Getting More Women Coders Into Open Source 495

Nerval's Lobster writes: Diversity remains an issue in tech firms across the nation, with executives and project managers publicly upset over a lack of women in engineering and programming roles. While all that's happening on the corporate side, a handful of people and groups are trying to get more women involved in the open source community, like Women of OpenStack, Outreachy (which is geared toward people from underrepresented groups in free software), and others. How much effort should be expended to facilitate diversity among programmers? Can anything be done to shift the demographics, considering the issues that even large, coordinated companies have with altering the collective mix of their employees?
Open Source

Matthew Garrett Forks the Linux Kernel 608

jones_supa writes: Just like Sarah Sharp, Linux developer Matthew Garrett has gotten fed up with the unprofessional development culture surrounding the kernel. "I remember having to deal with interminable arguments over the naming of an interface because Linus has an undying hatred of BSD securelevel, or having my name forever associated with the deepthroating of Microsoft because Linus couldn't be bothered asking questions about the reasoning behind a design before trashing it," Garrett writes. He has chosen to go his own way, and has forked the Linux kernel and added patches that implement a BSD-style securelevel interface. Over time it is expected to pick up some of the power management code that Garrett is working on, and we shall see where it goes from there.

Linux Kernel Dev Sarah Sharp Quits, Citing 'Brutal' Communications Style 886

JG0LD writes: A prominent Linux kernel developer announced today in a blog post that she would step down from her direct work in the kernel community. “My current work on userspace graphics enabling may require me to send an occasional quirks kernel patch, but I know I will spend at least a day dreading the potential toxic background radiation of interacting with the kernel community before I send anything,” Sharp wrote. Back in July, 2013 Sarah made a push to make the Linux Kernel Development Mailing List a more civil place.
Hardware Hacking

Sensor Network Makes Life Easier For Japan's Aging Rice Farmers 89

szczys writes: The average age of Japan's rice farmers is 65-70 years old. The work is difficult and even small changes to the way things are done can have a profound impact on these lives. The flooded paddies where the rice is grown must maintain a consistent water level, which means farmers must regularly traverse the terraced fields to check many different paddies. A simple sensor board is changing this, letting farmers check their fields by phone instead of in person.

This might not sound like much, but reducing the number of times someone needs to walk the fields has a big effect on the man-hours spent on each crop. The system, called TechRice, is inexpensive and the nodes recharge batteries from a solar cell. The data is aggregated on the Internet and can be presented as a webpage, a text-message interface, or any other reporting scheme imaginable by utilizing the API of the Open Source software. This is a testament to the power we have as small groups of engineers to improve the world.

OpenIndiana Hipster 2015.10: Keeping an Open-Source Solaris Going 141

An anonymous reader writes: It's been five years since Oracle killed off OpenSolaris while the community of developers are letting it live on with the new OpenIndiana "Hipster" 15.10 release. OpenIndiana 15.10 improves its Python-based text installer as it looks to drop its GUI installer, switches out the Oracle JDK/JRE for OpenJDK, and updates its vast package set. However, there are still a number of outdated packages on the system like Firefox 24 and X.Org Server 1.14 while the default office suite is a broken OpenOffice build, due to various obstacles in maintaining open-source software support for Solaris while being challenged by limited contributors. Download links are available via the release notes. There's also a page for getting involved if wishing to improve the state of open-source Solaris.
GNU is Not Unix

FLIF: Free Lossless Image Format 307

nickweller sends a link to an informational post about FLIF, the Free, Lossless Image Format. It claims to outperform PNG, lossless WebP, and other popular formats on any kind of image. "On photographs, PNG performs poorly while WebP, BPG and JPEG 2000 compress well (see plot on the left). On medical images, PNG and WebP perform relatively poorly while BPG and JPEG 2000 work well (see middle plot). On geographical maps, BPG and JPEG 2000 perform (extremely) poorly while while PNG and WebP work well (see plot on the right). In each of these three examples, FLIF performs well — even better than any of the others." FLIF uses progressive decoding to provide fully-formed lossy images from partial downloads in bandwidth-constrained situations. Best of all, FLIF is free software, released under the GNU GPLv3.

LibreOffice Turns Five 147

An anonymous reader writes: Italo Vignoli, founding member of The Document Foundation, reflects on the project's five-year mark in an article on "LibreOffice was launched as a fork of on September 28, 2010, by a tiny group of people representing the community in their capacity as community project leaders. At the time, forking the office suite was a brave -- and necessary -- decision, because the open source community did not expect to survive for long under Oracle stewardship." The project that was does still exist, in the form of Apache Open Office, but along with most Linux distros, I've switched completely to LibreOffice, after some initial misgivings.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF: DMCA Hinders Exposing More Software Cheats Like Volkswagen's 166

ideonexus writes: Automakers have argued that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it unlawful for researchers to review the code controlling their vehicles without the manufacturer's permission, making it extremely difficult to expose software cheats like the one Volkswagen used to fake emissions tests. Arguing that this obfuscation of code goes so far as to endanger lives at times, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) maintains that, "When you entrust your health, safety, or privacy to a device, the law shouldn't punish you for trying to understand how that device works and whether it is trustworthy."

