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As Chromeboks Sell Well, Microsoft Takes Notice

Wednesday 16th of July 2014 02:56:08 PM

As this year began, we covered the fact that analysts were at odds over just how well Chromebooks--portable computers based on Google's Chrome OS platform--were selling. Part of what drove so many year-end stories in the media about how well Chromebooks were doing was that they were consistenly among the top selling portable computers on sites like Amazon. But some reporters extrapolated that into pronouncements that Chromebooks are threatening Windows laptops for market share, doing so in businesses, etc.

Well, now there is concrete evidence that Microsoft is very aware of the competition that low-cost Chromebooks are creating in the portable computer market. Here are the details.

As this year began, we covered the fact that analysts were at odds over just how well Chromebooks--portable computers based on Google's Chrome OS platform--were selling. Part of what drove so many year-end stories in the media about how well Chromebooks were doing was that they were consistenly among the top selling portable computers on sites like Amazon. But some reporters extrapolated that into pronouncements that Chromebooks are threatening Windows laptops for market share, doing so in businesses, etc.

Microsoft held its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) as this week began, and Chief Operations Officer Kevin Turner, who is responsible for driving standard as well as partner network sales, said that Microsoft would "redefine the value category" with notebooks as affordable as $199.

Microsoft has traditionally stayed away from the ultra-low cost end of the portable computing market, which is part of why Chromebooks found early markets with users attracted to low prices, as is true in many school systems.

While Microsoft isn't making a lot of noise about Chromebooks specifically, it's obvious that that's where the Redmond giant sees competition that is increasingly of concern.

The Verge has posted a graphic, promoting "six things a Chromebook can't do," which touts these things as well within the capabilities of Windows laptops. 

In the business market, Windows-based systems continue to have overwhelmingly dominant market share. As we've reported, Chromebooks are doing especially well in schools.  As reported by Mashable, noted Silicon Valley analyst Tim Bajarin said: "There are no governments or IT departments running out to buy these products — they would be underwhelmed. Instead, this growth is being driven by education."

Still, the holiday numbers and other metrics point to the fact that Chromebooks are also being welcomed by consumers, especially ones interested in low prices.  In fact, Dell's Chromebooks have been selling so well that they've temporarily been pulled from the sales channel while Dell catches up to demand. Dell, of course, is a longtime partner of Microsoft's in the portable computing market.

These trends may cause us to see unprecedented prices on Windows portables, and they should arrive soon.

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KDE 5 is Here, LibreSSL Unsafe, and Debian 7.6 Released

Wednesday 16th of July 2014 02:54:54 AM

It looks like the big news today is the release of KDE Plasma 5. Arstechnica.com is reporting that 'OpenSSL fork LibreSSL is declared "unsafe for Linux."' Debian 7.6 was released over the weekend and a new developmental version of Opera for Linux was announced. And finally today, Amanda Dyar reports that Vanish, horror puzzle/adventure game, is available for Linux.

KDE 5 is here. With the memories of the months following the KDE 4 initial announcement still quite vivid, the news of Plasma 5 brings mixed emotions. Today's announcement read:

KDE proudly announces the immediate availability of Plasma 5.0, providing a visually updated core desktop experience that is easy to use and familiar to the user. Plasma 5.0 introduces a new major version of KDE's workspace offering. The new Breeze artwork concept introduces cleaner visuals and improved readability. Central work-flows have been streamlined, while well-known overarching interaction patterns are left intact.

Many of the major news outlets have picked up on the story, but Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols makes about as much sense out of all the confusion as anyone could and even test drove it already. He said, "I found this new KDE Plasma 5 to be a good, solid desktop. Unlike GNOME 3, KDE users will be pleased with this new model KDE." I hope so. Perhaps Jonathan Riddell cleared it up some when he wrote, "Plasma is KDE's desktop."

Arstechnica.com was reporting that LibreSSL was unsafe for Linux users because a "catastrophic failure" in the pseudo random number generator. An expert in these things found under the right conditions it produced identical number sequences two or more times. In an update, Arstechnica quotes Theo de Raadt saying those right conditions "will never happen in real code." But see their full story for all the details.

Debian 7.6 was quietly released over the weekend - I almost missed it! For folks keeping up with the updates, no action is required; but new images are available for new users or fresh installs. There were no new features, just important bug and security fixes. See the full announcement for more.

In other news:

* Step Into Your Very Own Nightmares With Vanish On PC, Mac and Linux

* Opera Developer 24: Important fixes for H.264, tab previews and HiDPI

* How to use public PCs safely with Linux

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Chrome OS Moves Away from Legacy Packaged Apps, Welcomes Offline Model

Tuesday 15th of July 2014 03:02:29 PM

In recent weeks, Google has been reengineering a key aspect of the app ecosystem surrounding its Chrome OS platform and Chromebooks based on it: It is calling loudly for all local Chrome OS apps to be able to work offline. This is a major shift from the company's original strategy of making Chrome OS a nearly entirely cloud-centric operating system, and opens up new possibilities for enterprise users and consumers.

In 2010, Google created packaged apps to fill a missing link between extensions and hosted apps.  In a recent post, the company mandated that "no new legacy packaged apps can be published in the Chrome Web Store."

Apps that don’t work offline are still going to be supported, but they’ll become known as “hosted apps” — programs that run within a Chrome browser window.

