Debian

OpenSource.com Test-Drives Linux Distros From 1993 To 2003 (opensource.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes OpenSource.com: A unique trait of open source is that it's never truly EOL (End of Life). The disc images mostly remain online, and their licenses don't expire, so going back and installing an old version of Linux in a virtual machine and getting a precise picture of what progress Linux has made over the years is relatively simple... Whether you're new to Linux, or whether you're such an old hand that most of these screenshots have been more biographical than historical, it's good to be able to look back at how one of the largest open source projects in the world has developed. More importantly, it's exciting to think of where Linux is headed and how we can all be a part of that, starting now, and for years to come.
The article looks at seven distros -- Slackware 1.01 (1993), Debian 0.91 (1994), Jurix/S.u.S.E. (1996), SUSE 5.1 (1998), Red Hat 6.0 (1999), Mandrake 8.0 (2001), and Fedora 1 (2003). Click through for some of the highlights.
Robotics

MegaBots Is Finally Going To Take On Japan In the World's First Giant Robot Duel (qz.com) 38

A company called MegaBots released a video two years ago challenging a Japanese collective to a giant robot fight. About a week later, the Japanese group, Suidobashi Heavy Industry, agreed. Now, according to MegaBots co-founderes, Matt Oehrlein and Gui Cavalcanti, the battle is set to take place in September. Quartz reports: The battle would have happened a bit sooner, but apparently there have been "logistical issues at the originally-chosen venue," according to a release shared with Quartz by MegaBots. Unfortunately for fans hoping to see the battle in action -- presumably including those who backed the Kickstarter project to the tune of $550,000 to bring this robot to life -- the event will be closed to the public and recorded, for fears over the teams' ability to keep spectators safe. (One of the earliest conversations MegaBots had with Suidobashi was trying to figure out how the human pilots inside the robots would themselves "figure out how to not die.") Fans will be able to watch the fight on MegaBots' Facebook and YouTube sites, but it's not clear whether the fight will be live.
Windows

Microsoft's 'Windows Subsystem For Linux' Finally Leaves Beta (microsoft.com) 163

An anonymous reader quotes Microsoft's Developer blog: Early adopters on the Windows Insider program will notice that Windows Subsystem for Linux is no longer marked as a beta feature as of Insider build 16251. This will be great news for those who've held-back from employing WSL as a mainline toolset: You'll now be able to leverage WSL as a day-to-day developer toolset, and become ever more productive when building, testing, deploying, and managing your apps and systems on Windows 10... What will change is that you will gain the added advantage of being able to file issues on WSL and its Windows tooling via our normal support mechanisms if you want/need to follow a more formal issue resolution process. You can also provide feedback via Windows 10 Feedback Hub app, which delivers feedback directly to the team.
Microsoft points out that distro-publishers are still responsible for supporting and fixing the internals of their distros -- and they have no plans to support X/GUI apps or desktops. And of course, Linux files are not currently accessible from Windows -- though Microsoft says they're working on a fix.
Firefox

Chrome and Firefox Headless Modes May Spur New Adware & Clickfraud Tactics (bleepingcomputer.com) 80

From a report: During the past month, both Google and Mozilla developers have added support in their respective browsers for "headless mode," a mechanism that allows browsers to run silently in the OS background and with no visible GUI. [...] While this feature sounds very useful for developers and very uninteresting for day-to-day users, it is excellent news for malware authors, and especially for the ones dabbling with adware. In the future, adware or clickfraud bots could boot-up Chrome or Firefox in headless mode (no visible GUI), load pages, and click on ads without the user's knowledge. The adware won't need to include or download any extra tools and could use locally installed software to perform most of its malicious actions. In the past, there have been quite a few adware families that used headless browsers to perform clickfraud. Martijn Grooten, an editor at Virus Bulletin, also pointed Bleeping Computer to a report where miscreants had abused PhantomJS, a headless browser, to post forum spam. The addition of headless mode in Chrome and Firefox will most likely provide adware devs with a new method of performing surreptitious ad clicks.
Displays

