Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Throughout this year, market research news has been quite dreary for PCs and PC equipment makers. But, as we've reported, sales of new-generation Chromebooks running Google's Chrome OS platform have reportedly been rising. School systems and businesses have been buying the devices, and manufacturers including HP and Acer have signed on to produce Chromebooks.
Suddenly, though, there are debates going on online about whether these devices make sense, and some writers are even questioning whether they really are selling well. If you've been considering getting a Chromebook, it's worth tuning into the hubbub.
ZDNet recently ran a column titled "Why there's no good reason to buy a Chromebook." The author writes:
"But what does a Chromebook do? It runs Chrome. So can a Windows laptop. So can a MacBook...The idea of the hybrids like the Surface is to address all these different sets of user needs. It's a tablet. It's a laptop computer running Windows and Office and all your other Windows programs. It runs Chrome, and therefore does everything a Chromebook does, and the cost is not all that different."
Yet another ZDNet column cites some new IDC research that apparently shows Chromebooks struggling in the market. It reports:
"In the entire 3rd calendar quarter of 2013, the leading Chromebook vendor, Samsung, shipped only 652,000 devices, and IDC says every other vendor had shipments that represented 'tiny volume."
There are of course, conflicting reports, and year end research numbers may settle this debate. As reported by Bloomberg a few months ago, based on market research from NPD, Chromebooks had grabbed 20 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. market for laptops that cost less than $300 earlier this year, making them a fast growing subset of the PC industry.
It's hard to know whose numbers are most accurate, but there is no question that the prices are right on these devices. Acer recently slashed the price on its Chromebook, making it available for $200. These kinds of prices will continue to attract school systems, if not business buyers.
And, last but not least, several OStatic readers have written in saying that they want to purchase Chromebooks simply to put their favorite Linux distros on the devices. Are you a happy Chromebook user? If so, tell us why.
Yesterday Clement Lefebvre announced the release candidate for upcoming Linux Mint 16. In fact, he announced two versions of Linux Mint 16: Mate and Cinnamon. He said they were "the result of six months of incremental development on top of stable and reliable technologies. This new release comes with updated software and brings refinements and new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use."
Among the new goodies are:
After a bit of a delay, Anne Nicolas today announced the release of Mageia 4 Beta 1. She said, "The road to this beta 1 release was for sure the longest we had since mageia has started." Indeed, this beta was due October 31, but "witches and pumpkins" delayed the release until today.
Anne Nicolas said in an October 31 post that a "nasty bug" was found in "rpm itself." She didn't go into any further details, but some ugly bugs were found on the bugzilla. There are all kinds of rpmdrake issues reported. Several are ugly segfaults, one mentions MageiaUpdate crashing, and couple report rpmdrake miscalculating available space and not clearing download cache. Problems with rpmdrake search and filters still seem open and the GUI front-end is performing poorly. There were some other smaller issues, but any or all of these could be candidates for blame. The release was rescheduled for November 6, but on November 8 another delay was announced citing "bugs in the installer and some desktop packaging."
The remainder of the release schedule is unchanged and final is still planned for February 1, 2014. For those wishing to test Beta 1, the mirror list is up or one can download from the Website. It appears this release features Linux 3.12.0, GNOME 3.10.1, KDE 4.11.2, and Xorg X Server 1.4.4, but no new artwork. The errata list continues to grow, so check that too before proceeding.
On a related note, an interview with Bruno Cornec was posted recently on the Mageia Blog.
This has been a big month for news on the Hadoop front, as the open platform for crunching data and helping to yield unseen insights begins to explore some new frontiers. Cloudera, which has focused on supporting and advancing Hadoop-based analytics, and Udacity, a provider of online higher education, announced a partnership to deliver Hadoop and Data Science training via Udacity's online education portal. Meanwhile, Facebook open sourced Presto, an SQL engine that it claims is about 10 times faster than Hive for running queries across large data sets with Hadoop.
