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LWN.net is a comprehensive source of news and opinions from and about the Linux community. This is the main LWN.net feed, listing all articles which are posted to the site front page.
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Matt Mackall, the creator of the Mercurial source-code management system, has announced that he is ready to move on to a new project. "So over the course of this year, I'm going to gradually remove myself from daily involvement in the project. As lots of people and companies have a lot invested in Mercurial, I'm doing this over a long period of time to make sure it goes smoothly."
Linus has released the 4.5-rc1 prepatch and closed the merge window for this development cycle. "It's a fairly normal release - neither unusually big or unusually small. The statistics look fairly normal too, with drivers being a bit over 70% of the bulk (the big driver areas being gpu, networking, sound, staging, fbdev, but its all over)."
The 4.3.4, 4.1.16, 3.14.59, and 3.10.95 stable kernel updates have been released. They are the first in just over one month, and they contain a fair number of important fixes.
On his blog, Peter Hutterer answers the perennial "is Wayland ready yet?" question by pointing out that it really is not the right question. "The protocol is stable and has been for a while. But not every compositor and/or toolkit/application speak Wayland yet, so it may not be sufficient for your use-case. So rather than asking 'Is Wayland ready yet', you should be asking: 'Can I run GNOME/KDE/Enlightenment/etc. under Wayland?' That is the right question to ask, and the answer is generally 'It depends what you expect to work flawlessly.' This also means 'people working on Wayland' is often better stated as 'people working on Wayland support in ....'. "
Debian has updated fuse (privilege escalation).
Mageia has updated dhcpcd (denial of service).
Just a quick note to point out that the very first LWN Weekly Edition came out on January 22, 1998. So we have now been at it for eighteen years. To say we would have been surprised by that idea in 1998 is a serious understatement. Many thanks to LWN's reader community for keeping us going for all this time!
Linux Foundation leader Jim Zemlin explains the recent changes in the organization's by-laws. "First, The Linux Foundation Board structure has not changed. The same individuals remain as directors, and the same ratio of corporate to community directors continues as well. What we did do was to act on a long-discussed perception that the value we provide to individual supporters could be improved, for the first time in a decade. And that the process for recruiting community directors should be changed to be in line with other leading organizations in our community and industry." He also speaks out against the personal attacks that have appeared in conversations about this change.
Version 1.6 of the Rust programming language has been released. "The largest new feature in 1.6 is that libcore is now stable! Rust’s standard library is two-tiered: there’s a small core library, libcore, and the full standard library, libstd, that builds on top of it. libcore is completely platform agnostic, and requires only a handful of external symbols to be defined. Rust’s libstd builds on top of libcore, adding support for memory allocation, I/O, and concurrency. Applications using Rust in the embedded space, as well as those writing operating systems, often eschew libstd, using only libcore. libcore being stabilized is a major step towards being able to write the lowest levels of software using stable Rust."
Mageia has updated bind (two vulnerabilities), cacti (three vulnerabilities), dhcp (denial of service), encfs (code execution from 2014), kernel (privilege escalation), kernel-linus (privilege escalation), kernel-tmb (privilege escalation), moodle (two vulnerabilities), and perl, perl-PathTools (taint botch).
Red Hat has updated java-1.6.0-sun (multiple vulnerabilities), java-1.7.0-openjdk (RHEL6; RHEL5&7: multiple vulnerabilities), java-1.7.0-oracle (multiple vulnerabilities), java-1.8.0-openjdk (RHEL7; RHEL6: multiple vulnerabilities), and java-1.8.0-oracle (RHEL6&7: multiple vulnerabilities).
Scientific Linux has updated java-1.8.0-openjdk (SL6: multiple vulnerabilities).
The LWN.net Weekly Edition for January 21, 2016 is available.
On his blog, Matthew Garrett has noted that the Linux Foundation (LF) has dropped the community representatives to its board that were elected by the individual LF members. "The by-laws were amended to drop the clause that permitted individual members to elect any directors. Section 3.3(a) now says that no affiliate members may be involved in the election of directors, and section 5.3(d) still permits at-large directors but does not require them. The old version of the bylaws are here - the only non-whitespace differences are in sections 3.3(a) and 5.3(d). These changes all happened shortly after Karen Sandler [executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy] announced that she planned to stand for the Linux Foundation board during a presentation last September [YouTube link]. A short time later, the "Individual membership" program was quietly renamed to the "Individual supporter" program and the promised benefit of being allowed to stand for and participate in board elections was dropped (compare the old page to the new one)." Garrett speculates that the GPL enforcement suit that the Software Freedom Conservancy is funding against VMware, which is an LF member, is ultimately behind the move. He also notes (the  above) that there is still a community representative from the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) that sits on the LF board.
