Jul 23, 2014 GMTSuddenly, every other free software project seems to be crowdfunding -- and those that aren't will probably be trying tomorrow. In three years, crowdfunding has gone from an exciting innovation to something almost everyone is trying. Yet its very success makes me wonder: is there a limit to the money that can be raised by donation? And what happens when we reach it?"Saturation" is the term used in marketing to define this limit. It refers to a market in which everyone who wants a product has bought it, and future sales are limited mostly to replacements. In North America, cars and many household appliances reached saturation several decades ago, so the results are well-known --...
Off the Beat: Bruce Byfield's Blog
Jul 16, 2014 GMTThe release of KDE Plasma 5 is mostly a technical event. However, one fact that is being mostly ignored is that Plasma 5 is the first release in which the KDE Visual Design Group has been at work, attempting to improve Plasma visually. Which raises the question: how successful is this effort?The Visual Design Group is overdue in KDE. Over the last fifteen years, the KDE desktop has offered everything in default themes from a blocky, plastic theme that resembles plastic children's toys to a metallic modern minimalism, but has never approached design systematically. Unlike GNOME, KDE has never encouraged consistent design principles, with the result that some utilities, such as the System...
Jul 08, 2014 GMTI know several people who make a habit of changing distributions every few weeks. They install a new distribution, and for a few days they have nothing but praise for it. But the honeymoon soon ends, the complaints start, and they are back hunting for the perfect version of Linux.It's a cycle that remains foreign to me. My first distribution was Mandrake, but I soon settled on Debian, and, fifteen years later, at least three-quarters of my computing remains on Debian. Partly, the choice was due to the fact that I worked for two Debian-related startups in a row. However, the main reason was that Debian fulfilled all the requirements I wanted in a main workstation: it was stable, and had a...
Jun 30, 2014 GMTFifteen years ago this week, free software became a major part of my life. It was a change that took me to places I never imagined, and introduced me to people I otherwise would never have met, almost none of which I regret.At the time, I wasn't a complete stranger to free software. I had tried installing Linux a couple of times without any success. My last contract, too, had been documenting a Slackware system, even though it had been described to me, somewhat misleadingly, as a type of Unix.Then, I went to an apparently routine job interview that turned out to be for a writer for a new distribution. By the time the interview was over, I had fallen down the rabbit hole.As Stan Rogers...
Jun 27, 2014 GMTLast week, I did a fresh install of Fedora for the first time in several years. The installer, I noticed immediately, had become an example of minimalism -- that is, its screens were heavy on the visual and as light as possible on the words. Almost immediately, I found myself fumbling, trapped in an presentation of information that was foreign to me, and wondering how intellectually limited I must be that I had trouble with such a simple design.At first, I thought the problem was that I am far more verbally oriented than visually. Unlike many people, I never thought found the Debian installer that difficult -- even before the current version was introduced. If anything, the Debian...
Jun 18, 2014 GMTMost modern email readers support encryption, but that's only half the story. Despite the growing public interest in security and privacy, most readers are still designed on the principle that if you want encryption, you will have no trouble figuring how to configure it.To say the least, this is an ungrounded assumption. All too often, poor documentation and interface design, as well as complicated procedures conspire to keep encrypted email out of the reach of all but the expert or patient few. A little research may tell you that you need a PGP public key, but how easy is it to made your email reader aware of the key?Here's how seven of the most popular email readers on Linux answer that...
Jun 10, 2014 GMTThe Free Software Foundation (FSF) took a step in the right direction when it recently released Email Self-Defense, a guide to encrypting email using Enigmail and GNUPG. More screen shots might improve it, but on the whole it's a clear and well-organized explanation of a topic that puzzles even some intermediate users. I suspect, however, that to get people to encrypt email is not so much a matter of releasing clear instructions -- many of which already exist -- as a matter of overcoming deeply embedded attitudes.Admittedly, privacy and personal security have become popular topics in the media over the last couple of years. However, to conclude from this popularity that people actually...
New tool will look like GParted but support a wider range of storage technologies.
New public key pinning feature will help prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.
Carnegie Mellon researchers say 3 million pages could fall down the phishing hole in the next year.
The US government rolls new best-practice rules for protecting SSH.
Klaus Knopper announces the latest version of his iconic Live Linux system.
All websites that use these popular CMS tools could be vulnerable to denial of service attacks if users don't install the updates.
According to a report, many potential victims of the Heartbleed attack have patched their systems, but few have cleaned up the crime scene to protect themselves from the effects of a previous intrusion.
DARPA and NICTA release the code for the ultra-secure microkernel system used in aerial drones.
Should you trust an online service to store your online passwords?
New B+ board lets you build cool things without the complication of a powered USB hub.