New Linux version will reduce suspend and resume times

Linux 3.15, expected to be released in mid-2014, “will feature a large number of ACPI and power management updates” and allow Linux-based computers to suspend and resume faster, Phoronix reported today.

“Visible to users with the Linux 3.15 kernel should be reduced time for system suspend and resuming, thanks to the enabling of more asynchronous threads,” the article said, pointing to a list of changes posted by Rafael Wysocki, an Intel employee who maintains the Linux kernel’s core power management code. Basic support for Nvidia’s Maxwell architecture is also in the works for Linux 3.15.

The latest stable release of Linux was version 3.13.6. Linux 3.14 could be released in the coming days, with improved Intel Broadwell graphics support, updates to the open source Nvidia driver, enablement of dynamic power management for newer AMD Radeon graphics cards, support for Logitech’s Dual Action Gamepad, and other upgrades.

via New Linux version will reduce suspend and resume times | Ars Technica.

“Hand of Thief” banking trojan doesn’t do Windows—but it does Linux

Signaling criminals’ growing interest in attacking non-Windows computers, researchers have discovered banking fraud malware that targets people using the open-source Linux operating system.
Hand of Thief, which was recently discovered by researchers from security firm RSA, sells for about $2,000 in underground Internet forums and boasts its own support and sales agents. Its functionality—consisting of form grabbers and backdoor capabilities—is rudimentary compared to Windows banking trojans spawned from the Citadel or Blackhole exploit kits, but that’s likely to change. RSA researcher Limor Kessem said she expects Hand of Thief to become a full-blown banking trojan that includes more advanced features such as the ability to inject attacker-controlled content into trusted bank webpages.
“Although Hand of Thief comes to the underground at a time when commercial trojans are high in demand, writing malware for the Linux OS is uncommon, and for good reason,” Kessem wrote. “In comparison to Windows, Linux’s user base is smaller, considerably reducing the number of potential victims and thereby the potential fraud gains.”
She also said that the open-source model Linux is developed on makes the OS less susceptible to attacks that remotely execute malicious code by exploiting security bugs. That viewpoint is popular among many open-source advocates, but it’s also the source of heated debates among security researchers. The number of Linux machines running Apache and other Web servers that are infected by Darkleech and similar exploits—recently estimated to be in the 20,000 range—suggests the platform isn’t out of the reach of motivated attackers. What’s more, contrary to popular beliefs, serious Linux vulnerabilities can sometimes linger for years. In fairness to Kessem, she said a Hand of Thief sales agent recently suggested using social-engineering attacks to infect users of the open-source OS.
Leaving that debate aside, Hand of Thief developers said the trojan has been tested on 15 different Linux desktop distributions, including Ubuntu, Fedora, and Debian. They also said it supports eight environments, including Gnome and Kde. The malware functions include a form grabber for both HTTP and HTTPS sessions running on Firefox, Google Chrome, and a host of Linux-only browsers. The trojan also blocks infected machines from accessing addresses that offer security updates and antivirus software. It contains defenses to prevent it from running on virtual machines to make it harder to be reverse engineered by white hat hackers and competitors.
“The developer wrote a basic administration panel for the trojan, allowing the botmaster to control the infected machines reporting to it,” Kessem wrote. “Captured data includes information such as timestamp, user agent, website visited and POST data. Hand of Thief also exhibits cookie-stealing functionality.”
The $2,000 price tag strikes Kessem as overpriced compared with Windows trojans. That may be true. But given the large number of security-conscious computer users who regard Linux as a relatively hacker resistant haven, Hand of Thief marketers may position it as a premium service for attacking high-value targets who can’t be penetrated otherwise. Further, given the vast improvements Microsoft has made in the past six years securing recent versions of Windows, malware writers may be interested in expanding the range of machines they can attack. Researchers recently unearthed a new banking trojan targeting Android users.
On the other hand, there are few if any reports of comparable malware targeting Mac users. It’s hard to know precisely what to make of Hand of Thief, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
via “Hand of Thief” banking trojan doesn’t do Windows—but it does Linux | Ars Technica.

