Security

Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure 354

Posted by Soulskill
from the targeted-for-improvement dept.
jones_supa writes: One thing we all remember from Windows NT is the security feature requiring the user to press CTRL-ALT-DEL to unlock the workstation (this can still be enabled with a policy setting). The motivation was to make it impossible for other programs to mimic a lock screen, as they couldn't react to the special key combination. Martin Gräßlin from the KDE team takes a look at the lock screen security on X11. On a protocol level, X11 doesn't know anything of screen lockers. Also the X server doesn't know that the screen is locked as it doesn't understand the concept. This means the screen locker can only use the core functionality available to emulate screen locking. That in turn also means that any other client can do the same and prevent the screen locker from working (for example opening a context menu on any window prevents the screen locker from activating). That's quite a bummer: any process connected to the X server can block the screen locker, and even more it could fake your screen locker.
Android

Embedded Linux Conference Headlined By Drones 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the penguins-can-fly dept.
DeviceGuru writes: The Linux Foundation has released the full agenda for its annual North American Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit, which takes place Mar. 23-25 in San Jose, Calif. The ELC, which this year is titled Drones, Things, and Automobiles, increasingly reflects new opportunities for Linux in areas such as drones, robots, automotive computers, IoT gizmos, 3D sensing, modular phones, and much more. For those worried that ELC is skimping on the basics as it explores the more colorful sides of Linux, worry not, as there are still plenty of sessions on booting, trace analysis, NAND support, PHY frameworks, power management, defragmenting, systemd, device tree, and toolchain.
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: GPU of Choice For OpenCL On Linux? 109

Posted by timothy
from the discriminating-tastes dept.
Bram Stolk writes So, I am running GNU/Linux on a modern Haswell CPU, with an old Radeon HD5xxx from 2009. I'm pretty happy with the open source Gallium driver for 3D acceleration. But now I want to do some GPGPU development using OpenCL on this box, and the old GPU will no longer cut it. What do my fellow technophiles from Slashdot recommend as a replacement GPU? Go NVIDIA, go AMD, or just use the integrated Intel GPU instead? Bonus points for open sourced solutions. Performance not really important, but OpenCL driver maturity is.
Bug

Linus Fixes Kernel Regression Breaking Witcher 2 126

Posted by timothy
from the where-is-your-itch? dept.
jones_supa writes There has been quite a debate around the Linux version of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and the fact that it wasn't really a port. A special kind of wrapper was used to make the Windows version of the game run on Linux systems, similar to Wine. The performance on Linux systems took a hit and users felt betrayed because they thought that they would get a native port. However, after the game stopped launching properly at some point, the reason was actually found to be a Linux regression. Linus quickly took care of the issue on an unofficial Witcher 2 issue tracker on GitHub: "It looks like LDT_empty is buggy on 64-bit kernels. I suspect that the behavior was inconsistent before the tightening change and that it's now broken as a result. I'll write a patch. Serves me right for not digging all the way down the mess of macros." This one goes to the bin "don't break userspace". Linus also reminds of QA: "And maybe this is an excuse for somebody in the x86 maintainer team to try a few games on steam. They *are* likely good tests of odd behavior.."
Google

Google Just Made It Easier To Run Linux On Your Chromebook 169

Posted by timothy
from the danger-in-keeping-that-little-fulcrum-in-place dept.
TechCurmudgeon writes A story in PCWorld's "World beyond Windows" column outlines coming improvements in Chrome OS that will enable easily running Linux directly from a USB stick: "Have you ever installed a full desktop Linux system on your Chromebook? It isn't all [that] hard, but it is a bit more complex than it should be. New features in the latest version of Chrome OS will make dipping into an alternative operating system easier. For example, you'll be able to easily boot a full Linux system from a USB drive and use it without any additional hassle!"
Open Source

