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Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop? 161

Posted by timothy
from the clever-little-devil dept.
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 519

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-will-be-peace-in-our-time dept.
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.
Linux Business

Crowdfunded Linux Voice Magazine Releases First Issue CC-BY-SA 62

Posted by timothy
from the different-models-can-all-work dept.
M-Saunders (706738) writes Linux Voice, the crowdfunded GNU/Linux magazine that Slashdot has covered previously, had two goals at its launch: to give 50% of its profits back to the community after one year, and release each issue's contents under the Creative Commons after nine months. Well, it's been nine months since issue 1, so the whole thing is now online and free to share. Readers and supporters have also made audio versions of articles, for listening to on the commute to work.

Group Tries To Open Source Seeds 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the lettuce-for-linux dept.
jenwike writes The Open Source Seed Initiative is a passionate group that wants to ensure their seeds are never patented, but making sure seeds are free for use and distribution by anyone isn't as easy as you might think. Part of the equation are plant characteristics, like an extended head on lettuce — is that an invention? Or, would you argue that it is the product of the collective sharing of material that improves the whole crop over time? In this report, one farmer says, "If you're not exchanging germplasm, you're cutting your own throat."

Longtime Debian Developer Tollef Fog Heen Resigns From Systemd Maintainer Team 541

Posted by timothy
from the tough-gig dept.
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.
Open Source

Open Source Self-Healing Software For Virtual Machines 50

Posted by timothy
from the nothing-can-go-go-wrong dept.
An anonymous reader writes Computer scientists have developed Linux based software that not only detects and eradicates never-before-seen viruses and other malware, but also automatically repairs damage caused by them. If a virus or attack stops the service, A3 could repair it in minutes without having to take the servers down. The software then prevents the invader from ever infecting the computer again. "It's pretty cool when you can pick the Bug of the Week and it works." (Here's a paper with more details.)

GTK+ Developers Call For Help To Finish Cross-Platform OpenGL Support 89

Posted by timothy
from the gears-spinning dept.
jones_supa writes OpenGL support under GTK is getting into good shape for providing a nice, out-of-the-box experience by default on key platforms for the GTK+ 3.16 / GNOME 3.16 release in March. For a few weeks now within mainline GTK+ has been native OpenGL support and as part of that a new GtkGLArea widget for allowing OpenGL drawing within GTK applications. Since that initial work landed, there's been more GTK+ OpenGL code progressing that right now primarily benefits Linux X11 and Wayland users. While good progress is being made and improvements still ongoing to the GNOME toolkit, GNOME developers are requesting help in ensuring other GTK+ backends can benefit from this OpenGL support. If you are using or planning to use GTK+ 3 on Windows or OS X, and you know how to use OpenGL on those two platforms, please consider helping out the GTK+ developers by implementing the GdkGLContext API using WGL and AppleGL.

Low Cost Ground Robot Chassis That Can Traverse Challenging Obstacles 38

Posted by timothy
from the how-does-it-fare-against-angry-toddlers? dept.
Hallie Siegel writes In order for a robot to be useful in our world, it must be able to traverse unpredictable obstacles, including stairs. But currently available robot chassis tend to be either too small or extremely expensive, and most platform kits cannot leave a controlled environment – a huge problem for makers who want to get outside the lab or workshop. This has been an extremely hard problem for roboticists to solve, but the Ground Drone Project wants to change all that with its low-cost ground robot chassis. Check out this innovative design. (Currently, the project is raising money through Kickstarter; if it succeeds, "the instructions and bill of materials will be available for all.")

Visual Studio 2015 Supports CLANG and Android (Emulator Included) 192

Posted by timothy
from the exigent-realities dept.
Billly Gates (198444) writes "What would be unthinkable a decade ago is Visual Studio supporting W3C HTML and CSS and now apps on other platforms. Visual Studio 2015 preview is available for download which includes support for LLVM/Clang, Android development, and even Linux development with Mono using Xamarin. A little more detail is here. A tester also found support for Java, ANT, SQL LITE, and WebSocket4web. We see IE improving in terms of more standards and Visual Studio Online even supports IOS and MacOSX development. Is this a new Microsoft emerging? In any case it is nice to have an alternative to Google tools for Android development."
Open Source

Groupon Backs Down On Gnome 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-little-internet-outrage-is-all-it-takes dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: Groupon has announced it will abandon the 'Gnome' name for their product, ending the recent naming controversy that had the open source community up in arms. They said, "After additional conversations with the open source community and the Gnome Foundation, we have decided to abandon our pending trademark applications for 'Gnome.' We will choose a new name for our product going forward." The GNOME Foundation has thanked everyone who helped.

