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Open Source

Blockchain Platform Developed by Banks To Be Open-Source ( 14

A blockchain platform developed by a group that includes more than 70 of the world's biggest financial institutions is making its code publicly available, in what could become the industry standard for the nascent technology, reports Reuters. From the article: The Corda platform has been developed by a consortium brought together by New-York-based financial technology company R3. It represents the biggest shared effort among banks, insurers, fund managers and other players to work on using blockchain technology in the financial markets. Blockchain, which originated in the digital currency bitcoin, works as a web-based transaction-processing and settlement system. It creates a "golden record" of any given set of data that is automatically replicated for all parties in a secure network, eliminating any need for third-party verification. Banks reckon the technology could save them money by making their operations faster, more efficient and more transparent. They are racing to build products using the technology that will generate new revenue, with dozens of patent applications filed for blockchain-based products by Wall Street's top lenders. R3 says it hopes its platform will become the industry standard, although its intention is indeed for firms to build products on top of it.

The White House Open Sources President Obama's Facebook Messenger Bot To 'Bring the Gov't To You' ( 36

The White House has open sourced the code for President Obama's Facebook Messenger bot in a hope that this will help other governments and developers build similar services. These services will ideally foster similar connections with their citizens with significantly less upfront investment. From the official post: It's also an important part of furthering our mission to "meet the public where they are." Millions of people contact their friends and family using Facebook Messenger. Why shouldn't they be able to contact the White House, too? And President Obama really reads these messages. Since 2009, he's made it part of his daily routine to read 10 letters sent to him by citizens -- something he refers to as the best part of his day. [...] To be specific, we are open-sourcing a Drupal module, complete with easy steps and boiler plate code. This will enable Drupal 8 developers to quickly launch a Facebook Messenger bot. We also left a few lines in the repository describing our hopes for the future of the code and encouraging members of the developer community to get involved.
Open Source

France Adds Source Code To List of Documents Covered by Freedom of Information Laws ( 25

An anonymous reader writes: French freedom of information law now treats source code as disclosable in the same way as other government records. The new "Digital Republic" law took effect Saturday, with its publication in France's Official Journal. It adds source code to the long list of government document types that must be released in certain circumstances: dossiers, reports, studies, minutes, transcripts, statistics, instructions, memoranda, ministerial replies, correspondence, opinions, forecasts and decisions. But it also adds a new exception to existing rules on access to administrative documents and reuse of public information, giving officials plenty of reasons to refuse to release code on demand. These rules already allow officials to block the publication of documents they believe threaten national security, foreign policy, personal safety, or matters before court or under police investigation, among things. Now they can oppose publication if they believe it threatens the security of government information systems.
Open Source

Physically-Secure 'ORWL' Computer Expands Its Open Source Policy ( 68

Last month DESIGN Shift successfully crowdfunded their physically-secure (and open source) ORWL computer. But this week long-time Slashdot reader Dr. Crash raised concerns that "releasing only the equivalent of 'assembly code' (PDFs of the schematic, Gerber files) and requiring an NDA for the BIOS and mechanical security just doesn't cut it... " Slashdot contacted the company, which two hours ago posted a response: After feedback from some of you and more internal discussion, we've decided to open the schematics source files under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0... Our reasoning is that the benefit of being able to much more easily inspect the inner workings of ORWL far outweighs the minimal risk of infringement by a third party. Even if a third party does decide to copy ORWL for profit, they would quickly discover the real work is in the layout, not the schematic, as is the case in most hardware...

[T]he firmware will be licensed under GPL 3 rather than CC-BY-SA 4.0. This change is in line with the Creative Commons's own recommendations regarding software licensing. We also realized that some of our firmware uses libraries provided under NDA. We will clearly identify which components are protected under NDA and how to go about securing such an NDA.

They've already released a .zip file of their schematics, and in addition announced that "we're committing to opening the PCB layout sources once we've sold a total of 3,000 ORWL unit." Their announcement includes a link for feedback from the community.
Open Source

FreeBSD 11.0 Released ( 121

Long-time Slashdot reader basscomm writes, "After a couple of delays, FreeBSD 11 has been released. Check out the release notes here." The FreeBSD Foundation writes: The latest release continues to pioneer the field of copyfree-licensed, open source operating systems by including new architecture support, performance improvements, toolchain enhancements and support for contemporary wireless chipsets. The new features and improvements bring about an even more robust operating system that both companies and end users alike benefit greatly from using.
FreeBSD 11 supports both the ARMv8 and RISC-V architectures, and also supports the 802.11n wireless networking standard. In addition, OpenSSH has been updated to 7.2p2, and OpenSSH DSA key generation has been disabled by default, so "It is important to update OpenSSH keys prior to upgrading."

