Fedora 29 Officially Released, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Launched, New Version of Linux Lite, Google AI Tracking Humpback Whale Songs, and Resin.io Announces openBalena and a Name Change

News briefs for October 31, 2018.

The Fedora Project Manager announced the official release of Fedora 29 yesterday. This release is the first to include the Fedora Modularity feature across all variants. Other changes include "GNOME 3.30 on the desktop, ZRAM for our ARM images, and a Vagrant image for Fedora Scientific". You can download it from here.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 launched yesterday with improved security. eWeek reports that the new release features "TPM 2.0 support for security authentication, as well as integrating the open source nftables firewall technology effort". eWeek quotes principal project manager Steve Almy: "The TPM 2.0 integration in 7.6 provides an additional level of security by tying the hands-off decryption to server hardware in addition to the network bound disk encryption (NBDE) capability, which operates across the hybrid cloud footprint from on-premise servers to public cloud deployments." Version 7.6 is the second major milestone release of 2018.

Linux Lite 4.2 Final is now available. Linux Lite creator Jerry Bezencon says the release is "a 'refinement' and not a 'major upgrade'. There are some new wallpapers thanks to @whateverthing and some minor tweaks here and there." One change with this version is the addition of Redshift, which "adjusts the color temperature according to the position of the sun".

Google and a group of cetologists have been using AI to listen to years of undersea recordings with the hope of creating "a machine learning model that can spot humpback whale calls". According to TechCrunch, the project is part of Google's AI for Social Good initiative.

Resin.io, a container-based server platform for Linux device management, has "changed its name to balena and released an open source version of its IoT fleet management platform for Linux devices called openBalena", Linux Gizmos reports. Founder and CEO of the company says the name change is due to "to trademark issues, to cannabis references, and to people mishearing it as 'raisin'". balenaOS is "an open source spinoff of the container-based device software that works with balenaCloud", and the new openBalena "is an open version of the balenaCloud server software. Customers can now choose between letting balena manage their fleet of devices or building their own openBalena based server platform that manages fleets of devices running balenaOS".

CloudWatch Is of the Devil, but I Must Use It

Let's talk about Amazon CloudWatch.

For those fortunate enough to not be stuck in the weeds of Amazon Web Services (AWS), CloudWatch is, and I quote from the official AWS description, "a monitoring and management service built for developers, system operators, site reliability engineers (SRE), and IT managers." This is all well and good, except for the part where there isn't a single named constituency who enjoys working with the product. Allow me to dispense some monitoring heresy.

Better, let me describe this in the context of the 14 Amazon Leadership Principles that reportedly guide every decision Amazon makes. When you take a hard look at CloudWatch's complete failure across all 14 Leadership Principles, you wonder how this product ever made it out the door in its current state.

"Frugality"

I'll start with billing. Normally left for the tail end of articles like this, the CloudWatch billing paradigm is so terrible, I'm leading with it instead. You get billed per metric, per month. You get billed per thousand metrics you request to view via the API. You get billed per dashboard per month. You get billed per alarm per month. You get charged for logs based upon data volume ingested, data volume stored and "vended logs" that get published natively by AWS services on behalf of the customer. And, you get billed per custom event. All of this can be summed up best as "nobody on the planet understands how your CloudWatch metrics and logs get billed", and it leads to scenarios where monitoring vendors can inadvertently cost you thousands of dollars by polling CloudWatch too frequently. When the AWS charges are larger than what you're paying your monitoring vendor, it's not a wonderful feeling.

"Invent and Simplify"

CloudWatch Logs, CloudWatch Events, Custom Metrics, Vended Logs and Custom Dashboards all mean different things internally to CloudWatch from what you'd expect, compared to metrics solutions that actually make some fathomable level of sense. There are, thus, multiple services that do very different things, all operating under the "CloudWatch" moniker. For example, it's not particularly intuitive to most people that scheduling a Lambda function to invoke once an hour requires a custom CloudWatch Event. It feels overly complicated, incredibly confusing, and very quickly, you find yourself in a situation where you're having to build complex relationships to monitor things that are themselves far simpler.

