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Legal

I took FSFE to court. This is my story

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Legal

Soon after the first lockdown in Berlin this year I filed a public case in the Berlin Tribunal of Labour Court against the president of Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), Matthias Kirschner, for workplace bullying.
Why? A female colleague and me had dared to discuss wage transparency and gender pay gap in the office. Apparently it is common in Germany that this gap exceeds 20%, but we both felt secure that the free software movement is progressive, and cares about being inclusive and equal opportunities oriented.
Unfortunately we miscalculated – our boss Matthias was beyond furious.
After that office meeting, he told my colleague “there will be consequences”. Our efforts coincided with the resignation of Richard Stallman from the US-based sister organisation of FSFE due to careless revictimisation of female victims of sexual abuse- another gender discrimination issue in our community that would cause the situation in our office to deteriorate quickly.
In its reluctant press release on this pivotal change in leadership in the largest free software organisation in the world, the FSFE had opted to honour Stallman for his undeniably long service and overlook the social issues underlying the change – something with which I expressed dissatisfaction, and not without support from colleagues.
It led to immediate retribution.
I was ordered to rewrite the text and was warned that I had “three hours to do it. Whether we will publish it or not, is going to be my [Matthias', my rem.] decision, not yours”. Free software is in most of our digital infrastructure, and I care a lot about inclusivity in this community to ensure that our most basic tools can be developed by everyone's perspectives for everyone's needs, so I rewrote our announcement. But not only was it never published – it was not even honoured with his feedback.

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The road to software freedom is paved with licensing

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GNU
Legal

For many people, the path towards software freedom begins with a single program. They may not even know what free software is; they may just need a tool or a program to do a particular job. But in their search for that tool, the Free Software Directory, which is one of the key resources run by the Licensing and Compliance Lab, can often be a starting point for a much larger journey.

The Directory catalogues over 16,000 free software packages. Users can find free software packages for almost any activity, from playing games and reading books, to software libraries and developer tools. Every entry in the Directory is meticulously vetted by volunteers and FSF staff to ensure that users have the freedom to run, modify, copy, and share their modified versions of the work. Millions of users have visited the Directory looking for a particular piece of software, and upon finding it, have been introduced to the wider world of software freedom.

While the Directory already acts as a great starting point for many on their free software journey, there's so much more we can still do. We want to make it easier for people, once introduced to free software, to likewise help introduce others. We need resources and financial support for staff in order to organize and mentor volunteers to help us keep those thousands of entries up to date, and to write code to automate various kinds of imports and entry updates to help keep everything current, and so we can add thousands more.

The Directory is one of the best tools that we have for showing what is possible with free software, but we need your help to reach millions more.

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'Open' 'Invention' 'Network' Turns 15

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Legal
  • Open Invention Network Celebrates Its 15th Year Protecting Core Linux and Open Source from Patent Aggression [Ed: This is nonsense. OIN is not protecting us, it is protecting software patents from our scrutiny]

    Open Invention Network (OIN) is celebrating its 15th year protecting the Open Source Software (OSS) community from patent risk. OIN’s efforts have enabled businesses and organizations to confidently invest their resources to develop, integrate and use OSS, safeguarding them from patent risk in core Linux and adjacent OSS technologies.

  • Open Invention Network Linux patent protection group turns 15

    Now, 15 years later, the Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression consortium ever, is still protecting Linux and open-source software from patent attacks and patent trolls. Indeed, its scope has grown ever larger. Recently, it expanded its intellectual property protection from core Linux programs and adjacent open-source code by expanding its Linux System Definition. In particular, that means patents relating to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) 10 and the Extended File Allocation Table exFAT file system are now protected.

POCO X3 kernel sources are still not available, despite a promise of launch-day release

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Legal

The POCO X3 NFC was launched back on September 7, 2020, bringing around a very high-value package at an affordable price tag. POCO repeated the same act with the POCO X3 in India, launched on September 22, 2020, but with slight differences from the globally launched variant: a bigger battery and no NFC. Two months on, the device remains one of the best purchases overall in the mid-range, for both the Global and the Indian variants. But what disappoints us is the fact that the kernel source for the device(s) has still not been released, despite a promise to release it on launch day.

