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  1. Microsoft wants to kill off Linux malware for good Project Freta detects Linux malware for free (Image credit: Shutterstock.com) Microsoft has unveiled a new threat detection service that it hopes can greatly improve security protection on Linux systems. Project Freta is a free cloud-based tool that is able to detect new forms of malware and other malicious software such as rootkits and cryptominers that Microsoft says could have previously gone undetected in Linux systems. The company notes that such threats can often be found lurking in Linux cloud VM images, putting users of the open-source platform at risk. Linux security Microsoft says that Project Freta offers a whole new way of detecting malware threats, going beyond existing methods that rely on sensors to predict the presence of something untoward. Such methods can often be swerved or bypassed entirely by malware authors, meaning a new approach was needed. Project Freta is able to analyse virtual machines (VMs) in order to learn about new environments and how they are affected by malware, before using this knowledge to spot emerging threats. Microsoft says Project Freta automatically analyses images of thousands of Linux cloud VMs in order to detect new forms of malware and sensor corruption, and supports over 4,000 kernel versions at launch. This makes it incredibly resilient, meaning malware authors would have to invest heavily in developing new threats that can get around the new scanning technology. Project Freta users, who will need a Microsoft account to access the service, can also submit a captured image to generate a report of its content, helping boost the initiative's reach and expertise. "We often think about the field of computer security as a field of walls and barriers that keep intruders out," Mike Walker, Microsoft Senior Director, New Security Ventures wrote in a blog post announcing the launch. "With Project Freta, we invite readers to think not of walls but of sunlight...Project Freta is a roadmap toward trusted sensing for the cloud that can allow enterprises to engage in regular, complete discovery sweeps for undetected malware." Initially only available for Linux systems, Microsoft says it plans to add Windows support for Project Freta soon, as well as AI technology that can boost decision-making potential. "We hope that Project Freta empowers administrators and responders and is used globally as it has been used at Microsoft: to hunt advanced intruders and their toolkits," Walker concluded. Via BleepingComputer Microsoft wants to kill off Linux malware for good
  2. Google is bringing the fruits of its cross-platform app making framework Flutter to Linux desktops with help of Canonical no less. Over 500,000 developers already use Flutter, Google’s open source UI framework, to building mobile apps, and tech is often pitched as an alternative to React Native. But while the Flutter SDK has been available on Linux to create apps for other platforms it wasn’t possible to build desktop Linux apps. That changes today. Build Linux Apps with Flutter “[We] are happy to jointly announce the availability of the Linux alpha for Flutter alongside Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, the world’s most popular desktop Linux distribution,” writes Google’s Chris Sells in a blog post. Google said last year that it wanted to bring Flutter build software to desktop platforms. And with Ubuntu the go-to OS for mobile app creation (including ones built using the Flutter SDK) there’s much merit in allowing devs to use the software to make apps for the underlying platform too. But don’t fear some kind of Frankenstein mobile fudge; Flutter aims to be a first-class citizen on Linux. Google says it has done ‘extensive refactoring’ to the engine to support, power, and provide native desktop experiences. While Dart, the programming language that underpins the toolkit, is now able to take advantage of desktop integration features. Canonical investing heavily Canonical is also putting a team of developers to work on the tech alongside Google’s own engineers. The company says it will collaborate with Google to “improve Linux support and maintain feature parity with the other supported platforms”. What makes Flutter so popular? Well, the tech allows devs to code an app once and have it run on multiple different platforms, including mobile and macOS. But with the new alpha apps built using this tech can also run on the Linux desktop. Install Flutter SDK on Ubuntu To get started building apps (for whatever platform) you don’t need to install a spaghetti tnagle of intertwined dependencies and developer tools. Just install the Flutter SDK from the Snap Store, add the Dart plugin in an IDE like Visual Studio Code, and get coding: Install Flutter SDK from the Snap Store here Note: to build desktop Linux apps using Flutter you do need to run the following commands after installing the SDK: flutter channel dev flutter upgrade flutter config --enable-linux-desktop You may also wish to install the flutter-gallery snap too. This showcases the range of widgets and interface components available for use — and will almost certainly give you lots of inspiration for what you could create! Finally if you’re less interested in making apps and more keen on trying them do check out Flokk Contacts. This is sample desktop Flutter app built to show off what the tech is capable of on desktop. Source
  3. Linux computer manufacturer System76 launched today their first ever AMD powered Linux laptop, which features 3rd generation AMD Ryzen 3000 series processors and a cool price tag. A few weeks ago, TUXEDO Computers unveiled what they called the world’s first AMD-only Linux laptop, and now System76 follows in their footsteps to announce a new Linux laptop that’s powered by an AMD processor. Meet the 12th generation Serval WS. System76 Serval WS is now the first AMD laptop from the company known for numerous powerful Linux machines and the gorgeous, Ubuntu-based Pop_OS! Linux, which comes preloaded on all new computers manufactured by System76. In other words, customers can finally own an AMD-only Linux laptop from System76, powered by a 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processor. Available options include AMD Ryzen 5 3600, AMD Ryzen 7 3700X or AMD Ryzen 9 3900, providing up to 12 cores and 24 threads of pure AMD power under the hood. “AMD Ryzen CPUs offer the best bang for your buck, which is especially helpful when your work requires mountains of bang,” said System76. “Create 3D models, simulate transitions, and test your predictions at breakneck speeds with up to 12 CPU Cores on the AMD Ryzen 9 PRO 3900.” Apart from the powerful AMD CPUs, the new Serval WS laptop can be configured with either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti or Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, up to 64GB upgradeable RAM, and up to 4TB NVMe flash storage for desktop-level gaming performance. The laptop also features a beautiful 15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) 120 Hz display with a matte finish, a multi-color backlit chiclet US QWERTY keyboard, Gigabit Ethernet, Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6, 1.0MP HD video camera, a multitouch touchpad, and a removable 6-cell smart Lithium-Ion battery. The Serval WS has base price of $1,299 USD, but can go as high as $5,102 USD with max options and 3-year warranty. Without further ado, you can configure and buy yours right now from System76’s online store. It comes with the latest Pop_OS! Linux 20.04 LTS or Ubuntu 20.04 LTS pre-installed. More Images at the source ! Source
  4. Microsoft is giving Linux a significant security update Linux and Android systems will be able to download Microsoft Defender ATP (Image credit: Shutterstock) Microsoft is hoping to boost its security protection for Android and Linux systems with a new release of its Defender Adavanced Threat Protection (ATP) app. A public preview, or first version of Defender ATP for Linux and Android devices can be installed from today, giving users a welcome security upgrade. Microsoft Defender ATP is a common presence on Windows devices around the world, offering a frequently-updated protection platform against a wide number of security threats. Microsoft Defender ATP for Linux After being announced earlier this year, the Linux version of Microsoft Defender ATP is generally available now, offering support for recent versions of the six most common Linux Server distributions, including Ubuntu 16 LTS or higher. "This initial release delivers strong preventive capabilities, a full command line experience on the client to configure and manage the agent, initiate scans, manage threats, and a familiar integrated experience for machines and alert monitoring in the Microsoft Defender Security Center," Microsoft wrote in a blog post announcing the news. The app can be deployed and configured using Puppet, Ansible, or using your existing Linux configuration management tool. (Image credit: Microsoft) Microsoft Defender ATP for Android was announced at the RSA security conference earlier this year as the company looked to address what is often the most highly-targeted platform for cyberattacks. The app offers full device-scanning capabilities to spot the latest malware threats and malicious apps, and will also be able to detect insecure sites and potential phishing threats while the user is browsing the web, as well as blocking access to any pre-determined sites set up by a company's IT team. IT teams can now quickly enable secuirty features via their dashbaord, with the changes rolling out immediately to prevent any infection. IT staff can also use the app to block compromised devices out of a corporate network, or stop users from accessing certain in-house apps once they have left the business. Such at-risk devices could also be stopped from accessing company resources such as OneDrive accounts or even the central Outlook mail server. "Knowing that each of our customers have unique environments and unique needs and are looking for more unification in their security solutions, we communicated our commitment to build security solutions from Microsoft, not just for Microsoft," wrote Rob Lefferts, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft 365 Security. "We are committed to helping organizations secure their unique and heterogenous environments and we have so much more in store for you this year." Microsoft had also announced a public preview for iOS devices earlier this year, however the company was not able to reveal it alongside the Android version, instead stating the app is scheduled for "later this year." Microsoft is giving Linux a significant security update
  5. visualbuffs

    Best Linux OS for you?

    what linux os is your favorite!? or the OS you tried before and present!
