What is GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program? (Open Source Software Focus)

What Is GIMP?

GIMP is a free and open-source program for tasks such as image and photo retouching, editing, free-form drawing, converting image formats, and many more specialized tasks. It is released under the GNU General Public License, allowing you to change its source code and distribute changes.

Much like VLC Media Player, GIMP is extremely modular, allowing users to enhance productivity thanks to customization options and 3rd party plugins.

GIMP  has mass OS support available including GNU/Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, and many more operating systems.

The History of GIMP

GIMP first began as the General Image Manipulation Program. Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis began developing GIMP in 1995 as a semester project at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1996, Kimball and Mattis released GIMP version 0.54 to the public, supporting UNIX systems only. The following year, Richard Stallman of the GNU Project visited UC Berkeley to ask Kimball and Mattis if they could change the General in GIMP to GNU. Thus the acronym GIMP became the GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Shortly after the first release, GIMP’s supported operating systems expanded to many others. This included Microsoft Windows and macOS.

GIMP was quickly adopted by the open-source community and a group of contributors formed. The community continues to develop tutorials, artwork, better work-flow and techniques to this day.

GIMP Main Screen

GIMP is a free, open source tool that lets you create and edit images.

Benefits of GIMP Vs Adobe Photoshop

  1. GIMP is released under the GNU General Public License, making the open-source program completely free. The alternative, Adobe Photoshop CC, costs upwards of $20/month for a single license.
  2. It takes up about 20 times less space than Adobe Photoshop, making the install time much quicker. GIMP also makes it a more size-effective option for laptops and netbooks where hard drive space may not be readily available.
  3. While Adobe Photoshop is very resource intensive and requires more modern specs to run, GIMP is fast and optimized for almost every operating system. Enjoy smooth and stable performance on macOS, Windows, and Unix operating systems.
  4. Because it is open-source, developing and modifying the source code is free for everyone. Developing plugins and new features are a breeze because you don’t need to be approved by Adobe’s development team.
  5. GIMP is portable and can be taken everywhere. A distribution of GIMP is small enough to be loaded onto a USB drive, allowing users to edit photos on the go.
Compiling GIMP 2.8-RC1 for Ubuntu 12.04

Compiling GIMP 2.8-RC1 for Ubuntu 12.04

Giving Back To The Open Source Development Community

Since June 2014, FlashRouters has implemented the open source donation program to support developers and keep their projects going. In our Open Source Focus series our goal is to raise awareness of open source and an open Internet.

We believe these projects are integral to the future of the Internet. With the help of our customers, FlashRouters has donated over $20000 on open source and Internet privacy initiatives. 

Open-Source Firmware Benefits of A FlashRouter

Benefits of FlashRouters

At FlashRouters, we focus on integration and support of the best open-source router technology: DD-WRT and Tomato firmware. These types of open source software include many benefits over closed-source, proprietary software.

A FlashRouter has benefits that include but are not limited to:

  1. The ability to examine the source code for backdoors, vulnerabilities, and security issues.
  2. Updates and security flaws are patched up quickly and efficiently due to many developers working on the firmware.
  3. Upgrades and unlocks your wireless router’s capabilities such as enabling virtual private networks to be used on your home network.

Have any questions on how open-source programs can benefit you? Feel free to contact the FlashRouters team!

Is A Lifetime VPN Really Unlimited?

When it comes to a lifetime VPN, many customers wonder if it will truly last a lifetime. FlashRouters has the inside scoop on “lifetime” or “unlimited” VPNs.

What Is A Lifetime VPN?

A lifetime VPN is a type of VPN plan that has had some attention recently. These plans typically cost a substantial one time fee but allow you to use the service forever. There is no subscription fee for this type of VPN plan.

A quick Google search yields numerous results for lifetime VPN deals, many of which offer very enticing prices.

However, it appears that these deals are offered by a third-party seller and not the VPN providers themselves.

Although these third-party sellers appear reputable and are very well priced, it may just be too good to be true. FlashRouters recommends that you always do your research before making purchases.

How Does A Lifetime Subscription Make Money?

Short answer: it doesn’t.

Running and maintaining a VPN costs a lot of money. Costs include but are not limited to, bandwidth for its users, a large selection of servers around the world, and various development costs.

For example, our friends at ExpressVPN maintain over 1,700 servers in 94 different countries. They also develop their own applications for Windows, Mac, iOS, and even routers.

All things considered, a one time payment for a lifetime VPN would not cover the costs of maintaining a VPN. Simply put, it is unsustainable, which is a reason why you should be weary when considering a lifetime VPN.

Questions About The Unlimited VPN Serivces

Risks of A Lifetime VPN Subscription

One big issue with paying money upfront for a service is not receiving what you paid for. This could be attributed to lifetime VPNs as well.

