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Ubuntu Web Remix 20.04.1: First Stable Version Of Chrome OS Alternative

Filed under
OS
Web
Ubuntu

It’s been over four months since I reported about the arrival of yet another Ubuntu-based Linux distribution called Ubuntu Web Remix.

So, if you were also waiting for it just like me, the wait is over because its creator, Rudra Saraswat, has finally announced and made its first stable release, Ubuntu Web Remix 20.04.1, available to download.

To remind you, after Ubuntu Unity and UbuntuEd, Ubuntu Web is the third unofficial Ubuntu remix distros by the same developer Rudra Saraswat.

Unlike the other two, Ubuntu Web Remix aims to be a web-centric operating system and an alternative to Google’s Chrome OS or Chromium OS.

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Sam Thursfield: Search Pinboard.in from GNOME Shell

Filed under
GNOME
Web

Pinboard.in is a bookmarking and archival website run by Maciej Ceglowski, also a noted public speaker, Antarctic explorer and political activist. I use Pinboard as a way to close browser tabs, by pretending to myself that I’ll one day revisit the 11,000 interesting links that I’ve bookmarked.

Hoping to make better use of this expansive set of thought-provoking articles, hilarious videos and expired domain names, I wrote a minimal search provider for GNOME Shell.

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I LOST MY TWITTER ACCOUNT

Filed under
Web

At 00:42 in the early morning of November 16, I received an email saying that “someone” logged into my twitter account @bagder from a new device. The email said it was done from Stockholm, Sweden and it was “Chrome on Windows”. (I live Stockholm)

I didn’t do it. I don’t normally use Windows and I typically don’t run Chrome. I didn’t react immediately on the email however, as I was debugging curl code at the moment it arrived. Just a few moments later I was forcibly logged out from my twitter sessions (using tweetdeck in my Firefox on Linux and on my phone).

Whoa! What was that? I tried to login again in the browser tab, but Twitter claimed my password was invalid. Huh? Did I perhaps have the wrong password? I selected “restore my password” and then learned that Twitter doesn’t even know about my email anymore (in spite of having emailed me on it just minutes ago).

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How Many Users Can Open Source Zoom Alternatives Handle?

Filed under
Server
OSS
Web

Zoom has been a boom since Coronavirus started, it seemed to be one of the very few software in the world capable of handling the planet’s digital transfer of most face-to-face communication since people were forced to stay in their homes during the quarantine. Governments, schools, universities, hospitals, companies, enterprises… All of them went to Zoom in order to face the new communication hassle.

Its stock market increased by %500 since the beginning of the pandemic, and tens of of millions of new users worldwide signed up for its premium plans. Everything sounded so great so far for Zoom, unlike most of the human race standing on the other side of the equation.

Until, an investigational report by the FTC showed that Zoom lied about its end-to-end encryption for years, and that its so-called E2E secure communication is actually false marketing. Of course, users and developers around the world had no way of verifying Zoom’s marketing claims easily since it was a proprietary, closed-source application. And thus, they were not able to check the source code by their selves to verify those claims.

Zoom being fully proprietary is why people started switching into open source zoom alternatives, like Jitsi, BigBlueButton and many others, so that they don’t remain in Zoom’s jail locking all their remote communications in one place.

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Warp: Improved JS performance in Firefox 83

Filed under
Development
Moz/FF
Web

We have enabled Warp, a significant update to SpiderMonkey, by default in Firefox 83. SpiderMonkey is the JavaScript engine used in the Firefox web browser.

With Warp (also called WarpBuilder) we’re making big changes to our JIT (just-in-time) compilers, resulting in improved responsiveness, faster page loads and better memory usage. The new architecture is also more maintainable and unlocks additional SpiderMonkey improvements.

This post explains how Warp works and how it made SpiderMonkey faster.

