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Ubuntu 14.10 Preview, Wallen Walkback, and the Pantheon

Friday 29th of August 2014 03:39:46 AM

Today in Linux news, Terry Relph-Knight takes the new Ubuntu 14.10 Beta 1 for a test-drive and wrote up his opinion. Jack Wallen today said, "Linux on the desktop isn't dead." In other news, Bryan Lunduke spent his last week running the Pantheon desktop environment and shared his thoughts today. And finally today, Bruce Byfield explains why Linux "isn't a desktop alternative."

ZDNet's Terry Relph-Knight recently tested the new Ubuntu 14.10 Beta and said there doesn't seem to be any big changes in store despite early predictions of "a fully converged cross-platform OS running Mir and UnityNext (8) by 2014." Relph-Knight leads with the observation that Ubuntu is clearly designed for smartphones and "if you've been following Ubuntu 14.10's progress by installing the alpha releases, you'll have noticed... very little." He runs down the default applications and such and never really gives a solid conclusion. I guess it's still too early.

Jack Wallen today said, "Linux is, in fact, desktop ready... it just hasn't found an inroad to the average consumer desktop." He says while desktop Linux will never die because it has too many industries and users depending on it. But then he says, "Linux developers need to stop developing for the average Linux user and start developing for the average user." He describes such a desktop as having:

* A modern browser (no, Midori will not do)
* A user-friendly UI with a modern look and feel
* A standards-based office suite
* Touch-screen capability

While Wallen doesn't believe desktop Linux is going away any time soon, he does think it needs to be more like ChromeOS or Ubuntu Unity. See his full story at TechRepublic.com.

Speaking of desktops, Linux Tycoon Bryan Lunduke added another entry to his desktop-a-week series with Elementary OS' Pantheon desktop. He starts out with, "Pantheon is awesome." He said, "It has the same standard layout that Mac OS X but that's really about where the similarities end." He likes the simple features and high performance saying, "Pantheon is free from distractions. It feels simple. It feels clean. It feels... focused." The main drawback seems to be the difficulty in customizing. Lunduke likes Pantheon a lot although he's not willing to give up his everyday comfortable openSUSE desktop for it.

In other Linux news:

* Why Linux Isn't a Desktop Alternative

* IBM doubles down on Linux

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Chrome's Stable 64-Bit Windows Release is Touted for Speed

Thursday 28th of August 2014 02:57:05 PM

Google Chrome, noted by many for its speed, may be headed for even higher levels of stability and performance. Recently, I reported that Google elevated the 64-bit version of Chrome for Windows to its stable Beta distribution channel, while also elevating Chrome for OS X's 64-bit version to Canary and Dev builds.

Now, Google has officially released the stable version of Chrome that includes 64-bit support for Windows, touting its performance in particular.

Where will users notice the speed increases? According to Google graphics will appear faster, as will videos, including high-definition YouTube videos.  According to a blog post:

"64-bit Chrome offers many benefits for speed, stability and security. Our measurements have shown that the native 64-bit version of Chrome has improved speed on many of our graphics and media benchmarks. For example, the VP9 codec that’s used in High Definition YouTube videos shows a 15% improvement in decoding performance. Stability measurements from people opted into our Canary, Dev and Beta 64-bit channels confirm that 64-bit rendering engines are almost twice as stable as 32-bit engines when handling typical web content."

"Finally, on 64-bit, our defense in depth security mitigations such as Partition Alloc are able to far more effectively defend against vulnerabilities that rely on controlling the memory layout of objects."

"At this point 64-bit will remain opt-in, so to take advantage of the improvements click on the new 'Windows 64-bit' link on the Chrome download page. Currently, the only significant known issue is the lack of 32-bit NPAPI plugin support. The 32-bit channel will remain fully supported for the foreseeable future and we will continue to support 32-bit plugins until NPAPI is removed from Chrome."

In many ways, 64-bit versions of Chrome represent a game of catch-up for Google, because Mozilla has offered 64-bit versions of Firefox for Mac OS X and Linux for a long time. Mozilla does not have a fully finalized 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows, though.

As I covered recently, Google Chrome has moved past Firefox to firmly take second place in desktop browser market share, according to web traffic stats from Net Applications. Chrome's browser in July surpassed the 20 percent share mark for the first time, according to Net Applications. Meanwhile, Firefox has been steadily losing market share as Mozilla shifts its focus more and more to its Firefox OS strategy.

This November, Mozilla is also up for renegotiation with Google for placement of Google search as the default search in Firefox and for the related subsidies that Google pays Mozilla, which reached almost $300 million last year, comprising the majority of Mozilla's income.  With Chrome establishing itself as a leader in the browser wars, its unclear what relationship Google will continue to pursue with Mozilla.

 

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Mozilla Discloses Another Security Breach Exposing User Data

Thursday 28th of August 2014 02:41:57 PM

Only weeks after it released the distressing news that its website dedicated to developers suffered from a database error that exposed email addresses and encrypted passwords of registered users, Mozilla is back in the news with a similar snafu. The company has just disclosed that email addresses and encrypted passwords of approximately 97,000 users who worked with early builds of the Bugzilla bug tracking software were exposed for three months after a server migration.

