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Linux Thursday - Jan 4, 2019 - New Year Edition

Linux Journal - Mon, 01/07/2019 - 14:00

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Categories: Linux News

Linux 5.0-rc1 Released, Scratch 3 and Raspberry Pi, Phoronix Test Suite 8.6-Spydeberg Milestone 1 Is Now Available, Elteria Adventures Coming to Linux and Chromium Now Supports VAAPI in Fedora

Linux Journal - Mon, 01/07/2019 - 09:27

News briefs for January 7, 2019.

Linux 5.0-rc1 was released yesterday. Linus Torvalds wrote: "The numbering change is not indicative of anything special. If you want to have an official reason, it's that I ran out of fingers and toes to count on, so 4.21 became 5.0. There's no nice git object numerology this time (we're _about_ 6.5M objects in the git repo), and there isn't any major particular feature that made for the release numbering either. Of course, depending on your particular interests, some people might well find a feature _they_ like so much that they think it can do as a reason for incrementing the major number. So go wild. Make up your own reason for why it's 5.0."

MIT recently released Scratch 3, the latest version of its visual programming language. The Raspberry Pi blog announced it has upgraded to make this a smooth transition for those who use its free project resources, "whether that be at a Code Club, CoderDojo, Raspberry Jam, or at home, so we've been busy upgrading our resources to work with Scratch 3". In addition, "Scratch 3 versions of all projects in the Code Club Scratch Modules 1–3 and the CoderDojo Scratch Sushi Cards are already live!" See the post for more details related to Scratch 3 on RPi.

Phoronix Test Suite 8.6-Spydeberg Milestone 1 is out. This is the first development snapshot for the "open-source, cross-platform benchmarking software release due out later in Q1". New features for the Phoronix Test Suite include updates for Microsoft Windows Server 2019 (and it'll be a fully supported platform as well), a new "new phoronix-test-suite compare-results-to-baseline sub-command for comparing two result files with treating the first argument as the performance baseline and providing various statistics off that", a "new ShowPostRunStatistics user configuration" and more. You can get the first development snapshot of Phoronix Test Suite 8.6 at GitHub.

Elteria Adventures is "an open-world RPG MMO with world-building features and it's coming to Linux". GamingOnLinux reports that the developer confirmed it will run on Linux, simply saying ""Yes it will. Also on Mac :)" Evidently the Steam page doesn't give many details on what the game will be like, but GamingOnLinux says "it sounds a bit like Minecraft mixed with an RPG and it has a bunch of platforming as the world is built across many floating islands".

The Chromium web browser in Fedora now has Video Acceleration API (VAAPI) support, making "video playback much smoother while using significantly less resources". Fedora is now the second distribution to include the VAAPI patch in its official Chromium package. See the Fedora Magazine post for more info.

News kernel Programming Scratch Raspberry Pi Phoronix gaming Chromium Fedora
Categories: Linux News

IBM Began Buying Red Hat 20 Years Ago

Linux Journal - Mon, 01/07/2019 - 07:30
by Glyn Moody

How Big Blue became an open-source company.

News that IBM is buying Red Hat is, of course, a significant moment for the world of free software. It's further proof, as if any were needed, that open source has won, and that even the mighty Big Blue must make its obeisance. Admittedly, the company is not quite the behemoth it was back in the 20th century, when "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM". But it remains a benchmark for serious, mainstream—and yes, slightly boring—computing. Its acquisition of Red Hat for the not inconsiderable sum of $34 billion, therefore, proves that selling free stuff is now regarded as a completely normal business model, acknowledged by even the most conservative corporations.

Many interesting analyses have been and will be written about why IBM bought Red Hat, and what it means for open source, Red Hat, Ubuntu, cloud computing, IBM, Microsoft and Amazon, amongst other things. But one aspect of the deal people may have missed is that in an important sense, IBM actually began buying Red Hat 20 years ago. After all, $34 billion acquisitions do not spring fully formed out of nowhere. Reaching the point where IBM's management agreed it was the right thing to do required a journey. And, it was a particularly drawn-out and difficult journey, given IBM's starting point not just as the embodiment of traditional proprietary computing, but its very inventor.

