Open Source

Ubuntu 21.10 released

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Two days ago, Canonical announced the release of Ubuntu Linux 21.10, codenamed Impish Indri.

Ubuntu 21.10 wallpaper

Canonical’s CEO Mark Shuttleworth said of the release:

As open source becomes the new default, we aim to bring Ubuntu to all the corners of the enterprise and all the places developers want to innovate. From the biggest public clouds to the tiniest devices, from DGX servers to Windows WSL workstations, open source is the springboard for new ideas and Ubuntu makes that springboard safe, secure and consistent.

This latest Ubuntu release is a short-term one with nine months of support that precedes the next long-term support (LTS) version, Ubuntu 22.04.

The new release’s default desktop interface is GNOME 40, whilst there have also been some updates to the distribution’s default desktop programs, which now include the LibreOffice 7.2 office productivity suite, the Thunderbird 91 e-mail client, and the Firefox 92 web browser.

Ubuntu 21.10 is available for immediate download for 64-bit systems (32-bit support ceased some time ago. Ed.)

Introducing Ubuntu Frame

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Earlier this month, Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, announced the release of Ubuntu Frame

With Ubuntu Frame, developers no longer need to integrate and maintain partial solutions such as DRM, KMS, input protocols or security policies to power and secure their displays. This means less code to manage, fewer opportunities for bugs and vulnerabilities in untried code and more time for developing the display’s content.

Ubuntu Frame screenshot

Ubuntu Frame screenshot

When developing Ubuntu Frame, the goal was to minimise the development and deployment time for building graphic solutions for edge devices by leveraging existing applications and hardening security techniques. Ubuntu Frame is therefore compatible with toolkits such as Flutter, Qt, GTK, Electron and SDL2. Furthermore, it also has a solution for applications based on HTML5 and Java, inter alia. It is also worth mentioning that Ubuntu Frame’s users benefit from easy configuration and deployment options thanks to snaps, which is being heralded asthe next-generation package format for Linux.

Ubuntu Frame provides developers with all they need to deploy fully interactive applications: it comes with all the interfaces applications need to communicate securely with the host machine without developers needing to deal with the specific hardware. It also automatically enables all the functionality that end-users expect while interacting with digital displays, such as input from touchscreens, keyboard and mouse. Developers also don’t need to worry about window behaviours and dynamics since they are all configured.

Commenting on the launch, Michał Sawicz, Smart Displays Engineering Manager at Canonical said the following:

Ubuntu Frame’s reliability has been widely tested in the field. Its technology has been in development for over 7 years and in production for 5 years, using state-of-the-art techniques, and deployed in production to Linux desktop and mobile users. As such, Ubuntu Frame is one of the most mature graphical servers available today for embedded devices.

LibreOffice 2021 Conference details announced

Italo Vignoli has posted details of the 2021 LibreOffice Conference (which will take place online. Ed.) on the Document Foundation’s blog.

LibreOffice Conference 2021 logoThis year’s LibreOffice Conference will open at noon CEST on 23rd September and will conclude at 5:30p.m. CEST on 25th September.

The conference schedule has been finalised and is now available. Of course, there may last minute changes until 12th September when the schedule will be frozen. Sometime after that date the schedule will also be available on Android mobiles

People attending the LibreOffice Conference via Jitsi are asked to register by filling in this form. Registration will enable the conference organisers to manage conference sessions in the best way and provide a better experience than in 2020 (when a couple of unwelcome “guests” tried to spoil the event). LibreOffice advocates and conference attendees can support the event by purchasing LibreOffice Conference merchandise from Freewear.

In addition to the Document Foundation blog, conference announcements will be posted on two Telegram groups – LibreOffice Virtual Conference Announcements (https://t.me/LibOcon) and LibreOffice Virtual Conference (https://t.me/liboconvirtual), as well as the dedicated LibreOffice Conference website.

Debian 11 bullseye released

Debian logoYour ‘umble scribe has been using Debian GNU/Linux for the best part of 15 years now.

Besides being a distribution in its own right, Debian is also used as the basis for many other Linux distros, such as the Ubuntu family and derivatives, as well as specialised distros like the security- and privacy-conscious Tails.