Kali Linux 2018.4 Released, ProtonDB Reports 2671 Games Now Work on Linux, Google Discover Rolling Out, Barcelona Investing 78.7% of IT Budget on Open Source and Manjaro New Stable Update

News briefs for October 30, 2018.

Kali Linux 2018.4 was released yesterday. This is the final release of this year, and it brings the kernel to version 4.18.10, fixes several bugs and has many updated packages, including "a very experimental 64-bit Raspberry Pi 3 image". The new version also includes Wireguard, "a powerful and easy to configure VPN solution that eliminates many of the headaches one typically encounters setting up VPNs". See the Wireguard on Kali post for more information. You can download Kali from here.

The ProtonDB reports that 2,671 games now work on Linux since Valve Software released Proton two months ago. Proton is integrated with Steam Play to make playing Windows games on Linux easy. It "comprises other popular tools like Wine and DXVK among others that a gamer would otherwise have to install and maintain themselves. This greatly eases the burden for users to switch to Linux without having to learn the underlying systems or losing access to a large part of their library of games."

Google Discover has started rolling out to google.com on mobile devices. According to 9to5Google, Google Discover is a rebrand of Google Feeds, and "is part of the company's efforts to surface information without users actively having to ask for it".

The European Commission reports that the city of Barcelona is now investing 78.7% of its IT budget on open source, and it expects nearly all of its IT budget to be linked to open-source projects by 2020. Xavier Roca, director of IT development for Barcelona, commented: "We will continue to work with proprietary software solutions, as we have systems in place that require maintenance. One day we hope everything will be open source, but today that is impossible."

Manjaro released a new stable update this week. Version 2018-10-28 updates systemd, Deepin, Bootsplash, NVIDIA drivers to 410.73, Firefox to v64b4 and more. You can find the full list of changes here.

Normalizing Filenames and Data with Bash

URLify: convert letter sequences into safe URLs with hex equivalents.

This is my 155th column. That means I've been writing for Linux Journal for:


$ echo "155/12" | bc
12

No, wait, that's not right. Let's try that again:


$ echo "scale=2;155/12" | bc
12.91

Yeah, that many years. Almost 13 years of writing about shell scripts and lightweight programming within the Linux environment. I've covered a lot of ground, but I want to go back to something that's fairly basic and talk about filenames and the web.

It used to be that if you had filenames that had spaces in them, bad things would happen: "my mom's cookies.html" was a recipe for disaster, not good cookies—um, and not those sorts of web cookies either!

As the web evolved, however, encoding of special characters became the norm, and every Web browser had to be able to manage it, for better or worse. So spaces became either "+" or %20 sequences, and everything else that wasn't a regular alphanumeric character was replaced by its hex ASCII equivalent.

In other words, "my mom's cookies.html" turned into "my+mom%27s+cookies.html" or "my%20mom%27s%20cookies.html". Many symbols took on a second life too, so "&" and "=" and "?" all got their own meanings, which meant that they needed to be protected if they were part of an original filename too. And what about if you had a "%" in your original filename? Ah yes, the recursive nature of encoding things....

So purely as an exercise in scripting, let's write a script that converts any string you hand it into a "web-safe" sequence. Before starting, however, pull out a piece of paper and jot down how you'd solve it.

Normalizing Filenames for the Web

My strategy is going to be easy: pull the string apart into individual characters, analyze each character to identify if it's an alphanumeric, and if it's not, convert it into its hexadecimal ASCII equivalent, prefacing it with a "%" as needed.

There are a number of ways to break a string into its individual letters, but let's use Bash string variable manipulations, recalling that ${#var} returns the number of characters in variable $var, and that ${var:x:1} will return just the letter in $var at position x. Quick now, does indexing start at zero or one?

