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LWN.net Weekly Edition for March 21, 2013

Upholding the first sale doctrine

By Jonathan Corbet
March 20, 2013
At first blush, the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons looks like an obscure battle over the marketing of textbooks in the US with little relevance to the free software community. But one need not look deeply to realize that the US Supreme Court's recent ruling [PDF] has some interesting implications. For years, it appeared that there was no resistance to increased use of copyright law to protect threatened business models. With the ruling in this case, the power of copyright holders has been pushed back slightly, and an important right has been reaffirmed.

The case in question starts with Supap Kirtsaeng, who figured out that he could buy textbooks in Thailand for resale in the US. Those books are sold much more cheaply in Thailand, offering a classic opportunity for arbitrage and a quick profit. The publisher of those books, John Wiley & Sons, sued, claiming that importing those books into the US was a violation of its copyright, despite the fact that the books had been legitimately published and sold in Thailand with Wiley's permission. Kirtsaeng responded that the books, like most copyrighted materials, were covered by the first sale doctrine; once Wiley had sold the books, it had exhausted its right to control their fate.

Wiley's interesting claim in this case was that first sale does not apply to items that are manufactured outside of the US. Appeals courts in the US agreed with this position, but the Supreme Court did not. Its conclusion (by a 6-3 ruling) was that the place of manufacture and sale was not relevant to copyright law and that the import and resale of the books was a legal activity. So, for now, the first sale doctrine lives and cannot be eliminated simply by manufacturing an object abroad.

This ruling matters for a couple of reasons. One is that software, too, is covered by copyright law, and it is often included in products manufactured all over the world. Copyright law is often used in an attempt to control what can be done with a larger product; the implications of eliminating first-sale rights on products with important copyrightable components could open the door to no end of possible horrors. Consider, for example, the following text from the decision:

Technology companies tell us that “automobiles, microwaves, calculators, mobile phones, tablets, and personal computers” contain copyrightable software programs or packaging. Many of these items are made abroad with the American copyright holder’s permission and then sold and imported (with that permission) to the United States. A geographical interpretation would prevent the resale of, say, a car, without the permission of the holder of each copyright on each piece of copyrighted automobile software. Yet there is no reason to believe that foreign auto manufacturers regularly obtain this kind of permission from their software component suppliers, and Wiley did not indicate to the contrary when asked. Without that permission a foreign car owner could not sell his or her used car.

The logic that applies to a car also applies to just about any sort of electronic gadget that one can imagine — contemporary cars, after all, can be thought of as rather heavy electronic entertainment systems with self-propulsion capabilities and a problematic carbon footprint. It is a rare device indeed that doesn't contain copyrightable pieces imported from somewhere; the thought that all of those devices remain under the control of the copyright holder is discouraging at best. This ruling does not eliminate that threat (see below), but it mitigates it somewhat.

Copyright law is often employed for the protection of business models. Over 100 years ago, music publishers claimed that player pianos were a threat to their existence and a violation of their copyrights; the attempts to use copyright to keep business models alive have continued ever since. So it is refreshing to see the Supreme Court state that there is no inherent right to protection for a specific business model:

Wiley and the dissent claim that a nongeographical interpretation will make it difficult, perhaps impossible, for publishers (and other copyright holders) to divide foreign and domestic markets. We concede that is so. A publisher may find it more difficult to charge different prices for the same book in different geographic markets. But we do not see how these facts help Wiley, for we can find no basic principle of copyright law that suggests that publishers are especially entitled to such rights.

We still live in a world where publishers feel entitled to exactly such rights: the use of the CSS encryption scheme (and associated legal battles) to divide the DVD market is an obvious example. Perhaps it is optimistic to hope that a statement from the highest court in the US that such rights do not inherently adhere to a specific business model will improve the situation. But, then, your editor tends toward optimism.

That said, there is plenty of space for pessimism as well; the upholding of first sale does not make our copyright-related problems magically vanish. Much of the industry appears to be headed in directions where first sale does not seem to apply — electronic books being an obvious example. The use of DRM schemes to restrict first-sale rights continues, and other aspects of copyright law (such as the DMCA in the US) support that use. The DMCA also remains useful for companies trying to restrict what the "owner" of a device can do with it; the debate over jailbreaking is one example. Online or "cloud-based" resources are subject to no end of restrictions of their own.

And so on. But, then, nobody ever said that the fight for freedom would be easy. One Supreme Court victory is not going to change that situation. But it is an important affirmation that copyright is meant to be a limited right and not a means for absolute control by copyright holders. Those of us who are users of copyrighted materials (i.e. all of us) have some rights too.

Comments (35 posted)

PyCon: Eben Upton on the Raspberry Pi

By Jake Edge
March 20, 2013

Raspberry Pi Foundation executive director Eben Upton started his PyCon 2013 talk with a complaint that he had just been upstaged. He normally asks the audience "who has a Raspberry Pi?", but conference organizer Jesse Noller had "ruined that" by announcing that all attendees would be getting one of the tiny ARM-based computers. The Python Software Foundation, which puts on PyCon, had arranged for Raspberry Pi computers to be handed out to all 2500+ attendees. It also set aside lab space on the second floor of the Santa Clara (California) Convention Center where attendees could "play" with their new computers—complete with keyboards, monitors, breadboards, LEDs, and other peripherals.

Genesis

[Raspberry Pi lab]

The Raspberry Pi, which is a "small computer for children", came about due to observations that Upton and his colleagues made about the computer skills of high school students applying to study computer science at the University of Cambridge. In his time, anyone that had an interest in computers could probably get their hands on one that would beep when it was turned on and boot directly into a programming language (typically BASIC). Everyone knew how to write the canonical program:

    10 PRINT "MYNAME IS GREAT!!!!"
    20 GOTO 10
When visiting a computer store, that program (or something "filthier") was typed in on each machine; it was a "simpler time" in the 1980s, "we used to make our own entertainment", Upton said.

The availability of those kinds of machines allowed potential students to have a basic level of programming knowledge. But, when interviewing applicants in 2005, they noticed that many lacked that "built-in hacker knowledge". In addition, the 80-90 available spots were only being contested by around 200-250 applicants, rather than the 500 or so in the 1980s and 1990s.

The problem, it seems, is that the 8-bit machines that were readily available in his time no longer exist. Game consoles now serve a similar niche, but are not programmable and are in fact programmer-hostile because of the business models of the console makers. In addition, those 8-bit hacker computers have been "eaten from the top" by the PC. The PC is, obviously, programmable, but users have to choose to install programming tools. This "tiny little energy barrier" is enough to reduce the number of applicants with the requisite skills, he said.

So, there is a niche available to be filled. In order for a device to do so, it has to be interesting to children, Upton said, which means that it needs to be able to play games and have audio/video capabilities. It also needs to be robust, so that it could be "shoved" into a school bag many times without breaking. It needs to be cheap, "like a textbook", which only "shows that we didn't know what textbooks cost".

The target price was $25, so the team spent a lot of time trying to figure out what can be fit into a device with that price. They started with an Arduino-like microcontroller system, but that "didn't meet the 'interesting to children' test". After university, Upton went to work for Broadcom, where he is still employed, though he mostly does Raspberry Pi work these days.

Working at Broadcom led him to a chip with a proprietary RISC core, which the team was able to get to boot to Python. It would also do 720p video and could hit the $25 price point. At that point, they decided to set up a foundation. The "Pi" in Raspberry Pi is Python misspelled, Upton said, which was done because he thought the symbol for pi (π) would make a "fantastic logo". But it turns out that the pi symbol has never been used by the foundation and he regularly has to explain that he does know how "Python" is spelled.

Switching to Linux

As the project progressed, he realized that the team would have to write all its own drivers for devices like network interfaces or SD card readers, which was time consuming. About that time, Broadcom released another version of the chip with an ARM 11 core. "There are advantages to being on the chip design team", Upton said with a chuckle, suggesting that the ARM was added for "unspecified business reasons". The ARM core meant that the Raspberry Pi could benefit from the "enormous investment" that the community has made in Linux.

The BBC Micro was one of the original 8-bit computers that shaped many enthusiasts' early computer experience, so the foundation wanted its computer to be called the "BBC Nano". It approached the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) about using that name several times, but were always turned down for "complicated legal reasons", Upton said.

As part of the effort to convince the BBC, though, a 45-second video pitch was created. Once that video got to YouTube, it had 600,000 views in a single day, a day which Upton spent "not working for Broadcom" and instead "pressing F5" (to refresh the page). That night, he sat down with his wife and realized that they had "promised 600,000 people" that "we would build them a $25 computer", but had "no idea how to do it".

The CPU fit within the $25 budget, but there are lots of other components that go into a computer board. Those can cost a few cents or even more, which all adds up. It took a while, but the team finally fit the design into the budget, or nearly. The Model A is $25, but the more-popular Model B, which has ethernet, more memory, and an additional USB connector, came in at $35.

Upton had just gotten an MBA degree, so he "knew all about business models", he said with a laugh. The foundation had raised $250,000, which could be used to build 10,000 of the devices, so the plan was to build those, sell them, and take that money to build another 10,000. But they started seeing danger signs almost immediately, he said. When a "buggy beta version" of the SD card image that could only run in QEMU was released, it was downloaded 50,000 times. That many people downloading software for hardware that didn't exist and might not for quite some time led to the realization that the "interest was high". Given that the lead time for more systems was three months or so, and there was now a worry the devices would sell out in a week, something needed to change.

Luckily, he said, they started working with two UK companies that put up the capital to build all of the Raspberry Pi computers that were needed. The foundation licenses the name and "intellectual property" (IP) to those companies who "do the heavy lifting". In the end, there were 100,000 orders on the first day, and the millionth Raspberry Pi was sold "sometime last month".

It has been a truly amazing year, Upton said. One of the interesting transitions that he has noted is that the content on the web site has shifted away from mostly being about what the team (and "other adults") were doing to get the devices out the door. Over the last six months or so, the site has covered what "children are doing with the Pi".

Examples

Saying that he wanted to "inflict" some pictures of those activities on the audience, Upton shifted gears to show and describe what has come about since the release of the Pi. As a "graphics hacker", he expected that much of the interesting work would be graphics-related, but that turned out not to be true. There are few graphics demos, though he encourages people to write more.

The first stop on the quick tour was a "Moog-like" synthesizer program that is available for free. The second stop involved beer. It turns out that there is an "enormous overlap" between people who like programming and people who like beer, he said to big audience cheers, which led to a number of different projects. The computers are being used to run both home and commercial brewing equipment using BrewPi, for example.

There is a project to assist with focus stacking using the Pi, which can replace $1000 worth of photography gear for getting better focused images when doing macro (extreme close-up) photography. There is also a huge retro-gaming community for the Pi. The hardware is powerful enough to emulate not only the consoles that he played with, but can also emulate the following generation of gaming consoles that he "complained about" because they "destroyed the era of computers that I grew up with", he said with a grin. Art installations are another fairly common use for the Pi, and Upton showed some lighted paper boats at Canary Wharf on the Thames river.

"Dr. Who and space and the Raspberry Pi all in one" is Upton's description of his favorite hack. A weather balloon with a Tardis as its payload has been used to take pictures from 40km up. That means that a "space program is within the budgetary reach of every primary school in the world".

The Raspberry Pi community has been very inventive with extras. Upton noted The MagPi magazine, which has type-in listings of programs, hearkening back to the 1980s. Typing a program in has its advantages, including "learning opportunities" from mistyping. There is also a Haynes manual for the device.

The simplest cases for the device are PDF files that you print on the "thickest paper you can get through the printer" and fold up into a case. While the Pi is described as "credit card sized", it is actually about 1mil off in both dimensions, he said, but in a "fluke", both the X and Y dimensions turn out to be a multiple of the Lego basis unit size. That led an 11-year-old girl to create a Lego case design for which she now gets royalties. Since she is 11 years old, she takes her royalties in Lego, so she "now has more Lego than me", Upton said.

There is evidence coming in that kids are using the Pi to learn to program, he said. He showed one who is learning with MIT Scratch and noted that the foundation is spending some money right now to get better performance for that language on the Pi. Though he set out to try to help solve a problem for Cambridge University, it "turns out that kids all over the world want to learn to program". He showed a photo of some kids from Uttar Pradesh in India using the Raspberry Pi. Those kinds of pictures give him some hope that they are actually accomplishing something with "this tiny computer".

He noted that there "needs to be a hook" to get the Pi into a kid's life and "apparently a lot of children like to play Minecraft". Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, has done a port of the pocket edition to the Pi: Minecraft Pi Edition. That version has a socket that can be used to talk to the game world from any programming language, which "gives kids a reason to program".

