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Google Shuts the Door on QuickOffice, as its Work is Done

Monday 30th of June 2014 03:12:37 PM

At last week's Google I/O conference, the company announced new levels of compatibility with Microsoft Office documents in its Google Docs cloud-based applications, including the ability to edit Office documents. These capabilities are driven through QuickOffice, a toolset that Google acquired back in 2012. Quickoffice has provided close compatibility with the Microsoft Office file formats, ranging from .doc to .xlsx, for users of Google Docs.

Now, Google has announced that it has halted development of Quickoffice and will soon pull the free toolset from the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

According to the Google Apps blog:

"With the integration of Quickoffice into the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps, the Quickoffice app will be unpublished from Google Play and the App Store in the coming weeks. Existing users with the app can continue to use it, but no features will be added and new users will not be able to install the app."

The whole acquisition of QuickOffice had to do with Google's need to provide compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, which are dominant in enterprises. In particular, users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint want to avoid having to convert files to Google's own formats, and losing data and formatting in the process.

These capabilities in Google Apps have much promise for helping Google gain entrenchment in enterprises. On the Android mobile app versions of Google Docs, Sheets and Slides the new Office compatibility features are in place, which can also help Android get a foothold in enterprises.

According to Google's announcement back when QuickOffice was acquired:

"Today, consumers, businesses and schools use Google Apps to get stuff done from anywhere, with anyone and on any device. Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we'll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite."

Now, it looks like QuickOffice's work is done.

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Google Shuts the Door on QuickOffice, as its Work is Done

Monday 30th of June 2014 03:12:34 PM

At last week's Google I/O conference, the company announced new levels of compatibility with Microsoft Office documents in its Google Docs cloud-based applications, including the ability to edit Office documents. These capabilities are driven through QuickOffice, a toolset that Google acquired back in 2012. Quickoffice has provided close compatibility with the Microsoft Office file formats, ranging from .doc to .xlsx, for users of Google Docs.

Now, Google has announced that it has halted development of Quickoffice and will soon pull the free toolset from the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

According to the Google Apps blog:

"With the integration of Quickoffice into the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps, the Quickoffice app will be unpublished from Google Play and the App Store in the coming weeks. Existing users with the app can continue to use it, but no features will be added and new users will not be able to install the app."

The whole acquisition of QuickOffice had to do with Google's need to provide compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, which are dominant in enterprises. In particular, users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint want to avoid having to convert files to Google's own formats, and losing data and formatting in the process.

These capabilities in Google Apps have much promise for helping Google gain entrenchment in enterprises. On the Android mobile app versions of Google Docs, Sheets and Slides the new Office compatibility features are in place, which can also help Android get a foothold in enterprises.

According to Google's announcement back when QuickOffice was acquired:

"Today, consumers, businesses and schools use Google Apps to get stuff done from anywhere, with anyone and on any device. Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we'll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite."

Now, it looks like QuickOffice's work is done.

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Red Hat Delivers Cloud Certification Plan, and Teams with HP

Monday 30th of June 2014 02:59:12 PM

When Red Hat announced very solid quarterly earnings a few days ago, CEO Jim Whitehurst was quick to attribute part of the strong performance to his company's new focus on cloud computing. In discussing the enterprises that pay Red Hat for subcription support and services, he said: "These are some of the most sophisticated IT organizations in the world, and many continue to increase their purchases from Red Hat to modernize their IT infrastructure with cloud enabling technologies."

I've made the point before that Red is pinning its future on cloud computing and OpenStack in particular.  But for Red Hat to succeed with its OpenStack plans, it needs to be able to assure enterprise users that they are using tested and interoperable tools. With that in mind, the company has announced a new cloud management certification for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform as part of the Red Hat OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network.

Red Hat has been working closely with cloud and network management solution providers, including iBMC and HP. As members of the Red Hat OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network, these vendors are supporting Red Hat's platform certification process. 

Radhesh Balakrishnan, Red Hat's general manager of virtualization and OpenStack said, in a statement: 

“As OpenStack is becoming a core element of the enterprise cloud strategy for many customers, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform is architected and backed by the broadest partner ecosystem to be the preferred platform. The growth and maturity of the ecosystem reflects the evolution of the product moving from addressing infrastructure-centric alignment to help with early deployments to now be well-managed, to be part of enterprise hybrid cloud implementations.”

Atul Garg, vice president and general manager of Cloud and Automation at HP added:

“We are excited to work with Red Hat to certify HP Cloud Service Automation and its solutions with Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, to help our mutual customers build and manage private and hybrid cloud services. Our joint efforts are aimed at enabling customers to have choice and flexibility as they deploy cloud environments which can easily flex and adapt to business needs while supporting heterogeneity and leveraging existing investments in the datacenter.”

As enterprises deploy OpenStack, they are increasingly concerned about being able to use existing infrastructure and management tools with their deployments. The expansion of Red Hat’s certification program to include cloud management solutions is intended to help enterprises who want to deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform in a private cloud to feel confident in using their management solutions of choice.

