GNU is Not Unix

Richard Stallman vs. Canonical's CEO: 'Will Microsoft Love Linux to Death?' (techrepublic.com) 126

TechRepublic got different answers about Microsoft's new enthusiasm for Linux from Canonical's founder and CEO Mark Shuttleworth, and from Richard Stallman. Stallman "believes that Microsoft's decision to build a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) amounts to an attempt to extinguish software that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve." "It certainly looks that way. But it won't be so easy to extinguish us, because our reasons for using and advancing free software are not limited to practical convenience," he said. "We want freedom. As a way to use computers in freedom, Windows is a non-starter..." Stallman remains adamant that the WSL can only help entrench the dominance of proprietary software like Windows, and undermine the use of free software. "That doesn't advance the cause of free software, not one bit," he says... "The aim of the free software movement is to free users from freedom-denying proprietary programs and systems, such as Windows. Making a non-free system, such Windows or MacOS or iOS or ChromeOS or Android, more convenient is a step backward in the campaign for freedom..."

For Shuttleworth, Windows' embrace of GNU/Linux is a net positive for open-source software as a whole. "It's not like Microsoft is stealing our toys, it's more that we're sharing them with Microsoft in order to give everyone the best possible experience," he says. "WSL provides users who are well versed in the Windows environment with greater choice and flexibility, while also opening up a whole new potential user base for the open source platform..." Today Shuttleworth takes Microsoft's newfound enthusiasm for GNU/Linux at face value, and says the company has a different ethos to that of the 1990s, a fresh perspective that benefits Microsoft as much as it does open-source software. "Microsoft is a different company now, with a much more balanced view of open and competitive platforms on multiple fronts," he says. "They do a tremendous amount of engineering specifically to accommodate open platforms like Ubuntu on Azure and Hyper-V, and this work is being done in that spirit."

The article also points out that Microsoft "does seem to be laying the groundwork for WSL to extend what's possible using a single GNU/Linux distro today, for instance, letting the user chain together commands from different GNU/Linux distros with those from Windows."
Microsoft

Microsoft and Canonical Make Custom Linux Kernel (neowin.net) 118

Billly Gates writes: Microsoft and Canonical's relationship is getting closer besides Ubuntu for Windows. Azure will soon be offering more customized Ubuntu containers with a MS optimized kernel. Uname -r will show 4.11.0-1011-azure for Ubuntu cloud based 16.04 LTS. If you want the non MS kernel you can still use it on Azure by typing:
$ sudo apt install linux-virtual linux-cloud-tools-virtual
$ sudo apt purge linux*azure
$ sudo reboot
The article mentions several benefits over the generic Linux kernel for Azure

GUI

Linux.com Raves About New Snap-Centric 'Nitrux' Distro (linux.com) 137

An anonymous reader quotes Linux.com: What happens when you take Ubuntu 17.10, a new desktop interface (one that overlays on top of KDE), snap packages, and roll them all up into a pseudo rolling release? You get Nitrux. At first blush, this particular Linux distribution seems more of an experiment than anything else -- to show how much the KDE desktop can be tweaked to resemble the likes of the Elementary OS or MacOS desktops. At its heart, however, it's much more than that... This particular take on the Linux desktop is focused on the portable, universal nature of snap packages and makes use of a unique desktop, called Nomad, which sits atop KDE Plasma 5... The desktop includes a dock, a system/notification tray, a quick search tool (Plasma Search), and an app menu. Of all the elements on the desktop, it's the Plasma Search tool that will appeal to anyone looking for an efficient means to interact with their desktops. With this tool, you can just start typing on a blank desktop to see a list of results. Say, for example, you want to open LibreOffice writer; on the blank desktop, just start typing "libre" and related entries will appear...

Skilled Linux users should have no problem using Nitrux and might find themselves intrigued with the snap-centric Nomad desktop. The one advantage of having a distribution centered around snap packages would be the ease with which you could quickly install and uninstall a package, without causing issues with other applications... In the end, Nitrux is a beautiful desktop that is incredibly efficient to use -- only slightly hampered by an awkward installer and a lack of available snap packages. Give this distribution a bit of time to work out the kinks and it could become a serious contender.

The GUI-focused distro even includes Android apps in the menu -- although Linux.com's reviewer notes that "on two different installations, I have yet to get this feature to work. Even the pre-installed Android apps never start."
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.
GNOME

Canonical Needs Your Help Transitioning Ubuntu Linux From Unity To GNOME (ubuntu.com) 111

BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: On August 24 and 25, the Ubuntu Desktop team will be holding a "Fit and Finish Sprint," where they will aggressively test GNOME. Canonical is also asking the Ubuntu community to help with this process. In other words, you might be able to assist with making Artful Aardvark even better.

