All posts by Carlie Fairchild

RIP Robin "Roblimo" Miller

Linux Journal has learned fellow journalist and long-time voice of the Linux community Robin “Roblimo” Miller has passed away. Miller was perhaps best known by the community for his roll as Editor in Chief of Open Source Technology Group, the company that owned Slashdot,, freshmeat,, NewsForge, and ThinkGeek from 2000 to 2008. He went on to write and do video interviews for FOSS Force, penned articles for several publications, and authored three books, The Online Rules of Successful Companies, Point & Click Linux!, and Point & Click, all published by Prentice Hall.

As Marcel Gagne so perfectly summarized, “Robin was one of those people who could make you laugh while teaching you a thing or two.”

Roblimo, you will be missed. 

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An FUQ for the GDPR

Today is Privmas Eve: the day before Privmas, aka GDPR Day: the one marked red on the calendars of every company in the world holding an asset the GDPR has suddenly made toxic: personal data. The same day—25 May—should be marked green for everyone who has hated the simple fact that harvesting personal data from everybody on the internet has been too damned easy for too damned long for too damned many companies, and governments too.

Whether you like the GDPR or not (and there are reasons for both, which we’ll get into shortly), one thing it has done for sure is turn privacy into Very Big Deal. This is good, because we’ve had damned little of it on the internet and now we’re going to get a lot more. That’s worth celebrating, everybody. Merry Privmas! 

To help with that, and because 99.99x% of GDPR coverage is about what it means for the fattest regulatory targets (Facebook, Google, et al.), here’s an FUQ: Frequently Unasked (or Unanswered) Questions about the GDPR and what it means for you, me and everybody else who wants to keep personal data personal—or to get back personal data those data farmers have already harvested. (The GDPR respects both.)

A note before we begin: this is a work in progress. It’s what we know about what’s now possible in a world changed by the GDPR. And “we” includes everybody. If you want to help, weigh in. Here goes…

Bottom line, what does the GDPR mean for the “natural persons” it also calls “data subjects”?

It means we’re in charge now: at least of ourselves—and of our sides of relationships with the corporate entities we deal with.

No, the GDPR doesn’t say that specifically, but both the letter and the spirit of the GDPR respect privacy as a fundamental human right. Since rights are something we exercise as individuals, and not just a something good corporate behavior allows us to enjoy, we should be able to provide it for ourselves as well.

Don’t we have enough privacy tools already with crypto, onion routing, VPNs and so on?

No, we don’t.

Those are all forms of protection against exploitation by others. We need tools that create private spaces around us on the net, much as clothing (the original privacy tech) does for us in the natural world. We need ways to signal to others what’s okay and what’s not okay, and to know easily when those signals are being respected and when they are not. We need ways to move about the net anonymously, and to submit identifiers only on a need to know basis, and then in ways we control.

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Parrot 4.0 Now Available, Eudora Email Code Open-Sourced, Firefox Now Offers Two-Step Authentication and More

News briefs for May 24, 2018.

Parrot 4.0 is now available for download. Parrot is a “GNU/Linux
distribution based on Debian Testing and designed with Security, Development
and Privacy in mind. It includes a full portable laboratory for security and digital forensics
experts, but it also includes all you need to develop your own software or
protect your privacy while surfing the net.” New features of this “milestone”
version include netinstall
images, Docker templates, Linux kernel 4.16 and several other bugfixes and
changes. See the release notes
for more information.

Historic Eudora email code has been open-sourced by the Computer History
Museum, The
Register reports
: “it fell into neglect after Qualcomm stopped selling it
in 2006, and a follow-up version was poorly received in 2007. Under this
latest deal, Qualcomm is to donate all IP—copyright code, trademarks
and domain names—over to the museum.”

Mozilla began offering two-step
authentication for Firefox
this week. If you enable it, you’ll need to use an additional security code to log
in. Mozilla is using the authentication standard TOTP (Time-based One-Time
Password) to implement this feature. If you don’t see a “Two-step
authentication” panel in your Preferences, see this page
for further instructions on how to enable it.

Kata Containers 1.0 was released this week. This first release “completes the
merger of Intel’s Clear Containers and Hyper’s runV technologies, and
delivers an OCI compatible runtime with seamless integration for container
ecosystem technologies like Docker and Kubernetes.” Visit the Kata
Containers page
for more info and links to the GitHub and install guide.

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Visualizing Molecules with EasyChem

Introducing EasyChem, a program that generates publication-quality images of
molecular structures.

Chemistry is one of the heavy hitters in computational science. This
has been true since the beginning, and it’s no less true today. Because
of this, several software packages specifically target this user
group. Most of these software packages focus on
calculating things within chemistry, like bond energies or protein
folding structures. But, once you’ve done the science portion, you
need to be able to communicate your results, usually in the form
of papers published in journals. And, part of the information you’ll need to
disseminate is imagery of the molecules from your work. And, that’s
where EasyChem, this article’s subject, comes into play.

EasyChem helps generate publication-quality images of
molecular structures. It should be available in the package management
repositories for most distributions. In Debian-based distributions,
you can install it with the following command:

sudo apt-get installed easychem

Once it’s installed, you can start it either from your GUI’s menu
system or from the command prompt. When it first starts, you get a
blank canvas within which to start your project.

Figure 1. You get a blank workspace when you first start EasyChem.

One of the
first things you’ll want to check is whether the option to have helpful
messages is turned on. You can check this by clicking
Options→Learning messages. With this selected, you’ll get helpful
information in the bottom bar of the EasyChem window.

Let’s start with a simple molecule like benzene. Benzene is a ring of
six carbon atoms, with every other bond a double bond. You can create this
structure by using the options at the bottom of the draw window. Making
sure that the “Add bonds” option is selected, select the “Simple”
bond from the drop-down of “Bond type”. If you now place the mouse
pointer somewhere in the window and click and drag, you’ll get a single
bond drawn. To get a ring, you need to hold down the Ctrl key, and then
click and drag. This will draw a ring structure for you.

You can set the number
of atoms to use in the ring with the “Ring size” option
in the bottom left of the window. The default is six, which is what you’ll want
for your benzene ring.

To get the alternating bond types,
select the “Edit” option at the bottom, and then you’ll be able to
select individual bonds and change their types. When you select one of
the bonds, you’ll see a new pop-up window where you can change the
details, such as the type of bond, along with
the color and the relative width if it is a multiple bond.

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How to Measure the Impact of your Open Source Project

Conventional metrics of open source projects lack the power to predict their impact. The bad news is, there is no significant correlation between open source activity metrics and project impact. The good news? There are paths forward.

Let’s start with some questions: How do you measure the impact of your open source project? What value does your project provide to other projects? How is your project important within an open source ecosystem? Can you predict your project’s impact using open source metrics that you can follow day to day?

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Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Jupyter Notebooks for Data Science & Machine Learning

Jupyter Notebooks allow data scientists to create and share their documents, from codes to full blown reports. They help data scientists streamline their work and enable more productivity and easy collaboration. Due to these and several other reasons you will see below, Jupyter Notebooks are one of the most popular tools among data scientists.

In this article, we will introduce you to Jupyter notebooks and deep dive into it’s features and advantages.

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