How the Car Industry Has Hidden Its Software Behind the DMCA 126

Lucas123 writes: The DCMA has allowed carmakers to keep third parties from looking at the code in their electronic control modules. The effect has been that independent researchers are wary of probing vehicle code, which may have lead companies like Volkswagen to get away with cheating emissions tests far longer than necessary. In a July letter to the U.S. Copyright Office, the Environmental Protection Agency expressed its own concern of the protection provided by the DMCA to carmakers, saying it's "difficult for anyone other than the vehicle manufacturer to obtain access to the software." Kit Walsh, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the legal uncertainly created by the DMCA "makes it easier for manufacturers to conceal intentional wrongdoing. The EFF has petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the DMCA for embedded vehicle code so that independent research can be performed on electronic control modules (ECMs), which run a myriad of systems, including emissions. Eben Moglen was right.

AMD Confirms Vulkan Driver For Linux, But To Start Off As Closed-Source 47

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has finally revealed some basic details concerning their support of Vulkan on Linux. AMD has a Vulkan driver but it will begin its life as closed-source, reports Phoronix. In time the AMD Vulkan driver will transition to being open-source. This Vulkan driver is built to interface with their new AMDGPU kernel DRM driver that's part of their long talked about AMD open-source strategy for Linux. This closed-then-open Vulkan driver will be competing with Valve's Intel Vulkan driver that will be open from day one.
Open Source

XPRIZE's Jono Bacon On the Next Great Challenge 20

itwbennett writes: After just under 8 years at Canonical where he was Community Manager of Ubuntu, Jono Bacon left in search of a new challenge. Now, a year and a half into his tenure at the XPRIZE Foundation as Senior Director of Community, Bacon reflects on the changing nature of community and how he is working to bring the 'anybody can play a role in a bigger picture' aspect of open source to "solve the grand challenges facing humanity." Update: 09/17 00:20 GMT by T : Jono wants everyone to know that he's certainly not leaving the world of open source software, either; headline has been updated to reflect that.
Open Source

The Era of Open Source Cars 31

An anonymous reader writes: An article at Ars Technica details how open source is slowly but surely working its way into the automotive manufacturing industry. A company named StreetScooter is flattening the design process, having designers and engineers work directly with suppliers right from the get-go. Another company, Local Motors, has built an open source community that's 50,000-strong, whose members include everybody from hobbyists to industrial engineers. Even the existing auto-giants are getting in on it: Ford has created OpenXC, a platform that is attempting to standardize how to get data out of a car's computer. The article concludes, "These various automotive open source advocates come at the topic from different backgrounds and with different approaches, but they can all recognize we've entered an era for open source cars that simply didn't exist before."

APIs, Not Apps: What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Code 255

An anonymous reader writes: There's been a huge push over the last few years to make programming part of the core academic curriculum. Hype or not, software developer Al Sweigart takes a shot at predicting what this will be in a future where some degree of coding skill is commonplace and he has an interesting take on it: "More programmers doesn't just mean more apps in app stores or clones of existing websites. Universal coding literacy doesn't increase the supply of web services so much as increase the sophistication in how web services are used. Programming—by which I mean being able to direct a computer to access data, organize it, and then make decisions based on it— will open up not only a popular ability to make more of online services, but also to demand more.

Almost every major website has an Application Program Interface (API), a formal specification for software to retrieve data and make requests similar to human-directed browsers. ... The vast majority of users don't use these APIs—or even know what an API is—because programming is something that they've left to the professionals. But when coding becomes universal, so will the expectation that websites become accessible to more than just browsers."

OpenGL Library Mesa 11.0 Brings Open Source OpenGL 4 88

jj110888 writes: Mesa, the open source implementation of OpenGL, has just announced version 11.0. This adds support for the amdgpu driver, fixes for non-Windows platforms, new OpenGL ES extensions supported, and more. Most notable is the support for all extensions in OpenGL 4.1 by the radeonsi and nvc0 drivers, and support for extensions added in OpenGL 4.2 by the i965 driver. This brings the OpenGL version supported by core Mesa from 3.3 to 4.2, five and a half years after OpenGL 4 was released. Mesamatrix gives the status of which OpenGL extensions are supported by which open source driver. Vulkan, on the otherhand, will have an open source driver once the spec is released.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Definitive Password Management Best Practices Using OSS? 77