Here's my initial loop to break $original into its component letters:

Bryan Lunduke Is New LJ Deputy Editor

Bryan Lunduke

Portland, Oregon, October 29, 2018 — Today, Bryan Lunduke announced that he is officially joining the Linux Journal team as "Deputy Editor" of the illustrious — and long-running — Linux magazine.

"I've been a fan of Linux Journal for almost as long as I've been using Linux," beamed Lunduke. "To be joining a team that has been producing such an amazing magazine for nearly a quarter of a century? It's a real honor." In November of 2017, SUSE—the first Linux-focused company ever created—announced Lunduke's departure to re-focus on journalism. Now, furthering that goal, Lunduke has joined the first Linux-focused magazine ever created.

Lunduke's popular online show, the aptly named "Lunduke Show", will continue to operate as a completely independent entity with no planned changes to production schedules or show content.

Sources say Lunduke is "feeling pretty fabulous right about now." No confirmation, as yet, on if Lunduke is currently doing a "happy dance". At least one source suggests this is likely.

Fedora Appreciation Week, Qt Announces the Deprecation of Qbs, D Language Front End Merged with GCC, Security Bug in Systemd and IBM Acquires Red Hat

News briefs for October 29, 2018.

The first ever Fedora Appreciation Week will run November 5th to the 11th. This week-long event takes place during the 15th anniversary of the Fedora Project and was organized by the Fedora Community Operations team to "to celebrate efforts of Fedora Project contributors and to say 'thank you' to each other." Go here to see how to participate.

The Qt Company announced the deprecation of Qbs. The last Qbs release will come out in April 2019, and the company intends to improve support for CMake significantly and eventually switch to CMake for building Qt itself.

The D language front end has finally merged with GCC 9. According to Phoronix, "The code is merged for GDC including the libphobos library (D run-time library) and D2 test suite. Adding the D support touches more than three thousand files (most of which is test suite cases) and 859,714 lines of code....Yes, the better part of a million new lines."

A security bug was discovered in systemd last week that can crash a Linux machine or execute malicious code. The Register reports that the "maliciously crafted DHCPv6 packets can try to exploit the programming cockup and arbitrarily change parts of memory in vulnerable systems, leading to potential code execution. This code could install malware, spyware, and other nasties, if successful". The vulnerability is in the DHCPv6 client of the systemd management suite.

And finally, you've likely already heard that IBM yesterday announced its acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion. Interesting note: Bob Young, founder of Red Hat, was Linux Journal's first editor in chief.

Papa’s Got a Brand New NAS: the Software

Who needs a custom NAS OS or a web-based GUI when command-line NAS software is so easy to configure?

In a recent letter to the editor, I was contacted by a reader who enjoyed my "Papa's Got a Brand New NAS" article, but wished I had spent more time describing the software I used. When I wrote the article, I decided not to dive into the software too much, because it all was pretty standard for serving files under Linux. But on second thought, if you want to re-create what I made, I imagine it would be nice to know the software side as well, so this article describes the software I use in my home NAS.

The OS

My NAS uses the ODROID-XU4 as the main computing platform, and so far, I've found its octo-core ARM CPU and the rest of its resources to be adequate for a home NAS. When I first set it up, I visited the official wiki page for the computer, which provides a number of OS images, including Ubuntu and Android images that you can copy onto a microSD card. Those images are geared more toward desktop use, however, and I wanted a minimal server image. After some searching, I found a minimal image for what was the current Debian stable release at the time (Jessie).

Although this minimal image worked okay for me, I don't necessarily recommend just going with whatever OS some volunteer on a forum creates. Since I first set up the computer, the Armbian project has been released, and it supports a number of standardized OS images for quite a few ARM platforms including the ODROID-XU4. So if you want to follow in my footsteps, you may want to start with the minimal Armbian Debian image.

If you've ever used a Raspberry Pi before, the process of setting up an alternative ARM board shouldn't be too different. Use another computer to write an OS image to a microSD card, boot the ARM board, and at boot, the image will expand to fill the existing filesystem. Then reboot and connect to the network, so you can log in with the default credentials your particular image sets up. Like with Raspbian builds, the first step you should perform with Armbian or any other OS image is to change the default password to something else. Even better, you should consider setting up proper user accounts instead of relying on the default.