Upton put up a "Try to take over the world" map showing where the computers have been shipped to. Taking over the world seems to be progressing well based on that map. North America has become the continent with the largest "run rate" (i.e. purchase rate) in the last three months, he said, and became the largest install base as of last month. They would like to sell "a hell of a lot more" in South America and India, he said, but "we'll get there".

Another interesting geographical note was a change in the manufacturing location. In the beginning, the boards were built in China, unsurprisingly. Sony contacted the foundation and said that it could build the boards at its factory in South Wales for the same price point. Since September, Raspberry Pi boards have been built there, which is a "big deal" for Upton as he comes from about 10 miles from the factory. The fact that the "lowest-priced general-purpose computer" can be built at a factory in the developed world is "good news" for anyone concerned that there would be no manufacturing in regions like Wales.

Python

There are several connections between Raspberry Pi and Python, starting with the name. The chip was designed using Python, Upton said. He was on the GPU team for the Pi's Broadcom 2835 chip, which used Python to "design the whole damn thing". All of the multimedia IP was verified using Python because it is "100 times quicker" to do it that way. Python and its tools are much easier to use (and faster) than Verilog tools.

The Raspberry Pi benefits from the large body of existing Python (and other interpreted languages) code. Python brings a whole set of applications and tools to the ARM Linux environment. Finally, Python also provides one of the teaching languages for the device. The device supports Logo and Scratch for the youngest children, and will always support C and C++ for people who "want to get close to the metal", but Python has a special place as a learning language. Upton said that Python allows educators to tell children "learn this language" and "you will be on a smooth curve" leading to a language that lots of companies program in. There are no discontinuities in that curve, he said, which is important because it is those steps where students get lost along the way.

Wrapping up, Upton had three more topics on his mind. At some point "soon", the Pi team will need to decide between Python 2.7 and 3.3. It is already a bit confusing as some packages (e.g. PyGame) are only available for one of the two. He is also looking forward to PyPy as a way to get better performance out of the fairly modest Pi processor. Beyond that, the "boot to Python" idea is still floating around, though it is not yet clear what the best teaching environment for the Pi will be. In closing, he hoped that all of the new users in the room would visit raspberrypi.org and report back on what they did with Raspberry Pi.

Many of the examples Upton gave are not particularly Raspberry-Pi-specific, in that they could run on any Linux system. But the Pi provides a convenient package, with compact size, low weight, and lots of connectivity options, that makes it a nice target. While the GPU drivers leave a lot to be desired and the USB driver is a mess, it is still a rather interesting device—particularly at its price point. Could something better have been made? Perhaps, but it would take a dedicated group of folks to get together to do so. Upton and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have made their mark, some friendly competition would make things even more interesting.

Comments (28 posted)

When does the FSF own your code?

By Jonathan Corbet
March 19, 2013
Many pixels have been expended in the discussion of contributor agreements that transfer copyright from developers to a company or foundation. But, for developers in many projects, the discussion is moot, in that the requirement for an agreement exists and the papers must be signed before contributions to the project can be made. But, even then, there are some interesting details that merit attention. A recent discussion regarding one developer's contributions to the Emacs Org mode project shows how expansive and poorly understood such agreements can be in some cases.

Some context

Org mode is a major mode for the Emacs editor that can be used for the maintenance of task lists, project plans, documents, and more; it is a general-purpose tool that is held in high regard by a large community of users. Org mode is run as an independent project but its releases are incorporated into Emacs releases; for that to happen, Org mode must be developed under the Free Software Foundation's copyright assignment rules. So it is not (usually) possible to contribute changes to Org mode without having signed a contributor agreement that assigns copyright to the FSF.

Jambunathan K is a contributor to Org mode and an active participant on the project's mailing list; his credits include a module to export to files in the OpenDocument (ODT) format and a rewrite of the HTML export module. It is fair to characterize Jambunathan's relationship with other Org mode developers as "difficult." His mailing list postings are seen as contentious and disruptive by many; he has, at times, been asked to leave the project's mailing list. In February he made a half-hearted attempt to take over maintainership of Org mode; his bid gained little support from other developers in the project. More recently, he has requested removal of ox-odt.el and ox-html.el from the Org mode repository; again, this idea was received with little enthusiasm. So his next step was to take his case to the main Emacs list, saying:

I have some disagreements with current Orgmode maintainer and the community in general.

I would like to withdraw my pleasure in having these files distributed as part of Org distribution. I would like to register my displeasure in a substantial way.

More specifically, I would like to know how copyright assignment works for files that are not yet part of Emacs. Is there is a way I can withdraw my assignment (for a substantial period - say 3-6 months) big enough to create a minor discomfort for the Org community.

In such a situation, it would be a natural response to drop the work in question and refuse any further dealings with this developer. Experience has shown that a single difficult developer can create all kinds of problems for a community when given the chance. Somebody who sets out to deliberately create "a minor discomfort" for the Org mode community is showing signs of being just such a developer; his code may well not be worth the trouble.

But, in this case, it appears that the request will be refused. The files in question have already been merged into the Org mode repository, so the community appears to feel that (1) it has invested enough of its own energy into that work to have a legitimate interest in it, and (2) the FSF, as the owner of the copyright for that work, has every right to retain and distribute it. It is the second point that Jambunathan would like to dispute; since the files have not yet been distributed with Emacs, he says, the Emacs copyright assignment agreement should not apply to them. One could argue that he is almost certainly wrong and should be dismissed as an obvious troll, but there is still an interesting point raised by this discussion.

When copyright transfer happens

There are numerous contributor agreements out there that include either copyright assignment or the grant of a broad license to the work in question. The agreement used by the Apache Software Foundation, for example, includes a license grant for any software that is "intentionally submitted" to the Foundation, where "submitted" is carefully defined:

For the purposes of this definition, "submitted" means any form of electronic, verbal, or written communication sent to the Foundation or its representatives, including but not limited to communication on electronic mailing lists, source code control systems, and issue tracking systems that are managed by, or on behalf of, the Foundation for the purpose of discussing and improving the Work...

Once the work is submitted, the grant applies. The Harmony Agreements, which can involve either copyright assignment or licensing, have a very similar definition. The Python agreement requires a specific annotation in the source indicating that the agreement applies. The agreement for Emacs is not publicly posted, and a request to the GNU Project for a copy went unanswered as of this writing. Numerous copies can be found on the net, for example, including this one, which mirrors the language found in a set of template files shipped with the gnulib project:

For good and valuable consideration, receipt of which I acknowledge, I, NAME OF PERSON, hereby transfer to the Free Software Foundation, Inc. (the "Foundation") my entire right, title, and interest (including all rights under copyright) in my changes and enhancements to the program NAME OF PROGRAM, subject to the conditions below. These changes and enhancements are herein called the "Work." The work hereby assigned shall also include any future revisions of these changes and enhancements hereafter made by me.

Unlike the other agreements listed above, the FSF agreement has no requirement that the work actually be submitted to the project; it simply has to be a "change or enhancement" to the program in question. So it could easily apply to changes that were never intended to be contributed back to the original project. In the discussion started by Jambunathan, Richard Stallman has made it clear that this expansive interpretation is intentional:

Our normal future assignment contract covers all changes to Emacs. Whether it is considered a "contribution" or a "fork" is not a criterion.

Or, going further:

A diff for Emacs is always a change to Emacs. I will think about the questions raised by a separate Lisp file.

It is worth noting that Jambunathan's work would be considered a submission under the language used by most projects requiring contributor agreements: he posted the code to the project's mailing list with the clear intent of contributing it. The fact that the Org mode project had not yet gotten around to including it in an official release (version 8 is due soon) and feeding it into the Emacs repository is immaterial. So the broad scope of the FSF agreement is not relevant to that particular dispute.

But anybody who has signed such agreement might want to be aware that the FSF thinks it owns their changes, regardless of whether they have been publicly posted or explicitly submitted for inclusion. One could argue that entirely private changes made by a signatory to that agreement are, despite being seen by nobody else, owned by the FSF. Even an entirely separate function written in Emacs Lisp — something which is not necessarily a derived work based on Emacs and which thus might not be required to be distributed under the GPL — might be subject to a claim of ownership by the FSF, at least until Richard has a chance to "think about" the situation. That may be a bit more than some signatories thought they were agreeing to.

For the record, one should immediately point out that the FSF has absolutely no known history of ever abusing this power or claiming ownership of code that was not clearly submitted to the project. But organizations can change over time and Richard, who just celebrated his 60th birthday, will not be in charge of the FSF forever. A future FSF might choose to exploit its perceived rights more aggressively, possibly resulting in regret among some of those who have signed contributor agreements (which, incidentally, have no termination provision) with it.

In truth, even the FSF appears not to know what is covered by its contributor agreement; Richard had to respond to some questions from Jambunathan with a simple "I will study these questions." Whatever the outcome of his study might be, it seems reasonable to suggest that the FSF's contributor agreement may be due for a review. Even if the FSF still feels it cannot live without such an agreement, it would be good to have one that clearly defines which code is covered — and when.

Comments (50 posted)

Page editor: Jonathan Corbet

Security

PyCon: Mozilla Persona

By Jake Edge
March 20, 2013

At first blush, PyCon doesn't seem like quite the right venue for a talk on Mozilla's Persona web authentication and identity system. Persona is not Python-specific at all, but given the number of web application and framework developers at the conference, it starts to become clear why Mozilla's Dan Callahan was there. Python also gave him the ability to do a live demo of adding Persona support to a Flask-based web site during the well-attended talk.

Kill the password

In a nutshell, Persona is Mozilla's attempt to "kill the password", Callahan said to applause. It is a simple, open system that is federated and works cross-browser. Beyond that set of buzzwords, though, the idea for Persona is that it "works everywhere for everyone".

[Dan Callahan]

For an example of using Persona, Callahan visited ting.com—a mobile phone service site from Tucows—that has a login page supporting Persona. Clicking the "Sign in with Persona" button popped up a window with two of his email addresses and a sign-in button. Since he had already used the site before, to log in he just needed to choose one of his email addresses (if he is using a different address from the last time he visited the site) and click "Sign in". It's "dead simple", he said.

Persona ties identities to email addresses. That has several advantages, he said. Everyone already has an email address and sites often already track them. For many web sites, adding Persona support requires no change to the database schema. That also helps prevent lock-in, as sites that decide not to continue with Persona are not stuck with it.

Some in the audience might be saying "I can already log in with two clicks" using a password manager, Callahan said. That's true, but Persona is not managing passwords. There is no shared secret between the site and the user.

That means a database breach at the site would not disclose any information that would be useful for an attacker to authenticate to the service as the user. While site owners will need to alert their users to a breach, they won't have to ask them to change passwords. Better still, they won't have to recommend that the users change their identical passwords at other sites.

If there are no shared secrets, many of the existing account registration questions can simply be skipped. The Persona sign-in process provides an email address, so there is no reason to prompt for that (twice in many cases), nor for a password (twice almost always). For example, with sloblog.io and an existing Persona, he can set up a blog with two clicks.

To prove a point, he was doing his demos from the Opera web browser. Persona works the same in all major browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE). It uses existing technology and standards and "works everywhere the web works", he said.

The story behind Persona comes right out of the Mozilla Manifesto, Callahan said. That manifesto was "written at the height of the browser wars" and lists ten points that are "crucial to the open web". Principle #2, "The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible", is particularly threatened today, while principle #5, "Individuals must have the ability to shape their own experiences on the Internet" speaks directly to the Persona ideal. Nothing is more important to shape one's internet experience than is the choice of identity, he said.

"Single" sign-on

There has been a movement toward single sign-on (SSO) in recent years, but "single" is a misnomer at this point. Many sites allow people to sign in with their Facebook or Twitter (or Google or Yahoo or MSN or ...) account. His slide had an example login with a bunch of login icons for those services, ending with a "Good luck with OpenID" button.

The problem with that approach is that it is like Tribbles (with a requisite Kirk and Tribbles slide); there are more and more of these service-based login mechanisms appearing. How does a site pick the right one (or, more likely, ones)? How does a user remember which of the choices they used so they can use it on a subsequent visit?

He gave another example: the 500px login screen. It splits the screen in half, into two sets of choices, either logging in via a social network (Facebook, Twitter, or Klout) on one side, or with a username and password on the other. If a user wants to use a Google or Microsoft login, they are out of luck. They must create a username and trust that 500px will do the right thing with their password. He was also amused to note that he hadn't heard of Klout, so he visited to see what it was and Klout wanted him to log in using either Facebook or Twitter.

