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Updated: 4 hours 46 min ago

New GHOST Scaring Linux Users

Wednesday 28th of January 2015 04:30:11 AM

The top story today is the news that a major security vulnerability has existed in glibc (C libraries) since version 2.2. In other news, Charles H. Schulz previews LibreOffice 4.4 and Bruce Byfield looks at the state of Linux desktops. Speaking of desktops, KDE announced Plasma 5.2 saying it "adds a number of new components, many new features and many more bugfixes."

A new vulnerability was disclosed today effecting a lot of Linux systems according to security audit firm Qualys, Inc. The flaw, dubbed GHOST because it calls GetHost, in glibc 2.2 through 2.17 allows an attacker to create a buffer overflow that then can be used to take over machines. Debian, Red Hat, and Ubuntu are reported as among those with updates available. Major distributions were advised of the flaw some time ago and have been working with Qualys to patch.

While the exploit wasn't as widespread as it might have been, Qualys said the fix that was made in May 2013 wasn't listed as a security update, so many long term distribution versions hadn't made the switch until advised of the problem. The vulnerability exploited calls that aren't used much anymore according to Qualys, but Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writing on the subject today said, "My advice to you is to now, not later today, now, update your Linux system since gethostbyname is called on by so many core processes, such as auditd, dbus-daem, dhclient, init, master, mysqld, rsyslogd, sshd, udevd, and xinetd."

Elsewhere:

* Linux Desktop Evolution: Minor, Invisible, or Aesthetic

* Plasma 5.2 Is Beautiful and Featureful

* LibreOffice 4.4 the beautiful

* Dell updates Linux-powered Developer Edition portables with M3800 monster

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Black Duck Announces Open Source Rookies of the Year

Tuesday 27th of January 2015 04:01:01 PM

Black Duck Software, the OSS Logistics solutions provider, today announced its seventh annual Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year awards, which recognizes the top new open source projects initiated in 2014. This year's honorees span security, cloud storage, Bitcoin marketplaces, DevOps tools, and database management. The projects specifically address needs in the enterprise, consumer applications, and the Docker community.

As always, this list is more than worth a look, and has previously called out important projects like OpenStack and Docker early in their lifecycles.

Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year are selected irrespective of commercial motivations, according to Black Duck officials. Rather, they reflect projects that have demonstrated significant traction through developer contributions and involvement over the past year. 

This year’s list members reflect trends and dynamic contributions to the open source community. The Open Source Rookies of the Year for 2014 are:

cAdvisor – analyzes resource usage and performance characteristics of running containers.

CockroachDB – a scalable, geo-replicated, transactional datastore.

CodeCombat – a multiplayer programming game for learning how to code.

DebOps – a collection of Ansible playbooks and roles, scalable from one container to an entire data center.

IPFS – a global, versioned, peer-to-peer file system.

Kubernetes – an open source container cluster manager used to accelerate development and simplify operations.

Neovim – the Vim text editor has been loved by a generation of users. Neovim is the next generation.

OpenBazaar – a decentralized marketplace for instantly trading with anyone using Bitcoin.

Storj – based on blockchain technology and peer-to-peer protocols, Storj provides the most secure, private, and encrypted cloud storage.

Terraform.io – a tool for building, changing, and combining infrastructure safely and efficiently.

Honorable Mentions: Drone-Ci, a Continuous Integration platform built on Docker and written in Go, and Docker Fig, which provides fast, isolated development environments using Docker.

“I’m always excited about publishing our annual Open Source Rookies of the Year report. It reflects the highly visible projects from well-known contributors, and also reveals hidden gems that often grow into important, meaningful projects,” said Dave Gruber, Vice President, Product Management & Product Marketing, Black Duck Software, in a statement. “Navigating the more than one million meaningful open source projects in the world is becoming an overwhelming task for developers today, so we are happy to help leverage the Black Duck KnowledgeBase and Black Duck Open Hub to identify a short-list of the newest up-and-comers from the past year.”

You can find coverage of several of these emerging projects here on OStatic, and InfoWorld has a good slideshow with details on this year's honorees.  We've covered Kubernetes here and here, as well as Docker and the emerging ecosystem of tools surrounding it.

 

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Cloud-Smart Apache BookKeeper Graduates to Top Level Project

Tuesday 27th of January 2015 03:50:04 PM

One of the Achilles heels of administrators of Big Data and cloud computing deployments is that disk/server failure rates occur on up to 10 percent of systems annually. That failure rate calls for data replication strategies and use of services for replication.

One of the emerging projects focused on that task is Apache BookKeeper, an open source project that was established in 2011 as a sub-project of Apache ZooKeeper (an open Source API for reliable distributed coordination) to reliably log streams of records. Bookkeeper serves as a building block for reliable system consistency and recovery, and can be used to turn any standalone service into a highly available replicated service. Now, the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has fast tracked Bookkeeper by making it a Top Level Project.

According to the ASF:

"One way to build a replicated service is to ensure that all write operations to the service are copied to all replicas; Apache BookKeeper's replicated logging service is well suited for this purpose. A database may have two replicas to ensure availability: if one crashes, the other can continue to serve traffic. However, ensuring that the data in these two replicas is consistent is not an easy problem to solve. Unlike naive solutions that run into problems like deadlock and inconsistency when one or both of the replicas fail, BookKeeper uses a combination of quorum writes, fencing, and, when necessary, outsourcing of consensus to ZooKeeper to ensure no state will be lost in the case of a replica failure. BookKeeper can similarly be applied to different classes of systems, such as messaging systems, filesystems and transaction processing systems."

Apache BookKeeper scales horizontally as more storage nodes are added, and is already in use in many cloud deployments. BookKeeper is used in production at Yahoo as the persistence layer for its cloud messaging infrastructure, and is also used at Twitter as the replicated persistence backend for different messaging use cases. BookKeeper is also used by Huawei for shared storage in their solution for HDFS Namenode High Availability.