Exploring Ubuntu Touch, the other Linux OS for your phone

The chances are good that if you’re buying a smartphone or tablet in 2013, you’re buying something with iOS or Android on it. The two operating systems loom so large over their competitors that even the entrenched, deep-pocketed Microsoft has had trouble making headway into this market with its Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Windows RT systems.
Google and Apple’s combined dominance hasn’t stopped others from trying, though. New mobile operating systems have been springing up like weeds in the last six months. RIM (now BlackBerry) finally launched the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry Z10 in an attempt to overhaul its image. Mozilla is making Firefox OS in an effort to tackle developing markets and prove that a browser is all you really need. And Canonical wants to take Ubuntu beyond the desktop with Ubuntu Touch.
We got a not-quite-hands-on test drive of a 12.10-based version of Ubuntu’s mobile operating system back at CES, but the OS images were recently updated to Ubuntu 13.04 when Raring Ringtail was introduced at the end of last month. Though Ubuntu Touch won’t be available at retail before the end of this year at the earliest, we figured now is an opportune time to check in and see how things are going.
It can’t be stressed enough that even in this updated form, Ubuntu Touch is nowhere near usable as a mainstream mobile operating system. Canonical makes no claim that it is. For now, the software is about half development environment and half proof-of-concept tech demo. As such, we aren’t going to be evaluating Ubuntu Touch using quite the same criteria we’d use for a shipping product—we’re going to be focusing more on how the OS looks and works and less on how it performs. As we get closer to Ubuntu 14.04 and presumably Ubuntu Touch’s retail availability, we’ll certainly be revisiting it with a more critical eye.
Smell you later, Android: Installing Ubuntu Touch

Full Story: Exploring Ubuntu Touch, the other Linux OS for your phone | Ars Technica.

It just works: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Linux Ultrabook review

It just works: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Linux Ultrabook review

Dell’s substantial investment in making a functional Linux Ultrabook pays off.

by Lee Hutchinson – Apr 20, 2013 12:33 pm UTC


Open Source


I’ve been terribly curious about the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition since we first covered it back in November. This is a different beast from the flippy-touchscreen-equipped XPS 12—this Ultrabook contains zero touchscreens. However, it comes preloaded with Ubuntu Linux, and Dell has spent a substantial amount of time and effort in ensuring that it works—and works well.

Specs at a glance: XPS 13 Developer Edition

Screen 1920×1080 13.3-inch IPS, 165 PPI

OS Linux – Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

CPU 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-3537U (Turbo Boost 3.1GHz)

RAM 8GB 1600MHz DDR3L (non-upgradeable)

GPU Intel HD Graphics 4000 (integrated)

Storage 256GB SATA III SSD

Networking Intel Centrino 802.11n, Bluetooth 3.0

Ports 1x DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.0 (one PowerShare), stereo headphone/line out

Battery 6-cell 47Whr Li-Polymer (non-replaceable)

Size 0.24 (at front)/0.71 (at rear) x 12.4 x 8.1 inches, 6 mm (at front)/18 mm (at rear) x 316 mm x 205 mm

Weight 2.99 lb/1.36 kg

Starting price $1549

Price as configured $1549 (no options available except addtional warranty)

In an effort originally known as Project Sputnik, Dell dedicated resources into doing Linux on an Ultrabook “right”—writing code where necessary (and contributing that code back upstream like a good FOSS citizen) and paying attention to the entire user experience rather than merely working on components in a vacuum. The result is a perfectly functional Ultrabook with a few extra tools—that “Developer Edition” moniker isn’t just for show, and Dell has added some devops spices into the mix with this laptop that should quicken any developer’s heartbeat.

Damning Linux with praise

Linux is not yet “ready for the desktop,” and I’m doubtful it will ever be—at least not in the sense that an average person could use it full-time without any assistance. I’ve struggled before with using Linux as my full-time operating environment both at work and at home. I did it for years at work, but it was never quite as easy as I wanted it to be—on an older Dell laptop, keeping dual monitor support working correctly across updates required endless fiddling with xorg.conf, and whether or not it was Nvidia’s fault was totally irrelevant to swearing, cursing Past Lee, trying desperately to get his monitors to display images so he could make his 10am conference call without having to resort to running the meeting on the small laptop screen.