Google recently finally gave Chromebook users a way to watch Google Play Movies and TV offline, and an increasing number of apps for Chrome OS work offline. This is just the latest in a series of moves Google has made to be a little less two-fisted about keeping Chrome OS totally cloud-centric. The company has added automatic offline Drive document syncing in Chrome and Google Keep for online or offline notetaking. Many Chrome apps work online or offline, including games, video editors, and more. And, Google has provided Gmail and Google Calendar offline features for several years. For a comprehensive look at Chrome OS' offline capabilities, see ZDNet's story

Chromebooks have been doing better and better in the market, finding a market in school systems and some enterprises. Reportedly, Dell's Chromebooks have been selling so well that they've temporarily been pulled from the sales channel while Dell catches up to demand. 


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Firefox OS Phones Reported Due in India in July, in $50 Range

Tuesday 15th of July 2014 02:47:08 PM

It looks like India may be the next global market where Mozilla tests demand for ultra-low cost smartphones based on its Firefox OS mobile platform. The phones will be available for prices of up to $50, DigiTimes has reported, quoting company COO and Mozilla Taiwan CEO Gong Li, but Mozilla has also been making noise about delivering $25 phones. Because India remains a hugely fast-growing market for mobile phones and apps, the region could be a proving ground for Mozilla.

Mozilla has been making much noise about the Firefox OS mobile platform, and new $25 phones that it wants to bring to emerging markets.  The company already announced its plans to deliver a $25 smartphone by the end of this year, the Wall Street Journal reported recently. 

TIME has pronounced the move "a brilliant game-changer," but let's remember that mobile phones are all about the apps, and even Mozilla officials have stopped short of calling Firefox OS phones "smartphones" in the sense that they run the robust apps that iOS and Android phones do.

According to DigiTimes, the first phones in India, due in July, will be more in the range of $50:

"With low-cost chip solutions developed by China-based Spreadtrum Communications and cooperation with smartphone ODMs, Mozilla has succeeded in keeping production cost down to US$25 for models carrying retail prices of up to US$50, Gong indicated."

"There have been 10 hardware makers and more than 20 mobile telecom carriers supporting Firefox OS platform, Gong said. LG Electronics and China-based vendors Alcatel OneTouch, Huawei Device and ZTE have launched Firefox smartphones in 15 countries, Gong indicated."

Mozilla's goal is clearly to create new smartphone owners, and bring apps to people who have never used them.

Higher cost Firefox OS phones have been selling in Hungary, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Greece.  They have even sold in limited quantities on eBay in other regions, including the U.S., illustrating that there are interested users around the world.

Meanwhile, Mozilla needs to find success with its Firefox OS strategy, as the Firefox desktop browser has been falling, while Google Chrome's has been rising. 




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Best Linux Desktop, FreeDOS Still Matters, and Darksiders

Tuesday 15th of July 2014 02:55:24 AM

In today's Linux news, Matt Hartley looks at 10 Linux distributions he likes and recommends. Arstechnica.com says DOS still matters and speaks with those still working on FreeDOS. Chin Wong rediscovers Opera and Jim Whitehurst discusses Red Hat. Raspberry Pi introduces a new board and Darksiders is rumored to heading to Linux. This and more awaits inside.

Matt Hartley is back this week with an article looking at 10 Linux desktop distributions he likes and recommends the most for various segments of the user base. Beginning with newcomers, he mostly recommends the Ubuntu and derivatives, but also included SolydX and PCLinuxOS. For the more experienced he suggests Sabayon or Antergos and the more enthusiastic Gentoo or Arch. But see his full article for more.

Arstechnica.com says that although FreeDOS is "barely an operating system" the developers have found plenty of reason to keep on working on it. The FreeDOS project is 20 years old but developers like it because it allows them "to get very, very close to the hardware." It lends itself to virtualization and allows developers "to build monolithic applications that use all of the computing power of the machine they run on without the overhead of more complex operating systems." It also runs those old 20 year old DOS games says one of the guys interviewed. You'd might be surprised at some of the places still running *DOS. See the full story for lots more.

Two alternative browsers got attention in the news today. First up, Chin Wong, syndicated at Manila Standard, today wrote, "I recently rediscovered Opera." Opera shunned Linux for over a year but recently released a developmental version that runs on Linux. He says he likes what he sees so far, but he'll be writing more in the coming weeks on Opera.

In other browser news, Engadget.com recently featured Breach, a new Open Source web browser that includes support for Linux. It's described as "an open source modular web browser designed to allow anybody to tweak and modify it on a whim." It's still early in development, but an alpha is available.

Distrowatch.com today explained in a bit more detail of their connectivity issues last weekend. The fault lay with their domain registrar, of which has since been relieved of their duties. In other areas of today's Distrowatch Weekly, Jesse Smith reviews Manjaro Linux 0.8.10 (Xfce edition) and also discusses Opera in a look at alternative applications. Be sure to check out the news section where I first read of the new Raspberry Pi B+ board. Betanews.com also has a wee peek at the B+ as well.

Darksiders may be coming to Linux according to these posts at Polygon.com and SegmentNext.com. They both feature a screenshot leaked out on the game's Facebook page that says "Darksiders Linux" in the window title. Polygon.com spoke with Nordic Games who confirmed a Linux version is being developed. In other gaming news, Michael Harrison is reporting that Epic Games is contributing to Blender and other Open Source projects.

