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Latest LWN Articles About Linux (Paywall Has Just Expired)

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Linux
  • SPDX identifiers in the kernel

    Observers of the kernel's commit stream or mailing lists will have seen a certain amount of traffic referring to the addition of SPDX license identifiers to kernel source files. For many, this may be their first encounter with SPDX. But the SPDX effort has been going on for some years; this article describes SPDX, along with why and how the kernel community intends to use it.

    On its face, compliance with licenses like the GPL seems like a straightforward task. But it quickly becomes complicated for a company that is shipping a wide range of software, in various versions, in a whole set of different products. Compliance problems often come about not because a given company wants to flout a license, but instead because that company has lost track of which licenses it needs to comply with and for which versions of which software. SPDX has its roots in an effort that began in 2009 to help companies get a handle on what their compliance obligations actually are.

    It can be surprisingly hard to determine which licenses apply to a given repository full of software. The kernel's COPYING file states that it can be distributed under the terms of version 2 of the GNU General Public License. But many of the source files within the kernel tell a different story; some are BSD licensed, and many are dual-licensed. Some carry an exception to make it clear that user-space programs are not a derived product of the kernel. Occasionally, files with GPL-incompatible licenses have been found (and fixed).

  • 4.15 Merge window part 1

    When he released 4.14, Linus Torvalds warned that the 4.15 merge window might be shorter than usual due to the US Thanksgiving holiday. Subsystem maintainers would appear to have heard him; as of this writing, over 8,800 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline since the opening of the 4.15 merge window. Read on for a summary of the most interesting changes found in that first set of patches.

  • 4.15 Merge window part 2

    Despite the warnings that the 4.15 merge window could be either longer or shorter than usual, the 4.15-rc1 prepatch came out right on schedule on November 26. Anybody who was expecting a quiet development cycle this time around is in for a surprise, though; 12,599 non-merge changesets were pulled into the mainline during the 4.15 merge window, 1,000 more than were seen in the 4.14 merge window. The first 8,800 of those changes were covered in this summary; what follows is a look at what came after.

  • BPF-based error injection for the kernel

    Diligent developers do their best to anticipate things that can go wrong and write appropriate error-handling code. Unfortunately, error-handling code is especially hard to test and, as a result, often goes untested; the code meant to deal with errors, in other words, is likely to contain errors itself. One way of finding those bugs is to inject errors into a running system and watching how it responds; the kernel may soon have a new mechanism for doing this sort of injection.

    As an example of error handling in the kernel, consider memory allocations. There are few tasks that can be performed in kernel space without allocating memory to work with. Memory allocation operations can fail (in theory, at least), so any code that contains a call to a function like kmalloc() must check the returned pointer and do the right thing if the requested memory was not actually allocated. But kmalloc() almost never fails in a running kernel, so testing the failure-handling paths is hard. It is probably fair to say that a large percentage of allocation-failure paths in the kernel have never been executed; some of those are certainly wrong.

  • Tools for porting drivers

    Out-of-tree drivers are a maintenance headache, since customers may want to use them in newer kernels. But even those drivers that get merged into the mainline may need to be backported at times. Coccinelle developer Julia Lawall introduced the audience at Open Source Summit Europe to some new tools that can help make both forward-porting and backporting drivers easier.

    She opened her talk by noting that she was presenting step one in her plans, she hoped to be able to report on step two next year some time. The problem she is trying to address is that the Linux kernel keeps moving on. A vendor might create a driver for the 4.4 kernel but, over the next six months, the kernel will have moved ahead by another two versions. There are lots of changes with each new kernel, including API changes that require driver changes to keep up.

    That means that vendors need to continually do maintenance on their drivers unless they get them upstream, where they will get forward-ported by the community. But the reverse problem is there as well: once a device becomes popular, customers may start asking for it to run with older kernels too. That means backporting.