Xerox Alto Designer, Co-Inventor Of Ethernet, Dies at 74 (arstechnica.com) 96

An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: Charles Thacker, one of the lead hardware designers on the Xerox Alto, the first modern personal computer, died of a brief illness on Monday. He was 74. The Alto, which was released in 1973 but was never a commercial success, was an incredibly influential machine... Thomas Haigh, a computer historian and professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, wrote in an email to Ars, "Alto is the direct ancestor of today's personal computers. It provided the model: GUI, windows, high-resolution screen, Ethernet, mouse, etc. that the computer industry spent the next 15 years catching up to. Of course others like Alan Kay and Butler Lampson spent years evolving the software side of the platform, but without Thacker's creation of what was, by the standards of the early 1970s, an amazingly powerful personal hardware platform, none of that other work would have been possible."
In 1999 Thacker also designed the hardware for Microsoft's Tablet PC, "which was first conceived of by his PARC colleague Alan Kay during the early 1970s," according to the article. "I've found over my career that it's been very difficult to predict the future," Thacker said in a guest lecture in 2013. "People who tried to do it generally wind up being wrong."
AI

Startup Uses AI To Create Programs From Simple Screenshots (siliconangle.com) 89

An anonymous reader shares an article: A new neural network being built by a Danish startup called UIzard Technologies IVS has created an application that can transform raw designs of graphical user interfaces into actual source code that can be used to build them. Company founder Tony Beltramelli has just published a research paper that reveals how it has achieved that. It uses cutting-edge machine learning technologies to create a neural network that can generate code automatically when it's fed with screenshots of a GUI. The Pix2Code model actually outperforms many human coders because it can create code for three separate platforms, including Android, iOS and "web-based technologies," whereas many programmers are only able to do so for one platform. Pix2Code can create GUIs from screenshots with an accuracy of 77 percent, but that will improve as the algorithm learns more, the founder said.
Networking

Netgear Adds Support For "Collecting Analytics Data" To Popular R7000 Router 110

An anonymous reader writes: Netgear's latest firmware update for the R7000 includes new support for collecting analytics data. The update release notes include this caution:

NOTE:It is strongly recommended that after the firmware is updated to this version, log back in to the router s web GUI and configure the settings for this feature.

An article on Netgear's KB states updated last week that Netgear collects information including IP addresses, MAC, certain WiFi information, and information about connected devices.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Troll With 'Stupid Patent' Sues EFF. EFF Sues Them Back (arstechnica.com) 68

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued an Australian company that it previously dubbed as a 'classic patent troll' in a June 2016 blog post entitled: Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer." An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: Last year, that company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove its post -- but EFF did not comply. In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply. The new lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the U.S.
GEMSA's attorneys reportedly threatened to have the EFF's post de-indexed from search engine listings -- on the basis of the Australian court order -- so now the EFF "seeks a court order declaring the Australian injunction 'repugnant' to the U.S. Constitution and unenforceable in the United States."

The Register reports that GEMSA has already sued 37 companies, "including big-name tech companies Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, and eBay. In each case, GEMSA accused the company's website design of somehow trampling on the GUI patent without permission." But things were different after the EFF's article, according to Courthouse News. "GEMSA said the article made it harder to enforce its patents in the United States, citing its legal opponents' 'reduced interest in pursuing pre-trial settlement negotiations.'"
Bug

Cisco Patches 'Prime Home' Flaw That Allowed Hackers To Reach Into People's Homes (helpnetsecurity.com) 19

Orome1 quotes a report from Help Net Security: Cisco has patched a critical authentication bypass vulnerability that could allow attackers to completely take over Cisco Prime Home installations, and through them mess with subscribers' home network and devices. The vulnerability (CVE-2017-3791), found internally by Cisco security testers, affects the platform's web-based GUI, and can be exploited by remote attackers to bypass authentication and execute any action in Cisco Prime Home with administrator privileges. No user interaction is needed for the exploit to work, and exploitation couldn't be simpler: an attacker just needs to send API commands via HTTP to a particular URL. The bug exists in versions 6.4 and later of Cisco Prime Home, but does not affect versions 5.2 and earlier. "Administrators can verify whether they are running an affected version by opening the Prime Home URL in their browser and checking the Version: line in the login window. If currently logged in, the version information can be viewed in the bottom left of the Prime Home GUI footer, next to the Cisco Prime Home text," Cisco instructed in the security advisory.
NES (Games)

