Linux Journal

UK Parliament Releases Facebook Document on the Handling of User Data, Australia Set to Give Law Enforcement Power to Access Encrypted Messages, Microsoft Open-Sourced Windows UI/UX Frameworks, Iridium Browser New Release and CrossOver 18.1 Now Available

2 months 1 week ago

News briefs for December 5, 2018.

The UK Parliament released a 250-page previously sealed Facebook document that reveals how the company handled crucial decisions regarding user data. The Verge reports that "In emails released as part of the cache, Facebook executives are shown dealing with other major tech companies on 'whitelisting' for its platform" and that according to British lawmaker Damian Collins "the agreements allowed the companies access to user data after new restrictions were put in place to end most companies' access. Companies offered access included Netflix and Airbnb, according to the emails." You can see the 250-page document here.

Australia plans to give law enforcement and intelligence agencies the ability to access encrypted messages on platforms like WhatsApp, putting public safety concerns ahead of personal privacy. Bloomberg reports that "Amid protests from companies such as Facebook Inc. and Google, the government and main opposition struck a deal on Tuesday that should see the legislation passed by parliament this week. Under the proposed powers, technology companies could be forced to help decrypt communications on popular messaging apps, or even build new functionality to help police access data."

Microsoft yesterday open-sourced Windows Forms, the WinUI (Windows UI Library) and WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation). According to Phoronix, the full source code is available on GitHub and the UI/UX frameworks are now open source under the MIT license. For more information, see this Windows blog post.

Iridium Browser recently released build 2018.11.71 for Debian-based systems. The new version is based on Chromium 71.0.3578.30, and it's available for Fedora and openSUSE as well. Iridium Browser is "Iridium Browser is based on the Chromium code base. All modifications enhance the privacy of the user and make sure that the latest and best secure technologies are used. Automatic transmission of partial queries, keywords and metrics to central services is prevented and only occurs with the approval of the user. In addition, all our builds are reproducible and modifications are auditable, setting the project ahead of other secure browser providers." You can download it from here.

CodeWeavers announced the release of CrossOver 18.1 yesterday for both Linux and macOS. According to the announcement, "CrossOver 18.1 restores controller support for Steam on both macOS and Linux. macOS customers with active support entitlements will be upgraded to CrossOver 18.1 the next time they launch CrossOver. Linux users can download the latest version from here.

News Privacy Facebook Australia Microsoft open source Iridium Browser Chromium crossover Codeweavers
Jill Franklin

Best Linux Marketing Campaigns

2 months 1 week ago
by Bryan Lunduke

I have long held the opinion that one of the biggest problems holding back Linux-based systems from dominating (market-share-wise) in the desktop computing space...is marketing. Our lack of attention-grabbing, hearts-and-minds-winning marketing is, in my oh-so-humble opinion, one of the most glaring weaknesses of the Free and Open Source Software world.

But, in a way, me saying that really isn't fair.

The reality is that we have had some truly fantastic marketing campaigns through the years. A few even managed to break outside of our own Linux-loving community. Let's take a stroll through a few of my favorites.

From my vantage point, the best marketing has come from two places: IBM (which is purchasing Red Hat) and SUSE. Let's do this chronologically.

IBM's "Peace. Love. Linux."

Back in 2001, IBM made a major investment in Linux. To promote that investment, obviously, an ad campaign must be launched! Something iconic! Something catchy! Something...potentially illegal!

Boy, did they nail it.

"Peace. Love. Linux." Represented by simple symbols: peace sign, a heart and a penguin, all in little circles next to each other. It was visually pleasing, and it promoted happiness (or, at least, peace and love). Brilliant!

IBM then paid to have more than 300 of these images spray-painted across sidewalks all over San Francisco. The paint was supposed to be biodegradable and wash away quickly. Unfortunately, that didn't happen—many of the stencils still were there months later.

And, according to the mayor, "Some were etched into the concrete, so, in those cases, they will never be removed."

The response from the city was...just as you'd expect.

After months of discussion, the City of San Francisco fined Big Blue $100,000, plus any additional cleanup costs, plus legal fees.

On the flip-side, the stories around it made for a heck of a lot of advertising!

IBM's "The Kid"

Remember the Linux Super Bowl ad from IBM? The one with the little boy sitting in a room of pure white light?

"He's learning. Absorbing. Getting smarter every day."

