[$] Reconsidering Speck

The Speck cipher
is geared toward good performance in software, which makes it attractive
for smaller, often embedded, systems with underpowered CPUs that lack
hardware crypto acceleration. But it also
comes from the US National Security Agency (NSA), which worries lots of
people outside the US—and, in truth, a fair number of US citizens as well.
The NSA has earned a reputation for promulgating various types of
cryptographic algorithms with dubious properties. While the technical
arguments against Speck, which is a fairly simple and straightforward
algorithm with little room for backdoors, have not been all that
compelling, the political arguments are potent—to the point where it is
being dropped by the main
proponent for including it in the kernel.

Source: LWN

[$] Scheduler utilization clamping

Once upon a time, the only way to control how the kernel’s CPU scheduler
treated any
given process was to adjust that process’s priority. Priorities are no
longer enough to fully control CPU scheduling, though, especially when
power-management concerns are taken into account. The utilization
clamping patch set
from Patrick Bellasi is the latest in a series of
attempts to allow user space to tell the scheduler more about any specific
process’s needs.

Source: LWN

Security updates for Wednesday

Security updates have been issued by Debian (slurm-llnl), Fedora (libmspack), openSUSE (cups, kernel, kernel-firmware, libcgroup, and ovmf), Oracle (kernel), and SUSE (cups, enigmail, libcdio, and pidgin).

Source: LWN

Security updates for Tuesday

Security updates have been issued by Debian (kernel), Fedora (ceph, exiv2, myrepos, and seamonkey), openSUSE (libofx and znc), Oracle (kernel), Red Hat (qemu-kvm-rhev), SUSE (clamav, kernel, and rubygem-sprockets-2_12), and Ubuntu (gnupg, lftp, libxcursor, linux-hwe, linux-azure, linux-gcp, linux-raspi2, and lxc).

Source: LWN

[$] Diverse technical topics from OSCON 2018

The O’Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) returned to Portland, Oregon
in July for its
20th meeting. Previously, we covered some retrospectives and community-management talks
that were a big part of the conference. Of course, OSCON is also a
technology conference, and there were lots of talks on various open-source
software platforms and tools.

Subscribers can read on for the second part of an OSCON report by guest author
Josh Berkus.

Source: LWN

[$] Using AI on patents

Software patents account for more
than half
of all utility patents granted in the US over the past few
years. Clearly,
many companies see these patents as a way to fortune and growth, even while
software patents are hated by many people working in the free and
open-source movements. The field of patenting has now joined the onward
march of artificial intelligence. This was the topic of a talk at OSCON
2018 by Van Lindberg, an intellectual-property lawyer, board member and
general counsel for the Python Software Foundation, and author of the book
Intellectual
Property and Open Source
. The disruption presented by deep
learning ranges from modest enhancements that have already been
exploited—making searches for prior art easier—to harbingers of
automatic patent generation in the future.

Source: LWN

[$] WireGuarding the mainline

The WireGuard VPN tunnel has been
under development — and attracting attention — for a few years now; LWN ran a review of it in March. While WireGuard
can be found in a number of distribution repositories, it is not yet
shipped with the mainline kernel because its author, Jason Donenfeld, hasn’t
gotten around to proposing it for upstreaming. That changed on on
July 31, when Donenfeld posted
WireGuard
for review
. Getting WireGuard itself into the mainline would probably
not be
all that hard; merging some of the support code it depends on could be
another story, though.

Source: LWN

Google finalizes Android P as Android 9 “Pie,” launching today (ars technica)

Ars technica covers
the release
of Android 9 “Pie”. “Android Pie is a major update for Android. Large chunks of the OS get a UI makeover in line with Google’s updated Material Design guidelines. There is an all-new notification panel, a reworked recent-apps screen, new settings, and tons of system UI changes. There’s support for devices with notched displays (like the iPhone X) and a gesture navigation system (also like the iPhone X). So far, battery life on the preview builds has been great, with improvements like the AI-powered adaptive battery system, a new auto-brightness algorithm, and changes to CPU background processing.

Source: LWN

Thunderbird 60 released

Version
60
of the Thunderbird email client has been released. “This
version of Thunderbird is packed full of great new features, fixes, and
changes that improve the user experience and make for a worthwhile
upgrade.
” There are improvements in calendar management and the
handling of attachments, among other things; see the
release notes
for details.

Source: LWN