Open Source News
Here are some recent news items pertinent to open source software in general or to Openstrike in particular.
Dutch government warns against using Microsoft products
The Ministry of Justice and Security of the Netherlands has issued a warning to all the government institutions not to use Microsoft's Office Online and Office mobile apps. The leakage of private data via these applications is to blame.
Full story at the Register.
Change of contact phone number
Our old out-of-hours contact number is being retired. From the 13th of September 2019 the only telephone number for us will be 01722 770036 (+44.1722770036 internationally). Any calls to the old 07092 number will go unanswered so please ensure that it is no longer in your contact lists or directories. Thank you.
Ensure your passwords aren't known to be compromised
Hopefully everyone is aware of at least some staggeringly large data breaches where often the media focus is on the leak of personal details. However, if a password is also leaked it is considered compromised too, even if it isn't associated with you. Security researcher Troy Hunt maintains a database of these known compromised passwords so concerned citizens can check to see if the new password they are about to choose isn't so secure after all.
Openstrike is pleased to announce the release of a Perl module which enables developers and website owners to go one step further. Password::Policy::Rule::Pwned is a new rule which makes automated checking against the compromised list simple and efficient.
Download from the modules page or directly from CPAN.
Open Source gives 200% RoI
A widely anticipated case study by OpenDRI has illustrated an approximate 200% return on investment in open source software development and that's even without factoring in any licensing costs for a proprietary alternative.
Download the full report (11MB PDF)
SCO loses again (again)
SCO (remember them?) are still in court and still losing. There must be a record for the number of consecutive legal losses on the same underlying claim and there can by now be only one holder of it.
Indian government opens up
In a long-heralded move the government of India has now mandated the use of open source throughout its institutions. This will be a massive driver for open source adoption throughout the citizenry and proves once again that any rigorous analysis concludes that the benefits of open source adoption are unarguable.
More details at Tuxdiary.
Openstrike responds to CPAN Testers appeal
Things are changing at CPAN Testers, the community-driven smoke testing site for Perl modules. Following system troubles in the summer of 2015 a new lead has been appointed and more time is now being devoted to developing the software and infrastructure, which is all to be welcomed. In parallel with this a call has gone out for financial support. In short, the community is being asked to help fund the hosting of this service so that the people involved can spend more time on developing the systems and less time trying to raise funds and worrying about paying the hosting bills.
As a long-time supporter of (and participant in) the Perl community, Openstrike is pleased to announce that it is contributing to this appeal and encourages every person and organisation which benefits from this valuable pillar of the Perl ecosystem to do so too. We may not have the funds of an IT industry giant, but together we can contribute more than enough to allow the cornerstone services of our own community to flourish. Please donate at the EPO CPAN Testers page. Thank you.
All static websites now available over IPv6
Openstrike is pleased to announce the global availability of IPv6 access to all of its customers' static websites. This extends the benefits of the newer protocol to these sites and allows faster access without tunnels to those users on pure IPv6 networks.
Following this successful rollout we plan to complete the addition of IPv6 access to dynamic websites by the end of the year.
Gilmor converts to open source
Dan Gilmor has written an interesting piece describing how he has come to realise the benefits to the community as a whole from using open source systems. This is significant given Gilmor's previous stance as he explains in the first couple of paragraphs. If he can change his mind perhaps you can too?
Turin goes open source to save €6,000,000
Following in the footsteps of many other European cities (see previous news items from Birmingham, Munich, Paris, et al) Turin is the latest to see the wisdom of ditching their expensive, unreliable and insecure proprietary systems for the superior open source alternatives.
More on this story at ZDNet.
Openstrike Certificate Authority rolls over root cert
Our root certificate has been in use for 10 years now and it is therefore time for a change. The new certificate, with an improved 4096-bit key, is already available for download and users are encouraged to import it now.
USA government advises citizens to abandon MSIE
In light of the latest in a very long line of crippling security flaws in Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser, the American Department of Homeland Security is advising the populace to steer clear of this application. Since other, more secure web browsers are readily available this announcement is as easy to implement as it is welcome.
More analysis at The Telegraph.