One other notable thing about the new certification program is that it deepens Red Hat's partnership with HP, which is also focused on OpenStack. It will be worth watching what else comes from that partnership, and, without a doubt, the cloud is the new battleground for winning enterprise users.


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Paying With Your Time

Sunday 29th of June 2014 03:49:13 PM

Nicole Engard takes that phrase that you get what you paid for with open source head on at Opensource.com. The phrase is normally used in a derogative fashion, but Nichole accepts the phrase and makes it her own by explaining how everyone benefits when you pay with your time.

In the world of standard economics, nothing is ever truly free of cost. If something is given to you for nothing, someone had to pay for it at some point along the line. In the modern, advertising based economy, If you are not paying with your money, than you are most likely paying with your personal information. Another example of would be public services, which are normally paid for with taxes. In the world of open source, the phrase is normally meant to imply that the program you are obtaining for free is of such low quality that it has little to no value. “Oh, you are having a problem with that open source app? Well, you get what you paid for!” Laughter ensues.

Nicole has a different view on the concept:

Well, with open source you can always pay to get new features written, but you also can pay with your time to improve the product. If ‘free’ can mean multiple things, so can ‘pay’. When it comes to open source, you have the freedom to improve the product and that means you can pay with your time (reporting bugs, suggesting features, writing documentation, etc), your skills (writing code, debugging software, etc), or your money, to improve the product at any time.

When you participate in open source, more than just downloading and running the app, you help make it better for everyone. Anyone can be a detractor, it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and mock those who are trying to build something good for the world, but it is much more worthwhile to spend our time, talent, and energy to make things better. After all, “it’s not the critic who counts”. Nicole agrees:

If however you just download the product and use it for free, then you don’t have the right to complain when it doesn’t do what you want.

As a writer, I’ve found myself on both sides of this fence numerous times. Sometimes when I find something so frustrating its tempting to abandon it and look somewhere else. What I struggle to remind myself is that when the process works, when we all really get open source, the applications get better, faster. We give back to something bigger than ourselves, and in giving back we become a part of it.

No matter what your skill set is, there is a place for you to participate in open source. You don’t need to be a programmer, you can be a writer, designer, or tester, or most importantly, you can be an average human trying to get things done, and report back to the community what does and doesn’t work for you. By paying with your time, everyone profits.

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Wallen on KDE, Quiet Revolution, and Ryan Gordon on Gaming

Saturday 28th of June 2014 03:18:09 AM

Our top story on this Friday night is Andrew Smith's blog post titled Linux is the quiet revolution that will leave Microsoft eating dust. Next up, Jack Wallen is probably answering Jos Poortvliet's Where KDE is going in his post today on KDE. And finally today, Ryan "Icculus" Gordon speaks about the Linux gaming industry.

Andrew Smith at The Conversation today said all kinds of good things about Linux, most we've heard before but it's still nice. Smith, who is associated with the Linux Professional Institute by disclosure, concludes, "Linux is free and much more pervasive than the average computer user might think. You can easily install Linux on any home computer, many tablets and even your own private supercomputer, so you should think about switching." How can you resist a title like Linux is the quiet revolution that will leave Microsoft eating dust?

Jack Wallen raked KDE and its users over the coals today as he said KDE has done all this innovating last X number of years and yet hasn't actually gotten anywhere. "Stagnant" is the word he used. He said those of us who love KDE "fear change or cling to the idea that the only way to effectively interact with a PC is the age-old metaphor that includes a start menu, a task bar, and a system tray." Yikes, it's like he's got a crystal ball! Well, good news / bad news Wallen says, "KDE 4.13.1 is as rock solid as KDE has ever been, [but] preaching to the choir doesn't increase the choir."

And finally today, GamingOnLinux scored another one today with their find of Ryan Gordon's presentation of gaming on Linux. They report he reminisces about his days at Loki and before (and since). Liam Dawe may not remember Gordon, but I certainly do. I remember when the name "Icculus" was revered almost as much as Linus Torvalds. Linux would have had a lot less gaming over the years if not for Icculus.

In other gaming news, Linux User & Developer has a piece on Linux gaming too featuring interviews with SteamOS developers and a review of SteamOS 1.0 Alchemist.

 And bonus today:   Exploiting wildcards on Linux.

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Ubuntu's Ties to OpenStack Bring it to IBM's Servers and Beyond

Friday 27th of June 2014 03:03:51 PM

It's no secret that Ubuntu Linux already has a disproportionately large presence in the OpenStack arena. Within the OpenStack ecosystem, users go with Ubuntu 55 percent of the time as their host operating system, according to the OpenStack Foundation's survey, a surprising statistic that Matt Asay discussed in a recent post. And, as Canonical announced several months ago, its OpenStack Interoperability Lab is playing a key role in how many enterprises gain confidence in deploying OpenStack.

But to really ensure its future in the OpenStack arena, Ubuntu needs to run on non-x86 hardware platforms. That's why Canonical has announced full support for IBM POWER8 machines on Ubuntu Cloud.