There are also some implications of using the login network of certain services. Google and Facebook have real-name policies that can sometimes lead to account suspension when a violation is suspected. That suspension then trickles out to any other services that use those login mechanisms. Facebook policies disallow multiple accounts (e.g. personal and business) as well. Basically, services using Facebook logins are outsourcing their account policies to Facebook.

It is worth a lot of money for the social networks to get their buttons onto sites, Callahan said. So "any solution has to come from someone outside who is not trying to make a buck off every login". Since Mozilla is on the outside, it is well positioned to help solve the problem.

The earlier Persona demonstrations were for email addresses that had already been set up, but Callahan also wanted to show what happens for users who are not yet signed up. In that case, the user must type in an email address in the Persona pop-up. Persona checks with the email provider to see if it supports Persona, if so the email provider authenticates the user via its normal mechanisms (e.g. web-based login) that the user has seen plenty of times before. If the user successfully authenticates, the email provider indicates that to the site.

Using Persona team members as props, Callahan showed the process. The user claims a particular email address and the site contacts the email provider for verification. The email provider asks the user to authenticate (using a password, two-factor authentication, facial recognition, ...) and if that is successful, the provider signs the email address and hands it back to the site (along with some anti-replay-attack data). The site then verifies the signature, at which point it knows that the user has that email identity.

Implementing Persona

As can be seen, the description of the protocol and cryptography used was rather high-level. Callahan's clear intent was to try to convince web application and framework programmers to get on board with Persona. There is more information about the underlying details at developer.mozilla.org/persona, he said.

For the moment, few email providers support Persona, so as an "optional temporary" measure, sites can ask Mozilla to vouch for the email address. For example, Gmail does not support Persona (yet), but Mozilla can vouch for Gmail users by way of a challenge email. Authenticating the email address to Mozilla need only be done once. But that puts Mozilla in the middle of each initial authentication right now; eventually the user's email providers will be serving that role.

The documentation lists four things that a site owner needs to do to use Persona. There is a JavaScript library to include in the login page, the login/logout buttons need "onClick" attributes added, and the library needs to be configured. The final piece of the puzzle is to add verification of the identity assertions (signed email addresses from the email provider or Mozilla). That verification needs to be done in the server-side code.

In the future, the hope is that browsers will natively support Persona, but for now the JavaScript is needed. On the client side, it is 30 or so lines of JavaScript called from the login and logout paths. The server side is a little more complicated, as assertions are cryptographically signed, but that verification can be handed off to a service that Mozilla runs. The back end just posts some JSON to the Mozilla service and reads its response. Those changes take less than 40 lines to implement.

Using the code directly from his slides, Callahan changed both client and server sides of a demo application. That added the "great user experience" of Persona logins. It also showed an "amazing developer experience" in how easy it is to add Persona. Once the demo was done, and the applause died down, Callahan said "I am so glad that worked" with a relieved grin.

Callahan had three tips for site developers adding Persona support. The first was to make a library specific to the framework being used that can be reused in multiple applications. Second, his example used the Mozilla verifier, but that is not a good long-term solution for privacy reasons. But, he cautioned, make sure to use the Python "requests" library when doing verification as the standard library does not check SSL certificates properly. Lastly, he wanted to make it clear that using Persona did not mean that a site had to get rid of the other login buttons, "just that maybe you should", he said. Persona can peacefully coexist with these other login mechanisms.

In conclusion, Callahan said he had a request: "spend one hour with Persona this week". You could add it to your site in an hour, he said, but if not, just try it out on some site. Persona is still in beta, so it is "able to be shaped by your feedback". Also, he requested, please ask one site that you use to support Persona, "that's how we are going to change the future of the web". Persona will allow everyone—not just the few who understand OpenID or password managers—to have a safer, more secure web.

[ In keeping with Callahan's request, we will be looking into Persona support for LWN. ]

Comments (37 posted)

Brief items

Security quote of the week

Nationalism is rife on the Internet, and it's getting worse. We need to damp down the rhetoric and-more importantly-stop believing the propaganda from those who profit from this Internet nationalism. Those who are beating the drums of cyberwar don't have the best interests of society, or the Internet, at heart.
-- Bruce Schneier

Comments (3 posted)

New vulnerabilities

apt: altered package installation

Package(s):apt CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1051
Created:March 15, 2013 Updated:March 20, 2013
Description:

From the Ubuntu advisory:

Ansgar Burchardt discovered that APT incorrectly handled repositories that use InRelease files. The default Ubuntu repositories do not use InRelease files, so this issue only affected third-party repositories. If a remote attacker were able to perform a man-in-the-middle attack, this flaw could potentially be used to install altered packages.

Alerts:
Ubuntu USN-1762-1 apt 2013-03-14

Comments (none posted)

bugzilla: cross-site scripting

Package(s):bugzilla CVE #(s):CVE-2013-0785 CVE-2013-0786
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:March 20, 2013
Description: From the Bugzilla advisory:

* When viewing a bug report, a bug ID containing random code is not correctly sanitized in the HTML page if the specified page format is invalid. This can lead to XSS.

* When running a query in debug mode, it is possible to determine if a given confidential field value (such as a product name) exists. Bugzilla 4.1 and newer are not affected by this issue.

Alerts:
Mageia MGASA-2013-0117 bugzilla 2013-04-18
Fedora FEDORA-2013-2845 bugzilla 2013-03-17
Fedora FEDORA-2013-2866 bugzilla 2013-03-17
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:066 bugzilla 2013-04-08

Comments (none posted)

chromium: multiple vulnerabilities

Package(s):chromium CVE #(s):CVE-2013-0879 CVE-2013-0880 CVE-2013-0881 CVE-2013-0882 CVE-2013-0883 CVE-2013-0884 CVE-2013-0885 CVE-2013-0886 CVE-2013-0887 CVE-2013-0888 CVE-2013-0889 CVE-2013-0890 CVE-2013-0891 CVE-2013-0892 CVE-2013-0893 CVE-2013-0894 CVE-2013-0895 CVE-2013-0896 CVE-2013-0897 CVE-2013-0898 CVE-2013-0899 CVE-2013-0900
Created:March 14, 2013 Updated:October 28, 2013
Description:

From the openSUSE advisory:

Chromium was updated to version 27.0.1425 having both stability and security fixes:

  • High CVE-2013-0879: Memory corruption with web audio node
  • High CVE-2013-0880: Use-after-free in database handling
  • Medium CVE-2013-0881: Bad read in Matroska handling
  • High CVE-2013-0882: Bad memory access with excessive SVG parameters.
  • Medium CVE-2013-0883: Bad read in Skia.
  • Low CVE-2013-0884: Inappropriate load of NaCl.
  • Medium CVE-2013-0885: Too many API permissions granted to web store
  • Medium CVE-2013-0886: Incorrect NaCl signal handling.
  • Low CVE-2013-0887: Developer tools process has too many permissions and places too much trust in the connected server
  • Medium CVE-2013-0888: Out-of-bounds read in Skia
  • Low CVE-2013-0889: Tighten user gesture check for dangerous file downloads.
  • High CVE-2013-0890: Memory safety issues across the IPC layer.
  • High CVE-2013-0891: Integer overflow in blob handling.
  • Medium CVE-2013-0892: Lower severity issues across the IPC layer
  • Medium CVE-2013-0893: Race condition in media handling.
  • High CVE-2013-0894: Buffer overflow in vorbis decoding.
  • High CVE-2013-0895: Incorrect path handling in file copying.
  • High CVE-2013-0896: Memory management issues in plug-in message handling
  • Low CVE-2013-0897: Off-by-one read in PDF
  • High CVE-2013-0898: Use-after-free in URL handling
  • Low CVE-2013-0899: Integer overflow in Opus handling
  • Medium CVE-2013-0900: Race condition in ICU
Alerts:
Gentoo 201402-14 icu 2014-02-10
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:258 icu 2013-10-28
Mageia MGASA-2013-0315 icu 2013-10-25
Debian DSA-2786-1 icu 2013-10-27
Ubuntu USN-1989-1 icu 2013-10-15
Gentoo 201309-16 chromium 2013-09-24
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3538 icu 2013-03-16
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3546 icu 2013-03-17
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0454-1 chromium 2013-03-14

Comments (none posted)

clamav: unspecified vulnerabilities

Package(s):clamav CVE #(s):
Created:March 20, 2013 Updated:April 15, 2013
Description:

From the Mandriva advisory:

ClamAV 0.97.7 addresses several reported potential security bugs. Thanks to Felix Groebert, Mateusz Jurczyk and Gynvael Coldwind of the Google Security Team for finding and reporting these issues.

Alerts:
Fedora FEDORA-2013-4818 clamav 2013-04-12
Fedora FEDORA-2013-4816 clamav 2013-04-12
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:027-1 clamav 2013-04-04
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0563-1 clamav 2013-03-29
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0560-1 clamav 2013-03-28
Ubuntu USN-1773-1 clamav 2013-03-21
Mageia MGASA-2013-0100 clamav 2013-03-18
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:027 clamav 2013-03-18

Comments (none posted)

firebird: multiple vulnerabilities

Package(s):firebird CVE #(s):CVE-2013-2492 CVE-2012-5529
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:December 30, 2015
Description: From the CVE entries:

Stack-based buffer overflow in Firebird 2.1.3 through 2.1.5 before 18514, and 2.5.1 through 2.5.3 before 26623, on Windows allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted packet to TCP port 3050, related to a missing size check during extraction of a group number from CNCT information. (CVE-2013-2492)

TraceManager in Firebird 2.5.0 and 2.5.1, when trace is enabled, allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and crash) by preparing an empty dynamic SQL query. (CVE-2012-5529)

Alerts:
Mageia MGASA-2013-0102 firebird 2013-04-02
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3707 firebird 2013-03-20
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3719 firebird 2013-03-20
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0504-1 firebird 2013-03-20
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0496-1 firebird 2013-03-20
Debian DSA-2648-1 firebird2.5 2013-03-15
Debian DSA-2647-1 firebird2.1 2013-03-15
Gentoo 201512-11 firebird 2015-12-30

Comments (none posted)

glance: information disclosure

Package(s):glance CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1840
Created:March 15, 2013 Updated:April 5, 2013
Description:

From the Ubuntu advisory:

Stuart McLaren discovered an issue with Glance v1 API requests. An authenticated attacker could exploit this to expose the Glance operator's Swift and/or S3 credentials via the response headers when requesting a cached image.

Alerts:
Red Hat RHSA-2013:0707-01 openstack-glance 2013-04-04
Ubuntu USN-1764-1 glance 2013-03-14

Comments (none posted)

kernel: multiple vulnerabilities

Package(s):kernel CVE #(s):CVE-2013-0913 CVE-2013-0914
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:July 18, 2013
Description: From the Red Hat bugzilla [1, 2]:

[1] Linux kernel built with Direct Rendering Manager(DRM) i915 driver for the the Direct Rendering Infrastructure(DRI) introduced by XFree86 4.0, is vulnerable to a heap overflow flaw.

An user/program with access to the DRM driver could use this flaw to crash the kernel, resulting in DoS or possibly escalate privileges.

[2] Linux kernel is vulnerable to an information leakage flaw. This occurs when a process calls routine - sigaction() - to access - sa_restorer - parameter. This parameter points to an address that belongs to its parent process' address space.

A user could use this flaw to infer address layout of a process.