Even the longest journey begins with a single step, and for IBM, it was taken on June 22, 1998. On that day, IBM announced it would ship the Apache web server with the IBM WebSphere Application Server, a key component of its WebSphere product family. Moreover, in an unprecedented move for the company, it would offer "commercial, enterprise-level support" for that free software.

When I was writing my book Rebel Code: inside Linux and the open source revolution in 2000, I had the good fortune to interview the key IBM employees who made that happen. The events of two years before still were fresh in their minds, and they explained to me why they decided to push IBM toward the bold strategy of adopting free software, which ultimately led to the company buying Red Hat 20 years later.

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Categories: Linux News

Weekend Reading: Ansible

Linux Journal - Sat, 01/05/2019 - 07:30
by Shawn Powers

I've written about and trained folks on various DevOps tools through the years, and although they're awesome, it's obvious that most of them are designed from the mind of a developer. There's nothing wrong with that, because approaching configuration management programmatically is the whole point. Still, it wasn't until I started playing with Ansible that I felt like it was something a sysadmin quickly would appreciate.

Part of that appreciation comes from the way Ansible communicates with its client computers—namely, via SSH. As sysadmins, you're all very familiar with connecting to computers via SSH, so right from the word "go", you have a better understanding of Ansible than the other alternatives.

With that in mind, I've written a few articles exploring how to take advantage of Ansible. It's a great system, but when I was first exposed to it, it wasn't clear how to start. It's not that the learning curve is steep. In fact, if anything, the problem was that I didn't really have that much to learn before starting to use Ansible, and that made it confusing. For example, if you don't have to install an agent program (Ansible doesn't have any software installed on the client computers), how do you start?

Ansible, Part I: the Automation Framework That Thinks Like a Sysadmin

How to get started with Ansible. Shawn tells us the reason Ansible was so difficult for him at first was because it's so flexible with how to configure the server/client relationship, he didn't know what he was supposed to do. The truth is that Ansible doesn't really care how you set up the SSH system; it will utilize whatever configuration you have. This article will get you set up.  

Ansible, Part II: Making Things Happen

Finally, an automation framework that thinks like a sysadmin. Ansible, you're hired.

Ansible is supposed to make your job easier, so the first thing you need to learn is how to do familiar tasks. For most sysadmins, that means some simple command-line work. Ansible has a few quirks when it comes to command-line utilities, but it's worth learning the nuances, because it makes for a powerful system.

Ansible, Part III: Playbooks

Playbooks make Ansible even more powerful than before.

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Categories: Linux News

Google's Fuchsia OS to Support Android Apps, Linux Servers with Poorly Configured IPMI Cards Prone to Attack, LinuxGizmos' 2019 SBC Catalog Is Out, USB Type-C Becoming More Secure and Epic Games Not Planning to Provide a Linux Version of Its Store

Linux Journal - Fri, 01/04/2019 - 09:10

News briefs for January 4, 2019.

Google's Fuchsia OS will have Android app support via Android Runtime. According to 9To5Google, it was expected that Fuchsia would support Android apps, and now "that suspicion has been confirmed by a new change found in the Android Open Source Project, and we can say with confidence that Fuchsia will be capable of running Android apps using the Android Runtime." The article also notes that "How exactly Fuchsia will use the Android Runtime from there is still unclear. This is includes whether the Android Runtime is able to work as expected to replace Linux kernel calls with equivalents from Fuchsia's Zircon kernel or if ART will run inside of a Linux virtual machine using Machina, Fuchsia's virtual machine system."

Linux servers equipped with poorly configured IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) cards are prone to attack. ITPro Today reports that "since November, black hat hackers have been using the cards to gain access in order to install JungleSec ransomware that encrypts data and demands a 0.3 bitcoin payment (about $1,100 at the current rate) for the unlock key". The post recommends that to secure against these attacks, make sure the IPMI password isn't the default and "access control lists (ACLs) should be configured to specify the IP addresses that have access the IPMI interface, and to also configure IPMI to only listen on internal IP addresses, which would limit access to admins inside the organization's system."