User Plea Means EISA Support Not Removed From Linux 189

Posted by timothy
from the otherwise-the-city-will-be-destroyed dept.
jones_supa writes A patch was proposed to the Linux Kernel Mailing List to drop support for the old EISA bus. However a user chimed in: "Well, I'd like to keep my x86 box up and alive, to support EISA FDDI equipment I maintain if nothing else — which in particular means the current head version of Linux, not some ancient branch." Linus Torvalds was friendly about the case: "So if we actually have a user, and it works, then no, we're not removing EISA support. It's not like it hurts us or is in some way fundamentally broken, like the old i386 code was (i386 kernel page fault semantics really were broken, and the lack of some instructions made it more painful to maintain than needed — not like EISA at all, which is just a pure add-on on the side)." In addition to Intel 80386, recent years have also seen MCA bus support being removed from the kernel. Linux generally strives to keep support even for crusty hardware if there provably is still user(s) of the particular gear.
Media

The Current State of Linux Video Editing 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the stop-motion-tux dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The VFX industry has for most of the last 30 years been reliant on Macs and Windows machines for video editing, primarily because all of the Linux-based FOSS tools have been less than great. This is a shame, because all of the best 3D and 2D tools, other than video, are entrenched in the Linux environment and perform best there. The lack of decent video editing tools on Linux prevents every VFX studio from becoming a Linux-only shop. That being said, there are some strides being made to bridge this gap. What setup do you use? What's still missing?
GNU is Not Unix

Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software 229

Posted by timothy
from the asymptotic-development dept.
Bunnie Huang's Novena laptop re-invents the laptop with open source (and Free software) in mind, but the hackability that it's built for requires a fair amount of tolerance on a user's part for funky design and visible guts. New submitter dopeghost writes with word of the nearly-funded (via Crowd Supply) Librem laptop, a different kind of Free-software machine using components "specifically selected so that no binary blobs are needed in the Linux kernel that ships with the laptop." Made from high quality components and featuring a MacBook-like design including a choice of HiDPI screen, the Librem might just be the first laptop to ship with a modern Intel CPU that is not locked down to require proprietary firmware.

Richard M. Stallman, president of the FSF, said, "Getting rid of the signature checking is an important step. While it doesn't give us free code for the firmware, it means that users will really have control of the firmware once we get free code for it."
Unlike some crowdfunding projects, this one is far from pie-in-the-sky, relying mostly on off-the-shelf components, with a planned shipping date in Spring of this year: "Purism is manufacturing the motherboard, and screen printing the keyboard. Purism is sourcing the case, daughter cards, memory, drives, battery, camera, and screen."
Operating Systems

Could Tizen Be the Next Android? 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the yes-no-maybe dept.
MollsEisley writes: Right now, Tizen is still somewhat half-baked, which is why you shouldn't expect to see a high-end Tizen smartphone hit your local carrier for a while yet, but Samsung's priorities could change rapidly. If Tizen development speeds up a bit, the OS could become a stand-in for Android on entry-level and mid-range Samsung phones and eventually take over Samsung's entire smartphone (and tablet) lineup.
Android

Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools? 184

Posted by timothy
from the spider-sense dept.
Qbertino writes After a long period of evaluation and weighing cons and pros I've gotten myself a brand new Android tablet (10" Lenovo Yoga 2, Android Version) destined to be my prime mobile computing device in the future. As any respectable freedom-loving geek/computer-expert I want to root it to be able to install API spoofing libraries and security tools to give me owners power over the machine and prevent services like Google and others spying on me, my files, photos, calendar and contacts. I also want to install an ad-blocking proxy (desperately needed — I forgot how much the normal web sucks!). I've searched for some rooting advice and tools, and so far have only stumbled on shady looking sites that offer various Windows-based rooting kits for android devices.