In a blog post, Mark Côté, the Bugzilla project’s assistant lead, writes:

"One of our developers discovered that, starting on about May 4th, 2014, for a period of around 3 months, during the migration of our testing server for test builds of the Bugzilla software, database dump files containing email addresses and encrypted passwords of roughly 97,000 users of the test build were posted on a publicly accessible server.  As soon as we became aware, the database dump files were removed from the server immediately, and we’ve modified the testing process to not require database dumps."

"...Because it is possible that some users could have reused their passwords on other websites or authentication systems, we’ve sent notices to the users who were affected by this disclosure and recommended that they change any similar passwords they may be using. It’s important to note that, unless users reused the password they used on landfill.bugzilla.org, this does not affect bugzilla.mozilla.org email addresses or passwords."

Notably, the database dumps behind this latest security breach are similar to the ones that caused a problem for Mozilla reported in August. In that incident, about 76,000 Mozilla Development Network (MDN) users had their email addresses exposed, along with around 4,000 encrypted passwords. The leak was caused by what Mozilla referred to as a database error and a failed "data sanitization process." A web developer first noticed that incident.

Mozilla has apologized for both incidents.

 

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Red Hat Shake-up, Desktop Users, and Outta Time

Thursday 28th of August 2014 01:51:40 AM

Our top story tonight is the seemingly sudden resignation of Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens. In other news, John C. Dvorak says "Linux has run out of time" and Infoworld.com says there may be problems with Red Hat Enterprise 7. OpenSource.com has a couple of interesting interviews and Nick Heath has five big names that use Linux on the desktop.

In a late afternoon press release, Red Hat announced the resignation of long-time CTO Brian Stevens. Paul Cormier will be handling CTO duties until Stevens' replacement is named. No reason for the sudden resignation was given although CEO Whitehurst said, "We want to thank Brian for his years of service and numerous contributions to Red Hat’s business. We wish him well in his future endeavors." However, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols says some rumors are flying. One says friction between Stevens and Cormier caused the resignation and others say Stevens had higher ambitions than Red Hat could provide. He'd been with Red Hat since 2001 and had been CTO at Mission Critical Linux before that according to Vaughan-Nichols who also said Stevens' Red Hat page was gone within seconds of the announcement.

Speaking of Red Hat, InfoWorld.com has a review of RHEL 7 available to the general public today. Reviewer Paul Venezia runs down the new features, but soon mentions systemd as one of the many new features "certain to cause consternation." After offering his opinion on several other key features and even throwing in a tip or two, Venezia concludes, "RHEL 7 is a fairly significant departure from the expected full-revision release from Red Hat. This is not merely a reskinning of the previous release with updated packages, a more modern kernel, and some new toolkits and widgets. This is a very different release than RHEL 6 in any form, mostly due to the move to Systemd."

Our own Sam Dean today said that Linux doesn't need to own the desktop because of its success in many other key areas. While that may be true, Nick Heath today listed "five big names that use Linux on the desktop." He said besides Munich, there's Google for one and they even have their own Ubuntu derivative. He lists a couple of US government agencies and then mentions CERN and others. See that full story for more.

Despite that feel-good report, John C. Dvorak said he's tired of waiting for someone to develop that one "killer app" that would bring in the masses or satisfy his needs. He says he has to make podcasts and "photographic art" and he just can't do that with Linux. Our native applications "do not cut it in the end."

In other news:

* Linux hits 23 - the Time Machine that changed the world!

* Optimize your Linux rig for top-notch writing

* Shortlist of open source software used at NASA lab

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Linux Doesn't Need to Own the Desktop

Wednesday 27th of August 2014 03:13:37 PM

Linus Torvalds issued Linux 3.17 rc-2 on Monday of this week, and he deviated from his normal schedule in doing so, because August 25 happens to mark the 23rd anniversary of the original Linux announcement. "Hello everybody out there using minix," Torvalds wrote.

Meanwhile, PCMag.com has proclaimed that Linux has run out of time. But isn't it true that the endless discussions of whether Linux is a success on the desktop are moot? Linux is in supercomputers and cars, it formed the basis for Android and is the most popular platform to run emerging cloud platforms like OpenStack on--just to name a few of its successes. The desktop is not the only battleground for Linux.

Jon Buys took note of specialization and the Linux desktop in a recent post, where he wrote:

"Recently, IT World asked “Does it still make sense for Linus to want the desktop for Linux?”, and Matt Asay from Tech Repubic asked “Can we please stop talking about the Linux desktop?”. Both publishers are critical of the claim that there is still room for Linux on Personal Computers, and point to Android as a Linux success story...What both articles miss though is that the flexibility of Linux, and the permissiveness of its open source license may be the things that save Linux on the desktop."

 That may be true, but Linux is so much to so many people beyond the desktop. Linux's opportunity for great market share on the desktop has come and gone.