LinuxGizmos has published its 2019 catalog of open-spec Linux hacker boards. These are all "hacker-friendly, open-spec SBCs that run Linux or Android", and LinuxGizmos provides "recently updated descriptions, specs, pricing, and links to details for all 122 SBCs."

USB Type-C is becoming more secure with the launch of the USB Type-C Authentication Program. eWeek reports that the USB-IF (USB-Implementers Forum) is "taking a cryptographic approach to helping protect USB users and devices against potential risks". In addition, "With the authentication specification, compliance with USB specifications is validated in an effort to prevent potentially dangerous devices and chargers from connecting to a system. The specification can also limit the risk of malicious software that might be embedded within a USB device from attacking a system. According to the USB-IF, the authentication specification enables implementors of the standard to authenticate certified USB Type-C chargers, devices, cables and power sources."

Epic Games says it doesn't currently plan to provide a Linux version of its store. GamingOnLinux, quoted this tweet from Sergey Galyonkin, Director of Publishing Strategy for Epic Games, in response to a question on Reddit: "It really isn't on the roadmap right now. Doesn't mean this won't change in the future, it's just we have so many features to implement."

News Google Fuchsia Android Mobile Servers Security SBCs USB gaming
Categories: Linux News

Using Linux for Logic

Linux Journal - Fri, 01/04/2019 - 07:30
by Joey Bernard

I've covered tons of different scientific applications you can run on your computer to do rather complex calculations, but so far, I've not really given much thought to the hardware on which this software runs. So in this article, I take a look at a software package that lets you dive deep down to the level of the logic gates used to build up computational units.

At a certain point, you may find yourself asking your hardware to do too much work. In those cases, you need to understand what your hardware is and how it works. So, let's start by looking at the lowest level: the lowly logic gate. To that end, let's use a software package named Logisim in order to play with logic gates in various groupings.

Logisim should be available in most distributions' package management systems. For example, in Debian-based distros, install it with the following command:

sudo apt-get install logisim

You then can start it from your desktop environment's menu, or you can open a terminal, type logisim and press Enter. You should see a main section of the application where you can start to design your logic circuit. On the left-hand side, there's a selection pane with all of the units you can use for your design, including basic elements like wires and logic gates, and more complex units like memory or arithmetic units.

Figure 1. When you first start Logisim, you get a blank project where you can start to design your first logic circuit.

To learn how to start using Logisim, let's look at how to set up one of the most basic logic circuits: an AND gate.

Figure 2. You easily can add logic gates to your circuit to model computations.

If you click the Gates entry on the left-hand side, you'll see a full list of available logic gates. Clicking the AND gate allows you to add them to the design pane by clicking on the location where you want them added. At the bottom of the left-hand side, you'll see a pane that displays the attributes of the selected gate. You can use this pane to edit those attributes to make the gate behave exactly the way you want. For this example, let's change the number of inputs value from 5 to 2. The next step is to add an output pin in order to see when the output is either 1 or 0. You can find pins in the wiring section.

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Categories: Linux News

Episode 11: Moving the Chairs

Linux Journal - Thu, 01/03/2019 - 13:15
Your browser does not support the audio element. Reality 2.0 - Episode 11: Moving the Chairs

Katherine Druckman and Doc Searls talk to Petros Koutoupis about his Deep Dive articles, storage, blockchain, and moving chairs.

Links mentioned:

Categories: Linux News

Unit Testing in the Linux Kernel

Linux Journal - Thu, 01/03/2019 - 08:00
by Zack Brown

Brendan Higgins recently proposed adding unit tests to the Linux kernel, supplementing other development infrastructure such as perf, autotest and kselftest. The whole issue of testing is very dear to kernel developers' hearts, because Linux sits at the core of the system and often has a very strong stability/security requirement. Hosts of automated tests regularly churn through kernel source code, reporting any oddities to the mailing list.

Unit tests, Brendan said, specialize in testing standalone code snippets. It was not necessary to run a whole kernel, or even to compile the kernel source tree, in order to perform unit tests. The code to be tested could be completely extracted from the tree and tested independently. Among other benefits, this meant that dozens of unit tests could be performed in less than a second, he explained.