Hadoop is a very hot topic in enterprises as the amount of data being generated and stored continues to increase. There is also big demand in enterprises for people with Hadoop skills. Cloudera founded Cloudera University in 2009, and in April 2013, the company announced the Cloudera Academic Partnership (CAP) to extend its course curriculum and training program These moves were intended to help train a new generation of Hadoop-savvy workers.
Through its new partnership with Udacity, Cloudera is seeking to put high-quality Big Data training within reach of anyone who has an Internet connection. Udacity's online platform will leverage Cloudera's background in Hadoop, to deliver online coursework that students can go through at their own pace. Upon completion of courses, students also have the option to take Cloudera's full suite of multi-day, live professional training courses and earn accredited professional certifications. You can find out more about the program here.
Facebook has also open sourced Presto, the interactive SQL-on-Hadoop engine that is reputed to offer impressive performance. Cloudera itself offers a similar tool called Impala, which I covered here. There is a need for fast real-time queries on Hadoop, and these tools facilitate fast SQL queries on Hadoop clusters, usually in real-time without having to load data into a database.
As GigaOM notes:
"Technologically, Presto and other query engines of its ilk can be viewed as faster versions of Hive, the data warehouse framework for Hadoop that Facebook created several years ago. Facebook and many other Hadoop users still rely heavily on Hive for batch-processing jobs such as regular reporting, but there has been a demand for something letting users perform ad hoc, exploratory queries on Hadoop data similar to how they might do them using a massively parallel relational database."
Facebook has Presto running in several of its data centers and will presumably make continuing contributions to the project.
Hadoop has emerged as a mighty and unique tool for yielding insights from large data sets, but it will be used on conjunction with other data crunching tools over time. These tools for quick real-time queries are only going to proliferate and make using Hadoop easier.
Open source has been a big part of Facebook's engineering efforts since the company's early days, and Facebook has also contributed a number of projects to the open source community. This week, the company officialy launched Open Academy, which will give college credits to students who contribute to open source projects. Facebook is in partnership with several schools with strong computer science departments, and they'll help make the program official.
"We also believe that contributing to open source projects is one of the best ways a student can prepare for a job in the industry. Software development as a profession has many features that are distinct from computer science as an academic subject. Projects are often larger than the people who participate in them; project management and interpersonal relationships can have as much impact on software design as technical issues; and systems are ultimately evaluated by user satisfaction rather than technical merit."
So how does the program work? According to the Open Academy official launch post:
"The winter 2014 classes are assembling now. To learn more about Open Academy and get involved, please visit https://www.facebook.com/OpenAcademyProgram."
While this week's offical launch had some fanfare, Facebook actually introduced the Open Academy pilot at Stanford in 2012 and expanded in 2013 to include MIT, University of Texas at Austin, Cornell Univeristy, University of Toronto, Waterloo University, University of Singapore, University of Tokyo, Imperial College of London, Jagiellonian University, University of Helsinki, and Tampere University of Technology.
Also this week, the company announced that Open Academy is expanding to include University of Pennsylvania, UC San Diego, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University, UC Berkeley , Purdue, University of Warsaw, UIUC, UCLA, and University of Washington.
As is easy to see, some heavy-hitting schools are participating in this effort, and it looks like an outstanding way for students interested in tech careers to introduce some open source credibility onto their resumes. According to Facebook, to date, students and mentors have worked on open source projects including Freeseer, Kotlin, MongoDB, Mozilla Open Badge, Phabricator, Pouch DB, Socket IO, Review Board, and Ruby on Rails.
You have to hand it to Mozilla: The company is staying true to its goals with its new Firefox OS mobile platform. Despite the fact that Mozilla is shifting its whole company strategy to align behind Firefox OS and mobile goals, despite new manufacturers signing on to produce phones, and despite some promising initial sales for Firefox OS phones in the U.S. and U.K., Mozila appears to be staying focused on emerging markets for Firefox OS. Mitchell Baker, one of the company's longest standing voices, has said that there are no current plans to launch Firefox OS phones in the U.S.
