Linux Journal

25 Years Later: Interview with Linus Torvalds

2 months 3 weeks ago
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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Robert Young

The 25th Anniversary Issue

2 months 3 weeks ago
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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Bryan Lunduke

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

2 months 3 weeks ago

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
Jill Franklin

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

2 months 3 weeks ago

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
Jill Franklin

Linux Journal at 25

2 months 3 weeks ago
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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Doc Searls

Weekend Reading: Scary Tales from the Server Room

2 months 3 weeks ago
by Carlie Fairchild

It's always better to learn from someone else's mistakes than from your own. This weekend we feature Kyle Rankin and Bill Childers as they tell stories from their years as systems administrators. It's a win-win: you get to learn from their experiences, and they get to make snide comments to each other. 

It's Always DNS's Fault!

by Kyle Rankin and Bill Childers

I was suffering, badly. We had just finished an all-night switch migration on our production Storage Area Network while I was hacking up a lung fighting walking pneumonia. Even though I did my part of the all-nighter from home, I was exhausted. So when my pager went off at 9am that morning, allowing me a mere four hours of sleep, I was treading dangerously close to zombie territory...

Zoning Out

by Kyle Rankin and Bill Childers

Sometimes events and equipment conspire against you and your team to cause a problem. Occasionally, however, it's lack of understanding or foresight that can turn around and bite you. Unfortunately, this is a tale of where we failed to spot all the possible things that might go wrong.

Panic on the Streets of London

by Kyle Rankin and Bill Childers

I was now at the next phase of troubleshooting: prayer. Somewhere around this time, I had my big breakthrough...

Unboxing Day

by Kyle Rankin and Bill Childers

As much as I love working with Linux and configuring software, one major part of being a sysadmin that always has appealed to me is working with actual hardware. There's something about working with tangible, physical servers that gives my job an extra dimension and grounds it from what might otherwise be a completely abstract job even further disconnected from reality. On top of all that, when you get a large shipment of servers, and you view the servers at your company as your servers, there is a similar anticipation and excitement when you open a server box as when you open Christmas presents at home. This story so happens to start during the Christmas season...

 

 

 

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Carlie Fairchild

Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo" Beta Released, New Artwork for Mageia 7, Zorin OS Beta 15 Now Available, vChain Launches CodeNotary, and OpenSource Summit and Embedded Linux Conference Deadline for Proposals Is April 2

2 months 3 weeks ago

News briefs for March 29, 2019.

The Ubuntu team announced the beta pre-release of the Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo" Desktop, Server and Cloud products. The beta release also includes images for Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, UbuntuKylin, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Studio and Xubuntu. Note that "The beta images are known to be reasonably free of showstopper CD build or installer bugs, while representing a very recent snapshot of 19.04 that should be representative of the features intended to ship with the final release expected on April 18th, 2019." To upgrade to the beta from Ubuntu 18.10, follow the instructions here And to download the images, go here.

New artwork is coming for Mageia 7. The Mageia blog announced that the voting has concluded they are beginning to integrate the new artwork into Mageia 7 in preparation for its release. You can see the winning photographs here.

Zorin recently announced the release of the next major version of the OS: Zorin OS 15 beta. From the Zorin Blog: "Every aspect of the user experience has been re-considered and refined in this new release, from how apps are installed, to how you get work done, to how it interacts with the devices around you. The result is a desktop experience that combines the most powerful desktop technology with the most user-friendly design." Note that this is a pre-release and not recommended for use on production machines. You can download the beta here.

vChain recently released CodeNotary, a "global, de-centralized, blockchain secured" alternative to code-signing certificates. CTO and co-founder of vChain writes, "We at vChain, created CodeNotary to protect your hard work, increase user confidence and trust without spending a fortune. If you provide non-commercial software we provide a life-long free license of CodeNotary." See these two articles "vcn command line for vChain CodeNotary to sign code and more" and "With CodeNotary, you never have to pay for code signing certificates again" for more details. Non-commercial project owners and developers can get an "all-time" free license here

The deadline to submit a proposal for a talk at OpenSource Summit and Embedded Linux Conference is April 2, 2019. The two events will be held in San Diego, California, August 21–23, 2019. For OpenSource Summit proposals, go here, and for the Embedded Linux Conference, go here.