The simple fact is that Linux has changed the world and been a tremendous success outside the desktop, and there is nothing wrong with that. Android is hardly the only Linux-based platform that has made a big mark. Linux is huge on servers, in embedded technology, and is a constant prompt for innovation on emerging platforms. Ubuntu is the most popular platform for building OpenStack deployments on. Supercomputers all over the world run Linux, and Chrome OS is based on it.

So Linux is making a huge difference globally, and it is time for detractors to stop focusing exclusively on its status on the desktop.

 

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Netflix Open Sources More of its Useful Utilities

Wednesday 27th of August 2014 02:55:14 PM

Cloud computing platforms make headlines every day now, including leading open source platforms such as OpenStack, but few organizations have the cloud expertise that Netflix has. The company also has an admirable history of open sourcing many of its most useful cloud tools and accompanying security tools. We've reported on Netflix open sourcing a series of interesting "Monkey" cloud tools as part of its "simian army," which it has deployed as a series satellite utilities orbiting its central cloud platform.

Now, Netflix has released three of its internal tools that help protect the security of its platform, and function as convenient utilities.

Scumblr, Workflowable and Sketchy are available now. Detailed instructions on setup and configuration are available in the projects’ wiki pages

According to a post from Netflix's security team:

"Many security teams need to stay on the lookout for Internet-based discussions, posts, and other bits that may be of impact to the organizations they are protecting...Scumblr is a Ruby on Rails web application that allows searching the Internet for sites and content of interest. Scumblr includes a set of built-in libraries that allow creating searches for common sites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. For other sites, it is easy to create plugins to perform targeted searches and return results. Once you have Scumblr setup, you can run the searches manually or automatically on a recurring basis."

"Sketchy at its core provides a scalable task-based framework to capture screenshots, scrape page text, and save HTML through a simple to use API.  These captures can be stored locally or on an AWS S3 bucket.  Optionally, token auth can be configured and callbacks can be used if required." 

Netflix previously released Janitor Monkey and Chaos Monkey, which are cloud tools. You can peruse Netflix's overall open source software resource center on GitHub.  The company is steadily releasing proven tools that can be quite useful for administrators. Netflix has also said that it has more tools to be open sourced soon.

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Linux at 23, Desktop Feedback, and GIMP 2.8.14 Released

Wednesday 27th of August 2014 04:33:31 AM

The top story tonight is the releases of GIMP 2.8.12 and 2.8.14. Linux celebrated 23 years yesterday and the community had a bit to say about "the desktop." And finally tonight we have a couple of gaming announcements and Bruce Byfield on the KDE Visual Design Group.

GIMP 2.8.12 was released yesterday with "broken library versioning" and had to be quickly updated today to 2.8.14. Be sure to use 2.8.14. Several fixes were listed in the changelog such as " Fix brush sizes when used from plug-ins, Make XCF loading more robust against broken files," and "Remove the option to disable the warning when closing a modified image." Torrent downloads are preferred or just wait for your Linux distribution to package it up.

Linux turned 23 yesterday, August 25, and several folks remembered. The Register said Linus was celebrating by releasing Linux 3.17 rc-2. However, Linus was making headlines today for his comments on "the desktop." Matt Asay, if you'll recall, said folks should just give up on the Linux desktop despite Linus saying he'd like to see it improve. Well, folks around the community let their feeling be known too.

Christine Hall at FossForce.com is quite optimistic saying, "Linux is going to soon gain traction on the desktop." Robert Pogson said, "If you look at global web-stats for GNU/Linux desktops, you see steady growth in a declining or stagnant market for legacy PCs." Katherine Noyes takes a blog safari around Linuxville for more on this as well. Aaron Seigo had another installment in his "what is the desktop" series yesterday too.

In other news:

* KDE Visual Design Group

* Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 380

* The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Adventure Game Might Arrive on Linux

* Time Mysteries: The Final Enigma Hidden Object Game to Arrive on Steam for Linux Soon

* I Will Escape

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Red Hat Enhances its Linux OpenStack Platform

Tuesday 26th of August 2014 03:21:27 PM

Red Hat has introduced updates for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5, the latest version of its enterprise-focused OpenStack platform built on the Icehouse release.  An updated installer and new high availability platform security capabilities are designed to let administrators more easily protect a healthy and fault-tolerant OpenStack deployment.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5 debuted in July 2014, and features an extended three-year product support lifecycle and enhanced support for VMware infrastructure. The VMware infrastructure support is especially notabler because VMware just announced that it is developing its own OpenStack platform.

With a “wizard-style” graphical-user interface, the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform Installer is targeted to remove the need for deep command-line deployment expertise.  The installer is built on Foreman, an existing open source lifecycle management tool.

According to Red Hat:

"The installer can be easily configured for a variety of environments and leverages a new host auto-discovery feature, with bare-metal OS provisioning, to simplify installation and boot-up of new hosts. Along with the new installer, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform also offers an optional LiveCD version. Users can simply boot from the CD image or USB drive and install Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform straight into their operating environment."

"In addition to a more streamlined installation, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform can now be deployed with high availability. When enabled, high availability provides uptime and scalability for the OpenStack controller and service nodes. In the event of a node or service failure, the high availability cluster manager will contain the failure(s) and automatically take the appropriate actions to recover as quickly as possible to minimize downtime. In addition, it offers an 'Active-Active' configuration for those services that support it, allowing all services to run actively across all controller nodes simultaneously."

