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PHP Attacked, the Shuttleworth Tea Party & More…

FOSS Week in Review

NSA: Locking the barn door after the horse is stolen

On Monday, Reuters reported in an exclusive story that the NSA had failed to install some super duper software meant specifically to protect the agency from inside threats at the site in Hawaii where Eric Snowden downloaded thousands of classified documents. In other words, after spending who knows how much taxpayer money developing internal security software, made by Raytheon by the way, and getting it installed and tweaked at NSA installations everywhere, little Eric Snowden was shuffled off to one of the only, if not the only, locations where internal security wasn’t in place. In hindsight, this made the NSA akin to two lengths of case hardened steel chain being bound together by a link made from a paper clip.

According to this report, the Remote Operations Center where Snowden was stationed didn’t have the software installed because of low bandwidth issues. If the software had been operating, officials at the NSA would’ve been notified the minute Snowden began his now infamous download. In other words, it was merely by chance that the spook with a conscious found himself stationed at the one place where NSA computers were set to look the other way by default as the NSA’s dirty secrets were downloaded.

“He was only there for a few weeks before he told his employers that he needed time off because of health problems. Snowden then disappeared and turned up several weeks later in Hong Kong. There, he gave a TV interview and a trove of secrets from the NSA and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, to writer Glenn Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras, and journalists from Britain’s Guardian newspaper.”

We’re not very religious here at FOSS Force, but in this case we’re willing to explain this “coincidence” as an example of divine intervention.

Shuttleworth ticks people off again

It seems that an awful lot of people are too thin skinned. A week ago Mark Shuttleworth made the following comment in his blog:

Mir is really important work. When lots of competitors attack a project on purely political grounds, you have to wonder what THEIR agenda is. At least we know now who belongs to the Open Source Tea Party 😉 And to put all the hue and cry into context: Mir is relevant for approximately 1% of all developers, just those who think about shell development. Every app developer will consume Mir through their toolkit. By contrast, those same outraged individuals have NIH’d just about every important piece of the stack they can get their hands on… most notably SystemD, which is hugely invasive and hardly justified. What closely to see how competitors to Canonical torture the English language in their efforts to justify how those toolkits should support Windows but not Mir. But we’ll get it done, and it will be amazing.

It seem that many of Ubuntu’s detractors became upset at the reference to “the Open Source Tea Party.” My gawd, it was just a joke–and to make sure everyone knew he was just kidding, he followed it with a winky emoticon. Chill out, people.

Mark Shuttleworth
Mark Shuttleworth of the Ubuntu Tea Party
As for Mir… Ubuntu belongs to Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical. The last time we checked the GPL, they’re allowed to do with the code anything they want so long as they give any changes back to the community, which they appear to be doing.

We don’t use Ubuntu here at FOSS Force, but if we did and if we didn’t like the notion of MIR, we’d just find another distro to use. As we’ve discussed here on this site in the past, there’s no shortage of distros.

Windows phablets and tablets from Nokia

On Wednesday we learned from the BBC that Nokia unveiled a slew of phablet and tablets at Nokia World in Abu Dhabi.

Although Nokia is still technically independent of Microsoft, since the sale isn’t expected to be finalized until early next year, the new products can only be seen as indicative of what to expect from Nokia when it becomes a subsidiary of Redmond. Included in the mix is the first Windows RT tablet from anyone but Microsoft.

Stephen Elop was at the event and according to the Beeb, he came very close to calling Nokia’s adoption of Windows a mistake:

“Nokia’s former chief executive Stephen Elop, who resigned to become head of the company’s devices and services division until his transfer to Microsoft, admitted to the BBC that choosing Windows Phone rather than Android as an operating system had presented the company with ‘a very difficult challenge.’

“‘It’s been hard. It’s a very difficult challenge; it’s a very competitive environment, but we’re pleased with the fact that we’re building momentum,'” he said.

You’ll excuse us if we refrain from wishing the new Nokia much success.

We also learned this week, from CNET and the Wall Street Journal, that there are rumors about that Microsoft is developing Windows eyewear:

“‘Citing the usual ‘people familiar with the matter,’ the journal revealed no details about the prototypes, but it did note that the project is part of Microsoft’s strategy to compete with Google, Samsung, and Apple in the device market.

“A spokesman for Microsoft told CNET that the company had no comment on the rumors.”

Linus Torvalds calls Fedora developers “stupid”

Linux’s head penguin, Linus Torvalds, made it back into the news this week when Softpedia reported on a bit of a spat between Torvalds and the folks at Fedora.

It started when Torvalds made a remark on Google+ about Fedora’s use of an old kernel, which is problematic for some users:

“Is there some basic reason why you never regenerate the install images? Right now the F19 install images use some ancient 3.9-based kernel. Which means that they may boot on most machines, but it’s missing wireless ID’s for new laptops etc, so making it useful is unnecessarily painful.”

