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January 2020

Sad news about Scott Rifenbark

Filed under
Obits

I'm sorry to have to pass on the sad news that Scott Rifenbark, our
tech writer for the project passed away on Wednesday after a battle
with cancer.

I remember interviewing Scott over 10 years ago when forming a team at
Intel to work on what became the Yocto Project, he was with it from the
start. He warned me he wasn't an entirely traditional tech writer but I
warned we weren't aiming to be a traditional project either. It was a
great match. He stayed with the project ever since in one way or
another, he enjoyed working on the project and we enjoyed working with
him.

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Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux Performance On A $199 AMD Ryzen Laptop

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks

When carrying out our Windows vs. Linux benchmarks we normally are doing so on interesting high-end hardware but for today's benchmarking is a look at how a $199 USD laptop powered by an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor compares between Windows 10 as it's shipped on the laptop against the forthcoming Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Linux distribution.

The $199 AMD laptop being used for testing is the Motile M141, a 14-inch laptop with Ryzen 3 3200U and Vega 3 graphics, 4GB of RAM, 120GB solid-state drive, and 1080p display. This 14-inch Ryzen 3 laptop is currently selling for just $199 USD at Walmart. While never hearing of Motile previously, I decided to go ahead and buy this laptop for some Linux testing... Motile is a private-label brand from Walmart.

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Solus Shines With Plasma Desktop Options

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

Solus is one of the leading alternative distros to other more mainstream Linux OSes. The 4.1 upgrade, especially the Plasma edition, clearly set the standard that other Linux distributions should follow.

If you are a gamer, take note of this: Solus 4.1 just made gaming simpler. Solus 4.1 ships with increased file limits to enable ESync support. This release also raises the file limits in the PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) package to Lutris' suggested value. This lets you spend less time configuring your system and more time playing games.

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LibreRouter: An open-source router that offers GPIO pins in a Raspberry Pi form factor

Filed under
OSS

Single-board computers (SBCs) can not only be used as cost-effective options for developers or for creating retro emulators. On the contrary, they can also serve as routers thanks to their wide range of connection options, while some can offer a lot of performance for their size. The Raspberry Pi has practically pre-configured software solutions to this effect, for example.

Now, a DIY solution has been announced by LibreRouter.org. The LR1 is based on a Qualcomm Atheros QCA9558 MIPI processor that can utilise 128 MB of RAM. The router has built-in Wi-Fi too that supports up to IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, while LibreRouter also offers an optional GPS sensor. Using the two mPCIe slots you can connect powerful network cards or cellular routers, too.

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Qt 5.12.7 Released

Filed under
KDE

I am happy to announce we have released Qt 5.12.7 today.

The Qt 5.12 LTS is in 'strict' phase, so it will receive only the selected important bug and security fixes. This 7th patch release for Qt 5.12 LTS series contains almost 50 bug fixes including security issue fixes for both Qt ( CVE-2020-0569 and CVE-2020-0570) and 3rd party components (CVE-2019-19244, CVE-2019-19603, CVE-2019-19242, CVE-2019-19645, CVE-2019-19646 & CVE-2019-19880). Also in QtWebEngine there are many CVE fixes from Chromium. Please check other most important changes from Qt 5.12.7 Changes Files.

Qt 5.12.7 is now available via the maintenance tool of the online installer. For new installations, please download latest online installer from Qt Account portal or from qt.io Download page. Offline packages are available for commercial users in the Qt Account portal and at the qt.io Download page for open-source users. You can also try out the Commercial evaluation option from the qt.io Download page.

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Pentoo – A Security-Focused Linux Distro Based on Gentoo

Filed under
Gentoo
Security

Pentoo is an open-source Live CD and Live USB Gentoo Linux-based operating system designed for experts in the field of penetration testing and security assessment. It is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures and is can be run as an overlay on an existing Gentoo installation.

