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Operating Systems

Linux Turns 25, Is Bigger and More Professional Than Ever (arstechnica.com) 306

The Linux operating system kernel is 25 years old this month, ArsTechnica writes. It was August 25, 1991 when Linus Torvalds posted his famous message announcing the project, claiming that Linux was "just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu." From the article: But now, Linux is far bigger and more professional than Torvalds could have imagined. Linux powers huge portions of the Internet's infrastructure, corporate data centers, websites, stock exchanges, the world's most widely used smartphone operating system, and nearly all of the world's fastest supercomputers. The successes easily outweigh Linux's failure to unseat Microsoft and Apple on PCs, but Linux has still managed to get on tens of millions of desktops and laptops and Linux software even runs on Windows.Do you use any Linux-based operating system? Share your experience with it. What changes would you want to see in it in the next five years?
Debian

Systemd Rolls Out Its Own Mount Tool (phoronix.com) 538

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: I'm surprised this hasn't surfaced on Slashdot already, but yesterday Phoronix reported that systemd will soon be handling file system mounts, along with all the other stuff that systemd has encompassed. The report generated the usual systemd arguments over on Reddit.com/r/linux with Lennart Poettering, systemd developer and architect, chiming in with a few clarifications.
Lennart argued it will greatly improve the handling of removable media like USB sticks.
KDE

KDE Edition Beta Released For Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' (fossbytes.com) 36

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes: Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' KDE Edition Beta is now available for download and testing. This release is based on the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel and KDE Plasma 5.6 desktop environment. The final release of this widely popular distro is expected to arrive in September... Just like MATE, Cinnamon, and Xfce releases, the KDE release is a long term release that will remain supported until 2021.

Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' KDE Edition ships with Mozilla Firefox as default web browser and LibreOffice as the default office suite. The Linux distro also features a wide range of popular KDE apps like Kontact, Dolphin, Gwenview, KMail, digiKam, KTorrent, Skanlite, Konversation, K3b, Konsole, Amarok, Ark, Kate, Okular, and Dragon Player.

"Unlike other Linux Mint editions, the KDE edition will ship with the SDDM display manager," reports the Linux Mint blog. Distrowatch notes that it's based on Ubuntu 16.04, and suggests "Mint's 'KDE' flavour might turn out to be the most interesting of the bunch, especially if the project's usually excellent quality assurance is applied to this edition in the same manner as in its 'MATE' and 'Cinnamon' variants."
Robotics

Intel Demos A New Robotics Controller Running Ubuntu (hackerboards.com) 20

Intel demoed their new robotics compute module this week. Scheduled for release in 2017, it's equipped with various sensors, including a depth-sensing camera, and it runs Ubuntu on a quad-core Atom. Slashdot reader DeviceGuru writes: Designed for researchers, makers, and robotics developers, the device is a self contained, candy-bar sized compute module ready to pop into a robot. It's augmented with a WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth, GPS, and IR, as well as proximity, motion, barometric pressure sensors. There's also a snap-on battery.

The device is preinstalled with Ubuntu 14.04 with Robot Operating System (ROS) Indigo, and can act as a supervisory processor to, say, an Arduino subsystem that controls a robot's low-level functions. Intel demoed a Euclid driven robot running an obstacle avoidance and follow-me tasks, including during CEO Brian Krzanich's keynote (YouTube video).

Intel says they'll also release instructions on how to create an accompanying robot with a 3D printer. This plug-and-play robotics module is a proof-of-concept device -- the article includes some nice pictures -- but it already supports programming in Node.js (and other high-level languages), and has a web UI that lets you monitor performance in real-time and watch the raw camera feeds.
Security

New Linux Trojan Is A DDoS Tool, a Bitcoin Miner, and Web Ransomware (softpedia.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: A trojan that targeted Drupal sites on Linux servers last May that was incredibly simplistic and laughable in its attempt to install (and fail) web ransomware on compromised websites, has now received a major update and has become a top threat on the malware scene. That trojan, named Rex, has evolved in only three months into an all-around threat that can: (1) compromise servers and devices running platforms like Drupal, WordPress, Magento, Jetspeed, Exarid, AirOS; (2) install cryptocurrency mining in the background; (3) send spam; (4) use a complex P2P structure to manage its botnet; and (5) install a DDoS agent which crooks use to launch DDoS attacks.

