Microsoft Joins the Open Invention Network, NVIDIA Announces RAPIDS, Asterisk 16.0.0 Now Available, BlockScout Released and Security Advisory for Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch”

News briefs for October 10, 2018.

Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), an open-source
patent consortium. According to ZDNet,
this means “Microsoft has essentially agreed to grant a royalty-free
and unrestricted license to its entire patent portfolio to all other
OIN members.” OIN’s CEO Keith Bergelt says “This is everything
Microsoft has, and it covers everything related to older open-source
technologies such as Android, the Linux kernel, and OpenStack; newer
technologies such as LF Energy and HyperLedger, and their predecessor
and successor versions.”

NVIDIA has just announced RAPIDS, its open-source data analytics/machine learning platform, Phoronix reports. The project is “intended as an end-to-end solution for data science training pipelines on graphics processors”, and NVIDIA “laims that RAPIDS can allow for machine learning training at up to 50x and is built atop CUDA for GPU acceleration”.

The Asterisk Development Team announces that Asterisk 16.0.0 is now available. This version includes many security fixes, new features and tons of bug fixes. You can download it from here.

BlockScout, the first full-featured open-source Ethereum block explorer tool, was released yesterday by POA Network. The secure and easy-to-use tool “lets users search and explore transactions, addresses, and balances on the Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and POA Network blockchains”. And, because it’s open source, anyone can “contribute to its development and customize the tool to suit their own needs”.

Debian has published another security advisory for Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch”. According to Softpedia News, CVE-2018-15471 was “discovered by Google Project Zero’s Felix Wilhelm in the hash handling of Linux kernel’s xen-netback module, which could result in information leaks, privilege escalation, as well as denial of service”. The patch also addresses CVE-2018-18021, a privilege escalation flaw. The Debian Project recommends that all users of GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” update kernel packages to to version 4.9.110-3+deb9u6.

Source: Linux Journal

Creating the Concentration Game PAIRS with Bash, Part II

Dave finishes up the PAIRS concentration game, only to realize it’s too
hard to solve!

In my last
, I tossed away my PC card and talked about how I was a fan of the
British colonial-era writer Rudyard Kipling. With that in mind, I do
appreciate that you’re still reading my column.

I was discussing the memory game that the British spy plays with the
orphan boy Kim in the book of the same name. The game in question involves
being shown a tray of stones of various shapes, sizes and colors. Then
it’s hidden, and he has to recite as many patterns as he can recall.

The card game Concentration is clearly inspired by the same pattern
memorization game, and it’s considerably easier to set up: shuffle a deck
of cards, place them face down in a grid, then flip pairs to find matches. In
the beginning, it’s just guessing, of course, but as the game proceeds, it
becomes more about spatial memory than luck. Someone with an eidetic memory
always will win.

Using letters makes things easy, so I suggested a row, column, notational
convention like this:

    1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13
1: [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-]
2: [-] [-] [-] [A] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-]
3: [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [E] [-] [-] [-] [-]
4: [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [-] [Z]

You can represent uppercase letters as a shell array like this:

declare -a letters=(A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R
                    S T U V W X Y Z)

Unfortunately, Bash doesn’t support multidimensional arrays, so you’re
going to have to represent the grid as a one-dimensional array. It’s not
too hard though, because the grid is straightforward. Here’s an index
formula if firstvalue is the first digit and rest is the remainder of the
index value:

index=$(( ( ( $firstvalue - 1 ) * 13 ) + $rest ))

The letter “E” in the above grid, at 3,9, would show up in the array
as ((3-1)*13)+9 or slot 35.

Shuffle Those Values

The script from my last
already initializes everything in sequential order
and defaults to 2 * 13 slots (for simplicity in debugging). The work of the
script is really in the shuffle, but it turns out that there’s a pretty
elegant little shuffle algorithm (shown in a kind of sloppy C for illustrative
purposes) floating around the internet that can be tapped for this task:

shuffle {
   for (i = n-1; i > 0; i-) {
     int j = rand() % (i+1);
     swap( array[i], array[j]);

Translating this into a shell script and using better variable names,
here’s what I created:

Source: Linux Journal

Redis Labs and the “Common Clause”

So, the short version is that with the recent licensing changes to
several Redis Labs modules making them no longer free and open
source, GNU/Linux distributions, such as Debian and Fedora, are no
longer able to ship Redis Labs’ versions of the affected modules to
their users.