Giving credit where credit was due, Brendan identified JUnit, Python's unittest.mock and Googletest/Googlemock for C++ as the inspirations for this new KUnit testing idea.

Brendan also pointed out that since all code being unit-tested is standalone and has no dependencies, this meant the tests also were deterministic. Unlike on a running Linux system, where any number of pieces of the running system might be responsible for a given problem, unit tests would identify problem code with repeatable certainty.

Daniel Vetter replied extremely enthusiastically to Brendan's work. In particular, he said, "Having proper and standardized infrastructure for kernel unit tests sounds terrific. In other words: I want." He added that he and some others already had been working on a much more specialized set of unit tests for the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver. Brendan's approach, he said, would be much more convenient than his own more localized efforts.

Dan Williams was also very excited about Brendan's work, and he said he had been doing a half-way job of unit tests on the libnvdimm (non-volatile device) project code. He felt Brendan's work was much more general-purpose, and he wanted to convert his own tests to use KUnit.

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Categories: Linux News

Several Android Apps Transmitting Sensitive Data to Facebook without Permission, ExTiX Linux Announces Version 19.1 Build 181228, Peppermint 9 Respin-2 Released, Nextcloud Founder's 2019 Predictions and Some Security Updates

Linux Journal - Thu, 01/03/2019 - 07:30

News briefs for January 3, 2019.

A recent Privacy International report reveals that "at least 20 out of 34 popular Android apps are transmitting sensitive information to Facebook without asking permission, including Kayak, MyFitnessPal, Skyscanner and TripAdvisor". According to the story on Engadget, "The concern isn't just that apps are oversharing data, but that they may be violating the EU's GDPR privacy rules by both collecting info without consent and potentially identifying users. You can't lay the blame solely at the feet of Facebook or developers, though. Facebook's relevant developer kit didn't provide the option to ask for permission until after GDPR took effect. The social network did develop a fix, but it's not clear that it works or that developers are implementing it properly."

A new version of ExTiX Linux Live DVD—19.1, build 181228—was released yesterday. According to the author, "The best thing with ExTiX 19.1 is that while running the system live (from DVD/USB) or from hard drive you can use Refracta Tools (pre-installed) to create your own live installable Ubuntu system. So easy that a ten year child can do it!" You can download ExTiX 19.1 from SourceForge.

The Peppermint team yesterday announced the release Peppermint 9 Respin-2. This is a bug-fix release, and it fixes three issues in the installation routine. If you have already installed Peppermint 9 Respin successfully (released December 21, 2018), there is not need to re-install this version. See the Release Notes for more information.

Nextcloud founder Frank Karlitschek posted a look back at 2018 and thoughts on the future for 2019. He predicts that "2019 will be a very good year for privacy, open source and decentralized cloud software. Maybe even the mainstream breakthrough of federated and decentralized internet services!" He also writes "I think 2019 could be the year where open source, federated and self-hosted technology hits mainstream, taking on the proprietary, centralized data silos keeping people's personal information hostage. Society becoming more critical about data collection will fuel this development. If you want to make a difference then join Nextcloud or one of the other project that develop open source decentralized and federated solutions. I think 2019 is the year were we can win the internet back!"

Security updates were posted this week for Debian, Fedora, openSUSE and Red Hat. See LWN for links.

News Privacy Android Facebook ExTiX Linux Peppermint Nextcloud Security Debian Fedora openSUSE Red Hat
Categories: Linux News

January 2019, #294: The Distributions Issue

Linux Journal - Wed, 01/02/2019 - 10:30
by Bryan Lunduke

Do you remember your first distro?

The first version of Linux I truly used, for any length of time, was back at the end of the 1990s—in Ye Olden Times, when 56k modems, 3.5" floppies and VGA CRT monitors reigned supreme.

Linux itself had been a thing for a number of years by this point—with both SUSE (then known as the gloriously mixed-case and punctuation-filled S.u.S.E.) and Red Hat doing good business supporting it—when I decided to really give this "Free" operating system a try.

