Sam Hartman Is the New Debian Project Leader, Google Cuts Pixel 3 Prices for Project Fi’s Birthday, Linux Kernel v5.1-rc6 Is Out, Kdenlive 19.04 Released and KMyMoney 5.0.4 Now Available

News briefs for April 22, 2019.

Congrats to Sam Hartman, new Debian Project Leader! You can read more details about the election here, and read Sam's DPL 2019 Platform here.

Google cuts Pixel 3 prices for Project Fi's birthday. Engadget reports that the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL will be 50% for today only, and the offer is available only to new and existing Google Fi customers, and the savings applies when you connect to the network.

Linux kernel v5.1-rc6 was released yesterday. Linus Torvalds writes: "It's Easter Sunday here, but I don't let little things like random major religious holidays interrupt my kernel development workflow. The occasional scuba trip? Sure. But everybody sitting around eating traditional foods? No. You have to have priorities. There's only so much memma you can eat even if your wife had to make it from scratch because nobody eats that stuff in the US. Anyway, rc6 is actually larger than I would have liked, which made me go back and look at history, and for some reason that's not all that unusual. We recently had similar rc6 bumps in both 4.18 and 5.0. So I'm not going to worry about it."

Kdenlive 19.04 was released today. From the release announcement: "more than 60% of the code base was changed with +144,000 lines of code added and +74,000 lines of code removed. This is our biggest release ever bringing new features, improved stability, greater speed and last but not least maintainability (making it easier to fix bugs and add new features)." Go here to download.

KMyMoney version 5.0.4 is now available. This release of the open-source personal finance manager brings updated documentation and some long-standing bug fixes. See the Changelog for all the details. Try the Appimage build for the latest and greatest version from the stable branch.

Kubernetes Identity Management: Authentication

You've deployed Kubernetes, but now how are you going to get it into the hands of your developers and admins securely?

Kubernetes has taken the world by storm. In just a few years, Kubernetes (aka k8s) has gone from an interesting project to a driver for technology and innovation. One of the easiest ways to illustrate this point is the difference in attendance in the two times KubeCon North America has been in Seattle. Two years ago, it was in a hotel with less than 20 vendor booths. This year, it was at the Seattle Convention Center with 8,000 attendees and more than 100 vendors!

Just as with any other complex system, k8s has its own security model and needs to interact with both users and other systems. In this article, I walk through the various authentication options and provide examples and implementation advice as to how you should manage access to your cluster.

What Does Identity Mean to Kubernetes?

The first thing to ask is "what is an identity?" in k8s. K8s is very different from most other systems and applications. It's a set of APIs. There's no "web interface" (I discuss the dashboard later in this article). There's no point to "log in". There is no "session" or "timeout". Every API request is unique and distinct, and it must contain everything k8s needs to authenticate and authorize the request.

That said, the main thing to remember about users in k8s is that they don't exist in any persistent state. You don't connect k8s to an LDAP directory or Active Directory. Every request must ASSERT an identity to k8s in one of multiple possible methods. I capitalize ASSERT because it will become important later. The key is to remember that k8s doesn't authenticate users; it validates assertions.

Service Accounts

Service accounts are where this rule bends a bit. It's true that k8s doesn't store information about users. It does store service accounts, which are not meant to represent people. They're meant to represent anything that isn't a person. Everything that interacts with something else in k8s runs as a service account. As an example, if you were to submit a very basic pod:


apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: myapp-pod
  labels:
    app: myapp
spec:
  containers:
  - name: myapp-container
    image: busybox
    command: ['sh', '-c', 'echo Hello Kubernetes!
     ↪&& sleep 3600']

And then look at it in k8s after deployment by running kubectl get pod myapp-pod -o yaml:

The Mozilla IoT Team Announces Mozilla WebThings, LibreOffice 6.2.3 Released, LabPlot 2.6 Now Available, OpenJDK 11 Is Now the Default in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and 19.04, and Zend Framework Heads to The Linux Foundation as the Laminas Project

News briefs for April 19, 2019.