"We're very proud to have BookKeeper become a Top-Level Project. It is a testament to the hard work that my fellow committers have put in over the years that the ASF would give us their stamp of approval," said Ivan Kelly, Vice President of Apache BookKeeper, in a statement. "We hope that the increased exposure will bring even more contributions and use cases to the community."

If you are interested in joining the BookKeeper community, visit http://bookkeeper.apache.org and https://twitter.com/asfbookkeeper

One way to build a replicated service is to ensure that all write operations to the service are copied to all replicas; Apache BookKeeper's replicated logging service is well suited for this purpose. A database may have two replicas to ensure availability: if one crashes, the other can continue to serve traffic. However, ensuring that the data in these two replicas is consistent is not an easy problem to solve. Unlike naive solutions that run into problems like deadlock and inconsistency when one or both of the replicas fail, BookKeeper uses a combination of quorum writes, fencing, and, when necessary, outsourcing of consensus to ZooKeeper to ensure no state will be lost in the case of a replica failure. BookKeeper can similarly be applied to different classes of systems, such as messaging systems, filesystems and transaction processing systems. - See more at: http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/01/27/700172/10117113/en/The-Apache-Software-Foundation-Announces-Apache-tm-BookKeeper-tm-as-a-Top-Level-Project.html#sthash.NM7KeI6w.dpuf

Apache BookKeeper is highly available (no single point of failure), and scales horizontally as more storage nodes are added. BookKeeper is used in production at Yahoo as the persistence layer for its Cloud messaging infrastructure, and is also used at Twitter as the replicated persistence backend for different messaging use cases. BookKeeper is also used by Huawei as a shared storage in their solution for HDFS Namenode High Availability.

- See more at: http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/01/27/700172/10117113/en/The-Apache-Software-Foundation-Announces-Apache-tm-BookKeeper-tm-as-a-Top-Level-Project.html#sthash.NM7KeI6w.dpuf

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Windows 10 versus Linux

Tuesday 27th of January 2015 04:42:59 AM

Windows 10 seemed to dominate the headlines today, even in many Linux circles. Leading the pack is Brian Fagioli at betanews.com saying Windows 10 is ringing the death knell for Linux desktops. Microsoft announced today that Windows 10 will be free for loyal Windows users and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols said it's the newest Open Source company. Then Matt Hartley compares Windows 10 to Ubuntu and Jesse Smith reviews Windows 10 from a Linux user's perspective.

Windows 10 was the talk around water coolers today with Microsoft's announcement that it would be free for Windows 7 and up users. Here in Linuxland, that didn't go unnoticed. Brian Fagioli at betanews.com, a self-proclaimed Linux fan, said today, "Windows 10 closes the door entirely. The year of the Linux desktop will never happen. Rest in peace." Fagioli explained that Microsoft listened to user complaints and not only addressed them but improved way beyond that. He said Linux missed the boat by failing to capitalize on the Windows 8 unpopularity and ultimate failure. Then he concluded that we on the fringe must accept our "shattered dreams" thanks to Windows 10.

However, Jesse Smith, of Distrowatch.com fame, said Microsoft isn't making it easy to find the download, but it is possible and he did it. The installer was simple enough except for the partitioner, which was quite limited and almost scary. After finally getting into Windows 10, Smith said the layout was "sparce" without a lot of the distractions folks hated about 7. The menu is back and the start screen is gone. A new package manager looks a lot like Ubuntu's and Android's according to Smith, but requires an online Microsoft account to use. Smith concludes in part, "Windows 10 feels like a beta for an early version of Android, a consumer operating system that is designed to be on-line all the time. It does not feel like an operating system I would use to get work done."

Smith's full article compares Windows 10 to Linux quite a bit, but Matt Hartley today posted an actual Windows 10 vs Linux report. He said both installers were straightforward and easy Windows still doesn't dual boot easily and Windows provides encryption by default but Ubuntu offers it as an option. At the desktop Hartley said Windows 10 "is struggling to let go of its Windows 8 roots." He thought the Windows Store looks more polished than Ubuntu's but didn't really like the "tile everything" approach to newly installed apps. In conclusion, Hartley said, "The first issue is that it's going to be a free upgrade for a lot of Windows users. This means the barrier to entry and upgrade is largely removed. Second, it seems this time Microsoft has really buckled down on listening to what their users want."

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols today said that Microsoft is the newest Open Source company; not because it's going to be releasing Windows 10 as a free upgrade but because Microsoft is changing itself from a software company to a software as a service company. And, according to Vaughan-Nichols, Microsoft needs Open Source to do it. They've been working on it for years beginning with Novell/SUSE. Not only that, they've been releasing software as Open Source as well (whatever the motives). Vaughan-Nichols concluded, "Most people won't see it, but Microsoft -- yes Microsoft -- has become an open-source company."

In other news:

* First thoughts on KaOS 2014.12

* Debian Forked: All for Devuan and Devuan for All?

* 5 reasons Valve's Steam Machine dream is still very alive

* 6 big changes coming to Fedora 22

* Top Ten Things Linux Users Say About systemd

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Satya Nadella Shakes Up Windows and Azure Pricing Models

Monday 26th of January 2015 04:18:01 PM

In case you haven't checked recently, Microsoft is radically reshaping its approach to Windows fees, subscriptions and licensing. It's all being driven by new CEO Satya Nadella (shown here), who rose to the top position at the Redmond giant following a long stint being in charge of Microsoft's cloud computing arm.

Nadella knows from his time focusing on cloud computing that subscription models for software and support are today's winning models, and he has professed his own love of open source.  That's why it is no surprise to see that Microsoft has confirmed that its Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS), including Windows, is being priced at a very low $7 to $12 per user per month subscription model.

As Computerworld notes:

"Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Management is already a bargain at that $7-$12 (depending on deployment size) per person price: It includes Azure Active Directory for identity management, OneDrive for Business, the MDOP desktop optimization suite, Intune MDM, Office on all your devices and unlimited VDI licensing."

Indeed, Nadella knows that he needs to connect Microsoft's big installed base of Windows users to his vision of the company's cloud computing future.

