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August 22, 2014

GNU hackers unmask massive HACIENDA surveillance program and design a countermeasure

After making key discoveries about the details of HACIENDA, Julian Kirsch, Dr. Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, and Dr. Holger Kenn designed the TCP Stealth system to protect unadvertised servers from port scanning.

According to Heise Online, the intelligence agencies of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are involved in HACIENDA. The agencies share the data they collect. The HACIENDA system also hijacks civilian computers, allowing it to leach computing resources and cover its tracks.

Some of the creators of TCP Stealth are also prominent contributors to the GNU Project, a major facet of the free software community and a hub for political and technological action against bulk surveillance. Free software is safer because it is very hard to hide malicious code in a program anyone can read. In proprietary software, there is no way to guarantee that programs don't hide backdoors and other vulnerabilities. The team revealed their work on August 15, 2014 at the annual GNU Hackers' Meeting in Germany, and Julian Kirsch published about it in his master's degree thesis.

Maintainers of Parabola, an FSF-endorsed GNU/Linux distribution, have already implemented TCP Stealth, making Parabola users safer from surveillance. The FSF encourages other operating systems to follow Parabola's lead.

The Free Software Foundation supports and sponsors the GNU Project. FSF campaigns manager Zak Rogoff said, "Every time you use a free software program, you benefit from the work of free software developers inspired by the values of transparency and bottom-up collaboration. But on occassions like these, when our civil liberties are threatened with technological tools, the deep importance of these values becomes obvious. The FSF is proud to support the free software community in its contributions to the resistance against bulk surveillance."

The Free Software Foundation works politically for an end to mass surveillance. Simultaneously, the Foundation advocates for individuals of all technical skill levels to take a variety of actions against bulk surveillance.

About Julian Kirsch, Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, and Holger Kenn

Julian Kirsch is the author of "Improved Kernel-Based Port-Knocking in Linux", his Master's Thesis in Informatics at Technische Universitat Munchen.

Dr. Christian Grothoff is the Emmy-Noether research group leader in Computer Science at Technische Universitat Munchen.

Jacob Appelbaum is an American independent computer security researcher and hacker. He was employed by the University of Washington, and is a core member of the Tor project, a free software network designed to provide online anonymity.

Dr. Holger Kenn is a computer scientist specializing in wearable computing, especially software architectures, context sensor systems, human machine interfaces, and wearable-mediated human robot cooperation.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom. See https://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see https://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.

Media Contacts

Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1-617-542-5942
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

"Knocking down the HACIENDA" by Julian Kirsch, produced by GNU, the GNUnet team, and edited on short notice by Carlo von Lynx from #youbroketheinternet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

August 21, 2014

Blog : 5 approximations à rectifier pour bien s’y repérer dans les licences libres

Des approximations peuvent être sources de confusion dommageable à la compréhension et à l’application des licences de logiciels libres. Cet article de blog se propose d’en résoudre cinq, présentées dans un article du JDN.

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The Sahana Software Foundation annual conference

Today we have a post from Michael Howden, Google Summer of Code mentor since 2010, contributor to the Sahana Open Source Disaster Management Software and as of June 2014 CEO of the Sahana Software Foundation. Sahana recently held it’s annual conference in Sri Lanka, bringing contributors together from around the globe. 
The Sahana Software Foundation helps organizations and communities prepare for and respond to disasters by providing open source information management tools. There is not much overlap between the people engaged in disaster management activities using our software and the people who contribute code to it, so it’s important to ensure that our contributors see how their code supports our mission of helping organizations and communities. This is especially important while working with students during Google Summer of Code (GSoC)—and is often hard to do over the mailing list or a Hangout—so we wanted to bring them to the Sahara Annual Conference in Sri Lanka. The conference was sponsored by Google,  AidIQ, Virtusa, The University of Colombo School of Computing and LIRNEAsia which made it possible for the following GSoC mentors and students to attend:
  • Arnav Agrawal
  • Fran Boon
  • Ramindu Deshapriya
  • Michael Howden
  • Somay Jain
  • Mayank Jain
  • Dominic König
  • Gaurav Narula
  • Arnav Sharma
  • Hemant Singh 
  • Nuwan Waidyanatha 
The Sahana Annual Conference consisted of a number of separate events which were being held in parallel with the Indian Ocean Tsunami 10th Anniversary convention (IOTX). This gave the students broad exposure to the Sahana community, users, history, strategy, and of course the code of our open source project.
The main event of the week was the SahanaCamp workshop. These workshops are conducted to help encourage collaboration between coders and disaster management experts. Our students were very impressed to learn about all the places around the world where Sahana was used. It occurred to me that we need to improve our introduction documents so students can have this information before they start work on their projects. One of the highlights of the day for me was having our students give demonstrations of Sahana to people from various disaster management organisations who were attending the SahanaCamp. I was really impressed with their knowledge and professionalism.

There was no way we could get everyone together without cranking out some code— the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) Code-Fest was a great opportunity for this. A number of CAP experts had been consulted and were also present to work with the Sahana Team. During the day our mentors and students were able to work together to implement new support for sharing alert messages between organizations.

The week wrapped up with our Annual General Meeting, during which we held a number of unconference sessions allowing us to dive into a number of really important areas:
  • Debugging with Eclipse and Firebug. It was a surprise how few of our students knew about using these tools (for example, print statements != debugging), another addition for us to make to our introduction documents.
  • We held a session looking at our GSoC program and how we could improve it. Everyone agreed that face-to-face meetings were valuable and more structured meetings could be useful, especially if they connected students with the end users. We also talked about the value of allowing students to set their own priorities and having ownership over their projects.
The conference allowed our students to see that there is much more to open source than what they saw on their computer screens. But more importantly it gave them a chance to come together, see the bigger picture they are a part of, meet each other face to face, build relationships and make friendships.

“Open source is nothing but a few people with a common goal working together for the betterment of a community by developing software. This I saw in person and this will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
-Arnav Sharma

If you’re interested in finding out more about the conference, please take a look at the blog posts prepared by our students!

By Michael Howden, CEO, Sahana Software Foundation



FreeBSD ports tree was born twenty years ago, let's celebrate!

It all started with this commit from Jordan Hubbard on August 21, 1994:

FreeBSD Foundation August Update Now Available

The FreeBSD Foundation August Update is now available. Get the latest Foundation news at: https://www.freebsdfoundation.org/press/2014augupdate.pdf

EuroBSDCon 2014 Travel Grant Deadline Extended

The deadline for submitting your application for a Travel Grant to EuroBSDCon 2014 has been extended. Please submit your application by Friday, August 22, 2014. Find out more at: https://www.freebsdfoundation.org/announcements#eurobsdcon2014

August 20, 2014

Melange: the open source software powering Google Summer of Code

Daniel Hans, a long time Melange developer, is today’s guest writer. Below he describes a bit about the open source software that makes Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in possible year after year.
There is no Google Summer of Code (GSoC) without Melange, the open source software both GSoC and Google Code-in (GCI) run on. The first release in 2009 was a real game changer for both program administrators and participants. Can you believe that in the pre-Melange era we once ran the program with almost 1,000 students on just a spreadsheet?

But what exactly is Melange? In short, it is a website front end to the database we use to both present information about GSoC and manage the participation of all the projects, mentors and students involved. Melange is a project that supports open source initiatives. Not surprisingly, it is open source itself and has participated as an organization in GSoC from its infancy.

The project was started in 2008 and developed primarily by a group of volunteers who dedicated a considerable amount of time so that it could be deployed one short year later. In the early days of Melange, the user interface was very simple. It visualized the underlying database layer with minimum graphics. Despite its simplicity and initial shortcomings it was a breakthrough, as a lot of tasks which previously had been completed manually became automated. The program could now continue to grow and scale with each year.  By 2011 the layout was completely redesigned to provide a much better user experience. Since launch, almost 40,000 student proposals have been processed through Melange.

This summer we chose four students to work on Melange as a GSoC project and three successfully passed the midterm evaluation. They have all been working hard on projects that will have a real impact on both GSoC and GCI. At the end of the summer we should be able to resolve several high priority issues requested by our users.