A Painting Created by Open-Source AI Sells for $432K, SELKS5 Beta Released, Mirantis Launches the Mirantis Cloud Platform Edge, the MixedEmotions Open-Source Toolkit Announced and Red Hat Improving the GFS2 Filesystem

News briefs for October 26, 2018.

A painting created by an open-source neural network sold this week for $432K at a London auction house. Obvious is the group behind the work that "used 19-year-old Robbie Barrat's GAN package, available here on Github, and sourced paintings from Wiki Commons" to create the painting. See the post on TNW for details on the "first portrait ever sold at auction that was made with the assistance of an AI".

The SELKS5 beta, the live and installable network security management ISO based on Debian, was released today. New features include the latest Suricata intrusion-detection engine, major upgrade from Elasticsearch/Kibana/Logstash (ELK) 5.x to the ELK 6 stack, Scirius 3.0 and more. See the release announcement for download links, setup instructions and a visual tour.

Mirantis recently announced its new Mirantis Cloud Platform Edge (MCP Edge), a "Kubernetes-based effort to enable containers and virtual machines to run at the edge of the network", eWeek reports. MCP Edge does not run OpenStack; it's Kubernetes plus Virtlet. eWeek quotes Mirantis co-founder Boris Renski, "You can still run VMs [virtual machines] using Virtlet, with direct access to hardware acceleration like SRI-OV [Single-Root Input/Output Virtualization], but Kubernetes is the only resource scheduler."

A team of European researchers has created MixedEmotions, an open-source toolkit that can automatically assess emotions in text, audio and video. According to PhysOrg, "There is a growing demand for automatic analysis of emotions in different fields. The possible applications are wide, including call centers, smart environments, brand reputation analysis and assistive technology." Read more here about emotion detection and the complexities involved in adapting these tools to other languages.

Red Hat developers are improving the GFS2 filesystem. According to Phoronix, "recent developments around the GFS2 shared-disk file-system include performance optimizations around iomap writes, new resource group header fields, expanded journal log header information, and other low-level improvements." Future plans include "a faster fsck for GFS2 that uses AIO and larger reads, process-shared resource group locking, trusted xattrs, and deprecating the "meta" GFS2 file-system fork".

Ubuntu Desktop in the Hyper-V Gallery, an Interview with Canonical and Microsoft

Ubuntu logo

Late last month, Canonical made an astonishing announcement: an optimized image of Ubuntu Desktop is now available from Microsoft's Hyper-V gallery. This wonderful new feature is primarily intended for Windows 10 Pro desktop users needing to run Ubuntu Desktop guest virtual machines.

Although the announcement itself came as a bit of a surprise, even more so when you consider the long tumultuous history between both Microsoft and Linux, it does, however, indicate that times (and the company) have been changing. In recent years, Microsoft has been making a concerted effort to embrace open source and open-source technologies.

The announcement did leave me with a few questions, so I took the opportunity to sit down with Will Cooke, the Engineering Director for Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical, and Sarah Cooley, Program Manager at Microsoft.

Petros Koutoupis: Please introduce yourselves and describe your primary role both at your company and for this project.

Will Cooke: I am the director of engineering for Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical. Our team is responsible for putting together every Ubuntu Desktop release, selecting which packages and which features we're going to ship, making sure that each release is of the right quality and working with partners on projects around Ubuntu Desktop—for example, OEMs shipping Ubuntu Desktop on their hardware and, in this instance, Microsoft, to improve the virtual guest experience for Ubuntu Desktop on Windows 10. For this project, I worked with our internal teams to line up the requirements for supporting the enhanced session and to make sure the features we needed would be included in 18.04 LTS and with Microsoft engineers and product managers to make sure we were always in sync on the latest progress.