In other news, Tom Henderson reviews Ubuntu 14.04 and ZDNet.com speaks with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst about CentOS and stuff.

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Internet Titans Defend Net Neutrality in an FCC Missive

Monday 14th of July 2014 03:18:39 PM

In recent weeks, there have been several notable developments related to the future of Internet freedom and access. Now, The Internet Association, a consortium that includes Facebook, Google, Twitter and Netflix, has a comment filed  with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission demanding better enforceable net neutrality rules for boh wired and mobile networks.

Debates over net neutrality have been ongoing for years. These debates are central to whether information gets to you quickly and without a third party getting in the way of the content. They are also central to making sure that more people have Internet access.

The FCC has been crafting a new proposal to regulate net neutrality after a U.S. appeals court threw out its original regulations in January. The FCC has also angered many people by acknowledging so-called “commercially reasonable” traffic management and prioritization policies from broadband providers.

As PC World notes:

"The comment from The Internet Association, filed as the official comment period draws to a close, says the FCC should enforce a strong net neutrality by adopting 'simple, light-touch rules to ensure that the Internet remains open, dynamic, and spontaneous.' These rules should help the Internet be free from censorship, discrimination and anticompetitive behavior, and give consumers equal access to the content they want."

The New York Times also has a notable Op-Ed piece on the topic, which notes:

"While the concept of net neutrality seems complex, the solution is simple: We should classify broadband access as a utility. Internet providers should be considered common carriers, just as cellphone companies are for voice access, which they are not allowed to block or degrade. The Internet should be a level playing field."

It's worth reading The Internet Association's full comment document. For its part, the F.C.C. has asked citizens to give thoughts on the proposed new rules. More than 200,000 people have responded, and you can provide your input as well.

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Red Hat to be a Key Contributor to and Benefactor of the Kubernetes Project

Monday 14th of July 2014 02:55:06 PM

A few weeks ago, I covered the news that Google had released Kubernetes under an open-source license, which is software to manage computing workloads across thousands of computer servers and leverage docker containers. We've also covered Google's announcement that some vey big contributors have joined the Kubernetes project, including IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, Docker, CoreOS, Mesosphere, and SaltStack. They are working in tandem on open source tools and container technologies that can run on multiple computers and networks.

Red Hat is one of the key players in the Kubernetes Project and that project may help the company as it sharpens its focus on cloud computing. Here are the details.

Commitment to Linux containers is part of a trend toward an application-centric vision for IT and the Docker project is quickly becoming a standard for application packaging in containerized environments.  According to Red Hat:

"Recently, we introduced support for Docker in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, launched Project Atomic to redefine the operating system for the paradigm shift to application-centric IT and provide a new lightweight container host, and announced a new certification for containerized applications."

"Red Hat is announcing that as part of Project Atomic, we are collaborating with Google to tackle the challenge of how to manage Docker containers at scale, across hundreds or thousands of hosts. Docker container orchestration and management is critical for Red Hat customers and products like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenShift. Today we are running hundreds of thousands of containerized applications in OpenShift Online and enabling customers to host their own containerized PaaS environment in OpenShift Enterprise."

"OpenShift applications typically run across multiple containers, distributed across different container hosts. As we began integrating OpenShift with Docker, the OpenShift Origin GearD project was created to tackle issues like Docker container wiring, orchestration and management via systemd, to enable the next generation of PaaS."

As Jon Buys has written here, about Docker itself: 

"Docker is supported by the biggest players in the technology industry, and the system clearly looks to be the next major change in systems infrastructure design."

That's even more true now, and players like Red Hat and Google are realizing that enterprises looking at deploying applications in the cloud need new models for doing so. 

The goal of Kubernetes is to enable users to easily manage, monitor and control containerized application deployments across a large cluster of container hosts, according to Red Hat. It's also been noted that Google can add muscle to the project by contributing from lessons that it has learned running enormous datacenters.

 Kubernetes has many mighty collaborators beyond just Red Hat and Google, and this project will be worth watching. 

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KDE 5 Preview, Linux Survey, and the PC Lives

Saturday 12th of July 2014 03:20:26 AM

In the thank-God-it's-Friday edition of our Linux news recap, Swapnil Bhartiya makes a video of KDE Plasma 5 in action. The guys from the Linux Voice run a survey trying to measure Linux user overlap. First release of OpenSSL fork LibreSSL gets a major release and The Var Guy says the PC isn't dead.

Swapnil Bhartiya at "The Mukt," (previously known as muktware.com), today posted a three and a half minute video demonstrating some of the goodness to come in KDE Plasma 5. He says he's been running a pre-release for a while and it "seems to be working fine." Hmmm.

Mike Saunders from the Linux Voice today posted a survey on Reddit.com asking Linux users a few questions. Their stated goal is identify "the overlap between different Linux users. For example, are Arch users more likely to use Vim? Or are Emacs users more likely to use a tiling WM?" The types of questions are typical of a Linux survey: what distro do you use, what windows manager, what web browser. Go participate and help those Linux Voice guys out.

Elliot Markowitz at The Var Guy, says we can quote him stating, "the death of the PC has been greatly exaggerated." Worldwide shipments were off 1.7% instead of the predicted 7.1%. "Further, most PC vendors actually experienced growth, and early indications also point to desktop shipments being stronger than expected." Markowitz says, "So the PC isn’t dead after all, but it’s still dying. It’s just taking a really long time."