Full Story: It just works: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Linux Ultrabook review | Ars Technica.

As Mozilla turns 15, Firefox 20 debuts with new privacy

Late last year Mozilla revealed a new private-browsing feature that was in the works for an upcoming version of its Firefox browser, and that’s just what appeared in Mozilla’s Final Release channel on Tuesday.
Specifically, Firefox 20 made its official debut with a desktop version for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and a mobile version for Android.

“Firefox includes a new enhancement to private browsing that allows you to open a new private browsing window without closing or changing your current browsing session,” explains the post officially announcing Firefox 20 on the Mozilla Blog. “You can shop for a birthday gift in a private window with your existing browsing session uninterrupted.”
A new download panel in the Firefox toolbar, meanwhile, makes it easier to download files with Firefox by allowing users to monitor, view, and locate downloaded files without having to switch to another window, as shown in the video below.

50 million more phones
On the mobile side, Firefox 20 for Android supports private browsing on a per-tab basis, Mozilla said, giving users a way to open a new private browsing tab during their current browsing session and to switch between private and standard tabs within the same browsing session.
Also new in Firefox for Android are a way to customize the shortcuts on the home screen with the user’s most frequently visited sites and support for additional devices running on ARMv6 processors, including the Samsung Galaxy Next, HTC Aria, HTC Legend, Samsung Dart, Samsung Galaxy Pop, and the Samsung Galaxy Q. The result, Mozilla says, is a better Web experience on almost 50 million more phones.
Numerous critical bug fixes and developer features round out the new release of the free and open source browser, which is now available as a download on the Mozilla site.
‘A Web that’s more open’

Also on Tuesday, meanwhile, Mozilla announced that it turned 15 on March 31, sparking several looks back at what it has achieved during that time.
“Mozilla has helped shift the center of gravity to a Web that’s more open — that gives more people the opportunity to create and enjoy the Web on *their* terms,” wrote Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, in a blog post on the topic. “Billions of people experience the openness of the Web every day as they create, connect and invent in ways that reflect their goals and dreams, without needing the permission of a few commercial organizations.”

At the same time, the Web now faces threats just as big as those 15 years ago, Baker warned.
“As the role of data grows and device capabilities expand, the Internet will become an even more central part of our lives,” she explained. “The need for individuals to have some control over how this works and what we experience is fundamental.”
In the coming years, Mozilla aims to play a key role in that battle, Baker added.
A slideshow on Mozilla’s site illustrates key milestones in its 15-year history.
via As Mozilla turns 15, Firefox 20 debuts with new privacy | PCWorld.