Alerts:
SUSE SUSE-SU-2014:0536-1 Linux kernel 2014-04-16
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:1971-1 kernel 2013-12-30
Oracle ELSA-2013-1645 kernel 2013-11-26
Oracle ELSA-2013-2538 kernel 2013-07-18
Oracle ELSA-2013-2538 kernel 2013-07-18
Oracle ELSA-2013-2537 kernel 2013-07-18
Oracle ELSA-2013-2537 kernel 2013-07-18
Scientific Linux SL-kern-20130717 kernel 2013-07-17
Oracle ELSA-2013-1051 kernel 2013-07-16
CentOS CESA-2013:1051 kernel 2013-07-17
Red Hat RHSA-2013:1080-01 kernel 2013-07-16
Red Hat RHSA-2013:1051-01 kernel 2013-07-16
Oracle ELSA-2013-1034 kernel 2013-07-10
CentOS CESA-2013:1034 kernel 2013-07-10
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:1187-1 kernel 2013-07-12
Scientific Linux SL-kern-20130710 kernel 2013-07-10
Red Hat RHSA-2013:1034-01 kernel 2013-07-10
Oracle ELSA-2013-2546 enterprise kernel 2013-09-17
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:176 kernel 2013-06-24
Oracle ELSA-2013-2546 enterprise kernel 2013-09-17
Oracle ELSA-2013-2525 kernel 2013-06-13
Oracle ELSA-2013-2525 kernel 2013-06-13
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0925-1 kernel 2013-06-10
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0923-1 kernel 2013-06-10
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0847-1 kernel 2013-05-31
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0824-1 kernel 2013-05-24
Red Hat RHSA-2013:0829-01 kernel-rt 2013-05-20
Mageia MGASA-2013-01451 kernel-vserver 2013-05-17
Mageia MGASA-2013-0150 kernel-rt 2013-05-17
Mageia MGASA-2013-0149 kernel-tmb 2013-05-17
Mageia MGASA-2013-0148 kernel-linus 2013-05-17
Mageia MGASA-2013-0147 kernel 2013-05-17
Debian DSA-2668-1 linux-2.6 2013-05-14
SUSE SUSE-SU-2013:0786-1 Linux kernel 2013-05-14
SUSE SUSE-SU-2013:0759-2 Linux kernel 2013-05-08
SUSE SUSE-SU-2013:0759-1 Linux kernel 2013-05-07
Ubuntu USN-1814-1 linux-ti-omap4 2013-05-02
Ubuntu USN-1813-1 linux 2013-05-02
Ubuntu USN-1812-1 linux-lts-quantal 2013-05-01
Ubuntu USN-1811-1 linux-ti-omap4 2013-05-01
Ubuntu USN-1809-1 linux 2013-05-01
Oracle ELSA-2013-0744 kernel 2013-04-24
Scientific Linux SL-kern-20130424 kernel 2013-04-24
CentOS CESA-2013:0744 kernel 2013-04-24
Red Hat RHSA-2013:0744-01 kernel 2013-04-23
Oracle ELSA-2013-2513 kernel 2013-04-12
Oracle ELSA-2013-2513 kernel 2013-04-12
Ubuntu USN-1798-1 linux-ec2 2013-04-08
Ubuntu USN-1795-1 linux-lts-quantal 2013-04-08
Ubuntu USN-1797-1 linux-ti-omap4 2013-04-08
Ubuntu USN-1794-1 linux-ti-omap4 2013-04-08
Ubuntu USN-1796-1 linux 2013-04-08
Ubuntu USN-1787-1 linux 2013-04-02
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3909 kernel 2013-03-22
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3893 kernel 2013-03-17
Ubuntu USN-1793-1 linux 2013-04-08
Ubuntu USN-1792-1 linux 2013-04-08
Ubuntu USN-1788-1 linux-lts-backport-oneiric 2013-04-03

Comments (none posted)

kernel: privilege escalation

Package(s):kernel CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1860
Created:March 20, 2013 Updated:March 22, 2013
Description: From the Red Hat bugzilla:

Linux kernel built with USB CDC WDM driver is vulnerable to heap buffer overflow flaw.

An unprivileged local user could use this flaw to crash the kernel or, potentially, elevate their privileges.

Please note that a physical access to the system or plugging in random USB device is needed in order to exploit this bug.

Alerts:
Oracle ELSA-2014-1392 kernel 2014-10-21
SUSE SUSE-SU-2014:1138-1 kernel 2014-09-16
Scientific Linux SLSA-2014:0328-1 kernel 2014-03-25
Oracle ELSA-2014-0328 kernel 2014-03-25
CentOS CESA-2014:0328 kernel 2014-03-25
Red Hat RHSA-2014:0328-01 kernel 2014-03-25
Oracle ELSA-2013-2546 enterprise kernel 2013-09-17
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:176 kernel 2013-06-24
Oracle ELSA-2013-2546 enterprise kernel 2013-09-17
Oracle ELSA-2013-2525 kernel 2013-06-13
Oracle ELSA-2013-2525 kernel 2013-06-13
Red Hat RHSA-2013:0829-01 kernel-rt 2013-05-20
Mageia MGASA-2013-01451 kernel-vserver 2013-05-17
Mageia MGASA-2013-0150 kernel-rt 2013-05-17
Mageia MGASA-2013-0149 kernel-tmb 2013-05-17
Mageia MGASA-2013-0148 kernel-linus 2013-05-17
Mageia MGASA-2013-0147 kernel 2013-05-17
Ubuntu USN-1829-1 linux-ec2 2013-05-16
Ubuntu USN-1824-1 linux 2013-05-15
Debian DSA-2668-1 linux-2.6 2013-05-14
SUSE SUSE-SU-2013:0786-1 Linux kernel 2013-05-14
SUSE SUSE-SU-2013:0759-2 Linux kernel 2013-05-08
SUSE SUSE-SU-2013:0759-1 Linux kernel 2013-05-07
Ubuntu USN-1814-1 linux-ti-omap4 2013-05-02
Ubuntu USN-1813-1 linux 2013-05-02
Ubuntu USN-1812-1 linux-lts-quantal 2013-05-01
Ubuntu USN-1811-1 linux-ti-omap4 2013-05-01
Ubuntu USN-1809-1 linux 2013-05-01
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3909 kernel 2013-03-22
Fedora FEDORA-2013-4012 kernel 2013-03-19

Comments (none posted)

krb5: denial of service

Package(s):krb5 CVE #(s):CVE-2012-1016
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:March 20, 2013
Description: From the CVE entry:

The pkinit_server_return_padata function in plugins/preauth/pkinit/pkinit_srv.c in the PKINIT implementation in the Key Distribution Center (KDC) in MIT Kerberos 5 (aka krb5) before 1.10.4 attempts to find an agility KDF identifier in inappropriate circumstances, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and daemon crash) via a crafted Draft 9 request.

Alerts:
Ubuntu USN-2310-1 krb5 2014-08-11
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3147 krb5 2013-03-22
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0498-1 krb5 2013-03-20
Oracle ELSA-2013-0656 krb5 2013-03-18
CentOS CESA-2013:0656 krb5 2013-03-18
Scientific Linux SL-krb5-20130318 krb5 2013-03-18
Red Hat RHSA-2013:0656-01 krb5 2013-03-18
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3116 krb5 2013-03-16

Comments (none posted)

libvirt-bin: unintended write access

Package(s):libvirt-bin CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1766
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:March 20, 2013
Description: From the Debian advisory:

Bastian Blank discovered that libvirtd, a daemon for management of virtual machines, network and storage, would change ownership of devices files so they would be owned by user `libvirt-qemu` and group `kvm`, which is a general purpose group not specific to libvirt, allowing unintended write access to those devices and files for the kvm group members.

Alerts:
Debian DSA-2650-2 libvirt 2013-03-17
Debian DSA-2650-1 libvirt-bin 2013-03-15

Comments (none posted)

lighttpd: symlink attack

Package(s):lighttpd CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1427
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:March 20, 2013
Description: From the Debian advisory:

Stefan Bühler discovered that the Debian specific configuration file for lighttpd webserver FastCGI PHP support used a fixed socket name in the world-writable /tmp directory. A symlink attack or a race condition could be exploited by a malicious user on the same machine to take over the PHP control socket and for example force the webserver to use a different PHP version.

Alerts:
Debian DSA-2649-1 lighttpd 2013-03-15

Comments (none posted)

pam-xdg-support: privilege escalation

Package(s):pam-xdg-support CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1052
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:March 20, 2013
Description: From the Ubuntu advisory:

Zbigniew Tenerowicz and Sebastian Krzyszkowiak discovered that pam-xdg-support incorrectly handled the PATH environment variable. A local attacker could use this issue in combination with sudo to possibly escalate privileges.

Alerts:
Ubuntu USN-1766-1 pam-xdg-support 2013-03-18

Comments (none posted)

poppler: multiple vulnerabilities

Package(s):poppler CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1788 CVE-2013-1790
Created:March 14, 2013 Updated:July 16, 2013
Description:

From the Red Hat bugzilla:

CVE-2013-1788: A number of invalid memory access flaws were reported in poppler (fixed in version 0.22.1):

  • Fix invalid memory access in 1150.pdf.asan.8.69 [1].
  • Fix invalid memory access in 2030.pdf.asan.69.463 [2].
  • Fix another invalid memory access in 1091.pdf.asan.72.42 [3].
  • Fix invalid memory accesses in 1091.pdf.asan.72.42 [4].
  • Fix invalid memory accesses in 1036.pdf.asan.23.17 [5].

CVE-2013-1790: An uninitialized memory read flaw was reported in poppler (fixed in version 0.22.1):

Initialize refLine totally

Fixes uninitialized memory read in 1004.pdf.asan.7.3

Alerts:
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2014:0255-1 poppler 2014-02-19
Gentoo 201310-03 poppler 2013-10-06
Debian DSA-2719-1 poppler 2013-07-10
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:143 poppler 2013-04-15
Ubuntu USN-1785-1 poppler 2013-04-02
Mageia MGASA-2013-0095 poppler 2013-03-16
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3473 poppler 2013-03-14
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3457 poppler 2013-03-14

Comments (none posted)

sssd: privilege violation

Package(s):sssd CVE #(s):CVE-2013-0287
Created:March 20, 2013 Updated:April 1, 2013
Description: From the Red Hat advisory:

When SSSD was configured as a Microsoft Active Directory client by using the new Active Directory provider (introduced in RHSA-2013:0508), the Simple Access Provider ("access_provider = simple" in "/etc/sssd/sssd.conf") did not handle access control correctly. If any groups were specified with the "simple_deny_groups" option (in sssd.conf), all users were permitted access.

Alerts:
Fedora FEDORA-2013-4193 sssd 2013-03-30
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0559-1 sssd 2013-03-28
Scientific Linux SL-sssd-20130319 sssd 2013-03-19
Oracle ELSA-2013-0663 sssd 2013-03-19
CentOS CESA-2013:0663 sssd 2013-03-19
Red Hat RHSA-2013:0663-01 sssd 2013-03-19

Comments (none posted)

stunnel: code execution

Package(s):stunnel CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1762
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:August 7, 2013
Description: From the Mageia advisory:

stunnel 4.21 through 4.54, when CONNECT protocol negotiation and NTLM authentication are enabled, does not correctly perform integer conversion, which allows remote proxy servers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted request that triggers a buffer overflow.

Alerts:
Gentoo 201402-08 stunnel 2014-02-06
Fedora FEDORA-2013-4243 stunnel 2013-08-06
Debian DSA-2664-1 stunnel4 2013-05-02
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:130 stunnel 2013-04-10
Oracle ELSA-2013-0714 stunnel 2013-04-08
Mageia MGASA-2013-0097 stunnel 2013-03-16
CentOS CESA-2013:0714 stunnel 2013-04-08
Scientific Linux SL-stun-20130408 stunnel 2013-04-08
Red Hat RHSA-2013:0714-01 stunnel 2013-04-08

Comments (none posted)

telepathy-gabble: denial of service

Package(s):telepathy-gabble CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1769
Created:March 14, 2013 Updated:March 22, 2013
Description:

From the Red Hat bugzilla:

So we have a remotely-triggered DoS: send Gabble a <presence> with a caps hash; include a form with an anonymous fixed field in the reply; boom. Since anyone can send presence to anyone else, and Gabble always looks up any caps it sees in any presences it receives. (Note that this is a presence leak, too; another bug, I think.)

Alerts:
Ubuntu USN-1873-1 telepathy-gabble 2013-06-12
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0518-1 telepathy-gabble 2013-03-22
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3379 telepathy-gabble 2013-03-19
Mageia MGASA-2013-0096 telepathy-gabble 2013-03-16
Fedora FEDORA-2013-3439 telepathy-gabble 2013-03-14

Comments (none posted)

typo3-src: multiple vulnerabilities

Package(s):typo3-src CVE #(s):CVE-2013-1842 CVE-2013-1843
Created:March 18, 2013 Updated:March 21, 2013
Description: From the Debian advisory:

CVE-2013-1842: Helmut Hummel and Markus Opahle discovered that the Extbase database layer was not correctly sanitizing user input when using the Query object model. This can lead to SQL injection by a malicious user inputing crafted relation values.

CVE-2013-1843: Missing user input validation in the access tracking mechanism could lead to arbitrary URL redirection.

See the upstream advisory for additional information.