Red Hat is in an increasingly competitive race to differentiate its OpenStack platfform. VMware has just moved to challenge the threat to its hegemony that OpenStack poses by working on its own distribution of OpenStack called VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIOS). VMware has nearly half a million customers that use its virtualization tools, and cloud computing is growing in tandem with virtualization, so if the company can deliver its OpenStack platform quickly, it may compete very directly with Red Hat to win over OpenStack customers.

In addition to its OpenStack platform installer and availability enhancements, Red Hat has announced its  Open Virtual Appliance for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. It's aimed to give IT administrators a more seamless transition to private cloud and OpenStack environments, regardless of their deployment stage.

 

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The NSF Pours $20 Million Into Experimental Cloud Test Beds

Tuesday 26th of August 2014 03:05:38 PM

Never underestimate the impact that the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) can have on technology. After all, way back when there was no commercial web, it was the NSF that--under pressure from entrepreneurs--opened up the gates for the commercial web to become a low cost way for organizations and individuals to become networked.

Now, the NSF has announced that it has seeded two $10 million projects to create cloud computing test beds, Chameleon and CloudLab, as part of its NSFCloud program that supports research into novel cloud architectures. CloudLab will support open standards and could have a big impact on the open cloud computing scene.

"Just as NSFNet laid some of the foundations for the current Internet, we expect that the NSFCloud program will revolutionize the science and engineering for cloud computing," said Suzi Iacono, acting head of NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), in a statement. "We are proud to announce support for these two new projects, which build upon existing NSF investments in the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) testbed and promise to provide unique and compelling research opportunities that would otherwise not be available to the academic community."

Chameleon is a large-scale, reconfigurable and open experimental environment for cloud research, co-located at the University of Chicago and The University of Texas at Austin. Chameleon will consist of 650 cloud nodes with 5 petabytes of storage. Researchers will be able to configure slices of Chameleon as custom clouds using pre-defined or custom software to test the efficiency and usability of different cloud architectures on a range of problems, from machine learning and adaptive operating systems to climate simulations and flood prediction.

CloudLab is a large-scale distributed infrastructure bed based at the University of Utah, Clemson University and the University of Wisconsin, on top of which researchers will be able to construct many different types of clouds. Each site will have unique hardware, architecture and storage features, and will connect to the others via 100 gigabit-per-second connections on Internet2's advanced platform, supporting OpenFlow (an open standard that enables researchers to run experimental protocols in campus networks) and other software-defined networking technologies.

"Today's clouds are designed with a specific set of technologies 'baked in', meaning some kinds of applications work well in the cloud, and some don't," said Robert Ricci, a research assistant professor of computer science at the University of Utah and principal investigator of CloudLab. "CloudLab will be a facility where researchers can build their own clouds and experiment with new ideas with complete control, visibility and scientific fidelity. CloudLab will help researchers develop clouds that enable new applications with direct benefit to the public in areas of national priority such as real-time disaster response or the security of private data like medical records."

In total, CloudLab will provide approximately 15,000 processing cores and in excess of 1 petabyte of storage at its three data centers. Each center will comprise different hardware, facilitating additional experimentation. In that capacity, the team is partnering with three vendors: HP, Cisco and Dell to provide diverse, cutting-edge platforms for research. Like Chameleon, CloudLab will feature bare-metal access. Over its lifetime, CloudLab is expected to run dozens of virtual experiments simultaneously and to support thousands of researchers.

If you're interested in the possibility of working with these open platforms, here are the related sites to investigate:

Chameleon: http://www.chameleoncloud.org
Emulab: http://www.emulab.net/
CloudLab: http://www.cloudlab.us

 

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Bored with Distros, China Tries Again, and Recompiling Kernels

Tuesday 26th of August 2014 03:50:56 AM

Today in Linux news Fedora Project leader Matthew Miller says folks are bored with Linux distributions. After the Red Flag failure, China is looking to develop another homegrown operating system. Paul Venezia has more on the raging systemd wars and the Linux Tycoon says recompiling the kernel is getting him down. And finally tonight, NetworkWorld has the top 10 things you should know about Red Hat 7.

The Register today published a piece on Matthew Millers talks at LinuxCon last week saying, "Matthew Miller is a little concerned. He worries that to everyone else, Fedora – and Linux distros in general – are getting a little, well … boring." He said just look at the number of Linux distribution booths at the conference as an indication of interest. There were none this year because folks haven't been visiting those types of booths much anymore. Even Google searches indicate a waning interest according to Miller. He seems to think it's partly because of GitHub and Docker give developers other showcases besides popular distributions. As a result, Miller thinks Fedora will end up splitting into three different products: desktop, gadgets/cloud, and servers. The Register's Neil McAllister thinks a "CoreOS" could very well be the next incarnation of Linux systems.