In other news:

* LibreSSL crypto library leaps from OpenBSD to Linux, OS X, more

* Mount & Blade: Warband is free to mount and play this weekend

* Insider Selling: Red Hat Director Unloads 2,632 Shares of Stock

* Asciidoctor coder writes less documentation

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Chrome Remote Desktop Plug-in Now Supports Linux Users

Friday 11th of July 2014 03:12:08 PM

Being able to access a computer remotely, or let someone else remotely access your computer, can be an enormous convenience. It can help you retrieve a much needed presentation that you left behind while on a trip, and it can help you allow a distant user to make changes to or access your files.

For Linux users, though, remote access tools haven't been as plentiful and convenient as the tools available for other platforms. That's why it's good to hear that Google has announced that its Chrome plugin, which allows users to remotely access computers via the Chrome browser or a Chromebook device, now includes access for Linux users.

The Chrome plug-in has already been in wide use among Windows and Mac users, but Linux users have been asking to be recognized. 

According to Google:

"Chrome Remote Desktop allows you to remotely access one computer from another over the Internet. For example, you can use the app to securely access your files or applications from another computer. Or you can give a friend temporary access to your desktop so they can help you solve a computer problem."

The company adds:

"We are excited to announce official Linux support in Chrome Remote Desktop with step-by-step directions provided in our Help Center article linked here. You can find instructions under Set up Chrome Remote Desktop > Enable remote access > Linux (Beta)."

You can also find instructrions for set up online for the tool now, but do note that you have to be running Ubuntu or a Debian (or Debian family) Linux platform for it to operate.

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Microsoft's New CEO Is Pushing Change, and Making His Company More Open

Friday 11th of July 2014 02:51:19 PM

He's only been on the job a few months, but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is already showing signs of supporting a broad culture change at his company, and part of the change includes making Micosoft a more open company and more open to open source.

This week, in a thoughtful and extensive letter sent to employees, Nadella said that he and company leaders are taking "important steps to visibly change our culture." The letter arrived as news broke that Microsoft is joining Red Hat, IBM and other companies in supporting Google's Kubernetes project, an open source effort to leverage Docker containers and tools that can make working with cloud deployments and virtual machines simpler.

Nadella's letter says that he wants Microsoft to be the "productivity and platform company for the mobile first and cloud first world." It's worth remembering that Nadella came to the CEO role from being Microsoft's cloud guru. 

According to his letter:

"Windows will create a broad developer opportunity by enabling Universal Windows Applications to run across all device targets. Windows will evolve to include new input/output methods like speech, pen and gesture and ultimately power more personal computing experiences."

"Our cloud OS represents the largest opportunity given we are working from a position of strength. With Azure, we are one of very few cloud vendors that runs at hyper-scale. The combination of Azure and Windows Server makes us the only company with a public, private and hybrid cloud platform that can power modern business. We will transform the return on IT investment by enabling enterprises to combine their existing datacenters and our public cloud into one cohesive infrastructure backplane."

The interesting thing about Nadella's cloud strategy is that he is consistently moving in the direction of supporting open standards, making it easier for data centers to employ Linux along with Azure, and more. Kubernetes is just one of trhe ways he is moving Microsoft in more open directions. 

In a post last summer, Simon Phipps wrote, "But with the right choice [of CEO], this could be the moment for Microsoft to break out of the trap its past success created and finally embrace open source in a way that wins in the market."

Phipps also followed up with a post where he said: 

"Microsoft's promotion of Satya Nadella to the helm could prove to be the change that unlocks progress...The Microsoft of the Gates and Ballmer mindset would not have tolerated releasing an app that worked better on the iPad than it did on the Surface. But the Microsoft of Nadella did. This suggests market realities are being allowed to dominate rather than internal dogma. That's the same transition that will be needed if Microsoft is to truly embrace open source and not just exploit it without commitment to the communities around each code commons."

 Steve Ballmer, Nadella's predecessor, famously called open source "a cancer," but the Ballmer era is over, and Nadella has open source opportunities ahead of him.

It's worth reading Nadella's full letter for a true picture of how he is trying to change Microsoft. There are more reasons than ever to believe that open policies and support for open source may be squarely on Nadella's roadmap.


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"Among The Sleep" Broke, Fedora 21 Branched, and LXLE

Friday 11th of July 2014 03:23:09 AM

Today in Linux news, Adam Williamson posted that Fedora 21 has been branched off from Rawhide. GamingOnLinux is reporting that the wonderfully intriguing adventure game "Among the Sleep" is broken for most Linux users while Phoronix is reporting that Witcher 2 does. We have a review of LXLE as well as Katherine Noyes' 11 Ways LXLE "will make you forget all about XP." There's a wee bit of GNOME news and Andy Tannenbaum is retiring.

Adam Williamson today posted that Fedora 21 has been branched off from Rawhide. Those wishing to use 21 should follow the instructions posted to the mailing list by Williamson to disable Rawhide and follow 21. For those planning to move to Fedora 22, nothing is required - just keep using Rawhide. For the rest of us, this means Fedora 21 is now on its way to stabilization.