The Mozilla IoT team announces that its Project Things is moving on from its experimental phase and now will be known as Mozilla WebThings. The team's mission is to create a "Web of Things" implementation that helps "drive IoT standards for security, privacy and interoperability". Mozilla WebThings is "an open platform for monitoring and controlling devices over the web" and includes WebThings Gateway ("a software distribution for smart home gateways focused on privacy, security and interoperability") and WebThings Framework ("a collection of reusable software components to help developers build their own web things").

LibreOffice 6.2.3 was released yesterday. This version is the third bug- and regression-fix release of the 6.2 series, "targeted at tech-savvy individuals: early adopters, technology enthusiasts and power users". LibreOffice 6.2.3 includes more then 90 bug and regression fixes. See the changelog pages for RC1 and RC2 for all the details. You can download it from here.

LabPlot 2.6 was released today. This new version builds on the ability to create 2D Cartesian plots with other plot types and visualization techniques, such as the histogram. Another new feature is support for the MQTT protocol. See the Changelog for the full list of changes.

OpenJDK 11 is now the default Java package in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and also will be the default for Ubuntu 19.04. This version is newest LTS version of the open-source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE), and "it incorporates key security improvements, including an update to the latest Transport Layer Security (TLS) version, TLS 1.3, and the implementation of ChaCha20-Poly1305 cryptographic algorithms, a new stream cipher that can replace the less secure RC4."

Zend Framework is heading to The Linux Foundation and will be called the Laminas Project. Enterprise Apps Today reports that the move is "to help grow the base of contributors and adopters. Zend Framework was led by Zend and it didn't easily allow others to easily contribute. It's a situation that led to multiple other PHP efforts to emerge, like Symphony among others, which have arguable eclipsed Zend Framework in usage and importance over the past decade". The article quotes the Laminas project page: "Laminas is the plural of lamina, meaning a thin layer. We feel it succinctly summarizes the goals of the project in many ways: Components you can compose or layer into any application; Middleware architectures are often termed layered."

FOSS Project Spotlight: Drupal

druplicon

Drupal is a content management framework, and it's used to make many of the websites and applications you use every day. Drupal has great standard features, easy content authoring, reliable performance and excellent security. What sets Drupal apart is its flexibility; modularity is one of its core principles. Its tools help you build the versatile, structured content that ambitious web experiences need. With Drupal, you can build almost any integrated experience you can imagine.

Drupal Is for Ambitious Digital Experiences

Dries Buytaert, founder of the project, provides the vision for Drupal. Managing content for ambitious projects that aim to transform digital experiences for their organizations is what Drupal does best. Drupal goes beyond browser-based websites and reaches all digital platforms to provide a flexible, robust and innovative experience.

How to Get Started

Figure 1. Umami Magazine Demo in Drupal Core

What's in Drupal Core

The base Drupal download, known as Drupal Core, contains the PHP scripts needed to run the basic content management functionality, several optional modules and themes, and many JavaScript, CSS and image assets.

Drupal 8's core platform has more than 200 features built in. For an up-to-date list of features, see Drupal.com.

Drupal 8.6.0 was the most significant update to Drupal 8. Expect Drupal 9 to release in June 2020, and if you're already using Drupal, it is expected to be the easiest major version upgrade yet. For the most current information on Drupal's latest version, visit Drupal.org.

Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” Released, Eclipse Foundation’s 2019 IoT Developer Survey Results, OpenSSH 8.0 Now Available, digiKam 6.1.0 Is Out and Three New openSUSE Tumbleweeds Released

News briefs for April 18, 2019.

Canonical this morning announced the release of Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo". According to the press release, Ubuntu 19.04 is "on open infrastructure deployments, the developer desktop, IoT, and cloud to edge software distribution". Of the release, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth says, "The open-source-first on Ubuntu movement in telco, finance, and media has spread to other sectors. From the public cloud to the private data center to the edge appliance or cluster, open source has become the reference for efficiency and innovation. Ubuntu 19.04 includes the leading projects to underpin that transition, and the developer tooling to accelerate the applications for those domains". You can download Ubuntu 19.04 from here.

