Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Twelve years ago, Slashdot interviewed Brad Kuhn in his then-role as VP of the Free Software Foundation. Kuhn is still involved with the FSF, but has gone on, after a stint as CTO for the Software Freedom Law Center, to concentrate his efforts as President, Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy. The Conservancy offers organization and support to copylefted and permissively licensed software, and Brad explains in the video below what that entails, as well as where the Conservancy fits in the expanding landscape of organizations that help protect the rights of software developers. Brad makes no bones about wishing for a world where all software is Free software, but that's a big-picture goal. In the meantime, there's a lot of work to go around, just making sure that developers' chosen licenses are intelligently selected, and properly respected.
An anonymous reader writes "The openSUSE Linux distribution looks like it may be the first major Linux distribution to ship the Btrfs file-system by default. The openSUSE 13.1 release is due out in November and is still using EXT4 by default, but after that the developers are looking at having openSUSE using Btrfs by default on new installations. The Btrfs features to be enabled would be the ones the developers feel are data-safe."
darthcamaro writes "At the Linuxcon conference in New Orleans today, Linus Torvalds joined fellow kernel developers in answering a barrage of questions about Linux development. One question he was asked was whether a government agency had ever asked about inserting a back-door into Linux. Torvalds responded 'no' while shaking his head 'yes,' as the audience broke into spontaneous laughter. Torvalds also admitted that while he as a full life outside of Linux he couldn't imagine his life without it. 'I don't see any project coming along being more interesting to me than Linux,' Torvalds said. 'I couldn't imagine filling the void in my life if I didn't have Linux.'"
Curupira writes "Ars Technica discusses how the Linux Defenders group are exercising the rights granted by the America Invents Act to identify and fight the patents that potentially threaten Linux and open source software. From the article: 'In a session at LinuxCon today, Linux Defenders director Andrea Casillas explained how the group is using rights granted by the new law to fight patent applications. A project of the Open Invention Network, Software Freedom Law Center, and Linux Foundation, Linux Defenders examines the 6,000 new patent applications published each week, attempting to identify those that are potentially threatening to Linux and open source. Then, the group looks for prior art that would invalidate at least some of the claims in the patents.'"
Brad McCredie is an IBM VP, and head of IBM's Power Systems development. (He's also one of the mere few hundred IBM Fellows that have been named in the past 50 years.) He pointed out in his keynote at this year's LinuxCon gathering that IBM has been adopting and supporting Linux (and associated software, like Apache) in various ways for the past decade and a half. Famously, the company promised to support Linux to the tune of a billion dollars in 2001, and McCredie renewed the promise on Tuesday. I sat down to talk with him about just how they'll go about spending the next billion dollars on Linux development; when a company has more than $200 billion in market capitalization, there are lots of ways to spread it around. Spending on hardware is one way, and McCredie also talked about the recently announced OpenPower consortium, which ties directly into the ongoing Linux push.
DeviceGuru writes "Jolla announced (PDF) that its Sailfish OS is now fully compatible with Android, letting the Linux-based mobile OS run Android apps, as well as operate on hardware configured for Android. This makes the MeeGo-based Sailfish OS the first alternative mobile Linux OS to achieve the feat. Jolla also announced that a second batch of pre-orders for its Sailfish-based Jolla phones will open later this week, after having sold out its first batch in August."
New submitter urdak writes "At CloudOpen in New Orleans, KVM veterans Avi Kivity and Dor Laor revealed their latest venture, a new open-source (BSD license) operating system named OSv. OSv can run existing Linux programs and runtime environments such as a JVM, but unlike Linux, OSv was designed from the ground up to run efficiently on virtual machines. For example, OSv avoids the traditional (but slow) userspace-kernel isolation, as on the cloud VMs normally run a single application. OSv is also much smaller than Linux, and breaks away from tradition by being written in C++11 (the language choice is explained in in this post)."
itwbennett writes with a link to a story you'll need to mentally upgrade from "expected to" to "just happened" about IBM's $1 billion dollar investment in Linux officially announced Tuesday morning at LinuxCon (the WSJ broke the story yesterday), by IBM VP Brad McCredie. IBM, says the linked article, will use all that money "to promote Linux development as it tries to adapt Power mainframes and servers to handle cloud and big data applications in distributed computing environments. The investment will fund Linux application development programs for IBM's Power servers and also be used to expand a cloud service where developers can write and test applications for Power servers before deployment. It will also facilitate software development around IBM's new Power8 chips, which will go into servers next year." It's not the only time that IBM has recently tossed around the B-word, and as Nick Kolakowski notes at Slash BI, it's also not the first time IBM has put that much money into Linux.
hypnosec writes "Linus Torvalds has released Linux 3.12-rc1, marking the first major development in over two weeks for the forthcoming successor of the Linux 3.11 kernel. Announcing the closure of the 3.12 merge window, Torvalds said in the release announcement that the window was fairly normal. Dissecting the updates, he noted that 73 percent of them are related to drivers, 12 percent related to architecture updates, and 6 percent related to file systems. ... Torvalds liked the 'scalability improvements that got merged this time around.' Torvalds also mentioned the tty layer locking getting resolved, and work on dentry refcount scalability."
SmartAboutThings writes "Windows XP is going to officially die and stop receiving support from Microsoft in April, 2014. After that very moment, it is said to become a gold mine for hackers all over the world who will exploit 'zero-day' vulnerabilities. The municipality of the German city of Munich wants to stop that from happening [and] has decided to distribute free CDs with Ubuntu 12.04 to users of the almost extinct XP. Munich, through its Gasteig Library, will prepare around 2000 CDs with Ubuntu 12.04 to offer to city residents affected by Windows XP's end of support. Previously, it was believed that Munich city's authorities were going to offer Lubuntu 12.04, which would have required lower system requirements with the same support period."
