Open Source

In Which Linus Torvalds Makes An 'Init' Joke (lkml.org) 359

Long-time Slashdot reader jawtheshark writes: In a recent Linux Kernel Mailing List post, Linux Torvalds finishes his mail with a little poke towards a certain init system. It is a very faint criticism, compared to his usual style. While Linus has no direct influence on the "choices" of distro maintainers, his opinion is usually valued.
In a discussion about how to set rlimit default values for setuid execs, Linus concluded his email by writing, "And yes, a large part of this may be that I no longer feel like I can trust "init" to do the sane thing. You all presumably know why."
GNOME

Fedora 26 Linux Distro Released (betanews.com) 66

Reader BrianFagioli writes: Today, Fedora 26 sheds its pre-release status and becomes available for download as a stable release. GNOME fans are in for a big treat, as version 3.24 is default. If you stick to stable Fedora releases, this will be your first time experiencing that version of the desktop environment since it was released in March. Also new is LibreOffice 5.3, which is an indispensable suite for productivity. If you still use mp3 music files I've moved onto streaming), support should be baked in for both encoding and decoding. "The latest version of Fedora's desktop-focused edition provides new tools and features for general users as well as developers. GNOME 3.24 is offered with Fedora 26 Workstation, which includes a host of updated functionality including Night Light, an application that subtly changes screen color based on time of day to reduce effect on sleep patterns, and LibreOffice 5.3, the latest update to the popular open source office productivity suite. For developers, GNOME 3.24 provides matured versions of Builder and Flatpak to make application development for a variety of systems, including Rust and Meson, easier across the board," says the Fedora Project.
Open Source

Bruce Perens Warns Grsecurity Breaches the Linux Kernel's GPL License (perens.com) 474

Bruce Perens co-founded the Open Source Initiative with Eric Raymond. Now he's sharing a "strong opinion" that companies should avoid the Grsecurity security patch for the Linux kernel "because it presents a contributory infringement and breach of contract risk." Slashdot reader NewGnu shared Bruce's comments: [I]t would fail a fair-use test... Because of its strongly derivative nature of the kernel, it must be under the GPL version 2 license, or a license compatible with the GPL and with terms no more restrictive than the GPL. Earlier versions were distributed under GPL version 2... My understanding from several reliable sources is that customers are verbally or otherwise warned that if they redistribute the Grsecurity patch, as would be their right under the GPL, that they will be assessed a penalty: they will no longer be allowed to be customers, and will not be granted access to any further versions of Grsecurity. GPL version 2 section 6 explicitly prohibits the addition of terms such as this redistribution prohibition...

This is tantamount to the addition of a term to the GPL prohibiting distribution or creating a penalty for distribution. GPL section 6 specifically prohibits any addition of terms. Thus, the GPL license, which allows Grsecurity to create its derivative work of the Linux kernel, terminates, and the copyright of the Linux Kernel is infringed. The contract from the Linux kernel developers to both Grsecurity and the customer which is inherent in the GPL is breached.

Perens advises companies to discuss his position with their attorneys, adding "In the public interest, I am willing to discuss this issue with companies and their legal counsel, under NDA, without charge."
Debian

Survey Finds Most Popular Linux Laptop Distros: Ubuntu and Arch (phoronix.com) 141

After collating 30,171 responses, Phoronixhas released some results from their first Linux Laptop Survey. An anonymous reader quotes their report: To little surprise, Ubuntu was the most popular Linux distribution running on the respondents' laptops. 38.9% of the respondents were said to be using Ubuntu while interesting in second place was Arch Linux at 27.1% followed by Debian at 15.3%. Rounding out the top ten were then Fedora at 14.8%, Linux Mint in 5th at 10.8%, openSUSE/SUSE in sixth at 4.2%, Gentoo in seventh at 3.9%, CentOS/RHEL in eighth at 3.1%, Solus in ninth at 2%, and Manjaro in tenth at 1.6%. The other Linux distributions had each commanded less than 1% of the overall response.
Only 10.3% of respondents said their most recent laptop purchase came pre-loaded with Linux. But 29.3% are now dual-booting their Linux laptop with Windows, while another 4.4% were dual-booting with yet another Linux distribution.
Windows