If you’re not familiar with Gentoo Linux, it is an advanced Linux distro that enables users to compile their operating system from the source in other to enjoy advantages such as applications and optimal performance specific to the computer, to mention a couple.

It does not have an installer and users are to translate the software they want before continuing with the installation. In short, one shouldn’t go near it if they don’t have the perseverance for filing through Linux documentation.

Just like with Gentoo, Pentoo has an advanced Python-based package management system with cool features such as “fake” (OpenBSD-style) installs, system profiles, config file management, safe unmerging, and virtual packages, among others.

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/e/OS and the Art of Remote Project Management

Filed under
OS
Android

In this article, we look behind the scenes to understand how the team at /e/OS works!
For those who have not been following up on the developments in the smartphone OS world, /e/ OS is a de-googled, privacy-focused, android-based smartphone operating system. The project is the brain child of Gaël Duval, the man who created Mandrake Linux. /e/OS is forked from LineageOS.
The team did not just stop with the forking. First, they removed the Google calls which were spread all over the source code. Next, they replaced several of the default apps and added FOSS replacements. With a single /e/ account, user data on the phone could be automatically synchronized with ecloud servers. What data was to be synced can be controlled by the user.
By the middle of 2018, the beta version of the /e/OS was ready. /e/OS today supports 91 smartphones. For those who are not comfortable flashing their smartphones, /e/ offers a range of refurbished smartphones, which can be purchased with /e/OS already flashed on them. Currently they are testing Mail-in-your-phone, a service where users who are not confident flashing their own devices, can send it to /e/ and get it flashed!
All this forking, debugging, rewriting and modification requires design, development and testing efforts. After the OS is flashed on smartphones, support for the end users is required.
Lets understand how /e/ manages all these different activities.

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Also: /e/ OS and the Art of Remote Project Management

More in Tux Machines

Android Leftovers

All about Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an enterprise-grade container-orchestration system designed from the start to be cloud-native. It has grown to be the de-facto cloud container platform, continuing to expand as it has embraced new technologies, including container-native virtualization and serverless computing. Kubernetes manages containers and more, from micro-scale at the edge to massive scale, in both public and private cloud environments. It is a perfect choice for a "private cloud at home" project, providing both robust container orchestration and the opportunity to learn about a technology in such demand and so thoroughly integrated into the cloud that its name is practically synonymous with "cloud computing." Read more Also: Provision Kubernetes NFS clients on a Raspberry Pi homelab A beginner's guide to Kubernetes container orchestration

Security and Proprietary Issues

  • Surprise Capital One court decision spells trouble for incident response

    Break in case of emergency: Language is everything. Delineate clearly in all written comms between a ‘potential incident’ - and an actual one. Don’t start turning one of the hundreds of security events you see into a ‘security incident’ before the most essential facts are understood. Halpert’s threshold for incidents that need to be covered by legal privilege are: a) An incident that gives rise to an obligation to notify a regulator, or a contractual obligation to notify a business partner; or b) An incident that exposed trade secrets or otherwise would affect the share price of a company; or c) An incident that would cause significant reputational hit to the company; or d) An incident in which a crime is committed.

  • Judge rules Capital One must hand over Mandiant's forensic data breach report

    It’s a significant ruling that effectively affords the attorneys suing Capital One with a breakdown of which bank behaviors were successful, and which failed. It’s common for Fortune 500 companies to keep incident response firms like Mandiant on retainer, though it’s rare for those firms’ insights on high profile breaches to be made public. Similar rulings in the future could provide aggrieved customers with ammunition to seek higher pay-outs in court.

  • Retrotech: The Novell NetWare Experience

    In the simplest terms possible, NetWare was a dedicated network operating system. It was designed around fast and reliable network operations at the expense of almost everything else. Novell had invested massive amounts of research in figuring out how to do fast I/O and minimizing any delays from hardware related sources. The end result was a very lean system that remained stable and performant with a large number of clients attached. As networking was Novell's bread and butter, NetWare had excellent support for everything: clients were available for DOS, Windows, UNIX, Macintosh, OS/2 and probably other platforms I've never even heard of.

