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Ubuntu Returns to Gnome as Its Mobile Plans Shatter

April has been a rough month for Canonical. On April 5, 2017, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced that they are abandoning their mobile plans. Shuttleworth wrote in a blog post, "I'm writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity 8, the phone and convergence shell."

Ubuntu phones and tablets never really took off. I received a review unit of the device and it lacked core features that a user would expect from a mobile device. Canonical didn't manage to get big brands on board, and the fate of Ubuntu Mobile was sealed. According to some media reports, Ubuntu mobile devices will stop getting updates after June this year, although Canonical has not released a public advisory. Official Ubuntu Phone and Tablet pages are now showing a 404 error instead of relaying a message about funding the project.

With Unity out of the way, the 18.04 release of Ubuntu will return to a complete Gnome desktop, including the shell. The good news is that an official Gnome flavor of Ubuntu, called Ubuntu Gnome, already exists.

Henceforth, there will be no separate flavor of Ubuntu Gnome. Jeremy Bicha, an Ubuntu Gnome developer wrote in a blog post: "The development teams from both Ubuntu Gnome and Ubuntu Desktop will be merging resources and focusing on a single combined release that provides the best of both Gnome and Ubuntu."

The Ubuntu Gnome project is working with Canonical teams to figure out how the merging is going to work. It might be prudent for Canonical to move the base of Ubuntu 17.10 to Gnome so that they have enough time to iron out bugs by the 18.04 long-term release.

Moving back to Gnome might also mean Canonical will adopt Wayland and drop its own display server Mir, but the company has not relayed a message regarding the future of Mir.

In related news, Jane Silber stepped down from the position of CEO of Canonical as Shuttleworth resumes leadership of the company. Canonical also let go of more than 80 employees, who were working on projects that Canonical is abandoning.

According to some media outlets, Canonical is seeking outside investors. The Register reported: "These investors determined that Canonical was overstaffed and some projects lacked focus."

Intel Has a Serious Remote Management Problem

Researchers have found a critical vulnerability in Intel's remote management technology that allows attackers to gain remote access to millions of systems running on Intel chips.

The vulnerability affects every laptop, PC, and server that has Intel Active Management Technology (AMT), Intel Standard Manageability (ISM), or Intel Small Business Technology (SBT) features enabled. Intel Macs do not ship with the AMT software, so they are not affected.

These remote management features are enabled on many vPro chips and allow IT admins to manage systems remotely across the organization.

Although the system is protected through username and password, Maksim Malyutin, a researcher at embedded security firm Embedi, discovered that the protection can be bypassed using simple tools. He discovered it while reverse engineering AMT, which also shows how important it is to allow reverse engineering of products.

Intel has implemented and validated a firmware update to address the problem and is working with computer makers to integrate the fix with their software.

Intel expects that computer makers will make updates available beginning the week of May 8 and continuing thereafter.

Intel has issued some tips to people and companies using business PCs and devices that incorporate AMT, ISM, or SBT to ensure the security of their system.

The Linux Foundation and Microsoft Offer IoT Platforms

IoT is gaining some serious traction, both in consumer and industrial space. On the open source side of the spectrum, the Linux Foundation has announced EdgeX Foundry project to bring together IoT vendors to collaborate on a common open framework.

The Foundry is so far the biggest industry collaboration, with more than 50 members. "The initiative is aligned around a common goal: the simplification and standardization of Industrial IoT edge computing, while still allowing the ecosystem to add significant value," said the Foundry in a press release.

On the proprietary side, Microsoft has announced Microsoft IoT Central, a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) that's built on top of Azure cloud to make it easier for customers to build IoT solutions.

"Microsoft IoT Central will be available along with our existing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution, Azure IoT Suite, which enables deep customization and full control. This new IoT SaaS offering has the potential to dramatically increase the speed at which manufacturers can innovate and bring new products to market, as well as lower the barriers to creating IoT solutions that generate new revenue opportunities and better experiences for customers," Microsoft wrote in a blog post.

Despite being a top tier Linux Foundation member, Microsoft is missing from the list of companies supporting the EdgeX Foundry project. The announcements came at the same time, so it will be interesting to see whether Microsoft will join forces with the Foundry on the IoT front end.

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