Galicia embraces open source

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The government of Galicia (Spain) has made available three open source solutions over the past year, one for PC classrooms, one for land-management, and a third for computer network enhancement. The tools are available at Galicia’s software repository, and information about the solutions is now also available at Spain’s Centre for Technology Transfer (CTT).

Adding the three to CTT’s catalogue will help dissemination of the tools, Galicia explains in a statement on 8 June. Adding the tools to CTT’s catalogue is also a requirement of Spain’s national interoperability framework, the government notes.

The first software solution added by Galicia is XEA. This web application helps to manage all the resources of PC classrooms. Amtega, Galicia’s agency for technological modernisation, manages 98 such classrooms across the region. XEA allows users to find out which trainings are currently being offered and lets them register. At the same time, XEA helps local classrooms to plan activities. The PC classrooms are part of Galicia’s so-called CEMIT project, aiming to reduce the digital divide by offering free courses.

XEA is an adaptation of a solution developed for the region of Castille and Leon, called ISIS.

The second solution, Desourb, which stands for sustainable urban development, is a land-management planning tool. The software allows for combining sets of geographic data to be used for research and analysis. The tool is an outcome of a collaborative project involving administrations in Portugal and Spain, and is partly funded by the European Union.

The third tool, called Concurrent Cache Manager (CMM), is aimed at IT system administrators, and helps speed-up the exchange of data between public employment agency of the region and the state. The software, a collection of Java modules, can be used by any regional employment service that connects to Spain’s public employment agency.

All three projects are published under the Apache software license.

read more at:

https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/community/osor/news/galicia-publishes-open-source-tools

170 Primary Public Schools In Geneva Switch To Ubuntu

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Primary Schools in Geneva switch to Ubuntu

Schools in Geneva, Switzerland have taken a key step in switching from standard software to open source software based on Ubuntu Linux. A key step to saving money for hard pressed school districts.

In a drive to get rid of proprietary software, all primary and secondary schools in Geneva, Switzerland will be switching to switching to GNU/Linux. PCs used by teachers and students in these schools will run Ubuntu instead of other proprietary operating system (read Windows). In fact, PCs in 170 primary public schools are already running Ubuntu while 20 secondary schools will do the switch in next school year.

Each classroom has one PC that can be used by the teachers and the students in primary schools. All of these run Ubuntu now. The switch in secondary schools has not been completed yet as one of the language tool only runs on Windows:

“Where possible, we’ll be phasing out the proprietary systems. For now, one language teaching tool will only work on a proprietary operating system, so we will not be able to get rid of them all.”

Years of effort

‘Service écoles-médias‘ (SEM), part of Geneva’s IT department, moved to Ubuntu instead of upgrading to Windows 8 after Windows XP support ended. But it was not a sudden move. SEM had been planning the switch to GNU/Linux for some years. It created the inventory of PC hardware and networking capabilities. It also searched and tested the alternative applications in Linux to replace the existing prosperity software.

In addition, it created a detailed user guide for teachers and students, organize teacher trainings and host an online forum for teachers to make them at home with GNU/Linux.
Ups and downs

The biggest thing in favor of the switch was the ease with which Ubuntu works. Roiron, head f the Open Standards and Free Software project at the Geneva State Department for Education, said “We’ve showed them how easy it is to use Ubuntu, and how we can help in several ways, including on-site and remote.”

read more at:  http://itsfoss.com/170-primary-public-schools-geneva-switch-ubuntu/

 

Also see further news on successful adoption of Ubuntu by schools:

School: Ubuntu & open source reduces PC troubleshooting

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Using open source in school greatly reduces the time needed to troubleshoot PCs, shows the case of the Colegio Agustinos de León (Augustinian College of León, Spain). In 2013, the school switched to using Ubuntu Linux for its desktop PCs in class rooms and offices. For teachers and staff, the amount of technical issues decreased by 63 per cent and in the school’s computer labs by 90 per cent, says Fernando Lanero, computer science teacher and head of the school’s IT department.

The school in total has 120 PCs used by teachers, staff and students.

“One year after we changed PC operating system, I have objective data on Ubuntu Linux”, Lanero tells Muy Linux, a Spanish Linux news site. By switching to Linux, incidents such as computer viruses, system degradation and many diverse technical issues disappeared instantly.