Because I'm a nerd. And that's what we do.

I remember the day well. It was cold. It was rainy. And I was taking an extended lunch break from my job at Microsoft (seriously). My days—and, all too often, nights—spent testing Windows NT 5 (before it was renamed Windows 2000) had taken a toll. I had reached peak "burn out".

After a mildly rejuvenating, two-hour long, burger-eating (and venting about our job) session with a co-worker, we made our way to the big-box computer store close to Microsoft's main campus. Once inside, we bee-lined it for the Operating System section (this was back when computer stores had rows upon rows of actual boxes that contained actual physical media, which, in turn, contained actual software).

Several versions of Windows were on display, and, lo and behold, right there next to them, was S.u.S.E. Linux—in a box. I grabbed it immediately. It was heavy. There were several CDs inside along with a manual (which would turn out to be necessary simply to get the system to boot).

Fifteen minutes later, we were back in my office installing Linux on one of my little Dell towers.

That's right. My first full-time Linux machine? A Microsoft, company-issued work computer. This was my way of "sticking it to the man"—and boy did it feel good.

Were there problems with my first foray into Linux? You bet. The sound card didn't work. Getting an X Server running (with any sort of GUI) was a mildly mystifying process. And, heck, just getting the darn thing to boot took the better part of an afternoon. But, even with those challenges, I was in love.

Thus, my 20-year long hobby of "installing every Linux distribution I can get my grubby little hands on" was born—right there on Microsoft's main campus, using funds I earned from my job at Microsoft, on Microsoft-owned hardware, using Microsoft-supplied electricity and company time.

Shh. Don't tell Ballmer.

From that point onward, one of the things about Linux that always has made me smile is the wide variety of distributions out there in the world. There seems to be one custom-made for every man, woman and child on planet Earth.

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Categories: Linux News

Google Gains Approval to Launch Project Soli, Sony's New 3D Sensors for Face Recognition, the GIMP Team Looks Back at 2018 and Shares Plans for 2019, Thunderbird Also Publishes a Retrospective and Look Forward, and xfce4-panel 4.13.4 Was Released

Linux Journal - Wed, 01/02/2019 - 09:07

News briefs for January 2, 2019.

Google has received approval from the FCC to launch Project Soli, a radar-based motion-sensing device. Reuters reports that the FCC "would grant Google a waiver to operate the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated aboard aircraft. The FCC said the decision 'will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology.'" Originally Facebook had voiced concern that "the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies."

Sony is set to produce the "next generation of visual-processing chips with a set of new 3D sensors". According to The Verge, "the most intriguing aspect of this new tech would appear to be a better form of face identification than we currently have". In addition, Sony's 3D sensor "is said to deploy laser pulses, which, much like a bat's echolocation, creates a depth map of its surroundings by measuring how long a pulse takes to bounce back. Sony's sensor chief argues this produces more detailed models of users' faces, plus it apparently works from as far away as five meters (16 feet)."

The GIMP team has posted look back at 2018 and an outline showing future plans for GIMP, GEGL and babl. Development has been focusing on refactoring, usability, smart colorization, extension management and more. The team plans to ship 2.10.x updates throughout 2019 and version 2.10.10 should be out this month or next. See the blog post for ways you can contribute.

The Thunderbird team has also published a 2018 retrospective and a look at what's ahead for the new year. The team has added more full-time staff members, and they are focusing on "making Thunderbird fly faster" and making a "more beautiful (and useable) Thunderbird". See the Mozilla blog for all the details.

xfce4-panel 4.13.4 was released today. According to the Simon's Secret blog post, this release includes a new plugin icon size feature, correct menu positioning, tasklist fixes and small theming updates. You can get it from here.

Google Sony GIMP Thunderbird XFCE News
Categories: Linux News

Linux Thursday - Dec 27, 2018

Linux Journal - Mon, 12/31/2018 - 14:50

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Categories: Linux News

F2FS Filesystem Enhancements (for Pixel Devices), Wine HQ Dev Release, Gzip v1.10, VideoLan v3.0.5, KaOS Linux Distro v2018.12

Linux Journal - Mon, 12/31/2018 - 08:53

To start things off, a ton of bug fixes alongside a few enhancements are coming to the F2FS filesystem (for Pixel devices) in the the Linux 4.21 kernel.

