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Microsoft Extends its Cloud-Focused Support for Docker

Tuesday 3rd of March 2015 04:05:02 PM

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (seen here) made big headlines in 2014 when he proclaimed his full volume of welcome for open source and Linux. Reversing what was long perceived to be a hostile stance at Microsoft toward open source, Nadella said that he "loves Linux" and also claimed that 20 percent of Microsoft's Azure cloud is already Linux-based. And, the company announced Azure Marketplace's first Docker image: Docker on Ubuntu Server by Canonical and Microsoft Open Tech.

Now, Microsoft has extended its cloud-focused suport for Docker, adding Docker Machine to Azure and Hyper-V, and supporting Docker Swarm.

We've reported on how Docker, which continues to take the tech world by storm, recently launched a robust set of orchestration tools for its container platform. Docker Swarm is a key one of these tools. Docker Swarm. According to Docker's announcement:

"Docker Swarm provides native clustering as well as integrations with third party tools and services. This ensures a uniform developer experience at any scale, as developers build and ship multi-container, multi-host distributed applications, while preserving the operational freedom to choose an infrastructure optimized for the performance and availability of these applications."

"Swarm’s native clustering and scheduling capabilities can scale with the application development lifecycle from one laptop to spanning hundreds of hosts in production. Swarm’s scheduling capabilities determine the right host in a cluster for specific containers, assigns the right resources, and leverages Docker Hub for its host discovery."


 With the release of Docker Machine 1.0 Beta, Microsoft has blogged that users can create hosts with Windows using the lightweight Linux boot2docker. The blog post notes:

"Microsoft’s contributions to the Docker ecosystem continue to roll on. Today we announced a number of improvements to our Docker support on Azure, most notably Docker Machine support for Azure and Hyper-V and support for Docker Swarm. Once you have created your host you work with it using the normal Docker CLI tooling. For full details on getting started with Docker Machine see our documentation "How to use Docker-Machine with Azure".

A separate post on Docker Swarm and Microsoft notes:

"Docker Swarm enables you to deploy your container-based applications and workloads using a native Docker clustering and scheduling capability. Like Docker Machine, developers can choose their infrastructure, including Azure Virtual Machines, and scale as required for their dev, test, or production environments. You can use your normal Docker CLI to deploy and let Swarm handle the scheduling across the hosts."

"To get started with Swarm on Azure, install the beta client: Installing Docker Swarm. For step-by-step instructions to manage your Docker hosts with Docker Swarm on Azure VMs, please see our Docker Swarm on Azure User Guide."



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Google Talks Up Android Pay, Effectively a Payments API Layer

Tuesday 3rd of March 2015 03:50:01 PM

The mobile payments space is already one of the hottest arenas in technology, and now Google--after achieving only middling success with Google Wallet--is entering the fray with a brand new approach. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Google Apps Sundar Pichai announced a new mobile payments platform called Android Pay.

That sounds pretty similar to Apple Pay, doesn't it? It's actually different, although it will compete with Apple Pay, Square, PayPal and other offerings.

The key difference between Android Pay and other payments offerings is that Google is not building out a product, but rather an API layer that merchants and companies can leverage to support secure payments from Android devices and apps.

NFC, or Near Field Communication, will be built into Android Pay. NFC provides a means for smartphones and other devices to establish radio communication with other devices, and has been somewhat controversial.

Do you already use Google Wallet? It's not going away, but Google's announcement of Android Pay certainly implies that it might put the most energy behind the new initiative.

There aren't a whole lot of other details about Android Pay yet, but as is true for all payments technologies, carving out just a small share of the mobile payments market can mean big bucks. 

And, in case you're wondering, Google is focused on weaving biometrics into Android Pay, so that fingerprints and other human attributes can aid authentication.


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VMware Launches OpenStack/vCloud NFV, Focuses on Carriers

Monday 2nd of March 2015 04:03:35 PM

VMware, at Mobile World Congress on Monday, unveiled software to let carriers run OpenStack and the company's vCloud cloud manager in tandem. The VMware vCloud for NFV platform is targeted to help carriers move to OpenStack while running vCloud for production cloud services. "With support for more than 40 different virtual network functions (VNFs) from more than 30 vendors, VMware vCloud for NFV is the only platform available today that runs different VNFs from different vendors side by side on the same cloud platform," the company claims.

VMware's announcement is one of many focused on telcos and carriers coming out of Mobile World Congress.

Wrestling with declining margins and the need to accelerate service innovation, carrers globally are embracing NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) to make their core network more agile and cost-effective. There are also a lot of open source-focused players aiming to keep the move toward NFV open. They include Red Hat and Canonical.

"By moving Network Functions Virtualization into production today, our communications service provider customers, such as Vodafone, are accelerating their own transformation into next-generation cloud providers, building the operational expertise needed to succeed in the cloud era ahead of their competition," said Shekar Ayyar, recently appointed corporate senior vice president, Strategy and Corporate Development and General Manager, Telco NFV Group, VMware. "Today, CSPs can deploy virtual network functions on VMware vCloud APIs, building valuable production cloud DNA into their operations and support teams. At the same time, they can begin to test OpenStack-based VNFs on the same infrastructure and deploy to production as OpenStack's suitability for NFV use cases improves in future releases." 

VMware vCloud for NFV will include VMware Integrated OpenStack, VMware's own OpenStack distribution.  "With VMware vCloud for NFV, CSPs will be able to take a phased approach to adopting OpenStack, and VMware will help CSPs drive increasingly greater value from OpenStack as the framework evolves to help them accelerate service innovation and reduce costs," says the company.

The vCloud for NFV platform is available today, with VMware Integrated OpenStack scheduled to be available in the platform Q1 2015.