Ubuntu dumps X window system, creates replacement for PC and mobile

The X window system has served numerous Linux- and Unix-based operating systems well over its nearly three decades of life. But Canonical is ready to move on from X, saying a new display server is necessary to power the Unity user interface in Ubuntu as the OS expands from desktops to tablets and phones.
Canonical yesterday unveiled “Mir,” which it describes as “a system-level component targeted as a replacement for the X window server system to unlock next-generation user experiences for devices ranging from Linux desktop to mobile devices powered by Ubuntu.”
This isn’t the first time Canonical has tried to move beyond X. In November 2010, founder Mark Shuttleworth floated plans to replace X with the Wayland display system created in 2008 by a developer who worked for Red Hat.
Ars writer Ryan Paul noted at the time that X, a display server that is responsible for showing graphics and mediating user input, “is included in all mainstream desktop Linux distributions. The problem with this venerable component of the Linux technology stack is that it was created in the ’80s and hasn’t been able to shed the superfluous accoutrements of yesteryear computing.”
Now, Canonical has decided that neither X nor Wayland will meet its needs in creating one version of Unity that can scale from phones to tablets, desktops, and even TVs. Thus, Canonical is building its own replacement.
Canonical’s Oliver Ries, head of engineering product strategy, explained the company’s thinking in a blog post:
Today Unity (the rendering part of it) runs as a plugin in Compiz which sits on top of X and is a recurring source of frustration on the developer-, design- and finally also on the user side as a lot of our ideas (handling a multi-monitor setup in 12.04 or our plans for menu bars come to mind) require quite some intrusive changes to the underlying system. Regardless of how carefully crafted the solution, it is bending a stack to something that it wasn’t necessarily designed for. Bend over backwards too much and you will fall on your back, bugging users with nasty bugs, regressions, unexpected behavior and plenty more that drives the frustration level up.
While evaluating our options, looking at extending the current stack to our needs, using the Wayland protocol (or any of its implementations) and comparing that with our designs & ideas we concluded that neither approach would allow us to do what we want in the quality that we would like to see for Ubuntu & Unity (at cost and in time).
Plus, there is the rather sizable challenge of pulling Wayland/X onto a mobile device, working with SoCs on driver support, tuning this stack for power consumption and performance and dealing with other issues of a stack that hasn’t been designed for a convergence setup as we envision it. A lot of distraction from the actual goal, to provide an outstanding experience across all the supported devices – from consumer electronics to desktop computing devices to enterprise devices.
The chosen approach was to develop Mir, our own Display Server which is engineered driven by the designs and requirements that our larger vision dictates – no compromises, no crude hacks, fully testable & tested, performance in mind, support for legacy X applications, developed by Ubuntu for Ubuntu.
Canonical also announced that it is moving Unity away from Nux, an OpenGL-based widget toolkit and canvas for creating user interfaces. Nux will be replaced by Qt/QML.
“Driven by Ubuntu Touch we are starting to move Unity over to a Qt/QML based implementation, embracing Qt as a community backed technology for our offerings,” Ries wrote. “We are looking at tackling the transition from the Nux based implementation to a Qt/QML based implementation component by component and are striving to do that in a transparent way for the user. This topic is also up for discussion at UDS and we are providing a spec at”
As for Mir, the new display server is projected to be “completely integrated with the rest of the system to support an Ubuntu Phone product” by October of this year. By April 2014, the goal is to have “complete convergence across the form factors,” namely phones, tablets, desktops, and Ubuntu TV.
Canonical demonstrated Mir running as part of Unity on a Nexus 7 tablet and an Ubuntu desktop, as seen today in videos posted by OMGUbuntu. In the desktop demonstration, a voiceover says, “As you can see, it’s not actually very interesting because it’s exactly the same as regular Unity at the current state in time. It all just works.”
via Ubuntu dumps X window system, creates replacement for PC and mobile | Ars Technica.

Five new features coming in openSUSE Linux 12.3

It took almost a year for openSUSE Linux 12.2 to arrive after the launch of its predecessor, but version 12.3 of the popular Linux distribution is apparently coming along more quickly.
On Thursday, in fact—less than six months after 12.2 arrived—the openSUSE project announced the release of the second and last release candidate of openSUSE 12.3, which is due to appear in final form next month.
“The openSUSE Release Team has released RC2 to the mirrors a few hours ago,” wrote openSUSE community manager Jos Poortvliet in a blog post today. “This is the last opportunity to find and fix the last few bugs before the final release, so help us by downloading RC2, testing, and reporting bugs!”
Release candidates are always a nice way to get a glimpse at what’s to come, and this one makes it clear that there are a number of notable new features heading our way in the upcoming new version of this free and open source operating system.
Though it’s not intended for production use, of course, you can get a taste of this one yourself by downloading it from the project site. In the meantime, here are five key highlights.
1. ‘Secure Boot’ support
“It should be possible to install openSUSE 12.3 on a UEFI machine without problems,” Poortvliet wrote, noting that the project team has been working hard on accommodating the Secure Boot technology enabled in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) on Windows 8 hardware, which requires an appropriate digital signature before an operating system is allowed to boot.
“The good news is that openSUSE 12.3 RC2 can boot perfectly with Secure Boot enabled in our UEFI firmware,” he added.
Currently, in this second release candidate, doing so requires an extra manual action by the user, but that will be fixed before the final version arrives, Poortvliet said.
2. The E17 desktop
Anyone who has ever checked out Bodhi Linux has already seen the beautiful E17, or “Englightenment,” desktop, and that’s now offered in openSUSE 12.3 as well. Also now
included are the Sawfish and Awesome window managers.
3. New database options ‘1890’ Enlightenment theme available for Bodhi Linux (Click image to enlarge.)
Another new addition in openSUSE 12.3 is open source database software PostgreSQL 9.2, which comes with Native JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) support. Meanwhile, MariaDB has replaced MySQL as the operating system’s default database package.
4. In the cloud
For cloud users, meanwhile, openSUSE 12.3 is the first openSUSE version to offer a complete OpenStack “Folsom” release.
5. A raft of updates
Last but not least, openSUSE 12.3 includes numerous key updates, including Linux kernel 3.7.9, GNOME Shell 3.6.3, Firefox 19, Thunderbird 17.0.3, Wine 1.5.23, PulseAudio 3.0, and DigiKam 3.0.
via Five new features coming in openSUSE Linux 12.3 | PCWorld.