Shikher Somal is improving the general workflow of a student participant. For example, student applicants will be able to rank their proposals in order of their own preferences. They will no longer have to rely on the organizations they applied with and program administrators to decide who gets to work with the student (which often occurs when multiple orgs like the same student).

Denys Butenko from Ukraine is working on CSS improvements to make the user interface more responsive. The new UI will look much cleaner on different screen sizes, especially on mobile devices where so much traffic is coming from these days.

Our third participant, Piyush Bansal, is helping to make the Melange developer’s life a bit easier. Piyush successfully completed his first GSoC project in 2013 and has since become an important part of our community since then. This summer he is working on a continuous integration system. His changes are not directly visible to end users but are crucial to our daily workflow. We recently pushed to production a first release for which the developer did not need to run all the tests manually as a part of the deployment process. The buildbot did the job for him.

The summer has been going great and we are really excited about all the work so far. We have already integrated some parts of the students’ projects into the master branch. Is there any better evidence that a GSoC student can make an actual impact? And we are always happy to welcome new contributors. If you would like to make Melange even better, please start by reading the getting started guide. Feel free to get in touch with us on our mailing list.

By Daniel Hans, Google, Melange Developer

Leviathan/Apep in the sea

ApepBWenlarging

I seem to have created something that looks great as an endlessly looping gif, but is hard to fit into the movie I created it for. I’m still trying to fit it in without overwhelming any scene it appears in.

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August 18, 2014

ba ba black background

02Melt

Egyptian firstborn mummy

03Melt

First flight of the ba

04Melt

The ba passes Ammit and Anubis weighing the heart

More “Death of the Firstborn Egyptians” scenes for Seder-Masochism. I’m using a plain black background in these scenes to suggest the dead are “inside” Death, but the Egyptian art I’m basing it on have light backgrounds, so it’s a bit of a stretch.

 

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August 13, 2014

SFD Tagaytay 2014 at Olivarez College

I am now again an official organizer for SFD 2014, but this time I will organized the event in Tagaytay City which will be hosted by Olivarez College in Tagaytay. The said event is scheduled on September 27, 2014.

SFD2014

The venue is on their “AMPITHEATER” where it can hold more than 500 participants. Here are some pictures of the exact venue.

cpdc-20140804131542221  cpdc-20140804131124356We also launch the online registration feel free to register using the this URL : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/software-freedom-day-2014-at-olivarez-college-tagaytay-tickets-12455543867

August 12, 2014

Robin Williams and Free writing.

Hi all, This would be a longish post about one of the actors I admired, Robin Williams and a recent meetup I attended on writing. Before I start, I’m not given to emotions that easily as well as talk about people I admire. Also some people/characters evoke strong emotions so it’s not easy to talk […]

websites on this server

August 10, 2014

New committer: Dan Langille (ports)

MySQLNoSQLCloud 2014 – Edition #3

Good morning buenos airesI’ve enjoyed visiting Buenos Aires once a year for the MySQLNoSQLCloud event, put together by the awesome people at Binlogic (in particular, their proprietor Santiago Lertora). It’s happening again in 2014, which by my count is the third edition, and there’s a twist: Buenos Aires on 13 & 14 November, and Cordoba on 17 November. It’s never been held in Cordoba before (like an annex event), so I think this could be extremely exciting.

If you’re looking to speak, send Santiago a note at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (or leave a message here). I’ll put you in touch with him. If you’re looking to sponsor, you get attendees from all over Latin America.

August 05, 2014

Percona Live London Call for Presentations

Europe traditionally doesn’t have many MySQL-dedicated conferences, which is why I personally enjoy Percona Live London, now in its 2014 Edition. This year it happens November 3-4, and the call for presentations is still open — till August 17th.

DSCF1396The topic list is growing as the MySQL ecosystem matures: DevOps, cloud, security, case studies and what’s new are things you don’t often see. Tutorials are also welcome, of course.

Location-wise, London can’t be beat. And happening at Gloucester Road, you’re on the District/Circle/Picadilly lines to go to many fun places.

If you don’t want to present, do attend – registration is open. Early-bird (ending August 31st) conference & tutorials will set you back £425.00 and if you just want to attend the conference only, its £235.00 (VAT and fees excluded). A steal if you ask me!

See you there!

August 03, 2014

FSFE Newsletter - August 2014

FSFE Newsletter – August 2014 Privilege and Power

In the olden days a common citizen of a republic going about their everyday business was quite, shall we say, free. While tending to their chores they would occasionally need a new tool or some advice, but the old Latin proverb scientia potentia est dictated the limits of their freedom to be the limits of their knowledge: if they needed a new tool and lacked the knowledge to make it, they became dependent on the toolmaker only to obtain the tool.

In the brave new world it is different: not only do we depend on the toolmaker when we wish to obtain a new tool, but oft we remain dependent on them forever after. In the olden days a hammer could be used both to put stakes in the ground (or vampires) and nail planks atop the vampire's coffin. Today, the customer buying a general purpose tool has to pay twice for it: once to put stakes in the vampire and then again to nail planks atop its coffin.

This is great if you happen to be one of the few toolmakers: not only are they one of the few privileged to be in control of their own property, but they have also stripped the rest of us of our rights and have the power to command our tools and hence have the power over us. Unfortunately, the privilege blinds them to the situation's revoltingness.

Times have not been kind and, in addition to the revolting consequences of failed regulations and cold, unjust, profit-oriented business logic, we have been treated with a revelation after a revelation of agencies and offices founded to protect us, and subsequently given an impossible mission, preying on us. These developments, while despicable, can at least be rationally understood.

However, it cannot be rationally comprehended why our democratically elected representatives would seek to entrench these unfortunate encroaches on our rights, on their own rights. Yet many of them do: the European Commission is refusing to break Microsoft's stranglehold on the EU and, as an even more deeply unsettling development, the Communications Committee of the UK parliament's House of Lords has proposed to end anonymity on the Internet.

If the danger to privacy and freedom were not so grave, the latter's technical ineptitude and arguments utterly unsuitable to the birthplace of liberalism would be highly amusing. Yet the danger posed by people who have been corrupted by power or greed is real and our resolve to confront that danger with more decentralization, security, privacy, and anonymity must become ever greater.

We are all Targets

According to new revelations from early July pretty much anyone in the technological community is a target for surveillance. Among other activities we have been, or will be picked out, for visiting the Tor website, reading the Linux Journal, connecting to Mixminion anonymous remailer service, and downloading Tails, a privacy-sensitive GNU/Linux distribution. These sobering facts ought to be remembered every hour, every day. In the end our greatest weapon is developing and promoting projects that will one day land people interested in them on that very same list.

Something Completely Different FSFE will have a booth at FrOSCon, where our Vice President Matthias Kirschner will also give a talk on the demise of the general purpose computer. Our President Karsten Gerloff writes about evaluating Free Software for procurement. Hugo Roy, our Deputy Legal Coordinator writes about defensive publications and his work for the Open Invention network at his blog. Matthias writes at his Fellowship blog about the invisible tasks that are being attended to by Reinhard Müller, our Financial Officer. Guido Arnold, our Education Team Coordinator, has finished composing his collection of Free Software in Education News for June. From the planet aggregation: Kevin Keijzer writes about receiving TV using a DVB-T USB dongle. For our more adventurous readers we suggest tuning the receiver to 1090 MHz and obtaining an overview of the local civilian air air traffic as reported by ADS-B transmitters on the aircraft. Sergey Matveev reports on the GoVPN daemon he wrote in the Go programming language. Get Active! Use and spread the word about GnuPG, Off-the-Record messaging, Tor, cryptsetup, HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger and other privacy-enhancing Free Software. If you can write code and understand a bit of computer science, find a cool privacy-or-anonymity-enhancing concept in a scientific journal and make it come to life.

