Life without Windows or OS X

GNU/Linux is quite possibly the most important free software achievement since the original Space War, or, more recently, Emacs. It has developed into an operating system for business, education, and personal productivity. GNU/Linux is no longer only for UNIX wizards who sit for hours in front of a glowing console. Are you thinking about switching to Linux and want to learn how to use it? Have you been using GNU/Linux for some time and want to learn even more? This is the place for you.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Trump went from 'America first' to saving jobs in China.

* opinion

Back in 2016, the security firm Kryptowire said tens of thousands of mostly inexpensive Android phones, including the BLU R1 HD sold at Amazon from a Miami-based company that was selling phones that were secretly transmitting text messages, contact lists and call logs to servers back in China. It was all over the web so it was not part of any "FAKE NEWS" campaign. The word was the BLU phones came preloaded with firmware managed by a company named Shanghai Adups Technology Co. It was discovered the data mining tool called Adups that had been living inside hundreds of millions of devices produced by more than 40 manufacturers. ZTE claims that none of their devices in the U.S. have ever had the Adups software installed on them. Blu subsequently removed the offending software. The Blu phones removed Amazon eventually were put back on Amazon.

Huawei and Z.T.E (Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment Corporation) phones are banned by Pentagon. Shouldn't that tell us something? Huawei and  ZTE devices are not sold by retailers on Canadian military bases around the world. I watched on TV  earlier this year that the CIA, NSA, FBI along with the Defense Intelligence Agency said that Americans should not use phones by those brands because of the risk they could be spied on by the Chinese. ZTE is owned 33 percent by Chinese-government-owned enterprises, had been fined $1.2 billion last year after it was found to be violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

A little while ago ZTE said it had halted major operations after the US government moved to ban US companies from selling software or components to ZTE. But Sunday, Trump tweeted that he and Chinese President for life were working together to save ZTE. "Too many jobs in China lost," Trump tweeted. "Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!"

Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cybersecurity threat,” Adam Schiff, senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, posted on Twitter. “You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs.

"We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing," Trump May 2016 Fort Wayne, Indiana. Trump went on to say he was not "angry at China," but with U.S. leaders whom he accused of being "grossly incompetent."

“China’s upset because of the way Donald Trump is talking about trade with China. They’re ripping us off, folks, it’s time. I’m so happy they’re upset.” Trump Staten Island, N.Y.  April 2016.

This is yet another example of the Trump Administration talking a big game on national security but rolling over when it comes to standing up to "strong men" in the east.

In 2018 we got Ransomware attacks, Corporate espionage. Massive data breaches and Election meddling to name a few. The cybersecurity threats facing the United States is at an all time, leaving government agencies and private companies needing leadership from the top. So why would Trump look too eliminated the position of cybersecurity czar on the NSC (National Security Council) this week? It was in 2009 that Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the world that "The US is under cyber-attack virtually all the time, every day"  That same year Chinese cyber thugs broke into computers at Google, and Russian cyber-thieves stole tens of millions of dollars from Citibank.

Since 2009

  • Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Beijing target U.S. companies as they're interested in stealing information on US companies.
  • Remember "The Interview"? Pyongyang is most famous for the massive data breaches against  Sony Pictures Entertainment before the release of its movie in 2012. 
  • In March of this year, six days after a ransomware cyberattack, Atlanta, Georgia officials were filling out forms by hand.

According to some, the Trump administration is worried U.S. farmers will vote against the Republican party, hurting their efforts to hold on to the House and Senate in the midterms. So maybe China has suggested it will hold off on the agricultural tariffs if the U.S. goes easy on ZTE. I saw last month Trump kind of threw out there the idea of saving the farmers with new subsidy payments, but that idea was quickly shot down by Trumps fellow Republican lawmakers.

When it comes cybersecurity, we cannot compromise on analyzing, monitoring, protecting and responding to known vulnerabilities, attacks, and exploitations from enemies foreign and domestic.

The White House insists that the Trump is defending U.S. interests there forcefully, behind closed doors. Seems for my eyes he's just laying there and taking it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cambridge Analytica under investigation from FBI: report

Cambridge Analytica under investigation from FBI: report

By CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

MAY 16, 2018

After earning the ire of Facebook's 2 billion users, political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica is now under investigation from the FBI and Justice Department, according to a report.

