Open Source

Microsoft Makes 'Visual Studio Code Extension for Arduino' Open Source (betanews.com) 65

BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: Thursday, Microsoft released yet another open source tool on GitHub -- Visual Studio Code Extension for Arduino. This MIT-licensed code should greatly help developers that are leveraging Arduino hardware for Internet of Things-related projects and more. "Our team at Visual Studio IoT Tooling, researched the development tools developers are using today, interviewed many developers to learn about their pain points developing IoT applications, and found that of all layers of IoT, there are abundant dev tools for cloud, gateway, interactive devices, and industrial devices, but limited availability and capability for micro-controllers and sensors...

"Keeping open source and open platform in mind, we started the work to add an extension on Visual Studio Code, the cross-platform, open sourced advanced code editor, for Arduino application development," says Zhidi Shang, R&D and Product Development, Microsoft.

Microsoft's adds that its tool "is almost fully compatible and consistent with the official Arduino IDE," extending its capabilities with "the most sought-after features, such as IntelliSense, Auto code completion, and on-device debugging for supported boards."

Maybe this would be a good time to ask if anybody has a favorite IDE that they'd like to recommend?
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.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.12 Officially Released (softpedia.com) 55

prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: After seven weeks of announcing release candidate versions, Linus Torvalds today informs the Linux community through a mailing list announcement about the general availability of the Linux 4.12 kernel series. Development on the Linux 4.12 kernel kicked off in mid-May with the first release candidate, and now, seven weeks later we can finally get our hands on the final release... A lot of great improvements, new hardware support, and new security features were added during all this time, which makes it one of the biggest releases, after Linux 4.9...

Prominent features of the Linux 4.12 kernel include initial support for AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics cards, intial Nvidia GeForce GTX 1000 "Pascal" accelerated support, implementation of Budget Fair Queueing (BFQ) and storage-I/O schedulers, more MD RAID enhancements, support for Raspberry Pi's Broadcom BCM2835 thermal driver, a lot of F2FS optimizations, as well as ioctl for the GETFSMAP space mapping ioctl for both XFS and EXT4 filesystems.

Linus said in announcing the release that "I think only 4.9 ends up having had more commits," also noting that 4.9 was a Long Term Support kernel, whereas "4.12 is just plain big."

"There's also nothing particularly odd going on in the tree - it's all just normal development, just more of it than usual."
Open Source

23 Years Of The Open Source 'FreeDOS' Project (linuxjournal.com) 123

Jim Hall is celebrating the 23rd birthday of the FreeDOS Project, calling it "a major milestone for any free software or open-source software project," and remembering how it all started. An anonymous reader quotes Linux Journal: If you remember Windows 3.1 at the time, it was a pretty rough environment. I didn't like that you could interact with Windows only via a mouse; there was no command line. I preferred working at the command line. So I was understandably distressed in 1994 when I read via various tech magazines that Microsoft planned to eliminate MS-DOS with the next version of Windows. I decided that if the next evolution of Windows was going to be anything like Windows 3.1, I wanted nothing to do with it... I decided to create my own version of DOS. And on June 29, 1994, I posted an announcement to a discussion group... Our "PD-DOS" project (for "Public Domain DOS") quickly grew into FreeDOS. And 23 years later, FreeDOS is still going strong! Today, many people around the world install FreeDOS to play classic DOS games, run legacy business software or develop embedded systems...

FreeDOS has become a modern DOS, due to the large number of developers that continue to work on it. You can download the FreeDOS 1.2 distribution and immediately start coding in C, Assembly, Pascal, BASIC or a number of other software development languages. The standard FreeDOS editor is quite nice, or you can select from more than 15 different editors, all included in the distribution. You can browse websites with the Dillo graphical web browser, or do it "old school" via the Lynx text-mode web browser. And for those who just want to play some great DOS games, you can try adventure games like Nethack or Beyond the Titanic, arcade games like Wing and Paku Paku, flight simulators, card games and a bunch of other genres of DOS games.

On his "Open Source Software and Usability" blog, Jim says he's been involved with open source software "since before anyone coined the term 'open source'," and first installed Linux on his home PC in 1993. Over on the project's blog, he's also sharing appreciative stories from FreeDOS users and from people involved with maintaining it (including memories of early 1980s computers like the Sinclair ZX80, the Atari 800XL and the Coleco Adam). Any Slashdot readers have their own fond memories to share?
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.
Open Source

GitHub Urges Companies To Participate In 'Open Source Fridays' (opensourcefriday.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: GitHub wants to help more people become open source contributors with a new initiative called Open Source Friday. As the name implies, the program encourages companies to set aside time at the end of the week for their employees to work on open source projects. It's designed to bolster the ranks of open source contributors at a time when many businesses rely on freely available projects for mission-critical applications. Open Source Friday isn't just about getting businesses to offer their employees' time as a form of charity, it's also a way to improve key business infrastructure, according to Mike McQuaid, a senior software engineer at GitHub...

