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      AlmaLinux says Red Hat source changes won’t kill its RHEL-compatible distro / ArsTechnica · Monday, 24 July, 2023 - 19:38

    AlmaLinux's live media, offering a quick spin or installation.

    Enlarge / AlmaLinux lets you build applications that work with Red Hat Enterprise Linux but can't promise the exact same bug environment. That's different from how they started, but it's also a chance to pick a new path forward. (credit: AlmaLinux OS)

    I asked benny Vasquez, chair of the AlmaLinux OS Foundation, how she would explain the recent Red Hat Enterprise Linux source code controversy to somebody at a family barbecue—somebody who, in other words, might not have followed the latest tech news quite so closely.

    "Most of my family barbecues are going to be explaining that Linux is an operating system," Vasquez said. "Then explaining what an operating system is."

    It is indeed tricky to explain all the pieces—Red Hat, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, CentOS Stream, Fedora, RHEL, Alma, Rocky, upstreams, downstreams, source code, and the GPL—to anyone who isn't familiar with Red Hat's quirky history , and how it progressed to the wide but disparate ecosystem it has today. And, yes, Linux in general. But Vasquez was game to play out my thought experiment.

    Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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      Open-Source LLMs / Schneier · Sunday, 4 June, 2023 - 19:54 · 5 minutes

    In February, Meta released its large language model: LLaMA. Unlike OpenAI and its ChatGPT, Meta didn’t just give the world a chat window to play with. Instead, it released the code into the open-source community, and shortly thereafter the model itself was leaked. Researchers and programmers immediately started modifying it, improving it, and getting it to do things no one else anticipated. And their results have been immediate, innovative, and an indication of how the future of this technology is going to play out. Training speeds have hugely increased, and the size of the models themselves has shrunk to the point that you can create and run them on a laptop. The world of AI research has dramatically changed.

    This development hasn’t made the same splash as other corporate announcements, but its effects will be much greater. It will wrest power from the large tech corporations, resulting in both much more innovation and a much more challenging regulatory landscape. The large corporations that had controlled these models warn that this free-for-all will lead to potentially dangerous developments, and problematic uses of the open technology have already been documented. But those who are working on the open models counter that a more democratic research environment is better than having this powerful technology controlled by a small number of corporations.

    The power shift comes from simplification. The LLMs built by OpenAI and Google rely on massive data sets, measured in the tens of billions of bytes, computed on by tens of thousands of powerful specialized processors producing models with billions of parameters. The received wisdom is that bigger data, bigger processing, and larger parameter sets were all needed to make a better model. Producing such a model requires the resources of a corporation with the money and computing power of a Google or Microsoft or Meta.

    But building on public models like Meta’s LLaMa, the open-source community has innovated in ways that allow results nearly as good as the huge models—but run on home machines with common data sets. What was once the reserve of the resource-rich has become a playground for anyone with curiosity, coding skills, and a good laptop. Bigger may be better, but the open-source community is showing that smaller is often good enough. This opens the door to more efficient, accessible, and resource-friendly LLMs.

    More importantly, these smaller and faster LLMs are much more accessible and easier to experiment with. Rather than needing tens of thousands of machines and millions of dollars to train a new model, an existing model can now be customized on a mid-priced laptop in a few hours. This fosters rapid innovation.

    It also takes control away from large companies like Google and OpenAI. By providing access to the underlying code and encouraging collaboration, open-source initiatives empower a diverse range of developers, researchers, and organizations to shape the technology. This diversification of control helps prevent undue influence, and ensures that the development and deployment of AI technologies align with a broader set of values and priorities. Much of the modern internet was built on open-source technologies from the LAMP (Linux, Apache, mySQL, and PHP/PERL/Python) stack—a suite of applications often used in web development. This enabled sophisticated websites to be easily constructed, all with open-source tools that were built by enthusiasts, not companies looking for profit. Facebook itself was originally built using open-source PHP.

    But being open-source also means that there is no one to hold responsible for misuse of the technology. When vulnerabilities are discovered in obscure bits of open-source technology critical to the functioning of the internet, often there is no entity responsible for fixing the bug. Open-source communities span countries and cultures, making it difficult to ensure that any country’s laws will be respected by the community. And having the technology open-sourced means that those who wish to use it for unintended, illegal, or nefarious purposes have the same access to the technology as anyone else.

    This, in turn, has significant implications for those who are looking to regulate this new and powerful technology. Now that the open-source community is remixing LLMs, it’s no longer possible to regulate the technology by dictating what research and development can be done; there are simply too many researchers doing too many different things in too many different countries. The only governance mechanism available to governments now is to regulate usage (and only for those who pay attention to the law), or to offer incentives to those (including startups, individuals, and small companies) who are now the drivers of innovation in the arena. Incentives for these communities could take the form of rewards for the production of particular uses of the technology, or hackathons to develop particularly useful applications. Sticks are hard to use—instead, we need appealing carrots.

