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Game Review: Guard Duty

Linux Journal - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 11:15
by Marcel Gagné

Guard Duty from Sick Chicken Studios launches today! You can get it from Steam for $9.99.

It's a thousand years ago in the kingdom of Wrinklewood and you are Tondbert, a dwarf/huma-halfling palace guard. After a night of heavy drinking, most of which you're happy not to remember, not only do you wake up to discover you may have been responsible for getting the princess kidnapped by an evil wizard, but also your clothes and armor are missing, and after you fall from the tower where your tiny bedroom sits, you get stung by a swarm of angry wasps, your face is all swelled up, and nobody can understand the mumbles coming out of your mouth, so you get no respect from anyone—not that you ever did.

Welcome to Guard Duty and oddly enough, that's not where the game starts—a thousand years ago, I mean. It actually starts out in our future, in 2074 to be precise, a mostly unremarkable day except for that whole part about the destruction of the Earth and all.

I've spent several hours now, enjoying the sometimes frustrating new game, Guard Duty, from Sick Chicken Studios. Did I say "frustrating"? Because I meant it, but in a good way. The Sick Chicken people have spent way too many hours watching Monty Python and reading Terry Pratchett novels, and it shows. They also have a thing for golden-age point-and-click games, classic 320x240 resolution pixel art, all combined with comedic and sometimes touching storytelling.

Figure 1. Castle Wrinklewood and the Surrounding Countryside

As I said at the beginning of this review, the story starts, strangely enough, in our future where a demonic monstrosity sets out to bring the end of the world and the destruction of our planet. Like our hero of ancient times, named Tondbert, there's another knight of sorts, embarked on a quest to save what is left of mankind before there's nothing more to save. You get to meet him later, I'm told, though I'm still trying to get my halfling's ghost to stop feeling sorry for himself.

Figure 2. The Future, Right before the World Ends

What makes this particularly interesting is that your actions (or Tondbert's actions) in the past, will have an effect on what happens in the future, when you finally get there. How the threads of centuries wind their way into hero number two's battle is something I have yet to discover, but I'm seriously looking forward to working with him—once I rescue the princess, that is.

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Categories: Linux News

GNU Guix 1.0.0 Released, Season of Docs Announces 50 Participating Open-Source Organizations, Docker Enterprise 3.0 Beta Now Available, Nvidia and Red Hat Join the Academy Software Foundation and Red Hat Announces New Version of Red Hat Process Automation

Linux Journal - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 08:56

News briefs for May 2, 2019.

GNU Guix 1.0.0 was released today. This big 1.0 release is the result of seven years of development and contributions by more than 260 people. If you're not familiar with GNU Guix, "GNU Guix is a transactional package manager and an advanced distribution of the GNU system that respects user freedom. Guix can be used on top of any system running the kernel Linux, or it can be used as a standalone operating system distribution for i686, x86_64, ARMv7, and AArch64 machines." This version brings many new features, including a new VM image, a new "first-class, uniform mechanism to configure keyboard layout" and more than 1,100 packages added. From the announcement: "The release comes with ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries. Guix users can update by running guix pull."

Season of Docs announces 50 participating open-source organizations. The full list is here. From the Google Open Source blog: "Season of Docs brings together technical writers and open source projects to foster collaboration and improve documentation in the open source space. You can find out more about the program on the introduction page of the website. During the program, technical writers spend a few months working closely with an open source community. They bring their technical writing expertise to the project's documentation and, at the same time, learn about the open source project and new technologies." Technical writer applications open May 29, 2019.

The beta version of Docker Enterprise 3.0 made its debut yesterday at DockerCon. ItPro Today reports that "Being a major point release, the software previewed today arrives with plenty of new features under the hood, such as integration with Docker Desktop, expanded Kubernetes capabilities, and a system for rolling multi-container applications into a single package deployable to any infrastructure." The article notes that "Most of the improvements made to this release of Docker Enterprise are aimed at streamlining the process of building and managing containers to make things easier for DevOps teams. In addition, the company is making it possible for developers with limited command line skills to take full advantage of the platform's capabilities with the integration of Docker Enterprise Desktop."

Nvidia and Red Hat have joined the Academy Software Foundation, "a consortium that aims to help Hollywood with the adoption and development of open source tools". Variety reports that the foundation also has accepted OpenEXR and OpenCue, two open-source projects. OpenEXR was developed by Industrial Light and Magic originally as a "high-dynamic range file format", first used in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Men in Black II. OpenCue is an "open source render manager developed by Google Cloud in partnership with Sony Pictures Imageworks". The Linux Foundation and the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences founded the Academy Software Foundation last summer.

Red Hat announced the latest release Red Hat Process Automation today at Red Hat Summit. This new release introduces "new capabilities designed to address functional and knowledge gaps between IT developers and business analysts, enabling them to apply domain-specific expertise to the development of applications that automate processes and decisions to more rapidly adapt to a changing business environment". In addition, it "introduces a collaborative environment where individuals can make changes to project assets independently and simultaneously. Using these shared workspaces can lead to a more efficient, iterative and agile development process." The latest updates are available for customers at the Red Hat customer portal.