Alerts:
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0510-1 typo3-cms-4_5/typo3-cms-4_6/typo3-cms-4_7 2013-03-21
Debian DSA-2646-1 typo3-src 2013-03-15

Comments (none posted)

wireshark: multiple vulnerabilities

Package(s):wireshark CVE #(s):CVE-2013-2478 CVE-2013-2480 CVE-2013-2481 CVE-2013-2483 CVE-2013-2484 CVE-2013-2488
Created:March 15, 2013 Updated:March 20, 2013
Description:

From the Mageia advisory:

  • The sFlow dissector could go into an infinite loop (CVE-2012-6054).
  • The SCTP dissector could go into an infinite loop (CVE-2012-6056).
  • The MS-MMS dissector could crash (CVE-2013-2478).
  • The RTPS and RTPS2 dissectors could crash (CVE-2013-2480).
  • The Mount dissector could crash (CVE-2013-2481).
  • The AMPQ dissector could go into an infinite loop (CVE-2013-2482).
  • The ACN dissector could attempt to divide by zero (CVE-2013-2483).
  • The CIMD dissector could crash (CVE-2013-2484).
  • The FCSP dissector could go into an infinite loop (CVE-2013-2485).
  • The DTLS dissector could crash (CVE-2013-2488).
Alerts:
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0506-1 wireshark 2013-03-20
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0494-1 wireshark 2013-03-20
Mageia MGASA-2013-0090 wireshark 2013-03-15
Debian DSA-2644-1 wireshark 2013-03-14
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:055 wireshark 2013-04-05

Comments (none posted)

wireshark: multiple vulnerabilities

Package(s):wireshark CVE #(s):CVE-2013-2475 CVE-2013-2476 CVE-2013-2477 CVE-2013-2479 CVE-2013-2482 CVE-2013-2485 CVE-2013-2486 CVE-2013-2487
Created:March 20, 2013 Updated:June 11, 2013
Description: From the CVE entries:

The TCP dissector in Wireshark 1.8.x before 1.8.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) via a malformed packet. (CVE-2013-2475)

The dissect_hartip function in epan/dissectors/packet-hartip.c in the HART/IP dissector in Wireshark 1.8.x before 1.8.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (infinite loop) via a packet with a header that is too short. (CVE-2013-2476)

The CSN.1 dissector in Wireshark 1.8.x before 1.8.6 does not properly manage function pointers, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) via a malformed packet. (CVE-2013-2477)

The dissect_mpls_echo_tlv_dd_map function in epan/dissectors/packet-mpls-echo.c in the MPLS Echo dissector in Wireshark 1.8.x before 1.8.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (infinite loop) via invalid Sub-tlv data. (CVE-2013-2479)

The AMPQ dissector in Wireshark 1.6.x before 1.6.14 and 1.8.x before 1.8.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (infinite loop) via a malformed packet. (CVE-2013-2482)

The FCSP dissector in Wireshark 1.6.x before 1.6.14 and 1.8.x before 1.8.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (infinite loop) via a malformed packet. (CVE-2013-2485)

The dissect_diagnosticrequest function in epan/dissectors/packet-reload.c in the REsource LOcation And Discovery (aka RELOAD) dissector in Wireshark 1.8.x before 1.8.6 uses an incorrect integer data type, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (infinite loop) via crafted integer values in a packet. (CVE-2013-2486)

epan/dissectors/packet-reload.c in the REsource LOcation And Discovery (aka RELOAD) dissector in Wireshark 1.8.x before 1.8.6 uses incorrect integer data types, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (infinite loop) via crafted integer values in a packet, related to the (1) dissect_icecandidates, (2) dissect_kinddata, (3) dissect_nodeid_list, (4) dissect_storeans, (5) dissect_storereq, (6) dissect_storeddataspecifier, (7) dissect_fetchreq, (8) dissect_findans, (9) dissect_diagnosticinfo, (10) dissect_diagnosticresponse, (11) dissect_reload_messagecontents, and (12) dissect_reload_message functions, a different vulnerability than CVE-2013-2486. (CVE-2013-2487)

Alerts:
Mageia MGASA-2013-0168 wireshark 2013-06-06
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0848-1 wireshark 2013-05-31
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0911-1 wireshark 2013-06-10
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0947-1 wireshark 2013-06-10
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0506-1 wireshark 2013-03-20
openSUSE openSUSE-SU-2013:0494-1 wireshark 2013-03-20
Mandriva MDVSA-2013:055 wireshark 2013-04-05
Debian-LTS DLA-497-1 wireshark 2016-05-31

Comments (none posted)

zoneminder: multiple vulnerabilities

Package(s):zoneminder CVE #(s):CVE-2013-0232 CVE-2013-0332
Created:March 15, 2013 Updated:April 3, 2013
Description:

From the Debian advisory:

Multiple vulnerabilities were discovered in zoneminder, a Linux video camera security and surveillance solution. The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures project identifies the following problems:

CVE-2013-0232: Brendan Coles discovered that zoneminder is prone to an arbitrary command execution vulnerability. Remote (authenticated) attackers could execute arbitrary commands as the web server user.

CVE-2013-0332: zoneminder is prone to a local file inclusion vulnerability. Remote attackers could examine files on the system running zoneminder.

Alerts:
Mageia MGASA-2013-0104 zoneminder 2013-04-02
Debian DSA-2640-1 zoneminder 2013-03-14

Comments (none posted)

Page editor: Jake Edge

Kernel development

Brief items

Kernel release status

The current development kernel is 3.9-rc3, released on March 17. Linus says: "Not as small as -rc2, but that one really was unusually calm. So there was clearly some pending stuff that came in for -rc3, with network drivers and USB leading the charge. But there's other misc drivers, arch updates, btrfs fixes, etc etc too."

Stable updates: 3.8.3, 3.4.36, and 3.0.69 were released on March 14, and 3.8.4, 3.4.37, 3.2.41, and 3.0.70 came out on March 20.

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A trinity fuzz-tester mailing list

Dave Jones has announced the creation of a mailing list for development of the "Trinity" fuzz testing tool. It is hosted on vger, so the usual majordomo subscription routine applies.

Full Story (comments: none)

Kernel development news

The trouble with DMA masks

By Jonathan Corbet
March 20, 2013
Almost any I/O device worth its electrons will support direct memory access (DMA) transactions; to do otherwise is to be relegated to the world of low-bandwidth, high-overhead I/O. But "DMA-capable" devices are not all equally so; many of them have limitations restricting the range of memory that can be directly accessed. The 24-bit limitation that afflicted ISA devices in the early days of the personal computer is a classic example, but contemporary hardware also has its limits. The kernel has long had a mechanism for working around these limitations, but it turns out that this subsystem has some interesting problems of its own.

DMA limitations are usually a result of a device having fewer address lines than would be truly useful. The 24 lines described by the ISA specification are an obvious example; there is simply no way for an ISA-compliant device to address more than 16MB of physical memory. PCI devices are normally limited to a 32-bit address space, but a number of devices are limited to a smaller space as a result of dubious hardware design; as is so often the case, hardware designers have shown a great deal of creativity in this area. But users are not concerned with these issues; they just want their peripherals to work. So the kernel has to find a way to respect any given device's special limits while still using DMA to the greatest extent possible.

The kernel's DMA API (described in Documentation/DMA-API.txt) abstracts and hides most of the details of making DMA actually work with any specific device. This API will, for example, endeavor to allocate memory that falls within the physical range supported by the target device. It will also transparently implement "bounce buffering" — copying data between a device-inaccessible buffer and an accessible buffer — if necessary. To do so, however, the DMA API must be informed of a device's addressing limits. That is done through the provision of a "DMA mask," a bitmask describing the memory range reachable by the device. The documentation describes the mask this way:

The dma_mask represents a bit mask of the addressable region for the device. I.e., if the physical address of the memory anded with the dma_mask is still equal to the physical address, then the device can perform DMA to the memory.

The problem, as recently pointed out by Russell King, is that the DMA mask is not always interpreted that way. He points to code like the following, found in block/blk-settings.c:

    void blk_queue_bounce_limit(struct request_queue *q, u64 dma_mask)
    {
	unsigned long b_pfn = dma_mask >> PAGE_SHIFT;

What is happening here is that the code is right-shifting the DMA mask to turn it into a "page frame number" (PFN). If one envisions a system's memory as a linear array of pages, the PFN of a given page is simply its index into that array (though memory is not always organized so simply). By treating a DMA mask as, for all practical purposes, another way of expressing the PFN of the highest addressable page, the block code is changing the semantics of how the mask is interpreted.

Russell explained how that can be problematic. On some ARM systems, memory does not start at a physical address of zero; the physical address of the first byte can be as high as 3GB (0xc0000000). If a system configured in this way has a device with a 26-bit address limitation (with the upper bits being filled in by the bus hardware), then its DMA mask should be set to 0xc3ffffff. Any physical address within the device's range will be unchanged by a logical AND operation with this mask, while any address outside of that range will not.

But what then happens when the block code right-shifts that mask to get a PFN from the mask? The result (assuming 4096-byte pages) is 0xc3fff, which is a perfectly valid PFN on a system where the PFN of the first page will be 0xc0000. And that is fine until one looks at the interactions with a global memory management variable called max_low_pfn. Given that name, one might imagine that it is the maximum PFN contained within low memory — the PFN of the highest page that is directly addressable by the kernel without special mappings. Instead, max_low_pfn is a count of page frames in low memory. But not all code appears to treat it that way.

On an x86 system, where memory starts at a physical address of zero (and, thus, a PFN of zero), that difference does not matter; the count and the maximum are the same. But on more complicated systems the results can be interesting. Returning to the same function in blk-settings.c:

    blk_max_low_pfn = max_low_pfn - 1;  /* Done elsewhere at init time */

    if (b_pfn < blk_max_low_pfn)
	dma = 1;
    q->limits.bounce_pfn = b_pfn;

Here we have a real page frame number (calculated from the DMA mask) compared to a count of page frames, with decisions on how DMA must be done depending on the result. It would not be surprising to see erroneous results from such an operation; with regard to the discussion in question, it seems to have caused bounce buffering to be done when there was no need. One can easily see other kinds of trouble that could result from this type of confusion; inconsistent views of what a variable means will rarely lead to good things.

Fixing this situation is not going to be straightforward; Russell had "no idea" of how to do it. Renaming max_low_pfn to something like low_pfn_count might be a first step as a way to avoid further confusion. Better defining the meaning of a DMA mask (or, at least, ensuring that the kernel's interpretation of a mask adheres to the existing definition) sounds like a good idea, but it could be hard to implement in a way that does not break obscure hardware — some of that code can be fragile indeed. One way or another, it seems that the DMA interface, which was designed by developers working with relatively straightforward hardware, is going to need some attention from the ARM community if it's going to meet that community's needs.

Comments (none posted)

Anatomy of a user namespaces vulnerability

By Michael Kerrisk
March 20, 2013

An exploit posted on March 13 revealed a rather easily exploitable security vulnerability (CVE 2013-1858) in the implementation of user namespaces. That exploit enables an unprivileged user to escalate to full root privileges. Although a fix was quickly provided, it is nevertheless instructive to look in some detail at the vulnerability, both to better understand the nature of this kind of exploit and also to briefly consider how this vulnerability came to appear inside the user namespaces implementation. General background on user namespaces can be found in parts 5 and part 6 of our recent series of articles on namespaces.

Overview

The vulnerability was discovered by Sebastian Krahmer, who posted proof-of-concept code demonstrating the exploit on the oss-security mailing list. The exploit is based on the fact that Linux 3.8 allows the following combination of flags when calling clone() (and also unshare() and setns()):

    clone(... CLONE_NEWUSER | CLONE_FS, ...);

CLONE_NEWUSER says that the new child should be in a new user namespace, and with the completion of the user namespaces implementation in Linux 3.8, that flag can now be employed by unprivileged processes. Within the new namespace, the child has a full set of capabilities, although it has no capabilities in the parent namespace.

The CLONE_FS flag says that the caller of clone() and the resulting child should share certain filesystem-related attributes—root directory, current working directory, and file mode creation mask (umask). The attribute of particular interest here is the root directory, which a privileged process can change using the chroot() system call.

It is the mismatch between the scope of these two flags that creates the window for the exploit. On the one hand, CLONE_FS causes the parent and child process to share the root directory attribute. On the other hand, CLONE_NEWUSER puts the two processes into separate user namespaces, and gives the child full capabilities in the new user namespace. Those capabilities include CAP_SYSCHROOT, which gives a process the ability to call chroot(); the sharing provided by CLONE_FS means that the child can change the root directory of a process in another user namespace.

In broad strokes, the exploit achieves escalation to root privileges by executing any set-user-ID-root program that is present on the system in a chroot environment which is engineered to execute attacker-controlled code. That code runs with user ID 0 and allows the exploit to fire up a shell with root privileges. The exploit as demonstrated is accomplished by subverting the dynamic linking mechanism, although other lines of attack based on the same foundation are also possible.