[...]

Since it has been more than 2 months now since the phone has been released, there is very little excuse left on POCO’s end for not having released the source code. The phone is in the hands of consumers, and a fair few updates have also been delivered. Releasing kernel sources promptly should be something that every OEM does anyway. But POCO explicitly promised a very quick kernel release. And not releasing it so far trudges upon these claims of developer-friendliness and the trust of customers (and legal contracts, too).

The POCO X3/NFC remains an excellent value device in the age of rising flagship prices. While the phone is no flagship, nor does it pretend to be, it’s very easy to recommend to average users in the regions where it is officially sold. You get a lot of phone for the money. We hope POCO releases kernel sources as soon as possible, to keep up its promise to its fans. And while they’re at it, we hope they release kernel sources for the POCO M2 (device codename: shiva) and POCO C3 (device codename: angelicain) as well.

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NASA ROSES-20 Amendment 64: Release of Final text of E.8 Supplemental Open Source Software Awards

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OSS
Sci/Tech
Legal

Supplemental open source software awards are used to encourage the conversion of legacy software into modern code to be released under a generally accepted, open source license (e.g., Apache-2, BSD-2-clause, GPL). The supplement would add a software component to their previously selected "parent" research and analysis award.

ROSES-2020 Amendment 64 Releases Final text for E.8 Supplemental Open Source Software Awards. Notices of Intent are not requested. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis with a final due date of April 14, 2021.

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'This was bigger than GNOME and bigger than just this case.' GNOME Foundation exec director talks patent trolls and much, much more

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Interviews
GNOME
Legal

Patent assertion entities: do not pick a fight with open source. It won't end well for you. This is the message from GNOME Foundation executive director Neil McGovern, who will speak on the subject at the Open Source Summit Europe next week.

McGovern talked to The Register ahead of the event on patents, Microsoft, and more.

The open-source outfit develops the default desktop environment on major Linux distributions including Ubuntu and Red Hat. In late August 2019, Rothschild Patent Imaging filed a lawsuit against the GNOME foundation claiming that GNOME Shotwell, a photo manager, infringed one of its patents.

“We didn't receive a letter before the court documents were filed or any sort of warning, it was just filed and then within a week there was a settlement request for $75,000,” McGovern told us.

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USDOJ Takes on Google, Mozilla Responds

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Google
Moz/FF
Web
Legal
  • Justice Department Sues Monopolist Google For Violating Antitrust Laws

    oday, the Department of Justice — along with eleven state Attorneys General — filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms. The participating state Attorneys General offices represent Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.

    “Today, millions of Americans rely on the Internet and online platforms for their daily lives. Competition in this industry is vitally important, which is why today’s challenge against Google — the gatekeeper of the Internet — for violating antitrust laws is a monumental case both for the Department of Justice and for the American people,” said Attorney General William Barr. “Since my confirmation, I have prioritized the Department’s review of online market-leading platforms to ensure that our technology industries remain competitive. This lawsuit strikes at the heart of Google’s grip over the internet for millions of American consumers, advertisers, small businesses and entrepreneurs beholden to an unlawful monopolist.”

  • Mozilla Reaction to U.S. v. Google

    Like millions of everyday internet users, we share concerns about how Big Tech’s growing power can deter innovation and reduce consumer choice. We believe that scrutiny of these issues is healthy, and critical if we’re going to build a better internet. We also know from firsthand experience there is no overnight solution to these complex issues. Mozilla’s origins are closely tied to the last major antitrust case against Microsoft in the nineties.

    In this new lawsuit, the DOJ referenced Google’s search agreement with Mozilla as one example of Google’s monopolization of the search engine market in the United States. Small and independent companies such as Mozilla thrive by innovating, disrupting and providing users with industry leading features and services in areas like search. The ultimate outcomes of an antitrust lawsuit should not cause collateral damage to the very organizations – like Mozilla – best positioned to drive competition and protect the interests of consumers on the web.