WikiLeaks Unveils CIA Implants That Steal SSH Credentials From Windows, Linux PCs (thehackernews.com) 140

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hacker News: WikiLeaks has today published the 15th batch of its ongoing Vault 7 leak, this time detailing two alleged CIA implants that allowed the agency to intercept and exfiltrate SSH (Secure Shell) credentials from targeted Windows and Linux operating systems using different attack vectors. Secure Shell or SSH is a cryptographic network protocol used for remote login to machines and servers securely over an unsecured network. Dubbed BothanSpy -- implant for Microsoft Windows Xshell client, and Gyrfalcon -- targets the OpenSSH client on various distributions of Linux OS, including CentOS, Debian, RHEL (Red Hat), openSUSE and Ubuntu. Both implants steal user credentials for all active SSH sessions and then sends them to a CIA-controlled server.
Operating Systems

OpenBSD Will Get Unique Kernels On Each Reboot (bleepingcomputer.com) 162

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: A new feature added in test snapshots for the upcoming OpenBSD 6.2 release will create a unique kernel every time an OpenBSD user reboots or upgrades his computer. This feature is named KARL -- Kernel Address Randomized Link -- and works by relinking internal kernel files in a random order so that it generates a unique kernel binary blob every time. Currently, for stable releases, the OpenBSD kernel uses a predefined order to link and load internal files inside the kernel binary, resulting in the same kernel for all users. Developed by Theo de Raadt, KARL will work by generating a new kernel binary at install, upgrade, and boot time. If the user boots up, upgrades, or reboots his machine, the most recently generated kernel will replace the existing kernel binary, and the OS will generate a new kernel binary that will be used on the next boot/upgrade/reboot, constantly rotating kernels on reboots or upgrades. KARL should not be confused with ASLR -- Address Space Layout Randomization -- a technique that randomizes the memory address where application code is executed, so exploits can't target a specific area of memory where an application or the kernel is known to run. A similar technique exists for randomizing the memory location where the kernel loads -- called KASLR. The difference between the two is that KARL loads a different kernel binary in the same place, while KASLR loads the same binary in random locations. Currently Linux and Windows only support KASLR.
Security

Linux Is Not As Safe As You Think (betanews.com) 237

BrianFagioli writes via BetaNews: Would you be surprised if I told you that threat methods for Linux increased an astonishing 300 percent in 2016, while Microsoft's operating systems saw a decrease? Well, according to a new report, that is true. Does this mean Linux is unsafe? No way, Jose! There are some important takeaways here. Microsoft's Windows operating systems are still the most targeted platforms despite the year over year decline -- far beyond Linux. Also, just because there is an increase in malware attack methods doesn't necessarily mean that more systems will be infected. Let us not forget that it is easier to find a vulnerability with open source too; Microsoft largely uses closed source code. "At the end of November, criminals with other variants of the same Linux malware unleashed devastating attacks against DSL routers of Telekom customers. 900,000 devices were taken down. In October, the Mirai code appeared freely available on the Internet. Since then, the AV-TEST systems have been investigating an increasing number of samples with spikes at the end of October, November and beginning of December," says AV Test of the Mirai malware. "Other Linux malware, such as the Tsunami backdoor, has been causing trouble for several years now and can be easily modified for attacks against IoT devices. The detection systems of AV-TEST first detected the Tsunami malicious code in the year 2003. Although, at that time, practically no IoT devices existed, the Linux backdoor already offered attack functions which even today would be suitable for virtually unprotected attacks on routers: In this manner, Tsunami can download additional malicious code onto infected devices and thus make devices remote controllable for criminals. But the old malware can also be used for DDoS attacks. The Darlloz worm, known since 2013, as well as many other Linux and Unix malware programs, have similar attack patterns which AV-TEST has been detecting and analyzing for years."
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."
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.
GNOME

System76 Unveils Its Own Ubuntu-Based Linux Distribution Called 'Pop!_OS' (betanews.com) 117

BrianFagioli writes: Not content with simply following Canonical and embracing vanilla GNOME, System76 has decided to take its future into its own hands. Today, the company releases the first alpha of an all-new Linux-based operating system called "Pop!_OS," which will eventually be the only OS pre-loaded on its computers. While it will still be based on Ubuntu and GNOME, System76 is tweaking it with its own style and included drivers. In other words, the company is better controlling the user experience, and that is smart.

