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Article from Issue 215/2018

This month in the news: Chromebooks support Debian applications, Opera embraces Snap for Linux, Canonical fixes boot failure issues in Ubuntu, weird unofficial LibreOffice version shows up in the Microsoft Store, new version of the Spectre vulnerability allows attack from the network, and SUSE sold for $2.5 Billion. 

Chromebooks Support Debian Applications

Google is finally bringing the ability to install and run traditional Linux apps in Chrome OS. The company announced Project Crostini back in May during the Google I/O event. Initially, it was announced for Google Pixel, but support for Linux started landing on supported devices recently.

Chrome Unboxed, a site that covers Chrome OS, reported that they have managed to install Debian apps on Chromebook (https://chromeunboxed.com/news/chrome-os-linux-debian-packages-chromebook-crostini).

If you are running the dev channel of Chrome OS, you can easily enable support for Linux on Chromebooks. All you need to do is go to Settings | About Chrome OS | Detailed build information and change the channel from stable to dev. It will ask you to power wash your device, which means deleting all data and reformatting the machine. Once the device is power washed, you would be running the latest dev branch of Chrome OS.

Users running the dev channel will notice an option to enable Linux apps under the Settings | Device option. Once you enable Linux, it will download and install the terminal app, which runs Debian with custom packages.

Users can simply run apt-get to update Debian on Chromebook and install desired apps. Of course, it's just the beginning and things need to be ironed out.

Opera Embraces Snap for Linux

Ubuntu's Snap is gaining popularity. After Microsoft, now Opera is backing the Snap packaging format to distribute their apps to the Linux platform. Opera may not be one of the most popular browsers today, but they did a lot of innovation in the past, including tabs, saved sessions, pop-up blocking, and speed dial. Opera and Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, worked together to bring Opera web browser to Linux and Snap (https://www.operasoftware.com/press/releases/desktop/2018-08-02).

"The addition of Opera to the Snap Store enables users of all major Linux distributions to benefit from the auto-updating and security features that Snap provides. The Opera Snap is supported on Debian, Fedora, Linux Mint, Manjaro, Elementary, openSUSE, Ubuntu, and more distributions," Canonical said in a press release.

"We are delighted to welcome Opera to the Snap Store and further expand the choice of applications available to the Linux community. It is popular applications, such as Opera, that have driven the impressive growth of new Snaps to the store and ever-increasing user installs over the last year," added Jamie Bennett, VP of engineering, IoT, and devices at Canonical.

To those who don't know, Snaps are containerized software packages, inspired by Docker containers, that are designed to offer isolation as well as fully self-contained packages that don't rely on system libraries and dependencies. As a result, developers can use the latest libraries and offer new features without being tied to the system. Snaps also help in treating Linux as a single platform instead of looking at each distro as a platform.

Snaps may help bring more mainstream apps to Linux.

Canonical Fixes Boot Failure Issues in Ubuntu

Canonical has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with patches and vulnerabilities. Canonical has released an update that fixes boot failures of machines running Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and 16.04 LTS.

Earlier this month, Canonical released security updates (USN-3695-1) for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to fix six known vulnerabilities. According to the Ubuntu advisory, "Unfortunately, the fix for CVE-2018-1108 introduced a regression where insufficient early entropy prevented services from starting, leading in some situations to a failure to boot."

The latest update fixes the regressions. Canonical urges users to update their systems immediately. If you have installed any third-party kernel modules, you will have to recompile and reinstall them.

"Due to an unavoidable ABI change, the kernel updates have been given a new version number, which requires you to recompile and reinstall all third-party kernel modules you might have installed. Unless you manually uninstalled the standard kernel metapackages (e.g., linux-generic, linux-generic-lts-RELEASE, linux-virtual, linux-powerpc), a standard system upgrade will automatically perform this as well."

This is the third time Canonical has released fixes in the last 30 days. In June, Canonical released a patch for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS that lead to boot failure on some machines.

Source: https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-security-announce/2018-July/004503.html

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