ZDNet's Chris Duckett, among others, are covering a story out of China this last weekend reporting that a new homegrown China operating system, first for the desktop then other devices, will debut in October. China has been on a campaign of sorts against Microsoft and other US suppliers for several years fearing surveillance, monopolies, and espionage. Although unsaid, Linux is likely a key ingredient in their new OS.

Paul Venezia continues his coverage and discussion into the raging systemd debate today saying, "Fundamental changes in the structure of most Linux distributions should not be met with such fervent opposition." Perhaps more testing and feedback time should have been given before the mass migration to systemd. Venezia says, "I think this exposes a separation of the Linux community: between those who were deep into Unix before Linux came on the scene and those who came later." Unix and Linux were designed to be easy to use and fix. But Linux of late has become a bunch of complicated subsystems that take all of the fun (and ease) out of it.

In other news:

* One frustrating Linux problem that Windows, Mac users don’t deal with

* Gunpoint on Linux, Argentina's game dev scene, and more

* Linux Supplier Red Hat Is Set For Strong Gains

* 10 things you need to know about Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7

* DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 573, 25 August 2014

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VMware Misses Docker Opportunity

Tuesday 26th of August 2014 03:36:36 AM

Maybe I’m a minimalist, or perhaps simply a purist, but when I heard that VMware was going to integrate Docker with their virtualization management offerings, I knew they were going to get it wrong. OpenStack integrationwasn’t the only thing on the docket this morning. VMware announced today at VMworld 2014 that they are working with Docker, Google, and several other companies to make running containers in virtual machines as simple as possible. The part of the announcement that I take issue with is the “in virtual machines” part. The thing is, it’s completely unnecessary.

The VMware hypervisor, ESXi, loads a Linux kernel at boot time, and continues running the kernel after it boots its own “Linux like” kernel. Since Linux is so deeply embedded in the core of the system, it should be capable of running Docker containers natively, after updating to a more recent version of Linux. Running containers in a virtual machine is a way around providing management infrastructure for native Docker containers. This seems like a very corporate move, reminiscent of Microsoft’s insistence of running Windows everywhere, even where it didn’t make sense.

Docker offers a way to rethink how we use our investment in hardware and infrastructure, and VMware, with their years of experience building management tools to automate enterprise architecture is in the right place at the right time to deliver on a truly next generation data center. Today at VMworld, they took a swing… and missed. Running containers in a virtual machine is similar to running a VM inside of another VM. You lose the performance gains from removing the virtulization layer, and inherit the additional layer of complexity of containers. It’s a step in the wrong direction.

Luckily, I think that once again open source is going to do the right thing when suits do not. Red Hat’s Project Atomic is everything that VMware could be, if it were not steeped in virtual machine dogma. Project Atomic is a management system for native Docker containers, without the overhead of virtualization. When coupled with Cockpit for GUI management, Red Hat’s offering in the Docker arena is going to be tough for VMware to compete with, especially when they have voluntarily bridled themselves with virtual machines.

On the other hand though, for environments already heavily invested in VMware, the new announcement is good news. They’ll be able to leverage the skills and management systems already in place to deploy new capabilities to their infrastructure, while laying the groundwork for the future of IT. If there were any doubt that Docker and Linux containers are the very near future of the datacenter, today’s announcement from VMware should put those thoughts to rest.

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VMware Comes Full Circle, to Release its Own OpenStack Flavor

Monday 25th of August 2014 03:18:03 PM

Ever since 2012, we've covered the unsure stance that VMware has displayed toward emerging open source cloud computing platforms, including OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus. In this post, we reported that VMware's CEO had cited OpenStack in particular as "lacking maturity."

Now, VMware has moved to challenge the threat to its hegemony that OpenStack poses by working on its own distribution of OpenStack called VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIOS).

In many IT organizations, cloud computing and virtualization--VMware's traditional area of expertise--are hot topics. The OpenStack ecosystem and the virtualization ecosystem are both brimming with free and open tools, challenging VMware's proprietary model.

 Still, VMware has made a smart move in deciding to embrace OpenStack. VMware Integrated OpenStack is available as a preview for a limited group of customers and will be available for full release in the first half of 2015.

VMware has nearly half a million customers that use its virtualization tools, and cloud computing is growing in tandem with virtualization. With its own OpenStack offering, VMware can approach organizations interested in both types of platforms with an integrated solution.

According to a report from The Register:

"Details about just what's in VIOS are sketchy, but the information provided to The Reg the night before the VMworld 2014 keynote says it will offer 'full integration with VMware administration and management tools, allowing customers to leverage existing VMware expertise to manage and troubleshoot an OpenStack cloud.' Which sounds an awful lot like vCentre driving VIOS, quite possibly as just more resources to manage rather than as a silo."

OpenStack continues to gain major backers, and VMware has clearly come full circle in its view of the cloud platform. We'll have to wait to see what develops with the company's own OpenStack offering, and VMware will need to hurry to deliver it, as Red Hat, HP, Mirantis and many other players are quickly ramping up their OpenStack efforts.

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First Firefox OS Phone Arrives in India, Priced at $33

Monday 25th of August 2014 03:04:24 PM

Mozilla has announced that the first smartphone running its Firefox OS mobile operating system is now on sale in India, following earlier reports that a low-cost phone would arrive there in July.

