Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×

Mozilla Thunderbird Finally Makes Its Way Back Into Debian's Repos ( 47

prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: A year ago, we told you that, after ten long years, the Debian Project finally found a way to switch their rebranded Iceweasel web browser back to Mozilla Firefox, both the ESR (Extended Support Release) and normal versions, but one question remained: what about the Mozilla Thunderbird email, news, and calendar client? Well, that question has an official answer today, as the Mozilla Thunderbird packages appear to have landed in the Debian repositories as a replacement for Icedove, the rebranded version that Debian Project was forced to use for more than ten years due to trademark issues. "Thunderbird is back in Debian! We also renamed other related packages to use official names, e.g. iceowl-extension -> lightning. For now, we need testers to catch existing issues and things we haven't seen until now," said Christoph Goehre in the mailing list announcement. You can find out how to migrate your Icedove profiles to Thunderbird via Softpedia's report.
GNU is Not Unix

KDE Plasma 5.9 Released ( 89

KDE has announced the release and general availability of the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems. While it only took a few months to develop and isn't a long-term supported (LTS) version like KDE Plasma 5.8, the update does have several new features and improving Wayland support. Softpedia reports: Probably the most important one, which will make many KDE users upgrade from KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS or previous versions, is the return of Global Menus, a feature that was available in the KDE 4 series of the desktop environment. Only now, after numerous requests from users, did the KDE developers manage to implement Global Menus again in KDE Plasma 5.9. Quite a multitude of improvements have landed in the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment for those who use the next-generation Wayland display server. These include the ability to take screenshots, support for using the color picker, implementation of borderless maximized windows for full-screen support, and support for dragging apps by clicking on an empty area of the user interface using the Breeze style. KDE Plasma Wayland support allows users to set color schemes for windows, which may come in handy for accessibility, implements auto-hide support for panels, and properly displays the window icon on the panel when using X11 apps. Moreover, there's now a new settings tool for configuring touchpads, which you can see in action in the second video attached below. Wayland users can also set up gestures and relative motions. KDE Plasma 5.9 also adds several cool new tools that promise to enhance your productivity. For example, you'll be able to drag a screenshot taken with the Spectacle utility from the notification pop-up straight into a web browser form, chat window, or email composer. There's also a brand-new drag and drop functionality that lets you add widgets directly to the system tray area, and it's now possible to add widgets directly from the full-screen Application Dashboard launcher. KRunner actions like "Open containing folder" and "Run in Terminal" are now displayed in the application launchers for search results powered by KRunner, of course, and there's now a new applet that lets users group multiple widgets together in a single one. You can read the announcement and download KDE Plasma 5.9 via their website.

C++ Creator Wants To Solve 35-Year-Old Generic Programming Issues With Concepts ( 339

C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup is arguing that we can improve code by grounding generic programming in concepts -- what's required by a template's arguments. An anonymous reader quotes Paul Krill's report on a new paper by Stroustrup: In concepts, Stroustrup sees the solution to the interface specification problem that has long dogged C++, the language he founded more than 35 years ago. "The way we write generic code today is simply too different from the way we write other code," Stroustrup says... Currently an ISO technical specification, concepts provide well-specified interfaces to templates without runtime overhead. Concepts, Stroustrup writes, are intended to complete C++'s support for generic programming as initially envisioned. "The purpose of concepts is to fundamentally simplify and improve design. This leads to fewer bugs and clearer -- often shorter -- code"...