What's the gist on all this? How much of this stuff is potential malware? What are your experiences? Can I usually trust rooting strategies to be malware-free? Is there a rule-of-thumb for this? Is there perhaps a more generic way for a FOSS/Linux expert who isn't afraid of the CLI to root any Android 4.4 (Kitkat) device? Advice and own experiences, please.
OS X

Why Run Linux On Macs? 592

Posted by timothy
from the horses-for-courses dept.
jones_supa writes Apple has always had attractive and stylish hardware, but there are always some customers opting to run Linux instead of OS X on their Macs. But why? One might think that a polished commercial desktop offering designed for that specific lineup of computers might have less rough edges than a free open source one. Actually there's plenty of motivations to choose otherwise. A redditor asked about this trend and got some very interesting answers. What are your reasons?
Programming

Linus On Diversity and Niceness In Open Source 361

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-or-have-you-ever-been dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Linus Torvalds has sent a lengthy statement to Ars Technica responding to statements he made in a conference in New Zealand. One of his classic comments in NZ was: "I'm not a nice person, and I don't care about you. I care about the technology and the kernel — that's what's important to me." On diversity, he said that "the most important part of open source is that people are allowed to do what they are good at" and "all that stuff is just details and not really important." Now he writes: "What I wanted to say — and clearly must have done very badly — is that one of the great things about open source is exactly the fact that different people are so different", and that "I don't know where you happen to be based, but this 'you have to be nice' seems to be very popular in the US," calling the concept of being nice an "ideology"."
AMD

AMD Catalyst Is the Broken Wheel For Linux Gaming 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the didn't-squeek-enough-to-get-the-grease dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Tests of the AMD Catalyst driver with the latest AAA Linux games/engines have shown what poor shape the proprietary Radeon driver currently is in for Linux gamers. Phoronix, which traditionally benchmarks with open-source OpenGL games and other long-standing tests, recently has taken specially interest in adapting some newer Steam-based titles for automated benchmarking. With last month's Linux release of Metro Last Light Redux and Metro 2033 Redux, NVIDIA's driver did great while AMD Catalyst was miserable. Catalyst 14.12 delivered extremely low performance and some major bottleneck with the Radeon R9 290 and other GPUs running slower than NVIDIA's midrange hardware. In Unreal Engine 4 Linux tests, the NVIDIA driver again was flawless but the same couldn't be said for AMD. Catalyst 14.12 wouldn't even run the Unreal Engine 4 demos on Linux with their latest generation hardware but only with the HD 6000 series. Tests last month also showed AMD's performance to be crippling for NVIDIA vs. AMD Civilization: Beyond Earth Linux benchmarks with the newest drivers.
Bug

Steam For Linux Bug Wipes Out All of a User's Files 329

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-oops dept.
An anonymous reader sends a report of a bug in Steam's Linux client that will accidentally wipe all of a user's files if they move their Steam folder. According to the bug report: I launched steam. It did not launch, it offered to let me browse, and still could not find it when I pointed to the new location. Steam crashed. I restarted it. It re-installed itself and everything looked great. Until I looked and saw that steam had apparently deleted everything owned by my user recursively from the root directory. Including my 3tb external drive I back everything up to that was mounted under /media. Another user reported a similar problem — losing his home directory — and problems with the script were found: at some point, the Steam script sets $STEAMROOT as the directory containing all Steam's data, then runs rm -rf "$STEAMROOT/"* later on. If Steam has been moved, $STEAMROOT returns as empty, resulting in rm -rf "/"* which causes the unexpected deletion.
Open Source

Systemd's Lennart Poettering: 'We Do Listen To Users' 551

Posted by Soulskill
from the disagreeing-is-not-ignoring dept.
M-Saunders writes: Systemd is ambitious and controversial, taking over a large part of the GNU/Linux base system. But where did it come from? Even Red Hat wasn't keen on it at the start, but since then it has worked its way into almost every major distro. Linux Voice talks to Lennart Poettering, the lead developer of Systemd, about its origins, its future, its relationship with Upstart, and handling the pressures of online flamewars.