News GNU Guix Google Season of Docs Docker NVIDIA Red Hat
Categories: Linux News

The Kernel Issue

Linux Journal - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 10:00
by Bryan Lunduke

How much do you know about your kernel? Like really know?

Considering how critically important the Linux kernel is to the world—and, perhaps just as important, to our own personal computers and gadgets—it's rather amazing how little most people actually know about it.

There might as well be magical hamsters in there, pushing 1s and 0s around with their enchanted hamster gloves of computing power. How do kernels (in a general sense) actually work, anyway? How does one sit down and debug a specific Linux kernel issue? How does a kernel allocate and work with the memory in your computer? Those are questions most of us never need to ask—because Linux works.

Me, personally? Never submitted a single patch to the kernel. Not one.

I mean, sure. I've looked at little snippets of Linux kernel source code—mostly out of idle curiosity or to investigate a topic for a story. And I've compiled the kernel plenty of times to get one hardware driver or feature working. But, even so, my knowledge of the inner-workings of the kernel is mostly limited to "Linux power user" level.

So, it's time for a little kernel boot camp in this issue of Linux Journal to get a bit more up to speed.

Let's start with the basics. What is a kernel, and how, exactly, does a person go about making a brand-new one? Like...from scratch.

Linux Journal Editor at Large Petros Koutoupis previously has walked us through building a complete Linux distribution (starting from the very basics—see Part I and Part II). Now he does the same thing, but this time for building a brand-new kernel.

What tools are needed? What code must be written? Petros provides a step-by-step rundown of kernel building. In the end, you'll have a fully functional kernel (well, functional enough to boot a computer, at any rate) that you can build on further. Plus, you'll have a better understanding of how kernels actually work, which is pretty darn cool.

Moving back to Linux land, Frank Edwards gives a rundown on how the kernel handles memory: how virtual memory works and is structured, how the kernel reports memory usage and information to userland applications and the like. If you've ever wondered how the memory in your system is structured and interacted with by the applications and the kernel, give that a read.

Now that you know the basics of how to build a kernel, and a primer on how memory is used, let's turn to something directly practical for Linux developers and pro users: debugging Linux kernel panics.

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Categories: Linux News

Creative Commons Search Is Now Out of Beta, Dell Announces Two New Budget-Friendly Mobile Workstations, NS1 Releases Flamethrower, Scalyr Launches PowerQueries and High-Severity Hole Discovered in Oracle WebLogic

Linux Journal - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 08:40

News briefs for May 1, 2019.

CC Search is now out of beta, with more than 300 million images, "a major redesign, and faster, more relevant search". The Creative Commons blog post notes that "CC Search searches images across 19 collections pulled from open APIs and the Common Crawl dataset, including cultural works from museums (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art), graphic designs and art works (Behance, DeviantArt), photos from Flickr, and an initial set of CC0 3D designs from Thingiverse."

Dell yesterday announced two new mobile workstations, the Dell Precision 3540 and 3541. These new laptops "are budget-friendly machines with a smaller footprint and workstation-level performance". The 3540 is available now, with your choice of Ubuntu 18.04 or Windows 10, and it "comes with the essentials including the latest 4-core Intel Core 8th generation processors, up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, AMD Radeon Pro graphics with 2GB of dedicated memory, and 2TB of storage." The Precision 3541 will be available in late May and will "offer additional power, with 9th generation 8-core Intel Core and 6-core Intel Xeon processor options. It'll be available with next generation NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics with 4GB of dedicated memory. Boasting extreme battery life—quite possibly the longest battery life in its class—the system supports on-the-go productivity. As with the Precision 3540, the Precision 3541 comes with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and optional features to enhance security such as fingerprint and smartcard readers, an IR camera and our first-ever camera shutter."

NS1 recently released Flamethrower, "a lightweight, configurable open source tool for functional testing, benchmarking, and stress testing DNS servers and networks." According to HelpNetSecurity.com, "Flamethrower supports IPv4, IPv6, UDP, TCP, DNS over TLS, as well as experimental support for DNS over QUIC. It has a modular system for generating the queries used in the tests, allowing for rich and realistic test scenarios that can plug into automation pipelines. It simulates multiple concurrent clients and generates actionable metrics, including send and receive counts, timeouts, errors and data on minimum, maximum and average latency." You can get Flamethrower on GitHub.

Scalyr this week announced its first major GA product launch of the year: PowerQueries. From the announcement: "PowerQueries are a new set of data operations within Scalyr that give users the ability to transform and manipulate data on the fly. They let users seamlessly pivot from facet-based search to complex log search operations for complicated data sets, such as grouping, transformations, filtering and sorting, table lookups and joins, enabling them to create sophisticated data processing pipelines." See also Scalyr Founder Steve Newman's blog post for more information.

