will disable some of its customers' home automation control devices in May. This move is causing quite a stir among people who purchased the $300 Revolv Hub devices -- customers who reasonably expected that the promised "lifetime" of updates would enable the hardware they paid for to actually work, only to discover the manufacturer can turn their device into a useless brick when it so chooses. This is far from the first time that customers' software and electronics have been downgraded by manufacturers. Updates can disable features the customer paid for that have fallen out of favor with the vendor, as when Google disabled privacy settings on Android or Sony took away the ability to run GNU/Linux on a Playstation 3. Manufacturers can even render a device unusable until the customer "agrees" to new terms of use, as Nintendo did with the Wii U. Other software and devices, including some video games, are designed so they simply stop working when they can no longer dial home to a server run by the vendor.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Budgie Could Be The New Flavor of Ubuntu Linux (softpedia.com) 116

prisoninmate writes: Budgie-Remix maintainer David Mohammed informs Softpedia about the progress made with the upcoming operating system, whose ultimate goal is to become an official Ubuntu Linux flavor, possibly under the name of Ubuntu Budgie. Even Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said in a Google+ comment last month that it will definitely support if there is a community around the packaging. Since their initial report, it looks like the developer managed to get in contact with the Ubuntu MATE project leader Martin Wimpress, who urged him to target Ubuntu 16.10 for an official status of his soon-to-be-named Ubuntu flavor built on top of the Budgie desktop environment created by the team of developers from Solus Project.
Open Source

Torvalds' Secret Sauce For Linux: Willing To Be Wrong (ieee.org) 273

An anonymous reader writes: Linux turns 25 this year(!!). To mark the event, IEEE Spectrum has a piece on the history of Linux and why it succeeded where others failed. In an accompanying question and answer with Linus Torvalds, Torvalds explains the combination of youthful chutzpah, openness to other's ideas, and a willingness to unwind technical decisions that he thinks were critical to the OS's development: "I credit the fact that I didn't know what the hell I was setting myself up for for a lot of the success of Linux. [...] The thing about bad technical decisions is that you can always undo them. [...] I'd rather make a decision that turns out to be wrong later than waffle about possible alternatives for too long."
GNU is Not Unix

Git 2.8 Officially Released (softpedia.com) 87

prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: Git 2.8 has been released on March 28, and we have to admit that it comes as a huge surprise to us all. Prominent features of Git 2.8 include parallel fetches of submodules, which allows for the inclusion of other Git repositories in a single Git repo when using the "git submodules" command, support for turning off Git's smudge and clean filters, and support for cloning repos through the rsync protocol. The Git for Windows build received a lot of attention in Git 2.8 and it looks like it's now as comfortable to use as it is on the GNU/Linux and Mac OS X platforms. Also, it is now possible to tell Git not to guess your identity, which, instead, forces you to add a user.name and user.email before doing any commits. Check out the the full release notes for the complete list.
GNU is Not Unix

Linux 4.6 Brings NVIDIA GTX 900 Support, OrangeFS, Better Power Management (phoronix.com) 129

An anonymous reader writes: The Linux 4.6-rc1 kernel has been released. New to the Linux 4.6 kernel are a significant number of new features including NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900 open-source 3D support when using the closed-source firmware files, Dell XPS 13 Skylake laptop support, a fix for laptops that were limiting their own performance due to incorrectly thinking they were overheating, AHCI runtime power management support, Intel graphics power management features enabled by default, a new file-system (OrangeFS), and a range of other improvements.
GNU is Not Unix

GNOME 3.20 Officially Released (softpedia.com) 193

prisoninmate writes: After yet another six months of hard work, the highly anticipated GNOME 3.20 desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems has been officially released on March 23, 2016. Release highlights include support for operating system upgrades via GNOME Software, middle-click paste, kinetic scrolling, drag-and-drop support for Wayland, keyboard shortcuts and gestures overlay for most of the core apps, XDG-Apps technology for installing multiple versions of an app, and much more goodies.

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