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Open Source

Fork of Systemd Leads To Lightweight Uselessd 301

Posted by timothy
from the not-big-and-fancy dept.
An anonymous reader writes A boycott of systemd and other backlash around systemd's feature-creep has led to the creation of Uselessd, a new init daemon. Uselessd is a fork of systemd 208 that strips away functionality considered irrelevant to an init system like the systemd journal and udev. Uselessd also adds in functionality not accepted in upstream systemd like support for alternative C libraries (namely uClibc and musl) and it's even being ported to BSD.
Programming

'Reactive' Development Turns 2.0 81

Posted by timothy
from the off-with-their-oh-wait-that's-reactionary dept.
electronic convict writes First there was "agile" development. Now there's a new software movement—called 'reactive' development—that sets out principles for building resilient and failure-tolerant applications for cloud, mobile, multicore and Web-scale systems. ReadWrite's Matt Asay sat down with Jonas Bonér, the author of the Reactive Manifesto (just released in version 2.0), for a discussion of what, exactly, the reactive movement aims to fix in software development and how we get there from here.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards? 85

Posted by timothy
from the if-they're-smart-they-can-write-it-themselves dept.
SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes Teacher here, you can call me Mr. SmarterThanMe. I have a fancy smartboard installed in my room. Smartboards allow me to show students a whole range of other stuff other than just whatever I'm writing. I can prepare instructions and activities before the lesson and just move through the boards. I can pull up some students' work and display it through the projector. I can bring up some stimulus for use in a writing task. So much better than blackboards. Except the software that comes bundled with this particular brand of smartboard is ridiculously clunky. Without naming this particular piece of software, and highlighting its shortfalls, has anyone got any suggestions on alternatives (open source or otherwise)? The main features that I'd like are:
  • Handwriting recognition
  • The ability to make and use templates
  • Grids or guides or *something* to be able to teach measurement

I have gold star stickers for any good suggestions.

KDE

KDE's UI To Bend Toward Simplicity 167

Posted by timothy
from the bringing-the-good-stuff-to-the-surface dept.
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "KDE Software is often criticized for being too complicated for an average user to use. Try setting up Kmail and you would know what I mean. The KDE developers are aware of it and now they are working on making KDE UI simpler. KDE usability team lead Thomas Pfeiffer Thomas prefers a layered feature exposure so that users can enjoy certain advanced features at a later stage after they get accustomed to the basic functionality of the application. He quotes the earlier (pre-Plasma era) vision of KDE 4 – "Anything that makes Linux interesting for technical users (shells, compilation, drivers, minute user settings) will be available; not as the default way of doing things, but at the user's discretion."
Android

Android Apps Now Unofficially Able To Run On Any Major Desktop OS 101

Posted by timothy
from the crash-early-and-often dept.
An anonymous reader writes A developer who goes by the handle Vladikoff has tweaked Google's App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) to allow any Android app to run on any major desktop operating system, not just the handful announced last week which were also limited to Chrome OS. His tweaked version of ARC is re-packaged as ARChon. The install isn't very straightforward, and you have to be in developer mode on Chrome. But there's a support forum on reddit. The extension will work on any OS running the desktop version of Chrome 37 and up as long as the user also installs chromeos-apk, which converts raw Android app packages (APKs) to a Chrome extension. Ars Technica reports that apps run this way are buggy, fast, and crash often but expresses optimism for when Google officially "opens the floodgates on the Play Store, putting 1.3 million Android apps onto nearly every platform."
Data Storage

Data Archiving Standards Need To Be Future-Proofed 110

Posted by timothy
from the nothing-is-totally-future-proof dept.
storagedude writes Imagine in the not-too-distant future, your entire genome is on archival storage and accessed by your doctors for critical medical decisions. You'd want that data to be safe from hackers and data corruption, wouldn't you? Oh, and it would need to be error-free and accessible for about a hundred years too. The problem is, we currently don't have the data integrity, security and format migration standards to ensure that, according to Henry Newman at Enterprise Storage Forum. Newman calls for standards groups to add new features like collision-proof hash to archive interfaces and software.