The remarkable thing is that if you ask many longstanding IT administrators about Microsoft's fees and licensing practices, they'll tend to have very negative things to say. But Nadella is really shaking the pricing model up, and he is working to keep Azure very relevant along with Windows.

This, of course, will have implications for all kinds of open source platforms ranging from OpenStack to Linux. At very low prices, many enterprises will opt for Windows and Microsoft's cloud strictly for compatibility reasons. It's becoming more and more clear that we aren't witnessing the old Microsoft anymore.

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Why Security May Be the Key Issue in the OpenStack Race

Monday 26th of January 2015 04:06:41 PM

Recently, OStatic interviewed Boris Renski, who is the co-founder of OpenStack-focused company Mirantis. In the interview, Renski noted that much expected consolidation in the OpenStack race may have already happened. "The consolidation has already happened," he said. "I predicted it in December 2013. CloudStaling, Metacloud, and eNovance were acquired. Rackspace and StackOps pivoted to focus their business on managed hosting. MorphLabs seem to have gone away altogether. Piston and Nebula are still around, but seem to be in a niche that doesn't directly compete with Mirantis' OpenStack distribution. It is us, Red Hat, VMware and HP...and that's it."

Still. the competition going on between the remaining players is fierce, and it is becoming increasingly clear that security may be a giant differentiator in the OpenStack race. In fact, Red Hat's Vice President of Customer Engagement and Experience, Marco Bill-Peter, recently made that issue plain in a blog post

Bill-Peter's post focuses on the security-related peace of mind that comes from subscription-based software support—especially after recent major security problems ranging from Heartbleed to Shellshock.

He writes:

"Red Hat's Product Security team supports more than 100 different products and versions, ranging from our flagship product Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat JBoss Middleware to our emerging products including Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, OpenShift, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host...2014 will be remembered for a number of high profile vulnerabilities including Heartbleed, ShellShock, and Poodle. While we provided fast updates to correct these vulnerabilities that affected Red Hat products, getting solutions to customers was only part of the service we provided. When serious issues were found in the UNIX-like shell, Bash, called ShellShock in September 2014, Red Hat customers received timely advice, industry-leading security expertise, access to technical information and support, proactive notifications, Customer Portal alerts and articles, and a Red Hat Access Labs self-detection tool."

 Not only are these points that OpenStack administrators will want to listen to, but the simple fact is that almost none of the rapidly proliferating OpenStack training options include any curriculum on security at all. In short, budding OpenStack administrators are being taught to master everything but security.

As the Var Guy notes in a related post:

"The lesson for the channel is that, as security threats (along with data privacy compliance) become more serious than ever, open source software vendors have a growing opportunity for pitching the value of software support services. It's no longer only about having someone to call when Apache crashes and won't restart."

 

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Zenwalk and Chakra Reviews, Another 32-Bit Voice

Saturday 24th of January 2015 04:38:22 AM

Today in Linux news, Jack Germain has a review of Zenwalk and Dedoimedo.com tries to review Chakra. With the pro-32 bit architecture folks seemingly winning the argument, Bruce Byfield weights in saying what's surprising is that it's taken so long to deprecate. Elsewhere, Softpedia.com is reporting that Linus Torvalds patched the kernel to fix a Witcher 2 issue.

Zenwalk Linux got a new review today from Jack Germain. He explains, "Zenwalk is an alternative to other fully functional lightweight Linux OSes that do not require full installation. It shares a family history with the likes of Puppy Linux, VectorLinux, Knoppix and Porteus, only it is much better and easier to use." Germain gives it the once over and discusses the pros and cons before concluding, "Zenwalk Linux could serve a useful purpose for users looking for an out-of-the-box portable live Linux solution, but power users and those with more demanding needs no doubt will find this distro lacking."

Dedoimedo.com tested and installed Chakra 2014.11 LIve today but ends the review abruptly when the installed system garbled and froze. He said, " I do not really know what went wrong, but for me, Chakra is getting progressively worse and less friendly. It started as a very cool, very unique distro, and then hardware problems and compatibility issues started piling up until it's become completely unbootable. Such a shame."

There was a bit of a row the other day whether 32-bit architecture is getting too obsolete to support. For now it seems the challenges are still well worth it to many. However, Bruce Byfield today posted a piece saying, "The change is only a matter of time in all distributions. The only surprising thing is that the transition from 32 to 64 bit computing has taken so long." He said 64-bit became the standard in 2003 yet most distributions are still supporting 32-bit. After pondering the delay in transitioning, he decided the reason is probably because 32-bit was "good enough" for most users for so long. In the end Byfield concluded, "At some point in the near future, proposals like Smoogen's are going to be accepted in most distros. Anything that reduces the work load is going to receive serious consideration."

In other news:

* Weekend Viewing: Catch up on LCA 2015

* Torvalds to Patch the Kernel for a Witcher 2 Problem

* Lens: An alernative to desktop agnostic UIs

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Hortonworks' Hadoop Platform Now on Google Cloud Platform

Friday 23rd of January 2015 04:14:52 PM

On the heels of its introduction as a hot new publlic company a few weeks ago, Hortonworks, which focuses on the open source Big Data platform Hadoop, is expanding its reach. Recently, Hortonworks extended its technology partner program with the addition of three new certifications it offers. Hadoop-related certification is a very hot commodity in the tech job market at the moment.

And now, Hortonworks‘ own distribution of the Hadoop platform is available and supported on Google’s public cloud, the Google Cloud Platform--a ringing endorsement.

Hadoop lets organizations sift and process data in powerful ways, allowing them to cull insights that they couldn't get with standard tools like databases. Hortonworks' distribution of Hadoop is already popular, but integrating with Google's Cloud Platform will give it a boost.

According to a post from Hortonworks:

"As enterprises adopt the cloud and Apache Hadoop, they look to leverage the Google Cloud Platform and Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), the only 100% open source distribution of Apache Hadoop. Today, we are thrilled to announce the certification and availability of HDP on Google Cloud Platform."

