Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Submission + - Removing libsystemd0 from a live-running Debian system (lkcl.net) 1

lkcl writes: The introduction of systemd has unilaterally created a polarisation of the GNU/Linux community that is remarkably similar to the monopolistic power position wielded by Microsoft in the late 1990s. Choices were stark: use Windows (with SMB/CIFS Services), or use UNIX (with NFS and NIS). Only the introduction of fully-compatible reverse-engineered NT Domains services corrected the situation. Instructions on how to remove systemd include dire warnings that "all dependent packages will be removed", rendering a normal Debian Desktop system flat-out impossible to achieve. It was therefore necessary to demonstrate that it is actually possible to run a Debian Desktop GUI system (albeit an unusual one: fvwm) with libsystemd0 removed. The reason for doing so: it doesn't matter how good systemd is believed to be or in fact actually is: the reason for removing it is, apart from the alarm at how extensive systemd is becoming (including interfering with firewall rules), it's the way that it's been introduced in a blatantly cavalier fashion as a polarised all-or-nothing option, forcing people to consider abandoning the GNU/Linux of their choice and to seriously consider using FreeBSD or any other distro that properly respects the Software Freedom principle of the right to choose what software to run. We aren't all "good at coding", or paid to work on Software Libre: that means that those people who are need to be much more responsible, and to start — finally — to listen to what people are saying. Developing a thick skin is a good way to abdicate responsibility and, as a result, place people into untenable positions.

Submission + - Why is there a lack of NSA-free advertisements from major Linux distributions?

An anonymous reader writes: The NSA/GCHQ disaster seems to be a really great opportunity for Linux distributions to advertise their spyware-free operating system and their intentional willingness to not cooperate with spying programs. Yet, while this pitch would be such a goldmine of excellent and almost free advertisement destined to go viral automagically, especially when all the big operating-system corporations have been found in a warm bed with the spooks, we do not see any such public announcements from Red Hat/Fedora, Canonical/Ubuntu or the likes. There is also no sign of dead man's switches appearing, which is the least one could do to avoid suspicion. Should we take these facts as signs of incompetence in benefiting from the NSA fallout or is it a sign that Linux, or its distributions, are not so innocent after all?

Submission + - India Patent Authority Has Big Pharma Worried (law.com) 2

dgharmon writes: When the government of India revoked U.S. drug maker Pfizer Inc.’s local patent for its cancer drug Sutent last week, it marked yet another loss for Big Pharma in an escalating patent war between multinational pharmaceutical companies and the governments of developing nations.

Submission + - Facebook PR Firm Edited Its Own Wikipedia Page (shitplanet.org)

metasonix writes: In the midst of all this week's flap about Facebook hiring notorious PR firm Burson-Marsteller to defame Google, I discovered something else: a Burson-Marsteller employee completely rewrote the firm's Wikipedia article to remove all the negative information. He did it openly, he violated a number of Wikipedia internal policies, another Wikipedia editor helped him, and no one was the wiser.

Australia Air Travelers' Laptops To Be Searched For Porn 647

bluetoad writes "Australian customs officers have been given the power to search incoming travelers' laptops and mobile phones for porn. Passengers must declare whether they are carrying pornography on their Incoming Passenger Card. The Australian government is also planning to implement an Internet filter. Once these powers are in places, who knows how they will be used."

Aphid's Color Comes From a Fungus Gene 132

Iron Nose writes with an account from Byte Size Biology of horizontal gene transfer from a fungus to an insect. The author suspects that we will see lots more of this as we sequence more genomes. "The pea aphid is known for having two different colors, green and red, but until now it was not clear how the aphids got their color. Aphids feed on sap, and sap does not contain carotenoids, a common pigment synthesized by plants, fungi, and microbes, but not by animals. Carotenoids in the diet gives many animals, from insects to flamingos, their exterior color after they ingest it, but aphids do not seem to eat carotenoid-containing food. Nancy Moran and Tyler Jarvik from the University of Arizona looked at the recently sequenced genome of the pea aphid. They were surprised to find genes for synthesizing carotenoids; this is the first time carotenoid synthesizing genes have been found in animals. When the researchers looked for the most similar genes to the aphid carotenoid synthesizing genes, they found that they came from fungi, which means they somehow jumped between fungi and aphids, in a process known as horizontal gene transfer."

All GSM Phones Open To Attack, Tracking 119

Trailrunner7 writes "A pair of security researchers has discovered a number of new attack vectors that give them the ability not only to locate any GSM mobile handset anywhere in the world, but also to find the name of the subscriber associated with virtually any cellular phone number, raising serious privacy and security concerns for customers of all of the major mobile providers. The research builds upon earlier work on geolocation of GSM handsets and exposes a number of fundamental weaknesses in the architecture of mobile providers' networks. However, these are not software or hardware vulnerabilities that can be patched or mitigated with workarounds. Rather, they are features and functionality built into the networks and back-end systems that Bailey and DePetrillo have found ways to abuse in order to discover information that most cell users assume is private and known only to the cell provider."