Sarah Cooley: I am a program manager on the virtualization team at Microsoft. We have been working closely with the developer platform team in Microsoft, Will Cooke's team in Canonical, and xRDP's community to improve the Linux virtual machine experience on Windows 10—starting with Ubuntu. To provide the experience you see today, Hyper-V developers contributed to xRDP to make sure open source communities can run Linux virtual machines in enhanced session mode while working with Canonical to provide all of the tools necessary for Ubuntu to run well with Hyper-V with no additional setup. Outside this effort, I also work on the Windows Subsystem for Linux and Linux containers on Windows.

PK: Why Hyper-V and why Ubuntu Desktop?

SUSE Joins OpenChain Project, Pine64 Making a Linux Smartphone, Linux Foundation Releases First Dev Kit for Its EdgeX Foundry Project, Mozilla Will Match Donations to the Tor Project and a New Version of RaspEX Linux for RPi Now Available

News briefs for October 25, 2018.

SUSE recently joined the OpenChain Project, which makes "open source license compliance simpler and more consistent". HPCWire notes that "conformance with the OpenChain Specification confirms that an organization follows the key requirements of a quality open source compliance program, and builds trust between organizations in the supply chain". In addition, SUSE is the "first enterprise Linux distributor to earn conformance with the OpenChain Project Specification".

Pine64 is making a Linux smartphone that runs KDE Plasma. According to the FOSSBYTES post, the devices will be called PinePhone and PineTab, and Pine64 will begin sending the first PinePhone developer kits to selected devs for free in November. The open-source Linux smartphone is expected to start at around $100.

The Linux Foundation has released the first developer kit for its EdgeX Foundry project, which is for "developing open source edge computing middleware". The kit is Ubuntu-based and is "built around an octa-core Samsung Artik 710 Starter Kit teamed with a GrovePi+ I/O board. Future kits will include an Artik 530 kit, and eventually, a Raspberry Pi/GrovePi+ combination."

The Tor Project has announced that Mozilla will match all donations to the project through the end of the year. ZDNet reports that Mozilla matched $200,000 in donations to Tor last year. This year, Tor plans to use the funds to "increase the capacity modularization and scalability of the Tor network"; "better test for, measure, and design solutions around internet censorship"; and "strengthen development of the Tor Browser for Android".

A new version of RaspEX Linux for Raspberry Pi has been released. This new version as based on Ubuntu 18.10 and uses the LXDE desktop. According to Softpedia News, "RaspEX LXDE Build 181022 is powered by the Linux 4.14.76 LTS kernel built for the ARMv8 architecture, which means that it supports the original Raspberry Pi 3 Model B single-board computer, as well as the latest Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ variant. However, you can also use a 32-bit kernel, Linux 4.14.74 LTS." New packages included in this version are Raspotify (a Spotify Connect client for RPi), Putty, RealVNC and Samba.

Internationalizing the Kernel

At a time when many companies are rushing to internationalize their products and services to appeal to the broadest possible market, the Linux kernel is actively resisting that trend, although it already has taken over the broadest possible market—the infrastructure of the entire world.

David Howells recently created some sample code for a new kernel library, with some complex English-language error messages that were generated from several sources within the code. Pavel Machek objected that it would be difficult to automate any sort of translations for those messages, and that it would be preferable simply to output an error code and let something in userspace interpret the error at its leisure and translate it if needed.

In this case, however, the possible number of errors was truly vast, based on a variety of possible variables. David argued that representing each and every one with a single error code would use a prohibitively large number of error codes.

Ordinarily, I might expect Pavel to be on the winning side of this debate, with Linus Torvalds or some other top developer insisting that support for internationalization was necessary in order to give the best and most useful possible experience to all users.

However, Linus had a very different take on the situation:

We don't internationalize kernel strings. We never have. Yes, some people tried to do some database of kernel messages for translation purposes, but I absolutely refused to make that part of the development process. It's a pain.

For some GUI project, internationalization might be a big deal, and it might be "TheRule(tm)". For the kernel, not so much. We care about the technology, not the language.