  6. Researchers detail the unusual workings of Tycoon ransomware - which appears to be designed to stay under the radar as much as possible. A newly uncovered form of ransomware is going after Windows and Linux systems in what appears to be a targeted campaign. Named Tycoon after references in the code, this ransomware has been active since December 2019 and looks to be the work of cyber criminals who are highly selective in their targeting. The malware also uses an uncommon deployment technique which helps stay hidden on compromised networks. The main targets of Tycoon are organisations in the education and software industries. Tycoon has been uncovered and detailed by researchers at BlackBerry working with security analysts at KPMG. It's an unusual form of ransomware because it's written in Java, deployed as a trojanised Java Runtime Environment and is compiled in a Java image file (Jimage) to hide the malicious intentions. "These are both unique methods. Java is very seldom used to write endpoint malware because it requires the Java Runtime Environment to be able to run the code. Image files are rarely used for malware attacks," Eric Milam, VP for research and intelligence at BlackBerry told ZDNet. "Attackers are shifting towards uncommon programming languages and obscure data formats. Here, the attackers did not need to obscure their code were nonetheless successful in accomplishing their goals," he added. However, the first stage of Tycoon ransomware attacks is less uncommon, with the initial intrusion coming via insecure internet-facing RDP servers. This is a common attack vector for malware campaigns and it often exploits servers with weak or previously compromised passwords. Once inside the network, the attackers maintain persistence by using Image File Execution Options (IFEO) injection settings which more often provide developers with the ability to debug software. The attackers also use privileges to disable anti-malware software using ProcessHacker in order to stop removal of their attack. "Ransomware can be implemented in high-level languages such as Java with no obfuscation and executed in unexpected ways," said Milam. After execution, the ransomware encrypts the network with files encrypted by Tycoon given extensions including .redrum, .grinch and .thanos – and the attackers demand a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. The attackers ask for payment in bitcoin and claim the price depends on how quickly the victim gets in touch via email. The fact the campaign is still ongoing suggests that those behind it are finding success extorting payments from victims. Researchers suggest that Tycoon could potentially be linked to another form of ransomware, Dharma – also known as Crysis – due to similarities in the email addresses, names of encrypted files and the text of the ransom note. And while Tycoon does have some unique means of executing an infection, like other forms of ransomware, it's possible to prevent it from getting that far. As RDP is a common means of compromise, organisations can ensure that the only ports facing outward to the internet are those which require it as an absolute necessity. Organisations should also make sure that accounts which do need access to these ports aren't using default credentials or weak passwords which can easily be guessed as a means of breaking in. Applying security patches when they're released can also prevent many ransomware attacks, as it stops criminals exploiting known vulnerabilities. Organisations should also ensure they regularly backup their network – and that the backup is reliable – so that if the worst happens, the network can be restored without giving into the demands of cyber criminals. Source
  7. Dr.Web Security Space is an advanced security application that comes packed with several protection modules for fighting against all sorts of threats that may comprise your computer’s stability and performance. It offers support for antivirus, protection against spam and phishing websites, parental control, remote antivirus network options, firewall (you may choose to deploy it on your PC during the installation process), identification of malicious URLs via its personal cloud servers, backups, and blocking mode for removable devices. Some of the most notable antivirus technologies offered by Dr.Web Security Space help you detect viruses, malware, and other types of threats in real time, automatically update virus definitions, proactively block viruses, as well as discover spam emails and filter messages in real time. Dr.Web Security Space for Windows for 3 months Dr.Web Anti-virus for MacOS for 3 months Dr.Web Anti-virus for Linux for 3 months Giveaway: link https://www.comss.ru/page.php?id=5299 Obtaining a license for 3 months 1. To use Dr.Web Antivirus free 3 months, go to the respective product download page: https://www.comss.ru/download/page.php?id=5299 2. On the product page, click Download for 3 months and enter your email address. 3. Confirm your email address after receiving the letter and complete the registration for demolitsenzii Dr.Web for 3 months. conditions proposals You get a trial version (demolitsenziyu) for 3 months free of charge (demoperiod). Validity demolitsenzii starts with the activation code received. Free use of the software Dr.Web for demoperioda guaranteed only if the user agrees to receive service messages about the status of the license. In the case of non-receipt of these messages demolitsenziya blocked, and the following license for examination can be received only nine months after the opt-out
  8. Microsoft shows off its Edge browser running on Linux Today at Microsoft's Build 2020 developer conference, the company briefly showed its Edge browser running on Linux for the first time. That's pretty much the whole story. It's notable because the firm hasn't showed off Edge running on the open-source platform just yet, although the features should mirror what we're already seeing from Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and macOS. Microsoft first talked about bringing Edge to Linux at last year's Build conference. In fact, during the session, the team confirmed it, but when I asked afterward, they backed off a little bit and said that they were only exploring Linux as an option. It was at Ignite later that year when the team finally confirmed that there's going to be a Linux flavor of the Chromium-based Edge browser. The idea is to meet developers where they already are, just like on macOS, and Edge for Linux has been listed as coming soon for a while. In fact, the download page for Insider channels is live. But we can see that there are Edge team members using it now, so hopefully, it will actually arrive sooner rather than later. Source: Microsoft shows off its Edge browser running on Linux (Neowin)
  9. DeaDBeeF is an open source music player for Linux Foobar2000 is the go-to music player for many users (including myself). Though it isn't available on Linux, you can opt for an alternative like DeadBeef. The program's interface is minimal and the playback controls are at the top (its almost like Foobar), but DeadBeeF has a colorized progress bar and volume slider. The large pane below the controls is the playlist pane. It supports tabs, so you can open/manage multiple playlists at the same time. The pane has many columns inlcuding the current playing status, artist name, album, track number, title, and the duration of the track. Right-click on a column to edit/remove it. You can group columns too. Select the add column option to add any of the following: Album art, Year, Band/Album Artist, Codec, Bitrate or a Custom column. Right-click on a track to add/remove it to the playback queue, reload the metadata, perform file operations (cut, copy, paste, remove). You can set the Replay gain options, refresh the cover art, convert the audio into other formats (AAC, ALAC, FLAC, MP3, OGG, OPUS, etc). It also lets you view the properties and metadata of the track, or look up the track info on Last.fm Use the Playback menu to set the Shuffle, Repeat settings. You can also toggle scroll follows playback, cursor follows playback, stop after current track and stop after current album from this menu. DeaDBeef auto resumes the playback from where you left off, when you start the application. The program has a few output plugins that you can select from. Toggle the Status bar, and the Equalizer from the view menu. Not a the fan of the DeadBeeF color scheme? Open the Preferences window and switch to the Appearance tab to change the color of the bars, the equalizer's background, the text in the tab strip, and various other elements. Set the music player to minimize to the tray from the GUI/Misc tab. You can create and save playlists in multiple formats including DBPL, M3U, M3U8 and PLS. I may be nitpicking here but, when you have a playlist loaded and then change to a different one, the tab's name displays the older playlist's name. The status bar below the playlist pane displays the audio properties (format, bitrate, total playtime, etc). DeaDBeef comes with many plugins that you can configure. To include a few here, it has a plugin that can download album art from different sources, a plugin which can play music directly from zip files, an OSD Notify plugin that can display an on-screen notification when a track is changed. Note: I couldn't get the album art to show up. This issue on Github suggests that it may only work if the picture has been set to the correct type. For what it's worth, the album art works in other players. DeaDBeef supports MP3, FLAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, AAC, M4A, ALAC, WMA, TTA, SHN, SID, NSF, MOD, S3M, VTX, VGM, VGZ, PSF, MIDI, MPC, MPP, MP+, FFMPEG formats, DUMB, GME, LIBSNDFILE, ADPLUG audio formats. The program is written in C and C++(GTK2 and 3 for GUI). Head to the SourceForge page to download the DeaDBeeF (.deb) installation package for Linux. An unofficial port of DeaDBeeF is available for Windows. It is fairly identical to the Linux version, but is missing a few plugins (because they're DLLs). The context menu is broken at least for me, it blanks out when trying to modify columns. DeaDBeef is light on resources, and the sound quality is crisp. It is an excellent alternative for Foobar on Linux. Landing Page: https://sourceforge.net/projects/deadbeef/ Source: DeaDBeeF is an open source music player for Linux (gHacks - Ashwin)