Google Releases An Open Source Font That Supports 800 Languages ( 175

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Hot Hardware: It's been working on the project over the past five years in collaboration with Monotype in hopes of eradicating so-called "tofu" -- the blank boxes you see when a PC or website can't display a particular text -- from the web. Noto, or No more tofu, is Google's answer, and it's available now to download...

"We are thrilled to have played such an important role in what has become one of the most significant type projects of all time," said Scott Landers, president and CEO of Monotype... Monotype played the biggest role, though Google also collaborated with Adobe and had a network of volunteer reviewers. As far as Monotype is concerned, Noto is one of the expansive typography projects ever undertaken.

There's 110,000 characters, and Google says the project "required design and technical testing in hundreds of languages."

One U.S. Election-System Vendor Is Using Developers in Serbia ( 83

The Open Source Election Technology Foundation is trying to move U.S. voting machines from "proprietary, vendor-owned systems to ones that are owned 'by the people of the United States.'" But in the meantime, Slashdot reader dcblogs brings this report from ComputerWorld: One major election technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, develops its systems in the U.S. and Canada but also has an office in Belgrade, Serbia. It was recently advertising openings for four senior software developers in Belgrade... Dominion said it takes measures "to ensure the accuracy, integrity and security of the software we create for our products...."

Alan Paller, president and director of research at the Sans Technology Institute...said that "one shouldn't feel complacent about maintaining software development and manufacturing all within the United States because foreign agencies have successfully placed technically competent spies on the payroll of American technology companies." But Suzanne Mello-Stark, a forensic computer scientist at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a focus on voting machines, wants software and hardware transparency in voting systems. "The systems are proprietary and we don't know what the code looks like," said Mello-Stark.

Open Source

After 22 Years, 386BSD Gets An Update ( 83

386BSD was last released back in 1994 with a series of articles in Dr. Dobb's Journal -- but then developers for this BSD-based operating system started migrating to both FreeBSD and NetBSD. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The last known public release was version 0.1. Until Wednesday, when Lynne Jolitz, one of the co-authors of 386BSD, released the source code to version 1.0 as well as 2.0 on Github.

386BSD takes us back to the days when you could count every file in your Unix distribution and more importantly, read and understand all of your OS source code. 386BSD is also the missing link between BSD and Linux. One can find fragments of Linus Torvalds's math emulation code in the source code of 386BSD. To quote Linus: "If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened."

Though it was designed for Intel 80386 microprocessors, there's already instructions for launching it on the hosted hardware virtualization service Qemu.

Emacs and Vim Combined In New 'Spacemacs' Distro ( 130

Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino brings news of a new text editor offering what he calls "a modern, hipster-compliant makeover" of both Emacs and Vim: As a classic, perhaps the classic GNU project, Emacs has been marred by abysmal branding and marketing...that has improved slightly but might still leave some people unsatisfied [and] has also been engulfed in an eternal war with Vim, the editor of the beast. Mope no further, salvation is nigh! Spacemacs is a new Emacs distribution that aims to combine all the goodies of Emacs and Vim and then some...
Version .2 of Spacemacs was released this week "with more than 1700 commits since the last major version released in January 2016." With nearly 500 contributors on GItHub, Spacemacs plans to be "crowd-configured" with "curated packages tuned by power users," and is offering features like a real-time display of available key bindings, a simple query system for layers and packages, and of course, a clearly defined set of conventions.