  • DOJ May Force Google To Sell Chrome To Settle Antitrust Case: Report

    he U.S. Department of Justice may force Google to sell its Chrome browser. The development came after the US Congress’ antitrust report on big tech companies.

    It is also told that the DOJ is targeting Google’s advertising business as well. The prosecutors aim at breaking Google’s monopoly on the $162 billion digital advertising market. Politico reported the development via anonymous sources.

Open source licensing and why we're changing Plausible to the AGPL license

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GNU
Legal

Plausible Analytics is a software as a service open source web analytics project. With the increase in popularity of Plausible in recent months, we’ve become aware that there are risks associated with permissive open source licenses that corporations that don’t care about open source are happy to take advantage of.

So we’re making a change to our license. This change doesn’t affect anyone subscribing to the Plausible Analytics Cloud and anyone who’s running Plausible Analytics Self-Hosted on their server. Everything stays the same.

The change will affect corporations that want to take our code and use it to create and sell proprietary tools that directly compete with us. Let’s look at the details.

[...]

These corporations use Google Analytics to track their users, have Facebook pixels to target the same users with advertising across the web and so on. Everything we stand against.

Their motives don’t seem to be to make the web more privacy-friendly and reduce the dominance of Google. It seems purely a business opportunity to make money from open source.

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Via: Plausible relicenses to AGPL

Free Software Leftovers

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OSS
Legal
  • WordPress Mobile Engineers Propose Dual Licensing Gutenberg under GPL v2.0 and MPL v2.0

    During a Q&A session at WordCamp Europe 2020 online, Matt Mullenweg mentioned that Gutenberg contributors were considering dual licensing for embedding Gutenberg in mobile apps, along with the requirement that they would need to get an agreement from all contributors. WordPress mobile engineer Maxime Biais has just published a proposal for discussion, recommending dual licensing the editor under GPL v2.0 and MPL v2.0.

    [...]

    Mobile app developers are limited by the GPL, because it requires the entire app to be distributed under the same license. The team is proposing dual licensing under MPL v2.0, a weaker copyleft license that is often considered to be more “business-friendly.” It allows users to combine the software with proprietary code. MPL v2.0 requires the source code for any changes to be available under the MPL, ensuring improvements are shared back to the community. The rest of the app can be distributed under any terms with the MPL v2.0 code included as part of a “larger work.”

  • NoSQL databases: what is MongoDB and its use cases?

    Databases like MongoDB, a NoSQL document database, are commonly used in environments where flexibility is required with big, unstructured data with ever-changing schemas. This post explains what a NoSQL database is, and provides an overview of MongoDB, its use cases and a solution for running an open source MongoDB database at scale.

  • What Cassandra users think of their NoSQL DBMS

    With the NoSQL market expected to be worth $22 Billion by 2026, big business is paying Apache Cassandra a lot of attention. While MongoDB dominates NoSQL, 52.71% to Cassandra's 9.73%, Cassandra, with its ability to deliver continuous availability, high performance, and scalability to large volumes of unstructured data, will always be a player. Now, if only there were more expert Cassandra administrators!

    A global survey of 1,404 Cassandra practitioners found a plurality thought the lack of skilled staff and the challenge of migration was blocking Cassandra's adoption. To be exact, 36% of users currently using Cassandra for mission-critical apps said that a lack of Cassandra-skilled team members was deterring its broader adoption.

    When asked what it would take for practitioners to use Cassandra for more applications and features in production, they said it needs to be "easier to migrate" and "easier to integrate." That's because "we don't have time to train a ton of developers, so that time to deploy, time to onboard, that's really key. All the other stuff, scalability, that all sounds fine," said a London-based senior Cassandra user.

    That may be in part because of those surveyed, 89% were using open-source Cassandra. If they were using DataStax, the most popular Cassandra distro, it might be a different story.

  • Olauncher gives your home screen an open-source, minimalist makeover

    Android's open, customizable nature is one of the things that attract a lot of enthusiasts to the platform. From manufacturer-specific tweaks to third-party default app replacements, there's usually a way to make your phone look and act how you choose. Olauncher is a new home screen replacement app that endeavors to bring an open-source, lightweight, and minimal setup to your phone.