We thank all our volunteers, Fellows, and donors who make our efforts possible, Heiki OjasildFSFE

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July 30, 2014

Linode Docs Now Open Source on GitHub

docsFive years ago today we launched the Linode Library – a free, public resource for guides on subjects ranging from Linux basics to complex multi-system configurations. We’ve given our docs a much needed facelift in our new Guides & Tutorials section of our site. This new format should make finding and following the guides much easier.

Our entire catalog of guides is now hosted on GitHub. While our guides have always been licensed under Creative Commons, we hope this makes it easier to contribute. Using GitHub, we’ve opened it up for you, the reader, to make recommendations on instructional revisions, suggest new guides on interesting topics, and ultimately contribute back to the community.

Our bounty program has also been streamlined. In addition to email, you can now submit a bounty article as a pull request on GitHub.

As always, our guides and tutorials are there for everyone to use, even those who aren’t Linode users yet. By making them available on GitHub, we can foster greater collaboration and get the best information to you, the reader. Enjoy!

July 24, 2014

Flock: Behind the Scenes 4

Another set of news and tips from the organization of Flock 2014:

Offline guide for Guidebook.com – I’ve published an offline guide for Guidebook.com. You can download their apps for Android or iOS and they even have a web mobile version, so you can use it on other platforms, too. The “Flock 2014″ is currently pending approval, but it should be available really soon (UPDATE: it’s been approved and is available!). The guide contains the conference schedule, maps (conference venue, how to get to parties, hotel,…), information about social events, lunches,  Diplomat Hotel, Sinkuleho dormitories, mobile data plans, public transport in Prague, taxi services, useful websites and apps for visiting Prague, numbers and contacts for emergency situations. You can also connect with other attendees through it or receive important messages from us, organizers, during the conference.

Some tips:

Transport in Prague – a lot of people ask about this because every Flock attendee will have to get around in Prague somehow. I strongly recommend you use public transport. The Prague public transport has been rated as 4th best in Europe. It’s safe, cheap and runs 24/7. You can find more info about it on the Transportation page at flocktofedora.org. Taxi drivers in Prague have generally a bad reputation because of overcharging. It’s not really necessary to take a taxi from the airport to Hotel Diplomat or Sinkuleho dormitories because it’s very easy and quick by bus. If you need to take a taxi, it’s better to order it via an app or call rather than flagging it down on a street. Recommended taxi companies:

  • Tick Tack – comfortable Audi A6 and A8 cars, accepts also credit cards or euros, multimedia passenger system where you can track the taxi on a map, watch TVs, wifi on board, power plugs, phone number: 14222.

Mobile Data Plans – many of us with smart phones can’t imagine being without Internet connection and data roaming is still pretty expensive in most countries. For this purpose, you can buy a Czech SIM card and prepay a data plan. There are three mobile network providers (Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2) and a handful of virtual operators (TESCO Mobile, Sazka Mobile, Mobil.cz,…). See emails from me and Jaroslav Řezník for data plans and price comparison. Vodafone has a store right in the arrivals hall of the Prague airport. T-Mobile and O2 have stores on Vítězné náměstí (Victory Square) which is just a few minutes from Diplomat Hotel and Sinkuleho dormitories. Mobile networks in the Czech Republic are based on GSM 900 and 1800, Edge, 3G and Prague should be fully covered by LTE.

Useful websites and apps for visiting Prague:

My Prague – interactive guide to Prague, hundreds of points of interest, web app at mypragueapp.com or in Google Play and App Store.

Prague Minos Guide – a comprehensive guide to Prague, hundreds of points of interest, offline maps,… in Google Play and App Store.

CG Transit – the best app for timetables and searching journeys, timetables are paid for, but have free one-month trials, in Google Play and App Store.

Other timetables and transport connection searching – website IDOS.cz, Pubtran (for Android), Jízdní řády iDNES.cz (for iPhone).

Google Maps use local timetables to find the best journey using public transport in Prague. The easest way to get around!

SMS ticket – an app that makes purchasing sms tickets for public transport faster and more convenient, but you still need to have a Czech sim card, Google Play, App Store.

Sejf – an app that allows you to pay for public transport tickets and other services (parking,…) even if you don’t have a Czech sim card, Google Play, App Store.

Czech Money – yes, the Czech Republic hasn’t adopted euro, but still has Czech crowns (CZK). The Czech National Bank has created an app to show what coins and banknotes look like and what are their security measurements so that you never get fooled by fake money. Google Play, App Store.
Lunchtime – lists daily lunch options in near restaurants, lunchtime.cz or in Google Play or App Store.

Cheapest Taxi Prague – an app that helps you order a taxi, in Google Play and App Store.

Taxi.eu – another app that helps you order a taxi, not only for Prague, in Google Play and App Store, or web app.

If you know other useful websites and apps I’ll be happy if you share them with others in comments.


July 22, 2014

Flock: Behind the Scenes 3

I’ve got another set of updates from the Flock organization for you:

Flock apps for BB10 and SailfishOS – Jaroslav Řezník has created a mobile app for those who are using Blackberry 10 system (is there anyone out there?). The Jolla phone and its SailfishOS has been quite popular among open source geeks. If you have one, check out an app that was created by Jozef Mlích. It’s available in the OpenRepos. So together with the Android app, I wrote about in the first article, we already have three apps. I’m also working on an offline guide for Guidebook.com.

Social events – we finally made a decision about social events (what, where, when). There will be one on Wednesday and the main one will be on Thursday. We’re also thinking about organizing an unofficial kind of gathering in some pub on Tuesday where you can come to meet others after you arrive to Prague and get accommodated.

Printouts – Sirko Kemter is working on conference booklets. The last thing he was missing was information about social events which is now solved. Ryan Lerch has prepared badges. They will be from the same vendor as last year, produced in the U.S. and brought to Prague. We’re looking for a volunteer who would help us with navigation signs and mainly schedules we will post on doors of lecture rooms.

And some tips for the promised section “Getting ready for the trip to Flock”:

  • Money – I’ve already been asked by several people what currency they should bring to the Czech Republic. Believe or not even though the Czech Republic is a member of the EU we don’t have euro. Our currency is Czech crown (CZK). Would you like to get more familiar with the Czech coins and bills? Download a mobile app release by The Czech National Bank. It will show you all details and security measurements.  You won’t make a mistake if you bring euros or US dollars because these are the most widely accepted foreign currencies in exchange offices. Euro is even accepted in some stores, restaurants, or gas stations. GBP or CHF are also fine while not as common as € or $. You’ll be able to exchange other currencies, too, but you most likely will get worse exchange rates. Payment cards (Mastercard, VISA) are quite widely accepted and if you need cash you can get it from ATMs which are at every corner. So I recommend you bring just little cash with you from home. And prices? The Czech Republic is a fairly cheap country. You can check a list of price samples by expact.cz or prices for tourists in Prague by PriceOfTravel.com.
  • Language – believe or not the language of the Czech Republic is not English (I met several people in Asia who were surprised that English is not the (only) native language in Europe), it’s… surprise, surprise… Czech. Czech is a West Slavic language which is very similar to Slovak, fairly similar to Polish and Slovenian, and only remotely similar to Russian and other East Slavic languages. I heard that some of Flock attendees’ve started learning Czech to make a nice touch while communicating with locals. Czech is said to be difficult, but read tips by an Irish polyglot who learned Czech in just 2 months and says it’s not difficult at all! The most common foreign language is English. Almost all people under 30 have learned it at primary and secondary school, but only 10% of the population rate their English proficiency as good. The second most common language is German. It used to compete with English for the status of the first foreign language, but has been completely ran over by English in the recent years, but is still the second foreign language at most schools. Other common foreign languages are French, Spanish, and Italian, but they have much fewer speakers here than English and German. Russian was a mandatory language at schools before 1989, but this language won’t help you much in the Czech Republic nowadays unfortunately. Most people who learned it don’t remember it any more because they learned it because they had to, not because they wanted to, and they never really practiced it.