Hackers Unlock NES Classic, Upload New Games Via USB Cable (arstechnica.com) 86

Just because Nintendo doesn't officially let their tiny replica NES receive new games doesn't mean hackers won't find a way to add their own. This week, hackers in Japan and Russia figured out soft-mod solutions to adding new games to the NES Classic, meaning you don't need to grab a screwdriver or a soldering iron to mod your own console. Ars Technica reports: According to the whiz kids at Reddit's NESClassicMods community, the solution won't work until you've created a save file in Super Mario Bros' first slot. (Chances are, you've already done this just by playing the game, since creating game saves is so easy with this system.) Once you've done that, connect your NES Classic Edition to a computer via a micro-USB cable, then boot the NES in "FEL" mode. This is done by holding down the system's reset button while pushing down the power button from a powered-off state. While you're booting, you should also run a "sunxi-FEL" interface on your computer. (An open-source version of compatible "USBBoot" software can be found here.) The rest of the steps land firmly in "operate at your own risk" territory, as they require copying your NES Classic's internal data to your computer, then modifying and adding files via an application made by hackers. Doing so, by the way, includes the dubious step of supplying your own ROM files, which you may have either dumped from your own cartridges or downloaded from other Internet users. One tool linked from that Reddit community, however, comes with two open-source NES ROMs that are in the legal free-and-clear to upload to your hardware. Once you've added your own game files, which should also include custom JPGs that will appear in the NES Classic's "box art" GUI, you'll have to repack the hardware's kernel, then fully flash the hardware yourself. Do all of those steps correctly, and you'll see every single game you've added appear in the slick, default interface.
Open Source

A Windows 10 Alternative: Ubuntu-Based Zorin OS Linux Distro (betanews.com) 191

"With a click of a button, you can change the desktop layout to match that of Windows versions and Gnome 3. The Ultimate edition...also features Ubuntu, Gnome 2 and macOS-like layouts." BrianFagioli shares an article about a Linux-based operating system "designed for Windows-switchers." While the company does charge for an "Ultimate" version, the "Core" edition of Zorin OS 12 is entirely free... "As Zorin OS 12 is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, it will be supported with security updates until April 2021. This makes Zorin OS 12 the ideal choice for large deployments in businesses, governments, schools and organisations", says The Zorin OS Team"... Zorin OS features some really great features, such as Google Drive integration with the file browser.
Although unlike Windows 10, its default browser is Chromium.
Software

cURL Author Is Getting Tech Support Emails From Car Owners (daniel.haxx.se) 141

AmiMoJo writes: The author of the popular cURL utility has been receiving requests for help from frustrated car owners having difficulty with their infotainment systems... [B]ecause his email address is listed on the "about" screen, as required by the cURL license, some desperate users are reaching out to him in the hopes of finding a solution.
It sounds annoying to receive complaints like "why there delay between audio and video when connect throw Bluetooth and how to fix it." But though he rarely answers them, Stenberg writes that "I actually find these emails interesting, sometimes charming and they help me connect to the reality many people experience out there."

In a post titled "I have toyota corola," Stenberg says "I suspect my email address is just about the only address listed. This occasionally makes desperate users who have tried everything to eventually reach out to me. They can't fix their problem but since my email exists in their car, surely I can!"
Operating Systems

Antivirus Firm Kaspersky Launches Its Own Hackproof OS, Based On Microkernel (fossbytes.com) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fossbytes: Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity and antivirus company, has announced their new operating system which was in development for the last 14 years. Dubbed as Kaspersky OS, it has made its debut on a Kraftway Layer 3 Switch. Not many details have been revealed by the CEO Eugene Kaspersky in his blog post. The GUI-less OS -- as it appears in the image -- has been designed from scratch and Eugene said it doesn't have "even the slightest smell of Linux." He actually tagged "Kaspersky OS being non-Linux" as one of the three main distinctive features he mentioned. The other two features he briefly described are rather fascinating. The first feature is that the Kaspersky OS is based on microkernel architecture, which basically means using the minimum amount of ingredients to bake your own operating system. The OS can be custom-designed as per requirements by using different modification blocks. The second distinctive feature is the inbuilt security system which can control application behavior and OS modules. It touts Kaspersky OS as practically unhackable, unless a cyber-baddie has a quantum computer -- which will be required to crack the digital signature of the platform -- at his disposal.
Microsoft

There's Bugs In The Windows 10 Implementation of Bash (altervista.org) 163

First-time submitter Big O Notation shares "an honest review about the new Ubuntu Bash" that shipped with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. While it's still officially beta, most of the commands work as expected, and it includes popular programs like the Pico text editor. Here's some of the review's highlights: Pros: You can also manage and manipulate other files inside your entire Hard Disk, even those outside of your Linux home directory.
Cons: Even if you chmod something properly, when you use ls -l the Bash would not show the correct permissions. [And] if you try to create a Folder in your Linux Home Directory by using the Windows GUI, it would be impossible to read and manage it. Don't try this at home.