When that hit in 2004, it was like, whoa. Linux has made it. IBM made a Super Bowl ad about it!

"Does he have a name? His name...is Linux."

That campaign included Penny Marshall and Muhammad Ali. That's right. Laverne from Laverne & Shirley has endorsed Linux in a Super Bowl ad. Let that sink in for a moment.

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Bryan Lunduke

Epic Games Launching New Game Store, Microsoft Building a Chromium Browser, CentOS Releases CentOS Linux 7 (1810) on the x86_64 Architecture, Creative Commons Announces Changes to Certificate Program and New Version of the Commercial Zentyal Server

2 months 1 week ago

News briefs for December 4, 2018.

Epic Games today officially announced its own game store alternative to Steam. According to Phoronix, the Epic Games Store will be limited to Microsoft and macOS initially, but will be supporting Android and "other open platforms" throughout 2019.

Microsoft is building its own Chromium browser to replace Edge on Windows 10. The Verge reports that "Microsoft will announce its plans for a Chromium browser as soon as this week, in an effort to improve web compatibility for Windows." The Verge article also notes that "There were signs Microsoft was about to adopt Chromium onto Windows, as the company's engineers have been working with Google to support a version of Chrome on an ARM-powered Windows operating system."

CentOS announces the release of CentOS Linux 7 (1810) on the x86_64 architecture. The release announcement recommends that "every user apply all updates, including the content released today, on your existing CentOS Linux 7 machine by just running 'yum update'." See the release notes for more details.

Creative Commons announces changes to its CC Certificate program. CC is updating pricing, creating a scholarship program, building a CC Certificate Facilitator Training program, and is working to engage a more global, diverse community. To register for courses, go here.

Zentyal announces a major new version of the Commercial Zentyal Server Edition, Zentyal Server 6.0: "This new commercial version of Zentyal Server aims at offering an easy-to-use Linux alternative to Windows Server. It comes with native Microsoft Active Directory interoperability, together with all the network services required in corporate environments." The new version is based on Ubuntu Server 18.04.1 LTS, and release highlights include network authentication service, virtualization manager, user authentication in HTTP Proxy and more. To request a free 45-day trial, go here.

News gaming Microsoft Chromium CentOS creative commons Certification Zentyal
Jill Franklin

Removing Duplicate PATH Entries, Part II: the Rise of Perl

2 months 1 week ago
by Mitch Frazier

 

With apologies to Arnold and the Terminator franchise for the title, let's look one more time at removing duplicates from the PATH variable. This take on doing it was prompted by a comment from a reader named Shaun on the previous post that asked "if you're willing to use a non-bash solution (AWK) to solve the problem, why not use Perl?" Shaun was kind enough to provide a Perl version of the code, which was good, since I'd have been hard-pressed to come up with one. It's a short piece of code, shorter than the AWK version, so it seemed like it ought to be fairly easy to pick it apart. In the end, I'm not sure I'd call it easy, but it was interesting, and I thought other non-Perl programmers might find it interesting too.

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Mitch Frazier

NVIDIA Open-Sourcing PhysX, miniNodes Launching a Raspberry Pi 3 CoM Carrier Board, Linux Mint 19.1 Beta Now Available, Linux Kernel 4.20-rc5 Released and New F-Bomb Fixing Patch for Kernel

2 months 2 weeks ago

News briefs for December 3, 2018.

NVIDIA is open-sourcing its PhysX physics simulation engine. According to Phoronix, NVIDIA says ""We're doing this because physics simulation—long key to immersive games and entertainment—turns out to be more important than we ever thought. Physics simulation dovetails with AI, robotics and computer vision, self-driving vehicles, and high-performance computing." See also the NVIDIA blog for more details.

miniNodes is launching a new Raspberry Pi 3 CoM carrier board that will allow developers to create mini ARM clusters. ZDNet reports that the board has slots for five RPi 3s in order to "bring extreme edge compute capacity' to cramped spaces, industrial IoT applications, and remote villages". It also can be used " on the desktop for learning about compute clustering, Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, or development using Python, Arm, and Linux". The carrier board is available now for pre-order for $259 from miniNodes.

Linux Mint 19.1 beta is now available. This version features a new desktop layout and many other improvements. You can download it from here. Note that this is a beta version for testing and shouldn't be considered stable. (Source: OMG! Ubuntu!.)