"With this new certification, enterprises worldwide can dynamically provision HDP clusters on Google Compute Engine and Google Cloud Storage to store, discover and analyze a unified collection of structured and unstructured information assets. With Google Cloud Platform and Hortonworks Data Platform, enterprises benefit from limitless scalability and an enterprise-grade platform backed by community driven open source innovation."

According to Hortonworks, the company worked closely with Google on the integration. Engineering teams collaborated to integrate “bdutil” with Apache Ambari Blueprints API, "to deliver a simple and streamlined provisioning experience for the end user," says the company. Key highlights of the joint solution include:

Google’s “bdutil” with Apache Ambari plugin to provision infrastructure and fully configure the Hadoop cluster.

Source code available for use & open contribution on GitHub with Apache License v2.

You can learn more at https://cloud.google.com/solutions/hadoop and there is detailed “bdutil” usage instruction available on a github page.

 

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Platform9 Claims its OpenStack Private Clouds Can Spin Up in Minutes

Friday 23rd of January 2015 03:43:08 PM

Platform9, which many people have taken note of as a virtualization-focused startup, is making news this week after it announced the availability of Platform9 Managed OpenStack, a SaaS solution that leverages an organization's existing servers into an AWS-like agile, self-service private cloud. Platform9 claims it can allow organizations to spin up an OpenStack private cloud deployment within minutes.

Platform9 ran a six month beta test where the new service was tested by enterprises and service providers with thousands of virtual machine deployments every day. In addition to supporting KVM environments today, Platform9 Managed OpenStack is now available in beta for VMware vSphere environments, with more than 20 customers participating in the beta. Support for Docker is in development, and a beta will be announced later this year.

According to Platform9 some of the managed service agreements that organizations are committing to may not be entirely worth the money:

"Public clouds like AWS and elite technology firms like Google manage their infrastructure with efficient resource pooling, infrastructure automation and developer self-service. Organizations are looking to achieve the same level of agility and efficiency with a private cloud, thus enabling Devops workflows using their in-house infrastructure. OpenStack is the solution that customers turn to, since it is the leading open source project channeling innovations in cloud infrastructure. However, most organizations struggle to realize OpenStack's potential due to challenges in implementation -- they may lack the skills required, end up creating greenfield silos, and often end up in professional service engagements with questionable ROI."

"CIOs are looking to transform their highly virtualized datacenters into private cloud infrastructures, delivering greater management automation and efficiency to their organizations. They have been evaluating open source projects like OpenStack and KVM, but needed simplifications to the packaging and operational experience," said Mark Bowker, Senior Analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, in a statement. "Platform9's OpenStack-as-a-Service model simplifies the operational experience for OpenStack to make it accessible to a wide range of organizations. This innovative new approach to private cloud management could trigger the inflection point for OpenStack and private clouds we've been waiting for."

"Today, Platform9 is disrupting the complexity barrier to private clouds with Platform9 Managed OpenStack -- its SaaS simplicity, production readiness, and seamless integration with existing environments enable every organization to manage their in-house infrastructure with greater agility and efficiency," said Sirish Raghuram, Co-founder and CEO of Platform9. "It is especially satisfying that we're able to experience the benefits of an OpenStack based private cloud, by using our product just as our customers do. Over the past six months, we have moved all of our dev/test workloads from the public cloud to a Platform9 managed private cloud, thus realizing significant cost savings and development agility."

Platform9 Managed OpenStack is now generally available with three tiers:

   1.   Lite is a free tier for those testing or learning about OpenStack, and is limited in scale
   2.   Business tier with unlimited scale is priced at $49 per CPU per month (annual subscription required)
   3.   Enterprise tier for advanced features and premium support. Customers can sign up for the Lite tier or start a free Business/Enterprise trial via http://www.platform9.com

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Hoogland Expounds and Ticking off Linus

Friday 23rd of January 2015 04:05:04 AM

Monday I speculated that Bodhi Linux founder Jeff Hoogland's change of heart was possibly due to reminiscing with Christine Hall in her interview. Well, today Hall spoke with Hoogland again to find out. In other news, Phil Johnson has 11 technologies that annoy Linus Torvalds and Softpedia.com is reporting on Torvalds' decision to leave code in the kernel for one lone machine. Jack Wallen said ordinary users are the ideal candidates for Linux and Konrad Zapałowicz is back with three ways beginners can help out with the kernel.

Monday we reported on Jeff Hoogland's decision to return to his pet project Bodhi Linux, from which he retired several months back. In that same post I speculated his change of heart may have been due to reminiscing about those happy days at Bodhi with Foss Force's Christine Hall in her January 12 interview. Well, today Hall asked Hoogland why the return and he replied, "Not going to lie, talking with you a few weeks ago had me feeling a bit nostalgic about the project." He added that his schedule had loosened up and now had more time to invest. His now former successors were doing fine according to Hoogland, but he said he just thought it was too much with the new release approaching. Bodhi 3.0 is expected in February and Hoogland said users shouldn't expect too many big surprises.

Phil Johnson posted a slideshow at ITworld.com of some of Linus Torvalds' technological pet-peeves. He begins his show with Emacs and quote Linus saying, "... real emacs... is the tool of the devil." GNOME, Java, C++, and GCC also made the list as well as a couple of other kernels. Torvalds' comments on Solaris are even remembered, one of which said he hoped they died.  In other Linus news, Torvalds keeps code in kernel for just one user. Try getting service like that with Windows.

Jack Wallen today said that developers, admins, and geeks aren't the only ones that should be using Linux. No. With all the malware out there and considering we've all become browser-centric users, according to Wallen, the idea candidate for Linux is the regular ordinary everyday user. I've been saying that for fifteen years, but Wallen contends that "the platform" is nearly invisible behind the browser these days anyway, so now is the perfect time to switch them.