As a result, we have begun working together to create a set of module
forked from prior to the license change. We will
maintain changes to these modules under their original open source
licenses, applying only free and open fixes and updates.

We are committed to making these available under an open source license
permanently, and welcome community involvement.

You can find more background info here:

Source: Linux Journal

New Open-Source GoodFORM Project, Made by Google 2018 Event Today, Asus Chromebook C423, HP Chromebook x360 14 and KDE Launches Plasma 5.14

News briefs for October 9, 2018.

Redis labs recently added the Commons Clause on top of the Redis
open-source, in-memory data structure store, and now open-source developers
are forking the code in a new project called GoodFORM. ZDNet quotes Debian project
leader Chris Lamb and Fedora developer Nathan Scott’s explanation for the
need to fork the code: “With the recent
licensing changes to several Redis Labs modules making them no longer free
and open source, GNU/Linux distributions such as Debian and Fedora are no
longer able to ship Redis Labs’ versions of the affected modules to their

The Made by Google 2018 event kicks off today at 11am ET. 9To5Google
the company is expected to announce the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, the
Google Home Hub and the Google Pixel Slate. You can watch the Made by
Google 2018 live event here.

Asus just announced its super-thin Chromebook C423. The company has not
released any pricing info or availability date. According to Engadget, it will have a
14″ screen, and you can choose between a full HD touchscreen or a
non-touchscreen with a 1366×768 pixel resolution. You also will be able to
install Android apps on it via Google Play.

And, HP yesterday announced
the HP Chromebook x360 14
, which is “HP’s
thinnest Chromebook convertible device” and is “designed make the most of
the seamless integration of the Google and Chrome OS ecosystem”. It will be available
October 21st, starting at $599.

today launched the first release of Plasma 5.14
. This release has
several new features and bug fixes. Much work went into improving the
Discover software manager, a new Firmware Update feature was added and
“many subtle user interface improvements give it a smoother feel”. Download live images from here.

Source: Linux Journal

Linus’ Behavior and the Kernel Development Community

On September 16, 2018, Linus Torvalds released the
4.19-rc4 version of the
kernel, and he also announced he was taking a break from Linux development in
order to consider his own behavior and to come up with a better approach
to kernel development. This was partly inspired by his realization that he
wasn’t looking forward to the Kernel Summit event, and he said that “it wasn’t
actually funny or a good sign that I was hoping to just skip the yearly
kernel summit entirely.”

He also wrote that it was partly inspired when:

…people in our community confronted me
about my lifetime of not understanding emotions. My flippant attacks in
emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times
when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense
to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry.

So he said, “I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to
understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.”

He compared the situation to the kind of “pain points” the Linux kernel
project has experienced on a technical level in the past, like moving from
tarballs to BitKeeper, and from BitKeeper to
git. And he remarked that “We
haven’t had that kind of pain-point in about a decade. But this week felt
like that kind of pain point to me.”

He also added, by way of clarification, that “This is not some kind of ‘I’m
burnt out, I need to just go away’ break. I’m not feeling like I don’t
want to continue maintaining Linux. Quite the reverse. I very much *do*
want to continue to do this project that I’ve been working on for almost
three decades.”

That was the last post Linus sent to the mailing list, up to the time of
this writing. However, he and several other kernel developers signed off on
a patch to the kernel tree, incorporating a new code of conduct policy.
It’s fairly boilerplate—basically, don’t be mean, don’t discriminate,
violations will be investigated, and appropriate measures taken.

It’s not a new idea. Long ago, Richard Stallman used to troll the mailing
list trying to start an argument about “Linux” vs. “GNU/Linux”, until the
mailing list maintainers threatened to ban him if he kept it up. They
phrased it as a general rule, not unlike a code of conduct.

There’s been a wide range of responses to Linus’ announcement and to the
code of conduct itself. Some felt that Linus’ earlier behavior had been
community-strengthening, encouraging people to respond as equals and duke
it out with Linus on the issues they cared about.

