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Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the targeted-for-improvement dept.

Security 342

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.

The Current State of Linux Video Editing

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the stop-motion-tux dept.

Media 223

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?

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

timothy posted about a week ago | from the asymptotic-development dept.

GNU is Not Unix 227

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."

Could Tizen Be the Next Android?

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the yes-no-maybe dept.

Operating Systems 241

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.

Why Run Linux On Macs?

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the horses-for-courses dept.

OS X 592

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?

Linus On Diversity and Niceness In Open Source

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the are-you-or-have-you-ever-been dept.

Programming 361

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"."

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

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the big-oops dept.

Bug 329

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.

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

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the disagreeing-is-not-ignoring dept.

Open Source 551

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.

Ask Slashdot: Migrating a Router From Linux To *BSD?

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the hiring-a-new-traffic-cop dept.

Networking 403

An anonymous reader writes I'm in the camp that doesn't trust systemd. You can discuss the technical merits of all init solutions all you want, but if I wanted to run Windows NT I'd run Windows NT, not Linux. So I've decided to migrate my homebrew router/firewall/samba server to one of the BSDs. Question one is: which BSD? Question two: where's some good documentation regarding setting up a home router/firewall on your favorite BSD?
It's fine if the documentation is highly technical, I've written linux kernel drivers before :)

SystemD Gains New Networking Features

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the making-things-better dept.

Debian 553

jones_supa writes A lot of development work is happening on systemd with just the recent couple of weeks seeing over 200 commits. With the most recent work that has landed, the networkd component has been improved with new features. Among the additions are IP forwarding and masquerading support (patch). This is the minimal support needed and these settings get turned on by default for container network interfaces. Also added was minimal firewall manipulation helpers for systemd's networkd. The firewall manipulation helpers (patch) are used for establishing NAT rules. This support in systemd is provided by libiptc, the library used for communicating with the Linux kernel's Netfilter and changing iptables firewall rulesets. Those wishing to follow systemd development on a daily basis and see what is actually happening under the hood, can keep tabs via the systemd Git viewer.

Ask Slashdot: Linux Database GUI Application Development?

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the now-make-yours-look-like-mine dept.

Databases 264

New submitter msubieta writes I have been developing some applications to use in small businesses using Windows and SQL Server. I would like to move on and start doing the same thing in Linux. I have looked at several Frameworks/Databases/Development environments and I really don't know what is the best/simplest/fastest to learn approach. I use VS and C# mostly, although I could easily go back to C++. I found Qt and GTK+ are the most common frameworks, but they seem to lack controls that deal with datasets and stuff (sorry, spoiled by the .net form controls), but I also know that I could use Mono in order to make the jump. I would have no problem on moving to MySQL, as I have done quite a lot of work on that side, and I would like to stick with the traditional client server application, as I find it easier to maintain, and a whole lot more robust when it comes to user interaction (web apps for POS applications don't seem to be the right way to go in my view). Any suggestions/comments/recommendations?

Ask Slashdot: Linux Distro For Hybrid Laptop?

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the half-man-half-penguin dept.

Input Devices 210

Steve Parrish writes: I needed a new laptop and found a great deal on an Asus Transformer TP500L. It's one of the laptops where you can flip the screen back and use it as a tablet. I'd like to replace Windows 8.1, and I'm having a difficult time finding a Linux distro that will work on it. I'm familiar with Mint, SolydX, and older Ubuntu versions. I tried the latest Ubuntu with Unity and didn't like it, but the OS installed with only a few minor issues. Has anyone tried any other distros on a hybrid laptop with a touchscreen? I've used Linux for several years, but I'm no guru -- I'm not comfortable with the command line or other advanced workings. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Red Hat Engineer Improves Math Performance of Glibc

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the performance-enhancing-devs dept.

Programming 226

jones_supa writes: Siddhesh Poyarekar from Red Hat has taken a professional look into mathematical functions found in Glibc (the GNU C library). He has been able to provide an 8-times performance improvement to slowest path of pow() function. Other transcendentals got similar improvements since the fixes were mostly in the generic multiple precision code. These improvements already went into glibc-2.18 upstream. Siddhesh believes that a lot of the low hanging fruit has now been picked, but that this is definitely not the end of the road for improvements in the multiple precision performance. There are other more complicated improvements, like the limitation of worst case precision for exp() and log() functions, based on the results of the paper Worst Cases for Correct Rounding of the Elementary Functions in Double Precision (PDF). One needs to prove that those results apply to the Glibc multiple precision bits.

2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

timothy posted about a month ago | from the creative-misinterpretation dept.

Bug 255

jfruh writes Heartbleed, Shellshock, Poodle — all high-profile vulnerabilities in widely used libraries that rocked the software industry in 2014. Sadly, experts are now beginning to believe that these aren't the only bugs lurking out there in widely used open source code, just the ones that grabbed the most attention. It's beginning to look like one of the foundation concepts of open source — that with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow — is a myth. Of course, probably no one believes that all bugs are instantly shallow, no matter how open is the source, or that open source software is immune from bugs -- particularly ESR, coiner of the phrase.