    And minimal it is — there's time and date info up top, a list of apps below ... and that's it. The clock and app list can be set to left, center, or right orientations. A maximum of six app names can be displayed, but if you're the most minimal of minimalists, you can set it to show no apps at all. But wouldn't that render it useless? Not quite! By default, swiping to the left launches the camera and swiping to the right opens up the dialer, but you can customize these as you choose. A swipe up opens the full app list organized alphabetically.

Cory Doctorow: IP

Filed under
GNU
Legal

You’ve probably heard of “open source software.” If you pay at­tention to the politics of this stuff, you might have heard of “free software” and even know a little about the ethical debate underpin­ning the war of words between these two labels. I’ve been involved since the last century, but even I never really understood what’s going on in the background until recently.

I was looking up the history of the first free soft­ware license, and I had a revelation that transformed the way I think about it, which is significant, since, to a first approximation, this stuff is all I think about.

Some background: “free software” had its origins with AI researcher-turned-activist Richard Stallman who started his GNU project in 1983, leading to the creation of the first “GNU Public License” (GPL). This is a copyright license for computer program­mers who want to share their work. If you release a program’s underlying source code under the GPL, anyone else is free to...

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Proprietary Software and Digital Restrictions (DRM)

  • GitHub still won’t explain if it fired someone for saying ‘Nazi,’ and employees are pissed

    The current conflict began the day of the riots in Washington, DC when a Jewish employee told co-workers: “stay safe homies, nazis are about.” Some colleagues took offense to the language, although neo-Nazi organizations were, in fact, present at the riots. One engineer responded: “This is untasteful conduct for workplace [in my opinion], people have the right to protest period.”

  • Amazon Web Services opens first office in Greece

    It said services covered areas from big data analytics and mobile, web and social media applications to enterprise business applications and the internet of things.

  • Critical Microsoft Defender Bug Actively Exploited; Patch Tuesday Offers 83 Fixes

    Researchers believe the vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2021-1647, has been exploited for the past three months and was leveraged by hackers as part of the massive SolarWinds attack. Last month, Microsoft said state-sponsored hackers had compromised its internal network and leveraged additional Microsoft products to conduct further attacks.

    Affected versions of Microsoft Malware Protection Engine range from 1.1.17600.5 to 1.1.17700.4 running on Windows 10, Windows 7 and 2004 Windows Server, according to the security bulletin.

  • Making Clouds Rain :: Remote Code Execution in Microsoft Office 365

    TL;DR; This post is a story on how I found and exploited CVE-2020-168751, a remote code execution vulnerability in Exchange Online and bypassed two different patches for the vulnerability. Exchange Online is part of the Office 365 suite that impacted multiple cloud servers operated by Microsoft that could have resulted in the access to millions of corporate email accounts.

  • Dropbox lays off 11% of its workforce as COO departs

    Dropbox in November provided revenue guidance of $497 million to $499 million for the fourth quarter. The company said at the time that it’s aiming to achieve margins of 28% to 30% in the long term.

  • Technical Error 'Saw 150,000 U.K. Police Records Wiped' From Databases

    Police have been asked to assess if there is a threat to public safety after it was revealed that thousands of police records were deleted in error, including data on fingerprints, DNA, and arrest histories.

    The error, first reported in the Times, saw 150,000 files lost, with fears it could mean offenders go free. A coding error is thought to have caused the earmarking of the files for deletion.

    The U.K. Home Office said the lost entries related to people who were arrested and then released without further action and no records of criminal or dangerous people had been deleted. Home secretary Priti Patel is now under pressure to explain the mistake, which the opposition Labour party said "presents huge dangers" for public safety.

  • January 2021 Linux Foundation Newsletter: Bootcamp Sale, SolarWinds Orion, New Kubernetes & WebAssembly Classes, LFX Webinar Series
  • How I hijacked the top-level domain of a sovereign state

    Note: This issue has been resolved and the .cd ccTLD no longer sends NS delegations to the compromised domain.