The consultancy, which worked for Republicans including Sen. Ted Cruz and President Trump, has swirled around the edges of the investigation into alleged Russian meddling, though the New York Times reported Tuesday that there is a probe into Cambridge itself.

more here

Cryptojackers on Google Play: How to Avoid Being a Victim to This Malware

Cryptojackers on Google Play: How to Avoid Being a Victim to This Malware

Christian Cawley  April 26, 2018

Security researchers at Kaspersky have identified various apps and games in the Google Play store that have a secret function: they’re using your Android device’s processor to mine cryptocurrencies.

Worried that your phone’s recent slowdown might be because it’s getting old? Well, hold that upgrade: it could be down to Android cryptojacking. Here’s what’s going on, and what you can do to stop it.

more here

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Mesa 3D Graphics Library

An Open Source 3D graphics library for all Linux and UNIX-like operating systems

Mesa is an open source collection of three-dimensional (3D) graphics libraries with the main goal of implementing various APIs (Application Programming Interface) and the OpenGL specification under Linux/UNIX operating systems. It is geared towards 3D computer graphics, hardware-accelerated 3D rendering and general-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU). In addition, the project also provides an implementation of software rendering.

more here

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mesa 18.0.3 Released With A Handful Of Fixes

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa

While Mesa 18.1 is coming soon, the current stable release series for now is Mesa 18.0 with the 18.0.3 being released today as the newest point release.

more here

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Steam Link 6 mouths later...

The only devices the Steam Link can be compared to are android TV boxes. The box itself isn't too much bigger than a few packs of cards and runs silently. The Steam Link software runs a custom Linux firmware based on kernel 3.8 and glibc 2.19. First Steam Link review here.

The Steam Link interface is very simple. It boots by default into "Big Picture Mode" Again a very simple interface, especially who want a Netflix like experience. Even months later I cannot speak highly enough of how well games stream to this box. At the time of this review, I am working on Tomb Raider GOTY Edition (2013), and it streams in 50 FPS at 1080p on my 37" LED HDTV.

As you can see below, I do not have flagship PC, in fact, it is pretty mediocre, and middle to lower end of the road, and the Steam link works great. Feral Interactive released Tomb Raider on Linux with support for the open source display driver called Mesa. For those who don't know Mesa is an open source collection of 3D graphics libraries. It is geared towards 3D computer graphics, hardware-accelerated 3D rendering and general-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU). Mesa can be used in many environments from complete hardware acceleration for modern graphics processing units to traditional software emulation.

My host computer build:

OS : Kubuntu 18.04 LTS+Steam Client (1.0.0.54)
CPU: Advanced Micro Devices RYZEN 3 1200 4-Core 3.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Turbo)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon PULSE RX 560 4GB video card [AMD/ATI] Baffin [Polaris11]
RAM: Patriot Viper Elite 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4 2400MHz  (PVE48G240C5KRD)
MOTHERBOARD: ASRock AB350M Pro4 BIOS 3.40 (2018/1/10) 
OS STORAGE:  Intel 545s Series 2.5" 256GB (SSDSC2K W256G8X1)
Secondary STORAGE: WB Blue 1TB 7200 RPM (WD10EZEX)
GUI: KDE 5.12.4
Display Server: X.Org (1.19.6)
Driver: Mesa 3D 18.0.0 (Vulkan 1.0.57)

Game: Tomb Raider

Resolution 1920x1080
Motion Blur ON
Screen Effects ON
Texture Quality ULTRA
Texture Filter TRILINEAR
Hair Quality NULL
Antialiasing disabled
Shadows NORMAL
Shadow Resolution NORMAL
Level of details ULTRA
Reflections HIGH
Depth of Field NORMAL
SSAO NORMAL
Post processing ON
Tessellation NULL
High Precision OFF

It should also be noted that the Steam Link has a fast ethernet port or a 100 Mbps port as opposed to a gigabit port (1000 Mbps) which is up to ten times faster.I'm using a powerline ethernet adapter for my connection, which has slightly higher latency but less variance than my Netgear Nighthawk 2600AC. Input lag doesn't really seem to exist 90% of the time. I have only had a dropped connection a handful of times despite using it for hours at a time. You can choose three options for streaming quality: quick, balanced, or beautiful. Quick will ensure you get a clear image without stutter. Beautiful will give you a high-quality image, but if your connection isn't fast enough it may stutter. Balanced tries to give you a pretty picture without stutter. Most of the time I have chosen Beautiful when connected hardwired and Balanced connected wirelesses. In both cases, the picture quality is perfectly fine. I've been able to play without any noticeable degradation in graphics quality.