Concepts, Stroustrup believes, will greatly ease engineers' ability to write efficient, reliable C++ code... The most obvious effect will be a massive improvement in the quality of error messages, but the most important long-term effect will be found in the flexibility and clarity of code, Stroustrup says. "In particular, having well-specified interfaces allows for simple, general and zero-overhead overloading of templates. That simplifies much generic code"

Concepts are already available in GNU C Compiler 6.2, and Stroustrup wants them to be included in C++ 20. "In my opinion, concepts should have been part of C++ 17, but the committee couldn't reach consensus on that."
Open Source

Free Software Foundation Shakes Up Its List of Priority Projects ( 103

alphadogg quotes Network World: The Free Software Foundation Tuesday announced a major rethinking of the software projects that it supports, putting top priority on a free mobile operating system, accessibility, and driver development, among other areas. The foundation has maintained the High Priority Projects list since 2005, when it contained just four free software projects. [That rose to 12 projects by 2008, though the changelog shows at least seven projects have since been removed.] Today's version mostly identifies priority areas, along with a few specific projects in key areas.
The new list shows the FSF will continue financially supporting Replicant, their free version of Android, and they're also still supporting projects to create a free software replacement for Skype with real-time voice and video capabilities. But they're now also prioritizing various projects to replace Siri, Google Now, Alexa, and Cortana with a free-software personal assistant, which they view as "crucial to preserving users' control over their technology and data while still giving them the benefits such software has for many."

And other priorities now include internationalization, accessibility, decentralization and self-hosting, and encouraging governments to adopt free software.
Operating Systems

Richard Stallman Acknowledges Libreboot Is No Longer A Part of GNU ( 397

Libreboot became an official GNU project in May. Now an anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Richard Stallman has officially announced that Libreboot is no longer a GNU package. The maintainer of Libreboot had tried to leave the GNU project in September 2016, but the departure was not acknowledged until January 2017. Libreboot is a replacement for proprietary BIOS systems, effectively a distribution of coreboot without any binary blobs and adding an automated build/install process.
In the post titled "Goodbye to GNU Libreboot," Stallman wrote that "When a package's maintainer steps down, that doesn't by itself break the relationship between GNU and the package. If it is left without a maintainer but is still useful, the GNU Project will usually look for new maintainers to work on it. However, we can instead drop ties with the package, if that seems the right thing to do.

"A few months ago, the maintainer of GNU Libreboot decided not to work on Libreboot for the GNU Project any more. That was her decision to make. She also asserted that Libreboot was no longer a GNU package -- something she could not unilaterally do. The GNU Project had to decide what to do in regard to Libreboot. We have decided to go along with the former GNU maintainer's wishes in this case, for a combination of reasons: (1) it had not been a GNU package for very long, (2) she was the developer who had originally made it a GNU package, and (3) there were no major developers who wanted to continue developing Libreboot under GNU auspices."
Desktops (Apple)

Raspberry Pi's Linux-Based PIXEL Desktop Now Available For PC and Mac ( 50

From a report on BetaNews: If you own a Raspberry Pi, you're probably familiar with PIXEL. The desktop environment is included in the Raspbian OS. The Raspberry Pi Foundation describes PIXEL as the "GNU/Linux we would want to use" and understandably so. It offers a smart, clean interface, a decent selection of software, the Chromium web browser with plug-ins, and more -- and from today it's available for PC and Mac. The version of Debian+PIXEL for x86 platforms is described as "experimental" but having taken it for a spin, it seems pretty stable to me. To run PIXEL on your PC or Mac, download the image, burn it onto a DVD or flash it onto a USB memory stick, and boot from it. The desktop environment will load ready for use.

Does Code Reuse Endanger Secure Software Development? ( 148

msm1267 quotes ThreatPost: The amount of insecure software tied to reused third-party libraries and lingering in applications long after patches have been deployed is staggering. It's a habitual problem perpetuated by developers failing to vet third-party code for vulnerabilities, and some repositories taking a hands-off approach with the code they host. This scenario allows attackers to target one overlooked component flaw used in millions of applications instead of focusing on a single application security vulnerability.

The real-world consequences have been demonstrated in the past few years with the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL, Shellshock in GNU Bash, and a deserialization vulnerability exploited in a recent high-profile attack against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. These are three instances where developers reuse libraries and frameworks that contain unpatched flaws in production applications... According to security experts, the problem is two-fold. On one hand, developers use reliable code that at a later date is found to have a vulnerability. Second, insecure code is used by a developer who doesn't exercise due diligence on the software libraries used in their project.

That seems like a one-sided take, so I'm curious what Slashdot readers think. Does code reuse endanger secure software development?