Linux kernel 4.20-rc5 is out. Linus wrote "So it all looks a bit odd, although none of it is hugely _alarming_. One of the reasons the arch side is a bit bigger than usual at this stage is that we got the STIPB performance regression sorted out, for example." In addition, he addressed the timing of the final 4.20 release: "So my current suggestion is that we plan on a Christmas release, everybody gets their pull requests for the next merge window done *before* the holidays, and then we see what happens. I think we all want to have a calm holiday season without either the stress of a merge window _or_ the stress of prepping for one." (See the LKML for the full message.)

ZDNet reports that Jarkko Sakkinen, a kernel contributor from Intel, "has released a set of patches that conceal some of the f-bombs that Linux kernel developers have added to kernel code comments over the years." The patch set "addresses 15 components where 'fuck' or 'fucking' appeared in code comments, which have now been swapped out for a 'hugload of hugs'."

NVIDIA Raspberry Pi Linux Mint kernel Code of Conduct
Jill Franklin

Open Science Means Open Source--Or, at Least, It Should

2 months 2 weeks ago
by Glyn Moody

Why open source was actually invented in 1665.

When did open source begin? In February 1998, when the term was coined by Christine Peterson? Or in 1989, when Richard Stallman drew up the "subroutinized" GNU GPL? Or perhaps a little earlier, in 1985, when he created the GNU Emacs license? How about on March 6, 1665? On that day, the following paragraph appeared:

Whereas there is nothing more necessary for promoting the improvement of Philosophical Matters, than the communicating to such, as apply their Studies and Endeavours that way, such things as are discovered or put in practise by others; it is therefore thought fit to employ the Press, as the most proper way to gratifie those, whose engagement in such Studies, and delight in the advancement of Learning and profitable Discoveries, doth entitle them to the knowledge of what this Kingdom, or other parts of the World, do, from time to time, afford, as well of the progress of the Studies, Labours, and attempts of the Curious and learned in things of this kind, as of their compleat Discoveries and performances: To the end, that such Productions being clearly and truly communicated, desires after solid and usefull knowledge may be further entertained, ingenious Endeavours and Undertakings cherished, and those, addicted to and conversant in such matters, may be invited and encouraged to search, try, and find out new things, impart their knowledge to one another, and contribute what they can to the Grand design of improving Natural knowledge, and perfecting all Philosophical Arts, and Sciences.

Those words are to be found in the very first issue of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions, the oldest scientific journal in continuous publication in the world, which published key results by Newton and others. Just as important is the fact that it established key principles of science that we take for granted today, including the routine public sharing of techniques and results so that others can build on them—open source, in other words.

Given that science pretty much invented what we now call the open-source approach, it's rather ironic that the scientific community is currently re-discovering openness, in what is known as open science. The movement is being driven by a growing awareness that the passage from traditional, analog scientific methods, to ones permeated by digital technology, is no minor evolution. Instead, it brings fundamental changes to how science can—and should—be conducted.

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Glyn Moody

Linux Laptop Buyer's Guide

2 months 2 weeks ago
by Carlie Fairchild

We've tested the most promising laptops pre-installed with Linux, and featured reviews of them in our 2018 Linux Laptop Buyer's Guide. Download your copy now to read what you need to know when shopping for your next Linux laptop. 

In this special issue we review the:

  • Chromebook  
  • Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
  • Librem 13v2 
  • System76 Oryx 

We hope you enjoy!

PDF Download Link: https://www.linuxjournal.com/2018-buyers-guide

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Carlie Fairchild

KDE and Necuno Solutions Partner on the Open-Source Necuno Mobile, Fedora 27 Reaches End of Life, Artifact for Linux Now Available, Linux Goes to Mars and BlackArch Linux New Release

2 months 2 weeks ago

News briefs for November 30, 2018.

KDE and Necuno Solutions are partnering to offer Plasma Mobile on the Necuno Mobile, which is a device Necuno describes as "a truly open source hardware platform". From the KDE blog post: "With a focus on openness, security and privacy, the Necuno Mobile is built around an ARM Cortex-A9 NXP i.MX6 Quad and a Vivante GPU. According to Necuno, none of the closed firmware has access to the memory."

Fedora 27 has officially reached End of Life status, and its repositories will no longer receive security or bugfix updates. If you are still running Fedora 27, you should update now to Fedora 28 or 29.