In a perfect world, a lifetime VPN should last you a lifetime. But as stated above, the business practice is simply unsustainable. In a matter of years or even months, the VPN company will start losing money, potentially going out of business.

Even if the company doesn’t go under, there is no obligation or incentive for them to provide quality support for their lifetime customers because they have already been paid.

As far as privacy goes, these shady companies could be maximizing their profits by selling their customer logs and data to third-parties such as advertisement companies.

Feeling uneasy about lifetime VPNs? Don’t worry, check out some of our favorite, reputable VPN providers including the EU favorite NordVPN and the middle east specialists IPVanish, .

Using A VPN Service With A Performing Router

After selecting a reputable VPN service, the next step to total online privacy coverage and support is a VPN FlashRouter.

With a FlashRouter, your preferred VPN provider can be easily set up to run on your entire home network, effectively shielding your online data from prying eyes such as hackers and the government. All FlashRouters come pre-flashed with open-source firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato, upgrading a router’s capabilities and unlocking its full potential.

Find your perfect FlashRouter today with our easy-to-use router finder!

Blocks from Beijing 2018: More Chinese Internet Censorship

Chinese internet censorship has been a big topic for a while, and especially over the past year. Throughout the summer, the Chinese government have cracked down on the usage of VPNs, gone as far as jailing VPN service sellers and removing all VPN apps from app stores.

So it is obvious from these actions what China thinks of VPNs and their effectiveness on their censorship effort and propagandist information charades. Just over the last few weeks there have been even more instances that if you have friends, family or plan to travel to China in the near future, you should make yourself aware and get prepared.

China Continues Censorship

Recently, Chinese authorities have doubled down on their internet censorship. Authorities have removed foreign TV shows, such as Britain’s The IT Crowd, from streaming platforms.

Chinese internet censorship doesn’t stop there. The Chinese government took it even further with new rules in the Cyberspace Administration of China, or CAC. The CAC limits internet activity for users that don’t disclose identification. Internet users are forced to register with their real names in order to hold them accountable for their speech.

Furthermore, news websites now require a government-approved editorial staff. Reporters for news websites must also be certified by the central government.

These regulations are likely to intensify as time goes on.

Chinese VPN Seller Sentenced To Five Years In Jail

Earlier this year, China set forth a ban on VPN services. As a result, individuals selling or providing VPN services were punished by the full force of the law.

The most recent example that the government is making is of Wu Xiangyang, another VPN service seller.

In June, Xiangyang’s VPN service shut down as a result of the government crackdown. Following an investigation, authorities charged Xiangyang with providing a censorship evasion tool without a proper government license.

Xiangyang made over 500,000 yuan, or $76,000 USD in profit with the VPN. The Chinese government is fining him this amount on top of his prison sentence.

Cyber Security Laptop Worldwide Map

China To Block SD-WAN and VPN Traffic

A new Chinese policy going into effect as of mid January 2018 that will have a serious impact on businesses utilizing SD-WAN or VPNs.

Blocked TCP Ports in China in 2018

A notice from China Telecom states that the Chinese Government will require commercial Chinese ISPs to block many TCP ports. These ports include ports 80, 8080, and 443. These TCP port blocks will go into effect January 11th, 2018.

Port 80 is the TCP port used to carry HTTP traffic. Ports 8080 and 443 are used to carry HTTPS traffic. Commercial ISPs must register and apply to re-open these ports through their local ISP.

For VPN users, this new policy will block VPN access to unregistered services.

SD-WAN Effects Of Chinese Government Restrictions

As for SD-WAN, or software-defined WAN users, these regulations will have a larger impact. While site-to-site connectivity across MPLS or private line will remain unaffected, site-to-site VPNs will be affected. This happens if businesses do not register with their ISPs.

Apple App Store Blocking VPN in China

Apple To Transfer Chinese iCloud Operations To Local Firm

Chinese iCloud customers have been notified of a change in the storage of their data. As of February 28, Apple will be transferring operations of its iCloud storage service to the local firm Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data. This will help Apple comply with new Chinese regulations.

Customers should not be alarmed or see any difference regarding their data. This will improve speed and reliability of iCloud for customers in the region.

Apple reassures customers that their data will be just as safe as before the partnership with GCBD, as their data privacy and security protections are extremely robust. This will ensure that no backdoors will be created on their systems.

China Cracking Down On Website Licenses

State media has reported that China has shut down or revoked licenses for over 13,000 websites since 2015.

Social media platforms also closed nearly 10 million Internet accounts for “violating service protocol.” This is due to violating the country’s Internet rules.