Mozilla Releases Firefox 50 ( 127

Mozilla has begun seeding the binary and source packages of the final release of Firefox 50 web browser on all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux and macOS. From a report on Softpedia: We have to admit that we expected to see some major features and improvements, but that hasn't happened. The biggest new feature of the Firefox 50.0 release appears to be emoji for everyone. That's right, the web browser now ships with built-in emoji for GNU/Linux distributions, as well as other operating systems that don't include native emoji fonts by default, such as Windows 8.0 and previous versions. Also new, Firefox 50.0 now shows lock icon strikethrough for web pages that offer insecure password fields. Another interesting change that landed in the Mozilla Firefox 50.0 web browser is the ability to cycle through tabs in recently used order using the Ctrl+Tab keyboard shortcut. Moreover, it's now possible to search for whole words only using the "Find in page" feature. Last but not the least, printing was improved as well by using the Reader Mode, which now uses the accel-(opt/alt)-r keyboard shortcut, the Guarana (gn) locale is now supported, the rendering of dotted and dashed borders with rounded corners (border-radius) has been fixed as well.
GNU is Not Unix

Debian GNU/Linux 9 'Stretch' Installer Gets GNU Screen, Linux Kernel 4.7 Support ( 58

"Debian developer Cyril Brulebois was pleased to announce this past weekend the release and immediate availability of the eighth Alpha development snapshot of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 'Stretch' installer," reports Softpedia. An anonymous reader quotes their article: It's been four long months since Alpha 7 of Debian GNU/Linux 9 "Stretch" hit the testing channels back in July, but the wait was worth it as the Alpha 8 release adds a huge number of changes, starting with initial support for the GNU Screen terminal multiplexer and lots of debootstrap fixes, which now defaults to merged-/usr.

"debootstrap now defaults to merged-/usr, that is with /bin, /sbin, /lib* being symlinks to their counterpart in /usr (more details on:," wrote Cyril Brulebois in the mailing list announcement, where it states that default debootstrap mirror was switched to


Ubuntu Budgie Is Now An Official Ubuntu Flavor ( 49

prisoninmate writes from a report via Softpedia: After two successful major releases, budgie-remix has finally been accepted as an official Ubuntu flavor, earlier today during a meeting where four Canonical technicians voted positive. As such, we're extremely happy to inform our readers that the new Ubuntu flavor is called Ubuntu Budgie. In April this year, when budgie-remix hit the road towards its first major release, versioned 16.04, we reported that David Mohammed was kind enough to inform Softpedia about the fact that he got in touch with Ubuntu MATE leader Martin Wimpress, who urged the developer to target Ubuntu 16.10 for an official status. budgie-remix 16.10 arrived as well this fall shortly after the release of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak), and the dream of becoming an official Ubuntu flavor is now a reality. Re-branding of the official website and the entire distribution is ongoing. "We now move full steam ahead and look forward to working with the Ubuntu Develop Membership Board to examine and work through the technical aspects [...] 17.04 will be our first official release under the new name," said David Mohammed in the announcement.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.7 Reaches End of Life, Users Urged To Move To Linux 4.8 ( 77

prisoninmate writes: The Linux 4.7 kernel branch officially reached end of life, and it has already been marked as EOL on the website, which means that the Linux kernel 4.7.10 maintenance update is the last one that will be released for this branch. It also means that you need to either update your system to the Linux 4.7.10 kernel release or move to a more recent kernel branch, such as Linux 4.8. In related news, Linux kernel 4.8.4 is now the latest stable and most advanced kernel version, which is already available for users of the Solus and Arch Linux operating systems, and it's coming soon to other GNU/Linux distributions powered by a kernel from the Linux 4.8 series. Users are urged to update their systems as soon as possible.
GNU is Not Unix

