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    Minor flaw found in Linux's RDS implementation
    Sun, 19 May 2019 01:08:08 GMT

    The Linux kernel was quietly patched with a fix in it's RDS implementation in version 5.0.8 and since there's a minor chance this could, in theory, be used to do a Denial of Service attack on a server it is now assigned CVE-2019-11815. Hysterical security blogger story is that

    "Linux systems running kernels prior to 5.0.8 require patching after news emerged of a high-severity flaw that could be remotely exploited."

    some opinionated "security" expert on the Internet

    The first obvious question to when considering the security implications is: What is RDS?. It is "The Reliable Datagram Sockets Protocol". It is a protocol developed by Oracle corporation for low-latency interconnects using InfiniBand. In other words: It's for a rather specialized purpose. You can use RDS over TCP too but RDS over TCP does not support RDMA - which makes it pointless.

    The kernel module which had the minor problem referred to as CVE-2019-11815 is the rds_tcp module for doing RDS over TCP. Nobody does that. It should also be mentioned that nobody outside of a perhaps hand-full of Oracle customers is using RDS at all these days.

    RHEL 7 and 8 and also CentOS do not have kernel with the rds_tcp module built. Earlier RHEL versions had but they are fine sine the problem in question was introduced with git commit bdf5bd7f21323493dbe5f2c723dc33f2fbb0241a.

    The Ubuntu and Fedora distributions do build the module for some reason but do not load it by default. They also do not include any user-space tool that would try to use the module in the default installation.

    Who such be such afraid, then?

    If you are among the really rare users of this module for some reason then there is a slight chance that someone with a very high bandwidth connection to your machine - meaning someone on the same Local Area Network - could trigger a crash on your system after weeks of trying.

    If you are using an old kernel and you are worried that something would randomly load this module then blacklisting it is possible: echo 'blacklist rds_tcp' > /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist_rds.conf

    (or just eradicate the module from your system with rm /lib/modules/*/extra/net/rds/rds_tcp.ko.xz, you will never need it)

    Should you upgrade your kernel?

    If you have a Intel CPU and you haven't upgraded your kernel lately then you should probably do that for other reasons. You should also consider it if you are among the 0.000001% who is actually using the rds_tcp module. This whole "big security flaw" is overblown and doesn't really affect anyone.

    published 2019-05-19 <comments />

    The South Korean government is to switching to Linux
    Sat, 18 May 2019 16:42:40 GMT


    The South Korean Ministry of the Interior and Safety announced that the South Korean government will start test-running Linux PCs and gradually roll out Linux across the government if no problems arise. The decision appears to be concerns regarding the cost of maintaining and using Windows 7 after free support ends in 2020.

    Kpop group April member Jinsol could become a GNU/Linux user in the near-future.

    The Korean Herald story states that the expected cost of switching to Linux together purchases of new hardware is estimated to be around 780 billion won ($655 million.

    Their neighbor in the North is already running a Fedora-based distribution called Red Star Linux on all government computers. It appears that best Korea has been inspired enough to follow suit.

    published 2019-05-18 <comments />

    Linux Kernel Developers are leveraging GPU vendors into Doing the Right Thing
    Sat, 18 May 2019 13:52:07 GMT


    The Linux kernel is mostly free as in freedom but there are proprietary closed-source binary firmware blobs used for GPU drivers, network drivers and other drivers. These binary blobs are inherently evil. Distributions like Guix use a "libre" kernel without them at a price: No binary GPU-blob means no hardware video decoding, no OpenGL, no Vulkan, no nothing. And WIFI drivers can't even connect you to a wireless network if you do not submit to the binary blobs.

    The binary blob firmware requirement is specially problematic for third party drivers like the free nouveau driver for NVidia GPus. It is slow and mostly useless due to NVidia's firmware restrictions.

    Senior Linux Kernel developer Paul Kocialkowski is making an initiative to improve the situation for freedom-loving software users. He is specifically trying to get GPU vendors on the ARM platform to use native implementations leveraging the kernels media interface instead of closed binary blobs. He wrote this in an e-mail outlying how to proceed in order to reach this goal on May 12th:

    "This would probably be the general feeling of the industry, but the situation is turning anyway, now that we have already started exposing this for Allwinner and Rockchip, that things are already reversed for Tegra and there are docs about more platforms (e.g. the i.MX8 decoder).

    So maybe companies need to understand that this is the proper way to do things at this point and re-think their approach. Right now, Linux as a project is in a situation where it has leverage over these entities to push them to do the right thing, by setting a high level of standards like it has often done in the past. So I see an opportunity to push against non-free firmware and bad software design in general, which will overall be beneficial in the long run."

    The kernel team has the leverage and they are willing to use it. It will be interesting to see if this translates into less binary blobs required by GPU drivers.

    published 2019-05-18 <comments />

    New Xfce desktop, appfinder, configuration tool and panel released
    Sat, 18 May 2019 12:32:48 GMT


    A new version of Thunar was just the beginning of a rain of new Xfce desktop components begin released this weekend. There's a new version of xfce4-panel, xfce4-power-manager, libxfce4ui, xfce4-appfinder, xfdesktop, tumbler, xfce4-settings, xfconf and the window manager xfwm. There's many improvements and bug-fixes across the board. Most immediately noticeable is a fix for desktop icons on multiple monitor setups, the previous version limited them to just one monitor.


    These are a development releases meant for those who can live with a bug or two manifesting itself. The combination of these packages will eventually become the release of stable Xfce 4.14 which is scheduled to release mid-August.

    Some features did not make it into this rain of releases. Xfce4 power manager version 1.6.2 does NOT support Hybrid Suspend (suspend to both RAM and disk at the same time) because senior Xfce developer Simon Steinbeiss, in his infinite wisdom, rejected my patch which adds that feature on the grounds that it is not "clean" (something about tabs and whitespaces). He does have a valid point.

    Thunar was bumped up to 1.8.6 a day after 1.8.5 was released when it turned out 1.8.5 would just segfault on BSD.