Slashdot's Timothy Lord is attending LinuxCon in New Orleans this week and writes in with the following. "Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell says in no uncertain terms what the brain trust at Valve thinks: When it comes to actual users, 'Linux is currently insignificant by any metric' (by any metric that matters to game companies, at least, like number of players, minutes played, and — all important — revenue). On these fronts, Linux players are 'typically under 1 percent' of what game companies see. But that's not the upshot. The takeaway is just about the opposite, says Newell: 'The future of gaming is on Linux.' Newell expounded on the present and future of games on Linux in a keynote address at LinuxCon North America, which kicked off today in New Orleans. He described ways Valve is working to improve the landscape for games on Linux, and hinted at new hardware developments from the company in the near future." Keep reading for the rest of Tim's report.
darthcamaro writes "The Linux Foundation's Who Writes Linux report (sign up required) is now out and after 22 yrs leading Linux, Linux creator Linus Torvalds has fallen out of the list of top 100 developers in terms of code contributions. He currently ranks 101st for number of patches generated from the Linux 3.3 to the Linux 3.10 kernel releases." Read below for a few highlights from the report.
phlawed writes "I've been a Linux user since the previous millennium. I came from OS/2, which I really liked. I quickly felt at home with icewm, using a suitably tweaked config to give me something resembling Presentation Manager. I may have commented on that before. Today, I find myself in a position where my preferred 'environment' is eroding. The only force keeping icewm rolling these days is the distribution package maintainers. I can't code in any meaningful way, nor do I aspire to. I could easily pay for a supported version of icewm, but I can't personally pay someone enough to keep it alive. I'd love it if someone took a personal interest in the code, to ensure that it remains up to date, or to make it run on Wayland or whatever. I want someone to own the code, be proud of it. Is there a general solution for this situation? How do I go about drumming up interest for an old project?"
New submitter Ian Grant writes "This article takes a brief look at open source software in Brazil and how it's transforming tech use in South America: Bringing free software to Brazil, however, is not just a matter of copying North American practices. The idea of free software has also been substantially transformed through contact with Brazilian politics. In the United States, the open source software community has long had libertarian leanings, which have only strengthened over time. The core tenet of free software, after all, is giving the users freedom to do what they want. ... And when free software was finally embraced by business, many members of the movement welcomed it as a validation of their ideas. The business-friendly side of free software is easily visible in Brazil, too. Many Brazilian companies, for example, use Linux. At the forum in Porto Alegre, commercial free software was well represented by large foreign companies, many of which appeared to be there primarily for recruiting. Yet the forum also showcased another side of Brazil’s place in the world of free software — a key meeting place of free software and leftist politics. "
First time accepted submitter noahfecks writes "After the Linux 3.11 kernel was codenamed 'Linux for Workgroups' in memory of Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Linus Torvalds is using 'Suicidal Squirrel' as the Linux 3.12 kernel codename." Seems only fitting. (The list of kernel names should reflect this soon.)
jones_supa writes "The sudden death of a solid-state drive in Linus Torvalds' main workstation has led to the work on the 3.12 Linux kernel being temporarily suspended. Torvalds has not been able to recover anything from the drive. Subsystem maintainers who have outstanding pull requests may need to re-submit their requests in the coming days. If the SSD isn't recoverable he will finish out the Linux 3.12 merge window from a laptop."
sfcrazy writes "After shooting down Canonical's Mir, Intel and Red Hat teams have increased collaboration on the development of Wayland. Developers at Intel and Red Hat are working together to 'merge and stabilize the patches to enable Wayland support in GNOME,' as Christian Schaller writes on his blog. The teams are also looking into improving the stack further. Weston won't be used anymore, so GNOME Shell will become the Wayland compositor. It must be noted that Canonical earlier committed to supporting and embracing Wayland. Despite that promise, the company silently stopped contribution, and it was later learned that they were secretly working on their own display server, Mir. Intel's management recently rejected patches for Mir, leaving its maintainance to Canonical. Before Intel's rejection, GNOME and KDE also refused to adopt Mir. Intel's message is clear to Canonical: if you promise to contribute, then do so."
hypnosec writes "Linus Torvalds, in response to a petition on Change.org to remove RdRand from /dev/random, has lambasted the petitioner by called him ignorant for not understanding the code in the Linux Kernel. Kyle Condon from the UK raised a petition on Change.org to get Linus to remove RdRand from /dev/random in a bid 'to improve the overall security of the linux kernel.' In his response, Torvalds asked Condon and the supporters of the petition to gain an understanding of Linux drivers and cryptography, and then 'come back here and admit to the world that you were wrong.' Torvalds stressed that kernel maintainers knew what they were doing and the petitioner didn't. Torvalds, in a similar outburst just yesterday, hoped that 'ARM SoC hardware designers all die in some incredibly painful accident.' This came in response to a message from Kevin Hilman when he noted that there were quite a few conflicts in the ARM SoC pull request for Linux 3.12 which were a result of the platform changes conflicting with driver changes going in to the V4L tree."
Dave Girard has written a lengthy description of how to design the best possible operating system for creative pursuits (video editing, photo manipulation, and sound editing, in particular) — at least the the best possible one he can imagine by selecting from the best tools and behaviors that he finds in Mac OS X, Windows, and (mostly Ubuntu) Linux. He makes a compelling case for the OS (or at least a GUI on top of it) having baked-in support for a wide range of image formats and codecs, and makes some pointed jabs along the way at what each of these three big players do wrong.