A "high-severity hole" in Oracle WebLogic was exploited for nine days before being discovered. Ars Technica reports that "Attackers have been actively exploiting a critical zero-day vulnerability in the widely used Oracle WebLogic server to install ransomware, with no clicking or other interaction necessary on the part of end users, researchers from Cisco Talos said on Tuesday." Oracle released an emergency patch. Patch now.

News creative commons Dell Laptops Flamethrower DNS Scalyr Security Oracle
Categories: Linux News

Purism Launches Librem One, a Suite of Privacy-Protecting, No-Track, No-Ad Apps and Services

Linux Journal - Tue, 04/30/2019 - 10:00
by Bryan Lunduke

Some time back, the folks from Purism sent me a question: "Would you like to record some voice-over for a little commercial we're making?"

"Sure," I say. "Why not?"

They give me a script, show me a rough cut of the footage, and I record a few lines. Easy peasy.

The only problem? The commercial was for something that I think is a really great idea. And, the finished commercial gave me a serious case of the giggles. Yet I couldn't tell anyone about it. I was sworn to secrecy.

For a person who runs his mouth for a living, secrecy isn't always so easy. Keeping my big, dumb mouth shut was downright painful. Painful, I say!

Luckily, I can now, as of today, spill the beans without getting into trouble.

Purism has just launched an online service it has dubbed "Librem One", which is, as Purism calls it, a "suite of apps and services designed to provide users with convenient alternatives to Big Tech products".

There are two components of Librem One that are offered free of cost (or, at least, choose your own price): Chat and Social Media.

The chat component—the aptly named "Librem Chat"—is built on Matrix (which I am also a big fan of) and includes end-to-end encrypted text chat plus audio and video chatting. And, since it's built on Matrix, it has access to all the other users on Matrix out there. Which may not be as big of a user pool as, say, Hangouts or something, but the user base is growing. Quickly.

The Social Media component is built using Activity Pub and Mastodon (a federated, free software social network system).

I want to pause right there a moment, because this is really interesting to me.

That means we now have a social media server that is supported via a subscription model.  Not advertisements. Not data collection. Subscription. Which, in my opinion, is just a much better way to build a social network that respects user data and privacy.

Plus, this solves one of the biggest problems with picking and utilizing a Mastodon server up until this point—that they've mostly been run by hobbyists in their spare time. Thus, servers could go up or down or lose data at any time (which happened to me more than once). A professionally administered Mastodon social-media server supported as part of a subscription online service? Heck yes.

Then there are the services that aren't part of the free (in cost) tier, the ones you'll need to pay to gain access to: Librem Mail (encrypted email), Librem Tunnel (a VPN service), and, according to the Purism folks, they have plans to add a few additional services to Librem One in the future:

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Categories: Linux News

Fedora 30 Is Here, Raspberry Pi Foundation Announces the Gender Balance in Computing Project, Open ZFS/ZFS On Linux Working on a Code of Conduct, Docker Hub Breach and Help Promote the Coming openSUSE Leap 15.1 Release

Linux Journal - Tue, 04/30/2019 - 08:38

News briefs for April 30, 2019.

Fedora 30 was released today. TechRepublic reports that this version brings some "quality-of-life improvements", such as the flicker-free boot process. It includes GNOME 3.32 with all new app icons, but it also includes Fedora spins for KDE, XFCE, LXQT, MATE-Compiz, Cinnamon, and LXDE. In addition, "New to Fedora 30 include packages for DeepinDE and Pantheon, the desktop environments used in Deepin Linux, called "the single most beautiful desktop on the market" by TechRepublic's Jack Wallen, as well as elementaryOS, which Wallen lauded as "spectacularly subtle." While these are only packages—requiring simple, though manual, installation—packaging these desktops is the first step to building a full independent spin." Go here to download, and see the full changelog here.

Raspberry Pi Foundation announces a consortium has been awarded £2.4 million for a new research project to investigate how to engage more girls in computing, as part of its work with the National Centre of Computing Education. The project is called Gender Balance in Computing and "is a collaboration between the consortium of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, STEM Learning, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and the Behavioural Insights Team". Here's how it will work: "Gender Balance in Computing will develop and roll out several projects that aim to increase the number of girls choosing to study a computing subject at GCSE and A level. The consortium has already identified some of the possible reasons why a large percentage of girls don't consider computing as the right choice for further study and potential careers. These include: feeling that they don't belong in the subject; not being sufficiently encouraged; and feeling that computing is not relevant to them. We will go on to research and pilot a series of new interventions, with each focusing on addressing a different barrier to girls' participation."

OpenZFS/ZFS On Linux is working on a code of conduct to help encourage new contributors. According to Phoronix, "The OpenZFS Code of Conduct would apply to OpenZFS, ZFS On Linux, ZFS On OSX, and ZFS On Windows projects. They are working on this CoC to ensure 'The OpenZFS community values respectful, welcoming behavior towards everyone. This enables our members to thrive and contribute, and encourages new participants to join our community.'" You can read the draft here.