GamingOnLinux today posted that Linux users, mostly using NVIDIA graphic chips, are reporting that horror adventure Among The Sleep isn't working for them. Large artifacts are obscuring the playable view and developers have yet to post a fix. However, all is not lost, The Witcher 2 is beginning to shape up for Linux users.

Two stories on LXLE appeared on the radar this evening. First up, Katherine Noyes shares 11 things about LXLE "that will make you forget all about XP." This slideshow is obviously targeting Windows users, but check it out anyway (if it will work for you. It wouldn't in my Konqueror or Firefox.)

The second story is a review from LinuxUser & Developer. Gavin Thomas said, "It’s hard not to love LXLE, as it’s treading the line between resource efficiency and usability pretty well, and is borderline addictive when it comes to the DE." He gives it a 5 out 5 so go check out his specifics.

In other news:

* Minix creator Tannenbaum to retire

* GNOME 3.14 News | Week 15

* Allan Day: Sandboxed applications for GNOME

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Imaginative Raspberry Pi Concepts Are Still Proliferating

Thursday 10th of July 2014 03:00:06 PM

As we've noted here many times, when it comes to the top open source stories of the past couple of years, it's clear that one of the biggest is the proliferation of tiny, inexpensive Linux-based computers at some of the smallest form factors ever seen. Surely, the diminutive, credit card-sized Raspberry Pi, priced at $25 and $35, is one of the most widely followed of these miniature systems. It's been implemented for use in home security systems, synthesizers and even in a supercomputer mashup using Lego pieces to bind the parts together, as seen in the photo here.

Now, there are some far more exotic implementations of the Raspberry Pi showing up.

In some of the more exotic new applications for Raspberry Pi, it's being used in music, robotics and security scenarios. In an update online from the Raspberry Pi team, user-created synthesizers leveraging the Pi platform are seen in a video series.  The team takes note of the synthesizer-heavy song Cars, by Gary Neuman, from the 1980s, and mentions tha it was recorded using only four synth tracks. "There’s far, far more functionality available to you with a Pi than there was with an 80s synth," the post adds.

InfoWorld also has an interesting collection of Rasberry Pi hacks aimed at IT users. It includes VOIP PBX systems, NTP servers, web controlled power strips and more, all driven by Pi devices.

Our favorite Rasberry Pi concept, though, remains the  quirky supercomputer from the University of Southampton that Professor Simon Cox and his team of researchers have lashed together. It's an actual supercomputer made of 64 credit card-sized Raspberry Pis using Lego pieces as the glue for the cluster.

Professor Cox said: “As soon as we were able to source sufficient Raspberry Pi computers we wanted to see if it was possible to link them together into a supercomputer. We installed and built all of the necessary software on the Pi starting from a standard Debian Wheezy system image and we have published a guide so you can build your own supercomputer.”

You can get the guide to making your own Raspberry Pi supercomputer here, and find more information on Cox's version here.

The team from Southampton claims it built its supercomputer for under $5,000. Did you ever come up with that when you used to play with Lego blocks? Here's a look at the lashup:



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Microsoft, Docker, Red Hat and IBM Join Google's Kubernetes Project

Thursday 10th of July 2014 02:47:51 PM

A few weeks ago, I covered the news that Google has released Kubernetes under an open-source license, which is essentially a version of Borg, which harnesses computing power from data centers into a powerful virtual machine. It can make a difference for many cloud computing deployments, and optimizes usage of container technology. You can find the source code for Kubernetes on GitHub.

Now, news has arrived that some vey big contributors to the Kubernetes project, including IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, Docker, CoreOS, Mesosphere, and SaltStack are working in tandem on open source tools and container technologies that can run on multiple computers and networks.

VentureBeat notes that Microsoft's interest in the colloboration could have to do with getting Azure clouds to work nicely with Linux and container technology:

"The new backing of Kubernetes could also be a turn away from more segmented and often proprietary hypervisor technology that sits on top of server operating systems and creates many virtual slices for running applications within each physical server. As developers and companies begin to try it, companies that sell hypervisor software, including VMware, could start to wonder how they should participate in the containerization movement."

"Microsoft makes a hypervisor, Hyper-V. But the tech giant’s participation in the Kubernetes project is 'working to ensure that Kubernetes works great in Linux environments in Azure VMs,' according to a statement Google issued today."

IBM and other companies have shown a lot of interest in integrating technology with Docker, and Docker could play a central role in the Kubernetes project. As a Google blog post explains things:

"Kubernetes is an open source manager for Docker containers, based on Google’s years of experience using containers at Internet scale...Our shared goal is to allow a broad range of developers to take advantage of container technologies. Kubernetes was built from the ground up as a lean, extensible and portable framework for managing Docker workloads. It lets customers manage their applications the way that Google manages hyper-scale applications like Search and Gmail."

"Containers offer tremendous advantages for developers. Predictable deployments and simple scalability are possible because Docker packages all of a workload’s dependencies with the application. This allows for ultimate portability; you can avoid vendor lock-in and run containers in the cloud of your choice. It is just as important that the management framework has the same properties of portability and scalability, and that is what the community will bring to Kubernetes."

Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group at Microsoft stated: “Microsoft will help contribute code to Kubernetes to enable customers to easily manage containers that can run anywhere. This will make it easier to build multi-cloud solutions including targeting Microsoft Azure.”

Kubernetes has some mighty collaborators, and this project will be worth watching. 


