Linux Journal

12 Holiday Gifts for Your Linux Loved Ones (All Under $59)

1 month 4 weeks ago
by Carlie Fairchild

We rounded up 12 great gifts (all priced under $59) to make shopping for your Linux friends and loved ones a little easier this season. You may even want to hold on to some of these for yourself.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+

Just in time for the holidays, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ is now available: "you can now get the 1.4GHz clock speed, 5GHz wireless networking and improved thermals of Raspberry Pi 3B+ in a smaller form factor, and at the smaller price of $25."

Image courtesy of RaspberryPi.org.

Stickers

For a limited time, unixstickers is offering this Pro Pack of 10 stickers for just $1 (plus free shipping!). Stickers include Vim, Git, Python, Official Bash, Linux Tux, Debian, Arch Linux, Linux Inside and GoLang, and a sticker badge of Arch Linux, Git, Vim and Python.

Image courtesy of unixstickers.com.  

Tux Cufflinks, Earrings and Bracelets

Etsy seller ArtfireSupplies offers a variety of jewelry featuring Tux the Penguin. You can choose from cufflinks, tie clips, earrings, bracelets or even necklace pendants. Prices start just under $15.

Image courtesy of ArtfireSupplies.  

Stuffed Tux

ZaReason, better known for their popular line of Linux desktops, laptops and servers, brings us the elusive stuffed Tux. At a little more than 12" tall, this Tux is a bargain at only $19.

Go to Full Article
Carlie Fairchild

Pioneers in Open Source--Eren Niazi, Part II: the Untold Story

2 months ago
by Petros Koutoupis

It was 2014, and everything seemed fine with Eren Niazi and the company he founded, Open Source Storage or OSS, although at the time, both the industry and the market were changing. Not only were open-source technologies used in every form and fashion to enable what has become the cloud, its users also were connecting in droves to take advantages of the many services it offered. We matured into an always connected society.

As markets evolved and consumer needs evolved, OSS needed to do something to continue to be relevant. Eren and his team came up with a solution to enable more involvement within the Open Source community by building a never-done-before social platform that closed the gap between file sharing and social networking. It also added a gamification component to help encourage participation on top of quality.

Note: gamification is the process of taking something that already exists, be it a website, enterprise application or online community, and integrating it with game mechanics to motivate participation, engagement and loyalty.

A patent was filed to capture this unique new platform: US15073028. Its status is now considered Abandoned (you'll learn why shortly). From the patent description:

Embodiments of the inventive concept provide a system and method for gamifying community driven open source software development projects, thereby spurring innovation and quality open source and freely available products. Embodiments of the inventive concept not only incentivizes the most desired tasks, such as coding, but also the less desirable actions like code review, documentation, quality assurance, testing, security analysis, and the like. In this manner, all steps along the software development path can be incentivized. Even scheduling and meeting deadlines for enhancements, bug fixes, and security auditing can benefit from an award system. Embodiments include a development gamification system including a user interface logic section to provide a development gamification interface to incentivize a community of users to develop open source software projects.

Figure 1. A General Illustrated Overview of US15073028

But in order to build this promising new platform, OSS needed outside investment to fund it. Eren approached numerous investors, all of which decided to participate. With this new funding, Open Source Storage decided to move its operations to a new location in Campbell, California.

Figure 2. Open Source Storage Headquarters (2014–2016)

Go to Full Article
Petros Koutoupis

UserLAnd Now Available on F-Droid, New Darktrace Cybersecurity Company, France Is Dumping Google, KDE Bug Day Focusing on Okular November 27th and SuperTux Alpha Release

2 months ago

News briefs for November 21, 2018.

UserLAnd is now available on F-Droid. With UserLAnd, you can run full Linux distributions or specific apps on top of Android, and you can install and uninstall it like a regular app—you don't need root. This version requires Android 5.0 or newer, and UserLAnd recommends that you install the F-Droid client to build it rather than download the APK.

A new cybersecurity company called Darktrace has developed a tool in collaboration with the University of Cambridge that uses machine learning to detect internal security breaches. According to FossBytes, Darktrace created an algorithm that "recognizes new instances of unusual behavior". This technique is "based on unsupervised learning, which doesn't require humans to specify what to look for. The system works like the human body's immune system."