The Eclipse Foundation yesterday released its 2019 IoT Developer Survey. More than 1,700 developers participated in the survey about their IoT efforts. Some results: "IoT Cloud Platforms (34%), Home Automation (27%), and Industrial Automation / IIoT (26%) were the respondents' three most common industry focus areas", and "The top three CPU architectures for constrained devices used by respondents were ARM-based, with significant use of niche 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit MCUs." You can read the full survey results here.

OpenSSH 8.0 was released yesterday. You can get it from the mirrors here. The release has several new features and fixes a weakness with scp: "when copying files from a remote system to a local directory, scp(1) did not verify that the filenames that the server sent matched those requested by the client. This could allow a hostile server to create or clobber unexpected local files with attacker-controlled content. This release adds client-side checking that the filenames sent from the server match the command-line request."

digiKam 6.1.0 was released this week with several new features and fixes. It includes a new plugins interface called "DPlugins", and two new plugins: a plugin to copy items to local storage and a plugin to set an image as Linux desktop wallpaper. Go here for download links.

Three new openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots were released recently with updated packages for Curl, Salt, FFmpeg and more. The 20190412 snapshot updated Ceph and added fixes for Azure. In addition, the 20190415 snapshot included Mozilla Firefox version 66.0.3, and the 20190411 snapshot brought the 5.0.7 Linux kernel.

Back in the Day: UNIX, Minix and Linux

Columnist Dave Taylor reminisces about the early days of UNIX and how Linux evolved and grew from that seed.

Twenty five years of Linux Journal. This also marks my 161st column with the magazine too, which means I've been a part of this publication for almost 14 years. Where does the time go?

In honor of the historical significance of this issue, I wanted to share some of my memories of the very early days of UNIX, Minix and Linux. If you're a regular reader of my column, you'll recall that I'm in the middle of developing a mail merge Bash utility, but that'll just have to wait until next time. I promise, the shell ain't going anywhere in the meantime!

Back in the Day

I first stepped foot on campus at UC San Diego in late 1980, a declared computer science major. At that point, a lot of our compsci program was based on USCD Pascal on Apple II systems. I still have fond memories of floppy drives and those dorky, pixelated—but oh so fun!—Apple II games we'd play during lab time.

For more serious classes, however, we had some big iron—a mainframe with accounts and remote computer lab terminals set up in designated rooms. The operating system on those systems? UNIX—an early version of BSD UNIX is my guess. It had networking using a modem-to-modem connection called UNIX-to-UNIX Copy Protocol, or UUCP. If you wanted to send email to someone, you used addresses where it was:


unique-hostname ! unique-hostname ! account

I don't remember my UCSD email address, but some years later, I was part of the admin team on the major UUCP hub hplabs, and my email address was simply hplabs!taylor.

Somewhere along the way, networking leaped forward with TCP/IP (we had TCP/IP "Bake Offs" to test interoperability). Once we had many-to-many connectivity, it was clear that the "bang" notation was unusable and unnecessarily complicated. We didn't want to worry about routing, just destination. Enter the "@" sign. I became taylor@hplabs.com.

Meanwhile, UNIX kept growing, and the X Window System from MIT gained popularity as a UI layer atop the UNIX command line. In fact, X is a public domain implementation of the windowing system my colleagues and I first saw at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. PARC had computers where multiple programs were on the screen simultaneously in "windows", and there was a pointer device used to control them—so cool. Doug Englebart was inspired too; he went back to Stanford Research Institute and invented the mouse to make control of those windows easier. At Apple, they also saw what was being created at PARC and were inspired to create the Macintosh with all its windowing goodness.

