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Media

The Slashdot Interview With VideoLAN President and Lead VLC Developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf 24

You asked, he answered!

VideoLan President and Lead Developer of VLC Jean-Baptiste Kempf has responded to questions submitted by Slashdot readers. Read on to find out about the upcoming VideoLAN projects; how they keep VLC sustainable; what are some mistakes they wish they hadn't made; and what security challenges they face, among others!
Software

Linus on Linux's 25th Birthday (zdnet.com) 100

The creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds, posted his famous message announcing Linux on August 25, 1991, claiming that it was "just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu." ZDNet's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols caught up with Linus Torvalds and talked about Linux's origins in a series of interviews: "SJVN: What's Linux real birthday? You're the proud papa, when do you think it was? When you sent out the newsgroup post to the Minix newsgroup on August 25, 1991? When you sent out the 0.01 release to a few friends?

LT: I think both of them are valid birthdays. The first newsgroup post is more public (August 25), and you can find it with headers giving date and time and everything. In contrast, I don't think the 0.01 release was ever announced in any public setting (only in private to a few people who had shown interest, and I don't think any of those emails survived). These days the way to find the 0.01 date (September 17) is to go and look at the dates of the files in the tar-file that still remains. So, both of them work for me. Or either. And, by the way, some people will argue for yet other days. For example, the earliest public semi-mention of Linux was July 3: that was the first time I asked for some POSIX docs publicly on the minix newsgroup and mentioned I was working on a project (but didn't name it). And at the other end, October 5 was the first time I actually publicly announced a Linux version: 'version 0.02 (+1 (very small) patch already).' So you might have to buy four cakes if you want to cover all the eventualities."
Vaughan-Nichols goes on to pick Linus' brain about what he was doing when he created Linux. In honor of Linux's 25th birthday today, let's all sing happy birthday... 1... 2... 3...
Open Source

Princeton Researchers Announce Open Source 25-Core Processor (pcworld.com) 102

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Princeton announced at Hot Chips this week their 25-core Piton Processor. The processor was designed specifically to increase data center efficiency with novel architecture features enabling over 8,000 of these processors to be connected together to build a system with over 200,000 cores. Fabricated on IBM's 32nm process and with over 460 million transistors, Piton is one of the largest and most complex academic processors every built. The Princeton team has opened their design up and released all of the chip source code, tests, and infrastructure as open source in the OpenPiton project, enabling others to build scalable, manycore processors with potentially thousands of cores.
KDE

KDE Edition Beta Released For Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' (fossbytes.com) 36

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes: Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' KDE Edition Beta is now available for download and testing. This release is based on the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel and KDE Plasma 5.6 desktop environment. The final release of this widely popular distro is expected to arrive in September... Just like MATE, Cinnamon, and Xfce releases, the KDE release is a long term release that will remain supported until 2021.

Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' KDE Edition ships with Mozilla Firefox as default web browser and LibreOffice as the default office suite. The Linux distro also features a wide range of popular KDE apps like Kontact, Dolphin, Gwenview, KMail, digiKam, KTorrent, Skanlite, Konversation, K3b, Konsole, Amarok, Ark, Kate, Okular, and Dragon Player.

"Unlike other Linux Mint editions, the KDE edition will ship with the SDDM display manager," reports the Linux Mint blog. Distrowatch notes that it's based on Ubuntu 16.04, and suggests "Mint's 'KDE' flavour might turn out to be the most interesting of the bunch, especially if the project's usually excellent quality assurance is applied to this edition in the same manner as in its 'MATE' and 'Cinnamon' variants."
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)."
Open Source

Microsoft PowerShell Goes Open Source and Lands On Linux and Mac (pcworld.com) 400