RECOMMENDED: Nvidia 1000 series graphics cards for Steam Linux gaming.

Note: Steam Link devices will only boot with a kernel signed by Valve. If you attempt to replace the kernel with an unsigned binary you will void your warranty and render your Steam Link unbootable.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Kubuntu 18.04 LTS

*This is not intended to be a formal review 

What is Kubuntu?

Kubuntu is a special version of Ubuntu with the (KDE) K Desktop Environment.It is an official Ubuntu flavor that features KDE Plasma desktop.Since 2004, the Kubuntu teams mission has been to provide the latest stable KDE software, which includes Plasma desktop environment on top of a stable Ubuntu core.

What is  K Desktop Environment (KDE)? 

K desktop environment (KDE) is a graphical user interface (GUI). The KDE project was first launched by Matthias Ettrich in 1996. KDE is simple for Windows OS users. KDE is currently used with GNU+Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and GNU/LinuxPPC. KDE, is not only a desktop environment, is actually a collection of applications, one of which is the desktop environment itself.KDE is a platform, which is mainly coded in C++ and includes the mature bindings for other programming languages such as the: Python Ruby (Korundum, built on top of QtRuby) C# Perl.

The Kubuntu team has released its latest version of KDE distro called Kubuntu 18.04 LTS codenamed “Bionic Beaver” and the release is powered by the Linux 4.15 kernel. The update brings support for new hardware from Intel, AMD, and other manufacturers. This includes features like AMD’s secure memory encryption, MD drivers for RAID enhancement, and better power management for systems using SATA Link Power Management.

The desktop image allows you to try Kubuntu without changing your computer at all, and at your option to install it permanently later. This type of image is what most people will want to use. You will need at least 384MB of RAM to install from this image. There are two images available, each for a different type of computer:

32-bit PC (i386) desktop image
This includes most legacy machines with Intel/AMD/etc type processors and almost all computers that run Microsoft Windows.

64-bit PC (x86-64) desktop image
For almost all PCs today choose computers based on the AMD64 or Intel64. If you have a non-64-bit processor made by AMD or Intel, or if you need full support for 32-bit code, use the i386 images instead.

Both ISOs are hybrid so you can write them on either a USB flash drive or a DVD disc. When booting the Live DVD, users will be asked if they want to try the live session of start installing the ubuntu on their computers. Choosing the live mode will allow users to test drive Kubuntu without installing anything on their computer.

Kubuntu 18.04.0 LTS download here.

Kubuntu 18.04 LTS ships with the KDE Plasma 5.12.4 LTS desktop environment by default, accompanied by the KDE Applications 17.12.3 and KDE Frameworks 5.44.0 software suites. A normal Kubuntu 18.04 LTS installation ships with numerous apps K3b, KTorrent, KDEConnect, Falkon (previously QupZilla), Krita, latte-dock, and Okular. Non-KDE applications include LibreOffice and Firefox VLC now replaces Dragonplayer as the default media player and Cantata Qt5 music player replaces the KDE4 based Amarok as the default. You get the Muon package manager as well as an alternative to the Plasma Discover graphical package manager.

