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January 2018

Crypto Subsystem Sees ARM Improvements With Linux 4.16

Filed under
Linux

Herbert Xu has submitted the crypto subsystem updates for the Linux 4.16 kernel. This time around there are a number of ARM/ARM64 related improvements.

In the ARM space some of the kernel-side cryptography work includes native SHA512 support on ARM64, ARM v8.2 Crypto Extensions for SHA3/SM3, support for Broadcom BCM63xx platforms within the bcm2835 driver, support for Exynos 5250+ SoCs in the Exynos PRNG driver, and a new driver is the Samsung Exynos True RNG driver. The Samsung Exynos True RNG driver is designed to support the true random number generator found within the Samsung Exynos 5250+ SoCs.

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Video Acceleration in Fedora 28 and the Rotting of MPEG Due to Software Patents

Filed under
Red Hat
Movies
  • Fedora 28 Planning For VA-API 1.0 Support

    The latest work by Fedora developers on feature work for Fedora 28 is shipping with VA-API 1.0 support for updated capabilities around the Video Acceleration API.

    The VA-API 1.0.0 API/ABI is provided by the libva 2.0 video acceleration library. Libva 2.0 was released last October with H.264 FEI support in its API, deprecating older parts of the API, fixing a race condition with the Wayland support, renaming some parts of the API, improving the logging capabilities, and various other changes. Libva 2.0 broke API/ABI compatibility with older versions of this Intel-developed Video Acceleration API.

  • A crisis, the causes and a solution [Ed: LWN says "this blog posting from Leonardo Chiariglione, the founder and chair of MPEG, on how (in his view) the group is being destroyed by free codecs and patent trolls."]

    Because there are rumours spreading about a presumed “MPEG-Video collapse” and Brownian motion-like initiatives trying to remedy – in some cases by the very people who have contributed to creating the “crisis”.

    [...]

    In its 30 years of operation MPEG has created digital media standards that have enabled the birth and continue promoting the growth of digital media products, services and applications. Here are a few, out of close to 180 standards: MP3 for digital music (1992), MPEG-2 for digital television (1994), MPEG-4 Visual for video on internet (1998), MP4 file format for mobile handsets (2001), AVC for reduced bitrate video (2003), DASH for internet streaming (2013), MMT for IP broadcasting (2013) and more. In other words, MPEG standards have had and keep on having an impact on the lives of billions of people.

    [...]

    In 2013 MPEG approved the HEVC standard which provides the same quality as AVC at half the bitrate. The licensing situation is depicted by the picture below (courtesy of Jonathan Samuelsson of Divideon): there are 3 patent pools, one of which has not published their licence and a significant number of patent holders that have not joined any pool (and not published their licences either).

     I saw the threat coming and one year ago I tried to bring the matter to the attention of the higher layers in ISO. My attempts were thwarted by a handful of NPEs.

    Alliance for Open Media (AOM) has occupied the void created by MPEG’s outdated video compression standard (AVC), absence of competitive Options 1 standards (IVC) and unusable modern standard (HEVC). AOM’s AV1 codec, due to be released soon, is claimed to perform better than HEVC and will be offered royalty free.

    [...]

    The work of patent pools would be greatly simplified because they could define profiles with technologies that are “available” because they would know who owns which tools. Users could switch on tools once they become usable, e.g. because the relevant owner has joined a patent pool.

    These are just examples of how the MPEG standard development process can be adapted to better match the needs of entities developing licences and without becoming part – God forbid – of a licence definition process.

    [...]

    Companies will slash their video compression technology investments, thousands of jobs will go and millions of USD of funding to universities will be cut. A successful “access technology at no cost” model will spread to other fields.

    So don’t expect that in the future you will see the progress in video compression technology that we have seen in the past 30 years.

Wacom Smartpads Support in Linux

Filed under
Linux
  • tuhi - a daemon to support Wacom SmartPad devices

    For the last few weeks, Benjamin Tissoires and I have been working on a new project: Tuhi [1], a daemon to connect to and download data from Wacom SmartPad devices like the Bamboo Spark, Bamboo Slate and, eventually, the Bamboo Folio and the Intuos Pro Paper devices. These devices are not traditional graphics tablets plugged into a computer but rather smart notepads where the user's offline drawing is saved as stroke data in vector format and later synchronised with the host computer over Bluetooth. There it can be converted to SVG, integrated into the applications, etc. Wacom's application for this is Inkspace.

  • Tuhi Is A New Project To Support Wacom SmartPads On Linux

    Tuhi is a new open-source project started by Red Hat's Peter Hutterer and Benjamin Tissoires to support Wacom SmartPad devices on Linux.

    Wacom SmartPad devices include the likes of the Bamboo Spark, Bamboo Slate Bamboo Folio, and Intuos Pro Paper although the two latter devices are yet to be supported by Tuhi. While there are drivers and various Wacom Linux support projects over the years, the SmartPad hardware falls into a special case as it's simply not a drawing tablet to serve as an input device on Linux systems.

  • Linux Support for Wacom Smartpads Is In the Works

    Linux support for Wacom Smartpads, like the Bamboo Slate and Bamboo Spark, is in the works thanks to a new open source project from Red Hat developers.