July 20, 2014

OSCON 2014 – Crash Course in Open Source Cloud Computing

I’ll be presenting an updated version of my Crash Course on Open Source Cloud Computing presentation at OSCON 2014. I have some new material on Docker and SDN along with the latest updates on cloud software. Here’s the official excerpt:

The open source mantra is to release early and release often. That means software velocity can be difficult to keep up with. This discussion will expand on the latest open source software used to deliver and manage cloud computing infrastructure. Topics covered include virtualization (KVM, Xen Project, LXC), orchestration (OpenStack, CloudStack, Eucalyptus), and other complimentary technology.

Here’s the link to the slides on Slideshare.

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July 18, 2014

An invisible part of the Free Software Foundation Europe

In all organisations you have people, who do crucial work which is invisible to the public. But without them, the organisation would not function. In the FSFE, one of this people who takes care of a lot of invisible tasks is Reinhard Müller. After maintaining FSFE’s website, coordinating FSFE’s translation team, and taking care of our Fellowship database for many years, in 2007 he volunteered to be FSFE’s Financial Officer. With this post I want to offer you an insight into the invisible tasks performed by Reinhard.

Karsten and Reinhard working together Karsten, with FSCONS shirt, and Reinhard, with Mach Dich Frei shirt, working Matthias Kirschner CC BY-SA

July 14, 2014

Notes on basics of IP, Copyright and Trademarks

Some notes on a recent IP, Copyright and Trademarks event I recently went to. It would be a bit longish so please bear with me. As a Free and Open Source user and Practitioner and somebody who has an interest in copyleft (rather than copyright) I generally do not go to events which talk of […]

“Sometimes the best man for the job isn’t.”

The social and business value of having a diverse workforce is well documented.  Equally well documented is the relative lack of women in technology, and in open source.

At Canonical we are working hard to build a globally diverse workforce. We are well positioned to do so, particularly building on our open source roots, and in areas such as supporting geographic diversity we are quite successful.   However, in terms of gender diversity, women make up only 13% of Canonical and, slightly more encouragingly, 18% of our managers.   It is disappointing to me that despite having one of the most welcoming, collaborative, flexible and meritocratic environments I have known, we still have such a large gender disparity.

As a woman in technology and a CEO, I am aware of the power of positive examples.  While we need to learn from and eliminate the discouragement, barriers and illegal behaviour which continues to haunt women in technology, we should also celebrate the possibilities, highlight the opportunities and help illuminate a path for others to follow.  In that vein, I’d like to introduce you to a few of the amazing women in technical leadership roles in Canonical.

 

Alexis Bruemmer is the Engineering Manager for Canonical’s Juju team – a team of brilliant engineers working to make cloud orchestration easy, portable and flawless.  Alexis has been working in Linux since her graduation in 2005 and is passionate about open source.  Prior to Canonical, Alexis was at IBM’s Linux Technology Center.  Beyond her work as a professional, she is active in the community promoting STEM outreach as Vice Chair for Saturday Academy and long time member of Society of Women Engineers.

 

Ara Pulido is the Hardware Certification Manager at Canonical, leading the team that defines and ensures the quality bar for desktops and laptops pre-installed with Ubuntu. She discovered Free Software at college, where she was a founding member of the local LUG back in 2002. She joined Canonical 6 years ago in the Ubuntu Engineering QA team. You can follow her at https://twitter.com/arapulido.

 

Leann Ogasawara is the Engineering Manager for our Kernel Team, following a series of promotions at Canonical from Kernel QA to Kernel Engineer to overall team manager.  She has been involved in Linux and Open Source for over a decade.  Before coming to Canonical in 2007, Leann was at the Open Source Development Labs.

 

Pat Gaughen is the Engineering Manager for the fabulous Ubuntu Server and Openstack Development team.  She’s worked in Linux since 1999, and has been in love with Operating System internals for even longer. Prior to Canonical, Pat was at the IBM Linux Technology Center.

 

Roxanne Fan is the Quality Assurance Manager in our Devices Commercial Engineering team. She has been working in data mining for software quality improvement and automation tool development for the past 12 years. She wrote her Masters thesis on the performance of innovative routing for wireless sensor networks in the Ubuntu system. Before Canonical, she was at Pegatron Corp.

 

There are of course many reasons why women join and succeed at Canonical – great technology, inspirational colleagues, the opportunity to innovate, and to fundamentally have an impact on people’s mobile and cloud computing experiences.  Some of the less visible yet fundamental characteristics of Canonical which allow women to succeed in leadership positions include:

  • A commitment to a respectful, collaborative, meritocratic environment sets the stage. One of the earliest manifestations of this commitment was encoded in the Ubuntu Code of Conduct.  This clear statement of expectations has helped make the Ubuntu community a welcoming place for women, and applies in equal measure to Canonical.
  • Our recruitment philosophy of ‘hire only the best people’,  largely unrestricted by geographical boundaries, provides us with the opportunity to grow and support a diverse workforce.   It enables us to consider candidates of varying locations,  economic circumstances, gender, and physical ability.   Like all organisations we want the best person for the role, and leveraging our expertise in distributed, multi-cultural environments allows us to widen our recruiting net significantly.  Across all Canonical companies, our staff is 30% UK, 32% US, and 38% rest of world.  Those percentages are approximately the same when looking at all staff or management/leadership roles, thus providing excellent leadership opportunities in sometimes underserved markets.
  • We operate on a largely distributed environment and strive to support both home-based and office-based workers in equal measure.    With 75% of our employees working remotely we have an extremely high trust environment, thereby empowering employees to integrate working life with home life.  This approach has enabled us to retain men and women who otherwise may have left due to family demands.

I find the women above inspiring and am proud to work with them and many others of the same calibre. But we still have a long road to travel for our diversity figures to be where they should be.    As with the root causes of the problem, the solution is multi-faceted and complex.  We know that there is much more we can do to attract and retain greater diversity at Canonical, and are redoubling our efforts to do so.  As a first step, come join us!

July 11, 2014

FSFE’s German speaking team meeting 2014

From 13 – 15 June 2014 FSFE had its German speaking team meeting in the Linuxhotel in Essen. The participants had some problems to travel there because of the chaos resulting from a heavy thunderstorm in the region. A lot of train lines where not functional, and the situation on the streets was also chaotic. But just because no ICE trains stop in Essen does not mean we will not continue our work for Free Software. In the end we were able to bring all volunteers to the Linuxhotel.

The two buildings from Linuxhotel linuxhotel_landschaft Linuxhotel CC BY-SA

June 30, 2014

Scancation - Scanning the Standing Stones of the Outer Hebrides

I just came back from a vacation where Kio and I went and visited most of the megalithic monuments on the islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Stone circles are all over the place on these islands and the biggest one is the Callanish Stone Circle. One of the cool things about these places is that there is very little history known about them and so all you can know about them is from your experience of being around them. Most of them all taller than me and you get the sense that these places were the sacred spaces of 5000 years ago.

One of the things I say a lot at MakerBot is that they really make the most sense when you connect your MakerBot to your passion. Since I'm into rocks. I scanned a few of my favorite stones and ran them through 123D Catch which makes a 3D model from up to 70 photos of the object. It’s pretty cool to think that yesterday I was walking among these stones and today I’m printing them out on the MakerBots in my office. 

It’s interesting to note that this feels a lot like the old days of vacation film photography. The process of processing the photos into a 3D model feels a lot like when I used to develop celluloid film after a vacation.

Someday, printing 3D models will be normal for everyone, for now, it’s just normal for all the MakerBot operators in the world.

If you decide to go on your own scanning vacation, aka scancation, here’s my process and tips for acquiring models. I use a Canon S110 camera and then upload my photos later to the 123D Catch site and then upload all the models and a zip file of all the photos to Thingiverse because the photogrammetry software will get better someday and I want to have an archive of the photos so I can make better models later.