Openstrike unaffected by OpenSSL heartbleed problem
Openstrike are pleased to confirm that none of our public-facing systems are or have been affected by the OpenSSL heartbleed problem as reported on the 8th of April 2014. New services deployed after this date will not feature vulnerable versions of OpenSSL either.
Technical details of the vulnerability are available at OSVDB.
Linux at the heart of the USA Navy's new ships
At the heart of a massive seafaring battleship, what would you use to control all of the incredibly sensitive and dangerous systems? The USA Navy chooses Linux. The USS Zumwalt is the lead ship of a new class of guided missile destroyers and will put to sea shortly with a nerve-centre powered by the open source operating system.
There is a detailed article at Ars Technica.
Twitter goes to market
Twitter, which is built on the open source Linux operating system and is unarguably the most widely-used of the microblogs, has announced its intention to go public. The IPO will value the business at around four billion pounds.
Of course they announced it as a tweet.
Openstrike celebrates 10 years at the top
After what has been an exciting, educational rollercoaster of a decade, Openstrike is pleased to reflect on an ultimately successful first 10 years of trading. Proprietor, Dr. Peter Houston remarked, "Despite launching the business at the very bottom of the tech slump, we have proven that open source technology is undoubtedly the way of the future. I would like to thank all of our customers and suppliers who have helped us to make this business the fantastic success which it is today."
British Government mandates open source for public sector
Excellent news from the coalition government - their Government Service Design Manual now mandates that open source systems should be used instead of proprietary ones when providing government digital services. Some reports show savings of 90% in doing so, which is such a benefit in these austere times.
Read some interesting excerpts at Computer Weekly.
New version of mod_access_dnsbl released
Having proven its worth in the five years since the launch of the first version, mod_access_dnsbl is now ready for the next chapter. Updated and improved to work with the newest 2.4 branch of Apache, version 0.02 is now available for download.
Openstrike declines to sponsor the London Olympics
In order to remove any doubt and to quash any rumours to the contrary before they even start, Openstrike is officially announcing its intention not to sponsor the 2012 Olympic Games in London. While we applaud the Olympian ideal and are proud to embrace the meritocracy and elitism which are rewarded by the games we feel that it would be unwise to be associated with some of the other aspects of the event at this time.
Basque Country mandates all its software as open source
In a move heralded as a shining example to public sector bosses throughout the EU and beyond the Basque Country's adminstration has declared that all of the software which it uses to provide public services will be released under open source licences. It is clear to the Basque people that the benefits of open source are self-evident. Why do our public sector mandarins in the UK not see this?
Details at the EU site.
Openstrike moves into new premises
Openstrike is pleased to announce the relocation of its administrative headquarters from Merseyside to Wiltshire. Our new address is:
5 Ferguson Road
All phone numbers and email addresses remain the same.
Portugal mandates use of open source in all its schools
The Portuguese government has decreed that all public schools in the country must migrate to open source software (or FLOSS at least). The decision seems to be financially motivated, given the vast amount the country currently wastes on licences for inferior proprietary software and the current economic situation in Portugal as a whole. Nonetheless, once the teachers and students get a chance to use the open source programs they will soon see the advantages.
Read the original story (in Portuguese).
IIS days numbered?
According to the March 2011 web server survey at Netcraft, Microsoft's flagship web server IIS has seen its market share fall to a lowly 19.34% - the lowest for a decade. Similarly, the SecuritySpace survey has IIS even lower down at 16.19% - the lowest since the survey began way back in 1998. If the present trend continues we may yet see this unpopular proprietary server disappear entirely.
Free as in cold beer
In another show of the dominance of open source in the embedded arena, Electrolux have just launched a new top-of-the-range fridge with a control system running on Linux with Enlightenment powering the touchscreen interface.
Read all about it at Electrolux.
OpenOffice splits from Oracle and renames
With the purchase of Sun Microsystems, Oracle became the owner of OpenOffice.org (as well as other important open source projects). Now that project has split from its erstwhile owners with the creation of The Document Foundation and the core system has been renamed LibreOffice. Time will tell if the new name will stick and, more importantly, if the office suite will prosper.