CNET quoted Baker saying:
"For most of the world, price is really important. But for us, a $500 phone, how many of us have one. How many cents you can shave off the bottom of the phone is the driving factor."
This, of course, matches what Gary Kovacs, who was CEO of Mozilla when the Firefox OS plans launched, had to say. At an All Things D conference, he said:
"In Silicon Valley we tend to see the world through high-end devices. But that’s not true in the rest of the world. So in the short term, we’re launching in emerging markets where Firefox is particularly strong. … It didn’t make sense for us to launch a version-one device around the world."
That's not to say that there is no market in the U.S. or the U.K. for Firefox OS phones. As we reported previously. the ZTE Open Firefox OS phone (shown above) recently sold via eBay in the U.S. and U.K. and Mozilla officials confirmed the news with some fanfare, noting that unlocked phones were selling for $79.99 and users could easily pick their own carriers. The phones quickly sold out, causing some observers to wonder if these phones might be a hit outside of emerging markets.
This could all change if, say, Mozilla can get interest in Firefox OS phones from major carriers in the U.S. and the U.K., but perhaps a very focused strategy on picking low hanging fruit is right for Mozilla. There is no doubt that many users outside of developing markets want Firefox OS phones, but that's not where Mozilla is placing its mobile bets.
In spite of all the controversy, Google has just released the Dart 1.0 SDK. If it seems like something to scoff at, remember that people scoffed at Google Chrome when it first arrived, and at Android.
According to the Chromium blog:
"Today we’re releasing the Dart SDK 1.0, a cross-browser, open source toolkit for structured web applications. In the two years since we first announced Dart, we’ve been working closely with early adopters to mature the project and grow the community. This release marks Dart's transition to a production-ready option for web developers."
"The Dart SDK 1.0 includes everything you need to write structured web applications: a simple yet powerful programming language, robust tools, and comprehensive core libraries. Together, these pieces can help make your development workflow simpler, faster, and more scalable as your projects grow from a few scripts to full-fledged web applications. On the tools side, the SDK includes Dart Editor, a lightweight but powerful Dart development environment."
openSUSE 13.1 is due to the public in just a few days and Jos Poortvliet has been posting some sneak peeks. Two he previews two popular desktop versions and today he offered some "Geeko Tips." As a bonus, Bryan Lunduke compares openSUSE to Ubuntu in terms of management style.
For those like me who are looking forward to 13.1, the sneak peeks just whet the appetite even more. For GNOME users version 3.10 awaits your install. The GNOME 3.10 desktop features a unified system menu, CSD Header Bar, less obtrusive system tray and notifications, updated Activities Overview, and a new frequently used apps tab. Several new GNOME apps have been introduced as well, such as Clocks, Notes, (the really awesome) Weather, and Photos.
For KDE users, the latest 4.11 is but a boot away. Jos simply and succinctly reminds users why Plasma was needed and how it all works together before teasing some cool features, applications, and tech previews.
The latest entry in his series features tips and tricks from the community for enjoying more openSUSE 13.1. These features tidbits such as commandline package management with zypper, viewing the new journald logs, easy OBS package builds, and, most interesting, a port of Gentoo's etc-update that finds configuration files that need attention.
Be sure to read all these articles for more detail. There's a post about 13.1 launch parties for those really excited. And catch Lunduke's comparison of Ubuntu vs. openSUSE corporate control. 13.1 is due November 19, so bookmark the download page.
When curious about the performance of a server, one of the first places I stop is "top". Top is not perfect, not by a long shot, but it does provide a decent point in time snapshot of the server, and attempts to answer the question of "what is going on right now?". Unfortunatly, the output of top can easily be misinterpreted if you do not have a good understanding of the different fields of data presented.