VirtualBox 6.0.6 Is Now Available, Red Hat Announces Stewardship of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 Projects, Qt Creator 4.9.0 Released, Final Beta for Mageia 7 Out for Testing, and Debian 10 Buster in an Update Freeze

News briefs for April 17, 2019

VirtualBox 6.0.6 is now available. This maintenance release includes several bug fixes, added support for kernel 5.0 and 5.1 and "Oracle Critical Patch Updates" for April 2019. See the Changelog for the complete list of changes, and go here for download links.

Red Hat today announced it "will serve as the steward of the OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 projects following a transition of leadership from Oracle". The announcement also notes that with this transition, "Red Hat is affirming its support of the Java community and following a similar path that led to its leadership of both the OpenJDK 6 and OpenJDK 7 projects."

Qt Creator 4.9.0 is now out, boasting support for generic programming languages, better integration with operating systems (for example, Touch Bar for macOS) and more. See the Changelog for details.

The final beta for Mageia 7 is out for testing. This release brings large updates for Qt and Plasma, and many package updates. You can find more details on what's to come in version 7 here.

Debian 10 "Buster" is in an update freeze state with 150 critical bugs flagged. Phoronix reports that Until this number reaches zero, the release will not happen. See also the Debian mailing list post for more information.

Big thanks to Petros Koutoupis for his contributions to this post.

Support for Persistent Memory

Persistent memory is still sort of a specialty item in Linux—RAM that retains its state across boots. Dave Hansen recently remarked that it was a sorry state of affairs that user applications couldn't simply use persistent memory by default. They had to be specially coded to recognize and take advantage of it. Dave wanted the system to treat persistent memory as just regular old memory.

His solution was to write a new driver that would act as a conduit between the kernel and any available persistent memory devices, managing them like any other RAM chip on the system.

Jeff Moyer was skeptical. He pointed out that in 2018, Intel had announced memory modes for its Optane non-volatile memory. Memory modes would allow the system to access persistent memory as regular memory—apparently exactly what Dave was talking about.

But Keith Busch pointed out that Optane memory modes were architecture-specific, for Intel's Optane hardware, while Dave's code was generic, for any devices containing persistent memory.

Jeff accepted the correction, but he still pointed out that persistent memory was necessarily slower than regular RAM. If the goal of Dave's patch was to make persistent memory available to user code without modifying that code, then how would the kernel decide to give fast RAM or slow persistent memory to the user software? That would seem to be a crucial question, he said.

Keith replied that faster RAM would generally be given preference over the slower persistent memory. The goal was to have the slower memory available if needed.

Dave also remarked that Intel's memory mode was wonderful! He had no criticism of it, and he said there were plenty of advantages to using memory mode instead of his patches. But he, also felt that the patches were essentially complementary, and they could be used side by side on systems that supported memory mode.

He also added:

Here are a few reasons you might want this instead of memory mode:

1. Memory mode is all-or-nothing. Either 100% of your persistent memory is used for memory mode, or nothing is. With this set, you can (theoretically) have very granular (128MB) assignment of PMEM to either volatile or persistent uses. We have a few practical matters to fix to get us down to that 128MB value, but we can get there.

2. The capacity of memory mode is the size of your persistent memory. DRAM capacity is "lost" because it is used for cache. With this, you get PMEM+DRAM capacity for memory.

3. DRAM acts as a cache with memory mode, and caches can lead to unpredictable latencies. Since memory mode is all-or-nothing, your entire memory space is exposed to these unpredictable latencies. This solution lets you guarantee DRAM latencies if you need them.

Mozilla Announces the Hubs Discord Bot, Unity 2019.1 Now Available, Qt 5.13 Beta Is Out, Whitewater Foundry Launches Pengwin and the Valve Index VR Headset to Support Linux

News briefs for April 16, 2019.