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Also: SpiderMonkey's Warp Upgrade Is Ready For Firefox 83 - Phoronix

Noscript cures font vulnerabilities

Filed under
Google
Moz/FF
Security
Web

In the past month, I've read about a dozen security bulletins involving remote execution exploits due to font parsing vulnerabilities in a range of operating systems, from desktop to mobile. In all these cases, there was a detailed mention of problems, but very little if any mention of possible solutions, other than vendor updates, that is.

Which is rather intriguing, because there is a tool that can help you with fonts. It's called Noscript, it's a supreme browser extension available in Firefox and more recently in Chrome, and it allows you to govern the loading of fonts in your webpages. A simple and elegant tool that can save - or at the very least, significantly minimize, headache with fonts. But does it get the spotlight it deserves? Of course not, drama and fear are far more interesting. Let's see what gives.

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Mozilla Firefox and Tor Browser

Filed under
Moz/FF
Web
  • SpiderMonkey Newsletter 7 (Firefox 82-83) | spidermonkey.dev [Ed: Mozilla blogging on Microsoft servers]

    SpiderMonkey is the JavaScript engine used in Mozilla Firefox. This newsletter gives an overview of the JavaScript and WebAssembly work we’ve done as part of the Firefox 82 and 83 Nightly release cycles.

  • iodide retrospective [Ed: Mozilla blogging on Microsoft servers and talking about spying on Firefox users]

    A bit belatedly, I thought I’d write a bit about Iodide: an effort to create a compelling, client-centred scientific notebook environment.

    Despite not writing a ton about it (the sole exception being this brief essay about my conservative choice for the server backend) Iodide took up a very large chunk of my mental energy from late 2018 through 2019. It was also essentially my only attempt at working on something that was on its way to being an actual product while at Mozilla: while I’ve led other projects that have been interesting and/or impactful in my 9 odd-years here (mozregression and perfherder being the biggest successes), they fall firmly into the “internal tools supporting another product” category.

    At this point it’s probably safe to say that most of the project has wound down: no one is being paid to work on Iodide and it’s essentially in extreme maintenance mode. Before it’s put to bed altogether, I’d like to write a few notes about its approach, where I think it had big advantanges, and where it seems to fall short. I’ll conclude with some areas I’d like to explore (or would like to see others explore!). I’d like to emphasize that this is my opinion only: the rest of the Iodide core team no doubt have their own thoughts. That said, let’s jump in.

    [...]

    It describes how people typically perform computational inquiry: typically you would poke around with some raw data, run some transformations on it. Only after that process was complete would you start trying to build up a “presentation” of your results to your audience.

    Looking back, it’s clear that Iodide’s strong suit was the explanation part of this workflow, rather than collaboration and exploration. My strong suspicion is that we actually want to use different tools for each one of these tasks. Coincidentally, this also maps to the bulk of my experience working with data at Mozilla, using iodide or not: my most successful front-end data visualization projects were typically the distilled result of a very large number of adhoc explorations (python scripts, SQL queries, Jupyter notebooks, …). The actual visualization itself contains very little computational meat: basically “just enough” to let the user engage with the data fruitfully.

    Unfortunately much of my work in this area uses semi-sensitive internal Mozilla data so can’t be publicly shared, but here’s one example

  • New Release: Tor Browser 10.0.4 [Ed: Firefox inside]

    Tor Browser 10.0.4 is now available from the Tor Browser download page and also from our distribution directory.

    This release updates NoScript to 11.1.5 and includes an important security update to Firefox.

  • You’re Invited: State of the Onion 2020

    Every year people from the Tor Project communities present the State of the Onion, a compilation of updates from our different projects, at conferences around the world. We use this opportunity to talk about highlights of the work we’ve accomplished during the year and what we are excited about in the upcoming year.

    With COVID-19 pandemic this year, we didn’t have the chance to ‘tour’ our State of the Onion during any face-to-face conferences. So we decided to bring the State of the Onion to you in a special livestream on November 16 from 16:00 - 18:00 UTC.*

Share RPG battle maps with this open source web app

Filed under
OSS
Web

I play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), a tabletop role-playing game in which players take control of mythic heroes to explore imaginary dungeons and fight make-believe dragons. D&D players often like to draw maps on big sheets of butcher's paper, or buy and craft evocative set pieces, so that they can track their progress through the realms with gaming miniatures.

