LAS, hosted by GNOME

Sri and many members of our community have spearheaded a wonderful new conference named Libre Application Summit. It’s hosted by the GNOME Foundation and has aspirations to bring together a wide spectrum of contributors.

This conference is meant to bridge a gap in Free Software communication. We need a place for application and game developers, desktop developers, systems implementers, distributions, hardware producers, and driver developers to communicate and solve problems face to face. There are so many moving parts to a modern operating system that it is very rare to have all of these passionate people in the same room.

This will be a great place to learn about how to contribute to these technologies as well. It seems likely that I’ll do tutorial workshops and other training for participants at LAS.

I’m very excited to see where this conference goes and hope to see you in Portland come September!

Secure from whom

Side-channel attacks are a thing, this is true. But they also cost a lot of time and money to develop. If you want something that can be applied to more than just a single target, that cost explodes. That is why the two most common places where side-channel attacks are developed are nation states and universities specializing in that research.

What is not helpful, beyond informing people of the existence of them, is to simply state that side-channel attacks exist and therefore nothing is secure. Even more so without demonstrating how they are real-word applicable and how that information should alter the direction of development.

Security is a nebulous word and is almost always used as an incomplete sentence. It lacks an important qualifier. Secure from whom.

Creating a side-channel attack almost always requires knowing a bit about your target. Doubly so for something as delicate as timing attacks. Also, don’t forget to take into account development time for said attacks. If the software changes at a rate faster than you can develop your exploit, well, that’s note worthy.

Making it more difficult for an application to extract information from outside the containment zone does in fact protect the user from practical attacks which do not require a nation state to develop. It also most certainly cannot protect you from everything. Such is the reality of existence. I’m not safe from a meteorite hitting me but my risk assessment shows everything is going fine and it is not worth the mental stress to worry about.

So in summation, I’m far more interested in focusing on our ability to get security fixes out to users in a timely fashion. Herd immunity can work for software too.

Builder 3.20.4

Those of us happy hackers in #gnome-builder have been diligently preparing 3.20.4 for you. I expect that most people will end up using this version during the 3.20 life-cycle as the big distros are starting to ship 3.20. We might do another 3.20 release, but I haven’t decided. There are lots of stability and performance improvements, and I’m pretty happy with where things are going.

Now that this release is out, it is probably time to start pushing hard on our 3.22 features. I’m happy to have Fangwen Yu working on Builder this summer on our search and replace engine. We have some great mockups in the works and I have no doubt Fangwen is going to do a great things with the code-base.

A few screenshots, because that’s what I’m known for.

Screenshot from 2016-05-06 18-17-10

Screenshot from 2016-05-06 18-20-29

Screenshot from 2016-05-06 18-22-38

Tarballs can be found on