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OSS

Openwashing

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Open Source Software Finds its Sweet Spot in the Public Sector

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OSS

For more than sixteen years, James Passingham, Chief Technical Officer at Foehn, has pioneered the development of communication systems using open source software. Here, James explains where government policy encouraging the use of open source is bearing fruit.

It was some four years ago, with the founding of the Government Digital Service (GDS), that open source software first came into the public sector limelight. Under the direction of Liam Maxwell, Government CTO at that time, the ‘Better for Less’ report that he co-authored set out the policies that gave government IT management the remit to pursue the advantages of two specific technologies – cloud and open source software.

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3 ways to use open source alternatives to Acrobat

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For years, the only name in the game for working with PDF documents was Adobe Acrobat, whether in the form of their free reader edition or one of their paid editions for PDF creation and editing. But today, there are numerous open source PDF applications which have chipped away at this market dominance. And for Linux users like me, a proprietary application that only runs on Windows or Mac isn't an option anyway.

Since PDF files are used in so many different situations for so many different kinds of purposes, you may need to shop around to find the open source alternative to Adobe Acrobat that meets your exact needs. Here are some tools I enjoy.

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Bringing Raspberry Pi to schools in Tanzania

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Linux
OSS

Thanks to open source software, Powering Potential and the Raspberry Pi Foundation are able to bring computers and a library of digital education content to rural schools in the East African nation of Tanzania. Recently, the Foundation funded a project that is now distributing Raspberry Pi computers with uploaded educational content alongside portable projectors and screens to 56 schools across the Zanzibar archipelago and two mainland regions of Tanzania. The Segal Family Foundation also provided matching funds, which enables the project to reach twice as many schools.

With a five-fold increase in the number of students in the decade following 2003, Tanzania is struggling to provide more schools, classrooms, teachers, desks, and textbooks. Yet whenever you visit rural secondary schools in Tanzania, you will find eager girls and boys in roughly equal numbers outfitted in uniforms with ready smiles.

I spoke with Janice Lathen, founding director and president of Powering Potential, to learn more about the program and its use of open source software.

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Leftovers: OSS

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OSS
  • A History of Open Source Fonts

    With the advent of free software for non-programmers, users ran into a licensing dilemma in a world of proprietary fonts.

    Most Linux users soon hear of the influence of the GNU General Public License (GPL) in the development of free software. However, fewer have heard of the influence of the SIL Font License, although it is as important for design as the GPL has been for software. Just as the GPL is responsible for the development of free software, so the SIL Font License has enabled the rise of the free font movement, making Linux a practical choice for designers and artists. Today, it is the most popular free license for fonts, although few know its story.

  • How My Trip to SELF Turned Into a Nightmare

    Our writer goes to the Queen City of Charlotte, North Carolina for the SouthEast LinuxFest. Instead of having a good time, however, the trip turned into a nightmare — but the fault lies with Econo Lodge, not with SELF.

    What a great time I had during the day I spent at this year’s SouthEast LinuxFest. Those of you who read Friday’s Week-in-Review know that I had planned to stick around for the full three days of festivities at my favorite community oriented Linux and open source conference on the East Coast, but alas that wasn’t meant to be. But what a blast I had during the day I was there.

  • 5 new OpenStack tutorials for cloud mastery
  • Leeds and Ripple pick Lockheed Martin to help build open source digital care record

    It added that Lockheed Martin will help support the work that is underway in Leeds for the benefit of frontline health and care staff. Leeds, which has the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) - soon to be renamed NHS Digital - based in the city, as well as the second largest teaching hospital in Europe, is regarded as one of the best cities for health and well being. At the same time, facing continuing austerity, the city council sees its role as one of leadership, facilitation and commissioning.

  • IBM Ratchets Up its Focus on the Swift Programming Language
  • Meet Microsoft's 'planet scale' NoSQL database [Ed: Meet Microsoft’s Mary Branscombe, marketing person inside IDG pretending to be journalist]
  • GnuTLS 3.5.1

    Released GnuTLS 3.5.1 a feature update release in the next stable branche.

European colleges share SMEs open source training

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OSS

Tertiary education institutes (hochschule and university college) and ICT training specialists from across Europe are creating a course to train students to help small and medium-sized enterprises select and use open source cloud services. The course will be tested on Spanish and British exchange students working for SMEs in the two countries.

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Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

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OSS
  • Scality unveils open source Scality S3 Server
  • For Scality’s RING, '6' is magic number
  • Jos Poortvliet: On Open Source, forking and collaboration: Nextcloud 9 is here!
  • 21 Inc. Creates Open Source Library For Machine-Payable Web

    21 Inc. has made its software free, ‘turning any computer into a bitcoin computer’, the company announced on Medium. Once a computer has installed the software, the user can get bitcoin using any device nearly anywhere without a bank account or credit cards.