More in Tux Machines

Linux Foundation: OpenContrail, SDNs, ONAP

  • Juniper Flips OpenContrail To The Linux Foundation
    It’s a familiar story arc for open source efforts started by vendors or vendor-led industry consortiums. The initiatives are launched and expanded, but eventually they find their way into independent open source organizations such as the Linux Foundation, where vendor control is lessened, communities are able to grow, and similar projects can cross-pollinate in hopes of driving greater standardization in the industry and adoption within enterprises.
  • Juniper Hands OpenContrail SDN to Linux Found. Before It's Too Late
    After failing to develop a community around the project and receiving pushback from a major backer, Juniper may be saving Contrail from becoming irrelevant
  • CableLabs Announces Two Open Source Projects for NFV
    SNAPS is an overarching program at CableLabs to facilitate the adoption of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) within the CableLabs’ community. The organization says it spearheaded SNAPS to fill in gaps within open source to ease the adoption of SDN and NFV for its cable members.
  • Bell becomes first operator to launch ONAP in production
    Canadian telecommunications company Bell announced it has become the first company to launch an open source version of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) in production. The announcement was noted by Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration at the Linux Foundation, in a company blog post. According to Joshipura, the news marks a first step toward using ONAP as a common platform across Bell’s network as the company re-aligns itself to follow a multi-partner DevOps model.

OSS/Sharing Leftovers

  • Chrome 64 Beta: stronger pop-up blocker, Resize Observer, and import.meta
  • Chrome 64 Beta Brings Stronger Pop-Up Blocker, JavaScript Improvements
    Ahead of the holidays Google has pushed out the Chrome 64 beta to all supported platforms.
  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® Hadoop® v3.0.0 General Availability
    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, today announced Apache® Hadoop® v3.0.0, the latest version of the Open Source software framework for reliable, scalable, distributed computing.
  • Open source science: Scientists researching rice plant genetics agree to not file for patents
    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill with bipartisan congressional support, awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions grant to University of California, Davis (UC Davis) to study the genetics of rice plants. Together with researchers at the University of North Carolina and collaborators, the team will develop and implement a chemistry-driven gene discovery approach to identify genes that modulate root traits.
  • Lytro could open source their light-field photo sharing platform
  • Lytro considering open source light field photo sharing platform
    Lytro is reportedly considering an open source solution after announcing it would no longer support its sharing platform for Lytro cameras’ ‘living images.’
  • When Waze Won't Help, Palestinians Make Their Own Maps
    If you want to drive the 15 or so miles from Jerusalem to the city of Jericho, in the Palestinian Territories, Google Maps will tell you: “Can’t find a way there.” Waze will issue a warning: “Caution: This destination is in a high risk area or is prohibited to Israelis by law.” If you press “Confirm Drive” nonetheless, the app will direct you, just not all the way. When you pass from Israel into the West Bank, part of the occupied Palestinian Territories, Waze’s directions simply end. To keep going, you need to change your setting to allow access to “high risk” areas. Even then, GPS coverage tends to be limited.
  • Using Gmail with OAUTH2 in Linux and on an ESP8266
    One of the tasks I dread is configuring a web server to send email correctly via Gmail. The simplest way of sending emails is SMTP, and there are a number of scripts out there that provide a simple method to send mail that way with a minimum of configuration. There’s even PHP mail(), although it’s less than reliable.
  • Simplicity Before Generality, Use Before Reuse
    A common problem in component frameworks, class libraries, foundation services, and other infrastructure code is that many are designed to be general purpose without reference to concrete applications. This leads to a dizzying array of options and possibilities that are often unused or misused — or just not useful. Generally, developers work on specific systems; specifically, the quest for unbounded generality rarely serves them well (if at all). The best route to generality is through understanding known, specific examples, focusing on their essence to find an essential common solution. Simplicity through experience rather than generality through guesswork.
  • What Ruby Needs
    Of all of the questions we receive at RedMonk, one of the most common concerns programming languages. Whether from members of a given community or a commercial entity, the desire is to better understand a given language’s trajectory and the context around it. Is it going up or down, and what are the reasons for that direction? And, of course: can that direction be meaningfully changed? Recently, we’ve received several such inquiries around Ruby. For those with an interest in the language, then, the following is a quick public summary of the answers we’ve been providing privately.
  • HTML 5.2 is done, HTML 5.3 is coming
    Today W3C releases HTML 5.2. This is the second revision of HTML5, following last year’s HTML 5.1 Recommendation. In 2014 we expressed a goal to produce a revision roughly every year; HTML 5.2 is a continuation of that commitment. This Recommendation like its predecessor provides an updated stable guide to what is HTML. In the past year there has been a significant cleanup of the specification. We have introduced some new features, and removed things that are no longer part of the modern Web Platform, or that never achieved broad interoperability. As always we have also fixed bugs in the specification, making sure it adapts to the changing reality of the Web. Many of the features added integrate other work done in W3C. The Payment Request API promises to make commerce on the Web far easier, reducing the risks of making a mistake or being caught by an unscrupulous operator. New security features such as Content Security Policy protect users more effectively, while new work incorporated from ARIA helps developers offer people with disabilities a good user experience of their applications.