Mozilla this morning announces the Hubs Discord Bot. Hubs allows you "to create private spaces where your conversations, content, and data is protected". The integration with the Discord platform will provide text and voice chat for Hub communities. From the blog post: "Using Discord as a persistent platform that is open to the public gives us the ability to be open about our ongoing work and initiatives on the Hubs team and integrate the community's feedback into our product planning and development."

Unity 2019.1 is now available. This is the first TECH Stream release of the year and has more than 283 new features and improvements. The blog post notes that it includes "many new production-ready features such as the Burst Compiler, the Lightweight Render Pipeline (LWRP), and Shader Graph. Also, there are numerous innovations for animators, mobile developers, and graphics experts, and multiple updates that streamline project workflows and simplify Editor tasks." You can download 2019.1 from here.

Qt 5.13 beta is out. Phoronix reports that this version is "another big upgrade to Qt5 featuring Lottie support for playable animations gITF 2.0 import support for assets into Qt 3D, WebAssembly improvements, upgrades the Qt WebEngine against Chromium 73, adds fullscreen-shell-unstable-v1 to Qt Wayland, and removes the old Qt Canvas 3D module." See the Qt Wiki for more information.

Whitewater Foundry has launched Pengwin, "a Linux environment for Windows 10 built on work by Microsoft Research and the Debian project". According to ZDNet, Pengwin was formerly WLinux and primarily provides a shell. The article also notes that "To help Pengwin work well with WSL, it comes with wslu. This is a set of useful open-source utilities for bridging the gap between WSL and Windows 10." In addition, it includes "OpenStack command-line interface (CLI) tools, Amazon Web Services (AWS) CLI tools, and TerraForm."

Valve confirms Linux support for its Valve Index VR headset. GamingOnLinux reports that you will be able to pre-order the VR headset starting May 1st.

Open Source Is Eternal

eternity

Open source has won the present, but what about the future?

In the March 2018 issue of Linux Journal, I wrote an article taking a look back over the previous decade. An astonishing amount has changed in such a short time. But as I pointed out, perhaps that's not surprising, as ten years represents an appreciable portion of the entire history of Linux and (to a lesser extent) of the GNU project, which began in August 1991 and September 1983, respectively. Those dates makes the launch of Linux Journal in April 1994 an extremely bold and far-sighted move, and something worth celebrating on its 25th anniversary.

For me, the year 1994 was also memorable for other reasons. It marked the start of a weekly column that I wrote about the internet in business—one of the first to do so. In total, I produced 413 "Getting Wired" columns, the last one appearing in April 2003. I first mentioned Linux in February 1995. Thereafter, free software and (later) open source become an increasingly important thread running through the columns—the word "Linux" appeared 663 times in total. Reflecting on the dotcom meltdown that recently had taken place, which wiped out thousands of companies and billions of dollars, here's what I wrote in my last Getting Wired column:

The true internet did not die: it simply moved back into the labs and bedrooms where it had first arisen. For the real internet revolution was driven not by share options, but by sharing—specifically, the sharing of free software.

...

The ideas behind free software—and hence those that powered the heady early days of the internet—are so ineluctable, that even as powerful a company as Microsoft is being forced to adopt them. Indeed, I predict that within the next five years Microsoft will follow in the footsteps of IBM to become a fervent supporter of open source, and hence the ultimate symbol of the triumph of the internet spirit.

You can read that final column online on the Computer Weekly site, where it originally appeared. It's one of several hundred Getting Wired columns still available there. But the archive for some years is incomplete, and in any case, it goes back only to 2000. That means five years' worth—around 250 columns—are no longer accessible to the general public (I naturally still have my own original files).

New Flatpak Sandboxing Linux Package Management Platform Release, Ubuntu 19.04 Final Freeze Stage, New Version of Emacs Out, Reiser4 File System Now Supports Linux 5.0 Kernel, New Version of Wine Released

Flatpak, the sandboxing Linux package management platform, just announced the release of version 1.3.2 containing both security and stability enhancements.

Ubuntu 19.04 is now officially in a Final Freeze stage. Its official release date is still scheduled for April 18.