What makes this particularly cool, however, is that Canonical will be selecting some community members to visit its London office on August 24 between 4 pm and 9 pm. "Over the two days we'll be scrutinizing the new GNOME Shell desktop experience, looking for anything jarring/glitchy or out of place," says Alan Pope, Community Manager. "We'll be working on the GTK, GDM and desktop theme alike, to fix inconsistencies, performance, behavioral or visual issues. We'll also be looking at the default key bindings, panel color schemes and anything else we discover along the way."

A few caveats: Canonical won't pay anyone's travel expenses to London, and "Ideally we're looking for people who are experienced in identifying (and fixing) theme issues, CSS experts and GNOME Shell / GTK themers."
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Will Revert Window Controls To the Right-Hand Side in Next Release (neowin.net) 171

Following a survey carried out last month, Ubuntu will begin shipping with the minimise, maximise, and close buttons on the right-hand side of windows. From a report: In the survey 46.2% of people said they prefer their window controls on the left-hand side and 53.8% said they prefer them on the right. The decision comes after seven years of window controls being on the left, at the time it had plenty of detractors but Ubuntu founder, Mark Shuttleworth, maintained that the controls needed shifting to the left because they'd be in the way of the then newly introduced window indicators.
Ubuntu

Ask Slashdot: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Desktop Default Application Survey 298

Dustin Kirkland, Ubuntu Product and Strategy at Canonical, writes: Howdy all- Back in March, we asked the HackerNews community, "What do you want to see in Ubuntu 17.10?": https://ubu.one/AskHN. A passionate discussion ensued, the results of which are distilled into this post: http://ubu.one/thankHN. In fact, you can check that link, http://bit.ly/thankHN and see our progress so far this cycle. We already have a beta code in 17.10 available for your testing for several of those:

- GNOME replaced Unity
- Bluetooth improvements with a new BlueZ
- Switched to libinput
- 4K/Multimonitor/HiDPI improvements
- Upgraded to Network Manager 1.8
- New Subiquity server installer
- Minimal images (36MB, 18% smaller)

And several others have excellent work in progress, and will be complete by 17.10:

- Autoremove old kernels from /boot
- EXT4 encryption with fscrypt
- Better GPU/CUDA support

In summary -- your feedback matters! There are hundreds of engineers and designers working for *you* to continue making Ubuntu amazing! Along with the switch from Unity to GNOME, we're also reviewing some of the desktop applications we package and ship in Ubuntu. We're looking to crowdsource input on your favorite Linux applications across a broad set of classic desktop functionality. We invite you to contribute by listing the applications you find most useful in Linux in order of preference.


Click through for info on how to contribute.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu 16.10 Reaches End of Life (softpedia.com) 164

prisoninmate shares a report from Softpedia: Today, July 20, 2017, is the last day when the Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) was supported by Canonical as the operating system now reached end of life, and it will no longer receive security and software updates. Dubbed by Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth as the Yakkety Yak, Ubuntu 16.10 was launched on October 13, 2016, and it was a short-lived release that only received nine (9) months of support through kernel updates, bug fixes, and security patches for various components. Starting today, you should no longer use Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) on your personal computer, even if it's up-to-date. Why? Because, in time, it will become vulnerable to all sort of attacks as Canonical won't provide security and kernel updates for this release. Therefore, all users are urged to upgrade to Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) immediately using the instructions here.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Is Now Available On the Windows Store (windowscentral.com) 121

Ubuntu is now available for download on the Windows Store. "Initially spotted by Rafael Rivera and Necrosoft Core on Twitter, Ubuntu on the Windows Store will let you install and run the Ubuntu terminal on Windows next to your other apps," reports Windows Central. From the report: Ubuntu's arrival, and that of SUSE, are part of a recent push by Microsoft to embrace Linux and the open source community more broadly. This began with the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Linux in 2016, allowing users to use the Bash shell from within Windows. Keep in mind that this is limited to the Fall Creators Update, which isn't set for a public release until later this year. If you're running a PC testing the Fall Creators Update through the Windows Insider Program, however, you should be able to download and try Ubuntu from the Windows Store just fine.
Debian

Survey Finds Most Popular Linux Laptop Distros: Ubuntu and Arch (phoronix.com) 141