France is dumping Google. Wired reports that to "avoid becoming a digital colony of the US or China", the French National Assembly and the French Army Ministry "declared that their digital devices would stop using Google as their default search engines. Instead, they will use Qwant, a French and German search engine that prides itself for not tracking its users."

KDE is holding a Bug Day November 27, 2018 that will focus on Okular. You can join the event at any time that day. See the Bug Triaging Guide to learn how to confirm and triage bugs, and join the #kde-bugs IRC channel on Freenode to chat with KDE in real time. For more information, go here.

Classic open-source game SuperTux is heading toward a new release. GamingOnLinux reports that the game is on the third alpha release of the 0.6.0 update. The game features several new highlights, including a "complete revamp of the rendering engine"; it now "supports OpenGL 3.3 Core as well as OpenGL ES 2.0, thus allowing SuperTux to be run on the Raspberry Pi, and potentially WebGL"; and the forest worldmap has been redesigned. You can download it from GitHub.

News UserLAnd F-Droid Android Cybersecurity Machine Learning Google Qwant KDE gaming
Jill Franklin

Travel Laptop Tips in Practice

2 months ago
by Kyle Rankin

It's one thing to give travel advice; it's another to follow it.

In past articles, I've written about how to prepare for a vacation or other travel when you're on call. And, I just got back from a vacation where I put some of those ideas into practice, so I thought I'd write a follow-up and give some specifics on what I recommended, what I actually did and how it all worked.

Planning for the Vacation

The first thing to point out is that this was one of the first vacations in a long time where I was not on call, directly or indirectly. In my long career as a sysadmin responsible for production infrastructure, I've almost always been on call (usually indirectly) when on vacation. Even if someone else was officially taking over on-call duties while I was away, there always was the risk that a problem would crop up where they would need to escalate up to me. Often on my vacations something did blow up to the point that I needed to get involved. I've now transitioned into more of a management position, so the kinds of emergencies I face are much different.

I bring up the fact that I wasn't on an on-call rotation not because it factored into how I prepared for the trip, but because, generally speaking, it didn't factor in except that I didn't have to go to as extreme lengths to make sure everyone knew how to contact me in an emergency. Even though I wasn't on call, there still was a chance, however remote, that some emergency could pop up where I needed to help. And, an emergency might require that I access company resources, which meant I needed to have company credentials with me at a minimum. I imagine for most people in senior-enough positions that this would also be true. I could have handled this in a few ways:

  1. Hope that I could access all the work resources I might need from my phone.
  2. Carry a copy of my password manager database with me.
  3. Put a few select work VMs on my travel laptop.

I chose option number 3, just to be safe. Although I'm not superstitious, I still figured that if I were prepared for an emergency, there was a better chance one wouldn't show up (and I was right). At the very least, if I were well prepared for a work emergency, if even a minor problem arose, I could respond to it without a major inconvenience instead of scrambling to build some kind of MacGyver-style work environment out of duct tape and hotel computers.

Selecting the Travel Computer

As I've mentioned in previous articles, I recommend buying a cheap, used computer for travel. That way, if you lose it or it gets damaged, confiscated or stolen, you're not out much money. I personally bought a used Acer Parrot C710 for use as a travel computer, because it's small, cheap and runs QubesOS pretty well once you give it enough RAM.

Go to Full Article
Kyle Rankin

Spectre Mitigation Causing Significant Slowdown in 4.20 Kernel, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Coming to Linux in 2019, Kdenlive Bug-Squashing Day December 2, Diskio Pi Kickstarter Campaign and Phones to Receive Android Pie

2 months ago

News briefs for November 20, 2018.

Mitigation for Spectre variant 2 is causing significant slowdowns in the new 4.20 kernel, and Linus Torvalds posted to the LKML, "When performance goes down by 50 percent on some loads, people need to start asking themselves whether it was worth it. It's apparently better to just disable SMT entirely, which is what security-conscious people do anyway". See Phoronix, which originally posted the benchmarks showing the slowdown, and this ZDNet article for more info on this issue.

