Tag Archives: Linux

Mark Shuttleworth Closes Ubuntu Bug#1

Mark Shuttleworth has closed a long-standing Bug#1 on Launchpad. Launchpad is a project-hosting repository based on Bazaar VCS, and is used by Ubuntu developers to manage their codes and bugs. The Launchpad bug tracking system saw its first bug in August 2008, and it was more of a visionary target than a bug. It reads: “Microsoft has a majority market share”.

bug-1

The bug attracted many people towards Ubuntu, fueled discussions and played a key role in bringing together a group of people with a shared vision for the Ubuntu operating system. Today, Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro and has a thriving developer community. The premises under which this bug was filed have changed, and it was time for the bug to be removed from Launchpad. Shuttleworth also writes a comment on the bug, saying,

Android may not be my or your first choice of Linux, but it is without doubt an open source platform that offers both practical and economic benefits to users and industry. So we have both competition, and good representation for open source, in personal computing.

Today, personal computing has moved beyond PCs, and it includes a plethora of other devices that keep us connected to the Internet 24X7. Lots of responsibilities of the PC have been offloaded to these devices and while Microsoft still has a monopoly on the PC market, in the overall computing sphere, Linux based  platforms have emerged as strong contenders leaving Microsoft far behind in the race.

The closing of the bug also helps the Ubuntu ecosystem think in retrospect, where they are headed and how they have evolved from those early days. This bug will be remembered for its significance.

December 2012 Steam Survey Includes Linux

Gaming on Linux is getting more interesting by the day. Valve has updated its Steam December Survey to include Linux statistics. This is Valve’s first month with Linux and even though the Steam for Linux system is still in a beta stage, Linux users already account for 0.8% of total Steam users. This figure is expected to increase once Steam for Linux comes out of beta, and reaches more Linux distros. Nonetheless, this is a good start for Steam for Linux.

Steam_Logo

The Steam hardware and software survey is explained as,

Steam conducts a monthly survey to collect data about what kinds of computer hardware and software our customers are using. Participation in the survey is optional, and anonymous. The information gathered is incredibly helpful to us as we make decisions about what kinds of technology investments to make and products to offer.

In other statistics, Windows 7 64 bit is the leading operating system with more than 50% of the total user share and the favorite primary display resolution of Steam gamers is 1920×1080. While 60% of all Steam users use Mozilla Firefox, only 11.56% of them were found using Google Chrome, which is surprisingly low (lower than Internet Explorer at 19.82%) given Google Chrome’s market share.

Another interesting fact is that the number of Steam users on 64 bit versions of Ubuntu 12.10 and 12.04 are almost double that of 32 bit users (unlike Windows 7, where 64 bit users are four times of 32 bit users), which is probably for Physical Address Extension (PAE).

FSF Campaigns to Stop Restricted Boot

The free software foundation has started a campaign to prevent restricted boot from becoming an industry standard in hardware. If you were living under a rock lately, restricted boot is exactly the kind of evil that will kill the PC, as we know it. Restricted boot is being sold as UEFI and although it is marketed as a security feature, it is a well-devised mechanism to create a vendor lock-in for Windows 8. That means, if your PC is secured with UEFI 2.2, you will not be able to install any operating system whose bootloader is not signed.

Uefi-logo

Although the original EFI specification was developed by Intel, it was done with the Windows OS in mind. With this move, custom kernels will be a thing of the past, as the kernel must be signed with the developer’s private key and the OEM should ship its PC with the required key alongside the Microsoft key.

Currently, the campaign by FSF has gathered 40,000 signers who support the FSF in this movement, and want to rid the world of this evil. The campaign’s appeal page goes here, and it outlines plans for the next year.

Currently, Ubuntu Linux 12.10 supports UEFI secure boot by loading GRUB though a workaround, and then proceeding with the boot. Beside this workaround, Canonical also has its private key, which will be used on certified OEM PCs. From what it seems, you need to be a big corporation to be able to fiddle with an x86 PC now.

The Linux Foundation also announced back in October that it would start working on its own version of a minimal UEFI bootloader signed with Microsoft’s key. However, it is still waiting for Microsoft to give them a signed pre-bootloader.

Enlightenment 0.17 Finally Sees the Light of Day

Some software releases develop a notorious reputation for being in development for a prolonged period, so much that people almost forget about them. Enlightenment 0.17, also known as E17 is one such release, which has arrived after 12 years in development. To put things in perspective, that is how old the PlayStation 2 is!

Enlightenment has many advantages over other window managers. It is a full-fledged platform with libraries to create intriguing user interfaces rapidly. Known as the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL), this suite realizes a complete framework, with the window manager forming an integral, but not a decisive part.

