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Linux bans University of Minnesota for sending buggy patches in the name of research
by Sayan Sen
Greg Kroah-Hartman, who is one of the head honchos of the Linux kernel development and maintenance team, has banned the University of Minnesota (UMN) from further contributing to the Linux Kernel. The University had apparently introduced questionable patches into the kernel of Linux.
The UMN had worked on a research paper dubbed "On the Feasibility of Stealthily Introducing Vulnerabilities in Open-Source Software via Hypocrite Commits". Obviously, the "Open-Source Software" (OSS) here is indicating the Linux kernel and the University had stealthily introduced Use-After-Free (UAF) vulnerability to test the susceptibility of Linux. So far so good perhaps as one can see it as ethical experimenting.
However, the UMN apparently sent another round of "obviously-incorrect patches" into the kernel in the form of "a new static analyzer" causing distaste to Greg Kroah-Hartman who has now decided to ban the University from making any further contributions.
Here's the exchange between Aditya Pakki, who is a Ph.D. student of Computer Science and Engineering at UMN, and Greg Kroah-Hartman. Pakki had written:
To which Greg Kroah-Hartman has responded:
As Greg K-H had stated in his response to Aditya Pakki, the patches introduced by the UMN will indeed be removed and reverted which has been confirmed by this follow-up LKML message.
Source: Greg K-H (Twitter)
Tails 4.18 released, users urged to upgrade now
by Paul Hill
The privacy-focused Linux operating system, Tails, has been upgraded to version 4.18. It comes with several changes and includes fixes for known security vulnerabilities. Due to the nature of Tails and its focus on privacy, the team that produces the OS has urged everyone to upgrade to Tails 4.18 as soon as possible.
If you’ve ever used Tails, you’ll have noticed the ‘Synchronizing the system’s clock’ notification after you connect to the internet. As this notification doesn’t recommend a specific action, the developers decided to remove it altogether so that it doesn’t confuse users into changing the system’s clock.
Another change in this update is the removal of the gettext editor Poedit. Tails uses Weblate now to provide translated text for Tails and Tails website so Poedit wasn’t deemed necessary. You can still install Poedit on Tails by following the Additional Software guide.
In addition to these changes, the Tor Browser has been upgraded to 10.0.16, Thunderbird has been updated to 78.9.0-1, and some Intel and Linux firmware packages have been updated which should improve support for newer hardware such as graphics cards and Wi-Fi.
To upgrade a Tails 4.15+ device to the latest version just boot the system, connect to Wi-Fi and you should see a pop-up telling you to upgrade. If you’re on Tails 4.14 or below, automatic upgrades are broken you’ll need to do a manual upgrade.
By Namerah S
How to view mobile version of websites on desktops
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
Visiting websites designed primarily for desktop viewing on phones is fairly straightforward thanks to web browsers on Android and iOS. Doing the opposite, however, can be a bit of a challenge. If you'd like to view the mobile version of a site on your desktop for whatever reason, we've got you covered.
Here's a simple guide to show you how to view mobile versions of sites on desktops. This tutorial will work on Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
Step 1: Open up the website on the desktop browser of your choice. We've chosen Chrome for this guide but Edge will do as well. Once the page has loaded, press F12 to toggle the developer tools.
Step 2: Once the dev tools have opened up, find and locate the device toggle button that we've highlighted in the image below and click on it.
Step 3: You can click on 'Responsive' to select the device that you want to simulate. A drop-down menu with several options to choose from will appear. Alternatively, you can also customize the resolution of the simulation to suit your needs.
You can find sample mobile simulations of the same website on Chrome and Edge for your comparison in the below images.
Google Chrome Microsoft Edge We hope you found this short guide easy to follow and helpful. If you have any questions or requests, let us know in the comments below!
By News Staff
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Linux Mint outlines better, unobtrusive update notifications
by Paul Hill
Clem Lefebvre, head of the Linux Mint project, has written a blog post outlining new notifications that try not to be annoying but also remind users that they need to perform software updates to keep their computer secure. The details arrive a little over a month since Lefebvre pointed to stats that show some users were not applying security updates and in some cases, people were even running end of life versions of Linux Mint.
The Linux Mint team prides itself on its users controlling their computer rather than the other way around. New Mint versions only ever introduce conservative changes so that the whole operating system doesn’t need to be relearned and users are also given complete control over when, how, and which updates are installed; unfortunately, this mindset has led to some users running outdated, vulnerable software.
To remedy the issue, a new pop-up has been created which lets the user know how many updates are available, it says why updates need to be applied, it lets users view available updates, and gives users the option to turn on automatic updates. If the user dismisses the notification it will come back two days later so it’s not overbearing.
If the user decides to install updates, the notification will disappear for quite a while on the default settings. By default, the notification will appear if an update has been available for more than seven logged-in days or if it’s older than 15 calendar days. The number of days can be changed to anything between two and 90 days depending on how often you want to see updates. Additionally, these notifications will only be triggered by security and kernel updates but this can be adjusted in the settings.
There is also a grace period setting which is set to 30 days by default, essentially, this means that if an update has been applied in the last 30 days, you will not be bugged by notifications until that time has elapsed.
The Mint team hopes that the default settings will work for most people in that they keep their system moderately up-to-date without being overburdened with constant reminders to update their machine. The new notifications are set to arrive in Linux Mint 20.2 but Lefebvre has also said that it could be backported to older versions.