McQuaid hopes that carving out employees' time on Fridays could help provide additional structure and incentive to participate in the ecosystem... Users don't need to be engineers in order to take part, either. While code contribution is important to the success of a project, creating and maintaining documentation is also key.

OpenSourceFriday.com includes tips for interested contributors, as well as a page suggesting to employers that they could see benefits like developers learning to code faster, better, and more transparently.
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."
Open Source

Linus Explains What Surprises Him After 25 Years Of Linux (linux.com) 181

Linus Torvalds appeared in a new "fireside chat" with VMware Head of Open Source Dirk Hohndel. An anonymous reader writes: Linus explained what still surprises him about Linux development. "Code that I thought was stable continually gets improved. There are things we haven't touched for many years, then someone comes along and improves them or makes bug reports in something I thought no one used. We have new hardware, new features that are developed, but after 25 years, we still have old, very basic things that people care about and still improve... Our processes have not only worked for 25 years, we still have a very strong maintainer group... And as these maintainers get older and fatter, we have new people coming in."

Linus also says he's surprised by the widespread popularity of Git. "I expected it to be limited mostly to the kernel -- as it's tailored to what we do... In certain circles, Git is more well known than Linux." And he also shares advice if you want to get started as an open source developer. "I'm not sure my example is the right thing for people to follow. There are a ton of open source projects and, if you are a beginning programmer, find something you're interested in that you can follow for more than just a few weeks... If you can be part of a community and set up patches, it's not just about the coding, but about the social aspect of open source. You make connections and improve yourself as a programmer."

Linus also says that "I really like what I'm doing. I like waking up and having a job that is technically interesting and challenging without being too stressful so I can do it for long stretches; something where I feel I am making a real difference and doing something meaningful not just for me."
Bug

Researcher Finds Critical OpenVPN Bug Using Fuzzing (zdnet.com) 47

"Guido Vranken recently published 4 security vulnerabilities in OpenVPN on his personal blog," writes long-time Slashdot reader randomErr -- one of which was a critical remote execution bug. Though patches have been now released, there's a lesson to be learned about the importance of fuzzing -- bug testing with large amounts of random data -- Guido Vranken writes: Most of these issues were found through fuzzing. I hate admitting it, but...the arcane art of reviewing code manually, acquired through grueling practice, are dwarfed by the fuzzer in one fell swoop; the mortal's mind can only retain and comprehend so much information at a time, and for programs that perform long cycles of complex, deeply nested operations it is simply not feasible to expect a human to perform an encompassing and reliable verification.
ZDNet adds that "OpenVPN's audits, carried out over the past two years, missed these major flaws. While a handful of other bugs are found, perhaps OpenVPN should consider adding fuzzing to their internal security analysis in the future."

Guido adds on his blog, "This was a labor of love. Nobody paid me to do this. If you appreciate this effort, please donate BTC..."
Open Source

'Stack Clash' Linux Flaw Enables Root Access. Patch Now (threatpost.com) 126

msm1267 writes: Linux, BSD, Solaris and other open source systems are vulnerable to a local privilege escalation vulnerability known as Stack Clash that allows an attacker to execute code at root. Major Linux and open source distributors made patches available Monday, and systems running Linux, OpenBSD, NetBSD, FreeBSD or Solaris on i386 or amd64 hardware should be updated soon.

The risk presented by this flaw, CVE-2017-1000364, becomes elevated especially if attackers are already present on a vulnerable system. They would now be able to chain this vulnerability with other critical issues, including the recently addressed Sudo vulnerability, and then run arbitrary code with the highest privileges, said researchers at Qualys who discovered the vulnerability.