The Artifact card game from Valve has officially been released for Linux. GamingOnLinux reports that this "exciting and addictive card game" is the "first Valve game to arrive with Linux support at release".

The CubeSat satellites that confirmed the successful landing of the Mars Insight lander on Mars earlier this week contained Gumxtix's Linux-driven Overo IronStorm-Y module and Caspa VL camera. According to Linux Gizmos, "the Mars Cube One (MarCO) satellites are the first CubeSats to have traveled beyond low Earth orbit. They also likely represent the farthest distance a Linux computer has traveled into space."

BlackArch Linux, the Penetration Testing Distribution, has just released new ISOs and OVA images. This release adds more than 150 new tools, includes a new version of installer and kernel 4.19.4. See the BlackArch Linux blog for the complete ChangeLog and download links.

News KDE Necuno Mobile Fedora gaming Embedded Gumstix Space BlackArch Linux Distributions Security
Jill Franklin

The High-Performance Computing Issue

2 months 2 weeks ago
by Bryan Lunduke

Since the dawn of computing, hardware engineers have had one goal that's stood out above all the rest: speed.

Sure, computers have many other important qualities (size, power consumption, price and so on), but nothing captures our attention like the never-ending quest for faster hardware (and software to power it). Faster drives. Faster RAM. Faster processors. Speed, speed and more speed. [Insert manly grunting sounds here.]

What's the first thing that happens when a new CPU is released? Benchmarks to compare it against the last batch of processors.

What happens when a graphics card is unveiled? Reviewers quickly load up whatever the most graphically demanding video game is and see just how it stacks up to the competition in frame-rate and resolution. Power and speed captures the attention of everyone from software engineers to gamers alike.

Nowhere is this never-ending quest for speed more apparent than in the high-performance computing (HPC) space. Built to handle some of the most computationally demanding work ever conceived by man, these supercomputers are growing faster by the day—and Linux is right there, powering just about all of them.

In this issue of Linux Journal, we take a stroll through the history of supercomputers, from its beginnings (long before Linux was a gleam in Linus Torvalds' eye...heck, long before Linus Torvalds was gleam in his parents' eyes) all the way to the present day where Linux absolutely dominates the Supercomputer and HPC world.

Then we take a deep dive into one of the most critical components of computing (affecting both desktop and supercomputers alike): storage.

Petros Koutoupis, Senior Platform Architect on IBM's Cloud Object Storage, creator of RapidDisk (Linux kernel modules for RAM drives and caching) and LJ Editor at Large, gives an overview of the history of computer storage leading up to the current, ultra-fast SSD and NVMe drives.

Once you're up to speed (see what I did there?) on NVMe storage, Petros then gives a detailed—step-by-step—walk-through of how to best utilize NVMe drives with Linux, including how to set up your system to have remote access to NVMe resources over a network, which is just plain cool.

Taking a break from talking about the fastest computers the Universe has ever known, let's turn our attention to a task that almost every single one of us tackles at least occasionally.

Photography.

Professional photographer Carlos Echenique provides an answer to the age-old question: is it possible for a professional photographer to use a FOSS-based workflow? (Spoiler: the answer is yes.)

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Bryan Lunduke

Auto-Download Linux Journal Each Month

2 months 2 weeks ago
by Mitch Frazier

There's an old saying, "anything worth doing, is worth automating"—or something like that. Downloading and reading Linux Journal always has been worth doing, and now you can automate it with our new autolj script, which you can get here.

Follow these few simple steps, and you can be downloading the PDF (or the .epub or the .mobi file) with the greatest of ease each month:

1) First download the script and save it somewhere; ~/bin is a good choice. You can name it whatever you like; it doesn't need to be called autolj.sh.

2) Open a terminal/shell and execute the following commands:

$ chmod +x ~/bin/autolj.sh $ ~/bin/autolj.sh --init Enter the email and zip/postal code associated with your Linux Journal subscription EMail: you@example.com # Enter your email address Zip : 88888 # Enter your zip/postal code Creating initial config file. Change your preferences in '/home/YOU/.config/autolj.cfg'. Sample crontab configuration is in '/home/YOU/.config/autolj.crontab'.