Feral Interactive announced this morning that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is coming to Linux in 2019. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the conclusion of Laura Croft's origin story; the previous two installments are available for Linux now from Feral Interactive. You can view the Shadow of the Tomb Raider trailer here.

Kdenlive is holding a bug-squashing day on December 2, 2018 in preparation for an April 2019 major release. A list of proposed bugs to solve is available here. Contact Kdenlive via IRC: #kdenlive on Freenode.

Guillaume Debray has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a Diskio Pi, "the Ultimate Open Source Tablet". Diskio Pi is a kit tablet that you assemble with your nano computer of choice. According to the project description, it's an "ideal open solution" to use as an extra computer, a learning code machine, a media center, for home automation or for your vehicle.

Android Central reports on which phones will receive Android Pie. Android Pie is slated to come to the Asus ZenFone 5 series in early 2019, and in some markets, the Motorola One and One Power already have received it. See the post on Android Central for the full roundup.

News Spectre kernel Linus Torvalds Feral Interactive gaming Kdenlive SBCs tablets Android Mobile
Jill Franklin

What's New in Bash Parameter Expansion

2 months ago
by Mitch Frazier

The bash man page is close to 40K words. It's not quite War and Peace, but it could hold its own in a rack of cheap novels. Given the size of bash's documentation, missing a useful feature is easy to do when looking through the man page. For that reason, as well as to look for new features, revisiting the man page occasionally can be a useful thing to do.

The sub-section of interest today is Parameter Expansion—that is, $var in its many forms. Don't be confused by the name though, it's really about parameter and variable expansion.

Go to Full Article
Mitch Frazier

Feral Interactive Announces Total War: WARHAMMER II to Be Released for Linux Tomorrow, Uber Joined The Linux Foundation, Security Bug Discovered in Instagram, Fedora Taking Submissions for Supplemental Wallpapers and Kernel 4.20-rc3 Is Out

2 months ago

News briefs for November 19, 2018.

Feral Interactive announces that Total War: WARHAMMER II will be released for Linux and macOS tomorrow, November 20, 2018. This follow-up of Total War: WARHAMMER "puts players in command of one of four fantastical Races, challenging them to wage a war of conquest in order to stabilise or disrupt the apocalyptically powerful Great Vortex." You can pre-order it from here for $59.99 US, and view the trailer from Feral's YouTube channel.

Uber has joined The Linux Foundation. The press release quotes Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin: "Uber has been active in open source for years, creating popular projects like Jaeger and Horovod that help businesses build technology at scale. We are very excited to welcome Uber to the Linux Foundation community. Their expertise will be instrumental for our projects as we continue to advance open solutions for cloud native technologies, deep learning, data visualization and other technologies that are critical to businesses today."

A new security vulnerability has been discovered in Instagram (owned by Facebook). The Information reports that the recently introduced "Download Your Data" security feature caused some users' passwords to be revealed. Instagram quickly fixed the bug and users were notified and asked to change their passwords and clear their browsing history.

Submissions now open for Fedora 30 Supplemental Wallpapers until January 19, 2019. The Fedora design team works with the community each release to select 16 additional wallpapers that users can install. This is your chance to start contributing to Fedora. See the Fedora Magazine post for more information.

Linux kernel 4.20-rc3 is out. Linus says the only unusual thing was his travel and that the changes "are pretty tiny".

News Feral Interactive gaming The Linux Foundation Security Facebook Instagram Fedora kernel
Jill Franklin

Schedule One-Time Commands with the UNIX at Tool

2 months ago
by Kyle Rankin

Cron is nice and all, but don't forget about its cousin at.

When I first started using Linux, it was like being tossed into the deep end of the UNIX pool. You were expected to use the command line heavily along with all the standard utilities and services that came with your distribution. At lot has changed since then, and nowadays, you can use a standard Linux desktop without ever having to open a terminal or use old UNIX services. Even as a sysadmin, these days, you often are a few layers of abstraction above some of these core services.