 

  • Lighting conditions matter. A cloudy sky is much better than a sunny one so that you can get all the details of your subject. 
  • Fill the frame, but make sure to leave some area around the object in the picture. 123D Catch uses reference points in the object to make everything fit together. 
  • Use all 70 pictures allowed by the software. The more pictures, the better the scan. 
  • Scan weird things. Sometimes the most iconic stuff of a location isn’t the most obvious. Some friends of mine scanned all of Canal St. in NYC and said the interesting parts were the giant piles of trash bags which are one of the local overlooked pieces of landscape art.
  • Don’t forget the top view. If you are capturing a subject that is tall, do your best to get above it and take a picture. A quadcopter could be handy for that
  • Fix it up with Netfabb. After I upload the photos into the 123D Catch online portal, then I use Netfabb basic to slice off all the weird parts and cut a flat bottom onto the object.
  • Make sure to upload your scans to Thingiverse. We can all make models of your SCANCATION. 

 

Do you have any other scanning tips for those that would like to experiment with vacation scanning? Leave them in the comments!

June 23, 2014

A country list - good for all

If you are a web developer, pc software programmer, app developer, Linux distro packager you have probably heard many complaints from your users about you list of countries and country codes.
Most of the complaint come from people not finding their country on the list. For example, Europe has changed a lot in the last two decades. Countries have dissolved and new ones were created. There are changes in Asia, Africa and in South America.

Keynote Devops Days Amsterdam – Hacking IT, Culture over Code Bringing Devops into your Organization

The organizers at Devops Days Amsterdam asked me to give the keynote this year. It was a great event and got to meet a lot of cool people. Here’s the abstract of the talk and slides:

The term DevOps has crossover over from a culture movement around improved IT delivery to a buzzword co-opted by headline minded journalists and companies who want to reinvent their antiquated practices by acquiring new talent. This presentation will talk about DevOps the movement, desired outcomes from DevOps practices and how to bring those practices to your organization especially those with entrenched practices that lack the agility, automation and other benefits of DevOps.

 

June 22, 2014

the meaning of a word

i learned the word "feminist" at my first job. I was 15 and a trainee engineer in a hydro power scheme. I recall one young man I worked with asking me urgently if i was a feminist. I asked what that was. he said, "women who hate men". oh.. i'm not one of them....

why would i get a job as the only woman deep in a power station if i hated men? It was a long long time before i heard any other definition of feminist.

June 20, 2014

Launceston June Meeting

G'day all

For this month's Launceston meeting, Phil will be giving us an introduction to NAS4Free, a BSD licenced fork/continuation of FreeNAS.

2:00pm
Saturday 28th June
Royal Oak
Launceston


As usual, some of us will be meeting for lunch beforehand at 1:00pm.

Hope to see you there!

Google Maps Link

NAS4Free Website
-----
Gov Hack 2014: June 11-13th (Hobart venue)
OpenStack 4th Birthday: June 17th (RSVP here: http://taslug-openstack.eventbrite.com.au/ )
Next Launceston meeting: 2:00pm July 26th (Topic TBC)

June 19, 2014

US Supreme Court makes the right decision to nix Alice Corp. patent, but more work needed to end software patents for good

The FSF, Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), and Open Source Initiative (OSI) had co-filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, stating their position that software on general-purpose computers is not patentable.

"Today's ruling is an important and meaningful step in the right direction, but the Court and Congress must go further," said Zak Rogoff, a campaigns manager at the FSF.

Software patents force software developers, especially those who write free software, to navigate a minefield of spurious legal claims. The number of software patents has ballooned as software companies have scrambled to amass arsenals of patents to threaten each other, as in the recently exposed aggression by Microsoft against Google over smartphone patents.

In the case ruled on today, Alice Corp. had claimed a patent for an unoriginal idea, simply because it was implemented in software to run on a computer.

FSF executive director John Sullivan lauded the Supreme Court for recognizing this: "For years, lawyers have been adding 'on a computer' to the end of abstract idea descriptions to try and turn them into patents, much like kids have been adding 'in bed' to the end of their fortune cookies to try and make new jokes. We're pleased to see the Court reject this attempt and send a signal to others."

For decades, the FSF has argued that it is impossible to solve the problem of software patents by getting individual software patents struck down. The FSF will continue to work for their complete abolition, and participate actively in future legal decisions. Those wishing to become involved in the grassroots movement against software patents can get started with the FSF-hosted End Software Patents project and its prominent wiki. An analysis of the Supreme Court's ruling is currently underway on the wiki and open for public participation.

Sullivan added, "Software patents are a noxious weed that needs to be ripped out by the roots. Too many organizations are clamoring for 'reform,' thinking they can trim the weed into a Bonsai. The FSF is one of the few organizations working for the only real solution. Software on general-purpose computers is not patentable, period."

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media Contacts

Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

###

June 16, 2014

11th Linode Birthday / $10 Linode plan

Linode opened its doors 11 years ago today, offering virtual servers with great service, and ultimately pioneering a new industry. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. It’s been fun to reminisce through the old forum posts from those formative years like this one and this one.

Many of the old posts echo the same sentiments that define us today: commitment to customer service, reliability, and common-sense approach to the tools we develop, our policies, and the way we run our business. Above all else, a commitment to our customers. Your feedback and input over the years has helped shape Linode into what it is today. And for that, we thank you. Some of that recent feedback has been for a smaller plan, and we’ve listened.

Introducing the Linode 1G – a $10/mo ($.015/hr) entry into our Linode plan lineup. This new Linode runs on the same 40 Gbps network, SSDs, and processing power as our larger plans. Likewise, inbound traffic is free and restricted only by link speed (40 Gbps).

Plan RAM SSD CPU XFER Outbound
Bandwidth
Price
Linode 1G 24 GB 1 core 2 TB 125 Mbps $0.015/hr | $10/mo

A note about the API and this new plan – the results of avail.linodeplans() have changed. Please make sure you’re using the correct PlanID for the desired plan.

Again, we’d like to thank you for your business and feedback. Enjoy!

June 11, 2014

Hobart meeting - June 19th - (The aptosid fullstory)

Welcome to June. Yep. short days... stout beers. And source. LOTS OF SOURCE! I'm in the
middle of my exam session at uni so won't have time to prepare the usual slides and news
this month.

When: Thursday, June 19th, 18:00 for an 18:30 start
Where: Upstairs, Hotel Soho, 124 Davey St, Hobart.

Agenda:

18:00 - early mingle, chin wagging, discussion and install issues etc

19:00 - Trevor Walkley - aptosid fullstory


    This months talk will be given by Trevor Walkley, an aptosid
    dev,(bluewater on IRC), on building an iso using aptosid fullstory
    scripts which are currently held on github (and the 'how to do it' is
    not well known).

    A live build will take place (hopefully debian sid will cooperate on the
    night) followed by a live installation of the build to the famous milk
    crate computer belonging Scott, (faulteh on IRC).

20:00 - Meeting end. Dinner and drinks are available at the venue during the meeting.

We will probably get to a discussion on the Hobart LCA 2017 bid, ideas for upcoming
Software Freedom Day in September, Committee nomination and voting,
so our pre-talk discussion should be packed full of jam.

Also in June:
28th - Launceston meeting
July:
11-13th - Gov Hack 2014 - There's at least a Hobart venue for this event.
17th - OpenStack 4th Birthday - RSVP here: http://taslug-openstack.eventbrite.com.au/
September:
20th - Software Freedom Day - events in Hobart and Launceston

June 10, 2014

Integrate ToDo.txt into Claws Mail

I use Claws Mail for many years now. I like to call it “the mutt mail client for people who prefer a graphical user interface”. Like Mutt, Claws is really powerful and allows you to adjust it exactly to your needs. During the last year I began to enjoy managing my open tasks with ToDo.txt. A powerful but still simple way to manage your tasks based on text files. This allows me not only to manage my tasks on my computer but also to keep it in sync with my mobile devices. But there is one thing I always missed. Often a task starts with an email conversation and I always wanted to be able to transfer a mail easily to as task in a way, that the task links back to the original mail conversation. Finally I found some time to make it happen and this is the result:

To integrate ToDo.txt into Claws-Mail I wrote the Python program mail2todotxt.py. You need to pass the path to the mail you want to add as parameter. By default the program will create a ToDo.txt task which looks like this:


<task_creation_date> <subject_of_the_mail> <link_to_the_mail>

Additionally you can call the program with the parameter “-i” to switch to the interactive mode. Now the program will ask you for a task description and will use the provided description instead of the mail subject. If you don’t enter a subscription the program will fall back to the mail subject as task description. To use the interactive mode you need to install the Gtk3 Python bindings.