Games: SteamOS Birthday, Best Linux Games of 2017, Finding Paradise

  • It's Been Four Years Since SteamOS Began Shipping With Not Much To Show
    It was four years ago this week that Valve began shipping SteamOS, their Debian-based Linux distribution intended for Steam Machines and those wanting a gaming-oriented Linux distribution. While Valve still technically maintains the SteamOS Linux distribution, the outlook at this point is rather bleak. For our coverage from four years ago when Valve began shipping SteamOS 1.0 based on Debian Wheezy, see SteamOS Compositor Details, Kernel Patches, Screenshots, Former NVIDIA, Microsoft Developers Doing Lots Of The SteamOS Work, and The First NVIDIA GeForce Benchmarks On The SteamOS Beta.
  • 7 Best Linux Games of 2017
    We take a look at the best Linux games of 2017, ranging from AAA titles to introspective indie hits. So park your gamepad, pop your feet up, and raise a glass of something socially acceptable to what’s been another terrific year for Tux fans with twitchy thumbs!
  • Finding Paradise Available Now for PC, Mac, and Linux
    Canadian indie game studio Freebird Games has released Finding Paradise, a spiritual successor to the studio's hit game To the Moon. You can check out the game's release date trailers below, the first being slightly less of a "serious" trailer:

OSS: Blockchain, Avast, Predictions, GreenKey

  • Startup Aims to Build Open-Source Telecom Ecosystem on Blockchain
    There are 2,000+ mobile network operations in charge of providing communication services at global scale. However, the traditional infrastructure is centralized, inflexible and inaccurate. Common services like 3G/4G, Wi-Fi, BOSS mobile communications solutions and companies that use cloud-based communications solutions are often unable to render accurate content billing and distribution. Conventional mobile packages overcharge customers, not to mention that they pose concerns around data transmissions. An alternative solution to average mobile network providers could be Blockchain technology.
  • Merry Xmas, fellow code nerds: Avast open-sources decompiler
    Malware hunting biz and nautical jargon Avast has released its machine-code decompiler RetDec as open source, in the hope of arming like-minded haters of bad bytes and other technically inclined sorts with better analytical tools. As discussed as the recent Botconf 2017 in France earlier this month, RetDec provides a way to turn machine code – binary executables – back into an approximation of the original source code.
  • 10 open source predictions for 2018
    With 2017 just about done and dusted, dozens of open source experts have polished their crystal balls and made predictions about what can be expected in the open source space in 2018. Now it's our turn. (With fingers firmly crossed) here are 10 open source trends that you may – or may not – see coming to the fore next year. Some are obvious, some are frivolous, and some could just change your life.
  • Stop Calling Everything "Open Source": What "Open Source" Really Means
    "Open source" is an exciting concept in the world of software and beyond. But it shouldn't be applied to contexts where it makes no sense.
  • GreenKey to join Symphony; open source voice software
    GreenKey, creator of patented voice software with integrated speech recognition designed for the financial markets, today announced the firm has joined the Symphony Software Foundation, a nonprofit organization fostering innovation in financial services through open source software (OSS).
  • GreenKey Joins the Symphony Software Foundation; Will Open Source Voice Software
    GreenKey, creator of patented voice software with integrated speech recognition designed for the financial markets, today announced the firm has joined the Symphony Software Foundation, a nonprofit organization fostering innovation in financial services through open source software (OSS). GreenKey will release a Community Edition of its voice software development kit (SDK) that will enable banks and other financial market firms to "voice enable" any web application.