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Latest Akademy and GUADEC Reports

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KDE
  • Akademy 2019 Tuesday BoF Wrapup

    Tuesday continued the Akademy BoFs, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrapup session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

  • Akademy 2019 Talks: Here's What You Missed

    According to the now traditional schedule, Akademy 2019 started with two days of conference talks. Hosted by unixMIB at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, the central conference of the KDE community attracted more than a hundred attendees during this past weekend. Many of them were attending Akademy for the first time ever, which is always a reason to celebrate.

    For those of you who were not able to join us, we've prepared a recap of all the talks from this year's Akademy. The conference program on both Saturday and Sunday was split into two tracks after the lunch break, and included plenty of time for socializing (and hacking!) in between.

  • Tobias Mueller: Talking at GUADEC about defending against USB-borne attacks

    The short version of our approach is that we are trying to be smart about the user’s intent. That is, if the screen is locked, then we block the device. If a new keyboard is present and it tries to perform “dangerous” actions, we block them. Of course, you may very well expect that device to work when the screen is locked or the new keyboard to perform actions deems dangerous. This is why is make sure you have a way to opt out of the mechanism and continue to enjoy your GNOME experience. Almost all credits go to Ludovico for coming up with a set of patches as well as following up to make sure we can get it merged. Our slides are here and the video of our presentation is here:

    But I wanted to write more about GUADEC… This year’s GUADEC was in Thessaloniki, Greece, and I had the pleasure to be talking about the above mentioned protection. It was the end of the summer so the city was nicely warm and comfy. The coffee, juices, pastries, and other food and drinks in small shops on the streets were amazingly fresh and yummie. Arriving in Thessaloniki was okay. I’ve had better airport transfers in my life, but since there were only two buses it was hard to get lost. I needed to pay attention to the GPS, though, to find my right stop. It’s been long since I’ve slept in a bunk bed, but because we’re all GNOME people we had a good time.

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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).