Meanwhile, The Linux Foundation has announced the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) Project, a group comprised primarily of telecom operators working across open source projects and vendors to implement NFV within their organizations. News has also steadily arrived from Red Hat about its work to drive NFV and telecommunications technology into OpenStack.

And, Juniper Networks and Canonical have expanded their existing  partnership and they will oversee co-development of a carrier-grade, OpenStack software solution.

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Google Firms Up Plans to Offer Wireless Carrier Services

Monday 2nd of March 2015 03:50:25 PM

It's becoming increasingly clear that telecom companies and technology are playing a more and more important role in today's cloud- and mobile-centric world. Shrewdly, Red Hat has focused its OpenStack efforts, and related initiatives, around telcos and their data centers. Working with Juniper Networks, Canonical is pursuing similar goals.

But neither Red Hat nor Canonical swings quite as big a stick as Google. That's why it's significant that for the first time Google has confirmed that it will offer connectivity to mobile users in the United States. Rumors had swirled that Google had carrier-class plans, but Sundar Pichai, the company's senior vice president, confirmed the news once and for all at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.

As reported in numerous media outlets, Pichai said "you'll see us announce it in the coming months."

Of course, there may be some regulatory and antitrust hurdles for Google to leap, but in all likelihood the company will become a connectivity service provider on the grand scale. Also, just as Google has brought a lot of innovation to the mobile operating system and browser arenas, it has the potential to push the innovation curve for mobile connectivity, cloud-based services and more. 

According to a BGR blog post, setting the innovation bar is Google's overarching goal:

"So what is Google planning on doing in the wireless space, then? The Information’s Amir Efrati tweets out that the Google MVNO is going to be to the wireless business what Google’s own Nexus devices are to the Android smartphone market. In other words, while Nexus devices might not be industry-shaking bestsellers, they do establish certain benchmarks that Google would like to see Android OEMs match in their own work."

"In his talk, Pichai said that Google will 'expect carrier partners to adopt' some of the practices it’s put forward in its own service, including the ability for Wi-Fi signals to automatically pick up phone calls if they’re dropped by carriers’ own LTE networks."

Many people may end up thankful that Google is becoming a mobile connectivity player. The company tends to be successful at setting standards and may bring more open standards to the world of connectivity. That, we would be happy to see.

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Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 1 Officially Released, Ubuntu MATE Officially Official

Saturday 28th of February 2015 04:12:19 AM

Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 1 was announced today with "a number of software updates that are ready for wider testing." Ubuntu and a couple of its derivatives were included in a list of distributions recommended for new users yesterday. The Ubuntu MATE project announced they've been accepted as an official member of the Ubuntu family with their Beta 1 and Serdar Yegulalp reviews LibreOffice 4.4 at today.

Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 1 was announced this morning on The Fridge with the usual "it's a beta" disclaimer. The announcement said, "Beta 1 includes a number of software updates that are ready for wider testing. This is quite an early set of images, so you should expect some bugs. This Beta features images for Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, UbuntuKylin, Ubuntu Mate, Xubuntu and the Ubuntu Cloud images."

You may have noticed a new distro in the list of images from the Ubuntu announcement, namely Ubuntu MATE. The Ubuntu MATE project yesterday posted of its acceptance into the official Ubuntu family on the project Website saying, "This official release builds on Ubuntu MATE Alpha2, introduces some new features and is officially official." The big change this release is the change from the unofficial builds to the Canonical server builds.

Speaking of Ubuntu, it got a mention yesterday in Foss Force's "Distros for new users" list. The piece said, "It’s impossible to talk about user friendly Linux distros without mentioning Ubuntu, which is near the top of most lists when it comes to ease-of-use and robustness. It's a solid choice for anyone wanting to use Linux for the first time." They also liked Mint and elementary OS, which are Ubuntu derivatives, but check the full article for the others.

Also of interest:

* Review: LibreOffice 4.4 raises the bar

* Puppy Linux-Based Quirky Distribution Reaches Version 7.0

* Pearl OS Could Be a Gem in the Making

* Half a dozen reasons why openSUSE is a great OS for your PC

* The Tremendous Features Of Fedora 22

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Docker Rolls Out Very Robust Orchestration Tools

Friday 27th of February 2015 04:03:32 PM

Docker, which continues to take the tech world by storm, launched a robust set of orchestration tools for its container platform yesterday, and developers can get the tools now. You can learn more about each of the tools here.

Docker Machine, very notably, lets developers rapidly deploy Docker on popular cloud platforms including Amazon EC2, Digital Ocean, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, RackSpace Cloud and many VMware platforms. A single command can enable Docker for them.

Then there is Docker Swarm. According to Docker's announcement:

"Docker Swarm provides native clustering as well as integrations with third party tools and services. This ensures a uniform developer experience at any scale, as developers build and ship multi-container, multi-host distributed applications, while preserving the operational freedom to choose an infrastructure optimized for the performance and availability of these applications."

"Swarm’s native clustering and scheduling capabilities can scale with the application development lifecycle from one laptop to spanning hundreds of hosts in production. Swarm’s scheduling capabilities determine the right host in a cluster for specific containers, assigns the right resources, and leverages Docker Hub for its host discovery."

"Swarm supports a 'batteries included but swappable' approach that allows for partner integrations that replace and enhance Swarm’s capabilities. Integration partners hook into Swarm APIs to create value-added capabilities under Docker, while maintaining a uniform Docker experience for developers. The Swarm API supports alternative implementations of container scheduling and host discovery. The beta version of Swarm supports host discovery drivers for ZooKeeper, Consul and etcd."

