Open source news roundup for May 15-21, 2016

Linksys says 'no' to the FCC, Mozilla expands open source funding, and more news

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In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at Linksys saying no to the FCC's router rules, Mozilla expands its funding for open source projects, a new open source project from LinkedIn, and more.

Open source news roundup for May 15-21, 2016

Linksys to allow open source firmware on its routers

In 2015, the FCC issued a ruling that requires makers of devices like wireless routers must "prevent users from changing any parameters to implement software security to ensure that the devices operate as authorized and cannot be modified." That ruling makes it more difficult for owners of wireless routers to install open source firmware on them.

Ars Technica reports that Linksys will allow users to install open source firmware on its WRT routers. Those routers "will store RF parameter data in a separate memory location in order to secure it from the firmware," writes Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin, which doesn't violate the FCC ruling.

Vince La Duca, router project manager at Linksys, said that "The real benefit of open source is not breaking the rules and doing something with malicious intent. The value of open source is being able to customize your router." However, this only applies to the WRT-branded routers. De Luca noted that "open source is not a value proposition that we are promoting" with other Linksys routers.

Mozilla expands its open source support program

In 2015, the Mozilla Foundation introduced the Mozilla Open Source Support program (MOSS for short). The program provides cash awards to help support free and open source software projects that the organization "uses or relies on." Mozilla announced that it would be expanding MOSS to "any open source project in the world which is undertaking an activity that meaningfully furthers Mozilla's mission."

Mozilla has set aside $1.25 million for this expanded funding, which you can learn more about on the Mozilla wiki. The deadline for applications is May 31, 2016.

LinkedIn open sources its media store software

Media files—like graphics, audio, videos, and PDFs—have become a common sight on the modern web. While software to store and serve media files isn't considered sexy or cutting edge, it is definitely essential for many websites. That includes professional networking site LinkedIn.

Previously, LinkedIn relied on complicated proprietary solution for dealing with media. When that solution no longer cut it, LinkedIn took matters into its own hands. The result is Ambry, which LinkedIn has released as open source. Why open source? Writing on the LinkedIn engineering blog, engineering manager Sriram Subramanian stated that "media pipelines will need to be supported by more companies, especially with the advancement of video and virtual reality. Ambry can play a critical role in this future, and in the future of any company that is interested in diverse kinds of media to a global audience.

The code for Ambry is available on GitHub under an Apache 2.0 license.

Free & Fair offers open source voting technology

Electronic voting is, to put it mildly, controversial. There are a number of objections and roadblocks surrounding electronic voting technology. A major one is that much of the technology electoral authorities purchase or consider is proprietary and closed source.

Free & Fair, a spin-off of computer science firm Galois, is trying to change that. Derek Major of GCN reports that the company "is offering a suite of products to make elections more verifiable, transparent, and secure." It's doing that with "high-assurance, open source software running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware." With that mix of open source software and COTS hardware, electoral bodies can also "save money, avoid vendor lock-in, and easily refresh their systems."

In other news

A big thanks, as always, to the moderators and staff for their help this week. Make sure to check out our event calendar to see what's happening next week in open source.


About the author

That idiot Scott Nesbitt ...
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. You can find me at these fine establishments on the web: The Plain Text Project, Open Source Musings, The...