I say all of this to point out that for us old-timers, it's easy to take for granted that everyone around us innately knows about all the command-line tools we use. Yet, even though I've been using Linux for 20 years, I still learn about new (to me) command-line tools all the time. In this "Back to Basics" article series, I plan to cover some of the command-line tools that those new to Linux may never have used before. For those of you who are more advanced, I'll spread out this series, so you can expect future articles to be more technical. In this article, I describe how to use the at utility to schedule jobs to run at a later date.

at vs. Cron

at is one of those commands that isn't discussed very much. When people talk about scheduling commands, typically cron gets the most coverage. Cron allows you to schedule commands to be run on a periodic basis. With cron, you can run a command as frequently as every minute or as seldom as once a day, week, month or even year. You also can define more sophisticated rules, so commands run, for example, every five minutes, every weekday, every other hour and many other combinations. System administrators sometimes will use cron to schedule a local script to collect metrics every minute or to schedule backups.

On the other hand, although the at command also allows you to schedule commands, it serves a completely different purpose from cron. While cron lets you schedule commands to run periodically, at lets you schedule commands that run only once at a particular time in the future. This means that at fills a different and usually more immediate need from cron.

Using at

At one point, the at command came standard on most Linux distributions, but these days, even on servers, you may find yourself having to install the at package explicitly. Once installed, the easiest way to use at is to type it on the command line followed by the time you want the command to run:

$ at 18:00

The at command also can accept a number of different time formats. For instance, it understands AM and PM as well as words like "tomorrow", so you could replace the above command with the identical:

Go to Full Article
Kyle Rankin

Weekend Reading: Qubes

2 months ago
by Carlie Fairchild

Qubes OS is a security-focused operating system that, as tech editor Kyle Rankin puts it, "is fundamentally different from any other Linux desktop I've used". Join us this weekend in reading Kyle's multi-part series on all things Qubes.

Secure Desktops with Qubes: Introduction

In this first article, I provide an overview of what Qubes is, some of the approaches it takes that are completely different from what you might be used to on a Linux desktop and some of its particularly interesting security features. In future articles, I'll give more how-to guides on installing and configuring it and how to use some of its more-advanced features.

Secure Desktops with Qubes: Installation

This is the second in a multipart series on the Qubes operating system. In my first article, I gave an overall introduction to Qubes and how it differs from most other desktop Linux distributions, namely in the way it focuses on compartmentalizing applications within different VMs to limit what attackers have access to in the event they compromise a VM. This allows you to use one VM for regular Web browsing, another for banking and a different one for storing your GPG keys and password manager. In this article, I follow up with a basic guide on how to download and install Qubes, along with a general overview of the desktop and the various default VM types.

Secure Desktops with Qubes: Compartmentalization

This is the third article in my series about Qubes. In the first two articles, I gave an overview about what Qubes is and described how to install it. One of the defining security features of Qubes is how it lets you compartmentalize your different desktop activities into separate VMs. The idea behind security by compartmentalization is that if one of your VMs is compromised, the damage is limited to just that VM.

Secure Desktops with Qubes: Extra Protection

Go to Full Article
Carlie Fairchild

New Raspbian Update, Qt Creator 4.8 Beta2 Released, Firefox Monitor Now Available in More Than 26 Languages, Chrome OS Linux Soon Will Have Access to Downloads Folder and Canonical Extends Ubuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support

2 months ago

News briefs for November 16, 2018.

Simon Long has released a new Raspbian update. This update includes a "fully hardware-accelerated version of VLC", version 3 of the Thonny Python development environment, improved desktop configuration and more. You can download the update from here.

Qt Creator 4.8 Beta2 is now available. In addition to many bug fixes, the LLVM for the Clang code model is updated to version 7.0 and binary packages are updated to the Qt 5.12 prerelease. You can get the open-source version here.

Firefox Monitor, the free services that tells you whether your email has been part of a security breach, is now available in more than 26 languages: "Albanian, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English (Canadian), French, Frisian, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish (Argentina, Mexico, and Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Ukranian and Welsh." Along with this, Mozilla also announced that it has added "a notification to our Firefox Quantum browser that alerts desktop users when they visit a site that has had a recently reported data breach". See the Mozilla blog for details.

Chrome OS Linux soon will be able to access your Downloads folder and Google Drive. According to the 9to5Google post, "Making the entire Downloads folder accessible will turn Linux apps into a first-class citizen on Chrome OS and will dramatically help with file organization and ease of use."

Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth announced in his keynote at OpenStack Summit in Berlin that the Ubuntu 18.04 long-term support lifespan will be extended from five years to ten years. He also addressed IBM's acquisition of Red Hat. ZDNet reports that Shuttleworth indicated that this may lead customers to switch to Ubuntu, saying "We're neutral on the public cloud. We work at arm's length with AWS, Azure, and Google. We provide a common currency across different environment. But, we're not the lowest common denominator. We want to be the best operating system on Azure for Azure, AWS for AWS, and so on."

News Raspberry Pi Raspbian qt Firefox Security Mozilla Chrome OS Canonical Ubuntu
Jill Franklin

FOSS Project Spotlight: BlueK8s

2 months ago
by Tom Phelan

Deploying and managing complex stateful applications on Kubernetes.

Kubernetes (aka K8s) is now the de facto container orchestration framework. Like other popular open-source technologies, Kubernetes has amassed a considerable ecosystem of complementary tools to address everything from storage to security. And although it was first created for running stateless applications, more and more organizations are interested in using Kubernetes for stateful applications.

However, while Kubernetes has advanced significantly in many areas during the past couple years, there still are considerable gaps when it comes to running complex stateful applications. It remains challenging to deploy and manage distributed stateful applications consisting of a multitude of co-operating services (such as for use cases with large-scale analytics and machine learning) with Kubernetes.

I've been focused on this space for the past several years as a co-founder of BlueData. During that time, I've worked with many teams at Global 2000 enterprises in several industries to deploy distributed stateful services successfully, such as Hadoop, Spark, Kafka, Cassandra, TensorFlow and other analytics, data science, machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) tools in containerized environments.

In that time, I've learned what it takes to deploy complex stateful applications like these with containers while ensuring enterprise-grade security, reliability and performance. Together with my colleagues at BlueData, we've broken new ground in using Docker containers for big data analytics, data science and ML/DL in highly distributed environments. We've developed new innovations to address requirements in areas like storage, security, networking, performance and lifecycle management.

Now we want to bring those innovations to the Open Source community—to ensure that these stateful services are supported in the Kubernetes ecosystem. BlueData's engineering team has been busy working with Kubernetes, developing prototypes with Kubernetes in our labs and collaborating with multiple enterprise organizations to evaluate the opportunities (and challenges) in using Kubernetes for complex stateful applications.

To that end, we recently introduced a new Kubernetes open-source initiative: BlueK8s. The BlueK8s initiative will be composed of several open-source projects that each will bring enterprise-level capabilities for stateful applications to Kubernetes.

Go to Full Article
Tom Phelan

New Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta Now Available, LF Deep Learning Foundation Announces First Software Release of the Acumos AI Project, Google's Project Fi to Offer Google-Run VPN and Deepin 15.8 Released

2 months 1 week ago

News briefs for November 15, 2018.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ is now available: "you can now get the 1.4GHz clock speed, 5GHz wireless networking and improved thermals of Raspberry Pi 3B+ in a smaller form factor, and at the smaller price of $25." You can order one here. The blog post notes that cases for the RPi 3 Model A+ will be available early next month.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta makes its debut. RHEL 8 Beta features hundreds of improvements and several new features. One highlight is the introduction of "the concept of Application Streams to deliver userspace packages more simply and with greater flexibility". It also supports "more efficient Linux networking in containers through IPVLAN", has several security enhancements and more.

The LF Deep Learning Foundation (a project of the Linux Foundation) yesterday announced the first software release of the Acumos AI Project, Athena. From the press release: "Acumos AI is a platform and open source framework that makes it easy to build, share and deploy AI applications. Acumos AI standardizes the infrastructure stack and components required to run an out-of-the-box general AI environment. This frees data scientists and model trainers to focus on their core competencies and accelerate innovation." See the full release notes here.

Google's Project Fi has launched a new project allowing users to route all traffic through a Google-run VPN. According to The Verge, "your traffic will be going to Google's servers, so Google will be able to see what you're visiting." However, Google has said it isn't tying traffic to accounts or phone numbers or "any other user identifiers". The traffic also will be encrypted.

Linux Deepin 15.8 was released today. The Deepin team notes that the "new release is featured with newly designed control center, dock tray and boot theme, as well as improved deepin native applications, hoping to bring users a more beautiful and efficient experience." To download, click here.