    Here's a detailed list of changes brought to you by the hard work of Xfce developers Romain Bouvier, Sean Davis, Andre Miranda, Alexander Schwinn and Simon Steinbeiss:

    Xfdesktop 4.13.4

    • Re-introduce ability to move icons to other displays (Bug #15198)
    • Make 'Move to Trash' icon the same as Thunar (Bug #15234)
    • Match Thunar Drag and Drop behavior (Bug #14919)
    • Stop ongoing drag/selection if middle/right mouse button is pressed (Bug #14180)
    • Fix Desktop icons order resets, by adding link to last usedconfiguration as fallback (Bug #11266)
    • Fix xfdesktop crashes after multiples --reload (Bug #15060)
    • Fix scaling of images with orientation metadata (Bug #14644)
    • Fix stretching/zooming of images with orientation metadata (Bug #15292)
    • Fix has_mime_type implementation (Bug #15295)
    • Use clipboard target "text/uri-list" when copying/cutting (Bug #13379)
    • Set desktop environment for garcon app menu (Bug #14599)
    • Remove faulty line in glade file (Bug #15293)
    • Fix g_type_class_add_private is deprecated
    • Avoid invalid memory access (Bug #15299)
    • Avoid timer leak when docking-undocking monitors (Bug #13887)
    • Use clipboard target "text/uri-list" when copying/cutting (Bug #13379)
    • Set desktop environment for garcon app menu (Bug #14599)
    • Properly center workspace header in windowlist (Bug #15405)
    • Fix memory leak when monitors change (Bug #14844)
    • Replace/remove deprecated functions
    • Translation Updates

    libxfce4util 4.13.3

    • Add support for rc files as symlinks (bug #14698)
    • Fix GObject Introspection language bindings (bug #14766)
    • Fix compiler error -Wcast-function-type (GCC 8)
    • Bump minimum glib version
    • Fix compilation warnings ""defined" may not be portable"
    • Translation Updates: Arabic, Belarusian, Czech, Danish, French, Galician, Hebrew, Icelandic, Italian, Kazakh, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Occitan (post 1500), Romanian, Slovak, Serbian, Uighur, Ukrainian

    xfce4-panel 4.13.5


    • Revert "Applications menu icon sizing fixes" (Bug #14976)
    • Make sure panel plugin icons aren't clipped (LP #1756608)
    • actions: use a different icon for hybrid sleep when possible (Bug #15204)
    • Fix compiler error -Wcast-function-type (GCC 8)
    • Fix alpha-transparent background images (Bug #14850)
    • Fix this use of "defined" may not be portable
    • Bump glib version to 2.42.0
    • tasklist: Activate parent windows (Bug #15307)
    • launcher: Fix tooltip icon size (Bug #15319)
    • Hide systray frame in default panel config
    • separator: Use symbolic icon for more clarity (Bug #15359)

    Translation updates:

    • Albanian, Arabic, Asturian, Basque, Belarusian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (China), Chinese (Hong Kong), Czech, Danish, Dutch (Flemish), English (Australia), English (Great Britain), Estonian, Finnish, Galician, German, Greek, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Kazakh, Korean, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Occitan, Panjabi, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uyghur, Vietnamese

    xfce4-power-manager 1.6.2

    New features:

    • Add support for XF86Battery button (Bug #14055)


    • Fix compiler warning (Bug #14104)
    • Fix various warnings
    • Don't autostart the power manager in the LXQt DE (Bug #14450)
    • Don't overwrite the user's XScreensaver settings (Bug #14968)
    • Fix slider labels (Bug #14395)
    • Replace xfconf_channel_new by xfconf_channel_get
    • Read from actual_brightness instead of brightness
    • Fix g_type_class_add_private is deprecated
    • Handle glib deprecations
    • Use the newer up_client_get_devices2
    • Install Appdata in metainfo (Bug #15380)
    • plugin: Show discharge level even in unknown state (Bug #15280)
    • settings: change "going from sleep" to "going to sleep"(Bug #15144)
    • settings: Improve devices tab visually by adding frame

    Translation updates:

    • Albanian, Arabic, Asturian, Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (China), Chinese (Hong Kong), Chinese (Taiwan), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch (Flemish), English (Australia), English (Great Britain), Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Occitan, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uyghur, Vietnamese

    libxfce4ui 4.13.5

    • Add PrintScreen as shortcut for xfce4-screenshooter (Bug #14524)
    • Add Ctrl + Alt + t as default shortcut for terminal (Bug #14510)
    • Add xfce_gdk_screen_get_geometry (a replacement for


    • Remove useless glade_*dir variables from libxfce4ui-{1,2}.pc (Bug
    1. 13945)
    • Fix release tarball by adding libxfce4ui-dialog-ui.ui
    • Fixes for gladeui2 detection
    • Install icons when gladeui2 is set (Bug #15207)
    • Fix build error with --disable-gtk2 and having gladeui-1.0 installed
    • Remove styling of emails in about dialog (Bug #14638)
    • Fix compiler error -Wcast-function-type (GCC 8)
    • Use for help url
    • Fix compilation warnings ""defined" may not be portable"
    • Update xfce4-about (core contributors, contributors, translators)
    • Translation Updates: Amharic, Arabic, Asturian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Bengali, Catalan, Czech, Danish, German, Greek, English (Australia), English (United Kingdom), Spanish, Basque, Finnish, French, Galician, Hebrew, Croatian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Lithuanian, Latvian, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Dutch, Norwegian Nynorsk, Occitan (post 1500), Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Albanian, Serbian, Swedish, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Uighur, Ukrainian, Urdu, Urdu

    xfce4-appfinder 4.13.3

    • Update minimal required glib to 2.42
    • Allow case-insensitive search
    • Do not wrap when Text beside icons is enabled (Bug #8490)
    • Icon view: reduce padding/spacing with small icons
    • Translation updates