  10. TreeLine is an open source PIM for Windows and Linux You have a lot of choices for note taking apps to choose from, just refer to our reviews of Elephant, tomboy-ng, or Joplin. But if I had to choose one of the more complex ones, it has to be TreeLine. It's not right to name it a note taking app, it's more of a database program that you can use as a PIM (personal information manager). There are three panes, a menu bar and a toolbar in TreeLine's interface. The program can be used to store data in plain text, rich text, HTML, images etc. If you want to start a new notebook, click on the File menu > New File option to select a template for your note. You may choose from Single line text, Long text, Contact list, Book list and ToDo lists. We'll be using the default notebook in the next section. For now, click on File > New and select Long text. You'll see a node called "Parent" on the left side bar. This is your primary node or "root folder" if you will. It has a sub-node labeled "Child". Right-click on the node to bring up the context menu. Use it to rename, reorder, indent the nodes. There are three tabs at the bottom of the right pane. The default view is the "Data Output" tab, switch to the 2nd one "Data Edit". This is the Data Editor in TreeLine. It has a few boxes. The one at the top is the name or heading box, while the large one below it is the text box where you will store your notes. I've given them new names and typed something in the text boxes. This is my first note. If we go back to the Data Output tab, we will see the content that we saved earlier, but we can't edit them on this tab. The Title list tab displays the heading of each child node. Speaking of which, you can add as many nodes as you want in the side-bar. They can be either a sibling (stored under the same parent node) or a child. To save new content, simply add a new node and edit them. It's easy. Configuring Data Types manually TreeLine's true strength lies in data types. These are values that you'll have to manually configure. The default notebook starts blank, as in it has no entries. Right-click on the word "Main" in the Tree View (left side-bar) to view the context menu. Select "Add Child", and a new Node will be created. Give it a name. You'll have to set up the template of the nodes before you can use the notebook. For e.g. to store plain text, you have to configure a title field and a text field, for images you'll need to set another data type, and so on. Click on the Data menu, and select "Configure Data Types" option. There are 5 tabs here. The first tab is Type List, you can set various data types here (plain text, html, etc). TreeLine always has a "DEFAULT" type, we'll use it in this example. Switch to the next tab, "Type Config" there are options to add blank lines between nodes, enable HTML rich text format, bullets, and table fields. It already has a field "Name", and its type is "Text". This is the one that we saw earlier in the Data Editor, which we'll use for adding titles. You may change the icon of the new node from this tab. The third tab is "Field List". Click on the "New Field" button on the right. Since we want to store text content, we'll name it as "Plain_Text". The program always sets the type of new fields to Text, if you want to change this, use the "Field Config" tab. For now though, let's leave it be. Go to the Output tab, and set the output format to {*Plain_Text*}. The Title format has the value {*Name*}, which can be left unmodified. Select Apply and then the OK button to close the "Configure Data Types" window. Whew! That was a bit difficult, wasn't it? Let me explain what we did here. We created a new text box called "Plain_Text" that we can use for saving notes, and we also had to set TreeLine to display the note in the output viewer. Usage Head back to the Data Editor window, and you'll see that there is a new field called text. You can now use it to store your notes. Type a title in the Name field, and your notes in the Text field. The program will display the title on the left side bar, and the contents of the note in the right pane. Repeat the steps to create different node data types for HTML and other content like tables, URLs, images, etc. Once you have set up a data type in a notebook, you can use it in any note that you store in it. Right-click on a node in the sidebar, use the "Set Node Type menu" to view the ones you created. Switch to it, to use the corresponding content in the node. A parent node can contain several child nodes, and each of these can be of a different type. Here are some HTML node examples which I created in TreeLine. Each of these use a different "Data type" node. Highlight some text, and use the format menu or the right-click context menu to Underline, Bold, Italic, the content. You may change the font type, color, or add URLs to the text from this menu. TreeLine isn't portable, though the installed version can be set to store its settings in its own folder. Windows binaries are available on the official website. Linux users will need to build the app from the source code. TreeLine's manual configuration has a learning curve which can be a little difficult to grasp, but it's quite rewarding. If you use one of the other options (like Long Text), it's pretty simple to use. Landing Page: https://treeline.bellz.org/index.html Source: TreeLine is an open source PIM for Windows and Linux (gHacks - Ashwin)
  11. The exFAT filesystem is coming to Linux—Paragon software’s not happy about it The proprietary filesystem vendor unleashed a '90s-level torrent of FUD yesterday. Enlarge / Proprietary filesystem vendor Paragon Software seems to feel threatened by the pending inclusion of a Microsoft-sanctioned exFAT in the Linux 5.7 kernel. MTV / Geffen / Paramount Pictures 23 with 21 posters participating, including story author When software and operating system giant Microsoft announced its support for inclusion of the exFAT filesystem directly into the Linux kernel back in August, it didn't get a ton of press coverage. But filesystem vendor Paragon Software clearly noticed this month's merge of the Microsoft-approved, largely Samsung-authored version of exFAT into the VFS for-next repository, which will in turn merge into Linux 5.7—and Paragon doesn't seem happy about it. Yesterday, Paragon issued a press release about European gateway-modem vendor Sagemcom adopting its version of exFAT into an upcoming series of Linux-based routers. Unfortunately, it chose to preface the announcement with a stream of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) that wouldn't have looked out of place on Steve Ballmer's letterhead in the 1990s. Breaking down the FUD Paragon described its arguments against open source software—which appeared directly in my inbox—as an "article (available for publication in any form) explaining why the open source model didn't work in 3 cases." All three of Paragon's offered cases were curious examples, at best. Case one: Android Let’s first look into some cases where filesystems similar to exFAT were supported in Unix derivatives and how that worked from an open source perspective. The most sound case is Android, which creates a native Linux ext4FS container to run apps from FAT formatted flash cards (3). This shows the inability (or unwillingness based on the realistic estimation of a needed effort) of software giant Google to make its own implementation of a much simpler FAT in the Android Kernel. The footnote leads the reader to a lengthy XDA-developers article that explains the long history of SD card filesystems in the Android operating system. An extremely brief summation: originally, Android used the largely compatible VFAT implementation of the Windows FAT32 filesystem. This caused several issues—including security problems due to a lack of multi-user security metadata. These problems led Google to replace VFAT with a largely Samsung-developed FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) implementation of exFAT. This solved the security issues twice over—not only were ACLs now supported, the FUSE filesystem could even be mounted for individual users. Unfortunately, this led to performance issues—as convenient as FUSE might be, userspace filesystems don't perform as well as in-kernel filesystems. Still with us so far? Great. The final step in this particular story is Google replacing exFAT-FUSE with SDCardFS, another Samsung-developed project that—confusingly—isn't really a filesystem at all. Instead, it's an in-kernel wrapper that passes API calls to a lower-level filesystem. SDCardFS replaces FUSE, not the filesystem, and thereby allows emulated filesystems to run in kernel space. If you're wondering where proprietary software comes in to save the day, the answer is simple: it doesn't. This is a story of the largest smartphone operating system in the world consistently and successfully using open source software, improving performance and security along the way. What's not yet clear is whether Google specifically will use the new in-kernel exFAT landing in 5.7 in Android or will continue to use Samsung's SDCardFS filesystem wrapper. SDCardFS solved Android's auxiliary-storage performance problems, and it may provide additional security benefits that simply using an in-kernel exFAT would not. Case two: MacOS The other case is Mac OS—another Unix derivative that still does not have commercial support for NTFS-write mode—it only supports NTFS in a read-only mode. That appears strange given the existence of NTFS-3G for Linux. One can activate write support—but there’s no guarantee that NTFS volumes won’t be corrupted during write operations. There are several problems with using MacOS' iffy NTFS support as a case against open source software. The first is that NTFS support doesn't seem to be a real priority for Apple in the first place. MacOS Classic had no NTFS support at all. The NTFS support present after Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther" was, effectively, a freebie—it was already there in the FreeBSD-derived VFS (Virtual File System) and network stack. Another problem with this comparison is that NTFS is a full-featured, fully modern filesystem with no missing parts. By contrast, exFAT—the filesystem whose Linux kernel implementation Paragon is throwing FUD at—is an extremely bare-bones, lightweight filesystem designed for use in embedded devices. The final nail in this particular coffin is that the open source NTFS implementation used by MacOS isn't Microsoft-sanctioned. It's a clean-room reverse-engineered workaround of a proprietary filesystem. Worse, it's an implementation made at a time when Microsoft actively wanted to close the open source community out—and it's not even the modern version. As Paragon notes, NTFS-3G is the modern open source implementation of NTFS. NTFS-3G, which is dual-licensed proprietary/GPL, does not suffer from potential write-corruption issues—and it's available on MacOS, as well as on Linux. Mac users who don't need the highest performance can install a FUSE implementation of NTFS-3G for free using Homebrew, while those desiring native or near-native performance can purchase a lifetime license directly from Tuxera. Each $15 license includes perpetual free upgrades and installation on up to three personal computers. It's probably worth noting that Paragon—in addition to selling a proprietary implementation of exFAT—sells a proprietary implementation of NTFS for the Mac. Case three: SMB An additional example, away from filesystems, is an open source SMB protocol implementation. Mac OS, as well as the majority of printer manufacturers, do not rely on an open-source solution, as there are several commercial implementations of SMB as soon as a commercial level of support is required. It's unclear why Paragon believed this to be a good argument against