"The Pop!_OS community is in its infancy. This is a fantastic time to engage with and help develop the processes and practices that will govern the future development of the operating system and its community. The team is currently opening up planning for the development roadmap, code of conduct, discussion forums, and the processes surrounding code contribution. Progress made on Pop!_OS has established an inviting, modern, and minimalist look and has improved the first-use experience including streamlining installation and user setup. Work on the first release, scheduled for October 19th, centers on appearance, stability, and overall tightness of the user experience followed by adding new features and greater customization ability," says System76.
You can check out the project on GitHub here and download the alpha ISO here. For more information, the company has set up a subreddi.
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."
Hardware

Survey Says: Raspberry Pi Still Rules, But X86 SBCs Have Made Gains (linuxgizmos.com) 82

DeviceGuru writes: Results from LinuxGizmos.com's annual hacker-friendly single board computer survey are in, and not surprisingly, the Raspberry Pi 3 is the most desired maker SBC by a 4-to-1 margin. In other trends: x86 SBCs and Linux/Arduino hybrids have trended upwards. The site's popular hacker SBC survey polled 1,705 survey respondents and asked for their first, second, and third favorite SBCs from a curated list of 98 community oriented, Linux- and Android-capable boards. Spreadsheets comparing all 98 SBCs' specs and listing their survey vote tallies are available in freely downloadable Google Docs.
Other interesting findings:
  • "A Raspberry Pi SBC has won in all four of our annual surveys, but never by such a high margin."
  • The second-highest ranked board -- behind the Raspberry Pi 3 -- was the Raspberry Pi Zero W.
  • "The Raspberry Pi's success came despite the fact that it offers some of the weakest open source hardware support in terms of open specifications. This, however, matches up with our survey responses about buying criteria, which ranks open source software support and community over open hardware support."
  • "Despite the accelerating Raspberry Pi juggernaut, there's still plenty of experimentation going on with new board models, and to a lesser extent, new board projects."

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.

Stats

Phoronix Announces '2017 Linux Laptop Survey' (google.com) 66

Phoronix is hosting a 2017 Linux Laptop Survey. From their site: While Linux laptop compatibility is much better than where it was years ago, it's still not too uncommon to run into display/hybrid issues, shorter battery life under Linux than Windows or macOS, touchpad problems, and other occasional compatibility/performance shortcomings. So we've established this Linux Laptop Survey in conjunction with Linux stakeholders to hopefully gather more feedback that will be useful to many different parties...
The survey will be online until July 6th, after which the results will be publicly available, and will determine the most popular brands, distros, screen sizes, and GPUs, as well as common pain points and popular price points. And one particularly interestng question asks respondents what they'd like to see in a "dream Linux laptop."
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.
Network

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Isolate a Network And Allow Data Transfer? 237

Futurepower(R) writes: What is the best way to isolate a network from the internet and prevent intrusion of malware, while allowing carefully examined data transfer from internet-facing computers? An example of complete network isolation could be that each user would have two computers with a KVM switch and a monitor and keyboard, or two monitors and two keyboards. An internet-facing computer could run a very secure version of Linux. Any data to be transferred to that user's computer on the network would perhaps go through several Raspberry Pi computers running Linux; the computers could each use a different method of checking for malware. Windows computers on the isolated network could be updated using Autopatcher, so that there would never be a direct connection with the internet. Why not use virtualization? Virtualization does not provide enough separation; there is the possibility of vulnerabilities. Do you have any ideas about improving the example above?
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.
Linux

Linux Kernel 4.14 Will Be An LTS Release (softpedia.com) 46

prisoninmate writes: Development of the Linux 4.14 kernel series did not even start, as the version that's being developed these days is Linux 4.12, which should be promoted to stable early next month, but Softpedia reports that renowned Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced earlier this morning that the upcoming Linux 4.14 kernel series will be an LTS (Long Term Support) branch. The developer promises to support the Linux 4.14 kernel series for at least two years after its release in November 2017, probably until November 2019.

Slashdot Top Deals