There was a Docker Hub breach recently that impacted 190,000 accounts. eWeek reports that the breach was first reported on April 26, and was discovered the day before. From Director of Docker Support Kent Lamb's email to Docker Hub users: "During a brief period of unauthorized access to a Docker Hub database, sensitive data from approximately 190,000 accounts may have been exposed (less than 5% of Hub users). Data includes usernames and hashed passwords for a small percentage of these users, as well as GitHub and Bitbucket tokens for Docker autobuilds." Docker recommends that impacted users "change their Docker Hub account passwords, review GitHub activity, and unlink and then relink GitHub access."

You can help promote the openSUSE Leap 15.1 release, which is about 3 weeks away. Go here for a counter, or you can get artwork here.

News Fedora Distributions Raspberry Pi Open ZFS ZFS On Linux Code of Conduct Docker Security openSUSE
Categories: Linux News

A Conversation with Kernel Developers from Intel, Red Hat and SUSE

Linux Journal - Tue, 04/30/2019 - 06:30
by Bryan Lunduke

Three kernel developers describe what it's really like to work on the kernel, how they interact with developers from other companies, some pet peeves and how to get started.

Like most Linux users, I rarely touch the actual code for the Linux kernel. Sure, I've looked at it. I've even compiled the kernel myself on a handful of occasions—sometimes to try out something new or simply to say I could do it ("Linux From Scratch" is a bit of a right of passage).

But, unless you're one of the Linux kernel developers, odds are you just don't get many opportunities to truly look "under the hood".

Likewise, I think for many Linux users (even the pro users, sysadmins and developers), the wild world of kernel development is a bit of a mystery. Sure, we have the publicly available Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML.org) that anyone is free to peruse for the latest features, discussions and (sometimes) shenanigans, but that gives only a glimpse at one aspect of being a kernel developer.

And, let's be honest, most of us simply don't have time to sift through the countless pull requests (and resulting discussions of said pull requests) that flood the LKML on a daily basis.

With that in mind, I reached out to three kernel developers—each working at some of the most prominent Linux contributing companies today—to ask them some basic questions that might provide a better idea of what being a Linux kernel developer is truly like: what their days look like and how they work with kernel developers at other companies.

Those three developers (in no particular order):

  • Dave Hansen, Principal Engineer, System Software Products at Intel.
  • Josh Poimboeuf, Principal Software Engineer on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  • Jeff Mahoney, Team Lead of Kernel Engineering at SUSE Labs.

Intel, Red Hat and SUSE—three of the top contributors of code to the Linux kernel. If anyone knows what it's like being a kernel developer, it's them.

I asked all three the exact same questions. Their answers are here, completely unmodified.

Bryan Lunduke: How long have you been working with the Linux kernel? What got you into it?

Dave Hansen (Intel): My first experience for the Linux kernel was a tiny little device driver to drive the eight-character display on an IBM PS/2, probably around 20 years ago. I mentioned the project on my college resume, which eventually led to a job with IBM's Linux Technology Center in 2001. IBM is where I started doing the Linux kernel professionally.

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Categories: Linux News

Episode 18: KidOYO

Linux Journal - Mon, 04/29/2019 - 14:43
Your browser does not support the audio element. Reality 2.0 - Episode 18: KidOYO

Doc Searls talks to Zhen, Devon and Melora Lofretto of KidOYO and Doctor Michael Nagler, superintendent of the Mineola Public School system in Mineola  Long Island.

Links Mentioned:

 

Categories: Linux News

Apache Bug Lets Attackers Gain Root Access

Linux Journal - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:06

Apache HTTP web server users are being urged to update their servers to patch for a critical vulnerability that could give an attacker a way to gain root access. Researcher Charles Fol discovered the vulnerability and writes about it in detail here: https://cfreal.github.io/carpe-diem-cve-2019-0211-apache-local-root.html.

Apache
Categories: Linux News

Google Won't Allow DRM in an Open-Source Project, Collabora Announces the SPURV Project, WPS Office for Linux Version 11 Released, PyCharm 2019.1.1 Now Available, and KDE Plasma 5.15.4 Brings Many Bug Fixes and Improvements

Linux Journal - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 08:58

News briefs for April 4, 2019.

Google won't allow DRM in an open-source project. Samuel Maddock is building a browser called Metastream, an "Electron-based (Chromium derived), MIT-licensed browser hosted on GitHub. Its main feature is the ability to playback videos on the web, synchronized with other peers. Each client runs its own instance of the Metastream browser and transmits playback information to keep them in sync—no audio or video content is sent." He sent a request to Google for a license to implement Widevine in his browser, and received this reply, "I'm sorry but we're not supporting an open source solution like this", four months later. See also "After years of insisting that DRM in HTML wouldn't block open source implementations, Google says it won't support open source implementations" by Cory Doctorow for more on the story.

Collabora recently announced a new project called SPURV, which allows you to "run Android applications in the same graphical environment as regular Wayland Linux applications with full 3D acceleration." The announcement also notes that "For current non-Android systems, this work enables a path forward to running Android applications in the same graphical environment as traditional non-Android applications are run." Full build instructions are available on GitLab.