Some felt that Linus was taking a really wonderful step, seeking feedback
reflecting on the issues, and they in turn offered their own insights and

Source: Linux Journal

Linux 4.19-rc7 Released, Calculate Linux Version 18 Announced, Linux Code of Conduct Patches, Emmabuntus Debian Edition 2 1.03 Now Available and Several Improvements to the KDE Software Stack

News briefs from October 8, 2018.

4.19-rc7 was released yesterday
. Greg KH says it’s a bigger release
than rc6 was, with networking fixes and lots of driver subsystem fixes. It
also looks like there will be an -rc8 next week “just to be sure 4.19 is

Calculate Linux
version 18 was announced
yesterday. In this version, “Calculate Utilities
were ported to Qt5, your network is managed in a different way, and binary
packages get checked using their index signature”. See the announcement for
more details. You can download LiveUSB images here.

The Linux Code of Conduct may see changes with the upcoming 4.19 kernel
release, Phoronix
James Bottomley submitted a couple
over the weekend, and Geert Uytterhoeven submitted a patch
as well.

The Emmabuntus Collective yesterday announced
the release of Emmabuntus Debian Edition 2 1.03
, based on Debian 9.5 and
featuring the XFCE desktop environment. This distro was “designed to
facilitate the reconditioning of computers donated to humanitarian
organizations, starting with the Emmaüs communities (which is where the
distribution’s name obviously comes from), to promote the discovery of
GNU/Linux by beginners, as well as to extend the lifespan of computer
hardware in order to reduce the waste induced by the overconsumption of raw

There has been a “veritable flood of improvement throughout KDE’s software
stack over the past few days”, Nate Graham writes in his Adventures in
Linux and KDE blog. See the post for details on all the new features,
UI improvements and bug fixes.

Source: Linux Journal

Now Is the Time to Start Planning for the Post-Android World

Google headquarters with Android statue

We need a free software mobile operating system. Is it eelo?

Remember Windows? It was an operating system that was quite popular
in the old days of computing. However, its global market share has
been in decline for some time, and last
, the Age of Windows ended, and the Age of Android began.

Android—and thus Linux—is now everywhere. We take it for granted
that Android is used on more than two billion
, which come in just about every form factor—smartphones,
tablets, wearables, Internet of Things, in-car systems and so on. Now,
in the Open Source world, we just assume that Android always
will hold around 90% of the smartphone sector, whatever the brand name
on the device, and that we always will live in an Android world.

Except—we won’t. Just as Windows took over from DOS, and
Android took over from Windows, something will take over from
Android. Some might say “yes, but not
“. While Android goes from strength to strength, and Apple
is content to
make huge profits
from its smaller, tightly controlled market,
there’s no reason for Android to lose its dominance. After all,
there are no obvious challengers and no obvious need for something

However, what if the key event in the decline and fall of Android has
already taken place, but was something quite different from what
we were expecting? Perhaps it won’t be a frontal attack by another
platform, but more of a subtle fracture deep within the Android
ecosystem, caused by some external shock. Something
like this
, perhaps:

Today, the Commission has decided to fine Google 4.34
billion euros for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has engaged
in illegal practices to cement its dominant market position in
internet search. It must put an effective end to this conduct within
90 days or face penalty payments.

What’s striking is not so much the monetary aspect, impressive
though that is, but the following:
“our decision stops Google from controlling which search
and browser apps manufacturers can pre-install on Android devices,
or which Android operating system they can adopt.”

Source: Linux Journal

Weekend Reading: Gaming

Linux gaming

Games for Linux are booming like never before. The revolution comes courtesy of cross-platform dev tools, passionate programmers and community support. Join us this weekend as we learn about Linux gaming.


Crossing Platforms: a Talk with the Developers Building Games for Linux

Games for Linux are booming like never before. The revolution comes courtesy of cross-platform dev tools, passionate programmers and community support.


Would You Like to Play a Linux Game?

A look at several games native to Linux.


Two Portable DIY Retro Gaming Consoles

A look at Adafruit’s PiGRRL Zero vs. Hardkernel’s ODROID-GO.


Review: Thrones of Britannia

A look at the recent game from the Total War series on the Linux desktop thanks to Steam and Feral Interactive.


Meet TASBot, a Linux-Powered Robot Playing Video Games for Charity

Can a Linux-powered robot play video games faster than you? Only if he takes a hint from piano rolls…and doesn’t desync.