In other news:

* Red Hat Is Hiring More Developers to Work on Graphics

* Three Ways for Beginners to Contribute to the Linux Kernel

* Vivid Vervet Alpha 2 Released

* A Look at Pentoo Linux and Its Security Analysis Tools (slideshow)

* Librem 15, the first free software GNU/Linux laptop, makes funding goal

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Snappy Ubuntu Headed for Internet of Things, Robots

Thursday 22nd of January 2015 04:17:47 PM

Among Linux distributions, Ubuntu has an absolutely sterling reputation as a proven operating system that developers can build around. In fact, more than half of OpenStack deployments are being built on Ubuntu, according to the OpenStack Foundation.

Years ago, the Canonical team launched a stripped down version of the Ubuntu core aimed at embedded systems. Recently, primarily with container farms as the targets, the Ubuntu team is out with a new “snappy” version of Ubuntu Core. This minimalist take on Ubuntu can actually serve many purposes and is now being adopted by the robotics and Internet of Things communities.

CyberVision, a trusted global provider of IT engineering services, announces its new partnership with Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. Integration between the latest Snappy Ubuntu and Kaa, the IoT middleware framework from CyberVision, will give the IoT community a powerful open toolkit for building modern IoT solutions. - See more at: http://www.industrytoday.co.uk/it/cybervision-launches-new-collaboration-with-canonical/33626#sthash.kMlreJnD.dpuf

 CyberVision, which provides IT engineering services, has a new partnership with Canonical in which it will integrate the latest Snappy Ubuntu and Kaa, the IoT middleware framework from CyberVision, to drive the Internet of Things forward.

“As the Internet of Things gets closer to becoming a reality, the need for versatile, cross-technology, open building platforms becomes more widely recognized. Numerous pre-packaged solutions have proved IoT to be a great thing, but they are no longer enough to drive its evolution. To unleash the real value of IoT, the foundational technology has to be made accessible to a wide community of engineers, the technology which is powerful enough to create entire IoT ecosystems. We believe that an integrated solution between Kaa IoT platform and Ubuntu will provide developers with the previously unattainable degree of independence from the hardware and application code specifics when building IoT solutions. Therefore, it will be much easier and faster to build heterogeneous IoT solutions, consisting of software components and connected devices of various types and vendors.” – says Andrew Kokhanovskyi, CTO of CyberVision. - See more at: http://www.industrytoday.co.uk/it/cybervision-launches-new-collaboration-with-canonical/33626#sthash.Fayi7Cu7.dpuf

 “As the Internet of Things gets closer to becoming a reality, the need for versatile, cross-technology, open building platforms becomes more widely recognized. Numerous pre-packaged solutions have proved IoT to be a great thing, but they are no longer enough to drive its evolution. To unleash the real value of IoT, the foundational technology has to be made accessible to a wide community of engineers, the technology which is powerful enough to create entire IoT ecosystems. We believe that an integrated solution between Kaa IoT platform and Ubuntu will provide developers with the previously unattainable degree of independence from the hardware and application code specifics when building IoT solutions. Therefore, it will be much easier and faster to build heterogeneous IoT solutions, consisting of software components and connected devices of various types and vendors," said Andrew Kokhanovskyi, CTO of CyberVision.

 Meanwhile, robots are also going to benefit from Snappy Ubuntu. Canonical has already ot players such as the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), drone outfit Erle Robotics and connected hub maker NinjaBlocks on board, reports GigaOM.

According to Canonical:

"Ubuntu Core is a new rendition of Ubuntu for the cloud with transactional updates. Ubuntu Core is a minimal server image with the same libraries as today’s Ubuntu, but applications are provided through a simpler mechanism. The snappy approach is faster, more reliable, and lets us provide stronger security guarantees for apps and users — that’s why we call them 'snappy' applications."

"Snappy apps and Ubuntu Core itself can be upgraded atomically and rolled back if needed — a bulletproof approach to systems management that is perfect for container deployments. It’s called transactional or image-based systems management, and we’re delighted to make it available on every Ubuntu certified cloud."

The team at Canonical is even going so far as to call Snappy the “biggest revolution in Ubuntu since we launched our mobile initiative.” We're likely to see Snappy arrive in many new types of devices and deployments.

 

 

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Mirantis Broadens OpenStack Training, Certification

Thursday 22nd of January 2015 04:02:52 PM

Mirantis, focused on the OpenStack cloud computing platform, has expanded its ambitious Mirantis Training for OpenStack course collection with two new courses and a Certificate Verification portal. Mirantis' training platform has been running since 2011, and is differentiated from some other training platforms in that the coursework is OpenStack distribution-agnostic. According to Mirantis, Eighty eight percent of students rate it as better than other professional industry training offerings due to the quality of its instructors, its hands-on format, and its curriculum that is removed of vendor bias.

In an interview with OStatic, Mirantis co-founder Boris Renski emphasized that the number of players in the OpenStack arena to take seriously is narrowing down, and that Mirantis gets an advantage from being purely focused on OpenStack:

"We see only four credible vendors left standing in the OpenStack market: Mirantis, Red Hat, VMware and HP. Our competitive advantage at Mirantis is our pure-play focus. We only do OpenStack. We have no other product or services agenda to upsell, cross-sell or lock-in any customers. This OpenStack only approach lets us provide a better solution for both kinds of customers we serve - the developers that use Mirantis OpenStack and the infrastructure team that has to run it. Unlike our competitors, we are not burdened by other products in our solutions portfolio. We focus on supporting those OpenStack configurations that customers really need, not those that pull other products in our list of offerings."

In fact, Renski is adamant that much of the meaningful consolidation on the OpenStack scene has happened:

"The consolidation has already happened, I predicted it in December 2013. CloudStaling, Metacloud, and eNovance were acquired. Rackspace and StackOps pivoted to focus their business on managed hosting. MorphLabs seem to have gone away altogether. Piston and Nebula are still around, but seem to be in a niche that doesn't directly compete with Mirantis' OpenStack distribution. It is us, Red Hat, VMware and HP...and that's it." 