I'm not going to go through the man page for top, when you have the time and inclination it is always there waiting for you. What I would like to do is point out a few highlights of how I use it to get a quick overview of the system and hopefully get a direction I should go next. Top is often my first stop in troubleshooting, but it is rarely my only stop.
The very first thing I look at in top is the load average, in the top right hand corner of the screen. The load average is computed based on a number of statistics gathered, but can generally be thought of as the amount of work the CPU is being asked to do. If your machine has a single CPU core, than a load average of one would mean that the machine was perfectly loaded and had sufficient power to accomplish all tasks during the time it was sampled. Likewise, if the load average is two, the single CPU machine was overloaded, and would have needed two available cores to accomplish the work it was being asked to do in the same amount of time. With todays 8, 16, and 32 core servers shipping, I need to think twice when considering the load average. If I need to check, I press "1" in top, which will drop down a list of all CPU cores so I can get a quick count for comparison.
The second item I check is the first process listed, and the ninth column over, labled "%CPU". The explanation for this column is novel:
The task's share of the elapsed CPU time since the last screen update, expressed as a percentage of total CPU time. In a true SMP environment, if 'Irix mode' is Off, top will operate in 'Solaris mode' where a task's cpu usage will be divided by the total number of CPUs. You toggle 'Irix/Solaris' modes with the 'I' interactive command.
Clear as mud, right? The main idea to keep in mind is that if a single process has gone berzerk for one reason or antoher, it will probably show up listed first in top, with a rather extreme number for %CPU.
The next area I glance at is the "Cpu(s):" line, in the center of the header block. Specifically, I'm interested in the %us, which is user processes, %sy, for system processes, %id, which is idle time, and %wa, which is the percent of time the CPU had processes that were waiting on a response from an I/O stream to execute. This percentage should always be close to zero, and anything higher than 5% should be looked at closer.
Lastly, I like to check the system up time, shown in the top left hand corner. If I'm having problems with a server, and the server was recently rebooted, there may be a correlation there, perhaps a daemon that didn't start.
All of these checks take only a few seconds. I may leave top running for a few minutes and watch the processes, CPU, and load if I'm just observing, but normally I'm in and out of top fairly quickly. Top is one of those fantastic sysadmin tools that is built to give you a quick overview of the health of your system, and allow you to quickly diagnose potential problems.
Google has just delivered version 31 of its Chrome browser for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It's a notable release on several fronts. It includes support for web payments (in some versions), advances native client functionality in such a way that web apps work more similarly to desktop apps, and it includes 25 security fixes. Some of the security fixes were found by individuals who earned cash rewards under Gooble's growing bug bounty program.
Many people will get the latest release through the browser's automatic update feature, or it's downloadable from google.com/chrome. Here are more details on what's under the hood.
This release of Chrome includes the Portable Native Client, which works by compiling native C and C++ code to an intermediate representation, rather than architecture-specific representations as in Native Client. The result is that web apps work more like desktop applications and perform better. Tasks such as video processing and working with graphcs will get a boost. As noted on The Chromium Blog:
"Today, we’re launching Portable Native Client (PNaCl, pronounced pinnacle), which lets developers compile their code once to run on any hardware platform and embed their PNaCl application in any website...PNaCl unlocks the power of native performance for applications like Bullet physics simulators and Lua interpreters. "
On Windows and Chrome OS, users now have access to a web payments feature. The Next Web has a good breakdown of these features, and notes that a Mac version will arrive soon.
As reported here, Google is now throwing significant amounts of money toward anyone who finds significant bugs in Chrome, and this version of Chrome does include 25 fixes. For some bugs, the bug bounties can now reach $60,000.
What's not in this release of Chrome? You'll have to wait until January for Chrome to fully include the various new policies toward browser extensions that we reported on here. Google has announced that starting in January, extensions for the stable and beta versions of Chrome for Windows will have to be hosted on the Chrome Web Store. In February of this year, Google began to disallow silent additions of extensions to Chrome. It's all in response to the performance problems that some extensions have been causing.