    The early history of NetWare is very muddled, and pre-2.0 versions have been lost to time. This compounded with poor documentation has made it very difficult to trace the early history of the product. However, while NetWare was not the first (or only) network product for IBM PCs, it quickly became the largest, displacing IBM's PC Network, and laughed at Microsoft's LAN Manager, and IBM OS/2 LAN Server.

    While NetWare did compete on UNIX, Sun had already gotten their foot in the door by porting NFS and making it the de-facto solution for all UNIXs of the era, as well as Linux. Meanwhile, Apple held onto AppleTalk which itself survived well into the early 2000s when NetWare had already disappeared into the aether. The explosion of Wintel PCs throughout the 90s had given NetWare a market position that should have been very difficult to dislodge.

    The full story of NetWare's fall from grace is a story for another time, but I do want to go into the more technical aspects that were both the boon and bane of NetWare. Much of NetWare's success can be attributed to its own IPX protocol which made networking plug and play and drastically lowered latencies compared to NetBIOS or even TCP/IP.

  • Polish malspam pushes ZLoader malware

    When enabling macros on the malicious Excel spreadsheet, the victim host retrieved the ZLoader DLL as shown in the previous section, saved the DLL to the victim's Documents folder, and ran it using rundll32.exe.

  • Microsoft Defender SmartScreen is hurting independent developers

    But what is SmartScreen?

    SmartScreen collects installation data from all Windows users in order to establish “reputation”. If the program does not have an established good reputation, you get this big warning message. By this time most users have deleted the .exe already thinking it is a malware, but SmartScreen can be bypassed by clicking on “More info” then “Run anyway”.

    The digital signature racket

    But let’s say you bite the bullet, you buy yourself an overpriced piece of prime numbers generated by a computer, sign your code and re-publish your application. You can now start getting users to install your app right? Wrong.

    But how do you build reputation? First of all, Microsoft needs to be able to gather information on who has published the app, and this is done by a code signing certificate. The most obvious implication is that unsigned apps will always trigger SmartScreen. The more insidious implication is that acquiring a code signing certificate is a big expense for an individual developer. There is currently no “Let’s Encrypt” equivalent to code signing certificates; so you have to purchase it from trusted authorities. The price range is wide but a certificate only valid for a year will typically go for about $100.

  • #Privacy: Michigan State University struck by ransomware attack

    It remains unclear as to how and when the attack happened, and what the ransom demand is.

    NetWalker is one of twelve ransomware gangs who threaten to publish data in revenge if organisations refuse to pay the ransom demand.

    MSU have not official disclosed the incident, however, an MSU spokesperson, Dan Olsen shared the following statement to EdScoop: “We are aware of a possible intrusion and we are actively looking into it.”

  • MSU: We won't pay [attacker] demanding ransom, threatening university over records

    University officials believe the latest breach occurred on Memorial Day and took relevant computer systems offline within hours of the intrusion, according to a news release. It compromised data associated with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and information technology teams are coordinating with law enforcement to understand the scope of the breach. Investigators are notifying and providing support to affected MSU affiliates as they are identified.

    The cybersecurity breach, known as a ransomware attack, first became public May 27 when a [cr]acker-affiliated blog posted screenshots of files allegedly belonging to MSU affiliates. Images circulating on social media include a redacted passport and a list of transactions related to physics and astronomy projects. They also show a countdown clock that warns of “secret data publication” less than one week from when the screenshots were taken.

  • Michigan State target of ransomware attack threatening to release university data

    The ransom demanded was not specified, but the ransomware gang is prepared to release the university's documents.

    The NetWalker, a newer form of ransomeware sometimes labeled as Mailto, blog post threatened publication of 'secret' documents dated with a countdown clock with close to a week remaining.