    It is important to remember that the open-source community is not always motivated by profit. The members of this community are often driven by curiosity, the desire to experiment, or the simple joys of building. While there are companies that profit from supporting software produced by open-source projects like Linux, Python, or the Apache web server, those communities are not profit driven.

    And there are many open-source models to choose from. Alpaca, Cerebras-GPT, Dolly, HuggingChat, and StableLM have all been released in the past few months. Most of them are built on top of LLaMA, but some have other pedigrees. More are on their way.

    The large tech monopolies that have been developing and fielding LLMs—Google, Microsoft, and Meta—are not ready for this. A few weeks ago, a Google employee leaked a memo in which an engineer tried to explain to his superiors what an open-source LLM means for their own proprietary tech. The memo concluded that the open-source community has lapped the major corporations and has an overwhelming lead on them.

    This isn’t the first time companies have ignored the power of the open-source community. Sun never understood Linux. Netscape never understood the Apache web server. Open source isn’t very good at original innovations, but once an innovation is seen and picked up, the community can be a pretty overwhelming thing. The large companies may respond by trying to retrench and pulling their models back from the open-source community.

    But it’s too late. We have entered an era of LLM democratization. By showing that smaller models can be highly effective, enabling easy experimentation, diversifying control, and providing incentives that are not profit motivated, open-source initiatives are moving us into a more dynamic and inclusive AI landscape. This doesn’t mean that some of these models won’t be biased, or wrong, or used to generate disinformation or abuse. But it does mean that controlling this technology is going to take an entirely different approach than regulating the large players.

    This essay was written with Jim Waldo, and previously appeared on

    EDITED TO ADD (6/4): Slashdot thread .

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      Developer Sabotages Open-Source Software Package

      Bruce Schneier · / Schneier · Monday, 21 March, 2022 - 15:22 · 2 minutes

    This is a big deal :

    A developer has been caught adding malicious code to a popular open-source package that wiped files on computers located in Russia and Belarus as part of a protest that has enraged many users and raised concerns about the safety of free and open source software.

    The application, node-ipc, adds remote interprocess communication and neural networking capabilities to other open source code libraries. As a dependency, node-ipc is automatically downloaded and incorporated into other libraries, including ones like Vue.js CLI, which has more than 1 million weekly downloads.


    The node-ipc update is just one example of what some researchers are calling protestware. Experts have begun tracking other open source projects that are also releasing updates calling out the brutality of Russia’s war. This spreadsheet lists 21 separate packages that are affected.

    One such package is es5-ext , which provides code for the ECMAScript 6 scripting language specification. A new dependency named postinstall.js , which the developer added on March 7, checks to see if the user’s computer has a Russian IP address, in which case the code broadcasts a “call for peace.”

    It constantly surprises non-computer people how much critical software is dependent on the whims of random programmers who inconsistently maintain software libraries. Between log4j and this new protestware, it’s becoming a serious vulnerability. The White House tried to start addressing this problem last year, requiring a “software bill of materials” for government software:

    …the term “Software Bill of Materials” or “SBOM” means a formal record containing the details and supply chain relationships of various components used in building software. Software developers and vendors often create products by assembling existing open source and commercial software components. The SBOM enumerates these components in a product. It is analogous to a list of ingredients on food packaging. An SBOM is useful to those who develop or manufacture software, those who select or purchase software, and those who operate software. Developers often use available open source and third-party software components to create a product; an SBOM allows the builder to make sure those components are up to date and to respond quickly to new vulnerabilities. Buyers can use an SBOM to perform vulnerability or license analysis, both of which can be used to evaluate risk in a product. Those who operate software can use SBOMs to quickly and easily determine whether they are at potential risk of a newly discovered vulnerability. A widely used, machine-readable SBOM format allows for greater benefits through automation and tool integration. The SBOMs gain greater value when collectively stored in a repository that can be easily queried by other applications and systems. Understanding the supply chain of software, obtaining an SBOM, and using it to analyze known vulnerabilities are crucial in managing risk.

    It’s not a solution, but it’s a start.

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      Mass Effect Legendary Edition now playable on Linux with Proton GE

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Monday, 17 May, 2021 - 15:04 · 2 minutes

    The big new release of Mass Effect Legendary Edition from BioWare and EA is only supported for Windows on PC, but with Proton GE you should now be able to play it on Linux. Should being the keyword, as Proton can be a little fiddly at times.

    If you're not clear on what Proton and Steam Play are, be sure to check out our constantly updated dedicated page . It's a special compatibility layer for running Windows games and apps from Steam on Linux. Proton GE is the community-made version which has a number of extras.

