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Posts published in “Software”

Will Oracle Wake Up & Smell the Java?

Does Oracle not know their own code?

I’m talking about Java. You know, the write-once-run-anywhere platform that seems to be severely broken from a security viewpoint, rendering it more than useless when used inside a browser.

Oracle, the company that’s owned Java since purchasing Sun Microsystems in 2010, seems to be clueless. Back in October the company pushed out a patch to fix some security holes that were already being exploited. There were complaints at the time that they were being secretive, saying little to nothing publicly about the problem, acting as if they were sweeping dust under a rug. Indeed, two months earlier, in August, the founder and CEO of the Polish security firm Security Explorations, Adam Gowdiak, told PCWorld that Oracle had known about the security problem for months:

Oracle’s Quick Java Patch–Too Little Too Late?

On Sunday, Oracle pushed an “unscheduled” patch to fix a security hole in Java that had prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to take the unprecedented step of advising all Internet users to disable browser-side Java. The hole was already being exploited in the wild when white hats brought it to the public’s attention last week, mainly being used to install “ransomware.”

Despite Oracle’s assurances that it’s safe for surfers to go back in the water, security experts remain uncertain about the safety of Java. On Information Week, writer Mathew J. Schwartz quotes at least one security expert who gives the security patch a thumbs up:

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

When Free Software Isn’t Free

Wowie-zowie! How truly great is Windows, which offers up so much fun stuff we never get to see running Linux.

Yesterday while searching through tech sites looking for articles to use on our Facebook feed, I ran across a review of a free utility application for Windows. The program, Toolbar Cleaner, basically aids the user in removing unnecessary programs that might be slowing a Windows machine down, such as toolbars and browser plugins and extensions. Need I mention that most toolbars were probably installed by other free programs for Windows?

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Some Prominent Open Source Forks

Penguinistas used to worry about the dreaded fork, especially of Linux. “What if Linux forks and becomes like Unix?” was a question often being posed in the open source media. Linus Torvalds would do his best to put those fears to rest, explaining that under the GPL forks are usually to be welcomed.

He was of the opinion that if a fork improves a product and is liked by the users, those changes will almost certainly be rolled back into the originating application. If not, and the fork is indeed a marked improvement on the original, then the fork becomes the standard bearer at the expense of the original application.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Create a Bootable Live USB Thumb Drive or Rescue Drive Using UNetbootin

A few weeks ago when two ISO images I burned to CDs failed to produce a working live CD intended for a laptop, someone on a distro forum figured the problem was with the CDs. This was a good guess, as the MD5 checksum on the download had matched the source. He suggested I make a bootable USB drive using UNetbootin.

Unetbootin screen shotUnetbootin screen shot
Unetbootin screen shot
I’d never heard of UNetbootin before, but I immediately found it at Sourceforge and downloaded it to the Windows desktop I was using. After studying the simple GUI for a moment, I inserted a thumb drive into a USB port. A few clicks of the mouse later, UNetbootin was extracting and copying files to the thumb drive. A couple of minutes later, I removed the drive from the Windows box, made sure the laptop was set up to boot from USB, crossed my fingers and booted. Less than a minute later I was looking at the desktop for the distro I was testing. It was that simple.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

UEFI Plans & Workarounds, Skype Invokes DMCA, Microsoft’s Samba Code

Friday FOSS Week in Review

Here we go, Friday FOSS Week in Review, Special Tuesday Edition. I’ve got to find a way to schedule my time better so I can stay on deadline. This coming Friday’s going to be difficult, as I have a dentist appointment and FWIR can’t really be written in advance, so expect it to be published on Saturday – but I’m still hoping for Friday. In the meantime, I’m working on adjusting my schedule so this column will be published in a more timely fashion in the future. Like on Fridays, when its supposed to be.

That’s the bad news. The good news, at least for us news hounds, is that last week there were quite a few items of interest for the FOSS community. At least I found them to be items of interest. I’ll let you decide for yourself.

UEFI Secure Boot Gets Complicated

There were a ton of articles written about UEFI and Secure Boot last week, and the more I read about possible workarounds to allow the average Linux distro to boot on Windows 8 certified machines, the more confused I get. This bothers me, because if I’m confused what does that mean about the person who’s never dealt with anything other than Windows, DOS or one of the Apple OSes, who might be getting ready to make that first leap into the Linux world?

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Can Penguins Dance on a Dell, Will Reiser File Again, Are Samsung and Intel Going to the Prom?

Friday FOSS Week in Review

The biggest news this week has centered around fears that Linux may become uninstallable on Wintel machines from the big OEM’s. But there’s been more. Some fun stuff. Some silly stuff. Some stuff that might eventually develop into something important…

Secure Boot Has Penguinistas Buzzing

Last week on FWIR I mentioned there was a storm beginning to brew around Windows 8 and secure boot, which could potentially keep Linux from being installed on some computers once they’re implemented. Well, it’s not just brewing anymore, it’s a full fledged storm with hurricane force winds.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Will Oracle Turn MySQL Into ‘Crippleware?’

Since Oracle obtained MySQL in the Sun takeover, many FOSS folks have been wary of Oracle’s plans for the open source database, a wariness that wasn’t eased by Oracle’s handling of the OpenOffice/LibreOffice split. When a couple of weeks ago we learned that Oracle has added three commercial extensions to MySQL, many figured that was the beginning of the end of MySQL as a free and open project.

According to The Register, the commercial extensions offer “…thread pool scalability, a pluggable API for PAM and Windows authentication, and additions to Oracle VM and Windows Server failover clustering support within MySQL Enterprise.”

From the moment this story was published, Oracle’s been working to spin this as “good for FOSS.” The Register article mentioned above quotes Giuseppe Maxia, former MySQL community team member, who predicts the negative response from the FOSS community, which he then pooh-poohed:

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Congress Considers Stepping on Rights, Windows Mobile Share Nil & Whose DNA Is It Anyway?

Friday FOSS Week in Review

With the Black Hat Conference going on in Las Vegas, and with Congress messing around where they shouldn’t, this has been a busy week in the FOSS world. Some of the news is good; some of the news is not so good. I’ll start with a rant…

Proposed Data Retention Bill Would Chill Free Speech

The House will soon be considering a bill that will require ISP’s to maintain logs of their customers Internet use for a 12 month period. As I understand it, the law would include a customer’s browsing history, credit card numbers, etc. The stated purpose of the proposed law is to catch pedophiles visiting child porn sites, but everybody who knows anything about the Internet agrees it won’t be very effective at doing that. What it will do, if enacted, is bring Orwell’s “Big Brother” vision a little closer to home and make your network connected devices look even more like telescreens than they do now.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Top 10 Reasons to Switch to Windows

Here we go again, stealing the IP of David Letterman. Actually we found some prior art on this so we think we’re okay – so we offer this week’s Top Ten list!

  1. Those nifty file extensions.
  2. The always there when you need it “control-alt-delete” function.
  3. It’ll execute any file, right out of the box, without any prompting from you!
  4. How can the company that gave us ActiveX go wrong?
  5. Buy now and they’ll throw-in antivirus and a firewall absolutely free – a $200 value!
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