WPS Office for Linux version 11 (2019) was released recently. Linux Uprising reports that the new version of the office suite includes "support for high resolution screens, skin support, and interface updates." See the WPS Community site to download the Linux version.

PyCharm 2019.1.1 is now available. From the announcement: "PyCharm is the first JetBrains IDE to ship with the new JDK 11. This brings us improved performance and better rendering for our Jupyter Notebooks. Unfortunately, it also means that we ran into a couple of teething issues with the new JDK."

KDE Plasma 5.15.4 was released this week with more than three dozen bug fixes and improvements. According to Softpedia News, highlights of this release include "improvements to the Flatpak and Fwupd (firmware update) backends in the Plasma Discover package manager, better support for the latest Nvidia graphics drivers in the KWin window and composite manager, along with proper support for restoring the current desktop from session." See also the release announcement at KDE.org for more information and links to live images and downloads.

News Google open source drm Collabora Android Wayland WPS Office PyCharm KDE Plasma
Categories: Linux News

Open Source Is Winning, and Now It's Time for People to Win Too

Linux Journal - Thu, 04/04/2019 - 08:11
by Reuven M. Lerner

Teaching kids about open source? Don't forget to teach them ethics as well.

Back when I started college, in the fall of 1988, I was introduced to a text editor called Emacs. Actually, it wasn't just called Emacs; it was called "GNU Emacs". The "GNU" part, I soon learned, referred to something called "free software", which was about far more than the fact that it was free of charge. The GNU folks talked about software with extreme intensity, as if the fate of the entire world rested on the success of their software replacing its commercial competition.

Those of us who used such programs, either from GNU or from other, similarly freely licensed software, knew that we were using high-quality code. But to our colleagues at school and work, we were a bit weird, trusting our work to software that wasn't backed by a large, commercial company. (I still remember, as a college intern at HP, telling the others in my group that I had compiled, installed and started to use a new shell known as "bash", which was better than the "k shell" we all were using. Their response was somewhere between bemusement and horror.)

As time went on, I started to use a growing number of programs that fit into this "free software" definition—Linux, Perl and Python were the stars, but plenty of others existed, from Emacs (which I use to this day), sendmail (pretty much the only SMTP server at the time), DNS libraries and the like. In 1998, Tim O'Reilly decided that although the "free software" cause was good, it needed better coordination and marketing. Thus, the term "open source" was popularized, stressing the practical benefits over the philosophical and societal ones.

I was already consulting at the time, regularly fighting an uphill battle with clients—small startups and large multinationals alike—telling them that yes, I trusted code that didn't cost money, could be modified by anyone and was developed by volunteers.

But marketing, believe it or not, really does work. And the term "open source" did a great job of opening many people's minds. Slowly but surely, things started to change: IBM announced that it would invest huge amounts of money in Linux and open-source software. Apache, which had started life as an httpd server, became a foundation that sponsored a growing array of open-source projects. Netscape tumbled as quickly as it had grown, releasing its Mozilla browser as open-source software (and with its own foundation) before going bust. Red Hat proved that you could have a successful open-source company based on selling high-quality services and support. And these are just the most prominent names.

With every announcement, the resistance to using open source in commercial companies dropped bit more. As companies realized that others were depending on open source, they agreed to use it too.

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Categories: Linux News

Fedora 30 Beta Released, Chef Releasing All of Its Software as Open Source, elementary Adopting Flatpak for AppCenter, Unreal Engine 4.22 Now Available and VMware Lawsuit Dropped

Linux Journal - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 08:36

News briefs for April 3, 2019.

Fedora 30 Beta was released yesterday. Highlights include new desktop environment choices, DNF performance improvements, GNOME 3.32 and updated versions of many packages, such as Golang, Bash, Python and more. For more details, see the Fedora 30 Change set.

Chef has announced it is releasing all of its software as open source. According to DevOps.com, "Chef has decided to open source its entire portfolio of IT automation software as part of an effort to make it easier for organizations to construct a DevOps pipeline using the company's software. A part of that effort, Chef also launched the Chef Enterprise Automation Stack—which combines Chef Infra for managing infrastructure, Chef InSpec for maintaining compliance, Chef Habitat for managing applications, Chef Automate for managing hybrid clouds and Chef Workstation, a starter kit for launching Chef—within a single distribution of Chef software. Chef Infra is the original Chef project around which the company was launched."

elementary announced it is adopting Flatpak for AppCenter and its third-party developer ecosystem. The post makes clear that "while Flathub is a great place to get popular cross-platform apps, we still want AppCenter to be the best place to get apps that are specially developed for elementary OS." Also from the announcement: "Moving to Flatpak doesn't mean moving away from our focus on native apps, from enabling developers to get paid with pay-what-you-want downloads, or from the online AppCenter Dashboard where each app is carefully tested, reviewed, and curated before being published to users in AppCenter. We'll be providing our own hosted and curated Flatpak repo for AppCenter, much like we provide our own hosted and curated Debian repo today."