Which Linux distro is best? Survey says: Slackware

One of the biggest ongoing challenges for Linux advocates has always been that there is such a paucity of data available to demonstrate the preferences of the people who are actually using the free and open source operating system.
That’s especially true on the desktop, where virtually countless different flavors are available as a free download for every taste and purpose, but for which there’s really no way to take an accurate count, since typically they don’t ever get associated with any sales statistics.
DistroWatch’s page-hit rankings are often used as a stand-in for such data in the absence of anything better, but every once in a while someone takes a survey that provides fresh insight.
Case in point?’s annual Members Choice Awards, the results of which were just announced for 2012.
Linux Mint at No. 3
Longtime readers may recall the results of last year’s poll, in which Ubuntu took first place on the desktop while Slackware came in a very close second.
This year, Slackware pulled into first place, with 20.59 percent, while Ubuntu dropped to 17.02 percent of the 981 votes that were collected.
Next in line was Linux Mint, with 16.21 percent, followed by Debian, with 12.64 percent.
For the twelfth year in a row, a record number of votes were cast, popular community site said.
Honors for the Raspberry Pi
As for other notable results? There were plenty.
To wit: KDE won best desktop environment, with 31.31 percent; LibreOffice won as best office suite, with a whopping 85.14 percent; Firefox took top honors for browsers, with 52.76 percent; and GIMP won as top graphics application of the year, with 69.85 percent.
It almost goes without saying that Debian won on servers, with 28.74 percent, and Android won on mobile, with 66.86 percent.
Also not surprising was that the Raspberry Pi claimed new open source hardware product of the year, with 79.29 percent.
Want to see the rest of the results? An overall summary of the winners and a detailed breakdown by category are available on the site.
via Which Linux distro is best? Survey says: Slackware | PCWorld.

Five Linux predictions for 2013

Now that the final curtain is about to drop on the year that was 2012, there’s no better time to look ahead and try to anticipate what 2013 will bring.
Predictions have been coming fast and furious throughout the tech press for some time already, of course, but not many focus on Linux.
raspberry pi
With that in mind, here are some things I think we’ll see in the Linux world in this upcoming year.
1. The ‘tiny’ trend
There’s been no end in sight to the excitement over the Raspberry Pi this year, and it’s just one in an ever-growing class of tiny, inexpensive, Linux-powered PCs. It’s a real revolution in computing, as I’ve said before, with potentially huge implications for society and the world. I predict this trend is going to continue into 2013 and beyond, as free, open source, and resource-efficient Linux enables ever smaller and cheaper computing options.
2. Increasing ubiquity
One would already be hard-pressed to find a major company or aspect of the technological world that doesn’t rely on Linux in some way, but that’s clearly going to increase further. Not only are all these new “tiny” devices putting Linux into more consumers’ hands—even beyond what it has already achieved through Linux-based Android—but it’s also increasingly playing a role in the gaming world, for instance, as well as in cars and beyond. With its small size, flexibility, openness, and low cost, there’s virtually no limit on the places and ways it can be used to improve life for everyone.
3. Fully competitive at last
Speaking of ubiquity, I’m not going to predict that 2013 will be the oft-anticipated “Year of Linux on the Desktop,” which has questionable relevance at this point anyway, but I do think two key things happened in 2012 that make Linux a more compelling desktop choice for companies and individual users. First: Windows 8 happened. Second: Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular have finally reached a point at which their features truly match—or even surpass—what Windows offers mainstream users. It will take time, to be sure, for many to overcome the inertia that keeps them locked into Microsoft’s plan, but I do think things are now looking better for desktop Linux than they ever have before, and that will only continue throughout the upcoming year.
4. Linux preloaded
Whatever your views of Windows’ long-term prospects, it seems pretty safe to say that the widespread skepticism currently greeting Windows 8 means that more business and individual users will be seeking out other choices. That, indeed, will drive fresh uptake of alternatives like Ubuntu on the desktop, and it will also fuel the growing number of hardware options sold with Linux preloaded. Dell’s new developer-focused “Sputnik” laptop is but one of numerous recent examples, and I have no doubt that trend is going to continue in the upcoming year. More choice is always a good thing for users.
5. Back to basics
Last but not least, one big trend from the past year or so that hasn’t fared too well is the imposition of the mobile paradigm onto the desktop. We’ve seen it in Ubuntu’s Unity and GNOME 3 as well as Windows 8’s Modern UI, and a lot of users don’t like it. I predict—and I fervently hope—that in 2013 software makers are going to better appreciate that what works on one form factor—however wildly popular it may be—isn’t necessarily something that can be applied across the board in “one size fits all” fashion. The return by popular demand of GNOME 2 should be a lesson to all operating systems: mobile is mobile, desktop is desktop, and never the twain shall meet. Or something like that. 😉
via Five Linux predictions for 2013 | PCWorld.