To call this program directly from Claws Mail you need to go to Configuration->Actions and create a action to execute following command:


/path_to_mail2todotxt/mail2todotxt.py -i %f &

Just skip the -i parameter if you always want to use the subject as task description. Now you can execute the program for the selected mail by calling Tools->Actions-><The_name_you_chose_for_the_action>. Additional you can add a short-cut if you wish, e.g. I use “Ctrl-t” to create a new task.

Now that I’m able to transfer a mail to a ToDo.txt item I also want to go back to the mail while looking at my open tasks. Therefore I use the “open” action from Sebastian Heinlein which I extended with an handler to open claws mail links. After you added this action to your ~/.todo.action.d you can start Claws-Mail and jump directly to the referred mail by typing:


t open <task_number_which_referes_to_a_mail>

The original version of the “open” action can be found at Gitorious. The modified version you need to open the Claws-Mail links can be found here.

June 06, 2014

Tehnoetic, un adaptateur sans fil USB certifié FSF qui respecte votre liberté

BOSTON, Massachusetts, États-Unis – mercredi 21 mai 2014 – La Free Software Foundation (FSF) a attribué aujourd’hui la certification «Respecte votre liberté» (RYF) à l’adaptateur sans fil USB Tehnoetic TET-N150.

Bodhi 2 FAD

I just came back from the Bodhi 2 FAD in Denver.

I flew from Paris on Saturday 31st morning. Luke, Kevin, Ricky and I started hacking on Sunday morning, the other participants arriving during the day.

The first two days, I started with many small things, as a warm up: packaging in Fedora some of the Bodhi 2 dependencies, escaping raw HTML in forms, adding license headers to all files, fixing some small issues in the update management,...

On Tuesday I implemented the whole release management. This area is particularly lacking in Bodhi 1, but Bodhi 2 should be a big improvement:

  • releng can't create a new release in Bodhi 1 when branching it (i.e when creating it in Git, Koji, PkgDB,...) because we don't use Bodhi right away (we start using it only at Alpha freeze). With Bodhi 2, a release can be created but kept disabled, which fixes this annoyance
  • when a Fedora release reaches end-of-life, we delete it from the Bodhi 1 database, which makes us lose all metrics, and breaks all the URLs to the updates pushed for these old releases. With Bodhi 2, we can now « archive » an old release, so that it doesn't appear in the web UI any more, we can't push updates for it any more, but URLs of old updates will still work.
  • the Release Engineers regularly need to resort to a TurboGears 1 shell to enter some Python code in order to create / modify a release in Bodhi 1. Bodhi 2 now exposes a web API to manage releases, and a command-line tool which uses this API.

Before dinner, I then quickly implemented the file-based creation of updates as needed by « fedpkg update ».

On Wednesday, I started implementing the management of buildroot overrides, tagging the build appropriately in Koji, ... That's not all done though, so I'll try to finish it in the next few days. :-)

We also had some discussions about the mashing process. We haven't decided whether we'd use the koji-mash plugin I wrote, or the more generic « run any command as root » plugin, but now that we have a working staging instance of Koji we should be able to test them and take the decision.

Overall, it was a great event. We made lots of progress, and had tons of fun.

Finally, I'd like to thank Ralph for organizing the event, Kevin for picking me up at the airport on Saturday, Tim for bringing me to the airport on Thursday (at 7am!), and Red Hat for funding my trip.

It was my first FAD, and I loved it. Looking forward to the next one. :-)

May 23, 2014

European Elections: get out and vote!

The European Elections are happening this weekend. In Portugal, they're on Sunday, but my first message goes to all Europeans: go out and vote. You think we're heading in the right direction? Go out and say it. You think we're heading in the wrong direction? Go out and say it. You're not planning to go out and vote because you're fed up with politics and politicians? Well, if you're fed up with the ones you have, go out and vote for others - if you don't, others will choose for yourself, and you'll still be fed up. In summary: there's no reason not to vote.

Vote!

My second message goes towards the Portuguese people. I am not going to tell you how to vote: that's really up to you. You have a life, and your life is deeply impacted by European politics. The countries finances, the money you have on your pocket, even the currency you use, the taxes you pay, the choices you're able to make, the laws you have, the things you do. So, even if you think you're not, you're fully capable of choosing for yourself, and to choose who will better defend your interests. So, with that in mind, I urge you pay attention to the choices that are laid out in front of you. You have sixteen (16!) parties to choose from. Pick one, go out, vote.

These are your options next Sunday:


Aliança Portugal (AP: PSD + CDS-PP)
Bloco de Esquerda (BE)
Coligação Democrática Unitária (CDU: PCP + PEV)
Livre
Movimento Alternativa Socialista (MAS)
Nova Democracia (PND)
Partido Comunista dos Trabalhadores Portugueses (PCTP/MRPP)
Partido da Terra (MPT)
Partido Democrático do Atlântico (PDA)
Partido Nacional Renovador (PNR)
Partido Operário de Unidade Socialista (POUS)
Partido pelos Animais e pela Natureza (PAN)
Partido Popular Monárquico (PPM)
Partido Socialista (PS)
Partido Trabalhista Português (PTP)
Portugal pro Vida (PPV)

I've also made a small summary and comparison text about the position of these parties, if you're interested. I'm sorry it isn't as complete as I wished it to be, but it might be helpful all the same. If you're interested, read it here.

Sunday is a great day: one of those days you can make a difference, where you can speak up and say what do you want in your life, your future. Don't let others decide for you. Vote!

May 07, 2014

gom in Fedora

I've been experimenting with gom, the GObject data mapper recently.

With a lot of help from Bastien Nocera, I eventually managed to get started using it as an experiment for one of my projects.

I have to say I'm quite impressed. Sure, writing GObject code is super verbose, but then managing objects and properties is so much nicer than managing strings full of SQL queries. And I hear the verbosity might be greatly reduced in the near future! :-D

Long story short, I've started building gom packages from Git snapshots in a Copr.

I'll eventually push it to Fedora proper, but I'd rather wait for an actual release. Maybe in time for GNOME 3.14?

In the meantime, if you want to try it out, go grab the packages from the Copr. Gom is under quick development, and now is a great time to test it and ensure it has the features your application needs. For example, I needed boolean properties and columns with a UNIQUE constraint, and both are now possible in master. :-)

Now to play some more with it...

April 23, 2014

U talking to me?

This upstirring undertaking Ubuntu is, as my colleague MPT explains, performance art. Not only must it be art, it must also perform, and that on a deadline. So many thanks and much credit to the teams and individuals who made our most recent release, the Trusty Tahr, into the gem of 14.04 LTS. And after the uproarious ululation and post-release respite, it’s time to open the floodgates to umpteen pent-up changes and begin shaping our next show.

The discipline of an LTS constrains our creativity – our users appreciate the results of a focused effort on performance and stability and maintainability, and we appreciate the spring cleaning that comes with a focus on technical debt. But the point of spring cleaning is to make room for fresh ideas and new art, and our next release has to raise the roof in that regard. And what a spectacular time to be unleashing creativity in Ubuntu. We have the foundations of convergence so beautifully demonstrated by our core apps teams – with examples that shine on phone and tablet and PC. And we have equally interesting innovation landed in the foundational LXC 1.0, the fastest, lightest virtual machines on the planet, born and raised on Ubuntu. With an LTS hot off the press, now is the time to refresh the foundations of the next generation of Linux: faster, smaller, better scaled and better maintained. We’re in a unique position to bring useful change to the ubiquitary Ubuntu developer, that hardy and precise pioneer of frontiers new and potent.