The OpenStack community reports OpenStack as improving their resumes and as being a highly-valued job skill. Job tracking site Indeed has more than 2,000 career listings that specifically request OpenStack skills and shows that system administrators with OpenStack skills in the U.S. enjoy a $32,000 annual salary premium over their peers. This number will only grow; the BSA Global Cloud Scorecard 2013 predicts an estimated 14 million cloud jobs will be created by 2015.

All of that is behind why Mirantis is expanding its training platform. In addition to its pre-existing OpenStack Bootcamp I (OS100) training for IT professionals, Mirantis now offers OpenStack Fundamentals (OS50), a one-day course for business professionals, and OpenStack Bootcamp II (OS200), a training for students with extensive background in OpenStack. Mirantis Certification is billed as the only vendor-agnostic certification for OpenStack. Mirantis Certified professionals will also now be listed in Mirantis’ new Certificate Verification portal. The portal lets potential employers search for Mirantis Certified professionals and verify their credentials with their certification number.

“Mirantis Training is a powerful engine behind the industry’s adoption of OpenStack,” said Lee Xie, Head of OpenStack Training Services, Mirantis. “We have given more than 5,000 students hands-on experience in standing up and managing an OpenStack environment. Of these, an estimated 30 percent* report successfully deploying OpenStack in their organizations as a result of their training.”

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Fedora's 32-Bit Scare

Thursday 22nd of January 2015 04:16:06 AM

Stephen Smoogen Monday proposed that Fedora drop the 32-bit architecture with version 23 or 24 to see what folks might think. 83 comments and, at least, one strongly worded blog post later Smoogen had his answer.  Today he posted an apology and retraction. In other news, KDE 5.3 promises to be faster and GNOME 3.15 may be safer.

Last Monday, Fedora developer and steering committee member, Stephen Smoogen posted, "I am going to make the uncomfortable and ugly proposal to drop 32 bit in Fedora 23 and only look at 64 bit architectures as primary architectures." The post made a bit of news and sparked discussions. Smoogen's post got 83 comments alone.

FossForce's Larry Cafiero even weighed in today with his outrage saying "the incalculable enormity of bad in this proposal" is "immeasurable." Cafiero believes there are lots of folks still using 32-bit, especially in poorer countries. Cafiero and other comments accused Smoogen and Red Hat/Fedora of being "first-world thinkers." The one side of most of the comments are folks stating that they, or someone somewhere, are still using a 32-bit machine in one way or another. The other side say the arch is obsolete and should go the way of the dinosaur.

In any case, Smoogen was shamed into submission and today posted an apology and retraction. He says his original post was "meant to be absurd" and that he made things worse by trying to defend his original argument. He added that he was actually worried about those still using 32-bit "living on borrowed time."

In other headlines today:

* Martin Gräßlin: KWin on Speed

* Matthias Clasen: Sandboxed applications for GNOME

* Are Linux Graphic Apps Ready for Professionals?

* What the heck are Ubuntu Unity's Scopes?

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Targeted Tools Proliferate in the Hadoop, Big Data Ecosystems

Wednesday 21st of January 2015 04:19:27 PM

People in the Big Data and Hadoop communities are becoming increasingly interested in tools that are forming an ecosystem around Hadoop. These tools have specialized ways of enhancing the insights into data that organizations can get from Hadoop, and they range from Elastic Search to Qubole, which offers analytics on Hadoop data as a service (HaaS), to Apache Spark, an open source data analytics cluster computing framework originally developed in the AMPLab at UC Berkeley. 

Here is a look at some of the new and interesting tools that orbit Hadoop in the Big Data ecosystem.

Qubole. Many new kinds of storage software applications are arising in the Big Data arena. Qubole is an interesting example. It can be used for managing on-demand elastic clusters in the cloud, and can remove the need for Hadoop cluster skills. Find out more on it from The Register

Spark. Apache Spark, an open source data analytics cluster computing framework, can arm developers and software engineers with resources to build complete, unified applications that combine batch, streaming, and interactive analytics. "Spark offers clear benefits for realizing sophisticated analytics and is quickly becoming the future of data processing on Hadoop," said Sarah Sproehnle, vice president, Education Services, Cloudera. "For example, Spark Streaming enables businesses to process live data as it arrives in the enterprise data hub, rather than having to wait to batch-process it later." You can find out more about Spark here

Drill and Falcon.  Falcon, among the most promising technologies in the Hadoop  ecosystem, has just become a top-level project of the Apache Software Foundation. As Silicon Angle notes, Falcon can help serve billions of data requests with wildly varying requirements. It provides a smart framework for implementing automated controls to manage the flow of information.

Meanwhile, Apache Drill has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP). It's billed as the world's first schema-free SQL query engine that delivers real-time insights by removing the constraint of building and maintaining schemas before data can be analyzed. The Hadoop community is embracing Drill, and we have a complete interview available about it here.

Hadoop Search Tools. In addition to Elastic Search, many organizations are leveraging other search tools, as we covered here.  Hive interactive query capabilities and tools that leverage Apache Solr are all worth looking into, with much more on them here and here

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A New Service Discovery Tool for Use with Apache Mesos

Wednesday 21st of January 2015 03:56:14 PM

Recently, Mesosphere has been covered here on OStatic in a series of posts, including an interview with the company's Ben Hindman, in which he discusses the need for a "data center operating system." Mesosphere's data center operating system is built on the open source Apache Mesos project, which is being leveraged by many organizations for distributed resource and network management.

Now Mesoshpere has contributed a new, related project to open source: Mesos-DNS, a stateless DNS server for Mesos. The tool provides service discovery as an essential building block to connect applications and services.

According to a post on Mesos-DNS:

"At its simplest, service discovery is the mechanism by which an application or service can "discover" where other applications and services are located so that they can be connected. In a datacenter managed by Mesos, service discovery is especially important because applications and services are placed on machines (and sometimes moved) based on real time scheduling decisions as Mesos scales them out or restarts them after a machine failure. In such a dynamic environment, it is difficult for applications and services to find and keep up with the location of other applications and services they rely on."