Relaunch for Maughan Amplifier Company
The newly remodelled web site for the Maughan Amplifier Company has now been launched and is open to the public at www.maughanamps.com. With improved navigation and much more information on their products and services, the new site is sure to generate even more interest in this growing business.
Honour for KDE founder
Matthias Ettrich, founder of KDE has been awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit for services to free software. This recognition of the invaluable contributions which free software in general (and KDE in particular) has made to the modern computing landscape is very welcome indeed.
The award is detailed at KDE's news site.
Whitehouse.gov goes open source
News reaches us that one of the most visited public-sector web sites in the world - www.whitehouse.gov - is now powered by Drupal - an open source content management system (CMS). If proof were needed this illustrates how open source systems can be more secure, reliable and efficient than many of their proprietary couterparts.
Read one critique at Dries Buytaert's site.
Would you like to save $1,000,000,000,000 a year?
Just when the country is in more debt than ever before, an interesting article shows the benefits of using open source to the bottom line.
Full story at Computer World UK.
Linux Live CDs recommended for internet banking
In the last few days Detective Inspector Bruce van der Graaf of the police in New South Wales has recommended using Linux on a live CD for internet banking because of its superior security. This has now been followed up by a similar recommendation in the Washington Post. Since a live CD is a read-only medium, it does not allow any software to be installed by miscreants seeking either to capture the keystrokes as a password is entered or to redirect your browser to point to a fake site instead of the bank's genuine site. Until two-factor authentication becomes standard for financial transactions, this seems like a sensible piece of advice and one which Openstrike supports.
London Stock Exchange migrates to Linux-based trading system
The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has suffered too many problems with its old Microsoft Windows trading system and has now decided instead to go with a Linux-based system from vendors Millennium. In addition to the added reliability, the new system should see around a 7-fold improvement in transaction times.
Read about it at Computerworld.
Ubuntu compared with a proprietary system
There is a detailed piece outlining the real (as opposed to just perceived) benefits in switching to a Linux-based system from a proprietary one.
The full article is at Open Source Magazine.
Is your web site compliant with the standards?
Openstrike is delighted to announce the launch of a new technical resource for web site developers. Web Compliant is a complete reference site for XHTML 1.1, CSS and accessibility in web development. The site is free to use and will help to demystify some of the less obvious considerations when working to the W3C standards.
How to save 50 million euros
It was almost 5 years ago that the French police took the decision to start moving their IT capability to an open source platform (Linux). Now they have reported that by making this change over the intervening time they have saved a staggering €50,000,000 without any degredation in services. Although they do not explicitly state as such, one presumes that the service has actually improved on top of the cost savings. We might not all have IT budgets on quite this scale, but a saving of 70% will be most welcome in any organisation.
Read the story at Ars Technica.
SCO loses (yet) again
Just when you might have thought that they had a branch to cling to, the SCO Group has been handed a rather final denial by judge Kimball.
The full gen is at Groklaw.
Workshop: Managing your web site
A workshop on "Managing your web site and optimisation" was presented by Dr. Peter Houston of Openstrike on the 28th of May 2008. The workshop included advice on making a success of a commercial web presence and optimisation for speed, accessibility and visibility. This breakfast workshop was organised by the local branch of the FSB but was also open to non-members.
Details of other workshops in the same series, including booking forms, are available at FSB Salisbury.
Uruguay orders first XO laptops
The first concrete order for the XO Laptop from the OLPC organisation has been placed by the government of Uruguay. Their order for a quarter of a million laptops indicates that the project is indeed viable and will allow many Uruguayan children to benefit.
Full details at BBC News.
A judgement has been handed down in one of the long-running legal battles between the SCO Group and various open source organisations. In this particular case, the judge has ruled that Novell and not SCO owns the copyright to Unix. This lynchpin decision means that the rest of SCO's claims are likely to be dismissed without argument.
This is a major development and excellent news for Linux in particular and open source software in general. While not being much a surprise to anyone involved, it is still a very welcome endorsement of Linux.