POWER8 is IBM's platform for wooing enterprise users interested in Big Data and fast performance. In early June, Canonical announced the official general availability of Power8 servers running Ubuntu.

As The VAR Guy notes:

"SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are also now compatible with POWER8, so to a certain extent, Canonical's keenness for ensuring broad compatibility between the hardware platform and Ubuntu is simply about remaining competitive against other open source server and cloud operating systems. But by building the entire Ubuntu software repositories for POWER8, Canonical is also positioning itself to hold on to its lead within the OpenStack market—as well as to develop new strengths in the evolving Big Data world."

 Red Hat is emerging as a big competitor to Canonical in the OpenStack race. Red Hat has been deepening its ties with Dell in offering hardware that comes pre-loaded with Red Hat's Linux and OpenStack platforms.  Red Hat has a far reaching deal with Dell in which Dell will effectively become an OEM for Red Hat's Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, by selling systems that run it. Canonical has to keep up with these hardware and software mashups, and is focused on doing so on the POWER8 platform. 

Ubuntu's evolution has become ever more tied to cloud computing, and its development cycle is now even tied to the development cycle of OpenStack. Look for OpenStack to play an ever more central role in how Ubuntu is developed over time, and which hardware platforms it is optimized for.

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The Cloud is the New Battleground for Winning Enterprise Users

Friday 27th of June 2014 02:43:32 PM

This week brought many news items that underscore the fact that the cloud is becoming a key battleground for Microsoft and Google, especially as they battle for enterprise users. To begin with, Microsoft announced a much more attractive pricing strategy for its OneDrive cloud storage service, including 15 GB free for any user, and price reductions of as much as 70 percent for paid customers.

Meanwhile, Google announced new levels of compatibility with Microsoft Office documents in its Google Docs cloud-based applications, including the ability to edit Office documents. Google is also offering essentially unlimited amounts of cloud storage for $10 a month.

The fact that Google Docs users can now edit Microsoft Office files through Google's cloud-based platform makes Docs a viable replacement for Microsoft Office as a full-time home office option, but it will also serve many enterprise users who demand Office compatibility. Updates to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides are now available via the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Meanwhile, many people forget that new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was previously head of Microsoft's cloud division. This week, Microsoft announced hugely attractive freebies and incentives for users of its OneDrive cloud storage service, and Nadella no doubt signed off on these. 

Office 365 customers now get 1 TB of storage up from 20 GB per account before. If you pay for OneDrive but don't have Office, you can still get 100 GB for $1.99 per month and 200 GB for $3.99 per month. Those plans previously cost $7.49 and $11.49 All free OneDrive accounts come with 15 GB of storage, more than twice what was offered before.

There is much more driving this than just the fact that storage costs are falling in the cloud. Just as productivity applications were previously a big battleground for winning enterprise users, data storage in the cloud is the new enterprise battleground.

As The New York Times notes:

"Soon, keeping your digital goods will also be the means for tech companies to understand who does what inside a business, just the way they understand consumers by watching what they do on the web."

"Online digital storage, the repository of an increasing amount of our business and personal lives, is changing from being a small part of computing to the core way of selling corporations other kinds of cloud software and services."

The platelets are shifting as Google and Microsoft compete fiercely for dominion in the cloud, and free applications and free storage are the bonuses that users can take advantage of as this plays out. 


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UT Update and the Futures of Fedora and KDE

Friday 27th of June 2014 03:12:30 AM

Our top story tonight is the update on the progress of upcoming Unreal Tournament. GamingOnLinux has the details. In other news, Jos Poortvliet today explored "where the KDE community currently stands and where it is going." And finally, Libby Clark spoke to Fedora project lead Matthew Miller about Fedora's future.

GamingOnLinux is reporting that Unreal Tournament "is coming along." They link to a video of the developers discussing the latest and sum it up as well. They say many elements have been added and community members have been working on "awesome looking" characters, weapons, maps, and environments. Liam Dawe says it'll probably be playable soon.

Jos Poortvliet posted on The Dot today on "where the KDE community currently stands and where it is going." Basically, KDE is heading towards a one size fits all model, but Poortvliet says KDE is the only one who's been able to accomplish it. See his full post for all the details.

In that same vein, Matthew Miller discusses "what's next for Fedora" in an article by Libby Clark at Linux.com. She says, "Miller aims to bring more attention, and importance, to the operating system and, more specifically, the Fedora project by focusing more on its role as a platform for innovation in the cloud, and any other new technologies that may arise in the future." Beyond the tech, Miller says Fedora is hoping to be more inviting to newcomers in the future.

Bonus: Blender 2.71 Brings Rendering, Modelling Improvements

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PLUMgrid Offers Networking Suite for Securing OpenStack

Thursday 26th of June 2014 03:04:37 PM

Ask many IT adminstrators about sticky issues they are facing as they pursue OpenStack deployments, and lots of them will say that they are wrestling with the security features built into the platform. Enterprises simply don't want to trust a cloud platform and move apps and data to the cloud without having confidence in platform security.