 "Until now, each user of Mesos was required to choose their own service discovery mechanism, or to use a patchwork of mechanisms supplied by different frameworks. Mesos-DNS offers a service discovery system purposely built for Mesos. It allows applications and services running on Mesos to find each other with DNS, similarly to how services discover each other throughout the Internet. Applications launched by Marathon or Aurora are assigned names like search.marathon.mesos or log-aggregator.aurora.mesos. Mesos-DNS translates these names to the IP address and port on the machine currently running each application. To connect to an application in the Mesos datacenter, all you need to know is its name. Every time a connection is initiated, the DNS translation will point to the right machine in the datacenter."

 As Ben Hindman explained in our recent interview with him about the power of Mesos: "[Mesos] provides the basic primitives of the DCOS, including starting and stopping applications - and the bridge between applications and the hardware. f you’re in the cloud, you might be buying 8 core machines but only using 2 cores. Your cloud provider is really the one benefiting from virtualized resources, not you! The datacenter operating system enables you to more fully utilize your machines by automating the placement of your applications across your machines, using as many resources as it can per machine."

 You can find out more about Mesos-DNS here, and the following diagram depicts how it works:

 

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Getting Linux Adopted and Fedora 22 Previewed

Wednesday 21st of January 2015 04:39:24 AM

Today in Linux news Matt Hartley has the key to getting Linux adopted. Christian Schaller discusses some of the coming attractions of Fedora 22 and Phoronix.com is reporting that KDE 5 may also be coming to Fedora 22. Elsewhere, Jamie Watson gives Tumbleweed a roll and Softpedia.com is reporting that Steam is safe for Linux again.

Matt Hartley today said that if folks want to see greater Linux adoption there are certain things that should be done. He said that an online presence isn't enough, that we need "boots on the ground providing demonstrations, setup assistance and, some hands on help when it's needed." He figures Mom & Pop shops and PC repair techs are the best place to start there. Perhaps instead of restoring Windows over and over again, perhaps the repair tech could offer to install and support Linux instead. Mom & Pop shops should offer Linux computers or installs and support.

Jamie Watson said he was interested in using Tumbleweed, openSUSE's rolling version, because he needs some of the drivers in the latest and greatest kernels. So he began with stable openSUSE 13.2 and upgraded to Tumbleweed via zypper, although install images are available. This provided him and his cranky laptop with the drivers in Linux 3.18 instead of Linux 3.16.

Last Friday I linked to an article reporting on a bug in Steam scripts that deletes all user files on Linux under certain conditions. It became a much larger concern the days following as more users heard and today Steam addressed the issue. Softpedia.com is reporting that a new Steam client has been released and is miffed that a bug that could remove recursively forcefully all files warranted a mere line in a changelog.

In other news:

* Planning for Fedora Workstation 22

* Fedora 22 Will Aim To Use Plasma 5 For Its KDE Desktop Experience

* Smart things powered by snappy Ubuntu Core on ARM and x86

* The European Space Agency Builds A Private Cloud Platform With Red Hat

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The Linux Foundation Delivers 2015 Guide to the Open Cloud

Tuesday 20th of January 2015 04:07:43 PM

The Linux Foundation has issued its second annual "Guide to the Open Cloud: Open Cloud Projects Profiled," which provides a comprehensive look at the state of open cloud computing. The foundation created the guide in response to investor calls it received where people were trying to understand which projects mattered.

This year's report adds many new projects and technology categories that have gained importance in the past year. It covers well-known projects like Cloud Foundry, OpenStack, Docker and Xen Project, and up-and-comers such as Apache Mesos, CoreOS and Kubernetes. The purpose of the guide is to serve as a starting point for users considering which projects to use in building and deploying their own open clouds. Taking a deeper look into cloud infrastructure, the paper includes storage, provisioning and platform projects. New categories outline emerging cloud operating systems, Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) technologies.

To download the full report, you can visit The Linux Foundation’s Publication’s website at: https://www.linuxfoundation.org/publications/linux-foundation/guide-to-the-open-cloud

 You can also review the entire list in the online Open Cloud Directory on Linux.com at: http://www.linux.com/directory/open-cloud

“Our new ‘Guide To the Open Cloud’ is a helpful primer for any organization beginning a migration to the cloud or moving toward web-scale IT,” said Amanda McPherson, chief marketing officer at The Linux Foundation. “Open source and collaboration are clearly advancing the cloud faster than ever before. Just consider the many OpenStack distributions and ecosystem emerging around Linux containers that didn’t even exist a year ago. Yet, as the open source cloud evolves so quickly, it can sometimes be difficult for enterprises to identify the technologies that best fit their needs.”

There are several projects included in the guide that were hardly talked about in the last iteration, such as Docker.

You can use the guide to turn up lots of details on open cloud projects. For example, you can look up key contributors. In the case of OpenStack, the top contributors are listed as Cisco, HP, IBM, Mirantis, NEC, Rackspace, Red Hat and SUSE. There are many other in-depth statistics to take in.

For ease of reading, each category includes less than 10 projects, evaluated by maturity, number and diversity of contributions, number and frequency of commits, exposure, demonstrated enterprise use, and opinions from open source authorities.

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Interview: Mirantis Co-Founder Boris Renski Talks OpenStack

Tuesday 20th of January 2015 03:54:52 PM

Earlier this month, Mirantis announced the launch of Mirantis OpenStack 6.0, the latest version of its OpenStack cloud computing distribution. According to the company, it is based on OpenStack Juno, and version 6.0 is the first OpenStack distribution to let partners write plugins that install and run their products automatically.

OStatic has been running a series of interviews with movers and shakers on the cloud computing and Big Data scenes, and you may have seen this week’s interview with Ben Hindman from Mesosphere. In this latest interview, we caught up with Boris Renski, CMO and Co-Founder of Mirantis (shown), to talk about the company’s latest OpenStack distribution, cloud computing, and more. Here are his thoughts.

How did you first get involved with Mirantis, and how did the company initially take shape?