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RHEL 5.11 Beta, Gaming News, and Fedora Playground

Thursday 10th of July 2014 03:10:49 AM

In today's Linux news, Red Hat announces the "beta availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.11." Several gaming posts caught my attention and Ryan Lerch says try out new kernel features in the new Fedora kernel-playground. The first Linux.com Linux poetry contest winner was announced and his poem posted. And another Deepin review pops up.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.11 Beta was announced today for those still running that branch. The announcement says, "While primarily focused on improving security and stability, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.11 Beta provides additional enhancements to subscription management, debugging capabilities, and more." This is to be the final release for version 5 although security and bug fixes will continue until March 31, 2017.

The Linux.com poetry contest has seen its first winner. Alan Bruce bagged a free pass to LinuxCon and CloudOpen North America for his submission titled "btrfs." It begins, 'They call her "Butterface..."'

Ryan Lerch wrote today in Fedora Magazine that Josh Boyer yesterday announced Fedora's new kernel-playground. "Basically, this is a repo for users that want to try out some new and shiny (yet not ready for primetime) kernel features in Fedora." It will "roughly track Rawhide" and the kernels are almost guaranteed to crash, but check that out.

Linux Deepin 2014 got another review today, this time from non-techie Arindam Sen at Linuxed. He said while it's a pretty distribution, there are just too many bugs. It earned a 7.1 out of 10 from Sen, but read the entire review for specifics.

And finally today:

* Natural Selection 2 FPS Needs Linux Developers

* Grim Fandango Remake Coming To Linux

* Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth Release Date and Price Revealed

* Raise Your Spirit: Indie Horror Game Whispering Willows Now Available

* Update Adobe Flash on your system right now

* Bring new life to an old PC with Linux Mint

* TheStreet Upgrades Red Hat to Buy

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Early Reviews of Android Wear Reflect Promise for the Platform

Wednesday 9th of July 2014 03:18:27 PM

This week, following much talk about it coming out of the Google I/O conference, there are a lot of discussions arising about Android Wear and whether it will become the next big mobile platform. Some early smartwatches running the open platform are appearing, and some reviewers are really liking them. Just as you once didn't carry a smartphone, and then did, are you on the cusp of owning an open source smartwatch?

Smartwatches are not new, and I've cited Edward Baig's concerns about them in USA Today:

"While it's surely helpful to glance at notifications that pop up on your wrist for incoming e-mails, Facebook feeds and sports scores, it's typically not that much more helpful than reaching for your phone. Too many notifications risk bordering on distraction."

The difference maker in Android Wear devices, though, is that through "OK Google" voice recognition features, users can talk to their watches to interact with them. J.R. Raphael, writing for Computerworld, has been wearing an Android Wear watch, and notes that the heart and soul of Android Wear devices may be Google Now:

"The heart and soul of Android Wear is Google Now, the intelligent virtual assistant Google has woven into Android and Chrome over the past couple of years. Google Now uses a combination of search data from your Google account, location data from your mobile device and cues from things like your Gmail messages to compile bite-sized tidbits of info -- known as "cards" -- that appear contextually throughout your day. You might get a card in the morning alerting you to traffic on your route to work, for instance, or a card with directions to a business you searched for earlier in the day. Some cards are as simple as the number of steps you've taken so far that day or the weather for your area -- or for an area you'll be traveling to in the near future."

Some reviewers are also noting that we're likely to see full blown apps developed for Android Wear. Some of these have already appeared for other smartwatches. For example, on Samsung Galaxy Gear watches, you can run an eBay app and keep track of products you're watching, selling or bidding on.

The Telegraph also notes that it could be important over time that Android Wear watches will work intelligently with Android smartphones:

"Another improvement over the Galaxy Gear, or presumably Apple’s iWatch, is that the new Wear models can connect to any fairly modern Android phone. So you can use a Samsung phone with an LG watch, for instance. This is the kind of openness that has driven the mainstream success of Android on phones as a whole."

In all likelihood, the prospects for Android Wear will come down to app development and whether Google can convince developers to create compelling apps for the new mobile platform. That may take cash incentives in the short run, but such early bets might pay off if people get excited about the new generation of smartwatches.

According to a post from Mike Elgan:

"Android Wear watches are the first smartwatches to cross the line from awkward to awesome, because they're the first to completely abandon the smartphone's icons, menus and widgets paradigm and massively leverage subtle contextual cues, images, icons and colors to present tiny nuggets of information in their most essential and quickly graspable form."


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Inbox: Announcing an Open Source Platform for Email Applications

Wednesday 9th of July 2014 02:50:49 PM

For most of us, email remains a primary way to communicate and stay organized. In fact, it's so central to most of our work and play that it is surprising that there aren't more applications designed to work with email. That's the thinking behind a new startup called Inbox, which is developing an email platform to compete with old protocols like IMAP and SMTP. It will work with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Microsoft Exchange and other platforms, and its core engine will reportedly be open source.

You can try Inbox by signing up here.  According to the Inbox site:

"Email is the database of your life. It's the digital home for your conversations, memories, and identity. But developing with email has become more and more difficult over the years. Old protocols and formats have made it nearly impossible to add the simplest features, and the existing mail providers have all but stopped innovating. In the current email landscape, captive users are shown targeted advertisements, and interfaces are cluttered with confusing “social” services."