open source implementations of a file system. SMB (Server Message Block) isn't a filesystem at all; it's a network communication protocol introduced with Microsoft Windows. It's certainly true that many proprietary implementations of SMB exist—including one in direct partnership with Microsoft, made by Paragon rival and NTFS-3G vendor Tuxera. But this is another very odd flex to try to make against open source filesystem implementations. Leaving aside the question of what SMB has to do with exFAT, we should note the extensive commercial use of Samba, the original gangster of open source SMB networking. In particular, Synology uses Samba for its NAS (Network Attached Storage) servers, as do Netgear and QNAP. Samba.org itself also lists high-profile commercial vendors including but not limited to American Megatrends, Hewlett-Packard, Veritas, and VMWare. Open source is here to stay We congratulate Paragon on closing their timely exFAT deal with Sagemcom. Although there's good reason to believe that the Samsung-derived and Microsoft-approved exFAT implementation in Linux 5.7 will be secure, stable, and highly performant, it's not here yet—and it isn't even in the next upcoming Linux kernel, 5.6, which we expect to hit general availability in late April or early May. In the meantime, a company with a business need to finalize design decisions—like Sagemcom—probably is making the right decision to use a proprietary exFAT implementation, with commercial support. The license costs are probably a small percentage of what the company stands to earn in gross router sales, and Paragon's implementation is a known value. However, we suspect the exFAT landscape will tilt significantly once Samsung's Microsoft-blessed version hits the mainstream Linux kernel. Hopefully, Paragon will evolve a more modern open source strategy now, while it still has time. Source: The exFAT filesystem is coming to Linux—Paragon software’s not happy about it (Ars Technica)
  12. Linux Mint wants to make it easier to transfer files between Linux computers that share the same network. To get a file from one PC to another PC at present users might reach for a USB stick; leverage a cloud sync service like Dropbox; or attempt Bluetooth file sending (which I swear never works for anyone). But sending files over the local network is (usually) a much faster way to fling files between machines — and it’s precisely this use case that Linux Mint’s new tool is built for. New Linux File Transfer App Linux Mint’s aspiring new app is called (for the moment) “Warpinator“. It’s basically a lot like the GTK file transfer app Teleport we highlighted last summer, just a bit more Mint-y and offering a touch more control. Mint says the app is directly inspired by the Giver app the distro used to ship with. With the same simple aims in mind, the new file sending tool lets users sharing files over the local network without any server or other configuration required. A simple, straight-forward UI guides users through the steps needed to transfer files wirelessly from PC to PC, without any third-party cloud intermediaries, obscure copy/paste codes, or other hurdles. A small bug focused set of features and settings are available in this Python-based app, including: Accept/deny file transfers Connect to multiple computers File transfer history Set device nickname Designate a receiving folder Specify a port Simple, concise, useful — does this sound like something you’ll use it? If so, check out the source code upon Github. The app is likely to come pre-installed in future releases of Linux Mint. Source
  13. We have covered so many music players that I have lost count. But the open-source community keeps getting blessed with more players and the least I can do is keep you informed of the latest cool ones. Today’s music player is an advanced open-source media player called Olivia. Olivia is a sophisticated powerful music player capable of playing both online and offline tracks. You can use it for streaming audio and YouTube content, listening to different radio stations, and organizing your media library. It features a simple, nicely compartmentalized UI that supports dynamic theme based on the album art. You can easily organize your music, create playlists, search for music online including YouTube whose results you can add to your library, listen to over 25,000 Internet radio stations, and download songs while streaming. Olivia has a mini player widget with customizable transparency settings and it plays only YouTube audio in order to save data. Features in Olivia Free and open-source with source code available on GitHub. Mini player widget with transparency settings. Supports streaming YouTube audio. Customizable with themes. Supports dynamic theme based on album art. Access over 25K Internet radio stations. Download songs while streaming. Intelligent music search suggestions. Listen to top music charts according to country ratings. Search YouTube and add results to your music library. Lyrics of playing songs and separate lyrics search. Powerful audio equalizers and audio filters. Support for MPRIS protocol. Countrywise music chart of the top 100 songs and album chart of the top 100 albums. There are several other features listed in the official pages for Olivia music player. If you want to know the others, you can also install and try it out yourself. The latest version is available on Snapcraft and you can rest assured that you’ll be running a stable version. $ sudo snap install olivia Download Olivia from Snapcraft If you have theme issues like big fonts and weird cursors then run the command in your terminal: QT_STYLE_OVERRIDE='gtk' olivia.olivia More features such as cloud synchronization with online accounts are expected to be available in Olivia anytime from now so let’s be patient with the developers. Source
  14. 2038 is for Linux what Y2K was for mainframe and PC computing in 2000, but the fixes are underway to make sure all goes well when that fatal time rolls around. On 03:14:08 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT, aka Coordinated Universal Time) January 19, 2038 (that's a Tuesday), the world ends. Well, not in the biblical Book of Revelations sense. But, what will happen is the value for time in 32-bit based Unix-based operating systems, like Linux and older versions of macOS, runs out of numbers and starts counting time with negative numbers. That's not good. We can expect 32-bit computers running these operating systems to have fits. Fortunately, Linux's developers already had a fix ready to go. The problem starts with how Unix tells time. Unix, and its relations -- Linux, macOS, and other POSIX-compatible operating systems -- date the beginning of time from the Epoch: 00:00:00 GMT on January 1, 1970. The Unix family measures time by the number of seconds since the Epoch. So far, so good. But, since Unix and family started out as 32-bit operating systems, time's value is kept as a single signed 32-bit integer number. Those are a lot of seconds, but just like the last century's Y2K bug, it's not enough. Linux developers have seen this coming for decades. So, Linux kernel developer Arnd Bergmann and others have been working on a repair. These corrections are now in the forthcoming Linux 5.6 kernel. Bergmann explained, "Linux-5.6, or my backport of the patches to 5.4, should be the first release that can serve as a base for a 32-bit system designed to run beyond year 2038." There are some caveats: All user space must be compiled with a 64-bit time_t, which will be supported in the coming musl-1.2 and glibc-2.32 releases, along with installed kernel headers from Linux-5.6 or higher. Applications that use the system call interfaces directly need to be ported to use the time64 syscalls added in Linux-5.1 in place of the existing system calls. Applications that use a private copy of kernel uapi header files or their contents may need to update to the Linux-5.6 version. A few remaining interfaces cannot be changed to pass a 64-bit time_t in a compatible way, so they must be configured to use CLOCK_MONOTONIC times. All Epoch problems present on 64-bit machines also apply to 32-bit machines. In particular this affects file systems with on-disk timestamps using signed 32-bit seconds: ext4 with ext3-style small inodes, ext2, xfs (to be fixed soon) and ufs. In short, there's a lot of clean-up work to be done even after the core problem has been fixed. MacOS has been moving away from 32-bit software for over a decade. But, tt was only in the late 2019 release of macOS Catalina, that Apple gave 32-bit apps the boot. Now, you may be wondering -- since we're all running 64-bit computers these days -- why is this even an issue. Well, it's like this. First, many embedded systems and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are still running 32-bit operating systems. Indeed, by 2038, there will probably still be new 32-bit devices arriving in the market. We also know, thanks to the Y2K bug popping up again in 2020, that systems you might assume will be dumped into landfills in 18-years will still be alive and well -- and badly misbehaving come the Epoch. But look at this way: After we fix this, we won't have to worry about 64-bit Linux running out of seconds until 15:30:08 GMT Sunday, December 4, 29,227,702,659. Personally, I'm not going to worry about that one. Source
  15. Dell’s 2019 XPS 13 DE: As close as we currently get to Linux-computing nirvana Dell is releasing the 2019 and 2020 editions of its Linux laptop just four months apart. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 5 images. Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition, the company's flagship "just works" Ubuntu-based machine, was recently refreshed. These days Dell's XPS line is not the cheapest Linux option, nor is it the most configurable or user-upgradable. And if any of those factors are a big part of your criteria, this is likely not the laptop for you. On top of that, many Linux users still have a strong DIY streak and will turn up their noses at the XPS 13. After all, in a day and age when just about every laptop I test seems to run Linux fairly well right out of the box, do you need official support? If you know what you're doing and don't mind troubleshooting your own problems, the answer is probably not. Yet after spending a few weeks with the latest XPS 13 (the fourth refresh I've tested), it's hard to shake the feeling that this is the closest any company has come to Linux-computing nirvana. The XPS 13 Developer Edition makes an excellent choice for anyone who prefers Linux but wants hardware support from the manufacturer. All these years into its Linux odyssey, Dell continues to stand behind the operating system on these machines in a way that, in my experience, few other computer makers do. So if you want a computer that runs smoothly and for which you can pick up the phone and get help should you need it, the Dell XPS 13 remains one of the best options out there (maybe regardless of your OS preference). It doesn't hurt, either, that the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition is also a great-looking, solidly built piece of hardware. If you dream of a Linux rig that "just works" and comes in a powerful, minimalist package that weighs a mere 2.7lbs, the XPS 13 Developer Edition fits the bill. But wait, which XPS 13 DE to get? In early 2020, the decision gets confusing as to which Dell XPS 13 to consider. To judge by the number of machines and models available, Dell's Project Sputnik—the company's long-running effort to bring Ubuntu-based hardware to the masses—has been an unqualified success. Not only are there more models and configurations than ever, Dell keeps churning out hardware updates, usually on pace with the Windows models. That's no small feat considering that this hardware has to undergo a completely different set of compatibility tests from the Windows machines. To be fair, some features have lagged behind in the Linux models; the fingerprint reader is a good example. The Windows version of the XPS 13 released in early 2019 features a fingerprint reader on the power button. The same feature has not been available in the Linux edition until now. While I was testing the late 2019 Developer Edition update, Dell announced another update. The new 2020 version (the 10th-gen XPS 13 Developer Edition for those of you keeping track), gets Ice Lake processors with Gen11 graphics and a new larger screen. This 2020 Developer Edition will also be available with up to 32GB of RAM, up from 16GB in the model I tested. Better late than never, support for the fingerprint reader is also coming. It won't be available at launch in mid-February, but Dell says that support will arrive soon after. As the company has in the past, Dell will continue to sell both the new and previous XPS 13 DE releases this year—this time the two devices just happen to go live four months apart (the 2019 in November; the 2020 this month). Laptop seekers need to know their model numbers: the late 2019 release I primarily tested is the 7390, and the coming 2020 version is the 9300 (yes, Dell told me the model numbers start over at 9300 in 2020—the same model number used in 2016). Luckily, I had a chance to play with the new 9300 hardware recently at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (Linux fans will be happy to know: it had a prominent spot on the display, right next to the Windows version.) Even a small amount of in-person tinkering time allows me to make some notable comparisons with the 2019 model. Enlarge / Dell's 2020 CES lineup: two of the new XPS 13 laptops next to the new XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop (in black). Valentina Palladino What's new: 2019 version v. 2020 version The XPS 13 line has stuck with largely the same design since it launched. The bezel seems to always diminish by some nearly immeasurable amount, but otherwise the hardware has looked about the same for years now. The 2019 model is no exception to this trend. Side by, side it's impossible to tell apart from the 2018 model I own, save for one little detail: no more nose cam. As Ars noted last year when the Windows model was released, the webcam is no longer at the base of the screen staring straight up your nose. Instead the webcam is where it belongs, at the top of the screen. The iteration of the XPS 13 line I've been testing features Intel's Comet Lake 6-core i7-10710U processor. It's a marginal step up from the previous version, but in outside benchmarks I haven't really noticed a huge speed increase. What I have noticed is that this version runs consistently cooler than my 2018 version (both running Ubuntu 18.04). So what of those two extra cores? It may not sound like much, but if you push your processor (whether editing video, gaming, or compiling software), you're going to want six cores. I happened to be editing a video while reviewing this laptop, and, using Lightworks, what took 38 minutes to export on my 2018 XPS 13 took a mere 19 minutes on the Comet Lake chip. The model Dell sent for testing had the max 16GB of RAM and a 1TB solid state drive. As configured, the test machine would set you back $1,899.99. The lowest model, which has the 1080p display, an i5 chip, 128GB SSD, and only 8GB of RAM, can be had for $975. The build quality hasn't changed, and the XPS 13 remains a solidly built machine. The construction is excellent, and the underlying aluminum frame provides a stiffness that makes it feel solid even though it's so light. The finish holds up quite well, too. My 2018 model has bounced around in my bag, slid across many a table, and scraped over tile counters in the kitchen all without leaving many marks. I expect the same will be true of the latest model. Though I've been using one for years now, the XPS 13's InfinityEdge display still amazes me, too. No, it's not OLED, but it manages to pack a 13-inch screen into a body that otherwise looks and feels more like an 11-inch laptop. Dell has always sent me the version with the 4K IPS touch panel. You can get the XPS 13 with a 1920x1080 screen, and it will get better battery life (more on that in a minute), but I think the higher res display is worth the extra money. Previously there were quite a few pain points with HiDPI screens in Ubuntu, but that's largely a thing of the past. The grub menu and boot screens are still impossibly small, and every now and then there's an app that doesn't scale properly—Zoom, I'm looking at you here. But by and large, the combination of work done by the GNOME project, Ubuntu, and Dell has sorted out these issues. I do find the brightest setting to be overwhelming when working indoors (the XPS 13 maxes out at 472 nits brightness), though it does mitigate the glare somewhat if you're working outside. For me, I'd say this is a screen you want to keep indoors—it's very high gloss, and glare is an issue outside. I tend to keep the screen at 70-percent brightness, which helps with battery life and is still plenty bright. As for the 2020 version of the XPS 13 Developer Edition, again it features 10th-generation Intel Core 10nm mobile processors along with a new, larger display. That new screen is one of those "of course" changes. Once you see it, you'll wonder why it wasn't that way from the beginning. Gone is the Dell logo that used to grace the wider bottom bezel. Instead, you get more screen real estate with a new 16:10 aspect ratio (up from 16:9 on the 2019 and prior models). It's a small gain, but at this screen size, frankly, anything is welcome. For that alone, I would pick the 2020 model over the 2019 version (model 7390). But evidently the dimensions of the XPS 13 have been tweaked slightly as well. I couldn't tell much difference holding it, but the keyboard keys are noticeably bigger. They're also somewhat springier than previous versions (no, thankfully it's not the same as the 2-in-1 model the Internet loves to hate on). Performance upgrades I can't speak to the performance of the 2020 model since my hands-on time was limited, but the 2019 version's 6-core Comet Lake i7 chip brings some speed improvements over prior releases. Another bit of welcome news is the option to get 32GB of RAM, because really, can you ever have too much RAM? The other area of improvement is with battery life. Dell claims some crazy numbers for XPS battery life with these updates. The battery in the 1080p version of the XPS 13 purportedly lasts 18 hours. The 4K display must be a massive battery drain, because I did not get anywhere near that number in testing mine. Playing back a 1080p video full screen on the loop, the 2019 model managed just over nine hours. That's very good, especially for Linux, but it's nowhere near the claimed max life. There are plenty of things you can do to squeeze some more life out of the battery, though. Under my normal work load—terminal running tmux with vim, mpd, and mutt, a Web browser (qutebrowser), and Slack—with the screen at 70 percent and Bluetooth off, I managed several hours more. So long as this laptop was fully charged in the morning, I never worried about running the battery low over the course of a workday. That said, if you're compiling software, editing video, or otherwise pushing the CPU, your battery life will decline. In these use cases, it may be worth considering the 1080p model, though personally I'd rather carry a cord and have the 4K screen. Another change worth noting is support for Wi-Fi 6. Yes, Wi-Fi has version numbers now. What's being called Wi-Fi 6 is actually 802.11ax and is already shipping in many routers. Unfortunately I didn't have one to test with, but in testing I've done separately I've seen about 20-30 percent speed boosts over 802.11ac. If you have or plan to upgrade your router in the near future, either of the new models will see the benefit. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 9+ images. What's not new: Ubuntu 18.04 If you want official support for Ubuntu, you're always going to be looking at LTS releases. For the XPS 13s shipping now and in the near future, that means Ubuntu 18.04 will be the default operating system. While 18.04 is a solid release, recent updates (particularly 19.10, which arrived in October 2019) bring some huge performance improvements that would make these updated hardware profiles even better. I looked at Ubuntu 19.10 for Ars last year, and some of the highlights include a much snappier GNOME desktop, experimental support for ZFS, and more default applications shipped as self-contained Snap packages. Shortly after the 2020 XPS 13 is available, Ubuntu 20.04 will arrive as Canonical's next LTS release. Everything that made 19.10 such a welcome update will be in 20.04, so at least there is that to look forward to. And quite frankly, Dell's hardware upgrades to the XPS 13 might well pale next to the software upgrade that 20.04 will bring. If previous Ubuntu/Dell upgrade cycles are anything to go by, look for 20.04 to come to the XPS line in late summer of 2020. However... I am impatient. As I always do with new XPS machines, I attempted to bring my 2019 XPS 13 up to Ubuntu 19.10. Unfortunately, for the first time I can recall when upgrading an XPS 13, I failed. Or rather, I hit enough roadblocks that I gave up. Somehow in the move from 18.04 to 19.04, the drivers for the Wi-Fi card disappeared, and while the drivers for Ethernet showed up and claimed to work, I could never actually connect to download any updates. I could download the drivers to another machine, copied them over, and then installed them, but honestly, it shouldn't have been that hard. I'd have a hard time suggesting anyone else attempt doing that. Dell's selling point on the XPS 13 Developer Edition is that it "just works," and to achieve that Dell does not support anything other than Ubuntu 18.04 LTS at the moment. I would suggest that, if you want that simplicity and the company guarantee, users should stick with 18.04 until the official upgrades arrive. If you are prepared to resolve "just doesn't work" scenarios, then you could try making the jump to 19.10. But if you do, my suggestion would be to do a clean install rather than trying to upgrade through Ubuntu Software. I should note that I installed both Fedora 32 and Arch Linux without issue. And one thing I definitely think is worth pointing out is how trivially easy it is to re-install the original system thanks to Dell's recovery tools. The ability to recover so easily does make the XPS 13 a good system to experiment on, even if your experiments sometimes end in frustration. So, upgrade or wait for the 2020 model? At this point, I would wait the two or so weeks for the 2020 model to arrive. At the very least, whether or not you want the slightly larger screen and new keyboard, the 2019 model is likely to drop slightly in price when a new version hits the market. Unfortunately, the price of this model may not drop much given it's also pretty new and contains some notable upgrades. And if you have the extra cash, I'd suggest going for the new screen anyway. It doesn't sound like much, but it surprised me in day-to-day usage. If you're used to working on a 16:9 screen, it really does give you a noticeable bump in headroom. Whichever XPS 13 Developer Edition model you decide to get, ultimately you're going to have a lot more configuration options than you used to. Dell has been expanding its Ubuntu-based offerings with every release, and currently, the site offers no fewer than 18 different models and configurations for the XPS 13 Developer Edition. There's a lot more opportunity to customize and tailor the hardware to your needs than there used to be, and these two latest releases seem to address a lot of prior user demands. Source: Dell’s 2019 XPS 13 DE: As close as we currently get to Linux-computing nirvana (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image galleries, please visit the above link)