'It will not be long until your genome is tracked from birth to death. I am sure we do not want to have genome objects hacked or changed via silent corruption, yet this data will need to be kept maybe a hundred or more years through a huge number of technology changes. The big problem with archiving data today is not really the media, though that too is a problem. The big problem is the software that is needed and the standards that do not yet exist to manage and control long-term data,' writes Newman.
Open Source

Dropbox and Google Want To Make Open Source Security Tools Easy To Use 24

Posted by Soulskill
from the bang-your-head-on-the-screen-to-unlock-your-forehead-profile dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Dropbox, Google, and the Open Technology Fund have announced a new organization focused on making open source security tools easier to use. Called Simply Secure, the initiative brings together security researchers with experts in user interaction and design to boost adoption rates for consumer-facing security solutions. The companies point out that various security options already do exist, and are technically effective. Features like two-factor authentication remain useless, however, because users don't adopt them due to inconvenience or technical difficulty.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer? 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the become-a-complacent-manager-instead dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Next year will be the start of my 10th year as a software developer. For the last nice years I've worked for a variety of companies, large and small, on projects of varying sizes. During my career, I have noticed that many of the older software developers are burnt out. They would rather do their 9-5, get paid, and go home. They have little, if any, passion left, and I constantly wonder how they became this way. This contradicts my way of thinking; I consider myself to have some level of passion for what I do, and I enjoy going home knowing I made some kind of difference.

Needless to say, I think I am starting to see the effects of complacency. In my current job, I have a development manager who is difficult to deal with on a technical level. He possesses little technical knowledge of basic JavaEE concepts, nor has kept up on any programming in the last 10 years. There is a push from the upper echelon of the business to develop a new, more scalable system, but they don't realize that my manager is the bottleneck. Our team is constantly trying to get him to agree on software industry standards/best practices, but he doesn't get it and often times won't budge. I'm starting to feel the effects of becoming complacent. What is your advice?
Encryption

TrueCrypt Gets a New Life, New Name 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-hopefully-won't-disappear-into-the-void dept.
storagedude writes: Amid ongoing security concerns, the popular open source encryption program TrueCrypt may have found new life under a new name. Under the terms of the TrueCrypt license — which was a homemade open source license written by the authors themselves rather than a standard one — a forking of the code is allowed if references to TrueCrypt are removed from the code and the resulting application is not called TrueCrypt. Thus, CipherShed will be released under a standard open source license, with long-term ambitions to become a completely new product.
Businesses

Dremel Releases 3D Printer 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-it-at-home dept.
Lucas123 writes Power tool maker Dremel today announced it's now selling a desktop 3D printer that it said is targeted at "the masses" with a $1,000 price tag and intuitive software. Dremel's 3D Idea Builder is a fused deposition modeling (FDM) machine that can use only one type of polymer filament, polylactide (PLA) and that comes in 10 colors. The new 3D printer has a 9-in. x 5.9-in. x 5.5-in. build area housed in a self-contained box with a detachable lid and side panels. Dremel's currently selling its machine on Amazon and The Home Depot's website, but it plans brick and mortar store sales this November.
Patents

Alice Is Killing Trolls But Patent Lawyers Will Strike Back 92

Posted by timothy
from the waiting-in-the-wings-now-patented dept.
snydeq writes The wheels of justice spin slowly, but they seem finally to be running software patents out of town, writes Simon Phipps in his analysis of how Alice Corp. v CLS Bank is becoming a landmark decision for patent cases in the U.S. 'In case after case, the Court of Appeals is using Alice to resolve patent appeals. In each case so far, the Court of Appeals has found the software patents in question to be invalid. ... As PatentlyO points out, the Alice effect is even reaching to lower courts, saving the Court of Appeals from having to strike down patent findings on appeal.' Although the patent industry broadly speaking sees the Alice verdict as a death knell for many existing patents, some expect Alice to turn software patents into 'draftsmen's art because as you and I have seen over the years, every time there's a court ruling it just means that you have to word the patent claims differently.'
Open Source

An Open Source Pitfall? Mozilla Labs Closed, Quietly 111

Posted by timothy
from the same-people-are-still-smart dept.
mikejuk writes with this excerpt: When Google Labs closed there was an outcry. How could an organization just pull the rug from under so many projects? At least Google announced what it was doing. Mozilla, it seems since there is no official record, just quietly tiptoes away — leaving the lights on since the Mozilla Labs Website is still accessible. It is accessible but when you start to explore the website you notice it is moribund with the last blog post being December 2013 with the penultimate one being September 2013. The fact that it is gone is confirmed by recent blog posts and by the redeployment of the people who used to run it. The projects that survived have been moved to their own websites. It isn't clear what has happened to the Hatchery -the incubator that invited new ideas from all and sundry. One of the big advantages of open source is the ease with which a project can be started. One of the big disadvantages of open source is the ease with which projects can be allowed to die — often without any clear cut time of death. It seems Mozilla applies this to groups and initiatives as much as projects. This isn't good. The same is true at companies that aren't open source centric, though, too, isn't it?
Government

