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FOSS Week in Review: Kali Cleans House, Kalendar Becomes Merkuro, Brave’s Unfree Assistant, & More…

The cryptocurrency funded Brave Browser has a new proprietary AI assistant; new versions of Kali, KDE Gear, and LibreOffice; with changes on the way in The Document Foundation’s versioning scheme.

Hindu goddess Kali
Hindu goddess Kali, who is considered to be the master of death, time and change. She is also said to be the Parvati, the supreme of all powers, or the ultimate reality. Subhrajyoti07, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Well, ya might have noticed that I somehow missed last week’s FWIR. Busy, busy, busy, which unfortunately means that forces other than FOSS Force are vying for my time. I’ll be writing about that next week…maybe. Look for it, it’ll be an interesting read if I do, a tale filled with cancer surgery (not me but in my home), followed by emergency brain surgery (also, not me but in my home), all in the midst of losing the home we’ve been renting for 30 years (just when rentals are either not available or priced so high that my retirement savings be gone in a few years).

Oy vey.

Anyway, we have plenty of news briefs for this week, so lets delve right in.

New Kali Linux Release

Kali Linux, the Debian-based distribution that most security experts keep in their toolboxes because of its collection of security and forensics tools, is out with a new release, Kali 2023.3.

“This release … does not have the most features in it, as a lot of the changes have been behind-the-scenes, which brings a huge benefit to us and an indirect positive effect to you as end-users,” the devs say in their announcement of the new release. “It always goes without saying, but there are a number of new packages and tools as well as the standard updates.”

Mainly, however, the folks at Kali say they’ve been doing some internal housecleaning to make their jobs easier going forward.

“With the release of Debian 12 which came out this summer, we took this opportunity to rework, redesign, and re-architecture our infrastructure,” they said. “It is as massive as it sounds, and should not be a surprise that it’s not yet complete! This is where a good amount of our focus has been for this release-cycle (and also the next one unfortunately). We are hoping that the majority of it will be done by the end of the year (so we can get back to what we do best!).”

That doesn’t mean that Kali’s new version is without plenty of changes however.

KDE Gear 23.08

While the folks at Kali have been busy doing their spring cleaning in the summer, the devs at KDE have been busy getting KDE Gear 23.08 ready to roll out the door. This happened on Thursday.

In case you don’t know, KDE Gear (or KDE Applications as it once was called) is basically the set of applications that KDE develops and maintains for Plasma, KDE’s Linux desktop environment. The good news is that you can run these apps on your Linux desktop no matter what DE you use, with the apps available through your distro’s repository, as well as through Flathub and Snapcraft, for those who prefer to travel the containerized route.

The bad news is that unless you want to grab the source code from KDE and do the compiling yourself, you’ll have to wait for your distro devs to do their magic and get them in the repository, or for them to be packaged as Flatpaks and Snaps, meaning it’s hurry-up-and-wait time.

The biggest news about this new release is that Kalendar no longer exists (at least not under that name, and even under a different name its a much expanded Kalendar). Kalendar is now “Merkuro,” to address the fact that the app now includes a contact manager (and will evidently be adding an email client in the near future). What fun, eh?

But that’s not all! In fact, there are so many cool and groovy improvements to Gear that I’m not even going to attempt to cover them here — but I will have an article out covering them all which will go live either this weekend or first thing Monday morning, so “watch this space” as the lady on the TV news channel likes to say.

Brave Browser’s AI Assistant Is (Gasp!) Proprietary

The mostly open-source and for-profit Brave browser on Wednesday told us that it now has a native AI assistant called ‘Leo’ that’s built into the Browser and is now available for testing, feedback, and such, which to me means it’s in beta… or something.

Personally, I won’t even be looking at it, because I gave up using Brave quite a while ago. I used it for a time, and liked it so much that for about a year it was my goto browser. The trouble is that it earns its money by pushing cryptocurrency down the throats (actually, the eyeballs) of its users.

Since I feel dirty, and like I need to take a shower, whenever I’m around crypto con artists salespeople, I finally said goodbye to the browser and went back to something else. It was a sad goodbye, because I really, really, really liked the browser.

But getting back to the AI assistant. It’s not open-source, mainly because it utilizes Meta’s Llama 2 software which is released under one of those Fauxpen “source available” licenses, which wouldn’t be enough to keep me from using it if I wanted it, but I don’t so I won’t.

If you’re interested, the folks at the “It’s FOSS” website took it out for a test drive, so you can read about it there.

LibreOffice’s Upcoming New Scheme

Also on Wednesday, LibreOffice announced the release of LibreOffice 7.6, as the latest and greatest community edition (meaning free as in speech and beer) of its office productivity suite. That’s great and all, and there are plenty of improvements that you can look at here, but that’s just business as usual for this project and not the most interesting part of this story.

More interesting to me is the news that after this, the folks at The Document Foundation (LibreOffice’s home when it’s not living on your computer) has come up with a whole new versioning scheme moving forward.

In the future, instead of putting the current major versioning number ahead of a decimal (in this case “7”) and follow the decimal with the minor point release number (in this case “6”), we’re going to see the last two digits of the year of the release in front of the decimal, and the month the release was issued following the decimal. In other words, when the next release comes out in February, it will be LibreOffice 24.2.

Got it? Good.


Well, that does it for now. Did I tell you I’ve rented a new house? I’m on my way to get it cleaned up a bit before I start getting ready to move the furniture.

I’ll see you next Friday for the next FOSS Week in Review. Until then, may the FOSS be with you…

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