News Ubuntu Distributions Mageia Zorin OS vChain CodeNotary
Jill Franklin

Creating Linux Command-Line Tools in Clojure

2 months 3 weeks ago
by Mihalis Tsoukalos

Learn how the leiningen utility can help you manage your Clojure projects.

This article is a gentle introduction to the Clojure Functional Programming language that is based on LISP, uses the Java JVM and has a handy REPL. And, as Clojure is based on LISP, be prepared to see lots of parentheses!

Installing Clojure

You can install Clojure on a Debian Linux machine by executing the following command as root or using sudo:

# apt-get install clojure

Finding the version of Clojure you are using is as simple as executing one of the following commands inside the Clojure REPL, which you can enter by running clojure:

# clojure Clojure 1.8.0 user=> *clojure-version* {:major 1, :minor 8, :incremental 0, :qualifier nil} user=> (clojure-version) "1.8.0" user=> (println *clojure-version*) {:major 1, :minor 8, :incremental 0, :qualifier nil} nil

The first command gets you into the Clojure REPL, which displays the user=> prompt and waits for user input. The remaining three commands that should be executed within the Clojure REPL will generate the same output, which, in this example, shows that Clojure version 1.8.0 is being used. So, if you're following along, congratulations! You have just run your first Clojure code!

The leiningen Utility

The first thing you should do after getting Clojure is to install a very handy utility named leiningen, which is the easiest way to use and manage Clojure projects on your Linux machine. Follow the instructions at leiningen.org or use your favourite package manager to install leiningen on your Linux machine. Additionally, if you are using Clojure all the time and working with large Clojure projects, tools like Jenkins and Semaphore will automate your build and test phases and save you lots of time.

After installing leiningen, use the lein command (which is the name of the executable file for the leiningen package) to create a new project named hw:

$ lein new hw Generating a project called hw based on the 'default' template. The default template is intended for library projects, not applications. To see other templates (app, plugin, etc), try `lein help new`.

The preceding command will create a new directory named hw that will contain files and other directories. You'll need to make some changes to some of the project files in order to execute the project. First, you'll need to edit the project.clj that can be found inside the hw directory and make it as follows:

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Mihalis Tsoukalos

OpenDaylight Neon Released, Debian Welcomes Applications for Outreachy and GSoC, Odroid-N2 SBC Now on Sale, CloudFlare Launches BoringTun and RaspAnd Pie 9 Now Available

2 months 4 weeks ago

News briefs for March 28, 2019.

LF Networking yesterday announced the release of OpenDaylight Neon. From the press release, "The Linux Foundation's first networking project and now part of LFN, OpenDaylight was founded in 2013 as an open source framework to accelerate adoption, foster innovation, and create a more open and transparent approach to SDN. Today, ODL has become the most pervasive open source SDN controller that helps power over 1B global network subscribers. Its 10th release, OpenDaylight Neon, demonstrates industry commitment to fostering an open, scalable and interoperable networking solution and supporting ecosystem of developers, integrators, and users."

Debian is welcoming applicants for Outreachy and GSoC. The application period for the May 2019 to August 2019 round of Outreachy has been extended until April 2, and Debian offers the following projects: "Continuous Integration for biological applications inside Debian", "Debian Continuous Integration: user experience improvements" and "Reproducible Builds". See Debian's Outreachy Wiki page for more information on how to apply. The application period for Google Summer of Code is open until April 9th. Students should see Debian's GSoC Wiki for more information on how to submit their applications.

The Odroid-N2 SBC has gone on sale for $63 (2GB RAM) or $79 (4GB) and will begin shipping on April 3. LinuxGizmos reports that this open-spec SBC from Harkernel "features a powerful new system-on-chip that has yet to appear on an open-spec hacker board: the Amlogic S922X." In addition, the Odroid-N2 "is available with 64-bit Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with Linux 4.9.162 LTS and Android 9 Pie 'with full source code BSP and pre-built image together.'" See Hardkernel's $63 (2GB RAM) and $79 (4GB) pages and the Odroid-N2 Wiki for more details.