News Raspberry Pi Red Hat Linux Foundation Deep Learning Acumos AI Google Project Fi VPN Deepin Distributions
Jill Franklin

Getting Started with Scilab

2 months 1 week ago
by Joey Bernard

Introducing one of the larger scientific lab packages for Linux.

Scilab is meant to be an overall package for numerical science, along the lines of Maple, Matlab or Mathematica. Although a lot of built-in functionality exists for all sorts of scientific computations, Scilab also includes its own programming language, which allows you to use that functionality to its utmost. If you prefer, you instead can use this language to extend Scilab's functionality into completely new areas of research. Some of the functionality includes 2D and 3D visualization and optimization tools, as well as statistical functions. Also included in Scilab is Xcos, an editor for designing dynamical systems models.

Several options exist for installing Scilab on your system. Most package management systems should have one or more packages available for Scilab, which also will install several support packages. Or, you simply can download and install a tarball that contains everything you need to be able to run Scilab on your system.

Once it's installed, start the GUI version of Scilab with the scilab command. If you installed Scilab via tarball, this command will be located in the bin subdirectory where you unpacked the tarball.

When it first starts, you should see a full workspace created for your project.

Figure 1. When you first start Scilab, you'll see an empty workspace ready for you to start a new project.

On the left-hand side is a file browser where you can see data files and Scilab scripts. The right-hand side has several panes. The top pane is a variable browser, where you can see what currently exists within the workspace. The middle pane contains a list of commands within that workspace, and the bottom pane has a news feed of Scilab-related news. The center of the workspace is the actual Scilab console where you can interact with the execution engine.

Let's start with some basic mathematics—for example, division:

--> 23/7 ans = 3.2857143

As you can see, the command prompt is -->, where you enter the next command to the execution engine. In the variable browser, you can see a new variable named ans that contains the results of the calculation.

Along with basic arithmetic, there is also a number of built-in functions. One thing to be aware of is that these function names are case-sensitive. For example, the statement sqrt(9) gives the answer of 3, whereas the statement SQRT(9) returns an error.

There also are built-in constants for numbers like e or pi. You can use them in statements, like this command to find the sine of pi/2:

Go to Full Article
Joey Bernard

Zentyal Open Source Linux Server Version 6.0 Now Available, KDevelop 5.3 Released, Scalyr Announces New Features, Mozilla Launches Version 2.0 of Its *Privacy Not Included Buyer's Guide and Debian No Longer Allowing Vendor-Specific Patches

2 months 1 week ago

News briefs for November 14, 2018.

The Zentyal development team announces a new major version of its Zentyal Open Source Linux Server with native Microsoft Active Directory interoperability. Version 6.0 is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with the Linux 4.15 kernel, Samba 4.7, and it includes a new RADIUS module and virtualization manager module. See the full Changelog for more details.

KDevelop 5.3 was released this morning. It's been almost a year since version 5.2, and much has changed. KDevelop 5.3 has a new analyzer plugin that's shipped out of the box, and there's a new Clazy clang analyzer plugin "specialized on Qt-using code" that also can be run from within KDevelop by default. In addition, it has improved C++, PHP and Python support. You can download it here.

Scalyr announces new troubleshooting features, introducing support for Slack, GitHub, Kubernetes and more. According to the press release, the company is moving beyond traditional log monitoring and now offers Kubernetes cluster-level logging, chart annotations, stack trace linking and AWS CloudWatch support. The new features will be available in Q4. See the Scalyr website for more information.

Mozilla has launched version 2.0 of its *Privacy Not Included Buyer's Guide just in time for holiday shopping. The guide's goal is to help you "shop smart—and safe—for products that connect to the internet". The guide also includes a "Creep-O-Meter" that allows users' to rate their feelings on a given product.

Debian is phasing out vendor-specific patches. Phoronix reports that "effective immediately these vendor-specific patches to source packages will be treated as a bug and will be unpermitted following the Debian 10 'Buster' release". See the mailing-list announcement for more information.

