Linux Foundation prepares for disaster, new anti-tracking data set, Mozilla goes back to mobile OSes, and more open source news

Catch up on the biggest open source headlines from the past two weeks.
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In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at the Linux Foundation's disaster relief project, DuckDuckGo's anti-tracking tool, open textbooks, and more!

Linux Foundation unveils Project OWL

When a disaster happens, it's vital to keep communications links up and running. One way to do that is with mesh networks. The Linux Foundation has unveiled Project OWL to "help build mesh network nodes for global emergency communications networks."

Short for Organisation, Whereabouts, and Logistics, OWL is firmware for Internet of Things (IoT) devices that "can quickly turn a cheap wireless device into a ‘DuckLink’, a mesh network node". Those devices can connect to other, similar devices around them. OWL also provides an analytics tool that responders can use for "coordinating resources, learning about weather patterns, and communicating with civilians who would otherwise be cut off."

New open source tool to block web trackers

It's no secret that sites all over the web track their visitors. Often, it's shocking how much of that goes on and what a threat to your privacy that is. To help web browser developers better protect their users, the team behind search engine DuckDuckGo is "sharing data it's collected about online trackers with other companies so they can also protect your privacy."

That dataset is called Tracker Radar and it "details 5,326 internet domains used by 1,727 companies and organizations that track you online". Browser Radar is different from other tracker databases in that it "annotates data with other information, like whether blocking a tracker is likely to break a website, so anyone using it can pick the best balance of privacy and convenience."

Tracker Radar's dataset is available on GitHub. The repository also links to the code for the crawler and detector that work with the data.

Oregon Tech embracing open textbooks

With the cost of textbooks taking an increasingly large bite out of the budgets of university students, more and more schools are turning to open textbooks to cut those costs. By embracing open textbooks, the Oregon Institute of Technology has save students $400,000 over the last two years.

The school offers open textbooks for 26 courses, ranging "from chemistry and biology, to respiratory care, sociology and engineering." Although the textbooks are free, university librarian John Schoppert points out that the materials are of a high quality and that faculty members have been "developing lab manuals and open-licensed textbooks where they hadn’t existed before and improved on others’ materials."

Mozilla to help update feature phone OS

A few years ago, Mozilla tried to break into the world of mobile operating systems with Firefox OS. While that effort didn't pan out, Firefox OS found new life powering low-cost feature phones under the name KaiOS. Mozilla's jumping back into the game by helping "modernize the browser engine that's core to the software."

KaiOS is built upon a four-year-old version of Mozilla's Gecko browser engine. Updating Gecko will "improve security, make apps run faster and more smoothly, and open [KaiOS to] more-sophisticated apps and WebGL 2.0 for better games graphics." Mozilla said its collaboration will include "Mozilla's help with test engineering and adding new low-level Gecko abilities."

In other news

Thanks, as always, to staff members and Correspondents for their help this week.

That idiot Scott Nesbitt ...
I'm a long-time user of free/open source software, and write various things for both fun and profit. I don't take myself all that seriously and I do all of my own stunts.


The link is accessible from some places outside the US (I'm in New Zealand).

The linked news article itself also doesn't link to the textbooks.

In reply to by Marius Marius MM (not verified)

Thanks for this good read, linux is indeed the os of future.

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