Now, OpenStack may be getting an assist in this area from software-defined networking (SDN) vendor PLUMgrid. PLUMgrid's just released OpenStack Networking Suite provides virtual networking  and security through many cutting-edge technologies.

Neutron, previously known as Quantum, is an OpenStack project focused on delivering networking as a service, and PLUMgrid's OpenStack Networking Suite works with Neutron, allowing cloud administrators to create and manage virtual cloud networks. The PLUMgrid suite integrates with the current OpenStack Icehouse release and the OpenStack Havana release that arrived in 2013.

According to PLUMgrid's announcement:

"Whether building a Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) on OpenStack, your cloud is only as good as the virtual network infrastructure you choose. The PLUMgrid OpenStack Networking Suite is a secure, comprehensive and open software-only solution that delivers terabits of performance and scales across tens of thousands of workloads. Built on PLUMgrid Platform and IO Visor technology, it provides highly automated workflows that significantly reduce the deployment time of OpenStack clouds and enables users to create private Virtual Domains for applications and projects. Virtual Domains provide isolation, security and policy enforcement across tenants. It ships with a rich set of distributed virtual network functions such as routers, switches, NAT, IPAM, DHCP, security policies, end-to-end encryption, and third party Layer 4-7 serviceinsertion. These network functions provide the capabilities and scale required for today's cloud applications."

"By providing a comprehensive suite of capabilities and fully distributed Virtual Networking Functions (VNF), PLUMgrid OpenStack Networking Suite overcomes the scale, availability, feature set and lifecycle limitations of OpenStack Networking."

You can find out much more about PLUMgrid's suite here.

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Android L Could Help Google Crack the Enteprise Market

Thursday 26th of June 2014 02:46:47 PM

The Google I/O conference is underway, and, as forecasted here, Android is the star of the event. Not only is Android headed for smartwatches, cars and televisions according to announcements made this at the conference, but it is also going to become much more widely accepted in enterprises if Google has its way.

Android "L," the next generation of the open operating system, is going to arrive this fall, Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and applications for Google, said.  It features enterprise-focused security and management features, along with productivity tools that businesses can leverage.

With Android, Google is also clearly cozying up to Samsung. Officials at Google I/O said that some upcoming security features for devices include components aimed only at Samsung devices running Samsung's Knox security software. Android is also headed for Samsung TVs, but not all TVs.

According to a Computerworld report:

"Calling the enterprise capabilities 'Android for Work,' [Pichai] said all Android smartphones will have the ability to partition personal data from work data, to make it easier for IT staffs to monitor apps and data being used for work-related purposes. Knox, first introduced by Samsung in early 2013, provides the ability to partition work from personal data on many of its smartphones and tablets."

When Android L arrives, it will be much easier for enterprise users to carry just one Android phone, because APIs are going to be streamlined so that developers can deliver tools for business and personal use. 

All new apps for workplaces will be available through the Google Play store and bulk enterprise purchases are expected.

There is also an Android L Developer Preview, which already features lots of new APIs to make Android simpler and more consistent on all types of screens, and Google is out with an extensive post on the new security approaches for Android.

Adding security- and work-related features to Android is a smart move for Google, which hasn't really cracked the enterprise market with Android yet. Many IT departments object to Android for security reasons, in particular. We may see that change, in short order.


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New Linus Interview, LinuxQuestions.org, and Floundering Ubuntu

Thursday 26th of June 2014 06:23:17 AM

Linus Torvalds, father of Linux and hero to the masses, says find something you love so you'll stick with it. In a new interview with the IEEE Computer Society Torvalds speaks of Linux, Open Source, and developing them. In other news today, LinuxQuestions.org turns fourteen and Petros Koutoupis says Canonical is "a company in dire need of a clear objective."

Linus Torvalds spoke with the IEEE Computer Society about Linux and the philosophy that's served him well over the years. Torvalds received the 2014 IEEE Computer Society Computer Pioneer Award for his lifetime work on Linux. InfoWorld.com has posted the video and some excerpts of the interview today. One notable quote from Linus says, "The philosophy is not to look for big questions to be solved," he says. "I want to solve problems, but I want to solve my problems. I don't want to go looking for other people's problems to solve."

Jeremy Garcia started LinuxQuestions.org 14 years ago with the purpose of providing one place any Linux user could turn for help on any distribution. Garcia marked the occasion yesterday with a short post also including fun facts, obligatory thanks, and an announcement.

Blogger Petros Koutoupis posted yesterday that Canonical is "a company in dire need of a clear objective." Koutoupis pulls out many of the mistakes and backtracks of Canonical over the years and basically says that Canonical just doesn't really know what to do. It seems to be throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. He says, "Canonical needs to sit down and do some soul searching. It needs to figure out what it wants to be and then define how it will get there."

And finally today, Arindam Sen is back with another one of his great reviews, this time Netrunner 14 "Frontier." He said, "Netrunner is the best looking KDE spin even in my experience of using hundreds of operating systems." While looks scored a perfect 10 out 10 with Sen, hardware recognition scored 80% and performance earned 7 out of 10. But check out all of Sen's benchmarks and scores for this lovely distro at Linuxed.