 Swarm integrates with third-party container orchestration products as well as with orchestration services offered by cloud providers. Mesosphere and Docker have collaborated to develop reference implementations for Apache Mesos and the Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS), which are the first integrations available. Integrations are planned for Amazon EC2 Container Service, IBM Bluemix Container Service, Joyent Smart Data Center and Microsoft Azure.

(See our interview with Mesosphere's Ben Hindman here.)

“Docker is becoming the foundation for how modern developers create and deploy applications,” said Florian Leibert, CEO of Mesosphere. “And when it comes to the operations side, enterprises want flexibility of choice in how they manage and scale containers in production. We applaud Docker's decision to provide an open back-end for Swarm, rather than prescribe a single approach. And we believe that Mesos and the Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) offer the most practical way for enterprises to operate containers at scale, so we are excited to integrate with Docker Swarm to support those Docker users.”

“Customers want container solutions that are open, portable and that don’t place restrictions on application architecture,” said John Gossman, architect for Microsoft Azure. “Working with Docker, we are delivering on that need, through offering extensions, templates and drivers that make it simple to deploy Docker’s orchestration technologies on Microsoft Azure. We believe this makes Azure a great place to run portable Docker applications while giving our customers the flexibility and freedom of choice they require.”

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The News Was Mixed for Big Data Players This Week

Friday 27th of February 2015 03:42:36 PM

There was good news and bad news for some of the big players on the Big Data scene this week. Cloudera and Hortonworks are both well-known for their focus on Hadoop, the open source framework that is allowing many organizations to cull insights from huge data sets.

This week, Hortonworks reported financial results that were below many estimates, only a few short months after the company's very successful IPO. Cloudera, however, scored a big win when researchers at Gartner named the company a Challenger in the 2015 Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse and Data Management Solutions for Analytics. Gartner's Magic Quadrant rankings are hugely influential.

According to Gartner, "In 2015, organizations require solutions capable of managing and processing external data in combination with their traditional internal sources, and may even include data from the Internet of Things. This is creating new demands on the data warehouse market -- for broader data management solutions for analytics, with features and functionality that represent a significant augmentation to existing enterprise data warehouse strategies."

"Cloudera is continually recognized for its innovation and functionality - most recently we announced improvements in and brought to market Impala, Cloudera Director, Cloudera Navigator, Cloudera Search and Sentry," said Mike Olson, founder and chief strategy officer, Cloudera. "As big data has assumed a central role for enterprises, we've driven more capabilities -- real-time streaming, compliance-ready data protection, powerful new analytics and more -- into our platform. Cloudera's able to attack more business-critical problems for our customers, and that's accelerated adoption. We believe that our position in the Gartner MQ reflects not just the maturation of our product, but the increasing sophistication of the enterprises we work with." - See more at:

 "Cloudera is continually recognized for its innovation and functionality - most recently we announced improvements in and brought to market Impala, Cloudera Director, Cloudera Navigator, Cloudera Search and Sentry," said Mike Olson, founder and chief strategy officer, Cloudera. "As big data has assumed a central role for enterprises, we've driven more capabilities -- real-time streaming, compliance-ready data protection, powerful new analytics and more -- into our platform. Cloudera's able to attack more business-critical problems for our customers, and that's accelerated adoption. We believe that our position in the Gartner MQ reflects not just the maturation of our product, but the increasing sophistication of the enterprises we work with."

The news was less bright for Hortonworks. In its first quarterly filing since its IPO, it reported a net loss of $90.6 million, or $5.38 per share. Wall Street was expecting a loss of $2.04 per share.

As Coudera and Hortnworks march forward they are rapidly diversifying their service offerings, including training and support options for companies leveraging Hadoop. On the Cloudera front, though, many reports are rolling in noting that the company is in no rush to go public. 

According to Re/Code:

"Instead of filing for an IPO, on Tuesday Cloudera put out a momentum press release that included the disclosure that its revenue topped $100 million in 2014...That press release suggests that Cloudera’s IPO is in no way imminent."


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LibreOffice 4.4.1 Update Released

Friday 27th of February 2015 04:54:10 AM

A "Fresh" version of LibreOffice was announced today. LibreOffice 4.4.1 updates the latest and greatest branch with over 100 bugs fixes. In other software news, Jack Wallen today reported on the fallout from the resignation of GIMP UX maintainer and Kyle Orland examined the state of Linux gaming these days thanks to Valve. For something a bit different, posted of a new six-sided Linux cube computer.

The Document Foundation's Italo Vignoli today announced the release of LibreOffice 4.4.1, the first minor update to the "Fresh" branch of the popular Open Source office suite. Download your "fresh" copy from This release brings over 100 fixes to users and these include:

* transparency data lost when copy and pasting bitmaps into documents
* consistent naming of toolbar alignment button functions
* copy and pasting strings containing hyperlinks losing links
* floating sidebar box snapping back to default side of window
* dialogue text alignment issue obstructing neighboring dropdown
* postscript printing hang
* added some missing icons
* missing fontwork objects upon reopening
* lots formatting, importing, and crashing bugs

Jack Wallen today said that the loss of Peter Sikking, GIMP User eXperience maintainer, might end up being a good opportunity for GIMP, one that Wallen said could be a "major turning point." He suggested the new maintainer realize that not just Linux users use GIMP. He said the UI needs easier interaction and the tools need to be more intuitive. The whole thing needs an interface overhaul, but GIMP is crucial to Open Source and Linux said Wallen, so they need to find a way to keep it growing.

Crazy Engineers today featured a story on a new cube computer running Linux dubbed Cuberox. Sitting on the table it looks like a shiny black cube that responds to the user's tap. "It has no ports or holes. Users can wirelessly charge it. Each side of the Cuberox can be made to display different things based on its position. So, essentially each side can run a stand-alone application."