"Today we're excited to announce the first step toward a new email platform. A new foundation built on open source technology that gives you control of your own data, on your own terms. It's a bridge from the past to the future— a clean slate with modern APIs."

The people behind Inbox are no slouches. According to The Next Web:

"The Inbox team is comprised mostly of MIT alumni. CEO Michael Grinich worked as an engineer at Dropbox and a designer at Nest, while co-founder Christine Spang previously worked on the Linux kernel at Ksplice. The firm’s seed investors include Fuel Capital, SV Angel, CrunchFund, Data Collective, and Betaworks."

Although it remains to be seen what this team will actually produce, one has to like the concept. Most of us have been heavy email users longer than we've been web users, and yet there aren't enough good tools for managing email.

Do you ever want to remember something and email it to yourself? If so, and you're using an online mail platform, you're basically opting for a cloud storage option on the fly. Email engines could provide us with more conveniences if there was more development around them. We'll check back in soon to see what the Inbox team comes up with.

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NSA Code Faked, Desktop Linux is Dead, and Deepin Depths

Wednesday 9th of July 2014 03:41:21 AM

CentOS 7 was officially announced and Scientific Linux is pulling up the rear. There's more on the NSA targeting Linux users - someone says the NSA code was fake. Linux Deepin 2014 grabbed several headlines today and John Brandon said desktop Linux is dead in the enterprise setting. This and lots more in tonights Linux news report.

Linux Deepin 2014 was released Sunday and has grabbed more headlines today than CentOS 7. The Geekster at LinuxG.net says it looks awesome. LinuxBSDos.com says, "Deepin has always been on my list of the best desktop distributions, and Deepin 2014 just vaulted it to the top-2 of that list." He then shows users why he likes it so much with lots of screenshots. eWeek.com has a blurb on what's new and a slideshow of screenshots.

CentOS 7 was offically announced on July 7 and the release notes have some introductory information as well as known issues. I haven't seen too many articles or reviews on it so far, but Chris Haney has some screenshots. In related news, Softpedia is reporting that Scientific Linux 7, which is also based on Red Hat 7, has just released an alpha.

John Brandon over at www.cio.com says Linux on the desktop is over for the enterprise and businesses. He says try as they might, Linux distributors just could not compete and mainly because Linux "never had the apps." He quotes others saying things like, "Linux OS as a computing platform for end users is at least comatose – and probably dead" and "Linux as a client OS for PCs never really got a decent foothold in commercial markets [because] commercial and business applications, are simply not available for Linux. The opportunity has come and gone on the traditional PC." Brandon concludes, "All of experts agree – Windows won every battle for the business user."

In other Linux news, Mageia 5 Alpha 1 Available for Tests, Manjaro Linux Developers Experience A Mass Exodus, and Global Hunt Begins for #HiddenTux: Find Tux and Win.

Kyle Rankin at Linux Journal is still running with the NSA surveillance of Linux users story with his look at how innocent users and readers are being caught up in the "dragnet" and today posted part three of his Tails Above the Rest series. But after all the coverage, fear, and outrage Greg Laden is reporting that the whole thing could be a fake. The original post offers up this posted evidence of its falsehood.

In other news:

* KDE Frameworks 5.0 is out!

* 'Extreme' Computing and Other Linux-World Problems

* Ubuntu Touch our last hope for a Linux tablet

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Firefox and Chrome Hurrying to Add Virtual Reality Features

Tuesday 8th of July 2014 03:09:12 PM

There is a growing amount of excitement around virtual reality recently, with companies like Facebook expressing much interest in the space. Viewing devices like the Oculus Rift and input devices such as the Leap Motion, PrioVR, Sixense Stem and others are making high-quality VR experiences affordable.

And now, it's clear that both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are going to take on virtual reality features, which could fundamentally change the way we all browse.

As noted by Daily Digest News:

"Google spokesperson, Brandon James, explained how website developers could add virtual reality features to their websites, allowing users to experience featured content in a much more immersive way. Examples include checking out clothes, mapping, educational tools, and so on."

Mozilla's Vladimir Vukićević has also been posting about the promise of VR in browsing experiences:

"The opportunity for VR on the Web is particularly exciting. The Web is a vibrant, connected universe where many different types of experiences can be created and shared. People can be productive, have fun and learn all from within their browser...We are adding native support for VR devices to early experimental builds of Firefox, so that Web developers can start experimenting with adding VR interactivity to their websites and content. This is only the first of many steps that well be taking over the coming weeks and months."

On the Google front, it's worth remembering that Google's head of engineering is Ray Kurzweil, a huge proponent of virtual reality. He will no doubt drive Google to develop VR features for Chrome and other tools. Google has already affirmed that it is adding support for popular virtual reality (VR) hardware devices.

According to Google's Brandon Jones, VR could become a big part of things like ecommerce buying experiences:

 "In the case of a piece of clothing you could see it on a virtual mannequin, walk around it, lean in and examine the stitching, and so on as if it were actually sitting right in front of you. You could also imagine similar experiences with educational tools, data visualization, mapping, and so on. WebVR gives developers the tools needed to make it happen."

If you want to delve into the specifics of what is being added to browsers, check out this Mozilla-focused post, because Chrome is taking on many of the same VR features as Firefox.  By next year, you may very well be involved in immersive VR experiences within your favorite open source browser.