Security: Updates, Intel, Taxes, Voting and WordPress

Filed under
Security
  • Security updates for Tuesday
  • House chair hits reports of Intel notifying Chinese firms about chip vulnerabilities before US

    Walden's remarks come after the Journal reported that Intel had notified a small group of companies — including Chinese firms — about Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities which, if exploited, allow hackers to access sensitive information stored on computers, phones and servers using Intel, AMD and ARM chips.

  • File Your Taxes Before Scammers Do It For You

    Today, Jan. 29, is officially the first day of the 2018 tax-filing season, also known as the day fraudsters start requesting phony tax refunds in the names of identity theft victims. Want to minimize the chances of getting hit by tax refund fraud this year? File your taxes before the bad guys can!

  • Voting-machine makers are already worried about Defcon

    What's worse, he added that "nearly every state is using some machines that are no longer manufactured, and many election officials struggle to find replacement parts." Before millions of electronic votes were cast for the next US president, Norden told press that "everything from software support, replacement parts and screen calibration were at risk."

    So it's no wonder voting machine makers are keen to get their gear off eBay and keep it out of the hands of white-hat hackers equally keen to expose their collective security failings.

  • More than 2,000 WordPress websites are infected with a keylogger

    The keylogger is part of a malicious package that also installs an in-browser cryptocurrency miner that's surreptitiously run on the computers of people visiting the infected sites. Data provided here, here, and here by website search service PublicWWW showed that, as of Monday afternoon, the package was running on 2,092 sites.

First Nautilus File Manager Release without Support for Desktop Icons Is Here

Filed under
GNOME

The first Nautilus (Files) file manager release to ship without support for handling desktop icons was released today as version 3.27.4 for the upcoming GNOME 3.28 desktop environment.

Nautilus 3.27.4 is now available for public testing, and it's the first release of the popular file manager that ships pre-installed with numerous GNU/Linux distributions to drop support for handling desktop icons, a decision already discussed here a few weeks ago, and which will have an impact on various distros like Ubuntu.

This means that Nautilus is done with handling desktop icons starting with the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment, not like GNOME 3 has offered support for desktop icons by default, as the user had to enable the functionality from the GNOME Tweaks app. But dekstop icons support is not dead in GNOME, at least not yet, as GNOME Project promises to re-implement the feature in the GNOME Shell interface.

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Acer Chrome OS Tablet spotted at Bett Education Expo

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Google

Google’s offering two open source operating systems, Android and Chrome OS, has drawn some criticism and market confusion. But this didn’t stop Chrome OS from carving out a sizeable market chunk for itself, primarily in the education field. With growing Android App support, it now appears to be expanding on to tablets as well. A photo has emerged in a now-deleted tweet that appears to be an Acer tablet running Chrome OS.

At the recently concluded Bett education and technology show in London, Acer officially unveiled three Chrome OS devices: two Chromebooks and a Chromebox. However, one of the attendee at the event, Alister Payne, managed to get a photo of one more Chrome OS device from Acer. The photo, posted on Twitter by @Alister_Payne, clearly shows what would be the first Chrome OS tablet. There’s a visible Acer logo on the bottom bezel. The tweet has now been deleted, but not before ChromeUnboxed, preserved it.

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Open Source Considerations for Digital Health Ventures

Filed under
OSS

Even when a business does not distribute software (for example, because the business operates on a SaaS model), it is still important to be aware of and track OSS usage. One reason is that OSS usage is a very common subject of due diligence during acquisitions and other corporate transactions. Buyers are likely to investigate a target’s software development practices and may even hire third parties to audit key software assets for OSS, including by using technology that scans for the presence of OSS. Developing clear policies and procedures around software development, including by carefully vetting, tracking and managing third party code including OSS, and operating a systematic approach to license compliance, can save on time and transaction costs down the line, and will give buyers and investors less grounds for raising concerns on a deal. OSS presents many potential benefits, but those benefits are only fully realized if a business takes some steps to appropriately manage the use of OSS within their organization.

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Making the Case for Slackware in 2018

Filed under
Slack

If you started using GNU/Linux in the last 10 years or so, there’s a very good chance your first distribution was Ubuntu. But despite what you may have heard on some of the elitist Linux message boards and communities out there, there’s nothing wrong with that. The most important thing is simply that you’re using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The how and why is less critical, and in the end really boils down to personal preference. If you would rather take the “easy” route, who is anyone else to judge?

Having said that, such options have not always been available. When I first started using Linux full time, the big news was that the kernel was about to get support for USB Mass Storage devices. I don’t mean like a particular Mass Storage device either, I mean the actual concept of it. Before that point, USB on Linux was mainly just used for mice and keyboards. So while I might not be able to claim the same Linux Greybeard status as the folks who installed via floppies on an i386, it’s safe to say I missed the era of “easy” Linux by a wide margin.