After collating 30,171 responses, Phoronixhas released some results from their first Linux Laptop Survey. An anonymous reader quotes their report: To little surprise, Ubuntu was the most popular Linux distribution running on the respondents' laptops. 38.9% of the respondents were said to be using Ubuntu while interesting in second place was Arch Linux at 27.1% followed by Debian at 15.3%. Rounding out the top ten were then Fedora at 14.8%, Linux Mint in 5th at 10.8%, openSUSE/SUSE in sixth at 4.2%, Gentoo in seventh at 3.9%, CentOS/RHEL in eighth at 3.1%, Solus in ninth at 2%, and Manjaro in tenth at 1.6%. The other Linux distributions had each commanded less than 1% of the overall response.
Only 10.3% of respondents said their most recent laptop purchase came pre-loaded with Linux. But 29.3% are now dual-booting their Linux laptop with Windows, while another 4.4% were dual-booting with yet another Linux distribution.
Windows

WikiLeaks Unveils CIA Implants That Steal SSH Credentials From Windows, Linux PCs (thehackernews.com) 140

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hacker News: WikiLeaks has today published the 15th batch of its ongoing Vault 7 leak, this time detailing two alleged CIA implants that allowed the agency to intercept and exfiltrate SSH (Secure Shell) credentials from targeted Windows and Linux operating systems using different attack vectors. Secure Shell or SSH is a cryptographic network protocol used for remote login to machines and servers securely over an unsecured network. Dubbed BothanSpy -- implant for Microsoft Windows Xshell client, and Gyrfalcon -- targets the OpenSSH client on various distributions of Linux OS, including CentOS, Debian, RHEL (Red Hat), openSUSE and Ubuntu. Both implants steal user credentials for all active SSH sessions and then sends them to a CIA-controlled server.
Bug

'Severe' Systemd Bug Allowed Remote Code Execution For Two Years (itwire.com) 551

ITWire reports: A flaw in systemd, the init system used on many Linux systems, can be exploited using a malicious DNS query to either crash a system or to run code remotely. The vulnerability resides in the daemon systemd-resolved and can be triggered using a TCP payload, according to Ubuntu developer Chris Coulson. This component can be tricked into allocating less memory than needed for a look-up. When the reply is bigger it overflows the buffer allowing an attacker to overwrite memory. This would result in the process either crashing or it could allow for code execution remotely. "A malicious DNS server can exploit this by responding with a specially crafted TCP payload to trick systemd-resolved in to allocating a buffer that's too small, and subsequently write arbitrary data beyond the end of it," is how Coulson put it.
Affected Linux vendors have pushed out patches -- but the bug has apparently been present in systemd code since June of 2015. And long-time Slashdot reader walterbyrd also reports a recently-discovered bug where systemd unit files that contain illegal usernames get defaulted to root.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Disputes 'Ads In MOTD' Claims (twitter.com) 110

Thursday Lproven (Slashdot reader #6030) wrote: It appears that Ubuntu is using a feature it has added -- intended to insert headlines of breaking tech news (security alerts and so on) into the Message of the Day displayed at login to the console -- to display advertising and promotional messages.
The message in question linked to a Hacker Noon article titled "How HBO's Silicon Valley built 'Not Hotdog' with mobile TensorFlow, Keras & React Native." Later that day Dustin Kirkland, a Ubuntu Product Manager for the feature's design (and the Core Developer for its implementation) suggested the message had been mistaken for an ad, describing it on Hacker News as a "fun fact... an interesting tidbit of potpourri from the world of Ubuntu," and later saying it was intended like Google's doodles. "Last week's message actually announced an Ubuntu conference in Latin America. The week before, we linked to an article asking for feedback on Kubuntu. Before that, we announced the availability of Extended Security Maintenance updates for 12.04. And so on." He later confirmed Canonical received no money for the message, and also pointed out that the messages all come from an open source repository, and "You're welcome to propose your own messages for merging, if you have a well formatted, informative message for Ubuntu users."

Click through for a condensed version of the complete response by Dustin Kirkland, Ubuntu Product and Strategy at Canonical.
GNOME

System76 Unveils Its Own Ubuntu-Based Linux Distribution Called 'Pop!_OS' (betanews.com) 117

BrianFagioli writes: Not content with simply following Canonical and embracing vanilla GNOME, System76 has decided to take its future into its own hands. Today, the company releases the first alpha of an all-new Linux-based operating system called "Pop!_OS," which will eventually be the only OS pre-loaded on its computers. While it will still be based on Ubuntu and GNOME, System76 is tweaking it with its own style and included drivers. In other words, the company is better controlling the user experience, and that is smart.