The change also helps the school save money, he adds. Not having to purchase licences for proprietary operating systems, office suites and anti-virus tools has already saved about EUR 35,000 in the 2014-2015 school year, Lanero says. “Obviously it is much more interesting to invest that money in education.”

Switching to a new desktop PC environment was harder for staff than for students, the computer science teacher says. “Students are eager to work with GNU/Linux, because of its association with hackers. It is adding to their motivation. You cannot imagine how well Wikileak’s Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, a former contractor at America’s National Security Agency, are helping to promote free software.”

Blackboard

The biggest hurdle for the IT department was the use of electronic whiteboards. The school uses 30 of such whiteboards, and their manufacturer does not support the use of Linux. Lanero got the Spanish Linux community involved, and “after their hard work, Ubuntu Linux now includes support for the whiteboards, so now everything is working as it should.”

Other problems were caused by proprietary documents, especially spreadsheets. Some of the more pernicious issues were temporarily resolved by using a cloud-based proprietary office solution, says Lanero, giving the IT department time to complete the switch to open standards-based office solutions. The school now mostly uses the LibreOffice suite of office tools.

read more at:   https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/community/osor/news/school-open-source-reduces-pc-troubleshooting

Great to hear another success story for Ubuntu!

James Goode

Tendron Systems

Automotive Linux Summit – Tokyo 1-2 June 2015

The Automotive Linux Summit gathers together the most innovative minds from automotive expertise and open-source excellence including automotive systems engineers, Linux experts, R&D managers, business executives, open-source licensing and compliance specialists and community developers. The event connects the developer community driving the innovation in this area together with the vendors and users providing and using the code in order to drive the future of embedded devices in the automotive arena.

Who Attends

  • Over 300 attendees will gather at ALS 2015, which will be co-located with LinuxCon + CloudOpen Japan.

Chuck@Home | GPG Made a comeback in my workflow

GPG Cheat Sheet

GPG (Gnu Privacy Guard) is a piece of software that can basically do two things:

encrypt/decrypt every kind of data so that only you or the persons you choose are able to read/use it.
sign/verify data so that you can be sure that the data originates from the person you think it originates from.

Link to the official GPG project
Why use it?

Whether or not you want to use encryption is of course up to you. Something that many people don’t seem to keep in mind is that E-mail is not confidential in any way. It’s as if you were writing on postcards, not even using an envelope. Everyone who happens to handle the e-mail or access the account on the server can read the entire mail without you noticing. If you want any modicum of privacy in your email, tweets, documents, chats – you should defininately consider it. I encrypt my mail traffic and have started signing my mails so recipients have it on good faith that the email has originated from me.

Should they want to send me something in private, the fact I’m signing these e-mails with my public key affords them the opportunity to do so. It’s a win/win – you know it’s me, and you can talk to me in secret if you have some account credentials to mail over (for example).
Keybase.io

I really have to applaud the efforts of keybase.io, trying to make security through GPG a popular item again. I’ve recently seen the volume of PGP verified mail subside as we move to a more mobile web. Abandoning cryptography in the wake of convenience of swiping communications off screen, and not really caring who the originator was. We take full faith from the From: line assuming our Big Provider has done their due dilligence in keeping out the riff raff.

Keybase makes it easier for cryptography noobies to get started, by giving them a Browser based implementation of OpenPGP. There are some concerns there by security experts – as there should be. But there’s nothing stopping you from using normal GPG with the service – and uploading only your public key to Keybase.

In Addendum, they also offer a public verification service – where you can sign messages with your GPG key and have them verified in keybase – to identify that you are who you say you are across some of the most popular online networks.

Pretty cool!

Chuck@Home | GPG Made a comeback in my workflow.

UK makes ODF its official documents format standard

In 2006 and 2007, there was an enormous documents standards war between Microsoft, with its OpenXML documents format, and the open-source community with its Open Document Format (ODF).

In the end, Microsoft, while  eventually supporting ODF , won. ODF, while still supported by such popular open-source office suites as LibreOffice and OpenOffice, became something of an after-thought.

The UK Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude, said in prepared remarks the, “Government will begin using open formats that will ensure that citizens and people working in government can use the applications that best meet their needs when they are viewing or working on documents together.”