When Red Hat developers explained they didn’t have enough money to test Fedora properly with a more up-to-date kernel and they didn’t want to release a product that might not work on some hardware, Torvalds replied:

“Because right now you say ‘we don’t have Q&A to verify the images’, and I’m telling you ‘that’s bullshit, because the old image is known to be broken, so claiming that the new images might be broken is all kinds of stupid, isn’t it’?

“And no +Lukáš Zapletal , I don’t want to have rawhide images. I want to get a stable F19 install. And if you have Q&A issues, you’ll have angry users that did ‘yum upgrade’ and it resulted in a non-working system for them.

“So all your arguments are just f*cking stupid. Call it F19.x, warn people that it’s ‘more up-to-date’, and just stop making stupid excuses for having an image THAT DOES NOT WORK, because you want to not test whether the new image MIGHT NOT WORK.”

PHP-logoWe just love it when Linus talks dirty.

PHP website compromised by malware

PCWorld reported yesterday that was unreachable for a number of days for users of some browsers, which was just as well since accessing the site exposed visitors to malware. The site was blacklisted after it was hacked and Google’s crawlers discovered it trying to deliver a dirty payload:

“The site was blacklisted early Thursday by Google Safe Browsing, a service used by Google Search, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to prevent users from visiting malicious websites. As a result, Chrome and Firefox users who tried to access over the course of several hours Thursday were warned that the site contained malware.

“The PHP Group, which maintains the website and the PHP distribution packages, initially thought the warning was the result of a Google Safe Browsing detection error. ‘It appears Google has found a false positive and marked all of as suspicious,’ Rasmus Lerdorf, the creator of PHP, said on Twitter.

“But a more in-depth investigation revealed that the userprefs.js file had been modified repeatedly as a result of an intrusion, the PHP Group said in a message on ‘We are still investigating how someone caused that file to be changed, but in the meantime we have migrated www/static to new clean servers,’ the group said, adding that there’s no evidence of the compromise extending to the PHP distribution files.”

The PCWorld article went on to note that sites like, which are used primarily by developers, might be valuable targets for black hat crackers:

“PHP developers can be valuable targets for attackers because their computers usually contain intellectual property like source code and other sensitive information, including log-in credentials for websites they maintain. Many developers are also likely to visit from company-issued computers, and compromising those computers could allow attackers to access corporate networks.”

“All Things Open” to return

IT-oLogy's Todd Lewis
Todd Lewis, Conference Chair for All Things Open and Executive Director of IT-oLogy/Columbus
At the closing ceremonies for the All Things Open conference in Raleigh on Thursday, Conference Chair and Executive Director of IT-oLogy/Columbia, Todd Lewis, announced that the conference will definitely be back for an encore performance in 2014. Lewis said his hope is for All Things Open to become the premiere open source conference on the East Coast of the United States.

From what we understand, the attendance at this inaugural event far exceeded expectations. A spokesperson for IT-oLogy, the host organization, told FOSS Force they had been hoping to attract at least 300 people to the event and had prepared for 500. In the end, about 800 folks attended the two-day conference. Next year’s event is scheduled to take place on October 22 and 23, 2014.

Right now, our Christine Hall is busy at work on a series of articles about the event that we plan to start publishing early next week.


Well, that’s going to do it for today. Until our next Week In Review, may the FOSS be with you…


  1. Marcus Rhodes Marcus Rhodes October 26, 2013

    So, how do we express our feelings to Mr. Shuttleworth about these comments? I mean besides downloading Maté or Cinnamon instead of Mir/Unity. Which I’ve already done. Though he apparently still doesn’t get it. Because he thinks that I and those like me are just being political. And what’s he being? Stupid, stubborn, AND political, wanting too much to ‘brand’ Ubuntu, making it what he really wants rather than making it what we, his consumers and erstwhile advocates, really want. He just stole Microsoft’s cause-I-said-so crown. I mean, the numbers don’t lie, Mark. Wake up and smell the smoke, man. Your house is on fire! And you freaking lit it yourself!

  2. Darren Darren October 27, 2013

    Why can’t people just give it up, it’s his pet projects to make or break. You don’t have to like it, deal with it. He will either make money off of it, move on to something else or you will have to move to one of the hundreds of other distros when Canonical folds. Which I doubt will happen any time soon, enough people DO still like what he is doing and I am sure Mr Shuttleworth will get along fine without you and your friends blessings. And, no, I don’t like or use Unity either, but whatever. He can do what he wants, live and let live. To me the jury is still out on Mir until it makes prime time.
    When I started with Linux years ago I didn’t know there was so much pointless hate, kind of sad. Pick who you want to support and ignore the rest, easy.

  3. Marcus Rhodes Marcus Rhodes October 27, 2013

    What are you? A shill? An Evangelist? Chris Crocker?