Build Your Own Arcade Game Player and Relive the ’80s!

In this old but gold Linux Journal article, Shawn Powers describes how to construct a fully functional arcade cabinet. When complete, you’ll be able to play all the old coin-op games from your childhood in the coin-free luxury of your living room (or garage—depending on the tolerance of individual spouses).



Source: Linux Journal

Qt 5.12 LTS Beta Released, Yabits Now Available, Manjaro-Illyria and New Bladebook Coming Soon, First DNSSEC Rollover Next Week and Secret Text Adventure Game Found on

News briefs for October 5, 2018.

5.12 LTS beta was released this morning
. Qt 5.12 will be a long-term
supported release, and it’ll be supported for three years. Improved
performance and reduced memory consumption have been a focus for this
version, and it also now provides the TableView control. See the Qt 5.12
for an overview of all the new features.

Yabits, a new UEFI Coreboot payload alternative, made its debut last
month. According to Phoronix, Yabits “aims to deliver the same UEFI x86_64 booting capabilities as TianoCore
but with a much smaller code-base for environments like embedded systems
and the cloud”. Future plans for Yabits include “ARM support, Secure Boot
capabilities, Graphical Output Protocol handling, and the ability to boot

Manjaro-Illyria 18.0 is coming soon. Appuals
that eight updates have been released in this past week,
including updates to the 4.19-rc6 kernel, NVIDIA 410.57 drivers added, Wine
upgraded to 3.17, upstream fixes to Haskell and Python packages, a new
“smooth bootup experience”, and Deepin and GNOME package updates. In
addition, the Manjaro team is also working on the Bladebook Fall 2018,
which will run Manjaro KDE 18.0 preinstalled “with the Intel Apollo Lake
Quad-Core HD APU, a fanless metal material, and utilize eMMC as its primary
storage, although the dev states that additional M2-SSD could be possible.”
for more information.

The first DNSSEC root key rollover will happen on October 11, 2018. See
the Red
Hat Blog post
for what you need to know about the rollover.

Users have discovered a secret text adventure game hidden in
You need to be using Chrome, Firefox or Edge for it to work. See the story
on The
for details.

Source: Linux Journal

Introducing Genius, the Advanced Scientific Calculator for Linux


Genius is a calculator
program that has both a command-line version and a GNOME GUI version.
It should available in your distribution’s package management
For Debian-based distributions, the GUI version and the
command-line version are two separate packages. Assuming that you want
to install both, you can do so with the following command:

sudo apt-get install genius gnome-genius

If you use Ubuntu, be aware that the package
gnome-genius doesn’t appear to be in Bionic. It’s in earlier versions
(trusty, xenial and arty), and it appears to be in the next version (cosmic). I
ran into this problem, and thought I’d mention it to
save you some aggravation.

Starting the command-line version provides an
interpreter that should be familiar to Python or R users.

Figure 1. When you start Genius, you get the version and some license
information, and then you’ll see the interpreter prompt.

If you start gnome-genius, you’ll see a graphical interface that is likely
to be more comfortable to new users. For the rest of this
article, I’m using the GUI version in order to demonstrate some
of the things you can do with Genius.

Figure 2. The GUI interface provides easy menu access to most of the
functionality within Genius.

You can use Genius just as a general-purpose calculator, so you can do
things like:

genius> 4+5
= 9

Along with basic math operators, you also can use trigonometric
functions. This command gives the sine of 45 degrees:

genius> sin(45)
= 0.850903524534

These types of calculations can be of essentially arbitrary size. You
also can use complex numbers out of the box. Many other standard
mathematical functions are available as well, including
items like logarithms, statistics, combinatorics and even calculus

Along with functions, Genius also provides control structures like
conditionals and looping structures. For example, the following code gives
you a basic for loop that prints out the sine of the first 90

for i = 1 to 90 do (
   x = sin(i);

As you can see, the syntax is almost C-like. At first blush, it looks like
the semicolon is being used as a line-ending character, but it’s actually
a command separator. That’s why there is a semicolon on the line with
the sine function, but there is no semicolon on the line with the print
function. This means you could write the for loop as the

Source: Linux Journal