Furthermore, Debian stable version releases don't occur very often, only every 2-3 years (unlike the Ubuntu family, which is on a rigid twice-yearly release cycle. Ed.).

Consequently, a Debian stable version release is a major event and the latest release occurred on Friday, as announced in an email to the Debian Developer Announce mailing list

The start of the email reads as follows:

Hi,
On 14th August 2021 we released Debian 11 “bullseye”.
There are too many people who should be thanked for their work on getting us to this point to list them all individually, and we would be sure to miss some. Nevertheless, we would like to particularly thank the installer team, the buildd and ftp teams, the CD team, the publicity team, the webmasters, the Release Notes editors, porters and all the bug squashers, NMUers, package maintainers and translators who have contributed to making bullseye a great release of which we should all be proud.

The email goes on the state that first point release for bullseye will take place about one month after the initial release.

Testing will soon start for the next Debian stable release – Debian 12, codenamed bookworm.

Finally, it’s worth noting that bullseye comes with 5 years’ support and an additional 10,000 software packages, as noted by ZDNet.

Debian 11 ‘bullseye’ due for release on 14th August

Debian logoVersion 11 of Debian GNU/Linux, codenamed ‘bullseye‘, is due for release on 14th August The Register reports.

A new Debian release is an important event in the world of Linux and free and open source software as it doesn’t happen all that frequently, the last version release being over 2 years ago.

Not only is Debian an important distribution in its own right, but is also influential since it froms the basis for many others including the various flavours of Ubuntu (e.g. Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc. Ed.), Mint, Devuan, Knoppix, Tails, Raspbian, Pop!_OS and SteamOS, to name but a few.

A post to Debian’s developer announcements list stated: “We plan to release on 2021-08-14”.

It’s a little over 2 years since the last stable Debian version, Debian 10 or ‘buster‘, was made available for download.

Happy 20th birthday, FSFE!

FSFE logoWay back in 2001, the prescient souls who established the Free Software Foundation Europe foresaw that people should be in control of technology and not vice versa.

Twenty years down the road the FSFE is concentrating its daily work on three main pillars to help software freedom thrive in Europe: public awareness, policy advocacy, and legal support.

FSFE 20th anniversary graphic

The FSFE has had some major campaign successes over its 2 decades.

For instance there was the campaign to promote free software PDF readers, which encouraged over 2,000 European public sector organisations to remove links for Adobe’s proprietary Acrobat reader from their websites.

A major current FSFE campaign is Public Money, Public Code, an initiative to ensure that publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made publicly available under a Free and Open Source Software licence. If it is public money, it should be public code as well. Code paid by the people should be available to the people!

Finally here’s FSFE President Matthias Kirschner speaking to the openSUSE Virtual Conference 2021 about two decades of the FSFE.

https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210721-01.en.html

Many happy returns, FSFE. Keep up the good work for the good of all.

Tor Browser squashes user tracking bug

The Tor Project has updated its browser after the discovery of a bug with more than dangerous repercussions for user privacy. URLs based on onion services version 2 should migrate to version 3 before September 2021.

A recent update of the Tor Browser to version 10.0.18 has enabled several bugs to be corrected, including a rather serious vulnerability for users, French IT news site Le Monde Informatique reports. As a matter of fact, this bug, which is based on version 2 of its onion services, enabled some sites to track users from the applications installed on their devices.

Tor Browser running on Ubuntu Linux

Tor Browser running on Ubuntu Linux. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The vulnerability tracked users via their browsers, enabling any website or government to discover a user’s actual IP address, which is contrary to the basic principle of the Tor project. URLs actually benefit from a security gain with version 3 of onion services. This is due to the fact that they use “cleaner” code with stronger cryptography which is proving to be less susceptible to brute force attacks due to its complexity.

URLs under onion services V2 no longer supported from 15 July

The project also announced it would start to deprecate URLs under onion services version 2 by initially advising the operators and clients that access them. With effect from 15 July, Tor will no longer support V2 URLs V2 and support for them will be removed from the browser codebase.

So as to ensure that each user and website administrator is well aware of this change, a message will be displayed “when visiting sites which are still using V2 URLs advising they will shortly be deprecated and the site will be inaccessible unless it is updated to version 3 of onion services“.