  16. Option to securely carry your user profile with you in next release The systemd-homed service, which enables portable home directories, has been merged into the code for systemd and will be included in the forthcoming 245 release. Systemd releases are typically every three to four months, and version 244 was finalised at the end of November 2019. The new merge includes over 21,000 additions to systemd. Once 245 is out, it will be up to individual Linux distributions to decide when to update it. Use of the new home directories service is optional. The purpose of the change is described here: Each directory it manages encapsulates both the data store and the user record of the user so that it comprehensively describes the user account, and is thus naturally portable between systems without any further, external metadata. Home directories in the new system support several storage mechanisms and may be located on a removeable drive. The user record is cryptographically signed so the user cannot modify it themselves without invalidating it. There is an option for encryption with fscrypt (applies encryption at the directory level), or mounting from a CIFS network share, or in a partition encrypted with LUKS2 (Linux Unified Key Setup). This last is the most secure approach. Systemd inventor Lennart Poettering described the new feature at the All Systems Go event in Berlin, September 2019, as reported here. Poettering said it would improve security as well as being more logical. "It solves a couple of problems we saw with traditional ways to manage home directories, in particular when it comes to encryption," he said in the release notes for version 245. One use case is where a user has a PC running Linux in both their home and office, and is able to carry their home directory with them on a portable storage device. The advent of cloud storage has made this less of a problem than would have been the case a few years back, and a common reaction to the new systemd approach is that the problems it fixes are not pressing and may be outweighed by potential incompatibilities. Source
  17. Linux Star Trek fans, rejoice: CBS All Access now works in your OS [Updated] There's probably a lot of overlap in the Star Trek↔Linux Venn diagram. Enlarge / No CBS All Access on Linux makes elderly Picard cry. Aurich Lawson / CBS / Getty Update, January 31: After this story went live earlier in the week, an Ars reader reached out to speculate that the problem was most likely due to enabling VMP (Verified Media Path) on CBSi's Widevine server. Verified Media Path, similarly to UEFI Secure Boot, makes certain that content will only be delivered to browsers with sanctioned, verifiable "authentic" framework; this is a configurable behavior, and by default, unverified platforms are allowed to receive licenses. This morning we asked CBSi executives to check with their engineers and see if this was the problem. While we never received a response, two hours later, CBS All Access was playing successfully on Google Chrome on multiple Linux distributions. (Firefox still crashes.) For now, we have verified that the fix—which, again, may or may not actually have involved VMP—covers all of CBS' content and not merely the first episode of Picard, which CBS released yesterday on YouTube for a limited time. If we hear official word from CBS regarding what happened behind the scenes, we'll update this post accordingly. The original story appears unchanged below. As of this month, the CBS All Access streaming-video platform—home of popular shows including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and now Star Trek: Picard—stopped working on Linux PCs, regardless of the choice of browser. Ten years ago, this would have been just another day in the life of a Linux user, but it's a little surprising in 2020. We were originally tipped off to the issue by a few irate readers but quickly found it echoed in multiple threads on Reddit, Stack Exchange, and anywhere else you'd expect to find Linux users congregating. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 4 images. I'm both a Linux user and a CBS All Access subscriber myself, but I had been unaware of the problem since I do all my own watching on a Roku. Technically, the Roku is a Linux PC in its own right—but CBS has its own app in the Roku store, which works perfectly. Moving back to one of my own PCs, I was quickly able to confirm the issue: trailers autoplay properly, and even the ads work—but the actual content won't play on a Linux desktop PC on any browser including Google Chrome. Diving into the Chrome Web Console, we can see HTTP 400 (Bad Request) errors when the browser attempts to fetch a license from CBS' Widevine back end. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 3 images. Historically, some sites and services have deliberately blocked Linux User-Agent strings from accessing them, under the mistaken belief that doing so would reduce their support load when the service itself actually worked fine. This does not appear to be the case with the CBS All Access issue—changing User-Agent in either Chrome or Firefox doesn't have any effect on the string of errors when attempting to play content. Enlarge / CBSi uses Widevine—a fully cross-platform DRM protocol, created by Google. Somehow, it's broken anyway. Jim Salter The curious thing about these DRM errors is that Widevine—the DRM system CBS All Access is using—is a Google creation. It normally works perfectly well on just about any platform you can think of. Disney+, Netflix, Google Play Movies, and Hulu all use Widevine—and all of those work just fine in Google Chrome running under Linux. So we're a little puzzled about just what happened on CBS All Access' end to break things, even though the service does explicitly state that it doesn't support Linux. In further testing, we can confirm that CBS All Access does not work in Google Chrome on Android or Safari on iOS devices—although specific apps are available on both platforms, which do work. We also discovered that the service is broken under Microsoft's new Chromium-based version of Edge—which, it's worth noting, is likely to soon be the default browser for nearly every new Windows PC sold. In the meantime, Linux users do have one functional workaround—CBS All Access is available as an add-on subscription to Amazon Prime streaming video. So if you need All Access on your Linux PC, you can unsubscribe from your existing subscription, log in to Prime, and start a new subscription there—where the content will play back perfectly well, using Amazon's system instead of CBS Interactive's. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 2 images. Ars reached out to CBS Interactive for comment; an executive responded, but no answers were available at press time. Source: Linux Star Trek fans, rejoice: CBS All Access now works in your OS [Updated] (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image galleries, please visit the above link)
  18. Rocket League is dropping Mac, Linux because of crazy-low player counts [Updated] "0.3% of all active players" stat comes after vague explanation last week. Enlarge Epic Games For anyone who clings to Linux or MacOS as a preferred gaming platform, Epic Games and Psyonix offered a rare kind of bad news on Thursday. The companies confirmed that their mega-hit game Rocket League would no longer receive updates for either platform following a "final" patch for all non-Windows versions on PC coming in "early March." This "end-of-life" version of Rocket League on Linux and MacOS will still function in a wholly offline state, and affected players will be able to access whatever cosmetics and add-ons they'd previously earned through the game's economy system (but no more new ones). Additionally, those platforms will be able to use Steam Workshop content, but only if it's downloaded and applied to the game before the March patch goes live. Otherwise, if any function in the game connects even in the slightest to the Internet—from item shops to matchmaking to private matches to friends lists—it will stop working once the March patch goes live, and any future modes, maps, or other game-changing content won't come to their platforms, either. The announcement suggests that MacOS users buy a Windows OS license and run future online versions of Rocket League through Apple Boot Camp. It also suggests that Linux players should try Steam Proton or Wine to do the same thing. "These tools are not officially supported by Psyonix," the guide points out. Psyonix's announcement vaguely places the blame for this upcoming change on "adapting to use new technologies," which "has made it more difficult to support macOS and Linux (SteamOS)." Nothing else in the article clarifies what those technologies might be. Thus, the developers at Psyonix leave this decision wide open to speculation, particularly about whether the studio's May 2019 acquisition by Epic Games factors into the decision. At the time of that acquisition, in an attempt to abate fans' worries about Epic Games Store exclusivity, the companies announced that existing game owners "will still be able to play Rocket League on Steam with all of the content they've previously purchased." Today's news for MacOS and Linux owners includes a similar promise of "previously purchased" content working after the patch otherwise shuts down access to future online content. The Epic Games Store launcher and its mega-popular free-to-play game Fortnite have yet to