Unreal Engine 4.22 is now available. Major features with this new release include real-time ray tracing and path tracing, high-level rendering refactor, C++ iteration time improvements and much more. According to the Unreal Engine announcement, "This release includes 174 improvements submitted by the incredible community of Unreal Engine developers on GitHub!"

Linux developer Christopher Helwig has dropped the VMware lawsuit after a German court dismissed the case. ZDNet reports that "after the German Hamburg Higher Regional Court dismissed Helwig's appeal, he has decided that it would be pointless to appeal the decision." ZDNet summarized the background: "The heart of the lawsuit had been that Hypervisor vSphere VMware ESXi 5.5.0 violated Linux's copyright. That's because VMware had not licensed a derivative work from Linux under the GNU General Public License (GPL). True, VMware had disclosed the vmklinux component under the GPL, but not the associated hypervisor components. Or, as Helwig put it, 'VMware uses a badly hacked 2.4 kernel with a big binary blob hooked into it, giving a derived work of the Linux kernel that's not legally redistributable.'" See the article for more details on the history of the case.

News Fedora GNOME Chef DevOps elementary OS Unreal Engine VMware
Categories: Linux News

What Linux Journal's Resurrection Taught Me about the FOSS Community

Linux Journal - Wed, 04/03/2019 - 06:30
by Kyle Rankin

"Marley was dead, to begin with."—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

As you surely know by now, Linux Journal started in 1994, which means it has been around for most of the Linux story. A lot has changed since then, and it's not surprising that Linux and the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community are very different today from what they were for Linux Journal's first issue 25 years ago. The changes within the community during this time had a direct impact on Linux Journal and contributed to its death, making Linux Journal's story a good lens through which to view the overall story of the FOSS community. Although I haven't been with Linux Journal since the beginning, I was there during the heyday, the stroke, the decline, the death and the resurrection. This article is about that story and what it says about how the FOSS community has changed.

It's also a pretty personal story.

A Bit about Me

Although it's true that I sometimes write about personal projects in my articles and may disclose some personal details from time to time, I generally try not to talk too much about my personal life, but as it's useful to frame this story, here we go. I grew up in an era when personal computers were quite expensive (even more so, now that I account for inflation), and it wasn't very common to grow up with one in your home.

In high school, I took my first computer class in BASIC programming. This class fundamentally changed me. Early on in the class I knew that I wanted to change any past career plans and work with computers instead. My family noticed this change, and my grandparents and mother found the money to buy my first computer: a Tandy 1000 RLX. Although there certainly were flashier or more popular computers, it did come with a hard drive (40MB!), which was still pretty novel at the time. Every time I learned a new BASIC command in school, I would spend the following evenings at home figuring out every way I could use that new-found knowledge in my own software.

I never got internet access during high school (my mom saw the movie WarGames and was worried if I had internet access, I might accidentally trigger a house call from the FBI). This just made it all the more exciting when I went to college and not only got a modern computer, but also high-speed campus internet! Like most people, I was tempted to experiment in college. In my case, in 1998 a neighbor in my dorm brought over a series of Red Hat 5.1 floppies (the original 5.1, not RHEL) and set up a dual-boot environment on my computer. The first install was free.

Desktop Linux in the Late 1990s

If you weren't around during the late 1990s, you may not realize just how different Linux was back then, but hopefully a screenshot of my desktop will help illustrate (Figure 1).

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Categories: Linux News

25 Years Later: Interview with Linus Torvalds

Linux Journal - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 12:59
by Robert Young

Linux Journal's very first issue featured an interview between LJ's first Publisher, Robert Young (who went on to co-found Red Hat among other things), and Linus Torvalds (author of the Linux kernel). After 25 years, we thought it'd be interesting to get the two of them together again. You can read that first interview from 1994 here.

Interview: Linus Torvalds and Robert Young

Robert Young: It is a great pleasure to have an excuse to reach out to you. How are you and your family? Your kids must be through college by now. Nancy and I and our three daughters are all doing well. Our eldest, Zoe, who was 11 when Marc and I started Red Hat, is expecting her second child—meaning I'm a grandparent.

Linus Torvalds: None of my kids are actually done with college yet, although Patricia (oldest) will graduate this May. And Celeste (youngest) is in her senior year of high school, so we'll be empty-nesters in about six months.

All three are doing fine, and I suspect/hope it will be a few years until the grandparent thing happens.

Bob: When I first interviewed you back in 1994, did you think that you'd be still maintaining this thing in 2019?

Linus: I think that by 1994 I had already become surprised that my latest project hadn't just been another "do something interesting until it does everything I needed, and then find something else to do" project. Sure, it was fairly early in the development, but it had already been something that I had spent a few years on by then, and had already become something with its own life.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is not that I necessarily expected to do it for another few decades, but that it had already passed the bump of becoming something fairly big in my life. I've never really had a long-term plan for Linux, and I have taken things one day at a time rather than worry about something five or ten years down the line.