Finally, Kyle Orland looked at the state of gaming today "in the era of SteamOS." He said, "A company as big as Valve putting its weight behind Linux—and behind a specific distribution of Linux, to boot—had a clarifying effect on what used to be a tough market for even willing developers." Despite that, the gaming demographic in Linux is still small and to most publishers it just doesn't pay. Valve has helped a lot, but Orland said until the SteamOS console is released with sufficient games, Linux gaming will continue to stagnate.

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With RancherOS, Founders Deliver Docker-Focused Innovation

Thursday 26th of February 2015 04:24:26 PM

All the way back in 2011, Citrix Systems announced that it had completed the acquisition of already had many notable customers who favored its cloud stack infrastructure, and much of Citrix's cloud focus grew out of that acquisition. became rebranded as CloudStack. Then, a few months ago, many of the founders of left Citrix.

Fast-forward to today, and two of the founders of have served up a new open source tool called RancherOS, which is billed as "the first operating system to fully embrace Docker, and to run all system services as Docker containers."

According to the Rancher site:

"The first question that arises when you are thinking about putting Docker in production is which OS to use. The simplest answer is to run Docker on your favorite Linux distribution.  However, it turns out the real answer is a bit more nuanced. After running Docker on just about every distro over the last year, I eventually decided to create a minimalist Linux distribution that focuses explicitly on running Docker from the very beginning."

"Docker is a fast-moving target. With a constant drum beat of releases, it is sometimes difficult for Linux distributions to keep up. In October 2013, I started working very actively with Docker, eventually leading to an open source project called At that time I decided to target one Linux distribution that I thought to be the best for Docker since it was included by default."

"With RancherOS we addressed this by limiting the OS to just the things we need to run Docker, specifically, the Linux kernel, Docker and the bare minimum amount of code needed to join the two together. Picking which version of RancherOS to run is as easy as saying which version of Docker you wish to run. The sole purpose of RancherOS is to run Docker and therefore our release schedule is closely aligned. All other software included in the distribution is considered stable, even if you just picked up the latest and greatest Docker version."

RancherOS is yet more proof of how much action there is surrounding Docker.  We've reported on how the CoreOS team has developed a Docker competitior dubbed Rocket. Rocket is a new container runtime, designed for composability, security, and speed, according to the CoreOS team. You can read more about it here

"When we looked at simplifying large scale deployments of Docker, there were no solutions available that truly embraced Docker," report the founders. They've proven before that they can do big things with open source projects, so we'll watch what happens with RancherOS.

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Juniper and Canonical Deepen Partnership Focused on OpenStack, Telcos

Thursday 26th of February 2015 04:07:57 PM

Back in 2013, Juniper Networks announced Contrail, a network overlay platform for software-defined networking for enterprises and cloud service providers. The company also announced that the Contrail source code would be open. Now, Juniper Networks and Canonical have expanded their existing  partnership and they will oversee co-development of a carrier-grade, OpenStack software solution as part of Contrail Cloud.

 According to the announcement:

"Service providers are working to profitably address growing end-user demand for data capacity while more quickly delivering new, innovative services to subscribers. To accomplish this, carriers are continually looking to cloud platforms to make their infrastructure more agile and automated to support these goals. By combining Juniper Networks’ expertise in cloud network offerings for telecommunications customers with Canonical’s OpenStack and open source leadership, Canonical and Juniper are providing open, scalable, cost-effective, and carrier-grade cloud solutions on which carriers can build a virtualized IP platform and support network functions virtualization (NFV)."

"Contrail Networking’s connection with Ubuntu Server OS and Ubuntu OpenStack as the default platform for cloud deployments began with Juniper Networks and the OpenContrail project participating in Canonical’s OpenStack Interoperability Lab (OIL), an integration lab in which Canonical tests its cloud partners’ products in Ubuntu OpenStack configurations, for automated testing of Contrail with Ubuntu OpenStack. The addition of the joint carrier-grade OpenStack solution will leverage and expand on OIL to provide enhanced testing to ensure the solution meets the demanding needs of carriers."

Many people don't realize how popular Ubuntu is as a basis for OpenStack cloud deployments. According to the most recent OpenStack Foundation global survey, Ubuntu is the most popular host and guest operating system for OpenStack, with more than half of all OpenStack instances running Ubuntu, and 70 percent of the Public Cloud Guest operating system market.

“Juniper Networks firmly believes that open source and open standards will continue to drive greater levels of innovation and is pleased to partner with Canonical to help drive faster adoption of the cloud for telecommunication organizations. Our jointly developed converged Ubuntu and Juniper OpenStack solution will help deliver greater performance, scalability and reliability at lower costs," said Ankur Singla, corporate vice president and general manager, cloud software, Juniper Networks, in a statement.

“Juniper and Canonical are leading the OpenStack innovation agenda by jointly developing a virtualization solution that will help service providers accelerate cloud deployments for greater agility. Juniper’s Contrail addresses the carrier-class issues of virtualized environments and accelerates elastic service delivery across multi-tenant, hybrid cloud OpenStack deployments across a multi-vendor ecosystem. By combining Juniper’s open network solutions and leadership in the telecommunications industry with Canonical’s leadership in OpenStack and scale-out open source, we will jointly be able to deliver cloud solutions that enable carriers to meet their network modernization challenges," added John Zannos, vice president, cloud channels and alliances, at Canonical.

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Ubuntu Developments and GNOME Sightings

Thursday 26th of February 2015 04:43:09 AM

Ubuntu dominated the bulk of the headlines today with their 15.04 beta and 14.04.2 update releases. Also in the Ubuntu news is a bit on the Ubuntu phone including when the next flash sell is. The Register reviews elementary OS Freya Beta 2 and Phoronix says Kubuntu 15.04 is shaping up nicely. In other news, Matthias Clasen previews upcoming GNOME 3.16 and Bruce Byfield explains why he's switching from GIMP to Krita.

