Canonical Joins The Open Invention Network

The OIN has just announced a new Association Program and Canonical is its first member under this program.

The  Open Invention Network (OIN) is a  company that acquires  patents and licenses them  royalty free to entities which, in turn, agree not to assert their own patents against  Linux or Linux-related applications.

Now that Canonical is an OIN member, it will help and support the group in resolving patent disputes. Canonical sheds some more light on this job saying,

By becoming an OIN Associate Member, we are supporting the broad OIN mission and its commitment to enable and protect Linux’s advancement.

Keith Bergelt,  who is also the CEO of the organization leads it and is an expert in FOSS. He is a specialist in patents and licensing. His activities have saved Linux from the bindings of harsh Microsoft anti-Linux patents over the past few years.

Both OIN and Canonical are highlighting the “Freedom of Action” they wish to achieve through this association. With this freedom, they wish to unite companies, individuals and groups who are committed to improving Linux.

Canonical is one of the most powerful associates any open source network can have and this association can turn up favorably for the Open Source community, Linux in particular.


(Read more about the OIN here)

Why Was SHOUTCast Radio Removed From the Latest VLC 1.1.0 Release?

VLC 1.1.0 is here with a host of functionalities and feature improvements. It boasts a 40% increase in HD video playback performance and an added support for playing the latest VP8 encoded WebM video format. You can read  this post to know more about the new features in VLC 1.1.0.

Features apart, you will also find something missing in the latest release. One feature which has been pulled back from the latest VLC release is support for the SHOUTCast Radio service. The service is explained as,

SHOUTcast Radio is a web site which provides a directory of radio stations available on the Internet. It provides categorizations of such stations, so it is easier to find one that matches your interest. According to user’s feedback, the integration of such directory inside VLC is one of the best features of the software.

So what happened to the best feature that it is no more there? Apparently, the AOL Corporation is not too happy about the availability of SHOUTCast Radio on VLC and wants it removed.

AOL repeatedly demanded VLC developers of removal of the SHOUTCast Radio or changing the licensing of VLC to a form not compatible with free software. This license forced VLC to bundle the SHOUTCast Radio toolbar along with its installation package. This toolbar is marked as an adware and the VLC developers obviously did not agree.

Taken aback by this change, the developers are urging people to talk to AOL and undo this change. Till that time, they are providing “icecast directory” as an Open Source alternative to SHOUTCast.


VLC Media Player v1.1.0 Released – GPU Decoding, WebM, Extensions and More

VideoLanClient (VLC) has been updated to v1.1.0. This new release, which has been codenamed ‘The Luggage’, introduces some much needed improvements to VLC, including support for GPU accelerated decoding. As a result of this, VLC now performs significantly better while playing high-definition (HD) videos. The program code has also been optimized to make VLC leaner and faster. In fact, according to the VideoLanProject, VLC 1.1.0 can provide up to 40% speed-ups, in HD resolutions.


Back in May, we had reviewed the VLC 1.1.0 Release Candidate. Obviously, there haven’t been any significant changes since then. The Luggage introduces encoding and decoding support for WebM and adds a new add-ons and script framework. All the add-ons will fall into two main categories – content add-ons, which will be integrated in the playlist and functionalities extensions, like metadata searching on the web, or subtitles look-ups.

For now, the GPU acceleration works well only on nVidia’s graphics cards due to problems with ATI drivers for Windows and lack of developer access to Intel hardware supporting GPU decoding.

VLC 1.1.0 can be downloaded from here.

How to Hide Porn in Linux? This is Hilarious and Ingenious at the Same Time.

A large part of this world believes that the Internet has been successful because of the availability of free porn. Though, it is one thing to have porn on your computer and another thing to hide it like a pro.


The folks at Reddit continue to amaze me. This thread at Reddit tells us how to hide porn effectively using Linux. I will quote the exact talk excerpt for you to have a good ROFL moment.