Specifically the selected standards are:

  • PDF/A or HTML for viewing government documents
  • ODF for sharing or collaborating on government documents

The UK made this decision, Maude said, because: “Our long-term plan for a stronger economy is all about helping UK businesses grow. We have listened to those who told us that open standards will reduce their costs and make it easier to work with government. This is a major step forward for our digital-by-default agenda which is helping save citizens, businesses and taxpayers £1.2 billion ($2.05bn) over this Parliament.”

Andrew Updegrove, a world-recognized standards expert and founding partner of the law firm Gesmer Updegrove, said on his standards blog, ConsortiumInfo, about the decision:

“The U.K. Cabinet Office accomplished today what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts set out (unsuccessfully) to achieve ten years ago: it formally required compliance with the ODF by software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant.”

In an e-mail interview, Updegrove told ZDNet that it’s been a “very long and difficult road” for anyone watching the saga.

“But in the end, the sound reasons for insisting on truly open, independent standards created with the user and not the vendor in mind has begun to prevail,” he said.

read more at:  http://www.zdnet.com/article/uk-makes-odf-its-official-documents-format-standard/

Judge Clobbers Patent Troll

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Judge Otis Wright of the Central District of California invalidated five claims in one of MyMedicalRecords’ patents in a case involving Walgreens, Quest Diagnostics, WebMD, and more. Wright’s decision [PDF] is one of many new cases that have implemented the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank, a groundbreaking decision that basically says: you can’t make an abstract idea patentable by simply adding “do it on a computer.”

In the case, MyMedicalRecords asserted a patent that covered a method of providing online personal health records in a private, secure way. Wright rightfully found that “the concept of secure record access and management, in the context of personal health records or not, is an age-old idea,” and is therefore abstract.

Now, according to the “Mayo test” that Alice deemed courts should use, an abstract concept could be patentable if it’s associated with some sort of “inventive concept” that goes beyond just the abstract idea.  In the case of MyMedicalRecords’ patent, though, the additional claims fell flat, involving only “routine, conventional functions of a computer and server.” Under Alice, this patent is as good as gone.

What about the other patents MyMedicalRecords mentioned in its demand letters and lawsuits? Those—all similar to the recently invalidated one—are in a precarious position right now. This recent decision sets a strong precedent that should make the company think twice about going after any other healthcare providers, who now have strong ammunition to fight back against infringement claims.

This is great news, but it only comes after the initiation of a lawsuit against some deep-pocketed defendants who had the ability to fight back.

Read more at:   https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/01/patent-troll-cant-stop-people-from-accessing-medical-records-online

European Commission updates its open source policy

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The European Commission (EC) wants to make it easier for its software developers to submit patches and add new functionalities to open source projects. Contributing to open source communities will be made central to the EC’s new open source policy, expects Pierre Damas, Head of Sector at the Directorate General for IT (DIGIT). “We use a lot of open source components that we adapt and integrate, and it is time that we contribute back.”

Damas and his colleagues aim to remove barriers that hinder code contributions to open source software, he announced yesterday at a conference in Brussels. The Commission wants to clarify legal aspects, including intellectual property rights, copyright, and which author or authors to name when submitting code to the upstream repositories. “It is easier said than done,” Damas warned.

He anticipates that reinvigorating the policy will motivate many of the EC’s software developers and functionaries to promote the use of free and open source software at the EC. “Having a strategy helps them to advance the use of open source.” The policy can help nudge others to consider open source, Damas added. “When a little push is needed.”

On Wednesday, December 3, the Head of Sector gave a preview of the EC’s open source policy at a workshop on open standards for ICT procurement. The update of the EC’s policy is a work in progress, and will be finalized in the first months of 2015.

Priority

EC policy makers recognise that open source reduces their ICT costs, makes possible the modernisation of government services and will strengthen European ICT service providers, Damas said. “Our internal policy is changing, and open source use will be given promoted. When procuring software products, we will consider open source alongside proprietary alternatives, based on value for money. In defined areas, for example Information Systems development distributed externally, we will give open source priority.”