If you want to run the script from cron automatically each month, you can do this:

$ cp /home/YOU/.config/autolj.crontab mycrontab $ crontab -l >>mycrontab $ crontab

When you first run the script, use the --init command-line option to initialize the configuration file for the script. It will prompt for the email and zip/postal code associated with your Linux Journal subscription.

It saves that information in a file named ~/.config/autolj.cfg (if you saved the script with a different name, the base name of the config file will match the name that you saved the script under).

You can edit the configuration file with any text editor that you have on hand, or you can rerun the script with the --init option to re-create the config file (any existing changes that you've made will be lost).

The config file is a bash script that is sourced by the autolj script, so maintain valid bash syntax in the file. The config file contains a few other options that you may also want to change (the default value for each is shown):

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Mitch Frazier

Ubuntu Touch OTA-6 Call for Testing, openSUSE T-Shirt and Poster Design Contest, RISC-V Foundation Joins The Linux Foundation, Location Tracking in Android Violates GDPR and FSF Announces 18 GNU Releases

2 months 2 weeks ago

News briefs for November 29, 2018.

UBports announces a call for testing for Ubuntu Touch OTA-6. They are asking the community for feedback and have prepared a GitHub project for OTA-6 quality assurance. See the UBports blog for more info on how you can help with the testing and also to see what's new in the OTA-6 release, which is scheduled for December 7th.

openSUSE is having a t-shirt and poster design contest for the openSUSE Conference 2019, which is being held in Nuremberg, Germany. The contest begins December 1, 2018, and the deadline for entry is January 15, 2019.

The RISC-V Foundation, a non-profit that works to encourage adoption of the RISC-V architecture for chip design, has joined the Linux Foundation to help RISC-V grow its open-source ecosystem. FossBytes reports that to start, the two foundations are "aiming at preparing helpful guides to help Linux and Zephyr users get started with RISC-V. The initial guides are expected to be unveiled at the RISC-V Summit in Santa Clara on Dec. 3."

Seven European consumer organizations have filed a complaint that Google location tracking in Android "lacks a valid legal basis in the European Union". According to The Register, "At the heart of the complaint is that the user control of location tracking falls far short of what's required by the union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—the consent controls are both deceptive and ineffective."

The Free Software Foundation announces 18 GNU releases for the month (as of November 27th). Subscribe to the GNU mailing list for new GNU release announcements, and download GNU software from the GNU mirrors.

News Ubuntu Touch Mobile openSUSE RISC-V The Linux Foundation Google Android GDPR EU FSF GNU Linux
Jill Franklin

Linux and Supercomputers

2 months 2 weeks ago
by Bryan Lunduke

As we sit here, in the year Two Thousand and Eighteen (better known as "the future, where the robots live"), our beloved Linux is the undisputed king of supercomputing. Of the top 500 supercomputers in the world, approximately zero of them don't run Linux (give or take...zero).

The most complicated, powerful computers in the world—performing the most intense processing tasks ever devised by man—all rely on Linux. This is an amazing feat for the little Free Software Kernel That Could, and one heck of a great bragging point for Linux enthusiasts and developers across the globe.

But it wasn't always this way.

In fact, Linux wasn't even a blip on the supercomputing radar until the late 1990s. And, it took another decade for Linux to gain the dominant position in the fabled "Top 500" list of most powerful computers on the planet.

A Long, Strange Road

To understand how we got to this mind-blowingly amazing place in computing history, we need to go back to the beginning of "big, powerful computers"—or at least, much closer to it: the early 1950s.

Tony Bennett and Perry Como ruled the airwaves, The Day The Earth Stood Still was in theaters, I Love Lucy made its television debut, and holy moly, does that feel like a long time ago.

In this time, which we've established was a long, long time ago, a gentleman named Seymour Cray—whom I assume commuted to work on his penny-farthing and rather enjoyed a rousing game of hoop and stick—designed a machine for the Armed Forces Security Agency, which, only a few years before (in 1949), was created to handle cryptographic and electronic intelligence activities for the United States military. This new agency needed a more powerful machine, and Cray was just the man (hoop and stick or not) to build it.

Figure 1. Seymour Cray, Father of the Supercomputer (from http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-history-seymour-cray-s-mind-worked-at-super-computer-speed/289683511

This resulted in a machine known as the Atlas II.