  • Malware Team NetWalker Launches Ransomware Attack Against Weiz

    The Malware team NetWalker launched a new ransomware attack against the Austrian village of Weiz which affected the public service system and leaked a lot of the stolen data from building applications as we are about to read more in the following latest cryptocurrency news.

    According to the cybersecurity firm Panda Security, the Malware team managed to enter the town’s public network through phishing emails related to the Coronavirus pandemic. The subject of the emails which was ‘’information about the coronavirus’’ was used to bait the employees of the public infrastructure of the city into clicking on malicious links which triggered the ransomware.

    Panda Security claims that the ransomware attack belongs to a new version of a ransomware family that spreads by using VBScripts. If the infection is successful, it will spread through the entire windows network to which the infected machine is related. The report details that the ransomware terminates and services under Windows which encrypts files on all available disks thus eliminating the backups.

  • Inside a ransomware gang’s attack toolbox

    The crooks deployed a pirated copy of the Virtual Box virtual machine (VM) software to every computer on the victim’s network, plus a VM file containing a pirated copy of Windows XP, just to have a “walled garden” for their ransomware to sit inside while it did its cryptographic scrambling.

    But that’s far from everything that today’s crooks bring along for a typical attack, as SophosLabs was able to document recently when it stumbled upon a cache of tools belonging to a ransomware gang known as Netwalker.

  • Researchers Dive Into Evolution of Malicious Excel 4.0 Macros

    For more than five months, Lastline security researchers have tracked the evolution of malicious Excel 4.0 (XL4) macros, observing the fast pace at which malware authors change them to stay ahead of security tools.

    A central part of many organizations’ productivity tools, Excel opens the door for phishing attacks where victims are tricked into enabling macros in malicious documents, which can results in the attackers gaining a foothold on the network, in preparation for additional activities.

    During their five-month research, Lastline observed thousands of malicious samples, clustered into waves that provide a comprehensive picture of how the threat has evolved in both sophistication and evasiveness.

  • MSU won't pay ransom to [cr]acker who stole financial documents, personal information

    EdScoop reported the ransomware attack on May 27 and provided screenshots from a blog on the dark web, showing what appear to be a student's passport, MSU financial documents and files from the MSU network, as well as a countdown that had about one week remaining as of May 27.

  • Attackers Target 1M+ WordPress Sites To Harvest Database Credentials

    Attackers were spotted targeting over one million WordPress websites in a campaign over the weekend. The campaign unsuccessfully attempted to exploit old cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins and themes, with the goal of harvesting database credentials.

    The attacks were aiming to download wp-config.php, a file critical to all WordPress installations. The file is located in the root of WordPress file directories and contains websites’ database credentials and connection information, in addition to authentication unique keys and salts. By downloading the sites’ configuration files, an attacker would gain access to the site’s database, where site content and credentials are stored, said researchers with Wordfence who spotted the attack.

    Between May 29 and May 31, researchers observed (and were able to block) over 130 million attacks targeting 1.3 million sites.

  • Denial of service attacks against advocacy groups skyrocket

    Distributed denial-of-service attacks against advocacy organizations increased by 1,120% since a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck, sparking demonstrations throughout the U.S.

    In figures published Tuesday, the internet security firm Cloudflare said it blocked more than 135 billion malicious web requests against advocacy sites, compared to less than 30 million blocked requests against U.S. government websites, such as police and military organizations. The company did not disclose which websites were affected, specifically.

Reading about open source in French

English speakers have so many wonderful open source resources that it's easy to forget that communications in English aren't accessible to everyone everywhere. Therefore, I've been looking for great open source resources in Spanish and French, so I can recommend them when the need arises. One I've been looking at recently is LinuxFr.org, which seems to be a fine "agora" for all sorts of interesting conversations in French about open source specifically and open everything else as well. Read more