    TL;DR: Imagine what could happen if the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) of a sovereign state fell into the wrong hands. Here’s how I (@Almroot) bought the domain name used in the NS delegations for the ccTLD of the Democratic Republic of Congo (.cd) and temporarily took over 50% of all DNS traffic for the TLD that could have been exploited for MITM or other abuse.

  • Apple begins blocking M1 Mac users from side loading iPhone and iPad applications

    As a refresher, Apple Silicon Macs allow users to run iOS and iPad applications on their Mac, but developers can opt out of allowing their apps to be installed on the Mac. This is the path that many developers have taken, making the necessary change in App Store Connect to remove their app from the Mac App Store.

    But with that being said, until today, you could manually install iOS apps like Netflix, Instagram, and Facebook on an M1 Mac by using their respective IPA files downloaded under a valid Apple ID. Many people were using tools such as iMazing to complete this process.

    9to5Mac has now confirmed that, starting today, this is no longer possible unless the application is available on the Mac App Store. Apple has flipped the necessary sever-side switch to block iPhone and iPad applications from being installed on Apple Silicon Macs.

  • Apple is blocking Apple Silicon Mac users from sideloading iPhone apps

    Apple has turned off users’ ability to unofficially install iOS apps onto their M1 Macs (via 9to5Mac). While iOS apps are still available in the Mac App Store, many apps, such as Dark Sky and Netflix, don’t have their developer’s approval to be run on macOS. Up until now, there was a workaround that allowed the use of third-party software to install the apps without having to use the Mac App Store, but it seems like Apple has remotely disabled it.

    When we tried to install an unsupported app on an M1 Mac running macOS 11.1, we got an error message saying that we couldn’t install it and should “try again later”. You can see a screenshot at the top of this article.

  • Apple TV Plus Free Subscriptions Extended Again, This Time Through July 2021

    The tech giant is extending the free-access period for Apple TV Plus customers who have signed up through its 12-month free subscription offer through July 2021. That’s after it had previously pushed that gratis period to February. So if you were among the first to take the one-year-free deal back in November 2019, that’s turned into 21 months free of Apple TV Plus.

  • Spotify Enters Settlement Talks With PRO Music Rights Founder Jake P. Noch

    But a new legal filing, shared with DMN this afternoon, reveals that Spotify and Noch have officially entered settlement talks. The involved parties “jointly” moved for a 60-day stay, “including discovery and all deadlines,” so that they can “attempt to negotiate a resolution of this matter,” the three-page-long document (dated January 13th, 2021) indicates.

    Furthermore, the filing specifies that Sosa Entertainment, Jake P. Noch, and Spotify “have recently made progress towards a potential resolution of the litigation.” The joint motion doesn’t elaborate upon the terms of this possible agreement – though Noch said in a statement that he’s eager to begin working towards an “excellent resolution” in earnest.

  • The FSF fights for your right to repair

    It is this example of automated vehicles that served as inspiration for the FSF's animated video Fight to Repair.

    However, any technology we use could potentially be co-opted by the proprietary, DRM-controlled subscription model Tesla and the tractor manufacturers are proposing. Imagine your "smart home" having a broken lock, or worse, being broken into, and not having the control, or the simple right to repair the bug. Countless other examples can be found showing us that the key to a free future is the right to repair. We need to fight for a future in which the software used is free in order to maintain ownership and control not only over our technology, but over our lives.

Debian Developers: Christian Kastner, Junichi Uekawa, and Michael Prokop

  • Christian Kastner: Keeping your Workstation Silent

    I've tried numerous coolers in the past, some of monstrous proportions (always thinking that more mass must be better, and reputable brands are equally good), but I was never really satisfied; hence, I was doubtful that trying yet another cooler would make a difference. I'm glad I tried the Noctua NH-D15 anyway. With some tweaking to the fan profile in the BIOS, it's totally inaudible at normal to medium workloads, and just a very gentle hum at full load—subtle enough to disappear in the background. For the past decade, I've also regularly purchased sound-proofed cases, but this habit appears anachronistic now. Years ago, sound-proofed cases helped contain the noise of a few HDDs. However, all of my boxes now contain NVMe drives (which, to me, are the biggest improvement to computing since CPUs going multi-core). On the other hand, some of my boxes now contain powerful GPUs used for GPGPU computing, and with the recent higher-end Nvidia and AMD cards all pulling in over 300W, there is a lot of heat to manage. The best way to quickly dump heat is with good airflow. Sound-proofing works against that. Its insulation restricts airflow, which ultimately causes even more noise, as the GPU's fans need to spin at very high RPMs. This is, of course, totally obvious in hindsight.