Emacs 26.2 is now out, supporting version 11.0 of the Unicode standard, enabling modules to be built outside of the Emacs source tree, and more.

The open source Windows application emulator, Wine, just released version 4.6. This release not only addresses bug fixes but also enhances video capture and 3D libraries.

The maintainers of the Reiser4 file system released a set of patches adding supporting for the Linux 5.0 kernel. They can be found on the project's official SourceForge page.

Pattern Matching In Bash

bash

 

Wildcards have been around forever. Some even claim they appear in the hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians. Wildcards allow you to specify succinctly a pattern that matches a set of filenames (for example, *.pdf to get a list of all the PDF files). Wildcards are also often referred to as glob patterns (or when using them, as "globbing"). But glob patterns have uses beyond just generating a list of useful filenames. The bash man page refers to glob patterns simply as "Pattern Matching".

Rust v1.34.0, NoScript Now in Chrome Web Store, PinePhone Sneak Peek, Purism Starts to Ship Pre-Built Binaries for BIOS Updates, Systemd 242 Released

The Rust programming language project has officially announced the release of version 1.34.0, the largest feature of which is the introduction of alternative cargo registries.

Good news for NoScript users out there. The public beta of version 10.6.1 of the cross-browser plugin passed the Google review process and officially landed in the Chrome web store.

For those who are excitedly awaiting the PinePhone release, you can sneak in a few early images of the development kit running both KDE Plasma Mobile and PostmarketOS here.

While Purism laptops have been shipping with Coreboot for some time, updates were originally delivered by source code. Well, no more. Purism will start to ship pre-built binaries for BIOS updates.

Systemd 242 is officially released now adding support for the Extended Boot Loader "XBOOTLDR" specification (system-boot), L2TP tunnels (Networkd), OCI runtime (nspawn) and more.

Thoughts from the Future of Linux

By technology standards, I'm an old man. I remember when 3.5" floppies became common ("Wow! 1.44MB! These little things hold so much data!"). My childhood hero was Matthew Broderick war-dialing local numbers with his 300-baud modem. I dreamed of, one day, owning a 386 with more than 640k of RAM. At the pace that computing moves forward, I'm practically a fossil. So, if you were to ask me, "What is the best way to encourage kids, today, to get into open source?" Well, I honestly haven't a clue.

So, "What do kids want to do with Linux?" And, "Where will the next generation take open-source computing?"

I don't have good answers to those questions either. I'm just too stinkin' old. No, to get answers to those questions, we need to talk to the people that actually know the answers—the kids themselves.

Specifically, I mean people still young enough to be "the next generation" while old enough, with sufficient experience, to understand Linux (and open source) and create well founded opinions, goals and dreams of where Linux goes from here—perhaps young adults nearing the end of high school or just beginning their college (or work) lives.

Those are the people who will be running open source in 20 or 30 years.

After Linus Torvalds officially retires, these kids will take over Linux kernel development. When Richard Stallman finally calls it quits, these kids will push the ideals of the Free Software movement forward. And, eventually, I (and the rest of the Linux Journal team) will retire—hopefully to somewhere with a nice beach. And these kids (and the rest of their generation) will be the ones reporting on and writing about Linux.

So, we found three kids (young adults, really) who are eating and breathing Linux and open source in the United Kingdom: Josh Page, Samadi van Koten and Matthew Lugg.

Gentlemen, introduce yourselves to the world, and give us the quick overview of what you're currently doing with Linux and open source.

Matthew Lugg: Hi, my name's Matthew. I'm a year 11 student living in Devon, and I tend to spend most of my free time either coding or playing games. I've been using Linux—specifically Debian—as my main desktop OS, as well as on my VPS, for around a year now (both for dev and for gaming), and I've never looked back!

Josh Page: My name is Josh. I'm in year 11, and I use Linux for networking mainly, VMs, routing and the like.