However, when you're playing online, you need digital maps and digital miniatures plus a way to share these components among all players. For years, I've used the excellent MapTool software, an open source client that runs locally on each player's computer and shares maps and miniatures among all. When one player moves her piece forward on her map, another player sees it on his. It's a powerful application that makes my gaming life easy, private, and flexible.

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Mozilla: DeepSpeech, Glean, Tor Browser

Filed under
Moz/FF
Web
  • Mozilla's DeepSpeech 0.9 Released For Open-Source Speech To Text Engine - Phoronix

    Following this summer's big round of layoffs at Mozilla, the organization's deep learning open-source speech-to-text engine has been among the projects considered at risk. Fortunately, at least for now, DeepSpeech is still moving forward and is up to version 0.9.

    After the summer's layoffs at Mozilla, the future of DeepSpeech has been in question even as the project has been nearing its 1.0 stable release. While back in August they said DeepSpeech 1.0 would be released "soon", that hasn't happened yet but today marks version 0.9.

  • This week in Glean: Glean.js

    In a previous TWiG blog post, I talked about my experiment on trying to compile glean-core to Wasm. The motivation for that experiment was the then upcoming Glean.js workweek, where some of us were going to take a pass at building a proof-of-concept implementation of Glean in Javascript.

    [...]

    The reason for our initial focus on webextensions is that the Ion project has volunteered to be Glean.js’ first consumer. Support for static websites and Qt/QML apps will follow. Other consumers such as Node.js servers and CLIs are not part of the initial roadmap.

    Although we learned a lot by building the POC, we were probably left with more open questions than answered ones. The Javascript environment is a very special one and when we set out to build something that can work virtually anywhere that runs Javascript, we were embarking on an adventure.

    Each Javascript environment has different resources the developer can interact with. Let’s think, for example, about persistence solutions: on web browsers we can use localStorage or IndexedDB, but on Node.js servers / CLIs we would need to go another way completely and use Level DB or some other external library. What is the best way to deal with this and what exactly are the differences between environments?

  • New Release: Tor Browser 10.0.3 (Android Only)

    After many months of design and development we are very happy to announce the release of Tor Browser 10.0.3 for Android. This is the first Android Tor Browser version in the stable 10.0 series. The Desktop version was released at the end of September. We began working on this project in April 2020 with the goal of rebuilding the Android Tor Browser on top of Mozilla's new Android Firefox Browser, Fenix. Over the last six months, we successfully achieved this goal and we reached feature parity with the previous Android Tor Browser version.

KDE.org migrated to Hugo

Filed under
KDE
Web

KDE.org now uses the Hugo. Hugo is a fast and modern static site generator written in Go. It provides a few improvements over the old system that was using plain PHP. A large part of the work was done by Anuj during GSoC 2020. This was a massive work, converting the repository storing more than 20 years of KDE history.

The website is now generated once and no longer use PHP to generate itself at runtime. This improves the loading speed of the website, but the speed boost is not significant, since the PHP code used before was quite small and KDE’s servers are powerful.

But the biggest improvement is in terms of features. We are now working with markdown files instead of raw HTML files, this makes the life of the promo team much easier.

The internalization of the website now creates a unique URL per language, this should allow Google to link to the version of the website using the correct language. A french, ukrainian, catalan, Dutch, and a few more languages are already available. There is also a proper language selector! We also don’t need to manually tag each string for translations.

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Android Leftovers

IBM/Red Hat Leftovers

  • Ken Hess (Red Hat): Cyber Week 2020: 13 ideas for what to buy the sysadmin in your life | Enable Sysadmin

    It's that special time of year when you can get great discounts on tech for your favorite sysadmin.

  • [IBM Emeritus] Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Are There Limits to the Predictability of Elections?