  • Expanding Mozilla’s Boards

    In a post earlier this month, I mentioned the importance of building a network of people who can help us identify and recruit potential Board level contributors and senior advisors. We are also currently working to expand both the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation Boards.

  • CEO Spotlight: EHR vendor Medsphere will continue to build on its open source heritage

    Even if the Department of Veterans Affairs were to switch from its Vista system, the basis of Medsphere’s OpenVista EHR, Medsphere would continue to thrive, Irv Lichtenwald said.

  • LLVM's Clang Begins Better Supporting Musl Libc

    Patches are landing in LLVM Clang to improve the compiler's support for musl libc as an alternative to glibc on Linux-based systems.

    LLVM has added Musl to the triple and work in Clang to enable the compiler to support targets such as x86_64-pc-linux-musl for building binaries against this alternative libc implementation. The later patch explains, "This make it easy for clang to work on some musl-based systems like Alpine Linux and certain flavors of Gentoo."

  • Gains of government software repositories are many

    Repositories for software and services developed by and for public administrations have multiple advantages, emphasises Elena Muñoz Salinero, head of Spain’s technology transfer centre (Centro de Transferencia de Technologica, CTT). Repositories make it easier to find suitable solutions, reduce costs, and let users share best practices.

  • Open Source Bionics Promise: Affordably Make Lives Better

    We already know that open source gives us better and more secure software. But with the advent of 3D printing, the open source model shows even more meaningful promise in areas like open source bionics.

  • Make things 'til you make it at the Blowing Things Up Lab

    Recently while reading a tweet from the Blowing Things Up Lab, I learned about Emily Daub, a maker and college student who designed a running shirt that helps runners be more visible to motorists—my daughter is a runner so this sounds like a great idea to me.

    The shirt is photosensitive which cause the light intensity of the fabric to change in ambient light. According to Emily Daub, "If you run at night, this is for you. This lights up as it gets darker outside on two independent photocells and no microcontroller!" In this interview, I ask Emily more about this fantastic invention.

    Fun fact: Blowing Things Up (BTU) lab is located at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where Emily is a student of Alicia Gibb's, the executive director of the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA), who I wrote about last year and contributed to our 2015 Open Source Yearbook.

  • Government commits to Open Contracting Data Standard

    New Open Government National Action Plan includes Crown Commercial Service in lead role and further developments of GOV.UK

    The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is to implement a standard for open data in contracting later this year as a first step towards its wider use in government.

  • Razer unveils new Open Source Virtual Reality headset

    Gaming hardware and peripheral maker Razer Inc has announced the new HDK2, a VR device that is part of its Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) initiative, whose goal is “to create a universal open source VR ecosystem for technologies across different brands and companies.”

    The new headset is still considered a developer kit that is not ready for mass production, but at $400, it offers a number of high end features that put it on par with its much more expensive competition, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. HDK2 offers a 2160 x 1200 dual display resolution, which is 1080 X 1200 for each eye. It also offers a frame rate or 90 frames per second, as well as a front-facing infrared camera and a number of other features.

The cost of free software

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OSS

The change from using a dedicated build server to running builds in a virtual machine probably will not change much for Slax users, but the post does highlight a common thread I have been seeing in recent years. Many open source projects are regularly in need of funding. Back in 2009, the OpenBSD project reported it was in "dire need" of infrastructure upgrades and needed funds. This call for donations was echoed by the OpenBSD team again around the end of 2013 which resulted in a lot of public attention and, ultimately, more money flowing into the project. More recently, the HardenedBSD project has asked for help maintaining the infrastructure of the security-oriented project. Last year the NTPD project, a critical piece of software for most Internet-connected computers, was almost abandoned due to a lack of funding. The previous year, OpenSSL's Heartbleed bug highlighted how little support the critical security software had been receiving from its many users.

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Linux and FOSS Events

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Linux
OSS
  • Flow is a mental state of intense focus for programming

    Open Source Bridge is an annual conference focused on building open source community and citizenship through four days of technical talks, hacking sessions, and collaboration opportunities. Prior to this year's event, I caught up with one of the speakers, Lindsey Bieda, who will give a talk called Hardware, Hula Hoops, and Flow.

  • LFNW – wrapup

    The conference overall drew nearly 2,000 open-source enthusiasts, setting yet another record for the event! All the openSUSE sessions were well attended, and that gave our team some excellent feedback for future sessions. We were pleasantly suprised to find that “Q&A with openSUSE board members (plus another guy)” was a standing-room-only event, with the audience providing plenty of thoughtful questions for us to answer. “Make the Leap from Dev to Production with openSUSE Leap“, co-presented by Richard Brown and James Mason, provided a thoughtful developer-oriented talk to another full room. Richard also showed some cross-distribution love for openSUSE tooling, co-presenting “openQA – Avoiding Disasters of Biblical Proportions” with Fedora’s Adam Williamson.

  • Forum - GNU Hackers' Meeting (Rennes, France)
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