Microsoft says they've included the Windows Subsystem for Linux primarily as "a tool for developers -- especially web developers and those who work on or with open source projects." One Scandinavian developer has even tried running X on Bash on Ubuntu on Windows, reporting success running simpler programs like xcalc and xclock, as well as Gnome Control Center and xeditor and SciTE. "Things start to fall apart if you try to get more ambitious, though."
Ubuntu

Ubuntu-Based Elementary OS 0.4 'Loki' Achieves Stable Release (elementary.io) 72

"Today, Elementary 0.4 (code-named 'Loki'), achieves stable status," BetaNews reported Friday, applauding the "clean and functional" app tiles in its software center. Elementary OS (stylized as elementary OS) isn't the most popular Linux distro, and it certainly isn't the best. However, this Ubuntu-based operating system is focusing on something that some competitors do not -- user interface, which ultimately contributes to the overall user experience. It is because of this that Elementary is so important to the Linux community -- it matters.
Developers focused on internationalization for this release, part of an effort to "grow the market" for open-souce software, according to the elementary blog, which proudly points out that 73% of the 1.2 million downloads for their "design-oriented" OS came from closed-source operating systems.
GUI

Fedora 25 To Run Wayland By Default Instead Of X.Org Server (phoronix.com) 151

An anonymous reader writes: Fedora 25 will finally be the first release for this Linux distribution -- and the first tier-one desktop Linux OS at large -- that is going ahead and using Wayland by default. Wayland has been talked about for years as a replacement to the xorg-server and finally with the upcoming Fedora 25 release this is expected to become a reality. The X.Org Server will still be present on Fedora systems for those running into driver problems or other common issues.
Fedora's steering committee agreed to the change provided the release notes "are clear about how to switch back to X11 if needed." In addition, according to the Fedora Project's wiki, "The code will automatically fall back to Xorg in cases where Wayland is unavailable (like NVIDIA)."
KDE

KDE Bug Fixed After 13 Years (kate-editor.org) 118

About 50 KDE developers met this week in the Swiss Alps for the annual Randa Meetings, "seven days of intense in-person work, pushing KDE technologies forward and discussing how to address the next-generation demands for software systems." Christoph Cullmann, who maintains the Kate editor, blogs that during this year's sprint, they finally fixed a 13-year-old bug. He'd filed the bug report himself -- back in 2003 -- and writes that over the next 13 years, no one ever found the time to fix it. (Even though the bug received 333 "importance" votes...) After finally being marked Resolved, the bug's tracking page at KDE.org began receiving additional comments marveling at how much time had passed. Just think, when this bug was first reported:
-- The current Linux Kernel was 2.6.31...
-- Windows XP was the most current desktop verison. Vista was still 3 years away.
-- Top 2 Linux verions? Mandrake and Redhat (Fedora wouldn't be released for another 2 months, Ubuntu's first was more than a year away.)

Software

Raspbian Linux OS Gets Major Update, Adds Bluetooth Support to Pi 3 (betanews.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes: The Raspberry Pi 3 was launched with built-in chip for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, however, software support for Bluetooth was lacking until now. The drivers were there, but today's update to the Raspbian Linux distribution adds much-needed GUI tools to help you establish Bluetooth connections. Another cool addition is a new backup tool. There are other improvements as well including the mouse settings, and the ability to empty the wastebasket through right-clicking as seen below (yes, seriously). There is even a new shutdown dialog, something even casual users should notice.Official blog post here.
Entertainment

MegaBots Raises $2.4M To Create League Of Human-Piloted, Giant Fighting Robots (techcrunch.com) 52

Remember MegaBots? The Kickstarter success story that was raising money last year to pilot fighting robot named Mk II. Labeling it as a contest for world supremacy, the co-founders challenged a Japanese team Suidobashi Industries to a duel with its Kuratas bot. (Which it accepted very gracefully). The idea was to utilize this octane-packed event to sell merchandise products. Here's an update: it worked. TechCrunch reports: Oakland, Calif. startup MegaBots Inc. has raised $2.4 million in seed funding to bring the robot-fighting stuff of manga and anime to a venue near you. According to MegaBots cofounders, Gui Cavalcanti, Matt Oehrlein, and Brinkley Warren, the startup aspires to follow in the footsteps of major sports associations like Formula 1 or UFC. With the seed funding, Warren said, MegaBots will be partnering with a law firm called Latham Watkins to help set up and roll out its league internationally, taking an approach similar to the Olympics. Specifically, MegaBots will be working with Latham Watkins Partner Christopher D. Brearton, who represents the International Olympic Committee, and has helped organized leagues and governing bodies in sports including the NBA, MLB, NFL and others.

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