Wang Shengjun, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress states that, “These moves have a powerful deterrent effect.”

A Bleak Future For VPN Usage In China

With the Great Firewall coming into full effect, circumvention techniques are becoming more and more shaky.

One possible way to continue to get around censorship and ensure privacy is through using a VPN Ready Router with alternative open source firmware. One of the primary benefits of configuring VPN through a router rather than a device is that the connection is not based on an app that can be banned or software but on the native firmware that allows for advanced measures and opportunities.

Using a VPN router to secure your home network, allows for higher level protecting all your devices from the prying eyes of the government with a singular more customizable configuration. No matter what VPN service you use for China, setting it up at the router level will allow for the best security oppurtunities.Best DD-WRT Wireless-AD Compatible Netgear Router - R9000 Nighthawk AD7200

The best-of-breed Netgear Nighthawk X10 R9000 AD72000 FlashRouter pictured above is equipped with

  • Top of the line 1.7 GHz processor
  • Future-proofing Wireless-AD technology
  • MU-MIMO Compatibility For Better Connectivity Handling
  • Four powerful external antennas
  • Free Custom Pre-Configuration.
  • Expert Setup Support
  • Open Source Firmware Installation Warranty
  • Fast Worldwide Shipping.

The R9000 is the most powerful FlashRouter currently available. The Nighthawk X10 is your best bet for avoiding the slowdowns that come with pinging back and forth using a VPN server from China to the USA.

However, with the ever-changing rules and regulations of the Chinese government, if you are interested in purchasing a FlashRouter send our expert sales and support teams a message to craft a custom solution for you.

What Is Usenet? The Best Routers for Usenet

One of the many great things about Usenet is its durability. File-sharing systems have come and gone so quickly and unpredictably in the past decade. So it’s nice to see one you can rely on.

So now we like to tell you exactly how you can make the most of it. Whether by using the right service provider sites, or pointing you towards the best routers, we’re going to guide you through proper Usenet usage.

What Is Usenet?

Usenet was initially designed as a sort of Internet bulletin board, which helps explain why there’s still a great deal of strictly text material. For the most part, though, it has been re-purposed as a one-stop shop for any sort of file you might be looking for.

There is one thing that warrants mentioning. Usenet is not structured in the same way as other file-sharing sites that you might be used to. First of all, if you want to get access, you’re going to want to subscribe to a provider. We’ll discuss this further down. Usenet is just not a peer-to-peer service, which you may be more familiar with.

Once you’ve subscribed, you’ll now have access to Usenet’s servers and you can post and see messages they distribute. Since Usenet can only have so much information on its servers, each message has a limited retention time, and they will expire. So, you know, act fast if it’s something that matters to you.

Now, downloading Usenet’s binary content is not so simple. To do so, you’re going to need a downloading assistant of sorts like SABnzbd, which automates the process of translating Usenet’s NZB file format. NZB files, much like torrents, are merely guides towards the files you are looking for. Applications like SABnzbd help simplify the process of downloading the files for yourself.

Sounds pretty complicated and intimidating, right? Well, we assure you, once you get going, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Choosing Service Provider Sites for Usenet

Newshosting: A Usenet Service Provider

Newshosting: One of the Most Popular Usenet Service Providers

There are a number of things to consider when deciding on your Usenet provider. File retention, data transfer caps, the number of connections, and price are all important factors. We decided to focus on five that seemed to offer the best combination of services, though there are plenty of other providers out there with spectacular service that we chose not to highlight here. Anyway, happy hunting!

Best Service Providers for Usenet

Easynews – The thing that distinguishes Easynews from their competitors is right there in the title: it’s easy. As their site says, “every computer you get on already has a newsreader, a Usenet account, and an active Usenet server waiting for you to log onto. That is what Easynews is.” Previews of files that don’t take up your bandwidth, no need to repair or assemble files, and if you get the BigGig plan, you get 150 GB a month.

Astraweb – For sheer value, you can’t do much better than Astraweb. Astraweb offers an unlimited 10 Mbit/s for $10 a month as well as free SSL security coverage on all accounts. What’s more, Astraweb offers 20 simultaneous connections and 2922 days of retention, which is going up all the time.

Giganews – Widely considered to be the leading Usenet providers, Giganews has been serving a loyal and happy base of customers since 1994. And it’s easy to see why. Giganews offers terrific speeds from premium network connections. Better yet, Giganews secures those connections with the help of our friends at VyprVPN. Hard to beat that.

Newshosting – Among the many features that elevate Newshosting over other Usenet service providers is their peerless newsreader. It’s free for all users and makes searching Usenet simple. Otherwise, Newshosting’s appeal is based on great service; unlimited speed and data transfers, free 256-bit SSL encryption, and up to 2923 days of retention.