  • Junichi Uekawa: It's been 20 years since I became a Debian Developer.

    It's been 20 years since I became a Debian Developer. Lots of fun things happened, and I think fondly of the team. I am no longer active for the past 10 years due to family reasons, and it's surprising that I have been inactive for that long. I still use Debian, and I still participate in the local Debian meetings.

  • Michael Prokop: Revisiting 2020

    Mainly to recall what happened last year and to give thoughts and plan for the upcoming year(s) I’m once again revisiting my previous year (previous editions: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 + 2012). Due to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020 was special™ for several reasons, but overall I consider myself and my family privileged and am very grateful for that. In terms of IT events, I planned to attend Grazer Linuxdays and DebConf in Haifa/Israel. Sadly Grazer Linuxdays didn’t take place at all, and DebConf took place online instead (which I didn’t really participate in for several reasons). I took part in the well organized DENOG12 + ATNOG 2020/1 online meetings. I still organize our monthly Security Treff Graz (STG) meetups, and for half of the year, those meetings took place online (which worked OK-ish overall IMO). Only at the beginning of 2020, I managed to play Badminton (still playing in the highest available training class (in german: “Kader”) at the University of Graz / Universitäts-Sportinstitut, USI). For the rest of the year – except for ~2 weeks in October or so – the sessions couldn’t occur. Plenty of concerts I planned to attend were cancelled for obvious reasons, including the ones I would have played myself. But I managed to attend Jazz Redoute 2020 – Dom im Berg, Martin Grubinger in Musikverein Graz and Emiliano Sampaio’s Mega Mereneu Project at WIST Moserhofgasse (all before the corona situation kicked in). The concert from Tonč Feinig & RTV Slovenia Big Band occurred under strict regulations in Summer. At the beginning of 2020, I also visited Literaturshow “Roboter mit Senf” at Literaturhaus Graz.

Games: Familiars.io, Valve and Godot

  • Familiars.io is a MMO monster catching game where the creatures have permadeath

    Well this is quite unusual. You've played monster catching games before but not like this. Familiars.io put a fresh spin on it all and it's quite ingenious. Developed as a pixel-art retro-looking browser game, it's super accessible since you can play it on pretty much anything that can run some simple graphics in a browser window. It's an MMO too, so you can join up with others and chill out. When you want to, go off and catch some monsters, engage is some PvP and perhaps find a new favourite game waiting for you.

  • What we expect to come from Valve to help Linux gaming in 2021 | GamingOnLinux

    By now you've probably heard either through us in our previous article or elsewhere that Valve are cooking something up to help Linux gaming even further. We have an idea on what one part of it is. Valve already do quite a lot. There's the Steam Play Proton compatibility layer, the new container runtime feature to have Linux games both natively supported and Windows games in Proton run through a contained system to ensure compatibility, their work on Mesa drivers and much more. In Valve's review of Steam in 2020 that we covered in the link above, one thing caught our eye and has been gaining attention. Valve mentioned for 2021 they will be "putting together new ways for prospective users to get into Linux gaming and experience these improvements" so what exactly does that mean? Well, a big part of that might have already been suggested directly.

  • Godot Engine - Dev snapshot: Godot 3.2.4 beta 6

    While our main focus stays on the 4.0 branch, the current stable 3.2 branch is receiving a lot of great improvements, and the upcoming 3.2.4 release is going to be packed with many new features.

Zeroshell 3.9.5 Released

Zeroshell 3.9.5 is ready. In this release TLS 1.0 has been disabled and TLS 1.2 enabled for HTTPS. This improves security and compatibility with new browser releases. Read more