Snowden's Leaks Didn't Help Terrorists 182

Posted by timothy
from the what-they-want-you-to-think dept.
HughPickens.com writes The Intercept reports that contrary to lurid claims made by U.S. officials, a new independent analysis of Edward Snowden's revelations on NSA surveillance that examined the frequency of releases and updates of encryption software by jihadi groups has found no correlation in either measure to Snowden's leaks about the NSA's surveillance techniques. According to the report "well prior to Edward Snowden, online jihadists were already aware that law enforcement and intelligence agencies were attempting to monitor them (PDF)." In fact, concerns about terrorists' use of sophisticated encryption technology predates even 9/11.

Earlier this month former NSA head Michael Hayden stated, "The changed communications practices and patterns of terrorist groups following the Snowden revelations have impacted our ability to track and monitor these groups", while Matthew Olsen of the National Counterterrorism Center would add "Following the disclosure of the stolen NSA documents, terrorists are changing how they communicate to avoid surveillance." Snowden's critics have previously accused his actions of contributing from everything from the rise of ISIS to Russia's invasion of the Ukraine. "This most recent study is the most comprehensive repudiation of these charges to date," says Murtaza Hussain. "Contrary to lurid claims to the contrary, the facts demonstrate that terrorist organizations have not benefited from the NSA revelations, nor have they substantially altered their behavior in response to them."
IT

Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the help-me-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes I use email to communicate with my folks overseas. Their ISP only allows dial-up access to their email account (there is no option of changing ISP), that can receive messages no larger than 1MB nor hold more than 15MB (no hope of changing that either). They are computer-illiterate, click on everything they receive, and take delight on sending their information to any Nigerian prince that contacts them, "just in case this one is true". Needless to say, their PC is always full of viruses and spyware. In my next yearly visit, instead of just cleaning it up, I'd like to gift them with some "hardened" PC to use for email only that would hopefully last the year before someone has to fix it. So far, these are the things I have in mind:
  • Some kind of linux distro, or maybe even mac. Most viruses over there are windows only and propagate via Autorun.inf or by email attachments, not having Windows could prevent both.
  • Some desktop environment that hides anything unrelated to connecting to the net and accessing their account (dial-up software, email client, web browser, exchanging files between their hard disk/email attachments and USB drives). By "hide", I just want the rest to be out of the way, but not entirely removed, so that if necessary, I can guide them over the phone. For this, Ubuntu's Unity seems like a particularly bad solution, but a Gnome desktop with non-removable desktop shortcuts (is this possible?) for the file manager, browser, email client and dial-up program could work. An android system is unlikely to work (they have no wifi, and they were utterly confused with Android's UI).
  • This could be a life saver: some kind of extension to the email client that executes commands on specially formatted emails (e.g., signed with my private key), so that I can do some basic diagnostics or install extra software if I have to. This las point is important: they currently rely on acquaintances who may not be competent (they can't evaluate that) if something happens between my visits. They, most likely, wont know how to deal with anything non-windows, so all tech support would fall on me. (This is the reason I haven't moved them from windows yet.)
  • Another very useful extension would be something to automatically re-assemble attachments split into several emails, to overcome the 1MB message limit.

Does any of that exist? If I have to build that system myself (or parts of it), do you have other suggestions? For the inevitable and completely reasonable suggestion of getting someone competent for tech support: I've tried that too. The competent ones don't last beyond the third visit.

Software

Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the hubs-to-control-your-hubs dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Household devices are getting smarter these days: the so-called internet of things is bringing software-controlled thermostats, lighting, and other appliances into the mainstream. Many companies are fighting for a piece of the pie, but Logitech is taking a different approach. They're mostly known for computer peripherals, but they also make multi-function remote controls, and now they're trying to build remotes that will control all of a home's smart devices. "Logitech doesn't want to own the device, it wants to own the app experience. But to do that, it had to build a software overlay and a controller that would convince people to put it in their homes. So it's offering a $100 hub that combines IR, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and RF that will let you use the Logitech Harmony app to control gear that uses those protocols. This means if you have a SmartThings, a Peq or a Lutron hub, the Wi-Fi in the Logitech device will let you control the others' gear from Logitech, which so far seems to have a much nicer interface." They've worked out partnerships with a lot of companies that are big in the home, like Nest, Honeywell, and Philips, all of whom seem to want this extra layer of control for the user.
Open Source