Wine HQ just officially announced the development release of version 4.0 RC4 which also boasts numerous bug fixes.

The release of Gzip version 1.10 has been announced on the Savannah community site.

All while VideoLAN published VLC version 3.0.5.

In distribution news, KaOS, the rolling release Linux distribution, just pushed out version 2018.12.

News
Categories: Linux News

The State of Desktop Linux 2019

Linux Journal - Mon, 12/31/2018 - 07:30
by Bryan Lunduke

A snapshot of the current state of Desktop Linux at the start of 2019—with comparison charts and a roundtable Q&A with the leaders of three top Linux distributions.

I've never been able to stay in one place for long—at least in terms of which Linux distribution I call home. In my time as a self-identified "Linux Person", I've bounced around between a number of truly excellent ones. In my early days, I picked up boxed copies of S.u.S.E. (back before they made the U uppercase and dropped the dots entirely) and Red Hat Linux (before Fedora was a thing) from store shelves at various software outlets.

Side note: remember when we used to buy Operating Systems—and even most software—in actual boxes, with actual physical media and actual printed manuals? I still have big printed manuals for a few early Linux versions, which, back then, were necessary for getting just about everything working (from X11 to networking and sound). Heck, sometimes simply getting a successful boot required a few trips through those heavy manuals. Ah, those were the days.

Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE—I spent a good amount of time living in the biggest distributions around (and many others). All of them were fantastic. Truly stellar. Yet, each had their own quirks and peculiarities.

As I bounced from distro to distro, I developed a strong attachment to just about all of them, learning, as I went, to appreciate each for what it was. Just the same, when asked which distribution I recommend to others, my brain begins to melt down. Offering any single recommendation feels simply inadequate.

Choosing which one to call home, even if simply on a secondary PC, is a deeply personal choice.

Maybe you have an aging desktop computer with limited RAM and an older, but still absolutely functional, CPU. You're going to need something light on system resources that runs on 32-bit processors.

Or, perhaps you work with a wide variety of hardware architectures and need a single operating system that works well on all of them—and standardizing on a single Linux distribution would make it easier for you to administer and update all of them. But what options even are available?

To help make this process a bit easier, I've put together a handy set of charts and graphs to let you quickly glance and find the one that fits your needs (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1. Distribution Comparison Chart I

Figure 2. Distribution Comparison Chart II

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Categories: Linux News

Weekend Reading: Multimedia

Linux Journal - Sat, 12/29/2018 - 07:45
by Carlie Fairchild

Put the fun back in computing. With this weekend's reading, we encourage you to build yourself an internet radio station, create your own Audible or even live-stream your pets on YouTube. Sky's the limit with Linux. Enjoy!

 

Building Your Own Audible

by Shawn Powers

I have audiobooks from a variety of sources, which I've purchased in a variety of ways. I have some graphic audio books in MP3 format, a bunch of Audible books in their DRM'd format and ripped CDs varying from m4b (Apple format for books) to MP3 and even some OGG. That diversity makes choosing a listening platform difficult. Here I take a quick look at some options for streaming audio books.

 

Linux Gets Loud

by Joshua Curry

Linux is ready for prime time when it comes to music production. New offerings from Linux audio developers are pushing creative and technical boundaries. And, with the maturity of the Linux desktop and growth of standards-based hardware setups, making music with Linux has never been easier.

 

Using gphoto2 to Automate Taking Pictures

by Shawn Powers

With my obsession—er, I mean hobby—regarding BirdCam, I've explored a great number of camera options. Whether that means trying to get Raspberry Pi cameras to focus for a macro shot of a feeder or adjusting depth of field to blur out the neighbor's shed, I've fiddled with just about every webcam setting there is. Unfortunately, when it comes to lens options, nothing beats a DSLR for quality. Thankfully, there's an app for that.

