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Programming: Rust and Python

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Development
  • This Week in Rust 242

    Always wanted to contribute to open-source projects but didn't know where to start? Every week we highlight some tasks from the Rust community for you to pick and get started!

  • Kindness and open-source projects

    Brett Cannon is a longtime Python core developer and member of the open-source community. He got to check off one of his bucket-list items when he gave a keynote [YouTube video] at PyCon 2018. That keynote was a rather personal look at what he sees as some problem areas in the expectations of the users of open-source software with respect to those who produce it. While there is lots to be happy for in the open-source world, there are some sharp edges (and worse) that need filing down.

    He started with his background as a way to show that he has the experience to give this talk. He is the development lead on the Python extension for Visual Studio Code, which is Microsoft's cross-platform open-source code editor. He noted that the two qualifiers for the editor are probably shocking to some. It was originally a community open-source project; Microsoft hired the developer behind it and it is now "corporate open source", Cannon said. That means there is a company backstopping the project; if the community fell away, the project would continue.

    He has been a Python core developer since April 2003; he got the commit bit shortly after attending the first PyCon (and he has attended every PyCon since as well). In contrast, Python is community open source; if the community disappeared, the project "would probably collapse within a month". He has contributed to over 80 open-source projects along the way; many of those were simply typo fixes of various sorts, but it has given him exposure to a lot of different development processes. "I've been lucky enough to have a broad range of exposure to open source overall."

  • Python and the web

    Dan Callahan is a developer advocate at Mozilla and no stranger to PyCon (we covered a talk of his at PyCon 2013). He was also the champion at Mozilla for the grant that helped revamp the Python Package Index (PyPI). At PyCon 2018, he gave a keynote talk [YouTube video] that focused on platforms of various sorts—and where Python fits into the platforms of the future.

    He began with a slide showing the IBM PCjr, which was the first computer IBM made for the home market. It was released in 1984 and immediately drew a bad reaction from the public and the press (Time magazine called it "one of the biggest flops in the history of computing"). Commercially and even objectively, the PCjr was a bad platform, he said.

    But when he was old enough to become interested in computers, that was the computer that was available to him—his father had bought one during the roughly one year they were available. He learned BASIC as his first language because the PCjr came with BASIC. He didn't think about it at the time, but his first language was chosen for him; he didn't get to consider what features he wanted or how the language's community was. His platform had determined the tool he would use.

    Fast-forward a few years to when he was in high school and had his own computer; even though he had access to Linux, PHP, and Perl, he still found himself programming in BASIC. This was the pre-smartphone era, so when he was bored in class, he had to find some other way to distract himself; he and his friends turned to TI-82 graphing calculators. Those were programmable in BASIC, so even though he had more sophisticated tools available to him, if he wanted to share something with his friends, it would have to be written in BASIC for the TI-82. That platform also dictated the tool that he would use.

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Vista 10: Embrace, Now Extend

  • WLinux: Windows 10 Gets Its Own Exclusive Linux Distro
    Ubuntu, Debian, and Kali are some of the popular Linux distros available out there for Windows Subsystem for Linux. But, most of these distros contain packages that are irrelevant to WSL and lack development tools. How about a distro that is optimized specially for Windows 10?
  • New Linux Distro Created Specifically for Windows 10
    The Windows Subsystem for Linux allows users to run Linux distributions on top of Windows 10, and at this point, there are already several choices for users who want to try out this feature. In addition to Ubuntu, Debian, and Kali, beginning today, Windows 10 adopters are provided with a new Linux distro that’s specifically optimized for the WSL. Called WLinux, this new Linux distro is focused on the packages that are relevant to WSL, as well as the customizations to take full advantage of this Windows 10 feature.

Review: Bodhi Linux 5.0.0

Sometimes when reviewing an operating system it is difficult to separate the question "Is this a good distribution?" from "Is this a good distribution for me?" Bodhi is one of those projects where the answers to these questions are quite different, mostly over matters of style rather than functionality. On a personal level, I don't think I would ever be inclined to use Bodhi myself because I don't like the Moksha/Enlightenment style of desktop. It does a lot of little things differently (not badly, just differently) from other open source desktops and its style is not one I ever seem to find comfortable. This, combined with the streamlined, web-based AppCenter and unusual settings panel, makes Bodhi a distribution which always feels a bit alien to me. Let's put aside my personal style preferences though and try to look at the distribution objectively. Bodhi is trying to provide a lightweight, visually attractive distribution with a wide range of hardware support. It manages to do all of these things and do them well. The distribution is paying special attention to lower-end hardware, including 32-bit systems, and maintains a remarkably small memory footprint given the amount of functionality and eye candy included. Most lightweight distributions sacrifice quite a bit visually in order to provide the lightest interface possible, but Bodhi does a nice job of balancing low resource requirements with an attractive desktop environment. Bodhi is pleasantly easy to install, thanks to the Ubiquity installer, has a minimal collection of software (in the main edition) that allows us to craft our own experience and, for people who need more applications out of the box, there is the AppPack edition. All of this is to say that, for me personally, I spent more time that I would have liked this week searching through settings, trying to get used to how Moksha's panel works, tracking down less popular applications and re-learning when to use right-click versus left-click on the desktop. But, objectively, I would be hard pressed to name another distribution that more elegantly offers a lightweight desktop with visual effects, or that offers such easy access to both legacy and modern hardware support. In short, I think Bodhi Linux is a good distribution for those who want to get the most performance out of their operating system without sacrificing hardware support or the appearance of the interface. There are a few little glitches here and there, but sothing show-stopping and, overall, Bodhi is a well put together distribution. Read more

Android Leftovers

5 ways to play old-school games on a Raspberry Pi

They don't make 'em like they used to, do they? Video games, I mean. Sure, there's a bit more grunt in the gear now. Princess Zelda used to be 16 pixels in each direction; there's now enough graphics power for every hair on her head. Today's processors could beat up 1988's processors in a cage-fight deathmatch without breaking a sweat. But you know what's missing? The fun. You've got a squillion and one buttons to learn just to get past the tutorial mission. There's probably a storyline, too. You shouldn't need a backstory to kill bad guys. All you need is jump and shoot. So, it's little wonder that one of the most enduring popular uses for a Raspberry Pi is to relive the 8- and 16-bit golden age of gaming in the '80s and early '90s. But where to start? Read more