So we'll continue to give error numbers for "an error happened". And if/when people need more information about just what _triggered_ that error, they are as English-language strings. You can quote them and google them without having to understand them. That's just how things work.

[...]

There are places where localization is a good idea. The kernel is *not* one of those places.

He added later:

I really think the best option is "Ignore the problem". The system calls will still continue to report the basic error numbers (EINVAL etc), and the extended error strings will be just that: extended error strings. Ignore them if you can't understand them.

That said, people have wanted these kinds of extended error descriptors forever, and the reason we haven't added them is that it generally is more pain than it is necessarily worth.

KDE Holding a Bug Day on October 30, Qt Project Creating Its Own Code of Conduct, Linus Torvalds Discusses His Return, Tails 3.10.1 Is Out and OpenIndiana Hipster 2018.10 Released

News briefs for October 24, 2018.

KDE is holding a Bug Day on October 30, 2018. The Bug Day will focus on Konsole, and you can join the #kde-bugs IRC channel on Freenode at any time to participate.

The Qt Project is creating its own Code of Conduct. Phoronix reports that the motivation is to "establish a formal line-in-the-sand about what is unacceptable behavior. We want new members of the Qt community to feel comfortable and accepted, and we want to foster a healthy working environment for both current and new members." You can find the proposed Code of Conduct here.

Linus Torvalds discusses his return to Linux in an interview with ZDNet, and says he's "starting the usual merge window activity now". Regarding the Code of Conduct, he says: "I want to leave it alone, and wait until we actually have any real issues. I'm hoping there won't be any, but even if there are, I want the input to be colored more by real and *actual* concerns, rather than just people arguing about it." See the article for more details on what he's been doing and other news from the Maintainers Summit.

Tails 3.10.1 is now available. This release fixes several security issues, so update as soon as possible. Also in this version Linux is updated to 4.8, the Tor Browser is updated to 8.0.3 and Thunderbird to 60.2.1. Tails version 3.11 is expected in December.

OpenIndiana Hipster 2018.10 was released today. Notable changes include MATE updated to 1.20, Python 3.5 was added, the Image Packaging System received many updates, and much more. See the release notes for more details, and download it from here.

Simulate Typing with This C Program

Tech Tips

I recently created a video demonstration of how to do some work at the command line, but as I tried to record my video, I kept running into problems. I'm just not the kind of person who can type commands at a keyboard and talk about it at the same time. I quickly realized I needed a way to simulate typing, so I could create a "canned" demonstration that I could narrate in my video.

After doing some searching, I couldn't find a command on my distribution that would simulate typing. I wasn't surprised; that's not a common thing people need to do. So instead, I rolled my own program to do it.

Writing a program to simulate typing isn't as difficult as it first might seem. I needed my program to act like the echo command, where it displayed output given as command-line parameters. I added command-line options so I could set a delay between the program "typing" each letter, with an additional delay for spaces and newlines. The program basically did this the following for each character in a given string:

  1. Insert a delay.
  2. Print the character.
  3. Flush the output buffer so it shows up on screen.

First, I needed a way to simulate a delay in typing, such as someone typing slowly, or pausing before typing the next word or pressing Enter. The C function to create a delay is usleep(useconds_t usec). You use usleep() with the number of microseconds you want your program to pause. So if you want to wait one second, you would use usleep(1000000).

Working in microseconds means too many zeroes for me to type, so I wrote a simple wrapper called msleep(int millisec) that does the same thing in milliseconds:


int
msleep (int millisec)
{
  useconds_t usec;
  int ret;


  /* wrapper to usleep() but values in milliseconds instead */


  usec = (useconds_t) millisec *1000;
  ret = usleep (usec);
  return (ret);
}

Next, I needed to push characters to the screen after each delay. Normally, you can use putchar(int char) to send a single character to standard output (such as the screen), but you won't actually see the output until you send a newline. To get around this, you need to flush the output buffer manually. The C function fflush(FILE *stream) will flush an output stream for you. If you put a delay() before each fflush(), it will appear that someone is pausing slightly between typing each character.