    thunar 1.8.6 and thunar-volman 0.9.2

    • Job is now optional for thunar_io_scan_directory
    • Expand scroll window of file operation progress dialog (Bug #14946)
    • Fix compiler error -Wcast-function-type (GCC 8)
    • Bump glib minimal required version
    • Fix g_type_class_add_private is deprecated
    • Small code cleanup
    • Fix pathbar to on middle click open folders in new tabs (Bug #15302)
    • Translation updates: Danish

    xfce4-settings 4.13.6

    • New Feature: Add color-settings (colord frontend)
    • New Feature: Add display profile support to the daemon
    • Bugfixes and other smaller changes:
      • display:
        • Track and highlight active profile
        • Ask user to update profile when closing with unsaved changes
        • Add interactive information about primary display setting
        • Improve profile-create popover
        • Improve profile-delete dialog
        • UI alignment improvements
        • Reduce complexity of the code and speedup display_settings_get_profiles
        • Replace deprecated GtkStock
        • Re-introduce display numbering
        • Ensure the settomgs dialog gets properly destroyed
        • Verify unique profile names
        • Drop connector name from profile matching
        • Correctly fall back to previous profile on cancel
        • Fix alignment of buttons in minimal dialog
        • Only show profiles which match *all* connected displays
        • Update profile list on screen changes
        • Fix crash when no RRMode is available (bug #12607)
        • Correctly hide primary setting with 1 display
        • Fix calculation of offset
        • Always show the 'primary display' option
        • Make primary indicator a star icon
        • Throw warning when monitors exceed max screen size
      • color: Always select first device on startup (Bug #15266)
      • xfsettingsd: Increase startup priority
      • Fix scrolling in embedded settings dialogs (Xfce #14285, LP #1653448)
      • Fix search change clearing and hiding sections (bug #14792)
      • Resolved g_type_class_add_private deprecations (GObject 2.58)
      • Fix incremental sending from the clipboard manager (Bug #13537)
      • Fix WindowScalingFactory property type
      • Fix code spacing
      • Fix memory leaks
      • Fix CID 337242: Null pointer dereferences (REVERSE_INULL)
      • Fix compiler warnings
      • Fix icon names
      • Update
      • Update .gitignore
      • Set yes as the default debug level
    • Translation Updates: Albanian, Arabic, Asturian, Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (China), Chinese (Hong Kong), Chinese (Taiwan), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch (Flemish), English (Australia), English (Great Britain), Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Occitan, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uyghur

    xfconf 4.13.7

    • Bump glib version
    • Bug #15122: xfconf: disable gsettings backend by default
    • Fix compiler error -Wcast-function-type (GCC 8)
    • Fix this use of "defined" may not be portable
    • Update .gitignore
    • Fix warnings reported by GCC 8 (Bug #15112)
    • Added gdbus binding to gitignore, add post release git tag
    • Translation updates: Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Czech, Danish, English (Australia), Icelandic, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Slovak, Swedish

    xfwm4 4.13.2

    • Fix flickering with GLX backend (bug #14564, bug #13519)
    • Fix monitor geometry with scaled UI (bug #14566)
    • Fix issue with Android Virtual Device emulator (bug #12206)
    • Fix XI2 mask (bug #14695, Timo Teras)
    • Fix preview with shaded windows (bug #14899)
    • Fix tabwin placement with scaled UI (bug #14931, Jonas Zetterberg)
    • Add xfconf setting for selecting permanent vblank method
    • Fix maximization with GTK clients using size increments (bug #13954)
    • Add style class to tabwin modes (Andre Miranda)
    • Fix crash/stack smash in startup-notification on some architectures (bug #15028, Martin Husemann)
    • Avoid crash with button layout setting (bug #14606)
    • Raise on activate only with raise-on-focus (bug #14656)
    • Fix use after release of client picture with hidden (bug #14990)
    • Fix monitor output size update (bug #15085)
    • Allow transients to be minimized (bug #14953)
    • Raise all transients together (bug #15303)
    • Fix menu alignment with scaled UI (Jason Zaman)
    • Fix a regression where the client would remain visible if closed while cycling (bug #15318)
    • Withdraw the frame before the client window (bug #15061)
    • Revert to GLX as default vblank method (bug #15325)
    • Reduce repaint timeout (bug #14335)
    • Fix support for 1bpp icons
    • Use cairo for pixmaps and masks
    • Allow hiding windows using NET_WM_STATE_HIDDEN (bug #15356,
    • Fix size increment with scaled UI
    • Various compositor improvements and optimizations with GLX
    • Check for appropriate XSync version and increase xfwm4 priority
    • Adjust zoom update based on monitor refresh rate (bug #15391, Alistair Buxton)
    • Fix window type for broken clients (bug #15399)
    • Fix pointer enter/leave with decoration buttons (bug #14741)
    • New default theme
    • I18n: Update translations: ar, ast, be, bg, bn, ca, cs, da, de, el, en_AU, en_CA, en_GB, es, eu, fi, fr, gl, he, hr, hu, id, is, it, ja, kk, ko, lt, lv, ms, nb, nl, nn, oc, pl, pt, pt_BR, ro, ru, sk, sl, sq, sr, sv, th, tr, ug, uk, ur, ur_PK, zh_CN, zh_HK, zh_TW

    To sum it up

    Xfce developers Romain Bouvier, Sean Davis, Andre Miranda, Alexander Schwinn and Simon Steinbeiss are working very hard to bring you the next stable version of the Xfce Linux desktop.

    published 2019-05-18 <comments />

    The Xfce team is proud to announce the release of Thunar 1.8.5
    Fri, 17 May 2019 23:30:05 GMT


    A new stable release of the lightweight yet powerful file manager Thunar is now available. It is primarily meant for the GTK-based Xfce desktop environment but can be used with on any desktop. Version 1.8.5 has many bug fixes and a whole lot of translation updates.

    Xfce developers are working very hard on Xfce 4.14 scheduled for release mid-August 2019. The new polished Thunar version is a result of that effort.