The vulnerability scenario

The first part of understanding the exploit requires some understanding of the operation of the dynamic linker. Most executables (including most set-user-ID root programs) on a Linux system employ shared libraries and dynamic linking. At run time, the dynamic linker loads the required shared libraries in preparation for running the program. The pathname of the dynamic linker is embedded in the executable file's ELF headers, and is listed among the other dependencies of a dynamically linked executable when we use the ldd command (here executed on an x86-64 system):

    $ ldd /bin/ls | grep ld-linux
            /lib64/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2 (0x00000035b1800000)

There are a few important points to note about the dynamic linker. First, it is run before the application program. Second, it is run under whatever credentials would be accorded to the application program; thus, for example, if a set-user-ID-root program is being executed, the dynamic linker will run with an effective user ID of root.

Executable files are normally protected so that they can't be modified by users other than the file owner; this prevents, for example, unprivileged users from modifying the dynamic linker path embedded inside a set-user-ID-root binary. For similar reasons, an unprivileged user can't change the contents of the dynamic linker binary.

However, suppose for a moment that an unprivileged user could construct a chroot tree containing (via a hard link) the set-user-ID-root binary and an executable of the user's own choosing at /lib64/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2. Running the set-user-ID-root binary would then cause control first to be passed to the user's own code, which would be running as root. The aim of the exploit is to bring about the situation shown in the following diagram, where pathnames are shown linked to various binary files:

[chroot layout]

The key point in the above diagram is that two pathnames link to the fusermount binary (a set-user-ID-root program used for mounting and unmounting FUSE filesystems). If a process outside the chroot environment executes the /bin/fusermount binary, then the real dynamic linker will be invoked to load the binary's shared libraries. On the other hand, if a process inside the chroot environment executes the other link to the binary (/suid-root), then the kernel will load the ELF interpreter pointed to by the link /lib64/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2 inside the chroot environment. That link points to code supplied by an attacker, and will be run with root privileges.

How does the Linux 3.8 user namespaces implementation help with this attack? First, an unprivileged user can create a new user namespace in which they gain full privileges, including the ability to create a chroot environment using chroot(). Second, the differing scope of CLONE_NEWUSER and CLONE_FS described above means that the privileged process inside a new user namespace can construct a chroot environment that applies to a process outside the user namespace. If that process can in turn then be made to execute a set-user-ID binary inside the chroot environment, then the attacker code will be run as root.

A three-phase attack

Although Sebastian's program is quite short, there are many details involved that make the exploit somewhat challenging to understand; furthermore, the program is written with the goal of accomplishing the exploit, rather than educating the reader on how the exploit is carried out. Therefore, we'll provide an equivalent program, userns_exploit.c, that performs the same attack—this program is structured in a more understandable way and is instrumented with output statements that enable the user to see what is going on. We won't walk though the code of the program, but it is well commented and should be easy to follow using the explanations in this article.

The attack code involves the creation of three processes, which we'll label "parent", "child", and "grandchild". The attack is conducted in three phases; in each phase, a separate instance of the attacker code is executed. This concept can at first be difficult to grasp when reading the code. It's easiest to think of the userns_exploit program as simply offering itself in three flavors, with the choice being determined by command-line arguments and the effective user ID of the process.

The following diagram shows the exploit in overview:

[user
    namespace exploit steps]

In the above diagram, the vertical dashed lines indicate points where a process is blocked waiting for another process to complete some action.

In the first phase of the exploit, the program starts by discovering its own pathname. This is done by reading the contents of the /proc/self/exe symbolic link. The program needs to know its own pathname for two reasons: so it can create a link to itself inside the chroot tree and so it can re-execute itself later.

The program then creates two processes, labeled "parent" and "child" in the above diagram. The parent's task is simple. It will loop, using the stat() system call to check whether the program pathname discovered in the previous step is owned by root and has the set-user-ID permission bit enabled. This causes the parent to wait until the other processes have finished their tasks.

In the meantime, the "child" populates the directory tree that will be used as the chroot environment. The goal is to create the set-up shown in the following diagram:

[chroot layout]

The difference from the first diagram is that we now see that it is the userns_exploit program that will be used as the fake dynamic loader inside the chroot environment. Furthermore, that binary is also linked outside the chroot environment, and the exploit design takes advantage of that fact.

Having created the chroot tree shown above, the child then employs clone(CLONE_NEWUSER|CLONE_FS) to create a new process—the grandchild. The grandchild has a full set of capabilities, which allows it to call chroot() to place itself into the chroot tree. Because the grandchild and the child share the root directory attribute, the child is now also placed in the chroot environment.

Its small task complete, the grandchild now terminates. At that point, the child, which has been waiting on the grandchild, now resumes. As its next step, the child executes the program at the path /suid-root. This is in fact a link to the fusermount binary. Because the child is in the initial user namespace and the fusermount binary is set-user-ID-root, the child gains root privileges.

However, before the fusermount binary is loaded, the kernel first loads its ELF interpreter, the file at the path /lib64/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2. That, as it happens, is actually the userns_exploit program. Thus, the userns_exploit program is now executed for a second time (and the fusermount program is never executed).

The second phase of the exploit has now begun. This instance of the userns_exploit program recognizes that it has an effective user ID of 0. However, the only files it can access are those inside the chroot environment. But that is sufficient. The child can now change the ownership of the file /lib64/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2 and turn on the file's set-user-ID permission bit. That pathname is, of course, a link to the userns_exploit binary. At this point, the child's work is now complete, and it terminates.

All of this time, the parent process has been sitting in the background waiting for the userns_exploit binary to become a set-user-ID-root program. That, of course, is what the child has just accomplished. So, at this point, the parent now executes the userns_exploit program outside the chroot environment. On this execution, the program is supplied with a command-line argument.

The third and final phase of the exploit has now started. The userns_exploit program determines that it has an effective user ID of 0 and notes that it has a command-line argument. That latter fact distinguishes this case from the second execution of the userns_exploit and is a signal that this time the program is being executed outside the chroot environment. All that the program now needs to do is execute a shell; that shell will provide the user with full root privileges on the system.

Further requirements for a successful exploit

There are a few other steps that are necessary to successfully accomplish the exploit. The userns_exploit program must be statically linked. This is necessary so that, when executed as the dynamic linker inside the chroot environment, the userns_exploit program does not itself require a dynamic linker.

In addition, the value in the /proc/sys/fs/protected_hardlinks file must zero. The protected_hardlinks file was a feature that was added in Linux 3.6 specifically to prevent the types of exploit discussed in this article. If this file has the value one, then only the owner of a file can create hard links to it. On a vanilla kernel, protected_hardlinks unfortunately has the default value zero, although some distributions provide kernels that change this default.

In the process of exploring this vulnerability, your editor discovered that set-user-ID binaries built as hardened, position-independent executables (PIE) cannot be used for this particular attack. (Many of the set-user-ID-root binaries on his Fedora system were hardened in this manner.) While PIE hardening thwarts this particular line of attack, the chroot() technique described here can still be used to exploit a set-user-ID-root binary in other ways. For example, the binary can be placed in a suitably constructed chroot environment that contains the genuine dynamic linker but a compromised libc.

Finally, user namespaces must of course be enabled on the system where this exploit is to be tested, and the kernel version needs to be precisely 3.8. Earlier kernel versions did not allow unprivileged users to create user namespaces, and later kernels will fix this bug, as described below. The exploit is unlikely to be possible with distributor kernels: because the Linux 3.8 kernel does not support the use of user namespaces with various filesystems, including NFS and XFS, distributors are unlikely to enable user namespaces in the kernels that they ship.

The fix

Once the problem was reported, Eric Biederman considered two possible solutions. The more complex solution is to create an association from a process's fs_struct, the kernel data structure that records the process's root directory, to a user namespace, and use that association to set limitations around the use of chroot() in scenarios such as the one described in this article. The alternative is the simple and obviously safe solution: disallow the combination of CLONE_NEWUSER and CLONE_FS in the clone() system call, make CLONE_NEWUSER automatically imply CLONE_FS in the unshare() system call, and disallow the use of setns() to change a process's user namespace if the process is sharing CLONE_FS-related attributes with another process.

Subsequently, Eric concluded that the complex solution seemed to be unnecessary and would add a small overhead to every call to fork(). He thus opted for the simple solution: the Linux 3.9 kernel (and the 3.8.3 stable kernel) will disallow the combination of CLONE_NEWUSER and CLONE_FS.

User namespaces and security

As we noted in an earlier article, Eric Biederman has put a lot of work into trying to ensure that unprivileged can create user namespaces without causing security vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, a significant exploit was found soon after the release of the first kernel version that allowed unprivileged processes to create user namespaces. Another user namespace vulnerability that potentially allowed unprivileged users to load arbitrary kernel modules was also reported and fixed earlier this month. In addition, during the discussion of the CLONE_NEWUSER|CLONE_FS issue, Andy Lutomirski has hinted that there may be another user namespaces vulnerability to be fixed.

Why is it that several security vulnerabilities have sprung from the user namespaces implementation? The fundamental problem seems to be that user namespaces and their interactions with other parts of the kernel are rather complex—probably too complex for the few kernel developers with a close interest to consider all of the possible security implications. In addition, by making new functionality available to unprivileged users, user namespaces expand the attack surface of the kernel. Thus, it seems that as user namespaces come to be more widely deployed, other security bugs such as these are likely to be found. One hopes that they'll be found and fixed by the kernel developers and white hat security experts, rather than found and exploited by black hat attackers.

Updated on 22 February 2013 to clarify and correct some minor details of the "simple and safe" solution under the heading, "The fix".

Comments (31 posted)

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Distributions

Debian Project Leader election draws near

By Nathan Willis
March 20, 2013

Stefano Zacchiroli has served as Debian Project Leader (DPL) since April 2010, and has announced that he will not stand for another term. The election for his replacement will take place between March 31 and April 13. In the meantime, much of the campaigning is taking place on the debian-vote mailing list, where project members have posed questions to the candidates and gotten detailed responses in reply (not to mention, in some cases, lengthy discussion threads).When his term ends in April, Zacchiroli will have been DPL for three years, the longest stretch since project founder Ian Murdock's in Debian's early days, so the 2013 election is attracting more attention than in previous years.

Candidates and platforms

The candidates are Gergely Nagy, Moray Allan, and Lucas Nussbaum. Each one volunteered (or, technically speaking, nominated himself) during the official nomination period in early March. The three have written their own "platform" documents, which are hosted at the 2013 election page. Each sets out the general reasons the candidate is running for DPL and the issues he hopes to address if elected.

Nagy ran for DPL in 2012 as well, and his platform begins by revisiting the issues he raised back then, and how the intervening 12 months have shifted his positions. In 2012, his platform focused on recruiting new project members, and on building a more "passionate" community in addition to one that excels technically. His current platform expands on that idea, with more specifics—such as increasing the opportunities for face-to-face events, publicly highlighting the contributions of experienced Debian Developers, and recruiting more non-packaging contributors.

Allan's platform focuses on the role of the DPL itself; he says that the DPL can help overcome the occasional conflicts between the many loosely-organized teams in the project. The DPL can mediate in conflicts, he says, but can also encourage more turnover in team leadership (and rotating members between teams), and can facilitate more organized discussions between teams. He would provide guidelines for more transparency and openness in communication within the project, and build more active relationships with outsiders for the teams that handle press, publicity, and corporate relations. He, too, advocates bringing a Debian presence to more local events and user group meetings, and actively recruiting new contributors. He also proposes forming fundraising teams to seek out donations for the project's various expenses.

Nussbaum begins his platform statement expressing concern that the core project is losing momentum; "very cool things" happen in the ecosystem, but outside Debian itself—which, if not careful, can lapse into contenting itself as a "package supermarket." He advocates reinforcing Debian in central position in the free software ecosystem, by fostering innovative products within the project itself (such as rolling releases and live images), reducing barriers to contribution, and improving communication with upstream projects. He also says he plans to continue Zacchiroli's DPL helpers initiative, but with the long term hope of evolving it into a driving team of Debian Developers who act as decision makers, with the DPL as chairperson.

Position papers like the aforementioned platforms are nice, but in the modern world a campaign thrives on debate in order to get the candidates to explain themselves. In lieu of a stage, podium, and moderator, the DPL candidates have at least been offered the chance to respond to questions from project members via the debian-vote mailing list.

Several of the questions were directed to all three candidates and asked for elaboration on specific points raised in one of more of the platforms. For instance, Timo Juhani Lindfors asked how each candidate would attract new people to the project, and Paul Tagliamonte asked how the candidates would represent Debian to the outside world. In both instances, the replies were on the safe side, although the question of attracting new participants did shift to address the "graying" of the project, and how to attract more youthful participants.