Worse is that they use their DDoS capabilities to extort companies. The crooks send emails to server owners announcing them of 15-minute DDoS tests, as a forewarning of future attacks unless they pay a ransom. To scare victims, they pose as a known hacking group named Armada Collective. Other groups have used the same tactic, posing as Armada Collective, and extorting companies, according to CloudFlare.

KDE

Ask Slashdot: Is KDE Dying? 509

A long-time loyal KDE user "always felt that it was the more complete and integrated of the many Linux desktop environments...thus having the most potential to win over new Linux converts." And while still using KDE exclusively without any major functional issues, now Slashdot reader fwells shares concerns about the future of desktop development, along with a personal opinion -- that KDE is becoming stale and stagnant: KDE-Look.org, once a fairly vibrant and active contributory site, has become a virtual ghost town... Various core KDE components and features are quite broken and have been so for some time... KDEPIM/KMail frankly seems targeted specifically at the poweruser, maintaining over many years its rather plain and arguably retro interface. The Konqueror web browser has been a virtual carcass for several years, yet it mysteriously remains an integral component...

So, back to my opening question... Is KDE Dying? Has innovation and development evaporated in a development world dominated by the mobile device? And, if so, can it be reinvigorated? Will the pendulum ever swing back? Can it? Should it?

The original submission has some additional thoughts on Windows 10 and desktop development -- but also specific complaints about KDE's Recent Items/Application Launcher History and the KDE theming engine (which "seems disjointed and rather non-intuitive".) The argument seems to be that KDE lacks curb appeal to fulfill that form-over-function preference of the larger community of users, so instead it's really retaining the practical appeal of "my 12 year old Chevy truck, feature rich for its time... Solid and reliable, but definitely starting to fade and certainly lacking some modern creature comforts."

So leave your own thoughts in the comments. Does desktop development need to be reinvigorated in a world focused on mobile devices -- and if so, what is its future? And is KDE slowly dying?
GUI

Fedora 25 To Run Wayland By Default Instead Of X.Org Server (phoronix.com) 151

An anonymous reader writes: Fedora 25 will finally be the first release for this Linux distribution -- and the first tier-one desktop Linux OS at large -- that is going ahead and using Wayland by default. Wayland has been talked about for years as a replacement to the xorg-server and finally with the upcoming Fedora 25 release this is expected to become a reality. The X.Org Server will still be present on Fedora systems for those running into driver problems or other common issues.
Fedora's steering committee agreed to the change provided the release notes "are clear about how to switch back to X11 if needed." In addition, according to the Fedora Project's wiki, "The code will automatically fall back to Xorg in cases where Wayland is unavailable (like NVIDIA)."
Chrome

Google Will Kill Chrome Apps For Windows, Mac, and Linux In Early 2018 (venturebeat.com) 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today announced plans to kill off Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux in early 2018. Chrome extensions and themes will not be affected, while Chrome apps will continue to live on in Chrome OS. Here's the deprecation timeline:

Late 2016: Newly published Chrome apps will not be available to Windows, Mac, and Linux users (when developers submit apps to the Chrome Web Store, they will only show up for Chrome OS). Existing Chrome apps will remain available as they are today and developers can continue to update them.
Second half of 2017: The Chrome Web Store will no longer show Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Early 2018: Chrome apps will not load on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
There appears to be two main reasons why Google is killing Chrome apps off now. First, as Google explains in a blog post: "For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn't provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware. We launched Chrome apps three years ago to bridge this gap. Since then, we've worked with the web standards community to enable an increasing number of these use cases on the web. Developers can use powerful new APIs such as service worker and web push to build robust Progressive Web Apps that work across multiple browsers." Secondly, Chrome apps aren't very popular: "Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux will therefore be removing support for packaged and hosted apps over the next two years."
Open Source