    The fixed bugs

    • Do not exit when dbus name registration fails (Bug #15149)
    • tree view jumps (scrolls) when clicking on a directory (Bug #15174)
    • Correctly check if destination is writable (Bug #14718)
    • Make tree-view 'Move to Trash' icon the same as in main pane
    • Make toggle for the delete entry affect tree-view side pane too
    • Pathbar buttons are now resized on folder rename (#15024)
    • Load templates synchronously (Bug #15200)
    • delete key in tree-view can delete the user home folder (Bug #15095)
    • Hide unneeded context menu entries for folder "Trash" in tree view
    • crash after clicking when XDG_SESSION_TYPE isn't set (Bug #15366)
    • man page incorrectly suggests '-v' instead of '-V'
    • Fix how wallpaper is set on Gnome
    • SEGV (11) on USB-flash connection (Bug #13813)
    • Fix session startup priority
    • Fix queued context menu popup
    • Restore right-click drag and drop functionality (Bug #14583)

    There's also translation updates for: Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Asturian, Basque, Belarusian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (China), Chinese (Hong Kong SAR China), Chinese (Taiwan), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (Australia), English (United Kingdom), Esperanto, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Interlingue, Italian,Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Occitan, Persian (Iran), Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, Urdu (Pakistan), Uyghur, Vietnamese

    The Xfce developers are looking for volunteers to test the upcoming Xfce 4.14 release. You can read more about that on the xfce-test github page.

    The new Thunar version can be downloaded from

    Thunar's homepage is at

    published 2019-05-18 <comments />

    HOWTO make Linux run blazing fast (again) on Intel CPUs
    Fri, 17 May 2019 17:28:07 GMT


    It's just been one security disaster after another for Intel the last few years. Meltdown, Spectre variant after variant and this week the "Microarchitectural Data Sampling" aka Zombieload attack have all required performance-degrading fixes and workarounds. There is no way around turning hyperthreading off to be safe from MDS/Zombieload and this is a rather high performance-price to pay. So what if you don't want to?

    Disabling SMT/HyperThreading to get full protection against MDS/Zombieload on top of the mitigation code for "meltdown", several "spectre" variants and other security-issues discovered on Intel CPUs is a high price to pay for security on Intel CPUs. The total performance-penalty in many workloads is adding up. Unfortunately there is no safe and secure way around the performance-penalties - so you may want to..


    If you're not into currency trading or high finance or military contracting or anything of that nature and you'd just like to get maximum performance for your Steam games then adding this is rather long one-liner to your kernel parameters will leave you wide open to all the security risks for maximum excitement and squeeze back every bit of performance you used to get from your Intel CPU:

    noibrs noibpb nopti nospectre_v2 nospectre_v1 l1tf=off nospec_store_bypass_disable no_stf_barrier mds=off mitigations=off

    Just add that to your /etc/sysconfig/grub and re-generate grub's configuration file with grub2-mkconfig (your distributions procedure will vary) and you're all set.

    Here is what the above kernel command options do, one by one:

    • noibrs - We don't need no restricted indirect branch speculation
    • noibpb - We don't need no indirect branch prediction barrier either
    • nospectre_v1 and nospectre_v2: Don't care if some program can get data from some other program when it shouldn't
    • l1tf=off - Why would we be flushing the L1 cache, we might need that data. So what if anyone can get at it.
    • nospec_store_bypass_disable - Of course we want to use, not bypass, the stored data
    • no_stf_barrier - We don't need no barriers between software, they could be friends
    • mds=off - Zombieload attacks are fine
    • mitigations=off - Of course we don't want no mitigations

    You are (probably) an adult. You can and should wisely decide just how much risk you are willing to take. Do or don't try this at home. You do not want to try this at work.

    published 2019-05-18 <comments />

    Steam Client Beta 1557957375 released with several Linux improvements
    Thu, 16 May 2019 13:51:39 GMT


    Valve released a new beta version of their Steam store on May 15th. It has quite a few general improvements and some Linux-specific ones. Steam In-Home Streaming has been re-named Steam Remote Play and it can now be used anywhere as long as the network connection is good enough.

    The subtle renaming of their in-home streaming technology to Steam Remote Play is the biggest news item in this beta. You can now have a Steam game running on your computer at home and play it on a simple tablet or laptop at a local cafe. This does require a solid network connection between your home and the cafe and the nearest Steam datacenter.

    The Stem beta's also got a re-worked the shader system to enable downloading of complete collections of pre-compiled Vulkan pipelines for given games.


    The Linux-specific improvements are:

    • Fixed a random Steam client crash when launching games
    • Fixed a bug where copying/moving files bigger than 2GB would fail with an I/O error
    • Improved the client's responsiveness to network changes
    • Fixed library ordering to prefer the Steam Runtime's libcurl over the hosts'. Fixes "Risk of Rain" and other GameMaker titles
    • Added support for removing old Proton versions by aliasing them to more recent ones
    • Added support for developers and Valve testing specifying default Proton configuration options for games even if they're not yet white-listed

    The Linux Steam beta does not appear to have the just-released Proton 4.2-4.

    You can participate in the Beta program by selecting Steam, Settings, Account where you simply click CHANGE... in the section titled "Beta participation".

    You can find Valve's complete announcement here:

    published 2019-05-16 <comments />

    Microarchitectural Data Sampling: The Latest Side-Channel Vulnerability In Intel CPUs
    Thu, 16 May 2019 08:16:12 GMT


    Another CPU side-channel attack vector similar to meltdown and spectre was disclosed this week. Microarchitectural Data Sampling ("MDS") allows software running on a machine to get access to potentially sensitive data it shouldn't be able to access. MDS can be abused to expose data from fill buffers, store buffers and load ports. New kernels with patches addressing this are available and everyone using Intel CPUs should upgrade.

    MDS, also known as "Zombieload Attack", is specially problematic for shared systems like "cloud" services where multiple users are using the same underlying hardware. It can only be exploited by someone who is already able to run code on the machine. That may or may not include any random website you visit which is allowed to run JavaScript in the web browser. No such website exploits are documented so far.