Bob: There is a famous old quote about the danger of achieving your dreams—your running joke back in the day when asked about your future goals for Linux was "world domination". Now that you and the broader Open Source/Free Software community have achieved that, what's next?

Linus: Well, I stopped doing the "world domination" joke long ago, because it seemed to become less of a joke as time went on. But it always was a joke, and it wasn't why I (or any of the other developers) really did what we did anyway. It was always about just making better technology and having interesting challenges.

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Free to All: 25th Anniversary Issue of Linux Journal, Download Now

Linux Journal - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 10:24

We feel in the mood to celebrate. Free 25th Anniversary Issue of Linux Journal for everyone! Follow this link to get yours: https://www.linuxjournal.com/free_issue 

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Categories: Linux News

The 25th Anniversary Issue

Linux Journal - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 09:12
by Bryan Lunduke

"Linux is an independent implementation of the POSIX operating system specification (basically a public specification of much of the Unix operating system) that has been written entirely from scratch. Linux currently works on IBM PC compatibles with an ISA or EISA bus and a 386 or higher processor. The Linux kernel was written by Linus Torvalds from Finland, and by other volunteers."

Thus begins the very first Letter from the Editor (written by Phil Hughes), in the very first issue of Linux Journal, published in the March/April issue in 1994...25 years ago—coinciding, as fate would have it, with the 1.0.0 release of the Linux kernel itself (on March 14th).

A quarter of a century.

Back when that first issue was published, Microsoft hadn't yet released Windows 95 (version 3.11 running on MS-DOS still dominated home computing). The Commodore Amiga line of computers was still being produced and sold. The music billboards were topped by the likes of Toni Braxton, Ace of Base and Boyz II Men. If you were born the day Linux Journal debuted, by now you'd be a full-grown adult, possibly with three kids, a dog and a mortgage.

Yeah, it was a while ago. (It's okay to take a break and feel old now.)

In that first issue, Robert Young (who, aside from being one of the founders of Linux Journal, you also might recognize as the founder of Red Hat) had an interview with Linus Torvalds.

During the interview, Linus talked about his hope to one day "make a living off this", that he'd guesstimate Linux has "a user base of about 50,000", and the new port of Linux to Amiga computers.

A lot changes in a quarter century, eh?

To mark this momentous occasion, we've reunited Robert Young with Linus Torvalds for a new interview—filled with Linus' thoughts on family, changes since 1994, his dislike of Social Media, and a whole lot more. It is, without a doubt, a fun read. (We're also republishing the complete original 1994 interview in this issue for reference.)

And, if you're curious about the history of Linux Journal, Kyle Rankin's "What Linux Journal's Resurrection Taught Me about the FOSS Community" provides an excellent—and highly personal—look over the last roughly 20 years of not just Linux Journal, but of Linux and free software itself. He even includes pictures of his ahem "super-leet Desktop from 1999". How can you go wrong?

Then we thought to ourselves, "How do we celebrate 25 years of talking about Linux?" The answer was obvious: by looking to the future—to where we (the Linux community) are going. And what better way to understand the future of Linux than to talk to the kids who will shape the world of Linux (and free and open-source software) to come.

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Official Raspberry Pi Mouse and Keyboard Now Available, SUSE to Become Largest Independent Linux Company, Google Fixed Two Critical Android Security Vulnerabilities, Canonical Announces AWS IoT Greengrass as a Snap and Qt 3D Studio 2.3 Released

Linux Journal - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 08:51

News briefs for April 2, 2019.

The official Raspberry Pi keyboard and mouse are now available. You can purchase them now from approved Raspberry Pi resellers. The keyboard is available in six layouts (English (UK), English (US), Spanish, French, German and Italian) with more in the works. The mouse is a " three-button, scroll-wheel optical device with Raspberry Pi logos on the base and cable, coloured to match the Pi case". View a video of the products for more details.

SUSE is on track to become the largest independent Linux company. ZDNet reports that this is due to IBM acquiring Red Hat and SUSE's growth for the past seven straight years. The ZDNet post quotes SUSE CEO Nils Braukmann, "We believe that makes our status as a truly independent open source company more important than ever. Our genuinely open-source solutions, flexible business practices, lack of enforced vendor lock-in, and exceptional service are more critical to customer and partner organizations, and our independence coincides with our single-minded focus on delivering what is best for them."

Google fixed two critical security vulnerabilities in yesterday's 2019-04-01 patch level. According to Bleeping Computer, the issues CVE-2019-2027 and CVE-2019-2028 "are critical vulnerabilities impacting the Media framework which could allow potential remote attackers to make use of specially crafted files 'to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process.'" These vulnerabilities impact all Android 7.0 or later devices, but users should be safe after applying the latest patch.

Canonical released AWS IoT Greengrass as a snap today. The AWS IoT Greengrass software "brings local compute, messaging, data caching, sync, and ML inference capabilities to your IoT device. IoT and embedded developers can now easily install and get started with IoT Greengrass in seconds on an ever-expanding list of Linux distributions. By combining IoT Greengrass as a snap and Ubuntu Core, an IoT-focused OS built entirely from snaps, device manufacturers and system integrators can build an IoT appliance in weeks with no compromise on security and long-term support." You can get the snap here.