KDE Turns 20, Happy Birthday! ( 127

prisoninmate writes from Softpedia: Can you believe it's been 20 years since the KDE (Kool Desktop Environment) was announced on the 14th of October, 1996, by project founder Matthias Ettrich? Well, it has, and today we'd like to say a happy 20th birthday to KDE! "On October 14, KDE celebrates its 20th birthday. The project that started as a desktop environment for Unix systems, today is a community that incubates ideas and projects which go far beyond desktop technologies. Your support is very important for our community to remain active and strong," reads the timeline page prepared by the KDE project for this event. Feel free to share your KDE experiences in a comment below! You can read the announcement "that started the revolution of the modern Linux desktop," as well as view the timeline "prepared by the KDE team for this unique occasion."
Open Source

Physically-Secure 'ORWL' Computer Expands Its Open Source Policy ( 68

Last month DESIGN Shift successfully crowdfunded their physically-secure (and open source) ORWL computer. But this week long-time Slashdot reader Dr. Crash raised concerns that "releasing only the equivalent of 'assembly code' (PDFs of the schematic, Gerber files) and requiring an NDA for the BIOS and mechanical security just doesn't cut it... " Slashdot contacted the company, which two hours ago posted a response: After feedback from some of you and more internal discussion, we've decided to open the schematics source files under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0... Our reasoning is that the benefit of being able to much more easily inspect the inner workings of ORWL far outweighs the minimal risk of infringement by a third party. Even if a third party does decide to copy ORWL for profit, they would quickly discover the real work is in the layout, not the schematic, as is the case in most hardware...

[T]he firmware will be licensed under GPL 3 rather than CC-BY-SA 4.0. This change is in line with the Creative Commons's own recommendations regarding software licensing. We also realized that some of our firmware uses libraries provided under NDA. We will clearly identify which components are protected under NDA and how to go about securing such an NDA.

They've already released a .zip file of their schematics, and in addition announced that "we're committing to opening the PCB layout sources once we've sold a total of 3,000 ORWL unit." Their announcement includes a link for feedback from the community.

Emacs and Vim Combined In New 'Spacemacs' Distro ( 130

Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino brings news of a new text editor offering what he calls "a modern, hipster-compliant makeover" of both Emacs and Vim: As a classic, perhaps the classic GNU project, Emacs has been marred by abysmal branding and marketing...that has improved slightly but might still leave some people unsatisfied [and] has also been engulfed in an eternal war with Vim, the editor of the beast. Mope no further, salvation is nigh! Spacemacs is a new Emacs distribution that aims to combine all the goodies of Emacs and Vim and then some...
Version .2 of Spacemacs was released this week "with more than 1700 commits since the last major version released in January 2016." With nearly 500 contributors on GItHub, Spacemacs plans to be "crowd-configured" with "curated packages tuned by power users," and is offering features like a real-time display of available key bindings, a simple query system for layers and packages, and of course, a clearly defined set of conventions.

KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS Desktop Officially Released ( 72

prisoninmate writes from a report via Softpedia: KDE will celebrate 20 years of activity on October 14, 2016, and they've just released the first LTS (Long Term Support) version of the KDE Plasma desktop environment. Prominent new features of KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS include support for desktop widgets, a new system-wide search functionality that promises to let users easily search their KDE desktops for everything they want, including apps, music, videos, files, folders, etc., a new tool to get hot new stuff for your KDE Plasma desktop, such as wallpapers, widgets, desktop effects, or window styles, and infinite customization possibilities. Moreover, KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS comes with a unified look for the default Breeze theme so that, no matter what type of application you're using (Qt4, GTK2, GTK3, or Qt5), it will look the same, mobile phone notifications, along with the ability to use your smartphone as a PC remote, transfer files or mute music during calls, all with the new KDE Connect plasmoid. There's also Right-to-Left (RTL) language support, simplified global shortcuts, improvements to many applets, and much better Wayland support. KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS will receive nine point releases until 2018. "Today KDE releases its first Long Term Support edition of its flagship desktop software, Plasma," reads the announcement. "This marks the point where the developers and designers are happy to recommend Plasma for the widest possible audience be they enterprise or non-techy home users. If you tried a KDE desktop previously and have moved away, now is the time to re-assess, Plasma is simple by default, powerful when needed."
Open Source

Linus Torvalds Officially Announces the Release of Linux Kernel 4.8 ( 95

Slashdot reader prisoninmate brings news from Softpedia: Today, Linus Torvalds proudly announced the release and availability for download of the Linux 4.8 kernel branch, which is now the latest stable and most advanced one. Linux kernel 4.8 has been in development for the past two months, during which it received no less than eight Release Candidate testing versions that early adopters were able to compile and install on their GNU/Linux operating system to test various hardware components or simply report bugs...

