First time accepted submitter ectoman writes "A third party steps into a financial transaction to make sure all parties exchange funds at the same time and as expected. Can you patent this process? What if the third party is a computer? Rob Tiller, vice president and general counsel for Red Hat, details a recent court ruling on this very matter—one that has critical implications for the future of software patents, and one that divided the judges involved. Tiller writes that: 'The judges mostly agreed that the idea of managing settlement risk with a third party was abstract such that by itself it could not be patented. They differed, though, on whether using a general purpose computer for managing settlement risk meant that the patents avoided invalidity based on abstraction.' Interestingly, some judges suggested that a computer becomes a 'new machine' every time it loads different software."
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itwbennett writes "Whoever said 'everyone has to start somewhere' has clearly never tried contributing to an open source project — the Linux Kernel development team in particular is known for its savagery. But if you're determined to donate your time and talents, there are some things you can do to get off on the right foot. Of course you should pick something you're interested in and that you use. Check, and double check. You should also research the project, learn about the process for contributing, and do your utmost to avoid asking questions that you can find the answers to. But beyond that there are some hallmarks of beginner-friendly open source projects like Drupal, Python, and LibreOffice — namely, a friendly and active community, training and mentorship programs, and a low barrier to entry."
Blug_fred writes "For the second edition, today is the time to celebrate Culture Freedom Day. While not as popular as HFD or SFD, celebrating Free Culture involves finding Free Culture artists, inviting them to your place and having them perform, display or talk about what their creation(s). Of course you can always simply project a couple of Free Culture movies and launch a discussion about their business models. Either way you can find all the happening for today here on the map and we sincerely hope there will be something of interest near you."
dp619 writes "The tactic of patenting open source software to guard against patent trolls and the weaponization of corporate patent portfolios is gaining momentum in the FOSS community. Organizations including the Open Innovation Network, Google and Red Hat have built defensive patent portfolios (the latter two are defending their product lines). This approach has limitations. Penn State law professor Clark Asay writes in an Outercurve Foundation blog examining the trend, 'Patenting FOSS may help in some cases, but the nature of FOSS development itself may mean that patenting some collaboratively developed inventions is inherently more difficult, if not impossible, in many others. Consequently, strategies for mitigating patent risk that rely on FOSS communities patenting their technologies include inherent limitations. It's not entirely clear how best to reform patent law in order to better reconcile it with alternative models of innovation. But in the meantime, FOSS still presents certain advantages that, while dimmed by the prospect of patent suits, remain significant.'"
An anonymous reader writes with this quick bite from the H: "Just a few days after the one year anniversary of the release of the first version of OpenOffice from the Apache Foundation (Apache OpenOffice 3.4) on 8 May 2012, the project can now boast 50 million downloads of the Open Source office suite. 10 million of those downloads happened since the beginning of March. In contrast, LibreOffice claimed it had 15 million unique downloads of its office suite in all of 2012."
An anonymous reader writes "Andy Oram reports on the quality, security, and community driving open source adoption. 'All too often, the main force uniting competitors is the fear of another vendor and the realization that they can never beat a dominant vendor on its own turf. Open source becomes a way of changing the rules out from under the dominant player. OpenStack, for instance, took on VMware in the virtualization space and Amazon.com in the IaaS space. Android attracted phone manufacturers and telephone companies as a reaction to the iPhone.'"
Today The New Yorker unveiled a project called Strongbox, which aims to let sources share tips and leaks with the news organization in a secure manner. It makes use of the TOR network and encrypts file uploads with PGP. Once the files are uploaded, they're transferred via thumb-drive to a laptop that isn't connected to the internet, which is erased every time it is powered on and booted with a live CD. The publication won't record any details about your visit, so even a government request to look at their records will fail to find any useful information. "There’s a growing technology gap: phone records, e-mail, computer forensics, and outright hacking are valuable weapons for anyone looking to identify a journalist’s source. With some exceptions, the press has done little to keep pace: our information-security efforts tend to gravitate toward the parts of our infrastructure that accept credit cards." Strongbox is actually just The New Yorker's version of a secure information-sharing platform called DeadDrop, built by Aaron Swartz shortly before his death. DeadDrop is free software.