Linux

Linus Torvalds Says Linux Still Surprises and Motivates Him (linux.com) 78

Linus Torvalds: What I find interesting is code that I thought was stable continually gets improved. There are things we haven't touched for many years, then someone comes along and improves them or makes bug reports in something I thought no one used. We have new hardware, new features that are developed, but after 25 years, we still have old, very basic things that people care about and still improve. I really like what I'm doing. I like waking up and having a job that is technically interesting and challenging without being too stressful so I can do it for long stretches; something where I feel I am making a real difference and doing something meaningful not just for me. I occasionally have taken breaks from my job. The 2-3 weeks I worked on Git to get that started for example. But every time I take a longer break, I get bored. When I go diving for a week, I look forward to getting back. I never had the feeling that I need to take a longer break.
Education

University of Missouri To Use Open Source And Other Cheaper Alternatives For General Education Textbook (columbiatribune.com) 58

Rudi Keller, writing for Columbia Tribune: The University of Missouri will move quickly to use open source and other cheaper alternatives for general education textbooks, building on initiatives already in place, system President Mun Choi said. At an event with members of the Board of Curators, administrators, lawmakers, faculty from all four campuses and student representatives, Choi said the intent is to save money for students while providing up-to-date materials. Faculty, including graduate assistants, will be eligible for incentive payments of $1,000 to $10,000 for preparing and adopting materials that save students money, Choi said. Textbooks are sometimes overlooked as a contributor to the cost of attending college, Choi said. "We want to provide our students an opportunity to have a low cost, high-quality alternative," Choi said.
Open Source

Opus 1.2 Released 22

jmv writes: The Opus audio codec, used in WebRTC and now included in all major web browsers, gets another major upgrade with the release of version 1.2. This release brings quality improvements to both speech and music, while remaining fully compatible with RFC 6716. There are also optimizations, new options, as well as many bug fixes. This Opus 1.2 demo describes a few of the upgrades that users and implementers will care about the most. It includes audio samples comparing to previous versions of the codec, as well as speed comparisons for x86 and ARM.
Microsoft

Green Party Leaders Don't Want Windows In Munich (techrepublic.com) 139

Reader sqorbit writes: Munich spent a lot of time (9 years) and a lot of money in shifting some 15,000 staff to a Linux-based OS. The plan now is to move to Windows 10 by 2021. Munich's Green Party is citing the WannaCry virus as a valid reason not to switch to Windows. "As with many of the biggest attacks, the computers that were mainly hit were running the Windows operating system," the Green Party said in a statement.
Businesses

Why Women Devs Are Hard To Recruit and Even Harder To Keep (windowsitpro.com) 608

An anonymous reader writes: The results of a recent survey conducted by GitHub sheds light on the issue of why women developers are hard to recruit and keep in the business of tech. Windows IT Pro reports: "The 2017 Open Source Survey 'collected responses from 5,500 randomly sampled respondents sourced from over 3,800 open source repositories on GitHub.com, and over 500 responses from a non-random sample of communities that work on other platforms.' Although the survey focused on open source and asked 50 questions on a wide range of topics that were in no way focused on gender issues alone, some of the data collected offers insight into why the developer industry as a whole has trouble recruiting and keeping female devs. Indeed, the severity of the gender gap in open source is substantial. In the survey, 95 percent of respondents were men, with the response rate from women at only 3 percent -- a degree of under-representation that's not seen elsewhere in this study. Other groups show numbers that are more proportionate to their numbers in the general population, with 'ethnic or national minorities' representing 16 percent of the respondents, immigrants at 26 percent, and 'lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, or another minority sexual orientation' at 7 percent. The problems that women in tech face are pretty much what you might expect. Twenty-five percent of the women surveyed report 'encountering language or content that makes them feel unwelcome,' compared with 15 percent of men. Women are six times more likely to encounter stereotyping than men (12 versus 2 percent), and twice as likely to be subjected to unsolicited sexual advances (6 vs 3 percent)."
Media

OpenELEC 8.0.4 Kodi-Focused Linux Distro Now Available (openelec.tv) 43

BrianFagioli writes: Unfortunately, Kodi is not its own operating system, meaning it has to be run on top of an OS. Sure, you could use Windows 10, but that is overkill if you only want to run Kodi. Instead, a lightweight Linux distribution that only serves to run the media center is preferable. One of the most popular such distros is OpenELEC. It can run on traditional PC hardware, but also Raspberry Pi, and, my favorite — WeTek boxes. Today, version 8.0.4 achieves stable release. It is a fairly ho-hum update, focusing mostly on fixes and stability.

The team shares the following changes in the release.

- fix crash in WeTek DVB driver on WeTek Play (1st gen).
- enable Kernel NEON mode for RPi2 builds.
- enable some more SOC sound drivers for RPi/RPi2 builds.
- enable Regulator support on all builds.
- enable Extcon support on all builds.
- fix loading for some I2C sound modules on RPI/RPi2 builds.
- fix loading splash screen on systems with Nvidia GPUs.
- fix speed problems on Nvidia ION systems.
- fix problems loading dvbhdhomerun addons.
- fix using user created sleep scripts.
- build PNG support with SSE support for x86_64 builds.
- update to linux-4.9.30, mesa-17.0.7, alsa-lib-1.1.4.1, alsa-utils-1.1.4, kodi-17,3, mariadb-10.1.23, samba-4.6.4.