Firefox hits 24% usage share in Europe
The popular open source web browser Firefox has reached an incredible 24% of the active use in Europe since its launch just 18 months ago. Given that this is just one of the available open source browsers, it seems reasonable to suppose that more than a quarter of European web traffic comes from purely open source browsers.
As more and more computer users come to appreciate the improved stability, security, reliablility, efficiency and ease of use of open source systems we can expect the popular support for closed source browsers to continue to decrease at an accelerating rate.
Full details from One Salient Oversight.
OSDL and the Free Standards Group to merge
Two of the more respected open source organisations are merging to combine their influence and resources in a single new body - The Linux Foundation. This new group will be headed up by the current executive director of the Free Standards Group.
Read more at Consortium Info.
Birmingham City Council moves its desktops to open source
Following a year-long trial of Linux on the desktop, the city council in Birmingham has chosen to proceed with the rollout of open source operating systems and applications across its workforce. The initial pilot, which was assisted by the Open Source Academy, has converted 96 public desktops and 134 staff desktops to open source applications and the migration to an open source OS is expected to follow next year.
Details at Techworld.
Openstrike provides free integer conversion tools
Openstrike has today announced the introduction of two new integer conversion tools on their web site which are free to use by the public. The two tools allow conversion between decimal, hexadecimal and binary numbers and have been written using the open source language Perl.
French Government to go open source
The French National Assembly is converting to open source software on the desktop in time for the next session. Our European neighbours again demonstrate their forward thinking and their elected representatives are leading by example. It is significant that this is a desktop deployment to dovetail in with their previous conversions on the server side.
Full story at PC Advisor.
Malmaison migrates to Linux for stability
The hotel chain Malmaison is migrating its IT infrastructure away from isolated legacy DOS platforms to an integrated one based upon Linux. Chris Lewis, the IT manager at Malmaison said, "We are switching to an email messaging system running on a Linux-based product because we find it stable and cost-effective, and peer-reviewed software does not tie you to one standard or to one vendor."
This story is covered in depth by Computing.
22,000 schoolchildren in one state are now using Linux
The state of Indiana in the USA has already migrated 22,000 schoolchildren onto Linux desktops running open source applications, with a view to rolling the programme out to cover the 1 million children in the entire state in the near future. The lower support costs due to increased reliability and security, coupled with the lack of licensing fees mean that up to 100 million dollars can now be directed at education instead.
CRN have all the details.
Extremadura calls time on closed source and closed standards
In a landmark meeting on the 25th of July 2006, the local adminstration of the Spanish region of Extremadura elected to expand upon their previous commitment to open source software to the extent that the entire public sector will be migrated to open source and open standards within a year.
Techworld has the full article.
Get the facts - Linux has lower TCO
It's official - Linux has a lower Total Cost of Ownership. A new study by EMA has confirmed what most people knew all along. Due to copyright restrictions we are unable to quote directly from the report here, but the figures on virus and spyware activity are well worth a read.
"Extremely Critical" flaw exposed in Internet Explorer
The closed-source browser Internet Explorer (sold by Microsoft) has yet again come under fire for its risible security record. A flaw discovered some six months previously and not yet patched by the manufacturers has been exposed as being far worse than originally feared. While initially thought just to cause a Denial of Service, the flaw can now be shown to allow arbitrary code execution on a computer running the broken browser. The severity of this problem has caused security firm Secunia to release an almost unprecedented Extremely Critical advisory.
Lockheed chooses Linux for mission-critical defence system
Concurrent, the distributors of RedHawk Linux have announced that Lockheed Martin have chosen RedHawk as the operating system behind the Theater High Altitude Area Defese program for the USA Army. The key factors were the precision and guaranteed response time of the operating system. This rather contradicts anyone who might claim that open source software is in any way unsuitable to mission-critical applications.
The full details are available on the Business Wire web site.
PCG demands answers on IR35
The PCG has called on the Paymaster General to the Treasury to come clean about the financial burden to the taxpayer of the current policies regarding IR35 investigations. As a business offering contractual services in the United Kingdom, and a member of the PCG, Openstrike is in full support of this action and awaits the government's response with interest.
The full announcement is available on the PCG web site.