New submitter mha writes "In a response that truly seems to be from a core Microsoft developer, we are told about why Windows kernel development continues to fall further and further behind that of the Linux kernel. He says, 'The cause of the problem is social. There's almost none of the improvement for its own sake, for the sake of glory, that you see in the Linux world. ... There's no formal or informal program of systemic performance improvement. We started caring about security because pre-SP3 Windows XP was an existential threat to the business. Our low performance is not an existential threat to the business. See, component owners are generally openly hostile to outside patches: if you're a dev, accepting an outside patch makes your lead angry (due to the need to maintain this patch and to justify in in shiproom the unplanned design change), makes test angry (because test is on the hook for making sure the change doesn't break anything, and you just made work for them), and PM is angry (due to the schedule implications of code churn). There's just no incentive to accept changes from outside your own team. You can always find a reason to say "no," and you have very little incentive to say "yes."'"
pacopico writes "Every night, Netflix accounts for about one-third of the downstream Internet traffic in North America, dwarfing all of its major rivals combined. Bloomberg Businessweek has a story detailing the computer science behind the streaming site. It digs into Netflix's heavy use of AWS and its open-source tools like Chaos Kong and Asgard, which the Obama administration apparently used during the campaign. Story seems to suggest that the TV networks will have an awful time mimicking what Netflix has done."
New submitter Mathieu Stephan writes "Hello everyone! Some people told me that my latest project might interest you. I'm not sure you publish this kind of projects, but here it goes. Basically, it is a small platform that recognizes whistles in order to switch on/off appliances. It will be obviously more useful for lighting applications: just walk in a room, whistle, and everything comes on. The project is open hardware, and all the details are published on my website." The linked video is worth watching for the hidden-camera footage alone: it would be hard to not keep playing with this sensor.
An anonymous reader writes "A new report details the analysis of more than 450 million lines of software through the Coverity Scan service, which began as the largest public-private sector research project focused on open source software integrity, and was initiated between Coverity and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2006. Code quality for open source software continues to mirror that of proprietary software — and both continue to surpass the industry standard for software quality. Defect density (defects per 1,000 lines of software code) is a commonly used measurement for software quality. The analysis found an average defect density of .69 for open source software projects, and an average defect density of .68 for proprietary code."
First time accepted submitter anarcat writes "After two years since the last Debian release (6.0, nicknamed "squeeze"), the Debian release team has finally published Debian 7.0 (nicknamed "Wheezy"). A newly created blog has details on the release, which features multi-arch support (e.g. you can now install packages for both i386 and amd64 on the same install), improvements to multimedia support (no need for third party repositories!) and improved security through hardening flags. Debian 7.0 also ships with the controversial Gnome 3 release, and the release notes explicitly mention how to revert to the more familiar 'Gnome classic' interface. Finally, we can also mention the improved support for virtualization infrastructure with pre-built images available for Amazon EC2, Windows Azure and Google Compute Engine. Debian 7.0 also ships with the OpenStack suite and the Xen Cloud Platform. More details on the improvements can be found in the release notes and the Debian wiki." An anonymous reader points out (from the announcement) that "[t]he installation process has been greatly improved: Debian can now be installed using software speech, above all by visually impaired people who do not use a Braille device. Thanks to the combined efforts of a huge number of translators, the installation system is available in 73 languages, and more than a dozen of them are available for speech synthesis too. In addition, for the first time, Debian supports installation and booting using UEFI for new 64-bit PCs (amd64), although there is no support for Secure Boot yet."
alancronin writes with this excerpt from a PC World article: "Users of Android, Chrome OS, Linux, and iOS devices may not realize it, but FreeType open source software is used to render fonts on more than a billion such devices. Not only that, but the FreeType project this week got a significant update from none other than Adobe and Google. Specifically, Google and Adobe on Wednesday released into beta the Adobe CFF engine, an advanced Compact Font Format (CFF) rasterizer that 'paves the way for FreeType-based platforms to provide users with richer and more beautiful reading experiences,' as Google put it in an online announcement on the Google Open Source Blog. The new rasterizer is now included in FreeType version 2.4.12. Though it's currently off by default, the technology is 'vastly superior' to the old CFF engine and will replace it in the next FreeType release, the project says." The article features examples of how the new engine improves font rendering; for more explanation of the CFF, see this blog post from Adobe.