Thundernews – This is one of the premium Usenet providers. Thundernews offers 50 SSL encrypted connections with 256-bit secure encryption as well as 2923 days of binary retention. At the moment, they’re also offering “the Unlimited Max Usenet + VPN special and a low introductory cost of $7.99 and then a great low price of only $16.99 for both products.”

Best Routers for Usenet

If you want to get the most out of your Usenet service provider, you’re going to need a powerful networking device. Perhaps a router that can handle any amount of traffic you can throw at it. Maybe you even want to integrate a VPN service to protect your downloads?

Enter FlashRouters.

As the video above attests, what we do here is take already powerful routers and flash them with open sourced firmware. Firmware like Tomato and DD-WRT make routers faster, more powerful, and more versatile. Whether you go for one of our sleeker, economy models, or a full-blown networking beast, you’ll be getting a device that will revolutionize your network.

With a FlashRouter, you can enjoy advanced security options, the ability to monitor your bandwidth or extend your wireless range, and even advanced Virtual Private Network options. If you’ve subscribed to any VPN on our supported provider list, you can order a FlashRouter that arrives ready to work with your VPN account right out of the box.

Here are some of the best Flashrouters for Usenet users:

  1. Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT FlashRouter – What’s left to say about this beast? 5300 Mbps speeds over three bands, a killer processor, and 8 powerful antennae speak for themselves
  2. Netgear R7000 AC1900 Nighthawk DD-WRT FlashRouter – The powerhouse Netgear router with a best-in-DDWRT 1 GHz processor, dual-band Wireless-AC1900 (wireless transmission speeds of up to 1900 Mbps combined), a USB 3.0 port, & external antennas.
  3. Linksys WRT3200ACM MU-MIMO DD-WRT FlashRouter – Want premium Wireless-AC performance at a mid-level price? The Linksys WRT3200ACM is more than happy to oblige.

Want more information about open source routers and file-sharing sites? Feel free to contact our team for any questions or concerns!

OPEN SOURCE FOCUS: VLC Media Player

What Is VideoLAN?

VideoLAN originally started as a student project at the École Centrale in Paris, France, but is now a worldwide project with developers from 20 countries. It is now a non-profit organization that produces and distributes fee and open-source software for video and multimedia purposes.

Currently, millions of users use VideoLAN’s software, with the most popular one being VLC Media Player.

What Is VLC Media Player?

VLC Media Player, initially VideoLAN Client and often referred to as VLC, is a free, open-source, highly portable multimedia player.

Because VLC is modular, modules are used to change how it controls and operates. It is a jack of all trades video and audio software that can play all audio and video formats and can even be used with various streaming protocols for live audio or video. It can also be used to transcode multimedia files.

VLC is available for desktop operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and macOS. It is also available on mobile platforms such as Android, iOS, Tizen, Windows 10 Mobile, and Windows Phone. Users can download VLC Media Player on their official website and via Apple’s App Store, Google Play, and the Microsoft Store.

Top VLC Media Player Benefits

  1. VLC can play any type of media you throw at it. Whether it be a DVD, a .avi file, or a live stream, VLC can handle it all.
  2. Because VLC supports all media files, additional codecs are not necessary to ensure a seamless playback.
  3. While streaming live videos, you have the option to record and save them to your hard drive, enabling you to add anything and everything to your offline collection.
  4. With compatibility in mind, VLC is supported by every operating system from Windows 10 to even Android. Never worry about how to play your files on any system.
  5. VLC is quick and easy to download. After visiting any of the above links for an official download, the installation process is a breeze. VLC is then ready to play anything you throw at it.
  6. Being open-source means that you are sure that there are no viruses or backdoors in the installation file. You can view and audit the source-code yourself.

Giving Back To The Open Source Development Community

One of our top objectives for our founders the past few years has been our open source donation program to support developers and keep their projects going. This series is a proper extension of our belief that open source and and open Internet are of the utmost importance for now and the future. Over the past few years we shared over $20000 on open source and Internet privacy initiatives.

A FlashRouter’s Open-Source Benefits

FlashRouters focuses our integration and support efforts on the best open-source router technology: DD-WRT and Tomato firmware. These types of open source software include many benefits over closed-source, proprietary software.

A FlashRouter has benefits that include but are not limited to:

  1. The ability to examine the source code for backdoors, vulnerabilities, and security issues.
  2. Updates and security flaws are patched up quickly and efficiently due to many developers working on the firmware.
  3. Upgrades and unlocks your wireless router’s capabilities such as enabling virtual private networks to be used on your home network.

Have any questions on how open-source programs can benefit you? Feel free to contact the FlashRouters team!