    Proton-6.8-GE-2 is officially out now with these changes:

    • Mass Effect Legendary Edition Launcher and ME1 fixes added. All 3 games should be playable.
    • DOOM Eternal should no longer hang and resolution change should work again
    • Forza Horizon 4 frequency patch added, however this does not seem to improve the crashing :/
    • RE8 REENGINE Logo audio is fixed and no longer plays static (game is still crashy)
    • RE8 Display menu fixes ported from proton experimental
    • Nioh 2 hang fixed (videos still don't play)
    • Fallout: New Vegas audio looping fixed
    • 2k Launcher fixes ported from proton experimental (fixes mafia, mafia II, and others)
    • Yakuza 0 - fsync disabled (thanks tgurr!)
    • Yakuza Kiwami - fsync disabled (thanks tgurr!)
    • LEGO The Lord of the Rings d3dx9_41 override added (thanks alkazar and FigoFrago!)

    Also of note is that you may need to remove your Wine/Proton prefix for Persona 4 Golden to work, see how to do that in our previous article .

    To use it here's what you do:

    1. Download the Proton-6.8-GE-2.tar.gz file from the release notes .
    2. If this folder does not exist, create it: ~/.steam/root/compatibilitytools.d/
    3. Extract the archive downloaded in Step 1, and place the contents into the above directory.
    4. Restart Steam if it's open which refreshes the Steam Play list for Proton-6.8-GE-2 to show up.
    5. Right click on your game, go to Properties, Compatibility and ensure the box is ticked named "Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool" then select it from the dropdown box that appears.

    Want to see how Mass Effect Legendary Edition runs on Linux with Proton GE? See below:

    youtube video thumbnail
    Watch video on

    Note: the stuttering you see is pretty common for running Windows games through Proton, as it needs to manually build up a cache to pull from. Usually not an issue on Windows, as games are directly made for it and build it themselves. Over time it becomes smoother and this is what the Steam Shader Pre-Caching system is supposed to be helping with.

    Spoiler alert though for older players: apparently the face of Tali was changed from a stock photo you could see in-game to a unique and more appropriate image, it does make me laugh that such a small change has generated big headlines across the major gaming sites.

    For me, Mass Effect is one series that holds an immensely special place. I played through the entire series back when I was a big console gaming fan (before truly diving fully into Linux) and I loved the story and the whole experience. Being able to do it again, enhanced and on Linux is just beautiful.

    You can buy it on Steam , just remember though that running it in this way on Linux is not actually supported. The usual caveats apply: it can break any time and the developer doesn't need to ensure it continues working this way.

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      Steam Play Proton gets a few quick fixes in the 6.3-4 release out now

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Saturday, 15 May, 2021 - 10:35

    Valve / CodeWeavers have releases another update to the current stable Proton series with the 6.3-4 release.

    If you're not clear on what Proton and Steam Play are, be sure to check out our constantly updated dedicated page . It's a special compatibility layer for running Windows games and apps from Steam on Linux.

    Proton 6.3-4 is a small update that just focuses on fixing up a few annoyances including:

    • Fix recent 2K Games launcher update
    • Fix error on startup for some Direct3D 12 games
    • Fix Divinity Original Sin 2 and Rise of Venice launcher display issues
    • Fix Star Wars Squadrons VR incorrectly launching to desktop
    • Fix Sacred Gold visual artifacts

    If you missed it Proton Experimental was also updated recently to further improve Resident Evil Village on Linux, and has again been upgraded so it has all the fixes of Proton 6.3-4. For those of you who prefer the community-built Proton GE, you should also check our recent article .

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      Free first-person strategy shooter 'Unvanquished' releases version 0.52 Beta

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Friday, 14 May, 2021 - 17:34 · 1 minute

    After a long time of waiting with the last proper release in 2018, the Unvanquished team have managed to do it! The next version 0.52 Beta is officially out now and waiting to be played.

    What is it? A free and open source first-person shooter with strategy elements, that puts humans vs aliens. It's a fork of the classic Tremulous, think of it like the well-known Natural Selection series with both sides providing very different gameplay overall.


    This marks the first Beta release too, as the team explained they "think the engine and the game experience are polished enough to remove the alpha flag and wear the beta one". The game engine used, the Dæmon engine, also saw its own dedicated blog post to explain all the advances over the last two years - as expected there's been a huge amount of changes, including a "single rounding error that was the cause of many bugs" - oops. The amount of work that went into the underlying game engine is simply marvellous, with it being more bug free and advanced than ever.

    As for the game itself, the list of what's changed is just as ridiculously long. The new player experience is much improved, there's new presets for different keyboard layouts, the UI now scales with your screen resolution, there's now graphics presets to easily switch between modes, many graphics improvements and the list goes on. It's pretty safe to say that Unvanquished 0.52 Beta is like a different game.