<Pryoidain> What are you trying to hide?
<asaph> Nothing that needs encryption, I just want it to be tricky to find.
<Pryoidain> got a separate /tmp partion?
<asaph> of course.
<Pryoidain> unmount it then copy shit to /tmp. It will actually copy it to the /tmp directory on the ROOT filesystem. then when you remount /tmp, the directory becomes a pointer, pointing to the real one, but without removing any of your files in the physical directory on the root system.
<Pryoidain> No one will ever find them unless /tmp fails to mount, or they’re looking for it. even if they’re looking for it, they’ll see them in /tmp and assume their garbage, that is if you name them right.
<asaph> …that’s fucking genius.
<Pryoidain> I know, I’ve been hiding my porn under the /boot directory for about 3 years now.

The talk goes on to explain how effective the method is in hiding stuff you want to remain unseen. Now, that is what I call geekiness and it is the best abuse of the Linux file system. Worried about the files appearing on search? Well, another solution talks of doing a chmod 700 on the directory. See the thread here.

So, what is your preferred method of hiding porn? Believe me; I do not want to know.

SystemRescueCD Releases Version 1.5.6 With a new GParted

SystemRescueCD, as the name suggests, is an excellent system rescue utility. It is actually a Linux LiveCD based on Gentoo and has most of the utilities used to recover data from a crashed hard disk or partition.

SystemRescueCD is to data recovery what BackTrack is to hacking. It gives us an array of in built tools for partition recovery as well as backup. It supports the Ext2, Ext3 and Ext4, ReiserFS, VFAT,  XFS, JFS, NTFS and Btrfs file systems. I have used SystemRescueCD occasionally to take image backups of my partition.

The latest version of SystemRescueCD features the 2.6.34 release of the Linux kernel and has the latest version of the Gnome Partition Editor (GParted), version 0.6.0. This new GParted allows support for partitions with sector size greater than 512 bytes. An improved Ethernet driver has also been included for a better network support. This change log will tell us more about the new features of this version.

Follow this link to download SystemRescueCD, version 1.5.6. The Live CD is licensed under GPLv2 and is an essential system recovery software.


Moonlight 3.0 Preview 7 Released

After the release of Moonlight 2.0 about a year ago, Moonlight 3.0 is well on its way with the announcement of the availability of the seventh preview of Moonlight 3.0.

Moonlight is an open-source implementation of Microsoft’s Silverlight for Linux and other Unix based OS.

The Preview 7 of Moonlight brings about a lot of new features although they need some polishing:

  • Roughly API complete to SL4.0 beta. Next preview will be API compatible with SL 4.0 RTW.
  • Video capture support, but support for pixel formats is sparse.
  • SSE2 fast paths for gradient fills in the embedded pixman/cairo, this improves performance significantly as  some people seem to have discovered the use of gradients.
  • Fixes for chrome support and to curl bridge.
  • Several html bridge fixes.
  • Element to element binding.
  • Client HTTP stack
  • Cascading styles are now supported
  • New right-click dialog.

You can get Moonlight 3.0 Preview 7 from

Avant Window Navigator Gets A New 3D Style [Video]

Avant Window Manager (AWN) Lucido has been updated with an cool new 3D effect thanks to its developer Alberto.

Check out the video given below: (Click here if you cannot see the embedded video for some reason)

I prefer panels to docks but if were to use a dock, this would be what I use. What about you?

You can get this new AWN effect through the AWN Lucido PPA. To install AWN Lucido in Ubuntu, you can refer to this article.

Lubuntu Adds Indicator Applet

Lubuntu, the LXDE based Ubuntu variant, did not make it to Lucid Lynx but it seems like it is set for a good debut with Maverick Meerkat.

Lubuntu developer, Julien Lavergne, have announced in the Lubuntu mailing list that the Indicator Applet will make an  appearance  in Lubuntu 10.10.

The indicator applet is the envelop that you see in the top panel in Ubuntu 10.04. It is introduced in Ubuntu 10.04 to tidy up the desktop by having the IM client, email client, microblogging client etc. under one icon.

This is what the indicator applet will look like in Lubuntu according to the image posted by Julien Lavergne:

By default the indicator applet will not be enabled by default due to memory considerations. (After all Lubuntu is meant to be light weight).

The indicator applet is not available yet but Julien Lavergne says that it will be available soon in either the Lubuntu PPA or the Maverick repo.

[via: OMG! Ubuntu!]