CloudFlare launches "BoringTun", a Rust-written WireGuard userspace implementation. Phoronix reports that "CloudFlare took to creating BoringTun as they wanted a user-space solution as not to have to deal with kernel modules or satisfying certain kernel versions. They also wanted cross platform support and for their chosen implementation to be very fast, these choices which led them to writing a Rust-based solution." See also the CloudFlare blog for more details.

RaspAnd Pie 9 was released recently. Softpedia News reports that this version of the RaspAnd OS supports Android 9.0, "allowing you to run the mobile OS from Google on your tiny Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ computers". The RaspAnd Build 190315 includes "the Linux 4.14.61 kernel and excellent Wi-Fi support for both Raspberry Pi 3 models". You can purchase RaspAnd Pie 9 from here for $9.

News OpenDaylight Networking Debian Outreachy Google Summer of Code ODROID SBCs Embedded Cloudflare WireGuard Rust Raspberry Pi RaspAnd OS Android Mobile
Jill Franklin

Build a Custom Minimal Linux Distribution from Source, Part II

2 months 4 weeks ago
by Petros Koutoupis

Follow along with this step-by-step guide to creating your own distribution.

In an article in the June 2018 issue of LJ, I introduced a basic recipe for building your own minimal Linux-based distribution from source code packages. The guide started with the compilation of a cross-compiler toolchain that ran on your host system. Using that cross-compiler, I explained how to build a generic x86-64 target image, and the Linux Journal Operating System (LJOS) was born.

This guide builds on what you learned from Part I, so if you haven't already, be sure to go through those original steps up to the point where you are about to package the target image for distribution.

Glossary

Here's a quick review the terminology from the first part of this series:

  • Host: the host signifies the very machine on which you'll be doing the vast majority of work, including cross-compiling and installing the target image.
  • Target: the target is the final cross-compiled operating system that you'll be building from source packages. You'll build it using the cross-compiler on the host machine.
  • Cross-Compiler: you'll be building and using a cross-compiler to create the target image on the host machine. A cross-compiler is built to run on a host machine, but it's used to compile for an architecture or microprocessor that isn't compatible with the target machine.
Gathering the Packages

To follow along, you'll need the following:

  • busybox-1.28.3.tar.bz2 (the same package used in Part I).
  • clfs-embedded-bootscripts-1.0-pre5.tar.bz2 (the same package used in Part I).
  • Dropbear-2018.76.tar.bz2.
  • Iana-etc-2.30.tar.bz2.
  • netplug-1.2.9.2.tar.bz2.
  • sysstat-12.1.1.tar.gz.

Note: I ended up rebuilding this distribution with the 4.19.1 Linux kernel. If you want to do the same, be sure to install the development package of the OpenSSL libraries on your host machine or else the build will fail. On distributions like Debian or Ubuntu, this package is named libssl-dev.

Fixing Some Boot-Time Errors

After following along with Part I, you will have noticed that during boot time, a couple errors are generated (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Errors generated during the init process of a system boot.

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Petros Koutoupis

Vivaldi 2.4 Released, Chrome OS Stable Channel Updated to Version 73.0.3683.88, EU Parliament Approves the Directive on Copyright, Red Hat Announces Red Hat Satellite 6.5 Beta and Qtum Published an Arch User Repository Package for Arch Linux Systems

2 months 4 weeks ago

News briefs for March 27, 2019.

Vivaldi 2.4 has been released. According to the ghacks.net post, this new version includes "new toolbar customization options, bookmark management improvements, and support for multiple user profiles among other features." You can download Vivaldi from here.

The Chrome OS stable channel was updated to version 73.0.3683.88 this week. According to the Google Blog, this version includes several bug and security fixes, and several new features, such as better Chrome OS out-of-memory management, reports additional telemetry data for Chrome OS devices, developers can share files/folders with Linux apps and much more.

EU Parliament yesterday approved the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (the vote was 348–274). Creative Commons reports that "It retains Article 13, the harmful provision that will require nearly all for-profit web platforms to get a license for every user upload or otherwise install content filters and censor content, lest they be held liable for infringement. Article 11 also passed, which would force news aggregators to pay publishers for linking to their stories."