    Check it out on the Unvanquished website .

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      Vircadia, the free and open source 3D virtual world is going to the web

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Tuesday, 11 May, 2021 - 08:44 · 1 minute

    Vircadia , the open source successor to the former High Fidelity VR project, a 3D virtual world for VR and desktops is now going to be coming to your web browser. The founder and project lead, Kalila Lakeworth, emailed in the very interesting news on how they've teamed up with the Linux Professional Institute to make this happen.

    They mentioned how requiring users to download it is a barrier to adoption, and so using the power of WebRTC, they plan to let the whole thing run in a browser tab. Much like you can do with full games already on services like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna and so on. They're calling this "Vircadia Web", the idea is to let people join worlds and events from any device they own - a nice goal worth supporting.

    Confused on what Vircadia actually is? They explain how it's "an engine to build virtual worlds on" and "Vircadia can help you make a personal home world that houses an art gallery, movie theater, or games for your friends. The sky is the limit.". It's open source, decentralized and so no one corp controls what to do with it. The sky is effectively the limit.

    WebXR support will be coming to allow VR on the web, but their first focus is just getting the thing running in a browser.

    Read more about their plans on their blog post .

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      Check out Sonic Robo Blast 2, a 3D open-source Sonic the Hedgehog fangame built from Doom

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Tuesday, 11 May, 2021 - 08:29 · 1 minute

    A reader recently let us know of Sonic Robo Blast 2, a 3D free and open source sonic game built from the open source Doom Legacy game engine.

    SRB2 is closely inspired by the original Sonic games from the Sega Genesis, and attempts to recreate the design in 3D. While SRB2 isn't fully completed, it already features tons of levels, enemies, speed, and quite a lot of the fun that the original Sonic games provided.


    What they've been able to do with the Doom engine by merging in Sonic is definitely impressive. It's continually updated too, with a brand new version going up recently. SRB2 version 2.2.9 is out with these changes:

    • Fixed animated skin colors in OpenGL.
    • Fixed an error when loading addons with custom savedata via the command line (notably, when testing from Zone Builder).
    • Optimized Lua, plane rendering, and drawing of FOFs.
    • Added polyobject support for Lua.
    • Added multitag library for Lua, which allows reading and manipulation of tags on mapthings, lines and sectors; also added tag iterator functions.
    • Attraction Shield’s homing attack may now be chained.
    • The addfile command now supports adding multiple files.
    • The player will now smoothly slide across a sloped ceiling.
    • Let more graphics lumps be replaced clientside.
    • Various bits of progress on UDMF.
    • Special text is printed when the player begins the final lap in Circuit mode.
    • Ring drain sectors play the ring depletion sound.
    • Pausing the game is no longer possible during the score tally screen in Marathon Mode.
    • Tons of map fixes from sphere.
    • Added acronym keywords to Co-op levels. For use with the map command, so e.g. you can warp to Green Flower 1 with map GFZ1.
    • The game now resends the whole gamestate when resyncing a player.
    • Fixed an issue with the installer executables where you wouldn’t always be asked where you want to install the game.

    Sounds like there's never been a better time to try it out!

    Check it out on the official site . Available for Linux on Flathub .

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      0 A.D. Alpha 25 enters feature-freeze soon, get a sneak-peak of what's coming

      Liam Dawe · / GamingOnLinux · Monday, 10 May, 2021 - 12:25 · 1 minute

    0 A.D. Alpha 25, the very impressive free and open source RTS is closing in on the next release and it's entering a Feature Freeze soon to focus on stability. The last release back in February took a very long time, partly as some major internal upgrades were done so now they're hoping to be a bit more regular.

    In June they're proposing to enter Feature Freeze, to then focus on bug fixes. So what to expect from the upcoming 0 A.D. Alpha 25? In a blog post they noted a few new features coming:

    • Single Player Campaign Support:
      The ability for 0 A.D modders to create their own single player campaigns will be added. Alpha 25 will only include the base functionality for this with full campaigns scheduled to be added in later iterations.
    • Improved Multiplayer Responsiveness
      A technical improvement that players may ‘feel’ rather than see, this is another progressive improvement step to smoothing out multiplayer gameplay and enhancing unit pathfinding. Before commands in multiplayer were processed twice per second, now five times like in single player.
    • Ongoing Balancing Changes
      Numerous changes to balance of the game by way of micro adjustments to various civilisations, buildings, and units.

    Head over to their wiki and you will see there's quite a bit more including better animal AI behaviour, domestic animals will flee when attacked, structures can be toggled to auto-produce units, improvements to tutorial and random maps text and more.


    I actually played a bunch of it recently and wow - it sure has come a very long way. Reminds me of the early days of Age of Empires but free and open source.

    Check it out on the official site .

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