Qt 3D Studio 2.3 was released yesterday. This version introduces a new font rendering engine, Variant Tags and several performance improvements. See the Qt 3D Studio documentation page for more details.

News Raspberry Pi SUSE Google Android Security Canonical IOT Qt 3D Studio
Categories: Linux News

Free Penguin Party Stickers!

Linux Journal - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 09:57
by Carlie Fairchild

Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address below to receive free Penguin Party 3"x4" stickers!

Linux Journal

9597 Jones Rd, #331

Houston, TX 77065

USA

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Linux Kernel 5.1-rc3 Is Out, Gmail Turns 15, UbuntuMATE 18.04 Beta 1 for Raspberry Pi Is Now Available, Sabayon 19.03 Released and Debian Receives Handshake Donation

Linux Journal - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 09:09

News briefs for April 1, 2019.

Linux kernel 5.1-rc3 was released yesterday. Linus Tovalds writes, "The rc3 release is bigger than normal, which is obviously never anything I want to see, but at the same time it's early enough in the rc series that it's not something I really worry about. Yet. And while it's bigger, nothing really unusual stands out. The single biggest patch in there (by far - it's in fact about a third of the whole rc3 patch) is just removal of the mt7621-eth staging driver, which is because the regular mediatek ethernet driver now handles that hardware."

Gmail turns 15 today! See the Google Blog for details on new features: Smart Compose is getting smarter, and you now can schedule when emails are delivered to someone's mailbox.

UbuntuMATE 18.04 Beta 1 for Raspberry Pi has been released. Martin Wimpress writes that the beta is available for "Raspberry Pi Model B 2, 3 and 3+, with separate images for armhf (ARMv7 32-bit) and arm64 (ARMv8 64-bit). We have done what we can to optimise the builds for the Raspberry Pi without sacrificing the full desktop environment Ubuntu MATE provides on PC". High-level features include the Ubuntu kernel ("fully maintained by the Ubuntu Kernel and Security teams"), automatic online filesystem expansion, Ethernet and WiFi, Bluetooth, support for USB booting and much more. Go here to download.

Sabayon 19.03 was released yesterday. New features of the Gentoo-based distro include a new build infrastructure, full disk encryption support, support for 32-bit UEFI, Linux kernel 4.20, Python 3 and more. In addition, the project is working on a completely new wiki. You can Sabayon it from here.

Debian recently announced it received a $300,000 donation from Handshake. This contribution will "help Debian to continue the hardware replacement plan designed by the Debian System Administrators, renewing servers and other hardware components and thus making the development and community infrastructure of the Project more reliable."

News kernel Gmail Google Ubuntu MATE Raspberry Pi Sabayon Debian Handshake Distributions
Categories: Linux News

Linux Journal at 25

Linux Journal - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 06:30
by Doc Searls

It's been great. And we'll make it greater.

Most magazines have the life expectancy of a house plant.

Such was the betting line for Linux Journal when it started in April 1994. Our budget was a shoestring. The closest our owner, SSC (Specialized System Consultants) came to the magazine business was with the reference cards it published for UNIX, C, VI, Java, Bash and so on.

And Linux wasn't even our original focus. Phil Hughes, who ran SSC, wanted to start a free (as in speech, not beer) software magazine, which was hardly a big box office idea. I was a member of the email group doing the planning for that, which started, as I recall, in late 1993. Then, in early 1994, Phil announced to the group that he had made up his mind after finding "this Finnish kid" who had written a UNIX of sorts called Linux.

It was clear to Phil, and to approximately nobody else, that Linux was going to kick the ass of every UNIX in the world, plus all other operating systems as well, including the big one headquartered a few miles away from SSC's office in Seattle.

So maybe that's why Linux Journal is still here. We rode (while helping raise) the wave of ass-kicking that Linux has done in the world since our first issue, starting 25 years ago this month.

Our first publisher was Bob Young, who quickly left to leverage his on-the-job learnings into a Linux startup he called Red Hat. When I first met Bob, years later, I told him Phil said, "I taught Bob how to spell Linux." To my surprise, Bob replied, "That's true!"

Linux Journal for its first decade or so was headquartered in the Ballard district of Seattle and was very committed to on-site work. Though we had far-flung writers (Marcel Gagné in Montréal and Reuven Lerner in Israel), it was expected that those who could easily fly or drive to our offices would do that as often as they could. So I would fly up to Seattle from my home in the Bay Area, sometimes for a week per month. It was a very convivial and energetic scene.

Linux was a very hot item while the bubble gassed up. In fact, there was nothing hotter. The two biggest IPOs in 1999 were Red Hat and VA Linux. One wag observed that more VC money was spent on booths at Linux World Expos during that time than money was actually made in sales by the same companies. We reaped derivative benefits in the form of VC-funded advertising.

Then, when the dot-com bubble burst, most of our VC-based advertisers vanished overnight, and our losses were huge.

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