    The Vulnerabilities

    Four different Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures warnings have been issued in relation to MDS:

    Only Intel CPUs appear to be affected and some of the 8th and 9th generation Intel CPUs are not. Intel had this to say in a public statement:

    "Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) is already addressed at the hardware level in many of our recent 8th and 9th Generation Intel Core processors, as well as the 2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processor Family. For other affected products, mitigation is available through microcode updates, coupled with corresponding updates to operating system and hypervisor software that are available starting today. We?ve provided more information on our website and continue to encourage everyone to keep their systems up to date, as its one of the best ways to stay protected. We?d like to extend our thanks to the researchers who worked with us and our industry partners for their contributions to the coordinated disclosure of these issues."

    Intel statement

    Intel will address MDS with updated CPU microcode which clear buffers on context switches. The performance impact of adding this additional step in a constantly used path in the microcode is yet to be seen.

    Updated kernels with fixes are available

    Kernel-side changes are required. Greg Kroah-Hartman has released updated kernels with preliminary MDS fixes. There are now fixes for all the "stable" kernel branches with the release of Linux kernel 5.1.2, 5.0.16, 4.19.43, 4.14.119, and 4.9.176. These can be downloaded from

    Greg Kroah-Hartman had this to say about kernel 5.1.2:

    "All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade. Well, kind of, let me rephrase that...

    All users of Intel processors made since 2011 must upgrade.

    Note, this release, and the other stable releases that are all being released right now at the same time, just went out all contain patches that have only seen the "public eye" for about 5 minutes. So be forwarned, they might break things, they might not build, but hopefully they fix things. Odds are we will be fixing a number of small things in this area for the next few weeks as things shake out on real hardware and workloads. So don't think you are done updating your kernel, you never are done with that :)"

    The performance impact of these kernel changes is bad and some initial testing indicates that it is upwards of 10%. It is worse when combined with disabling of SMT/HyperThreading - which is required for the kernel mitigation's to be effective. How this plays out when combined with the upcoming firmware updates from Intel is yet to be seen. Regardless, Intel CPU users are strongly encouraged to upgrade because the potential security implications are theoretically quite bad.

    Kernel 5.1.2 with no special boot parameters for MDS will give this informative message during boot on Intel CPUs:


    Speculative Store Bypass: Mitigation: Speculative Store Bypass disabled via prctl and seccomp
    MDS: Vulnerable: Clear CPU buffers attempted, no microcode
    MDS CPU bug present and SMT on, data leak possible. See for more details.

    /proc/cpuinfo on fixed kernels now list bugs: cpu_meltdown spectre_v1 spectre_v2 spec_store_bypass l1tf mds - The amount of Intel CPU bugs appears to be adding up..

    Full protection requires SMT/HyperThreading to be disabled

    The kernel documentation on "MDS - Microarchitectural Data Sampling" states:

    "All MDS variants except MSBDS can be attacked cross Hyper-Threads. That means on CPUs which are affected by MFBDS or MLPDS it is necessary to disable SMT for full protection. These are most of the affected CPUs; the exception is XEON PHI.

    Disabling SMT can have a significant performance impact, but the impact depends on the type of workloads"

    Updated kernels have a mds= option for specifying desired MDS mitigations. The options are full, full,nosmt and off. The most complete and effective mitigation is to use mds=full,nosmt

    Using mds=full,nosmt produces this as part of the boot message:


    [    0.350911] SMT: disabled
    [    0.350912] MDS: Vulnerable: Clear CPU buffers attempted, no microcode

    And this does indeed disable SMT on both desktops with a BIOS option to do so and laptops with no such BIOS option.

    Disabling SMT/HyperThreading may or may not be a big pill to swallow. It will have a significant performance-impact on certain workloads - but there is no way around disabling it if you want full protection.

    Happy kernel-upgrading.

    One last minor little detail: openBSD developer Theo de Raadt warned is all the way back in 2007. Nobody listened.

    published 2019-05-18 <comments />

    Wine 4.0.1 is now available
    Thu, 16 May 2019 07:35:38 GMT

    Exec wine.svg

    The Wine team have announced an new maintenance release for the Wine compatibility layer which allows you to run Windows games and applications on Linux. This is a minor bugfix release which addresses a total of 44 bugs. There's also updated translations for Sinhala and Tamil.

    The specific changes to Wine since version 4.0 are:

    Alexandre Julliard (2):

    • server: Report a 64-bit CPU for IL-only binaries.
    • dinput: Add error check to silence a compiler warning.

    Alistair Leslie-Hughes (4):

    • dsound: IDirectSoundNotify is only available when DSBCAPS_CTRLPOSITIONNOTIFY is specified.
    • mfplat: Implement MFGetSystemTime.
    • oleaut32: Correctly get the Currency separator in VarFormatCurrency.
    • oleaut32: Support VT_DECIMAL in VarRound.

    Andrew Eikum (1):

    • winhttp: Don't crash setting up secure proxy.

    Brendan McGrath (2):

    • vbscript: Allow more keywords to be used as identifiers.
    • vbscript: Allow most keywords to be used as 'dot' identifiers.

    David Adam (2):

    • ddraw/tests: Add tests for the "dwMipMapCount" field of texture sub-levels.
    • ddraw: Fix the "dwMipMapCount" field of texture sub-levels.

    Dmitry Timoshkov (2):

    • windowscodecs: Implement IWICPalette::InitializeFromBitmap.
    • wpcap: Fix compilation with recent pcap/pcap.h versions.

    Fabian Maurer (2):

    • api-ms-win-crt-private-l1-1-0: Update to 10.0.17134.12 (WinBuild.160101.0800).
    • ucrtbase: Forward a few functions for dxil.dll and pkgmgr.exe.

    Gabriel Iv?ncescu (1):

    • libport: Handle partially overlapping buffers.

    Gijs Vermeulen (3):

    • msvcp140: Export _Equivalent and port tests.
    • ntdll: Validate len in NtQueryVirtualMemory.
    • kernel32: Add DECLSPEC_HOTPATCH to SizeofResource().