Bonus: The Motley Fool says, Red Hat Looks Poised for Further Gains After a Solid First Quarter.

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Linux is Everywhere - Supercomputers to Mobile Phones

Thursday 26th of June 2014 02:08:24 AM

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, writing for ZDNet, once again reminds us that Linux dominates supercomputers. SJVN linked to the latest Top500 group results, showing Linux makes up for 97% of the five hundred fastest computers in the world. This is the biggest of the big iron, the top supercomputer has 1,024,000 GB of RAM and 3,120,000 Intel Xeon cores, running Kylin Linux.

With Linux being the clear OS of choice among the hot rod builders, where does proprietary Unix fit into the picture? Increasingly, the answer appears to be that it doesn't.

Of the remaining 16, 13 run Unix. They appear to be running IBM AIX since they're all running on IBM Power processors. The fastest of these boxes, the United Kingdom's weather predicting system, ECMWF, ranked 60th in the world.

I've written before about how proprietary Unix has had its day, and is now on the decline. IBM has seen the writing on the wall, and is now investing its money in Linux development. AIX is more difficult to administer, and has an install base exponentially smaller than Linux.

The importance of Linux being the primary operating system on the hot rods of the computing industry is that Linux benefits from the performance tuning from groups all over the world that are interested in eking out every last drop of performance from their machines. Neither AIX, Solaris, or HP-UX are represented at large scale here because they are either expensive, difficult to work with, slow, or all of the above.

There are parallels to be made here between the biggest computers, and the smallest. Both platforms need to be able to perform as fast as possible, albeit for different reasons. Supercomputers are dedicated to solving big problems, while mobile devices are resource constrained. Mobile devices need to be quick and responsive to be viable in the market, supercomputers need to be able to crunch as much data as possible in as short an amount of time as possible, and no matter what, it is never fast enough.

That a single operating system is the beneficiary of the work from both sides of the spectrum means that there will continue to be good things in the future for Linux. It also means that the job market for Linux administration and development skills will continue to grow. No matter how it is looked at, now is a great time to be part of the Linux community.

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Android and New Device Types to Share Spotlight at Google I/O

Wednesday 25th of June 2014 03:29:36 PM

The Google I/O conference begins today, including live video feeds, and it's already clear from advance notice on the sessions and discussion topics that Android and new device types for Google's platforms will share the spotlight at the event.

Traditionally, there are many open source sessions and tracks at Google I/O and this time shouldn't be any different. There are rumors of robotics news and lots of news surrounding Android-powered smartwatches is expected.

Google I/O usually serves as a forum for developers and engineers to get word from Google on where they might focus their efforts over the upcoming year. It's clear from this year's conference sessions that Android will be a big point of focus. There are sessions on Android and the cloud, and sessions on bringing Android to new hardware form factors. 

Google is aiming well beyond smartphones and tablets with Android, and the Android platform has become one of the biggest open source successes of all time. As Computerworld notes, you can expect talk of Andoid smartwatches and more new gadgets at Google I/O:

"During I/O, Google could launch or at least give more details about Android-connected smartwatches, a health-tracking system that would run on those watches, and Android-based systems for cars and televisions, according to rumors."

"Google earlier this year announced Android Wear, a version of Android designed to power a new wave of wearable devices, including smartwatches. The idea is to focus less on Android's typical grid layout -- that would look ugly on a watch -- and enable more functions based on voice commands and quick taps. Last week Google revealed more of its thinking on the OS in a YouTube video."

Apple is also said to be working away on new smartwatches based on iOS, so we could see Android and iOS competing on watches much as they have on smartphones and tablets. Google I/O will provide a barometer for how seriously that face-off can be taken.

Among other Android-focused sessions at Google I/O, there will be discussions on bringing Android to cars. In cars too, Google is expected to start squaring off with Apple, possibly with a new automotive operating system.

OStatic will be reporting on Google I/O through the rest of the week. Stay tuned.


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Twilio and Google Mashup Optimizes Chromebooks for Call Centers

Wednesday 25th of June 2014 03:15:56 PM

Twilio, which offers a software and cloud-based communications platform, has announced a collaboration with Google to deliver enterprise communications solutions on Chromebooks. Twilio CX for Chromebooks is a product that combines Twilio's software and Web-RTC communications tools and voice minutes with Chromebooks and voice headsets from Plantronics.

Twilio will depend on partners to bring Twilio CX to market. Customer service startup LiveOps has signed up as an early partner, leveraging the new solution for call centers. If other similar partners bite, Chromebooks could suddenly find a healthy new market in call centers. 

"Powerful software in the cloud is disrupting every industry. Old hardware-centric approaches are holding back companies, hindering innovation and limiting their ability to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of their customers," said Jeff Lawson, Twilio co-founder and CEO, in a statement. "The combination of Twilio's communication platform with a Google Chromebook for Business, can enable enterprises of all sizes to jettison old-school on-premises hardware and the massive associated capex, and gain the agility and flexibility that cloud and software-based communications enables. We can't wait to see what customers will build when they're unshackled from the usual constraints of expensive hardware and siloed systems." 