Chris Hoffman covered the recent release of Ubuntu 14.04.2 with why these point releases matter, mainly security and bug fixes. He then points to the instructions for updating the kernel and X.  Elsewhere Terry Relph-Knight today wrote that Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 1 is "underwhelming" while the new Ubuntu smartphone "goes on sale." It began by saying 15.04 is beginning to look like another disappointing release for the desktop. Relph-Knight said that when the desktop was Canonical's focus it got lots of interesting and useful features would pop up in the betas, but no more. Developers have been concentrating on the phone and the desktop (or the "convergence" thereof) is still pending. "For now, the only real hints of convergence for the desktop appear in Desktop Next, which is based on software developed for Ubuntu for Phones that's only slowly being adapted to tablets and eventually the desktop." Ubuntu 15.04 is scheduled for release on April 23.

Speaking of the Ubuntu phone, Matt Hartley the other day said even if you don't like Ubuntu or Unity, the Ubuntu smartphone is still relevant because it's an alternative to Android and iOS. Nevertheless, Canonical faces an uphill battle. "Scopes aren't apps," said Hartley, they're containers for images, data, music, and such. He also felt that the interface is quite different than the norm and requires relearning navigation and operations. He does have some suggestions how Canonical could make a go of it here in the US, but it won't be easy. For those living in Europe, the next flash sale will be tomorrow according to Softpedia.

Back on the PC, Michael Larabel today declared Kubuntu 15.04 is "turning out quite nice." He tested the beta to get a look at the latest KDE Frameworks 5.7 and Plasma 5.2.1 desktop and said, "Simply put, Kubuntu and the latest KDE experience is doing quite well." It's responsive, polished, and on par with KDE 4 Larabel reckons.

And in a bit of related news, The Register today reviewed elementary OS Freya Beta 2. Most of the review was spent on discussing the flap over coercive funding methods. After saying some nice things about the distro, Scott Gilbertson then wondered why anyone would even bother with it anymore with the attitude of its developers. It's a shame because he thinks it's a lovely skin for Ubuntu and that it was beginning to be more than a skin. Gilbertson's final thought was, "If you're looking for a great, user-friendly desktop with plenty of polish, Elementary OS delivers. Just don't tell them you can't afford it."

In software news today:

* GNOME 3.16 Sightings

* Manage Your Photos with KPhotoAlbum

* Why I'm switching from GIMP to Krita

* 4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now

* LibreOffice Calc : Tables You Can Count On

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IBM's BlueMix Picks Up Steam on the PaaS Scene

Wednesday 25th of February 2015 04:14:47 PM

IBM's BlueMix platform is steadily picking up steam. BlueMix is IBM’s foray into the increasingly powerful Platform as a Service (PaaS) industry, leveraging Cloud Foundry and IBM’s own suite of middleware applications. As Jon Buys noted in a post here on OStatic:  "The entry of Big Blue into the arena is sending shockwaves through the PaaS economy, and for good reason. As reported by ZDNet, IBM is starting off by betting a billion dollars on their offering, and is expecting to bring in $7 billion in revenue on the project by the end of 2015."

This week, IBM has made moves to embrace Docker and OpenStack in its BlueMix strategy, and, with ARM, has announced a new starter kit focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) that will hook devices of all kinds into BlueMix.

The ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit, Ethernet Edition, will channel data from Internet-connected devices directly into IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform. "The combination of a secure sensor environment by ARM with cloud-based analytics, mobile and application resources from IBM will allow fast prototyping of new smart products and unique value-added services," claims ARM.  The analytics and more will be powered by BlueMix.

According to InfoWorld:

"IBM's hybrid cloud plans involve moving workloads between public and private clouds via Docker, with Bluemix as the bridge...IBM will leverage another well-known ingredient for creating  hybrid clouds: OpenStack. Here, the picture is less clear; IBM was vague  on its deployment plans for OpenStack -- whether through its own  distribution or as an IBM-managed on-premises resource. A more detailed  answer may be coming soon, as IBM's stated plan is to have both Bluemix  Local and the OpenStack components ready for general availability this  summer."

 IBM is also targeting BlueMix as a platform for development of mobile applications. The company is involved in a long-term, cloud-focused strategy that can help it reap more service provision revenues, and Blue Mix is a key part of that effort. The PaaS market is very competitive, but BlueMix is a platform to watch.


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Apache Software Foundation Launches HBase Version 1.0 for Sifting Data

Wednesday 25th of February 2015 03:54:32 PM

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is on a roll thus far in 2015, advancing many open source projects that are making a difference in the cloud and on the Big Data scene. Recently, we covered the advancement of Apache Drill to a top-level project. It is billed as "the world's first schema-free SQL query engine that delivers real-time insights by removing the constraint of building and maintaining schemas before data can be analyzed." We've also covered Apache Spark, an open source data analytics cluster computing framework originally developed in the AMPLab at UC Berkeley

Now, also on the data front, the ASF has announced the availability of Apache HBase v1.0, a distributed, scalable, database for Apache Hadoop and HDFS.

"Apache HBase v1.0 marks a major milestone in the project's development," said Michael Stack, Vice President of Apache HBase, in a statement. "It is a monumental moment that the army of contributors who have made this possible should all be proud of. The result is a thing of collaborative beauty that also happens to power key, large-scale Internet platforms."

The ASF refers to it as the "Hadoop Database," and HBase is used on top of Apache Hadoop and HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) for random, real-time read/write access for Big Data  tasks across clusters. HBase is already used by Apple, Facebook, FINRA, Flipboard, Flurry, Pinterest, RocketFuel, Salesforce, Xiaomi, and Yahoo!, among other organizations.