Google Releases Open Source 'Cartographer' ( 26

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: Machine learning and vision are essential technologies for the advancement of robotics. When sensors come together, they can enable a computer or robot to collect data and images in real-time. A good example of this technology in real-world use is the latest Roomba vacuums. As the robot cleans your dirty floor, it is using sensors combined with a camera to map your home. Today, Google releases Cartographer -- an open source project that developers can use for many things, such as robots and self-driving cars. "We are happy to announce the open source release of Cartographer, a real-time simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) library in 2D and 3D with ROS support. SLAM is an essential component of autonomous platforms such as self driving cars, automated forklifts in warehouses, robotic vacuum cleaners, and UAVs," says Google in a blog post. "Our focus is on advancing and democratizing SLAM as a technology. Currently, Cartographer is heavily focused on LIDAR SLAM. Through continued development and community contributions, we hope to add both support for more sensors and platforms as well as new features, such as lifelong mapping and localizing in a pre-existing map."
Open Source

Linus Torvalds Officially Announces the Release of Linux Kernel 4.8 ( 95

Slashdot reader prisoninmate brings news from Softpedia: Today, Linus Torvalds proudly announced the release and availability for download of the Linux 4.8 kernel branch, which is now the latest stable and most advanced one. Linux kernel 4.8 has been in development for the past two months, during which it received no less than eight Release Candidate testing versions that early adopters were able to compile and install on their GNU/Linux operating system to test various hardware components or simply report bugs...

A lot of things have been fixed since last week's RC8 milestone, among which we can mention lots of updated drivers, in particular for GPU, networking, and Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM), a bunch of improvements to the ARM, MIPS, SPARC, and x86 hardware architectures, updates to the networking stack, as well as to a few filesystem, and some minor changes to cgroup and vm.

The kernel now supports the Raspberry Pi 3 SoC as well as the Microsoft Surface 3 touchscreen.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Should An Open Source Hardware Project Support Clones? 117

Long-time Slashdot reader Ichijo has a question about "(not quite) open source hardware": One hardware project that calls itself "open source" doesn't want to make its hardware design source files publicly available because doing so would, in their words, "make it very trivial for e.g Chinese companies to start producing cheap clones... we'd be getting support requests for hardware we had no idea of the quality of." This answer was in response to a request by a user who wants to use the design in his own projects.

Have any other open source hardware projects run into support issues from people owning cheap "clones"? Have clones been produced even without the hardware design source files?

Leave your answers in the comments. Should an open source hardware project support clones?
Open Source

The Arduino Split is Over, New Non-Profit Formed ( 73

"Today is one of the best days in Arduino history," announced Massimo Banzi, Co-Founder of Arduino LLC, calling it "a new beginning" for Ardunio. Slashdot reader ruhri reports: Massimo Banzi and Federico Musto, co-founders of the Arduino Project, announced they have settled their differences that had resulted in the creation of Arduino LLC and Arduino SRL. A new, unified Arduino Holding and Arduino Foundation will be created.
"Massimo Banzi and Federico Musto took the stage today at the New York Maker Faire to announce the good news," reports a blog post at "At the end of 2016, the newly created 'Arduino Holding' will become the single point of contact for the wholesale distribution of all current and future products... In addition, Arduino will form a not-for-profit 'Arduino Foundation' responsible for maintaining the open source Arduino desktop IDE, and continuing to foster the open source movement by providing support for a variety of scholarships, community and developer initiatives."
Open Source

Linux Mint Unveils New 'Mintbox Mini Pro' Desktop ( 70

It's been 18 months since the original Mintbox Mini launched, and this week saw the release of the new Mintbox Mini Pro (which costs just $100 more). BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: That extra money gets you a faster processor, more powerful graphics, double the storage, twice the RAM, improved Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an additional Ethernet port... This diminutive desktop is the same size as the previously-released Mintbox... Thankfully, it retains the same cute appearance and Linux Mint branding.
Their article calls it a "beautiful little computer that comes pre-loaded with Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon (64-bit)," and the Linux Mint blog promises this fanless device offers "better passive cooling thanks to an all-metal black housing" -- and comes with six different USB ports.

Yahoo Open Sources a Deep Learning Model For Classifying Pornographic Images ( 119

New submitter OWCareers writes: Yahoo today announced its latest open-source release: a model that can figure out if images are specifically pornographic in nature. The system uses a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which involves training artificial neural networks on lots of data (like dirty images) and getting them to make inferences about new data. The model that's now available on GitHub under a BSD 2-Clause license comes pre-trained, so users only have to fine-tune it if they so choose. The model works with the widely used Caffe open source deep learning framework. The team trained the model using its now open source CaffeOnSpark system.
The new model could be interesting to look at for developers maintaining applications like Instagram and Pinterest that are keen to minimize smut. Search engine operators like Google and Microsoft might also want to check out what's under the hood here.
The tool gives images a score between 0 to 1 on how NSFW the pictures look. The official blog post from Yahoo outlines several examples.