Red Hat today announced that Red Hat Satellite 6.5 beta is now available to current Satellite customers. From the announcement, "Red Hat Satellite is a scalable platform to manage patching, provisioning, and subscription management of your Red Hat infrastructure, regardless of where it is running. The Satellite 6.5 beta is focused on adding Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 as a supported version, so that when RHEL 8 is generally available our customers can immediately begin using it." Note that Satellite Beta 6.5 must be installed on RHEL 7. Support for RHEL 8 is coming later. Features the company is asking customers to review during beta testing include RHEL 8 support (application streams, system purpose and provisioning), content management, usability and security. Customers with Red Hat Satellite subscriptions can sign up here for the beta.

Qtum, the open-source public blockchain platform, yesterday published an Arch User Repository (AUR) package for Arch Linux-based systems. From the press release, "Developers now have access to complete and working installation of Qtum using the Arch Linux tools that they are accustomed to. Qtum gives developers the ability to use to open-source software by ensuring that the Qtum core technology runs across Arch or Arch Linux-based distributions. Focused on simplicity, Qtum's AUR package compiles Qtum on an Arch Linux system and generates a menu entry available on all desktops." See this Qtum blog post for more information on the AUR package.

News Vivaldi Chrome OS Google EU Copyright creative commons Red Hat RHEL Qtum Blockchain Arch Linux
Jill Franklin

Downsides to Raspberry Pi Alternatives

2 months 4 weeks ago
by Kyle Rankin

Learn about some of the risks when choosing an alternative to a Raspberry Pi for your project.

I have a lot of low-cost single-board computers (SBCs) at my house. And, I've written a number of articles for Linux Journal that discuss how I put those computers to use—whether it's controlling my beer fridge, replacing a rackmount file server, acting as a media PC connected to my TV or as an off-site backup server in my RV (plus many more). Even more recently, I wrote a "Pi-ventory" article where I tried to count up just how many of these machines I had in my home.

Although the majority of the SBCs I use are some form of Raspberry Pi, I also sometimes use Pi alternatives—SBCs that mimic the Raspberry Pi while also offering expanded features—whether that's gigabit Ethernet, faster CPUs, SATA ports, USB3 support or any number of other improvements. These boards often even mimic the Raspberry Pi by having "Pi" in their names, so you have Orange Pi and Banana Pi among others. Although Pi alternatives allow you to solve some problems better than a Raspberry Pi, and in many cases they provide hardware with better specifications for the same price, they aren't without their drawbacks. So in this article, I take a look at the downsides of going with a Pi alternative based on my personal experience.

Third-Party Support

The initial Raspberry Pi was a runaway success, and all of the subsequent models have sold incredibly well. There are only a few variants on the Raspberry Pi platform, and later hardware upgrades have done a good job at maintaining backward-compatibility where possible (in particular with overall board dimensions and placement of ports). There also have been only a few "official" Raspberry Pi peripherals through the years (the camera being the best example). When you have this many of a particular hardware device out in the world, and the primary vendor is mostly focused on the hardware itself, you have a strong market for add-ons and peripherals from third parties.

The secondary Raspberry Pi market is full of cases, peripherals and add-on hardware like USB WiFi dongles that promise to be compatible out of the box with earlier models that didn't include WiFi. Adafruit is a good example of an electronics vendor who has jumped into the Raspberry Pi secondary market with a lot of different hobbyist kits that feature the Raspberry Pi as the core computing and electronics platform. That company and others also have created custom add-on shields intended to stack on top of the Raspberry Pi and add additional features including a number of different screen options, sensors and even cellular support. There's even a company that offers a case to turn a Raspberry Pi into a small laptop.

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Kyle Rankin

Canonical Announces Full Enterprise Support for Kubernetes 1.14, Critical Security Update for Mozilla Thunderbird, Feral Interactive Releasing DiRT 4 for Linux March 28, Telegram Messaging Announces New Privacy Feature and Scalyr Launches PowerQueries

2 months 4 weeks ago

News briefs for March 26, 2019.

Canonical yesterday announced "full enterprise support for Kubernetes 1.14 using kubeadm deployments, its Charmed Kubernetes, and MicroK8s, its popular single-node deployment of Kubernetes". The Ubuntu Blog post quotes Carmine Rimi, Kubernetes product manager at Canonical: "'With this release, Canonical makes sure all container orchestration deployments and developers on Ubuntu benefit from the latest features of Kubernetes, as soon as they become available upstream.'" New features in Kubernetes 1.14 include Windows Node support, improved kubctl plugin system, durable local storage management and more.