Firefox 63 Released, Red Hat Collaborating with NVIDIA, Virtual Box 6.0 Beta Now Available, ODROID Launching a New Intel-Powered SBC and Richard Stallman Announces the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines

News briefs for October 23, 2018.

Firefox 63.0 was released this morning. With this new version, "users can opt to block third-party tracking cookies or block all trackers and create exceptions for trusted sites that don't work correctly with content blocking enabled". In addition, WebExtensions now run in their own process on Linux, and Firefox also now warns if you have multiple windows and tabs open when you quit via the main menu. You can download it from here.

Red Hat this morning announced it is collaborating with NVIDIA to "bring a new wave of open innovation around emerging workloads like artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning and data science to enterprise datacenters around the world." Leading this partnership is the certification of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on NVIDIA DGX-1 systems, which will provide "a foundation or the rest of the Red Hat portfolio, including Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, to be deployed and jointly supported on NVIDIA's AI supercomputers."

VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 1 was released today. Note that this is a beta release and shouldn't be used on production machines. Version 6.0 will be a new major release. So far, some of the changes include Oracle Cloud Infrastructure integration and improvements in the GUI design. See the forum for more information.

ODROID recently announced it is launching a new Intel-powered SBC. According to Phoronix, the "ODROID-H2 and is powered by an Intel J4105 Geminilake 2.3GHz quad-core processor, dual channel DDR4 memory via SO-DIMM slots, PCIe NVMe storage slot, dual Gigabit Ethernet, dual SATA 3.0 ports, and HDMI 2.0 / DP 1.2 display outputs". It is expected to be available in late November. See the ODROID forum for further details.

Richard Stallman yesterday announced the "GNU Kind Communication Guidelines". Stallman writes that in contrast to a code of conduct with punishment for people who violate the rules, "the idea of the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines is to start guiding people towards kinder communication at a point well before one would even think of saying, 'You are breaking the rules'." The initial version of the GNU Kind Communications Guidelines is here.

Pioneers in Open Source–Eren Niazi, Part I: the Start of a Movement and the Open-Source Revolution Redefining the Data Center

Eren Niazi

The name may not be a familiar one to everyone, but Eren Niazi can be credited with laying the foundation and paving the way to the many software-defined and cloud-centric technologies in use today.

When considering the modern data center, it's difficult to imagine a time when open-source technologies were considered taboo or not production-grade, but that time actually existed. There was a time when the data center meant closed and propriety technologies, developed and distributed by some of the biggest names in the industry—the days when EMC, NetApp, Hewlett Packard (HP), Oracle or even Sun Microsystems owned your data center and the few applications upon which you heavily relied. It also was a time when your choice was limited to one vendor, and you would invest big into that single vendor. If you were an HP shop, you bought HP. If you were an EMC shop, you bought EMC—and so on. From the customer's point of view, needing to interact with only a single vendor for purchasing, management and support was comforting.

However, shifting focus back to the present, the landscape is quite different. Instead, you'll find an environment of mixed offerings provided by an assortment of vendors, both large and small. Proprietary machines work side by side with off the shelf commodity devices hosting software-defined software, most of which are built on top of open-source code. And half the applications are hosted in virtual machines over a Hypervisor or just spun up in one or more containers.

These changes didn't happen overnight. It took visionaries like Eren Niazi to identify the full potential of open-source software technologies. He saw what others did not and, in turn, proved to an entire industry that open source was not merely production-ready, but he also used that same technology to redefine the entire data center.

His story is complicated, filled with ups and downs. Eren faced his fair share of trials and tribulations that gave him everything, just to have it all taken away. But, let's begin at the beginning.