There are also tools that extend HBase's capabilities.  These include Apache Phoenix, an SQL layer over HBase, and OpenTSDB, a time series database that uses HBase as its backing store.

"Medium- and high- scale services at hundreds of enterprises and some of the largest Internet companies today are backed by Apache HBase," explained Andrew Purtell, member of the Apache HBase Project Management Committee. "Chances are when using your computer or mobile device you interact with a system built with HBase many times daily without ever knowing it. The HBase 1.0 release appropriately acknowledges a maturity already achieved by the Apache HBase community and software both, and is a great occasion to learn more about HBase, how it can help you solve your scale data challenges, and the growing ecosystem of Open Source and commercial software that chooses HBase as foundation."

Apache HBase v1.0 was seven years in development, and you can find out more about it and get documentation at

"Apache HBase v1.0 marks a major milestone in the project's development," said Michael Stack, Vice President of Apache HBase. "It is a monumental moment that the army of contributors who have made this possible should all be proud of. The result is a thing of collaborative beauty that also happens to power key, large-scale Internet platforms."

Dubbed the "Hadoop Database", HBase is used on top of Apache Hadoop and HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) for random, real-time read/write access for Big Data (billions of rows X millions of columns) across clusters of commodity hardware. HBase is used by Apple, Facebook, FINRA, Flipboard, Flurry, Pinterest, RocketFuel, Salesforce, Xiaomi, and Yahoo!, among many other organizations. 

Apache HBase has also fostered a healthy ecosystem of projects that run on top of it, such as Apache Phoenix, a SQL layer over HBase, and OpenTSDB, a time series database that uses HBase as its backing store.

- See more at:


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Best Distros for Switchers and Repairs

Wednesday 25th of February 2015 04:06:16 AM

There are Linux distributions for just about any imagined purpose and many times there are several from which to choose. Mihir Patkar today posted his thoughts on the best distros for switchers from Windows and Mac. Over at Joshua Allen Holm discusses the five best distros designed for computer repair. The VAR Guy Christopher Tozzi has discovered an $89 Ubuntu PC and Charles Babcock has seven facts about Linux we may not know.

Mihir Patkar thinks folks switching from Windows or Mac may find the transition easier if they choose a distribution that resembles the one they're using. For Windows XP users Patkar figures that's Linux Mint. If you're switching from Windows 7 then Zorin OS is Patkar's recommendation because it was specifically designed to replace Windows 7. If you're a Mac user then you may want to test elementary OS according to Patkar.

However, the more advanced may need to use Linux to repair a broken installation or recover important data. Joshua Allen Holm presents five "specialized distributions designed to put all the programs you would need for computer repair or backup/restoration in one convenient place." Two of the more popular include Clonezilla Live, which is "designed for backup and recovery of disk images and partitions," and SystemRescueCD, that is a powerful tool for repairing Linux systems."

Charles Babcock posted a slideshow of seven fact that just might surprise us. He begins with the Linux kernel which now contains 19 millions lines of code. Intel is the largest commercial contributor and a new kernel is released approximately every 90 days. These are just three but Babcock discusses four more.

In other Linux news:

* It's Real: An $89, Green Ubuntu Linux Desktop PC

* Why Open Source Freeriding is a Good Idea

* Debian on track to prove binaries' origins

* Running Bodhi 3.0.0 Legacy on Older Hardware

* How to Use KDE Plasma Desktop Like a Pro

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Mirantis, Google Team Up on Kubernetes and OpenStack Integration

Tuesday 24th of February 2015 04:06:25 PM

Mirantis, focused on OpenStack, has announced a new initiative that integrates Kubernetes with OpenStack, letting developers deploy containers on OpenStack in what the company claims takes only minutes. The integration gives developers immediate access to Kubernetes clusters with Docker containers without needing to set up infrastructure. According to Mirantis, developers will be able to seamlessly move entire environments between OpenStack private clouds and public clouds that support Kubernetes, such as Google Cloud Platform.

“Our development work with Google to combine the power of Kubernetes with Mirantis OpenStack makes it easy for developers to manage Docker containers at scale,” said Mirantis CEO, Adrian Ionel. “Kubernetes automates the management of Docker containers, while OpenStack automates the configuration and deployment of infrastructure resources on which those containers run. By using the two technologies together, developers can focus on creating software because their underlying infrastructure just works.”

“Integrating Kubernetes with OpenStack gives developers more choice and flexibility over how they want to build and run applications,” said OpenStack Foundation Chief Operating Officer, Mark Collier. “OpenStack's pluggable design allows users to integrate and leverage emerging technologies like containers, while relying on the proven automation engine in OpenStack to handle compute, storage, and networking.”

The integration uses Murano, the application catalog project in the OpenStack ecosystem. Murano automatically configures the compute, storage and networking resources for Kubernetes clusters, and provides integration for OpenStack infrastructure components such as load balancers and firewalls. Murano can then deploy the Docker application onto the Kubernetes cluster and manage the application’s lifecycle. To provide production-grade Kubernetes clusters, Murano adds integration with monitoring and log collection services. This delivers Kubernetes on OpenStack out of the box, reports Mirantis.

The Murano-Kubernetes integration will be demonstrated live at the Bay Area Kubernetes Meetup on February 25, 2015. The Kubernetes-Murano package is publicly available to Kubernetes and OpenStack communities on Stackforge, and will be available for technical preview use on Mirantis OpenStack Express in April 2015.

To learn more about the integration, read Mirantis’ blog post or Google’s blog post.

