Ubuntu forums hacked, Tux the penguin joins the NRA

Today in Open Source: Hacker steals user info from Ubuntu forums. Plus: Did ad blockers destroy The H? Canonical needs money for an Ubuntu phone

Ubuntu Forums Hacked, Tux Joins the NRA

Last weekend the Ubuntu forums were hacked. Canonical has posted a notice indicating that the forum's attackers garnered quite a bit of information about forum users. Apparently, the hacker got every user's username, password and email address from the forum database.

Strangely, there was a graphic posted there of a penguin with a gun. That's quite the odd image for a hacker to use for a discussion forum about a free Linux distribution. Did Tux the penguin join the NRA or what? Bizarre is the only word I can use to describe it.

(That's supposed to be Tux, the penguin mascot of Linux, waving an AK-like assault weapon in his flippers.)

It's hard to imagine what the hackers hoped to achieve by taking out a bunch of free forums for a free distro of a free operating system.

More at Naked Security

This does not bode well for people participating in that forum in the future, they are going to be nervous about such a thing happening again, and for good reason. The Canonical folks are working to restore forum service.

I'm very sorry to see this happen, it's so pointless and destructive. Those forums existed to help people learn and grow as Ubuntu users. It's a shame to see them down like this, for no reason other than that somebody wanted to act out in a mean spirited way.

I look forward to seeing the Ubuntu forums return to service, better than ever.

The H Closes Down

It's a sad day today, The H is closing down. Apparently the site has not been able to effectively monetize its traffic to stay afloat financially.

Although The H has produced many widely read stories, it has not been possible to effectively monetise that traffic to produce a working business model.

Because of this, after four and a half years as The H and six years online, The H is, sadly, closing its doors. We thank all our readers for their deep interest and engagement. Work is taking place to create an archive to ensure that the content of the site will remain publicly accessible.

More at The H

I'll hazard a few guesses as to why this has happened, though I do not know the specific details.

1. Ad blockers - The use of ad blockers has become prevalent among many people, particularly tech savvy users that would frequent a site like The H. I know from my own blogs that some Linux folks tend to use ad blockers.

That's fine as far as it goes, but what happens when the sites you love die a slow death financially and shut down like The H? Yes, blocking a site's ads really does matter. I encourage you to whitelist all of the sites you love and enjoy. Or they may not be there tomorrow.

I wrote about this in more detail a while back in a column called "The Web's Welfare Readers" and, unfortunately, I think things have gotten worse.

2. CPM Rates - CPM rates from ad networks seem to have plunged over the last year or so. This is a catastrophe for non-corporate sites and blogs that cannot command premium CPM rates, and thus rely on whatever they can get from ad networks.

We'll probably see more open source and linux blogs and sites closing down in the days ahead. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so. It means that we'll see a less diverse selection of content, and we'll lose different perspectives on what's happening in the open source space.

Canonical Seeks 32 Million Dollars for Ubuntu Phone

Speaking of needing money, Canonical is looking for $32 million dollars to launch an Ubuntu phone. While I'm generally supportive of such efforts, I have to wonder if we need yet another mobile phone platform.

Android and iOS both command huge market share, and I'm just not sure that an Ubuntu phone offers much that will be compelling enough to get people to switch. Sure, it's cool that your Ubuntu phone can be plugged into a monitor, and turned into a full desktop computer. But do we really need such an odd feature? Would you use your phone as a desktop computer?

Perhaps I'm being too pessimistic here. I do believe in choice, so I don't think it will hurt for an Ubuntu phone to be released. I'm just not sure it will live very long.

Canonical unveiled details regarding the first smartphone to run Ubuntu for phones on Indiegogo, where it hopes to generate $32 million of funding to move the device into production. The Ubuntu Edge will ship in May 2014 with dual-boot Android support, a full Ubuntu desktop in docking mode, a 4.5-inch 1280 x 720 display, 128GB of storage, and the “fastest available multicore processor.”

More at Linux Gizmos

What's your take on all of this? Tell me in the comments below.

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