September 9th, 2020
Mozilla's CEO lobbies Europe for a less open web. Inkscape and digiKam drop new releases, while Ubuntu and Thunderbird plan upcoming changes. Plus Chef gets taken off the menu, and the FSFE opens its coffers to deserving causes.
Show Transcript and Links
Mozilla's CEO has written to the EU Commission, urging it to seize a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to remake the Internet. The open letter from Mitchell Baker came in response to an EU consultation prior to the roll-out of a Europe-wide digital strategy, which is expected to put in place legislation around areas such as data sovereignty and user privacy. Even though the vast bulk of Mozilla's revenue still comes from Internet advertisers through search engine royalty deals, Baker urged the Commission to force Internet companies to increase their transparency around advertising, and to clamp down on cross-site tracking. And while there was much in Baker's submission that many web users could get behind, another less welcome thread ran throughout her text. Not for the first time, Baker expressed concern about what she sees as disinformation and harmful content on the Internet, and urged the Commission to tackle the issue. Baker recently held up the censorship by Facebook and YouTube of non-mainstream views on coronavirus as positive examples of the sort of approach that she would like to see, and in her letter called for "careful engagement of expert voices on where the lines can be drawn". In a somewhat Orwellian twist, Mozilla's CEO appears to believe that the Internet won't become what she describes as "an empowering outlet for free expression", until any views that fall outside of the mainstream are hidden away from its users.
• Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker urges European Commission to seize ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity
• [Old] Mitchell Baker on Facebook and YouTube censorship
Let's stay with Mozilla for a moment, but change the tone and bring you some good news about one of its offspring. It looks as though the long-awaited automatic update to the latest version for Thunderbird 68 users is now not so far off. Writing on the project's blog, Ryan Sipes says that the update is likely to happen "soon", and the team has also pulled together a how-to and FAQ to walk users through the impending changes to their encrypted mail setups.
• Updating to Thunderbird 78 from 68
A new version of the open source library behind a host of BitTorrent servers and clients has been released. The update adds support for the latest version of the BitTorrent protocol, and along with it a more secure hashing algorithm for the file distribution service. While not all of the new functionality is backwards compatible, the developers behind libtorrent have been careful to avoid naming conflicts in their code, and as a consequence we're likely to see clients appear that are capable of simultaneously operating in swarms using either version of the protocol.
• BitTorrent v2
A couple of other projects have seen more minor updates since the show was last on air. The Inkscape vector graphics editor has pushed its Selectors and CSS dialog fully into production status, and has also introduced an experimental Scribus PDF export extension, as a step toward better CMYK color space support. Meanwhile, the latest update to the digiKam photo management application brings improved support for Canon CR3 metadata, along with new Batch Queue Manager plugins for fixing up hot pixels, and applying textures over images.
• Inkscape version 1.0.1 patches crashes & bugs
• digiKam 7.1.0 is released
Ubuntu has also been thinking about its corporate customers, and is planning a small change to its Ubiquity installer for their benefit. The update will allow Active Directory configuration details to be entered while the distribution is being installed, and is likely to first see the light of day in its next release.
• Ubuntu installer Active Directory integration
Google has released version 11 of Android. While the update delivers a handful of Pixel- and IoT-specific features, on the whole it feels more like a tidying up exercise than anything else. Which is likely no bad thing, at this point in the mobile operating system's lifecycle. As usual, Google's own Pixel range will be the first to receive the update, but a number of other handset manufacturers have also started pushing out beta images of the new version, and you can find more information in today's shownotes.
• Android 11 is now available in stable for Google Pixel phones and in beta for some OnePlus, Xiaomi, Realme, and OPPO phones
And finally, the Free Software Foundation Europe has put out an initial call to anyone looking for funding to help support the growth of software freedom. The organization will be offering its expertise and financial support to projects and individuals on a more formal basis going forward, and has set up a simple online application process for people to use. For now the organization is offering help with costs that are external to a project, such as printing publicity materials or covering travel expenses, and isn't able to directly fund developers to work on their code.
• Call to apply for FSFE support for your local project