Open source fights against COVID-19, Google's new security tool written in Python, 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 open source solutions for COVID-19, Google's new security tool, code cleanup software from Uber, and more!

Using open source in the fight against COVID-19

When COVID-19 started its march around the world, open source stepped up to try to help stop it. That includes using open data to create tracking dashboards and apps, designing ventilators, and developing protective gear.

Scientists at the University of Waterloo in Canada have teamed with artificial intelligence firm DarwinAI to create an open source tool "to identify signs of Covid-19 in chest x-rays." Called COVID-Net, it's neural network "that is particularly good at recognizing images." The dataset the researchers are using is available on GitHub, which includes a link the software.

Additionally, many open source hardware projects are underway to expedite the search for a cure. 

Google releases tool to fight USB keystroke injection attacks

One of the sneakiest and potentially most malicious ways to hack a computer is a USB keystroke injection attack. Using a compromised USB device connected to a computer, a hacker can run commands without you even noticing. Google's making it easier for Linux users to fight back against these kinds of attacks by releasing an open source detection tool.

Called USB Keystroke Injection Protection, the tool detects "if the keystrokes have been made without human involvement". It does that by measuring "the timing of keystrokes coming from connected USB devices." Sebastian Neuner of Google's Information Security Engineering Team said that while the USB Keystroke Injection Protection tool isn't the last word in defense against these kinds of attacks, but offers "another layer of protection and to defend a user sitting in front of their unlocked machine by them seeing the attack happening."

You can find the Python source code for the tool on GitHub.

Uber makes code deletion tool open source

As applications get bigger, they often contain code that's either no longer used or which is obsolete. That added code make software more difficult to maintain. To help solve the problem of quickly finding that redundant code, Uber recently open sourced a tool called Pirhana.

Pirhana scans code for feature flags, looking for ones that are no longer used. The software then deletes the unused flags from the code. At the moment, Pirhana works with software written in the Objective-C, Swift, and Java languages. Uber's developers hope the number of supported languages will increase "now that outside developers have an opportunity to contribute to the project."

You can grab Pirhana's source code from its repository on GitHub

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.


Exited of COVID-Net idea

It seems to me that the most important "Open Source" software used against Covid-19 - at least from the scientific point of view - is Coot. The authors of all of the scientific publications using exerimental data for 3D atomic modelling use it. Coot is widely used in academia, the pharmaceutical industry and biotech - it is a scientific application, not designed to make pretty pictures and not useful for the public which is why you (probably) have not heard about it. Coot is based Guile, Python, Gtk+, OpenGL and the GSL. (I may be a bit biased though.)

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