Software

The Audacity: Audio tool finds new and exciting ways to annoy contributors with a Contributor License Agreement

Is that a tuning Fork we hear?


The saga of the Audacity takeover continued this week with the announcement of a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) by the project's new owners.

Contributors to Audacity will be expected to sign the agreement in order to give code to the project. "The purpose of the CLA," stated the explanation, "is to provide future flexibility in altering (ie, uplicensing, dual licensing) for the entire Audacity project, not just the parts of the code that we have written ourselves."

The audio tool is currently licensed under GPLv2 and plans are afoot to update the licence to GPLv3. However, in defence of the CLA, Audacity cited platforms such as Apple's App Store that have "policies or technical processes that make it difficult or impossible for Audacity to exist on them while it is licensed solely under the GPL (v2 or v3)."

Hmm. It is certainly possible to get code into the App Store without going all-in with a CLA – products such as the open source Nextcloud seem to have found ways to deal with Apple's needs.

Paid-for services, but Audacity itself still free

While insisting that Audacity would remain free and open source, the company noted that separate paid-for cloud services would probably be turning up in the future. It was, however, at pains to point out that a paid version of the product itself was not on the cards, nor were locked features that would require the wielding of a payment medium.

While the concept of a CLA is not alien to the open-source community, it is new to Audacity. Failure to grant MUSECY SM LTD (Audacity's new owner) "the ability to use the Contributions in any way" will result in those contributions being pulled from the platform.

Suffice to say, this has not gone down well with all contributors. Some described the Apple-related excuse as "BS" while others commented: "What you are doing is basically the antithesis of what Open Source stands for, and what allowed Audacity to be the open source success that it is."

Unlike the company's botched telemetry announcement, the CLA has "only" attracted just under 300 thumbs-down clicks and it has been left to Audacity's new owner, Martin Keary (aka tantacrul) to gather feedback. "The CLA was always going to be an issue many contributors would find unpopular," he said.

The Register asked Keary for his take on the reaction to the CLA, but he told us he had nothing to add. ®

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Linus Torvalds says Rust is coming to the Linux kernel 'real soon now'

Maintainer lack of familiarity won't be an issue, chief insists, citing his own bafflement when faced with Perl

At The Linux Foundation's Open Source Summit in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, Linus Torvalds said he expects support for Rust code in the Linux kernel to be merged soon, possibly with the next release, 5.20.

At least since last December, when a patch added support for Rust as a second language for kernel code, the Linux community has been anticipating this transition, in the hope it leads to greater stability and security.

In a conversation with Dirk Hohndel, chief open source officer at Cardano, Torvalds said the patches to integrate Rust have not yet been merged because there's far more caution among Linux kernel maintainers than there was 30 years ago.

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End-of-life smartphone? Penguins at postmarketOS aim to revive it

Alpine-based distro runs on old mobiles abandoned by Android and their manufacturers

A Linux distro for smartphones abandoned by their manufacturers, postmarketOS, has introduced in-place upgrades.

Alpine Linux is a very minimal general-purpose distro that runs well on low-end kit, as The Reg FOSS desk found when we looked at version 3.16 last month. postmarketOS's – pmOS for short – version 22.06 is based on the same version.

This itself is distinctive. Most other third-party smartphone OSes, such as LineageOS or GrapheneOS, or the former CyanogenMod, are based on the core of Android itself.

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Startup rattles tin for e-paper monitor with display fast enough to play video

In grayscale, though. Optimistic plans for daylight-readable display and long-life laptop

E-paper display startup Modos wants to make laptops, but is starting out with a standalone high-refresh-rate monitor first.

The initial plan is for the "Modos Paper Monitor," which the company describes as: "An open-hardware standalone portable monitor made for reading and writing, especially for people who need to stare at the display for a long time."

The listed specifications sound good: a 13.3", 1600×1200 e-ink panel, with a DisplayPort 1.2 input, powered off MicroUSB because it only takes 1.5-2W.

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RISC-V International emits more open CPU specs

First edicts of 2022 include firmware, hypervisor-level specifications

Embedded World RISC-V International has grown its pile of royalty-free, open specifications, with additional documents covering firmware, hypervisors, and more.

RISC-V – pronounced "risk five", and not to be confused with the other architecture of that name, RISC-5 – essentially sets out how a CPU core should work from a software point of view. Chip designers can implement these instruction set specifications in silicon, and there are a good number of big industry players backing it.