    The elegant mathematical models of classical mechanics depict a world in which objects exhibit deterministic behaviors. These models make perfect predictions within the accuracy of their human-scale measurements. But, once you start dealing with atoms, molecules and exotic subatomic particles, you find yourself in a very different world, one with somewhat counter-intuitive behaviors governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The orderly, predictable models of classical physics have now given way to wave functions, uncertainty principles, quantum tunneling and wave-particle dualities. But, the world of the very small is not the only one with non-deterministic behaviors. So are highly complex systems, especially those systems whose components and interrelationships are themselves quite complex. This is the case with social systems, which are based on individuals, groups, and institutions. It’s quite a challenge to make accurate predictions in such systems due to the the dynamic nature of human behaviors. Terms, like emergence, long tails, and butterfly effects - every bit as fanciful as quarks, charm and strangeness, - are part of the social systems lexicon. Which brings us to the 2020 US election. “The polls were wrong again, and much of America wants to know why,” wrote NY Times journalist David Leonhardt in a recent article. “This is a disaster for the polling industry and for media outlets and analysts that package and interpret the polls for public consumption, such as FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ Upshot, and The Economist’s election unit,” said David Graham in The Atlantic.

  • [Red Hat] Why failure should be normalized and how to do it | Opensource.com

    All of your heroes have failures under their belts—from minor mistakes to major disasters. Nobody knows how to do everything automatically, and the process of learning is usually a messy one. So why is the perception that everyone but you knows what they’re doing so common? Why do we externalize our successes but internalize our failures? How does it make you feel when you struggle to learn something new, then see another person take their Jira card away and return at the end of the sprint with something fully fleshed out and working, gushing about it at the demo? Sure, you closed your card too, but it was really hard! There was a new algorithm, a new programming language, a new system all to be learned. How did she make it look so effortless? The truth is, she might have struggled with the same issues you did and wondered how you made it look so effortless! [...] It could be very easy to title this section "my mistakes" and then rattle off all the times I’ve made mistakes, but that doesn’t quite illustrate the point. I recognize these mistakes, but they’re also events that expanded the understanding of my craft. While I didn’t set out to intentionally do any of these things, I certainly learned from them. I have accidentally dropped (deleted) a customer’s database. It was lucky for everyone that it was a beta-phase database and no further harm was done. I learned a valuable lesson that day: be very watchful of what code is doing, and be careful about what environment you are working in. One day, while performing routine maintenance with an odd DNS setup, I accidentally broke the ability for customers to provide credit card information to the secure site. We had two "payments" DNS records that served to override a wildcard DNS record, and I assumed that the second "payments" record was still present. It wasn’t. And then the wildcard record took over, and the DNS started behaving like "payments" wasn’t special at all anymore. Of course, I had no idea this was happening at all—it wasn’t until my maintenance was over that I learned of the folly. Customers weren’t able to provide payment information for almost two hours! I learned my lesson, though: when there is something special about a particular configuration, be sure to make sure it stays special throughout its lifetime. When DNS gets involved, all kinds of things can break.

today's howtos

  • What option to use for ping constantly until you stop it? - Linux Shout

    The Ping program is a widely used tool to check the accessibility of a computer network. All operating systems available till now have the ability to run the Ping command with various options to even continuously check the network resource or connection availability. However, if a firewall suppresses ping packets on the way from your computer to the host, it can falsely appear to be unreachable. To do this, it sends echo request packets to the host via ICMP. Using the time difference between this and the response (echo reply), it calculates the runtime. Ping was defined in RFC 1574.

  • How to Cast Media from Ubuntu to Chromecast | FOSS Linux

    In this Ubuntu tutorial, we shall see ways to cast media from a Linux PC to a Chromecast device. We shall see command-line and GUI ways of casting the content.

  • How do I view Nginx logs? – Linux Hint

    Logs are very important in a system to monitor the activities of an application as they provide you with useful debugging information and enable you to analyze all aspects of a web server. Like the other software applications, Nginx also maintains events like your web site visitors, encountered problems, and more to log files. The useful recorded information is used to take preemptive measures in order to deal with major serious discrepancies in the log events. In this article, we will elaborate on how to configure and view Nginx Logs in Ubuntu 20.04 system to monitor the application activities. There are two types of logs where recorded events in Nginx one is the access log, and the other is the error log. If you have already enabled these logs in the Nginx core configuration file then, you can find both types of logs in /var/log/nginx in all Linux distributions.