Apple Blocks Cartoonist From App Store 664

ink writes "Here is another troubling anecdote on the iWeb front: 'This week cartoonist Mark Fiore made Internet and journalism history as the first online-only journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize. Fiore took home the editorial cartooning prize for animations he created for SFGate, the website for the San Francisco Chronicle... But there's just one problem. In December, Apple rejected his iPhone app, NewsToons, because, as Apple put it, his satire "ridicules public figures," a violation of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, which bars any apps whose content in "Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory."' Whether or not you agree with Fiore's political sentiments, I believe we can all agree that the censorship of his work should be denigrated."

Remote Malware Injection Via Flaw In Network Card 49

kfz-versicherung writes "During the CanSecWest international conference in Vancouver, members of ANSSI described how an attacker could be able to exploit a flaw to run arbitrary code inside some network controllers (full presentation; PDF). The attack uses routable packets delivered to the victim's NIC. Consequently, multiple attacks can be conducted including man-in-the-middle attacks on network connections, access to cryptographic keys on the host platform, or malware injection on the victim's computer host platform."

Study Says OOXML Unsuitable For Norwegian Government 145

angry tapir writes "Microsoft's XML-based office document format, OOXML, does not meet the requirements for governmental use, according to a new report published by the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (DIFI). The agency wants to start a debate over the report as part of its work on standards in the Norwegian government. (As we discussed a week ago, Denmark has already decided to choose ODF over OOXML.)"

The Gradual Erosion of the Right To Privacy 234

PeteV writes "There is an interesting article on the BBC's website based around research carried out by Dr. Kieron O'Hara of Southampton University. He points out that under British law, an individual's right to privacy is being eroded by the behavior of those who have no qualms about broadcasting every intimate detail of their life online (via social networking sites) because the privacy law is predicated in part upon the concept of a 'reasonable expectation of privacy.' I think his request 'for people to be more aware of the impact on society of what they publish online' is likely to fall on deaf ears, but in effect what he is saying is that the changing habits of the world-wide community of social networkers is likely to have an effect upon English law and how it is interpreted. Given that the significant bulk of social networkers are American, this might mean 'American behavior' could cause changes in the interpretation of English law (which is not to say English people don't also post their intimate details on Facebook)."

Why You Should Use OpenGL and Not DirectX 515

stickyboot writes "The independent games developer Wolfire describes why they decided to use OpenGL instead of DirectX. The article mainly discusses the marketing strategies behind DirectX and how the API became so popular. It also goes over why a developer would choose OpenGL over DirectX and what this decision means for the gamer. 'Back in 1997, the situation was similar to how it is now. Microsoft was running a massive marketing campaign for Direct3D, and soon everyone "just knew" that it was faster and better than OpenGL. This started to change when Chris Hecker published his open letter denouncing DirectX. Soon after that, John Carmack posted his famous OpenGL rant, and put his money where his mouth was by implementing all of Id Software's games in OpenGL, proving once and for all that DirectX was unnecessary for high-end 3D gaming. This lesson appears to have been forgotten over the last few years. Most game developers have fallen under the spell of DirectX marketing, or into the whirlpool of vicious cycles and network advantages.'"

China Moving To Restrict Neodymium Supply 477

GuyFawkes writes with this quote from the Independent: "Britain and other Western countries risk running out of supplies of certain highly sought-after rare metals that are vital to a host of green technologies, amid growing evidence that China, which has a monopoly on global production, is set to choke off exports of valuable compounds. Failure to secure alternative long-term sources of rare earth elements (REEs) would affect the manufacturing and development of low-carbon technology, which relies on the unique properties of the 17 metals to mass-produce eco-friendly innovations such as wind turbines and low-energy light bulbs. China, whose mines account for 97 per cent of global supplies, is trying to ensure that all raw REE materials are processed within its borders. During the past seven years it has reduced by 40 per cent the amount of rare earths available for export."
United States

Did the US Take the Back Seat In Science In 2009? 502

tcd004 writes "In the PBS NewsHour's roundup of the biggest science news of the year, Neil DeGrasse Tyson dropped this doozie: '[Scientific leadership] drives the economic strength and security of nations. The fall is not from a cliff. More like a slow, downward slide — almost imperceptible from day to day. But as the years pass America will have descended from leaders to players to merely followers as we fade to insignificance, at best hitching a ride on the innovations of others.'"

Sprint Revealed Customer GPS Data 8 Million Times 315

An anonymous reader sends along Chris Soghoian's blog entry revealing that Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers' GPS location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. The data point comes from a closed industry conference that Soghoian attended, at which Paul Taylor, Electronic Surveillance Manager at Sprint Nextel, said: "[M]y major concern is the volume of requests. We have a lot of things that are automated but that's just scratching the surface. One of the things, like with our GPS tool. We turned it on the web interface for law enforcement about one year ago last month, and we just passed 8 million requests. So there is no way on earth my team could have handled 8 million requests from law enforcement, just for GPS alone. So the tool has just really caught on fire with law enforcement. They also love that it is extremely inexpensive to operate and easy, so, just the sheer volume of requests they anticipate us automating other features, and I just don't know how we'll handle the millions and millions of requests that are going to come in." Soghoian's post details the laws around disclosure of wiretap and other interception data — one of which the Department of Justice has been violating since 2004 — and calls for more disclosure of the levels of all forms of surveillance.

You don't have to know how the computer works, just how to work the computer.