IBM Closes Red Hat Acquisition, Kaidan 0.4.0 Released, Android Apps Can Track You Even If You Deny Permission, Debian Edu 10 “Buster” Now Available and MIT Researchers Create New AI Programming Language

News briefs for July 9, 2019.

IBM closes its acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion. From the press release: "The acquisition redefines the cloud market for business. Red Hat's open hybrid cloud technologies are now paired with the unmatched scale and depth of IBM's innovation and industry expertise, and sales leadership in more than 175 countries. Together, IBM and Red Hat will accelerate innovation by offering a next-generation hybrid multicloud platform. Based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes, the platform will allow businesses to securely deploy, run and manage data and applications on-premises and on private and multiple public clouds." In addition, the release notes that IBM will preserve Red Hat's independence and neutrality, and also that "Red Hat's unwavering commitment to open source remains unchanged".

Kaidan 0.4.0 has been released. This version of the "user-friendly Jabber/XMPP client" comes after a year and a half of development and now includes "multiplatform-support for all common operating systems like Linux, Windows, Android and macOS". See the ChangeLog for all the details.

Android apps can track your phone even if you deny permissions. According to The Verge, "researchers say that thousands of apps have found ways to cheat Android's permissions system, phoning home your device's unique identifier and enough data to potentially reveal your location as well." The article notes that even if you deny permission to one app, "a second app with permissions you have approved can share those bits with the other one or leave them in shared storage where another app—potentially even a malicious one—can read it. The two apps might not seem related, but researchers say that because they're built using the same software development kits (SDK), they can access that data, and there's evidence that the SDK owners are receiving it. It's like a kid asking for dessert who gets told 'no' by one parent, so they ask the other parent."

Debian has released Debian Edu (also known as Skolelinux) 10 "Buster". This distro is "based on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network". The Debian Edu developer team is asking users to test and report any issues back to debian-edu@lists.debian.org, so they can continue to improve it. See the Debian Edu Wiki page for a list of all the new features and updates.

MIT researchers used Julia to create Gen, "a new probabilistic programming system with programmable inference". From MIT News: "Users write models and algorithms from multiple fields where AI techniques are applied—such as computer vision, robotics, and statistics—without having to deal with equations or manually write high-performance code. Gen also lets expert researchers write sophisticated models and inference algorithms—used for prediction tasks—that were previously infeasible." The article also notes that "Due to its simplicity—and, in some use cases, automation—the researchers say Gen can be used easily by anyone, from novices to experts."