Samadi van Koten: I'm Samadi van Koten, known online as vktec. I've recently finished my A levels and am currently taking a gap year before going to study Computer Science at Bath University this September. I'm currently in a software development contract at a multinational company that makes GNSS test equipment.

Red Hat Certified Engineer Program Changes, OpenStack v19 Released, XFCE Back in openSUSE Installer, GNOME 3.32.1 Marks First Point Release of 3.32

 

Red Hat has announced some changes with their Red Hat Certified Engineer program by focusing more on automation and updating the certification requirements.

The open source OpenStack project announced the release of version 19, named Stein. It enhances bare metal and network management while also also supporting faster launching of Kubernetes clusters.

For those who were missing it, XFCE is now back in the openSUSE Tumbleweed installer. It can be selected alongside GNOME and KDE Plasma.

Now available, GNOME 3.32.1 marks the first point release of GNOME 3.32. And it boasts four weeks worth of bugs fixes.

Linux…Do It for the Children

A rundown of some fun and educational Linux software for kids.

I'm probably going to regret that title. I've been making fun of those words, "do it for the children" for years. It's one of those "reasons" people turn to when all else has failed in terms of getting you to sign on to whatever lifestyle, agenda, law, changes to food—you name it. Hearing those words draws the Spock eyebrow lift out of me faster than you can say, "fascinating".

Okay, pretend that I didn't start this article with that comment. Let's try this instead.

As I write this, my youngest son is 11 years old. He has grown up in a magical world of electronics that delivers what he wants to watch when he wants to watch it. Access to the web is something he always has known. Until very recently, he never had seen television with commercials. A couple years ago, my wife and I thought it was something he should at least understand, so we turned to a live TV program for the first time in I don't know how long. He was not impressed with the interruptions. Now, with multiple Google Home units in the house, including one in his bedroom, the on-demand magic is pretty much complete.

He started playing video games when he was three and was scary good on my PS3 by the time he turned four. He started using a laptop when he was five, and that laptop ran Linux. I'm pretty sure he was using Kubuntu, but it might have been Linux Mint. Either way, it was a KDE Plasma desktop. In short, the world of tech is nothing new for him, and Linux is just what people run. His school has Chromebooks, and the few run-ins he's had with Windows left him cold.

Kids and Linux? Absolutely.

GCompris

Much earlier on, however, I took advantage of some of the simpler educational games available on Linux. One of my favorites is GCompris, an all-in-one collection of educational games for children, geared for ages two to ten (Figure 1). By the way, GCompris is pronounced like the French words, J'ai compris, and it literally means, "I have understood", paying homage to its educational focus. I've mentioned this one in the past, but GCompris is a living, breathing project, actively developed by the KDE community with a new release just this past month.

Figure 1. GCompris is a suite of educational games for kids.

E8Storage and ThinkParQ Work Together to Deliver Faster Backups, Microsoft Edge Browser on Linux Desktop, ZFS into Ubuntu Installer Update, GRUB v2.04 New Features, GhostBSD Released

The NVMe over Fabric array supplier, E8 Storage, is working with ThinkParQ's clustered parallel file system for Linux, BeeGFS to deliver faster backups of user data.

Now that Microsoft's Edge browser is built on a Chromium base, it may eventually find itself on a Linux desktop near you.

While significant progress is being made to integrate ZFS into the Ubuntu installer, it would seem that it may not make it in time for version 19.04. Support for this may end up in version 19.10 instead.

The release candidate for GRUB version 2.04 is out boasting new features: supporting new file systems, secure boot, Btrfs RAID5/6 and more.

The 4th release candidate of GhostBSD version 19.04 was released yesterday, making it almost ready for a final stable release.

FOSS Means Kids Can Have a Big Impact

kid with laptop

An eight-year-old can contribute, and you can too.

Working at a company that creates free and open-source software (FOSS) and hosts all of our code on GitHub, my team and I at UserLAnd Technologies are used to seeing and reviewing contributions, which are called pull requests, from users. Recently, however, we received a pull request that is very special to me. It was from an eight-year-old, and not just any eight-year-old, but my daughter.