My question... does this represent Gnu thinking on the part of Groupon?
The Internet

FCC Confirms Delay of New Net Neutrality Rules Until 2015 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-extra-lame-duckiness dept.
blottsie writes: The Federal Communications Commission will abandon its earlier promise to make a decision on new net neutrality rules this year. Instead, FCC Press Secretary Kim Hart said, "there will not be a vote on open internet rules on the December meeting agenda. That would mean rules would now be finalized in 2015." The FCC's confirmation of the delay came just as President Barack Obama launched a campaign to persuade the agency to reclassify broadband Internet service as a public utility. is also running an interview with a legal advisor at the FCC. He says, "There will be a burden on providers. The question is, 'Is that burden justified?' And I think our answer is 'Yes.'"
Input Devices

Worrying Aspects of Linux Gaming 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-linux-on-the-console? dept.
jones_supa writes: Former Valve engineer Rich Geldreich has written up a blog post about the state of Linux Gaming. It's an interesting read, that's for sure. When talking about recent bigger game ports, his take is that the developers doing these ports just aren't doing their best to optimize these releases for Linux and/or OpenGL. He points out how it took significant resources from Valve to properly optimize Source engine for Linux, but that other game studios are not walking the last mile. About drivers, he asks "Valve is still paying LunarG to find and fix silly perf bugs in Intel's slow open source driver. Surely this can't be a sustainable way of developing a working driver?" He ends his post by agreeing with a Slashdot comment where someone is basically saying that SteamOS is done, and that we will never get our hands on the Steam Controller.
Open Source

OpenSUSE 13.2 Released 42

Posted by timothy
from the lizards-everywhere-it's-chaos dept.
MasterPatricko writes The latest version of the openSUSE distribution, 13.2, has been officially released. Key features include integrated support for filesystem snapshots, enabled by a switch to btrfs as the default file system, a new network manager (Wicked), as well as the usual version updates. This release includes seven supported desktop environments (KDE 4.14, GNOME 3.14, Xfce, LXDE, Enlightenment 19, Mate and Awesome) and even preview packages of Plasma 5.1, all presented with a unified openSUSE theme. Download LiveUSB and DVD images now from

EFF Begins a Campaign For Secure and Usable Cryptography 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the hard-problems-to-solve dept.
Peter Eckersley writes: Over at EFF we just launched our Secure Messaging Scorecard, which is the first phase in a campaign to promote the development of communications protocols that are genuinely secure and usable by ordinary people. The Scorecard evaluates communications software against critical minimum standards for what a secure messaging app should look like; subsequent phases are planned to examine real world usability, metadata protection, protocol openness, and involve a deeper look at the security of the leading candidates. Right now, we don't think the Internet has any genuinely usable, genuinely secure messaging protocols — but we're hoping to encourage tech companies and the open source community to starting closing that gap.

Trisquel 7 Released 39

Posted by Soulskill
from the lucky-seven dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Trisquel 7.0 Belenos has been released. Trisquel is a "free as in freedom" GNU/Linux distribution endorsed by the FSF. This latest release includes Linux-libre 3.13, GNOME 3.12, Abrowser 33 (based on Firefox), the Electrum Bitcoin client and many more new features and upgrades. Trisquel 7.0 will be supported until 2019.

Interested users can check out the screenshots and download the latest release. The project also accepts donations.

It's Time To Revive Hypercard 299

Posted by timothy
from the overdue-as-open-source dept. writes HyperCard, an application program and programming tool released for the Apple Macintosh in 1987, represented the 'computing for the people' philosophy that enabled users to go past the pre-built software that came on their machines, and to program and build software of their own. "Mac users could use Hypercard to build their own mini-programs to balance their taxes, manage sports statistics, make music – all kinds of individualized software that would be useful (or fun) for individual users." Now Jer Thorp writes that the end of HyperCard left a huge gap that desperately needs to be filled – a space for an easy to use, intuitive tool that will once again let average computer users make their own tools. According to Throp, this type of plain-language programming makes sense, particularly in an application that was designed specifically for non-programmers. "I find the largest concern for learners to be not with the conceptual hurdles involved in writing a program, but with obscure and confusing syntax requirements. I would love to be able to teach HyperTalk to my students, as a smooth on-road to more complex languages like JavaScript, Java or C++." By putting the tools of creation into the hands of the broader userbase, we would allow for the creation of ultra-specific personalized apps that, aside from a few exceptions, don't exist today."