Digia Spins Off Qt As Subsidiary 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the musical-overlords dept.
DeviceGuru writes: Following through on an announcement from August, Digia has spun off a subsidiary called The Qt Company to unify Qt's commercial and open source efforts, and debuted a low-cost plan for mobile developers. The Linux-oriented Qt cross-platform development framework has had a tumultuous career, having been passed around Scandinavia over the years from Trolltech to Nokia and then from Nokia to Digia. Yet, Qt keeps rolling along in both commercial and open source community versions, continually adding support for new platforms and technologies, and gaining extensive support from mobile developers. Now Qt is its own company, or at least a wholly owned subsidiary under Digia. Finland-based Digia has largely been involved with the commercial versions of Qt since it acquired the platform from Nokia in 2012, but it has also sponsored the community Qt Project as a relatively separate project. Now, both efforts are being unified under one roof at The Qt Company and the new QT.io website, says Digia. Meanwhile, Digia will focus on its larger enterprise software business.
Privacy

FBI Completes New Face Recognition System 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-know-what-you-did-last-summer dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: According to a report from Gizmodo, "After six years and over one billion dollars in development, the FBI has just announced that its new biometric facial recognition software system is finally complete. Meaning that, starting soon, photos of tens of millions of U.S. citizen's faces will be captured by the national system on a daily basis. The Next Generation Identification (NGI) program will logs all of those faces, and will reference them against its growing database in the event of a crime. It's not just faces, though. Thanks to the shared database dubbed the Interstate Photo System (IPS), everything from tattoos to scars to a person's irises could be enough to secure an ID. What's more, the FBI is estimating that NGI will include as many as 52 million individual faces by next year, collecting identified faces from mug shots and some job applications." Techdirt points out that an assessment of how this system affects privacy was supposed to have preceded the actual rollout. Unfortunately, that assessment is nowhere to be found.

Two recent news items are related. First, at a music festival in Boston last year, face recognition software was tested on festival-goers. Boston police denied involvement, but were seen using the software, and much of the data was carelessly made available online. Second, both Ford and GM are working on bringing face recognition software to cars. It's intended for safety and security — it can act as authentication and to make sure the driver is paying attention to the road.
Communications

Browser To Facilitate Text Browsing In Emergencies 40

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-want-to-upgrade-flash-now dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Programmers at Fast Company are developing the Cosmos browser to allow text browsing from Android phones when networks are buckling under the load of local disasters. A common phenomenon when disaster strikes is the overloading of cell and data networks by massively increased traffic. The Cosmos browser is intended to facilitate using SMS text messages, which often still get through in such circumstances. To quote one developer, "We want this to be a way for people to get information when they're in dire need of it." Sort of a Lynx comes to Android affair. The Smithsonian contemplates the possibilities, here."
Open Source

New Release of MINIX 3 For x86 and ARM Is NetBSD Compatible 93

Posted by timothy
from the big-and-fancy dept.
An anonymous reader writes MINIX 3 is a small POSIX-compliant operating system aimed at high reliability (embedded) applications. A major new version of MINIX 3 (3.3.0) is now available for download at www.minix3.org. In addition to the x86, the ARM Cortex A8 is now supported, with ports to the BeagleBoard and BeagleBones available. Finally, the entire userland has been redone in 3.3.0 to make it NetBSD compatible, with thousands of NetBSD packages available out of the box. MINIX 3 is based on a tiny (13 KLoC) microkernel with the operating system running as a set of protected user-mode processes. Each device driver is also a separate process. If a driver fails, it is automatically and transparently restarted without rebooting and without applications even noticing, making the system self-healing. The full announcement, with links to the release notes and notes on installation, can be found at the Minix Google Groups page.
Open Source

Industry-Based ToDo Alliance Wants To Guide FOSS Development 54

Posted by timothy
from the high-standards-for-free-stuff dept.
jralls (537436) writes The New York Times broke a story [Monday] (paywalled if you look at more than 10 stories a month) about ToDo, "an open group of companies who run open source programs" who are seeking to "committed to working together in order to overcome" the challenges of using FOSS, "including ensuring high-quality and frequent releases, engaging with developer communities, and using and contributing back to other projects effectively." The more militant among us will read that as "It's not enough getting a free ride off of developers building great software, we want to shove our roadmap down their throats and get them to work harder for us — without having to pay for it, of course." That might be a bit harsh, but none of the companies on the page are exactly well known for cooperating with the projects they use, with Google being one of the worst offenders by forking both Linux and WebKit.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

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