 

Creating an Internet Radio Station with Icecast and Liquidsoap

by Bill Dengler

Ever wanted to stream prerecorded music or a live event, such as a lecture or concert for an internet audience? With Icecast and Liquidsoap, you can set up a full-featured, flexible internet radio station using free software and open standards.

 

Live Stream Your Pets with Linux and YouTube!

by Shawn Powers

Anyone who reads Linux Journal knows about my fascination with birdwatching. I've created my own weatherproof video cameras with a Raspberry Pi. I've posted instructions on how to create your own automatically updating camera image page with JavaScript. Heck, I even learned CSS so I could make a mobile-friendly version of BirdCam that filled the screen in landscape mode.

 

Nativ Vita

by James Gray

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Categories: Linux News

Freescale and NXP PowerPC Microprocessors Protected Against Spectre, Chromebook to Support Dual-Boot Mode, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Game Kickstarted Campaign Cancels Linux Port

Linux Journal - Fri, 12/28/2018 - 10:42

One year later, the Freescale and NXP PowerPC microprocessors are now protected against the variant 2 of the Spectre vulnerability.

For those who absolutely need those one or two applications from Windows, the Chromebook will soon officially supports a dual-boot mode in which users can install both Windows and Chrome OS side-by-side. Unlike the Linux app support within Chrome OS, this new feature will allow you to run one of operating systems at a time.

In upsetting news, Koji Igarashi's Kickstarter campaign for his yet-to-be released game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, has officially announced that the ports to both the Mac OS and Linux are now cancelled. Bloodstained is a Castlevania clone and I personally funded it, so I am extremely upset myself.

News
Categories: Linux News

The Ceph Foundation and Building a Community: an Interview with SUSE

Linux Journal - Fri, 12/28/2018 - 08:00
by Petros Koutoupis

On November 12 at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, Germany, the Linux foundation formally announced the Ceph Foundation. Present at this same summit were key individuals from SUSE and the SUSE Enterprise Storage team. For those less familiar with the SUSE Enterprise Storage product line, it is entirely powered by Ceph technology.

With Ceph, data is treated and stored like objects. This is unlike traditional (and legacy) data storage solutions, where data is written to and read from the storage volumes via sectors and at sector offsets (often referred to as blocks). When dealing with large amounts of large data, treating them as objects is the way to do it. It's also much easier to manage. In fact, this is how the cloud functions—with objects. This object-drive model enables Ceph for simplified scalability to meet consumer demand easily. These objects are replicated across an entire cluster of nodes, giving Ceph its fault-tolerance and further reducing single points of failure. The parent company of the project and its technology was acquired by Red Hat, Inc., in April 2014.

I was fortunate in that I was able to connect with a few key SUSE representatives for a quick Q & A, as it relates to this recent announcement. I spoke with Lars Marowsky-Brée, SUSE Distinguished Engineer and member of the governing board of the Ceph Foundation; Larry Morris, Senior Product Manager for SUSE Enterprise Storage; Sanjeet Singh, Solutions Owner for SUSE Enterprise Storage; and Michael Dilio, Product and Solutions Marketing Manager for SUSE Enterprise Storage.

Petros Koutoupis: How has IBM's recent Red Hat, Inc., acquisition announcement affected the Ceph project, and do you believe this is what led to the creation of the Ceph Foundation?

SUSE: With Ceph being an Open Source community project, there is no anticipated effect on the Ceph project as a result of the pending IBM acquisition of Red Hat. Discussions and planning of the Ceph foundation have been going on for some time and were not a result of the acquisition announcement.

PK: For some time, SUSE has been fully committed to the Ceph project and has even leveraged the same technology in its SUSE Enterprise Storage offering. Will these recent announcements impact both the offering and the customers using it?

SUSE: The Ceph Foundation news is a validation of the vibrancy of the Ceph community. There are 13 premier members, with SUSE being a founding and premier member.

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Categories: Linux News

Chrome OS To Test GPU Support for Linux Installed Apps, antiX Distro v17.3, OpenMandriva Project vLx4.0, Hummingboard CBi Released

Linux Journal - Thu, 12/27/2018 - 09:20

It seems that Chrome OS will soon start testing GPU support for Linux installed applications. This is good news for those who wish to run applications that require a bit more horsepower (e.g. games). You can view the code commits to these changes here.