    Hans Leidekker (3):

    • secur32: Return ISC_RET_USED_SUPPLIED_CREDS for schannel contexts if the feature was requested.
    • mscms: Add a partial implementation of WcsOpenColorProfileA/W.
    • msi: Avoid a crash in RemoveFiles if the component directory is invalid.

    Isira Seneviratne (10):

    • po: Update Sinhala translation.
    • po: Update Sinhala translation.
    • po: Update Sinhala translation.
    • po: Add Tamil translation.
    • po: Update Tamil translation.
    • po: Update Tamil translation.
    • kernel32: Add the Sinhala NLS file.
    • kernel32: Fix LOCALE_SSCRIPTS value for Sinhala.
    • kernel32/nls: Fix some values in Sinhala NLS file.
    • kernel32/nls: Change Sinhala sublang identifier to SUBLANG_SINHALESE_SRI_LANKA.

    Jacek Caban (1):

    • ntoskrnl.exe: Add __C_specific_handler entry.

    Józef Kucia (3):

    • ddraw: Pass correct box when mapping system memory vertex buffers.
    • d3d9: Validate surface parameter in d3d9_device_ColorFill().
    • wined3d: Add GPU information for Intel HD Graphics 620.

    Ken Thomases (1):

    • loader: On Mac, move the top-down allocations area down to avoid regions reserved by the system.

    Mark Jansen (1):

    • msi: Do not leak rootkey.

    Matteo Bruni (3):

    • d3dx9: Improve D3DXMatrixTransformation() implementation.
    • d3dx9: Improve D3DXMatrixTransformation2D().
    • d3dx9/tests: Avoid some 64-bit test failures.

    Michael Stefaniuc (1):

    • tools: Get the ANNOUNCE bug list from the stable-notes git notes.

    Nikolay Sivov (9):

    • api-ms-win-core-libraryloader-l1-2-1: Add missing FindResourceW() forward.
    • comctl32/progress: Handle min == max case in PBM_STEPIT.
    • user32/dialog: Fix setting negative dialog item ids.
    • d3d11: Implement d3d11_device_GetImmediateContext1().
    • comctl32/listview: Take care of scrolling offset when repositioning header.
    • comctl32/propsheet: Avoid posting uninitialized data (Valgrind).
    • comctl32/toolbar: Send BN_CLICKED for button that was pressed, not released.
    • usp10: Use single path for all fonts in ScriptGetCMap().
    • ucrtbase: Add ilogb* functions.

    Paul Gofman (8):

    • wined3d: Use lower 8 bits only from _ALPHAREF state.
    • wined3d: Return 1e10f for MaxVertexW from wined3d_get_device_caps().
    • wined3d: Only use the LSB of the _SAMP_SRGB_TEXTURE state value.
    • kernel32/tests: Add test for overlapped file read.
    • ntdll/tests: Add more tests for overlapped file read.
    • ntdll: Return STATUS_PENDING from NtReadFile() for async read in case of no buffering.
    • kernel32: Add DECLSPEC_HOTPATCH to FindClose().
    • user32: Select more appropriate stretch mode for colored images interpolation.

    Piotr Caban (4):

    • msvcrt: Optimize tolower function when locale was never changed.
    • msvcrt: Optimize toupper function when locale was never changed.
    • msvcp140: Don't forward __ExceptionPtrCreate to msvcr120.
    • msvcrt: Fix buffer overflow in _get_tzname.

    Sebastian Lackner (1):

    • wtsapi32: Improve WTSQueryUserToken stub.

    Sveinar Søpler (1):

    • wined3d: Add GPU information for the NVIDIA RTX series.

    Sven Baars (14):

    • windowscodecs: Fix a memory leak (Valgrind).
    • gdiplus: Fix a memory leak on error path (Valgrind).
    • wsdapi: Fix some memory leaks (Valgrind).
    • strmbase: Fix some memory leaks (Valgrind).
    • ole32: Fix some memory leaks (Valgrind).
    • mstask: Fix some memory leaks on error path (Valgrind).
    • mstask: Move memory allocation to avoid a memory leak (Valgrind).
    • taskschd: Fix some memory leaks (Valgrind).
    • dinput: Free the device after a callback (Valgrind).
    • riched20: Fix IRichEditOle COM aggregation (Valgrind).
    • ws2_32: Use heap_realloc instead of HeapReAlloc to avoid an invalid realloc (Valgrind).
    • windowscodecs: Add missing source_bpp initialization (Valgrind).
    • setupapi: Add a missing return statement (Coverity).
    • dsound: Add missing SetEventHandle error handling (Coverity).

    Vijay Kiran Kamuju (2):

    • user32: Add DlgDirList wildcard checks.
    • wmvcore: Add stub for WMCheckURlExtension.

    Zebediah Figura (5):

    • comsvcs/tests: Add tests for implicit MTA creation in RegisterDispenser().
    • comsvcs: Create an implicit MTA thread in RegisterDispenser().
    • msvcr120: Add nexttoward implementation.
    • hid: Handle overlapped file handles.
    • ntdll: Avoid crashing while tracing parameters to NtCreateNamedPipeFile().

    Zhiyi Zhang (5):

    • msacm32: Reference count local drivers.
    • user32: Check for null handle in GetRawInputData().
    • kernel32: Add DECLSPEC_HOTPATCH to VirtualAllocEx().
    • d3d8: Fix building on Mac.
    • user32: Fix a memory leak.

    The full release announcement can be read at

    published 2019-05-16 <comments />

    Valve's released Proton 4.2-4 with RAGE 2 crash fix
    Wed, 15 May 2019 21:00:12 GMT


    The new version of the Valve's WINE version for Steam updates DXVK to v1.1.1, includes Vulkan support for No Man's Sky and it's also git a fix for Space Engineers.

    Steam is typically updated to a new version shortly after new Proton versions are released.

    A full changelog is in Valve's release announcement at

    published 2019-05-16 <comments />

    Second Mesa 19.1.0 release candidate is now available with Radeon and Intel fixes and two bugs blocking a final release
    Wed, 15 May 2019 08:00:06 GMT


    Mesa 19.1.0 is scheduled to be released at the end of May but this could be delayed due to regressions shown by the piglit and cts-runner tests used to determine if there are bigger regressions in new code.