The phone is called Cloud FX and is built by Intex Technologies, an Indian phone maker. It went on sale on the Snapdeal.com website on Monday for 1,999 rupees (Rs.), or approximately $33.

“It is exciting to see the Intex Cloud FX now available as the first Firefox OS device in India and Asia. The positive consumer feedback from other markets tells us that people like the unique user experience and openness we’re building with Firefox OS. With support from Intex, Firefox OS smartphones in the ultra-low-cost category will redefine the entry-level smartphone and create strong momentum in Asia,” said Dr. Li Gong, President of Mozilla.

“The launch of Intex Cloud FX marks the beginning of a new era of the Indian smartphone market and Intex is proud to be the first Indian company to understand and deliver on market needs. With the launch of Intex Cloud FX, we aim to enable the masses to get smartphone experience at the cost of a feature phone. We are delighted to partner with Snapdeal.com, the partnership allows us to offer the smartphone pan-India at a revolutionary cost,” said Keshav Bansal, Director, Marketing, Intex Technologies.

 “The launch of India’s first Firefox OS smartphone by Intex and at such a lucrative price point, exclusively on Snapdeal.com, is very exciting, given the enablement it will provide to current feature phone users to upgrade to a high quality smart phone. We are sure to see a very positive response from our customers,” said Kunal Bahl, Co-Founder & CEO, Snapdeal.com.

The Intex Cloud FX phone comeswith Firefox OS, a 1.0 GHz processor and expandable memory of up to 4GB. It boasts dual-SIM capabilities, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and has built-in features for users to monitor their data usage.

Several languages are supported on the phone, including Hindi and Tamil.

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.

Earlier reports had noted that Firefox OS phones would arrive in India for about $50, but Intex delivered a lower cost option, and the phones could potentially reach a lot of users in India's fast-growing mobile market.

 

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Specialization and the Linux Desktop

Monday 25th of August 2014 03:10:01 AM

Our benevolent dictator for life recently claimed that he was still aiming at Linux being as prevalent on the desktop as it is in the datacenter or in the cloud. The statement was meant with roaring applause from the crowd, and a few healthy, and a few not so healthy, doses of skepticism from the press. Recently, IT World asked “Does it still make sense for Linus to want the desktop for Linux?”, and Matt Asay from Tech Repubic asked “Can we please stop talking about the Linux desktop?”. Both publishers are critical of the claim that there is still room for Linux on Personal Computers, and point to Android as a Linux success story. What both articles miss though is that the flexibility of Linux, and the permissiveness of its open source license may be the thing that saves Linux on the desktop, just not in the way we were expecting.

Computers are fascinating tools, they can be so many things to so many different people. In fact, there are few occupations today that are not enhanced in some way by use of a computer. Because of this, the two biggest companies in the industry, Microsoft and Apple, take a generalist approach and build operating systems aimed at the majority of the people. As we’ve seen, for many use cases this approach works well for them, but it’s also the approach Linux has mimicked for the past twenty years and we’ve not seen the same success. Clearly we need to take a different approach. Most suggestions on how to make the Linux desktop more appealing focus on making the user interface “better,” or making it easier to adopt for new users. I suggest we take a different approach and leverage the strengths of Linux to build specialized, highly focused computers that appeal to specific user groups.

My favorite example for this is scientific computing, because all of the building blocks are already there, and many scientists are already using a significant amount of open source software for their research. While much of the software is geared towards OS X, since Apple takes a generalist approach to the design of their software, they are not intentionally catering towards scientists in the same way that a dedicated Linux computing platform could. Imagine a machine designed from the ground up for data analysis and report generation, with built in hooks for open research sharing and publication.

Or, consider a system designed with professional grade, Hollywood level film production in mind. Linux could be the base of a reliable, open, dedicated system for the incredible amount of computational power that creating a modern blockbuster requires. Even if the application for actually dong the editing comes from Adobe, perhaps they build on Linux and release their own dedicated system, much like Steam is doing with their Steam Machines.

Big businesses that are tired of riding the complicated Microsoft desktop train could get off at any time with a Linux desktop distribution built for virtual desktop infrastructure and long term stability and support in mind. Assuming that most business functions and internal applications move to web based systems anyway, pushing out a Linux desktop running a modern browser would make perfect sense for many companies.

In each of the examples given above, Linux is bent and shaped exactly to fit the task at hand. Instead of presuming to be a general, consumer computing platform, it assumes that it will need to be modular from the start, and provides the internal building blocks to make this possible. The Linux desktop doesn’t need us to stop talking about it, it simply needs us to, ever so slightly, change the conversation.

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Linux is Evolving

Saturday 23rd of August 2014 04:26:53 AM

Red Hat cloud evangelist Gordon Haff recently wrote an article for Opensource.com titled “Why the operating system matters in a containerized world”. Gordon makes several good points on how the operating system is more important than ever, considering that moving away from virtualized environments supporting multiple operating systems to containers running on a single operating system puts more importance on the stability of that single OS. Of course, if you wanted to nitpick, and who doesn’t, Linux has always been the core of the hypervisor in the popular virtualization platforms, but the important part of the article is when Gordon points out that Linux is evolving. What we know as Linux today is changing in interesting, fundamental ways.