Yesterday, the antiX Linux distribution announced the release of version 17.3. It boasts an updated kernel that better mitigates the L1TF/Foreshadow and Meltdown/Spectre vulnerabilities, bug fixes and package updates.

Along those same lines, the OpenMandriva project just announced the first Alpha release of version Lx 4.0.

SolidRun, a company focused on manufacturing Linux supported SBC and embedded boards, just announced the release of another addition to their Hummingboard series called the Hummingboard CBi. This new model swaps the original HDMI port for a CAN and serial ports and is tailor more for industrial use.

News
Categories: Linux News

More Roman Numerals and Bash

Linux Journal - Thu, 12/27/2018 - 07:30
by Dave Taylor

When in Rome: finishing the Roman numeral converter script.

In my last article, I started digging in to a classic computer science puzzle: converting Roman numerals to Arabic numerals. First off, it more accurately should be called Hindu-Arabic, and it's worth mentioning that it's believed to have been invented somewhere between the first and fourth century—a counting system based on 0..9 values.

The script I ended up with last time offered the basics of parsing a specified Roman numeral and converted each value into its decimal equivalent with this simple function:

mapit() { case $1 in I|i) value=1 ;; V|v) value=5 ;; X|x) value=10 ;; L|l) value=50 ;; C|c) value=100 ;; D|d) value=500 ;; M|m) value=1000 ;; * ) echo "Error: Value $1 unknown" >&2 ; exit 2 ;; esac }

Then I demonstrated a slick way to use the underutilized seq command to parse a string character by character, but the sad news is that you won't be able to use it for the final Roman numeral to Arabic numeral converter. Why? Because depending on the situation, the script sometimes will need to jump two ahead, and not just go left to right linearly, one character at a time.

Instead, you can build the main loop as a while loop:

while [ $index -lt $length ] ; do our code index=$(( $index + 1 )) done

There are two basic cases to think about in terms of solving this algorithmic puzzle: the subsequent value is greater than the current value, or it isn't—for example, IX versus II. The first is 9 (literally 1 subtracted from 10), and the second is 2. That's no surprise; you'll need to know both the current and next values within the script.

Sharp readers already will recognize that the last character in a sequence is a special case, because there won't be a next value available. I'm going to ignore the special case to start with, and I'll address it later in the code development. Stay tuned, sharpies!

Because Bash shell scripts don't have elegant in-line functions, the code to get the current and next values won't be value=mapit(romanchar), but it'll be a smidge clumsy with its use of the global variable value:

mapit ${romanvalue:index-1:1} currentval=$value mapit ${romanvalue:index:1} nextval=$value

It's key to realize that in the situation where the next value isn't greater than the current value (for example, MC), you can't automatically conclude that the next value isn't going to be part of a complex two-value sequence anyway. Like this: MCM. You can't just say M=1000 and C=500, so let's just convert it to 1500 and process the second M when we get to it. MCM=1900, not 2500!

The basic logic turns out to be pretty straightforward:

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Categories: Linux News

Temperature Monitoring Support for AMD Zen 2, PowerPC On-Chip Controller in 4.21 Kernel, Changes Coming in the MIPS Arena, 4MLinux Beta Release

Linux Journal - Wed, 12/26/2018 - 09:25

Temperature monitoring support for the AMD Zen 2 microprocessor is hitting the 4.21 Linux kernel.

The 4.21 kernel is also introducing the PowerPC On-Chip Controller (OCC), which reports sensor data ranging from temperatures to power. The same OCC hardware is available on IBM POWER platforms and more specifically, their POWER8 and POWER9 generation processors.

It doesn't stop there with the 4.21 kernel. A lot of changes are coming in the MIPS microprocessor arena. The changes are both large and small from removing floating point support and shrinking the kernel for the architecture (in preparation for nanoMIPS), alongside many other optimizations and changes. You can read the full list here.

4MLinux just released its beta release of version 28.0 for testing. It is expected that the stable release will be made available in March 2019.

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