Weighing a svelte 19 tons, the Atlas II was a groundbreaking powerhouse—one of the first computers to use Random Access Memory (aka "RAM") in the form of 36 Williams Tubes (Cathode Ray Tubes, like the ones in old CRT TVs and monitors, capable of storing 1024 bits of data each).

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Bryan Lunduke

RHEL for ARM Now Supported on AWS, Malicious Code Discovered in JavaScript Library to Steal Cryptocurrency, Red Hat Purchases NooBaa, Users Reporting EXT4 Filesystem Corruption Issues with Linux 4.19 and Rust's 2018 Survey

2 months 2 weeks ago

News briefs for November 28, 2018.

AWS announced Amazon EC2 A1 instances this week, the first AWS instances based on Arm architecture. And, yesterday Red Hat announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux for ARM AMIs are now available for Amazon EC2 A1: "this means that customers seeking to use a multi-architecture approach across the hybrid cloud can use the world's leading enterprise Linux platform to fuel their mission-critical workloads, even on Arm instances in AWS Cloud." Red Hat plans to make Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta for ARM accessible soon as well.

Malicious code that infected the Event-stream JavaScript library to steal cryptocurrency from digital wallets was discovered recently. FossBytes reports that the researchers investigating the code found that the "targets are libraries linked to Copay Bitcoin wallet app that is available for mobile as well as desktop users. The harmful code steals the coins in the Copay wallet and then tries to connect to copayapi.host with 111.90.151.134 IP address located in Malaysia." However, an updated version without the malicious code was posted about two months ago.

Red Hat purchases NooBaa, a hybrid-cloud, data-storage company. According to ZDNet, NooBaa provides "multi-cloud storage management, which enables allows you to manage, deploy, and migrate data storage across private and major public clouds. This includes Alibaba, AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud."

Users are reporting EXT4 filesystem corruption problems with Linux 4.19. According to Phoronix, "There was initially some belief it could have been due to the multi-queue block code (BLK MQ) code in Linux 4.19, but that appears to be ruled out. Unfortunately, EXT4 file-system maintainer Ted Ts'o has been unable to reproduce this corruption issue on his own hardware."

The Rust Team's 2018 Survey is now available. The survey shows a steady stream of new users to the Rust programming language (~23% started using it in the past three months) and also that 40% of users felt productive in Rust with less than one month of use. Python ranks number one as the language users are most familiar with. See the Rust 2018 Survey for all the results.

News Red Hat AWS Cloud JavaScript Cryptocurrency Security kernel EXT4 Rust Programming
Jill Franklin

Everything You Need to Know about Containers, Part III: Orchestration with Kubernetes

2 months 2 weeks ago
by Petros Koutoupis

A look at using Kubernetes to create, deploy and manage thousands of container images.

If you've read the first two articles in this series, you now should be familiar with Linux kernel control groups (Part I), Linux Containers and Docker (Part II). But, here's a quick recap: once upon a time, data-center administrators deployed entire operating systems, occupying entire hardware servers to host a few applications each. This was a lot of overhead with a lot to manage. Now scale that across multiple server hosts, and it increasingly became more difficult to maintain. This was a problem—a problem that wasn't easily solved. It would take time for technological evolution to reach the moment where you are able to shrink the operating system and launch these varied applications as microservices hosted across multiple containers on the same physical machine.

In the final part of this series, I explore the method most people use to create, deploy and manage containers. The concept is typically referred to as container orchestration. If I were to focus on Docker, on its own, the technology is extremely simple to use, and running a few images simultaneously is also just as easy. Now, scale that out to hundreds, if not thousands, of images. How do you manage that? Eventually, you need to step back and rely on one of the few orchestration frameworks specifically designed to handle this problem. Enter Kubernetes.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes, or k8s (k + eight characters), originally was developed by Google. It's an open-source platform aiming to automate container operations: "deployment, scaling and operations of application containers across clusters of hosts". Google was an early adopter and contributor to the Linux Container technology (in fact, Linux Containers power Google's very own cloud services). Kubernetes eliminates all of the manual processes involved in the deployment and scaling of containerized applications. It's capable of clustering together groups of servers hosting Linux Containers while also allowing administrators to manage those clusters easily and efficiently.

Kubernetes makes it possible to respond to consumer demands quickly by deploying your applications within a timely manner, scaling those same applications with ease and seamlessly rolling out new features, all while limiting hardware resource consumption. It's extremely modular and can be hooked into by other applications or frameworks easily. It also provides additional self-healing services, including auto-placement, auto-replication and auto-restart of containers.