    The blocker bugs are:

    • #110302 - [bisected][regression] piglit egl-create-pbuffer-surface and egl-gl-colorspace regressions
    • #110357 - [REGRESSION] [BISECTED] [OpenGL CTS] cts-runner --type=gl46 fails in new attempted "41" configuration

    There are also many improvements, specially for users of Intel and AMD hardware, since the release of Mesa 19.1.0 RC1. These are:

    • radv: Do not use extra descriptor space for the 3rd plane.
    • anv: Fix limits when VK_EXT_descriptor_indexing is used
    • kmsro: add to two of the kmsro drivers.
    • meson: Force the use of config-tool for llvm
    • travis: fix syntax, and drop unused stuff
    • softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides
    • radv: clear vertex bindings while resetting command buffer
    • i965: Fix BRW_MEMZONE_LOW_4G heap size.
    • i965: Force VMA alignment to be a multiple of the page size.
    • i965: leave the top 4Gb of the high heap VMA unused
    • i965: Fix memory leaks in brw_upload_cs_work_groups_surface().
    • iris: Use full ways for L3 cache setup on Icelake.
    • winsys/amdgpu: add VCN JPEG to no user fence group
    • anv: rework queries writes to ensure ordering memory writes
    • anv: fix use after free
    • anv: Use corresponding type from the vector allocation
    • vulkan/overlay: keep allocating draw data until it can be reused
    • st/mesa: fix 2 crashes in st_tgsi_lower_yuv
    • freedreno/ir3: fix rasterflat/glxgears
    • radv: fix setting the number of rectangles when it's dyanmic
    • Revert "glx: Fix synthetic error generation in __glXSendError"
    • panfrost: Fix two uninitialized accesses in compiler
    • panfrost: Only take the fast paths on buffers aligned to block size

    published 2019-05-15 <comments />

    Videos from the LibrePlanet 2019 conference are now available
    Tue, 14 May 2019 05:36:06 GMT


    The Free Software Foundation has now made videos of the talks and lectures at the LibrePlanet 2019 conference, held March 23rd - 24th of this year, available for your viewing pleasure. Over 40 speakers were recorded which amounts to about 24 hours of video.

    You can find them hosted using GNUs video hosting platform mediagoblin at

    Interesting talks include

    That's just a few, there are many, many more tagged libreplanet-2019-video at

    published 2019-05-14 <comments />

    Laptops with Intel-based 10nm Ice Lake CPUs to be available mid-November
    Mon, 13 May 2019 23:56:06 GMT

    The i915 graphics driver for Ice Lake's Gen11 graphics is considered stable as of upcoming kernel version 5.2 and MESA git has tagged Gen11 graphics support as complete for both the i965 OpenGL driver and the ANV Vulkan driver. This means that Intel engineers have been working with Ice Lake samples for quite some time.

    Intel announced that Ice Lake chips will be shipping to OEMs in June during their recent investor presentation and promised that "The Ice Lake platform will take full advantage of 10nm along with architecture innovations. It is expected to deliver approximately 3 times faster wireless speeds, 2 times faster video transcode speeds, 2 times faster graphics performance, and 2.5 to 3 times faster artificial intelligence (AI) performance over previous generation products."

    Intel expects OEMs products to be "on shelves for the 2019 holiday season" which typically translates to mid-November.

    published 2019-05-14 <comments />

    KDE Plasma has a new notification system ready
    Mon, 13 May 2019 18:30:04 GMT

    KDE Katie.png

    The KDE Plasma notification code has been completely rewritten from the ground up. It's now got a "Do Not Disturb" mode, ability to show "critical" notification in full-screen applications, intelligent history with grouping, better notification for file operations, multi-monitor support and advanced configuration in the "System settings" page.

    The git commit which implements all of this is quite large.

    Here's what it looks like:


    There are quite a few screenshots like this one in developer Kai Uwe Broulik's blog.

    In related news, Dolphin and Places in some other programs as well as the open/save dialogs will now display FUSE-mounted filesystems.

    It is nice to see KDE Plasma developers making a lot of interesting improvements. We are looking forward to the next release.

    published 2019-05-18 <comments />

    D9VK 0.11 released with fixes and improvements
    Mon, 13 May 2019 10:48:07 GMT


    The second release of this Vulkan-based translation layer for Direct3D 9 is now available and comes less than a week after this project's initial release. There are performance improvements and bug fixes for those who are willing to do some tinkering in order to player older Windows-titles on Linux using WINE.

    D9VK is in many ways similar to DXVK, the difference is that D9VK is for older titles. Direct3D 9 games using Shader Model 2 and 3 should generally work but the really old ones using Shader Model 1 will not. Games that should at least run using D9VK include GTA IV, Half Life 2 and League of Legends.

    D9VK is still in early development stages so you can not expect a smooth experience just yet. The projects github issue tracker indicates that there's still many problems with a lot of games. GTA IV will run and you can play it but there are rendering issues. Other games like Starcraft 2 will immediately crash upon start.

    You can get the 0.11 release from if you want to test it out. You'll get some games running but do not expect a easy, smooth and perfect experience; it's just not there yet.

    published 2019-05-15 <comments />

    GNUnet 0.11.4 released
    Mon, 13 May 2019 09:48:06 GMT


    The GNU project's secure anonymous peer to peer file sharing network GNUnet has made another release for testers who are eager to try their vision of a secure overlay network for a secure and privacy-respecting Internet.

    GNUnet is a peer to peer network you can use to share files. The files are located by hashes. You can download a file if you know it's hash and any peer with the file you requested will serve it. Communication between peers is done in a manner not unlike onion-routing which means no peer can know exactly who is the original sender of a file or resource.

    It is nice to see GNUnet moving forward with a new release. The software and the network has been around for over a decade yet there are still less than 200 active peers.