News Zentyal KDevelop Scalyr Monitoring Mozilla Privacy Debian Distributions
Jill Franklin

Meet TASBot, a Linux-Powered Robot Playing Video Games for Charity

2 months 1 week ago
by Allan Cecil

Can a Linux-powered robot play video games faster than you? Only if he takes a hint from piano rolls...and doesn't desync.

Let me begin with a brief history of tool-assisted speedruns. It was 2003. Less than half the developed world had internet access of any kind, and YouTube hadn't been created yet. Smartphones were rare and nascent. Pentium III processors still were commonplace, and memory was measured in megabytes. It was out of this primordial ooze that an interesting video file circulated around the web—an 18MB .wmv labeled only as a "super mario bross3 time attack video" [sic]. What followed was an absolutely insane 11-minute completion of the game by someone named Morimoto replete with close calls, no deaths and Mario destroying Bowser after apparently effortlessly obtaining 99 lives. The only other context was a link to a page written in Japanese, and the rough encoding that Windows Media Video format was known for in that era made it difficult for casual viewers to observe that it was an emulator recording rather than the output of a real Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console.

Figure 1. Morimoto's 2003 Super Mario Bros. 3 (SMB3) Time Attack Video

The video encode had in fact been made with the Famtasia NES emulator using Tool-Assisted Speedrun (TAS) re-recording tools consisting of a "movie file" of the sequence of all buttons pressed along with the use of savestates, or CPU and memory snapshots allowing returning to a previous state. Morimoto had in essence augmented his own human skill by using tools that allowed him to return to a previous save point any time he was dissatisfied with the quality of his play. By iteratively backing up and keeping only the best results, he had created what he considered at the time to be a perfect play-through of the game. I didn't know anything about how it was made the first time I saw the run, but it blew my mind and had me asking questions to which I couldn't find answers.

The human speedrunning community members were naturally highly offended by what they saw as an unlabeled abomination akin to a doped athlete being allowed to compete in the Olympics. Their view was that anything that augmented raw human ability in any way (even as rudimentary as keyboard macros in PC games) was considered cheating, and Morimoto's run was nothing more than a fraud best left ignored. There was fascination, intrigue and division. It was, in retrospect, the perfect recipe for a new website.

Go to Full Article
Allan Cecil

Red Hat Releases Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14 and a New Virtual Office Solution, ownCloud Enterprise Integrates with SUSE Ceph/S3 Storage, Run a Linux Shell on iOS with iSH and Firefox Launches Two New Test Pilot Features

2 months 1 week ago

News briefs for November 13, 2018.

Red Hat this morning released Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14, delivering "enhanced Kubernetes integration, bare metal management and additional automation". According to the press release, it will be available in the coming weeks via the Red Hat Customer Portal and as a component of both Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure and Red Hat Cloud Suite.

Red Hat also announced a new virtual office solution today. This solution "provides a blueprint for modernizing telecommunications operations at the network edge via an open, software-defined infrastructure platform". Learn more about it here.

ownCloud yesterday announced SUSE Enterprise Storage Ceph/S3 API as a certified storage backend for ownCloud Enterprise Edition. The press release notes that the "SUSE Ceph/S3 Storage integration reduces dependency on proprietary hardware by replacing an organization's storage infrastructure with an open, unified and smarter software-defined storage solution". For more information on ownCloud, visit here.

There's a new project called iSH that lets you run a Linux shell on an iOS device. Bleeping Computer reports that the project is available as a TestFlight beta for iOS devices, and it is based on Alpine Linux. It allows you to "transfer files, write shell scripts, or simply to use Vi to develop code or edit files". You first need to install the TestFlight app, and then you can start testing the app by visiting this page: https://testflight.apple.com/join/97i7KM8O.

The Firefox Test Pilot Team announces two new features: Price Wise and Email Tabs. Price Wise lets you add products to your Price Watcher list, and you'll receive desktop notifications whenever the price drops. With Email Tabs, you can "select and send links to one or many open tabs all within Firefox in a few short steps, making it easier than ever to share your holiday gift list, Thanksgiving recipes or just about anything else". See the Mozilla Blog for details.

News Red Hat OpenStack Containers Kubernetes telecommunications OwnCloud SUSE Ceph Storage iOS Firefox
Jill Franklin

Automate Sysadmin Tasks with Python's os.walk Function

2 months 1 week ago
by Reuven M. Lerner

Using Python's os.walk function to walk through a tree of files and directories.

