Released Neubot 0.4.4

Version 0.4.4 is the latest generally-available stable release of Neubot, distributed for Ubuntu >= 10.04, MacOSX >= 10.6,Windows >= XP SP3 and FreeBSD. (Yes, Neubot was recently added to FreeBSD ports collection!) Of course, Neubot 0.4.4 is also available in source format (.tar.gz and .zip).

This release contains 127 patches. The diffstat says: 114 files changed, with 3162 lines inserted and 3832 lines deleted.

Here are the most relevant changes:

  • update to privacy policy 1.5.

    Privacy policy v1.0 allowed Neubot to collect users' Internet address without users' explicit consent, thanks to special provisions that allow researchers to do that. And, while MacOSX installer asked for user permission, other platforms were still exploiting such special provisions by default.

    The novelty of this release is that special provisions are gone and Neubot does not perform any test until the user provides her explicit and informed consent. Of course Neubot notifies the user when it has not enough permissions to run its tests.

    For example, under Windows it opens privacy.html in the default web browser and shows an explanatory message. This is somewhat brute force and I look forward to make Windows installer similar to MacOSX one.

    Similarly, under Ubuntu and Debian it uses libnotify bindings to inform the user that the informed consent is missing. (I initially tried to ask for consent in the installer using debconf, but did not managed to make it work with Ubuntu Software Center. So I fell back to libnotify.) Note that libnotify bindings are not listed in the package dependencies. Which is a problem for Debian machines where libnotify bindings are not installed. (While Ubuntu installs such bindings by default.) I decided not to list libnotify into dependencies because I look forward to spin off a neubot-x11 package that contains all the graphical commands and lists all dependencies.

    Finally, if none of the above method works or you installed from sources, Neubot will print warnings on the standard error and/or on the system log.

    We removed special provisions because we want to always show people the policy and we hope that helps to have as much people as possibile give Neubot the permission to share the IP address (and hence the results) with other researchers. The availability of third party studies from independent researchers will benefit both Neubot authors and users.

    By the way, I've also received some insightful comments on the privacy policy from Eleonora Bassi. And I am working to implement those suggestions to further clarify the privacy policy. But did not managed to include them in 0.4.4.

  • debian pkg: reenable repository after Ubuntu upgrade.

    Thanks to Davide Allavena, who reported the bug, I am now aware that Ubuntu disables third party repos during an upgrade. So I've lifted some code from Google Chrome debian package to reenable Neubot repos after an upgrade.

    Ubuntu users should check whether Neubot repos was disabled during an upgrade and reenable it. Or they can simply manually install this version of Neubot, which includes the fix for the problem.

  • Ubuntu: removed status icon.

    I've removed the status icon code. The reason is that desktops are moving towards removing the notification area and replacing it with libnotify-like notifications.

  • Ubuntu: merged neubot_webkit with the open browser code and renamed it neubot_gui.

    I realized that it was possibile to fallback to opening the default browser when webkit is not available. So I merged already existing code to do that with the existing webkit code. And changed the name because now the scope of the program has changed too. (BTW this command will be the foundation of the above mentioned neubot-x11 pkg.)

  • Ubuntu: more debian-compliant package

    While working on the above-mentioned debconf-enhanced debian installer, I've used pylint to clean up the debian package as much as possible. There are some open issues but overall the quality of the package has increased a lot in this release.

    (Having a 100% compliant package is a necessary condition to ask Debian folks to add Neubot to the official Debian repositories.)

  • Windows: do not install package with "root" privileges so we can start it again at the end of the installation.

    In Neubot 0.4.2 I noticed that the installer was starting Neubot up with "root" privileges and disabled that. In this release I've modified the installer to always run as an ordinary user. Which allows to safely start Neubot at the end of the installation.

    Please, note that this means the new installer cannot uninstall automatically old Neubot packages because it is not privileged. If you have installed an old version of Neubot, you should uninstall that before installing this new version. (If you don't, the installer will abort and tell you that it cannot proceed until you remove at hand the old version.)

    Now Neubot is installed into the user profile directory, e.g. for me::

    C:\Documents and Settings\simone\Neubot\

    An additional reason behind installing Neubot for each user is that I'm going to implement autoupdates. And I don't want to take the security risk of running such autoupdates with high privileges. Given that I'm not a Windows expert and that seems not a trivial task.

  • more code rationalizations, bug and reliability fixes, unit tests.

The release candidates have been tested on Ubuntu 10.10, Windows XP SP3, Windows 7 and MacOSX 10.6.8.

Packages and source archives available here:

ChangeLog here:

Commit history here:

SHA256sums here:

Data here:

People that contributed to this release, with patches, testing and feedback:

    Simone Basso
    Marco Scopesi
    Alessio Palmero Aprosio
    Federico Morando
    Davide Allavena
    Giuseppe Futia