Google continues to update Chrome on a rapid release cycle, and, especially when it comes to running applications, it's becoming an ever more sophisticated platform.
Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth is out with a new blog post in which he apologizes for a cease and desist notice that was sent from Canonical to the founder of the fixubuntu.com site, which Canonical had accused of violating the Ubuntu trademark. While Shuttleworth notes that Canonical does have to enforce its trademarks, he writes that the company "made a mistake in sending the wrong response to a trademark issue out of the range of responses we usually take." He also notes, though, that some people were carrying "pitchforks and torches on this issue," and that was certainly true in the press.
As a company focused on open source and the principles that go along with it, Shuttleworth is right to apologize for this kerfuffle. But, as he writes, the reaction to a bad decision made was pretty overblown:
"The internets went wild, Wired picked a headline accusing Canonical of a campaign to suppress critics, Debian started arguing about whether it should remove all references to the distro-that-shall-not-be-named but then decided to argue about whether it should enforce its own trademarks which lead to an argument about… oh never mind."
It turns out that the source of the whole problem was than employee at Canonical sent out the wrong template in an email.
While in apology mode, Shuttleworth has also written that he is sorry for using "the label 'open source tea party' to refer to the vocal non-technical critics of work that Canonical does."
"For the record, technical critique of open source software is part of what makes open source software so good," Shuttleworth added. "It is welcome and appreciated very much at Canonical; getting reviews and feedback and suggestions for improvement from smart people who care is part of why we enjoy writing open source software."
Micah Lee, who received the trademark cease and desist note from Canonical, has posted his own version of events on his blog. He notes that "Canonical shouldn't abuse trademark law to silence critics of its privacy decisions." It sounds like that really was never the intent.
I've been on a bit of a sabbatical, but the folks at Fedora haven't missed a beat. The project announced Fedora 20 "Heisenbug" Beta on November 12 saying, "Fedora 20 features some of the latest and best of what the open source world has to offer." But if that wasn't enough excitement for a Tuesday, the Fedora Project just recently celebrated its tenth birthday.
In the press release "Linux enthusiasts are encouraged to download the beta release of Fedora 20, take it for a test drive and help identify items that may need attention." What's new includes ARM as a primary architecture, thin provisioning, VM Snapshot UI, new commandline network manager features, Sendmail is finally made optional, and syslog has been put out of its misery by systemd logger. Enlightenment 0.18, GNOME 3.10, KDE 4.11, and Sugar 1.0 are among the various desktop choices. Those wishing to test these and the many other new and improved features, downloads are in the usual location. Final appears to be scheduled for release December 10, 2013.
All this comes just days after the official 10 year anniversary of the first release of Fedora and what many peg as the actual beginning. "For 10 years, the Fedora Project has beaten progress's drum for the open source world, delivering the latest features and technologies approximately every six months, thanks to the dedication of a diverse global community of contributors." Included in the press release is a nice video with familiar faces discussing Fedora and many facets of the project.
Google's Android mobile operating system hit a big milestone during the third quarter of 2013, according to the (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. With a total base of 211.6 million smartphone units shipped during the quarter, Android accounted for 81.0 percent of all smartphone shipments, marking the first time that Android topped 80 percent in its short history. Android only began ramping up in 2009, making its market share all the more remarkable. Samsung continues to dominate in the Android hardware space. Here are more details from IDC's latest research.
Notably, Microsoft's Windows Phone is also doing reasonably well. Windows Phone's share grew 156 percent year over year, according to IDC. "Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price," said Ramon Llamas Research Manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, in a statement. "Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward."
IDC also provided the following chart breaking down the latest quarterly figures:
Apple's iOS, despite seeing its total volumes increase and reaching new record third quarter volumes, saw its market share decline during 3Q13, according to IDC's numbers, most likely due to soft demand in the weeks leading up to the launch of iOS 7 smartphones.
