US$100 Windup Linux Laptop for Schools in Developing Countries

Green things from MIT

This is fairly old news now but MIT have developed a US$100 laptop that runs Linux for distribution to schools in the developing world via government programs. MIT has a website for the laptop (which is not yet in production), but the pictures that are available show it in a rather shocking luminous green colour!

The specs are (according to the FAQ):

The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. This rugged laptop will be WiFi-enabled and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.

There is no “Why that colour ?” question in the FAQ unfortunately..

Critical Internet Explorer exploit in the wild – no fix yet

OK folks – just to make this clear, anyone using Internet Explorer
can be hacked (yeah, I know, what else is new).

Please please please make sure you are using Firefox 1.0.7 on your Windows computer, otherwise your system can potentially be used as a platform to attack other systems and send spam.
Millions of Windows computers around the world are being used for this at present already!

You can always grab the latest version of Firefox from the Mozilla website.

More info on the attack is at

The exploit code, made public on Monday, aims to take advantage of
the “extremely critical” vulnerabilities in IE 5.5 and IE 6 running
on XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), and IE 6 running on Windows 2000 SP4,
security researcher Secunia said in an advisory.

Microsoft has not released a patch for the hole exploited by the code.
People can attempt to work around the problem by either shutting off
JavaScript or using another type of browser, security companies advised.

Random quip from Jabber

Chatting to Rich on Jabber whilst I was trying to chomp all but a small section out of a 60MB log file with vi and it was taking forever, hence the following conversation:

Chris: I need a faster ‘vi’
Rich:: <italic>vi</italic>
Rich:: how’s that?

Thanks Rich, very silly indeed! 🙂

And now it’s finally finished, saying: 805664 fewer lines, phew!

Hayabusa Alive, Scientists Confused

The Planetary Societies Emily Lakdawalla is blogging that Hayabusa tried to land but JAXA ran into communication problems and that the current situation is unclear. There is more information over at website of a blogger (I’m unable to work out his or her name, sorry!) who has been translating the blog of a space journalist (Matsuura San) who is at the press center for the mission.

It appears that JAXA are in two way contact with the probe again after a period of only having a signal (probably just a carrier). The spacecraft was in safe mode, but as JAXA sent an unacknowledged command to go safe it is unclear as to whether it heard them or whether it did it itself as the result of some other problem. They still don’t know if it landed yet, but they do know that it isn’t attached to the asteroid. At first they only had communication via the low gain antenna, but then they were able to reactivate the medium gain antenna from which they are receiving housekeeping data and other telemetry which they believe will tell them if they landed and if the impactor was fired.

mwcollect – simulating an insecure system

This looks like rather a nice tool if you’re curious as to what the black hats are up to at the moment – mwcollect simulates an insecure system and, when attacked, works out whether the exploit is trying to download some remote code and obligingly fetches it for you and quarrantines it for later inspection.

Or at least that’s what it says on the site, I’m blogging this as a bookmark so I can have a play at some point..

Sony Participating in Software Piracy ?

Well well well, it would appear that not only is Sony rootkitting hundreds of thousands of Windoze PC’s around the world, along with making peoples PCs even more insecure when they try and remove it, but they also appear to be possibly infringing peoples copyrights by distributing LGPL libraries as part of their rootkit.

Now the LGPL is a lot less straightforward that the GPL so this looks a lot less clear, but there does appear to be code from two different LGPL libraries in a single ActiveX control installed by the rootkit. To me that looks like it’s covered under section 2 of the LGPL, which implies section 4, which says:

You may copy and distribute the Library (or a portion or derivative of it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange.

If distribution of object code is made by offering access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the source code from the same place satisfies the requirement to distribute the source code, even though third parties are not compelled to copy the source along with the object code.

In other words, if my reading is correct then they should be required to distribute the source code to their library, or be in violation of the license and thus infringe the copyright of the original authors. Now people like the BSA call this “software piracy”. I wonder if they’ve been tipped off about this possible infringement ?

KDE 3.5 RC1 First Impressions

Just upgraded my home Ubuntu with KDE box to KDE 3.5 RC1 and it’s looking pretty nice.

The main thing that jumps out is that Konqueror now passes the ACID2 test that most other browsers (including the latest RC’s for Firefox 1.5, previously called “Deer Park”). This is down to the excellent work that Apple have put in on their Safari browser for OSX which uses WebCore, derived from KDE’s rendering engine, KHTML. They beauty of open source is that Apple have been contributing their work back to the project, leading to these improvements in KDE.

But in general it just seems snappier and sleeker, tweaked, nicer and better – I guess the really radical changes are being lined up for the much anticipated KDE 4!