receive a Linux port, but both executables come in a MacOS flavor. We're not sure if the same "new technologies" in question will ever affect Fortnite, which has been built in Unreal Engine 4, as opposed to RL's use of Unreal Engine 3. This news differs from the usual question of whether an in-development game will or will not work on non-Windows platforms. We can't think of many popular games that have worked on Linux and MacOS and then had that perk removed. That said, it's not hard to find developers who might defend dumping support for non-Windows platforms, whether because MacOS has waved goodbye to 32-bit support or because customer-support tickets for Linux players are allegedly quite disproportionate to the platform's sales. This news comes long after Valve's vocal efforts to create a Linux-only SteamOS slowed and while Google is reigniting the conversation by requiring Linux and Vulkan support for all its Stadia streaming titles. Update, January 27: In the days since this announcement, Psyonix has issued a more technical breakdown of the reason for this March 2020 change. Rocket League's update roadmap includes plans to jump from DirectX 9 to DirectX 11 and plans to update from a 32-bit executable to a 64-bit one. The DirectX jump seems to be the stickier point: To keep these versions functional, we would need to invest significant additional time and resources in a replacement rendering pipeline such as Metal on macOS or Vulkan/OpenGL4 on Linux. We'd also need to invest perpetual support to ensure new content and releases work as intended on those replacement pipelines. And that's when the team was frank with its non-Windows players: they only make up 0.3% of "active" players. "Given that, we cannot justify the additional and ongoing investment in developing native clients for those platforms, especially when viable workarounds exist like Bootcamp or Wine to keep those users playing." Psyonix didn't define what "active" meant, nor whether that percentage was for all Rocket League players (including consoles) or only its PC playerbase. This statement came as part of an official refund offer to affected Linux and MacOS players, so long as they follow a specific series of steps to request their money back. Source: Rocket League is dropping Mac, Linux because of crazy-low player counts [Updated] (Ars Technica)
  19. Scheduled for summer 2020 Zorin, which provides a Linux distro designed to look familiar for migrating Windows and Mac users, has announced a subscription-based management tool for Linux desktops. Six desktop layouts in Zorin include Windows, macOS, Touch, Ubuntu, and Gnome 3, though the full range is only available in the paid-for Ultimate edition (€39 + VAT). But the free Core edition is fully usable, includes the Windows-like desktop, and most of the software in Ultimate can be added manually. The main reason to purchase Ultimate is for installation support and to help finance the Ireland-based project. Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu and currently at version 15.1, released in mid-December 2019. There are several variants, including one using the lightweight Xfce desktop for best performance on older hardware. We took a look at version 15 in June last year. New stuff in 15.1 includes version 5.0 of the Linux kernel, the ability to use an Android phone as a remote for presentations, new desktop customisation options, and the inclusion of the Sans Forgetica font, which is deliberately hard to read on the grounds, it is claimed, that you remember things better if the brain puts in more effort. Sans Forgetica claims to be harder to read but easier to remember More significant is the announcement of Zorin Grid, set for release this summer. This is cloud-based management, initially for PCs running Zorin OS, with support for "more Linux-based operating systems" promised shortly after the initial launch. Zorin Grid will let you manage Linux PCs via a cloud dashboard Zorin Grid has several key functions: Install and remove applications Set, update and enforce security policies Monitor computer status Track software and hardware inventory Customise desktop settings Enrolment of a PC requires installing the client software and configuring it for an organisation. Zorin Grid lets you create groups and target configurations per group. You can already manage Linux PCs with systems such as Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager, the open-source Rudder, or Canonical's Landscape. Zorin Grid could help the company compete in the education market, where Google Chrome OS devices are popular in part because of ease of management via Google's cloud-based system. Zorin users may welcome something tailored to the operating system, though, and with the right combination of capability and ease of use. Zorin Grid promises easier deployment in an organisation than disk imaging, which is the current suggestion for deploying to a large number of machines, as well as offering long-term management rather than just initial rollout. The firm's founder, Artyom Zorin, told The Register: "Zorin Grid is entirely built from scratch by us, so it isn't based on any other project. The client-side software for Zorin will be open source. However, the Zorin Grid server won't be open source initially, but releasing it under an open-source licence is tentatively on our roadmap." Peer through the Windows? Pricing is not yet announced, but will be per computer per month, with a reduction for schools and nonprofits. Canonical charges 1¢ per machine per hour for Landscape, which works out at around $4.50 per month. Zorin is hoping to take advantage of users or organisations moving away from Windows 7, thanks to its end of support this month. It is true that Zorin OS is superficially familiar, thanks to the Start-like Zorin menu and the Zorin Panel, including the Taskbar, which shows running applications. You can pin applications to the Taskbar ("Add to favourites") and launch them from there, just like Windows. This similarity does not make Zorin OS magically able to run Windows applications, though. Some will run thanks to the Wine compatibility layer, which is included by default. The Windows-like appearance is only intended to help users to get started. Zorin OS is an easy-to-use desktop Linux distribution that has the benefits of open-source software as well as the ability to run on older hardware. Presuming it works right, and the price is reasonable, Zorin Grid will make it easier for organisations to adopt. Source
  20. Some exciting news this week for Firefox users running on Wayland... Martin Stránský of Red Hat who is on the Fedora Firefox team and was involved in bringing up Wayland support on Firefox has worked on an interesting improvement for the browser. Martin this week posted a patch implementing FFmpeg-based VA-API video acceleration for Firefox on Wayland. In leveraging the recent Wayland DMA-BUF support within Firefox, it's finally possible with this patch to have Video Acceleration API (VA-API) GPU-accelerated video decoding within the browser when running natively on Wayland. The work-in-progress code for Firefox with VA-API acceleration on Wayland can be found via this Mozilla bug report. The focus is on Intel video acceleration with VA-API but ultimately should end up working ideally with other VA-API driver implementations too. Hopefully this work will see the light of day in upstream Firefox soon. Source
  21. Linux-Windows compatibility layer Wine 5.0 is now out, with over 7,000 updates. Wine, the software that Microsoft has partially credited with making Windows 10 Windows Subsystem for Linux possible, has been updated with over 7,400 changes. Wine is a compatibility layer, designed for Unix-like OSes, which enables Linux and macOS systems to run Windows applications. In the era of Windows XP and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Microsoft used its anti-piracy Windows Genuine Advantage program to block updates to Wine users on Linux systems. Back then, Microsoft's top echelons refused to publicly recognize the existence of Wine, which meant its developers were even flattered by Microsoft's effort to block Windows and Office updates to Wine users because at least it showed Microsoft had acknowledged their presence. But in today's tech world of cloud computing, interoperable systems, and receding desktop sales, Microsoft has come out as a supporter of the techniques Wine developers used to make Windows software compatible with Linux machines. Microsoft last week filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Google's position against Oracle's claim that software application programming interfaces (APIs) can be copyrighted. Google's case in the US Supreme Court is scheduled for March. Microsoft held up Wine as an example of the importance of open APIs that a victory to Oracle could threaten, which in turn could prevent it in future from creating a feature like WSL – a layer in Windows that lets developers who use Linux command-line tools create applications in Azure. "In another example from the 1990s, an open-source developer created a program called Wine, which allowed developers to enable Windows applications to run on computers that used the Linux open-source system, without explicit authorization from Microsoft," wrote Microsoft. "To create Wine, the developer 'use[d] the same hierarchy of function names' of various Windows APIs. Years later, Microsoft created 'the inverse of Wine', reimplementing the structure of certain Linux APIs to create the Windows Subsystem for Linux, a program that allowed Linux programs to run on Windows. "The Windows-Linux experience shows that reuse of functional code is a two-way street that benefits both the original creator and the follow-on developer – and ultimately the consumer." The Wine 5.0 update takes advantage of this two-way street, introducing Portable Executable (PE) modules, which are built in the Windows binary PE file format that's used in executables and DLLs. According to Wine developers, now the "PE binaries are copied into the Wine prefix instead of the fake DLL files", making the prefix look "more like a real Windows installation, at the cost of some extra disk space." The new release also supports multiple displays and monitors, and there's Vulkan driver support up to version 1.1.126 for Android. Source