As Mirantis' post notes:

"There’s a perceived competition between OpenStack and containers such as Docker, but in reality, the two technologies are a powerful combination. They both solve similar problems, but on different layers of the stack, so combining the two can give users more scalability and automation than ever before."

"That containers app you wrote needs to run somewhere. This is particularly true for orchestrated container applications, such as those managed by Kubernetes. What’s more, if your application is complicated enough that it needs to scale up and down, you need to be running it in an environment that can, itself, scale up and down. This is where OpenStack comes in."

"The idea of making OpenStack and Kubernetes work together might seem a little daunting, but as of today, it just got easier.  A lot easier."


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IBM, ARM Deliver Starter Kit for Internet of Things

Tuesday 24th of February 2015 03:55:08 PM

There is no doubt that the Internet of Things (IoT) is emerging as one of the hottest stories of 2015. We've already reported on how as it gains momentum, there is a big need for collaboration, open and interoperable tools and standards, and governance. In our recent conversation with the AllSeen Alliance’s senior director of IoT, Philip DesAutels, he stressed the need for interoperability of devices.

Now ARM and IBM have announced a partnership that includes a starter kit for making IoT devices.  The ARM mbed IoT Starter Kit, Ethernet Edition, will channel data from Internet-connected devices directly into IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform. "The combination of a secure sensor environment by ARM with cloud-based analytics, mobile and application resources from IBM will allow fast prototyping of new smart products and unique value-added services," claims ARM. The first products developed using the kit are expected to enter the market in 2015.

“Securely embedding intelligence and connectivity into devices from the outset will create cloud-connected products that are far more capable than today,” said Krisztian Flautner, general manager, IoT business, ARM, in a statement. “Smart cities, businesses and homes capable of sharing rich information about their surroundings will be critical in unlocking the potential of IoT. The ARM IoT Starter Kit will accelerate the availability of connected devices by making product and service prototyping faster and easier.”

The IoT Starter Kit consists of an ARM mbed-enabled development board from Freescale, powered by an ARM Cortex-M4 based processor, together with a sensor IO application shield. Future versions of the kit will run the new ARM mbed OS and utilize ARM mbed Device Server software to deliver a wider range of efficient security, communication and device management features. Building on the momentum of recent announcements such as IBM’s IoT Foundation and the ARM mbed IoT Device Platform, ARM and IBM say they will continue to work together on interoperable, open, secure and scalable connectivity between devices and the cloud.

It's not clear yet, however, how exactly "open" this effort from ARM and IBM is. We are witnessing much fragmentation in terms of APIs and standards for connecting IoT devices, and leaders such as Philip DesAutels from The AllSeen Alliance are calling for open bridges and connectors. 

DesAutels also noted this in our recent interview with him:

“In five years, I think all of this will be around us everywhere, in everything. Predictions that were made three and four years ago have already come true in terms of the ubiquity of bandwidth, connectivity, the availability of radios, and more. We are going to have a lot of power to orchestrate the experiences that we want. The next phase is going to be the really transformational phase. Systems around you will have a whole lot more information. They’ll be able to deliver a lot more value.”

 ARM hasn't provided details on the pricing or availability of its starter kit. You can find out much more about the kit here



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Next Linux 4.0 from Linus' Zombie Shuffle Desk

Tuesday 24th of February 2015 04:22:54 AM

Linus announced yesterday that his poll has concluded and 29,110 voters have spoken. Elsewhere, Julie Bort got a look at the Accidental Revolutionary's workspace - which centers around his 'Zombie shuffling' desktop. In other news, two prominent distributions today announced the start of their community wallpaper contests.

Linus Torvalds yesterday announced "Linux 4.0-rc1 out.." Torvalds recently asked interested parties if he should jump the kernel version number from its then current 3.2.x to 4.0 and yesterday he announced the results. At a "margin of 56-to-44%" with 29,110 votes the next kernel version will be 4.0, codenamed "Hurr durr I'ma sheep." Linus reported that the most cited reason for the 4.0 preference was because 4.1.15 was the version of Linux used in the T-800 Terminator 2 movie. He hopes the version jump doesn't break anything but doesn't expect as much transition as was needed for 3.0.

"Hurr durr I'ma sheep" isn't the most outrageous codename used by developers for our beloved kernel according to Micheal Larabel. In fact, Larabel remembers 2.6.25 being dubbed "Funky Weasel is Jiggy wit it" and another codenamed "Flesh-Eating Bats with Fangs." "Jeff Thinks I Should Change This, But To What?" and "Linux for Workgroups" are my favorites.

In other Linus news, Julie Bort at yesterday posted of the Linux leader's digs. She reports that Linus does most of his work from a workstation lovingly dubbed, in much the same manner as the kernels, "Zombie-shuffling desk." This is basically a stand-up desk in front of a slow moving treadmill running 1-mile an hour. Any faster and Linus has trouble manipulating his mouse according to Bort. She also included a full video tour of Torvald's workspace.


* Ubuntu's Last Wallpaper Contest Begins

* Make Fedora 22 Beautiful!

* DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 598, 23 February 2015

* Linux Mint Monthly News - Recent Cinnamon Developments

* Deepin 2014.2 - Mindbogglingly unique

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On Private Cloud Popularity, High-Profile New Surveys Raise Questions

Monday 23rd of February 2015 04:03:47 PM

If you look at the results of some high-profile new surveys on cloud computing, they reveal that some seismic shifts are taking place. At the same time, some results from recent surveys conflict with each other.

Canonical came out with findings from its sixth annual Ubuntu Server and Cloud Survey recently, which went out to respondents at the end of 2014. We covered it here.  Among other things, it showed that "cloud adoption remains heavily weighted to private clouds," which account for 35 percent of adoptions, Canonical said.  On the other hand, RightScale's 2015 State of the Cloud report, always one of the more definitive barometers for the state of cloud computing, found that private cloud popularity is waning, and hybrid clouds are all the rage.