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RADV/RadeonSI Benchmarks On Mesa 18.0

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks

With Mesa 18.0 now well into its feature freeze and this quarterly update to Mesa OpenGL/Vulkan drivers bringing many new features and improvements as covered in our Mesa 18.0 feature overview here are some benchmarks comparing the Mesa 18.0 RadeonSI/RADV driver performance to the current 17.3 stable series and the older 17.2 series as well.

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Quick Look at the Arch Based Indie Linux Distribution: MagpieOS

Filed under
Linux

Most of the Linux distros that are in use today are either created and developed in the US or Europe. A young developer from Bangladesh wants to change all that.
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More in Tux Machines

Apache Rya matures open source triple store database

The open source Apache Rya database effort is continuing to move forward as it reaches a new level of project maturity and acceptance. Rya (pronounced "ree-uh") is an RDF (resource description framework) triple store database. The project started at the U.S. government's Laboratory for Telecommunication Sciences with an initial research paper published in 2012. The project joined the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) in 2015 as an incubated project, and in September 2019 achieved what is known as Top-Level Project status. The Top-Level status is an indication and validation of the project's maturity, code quality and community. The ASF is home to Hadoop, Spark and other widely used database and data management programs. Read more Also: Yahoo Groups is being prepared for shutdown, with all stored archives to be deleted on Dec 14

The Spectre Mitigation Impact For Intel Ice Lake With Core i7-1065G7

For those wondering if -- or how much -- of a performance impact mitigations still make regarding Spectre for Intel's long-awaited 10nm+ Ice Lake processors, here is the rundown on the mitigation state and the performance impact. One of the areas that Phoronix readers have requested testing on with the recent purchase of the Dell XPS 7390 with Core i7 1065G7 is regarding the mitigation state and performance. Ice Lake with its Sunny Cove microarchitecture -- similar to Cascade Lake -- is no longer affected by Meltdown, MDS, or L1TF / Foreshadow. Read more

Networking SBCs run Linux on quad -A53 and -A72 NXP LS chips

Forlinx’s sandwich-style OK1043A-C and OK1046A SBCs run Linux on NXP’s quad -A53 LS1043A and quad -A72 LS1046A SoCs, respectively, and offer a 10GbE port and up to 6x GbE ports with optional SFP. Forlinx has posted product pages for two similar COM Express modules and carrier boards that run Linux on NXP’s networking focused LS series processors. The FET1043A-C module taps the up to 1.6GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A53 LS1043A while the FET1046A-C uses the up to 1.8GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A72 LS1046A. All the processors are headless — without GPUs. Read more

Security: WireGuard, Birds and Updates

  • WireGuard Restored In Android's Google Play Store After Brief But Controversial Removal

    After Google dropped the open-source WireGuard app from their Play Store since it contained a donation link, the app has now been restored within Google's software store for Android users but without the donation option. The WireGuard app for Android makes it easy to setup the secure VPN tunnel software on mobile devices, similar to its port to iOS and other platforms. The WireGuard apps are free but have included a donation link to the WireGuard website should anyone wish to optionally make a donation to support the development of this very promising network tech.

  • Letting Birds scooters fly free

    At that point I had everything I need to write a simple app to unlock the scooters, and it worked! For about 2 minutes, at which point the network would notice that the scooter was unlocked when it should be locked and sent a lock command to force disable the scooter again. Ah well. So, what else could I do? The next thing I tried was just modifying some STM firmware and flashing it onto a board. It still booted, indicating that there was no sort of verified boot process. Remember what I mentioned about the throttle being hooked through the STM32's analogue to digital converters[3]? A bit of hacking later and I had a board that would appear to work normally, but about a minute after starting the ride would cut the throttle. Alternative options are left as an exercise for the reader. Finally, there was the component I hadn't really looked at yet. The Quectel modem actually contains its own application processor that runs Linux, making it significantly more powerful than any of the chips actually running the scooter application[4]. The STM communicates with the modem over serial, sending it an AT command asking it to make an SSL connection to a remote endpoint. It then uses further AT commands to send data over this SSL connection, allowing it to talk to the internet without having any sort of IP stack. Figuring out just what was going over this connection was made slightly difficult by virtue of all the debug functionality having been ripped out of the STM's firmware, so in the end I took a more brute force approach - I identified the address of the function that sends data to the modem, hooked up OpenOCD to the SWD pins on the STM, ran OpenOCD's gdb stub, attached gdb, set a breakpoint for that function and then dumped the arguments being passed to that function. A couple of minutes later and I had a full transaction between the scooter and the remote. The scooter authenticates against the remote endpoint by sending its serial number and IMEI. You need to send both, but the IMEI didn't seem to need to be associated with the serial number at all. New connections seemed to take precedence over existing connections, so it would be simple to just pretend to be every scooter and hijack all the connections, resulting in scooter unlock commands being sent to you rather than to the scooter or allowing someone to send fake GPS data and make it impossible for users to find scooters.

  • Security updates for Friday

    Security updates have been issued by Debian (poppler, sudo, and wordpress), Oracle (java-1.8.0-openjdk), Red Hat (java-1.8.0-openjdk), Scientific Linux (java-1.8.0-openjdk, java-11-openjdk, and kernel), and SUSE (kernel and postgresql10).