A lot of things have been fixed since last week's RC8 milestone, among which we can mention lots of updated drivers, in particular for GPU, networking, and Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM), a bunch of improvements to the ARM, MIPS, SPARC, and x86 hardware architectures, updates to the networking stack, as well as to a few filesystem, and some minor changes to cgroup and vm.

The kernel now supports the Raspberry Pi 3 SoC as well as the Microsoft Surface 3 touchscreen.
Operating Systems

Raspberry Pi Foundation Unveils New LXDE-Based Desktop For Raspbian Called PIXEL ( 47

Raspberry Pi Foundation's Simon Long has unveiled a new desktop environment for the Debian-based Raspbian GNU/Linux operating system for Raspberry Pi devices. From a Softpedia report (submitted by an anonymous reader):Until today, Raspbian shipped with the well-known and lightweight LXDE desktop environment, which looks pretty much the same as on any other Linux-based distribution out there that is built around LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment). But Simon Long, a UX engineer working for Raspberry Pi Foundation, was hired to make it better, transform it into something that's more appealing to users. So after two years of work, he managed to create a whole new desktop environment for Raspbian, the flagship operating system for Raspberry Pi single-board computers developed and distributed by Raspberry Pi Foundation. Called PIXEL, the new Raspbian desktop offers a more eye-candy design with the panel on top (not on the bottom like on a default LXDE setup), new icons, new Applications Menu, and new theme. "It's actually surprisingly easy to hack about with the LXDE desktop once you get your head around what all the bits do, and since then I've been slowly chipping away at the bits that I felt would most benefit from tweaking," reveals Simon Long. "Stuff has slowly been becoming more and more like my original concept for the desktop; with the latest changes, I think the desktop has reached the point where it's a complete product in its own right and should have its own name."

Lenovo Denies Claims It Plotted With Microsoft To Block Linux Installs ( 181

Reader kruug writes: Several users noted certain new Lenovo machines' SSDs are locked in a RAID mode, with AHCI removed from the BIOS. Windows is able to see the SSD while in RAID mode due to a proprietary driver, but the SSD is hidden from Linux installations -- for which such a driver is unavailable. Speaking to The Register today, a Lenovo spokesperson claimed the Chinese giant "does not intentionally block customers using other operating systems on its devices and is fully committed to providing Linux certifications and installation guidance on a wide range of products."
Complaints on Lenovo's forums suggest that users have been unable to install GNU/Linux operating systems on models from the Yoga 900S to the Ideapad 710S, with one 19-page thread going into detail about the BIOS issue and users' attempts to work around it.

GNU is Not Unix

Emacs 25.1 Released With Tons Of New Features ( 131

After four years of development there's a major new release of Emacs, the 40-year-old libre text editor with over 2,000 built-in commands. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Emacs 25.1 now lets you embed GTK+ user interface widgets, including WebKitGTK+, "a full-featured WebKit port that can allow you to browse the internet and watch YouTube inside Emacs." And it can also load shared/dynamic modules, meaning it can import the extra functionality seen in Emacs Lisp programs. This version also includes enhanced the network security, experimental support for Cairo drawing, and a new "switch-to-buffer-in-dedicated-window" mode.
Emacs 25.1 is available at the GNU FTP server, and since it's the 40th anniversary of Emacs, maybe it's a good time for a discussion about text editors in general. So leave your best tips in the comments -- along with your favorite stories about Emacs, Vim, or the text editor of your choice. What comes to your mind on the 40th anniversary of Emacs?

Slashdot Top Deals