Part of the issue with the difference in findings across the two surveys is that Canonical's 3,000 respondents "were mostly Ubuntu server and cloud users," according to the company. Meanwhile, RightScale's  930 respondents were professionals with technical roles across a broad cross-section of organizations.

RightScale's survey reported the following:

 Private clouds stalled in 2015 with only small changes in adoption: Respondents reported minimal changes in adoption of private cloud technologies from 2014. VMware vSphere continues to lead with 53 percent of enterprise respondents reporting that they use it as a private cloud. Enterprises using OpenStack shows the largest increase for 2015, growing by 3 percent. The new Azure Pack offering shows strong use in its first year, used by 11 percent of enterprises.

Where did the two surveys agree? They both determined that cloud computing has huge momentum in enterprises.

According to Canonical:

 "This year, the pattern is continuing and cloud adoption remains heavily weighted to private clouds (35%). The most popular platform for private cloud is OpenStack, used by 53% of those respondents who have deployed a private cloud infrastructure. Interestingly, hybrid clouds are on the rise at 20%, up from 15% last year. Today, hybrid cloud is almost as popular as public cloud (used by 23%) a clear shift from last year, when public cloud was at 27%. It’s interesting that recent price cuts by major public cloud providers don’t seem to have had a major impact on public cloud adoption, which could imply that the drivers behind the choice of infrastructure are more than economic."

 RightScale's survey also found that cloud decision-making patterns are changing. "The tide of enterprise cloud adoption has shifted from shadow IT to strategic adoption led by central IT teams," said Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale. "As enterprise IT has become more open to public cloud and more comfortable with cloud security, it is now in a strong position to broker cloud services to internal customers and drive cloud adoption forward. In the next year organizations expect to shift more workloads to cloud, with public cloud workloads growing faster than private cloud."

 The full results of the RightScale survey are available at

 If you want to dig into the findings from the Canonical survey, there is a SlideShare here, and there is a detailed infographic at the bottom of the page here.

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Canonical Gains Powerful Partners in Internet of Things Push

Monday 23rd of February 2015 03:47:05 PM

Canonical, the firm behind Ubuntu Linux, announced last week that Microsoft and Amazon agreed to publish their Internet of Things (IoT) application programming interfaces (APIs) on Ubuntu Core. The move showed that Canonical is forging meaningful partnerships with big time technology players, and showed how seriously the company takes the Internet of Things.

Among other things, Canonical is noting that security--a possible problem with Internet of Things infrastructure--is a topic that Microsoft and Amazon can lend some intelligence to. 

As it is doing with its OpenStack efforts, Canonical is focused on certification and validation with the Internet of Things. “Certified and supported Ubuntu platforms set the standard for safety and security in connected devices” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu. “Device manufacturers who choose Ubuntu Core on certified platforms now have a popular platform that meets corporate and government requirements for security updates and management.”

The Ubuntu team came out with a new “snappy” version of Ubuntu Core late last year, and it is proving to have many use cases.

According to Canonical:

"Ubuntu Core is a new rendition of Ubuntu for the cloud with transactional updates. Ubuntu Core is a minimal server image with the same libraries as today’s Ubuntu, but applications are provided through a simpler mechanism. The snappy approach is faster, more reliable, and lets us provide stronger security guarantees for apps and users — that’s why we call them 'snappy' applications."

 Canonical is working with telecoms operators to simplify customer premises equipment acquisition, deployment and maintenance, building on the carrier-grade systems and application update mechanisms built into snappy Ubuntu Core.

“Snappy Ubuntu Core is a valuable and powerful IoT enabler for talented developers and inventors. Our mission is to support them with Deutsche Telekom’s resources and business knowledge. We believe that our partnership will bring groundbreaking products and services created by creative individuals gathered inside and around Ubuntu community.” said Jakub Probola, of Deutsche Telekom’s incubator, hub:raum.

Although not everyone realizes it, Ubuntu is already the leading platform for telco OpenStack deployments. Ubuntu Core is intended to extend that lead.

Both Microsoft and Amazon have agreed to publish their IoT developer APIs on Ubuntu Core for snappy developers.

“Smart industrial systems need secure cloud back-ends for data storage and analysis. Microsoft and Canonical are partnering to deliver developer APIs to enable Ubuntu Core for snappy developers. This partnership will simplify cloud-backed device development,” says John Shewchuk, Technical Fellow at Microsoft.




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LibreOffice 3.4.6 Released as TDF Celebrates Three Years

Saturday 21st of February 2015 03:45:17 AM

The Document Foundation today announced the release of LibreOffice 3.4.6, the latest update for the conservative user and supported deployments. This release brings over 100 bug and security fixes as the foundation celebrates three years. TDF released a video as "a testimonial of the activity of many members of the LibreOffice community."

On Tuesday, February 17, The Document Foundation celebrated their three year anniversary with a video. The video was a montage of photos, many candid and others posed, telling the behind scenes story of the organization as it develops the world's leading Open Source office suite.  Congratulations, and thank you, to The Document Foundation and all its members.

TDF did all the work and we get the presents, as usual. This time it's LibreOffice 3.4.6, the recommended version for those who play it safe or hold support contracts. Some of the issues fixed include a resizing regression in Writer, image rendering issue in Writer, formatting and editing issues in Math, and lots of crashes and importing bugs. Downloads are available at

The project is actually older than a mere three years, but is today celebrating the time since incorporated in February 2012. The first beta release was offered to the public with their original announcement in October 2010. The first stable release arrived January 2011.

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