Call centers and support in general are huge money sinks for many businesses, so the cloud and its pay-as-you-go model holds promise for them.

Specifically, Twilio CX consists of:

-- The Twilio Client with its WebRTC capabilities, enabling browsers to be turned into communications solutions

-- 7,500 Twilio minutes per month

-- Google Chromebook for Business: A Chromebook including management and support, allowing businesses deploy, scale and manage Chrome devices

-- A Plantronics headset 

"Chromebook for Business was designed to provide simple, powerful experiences for administrators and end users," said Mike Daoust, Global Head of Chrome for Business Sales, Google, in a statement. "We're excited to work with Twilio and LiveOps to provide a secure and manageable call center solution in the cloud, helping businesses and agents focus on what they do best, versus battling complex hardware and software configurations. This ultimately improves the experiences for administrators, agents and the end customer."

LiveOps will reportedly leverage Twilio CX in an attempt to eliminate the costly physical phones and desktop computers that dominate call centers. 

You can learn more here, and find a video illustrating how Twilio and Chromebooks can work together in support scenarios.


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Linux Domination, Ubuntu Uncertainty, and Nerdy Enlightenment

Wednesday 25th of June 2014 02:42:31 AM

There are some interesting stories today in Linuxville. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is reporting that Linux dominates on supercomputers more than ever. Arstechnica says "Mint 17 is the perfect place for Linux-ers to wait out Ubuntu uncertainty." Linux Tycoon Bryan Lunduke reviews Enlightenment 17 and Jamie Watson says Makulu Linux 6 makes him smile. This and more in tonight's Linux news recap.

Over at ZDNet, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reports the findings that Linux is once again the fastest operating system on the world's leading supercomputers. But not only that, Vaughan-Nichols says, "In the latest contest, not only did Linux dominate, but Linux showed that is slowly pushing out all its competitors." Linux runs on 97% of them. Only two of the Top 500 run Windows, the other 13 Unix. Despite their speed records, Linux developers are still trying to go even faster because Vaughan-Nichols says, "research and businesses, especially the stock markets and trading companies, not only want but need even faster computers."

Another notable on ZDNet today is Jamie Watson's review of Makulu Linux 6.0 KDE saying it's "guaranteed to make you smile." This release ships with Linux 3.14.7, KDE 4.13.1, and a more modern but cranky installer. He says of this release, "It's big, it's beautiful, it's fun, and it is chock full of just about everything imaginable." He concludes that it's about as much fun as one can have with a Linux distribution.

arstechnica reviews Mint 17 saying it's an important release because of being based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. They contend Mint and its users can sit back and enjoy Mint while Ubuntu suffers the growing pains of Mir and Unity until 2016. Reviewer Scott Gilbertson says Mint 17 is a "great base" to update the next two years. He looks at both the Cinnamon and MATE versions of Mint 17 closely, but touches on the Xfce and Debian editions as well as the common elements of them all. Gilbertson concludes, "Linux Mint 17 makes a fantastic Linux desktop right now. It's stable, familiar enough for Windows refugees to pick it up without missing a beat, and has all the familiar tools Ubuntu fans would expect."

Speaking of Ubuntu, The Var Guy posted of the Ubuntu website updates. Posts from the Design Team have been appearing on the company website on the topic of its designs for a while, but today Christopher Tozzi summed it all up nicely saying, "All of these updates are good news for Canonical's customers and partners. But what makes the changes truly remarkable is how far Ubuntu's Web presence has evolved since the operating system's debut nearly 10 years ago, when ubuntu.com looked like this, and the landing page primarily featured images of people dressed in workout clothes."

In other news, The desktop-a-week review: Enlightenment, Fedora Linux running on the Amazon Fire TV, and Jim Zemlin to Wall Street: Why open source will lead the way.

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Mozilla Delivers Built-in HTML5 App Development Tool for Firefox

Tuesday 24th of June 2014 03:18:09 PM

If you work with web content at all, you're probably familiar with doing debugging and content editing directly from within a browser. If you're a Firefox user, you may also be very familiar with tools such as Firebug, which lets you do extensive debugging and development from within Firefox.

Now, Mozilla has announced a new toolset to take these kinds of capabilities to the next level.  Firefox Nightly release channel users can start testing WebIDE, a development environment for HTML5 apps built into Firefox.

According to Mozilla Hacks:

"Developers tell us that they are not sure how to start app development on the Web, with so many different tools and templates that they need to download from a variety of different sources. We’re solving that problem with WebIDE, built directly into Firefox. Instead of starting from zero we provide you with a functioning blueprint app with the click of a button. You then have all the tools you need to start creating your own app based on a solid foundation. WebIDE helps you create, edit, and test a new Web application right from your browser. It lets you install and test apps on Firefox OS devices and simulators and integrates the Firefox Developer Tools for seamless debugging and inspection across those devices. This is a first step towards debugging across various platforms and devices over WiFi using open remote debugging APIs."