    This is what ‘the community’ does. We talk. We express our opinions. Although, in this case, he expressed his. And not only in a rather rude and condescending fashion, but even in a dishonest fashion, dismissing critics as political. Now you deal with that.

    I for one am a huge fan of Linux. I’ve switched my entire family to it. I was a huge fan of Ubuntu. Now I’m just a partial fan. They need to add Mate to the repos, maybe even make and support a Mubuntu, to get me fully on board again.

    And, by the way, I’m just as disgusted with KDE and Gnome, and refuse to use either. And when they deign to insult me for my choices, I’ll be unloading on them, too.

  4. Darren Darren October 28, 2013

    What are you? A shill? An Evangelist? Chris Crocker?

    lol, not everything has to be politically motivated and if you must know I’m agnostic. Much of the ‘talk’ you are referring to is just ranting from people not getting their way. Your labels for me are hilarious btw though not very well thought up.

    Everyone is free to discuss what they like or dislike but the hate goes farther. If more people discussed, rather than demanded, Linux would move forward faster. Act like adults, not bratty teenagers who feel powerless.

    Ironically, we agree on some points, like your suggestion of Mate being added and not liking KDE/Gnome, but we have the freedom to choose. I am still waiting to find my ‘perfect distro’, but the way Linux evolves that will probably never happen and that keeps things exciting, I like change.

    As to the insult from Shuttleworth, I think he had enough with the constant ranting and acid tones because people are trying to manipulate what he wants by threats and insults and he had enough. If you REALLY don’t like it, get your own group/company and fork it or start from scratch. Make your own Ubuntu on Wayland or Mubuntu and if you don’t have that ability, I don’t, then put word out on forums to people that DO have the resources and abilities to do it. Ubuntu child distros aren’t new…

  5. CFWhitman CFWhitman October 28, 2013

    Shuttleworth is being disingenuous to claim that the anti-Mir sentiments are politically motivated. The motivation is that Wayland is already in development (which Canonical is clearly aware of since apparently some of the code for Wayland jumpstarted the Mir effort), but Canonical is developing something else instead. This would be fine for an app; that happens all the time. Wayland and Mir, however, are both attempting to replace Xorg, which is a pervasive display technology. It’s at a low enough level where two differing standards could be considered fragmentation. Fragmentation is not a good thing (and no, generally Linux is not fragmented despite all the claims to the contrary by critics).

    Of course, Canonical’s motivation is about having something that they can use for Ubuntu Touch as well as regular Ubuntu. How much effort they made to cooperate with Wayland developers for what they needed I don’t know. If they tried, but could not come to an agreement with the Wayland developers, then their actions may be understandable. If they made no attempt, then the development of Mir seems reckless.

    This type of thing usually leads to the ascendancy of one project and the withering of the other. It’s likely that either Ubuntu will have to support the possibility of Wayland, or that everyone else will start using Mir. If the former happens, then Canonical may be able to keep Mir from withering for the sake of their mobile efforts, but the price of the division from the rest of Linux may be a big one.

  6. heldeman heldeman October 28, 2013

    Mark do not worry about the always negative haters which still use Ubuntu but will not admit it. They should go back to their Windows. We believe you are on the right track and your one for all systems will triumph.

  7. Darren Darren October 28, 2013

    It is refreshing to see constructive arguments, though there are still a lot of important ifs in there. It will be interesting how Wayland/Mir plays out, too bad many of the real details seem to be hidden and are just rumours and conspiracy theories. I very much agree that this type of division would be bad for the community but I really don’t think that Shuttleworth is out to divide Linux as, if nothing else, that would be very bad for business.

  8. heldeman heldeman October 28, 2013

    I believe Mark are not even thinking of division. Shurely he would not have started Mir if he tought Wayland were what is needed for the ‘all for one system’ and the graphics. Surely the time and money could be used better for something else if it were so. Yes keep up the constructive and posetive arguments.

  9. tim lovejoy tim lovejoy October 30, 2013

    It wasnt just about the joke but the attacks are very much “youre either with me or against me” mentality that Mark has used more and more.
    I do suggest you read Seigo’s response, Grasslin’s response and Lennart’s response and you will see that they keep the discourse very polite but also back it up with solid technical reasons and stay away from the “you hate us for political reasons” rhetoric being spewed at them.

    you are right about being able to do what you want with GPL software, you can even use it with Ubuntu’s CLA which might qualify as open source friendly but is all about consolidating the power in Canonical’s hands.
    they can do it if they want, you are right but the CLA guarantees that very few developers would jump into their project allow them to them respond in the childish manner mark did.

  10. heldeman heldeman October 31, 2013

    “you hate us for political reasons”. Please listen to your self.
    “but the CLA guarantees that very few developers would jump into their project allow them to them respond in the childish manner mark did”. I know some developers that’s more excited than ever before. My self, I am over excited.

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