October 14th, 2020
KDE Plasma and Krita land new releases, and an updated BBC micro:bit is coming soon. Pine touts a new device, Plausible looks to protect itself with a license change, LibreOffice pleads with OpenOffice to fall on its sword, and much more.
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The Board of Directors of The Document Foundation has written an open letter to Apache OpenOffice, effectively imploring that project to shut up shop. The letter points out how little development OpenOffice has seen in recent years, and suggests that even if the project wants to continue supporting its legacy users, it ought to recognize that LibreOffice is much more actively developed and supported. The Document Foundation suggests that rather than trading on a brand name which still has widespread recognition, the OpenOffice project should be highlighting to users that LibreOffice exists, and informing them that it is a far more modern and better-supported office suite than its own.
• Open Letter to Apache OpenOffice
KDE Plasma 5.20 has been released. While the update brings improved behind-the-scenes support for Wayland, there are plenty of UI changes that will be noticeable to its users — including a reworked notification system, and a redesigned System Tray popup. But perhaps the most immediately obvious change is the switch to displaying only icons in the Task Manager by default, as opposed to more traditional window buttons. But with KDE being so configurable, this change can easily be reverted if the user prefers. And landing alongside the new Plasma desktop yesterday was an update to the KDE Project's raster graphics editor. Version 4.4 of Krita includes a number of new fill layer types, and the application can now take advantage of multithreading to speed up how they are calculated. The update also brings new brush and gradient options, along with additional export and scripting features.
• Plasma 5.20
• Krita 4.4.0 released!
Version 5.9 of the Linux kernel was released at the weekend. The update brings support for zstd compression of initramfs and the kernel itself; and, after many years, the mainlining of FSGSBASE support, which could help speed up operating system context switching. As well as including early support for Intel's Rocket Lake chips that are due to land early next year, the release also includes improved support for older AMD graphics cards, along with a driver for the new Radeon RX 6000 series.
• KernelNewbies: Linux_5.9
And while some gamers will be eagerly awaiting these new graphics cards, retro gaming fans will likely be more interested to know that the ResidualVM project is merging with ScummVM. The long-standing sister projects allow users to play legacy games on platforms that they were never released for, by providing portable script interpreters, rather than attempting to emulate the original hardware. Historically, ScummVM has focused on 2D point-and-click games, while ResidualVM offered support for LucasArts' 3D adventures. As they've developed over the years, the two projects have ended up sharing a lot of common code — and have now decided to pool their efforts under the ScummVM brand.
• ResidualVM announcement
• ScummVM announcement
The last few days have seen a couple of interesting developments on the hardware front. In a forum post, the PINE64 team revealed that it's considering adding another handset to its existing lineup. Named the PineCom, the proposed device is expected to share many hardware components with the existing PinePhone, but have a five-inch or smaller display and no cellular modem — meaning that it would rely on other wireless technologies for connectivity. While pitching the proposed handset as a privacy-first device, Pine is keen to see it support all of the existing OS images available for the PinePhone. The organization is currently looking for feedback on its proposals before deciding on how to proceed, so check out the shownotes to find out more. Meanwhile, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation has announced that it will be releasing an updated version of the BBC micro:bit single board computer next month. The refresh will bring a faster processor, along with more RAM and storage, and for the first time add a microphone and speaker to the board. The edge connector has been redesigned to make it easier to attach alligator clips to the board, and Bluetooth 5 support has been added to the package. The uprated specs mean that the new micro:bit will be more suited to running AI and machine learning tasks using platforms like TensorFlow Lite than its predecessor; and thanks to the introduction of a new universal code format, programs written by students will be able to seamlessly run on either generation of the micro:bit boards.
• Lets create the PineCom
• micro:bit V2
The Plausible web analytics platform has become the latest open source project to change its license in an effort to protect itself from exploitation by corporate competitors. Unlike other projects that have opted to write their own licenses which are open in spirit but not in law, Plausible has chosen to adopt the GNU AGPLv3 for its source code, which is specifically designed to protect software freedom where a program that users access is running on a remote server. While Plausible isn't currently offering to dual license its software under proprietary terms to competitors, it hasn't ruled out that approach as another way of funding the continued development of the project.
• Open source licensing and why we're changing Plausible to the AGPL license
And finally, the Open Invention Network, which provides pooled patent protection for its members, has announced a major expansion in its coverage. Core technologies from projects as diverse as KDE Frameworks, the Android Open Source Project and Automotive Grade Linux, along with components from several major cloud technologies, and Linux implementations of Microsoft's exFAT file system, will all now fall under the protective umbrella of the organization.
• Open Invention Network Announces Continued Expansion of its Open Source Patent Non-Aggression Zone