Five reasons 2012 was a great year for Linux

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where things stand in any niche or field, and Linux is no exception.
There’s no doubt that there have been challenges for the free and open source operating system over the course of 2012—the Secure Boot challenge comes immediately to mind—but so, too, have there been numerous successes.
All in all, I believe the good has outweighed the bad for Linux this past year. Here are five specific reasons.
1. One *billion* dollars
Perhaps most obvious among Linux’s accomplishments this year was the fact that Red Hat finally and officially attained its long-anticipated status as the first billion-dollar open source company. That’s a testament not just to Red Hat’s own business acumen, but also the fact that Linux can be profitable—and that’s a big deal for increasing future business interest in the platform.
2. The Digital Divide
Those of us in the tech industry can argue over the merits and penetration of desktop Linux until we’re blue in the proverbial face, but meanwhile a momentous shift has quietly begun.
I’m talking about the wave of tiny, inexpensive, Linux-powered PCs that flooded the market this year, putting significant computing power within closer reach not just for enthusiasts but also for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it.
It’s truly a revolution in computing, as I’ve said before, and it’s expanding Linux’s reach even beyond the countless Android-using masses. Not only that, but it’s surely going a long way toward bridging the Digital Divide.
3. Gaming acceptance
Gaming platforms may not matter much to many in the business world, but the fact is, gaming is extremely important to a whole lot of PC users. Over the years, in fact, a relative lack of games has been a key reason held up by many to explain why they didn’t make the switch to Linux.
Well, this year all that changed when Valve announced that it was porting Steam to Linux, citing the Windows 8 “catastrophe” as a big part of its reason.
More recently, THQ is considering making a similar move, according to reports.
What it means: Linux users are increasingly being viewed as a market worth catering to, and that will only mean more and better applications across the board in the future.
4. Preloaded prevalence
This past year has also seen a dramatic increase in the number of hardware options offering Linux preloaded. Over the course of 2012, in fact, we saw machines from not just specialty makers ZaReason, System76, and ThinkPenguin offer this option, but also Asus, Dell, and more.
With every new entry that arrives, consumers’ choices expand, and that can only be a good thing.
5. An open window
Finally, it’s become patently obvious that Windows 8 has encountered a cooler reception than Microsoft might have liked, and that means nothing but opportunity for Linux. With Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal,” in fact, Canonical’s popular Linux distribution has actually surpassed Windows 8 in many respects, particularly from a business user’s perspective.
Tremendous inertia will allow Windows’ dominance to continue for years to come, of course.
Still, with Windows 8 the landscape shifted, I believe, and desktop Linux has begun to compete on an even footing. I can’t wait to see where that leads in 2013 and beyond.
via Five reasons 2012 was a great year for Linux | PCWorld.