  • How To Install PowerShell on CentOS 8 [Ed: Microsoft is just trying to turn GNU/Linux into its own thing, intended to serve Microsoft's bottom line and lock-in]
  • OSINT Tools and Techniques – Linux Hint

    OSINT, or Open Source Intelligence, is the act of gathering data from distributed and freely accessible sources. OSINT tools are used to gather and correspond data from the Web. Data is accessible in different structures, including text design, documents, images, etc. The analysis and collection of information from the Internet or other publicly available sources is known as OSINT or Open Source Intelligence. This is a technique used by intelligence and security companies to gather information. This article provides a look at some of the most useful OSINT tools and techniques.

  • How to Record Your Gnome Desktop in Ubuntu with built-in screen recorder – Linux Hint

    In the present era, the lives of the people have undergone a huge change from what it used to be a couple of years back. In the educational sector, books have fallen down the pecking order, and people now prefer watching videos explaining the concepts of their syllabus. A great example of this is YouTube, where videos on things like programming languages, economics, political science, and even geography are getting many viewers. The business sector has also gone through some innovation as now people can easily keep a record of important voice calls and conferences that might be needed for looking at the main highlights of the meeting. Even recording presentations and then sharing them with your clients or bosses have become the norm as this allows information to be passed from one to another in a much more efficient manner. All of these are just a few examples of why screen recorders are one of the most useful tools out there. Screen recorders can even be used for recording content that many people may find enjoyable, such as recording a game that might be on the rise in popularity or put up videos to explain any issues or problems that you might come across in your life, like checking to see how one can remove and adjust tires from a car. Hence, our discussion topic in this article is to look at how one can record their screens in Ubuntu using its default built-in screen recorder.

  • Blender Animation Nodes – Linux Hint

    Blender animation nodes is a visual scripting system made for motion graphics in Blender. Animation nodes are an addon that is available for macOS, Linux, and Windows. There are a lot of things which you just can imagine to animate by hand because it is a very difficult task. Animation Nodes allows us to make complex animation in a less complex and tedious way. Animation Nodes add-ons can save you a lot of time and has several advantages over traditional keyframing technique. For instance, you can avoid managing many keyframes, and each node tree can be used for any objects; you don’t have to keyframe them every time.

  • Blender Animation Loops – Linux Hint

    Blender is a powerful 3D creation tool. Blender holds all the attributes that a 3D artist needs. Sometimes a short movie tells a lot than an image. Making 3D scenes in Blender is great, but animating it is another level of mastering this program. So, it is essential to know about adding motion to 3D objects. Animation is an excellent way to connect and communicate with people; that’s why it is vital in the business world. Conveying a message through animation is considerably more appealing than images. Whether it is education or businesses, the film industry, or gaming, animation is being used everywhere.

Best Photo Editors for Linux

This article will cover a list of free and open-source image editors available for Linux. These applications feature basic tools for simple editing needs as well as advanced utilities for professional artists. GIMP If you are a regular Linux user, chances are that you must have heard about GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) or used it to edit images. It is considered to be one of the most comprehensive, free, and open source image editing software available not only on Linux, but also on other operating systems like Windows and macOS. While some users may prefer proprietary tools like Photoshop over it, GIMP itself is packed with tons of features and can do almost everything that Photoshop is capable of. You can see all major features of GIMP available at here and here. GIMP can be extended using plugins, some of them come with the official installation while others can be downloaded from third party websites. [...] RawTherapee RawTherapee is an open source image editing software specially designed for processing and handling “raw” images. You can also import and edit image files having other formats. RawTherapee features various utilities for processing raw images including color enhancement tools, compositing and masking utilities, pixel correction tools and HDR utilities. Read more