Transmission 2.0 Released with Improved Features

Transmission is the most popular and a widely used bit-torrent platform available for the Linux platform. Transmission has touched a new milestone with the release of version 2.0.

Transmission was born nearly five years ago and many people would look down upon it because it could reach only version 2.0 in these five years. We must remember here that, this is a community driven project and is not able to release regular updates and push fast releases. Though, it has already gained millions of users and has a strong user’s base by now.

Transmission  reveled  in its light user interface though, in the wake of recent demand for a feature rich interface, it is walking the footsteps of other torrent clients. It being the only torrent client available by default on many Linux distributions, this new Transmission will be loved by people.

Charles Kerr, the developer of Transmission talked to Torrent Freak on Transmission 2.0 saying,

We’ve profiled the code for CPU bottlenecks and removed them. Startup, peer management, blocklists, and verifying local data are all faster. Transmission 2.0 is also smarter about detecting and handling network lag.

Given the success Transmission enjoys on Linux and Mac, it is also aiming for the Windows platform. Though, there is a serious lack of developers to work on this field and an even tougher competition for Transmission to stand a chance.


Linux Version Of Unreal IRC Servers Contained Trojans Since 2009

In a startling revelation, the administrators of  UnrealIRCD, one of the most popular IRC servers revealed that the Linux version of UnreadlIRCd version contained a backdoor in it. The backdoor could be executed by user, regardless of security privileges on the server. To rub salt on the wounds, the file was replaced on certain mirrors, way back in November 2009 and went unnoticed till yesterday.

The backdoor works by examining and parsing any incoming packets, looking specifically at the string “AB”. Any Linux command, followed by the string “AB” would be parsed and executed using system() function call, making it a very dangerous combo in the hands of a malicious user.

The administrators state that the following versions of UnrealIRCD are safe:

  • Official  precompiled  Windows (SSL and non-ssl) binaries
  • CVS versions
  • 3.2.8 and any earlier versions are not affected
  • Any Unreal3.2.8.1.tar.gz downloaded BEFORE November 10 2009 should be safe

Verifying that the version you have is not the backdoor version:

There are couple of ways to verify that you have legitimate version –

  • Calculate the MD5 sum

Running ‘md5sum Unreal3.2.8.1.tar.gz’  will calculate the md5 sum: The official version has a md5 of 7b741e94e867c0a7370553fd01506c66 , while the Backdoored version has a md5 of  752e46f2d873c1679fa99de3f52a274d

  • Examine struct.h h

Running  grep DEBUG3_DOLOG_SYSTEM include/struct.h will perform a regex search for the pattern.  If it outputs two lines, then you’re running the backdoored/trojanized version.  If it outputs nothing, then the version is clean.

What to do if you’re running the backdoored version ?

If the above steps indicate you have a backdoor version, then following steps must be taken:

Verified md5sums

Below are the verified md5 checksums:

  • 7b741e94e867c0a7370553fd01506c66 for Unreal3.2.8.1.tar.gz
  • 5a6941385cd04f19d9f4241e5c912d18 for   Unreal3.2.8.1.exe
  • a54eafa6861b6219f4f28451450cdbd3 for  Unreal3.2.8.1-SSL.exe

Could anything have been done to prevent this ?

Perhaps. Fact that the md5sum was published on the site, and and yet nothing was done indicates that nobody bothered to verify the md5sum. You might argue that md5checksums could be altered, but this would be the case if the server was broken into, but in this case, the source files were altered, so the md5sum difference would have shown up.

The files could’ve been signed using PGP, but again, not sure how many people would be bothered to verify the signatures.

Response from UnrealIRCD team

The UnrealIRCd admins have come out full with a full disclosure, and they should be applauded for doing that, rather than covering up the matter. They have released an advisory, so keep an eye for any updates to this file. They have also stated that they will start PGP/GPG signing of releases.

Learnings from the incident

Most of these have been said  ad nauseam, yet it needs to be repeated:

  • Never download files from unverified sources.
  • Always rely on files packaged by your distribution’s package manager.
  • If you’re downloading sources, ensure that you’ve verified the authenticity. Most publish the md5/SHA1 checksums,  if there’s any deviation then do inform the site admins.