I'm a web guy; I put together my first site in early 1993. And so, when I started to do Python training, I assumed that most of my students also were going to be web developers or aspiring web developers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although some of my students certainly are interested in web applications, the majority of them are software engineers, testers, data scientists and system administrators.

This last group, the system administrators, usually comes into my course with the same story. The company they work for has been writing Bash scripts for several years, but they want to move to a higher-level language with greater expressiveness and a large number of third-party add-ons. (No offense to Bash users is intended; you can do amazing things with Bash, but I hope you'll agree that the scripts can become unwieldy and hard to maintain.)

It turns out that with a few simple tools and ideas, these system administrators can use Python to do more with less code, as well as create reports and maintain servers. So in this article, I describe one particularly useful tool that's often overlooked: os.walk, a function that lets you walk through a tree of files and directories.

os.walk Basics

Linux users are used to the ls command to get a list of files in a directory. Python comes with two different functions that can return the list of files. One is os.listdir, which means the "listdir" function in the "os" package. If you want, you can pass the name of a directory to os.listdir. If you don't do that, you'll get the names of files in the current directory. So, you can say:

In [10]: import os

When I do that on my computer, in the current directory, I get the following:

In [11]: os.listdir('.') Out[11]: ['.git', '.gitignore', '.ipynb_checkpoints', '.mypy_cache', 'Archive', 'Files']

As you can see, os.listdir returns a list of strings, with each string being a filename. Of course, in UNIX-type systems, directories are files too—so along with files, you'll also see subdirectories without any obvious indication of which is which.

I gave up on os.listdir long ago, in favor of glob.glob, which means the "glob" function in the "glob" module. Command-line users are used to using "globbing", although they often don't know its name. Globbing means using the * and ? characters, among others, for more flexible matching of filenames. Although os.listdir can return the list of files in a directory, it cannot filter them. You can though with glob.glob:

Go to Full Article
Reuven M. Lerner

The Latest Version of the Nest Simulator Now Available in Fedora, Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 DNS Services Comes to Android, Ceph Now Has Its Own Open-Source Foundation, Valve Making a VR Headset and Sparky Linux 4.9 Released

2 months 1 week ago

News briefs for November 12, 2018.

The Fedora team announces that the latest version of the Nest simulator is now available in Fedora as part of the NeuroFedora initiative. Nest allows computational neuroscientists to "make large scale computer models of the brain that are needed to investigate among other things, how the brain processes information". Nest provides an easy to use Python interface and it can be run on both laptops and supercomputing clusters.

Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 DNS service comes to Android and iOS. According to The Verge, "The mobile app uses features like VPN support to push your mobile traffic towards the 1.1.1.1 DNS servers and improve speeds. It will also prevent your carrier from tracking your browsing history and potentially selling it. Cloudflare is promising not to track 1.1.1.1 users or sell ads, and the company has retained KPMG to perform an annual audit and publish a public report." You can download it for Android here.

The Ceph storage project receives a dedicated open-source foundation, hosted by The Linux Foundation. TechCrunch quotes Sage Weil, Ceph's co-creator, project leader, and chief architect at Red Hat for Ceph: "Today's launch of the Ceph Foundation is a testament to the strength of a diverse open source community coming together to address the explosive growth in data storage and services."

Valve appears to be making its own VR headset. GamingOnLinux reports that a leaked imgur album shows several photos of the new hardware with a Valve logo. Valve also is apparently working on new Half-Life title for VR.

Sparky Linux 4.9 has been released, which celebrates 100 years of Poland's independence. Sparky 4.9 offers the LXDE desktop environment and minimal images of MinimalGUI (Openbox) and MinimalCLI (text mode), so you can "install the base system with a desktop of your choice with a minimal set of applications, via the Sparky Advanced Installer". In addition to added packages and updates, this new version has the code name "100", commemorating the 100 anniversary of Poland's independence, and it provides information about Polish history and also includes new Poland nature wallpapers.

News Fedora Science DNS Android Cloudflare Ceph The Linux Foundation Valve VR gaming Sparky Linux Distributions
Jill Franklin