Microsoft PowerShell Goes Open Source and Lands On Linux and Mac (pcworld.com) 396

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it is open sourcing PowerShell, its system administration, scripting, and configuration management tool that has been a default part of Windows for several years. The company says it will soon release PowerShell on Mac and Linux platforms. PCWorld reports: The company is also releasing alpha versions of PowerShell for Linux (specifically Ubuntu, Centos and Redhat) and Mac OS X. A new PowerShell GitHub page gives people the ability to download binaries of the software, as well as access to the app's source code. PowerShell on Linux and Mac will let people who have already built proficiency with Microsoft's scripting language take those skills and bring them to new platforms. Meanwhile, people who are used to working on those platforms will have access to a new and very powerful tool for getting work done. It's part of Microsoft's ongoing moves to open up products that the company has previously kept locked to platforms that it owned. The company's open sourcing of its .NET programming frameworks in 2014 paved the way for this launch, by making the building blocks of PowerShell available on Linux and OS X. By making PowerShell available on Linux, Microsoft has taken the skills of Windows administrators who are already used to the software, and made them more marketable. It has also made it possible for hardcore Linux users to get access to an additional set of tools that they can use to manage a variety of systems.
Operating Systems

Linux Kernel 4.6 Has Reached End of Life, Users Urged To Move To Linux 4.7.1 67

Reader prisoninmate writes: Immediately after announcing the availability of the first point release for the Linux 4.7 kernel series, Greg Kroah-Hartman also informed the community about the launch of Linux kernel 4.6.7, which is the seventh maintenance update for the Linux 4.6 stable kernel branch, but it also looks like it's the last one for the series, which has now officially reached end of life. Therefore, if you're using a GNU/Linux operating system powered by a kernel from the Linux 4.6 branch, you are urged to move to Linux kernel 4.7 as soon as possible by installing the brand new Linux kernel 4.7.1 build.
Bug

FalseCONNECT Vulnerability Affects Software From Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, More (softpedia.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: "Researcher Jerry Decime revealed details about a security vulnerability that allows an attacker to gain a Man-in-the-Middle position and intercept HTTPS traffic thanks to flaws in the implementation of proxy authentication procedures in various products," reports Softpedia. The flaw can be used to collect user credentials by tricking victims into re-authenticating, sending data to a third-party. Multiple software vendors deploy applications that can handle proxy connections. Until now, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and Opera have acknowledged their products are affected. Lenovo said this bug does not impact its software. Other software vendors that are still evaluating the FalseCONNECT bug and may be affected include multiple Linux distros, Cisco, Google, HP, IBM, Juniper, Mozilla, Nokia, OpenBSD, SAP, Sony, and others.
Android

Linux Traffic Hijack Flaw Also Affects Most Android Phones, Tablets (zdnet.com) 39

Zack Whittaker, writing for ZDNet: As many as 80 percent of Android devices are vulnerable to a recently disclosed Linux kernel vulnerability. Security firm Lookout said in a blog post on Monday that the flaw affects all phones and tablets that are running Android 4.4 KitKat and later, which comes with the affected Linux kernel 3.6 or newer. According to recent statistics, the number of devices affected might run past 1.4 billion phones and tablets -- including devices running the Android Nougat developer preview. Windows and Macs are not affected by the vulnerability. The flaw, disclosed at the Usenix security conference last week, is complicated and difficult to exploit. If an attacker can pull off an exploit, they could inject malicious code into unencrypted web traffic from "anywhere". However, the source and destination IP address would need to be known in order to intercept the traffic, adding to the complexity of carrying out a successful attack.The exploitability isn't easy, though.
Businesses

Linux Developer Loses GPL Suit Against VMware (itwire.com) 162

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes ITWire: Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig has lost his case against virtualisation company VMware, which he had sued in March 2015 for violation of version 2 of the GNU General Public Licence... The case claimed that VMware had been using Hellwig's code right from 2007 and not releasing source code as required. The Linux kernel, which is released under the GNU GPL version 2, stipulates that anyone who distributes it has to provide source code for the same...