"The Pop!_OS community is in its infancy. This is a fantastic time to engage with and help develop the processes and practices that will govern the future development of the operating system and its community. The team is currently opening up planning for the development roadmap, code of conduct, discussion forums, and the processes surrounding code contribution. Progress made on Pop!_OS has established an inviting, modern, and minimalist look and has improved the first-use experience including streamlining installation and user setup. Work on the first release, scheduled for October 19th, centers on appearance, stability, and overall tightness of the user experience followed by adding new features and greater customization ability," says System76.
You can check out the project on GitHub here and download the alpha ISO here. For more information, the company has set up a subreddi.
Cellphones

Software Developer Explains Why The Ubuntu Phone Failed (itwire.com) 137

troublemaker_23 quotes ITWire: A developer who worked with the Ubuntu Phone project has outlined the reasons for its failure, painting a picture of confusion, poor communication and lack of technical and marketing foresight. Simon Raffeiner stopped working with the project in mid-2016, about 10 months before Canonical owner Mark Shuttleworth announced that development of the phone and the tablet were being stopped.
Raffeiner says, for example, that "despite so many bugs being present, developers were not concentrating on fixing them, but rather on adding support for more devices." But he says he doesn't regret the time he spent on the project -- though now he spends his free time "traveling the world, taking photographs and creating bad card games, bad comics and bad games."

"Please note that this post does not apply to the UBPorts project, which continues to work on the phone operating system, Unity 8 and other components."
Operating Systems

Ubuntu Works With GNOME To Improve HiDPI Support On Linux Desktop (omgubuntu.co.uk) 85

An anonymous reader shares an article: Canonical is playing host to a 'fractional scaling hackfest' in its Taipei offices this week. Both GNOME developers and Ubuntu developers are in attendance, ready to wrestle with the aim: improve GNOME HiDPI support. Ubuntu's Unity desktop (I'm told, anyhow) plays fairly nice with high DPI monitors because the shell supports fractional scaling (though most apps, I believe, do not). Furthermore, users can tweak some high DPI settings to better suit their display(s). GNOME Shell also supports HiDPI monitors, but has, until now, been a little less flexible about it. "Currently, we only allow to scale windows by integral factors (typically 2). This proves somewhat limiting as there are many systems that are just in between the dpi ranges that are good for scale factor 2, or unscaled," the hackfest page explains.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Touch Mobile OS Now Maintained By UBports (phoronix.com) 22

An anonymous reader quotes Phoronix: UBports continues to be the leading community project for trying to let Ubuntu Touch live on and evolve under their direction... Among their recent achievements were acquiring more sponsors, all devices that were sold with Ubuntu Touch can now run with UBports' builds, they are working on their own version of Mozilla's AGPS Location Service to replace Canonical's GPS system, the Halium OS platform continues evolving, the Dekko email client is back under development, installation improvements are being worked on, they are still striving for Wayland support, and more.
The UBports Patreon page has even raised enough to allow UBports founder Marius Gripsgard to work full-time on what they're calling "a beautiful, free and open-source mobile OS." Their recent community update announced that "we are seeing more activity on Ubuntu Touch than for a very long time, and that is really encouraging."
Transportation

What To Do If the Laptop Ban Goes Global (backchannel.com) 344

"The U.S. is reportedly seriously considering a greatly expanded ban on laptops in airplane cabins," writes Slashdot reader mirandakatz -- sharing some advice from Dan Gillmor. If the government still allows laptops to be checked in with luggage, "the priority will be to discourage tampering and mitigate the risks associated with theft," he writes, envisioning that "If I have to check mine, I'll pack it in bubble wrap and tape, and do some other things to make it evident if someone has tampered with the machine." But of course there's other precautions: [W]e can travel with bare-bones operating system setups, with as little personal or business data as possible (preferably none at all) on the laptop's internal disk drive. When we arrive and get back online, we can work mostly in browsers and retrieve what we need from cloud storage for the specific applications that have to run "locally" on the PC... You might also get a Chromebook for international travel. Chromebooks run Google's Chrome operating system and keep pretty much all data in Google's cloud. So you could carry a bare Chromebook through a border, go online, and retrieve the information you need. You have to completely trust Google with this method...

[The article also suggests encrypting the hard disk -- along with your phone -- or carrying an external drive.] I use the Ubuntu operating system, and this simplifies creating a special travel setup. In preparation for international hassles, I've put a copy of my OS and essential data files on an encrypted USB thumb drive, which holds 256 gigabytes of data... If I've forgotten to load some specific files, and I have them backed up in the cloud, I can always go there.

Because of all the additional security procedures, he utlimately predicts higher ticket prices, fewer business travellers, and, according to Bruce Schneier, "a new category of 'trusted travelers' who are allowed to carry their electronics onto planes."

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