jmcbain writes: I am an software engineer for a client-server user account system handling both Web and smartphone clients. I have been searching for definitive and crystal-clear best practices for managing user account and password data using open-source software, but I have only cobbled together a complete picture from dozens of websites. I currently have a system that sends passwords over SSL and performs bcrypt hashing for storage and authentication checking at the server side. Is that good enough? The recent Ashley Madison breach and the exposure of MD5-hashed passwords (as opposed to bcrypt) has me worried again. Can someone please suggest a definitive, cookbook-style Web resource or book on how to use open-source software to handle user passwords for multiple client-server scenarios? I would like answers to questions such as: Where do I perform hashing (smartphone/web client or server)? What hash algorithm should I use? How do I store the hashes? How can clients recover forgotten passwords? etc.
Open Source

Open Source Router Firmware OpenWRT 15.05 Released 94

aglider writes: The newest stable iteration of the famous and glorious OpenWRT has just been released in the wild for all the supported architectures. The latest version is 15.05, codenamed "Chaos Calmer" after a cocktail drink, just like all previous ones. Major changes from the official announcements: "Linux kernel updated to version 3.18. Improved Security Features. Rewritten package signing architecture based on ed25519. Added support for jails. Added support for hardened builds. Improved Networking Support. Platform and Driver Support." For the full details you are welcome on the forums while the firmware itself and extra packages are available from the distribution servers.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Synchronizing Sound With Video, Using Open Source? 103

An anonymous reader writes: I have a decent video camera, but it lacks a terminal for using an external mic. However, I have a comparatively good audio recorder. What I'd like to do is "automagically" synchronize sound recorded on the audio recorder with video taken on the video camera, using Free / Open Source software on Linux, so I can dump in the files from each, hit "Go," and in the end I get my video, synched with the separately recorded audio, in some sane file format. This seems simple, but maybe it isn't: the 800-pound gorilla in the room is PluralEyes, which evidently lots of people pay $200 for --and which doesn't have a Linux version. Partly this is that I'm cheap, partly it's that I like open source software for being open source, and partly it's that I already use Linux as my usual desktop, and resent needing to switch OS to do what seems intuitively to be a simple task. (It seems like something VLC would do, considering its Swiss-Army-Knife approach, but after pulling down all the menus I could find, I don't think that's the case.) I don't see this feature in any of the Open Source video editing programs, so as a fallback question for anyone who's using LiVES, KDEnlive, or other free/Free option, do you have a useful workflow for synching up externally recorded sound? I'd be happy even to find a simple solution that's merely gratis rather than Free, as long as it runs on Ubuntu.

Microsoft Announces VP9 Support For Edge 55

An anonymous reader writes: As noted by some a few days ago, Microsoft has started development on new multimedia container and codec support for Edge. Over on the Edge development blog, Microsoft has now officially announced that "WebM/VP9 support is now in development in Microsoft Edge. VP9 is an open source codec that offers efficient compression to stream HD content at lower bitrates, and is well suited to UHD streaming. Initial support for VP9 will be available in Windows Insider Preview builds soon. This is part of our continuing effort to expand codec offerings in Windows. We continue to evaluate other formats and look forward to receiving feedback as we work on implementing them."
GNU is Not Unix

The Free Software Foundation: 30 Years In 135

An anonymous reader writes: The Free Software Foundation was founded in 1985. To paint a picture of what computing was like back then, the Amiga 1000 was released, C++ was becoming a dominant language, Aldus PageMaker was announced, and networking was just starting to grow. Oh, and that year Careless Whisper by Wham! was a major hit. Things have changed a lot in 30 years. Back in 1985 the FSF was primarily focused on building free pieces of software that were primarily useful to nerdy computer people. These days we have software, services, social networks, and more to consider. In this in-depth interview, FSF executive director John Sullivan discusses the most prominent risks to software freedom today, Richard M. Stallman, and more.

Debian Working on Reproducible Builds To Make Binaries Trustable 130

An anonymous reader writes: Debian's Jérémy Bobbio, also known as Lunar, spoke at the Chaos Communication Camp about the distribution's efforts to reassert trustworthiness for open source binaries after it was brought into question by various intelligence agencies. Debian is "working to bring reproducible builds to all of its more than 22,000 software packages," and is pushing the rest of the community to do the same. Lunar said, "The idea is to get reasonable confidence that a given binary was indeed produced by the source. We want anyone to be able to produce identical binaries from a given source (PDF)."

Here is Lunar's overview of how this works: "First you need to get the build to output the same bytes for a given version. But others also must to be able to set up a close enough build environment with similar enough software to perform the build. And for them to set it up, this environment needs to be specified somehow. Finally, you need to think about how rebuilds are performed and how the results are checked."