Containers run on a single operating system on a single piece of hardware. And, containers actually do have a full operating system inside of them, they simply don’t use most of it. Containers need to have all the right files in all the right places, they just don’t need to boot the kernel or run most of the individual daemons like a virtual machine does. It can, and depending on your use case, you might want to run things like cron and another daemon acting as init, but for the most part, you want to concentrate on your application.

It is in this special instance of having the dormant capacity of the operating system present, but not using it when it isn’t needed, where evolution is happening. We are breaking apart the flexible building blocks of Linux and reforming them in ways that make sense. How far away are we from consumers expecting that applications will come as containers, including everything needed to run? Perhaps even desktop applications can be made to run in containers, a change that would increase security and reliability of the Linux desktop.

Consider CoreOS, a distribution on the leading edge of the new data center. built from the ground up to be deployed on a massive scale, CoreOS is tiny, but built to be clustered. Not only that, but CoreOS ships with two root partitions.

CoreOS updates employ a dual-partion scheme that operates differently than most Linux distributions. Instead of updating a single package at a time, CoreOS downloads an entirely new root filesystem and installs it to the passive partition. After the next reboot, CoreOS will be running the latest version.

Again, using the flexible building blocks that Linux is built out of in interesting and creative ways to build something new and amazing. It is incredible to look at the previous generation of server operating systems, which often threw in everything plus Firefox, KDE, and the kitchen sink, and compare that to where we are going now. Small, modular, special purpose server distributions that are miles away from the desktop or what we had before, but still sharing the same open source Linux core.

The evolution of Linux continues to be endlessly fascinating, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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Desktop Shmesktop, New Open Source Academy, and Your Own Steam Machine

Saturday 23rd of August 2014 03:33:35 AM

Today in Linux news, Matt Asay asks if we can "please stop talking about the Linux desktop?" Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center will open a Linux certification academy in Mississippi next month. A new developmental release of Opera was announced and a new horror game has me rushing to Steam. This and more inside in tonight's Linux recap.

Matt Asay says the desktop is over so just quit talking about it. Even Linus Torvalds can't save the dying dinosaur. He thinks no one else wants it except Torvalds. He referring, of course, to large businesses and computers are still just too difficult for the average employee. And apparently the traditional desktop is just complex. The problem with the Linux desktop, according to Asay, is it doesn't "just work. So, let's move on, just like the rest of the world has. No one outside geeky events like LinuxCon pines for the Linux desktop anymore."

InformationWeek.com is reporting that the US Military is gung-ho over Linux and Open Source software, so much so that they're opening a Linux training academy on one of their posts. According to Ellis Booker, "Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center will open a Linux certification academy, marking the first time such a training program has been hosted on a military base." They're hoping to crank out up to 75 new Linux geeks a month when thing get up and running and classes start next month. "The academy is part of a broader effort to ramp up the IT skills of current military personnel to research and develop open source software technologies that support national security objectives."

GamingOnLinux is highlighting a new horror game on Steam for Linux users called DreadOut. They say it "looks terrifying" so it's for those "who like to be scared out of [their] minds by ghosts and supernatural events. Equipped only with your wits and your trusty smart phone, you must face the scary encounters with supernatural forces and solve the puzzles that are blocking your path." Speaking of Steam, here are two articles on building your own Steam machine.

In other news:

* What's Going On With Fedora.Next

* Opera developer 25 update

* 5 Linux distributions for very old computers

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Survey Finds OpenStack, KVM Riding High Among Cloud Professionals

Friday 22nd of August 2014 03:05:06 PM

 In conjunction with CloudOpen, a sidebar tradeshow held along with LinuxCon, The Linux Foundation has announced that a survey of open source cloud pros established that  OpenStack is easily the most popular project. The survey gathered information from more than 550 participants, and the findings came out at CloudOpen in Chicago this week.

When it came to voting for best overall open source cloud project, votes were weighted, giving each first-choice three votes, second choices two votes, and third choices getting one vote. Theresults showed OpenStack in front of other projects, with container project Docker in second place: 

  1. OpenStack (389 combined votes)
  2. Docker (284 combined votes)
  3. KVM (212 combined votes)
  4. CloudStack (190 combined votes)
  5. Ceph (171 combined votes)

The survey also delved into respondents' favorite hypervisors. KVM, found in Linux, was the winning virtualization choice with 48 percent of votes. Then came Docker, which is kind of funny in a virtualization category, although it has turned containers into a hot topic. And, Xen took third place.

As OpenSource.com notes:

"The PaaS category was dominated by the two best-known projects, showing OpenShift as the top choice, followed by CloudFoundry, with few votes for any of the competitors in the category...Management tools was perhaps the most interesting thread to follow, with the greatest number of choices being available. While Puppet placed first, there was a wide spread across all of the choices, with Ansible and Salt coming in second and third, respectively, but with quite a few votes registering for other choices as well. Juju, Chef, Mesos, Vagrant, and OVirt all received significant votes, and Foreman was added to the named results as a popular write-in."