The window manager is a lean, fast, modular and very extensible window manager for X11 and Linux. It is classed as a “desktop shell” providing the things you need to operate your desktop (or laptop), but is not a whole application suite. This covered launching applications, managing their windows and doing other system tasks like suspending, reboots, managing files etc.

enlightenment-foundation-libraries

The project has a huge growth potential as the Enlightenment Windows manager can work on a variety of devices (architectures). The next step should be packaging the release for various distros, which would facilitate a wider adoption. If this final step is not executed with care, this prolonged development effort will go to waste. Moreover, this step should come sooner for more people to be able to try out Enlightenment 17.

All the intricate details are well documented at this page. Also, check out the release announcement here.

EXT4 File-system Bug Affects Stable Linux Kernel

A recent file-system bug has been found with EXT4 that has made its way into the stable Linux kernel releases 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6. This EXT4 bug results in data-corruption and it is activated when the file-system is unmounted too frequently within a short period. It might also be triggered by frequent reboots, although the practical chances of that happening are relatively low.

Tux

The user reporting the bug writes,

The bug did really quite a lot of damage to my /home fs in only a few minutes of uptime, given how few files I wrote to it. What it could have done to a more conventional distro install with everything including /home on one file system, I shudder to think.

A detailed explanation of the issue is present in this LKML mail. It says that the trouble started with an EXT4 patch made in Kernel 3.6.2, which was later backported to Kernel 3.5 and 3.4 as well, spreading the problem further and further behind. There is no fix for this issue currently, and developers are working on a fix for the latest stable Linux kernel.

Here is the beauty of open source software development. A bug is found, and because the source is open for everyone to see and modify, people jump in to solve it as a community effort. Soon thereafter, a solution is found and the issue is fixed. This is unlike closed source programs, where you have to wait for the organization controlling the code to step up, modify the code and keep updating people about what it is doing. Moreover, in the world of closed software, you would not even know what went wrong to begin with, unless someone digs it up.

Valve to Kick off a Private Beta of Steam for Linux Next Week

Back in July, Valve started a blog and gave exciting news of Steam being ported over to Linux. This involved porting of Valve’s Steam client and some game titles over to Ubuntu Linux. On making the port, it was seen that Left4Dead 2 runs faster on Linux at a higher FPS, than on Windows. What started as “Steam’d Penguins“ back in July, is nearing its first milestone now, with Steam for Linux ready for internal testing from next week, and due for a private beta testing sometime mid-October.

Steam_Logo

In a recent blog-post titled “External Beta News“, the Linux blog at Valve has announced,

Things have been going well. We will be having an internal beta starting next week and a private external beta for 1,000 users sometime in October.

The internal beta will run only until next week, after which the Steam client will be released for a private beta. This private beta will be limited to 1000 users, and it is not confirmed whether the availability is on a first-come first-serve basis. However, Valve has talked about a signup page for the external beta, the link for which will be announced later.

As Valve brings Steam to Linux, gaming on Linux will become more exciting with native games being developed exclusively for Linux. Going further, Valve must also release Linux versions of its own game titles to support its Steam client. This porting of Steam will boost gaming on Linux, and create a new ecosystem for gamers and game-publishers.

First Cross Platform Trojan Affecting Linux and Mac OS X Revealed

Russian security firm Dr.Web has identified a new Trojan named BackDoor.Wirenet.1 which runs on both Linux as well as Mac OS X. This is the first ever cross platform Trojan that has been discovered to affect both of the aforementioned operating systems.

At the moment, a lot of information is not available on this malware. But the research is going on and it is said to steal passwords from all of the popular browsers such as Safari, Chrome, Opera and Chromium. It also steals passwords from applications such as Thunderbird, SeaMonkey and Pidgin.

According to Dr.Web, when executed, the Trojan copies itself to the user’s home directory – that is % home%/WIFIADAPT.app.app in MAC OS X and ~/WIFIADAPT in Linux.

Cross platform Trojans are not rare. Trojans that affect Windows and Macs have been identified in the past. A recently discovered Trojan used to check which Operating System the affected user was running and downloaded the payload accordingly. Another one was discovered in May that used unpatched Java vulnerability to open backdoors in Windows and Mac. But as I mentioned before, this is the first time that a cross platform Trojan affecting Mac and Linux has been discovered.  We will be updating this article as more details are released.

Via : Hacker News

After Sitting on a Vulnerability for a Month, Nvidia Finally Fixes Its GPU Driver

The relation between Nvidia and Linux worsens each day, as Linus Torvalds spills hatred for Nvidia publicly. He even went to the extent of uttering the f-word for Nvidia (with a finger gesture), in a public presentation. That should tell us enough, and it is a known fact that every Linux user has had bad experiences with Nvidia’s driver support for Linux, at some point of time.

nvidia

While Nvidia provides the best closed-source graphics driver as compared to AMD, it is not good enough. That is because; AMD provides better open-source graphics drivers and some acceptable documentation too. Nvidia only allows its proprietary driver to be reverse engineered as part of the Nouveau project. To make things worse, the Nvidia proprietary driver for Linux just earned fame that is even more notorious.