Google Open Sources Its Image-Captioning AI ( 40

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes ZDNet: Google has open-sourced a model for its machine-learning system, called Show and Tell, which can view an image and generate accurate and original captions... The image-captioning system is available for use with TensorFlow, Google's open machine-learning framework, and boasts a 93.9 percent accuracy rate on the ImageNet classification task, inching up from previous iterations.

The code includes an improved vision model, allowing the image-captioning system to recognize different objects in images and hence generate better descriptions. An improved image model meanwhile aids the captioning system's powers of description, so that it not only identifies a dog, grass and frisbee in an image, but describes the color of grass and more contextual detail.

Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Who's Building The Open Source Version of Siri? ( 186

We're moving to a world of voice interactions processed by AI. Now Long-time Slashdot reader jernst asks, "Will we ever be able to do that without going through somebody's proprietary silo like Amazon's or Apple's?" A decade ago, we in the free and open-source community could build our own versions of pretty much any proprietary software system out there, and we did... But is this still true...? Where are the free and/or open-source versions of Siri, Alexa and so forth?

The trouble, of course, is not so much the code, but in the training. The best speech recognition code isn't going to be competitive unless it has been trained with about as many millions of hours of example speech as the closed engines from Apple, Google and so forth have been. How can we do that? The same problem exists with AI. There's plenty of open-source AI code, but how good is it unless it gets training and retraining with gigantic data sets?

And even with that data, Siri gets trained with a massive farm of GPUs running 24/7 -- but how can the open source community replicate that? "Who has a plan, and where can I sign up to it?" asks jernst. So leave your best answers in the comments. Who's building the open source version of Siri?

A New Programming Language Expands on Google's Go ( 173

"One sure sign your language is successful: When people build other languages that transpile into it." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from InfoWorld: The Have project uses Go's toolchain, but sports a different syntax and makes key additions to the language... Previously, a language named Oden worked with Go's toolchain to add features that Go didn't support. Now Polish developer Marcin Wrochniak has introduced Have, a language that transpiles to and expands on Go.

In the blog post that introduces the project to Go developers, Wrochniak describes Have as a hobby project, with the goal of becoming a "companion" to Go that addresses some of its common "landmines"... Go uses curly braces in the manner of C/C++, while Have uses block indents, like Python... The way that variable declaration, structs, and interfaces work have all been modified in Have to be more consistent with each other and to avoid internal inconsistencies that Wrochniak feels are a common source of bugs.

Open Source

Netflix Releases 'Meridian' Test Footage To All Including Competitors, Open Sources Some Tools ( 40

Netflix has released 'Meridian' to not just all its 83 million subscribers, but to everyone. The company produced the title as test footage to evaluate anything from the performance of video codecs to the way Netflix streams look like on 4K TVs. But the company decided to make it to open to all -- be it hardware manufacturers, codec developers, or even competitors like Amazon and Hulu. From a report on Variety:Netflix is using a Creative Commons license for the release of "Meridian," which is new for an industry that isn't used to sharing a lot of resources. "They are in the business of exploiting content, not of giving it away," Chris Fetner, the company's director for content partner operations said. But for Netflix, it's just par of the course. Thanks to its Silicon Valley DNA, Netflix has long collaborated with other companies on cloud computing-focused open source projects. Now, it wants to nudge Hollywood to do the same -- and "Meridian" is only the beginning. This week, Netflix is also open-sourcing a set of tools tackling a common problem for studios and video services.

Google's New Angular 2.0 Isn't Compatible With Angular 1 ( 121

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes TechCrunch: When Google announced Angular 2 in 2014, it created quite a stir in the web development community because this new version wasn't just an update, but instead a complete rewrite that wasn't compatible with the older version... "Angular 1 first solved the problem of how to develop for an emerging web," the company writes... "Six years later, the challenges faced by today's application developers, and the sophistication of the devices that applications must support, have both changed immensely."
Announcing the final release version of Angular 2 last week, Google thanked the open source community, saying "We are grateful to the large number of contributors who dedicated time to submitting pull requests, issues, and repro cases, who discussed and debated design decisions, and validated (and pushed back on) our RCs." TechCrunch writes that Google's Angular team "now also recommends that developers use TypeScript to write their apps...a Microsoft-developed superset of JavaScript that adds features like static typing and class-based object-oriented programming."

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