That future Ubuntu developer wants to deliver app updates instantly to users everywhere; we can make that possible. They want to deploy distributed brilliance instantly on all the clouds and all the hardware. We’ll make that possible. They want PAAS and SAAS and an Internet of Things that Don’t Bite, let’s make that possible. If free software is to fulfil its true promise it needs to be useful for people putting precious parts into production, and we’ll stand by our commitment that Ubuntu be the most useful platform for free software developers who carry the responsibilities of Dev and Ops.

It’s a good time to shine a light on umbrageous if understandably imminent undulations in the landscape we love – time to bring systemd to the centre of Ubuntu, time to untwist ourselves from Python 2.x and time to walk a little uphill and, thereby, upstream. Time to purge the ugsome and prune the unusable. We’ve all got our ucky code, and now’s a good time to stand united in favour of the useful over the uncolike and the utile over the uncous. It’s not a time to become unhinged or ultrafidian, just a time for careful review and consideration of business as usual.

So bring your upstanding best to the table – or the forum – or the mailing list – and let’s make something amazing. Something unified and upright, something about which we can be universally proud. And since we’re getting that once-every-two-years chance to make fresh starts and dream unconstrained dreams about what the future should look like, we may as well go all out and give it a dreamlike name. Let’s get going on the utopic unicorn. Give it stick. See you at vUDS.

April 17, 2014

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Today is a big day for Ubuntu and a big day for cloud computing: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is released. Everyone involved with Ubuntu can’t help but be impressed and stirred about the significance of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

We are impressed because Ubuntu is gaining extensive traction outside of the tech luminaries such as Netflix, Snapchat and wider DevOP community; it is being adopted by mainstream enterprises such as BestBuy. Ubuntu is dominant in public cloud with typically 60% market share of Linux workloads in the major cloud providers such as Amazon, Azure and Joyent. Ubuntu Server also is the fastest growing platform for scale out web computing having overtaken CentOS some six months ago. So Ubuntu server is growing up and we are proud of what it has become. We are stirred up by how the adoption of Ubuntu, coupled with the adoption of cloud and scale out computing is set grow enormously as it fast becomes an ‘enterprise’ technology.

Recently 70% of CIOs stated that they are going to change their technology and sourcing relationships within the next two or three years. This is in large part due to their planned transition to cloud, be it on premise using technologies such as Ubuntu OpenStack, in a public cloud or, most commonly, using combinations of both. Since the beginning of Ubuntu Server we have been preparing for this time, the time when a wholesale technology infrastructure change occurs and Ubuntu 14.04 arrives just as the change is starting to accelerate beyond the early adopters and technology companies. Enterprises now moving parts of their infrastructure to cloud can choose the technology best suited for the job: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS:

Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS at a glance

  • Based on version 3.13 of the Linux kernel

  • Includes the Icehouse release of OpenStack

  • Both Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS and OpenStack are supported until April 2019

  • Includes MAAS for automated hardware provisioning

  • Includes Juju for fast service deployment of 100+ common scale out applications such as MongoDB, Hadoop, node.js, Cloudfoundry, LAMP stack and Elastic Search

  • Ceph Firefly support

  • Openvswitch  2.0.x

  • Docker included & Docker’s own repository now populated with official     Ubuntu 14.04 images

  • Optimised Ubuntu 14.04 images certified for use on all leading public cloud     platforms – Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Joyent Cloud, HP Cloud, Rackspace Cloud, CloudSigma and many others.

  • Runs on key hardware architectures: x86, x64,  Avoton, ARM64, POWER Systems

  • 50+ systems certified at launch from leading hardware vendors such as HP, Dell, IBM, Cisco and SeaMicro.

The advent of OpenStack, the switch to scale out computing and the move towards public cloud providers presents a perfect storm out of which Ubuntu is set to emerge the technology used ubiquitously for the next decade. That is why we are impressed and stirred by Ubuntu 14.04. We hope you are too. Download 14.04 LTS here

April 06, 2014

Books and Music in 2013

Another year gone. Just like in years before, here's a recommendation of music and books, from what has been released during the year (in the case of music), and what I've read in 2013 (for books). Note that there are other, great 2013 music releases, that I only got my hands on in 2014, and those aren't on this list. Without further ado:

Books:


* Neal Stephenson - The Mongoliad (Books 2 and 3)
* Iain M. Banks - The Hydrogen Sonata
* Cory Doctorow's fiction - The Rapture of Nerds and Pirate Cinema
* Music - Looking For Europe
* Tech - Videojogos em Portugal

Music:


* Kokori - Release Candid Hate (Vinyl)
* Gvar - Vraii (Cass)
* Charanga - Borda Tu! (CD)
* Dismal - Giostra Di Vapori (CD)
* Mindless Self Indulgence - How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love Mindless Self Indulgence (CD)

March 30, 2014

Upcoming Greenboard deployment

fossasia-group-sOver the past few months we have been busy introducing the Greenboard project in a few places, namely at Teach for China in Shantou and at FOSSASIA in Phnom Penh to name just two places. Both have been very interested in the concept, its flexibility, past deployments and more importantly using it within their environment.

greenboard-teamWe are now working on refurbishing a classroom of sixty computers in a school not too far from Shantou, classroom which was installed ten years ago and has never ever been used. Of course not all the machines start (in fact only 15 out of 60) but the room is properly set up and looks like a very nice place to start in the region. The people we are working with from Teach for China are very motivated as well which brings a lot to the equation.

usaidOn the Cambodian side, the discussions we had with USAID and the representative from the Ministry of Education were very positive too. We will have further discussions during April and need to start checking the translation status of all the components we use. Luckily the person in charge of packaging Greenboard happens to be Cambodian too!

All in all we are pretty excited about what’s coming ahead of us and will work hard to make it happen. Stay connected to learn more as the projects move forward!

March 29, 2014

Upcoming Greenboard deployments

Over the past few months we have been busy introducing the Greenboard project in a few places, namely at Teach for China in Shantou and at FOSSASIA in Phnom Penh to name just two places. Both have been very interested in the concept, its flexibility, past deployments and more importantly using it within their environment.

We are now working on refurbishing a classroom of sixty computers in a school not too far from Shantou, classroom which was installed ten years ago and has never ever been used. Of course not all the machines start (in fact only 15 out of 60) but the room is properly set up and looks like a very nice place to start in the region. The people we are working with from Teach for ChinaTeach for China are very motivated as well which brings a lot to the equation.

On the Cambodian side, the discussions we had with USAID and the representative from the Ministry of Education were very positive too. We will have further discussions during April and need to start checking the translation status of all the components we use. Luckily the person in charge of packaging Greenboard happens to be Cambodian too!

All in all we are pretty excited about what's coming ahead of us and will work hard to make it happen. Stay connected to learn more as the projects move forward!

March 28, 2014

Promote OpenClipart on Culture Freedom Day!

As Culture Freedom Day preparation is ongoing I got the chance to meet up with Jon Philips from the Open Clipart Library during FOSSASIA.I actually got to know Jon since about 2007 from the Beijing LUG and we have been doing quite a few things together. CFD events is of course something he definitely cares about. While at the Digital Freedom Foundation we make extensive use of all the great graphics from OpenClipart for our design needs, it is important to help others discover such a useful resource. So Jon kindly authored a video to support us and encourage participants to take a closer look at the Open Clipart Library new website design and functionalities. So without further ado I will let Jon do the presentation and thank him and the Open Clipart Library team for their support! And of course don’t forget to use and showcase the Open Clipart Library at your CFD event!

Celebrate Free Culture with us on May 17!

Promote OpenClipart on Culture Freedom Day!

As Culture Freedom Day preparation is ongoing we got the chance to meet up with Jon Philips from the Open Clipart Library, a good friend of ours and a strong supporter of our events. Jon kindly authored a video to support us and encourage participants to take a closer look at the Open Clipart Library new website design and functionalities. So without further ado we will let Jon do the presentation and thank him and the Open Clipart team for their support!

So don't forget to use and showcase the Open Clipart Library at your event!