Average selling prices for smartphones are declining and new form factors, such as phablets are arriving. For now, though, it looks like Android is firmly entrenched as the market leader.
As Mozilla is showing with the early success of Firefox OS smartphones, there is room in the market for more than one open source operating system for phones. Android commands huge market share, but there are still believers in alternative open mobile platforms, and one that has drawn attention recentkly is Tizen. Tizen is out in a version 2.2.1 platform release and continues to have The Linux Foundation as a key steward.
Ironically, Samsung has been one of the biggest champions of Tizen, even as Samsung qualifies as the biggest player in Android phones and devices. As I reported at the end of October, Samsung is also loudly calling for developers to build apps for Tizen, and there has been a Tizen App Challenge, featuring more than $4 million in prizes. But at this week's Tizen Developer Summit held Nov. 11-12 in Seoul, Korea, there has been little action around Tizen smartphones.
"Day one, however, came and went with plenty of Tizen goodies, including a Samsung camera running Tizen, but no Tizen phone. Meanwhile, The Korea Herald quoted a Samsung executive as saying the first phone would be delayed until 2014. Speaking at the Smart TV Global Summit 2013 in Seoul, Kim Hyun-seok, head of Samsung Electronics’s visual display unit said the first Tizen-based smart TVs wouldn’t appear until after the first Tizen phones, which were expected to ship sometime in 2014."
One has to wonder whether these 2014 delivery dates are going to be too late for Tizen to make its mark. At a Samsung-hosted event for mobile app developers in San Francisco in late October, Samsung officials were wooing developers to build apps for Tizen. Samsung has been steadily working on Tizen development.
Tizen represents a platform that Samsung can have lots of control over, along with its partner Intel. Tizen is a modern, Linux-based OS that supports HTML5 and other standards. It's also very good that The Linux Foundation steers it. So where are the devices and apps?
In a 2010 post titled "Is It Too Late for an Open Source Challenge to Android?," I wondered whether any other open source mobile platform might still be able to compete. After all, Android was on only one handset as recenty as March of 2009--it's a young OS.
If Tizen could just appear on a few early phones it might gain much credibility, and it should be noted that many new partners have been announced. But the Developer Summit this week was not a showcase for Tizen phones or cutting-edge apps for the platform.
PC-BSD is a FreeBSD based desktop operating system known for being user friendly. I've been toying with the idea of going back to FreeBSD for my main desktop at work for a few weeks, and this weekend decided to take the plunge. Unfortunately, the FreeBSD 9.2 installer does not include the option to install to a ZFS formatted disk. FreeBSD 10 Beta does allow installing to ZFS, but had a problem with the Intel video driver for my laptop. The good news is that PC-BSD has both of these features covered, and has let me build up a super fast, Xmonad based desktop environment simply and easily.
The PC-BSD install wizard offers an option to customize the default set of software. To achieve my minimalist setup, I simply deselected all of the available options, which left me with a nearly bare bones system. By default the laptop booted into a GDM login screen, and after logging in I was taken to a Fluxbox desktop environment. PC-BSD installs a few applications along with X11 and Fluxbox, the most interesting one by far is Life Preserver.
One of the reasons I wanted to install to ZFS, besides all the ZFS goodness, was to have the peace of mind of automatic snapshots of my home directory. The PC-BSD Life Preserver uses ZFS snapshots to create timed, automatic, point-in-time recovery options for your data. I tested this out by creating a snapshot, deleting a file, and then attempting to use Life Preserver to restore the file. I was unable to restore the file using the GUI tool, but I found that I now had a new hidden directory in my home directory named ".zfs". Inside that directory was another named "snapshots", and inside of that directory was yet another directory with the name I gave the snapshot I just created and a timestamp. Inside of that directory I found a duplicate of my entire home directory, and was able to browse to the file I deleted, cat it out to the terminal, and copy it back where I wanted it to be. I've setup Life Preserver to take hourly snapshots and to keep them for seven days before deleting. It will be an interesting experement to see how much additional disk space this takes up, but I'm hoping that because ZFS operates on the block level, the snapshots will be fairly small.