The big freeze

Where the discussion got more interesting, however, were the threads in which a list member posed an original question. Many of these dealt with the daily grind of keeping Debian development moving forward, or on the long-term organization of the project. For example, Lars Wirzenius observed that Debian has been in feature freeze for eight months, which is significantly longer than most distributions, and asked what the candidates would do to fix the long and painful release process and other development process problems.

Nussbaum responded with a number of ideas, including prioritizing the QA process and improving support tools like bug trackers. But he also suggested "more exploration of gradual freezes," perhaps in stages:

I understand that it's important to freeze early packages that affect the installer, and maybe also the base system. But freezing all packages with the hope that it will force people to fix RC bugs in other people's packages does not work: many people just stop working on Debian during the freeze. This was discussed a bit already, but I'm not sure that we really were throughout in the discussion. As a DPL, I will reopen that discussion at a good time (after the release, and not just after the release).

Allan said he does not think the DPL should "try to impose policies on teams like the Release Team," but provided a few ideas, including removing buggy packages much earlier in the freeze, and more actively flagging buggy packages. He also said that some form of Constantly Usable Testing (CUT) would be helpful, since many desktop users would prefer it:

This would solve the freeze problem for that group of users -- though I worry that it might further reduce the number of people putting energy into our current type of releases. Equally, I wouldn't expect the existing Release Team to make CUT happen, both because of lack of time, but also because they're likely to be self-selected as people who like the current style of release.

Allan also observed that many packages ship with bugs that are tagged -ignore, which sometimes means the packages in question are unusable for some users even if they do not adversely affect others. One solution might be to declare separate release dates for different uses cases; "we could badge the new release as ready for the desktop before we close it off as final and suggest that people upgrade their servers."

Nagy responded that the fundamental problem is that fixing bugs is not perceived as rewarding, and it is considerably harder in many cases because upstream developers cannot be relied on for assistance. The answer, he said, "is to make upstreams, downstreams and everyone else involved realise that if we work together, we'll release faster."

I feel the collaboration between Debian and downstreams is far from perfect, and that is usually a fault of both sides. Tiny little speckles of dust in the machinery some of these problems are, but if enough dust accumulates, the machinery will suffer.

We need to figure out if - and how - we could work together more closely, to reduce the workload on all sides, as that also reduces the annoyance we may have with one another.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Zacchiroli raised two questions about how Debian tackles distribution-wide changes. First, he asked how they would improve on the inertia that in the past has made Debian slow at planning and deploying large changes. Subsequently, he asked the candidates how they, as DPL, would approach the tricky problem of making such potentially far-reaching decisions—for example, which init system this distribution should use. As he put it,

Some of the longest -devel thread in recent years have been about Debian's (default) init system: SysV, SystemD, Upstart, OpenRC, etc. Despite folklore, I don't think those threads have been (entirely) trollish, they all hint at a concrete problem:

How do we make an inherently archive-wide technical decision when multiple, possibly equally valid solutions do exist?

No candidate advocated drastic changes (perhaps predictably; after all, it is hard to imagine any candidate answering with a response that does not make technical merit the top priority). But the replies do provide insight into the candidates' viewpoints on how the project should be managed—for instance, how big of a role the Technical Committee (TC) should play in making calls between competing proposals.

Nagy replied that big technical decisions like the init system should be addressed at in-person events like DebConf, where the stakeholders can sit down and discuss the topic:

We need to establish the key requirements (which in this case, will be a tough cookie to crack too), and see what compromises the stakeholders are willing to make. The primary role of the DPL in this case would be organisation and mediation, to make sure that those involved understand that compromises will have to be made, or we'll be stuck with sysvinit forever, which is likely not what most of them would want.

Nussbaum said that the decision should be left up to developers and key package maintainers, with the TC only stepping in on rare occasions. The DPL can be helpful in facilitating discussions, he said, which usually result in a thorough review of the possible solutions—while the final decision will usually involve compromise:

Often, there's the possibility to limit the impact of the decision, e.g. by providing a default, but also supporting alternatives. When that's possible, that's something that should be explored. It's a good thing for the current alternatives, but also to help future alternatives later.

Allan also said the DPL was not usually the best fit for making large-scale decisions, but instead could "encourage people to improve UIs, agree on best practice, and write better documents." He also cited his platform document, which suggests "that we might make distribution-wide changes quicker by more vocally authorising NMUs [Non-Maintainer Uploads] to help with changeovers."

To the polls

While the role of project leadership is an important one, and while Debian has long grappled with how to improve and streamline its release process, there are naturally plenty of other issues about which Debian project members have questions. Money came up several times; Raphael Hertzog inquired whether Debian should spend its money on anything other than hardware and travel reimbursement; various responses included code camps and underwriting individual developers. Martin Zobel-Helas asked specifically whether or not the project's planned hardware expenditures were justifiable. Here again, the candidates do not stake out drastically different positions, but their responses to the specific questions illuminate some distinctions, like how they connect budgeting for expenses to fundraising (both in terms of ongoing contributions and short-term campaigns).

The discussion on the debian-vote list is likely to continue until the voting period begins on March 31. The candidates are also posting material on their individual blogs (as are other Debian project members). There is a generally amiable tone to the campaign, as one would expect from a mature project staffed by volunteers. But the campaign itself is interesting to watch for a few reasons. For one, it has been three years since the last change of DPL; when Zacchiroli was running for re-election the campaigns largely turned into a referendum on his continued presence in the role (which, although certainly a valid question for the voters, is different than the question of setting new priorities for the project).

But another interesting facet of the election is the fact that it provides the public with an insight into the inner workings of the project management. Debian is not unique among Linux distributions for electing its leadership by a completely democratic process, but it is in the minority. The Fedora Project Leader is a full-time employee of Red Hat (who also appoints four of the remaining nine Fedora Board members); openSUSE is governed by a community-elected board but with a chairperson appointed by SUSE; Ubuntu sponsor Mark Shuttleworth serves as project leader until he decides to step down, though the distribution has an elected community council as well. In contrast, Debian's open leadership-selection process provides a window into the topics of debate that every distribution leadership team faces—at one time or another, anyway.

And Debian is different in that the DPL is its sole elected leadership position. Selecting four or five board members all at once allows the voting public to make compromises and put together a broad ticket; the DPL works alone. Then again, the DPL "works alone" solely in the sense that the project's bylaws set out, and the DPL's role differs significantly from the decision-making powers often wielded in other projects. In reality, the DPL does not dictate policy, but works to coordinate and communicate between developers and to represent the project to external projects and communities. Thus, in other ways, the DPL remains just one active participant in the Debian community, which has always stayed both active and vocal—and seems likely to continue doing so, regardless of who takes home the most votes.

Comments (none posted)

Brief items

Distribution quote of the week

Or, to put it another way, for Fedora 18, Fedora got a lot of publicity for being late to release. The project was able to say, quite reasonably, "The installer has undergone a major rewrite, and we want to make sure all the problems are ironed out first." For Fedora 19 do we want to say, "We're late to release because we wanted to put an 'ö' in the release name."?
-- Ian Malone

Comments (4 posted)

Distribution News

Debian GNU/Linux

bits from the DPL: February 2013 (and a half)

Stefano Zacchiroli presents his penultimate bits as Debian Project Leader. Topics covered include DPL elections, delegations, DPL helpers, Debian assets, and more.

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Backports integrated in the main archive

The Debian Project has announced that the backports service for Debian 7.0 "Wheezy" will be part of the main archive. "Backports are packages mostly from the testing distribution (and in few cases from unstable too, e.g. security updates) recompiled in a stable environment so that they will run without new libraries (whenever it is possible) on the Debian stable distribution. While as for now this service was provided on a separated archive, starting with wheezy-backports the packages will be accessible from the regular pool."

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Release update: the hundred bug charge

The Debian release managers have a report on the progress of Debian 7.0 "Wheezy". The freeze is in its final stages. There are still some RC bugs that need to be squashed and the release notes are not ready yet, but overall the release is getting ever closer.

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openSUSE

Geeko Pumping Iron Session - openSUSE ARM Hackathon

The openSUSE ARM team will be holding a hackathon April 8-12, 2013 at the SUSE offices in Nuremberg, Germany. People may participate online.

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Newsletters and articles of interest

Distribution newsletters

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Klumpp: Tanglu

Matthias Klumpp introduces Tanglu, a Debian-testing derivative still in early development. "Tanglu is designed to be able to solve the issue that Debian is frozen for a long time and Debian Developers can’t make new upstream versions available for testing easily. During a Debian freeze, DDs can upload their software to the current Tanglu development version and later start the new Debian cycle with already tested packages from Tanglu. The delta between Tanglu and Debian should be kept as minimal as possible. However, Tanglu is not meant as experimental distribution for Debian, so please upload experimental stuff to Experimental. Only packages good enough for a release should go into Tanglu."

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Ubuntu to halve support length for non-LTS releases (The H)

The H reports that support for Ubuntu's non-LTS releases will be shortened to nine months. "In a meeting of the Ubuntu Technical Board last night, the technical leadership of Canonical's Linux distribution decided to halve the support time for non-LTS releases to nine months. At the same time, the developers want to make it easier for users of the distribution to get up-to-date packages on a regular basis without the need to perform explicit upgrades of the whole distribution. Attending the meeting, Matt Zimmerman, Colin Watson and Stéphane Graber unanimously agreed on these points and also clearly voted against moving Ubuntu into a rolling release model. The changes will be implemented in the maintenance schedule starting with the release of Ubuntu 13.04 ("Raring Ringtail") on 25 April."

Comments (40 posted)

Page editor: Rebecca Sobol

Development

GCC 4.8.0 arriving soon

By Nathan Willis
March 20, 2013

The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is nearing the release of version 4.8.0, approximately one year after the release of 4.7.0. The new release is the first to be implemented with C++, but for most developers the new optimizations and language support improvements are of greater interest. Jakub Jelinek announced the first release candidate builds of GCC 4.8.0 on March 16, noting that if all goes well the final release could land in less than a week's time.

Chunks, dwarfs, and other optimization

The new release merges in some important changes to the Graphite memory-optimization framework, updating it to work with the upstream Chunky Loop Generator (CLooG) and Integer Set Library (ISL) libraries (where it had previously used internal implementations), and implementing the PLUTO algorithm as a polyhedral optimizer. This work moves Graphite significantly closer to being able to provide a generic polyhedral interface, though there is still work remaining (such as Static Control Part detection). Polyhedral loop optimization is a technique in which nested loop iterations are mapped out in two dimensions, forming lattice-like graphs to which various geometric transformations (such as skews) can be applied in an attempt to generate an equivalent structure that exhibits better performance.

There is a new general-purpose optimization level available in GCC 4.8.0 with the -Og switch, which should provide fast compilation while still resulting in better runtime performance than the "straightforward" -O0. The -ftree-partial-pre switch has also been added, which activates the partial redundancy elimination (PRE) optimization. PRE eliminates expressions and values that are redundant in some execution paths, even if they are not redundant in every path. In addition, there is a new, more aggressive analysis used by default in 4.8.0 to determine upper bounds on the number of loop iterations. The analysis relies on constraints imposed by language standards, but this may cause problems for non-conforming programs which had worked previously. Consequently, GCC has added a new -fno-aggressive-loop-optimizations switch to turn off the new analysis. Although breaking the constraints of the language standard is frowned upon, there are some notable real-world examples that do so, such as the SPEC CPU 2006 benchmarking suite.

Several other improvements to optimization arrive in the new release, including a rewritten link-time optimizer (LTO) and a new symbol table implementation. Together they should improve performance by catching more unusual symbol situations (such as aliases) that result in unreachable code—which can be safely cut out by the LTO. GCC has also updated its support for the DWARF debugging format from DWARF2 to DWARF4, which brings it up to speed with newer versions of GDB and Valgrind.

Two other new features debuting in GCC 4.8.0 are AddressSanitizer and ThreadSanitizer. The first is a memory-error detector that is reportedly fast at finding dangling pointers as well as heap-, stack-, and global-buffer overflows. The second is a data-race detector, which spots conditions where two threads try to access the same memory location—and at least one of them is attempting a write. ThreadSanitizer offers a hybrid algorithm not found in competing race detectors like Helgrind. Both new additions are actively being developed at Google.

Language support

The release notes accompanying 4.8.0 highlight a number of improvements in C, C++, and Fortran support. The C improvements are all of a diagnostic nature, such as -Wsizeof-pointer-memaccess, which is a new option to issue a warning when the length parameters passed to certain string and memory functions are "suspicious"—namely when the parameter uses sizeof foo in a situation where an explicit length is more likely the intent. This option can also suggest possible fixes.