The EC is already using a lot of open source tools, he added, including for servers, for its web solutions and on the EC desktops. “We have over 10,000 Apache web servers, over 1800 hosts running Red Hat Linux and Drupal will be the core engine of the new Europa website. Our developers use a lot of open source tools and code libraries.”

Gently disruptive

DIGIT is not considering the restart of a Linux desktop pilot. A small-scale pilot already took place in 2005, with two hands full of EC volunteers at DG INFSO using Linux and OpenOffice, showing that a Linux desktop was feasible, Damas said. However, the exit costs—to move away from the proprietary system—were too high.

Read more:   http://opensource.com/government/14/12/european-commission-update-its-open-source-policy

Fedora 21 : Video Overview and Screenshot Tours

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Fedora 21 has been released and announced by fedora project, This release fedora Fedora-21-Desktop21 available in three flavors: Fedora 21 Cloud, Fedora 21 Server, and Fedora 21 Workstation.

Fedora 21 Workstation The Fedora Workstation is a new take on desktop development from the Fedora community. Our goal is to pick the best components, and integrate and polish them. This work results in a more polished and targeted system than you’ve previously seen from the Fedora desktop. We want our desktop operating system to solve your problems, not be your problem.

Fedora 21 Workstation features all of the latest GNOME 3.14 software, is powered by the Linux 3.17 kernel, and has a ton of other improvements and changes.

Fedora 21 Server The Fedora Server flavor is a common base platform that is meant to run featured application stacks, which are produced, tested, and distributed by the Server Working Group. Want to use Fedora as a Web server, file server, database server, or platform for an Infrastructure-as-a-Service? Fedora 21 Server is for you.

Fedora 21 Cloud : The Fedora Cloud Working Group and Special Interest Group (SIG) has been busy leading up to Fedora 21. Cloud is now a top-level deliverable for Fedora 21, and includes images for use in private cloud environments like OpenStack, as well as AMIs for use on Amazon, and a new “Atomic” image streamlined for running Docker containers.

Read more at:   http://linuxscoop.com/video/fedora-21-video-overview-and-screenshot-tours

Stealth “Turla” Malware Infects Unknown Number of Linux Systems

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The Linux Turla is a new piece of malware designed to infect only Linux computers, which has managed to remain relatively hidden until now and has the potential of doing a lot of harm. Unfortunately, very little is known about it or how to fix it.

During the course of almost a year, the guys at Kaspersky Lab discovered a cyber-espionage operation which they called the “Epic Turla.” According to their research, more than 45 countries have been affected and that includes government institutions, embassies, military, education, research, pharmaceutical companies, and a lot more domains. It seems to be an organized effort, probably with a nation backing it up.

These problems were Windows-only and it looked like it will remain that way, but it turns out that “Turla” did not affect Windows systems exclusively. In fact, Linux systems are also vulnerable, to a different kind of code, which seems to be a part of the same organized effort to compromise computers on a global scale.

I don’t know when. I don’t know where. But something bad is going to happen

This could be something Donald Rumsfeld might say, but the truth is that is almost the conclusion Kaspersky researchers posted on securelist.com. Until now they have only become aware that this problem exists, but it will be hard to fix.

“This newly found Turla component supports Linux for broader system support at victim sites. The attack tool takes us further into the set alongside the Snake rootkit and components first associated with this actor a couple years ago. We suspect that this component was running for years at a victim site, but do not have concrete data to support that statement just yet.”

“The Linux Turla module is a C/C++ executable statically linked against multiple libraries, greatly increasing its file size. It was stripped of symbol information, more likely intended to increase analysis effort than to decrease file size. Its functionality includes hidden network communications, arbitrary remote command execution, and remote management. Much of its code is based on public sources,” wrote the Kaspersky researchers.

From what the researchers have managed to put together until now, it looks like it links to three libraries, glibc2.3.2, openssl v0.9.6, and libpcap. The hardcoded C&C that hosts known Turla activities is news-bbc.podzone[.]org (from pDNS IP: 80.248.65.183). Kaspersky Lab is currently sinkholing that address.

It doesn’t need root

One of the most interesting aspects of this Turla cd00r-based malware is that is doesn’t require elevated privileges,

Read more at:    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Breaking-Unknown-and-Stealth-Turla-Malware-Infects-Unknown-Number-of-Linux-Systems-466883.shtml

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