Mozilla just released a critical security update for Thunderbird. Softpedia News reports that version 60.6.1 of Mozilla Thunderbird addresses two different security flaws, and that "both security vulnerabilities are marked with a critical severity rating, which means that users should deploy the patches as soon as possible." See the advisory for details.

Feral Interactive announces that DiRT 4 will be released for Linux and macOS on March 28th. DiRT was originally developed and published by Codemasters for PC and consoles. From the press release, "DiRT 4 delivers the intense thrill of all-terrain motorsport in an electrifying mix of disciplines. Players will hurtle through point-to-point Rally races, compete in events from the official FIA World Rallycross Championship, push trucks and buggies to the limit in exhilarating Landrush battles, and put their precision steering skills to the test in Joyride challenges." You can view the trailer here and preorder from the Feral Store for $59.99.

Telegram Messaging recently announced a new privacy feature that allows you to delete sent messages completely. According to LinuxInsider, the Telegram instant messaging service now lets you do two things: "First, it removes the previous 48-hour time limit for removing anything a user wrote from the devices of participants. Second, it lets users delete entire chats from the devices of all participating parties."

Scalyr yesterday announced PowerQueries, the company's first project launch of 2019. According to the press release, PowerQueries is "a new set of advanced log search functionality that leverages its existing real-time data processing engine so you can transform your data on the fly. PowerQueries lets 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."

News Canonical Kubernetes Ubuntu Mozilla Thunderbird Security Feral Interactive gaming Telegram Privacy instant messaging Scalyr
Jill Franklin

Why We Need Our Nonprofits

2 months 4 weeks ago
by Doc Searls

A confession: before I heard Bradley Kuhn's talk at Freenode.live last November, I didn't know that HDMI was a proprietary interface. I just assumed that HDMI was like VGA, USB and dozens of other standardized ways to connect the jacks on two devices through a cable with plugs at both ends. I did assume a cabal of companies was behind HDMI, but I didn't know that only "adopters" could make HDMI stuff, and that being an adopter required paying serious money to something called HDMI Licensing LLC.

I also didn't know there was a FLOSS story behind VGA. "We spent probably two decades getting VGA just to work everywhere", Bradley explained. And now, even though most projectors still respect VGA, "the presumed setup" for a presenter, he said, "is a proprietary HDMI connector". He didn't like that and now I don't either.

Could we have prevented HDMI from becoming what it is? Can we prevent the all-proprietary future of hardware and interfaces from coming to pass? This is a huge question, since the whole tech world seems to be moving in an embedded direction, with Linux and FLOSS goods (and values) buried deep inside proprietary and closed devices.

Bradley works with the Software Freedom Conservancy, a non-profit home and organizational infrastructure for FLOSS projects. It's an essential service. Git is there. So are Boost, Busybox, Samba, Squeak, Sugar, Wine and many others.

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Doc Searls

Episode 17: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

3 months ago
Your browser does not support the audio element. Reality 2.0 - Episode 17: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Katherine Druckman and Doc Searls talk to Bob Erdman, Security Product Manager for Helpsystems about Linux security threats.

Links mentioned:

Doc Searls

Subscribers: Auto-Download Linux Journal From the Command Line (v2.0)

3 months ago
by mitchfrazier

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 autolj script, which you can get here (updated to version 2.0, see the end of this article for a list of feature enhancements).

Follow the below few simple steps and you can download the entire magazine as a PDF, .epub or .mobi file with the greatest of ease each month. New to version 2.0 of this script, we've added the ability for you to pull down an individual Linux Journal article from the most recent issue within a terminal window (sometimes just reading one article at a time makes our wonderfully lengthy issues easier to get through!)

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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mitchfrazier

EU Copyright Directive Vote, GNU nano 4.0 Released, Redox OS 0.5.0 Announced, Sailfish OS 3.0.2 "Oulanka" Now Available and Linux Kernel 5.1-rc2 Released

3 months ago

News briefs for March 25, 2019.