Born in Sunnyvale, California, a little more than 40 years ago, Eren grew up down the street from Steve Jobs, and on many occasions, he engaged the legendary Apple co-founder in inspiring conversations. The two shared many characteristics. Neither ever finished college. Both are entrepreneurs and inventors. Niazi and Jobs each were driven from their own companies, only to return again. Around age 12, Eren became fascinated with computers and learned how to develop code. However, his adventures in open-source technologies didn't truly start until the year 1998.

Linux Kernel 4.19 Released, Linus Torvalds Is Back, Linspire 8.0 RC1 Is Out, IPFire 2.21 Now Available and Recently Discovered Apache Vulnerability

News briefs for October 22, 2018.

Greg Kroah-Hartman released Linux kernel 4.19 this morning and handed the kernel tree back to Linus, writing "You can have the joy of dealing with the merge window."

Linus Torvalds "is meeting with Linux's top 40 or so developers at the Maintainers' Summit", at the Open Source Summit Europe in Edinburgh, Scotland, ZDNet reports. He isn't scheduled to speak, but "this is his first step back in taking over Linux's reins."

Linspire 8.0 RC1 was released over the weekend. The stable release is expected in December (don't use this release in production environments), and RC2, which should be more feature-complete, is expected in November. Among other changes, in this version, iMac Pro support has been improved and Oracle Java is now in the repositories. It uses the MATE 1.20.1 desktop, kernel 4.15 and Chrome 69.

IPFire 2.21 - Core Update 124 is out, and according to the release announcement, it "brings new features and immensely improves security and performance of the whole system". It's now available on AWS EC2, is updated to kernel version 4.14.72 and the security of its SSH daemon has been improved, among other new features.

A recently discovered Apache vulnerability could affect thousands of applications. Dark Reading reports that the issue is with "the way that thousands of code projects are using Apache .htaccess, leaving them vulnerable to unauthorized access and a subsequent file upload attack in which auto-executing code is uploaded to an application."

Review: System76 Oryx Pro Laptop

System76 logo

Can "by hackers, for hackers" sell laptops? System76 sold an Oryx Pro to Rob, and he's here to tell you about it.

I should start by saying that although I'm definitely no newbie to Linux, I'm new to the world of dedicated Linux laptops. I started with Linux in 1996, when Red Hat 4.0 had just adopted the 2.0 kernel and Debian 1.3 hadn't yet been released. I've run a variety of distros with varying degrees of satisfaction ever since, always looking for the Holy Grail of a desktop UNIX that just plain worked.

About 15 years ago after becoming frustrated with the state of Linux on laptop hardware (in a phrase, "nonexistent hardware support"), I switched my laptops over to Macs and didn't look back. It was a true-blue UNIX that just plain worked, and I was happy. But I increasingly found myself frustrated by things I expected from Linux that weren't available on macOS, and which things like Homebrew and MacPorts and Fink could only partly address.

My last MacBook Pro is now four years old, so it was time to shop around again. After being underwhelmed by this generation of MacBooks, I decided to take the risk on a Linux laptop again.

Oh my, an awful lot has changed in 15 years!

System76

System76 is a Denver-based firm with a "by hackers, for hackers" ethos. It's not the first outfit to have tried to deliver on this promise, nor will it be the last. It follows in a long line pioneered by Red Hat and VA Research, and it will continue in the future with businesses yet to be founded. At this moment in history though, System76 seems to be doing a pretty good job of maintaining that standard.

Inquiries

My initial contact with System76 came by visiting the website and requesting a quote for one of its third-generation Oryx Pro models. The sales staff were responsive, polite and didn't seem to have their personalities obliterated into uniform perfection like the Stepford Salesforce of Lenovo or Dell. I also never caught a whiff of a hard sell from any of them. On three occasions just before being able to put down my hard-earned dinero on an Oryx Pro, my life went sideways, and my laptop fund went to pay for strange emergencies that arose out of nowhere, but the System76 sales staff were cheerfully uncaring about this. The impression I got was they believed they knew were going to miss a sale right then, but whether they missed it forever depended on how they behaved in that instant. It's an enlightened view from which more vendors could stand to learn.