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Petros Koutoupis

Episode 8: Nostalgia, Security, and Shawn

2 months 2 weeks ago
Doc Searls

Tor's Strength in Numbers Campaign, New ask.krita.org Site, Kodi Announces Limited-Edition Raspberry Pi Case, IPFire 2.21 Core Update 125 Released, and Chrome and Firefox Developers Plan to End Support for FTP

2 months 2 weeks ago

News briefs for November 27, 2018.

Tor announces its Strength in Numbers campaign: "Stand up for the universal human rights to privacy and freedom and help keep Tor robust and secure." For #GivingTuesday, another donor will match first-time donations to the project—this is in addition to the existing matching donations from Mozilla, so if you donate, your gift will be matched twice. Go here to donate.

Scott Petrovic and the KDE sysadmin team have launched ask.krita.org—the "Krita Question and Answers Site". The new ask.krita.org "is a place where it's simple to find out if your question has been asked before, simple to ask a question, and simple to answer a question. It's a central place where, we hope, Krita users will get together and help each other. Like a stackoverflow site, or like ask.libreoffice.org.

Kodi recently released a new limited-edition "Kodi Edition" Raspberry Pi case. This version 2 of the case Kodi released two years ago is newly designed, aluminum, but it's "now gone to the dark side with a metallic, jet black coating for that cool Vader look". In addition, "the second-generation case features better access to the SD card, a better built-in heatsink, precision manufacturing, and subtle details that make a great case amazing." A percentage of every sale of this case goes to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. You can order one from FLIRC for $19.95.

IPFire 2.21 Core Update 125 was released yesterday. This update has various bug and security fixes, along with new features, such as "the IPFire Access Point add-on now supports 802.11ac WiFi if the chipset supports it" and the dehydrated "lightweight client to retrieve certificates from Let's Encrypt written in bash". You can download it from here.

Chrome and Firefox developers plan to end support for FTP. BleepingComputer reports that "an upcoming change in how files stored on FTP servers are rendered in the browser may be the first step in its ultimate removal", and also that "Google developers have advocated for the removal of FTP support in Chrome for over 4 years" due to its low usage and the additional attack surface it creates that Chrome is unable to secure properly, compared to offering the same files over an HTTPS connection.

News Tor KDE Krita Raspberry Pi Kodi IPFire Chrome Firefox Security
Jill Franklin

Testing Your Code with Python's pytest

2 months 2 weeks ago
by Reuven M. Lerner

Don't test your code? pytest removes any excuses.

Software developers don't just write software; they also use software. So, they're the first to recognize, and understand, that software is complex and inevitably contains bugs.

But, just because bugs are inevitable doesn't mean that developers can or should try to prevent them. And, thus, during the past few decades, there's been rapid growth in software testing. Testing is no longer seen as an optional or "nice to have" part of software development; it's considered an absolute must—part of the software development process. In many cases, the people in the Python courses I teach at various companies aren't developers per se, but instead testers—people with the full-time job of writing tests to ensure that the company's software is robust.

I must admit that even though I've been writing software for a long time, I have rarely been as good about testing as I'd like to be. Sure, when I'm working on a large, complex app, I'll write tests, but it always seemed to be a bit of a burden. I know that it's good for me, will save tons of time in the future, will make the software more robust and maintenance easier, but really, if I just want to get my program out the door, why test? And besides, the various test frameworks I've used through the years never struck me as very impressive or easy to use.

So for the past few years, I've been in a bit of a holding pattern. I want to test more, but testing is annoying, so I don't test, which makes it seem like even more of a burden, because it's not part of my regular process.

All of this has changed for me recently, thanks to my discovery (long after other people, I admit) of the pytest library for Python. pytest turns out to be easy to use, easy to work with and easy to integrate into my work. Part of the reason for this is that pytest abandons the Python idea of "there's only one way to do it", giving developers a great degree of flexibility and freedom in choosing how to write tests.

So in this article, I provide an introduction to pytest, showing how to start integrating it into your development process today. I plan to expand on this in my next article and describe some more advanced pytest features that you might need to use.

Basic pytest

The idea behind pytest is that if you want to test a function, you'll write a separate function to test it. Actually, you'll probably want to write more than one test function, but that's in addition.