After opening WebIDE you start creating by choosing from a set of example starter templates – and Mozilla is working with the community to build a variety of additional examples. You can help creating templates by visiting https://github.com/mozilla/mortar.

Mozilla has delivered integrated development tools before, such as Bespin, but WebIDE looks more ambitious.

WebIDE is also designed to work with complementary tools. An API allows external editors to access advanced functionality in WebIDE – its runtime management, pushing applications to different devices and connecting Firefox Developer Tools. You can turn off the internal editor and leave WebIDE with a clean interface for managing runtimes and validating applications. 

For a detailed, visual introduction to how WebIDE works, take a look at this screencast.

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Cloudera, Dell and Intel Partner on Enterprise Hadoop Appliances

Tuesday 24th of June 2014 02:53:22 PM

Cloudera has been on a tear lately. The company, a pioneering startup focused on enterprise analytic data management powered by Hadoop, recently raised a staggering $900 million round of financing with participation by top tier institutional and strategic investors. 

Now, in a new announcement, Cloudera, Dell and Intel said they will launch a dedicated Dell In-Memory Appliance for Cloudera Enterprise, to be known as Dell Engineered Systems for Cloudera Enterprise. It's basically an integrated appliance solution that can make advanced Hadoop-driven analytics easy to implement in data centers. 

"Designed from the silicon up, this appliance can enable certain applications to run up to 100x faster, is easy to use and deploy, and is compatible with existing solutions," the partners claim. The announcement also notes this:

"The Dell In-Memory Appliances for Cloudera Enterprise include Cloudera Enterprise with Apache Spark (incubating) for faster processing of highly complex data streams, ScaleMP's Versatile SMP (vSMP) architecture to aggregate multiple servers into a single virtual machine for the creation of large memory pools for in-memory processing. The solution is built on the Intel(R) Xeon(R) processor-based Dell R920 hardware systems for scalability and performance. The solution easily scales from a single system to an unlimited number of nodes, and is compatible with existing data center infrastructure."

"The innovative use of memory as well as CPU in large distributed systems is essential to the performance and scalability required by real-time analytics of streaming data," said Ron Kasabian, vice president and general manager of Big Data Solutions at Intel, in a statement. "The Intel(R) Xeon(R) processor family powers a new generation of big data solutions such as the Dell Engineered Systems that are specifically optimized for in-memory computing and delivering memory scalability. Intel continues to invest in enhancing machine learning and graph analytics frameworks on the open source Apache* Hadoop data platform, including Apache* Spark, and to optimize them for Intel Xeon processors."

Cloudera Enterprise -- a data hub -- is 100 percent Apache Hadoop open source at its core. It includes centralized management, enterprise-level security and governance, real-time analytics with Apache Spark and is compatible with existing data center environments and tools. Apache Spark, which facilitates real-time analytics, is an open source, parallel data processing framework that complements Apache Hadoop for fast, unified big data applications combining batch, streaming, and interactive analytics on data.

The Dell In-Memory Appliances for Cloudera Enterprise will be available in pre-sized, pre-configured options for enterprise customers running various types of applications. More information is available here.  

“The market opportunity for companies to gain insight and build transformative applications based on Hadoop is tremendous,” said Tom Reilly, CEO of Cloudera, in a recent statement. “Clearly, demand is accelerating and the market is poised for growth – for all of the players in this space, and we believe Cloudera will be the company to lead this global shift in extracting value from data."

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25 Great Games, Ubuntu Tips, and Red Hat Downer

Tuesday 24th of June 2014 01:27:30 AM

Linux Mint 17 KDE and Xfce were released today, but some of the website is down. Matt Hartley has some tips for new Ubuntu users. Russia is planning to switch to Linux (and Russian chipsets) reports Glyn Moody. David Meyer says Opera is back on Linux and gurufocus.com says Red Hat isn't a good investment. All that and more in tonight's Linux news report.

First up tonight, Linux Mint 17 KDE was finally released just under a month after the others. Unfortunately, the blog portion where the announcement is posted is experiencing a database error. The release notes are still working as are the forums (although the forums are going down as I type). Yep, the whole domain is down now. I'm sure it as well as the download page will be back up probably before I hit publish.

Over at datamation.com, Matt Hartley offers a "reality check" to new Ubuntu users. First, why are you trying to switch to Linux he asks and suggests not expecting it to look familiar. Then he offers tips for choosing a distribution and applications. He discusses malware a bit before getting to the punchline.

gurufocus.com published today why Red Hat isn't such a good investment despite all the good news, positive ratings, and buy recommendations flying about. They say it's going to be difficult for Red Hat to keep up its growth rate and that it's a bit risky attempting growth through acquisitions. Finally they say, "As much as the law of large numbers and acquisition strategy could be troubling issues, what really magnifies the potential downside for the Red Hat stock price is the company's extremely generous valuation."

David Meyer at gigaom.com is reporting that Opera is back on Linux, albeit "in the low-stability developer stream" and only available for Ubuntu. We can look forward to last year's advancements in next year's Opera 24.