Databases

Insecure Hadoop Servers Expose Over 5 Petabytes of Data (bleepingcomputer.com) 51

An anonymous reader quotes the security news editor at Bleeping Computer: Improperly configured HDFS-based servers, mostly Hadoop installs, are exposing over five petabytes of information, according to John Matherly, founder of Shodan, a search engine for discovering Internet-connected devices. The expert says he discovered 4,487 instances of HDFS-based servers available via public IP addresses and without authentication, which in total exposed over 5,120 TB of data.

According to Matherly, 47,820 MongoDB servers exposed only 25 TB of data. To put things in perspective, HDFS servers leak 200 times more data compared to MongoDB servers, which are ten times more prevalent... The countries that exposed the most HDFS instances are by far the US and China, but this should be of no surprise as these two countries host over 50% of all data centers in the world.

AT&T

ESR Shares A Forgotten 'Roots Of Open Source' Moment From 1984 (ibiblio.org) 79

Eric S. Raymond recently documented one of the first public calls for free software, which happened immediately after AT&T's fateful decision commercialize Unix: [I]n October 1984 I was in a crowd of people watching a presentation by a woman from Bell Labs describing the then-new getopt(3) library, written by AT&T as a way to regularize the processing of command-line arguments in C programs... Everybody thought this was a fine idea, and several people asked questions probing whether AT&T was going to let anyone else use the getopt code they had written. These questions related to the general anxiety about Unix source code distributions drying up. Frustration mounted as the woman gave evasive answers which seemed to add up to "No, we refuse to commit to allowing general access to this code." Which seemed to confirm everyone's worst fears about what was going to happen to Unix source code access in general. At which point Henry Spencer stands up and says (not in these exact words) "I will write and share a conforming implementation." -- and got a cheer from the assembled.

If you're thinking "That's not a big deal, we do this sort of thing all the time," my actual point is that in October 1984 this was indeed a big deal. It took an actual imaginative leap for Henry Spencer to, in effect, say "Screw AT&T and its legalisms and evasions, if they're going to cut off source access we hackers are gonna do it for ourselves"... [H]e got an actual cheer exactly because he was pushing forward, exposing the possibility of doing not just small projects and demos and quirky little tools but at competing with the likes of AT&T itself at software production.

Raymond also remembers this as an important moment for him. "I was a young, unknown programmer then -- just 27, still figuring out what I wanted. I watched Henry make that promise. I heard the cheer, and felt the change in the air as culturally, we realized what the solution to AT&T fscking us over had to be. And I thought 'I want to be like that guy.'"
The Courts

Bruce Perens Explains That 'GPL Is A Contract' Court Case (perens.com) 179

Bruce Perens co-founded the Open Source Initiative with Eric Raymond -- and he's also Slashdot reader #3,872. Bruce Perens writes: There's been a lot of confusion about the recent Artifex v. Hancomcase, in which the court found that the GPL was an enforceable contract. I'm going to try to explain the whole thing in clear terms for the legal layman.
Two key quotes:
  • "What has changed now is that for the purposes of the court, the GPL is both a license, which can be enforced through a claim of copyright infringement, and a contract, which can be enforced through a claim of breach of contract. You can allege both in your court claim in a single case, and fall back on one if you can't prove the other. Thus, the potential to enforce the GPL in court is somewhat stronger than before this finding, and you have a case to cite rather than spending time in court arguing whether the GPL is a contract or not..."
  • "Another interesting point in the case is that the court found Artifex's claim of damages to be admissible because of their use of dual-licensing. An economic structure for remuneration of the developer by users who did not wish to comply with the GPL terms, and thus acquired a commercial license, was clearly present."

Android

Andy Rubin Says Essential's Ambient OS Will Be Open Source, Hints at Better Update Cycle (theverge.com) 28

An anonymous reader shares a report: Playground CEO Andy Rubin, whose new company Essential unveiled a new premium Android smartphone and Amazon Echo competitor yesterday, says his company's Ambient OS smart home platform will be open source. That means that Rubin, who rose to fame in the tech industry for co-founding Android, essentially wants to apply the same open source philosophy that made Android the most dominant mobile operating system to the smart home. [...] Rubin did agree that Android's upgrade rate was much lower, but said that his new venture's Ambient OS had "a solution for that." He stopped short of describing what that solution was, however, noting only that it was "more of a managed service on the back-end."

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