    The developers note that there are still many known issues and problems with GNUnet as of 0.11.4, including:

    • There are known major design issues in the TRANSPORT, ATS and CORE subsystems which will need to be addressed in the future to achieve acceptable usability, performance and security.
    • There are known moderate implementation limitations in CADET that negatively impact performance. Also CADET may unexpectedly deliver messages out-of-order.
    • There are known moderate design issues in FS that also impact usability and performance.
    • There are minor implementation limitations in SET that create unnecessary attack surface for availability.
    • The RPS subsystem remains experimental.
    • Some high-level tests in the test-suite fail non-deterministically due to the low-level TRANSPORT issues.
    • The bug tracker at which lists about 190 more specific issues.

    See for more information about GNUNet and to download this release.

    published 2019-05-13 <comments />

    Gnome Commander 1.10.1 released with updated German and Spanish translations
    Mon, 13 May 2019 04:36:06 GMT


    The new version of the graphical "two-panel" file manager adds a menu entry for (un)selecting files with the same file name suffix, more translations and two bug-fixes.

    You may be familiar with it's style of doing things if you ever used the MS-DOS program Norton Commander or the still best ever CLI file-manager GNU Midnight Commander.


    A list of new features in GNOME Commander version 1.10.0:

    • Menu entry for (un)selecting files with the same file name suffix
    • Search window can be optionally minimized or moved below the main window (can be activated in the GNOME Commander options)

    Bug fixes:

    • List of bookmarks is synchronized between GNOME Commander instances
    • Removed gnome-config references, fixing issue #27 on GitLab

    New or updated translations:

    • ar, bg dz, en_CA, en_GB, ga, hr, ne, rw, sq, vi, zh_TW (Elijah Zarezky)
    • de (Mario Blättermann)
    • es (Daniel Mustieles)
    • hu (Balázs Meskó)
    • pl (Piotr Dr?g)
    • pt_BR (Rafael Fontenelle)

    New or updated documentation:

    • de (Mario Blättermann)
    • es (Daniel Mustieles)

    The new release can be downloaded from (7.1MB)

    A signature file is available at

    published 2019-05-13 <comments />

    Kdenlive 19.04.1 released and available
    Sun, 12 May 2019 00:40:07 GMT


    The latest version of the best timeline video editor for Linux fixes 39 bugs, some of which were bad. The unacceptable timeline preview problems and rendering issues plaguing the 19.x.x series are fixed in this version. Users of the 19.x series are encouraged to upgrade.

    Most distributions are still shipping the Kdenlive 18.x series, so this may not affect you. You can install Kdenlive 19.04.1 through an AppImage available from the KDE servers at

    You can also get it by cloning git:// but that does require installing a lot of development packages.

    What's new in 19.04.1


    • Search effects from all tabs instead of only the selected tab
    • Add missing lock in model cleanup.
    • Move levels effect back to main effects.
    • Fix crash closing project with locked tracks. Fixes #177.
    • Speedup selecting bin clip when using proxies (cache original properties).
    • Disable threaded rendering with movit.
    • Fix wrong thumbnails sometimes displayed.
    • Ensure fades always start or end at clip border.
    • Fix loading of clip zones.
    • Fix transcoding crashes caused by old code.
    • Fix fades copy/paste.
    • Fix broken fadeout.
    • Fix track red background on undo track deletion.
    • Update appdata version.
    • Zooming in these widgets using CTRL+two-finger scrolling was almost. Fixes bug #406985
    • Fix crash on newly created profile change.
    • Always create audio thumbs from original source file, not proxy because proxy clip can have a different audio layout.
    • Mark document modified when track compositing is changed.
    • Fix compositing sort error.
    • Fix crash opening old project, fix disabled clips not saved.
    • Fix crash and broken undo/redo with lift/gamma/gain effect. Fixes #172.
    • Fix clip marker menu. Fixes #168.
    • Fix composition forced track lost on project load. Fixes #169.
    • Fix spacer / remove space with only 1 clip. Fixes #162.
    • Fix timeline corruption (some operations used a copy of master prod instead of track producer).
    • Check whether first project clip matches selected profile by default
    • Renderwidget: Use max number of threads in render.
    • Fix razor tool not working in some cases. Fixes #160.
    • Better os detection macro.
    • Remove crash, not solving 1st startup not accepting media (see #117).
    • Remove unneeded unlock crashing on Windows.
    • Some fixes in tests.
    • Forgotten file.
    • Improve marker tests, add abort testing feature.
    • Add tests for unlimited clips resize.
    • Small fix in tests.
    • Fix AppImage audio recording (switch from wav to flac).
    • Dont remember clip duration in case of profile change. Fixes #145.
    • Fix spacer broken when activated over a timeline item.
    • Improve detection of composition direction.
    • Unconditionnaly reload producers on profile change. Related to #145.

    published 2019-05-12 <comments />

    Second print edition of "The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction" by William Shotts is now available in stores
    Sun, 12 May 2019 00:00:04 GMT

    The book was initially published in 2009 and has been gradually updated and modernized since. It covers subjects from What is the Shell to Regular Expressions, Text Processing and many other subjects.

    The Internet Edition of the book is licensed under the CreativeCommons license by-nc-nd.

    You can download the fifth Internet edition of the book sourceforge.

    You can supposedly buy the paper edition of the book "wherever fine books are sold".

    The author William Shotts has a blog and a website called

    published 2019-05-12 <comments />

    Linux 5.1.1 released
    Sat, 11 May 2019 13:28:07 GMT


    The first point-release of Linux kernel 5.1 was released today without anything major standing out. There are some Bluetooth fixe, scsi fixes, some USB fixes and some small bugfixes for a few staging-drivers.

    No huge news.

    Full ChangeLog can be found at

    One minor little tip, 5.1 and 5.1.1 has the lzo-rle technology and uses it as a compressor for zswap. You may want to benefit from this by adding

    echo 1 > /sys/module/zswap/parameters/enabled
    echo 6 > /sys/module/zswap/parameters/max_pool_percent

    to some script running at startup such as /etc/rc.d/rc.local

    Have a great day.

    published 2019-05-11 <comments />

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