In its ruling, the court said that Hellwig had failed to prove which specific lines of code VMware had used, from among those over which he claimed ownership.

In a statement, Hellwig said he plans to appeal, adding that "The ruling concerned German evidence law; the Court did not rule on the merits of the case, i.e. the question whether or not VMware has to license the kernel of its product vSphere ESXi 5.5.0 under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2." The Software Freedom Conservancy has described the lawsuit as "the regretful but necessary next step in both Hellwig and Conservancy's ongoing effort to convince VMware to comply properly with the terms of the GPLv2, the license of Linux and many other Open Source and Free Software included in VMware's ESXi products."
Cloud

New RancherOS Offers Lean Linux Functionality Within Docker Containers (rancher.com) 48

RancherOS is a lean Linux distribution aiming to offer "the minimum necessary to get Docker up and running," and tucking many actual Linux services into Docker containers. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Distrowatch: Josh Curl has announced the release of a new version of RancherOS [which] moves the project out of its alpha status and introduces new features, including an official Raspberry Pi image... "We're especially excited about this since it offers users a cheap method of getting started with Docker and RancherOS."
Open Source

New FreeBSD 11.0 Release Candidate Tested By Phoronix (phoronix.com) 60

"The first release candidate for the upcoming FreeBSD 11.0 is ready for testing," reports Distrowatch, noting various changes. ("A NULL pointer dereference in IPSEC has been fixed; support for SSH protocol 1 has been removed; OpenSSH DSA keys have been disabled by default...") Now an anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Sunday Phoronix performed some early benchmark testing, comparing FreeBSD 10.3 to FreeBSD 11.0 as well as DragonFlyBSD, Ubuntu, Intel Clear Linux and CentOS Linux 7. They reported mixed results -- some wins and some losses for FreeBSD -- using a clean install with the default package/settings on the x86_64/amd64 version for each operating system.

FreeBSD 11.0 showed the fastest compile times, and "With the SQLite benchmark, the BSDs came out ahead of Linux [and] trailed slightly behind DragonFlyBSD 4.6 with HAMMER. The 11.0-BETA4 performance does appear to regress slightly for SQLite compared to FreeBSD 10.3... With the BLAKE2 crypto test, all four Linux distributions were faster than DragonFlyBSD and FreeBSD... with the Apache web server benchmark, FreeBSD was able to outperform the Linux distributions..."

Cloud

Researchers Warn Linux Vendors About Cloud-Memory Hacking Trick (thestack.com) 73

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Hacking researchers have uncovered a new attack technique which can alter the memory of virtual machines in the cloud. The team, based at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, introduced the attack, dubbed Flip Feng Shui (FFS)...and explained that hackers could use the technique to crack the keys of secured VMs or install malicious code without it being noticed...

Using FFS, the attacker rents a VM on the same host as their chosen victim. They then write a memory page which they know exists on the vulnerable memory location and let it de-duplicate. The identical pages, with the same information, will merge in order to save capacity and be stored in the same part of memory of the physical computer. This allows the hacker to change information in the general memory of the computer.