Glyn Moody today reported that not only is the Russian government swearing off Intel and AMD chips, but Microsoft will no longer be tolerated. Moody says there's little Microsoft can do to persuade Russia to stay since their stated goal is security not savings.

PCWorld.com has put together a slideshow of the top 25 Linux games on sale now at Steam. Speaking of games, Chin Wong looks at how far Linux gaming has come in recent years and concludes, "All you’ll need is your Linux PC—and enough time to play all those great games."

In other news, Should Everyone Learn to Code?, Whatever Happened to These Red-Hot Linux Distros?, and DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 564, 23 June 2014.

UPDATE: The Linux Mint sites are coming back up at this time.

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One Improvement the Linux Desktop Needs

Monday 23rd of June 2014 07:43:19 PM

Datamation recently posted an article by Bruce Byfield listing 7 Improvements The Linux Desktop Needs. Byfield's list includes a few interesting suggestions, like "a workable menu", and "color-coded title bars", and a request for better desktop email, document processors, and video editors. In the end, Byfield recognizes that his list is very specific to his needs, and claims that Linux has very little left to add. Unfortunately, Byfield misses the one obvious addition that the Linux desktop has always needed, more users.

For completeness, the Datamation list is:

  • Easy Email Encryption
  • A Professional, Affordable Video Editor
  • A Document Processor
  • A Workable Menu
  • Thumbnails for Virtual Workspaces
  • Color-Coded Title Bars
  • Icon Fences

I rearranged the list to group application requests and operating system user interface features. The first three, email, video editor, and documents, are actually a desire to have a larger application developer ecosystem available for Linux. It's possible to make the argument that Linux has the biggest ecosystem in the world, and that may be true considering the distributed nature of the many projects that make up a Linux desktop, but the size of the developer pool is not what counts, it's the variety and quality of the available applications. Commercial application developers like Adobe are not going to consider Linux a viable market until we reach some unknown threshold of users reachable under a common SDK.

The second part of Byfield's list concerns usability enhancements to the desktop environment. I'm quite certain that I would not want color-coded title bars, and I quite like launching applications by keyboard through Unity. Fences sound interesting, but he offers no suggestions for an alternative to nested menus. Given the abundance of desktop environments available on Linux, I would be surprised if there were none in existence that at least partially solved his needs. Usability in a computing environment is often a response to feedback from users. Users get confused, feel lost in the interface, and use the applications in ways that developers never imagined or intended. Here again we have an instance where the small user base of desktop Linux is a hindrance to it's continued improvement. Development in an echo chamber gives us lots of whiz-bang features, but fewer real achievements in advancing the user experience.

Byfield summarizes the struggle many have with using desktop Linux in their day to day work:

Although I have heard of indie directors using native Linux video editors, the reason I have heard of their efforts is usually because of their complaints. Others prefer to minimize the struggle and edit on other operating systems instead.

Despite all the improvements we have made over the years, Linux is still too hard. We need more users, more designers, and more UX experts looking at and using Linux desktops every day to isolate and eliminate these pain points. The way we gain more users is concentrate on the user experience during every step of development. The more people we have extolling the virtues of the Linux desktop, the more people it will attract to the platform. Eventually, developers will follow the people, but we've got to provide a solid foundation first.

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Google's BoringSSL Aspires to Be the Hassle-Free Version of OpenSSL

Monday 23rd of June 2014 03:27:31 PM

If you mention OpenSSL to many people, the first thing that comes to mind is the notorious Heartbleed bug that surfaced in April and can possibly allow hackers to compromise encrypted systems and connections.

But OpenSSL is actually one of the most influential open source projects ever, and had a sterling reputation until its involvement in the Heartbleed debacle.

Now, Google is developing its own version of OpenSSL that will be especially relevant for its own platforms and applications. Welcome to BoringSSL.

Adam Langley, a Google software engineer, confirmed on his personal blog that in addition to creating BoringSSL, Google will contribute its changes to the OpenSSL open source community and leverage bug fixes from that team. He writes:

"We have used a number of patches on top of OpenSSL for many years. Some of them have been accepted into the main OpenSSL repository, but many of them don’t mesh with OpenSSL’s guarantee of API and ABI stability and many of them are a little too experimental."

"But as Android, Chrome and other products have started to need some subset of these patches, things have grown very complex. The effort involved in keeping all these patches (and there are more than 70 at the moment) straight across multiple code bases is getting to be too much."

"So we’re switching models to one where we import changes from OpenSSL rather than rebasing on top of them. The result of that will start to appear in the Chromium repository soon and, over time, we hope to use it in Android and internally too."

According to the post, the name "BoringSSL" is aspirational, as in the kind of SSL that never creates a hiccup.

OpenSSL remains a key encryption bridge and Google has been able to enhance widely used open components before, so BoringSSL may be a project to welcome. 

The BoringSSL team will also use code contributions from LibreSSL, a fork of OpenSSL that began after the Heartbleed bug appeared.

"We have already relicensed some of our prior contributions to OpenSSL under an ISC license at their request and completely new code that we write will also be so licensed," Langley also confirms in his post.

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