Using Xmonad I've been able to replicate a few of my favorite features of my previous desktop. Hitting "Alt-Space" will bring up a prompt at the bottom of the screen waiting for input for a search of DuckDuckGo, which will open in Firefox on my third desktop. Pressing "Ctrl-Space" prompts me for a server name to SSH to, and "Super-P" (or, "Mod-P", as it is better known in Xmonad) prompts me for an application to launch. I also have Xmobar at the top of the screen for status updates on various items, most of the configuration I've been using so far comes straight from this Chips Tips article, and then customizing a little at a time.
The way I have configured PC-BSD is not for everyone, but if you are confortable with KDE, Gnome, or XFCE you should feel right at home choosing one of those desktops. In addition to providing you with a comfortable working environment, the technology at the core of the operating system is top notch quality. If you have been curious about FreeBSD, PC-BSD is a great place to get started.
Fresh on the heels of its many OpenStack-related announcements last week, Red Hat has delivered news on significant momentum within its OpenShift Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Partner Program. Since launching OpenShift in May of 2011, Red Hat has partnered with cloud players, including both independent software vendors (ISVs) and system integrators (SIs) via the OpenShift Partner Program. Today's announcement includes news of new partners in the program, and, The Register reports that Red Hat has dramastically cut costs for many of the gears required to use OpenShift.
Among new companies in the OpenShift Partner Program, there are:
App Dynamics, which focuses on web application performance
Continuent, which provides Database-as-a-Service offerings for MySQL and Oracle
Kinvey, a Backend-as-a-Service player for enterprise applications
Netsource Partners, a software engineering firm
Phase2, a leading digital content strategy and design company
StrongLoop, which provides tools for connecting enterprise data to devices and browsers
Vizuri, a software design and consulting company
Pat V. Mack, an IT consulting firm
Red Hat made its OpenShift announcements at Amazon Web Services's "re:Invent" cloud show in Las Vegas. As The Register reported from the conference:
"Red Hat has halved the cost of IT on its OpenShift platform cloud engine and expanded commercial support to cover 14 Eurozone countries."
OpenShift is just one player in a crowded service-oriented software market that includes Google App Engine, Heroku, Windows Azure and many other players. The OpenShift platform provides built-in support for Node.js, Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl, and Java and allows developers to add their own tools.
Last week was OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong, and there were enough big headlines to suggest that OpenStack is going to remain one of the biggest technology stories going as we enter 2014. Canonical announced that it will meld OpenStack with Cloud Foundry within Ubuntu, and Red Hat made a series of announcements furthering its commitment to the cloud platform.
In conjunction with the Summit, the OpenStack Foundation has released the results of a broad users survey it did, with an accompanying infographic. You might be surprised at what users are doing with OpenStack.
Within the OpenStack ecosystem, users go with Ubuntu 55 percent of the time as their host operating system, according to the foundation's survey, a surprising statistic that Matt Asay discusses in a new post. Many people don't realize how married Ubuntu and OpenStack already are to each other, and Canonical made clear last week that they're going to become even more closely integrated. Canonical has already tied Ubuntu's development cycle to OpenStack's.
The foundation's survey generated 822 responses and involved 387 OpenStack cloud deployments across 56 countries. A few key highlights from the findings:
More than half of the clouds were already running Grizzly or Havana, which are the latest two releases of OpenStack.
The top five countries with deployments were U.S., India, China, France, and Canada.
The top three business drivers were Cost Savings, Operational Efficiency, Open Platform.
An infographic based on the survey yields some other interesting findings. Which development tools are used by OpenStack administrators? The most popular ones in the survey were Puppet, Devstack and Chef. KVM was the most popular hypervisor among survey respondents, and more respondents used CentOS than RHEL.