March 27, 2014

LulZbot HFD contest results announced!

Last Monday LulZbot announced the 3D printer winners. Instead of selecting eight they actually picked twelve out of all the submissions, from which five are out of the USA. First we would really like to thank LulZbot for the generosity and offering more printers than planned. Second while we are a bit late on the announcement, all the competition participants did receive an email early Monday morning to let them know the results, which is a very nice thing to do. Now it is just a matter of time before the winners can enjoy their new tool and take part in the other contests LulZbot runs regularly.

For the others you can either buy one now at a discounted price or wait until the next opportunity to play again. Thank you all for participating!

March 17, 2014

ACPI, firmware and your security

ACPI comes from an era when the operating system was proprietary and couldn’t be changed by the hardware manufacturer.

We don’t live in that era any more.

However, we DO live in an era where any firmware code running on your phone, tablet, PC, TV, wifi router, washing machine, server, or the server running the cloud your SAAS app is running on, is a threat vector against you.

If you read the catalogue of spy tools and digital weaponry provided to us by Edward Snowden, you’ll see that firmware on your device is the NSA’s best friend. Your biggest mistake might be to assume that the NSA is the only institution abusing this position of trust – in fact, it’s reasonable to assume that all firmware is a cesspool of insecurity courtesy of incompetence of the worst degree from manufacturers, and competence of the highest degree from a very wide range of such agencies.

In ye olden days, a manufacturer would ship Windows, which could not be changed, and they wanted to innovate on the motherboard, so they used firmware to present a standard interface for things like power management to a platform that could not modified to accommodate their innovation.

Today, that same manufacturer can innovate on the hardware and publish a patch for Linux to express that innovation – and Linux is almost certainly the platform that matters. If Windows enters this market then the Windows driver model can evolve to give manufacturers this same ability to innovate in the Windows world, where proprietary unverifiable blobs are the norm.

Arguing for ACPI on your next-generation device is arguing for a trojan horse of monumental proportions to be installed in your living room and in your data centre. I’ve been to Troy, there is not much left.

We’ve spent a good deal of time working towards a world where you can inspect the code that is running on any device you run. In Ubuntu we work hard to make sure that any issues in that code can be fixed and delivered right away to millions of users. Bruce Schneier wisely calls security a process, not a product. But the processes for finding and fixing problems in firmware are non-existent and not improving.

I would very much like to be part of FIXING the security problem we engineers have created in our rush to ship products in the olden days. I’m totally committed to that.

So from my perspective:

  • Upstream kernel is the place to deliver the software portion of the innovation you’re selling. We have great processes now to deliver that innovation to users, and the same processes help us improve security and efficiency too.
  • Declarative firmware that describes hardware linkages and dependencies but doesn’t include executable code is the best chance we have of real bottom-up security. The Linux device tree is a very good starting point. We have work to do to improve it, and we need to recognise the importance of being able to fix declarations over the life of a product, but we must not introduce blobs in order to short cut that process.

Let’s do this right. Each generation gets its turn to define the platforms it wants to pass on – let’s pass on something we can be proud of.

Our mission in Ubuntu is to give the world’s people a free platform they can trust.  I suspect a lot of the Linux community is motivated by the same goal regardless of their distro. That also means finding ways to ensure that those trustworthy platforms can’t be compromised elsewhere. We can help vendors innovate AND ensure that users have a fighting chance of privacy and security in this brave new world. But we can’t do that if we cling to the tools of the past. Don’t cave in to expediency. Design a better future, it really can be much healthier than the present if we care and act accordingly.

 

February 21, 2014

Some updates (EFD, Greenboard, etc)

We are getting back with some good and bad news. On the bad side we will not be able to run any Education Freedom Day event in Hong Kong this year as we actually need to take care of some urgent personal problems. On the good news side we will be discussing with several organizations in the coming weeks about Greenboard deployments including Teach For China in Shantou this weekend and more located in Cambodia next weekend. We are very excited about those potential opportunities and hope to have a lot more to tell soon. And of course you can definitely attend our next development session here in Hong Kong and get a better feeling about some of the things we do. Thanks and happy FOSS'ing!

February 14, 2014

hostnames as commands

Several years ago, I adopted a practice I've realized I should write down. I have two shell scripts that live in ~/bin/:
james.mojo.home ~ $ cat bin/ssh-host
#!/bin/bash

start=`date`
remote_host=`basename $0`
if ! ssh $remote_host $*; then
echo from $start to
date
fi
james.mojo.home ~ $ cat bin/mosh-host
#!/bin/bash

start=`date`
remote_host=`basename $0`
if ! mosh $remote_host -- $*; then
echo from $start to
date
fi
And I have many symlinks in ~/bin/ that point to those scripts. For example:
lrwxr-xr-x 1 moquist staff 8 Jul 12 2013 aristotle -> ssh-host
lrwxr-xr-x 1 moquist staff 8 Jul 12 2013 bhs.somedomain.com -> ssh-host 
lrwxr-xr-x 1 moquist staff 8 Jul 12 2013 devserver.somedomain.com -> mosh-host 

Of course I also have ~/.ssh/config set up, and my SSH keys are all in the appropriate ~/.ssh/authorized_keys files on remove systems.

But once all that's done, if I want to log in to a system, I can just type the name of the system (with tab completion). If I want to pipe something into or out of a command on a remote system (via ssh-host only), the system name just becomes another command:
james.mojo.home ~ $ aristotle "w | grep eviluser || echo eviluser is absent"
eviluser is absent
james.mojo.home ~ $ aristotle cat somefile | grep bits-i-want
### elided ###
james.mojo.home ~ $ for h in aristotle plato plantinga kant; do echo ====$h====; $h ls | grep lostfile; done
Obviously these are contrived examples, and there are plenty of other ways to do the same things. I've just found it convenient to think of hosts as commands, and this approach has let me do that.


January 29, 2014

Pete Seeger

Hearing of Pete Seeger's passing hit me hard today. His work to revive folk music and use music as a powerful weapon for positivity in the world inspired me.

In 1992 I went to Kobe Japan and studied at a college there and then stayed with a lovely Japanese family in Yao, Osaka. I fell in love with American style, old timey, banjo music in Japan.

While I was in Kobe, my friend Joe Pepi Benge, an avid banjo player, took me to Shaggy's which was a western bluegrass bar that played the best authentic old timey and bluegrass music. Everyone but us was Japanese. In Japan, people take their hobbies SERIOUSLY and the Japanese guys had studied Scruggs and then kept going. They were fantastic. Pepi was pretty good too!

It was the first time I'd heard American folk music and I fell hard for it. I returned to the states, Claudia bought me a banjo, and I got Pete Seeger's book and checked his records out of the library and made cassette copies.

A week later I wrecked my bike and gave myself a good gash and spent the rest of the summer learning to play banjo when I wasn't limping around. A few years later, in London, I met Tom Paley of the Lost City Ramblers at the Cecil Sharpe House and bought a fiddle off of him. 

For a few years, I thought that I might have a future as a professional banjo player. It turns out I'm not gifted with a great singing voice and while I can read music easily, I don't have an ear for picking up tunes easily.

Playing banjo is one of the things that makes me happy. It's really hard to be miserable while playing the banjo. Pete Seeger gave me hope that doing art and following your passion can lead to wonderful things and have an impact on the world. I admire his work and I love that his banjo said, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."

January 07, 2014

Rescheduling EFD

As we are getting ready for Education Freedom Day we obviously did not plan that the Christmas holiday season would delay some of the logistic. In view of the current status and the nearby Chinese New Year we have decided to move our EFD celebration around end of February or early March in Hong Kong. So please keep posted and we will announce the exact date within a week.

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Digital Freedom International (Aka SFI) is the non-profit organization at the origin of SFD and CFD. DFI handles sponsorship contracts, official team registrations, sending out schwags to teams, the annual Best Event Competition and many other things. Hundreds of teams around the world manage the local celebration and help to send out a global message. So do drop by and attend an SFD and CFD event nearby!

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