Estonia – government software is now public software

Public Money Public Code logoThe Baltic Republic of Estonia has clearly taken note of the Free Software Foundation Europe’s Pubic Money Public Code campaign to have publicly funded software released as free software.

Joinup,the EU’s news site for open source IT developments reports that the Estonian government decided to make all government software publicly available.

The Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, approved the necessary changes to the Estonian State Property Act on 12 May 2021 and the the new rules came into effect on 1st June 2021.

All software to which the Estonian state owns the property rights in whole or part shall henceforth ould be made available publicly. If only parts are owned by the state, those parts owned by the state will be made available.

Under the new regulations, the authority in charge of the software shall decide if the software is to be made available and has to provide the following:

  • a description of the public software to be made available for use;
  • the conditions of use of the public software to be made available.

However, there are some restrictions on the release of publicly-funded software to the pubic. For example, if such a release would be detrimental to the state, such as a potential threat to public order and national security or cybersecurity reasons, in which case the authority in question can refuse to make the software publicly available.

With his move, Estonia joins other European countries such as Spain, Italy and France, which already publish most of government-owned software publicly

OpenStreetMap might move to EU member state

OpenStreetMap is a great open source alternative to the commercial data slurping map services provided by technology giants such Microsoft (Bing) and Google.

OpenStreetMap view of part of East Bristol

OpenStreetMap view of part of East Bristol

At this point you might be wondering why your ‘umble scribe chooses to mention Brexit, the English Empire’s most stupid and damaging foreign policy decision since the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Today’s Guardian announces that OpenStreetMap, which has been headquartered in the UK since its inception nearly 20 years ago, might be upping sticks and moving to a European member state very soon due to part-time alleged prime minister Boris Johnson’s pretend government taking back control and once again ostensibly becoming – in its mendacious words – an independent sovereign state. It’s such a pity the Blonde Bumbler’s kakistocracy doesn’t understand and never has understood the concept of pooled sovereignty.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation, which was formally registered in 2006 – 2 years after the project began – is a limited company incorporated under the laws of England and Wales.

Quoting an email from earlier this month, The Guardian quotes Guillaume Rischard, the Foundation’s treasurer, as saying the following

There is not one reason for moving, but a multitude of paper cuts, most of which have been triggered or amplified by Brexit.

One of these <empaper cuts is the failure of the Johnson régime and EU to agree on mutual recognition of database rights. While both have an agreement to recognise copyright protections, maps are data and fall outside the ambit of creative works. Until Brexit mapping were covered by an EU-wide agreement that protected databases, but since Brexit, there is no longer any mutual recognition and/or protection of any database made in the UK or EU on or after 1 January 2021.

The Foundation’s other motives for moving from the UK include banking and payment concerns, plus the increased importance of the EU technology regulation matters.

A statement issued by the Foundation includes the following:

We are actively researching options to protect the OSM community’s interests, and one option under investigation is relocation to an EU member state. We have made no decisions so far.

ODF 1.3 becomes OASIS standard

ODF file iconVersion 1.3 of OpenDocument Format for Office Applications (ODF) has been approved as an OASIS Committee Standard, Italo Vignoli writes on The Document Foundation (TDF) blog.

ODF is a free, open XML-based document file format for office applications for use for documents containing text, spreadsheets, charts and graphical elements. In addition,ODF is the native file format used by TDF’s free and open source LibreOffice productivity suite, as well as other free and open source suites such as Apache OpenOffice, whilst the format can also be handled by major proprietary office suites. Furthermore, ODF has been adopted by the UK government’s Open Standards Board for document exchange with citizens and other victims.

ODF 1.3 is an update to the international standard Version 1.2, which was approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as ISO/IEC 26300 (2015). The update was approved with 14 affirmative consents and no objections.

The most important new features of ODF 1.3 include digital signatures for documents and the OpenPGP-based encryption of XML documents, with improvements in areas such as change tracking and document security, additional details in the description of elements in first pages, text, numbers and charts.

The full ODF 1.3 Specification can be downloaded from OASIS website.

The new version of ODF has been funded by TDF.

Finally, it is hoped that the new ODF 1.3 will complete the process to update its existing ISO/IEC standard 26300 in early 2022.

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