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Red Hat Announces Availability of its OpenStack Platform 5

Tuesday 8th of July 2014 02:51:06 PM

Red Hat has announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5, which is the third enterprise release of the company's OpenStack offering. Aside from new features, the platform is clearly being aimed at many types of organizations, including "advanced cloud users, telecommunications companies, Internet service providers (ISPs), and public cloud hosting providers."

OpenStack Platform 5 is based on the latest OpenStack Icehouse release and provides more evidence of how very focused on cloud computing Red Hat has become.

The new release includes a three-year support lifecycle, and I've made the point before that because of its legendary support for Linux, Red Hat's OpenStack support will be a key differentiator in wooing enterprises.  There has been controversy over whether Red Hat will support OpenStack distributions other than its own, which is significant because a recent OpenStack user survey showed that  90% of OpenStack deployments today are not running on RHEL, but rather use other flavors of Linux and KVM, such as Ubuntu or CentOS.

Other features in Red Hat's new release include:

 Support for integration with VMware infrastructure, encompassing virtualization, management, networking and storage. Customers may use existing VMware vSphere resources as virtualization drivers for OpenStack Compute (Nova) nodes, managed from the OpenStack Dashboard (Horizon). Additionally, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5 supports the VMware NSX plugin for OpenStack Networking (Neutron) and the VMware Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK) plugin for OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder).

 Better placement of workloads across cloud resources. "Server groups enable workloads to be spread broadly across the OpenStack cloud for enhanced resiliency of distributed applications, or located proximately for lower communications latency and better performance of complex applications."

Improved support for virtual machines, supporting new cryptographic security requirements from the United States and United Kingdom. Using the para-virtualized random number generator device added in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, cryptographic routines in guest applications will have access to better quality encryption and experience improved performance.

Improved interoperability of networking stacks. Red Hat claims that the new modular plugin architecture for Neutron eases the addition of new networking technologies to OpenStack deployments. The new architecture provides a path for customers with heterogeneous networking environments who want to use a mix of networking solutions in their OpenStack environment.

Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager, Virtualization and OpenStack, Red Hat, said in a statement:

“We see momentum behind OpenStack as a private cloud platform of choice from enterprise customers and service providers alike. Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5 not only offers a production-ready, supported version of OpenStack Icehouse, but it brings a number of features that will simplify its use, and enhance dependability for enterprise users. Alongside those new features, we’re extending our support lifecycle for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, giving users confidence that the solution they deploy will be supported by our global team for the next three years.”

You can bet on that last point--a three-year support plan--as a key reason why some enterprises will go with Red Hat in the increasingly competitive OpenStack race. And, clearly, Red Hat is tying its future to cloud computing and the OpenStack platform.


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Distrowatch Disappearance, RentOS 7 Coming, and OSS Lost

Tuesday 8th of July 2014 03:26:29 AM

In tonight's Linux news, Distrowatch.com went offline for much of Sunday. Serdar Yegulalp looks at the upcoming CentOS7, the first since joining hands with Red Hat officially. Bruce Byfield says Open Source has lost its way and is now wandering aimlessly with no purpose. And that's not all.

Distrowatch.com, needs no introduction, was offline Sunday July 6 for what turns out to be a snafu with the domain registrar. When I visited Distrowatch.com in the early afternoon it was down with a real ugly placeholder coming up instead. In today's Distrowatch Weekly, Ladislav Bodnar, owner/operator, explained, "the distrowatch.com domain name was suspended by the domain's registrar." He didn't feel up to relaying the entire incident, but he is back up today. In today's DDW, Jesse Smith reviews LXLE 14.04 and answers questions about home/small office Linux security. In the news section, they've introduced SimpleDE, a desktop especially for OpenBSD and a link back to an April Fool's joke in which Linux users would be looked at as "extremists and even terrorists by the authorities in certain countries." Don't miss that.

Bruce Byfield today said:

As we trudge the endless treadmill of release upon release, there's one question you don't hear much any more: where is open source heading? Or, perhaps, should it have a purpose at all?

Not too long ago, the answer to either question was obvious. The goal was to provide a free alternative to proprietary systems. But progress got stalled at a good-enough ninety percent or so, and looks likely to stay there for the foreseeable future.

The Free Software Foundation still talks about promoting user's freedoms, but, although it has a small band of adherents, most users apparently prefer convenience to principle. Nor, despite the FSF's best efforts, has anyone gathered enough resources to convince large numbers of people outside the tech-industry that their selection of software has some connection to their ideals. These days, you don't even hear much about closing the digital divide, and helping the poor get online, or developing countries to build their infrastructure.

Serdar Yegulalp at InfoWorld.com said today that CentOS 7 is right around the bend according to posts he saw on the CentOS blog. This is the first after the big Red Hat handshake. Yegulalp briefly discusses the merger before looking at CentOS and its new governance policy. He said of it:

The single largest change to CentOS as an organization -- and one of the most potentially worrisome -- has been the creation of a governing board for CentOS. The board is made up of the nine existing CentOS members, one community-nominated member, and three Red Hat-appointed members. As Donne Berkholz of RedMonk pointed out, Red Hat can make decisions on behalf of the rest of the board members if they can't agree on something, so the long-term effects of such a governing structure are unclear.

In other news:

* Linux Receives Its First Batch of Unreal Engine 4 Demos

* Build the best Linux desktop

* Open source's identity crisis

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