Members of the European Parliament vote tomorrow on the Directive on Copyright. Those in the EU can go to SaveYourInternet to ask their representatives to vote against Article 17 (previously Article 13). See this Creative Commons blog post for more information. From the post: "The dramatic negative effects of upload filters would be disastrous to the vision Creative Commons cares about as an organisation and global community."

GNU nano 4.0 "Thy Rope of Sands" was released yesterday. Changes in this new version of the GNU nano text editor include overlong lines are no longer hard-wrapped automatically, smooth scrolling is now the default, newline characters are no longer added at the end of buffer and much more. You can download version 4.0 from here.

Redox OS 0.5.0 was released yesterday. From the announcement: "It has been one year and four days since the last release of Redox OS! In this time, we have been hard at work improving the Redox ecosystem. Much of this work was related to relibc, a new C library written in Rust and maintained by the Redox OS project, and adding new packages to the cookbook. We are proud to report that we have now far exceeded the capabilities of newlib, which we were using as our system C library before."

Sailfish OS 3.0.2 "Oulanka" is now available. Named after the Oulanka national park in Lapland and the Northern Ostrobothnia regions of Finland, this new version fixes more than 44 bugs. In addition, "With this new update you will find that the Top Menu has a new switch for silencing ringtones and there's a new battery saving mode to make the most out of low battery in those moments you need to stretch productivity. Email app supports now sending read receipts to inform that you have read the senders' email. Connectivity was improved in terms of firewall and global proxy. As for the user interface, home screen had memory optimizations for handling wallpapers, freeing memory for running other apps."

Linux 5.1-rc2 was released yesterday. Linus Torvalds writes: "Nothing particularly stands out. Yes, we had some fixes for the new io_ring code for issues that were discussed when merging it. Other than that, worth noting is that the bulk of the patches are for tooling, not the core kernel. In fact, about two thirds of the patch is just for the tools/ subdirectory, most of it due to some late perf tool updates. The people involved promise they're done."

News EU Copyright creative commons GNU Nano Redox Rust Sailfish kernel
Jill Franklin

Fun with Mail Merge and Cool Bash Arrays

3 months ago
by Dave Taylor

Creating a sed-based file substitution tool.

A few weeks ago, I was digging through my spam folder and found an email message that started out like this:

Dear #name# Congratulations on winning the $15.7 million lottery payout! To learn how to claim your winnings, please...

Obviously, it was a scam (does anyone actually fall for these?), but what captured my attention was the #name# sequence. Clearly that was a fail on the part of the sender who presumably didn't know how to use AnnoyingSpamTool 1.3 or whatever the heck he or she was using.

The more general notation for bulk email and file transformations is pretty interesting, however. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to use this sort of substitution, ranging from email newsletters (like the one I send every week from AskDaveTaylor.com—check it out!) to stockholder announcements and much more.

With that as the inspiration, let's build a tool that offers just this capability.

The simple version will be a 1:1 substitution, so #name# becomes, say, "Rick Deckard", while #first# might be "Rick" and #last# might be "Deckard". Let's build on that, but let's start small.

Simple Word Substitution in Linux

There are plenty of ways to tackle the word substitution from the command line, ranging from Perl to awk, but here I'm using the original UNIX command sed (stream editor) designed for exactly this purpose. General notation for a substitution is s/old/new/, and if you tack on a g at the end, it matches every occurrence on a line, not only the first, so the full command is s/old/new/g.

Before going further, here's a simple document that has necessary substitutions embedded:

$ cat convertme.txt #date# Dear #name#, I wanted to start by again thanking you for your generous donation of #amount# in #month#. We couldn't do our work without support from humans like you, #first#. This year we're looking at some unexpected expenses, particularly in Sector 5, which encompasses #state#, as you know. I'm hoping you can start the year with an additional contribution? Even #suggested# would be tremendously helpful. Thanks for your ongoing support. With regards, Rick Deckard Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Replicants

Scan through it, and you'll see there's a lot of substitutions to do: #date#, #name#, #amount#, #month#, #first#, #state# and #suggested#. It turns out that #date# will be replaced with the current date, and #suggested# is one that'll be calculated as the letter is processed, but that's for a bit later, so stay tuned for that.

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Dave Taylor