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it is open sourcing PowerShell, its system administration, scripting, and configuration management tool that has been a default part of Windows for several years. The company says it will soon release PowerShell on Mac and Linux platforms. PCWorld reports: The company is also releasing alpha versions of PowerShell for Linux (specifically Ubuntu, Centos and Redhat) and Mac OS X. A new PowerShell GitHub page gives people the ability to download binaries of the software, as well as access to the app's source code. PowerShell on Linux and Mac will let people who have already built proficiency with Microsoft's scripting language take those skills and bring them to new platforms. Meanwhile, people who are used to working on those platforms will have access to a new and very powerful tool for getting work done. It's part of Microsoft's ongoing moves to open up products that the company has previously kept locked to platforms that it owned. The company's open sourcing of its .NET programming frameworks in 2014 paved the way for this launch, by making the building blocks of PowerShell available on Linux and OS X. By making PowerShell available on Linux, Microsoft has taken the skills of Windows administrators who are already used to the software, and made them more marketable. It has also made it possible for hardcore Linux users to get access to an additional set of tools that they can use to manage a variety of systems.
Open Source

New FreeBSD 11.0 Release Candidate Tested By Phoronix (phoronix.com) 61

"The first release candidate for the upcoming FreeBSD 11.0 is ready for testing," reports Distrowatch, noting various changes. ("A NULL pointer dereference in IPSEC has been fixed; support for SSH protocol 1 has been removed; OpenSSH DSA keys have been disabled by default...") Now an anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Sunday Phoronix performed some early benchmark testing, comparing FreeBSD 10.3 to FreeBSD 11.0 as well as DragonFlyBSD, Ubuntu, Intel Clear Linux and CentOS Linux 7. They reported mixed results -- some wins and some losses for FreeBSD -- using a clean install with the default package/settings on the x86_64/amd64 version for each operating system.

FreeBSD 11.0 showed the fastest compile times, and "With the SQLite benchmark, the BSDs came out ahead of Linux [and] trailed slightly behind DragonFlyBSD 4.6 with HAMMER. The 11.0-BETA4 performance does appear to regress slightly for SQLite compared to FreeBSD 10.3... With the BLAKE2 crypto test, all four Linux distributions were faster than DragonFlyBSD and FreeBSD... with the Apache web server benchmark, FreeBSD was able to outperform the Linux distributions..."

First Person Shooters (Games)

'GoldenEye: Source' Updated: A Classic, Free Multiplayer Game (theverge.com) 65

An anonymous reader quotes The Verge: GoldenEye: Source received its first update in more than three years this week. It's free to download and it features 25 recreated maps, 10 different multiplayer modes, and redesigned versions of the original game's 28 weapons. It was created using Valve's Source engine, the same set of tools used to create Counter Strike and Half-Life games. So it's a massive step up in both visuals and performance for one of the more drastically dated gaming masterpieces of the last 20 years...

GoldenEye 007, the beloved N64 first-person shooter, has been recreated in high-definition glory by a team of dedicated fans over the course of 10 years...the attention to detail and the amount of effort that went into GoldenEye: Source make it one of the most polished HD remakes of a N64 classic.

With 8 million copies sold, Wikipedia calls it the third best-selling Nintendo 64 game of all-time (although this version doesn't recreate its single-player campaigns). Anyone have fond memories of playing Goldeneye 007?
Open Source

Ask VideoLAN President and Lead VLC Developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf Your Questions 204

VLC remains one of the most popular applications. First released over 15 years ago, VLC is open-source, and is available across multiple platforms including Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, ChromeOS, iOS, and it's coming to the Xbox One later this year. We thought it would be great to have Jean-Baptiste Kempf, President of VideoLAN non-profit organization (the maker of VLC media player). In addition, he is also a lead developer of VLC.

Leave your questions in the comments section below. Let's get this going.
Open Source

Interviews: Ask Ruby on Rails Creator David Heinemeier Hansson a Question 109

David Heinemeier Hansson created the Ruby on Rails open-source web framework in 2003. David is also the founder and CTO of Basecamp, a project management tool that's been used by more than 15 million people. In addition, David is the best-selling author of REWORK, a book about starting and running businesses a better way. David has agreed to take some time to answer some of your questions.

Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per comment. (And feel free to also leave your suggestions for who Slashdot should interview next.) We'll pick the very best questions -- and forward them on to David Heinemeier Hansson himself.
Open Source

Israel's SolidRun Creates Open Networking Kit Inspired By Raspberry Pi (venturebeat.com) 76

Reader joshtops shares a VentureBeat report: SolidRun, a developer of electronic modules and PCs, said it is launching ClearFog Base kit, an off-the-shelf open development kit that enables do-it-yourself hardware enthusiasts to create their own telecom-grade routers. The kit is based on the Marvell Armada 38x SoC processor that runs on open source software based on OpenWrt. It lets enthusiasts build telecom-grade routers capable of Gigabit speed and embedded storage. The kit is inspired by the DIY computer kit, Raspberry Pi, which has sold a surprisingly large number of units. With OpenWrt support and several connectivity options, device makers can easily utilize the ClearFog Base within their own products to bridge a variety of network standards, like LAN, Wi-Fi, LTE, Fiber, and DSL. They can also utilize mikroBUS boards for IoT type networking standards such as ZigBee, Sub GHz, Bluetooth, and others. The $70 kit was created by Tel-Aviv, Israel-based SolidRun.
Hardware Hacking

FCC Requires TP-Link To Support Open Source Router Firmware 52

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier today, the FCC reached a settlement with TP-Link over Wi-Fi router interference. Most of the agreement was routine, addressing compliance with radio emission rules.

But the FCC also did something unprecedented. It required TP-Link to support open source firmware on its routers. You might recall that, last year, the FCC caused a ruckus when it mistakenly suggested it was banning open source router firmware. In fact, the FCC only required that router vendors implement protections for specific radio emission parameters. But the FCC didn't work with router vendors in advance to maintain open source compatibility, resulting in certain vendors (including TP-Link) trying to lock down their routers.

The FCC eventually issued a clarification, but the damage was done. Only recently have a couple router vendors (Linksys and Asus) affirmed that they will continue to support open source firmware.

Today's settlement is a milestone for the FCC. The agency is finally doing something, with deeds and not just words, to demonstrate its support for the open source community. It would be better if the agency hadn't created this mess, but they deserve serious credit for working so hard to fix it.
Firefox

Mozilla To Remove Hello In Firefox 49 (softpedia.com) 128

Firefox's voice and videoconferencing add-on was described as "the first global communications system built directly into a browser" -- but things change. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: An entry on Mozilla's issue tracker opened on July 17 reveals ongoing efforts from Mozilla engineers to remove the Hello system add-on from default Firefox installations starting with version 49, set for public release on September 13, 2016. Mozilla added Hello to Firefox in version 34, released on December 1, 2014, and from the beginning, it was part of the browser's core code, but was moved in December 2015 into a separate add-on, one that came pre-installed with Firefox, making Hello its first ever system add-on.

Mozilla plans to remove Hello from the codebases of Firefox Beta 49, Firefox Developer Edition 50, and Firefox Nightly 51. Based on the currently available information, the deadline for the Hello code removal operations is for this Monday, August 1, after which the first Firefox builds with no Hello integration will be available for testing, and will ship out in the fall with the stable release.

The article suggests this may have been a space-saving measure, "since Mozilla is focused on rebuilding Firefox's code from scratch to keep up with speedier competitors like Chrome, Opera, and Vivaldi."
The Gimp

After New GIMP Release, Core Developer Discusses Future of GIMP and GEGL (girinstud.io) 117

GIMP 2.9.4 was released earlier this month, featuring "symmetry painting" and the ability to remove holes when selecting a region, as well as improvements to many of its other graphics-editing tools. But today core developer Jehan Pages discussed the vision for GIMP's future, writing that the Generic Graphics (GEGL) programming library "is a hell of a cool project and I think it could be the future of Free and Open Source image processing": I want to imagine a future where most big graphics programs integrate GEGL, where Blender for instance would have GEGL as the new implementation of nodes, with image processing graphs which can be exchanged between programs, where darktable would share buffers with GIMP so that images can be edited in one program and updated in real time in the other, and so on. Well of course the short/mid-term improvements will be non-destructive editing with live preview on high bit depth images, and that's already awesomely cool right...?