The proprietary graphics driver released by Nvidia had a serious security flaw, and it was reported to Nvidia more than a month ago. However, Nvidia decided to ignore the vulnerability completely and did not act upon it until someone went public with it. After a month, David Airlie, who is a well-known Linux developer, made the exploit public. It was then that Nvidia came out of its reluctance and decided to do something.

The vulnerability allowed root access, and it was blocked by denying user-space access to the registers which could be programmed to redirect the VGA window unwantedly. The vulnerability affected not only Linux x86 and x86_64 drivers, it also made FreeBSD and Solaris potentially vulnerable. Nvidia has released a new version of its driver for Unix- version 304.32, and patched older versions.

Trolling to Get Faster Answers in the World of Linux?

How would you, a seasoned red wine connoisseurs feel if you were told by someone, that the Chteau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac does not taste anything exquisite? Well, that was a bad start, and I don’t know how wine enthusiasts react to people like these. Perhaps they think of people like these as being too crude, and just ignore them. I have no idea myself, and by the way, I picked that wine brand name from a list at AskMen. But here is what I have seen happening day in, day out in the world of Linux, and this discussion on Reddit hits the bull’s-eye.

So, the story goes like this: You are unaware of how to do something on Linux, you go ahead and ask a straight question online. You will be surprised to see that people do answer your question, but they won’t exactly answer your query. Instead, they will ask you to go learn five other thing surrounding and including what you wanted to know about, and then get an idea. But then, if you would simply have cursed Linux for making it so hard for you, you would have seen tens of thousands of people come to the rescue, offering you more than one way of doing the same thing.

duty_calls

The world of Linux has had this problem for years. Most people are not too helpful, and the kind of help you get is not very easy to follow either. But then, why does trolling Linux users work? Why do they come in swarms to defend Linux, if you simply curse Linux for being unable to do something?

Here is what I think. When people ask really simple things, they are told to go learn, because Linux gurus see these people as a prospective user, and with this kind of help, they might learn more, and get interested in Linux even more. If along with your question, you also post what you have tried so far, people will take even more interest in you and will definitely help you. Though, looking for a rote solution is like getting homework help, and while you get your stuff done, you do not have any idea of what to do the next time you need help on a variant of that problem. Trolling is like getting homework help, and you are not helping yourself by trolling.

What do you think? Does trolling for answers on Linux work simply because people want to prove that Linux is better?

(Image via XKCD)

A Script to Save Cached Flash Videos on Linux

It happens so many times, just so many times — we watch a YouTube video in the browser and then want to have a copy of the same. But saving it directly from the browser requires addons/extensions, which may not be available instantly; actually, Chrome doesn’t need a restart after extension installation and you may be able to save the cached video instantly. Or may be not — I don’t know because I don’t use Chrome, but Firefox and I know this script works very well as I use it quite often :-)
Also, it is quite possible that an addon/extension is not able to get the video from cache, and starts downloading again (makes no sense actually).

The flashplayer is very smart, it deletes the file as soon as you’re done with watching the video, but thanks to Linux, we can still recover the video from memory. It’s a property of Linux that files don’t get deleted immediately. When a file is deleted, but is open by a program, the file is not removed from memory/disk (but is not visible in the file and directory listings) and can be easily recovered from the /proc virtual filesystem. I’ve written a small script to help this problem and it is available under GNU GPL license at https://github.com/nileshgr/utilities/blob/master/general/flashdownload.sh which uses this feature to copy the videos from memory into another location so that you can have a copy. A copy is pasted below as well.

#!/bin/bash

# Script by Nilesh Govindrajan <[email protected]>

# Saves cached flash video from any running browsers (that use libflashplayer.so)
# File will be saved as the random string with extension .flv in the current directory.

for p in $(pgrep -f libflashplayer.so -U `id -u`)
do
    for f in $(find /proc/$p/fd -type l)
    do
	filename=$(readlink $f)
	echo $filename | grep /tmp/Flash
	if [ $? -eq 0 ]
	then
	    dstfname=$(echo $filename | cut -d' ' -f1 | awk -F/ '{ print $NF }')
	    cp $f ${dstfname}.flv
	fi
    done
done

It should be quite clear from the script that this will work only if you use a browser which uses the libflashplayer.so plugin. I think the binary versions of Google Chrome packs in a flashplayer by default, and hence, might not work on it.

How to use this script:

After you’ve finished watching a video, do not close the window. Open the terminal and execute this script; see the example below.
Suppose the video I watched had filename FlashXXXX when cached to your system, then on running the script, you should get FlashXXXX.flv in the directory where you ran the script.

$ cd
$ wget https://raw.github.com/nileshgr/utilities/master/general/flashdownload.sh
$ chmod +x flashdownload.sh
$ ./flashdownload.sh

As stated earlier, you should get FlashXXXX.flv in your home directory (because that’s where the script was run in the example).
Note: This script will save all flash videos (ads too!), so you’ll have to watch whatever gets saved to make sure you got what you want, and then delete the rest.