  22. The PinePhone starts shipping—a Linux-powered smartphone for $150 For now it's for developers only, and you'll need to flash your own OS. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all 9+ images. Pine64 has announced that it is finally shipping the PinePhone, a smartphone that takes the rare step outside the Android/iOS duopoly and is designed to run mainline Linux distributions. The PinePhone starts shipping January 17 in the "Braveheart" developer edition. This initial "Braveheart" batch of devices is meant for "developer and early adopter" users, according to the Pine64 Store. The phone doesn't come with an end-user OS pre-installed and instead only comes with a factory test image that allows for easy verification that the hardware works. Users are expected to flash their own OS to the device. There are several available, from Ubuntu Touch to Sailfish OS, but they are all currently in an unfinished alpha state. Pine64 says that only enthusiasts with "extensive Linux experience" are the intended customers here—this isn't (yet?) a mainstream product. It's hard to mention PinePhone without mentioning that other Linux smartphone, the Purism Librem 5. They could both end up running the same software one day, but the two companies are taking totally different approaches to hardware. Purism has a hardline requirement for the hardware: it needs to be as open and freedom-focused as possible, which means the company couldn't use the typical supply chain that exists for Android phones. Purism has only a limited amount of open source-compatible vendors to choose from, and it uses M.2 socketed chips for the closed-source Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and Cell modem. The result is a device that is very thick (16mm), hot, and expensive, at $750. The PinePhone is less averse to binary blobs and is a lot closer to a normal smartphone. It's a more reasonable thickness (9mm) and a more reasonable price: $150. The PinePhone is powered by an Allwinner A64 SoC, which features four Cortex A53 CPUs at 1.2GHz, built on a pretty ancient 40nm process. This is the same chip the company uses on the PINE A64 single board computer, a Raspberry Pi competitor. The device has 2GB of RAM, a Mali-400 GPU, 16GB of storage, and a 2750mAh battery. The rear camera is 5MP, the front camera is 2MP, the display is a 1440×720 IPS LCD, and the battery is removable. There's a headphone jack, a USB-C port, and support for a MicroSD slot, which you can actually boot operating systems off of. The cellular modem is a large separate chip that is soldered onto the motherboard: a Quectel EG25-G. When the back of the phone is peeled off, the innards actually have some special components. Near the top right corner is a 2x3 grid of gold pogo pins that can provide power, I2C, and GPIO to an attached accessory. Pine64 says that a keyboard case attachment is planned for "sometime in 2020," and for now, the company is still working on the design. The company says it is "making a keyboard heavily inspired by Psion Series 5 keyboards from the 1990s. We hope to not only replicated [sic] the usability of the Psion Series 5 keyboard but also the tactile feel it is known for. " The Psion 5 was a clamshell PDA that ran the EPOC operating system (which was later renamed "Symbian OS") and was powered by 2 AA batteries. Smartphone keyboards from the Moto Droid era would use a single sheet of rubbery keys that squished down onto a contact, but the Psion 5 keyboard was different. The Psion 5 has a scaled-down version of a cheap desktop keyboard, with individual hard, plastic keys that each sat on top of a membrane switch. Also under the removable back is a set of six dip switches that act as privacy kill switches. Users can kill the Modem/GPS, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, microphone, rear camera, and front camera. The last one, which isn't a privacy feature, is a switch for the headphone jack. The headphone jack switch toggles from the normal mode of operation to a UART (Universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter) port. With this wild-looking male-3.5mm-to-male-USB-A wire, you can get a serial connection out of the PinePhone and do some debugging. With the phone shipping, Pine64 isn't resting on its laurels. The company is also working on a "PineTab" Linux tablet with a detachable keyboard and a "PineTime" smart watch. Soon, you'll be able to run mainline Linux on everything, provided the software actually gets developed. Listing image by Pine64 Source: The PinePhone starts shipping—a Linux-powered smartphone for $150 (Ars Technica) (To view the article's 9+ image gallery, please visit the above link)
  23. The Pepperment team published sad news this week, reporting one of the distribution's lead developers, Mark Greaves, passed away earlier this month. "With a heavy heart I unfortunately have to inform you that Mark is no longer with us. Shane and I received word from one of Mark's sons that he passed away this morning after a 10 day hospital stay. Mark was among the best of us. His contributions to both Peppermint and to the desktop Linux world as a whole are incalculable and he will be sorely missed. There are many unanswered questions at the moment and I'll try to be diligent in relaying relevant information." Greaves will be missed - by his family, the Peppermint community, and the DistroWatch team who got to correspond with him. Source
  24. What Apps Do You Wish Linux Had, Or Can’t Find a Replacement For? If you could magically, instantly, create any sort of app for the Linux desktop right now, what would it be? This question has been tumbling around my brain all weekend thanks to some new (totally spammy) comments being left on an article of mine from 2013 — an article in which I decried the lack of “simple, purposeful” Linux desktop apps. Now, don’t misunderstand my intention in asking you what you’d create if you could. I am not saying Linux has an app gap. I am not implying that open-source suffers from any sort of major software malaise. Those of us who use Linux full time know that we’re not short of drop-in replacements for a broad range of well-known software types. GIMP is, for most of us, every bit as capable as Adobe Photoshop; Kdenlive, Blender and Lightworks all cater to different types of Linux-based video editors; and between Geary, Nylas N1, Evolution, Thunderbird, Sylpheed, K9, there’s barely any e-mail need left uncatered for. No, I’m asking more about tools that fill a specific need in a specific way. “App” apps if you will. What sort of app do you find yourself searching for only to come up empty? LINUX Y U NO MEME APP? There are apps on my phone I can’t wait to use on the desktop I used to really, really long for a desktop meme-maker. Why? App envy. I subscribe to many awesome sites, like Lifehacker, that spotlight awesome apps. I used to see really nifty meme generators that were Windows and Mac OS X only. I really wanted someone to create a simple GTK+ app that could let me hammer out impact bold witticisms over a well established meme template, and let me quickly upload my creations to sites like imgur, in-app. I’ve since outgrown that desire. A desktop meme maker would be overkill now that many competent online tools exist for the job. But I feel the point I was making still (somewhat) stands: there are apps that I love using on mobile platforms for which a decent, comparable alternative on the Linux desktop is (currently) missing. Hope for the future There’s reason to be hopeful. Though I’d wager that native app development for Ubuntu on Phones and Tablets is far scarcer than it should be, the lure of Convergence is poised to bring apps like Dekko, Music and Calendar to the Ubuntu desktop. One of my favorite Ubuntu Touch apps is Pockit, an offline-equipped Pocket reader, one I’d dearly love to see make the transition (Pocket offer a native desktop app for OS X). Snaps will also offer app makers a really clean, sane way to distribute software free of the usual packaging hurdles and distribution headaches. Back to the question, and over to you But back to the question: If you could make any sort of native app for your Linux desktop what would it be? Share your app ideas, inspirations, rants, wants, mockups, etc. in the comments section of source article and please do mention in the comments section below. To keep this a realistic discussion — app developers be lurking — let’s avoid the usual clamour for Adobe products and focus on more general themes, such as “a photo manager comparable to iPhoto”, “a native GTK+ Pocket app” , “an e-mail client that handles Exchange”, etc. Source
  25. Torvalds doesn't want to be hounded by Oracle's legal team for merging ZFS filesystem code into the Linux kernel. Linux kernel head Linus Torvalds has warned engineers against adding a module for the ZFS filesystem that was designed by Sun Microsystems – and now owned by Oracle – due to licensing issues. As reported by Phoronix, Torvalds has warned kernel developers against using ZFS on Linux, an implementation of OpenZFS, and refuses to merge any ZFS code until Oracle changes the open-source license it uses. ZFS has long been licensed under Sun's Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) as opposed to the Linux kernel, which is licensed under GNU General Public License (GPL). Torvalds aired his opinion on the matter in response to a developer who argued that a recent kernel change "broke an important third-party module: ZFS". The Linux kernel creator says he refuses to merge the ZFS module into the kernel because he can't risk a lawsuit from "litigious" Oracle – which is still trying to sue Google for copyright violations over its use of Java APIs in Android – and Torvalds won't do so until Oracle founder Larry Ellison signs off on its use in the Linux kernel. "If somebody adds a kernel module like ZFS, they are on their own. I can't maintain it and I cannot be bound by other people's kernel changes," explained Torvalds. "And honestly, there is no way I can merge any of the ZFS efforts until I get an official letter from Oracle that is signed by their main legal counsel or preferably by Larry Ellison himself that says that yes, it's OK to do so and treat the end result as GPL'd," Torvalds continued. "Other people think it can be OK to merge ZFS code into the kernel and that the module interface makes it OK, and that's their decision. But considering Oracle's litigious nature, and the questions over licensing, there's no way I can feel safe in ever doing so." The licensing problem is explained on an FAQ from the developers of ZFS on Linux. "While both are free open-source licenses they are restrictive licenses. The combination of them causes problems because it prevents using pieces of code exclusively available under one license with pieces of code exclusively available under the other in the same binary," the ZFS developers write. "In the case of the kernel, this prevents us from distributing ZFS on Linux as part of the kernel binary. However, there is nothing in either license that prevents distributing it in the form of a binary module or in the form of source code." Torvalds addressed this issue too in his response and dismissed the idea of a proposed 'ZFS shim layer' to address problems combining two projects with different licenses, particularly due to Oracle's Java API copyright lawsuit. "And I'm not at all interested in some 'ZFS shim layer' thing either that some people seem to think would isolate the two projects. That adds no value to our side, and given Oracle's interface copyright suits (see Java), I don't think it's any real licensing win either," he explained. His final words on the matter: "Don't use ZFS. It's that simple. It was always more of a buzzword than anything else, I feel, and the licensing issues just make it a non-starter for me." Source
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