Massachusetts says no to closed standards
According to an article on Forbes, the US state of Massachusetts will be ordering all of the public sector employees of the state to use only open standards for their documents. The report in question specifically mentions OpenDocument and PDF as the only permitted formats.
Major internet spy ring used flaws in proprietary browser
It has recently come to light that a criminal group has harvested a vast amount of private, personal data from computers running the proprietary browser Internet Explorer. A representative from Sunbelt, the company which uncovered the spyware said that the scale of the theft was unimaginable. Once more this highlights the danger involved in using proprietary network applications.
This story is detailed at Infoconomy.
Norwegian government signals the end for proprietary formats
In a move towards greater freedom the government of Norway has announced that it will no longer accept communications in proprietary formats. This is fantastic news for everyone connected with open standards and raises the bar for the rest of Europe.
The announcement was covered by The Register.
Open source laboratory opens for public sector
The government has launched a new open source laboratory for public sector organisations to use in evaluating open source without any impact on their live systems. This is an excellent opportunity for such organisations to fully explore the power, reliability and flexibility of open source systems in a controlled environment.
More details are available at ZD Net.
Linux use in enterprise databases doubles in a year
A recent report from Gartner has shown that in the last 12 months, revenue from Linux-based database servers has increased by a massive 118%. Over the same period, the market as a whole expanded by just 10%.
ZD Net have a full story on this report.
Open Source is the right choice for schools claims independent body
Both primary and secondary schools in the UK can benefit substantially by using open source software instead of proprietary operating systems and applications. This unsurprising news comes from no less a body than Becta (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) which has vowed to continue and extend its research in this area.
Online banks to recommend Linux to customers for security
According to ZDNet, the Australian company Cybersource is in discussions with major banks to use the inherent security in Linux live CDs to help protect their customers. The open source browser FireFox is used on the CDs for extra security so the bank does not need to worry about their customers using insecure proprietary browsers or operating systems.
Developing world to get $100 PC running open source software
According to Red Herring, Nicholas Negroponte is working with several leading technology companies to put together a personal computer for sale to governments in developing countries for a unit price of just $100 (approximately £57). Naturally, this PC will run open source software so that the users will be free from crippling licensing restrictions.
Financial sector use of Linux more than doubles in a year
As recently reported by Finextra, the number of wholesale finance organisations supporting Linux has increased from 27% in 2004 to a massive 58% in 2005. With over half of the sector now actively involved with Linux, there can be no doubt that this technology is highly valued in this demanding sector.
UN organisation releases desktop Linux guide
The International Open Source Network (IOSN), an organisation funded by the United Nations has released a User Guide to Linux on the desktop. Its aim is to provide assistance to developing communities who wish to harness the undoubted power of such open source systems.
BBC relies on Linux for Olympic coverage
The BBC has chosen Linux to power its coverage of the Olympic games in Athens this summer. This very high-profile deployment of an open source operating system showcases the benefits which it brings in terms of efficiency and reliability to the world's pre-eminent broadcasting organisation.
Full story at Computing.
Linux replaces proprietary solution for the French Ministry of Equipment
Continuing the recent trend, the Ministry of Equipment in France has chosen Linux to replace its current proprietary systems. 1500 servers are being upgraded to the new software now, with the possibility of one million desktop computers to follow.
Full story at ZD Net.
Online cable shop opens
Openstrike has launched a new online shop for the provision of custom made ethernet cables. These superior cables, which have in the past been used by Openstrike in the installation of computer networks for our clients, are now available to the general public through this new site.
Bergen switches to Linux
Yet another major european city has announced the migration of its core public sector IT infrastructure from proprietary to open source systems.
“In addition to the IT-based benefits from migrating to Linux, we attain a business model that doesn't tie us to a single vendor's solution architecture. By migrating to Linux, the City of Bergen has a business model that is open and democratic and, we believe, that will ensure a greater degree of freedom of choice, more efficient operation and major cost savings that will benefit the citizens,” said Janicke Runshaug Foss, CIO of the City of Bergen.
Full story at ZD Net.