What was very notable in the survey responses was that even when Docker didn't even really apply to a category being voted on, respondents wrote it in. It is clearly one of the red hot open source stories of the year.

You can find out about more news coming out of CloudOpen here

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With New Funding, Adatao Focuses on Bringing Hadoop to the Masses

Friday 22nd of August 2014 02:49:08 PM

Recently, news broke that a small startup called Adatao has secured $13 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz with investment partners from Lightspeed Ventures and Bloomberg Beta. Marc Andreessen is a board advisor to the company, which is run by CEO Christopher Nguyen, a former director of engineering for Google Apps.

Of course, Nguyen knows his way around Google Docs, and his company Adatao is working on ways to make Hadoop as easy to work with as Google Docs. It's part of a trend to bring Hadoop's Big Data-crunching prowess to average users through easier to use tools.

As InfoWorld has reported:

"Adatao's products (which are proprietary, not open source) are not a single add-on to Hadoop. Rather, they constitute a set of layers, each designed to make Hadoop easier to work with in a different way. Queries can be written in a natural-language system devised by Adatao, but can also be executed via a number of other common languages used in data analysis: R, Python, Java, and SQL."

"The top product, pInsights, is a Web interface that allows data to be queried from Hadoop and visualized. Resulting queries can be assembled into reports, charts, or other visualizations in much the same way one would assemble a spreadsheet or chart in Google Docs or Office 365."

According to a blog post from Adatao:

 "pInsights is the 'beauty layer' that enables business analysts and data scientists to easily and fluidly interact with Big Data in an easy to consume, interactive format. Similar to a Facebook or Google Search engine, predictive SmartQuery was built into a Google Doc type document that allows users to instantly and collaboratively produce embedded analytics within seconds to assist with decision making."

The concept of making Hadoop easier to use is not new. We've reported on the new front-ends and connecting tools that are appearing for the platform.  Talend, which offers a number of open source middleware solutions, is out with some. Talend Open Studio for Big Data, which provides a front end for easily working with Hadoop to mine large data sets, is released under an Apache license, for example. And, Microsoft is working on ways to make it easier to work with Hadoop from the Excel spreadsheet. 

Also, a blog post from Talend confirmed that Hortonworks, which offers its own supported Hadoop distribution, selected Open Studio for Big Data to be bundled with Hortonworks Data Platform.  The bottom line is that, just as, years ago, local area networks and Internet services put power in the hands of people at the departmental level, and wrested some of it from IT departments, Hadoop-driven insights are going to make their way to all types of users. Hadoop is even arriving as an easily accessible cloud service.

"In conversation after conversation with enterprises, we’re seeing that business needs are driving the convergence of business intelligence and data science/machine learning, directly on top of big data," reports Adatao. "This convergence is creating an entirely new set of business value, at a scale that has never been seen before."

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It's Elementary, with Sparks, and Unity

Friday 22nd of August 2014 04:33:14 AM

In today's Linux news Jack Wallen review Elementary OS and says it's not just the poor man's Apple. Jack Germain reviewed SparkyLinux GameOver yesterday and said it's a win-win. Linux Tycoon Bryan Lunduke testdrives Ubuntu's Unity today in the latest entry in his desktop-a-week series. And finally tonight, just what the heck is this Docker thing everybody keeps talking about?

Jack Wallen today reviewed the latest beta of upcoming Elementary Freya. He sounded quite impressed. He said it was "something new and fresh" and "not only easy on the eye, but easy to use." And it's fast, "very fast." The praise continues and Wallen concludes, "I believe [Elementary OS] has the potential to overtake all other Linux distributions as the leader in user-friendliness." See the full review at TechRepublic.com.

In our second review this evening, Jack M. Germain says SparkyLinux GameOver is wonderful for serious and casual gamers. In it users can not only waste a bunch of time but also get some work done, according to Germain. "It provides nearly all of the standard Linux applications out-of-the-box" as well as all kinds of native games, game emulators, Wine and PlayOnLinux, and Steam and Desura. It's based on Debian Jessie, so it has a solid foundation as well. But he found a few things to offset his enthusiasm for it, so see his full review at LinuxInsider.com.

Bryan Lunduke today posted of his "one full week" with Ubuntu Unity. It didn't kill him although Unity was the reason for his Ubuntu exodus a couple years ago. And his first impression this time was "utter annoyance." He says, and I can only quote him here, "Unity is no longer slow as mud and as crash-y as Yogi Bear driving a Vespa after pillaging Dudley Moore's picnic basket. Is it fast? No." He still doesn't like it much, you can tell, but he did say, "To be fair, I actually didn't find anything in Unity that would prevent me from enjoyably using my Linux-powered PC. It worked, and it has been quite reliable. In fact, if Unity were the only Desktop Environment available for Linux... I would use it quite happily. Because, the thing is, it's not bad." But see his full post here at NetworkWorld.com.

In other news:

* Why a Linux-only approach will only get you fired

* What is Docker, Really? Founder Solomon Hykes Explains

* Heartbleed bug linked to US hospital group hack

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