The latest specs lay out four features that compatible processors should adhere to. Two of them, E-Trace and Zmmul, will be useful for organizations building RISC-V hardware and software, and the other two could prove important in future, aiding the development of OSes to run on RISC-V computers.

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Leading Arch Linux derivative Manjaro puts out version 21.3

A simpler, easier remix sounds like a good thing, but glitches like these shouldn't be in a point release

Version 21.3 of Manjaro - codenamed "Ruah" - is here, with kernel 5.15, but don't let its beginner-friendly billing fool you: you will need a clue with this one.

Manjaro Linux is one of the more popular Arch Linux derivatives, and the new version 21.3 is the latest update to version 21, released in 2021. There are three official variants, with GNOME 42.2, KDE 5.24.5 or Xfce 4.16 desktops, plus community builds with Budgie, Cinnamon, MATE, a choice of tiling window managers (i3 or Sway), plus a Docker image.

The Reg took its latest look at Arch Linux a few months ago. Arch is one of the older rolling-release distros, and it's also famously rather minimal. The installation process isn't trivial: it's driven from the command line, and the user does a lot of the hard work, manually partitioning disks and so on.

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RISC OS: 35-year-old original Arm operating system is alive and well

1980s refugee, open source, and runs on modern kit

RISC OS, the operating system of the original Arm computer, the Acorn Archimedes, is still very much alive – and doing relatively well for its age.

In June 1987, Acorn launched the Archimedes A305 and A310, starting at £800 ($982) and running a new operating system called Arthur. At the time, it was a radical and very fast computer. In his review [PDF] for Personal Computer World, Dick Pountain memorably said: "It loads huge programs with a faint burping noise, in the time it takes to blink an eye."

Arthur was loosely related to Acorn's earlier MOS, the BBC Micro operating system but looked very different thanks to a prototype graphical desktop, implemented in BBC BASIC, that could charitably be called "technicolor."

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OpenInfra Foundation talks about Directed Funding model for open source projects

Notes rise of 'pay to play' where companies try to buy way into governance – and says this is not that

OpenInfra Berlin OpenInfra still has ideas to share, including an intriguing funding model for open source projects the Foundation discussed at its in-person event last week in Berlin.

The "Directed Funding" initiative – a significant change to how some projects might be funded in the future – is about allowing organizations to fund a specific project rather than seeing their cash spread across projects for which they have no interest.

Jonathan Bryce, CEO and executive director of the OpenInfra Foundation, told The Register this wasn't a case of following a trend in the open-source world that he described as "this kind of pay to play-type scenario."

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Open source 'Office' options keep Microsoft running faster than ever

LibreOffice, Collabora, KDE Gear all updated their Microsoft alternatives – whatever your OS

Fresh versions of three of the bigger open-source application suites just landed for those seeking to break free from proprietary office apps.

LibreOffice is the highest profile of them, and the project recently put out version 7.3.4, the latest release in the Community version of the suite.

The Document Foundation maintains two versions of LibreOffice; the other is the Enterprise branch.

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openSUSE Leap 15.4: The best desktop on the RPM side of the Linux world

The Reg FOSS desk takes the latest stable distro for a spin

Review The Reg FOSS desk took the latest update to openSUSE's stable distro for a spin around the block and returned pleasantly impressed.

As we reported earlier this week, SUSE said it was preparing version 15 SP4 of its SUSE Linux Enterprise distribution at the company's annual conference, and a day later, openSUSE Leap version 15.4 followed.

The relationship between SUSE and the openSUSE project is comparable to that of Red Hat and Fedora. SUSE, with its range of enterprise Linux tools, is the commercial backer, among other sponsors.

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Linux Mint adopts Timeshift from overworked original developer

Team lead Clement Lefebvre takes over maintaining backup tool from UMix creator

The Linux Mint XApps suite of cross-desktop accessories has a new member – the Timeshift backup tool.

The Linux Mint blog post for June revealed that Mint team lead Clement Lefevbre recently took over maintenance of the Timeshift backup tool used in Linux Mint.

Timeshift is akin to Windows System Restore in that it automatically keeps backups of system files. It's not Mint-specific and was originally developed by Tony George. That name might sound familiar as we recently mentioned his company TeeJeeTech as the creator of the original Unity-based remix, UMix.

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