Bad Lockup Bug Plagues Linux

timothy posted about a month ago | from the therefore-it-plagues-you dept.

Bug 257

jones_supa (887896) writes "A hard to track system lockup bug seems to have appeared in the span of couple of most recent Linux kernel releases. Dave Jones of Red Hat was the one to first report his experience of frequent lockups with 3.18. Later he found out that the issue is present in 3.17 too. The problem was first suspected to be related to Xen. A patch dating back to 2005 was pushed for Xen to fix a vmalloc_fault() path that was similar to what was reported by Dave. The patch had a comment that read "the line below does not always work. Needs investigating!" But it looks like this issue was never properly investigated. Due to the nature of the bug and its difficulty in tracking down, testers might be finding multiple but similar bugs within the kernel. Linus even suggested taking a look in the watchdog code. He also concluded the Xen bug to be a different issue. The bug hunt continues in the Linux Kernel Mailing List."

Debian Forked Over Systemd

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the a-house-divided dept.

Debian 647

jaromil writes: The so called "Veteran Unix Admin" collective has announced that the fork of Debian will proceed as a result of the recent systemd controversy. The reasons put forward are not just technical; included is a letter of endorsement by Debian Developer Roger Leigh mentioning that "people rely on Debian for their jobs and businesses, their research and their hobbies. It's not a playground for such radical experimentation." The fork is called "Devuan," pronounced "DevOne." The official website has more information.

Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the clever-little-devil dept.

Operating Systems 267

An anonymous reader writes So for a variety of reasons (some related to recent events, some ongoing for a while) I've kinda soured on Linux and have been looking at giving BSD a shot on the desktop. I've been a Gentoo user for many years and am reasonably comfortable diving into stuff, so I don't anticipate user friendliness being a show stopper. I suspect it's more likely something I currently do will have poor support in the BSD world. I have of course been doing some reading and will probably just give it a try at some point regardless, but I was curious what experience and advice other slashdot users could share. There's been many bold comments on slashdot about moving away from Linux, so I suspect I'm not the only one asking these questions. Use-case wise, my list of must haves is: Minecraft, and probably more dubiously, FTB; mplayer or equivalent (very much prefer mplayer as it's what I've used forever); VirtualBox or something equivalent; Firefox (like mplayer, it's just what I've always used, and while I would consider alternatives, that would definitely be a negative); Flash (I hate it, but browsing the web sans-flash is still a pain); OpenRA (this is the one I anticipate giving me the most trouble, but playing it is somewhat of an obsession).

Stuff that would be nice but I can live without: Full disk encryption; Openbox / XFCE (It's what I use now and would like to keep using, but I could probably switch to something else without too much grief); jackd/rakarrack or something equivalent (currently use my computer as a cheap guitar amp/effects stack); Qt (toolkit of choice for my own stuff).
What's the most painless way to transition to BSD for this constellation of uses, and which variety of BSD would you suggest?

Debian Votes Against Mandating Non-systemd Compatibility

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the there-will-be-peace-in-our-time dept.

Debian 581

paskie writes: Voting on a Debian General Resolution that would require packagers to maintain support even for systems not running systemd ended tonight with the resolution failing to gather enough support.

This means that some Debian packages could require users to run systemd on their systems in theory — however, in practice Debian still works fine without systemd (even with e.g. GNOME) and this will certainly stay the case at least for the next stable release Jessie.

However, the controversial general resolution proposed late in the development cycle opened many wounds in the community, prompting some prominent developers to resign or leave altogether, stirring strong emotions — not due to adoption of systemd per se, but because of the emotional burn-out and shortcomings in the decision processes apparent in the wake of the systemd controversy.

Nevertheless, work on the next stable release is well underway and some developers are already trying to mend the community and soothe the wounds.

Longtime Debian Developer Tollef Fog Heen Resigns From Systemd Maintainer Team

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the tough-gig dept.

Debian 550

An anonymous reader writes Debian developer Tollef Fog Heen submitted his resignation to the Debian Systemd package maintainers team mailing list today (Sun. Nov. 16th, 2014). In his brief post, he praises the team, but claims that he cannot continue to contribute due to the "load of continued attacks...becoming just too much." Presumably, he is referring to the heated and, at times, even vitriolic criticism of Debian's adoption of Systemd as the default init system for its upcoming Jessie release from commenters inside and outside of the Debian community. Currently, it is not known if Tollef will cease contributing to Debian altogether. A message from his twitter feed indicates that he may blog about his departure in the near future.

Microsoft To Open Source .NET and Take It Cross-Platform

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the april-fools-headlines-from-10-years-ago dept.

Programming 525

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft today announced plans to open source .NET, the company's software framework that primarily runs on Windows, and release it on GitHub. Furthermore, Microsoft also unveiled plans to take .NET cross-platform by targeting both Mac OS X and Linux. In the next release, Microsoft plans to open source the entire .NET server stack, from ASP.NET 5 down to the Common Language Runtime and Base Class Libraries. The company will let developers build .NET cloud applications on multiple platforms; it is promising future support of the .NET Core server runtime and framework for Mac and Linux. Microsoft is also making Visual Studio free for small teams.

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