Figure 1. Addison Hard at Work

Now, I had many reasons for wanting my daughter to get involved with our project, but before I pollute this story with what I think, let's hear from her—this is the Kids + Linux issue after all.

Figure 2. My Daughter's First Pull Request

The following is a brief interview I conducted with her after she provided the shown pull request.

Corbin: To start with, please tell us who you are and provide your age?

Addison: I am Addison Champion, and I am eight years old.

Corbin: Now Addison, you have a skill that I don't have. You may be eight, and I am (gulp) 38, but you have a skill that neither I nor any of the members of my team have. Can you share with us what that skill is and how you posses it?

Addison: I am bilingual, as I speak both Spanish and English. I am enrolled in a bilingual school, and in my class, we mostly speak and read in Spanish.

[Note: She has been in a two-way immersion program at our local, public school since kindergarten where some of the kids are native Spanish speakers and some are native English speakers.]

Corbin: Can you describe the work you did for UserLAnd that used this skill?

Addison: I provided a Spanish translation for UserLAnd's Android app, because there wasn't one already.

Corbin: Can you describe what you had to do to make a Spanish translation?

Addison: There were a lot of phrases in English, and I had to provide the phrase in Spanish that matched each one in English. I also had to make sure the translation would sound right to a Spanish speaker.

Corbin: Was the task difficult?

Addison: Some of the phrases were hard, but some were pretty easy. There were some technical words that we had to look up. We found a cool website, like Google translate, but where you could type in a word or a sentence and it would show you a real example of a translation that used something similar.

GRUB 2.04-rc1 Released, Mozilla Designing Better Security Messages, Back Door Discovered in Compromised Version of bootstrap-sass, Lutris 0.5.2 Released and OpenVPN3 Linux v5 Beta Now Available

News briefs for April 9, 2019.

GRUB 2.04-rc1 has been released. Phoronix reports that after nearly two years of development, this release will bring tons of changes, including "supporting multiple early initrd images, support for the F2FS file-system, a verifier framework, RISC-V support, UEFI Secure Boot shim support, Btrfs Zstd improvements, Btrfs RAID5/RAID6 support, Xen PVH support, UEFI TPM 1.2/2.0 support, and a lot of other work." If you want to try out GRUB 2.04-rc1, you can get the sources here.

Mozilla is working on designing better security messages for Firefox. See Meridel Walkington's article "Designing Better Security Warnings" for a discussion of the old vs. new designs and the goals for the new messages. Meridel writes, "3% of Firefox users encounter a security certificate message on a daily basis. Nearly all users who see a security message see one of five different message types. So, it's important that these messages are clear, accurate, and effective in educating and empowering users to make the informed (ideally, safer) choice."

Security researchers recently discovered "a back door into an open source framework that has been downloaded roughly 28 million times by building a malicious version that masquerades as the real thing." cyberscoop reports that a compromised version of bootstrap-sass was published to the RubyGems repository. The article quotes Chris Wysopalm, chief technology officer at app security company Veracode, "That doesn't mean there are something like 27 million apps out there using this. [But] when you're using open source packages to build your applications, you're inheriting many of the vulnerabilities....But bootstrap-sass is a popular component used by enterprises and startups so there's potentially thousands of applications affected by this."

Lutris, the open-source game launcher, has a new release. According to GamingonLinux, some of the changes in version 0.5.2 include "avoid a crash if the lutris config file is corrupted", "install Asian fonts by default on Wine prefix creation", "add Vulkan ICD loaders in system options", "replace joystick panel with Wine config panel" and more. See the Lutris site and GitHub repository for more information.

OpenVPN 3 Linux v5 beta release is now available. Highlights of this release include "built against OpenSSL by default", "improved configurations without client certificate", "openvpn2 command line interface improvements" and much more. See the release announcement for details and links to the git repositories and source tarballs.