For example, let's assume you have the following function that sums numbers:

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Reuven M. Lerner

The Linux Foundation Is Having a Cyber Monday Sale on Certification Bundles, Vulkan 1.1.94 Released, Creative Commons 2019 Global Summit Registration Now Open, Ohio Businesses Can Use Bitcoin to Pay Taxes and Linux Kernel 4.20-rc4 Is Out

2 months 3 weeks ago

News briefs for November 26, 2018.

The Linux Foundation is having a Cyber Monday sale on certification and training bundles. From now through December 3, best-selling certification and prep course bundles are $179, and the purchase of any bundle will get you a free limited-edition T-shirt. Sale bundles include Linux Foundation Certified SysAdmin Bundle, Certified Kubernetes Administrator Bundle and more. Go here to shop.

Vulkan 1.1.94 was released today. According to Phoronix, this latest release of the graphics and compute API includes two new extensions: VK_KHR_swapchain_mutable_format, which allows the windowing system to use different formats of swap chain images, and VK_EXT_fragment_density_map, which lets you specify areas of the render target where the shader can be invoked few times, so you can reduce rendering quality in areas of the screen that are less important. For more details, see Vulkan-Docs.

Registration is now open for Creative Commons 2019 Global Summit, May 9–11 in Lisbon, Portugal. The deadline for proposals is December 10, 2018.

Businesses in the state of Ohio can now use bitcoin to pay taxes. Tech Crunch reports that businesses in Ohio can begin making tax payments today by registering at OhioCrypto.com to pay taxes for anything "from cigarette sales taxes to employee withholding taxes".

Linux 4.20-rc4 is out. Of this week's release, Linus says "Nothing looks particularly odd or scary, although we do have some known stuff still pending. For example, the STIBP fixes are still being discussed and fine-tuned and haven't been merged yet. And there's a few mm fixes being talked about. Nothing that should keep people from testing the 4.20 rc's, though, so go out and test."

News The Linux Foundation Certification Vulkan creative commons Bitcoin Cryptocurrency kernel
Jill Franklin

Roman Numerals and Bash

2 months 3 weeks ago
by Dave Taylor

Fun with retro-coding a Roman numeral converter—I head back to my college years and solve me homework anew!

I earned a bachelor's degree in computer science back in the dawn of computing. Well, maybe it wasn't quite that long ago, but we did talk about Ada and FORTRAN in class. As a UCSD alumnus, however, it's no surprise that UCSD Pascal was the programming language of choice. Don't worry; no punch cards and no paper tape were involved in my educational endeavors.

As with modern computer science study, we spent a lot of time coding algorithms and solving problems and puzzles. I'm a board-gamer, so I was quite happy to try to solve the "dining philosophers problem", the "four color problem" or the "traveling salesman problem". You might well have tried to solve the same darn problems.

One coding problem that has stuck with me is a Roman numeral conversion program. As part of my first programming class, I recall it being a pretty tricky problem, but we didn't have the internet or GitHub to scrounge around for smart solutions or inspiration.

So, in the spirit of retro-coding, let's build a script that can convert Roman numerals into regular decimal equivalent values.

Roman Numerals

I know, you're saying "um, remind me, what are Roman numerals?", even though you see them all the time in movies and books. You just ignore the MCMLXIII that shows up as a copyright notice. What's funny is that the general industry consensus is that studios use those Roman numerals instead of the more understandable "Copyright 1963" to obfuscate the age of the film (by the way, MCMLXIII = 1963).

It turns out that Roman numerals are interesting because they are essentially grouped into logical segments. At its most basic, each letter has a specific decimal value, so let's start there (see Table 1 for the values).

Table 1. Roman Numerals and Their Values Symbol I V X L C D M Value 1 5 10 50 100 500 1000

If you wanted to write the value 60 as Roman numerals, that's easy: LX. Reverse the two values, however, and it's a completely different value: XL = 40. Why? Because when a lower value symbol appears before a higher value symbol, it's considered a reduction of that value. The fancy name for this is subtractive notation.

In other words, LX = 50 + 10, but XL = L – X = 50 – 10.

Now you can see how the earlier value breaks into clusters of values based on whether a subsequent value is higher or lower than the current value. Here's the logic:

MCMLXIII = M + CM + L + X + III = 1000 + 900 + 50 + 10 + 3

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Dave Taylor