Microsoft admits that open source is the way forward
Following its overtly robust position against the open source movement, Microsoft has finally realised what we've all known for many years - that open source is indeed the way forward. The Redmond behemoth is dipping its toe in the water with a release of the code for its WiX software.
Read the shocking truth at ZD Net.
Government publishes open source consultation document
The Office of the E-Envoy has published a cosultation document on the use of open source software and open standards within the public sector. This is an excellent opportunity for software suppliers and their customers to put forward the arguments for open source systems.
Small firms worry about reliance on Microsoft
According to a recent survey it seems that SMEs are slowly waking up to the fact that having a single supplier for all of their IT systems puts them at a serious disadvantage. A staggering 72% of small businesses want to lessen the dominance of Microsoft's products in their operations.
Read more at ZD Net.
Paris considers open source migration
Hot on the heels of Munich's decision to switch to Linux, it appears that the French capital is considering taking the same path. Can this be in response to the recent MyDoom carnage? It certainly looks like a contributing factor given the timing. Another possibility is that the blustering response from Microsoft to the news that parts of its codebase have been leaked has posed the question: What do they have to hide?
Full story at ZD Net.
Microsoft's Gates to get knighthood shocker
To the total bemusement of the entire UK information technology industry, Bill Gates, the man who has done more than anyone else to drag the word “computing” through the mud, is to be given an honorary knighthood for his outstanding contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the UK. One can only wonder if Saddam Hussein is to be similarly commended for his outstanding contribution to international diplomacy.
Gory details at ZD Net.
Linux 2.6 is released
2.6 is here. The first production release is now available and things are looking pretty good so far.
Full story at ZD Net.
1 in 4 SMEs are trying Linux
In an IBM survey, the astounding success of Linux in reaching the SME market is revealed. One quarter of SMEs are actively engaged in Linux trials, with half expecting to replace their current proprietary system with the open source OS in the near future.
Full story at ZD Net.
Openstrike partners with Thawte Consulting
Openstrike has become a referral agent for Thawte Consulting and we are now in a position to offer SSL certificates for securing web servers and for code signing through our new partners at Thawte. SSL certificates are essential for encrypting communications between web browsers and web servers and must be used by e-commerce sites or those transmitting or receiving any sensitive information such as medical or financial records. To find out more about encrypting your web traffic or to obtain an SSL-enabled web server, please call us on 01722 770036 today.
More security flaws in MS Windows and Exchange
Yet more security problems have been found both in Microsoft's email and groupware server (Exchange) and in the underlying operating system (Windows).
Read more at CERT
MS Internet Explorer flaws outlined (again)
The latest in the very long list of security lapses with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser have provoked an angry respose from the internet security fraternity. If you use this insecure browser, you should consider one of the more secure alternatives.
Read more at internetnews.com
Business First 2003
It was great to see so many of you at the show. We hope you found it as useful and beneficial as we did. Congratulations to our prize draw winner, Terry Brotherhood of Planned Occasions, who wins a day of consultancy at his premises. Congratulations also to the four runners-up: Song Xu of Slemba, James Grant of Business Finance Partners, Kim Chapman of Chapman Design Associates and Maria Mina of 4ward coaching - we will be in touch soon to help you choose your UK domain names!
Openstrike were exhibiting at Business First 2003 in Croydon on the 8th and 9th of October. There were demonstrations of Linux on the desktop, a chance to talk about the benefits of open source, and a competition to win a day of on-site consultancy. The white paper “How Open Source Software Benefits Business” which was available at the show can be downloaded here in PostScript or PDF format.
Another virus rampaging across the net is called Sobig. You may have heard of this one, and if you are running a proprietary email client, you could well have been infected. Why run the risk? Switch to open source and have peace of mind as well as a healthier bank balance. Everyone wins, except for the peddlers of insecure, inferior software.
Read about it at C-Net.
Of course, users of open source operating systems are immune to the notorious MS Blaster worm which only affects those running Microsoft's proprietary operating systems. Do you use anti-virus software? Are you happy to pay one company to protect you from defects in the software you bought from another company? We thought not. Call us today to discuss the open source alternatives.
Read about it at ZD Net.