All diagnostic messages now including printing the offending source line, and place a caret (^) underneath the appropriate column, to (hopefully) guide the eye right to the error in question. A similarly debugging-friendly option that displays the macro expansion stack in diagnostic messages (-ftrack-macro-expansion=2) is now enabled by default. In addition, -pedantic has been deprecated (in favor of -Wpedantic), and -Wshadow has been fixed. -Wshadow now permits a common use-case certain kernel developers have long complained was erroneously flagged as invalid.

C++11 support has been improved, with the addition of the thread_local keyword, C++11's attribute syntax, and constructor inheritance. There is also a -std=c++1y flag which allows developers to experiment with features proposed for the next revision of the C++ standard (although at the moment GCC only supports one proposed feature, return type deduction for normal functions). The libstdc++ library now provides improved experimental C++11 support as well, plus several improvements to <random>.

Fortran fans have quite a bit to look forward to, including the addition of the BACKTRACE subroutine, support for expressing floating point numbers using "q" as the exponential notation (e.g., 2.0q31), and Fortran 2003's unlimited polymorphic variables, which allow dynamic typing. There are also several new warning flags that can report (among other things) when variables are not C interoperable, when a pointer may outlive its target, and when an expression compares REAL and COMPLEX data for equality or inequality.

However, GCC 4.8.0 will also introduce some potential compatibility dangers: the ABI changes some internal names (for procedure pointers and deferred-length character strings), and the version number of module files (.mod) has been incremented. Recompiling any modules should allow them to work with any code compiled using GCC 4.8.0.

Targets

Finally, GCC 4.8.0 will introduce quite a few improvements for the various architecture targets supported. In ARM land, AArch64 support is brand new, initially supporting just the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 CPUs. The (separate) 32-bit ARM support has added initial support for the AArch32 extensions in ARMv8. There is also improved support for Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 processors, and initial support for the Marvell PJ4 CPU. There are also improvements to auto-vectorization and to the scheduler; the latter can now account for the number of live registers available (potentially improving execution performance for large functions).

In the x86 world, GCC gains support for the "Broadwell" processor family from Intel, the "Steamroller" and "Jaguar" cores from AMD, as well as several new Intel instruction sets. There are also two new built-in functions; __builtin_cpu_is is designed to detect the runtime CPU type, and __builtin_cpu_supports is designed to detect if the CPU supports specified ISA features. GCC now supports function multiversioning for x86, in which one can create multiple versions of a function—for example, with each one optimized for a different class of processor.

But the less popular architectures get their share of attention as well; support has been added for several new MIPS chips (R4700, Broadcom XLP, and MIPS 34kn), IBM's zEC12 processor for System z, and the Renesas Electronics V850. There is a lengthy set of improvements for the SuperH architecture, including multiple new instructions and improved integer arithmetic. There are also improvements for several existing architectures: optimized instruction scheduling for SPARC's Niagara4, miscellaneous new features for PowerPC chips running AIX, and several features targeting AVR microcontrollers.

Over the years, GCC has maintained a steady pace of new stable releases, which is especially noteworthy when one stops to consider how many languages and target architectures it now supports. In recent years, the project has still managed to introduce interesting new features, including the Graphite work, for example. There is still a long list of to-dos, but 4.8.0 is poised to be yet another dependable release with its share of improvements covering a wide variety of processors and language features.

Comments (3 posted)

Brief items

Quotes of the week

Remember, there is such thing as false hope. And if ever there was an example of false hope it is someone hoping for a decade old issue in Bugzilla that has been passed by by thousands of other issues.
Rob Weir

No More Google Reader

from Google Operating System by Alex Chitu

via What's Hot in Google Reader

— Google Reader, spreading the news of its own demise, as noticed by Richard Hartmann

Comments (1 posted)

Mozilla releases Open Badges 1.0

Mozilla has announced the 1.0 release of Open Badges, an open framework for deploying verifiable digital recognition of achievements and awards. As the announcement explains, "With Open Badges, every badge has important data built in that links back to who issued it, how it was earned, and even the projects a user completed to earn it. Employers and others can dig into this rich data and see the full story of each user’s skills and achievements." Mozilla says there are more than 600 organizations using the Open Badges infrastructure, and they have issued more than 62,000 badges.

Comments (14 posted)

MongoDB 2.4 release

Version 2.4 of the MongoDB "NoSQL" database system has been released. Headline features include a new text search facility, spherical geometry support, hash-based sharding, Kerberos authentication, and more; see the release notes for details.

Comments (none posted)

Plasma Media Center 1.0.0 released

The first release of the Plasma Media Center has been announced. "KDE's Plasma Media Center (PMC) is aimed towards a unified media experience on PCs, Tablets, Netbooks, TVs and any other device that is capable of running KDE. PMC can be used to view images, play music or watch videos."

Comments (6 posted)

Geary 0.3 released

Yorba has announced the availability of version 0.3 of its open source email client Geary. There are numerous changes; the most significant is support for multiple email accounts, but there are updates to spam detection and message flagging, and the new release supports downloading mail in the background.

Comments (none posted)

XeTeX ported to HarfBuzz

Khaled Hosny announced that he has ported the XeTeX extension to TeX to use the HarfBuzz engine for OpenType layout, and has updated support for the Graphite engine as well. In keeping with XeTeX's longstanding habit of asymptotic version numbering, the new release is numbered 0.9999.0.

Comments (none posted)

Newsletters and articles

Development newsletters from the past week

Comments (none posted)

Rowe: FreeDV Robustness

David Rowe, creator of the Codec 2 speech codec (which we discussed briefly in our Linux.conf.au 2013 coverage) has published a three-part series analyzing the performance of Codec 2 and his open source digital radio application FreeDV (part 1, part 2, part 3). The series examines FreeDV and Codec 2 against other HF radio modes, both digital and analog, providing some insight into codec design. "My previous tests show the excitation bits (pitch, voicing, energy) are the most sensitive. The excitation bits affect the entire spectrum, unlike LSPs where a bit error introduces distortion to a localised part of the spectrum. So I dreamt up a new 1300 bit/s Codec 2 mode that has “less” sensitive bits."

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Page editor: Nathan Willis

Announcements

Brief items

Goodbye Malcolm (Tredinnick)

The Django community mourns the passing of Malcolm Tredinnick. "Malcolm was a long-time contributor to Django, a model community member, a brilliant mind, and a friend. His contributions to Django — and to many other open source projects — are nearly impossible to enumerate. Many on the core Django team had their first patches reviewed by him; his mentorship enriched us. His consideration, patience, and dedication will always be an inspiration to us."

Comments (8 posted)

Google taking applications for GSOC mentors

Google has announced that it is accepting applications for mentoring organizations for the 2013 Google Summer of Code program. "This year we are again encouraging experienced Google Summer of Code mentoring organizations to refer newer, smaller organizations they think could benefit from the program to apply. We hope the referral program will again bring many more new organizations to the Google Summer of Code program. Last year 47 new organizations participated." The deadline is March 29.

Comments (none posted)

Python Software Foundation Reaches Settlement, Ends Trademark Dispute

The Python Software Foundation has reached a settlement in its trademark dispute with PO Box Hosting Limited trading as Veber in Europe. "The issue centered around Veber's use of the Python name for their cloud hosting services and their application for a figurative trademark incorporating the word "Python". While the Foundation retains the trademark for Python within the United States, it did not have a filing within the European Union. According to the terms of the settlement, Veber has withdrawn its trademark filing and has agreed to support the Python Software Foundation's use of the term."

Comments (3 posted)

Tor 2012 Annual Report

The Tor Project has announced the availability of its 2012 annual report. (PDF) "Tor’s daily usage continues to increase in size and diversity, bringing secure, global channels of communication and privacy tools to journalists, law enforcement, governments, human rights activists, business leaders, militaries, abuse victims and average citizens concerned about online privacy." (Thanks to Paul Wise)

Comments (3 posted)

Upcoming Events

Announcing the CentOS Dojo

The CentOS Dojo is a one day event on April 8, 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium. "[We] have tried to cover all the major conversation areas around CentOS these days. Starting from provisioning, management, app deployments, system and virtualisation tuning, virtual infrastructure and more."

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2013 IPv6 Summit

The Rocky Mountain IPv6 Task Force (RMv6TF) has announced the keynote speakers for the North American IPv6 Summit, April 17-19 in Denver, Colorado. Speakers include Latif Ladid, President, IPv6 Forum and Google Vice President, and Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf (via video). "This year's keynote covered by Ladid and Cerf explains why the big shift to IPv6 Internet is on by default. "When a protocol is on by default," explains Ladid, "vendor readiness, network readiness, and service enablement become critical. The issue now is can IPv6 be treated like IPv4. The service providers with advanced deployment experiences have discovered that IPv6 is a totally different networking paradigm.""

Full Story (comments: 33)

Applications open for AdaCamp San Francisco

Applications are open for AdaCamp San Francisco. AdaCamp SF is an unconference for supporters of women in open technology and culture held June 8-9, 2013 in San Francisco, California. "AdaCamp is invitation-only, but we encourage everyone interested in attending [9]to apply. You do not have to write code, have a job in open tech/culture, be a certain age, or be anything other than a supporter of women in open tech/culture. We value diversity of all sorts: age, race, geographical locations, language, sexuality, gender identity, educational background, hobbies, spiritual or religious beliefs, and other areas."

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Events: March 21, 2013 to May 20, 2013

The following event listing is taken from the LWN.net Calendar.

Date(s)EventLocation
March 13
March 21
PyCon 2013 Santa Clara, CA, US
March 19
March 21
FLOSS UK Large Installation Systems Administration Newcastle-upon-Tyne , UK
March 20
March 22
Open Source Think Tank Calistoga, CA, USA
March 23 Augsburger Linux-Infotag 2013 Augsburg, Germany
March 23
March 24
LibrePlanet 2013: Commit Change Cambridge, MA, USA
March 25 Ignite LocationTech Boston Boston, MA, USA
March 30 NYC Open Tech Conference Queens, NY, USA
March 30 Emacsconf London, UK
April 1
April 5
Scientific Software Engineering Conference Boulder, CO, USA
April 4
April 7
OsmoDevCon 2013 Berlin, Germany
April 4
April 5
Distro Recipes Paris, France
April 6
April 7
international Openmobility conference 2013 Bratislava, Slovakia
April 8 The CentOS Dojo 2013 Antwerp, Belgium
April 8
April 9
Write The Docs Portland, OR, USA
April 10
April 13
Libre Graphics Meeting Madrid, Spain
April 10
April 13
Evergreen ILS 2013 Vancouver, Canada
April 14 OpenShift Origin Community Day Portland, OR, USA
April 15
April 17
LF Collaboration Summit San Francisco, CA, USA
April 15
April 17
Open Networking Summit Santa Clara, CA, USA
April 15
April 18
OpenStack Summit Portland, OR, USA
April 16
April 18
Lustre User Group 13 San Diego, CA, USA
April 17
April 18
Open Source Data Center Conference Nuremberg, Germany
April 17
April 19
IPv6 Summit Denver, CO, USA
April 18
April 19
Linux Storage, Filesystem and MM Summit San Francisco, CA, USA
April 19 Puppet Camp Nürnberg, Germany
April 20 Grazer Linuxtage Graz, Austria
April 21
April 22
Free and Open Source Software COMmunities Meeting 2013 Athens, Greece
April 22
April 25
Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo Santa Clara, CA, USA
April 26 MySQL® & Cloud Database Solutions Day Santa Clara, CA, USA
April 26
April 27
Linuxwochen Eisenstadt Eisenstadt, Austria
April 27
April 28
WordCamp Melbourne 2013 Melbourne, Australia
April 27
April 28
LinuxFest Northwest Bellingham, WA, USA
April 29
April 30
2013 European LLVM Conference Paris, France
April 29
April 30
Open Source Business Conference San Francisco, CA, USA
May 1
May 3
DConf 2013 Menlo Park, CA, USA
May 2
May 4
Linuxwochen Wien 2013 Wien, Austria
May 9
May 12
Linux Audio Conference 2013 Graz, Austria
May 10 Open Source Community Summit Washington, DC, USA
May 10 CentOS Dojo, Phoenix Phoenix, AZ, USA
May 14
May 15
LF Enterprise End User Summit New York, NY, USA
May 14
May 17
SambaXP 2013 Göttingen, Germany
May 15
May 19
DjangoCon Europe Warsaw, Poland
May 16 NLUUG Spring Conference 2013 Maarssen, Netherlands

If your event does not appear here, please tell us about it.

Page editor: Rebecca Sobol


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