Test system:

CPU: AMD RYZEN 3 1200 4-Core 3.1 GHz (3.4 GHz Turbo)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon PULSE RX 560 4GB video card
RAM: Patriot Viper Elite 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4 2400MHz  (PVE48G240C5KRD)
MOTHERBOARD: ASRock AB350M Pro4 BIOS 3.40 (2018/1/10)
STORAGE:  Intel 545s Series 2.5" 256GB (SSDSC2K W256G8X1)+WB Blue 1TB 7200 RPM (WD10EZEX)
SOUND: Onboard
NETWORK:  Onboard (wired gigabit Ethernet)
PSU:    EVGA 450 B3, 80 Plus BRONZE 450W, Fully Modular
CASE:   MasterBox Lite 3 (MCW-L3S2-KN5N)
OPTICAL DRIVE: ASUS DVD-ROM(DVD-E818AAT/BLK/B/GE)
Case fan: 3 be quiet! BL070 SILENTWINGS 3 PWM

Long ago, GNU/Linux users were expected to install new hardware manually, but GNU/Linux in 2018 offers automatic hardware detection at system boot time, as well as on-the-fly configuration of pluggable devices whether the device is a graphics card, a digital camera, or a Bluetooth android phone. Suspend & resume worked just fine.

The Kubuntu 18.04 LTS desktop is classic Plasma. The widget button is on the right side. The overall theme is Breeze, but the desktop theme is Breeze Dark. Kubuntu is an easy-to-use, full-featured desktop operating system that is very familiar to Windows users of all experience levels. Kubuntu 18.04 LTS comes with everything you need to browse the internet, instant message, e-mail, share and writes documents, work with digital photos, listen to music, play games and much more. KDE is, in my opinion, is one of the most advanced desktop environment around.

While KDE is the most polished in appearance when compared to other GNU/Linux desktops, it can be quite resource-hungry with its many desktop effects. However, one option in KDE is to run it with the Application Dashboard launcher.It is the clean, well-organized and clutter-free dashboard. The search bar helps you to just type in what you are looking for and get the results thrown in a second. in some ways is similar in appearance to the GNOME 3.x shell and to Ubuntu’s Unity. Application Dashboard launcher with its large icons and search can be used with a touchscreen and is great for smaller devices such as netbooks and tablets. You can switch between launchers by simply right-clicking on the 'start' button and choosing the launcher you want. KDE also allows you to define the functions of the mouse buttons, how windows behave, and how to deal with new devices that are plugged in.  With its Plasma Workspaces, users can also add a variety of widgets to the desktop.

Kubuntu 18.04 LTS also includes a hardware driver installer GUI that lets you install both open-source and proprietary drivers for the GPUs & the Network card. I have not installed the Radeon rx 560 proprietary drivers and have been using the open-source one that Kubuntu uses by default. So far everything has worked extremely well for me.

You may have missed and didn’t check “Enable Restricted Formats” while installing Kubuntu 18.04 LTS. If not, it will not install the required multimedia codecs and you will have to install it manually.

To install Kubuntu Restricted Codecs


Open up a terminal and run the following commands:

sudo apt-get update 


Then

sudo apt-get install kubuntu-restricted-extras

In addition, in order to play DVDs, you need to install libdvdcss by entering the following in a terminal:

sudo apt-get install libavcodec-extra

To enable encrypted DVD playback, you have to install… “libdvd-pkg”.

sudo apt-get install libdvd-pkg  

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

*Patent and copyright laws operate differently depending on which country you are in. Please obtain legal advice if you are unsure whether a particular patent or restriction applies to a media format you wish to use in your country.


Note:
  • Samba-common is not installed.
  • Muon lets you customize everything you need except for drivers.
  • Ubiquity offers the choice to encrypt home, but choosing it gives an error.
The latest Long Term Support (LTS) version of the Kubuntu operating system for desktop PCs and laptops, Kubuntu 18.04 LTS supported with security and maintenance updates, until April 2021.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Windows 10 Installation Settings Violate Local Laws, Say Brazil Prosecutors

Reporting by Brad Brooks and Aluísio Alves in Sao Paulo; Editing by Peter Cooney

© Thomson Reuters 2018

Federal prosecutors in Brazil asked a court on Wednesday to force Microsoft to change its default installation process for Windows 10, which they said violated several local laws by collecting user data without their "express consent."

Microsoft has faced criticism in the European Union and elsewhere about the installation settings of Windows 10 and users' apparent lack of control over the company's processing of their data.

Microsoft's press office in Brazil said in an emailed statement it was not officially notified about the prosecutors' lawsuit, so it could not comment on it. The company underscored that the protection of users' data was a top priority and said it was ready to clarify any questions prosecutors may have.