The researchers demonstrated two attacks on Debian and Ubuntu systems -- flipping a bit to change a victim's RSA public key, and installing a software package infected with malware by altering a URL used by apt-get. "Debian, Ubuntu and other companies involved in the research were notified before the paper was published, and have all responded to the issue."
Google

Google Working On New 'Fuchsia' OS (digitaltrends.com) 145

An anonymous reader writes: Google is working on a new operating system dubbed Fuchsia OS for smartphones, computers, and various other devices. The new operating system was spotted in the Git repository, where the description reads: "Pick + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System). Hacker News reports that Travis Geiselbrech, who worked on NewOS, BeOS, Danger, Palm's webOS and iOS, and Brian Swetland, who also worked on BeOS and Android will be involved in this project. Magenta and LK kernel will be powering the operating system. "LK is a kernel designed for small systems typically used in imbedded applications," reads the repository. "On the other hand, Magenta targets modern phones and modern personal computers with fast processors, non-trivial amounts of RAM with arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation." It's too early to tell exactly what this OS is meant for. Whether it's for an Android and Chrome OS merger or something completely new, it's exciting nonetheless.
Operating Systems

Linux 4.9 Will Be the Next LTS Kernel Branch, Says Greg Kroah-Hartman (softpedia.com) 30

Reader prisoninmate writes: Renowned Linux kernel developer and maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman said on Friday that the next LTS (Long-Term Support) kernel branch will be Linux 4.9. The development cycle of a new Linux kernel branch doesn't take more than a month and a half or a maximum of two months, depending if the respective series will receive seven or eight Release Candidate (RC) milestones, but LTS releases are picked by veteran kernel developers from time to time when older ones reach end of life (EOL). If Linux kernel 4.8 will be a normal release with a total of seven RCs and it'll be announced on day of September 25, then the development cycle of the Linux 4.9 kernel should start with the first Release Candidate development snapshot on October 9, 2016. But if Linux kernel 4.8 will have eight RCs, then we should see Linux kernel 4.9 LTS RC1 one week later, on October 16.
Operating Systems

Canonical Releases Snapcraft 2.14 For Ubuntu With New Rust Plugin, Improvements (softpedia.com) 44

Marius Nestor, reporting for Softpedia News: Canonical, through Sergio Schvezov, has had the great pleasure of announcing the release and general availability of Snapcraft 2.14 Snap creator tool for the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system. Coming hot on the heels of Snapcraft 2.13, the new 2.14 maintenance update is here to introduce a bunch of new plugins, namely rust, godeps, and dump. You can find more information about each one by running the "snapcraft help " command in a terminal window. Also new in the Snapcraft 2.14 release is support for alternate relocation mechanisms in the "make" plugin (for example, you can use DESTDIR alternatives), as well as many improvements to the "go" plugin, such as support for local sources, which are now preferred instead of fetching new ones, and proper handling of the source entry. The list of improvements implemented in Snapcraft 2.14 continues with support for building a kernel Snaps for multiple hardware architectures using a single snapcraft.yaml file, support for "oneshot" daemons, better wiki parser source management, as well as proper setting of "shebangs" and support for requirement files in the "python" plugin.
Operating Systems

Arch Linux Is Now Officially Powered by Linux Kernel 4.7, Update Your Systems 54

Marius Nestor, writing for Softpedia: After a few weeks from its official release, it finally happened, Linux kernel 4.7 has just landed in the stable software repositories of the popular, lightweight and highly customizable Arch Linux operating system. Linux kernel 4.7 is the most stable and advanced kernel branch, and only a few GNU/Linux distributions have adopted since its launch on July 24, 2016. It's still marked as "mainline" not "stable" or "longterm" on the kernel.org website, which means that it didn't receive a maintenance update at the moment of writing this article. As for its new features, Linux kernel 4.7 comes with an updated AMDGPU graphics driver with support for AMD Radeon RX 480 GPUs, LoadPin, a brand new security module that ensures all modules loaded by the kernel originate from the same filesystem, and support for upgrading firmware using the EFI "Capsule" mechanism. Linux kernel 4.7 also marks the sync_file fencing mechanism used in the Android mobile operating system as stable and ready for production, implements support for generating virtual USB Device Controllers in USB/IP, supports parallel directory lookups, and introduces the "schedutil" frequency governor, which is faster and more accurate than the current ones.

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