New submitter JoeKilner writes "The Turbulenz HTML5 games engine has been released as open source under the MIT license. The engine is a full 3D engine written in TypeScript and using WebGL. To see what the engine is capable off, check out this video of a full 3D FPS running in the browser using the Turbulenz engine and Quake 4 assets. You can see some of the games already developed with the engine at Turbulenz.com. (Note — to try the games without registering, hit the big blue 'Play as Guest' button.) Also, IE doesn't have WebGL support yet, so to play without a plugin try Chrome or FIrefox."
An anonymous reader writes "In a 15-way graphics card comparison on Linux of both the open and closed-source drivers, it was found that the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver is much faster than the open-source NVIDIA driver on Ubuntu 13.04. The open-source NVIDIA driver is developed entirely by the community via reverse-engineering, but for Linux desktop users, is this enough? The big issue for the open-source 'Nouveau' driver is that it doesn't yet fully support re-clocking the graphics processor so that the hardware can actually run at its rated speeds. With the closed-source AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce results, the drivers were substantially faster than their respective open-source driver. Between NVIDIA and AMD on Linux, the NVIDIA closed-source driver was generally doing better than AMD Catalyst."
gnujoshua writes "You may recall that last Fall, the LulzBot AO-100 3D printer was awarded the use of the Free Software Foundation's Respects Your Freedom certification mark. Today, the FSF announced certification of the ThinkPenguin TPE-N150USB, Wireless N USB Adapter, which uses the Atheros ARAR9271 chip. The FSF's RYF certification requirements are focused on the software (not the hardware designs) of a product, which in this case was primarily the device firmware and ath9k-htc module in the Linux-libre kernel. (Disclosure: I work for the FSF.) There's also a cool story that is within this story... which is that the firmware for the Atheros AR9271 chipset was released as a result of a small device seller (ThinkPenguin) striking a deal with a large electronic device manufacturer (Qualcomm Atheros) to build a WLAN USB adapter that shipped with 100% free software firmware. This deal was possible largely because two motivated Qualcomm Atheros employees, Adrian Chadd and Luis Rodriguez, made the internal-push to get the firmware released as free software."
hypnosec writes with word that the OpenWRT team a few days ago released the final version of the project's newest iteration, version 12.09 (codenamed "Attitude Adjustment"). "The final version doesn't support Linux 2.4, because of which the distribution wouldn't run on old router models, for example the Linksys WRT54G models, which have 16MB of RAM and CPUs clocked at 200MHz. The distribution is now based on Linux 3.3 and there is good news for the Raspberry Pi fans as the distribution now supports the credit card-sized computer, along with Ramips routers."
jrepin writes "The government of Spain's autonomous region of Extremadura has begun the switch to open source of it desktop PCs. The government expects the majority of its 40,000 PCs to be migrated this year, the region's CIO Theodomir Cayetano announced on 18 April. Extremadura estimates that the move to open source will help save 30 million euro per year. Extremadura in 2012 completed the inventory of all the software applications and computers used by its civil servants. It also tailored a Linux distribution, Sysgobex, to meet the majority of requirements of government tasks. It has already migrated to open source some 150 PCs at several ministries, including those for Development, Culture and Employment."
hypnosec writes "After a week's delay Linux 3.9 has finally been made available by Linus Torvalds. Last week Torvalds released the rc8 stating that he wasn't 'comfy' releasing the final version yet and that 'another week won't hurt.' Torvalds noted in this week's announcement that last week had been very quiet as there were not many commits and the ones which were there were 'really tiny' so he went ahead with the release of Linux 3.9."