[C]ontributing to Free Software is not just adding any random feature, that's also about discussing, discovering others' workflow, comparing, sometimes even compromising or realizing that our ideas are not always perfect. This is part of the process and actually a pretty good mental builder. In any case we will work hard for a better GIMP

Facebook

Facebook Open Sources 360 Surround Camera With Ikea-Style Instructions (techcrunch.com) 31

Reader joshtops writes: Facebook needs you to fill its News Feed, Oculus Rift, and Gear VR with 360 content. So today it put all the hardware and software designs of its Surround 360 camera on Github after announcing the plan in April. Thanks to cheeky instruction manual inspired by Ikea's manuals, you can learn how to buy the parts, assemble the camera, load the image-stitching software, and start shooting 360 content. Essentially 17 cameras on a UFO-looking stick, the 360 Surround camera can be built for about $30,000 in parts. The 4-megapixel lenses can shoot 4K, 6K, or 8K 360 video, and fisheye lenses on the top and bottom remove the blindspots. Facebook forced a random engineer to try to build the 360 Surround from the open source instructions, and found it took about four hours.FastCompany has more details.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.7 Officially Released (iu.edu) 60

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The Linux 4.7 kernel made its official debut today with Linus Torvalds announcing, "after a slight delay due to my travels, I'm back, and 4.7 is out. Despite it being two weeks since rc7, the final patch wasn't all that big, and much of it is trivial one- and few-liners." Linux 4.7 ships with open-source AMD Polaris (RX 480) support, Intel Kabylake graphics improvements, new ARM platform/board support, Xbox One Elite Controller support, and a variety of other new features.
Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: The biggest new features of Linux kernel 4.7 are support for the recently announced Radeon RX 480 GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) from AMD, which, of course, has been implemented directly into the AMDGPU video driver, a brand-new security module, called LoadPin, that makes sure the modules loaded by the kernel all originate from the same file system, and support for generating virtual USB Device Controllers in USB/IP. Furthermore, Linux kernel 4.7 is the first one to ensure the production-ready status of the sync_file fencing mechanism used in the Android mobile operating system, allow Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) programs to attach to tracepoints, as well as to introduce the long-anticipated "schedutil" frequency governor to the cpufreq dynamic frequency scaling subsystem, which promises to be faster and more accurate than existing ones.
Linus's announcement includes the shortlog, calling this release "fairly calm," though "There's a couple of network drivers that got a bit more loving."
EU

EU To Give Free Security Audits To Apache HTTP Server and Keepass (softpedia.com) 67

An anonymous reader writes: The European Commission announced on Wednesday that its IT engineers would provide a free security audit for the Apache HTTP Server and KeePass projects. The two projects were selected following a public survey that included several open-source projects deemed important for both the EU agencies and the wide public.

The actual security audit will be carried out by employees of the IT departments at the European Commission and the European Parliament. This is only a test pilot program that's funded until the end of the year, but the EU said it would be looking for funding to continue it past its expiration date in December 2016.

Operating Systems

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

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

AT&T Open Sources Its SDN Framework To The Linux Foundation (fiercetelecom.com) 42

An anonymous reader writes "It's no secret that AT&T has been planning to move to a software-defined network for quite a while. Now, they've decided to open-source the whole thing." From Fierce Telecom: AT&T today announced it will release its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform to the wider telecom industry as an open source offering managed by the Linux Foundation. The goal, the company said, is to make ECOMP the telecom industry's standard automation platform for managing virtual network functions and other software-centric network capabilities.
AT&T delivered 8.5 million lines of code to the Linux Foundation on Wednesday, saying "We want to build a community -- where people contribute to the code base and advance the platform..." AT&T said Wednesday they've already received interest from other major telecoms, and "we want this to help align the global industry." While their ultimate goal is to virtualize 75% of their own network by 2020, at least one analyst sees a larger trend where the whole telecom industry collectively bypasses equipment vendors and begins "taking network innovation into its own hands."
Open Source

Dropbox Open Sources New Lossless Middle-Out Image Compression Algorithm (dropbox.com) 135

Dropbox announced on Thursday that it is releasing its image compression algorithm dubbed Lepton under an Apache open-source license on GitHub. Lepton, the company writes, can both compress and decompress files, and for the latter, it can work while streaming. Lepton offers a 22% savings reductions for existing JPEG images, and preserves the original file bit-for-bit perfectly. It compresses JPEG files at a rate of 5MB/s and decodes them back to the original bit at 15MB/s. The company says it has used Lepton to encode 16 billion images saved to Dropbox, and continues to utilize the technology to recode its older images. You can find more technical details here.

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