OSNews reports that the Dutch consumer protection advocacy agency Consumentenbond has sued Samsung, demanding updates for its Android phones. "The Consumentenbond had been in talks with Samsung about this issue for a while now, but no positive outcome was reached, and as such, they saw no other option but to file suit. The Consumentenbond is demanding that Samsung provides two years of updates for all its Android devices, with the two-year period starting not at the date of market introduction of the device, but at the date of sale. This means that devices introduced one or even more years ago that are still being sold should still get two years' worth of updates starting today." (Thanks to Paolo Bonzini)
Unused code is untested code, which probably means that it harbors bugs—sometimes significant security bugs. That lesson has been reinforced by the recent OpenSSH "roaming" vulnerability. Leaving a half-finished feature only in the client side of the equation might seem harmless on a cursory glance but, of course, is not. Those who mean harm can run servers that "implement" the feature to tickle the unused code. Given that the OpenSSH project has a strong security focus (and track record), it is truly surprising that a blunder like this could slip through—and keep slipping through for roughly six years.
Subscribers can click below to read the full story from the week's edition.
Arch Linux has updated kernel (privilege escalation).
CentOS has updated kernel (C5: two remote denial of service vulnerabilities).
openSUSE has updated cups-filters (Leap42.1: code execution).
Oracle has updated kernel (OL5: two remote denial of service vulnerabilities).
Scientific Linux has updated kernel (SL5: two remote denial of service vulnerabilities).
SUSE has updated bind (SLE12-SP1: denial of service).
Ubuntu has updated bind9 (denial of service), ecryptfs-utils (privilege escalation), kernel (15.10; 15.04; 14.04: privilege escalation), libxml2 (two vulnerabilities), linux-lts-trusty (12.04: privilege escalation), linux-lts-utopic (14.04: privilege escalation), linux-lts-vivid (14.04: privilege escalation), linux-lts-wily (14.04: privilege escalation), and linux-raspi2 (15.10: privilege escalation).
This article from Cysec Labs starts a series explaining how return-oriented programming (ROP) can be used to exploit vulnerabilities in the kernel. "ROP techniques take advantage of code misalignment to identify new gadgets. This is possible due to x86 language density, i.e., the x86 instruction set is large enough (and instructions have different lengths), that almost any sequence of bytes can be interpreted as a valid instruction."
Back in 2014, LWN looked at the Meteor web application framework. Now, Meteor's developers are contemplating why it failed to take over the world. "New developers love how easy it is to get started with it, but can get discouraged when they start struggling with more complex apps. And purely from a financial standpoint, it’s hard to build a sustainable business on the back of new developers hacking on smaller apps. On the other hand, many of the more experienced developers who’d be able to handle (and help solve) Meteor’s trickier challenges are turned off by its all-in-one approach, and never even give it a chance in the first place." They promise the imminent unveiling of a new approach that is going to address these problems.
The CyanogenMod developers have announced that they will be shutting down the WhisperPush secure messaging system (covered here in 2013). "We’ve ultimately made the decision that we will no longer be supporting WhisperPush functionality directly within CyanogenMod. Further, WhisperPush services will be end-of-lifed beginning Feb 1st 2016. As this is a server side implementation, all branches of CM from CM10.2 and forward will be affected."
Two of the earliest figures in the Linux community were Lars Wirzenius and Joey Hess. So when the former offered us an interview with the latter, we were quick to accept. Click below (subscribers only) for Joey's views on his departure from Debian, Haskell development, off-the-grid living, and more.
Debian has updated kernel (multiple vulnerabilities, including one from 2013).
Perception Point discloses a use-after-free vulnerability in the kernel's keyring subsystem; it is exploitable for local privilege escalation. "If a process causes the kernel to leak 0x100000000 references to the same object, it can later cause the kernel to think the object is no longer referenced and consequently free the object. If the same process holds another legitimate reference and uses it after the kernel freed the object, it will cause the kernel to reference deallocated, or a reallocated memory. This way, we can achieve a use-after-free, by using the exact same bug from before. A lot has been written on use-after-free vulnerability exploitation in the kernel, so the following steps wouldn’t surprise an experienced vulnerability researcher." This bug, introduced in 3.8, looks like a good one to patch quickly; of course, for vast numbers of users of mobile and embedded systems, that may not be an option.
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