HyperTalk wasn't just easy, it was also fairly powerful. Complex object structures could be built to handle complicated tasks, and the base language could be expanded by a variety of available external commands and functions (XCMDs and XFCNs, respectively), which were precursors to the modern plug-in. But ultimately, HyperCard would disappear from Mac computers by the mid-nineties, eclipsed by web browsers and other applications which it had itself inspired. The last copy of HyperCard was sold by Apple in 2004. "One thing that's changed in the intervening decades is that the hobbyist has largely gone by the wayside. Now you're either a user or a full-fledged developer, and the gulf is wider than ever," writes Peter Cohen. "There's really nothing like it today, and I think the Mac is lesser for it."

Tao3D: a New Open-Source Programming Language For Real-Time 3D Animations 158

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-minecraft dept.
descubes (35093) writes "Tao3D is a new open-source programming language designed for real-time 3D animations. With it, you can quickly create interactive, data-rich presentations, small applications, proofs of concept, user interface prototypes, and more. The interactivity of the language, combined with its simplicity and graphical aspects, make it ideal to teach programming.

Tao3D also demonstrates a lot of innovation in programming language design. It makes it very easy to create new control structures. Defining if-then-else is literally a couple of lines of code. The syntax to pass pass blocks of code to functions is completely transparent. And it is fully reactive, meaning that it automatically reacts as necessary to external events such as mouse movements or the passage of time.

The source code was just made available under the GNU General Public License v3 on SourceForge [as linked above], GitHub and Gitorious."

Qualcomm Begins Contributing To Reverse-Engineered Freedreno Linux Driver 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the doing-it-right dept.
An anonymous reader writes: For over two years there's been a Freedreno driver project that's been reverse-engineering Qualcomm's Adreno graphics hardware. Freedreno consists of both a user-space Gallium3D driver providing OpenGL / OpenGL ES support and a DRM/KMS kernel driver to replace Qualcomm's open-source kernel driver designed just around Android's needs. The community-based, reverse-engineering Freedreno driver project is finally paying off and gaining critical momentum with Qualcomm now contributing to the driver. QuIC through the Aurora Forum provided Adreno A4xx hardware support to the Freedreno MSM kernel driver.

Vulnerabilities Found (and Sought) In More Command-Line Tools 87

Posted by timothy
from the one-thing-at-a-time dept.
itwbennett writes The critical Shellshock vulnerabilities found last month in the Bash Unix shell have motivated security researchers to search for similar flaws in old, but widely used, command-line utilities. Two remote command execution vulnerabilities were patched this week in the popular wget download agent and tnftp client for Unix-like systems [also mentioned here]. This comes after a remote code execution vulnerability was found last week in a library used by strings, objdump, readelf and other command-line tools.
Open Source

Slashdot Asks: Appropriate Place For Free / Open Source Software Artifacts? 46

Posted by timothy
from the you-haul dept.
A friend of mine who buys and sells used books, movies, etc. recently purchased a box full of software on CD, including quite a few old Linux distributions, and asked me if I'd like them. The truth is, I would like them, but I've already collected over the last two decades more than I should in the way of Linux distributions, on at least four kinds of media (starting with floppies made from a CD that accompanied a fat book on how to install some distribution or other -- very useful in the days of dialup). I've got some boxes (Debian Potato, and a few versions of Red Hat and Mandrake Linux), and an assortment of marketing knickknacks, T-shirts, posters, and books. I like these physical artifacts, and they're not dominating my life, but I'd prefer to actually give many of them to someplace where they'll be curated. (Or, if they should be tossed, tossed intelligently.) Can anyone point to a public collection of some kind that gathers physical objects associated with Free software and Open Source, and makes them available for others to examine? (I plan to give some hardware, like a pair of OLPC XO laptops, to the same Goodwill computer museum highlighted in this video, but they probably don't want an IBM-branded radio in the shape of a penguin.)

God may be subtle, but he isn't plain mean. -- Albert Einstein