You can find much more detail in the full report by the User Committee at the OpenStack Foundation. Clearly, serious OpenStack deployments are going on all around the world.
In mid October, Ubuntu 13.10 arrived, featuring close integration with Havana, the latest release of the OpenStack cloud computing platform. Ubuntu development is also now being kept in lockstep with OpenStack's development cycles, as Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, steadily embraces the emerging cloud platform. There is also a new OpenStack Interoperability Lab from Ubuntu, which we covered here.
Adding to its momentum surrounding cloud computing, it looks like Canonical and Ubuntu will be working closely with Pivotal to bring Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities to OpenStack deployments. Ubuntu will build an OpenStack-based version of Cloud Foundry into its next major release, with the news announced at the Hong Kong OpenStack Summit.
Cloud Foundry is an open source cloud-centric platform that works with public and private data centers. It supports Java, Ruby, Spring and Node.js, and has built-in support for RabbitMQ, PostgreSQL, MySQL, redis, and MongoDB. It's meant to be a broad platform that the whole cloud ecosystem can leverage.
According to The Register, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth gave a keynote at OpenStack Summit where he recognized that there are a lot of players in the PaaS space, but made clear that he views Cloud Foundry as the leader:
"Canonical will be teaming up with CloudFoundry sponsor Pivotal on two main products...First up it will look to offer a 'charmed' up version of CloudFoundry – ie one using Ubuntu’s Juju service orchestration tool to help customers deploy PaaS cloud environments."
Secondly, there will be a joint OpenStack/CloudFoundry solution who want to combine Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and PaaS features.
Cloud Foundry continues to gain influence. Back in August, James Watters, head of product, marketing and ecosystem for Cloud Foundry, said, as reported here: "We are already seeing significant traction from joint customers who want to combine the agile Cloud Foundry platform with OpenStack."
It's very likely that one of these joint customers and partners interested in Cloud Foundry in August was Canonical. Meanwhile, Rackspace recently delivered its own PaaS solution, called Solum, and there are a lot of other players in the PaaS space.The Cloud Foundry and Ubuntu partnership could have broad repercussions in a very competitive arena.
If you've steadily used either or both of the most popular open source Internet browsers--Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox--then you're probably familiar with the performance and security problems that some extensions for them can cause. Mozilla has been radically changing the way that Firefox approaches working with extensions, in response to performance problems that some extensions were causing.
Now, Google has announced that starting in January, extensions for the stable and beta versions of Chrome for Windows will have to be hosted on the Chrome Web Store. Critics are likely to contend that Chrome is moving away from a purely open model and picking up practices more common to closed browser players like Microsoft and Apple.
According to the Chromium blog:
"Many services bundle useful companion extensions, which causes Chrome to ask whether you want to install them (or not). However, bad actors have abused this mechanism, bypassing the prompt to silently install malicious extensions that override browser settings and alter the user experience in undesired ways, such as replacing the New Tab Page without approval. In fact, this is a leading cause of complaints from our Windows users."
"Since these malicious extensions are not hosted on the Chrome Web Store, it’s difficult to limit the damage they can cause to our users. As part of our continuing security efforts, we’re announcing a stronger measure to protect Windows users: starting in January on the Windows stable and beta channels, we’ll require all extensions to be hosted in the Chrome Web Store. We’ll continue to support local extension installs during development as well as installs via Enterprise policy, and Chrome Apps will also continue to be supported normally."
"If your extensions are currently hosted outside the Chrome Web Store you should migrate them as soon as possible."
Google has been moving more and more of the Chrome ecosystem toward the Chrome Web Store, where it can have more control than it otherwise would. In February of this year, Google began to disallow silent additions of extensions to Chrome.
It's logical to assume that we may see a version of Chrome for which you can only install extensions from the Chrome Web Store. While that may boost security, it's not an exactly an open extension model. In case you've missed some of the similar moves that Mozilla is making with Firefox, check our previous post.