The company was founded a decade ago by Alex Freedland, who serves as the company chairman today. At that time it was a contract software engineering company focused on solving hardcore algorithmic problems for the EDA industry. I joined in 2006, when Mirantis bought my company of 50 people doing very similar work. We did a complete reboot and pivoted the company to OpenStack in January 2011 and have grown almost 10x since then. 

Some people feel like the OpenStack arena is getting crowded. Within it, what is Mirantis' competitive advantage?

We see only four credible vendors left standing in the OpenStack market: Mirantis, Red Hat, VMware and HP. Our competitive advantage at Mirantis is our pure-play focus. We only do OpenStack. We have no other product or services agenda to upsell, cross-sell or lock-in any customers. This OpenStack only approach lets us provide a better solution for both kinds of customers we serve - the developers that use Mirantis OpenStack and the infrastructure team that has to run it. Unlike our competitors, we are not burdened by other products in our solutions portfolio. We focus on supporting those OpenStack configurations that customers really need, not those that pull other products in our list of offerings. This applies to the infrastructure level (under OpenStack) and platform / developer tools level (on top of OpenStack). For instance, you can run Mirantis OpenStack on CentOS, with Ceph storage, Juniper Contrail for SDN and Pivotal's distribution of Cloud Foundry on top - a combination very commonly desired by OpenStack adopters but impossible for any of our big competitors to deliver and support.

Do you think the OpenStack scene is headed for consolidation, with a few big companies scooping up smaller companies?

The consolidation has already happened, I predicted it in December 2013. CloudStaling, Metacloud, and eNovance were acquired. Rackspace and StackOps pivoted to focus their business on managed hosting. MorphLabs seem to have gone away altogether. Piston and Nebula are still around, but seem to be in a niche that doesn't directly compete with Mirantis' OpenStack distribution. It is us, Red Hat, VMware and HP...and that's it.  

Do you think some of the companies currently backing OpenStack may not be so committed to completely open standards and open support strategies? Are some clearly more committed to openness than others?

I am sure that everybody has good intentions and would love to be committed to open standards. It's just a matter of legacy. If you have a multi-billion dollar business and you are a public company, you simply can't ship an OpenStack configuration that would cannibalize your existing business (see Clayton Christensen and the “Innovator’s Dilemma”). If you are a CEO of a public company and you do something like this, you'll be out the next day. Red Hat can't ship OpenStack on Ubuntu with Cloud Foundry on top. VMware can't ship OpenStack on KVM. EMC can't ship OpenStack with Ceph. But infrastructure and ops guys want Ceph and KVM and developers want Cloud Foundry and Docker. 

With your most recent 6.0 OpenStack release, customers can write or leverage plugins for the Fuel deployment manager and add to OpenStack's functionality. How would you position this, and open-sourcing the Fuel library, as competitive advantages?

With Fuel plug-ins our partner vendors can now get Mirantis OpenStack to run with their storage and networking out-of-the-box. The big problem with a complicated piece of software like OpenStack is installation and management. Every vendor in the infrastructure space wants to have an OpenStack story. But you don't quite get this story, until you enable your customers to deploy and scale OpenStack with ease. Just writing an OpenStack driver is not enough because you have to then manually configure it.  Few operations people can do this successfully (which is why we have a huge education business at Mirantis training people how to use OpenStack, more than 5,000 students to date). With installer plug-ins for Fuel, now any storage or networking vendor can get that complete OpenStack story. Fuel effectively becomes an InstallShield for OpenStack. And because Fuel is completely open and free, you don't even have to tie yourself to Mirantis OpenStack. You can write a Fuel plug-in and tinker with Fuel to get it to deploy your own OpenStack distro.

A lot of people considering or deploying OpenStack aren't familiar with tools like the OpenStack Tempest test suite, or Rally, used for validation and more. What can OpenStack users get out of these and the various certification and validation offerings that Mirantis has?

After you deploy OpenStack and before you unleash it onto your development teams (and risk looking like an idiot when everything breaks), you want to validate that OpenStack works via a series of sanity and load tests. Fuel already features a health check feature, which leverages tempest - an OpenStack testing project. Rally takes that to the next step and allows you to script custom load scenarios for OpenStack and profile the behavior of the cloud under load. We don't bundle Rally in our OpenStack distribution, but it is very popular in the community to help guide architectural decisions. We use Rally with some of our larger customers. 

Red Hat has proven that offering support and training for open source tools can be an outstanding business model. How does that model compare to your vision for Mirantis?

It is an outstanding model and we very successful embracing much of this approach. But there are many important variations of this model. In the case of Red Hat, you need to pay them money first and then you'll get the right to use the commercial version of the product. In the case of Mirantis, we don't really have a commercial version. What you download from our website is our commercial product, too. What you get with support is an SLA on case resolution and SLA on fixes and patches to various bugs. You can think of Mirantis as the Hortonworks of OpenStack in terms of business model. But, in general, it is not very different from Red Hat. 

 

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Bodhi Founder Returning as Ubuntu Heads to Mars

Tuesday 20th of January 2015 04:58:46 AM

Bodhi Linux founder, who recently resigned from the project, has announced that he's decided to return. Accompanying that news was also the announcement for Bodhi Linux 3.0 RC2. Elsewhere, Gary Newell briefly recaps the top 10 distributions of 2014 and Phoronix.com is reporting that Fedora 23 is likely to default to Wayland. Adam Williamson introduces Updatrex™ in response to PackageKit bug and Softpedia.com said today that Ubuntu will probably be the first operating system on Mars.

The top story today was the brief announcement by Jeff Hoogland that he's is officially returning to his former position as lead developer and manager of the Bodhi Linux project that he founded nearly four years ago. He didn't explain his decision to return in that post (or anywhere I can find), but one wonders if his interview last week with Christine Hall had anything to do with it; all that reminiscing about the unexpected success of the one-man distro. In that January 12 interview Hoogland said nothing of returning and, in fact, reiterated the then current structure. Plans for his future included lending a hand to the project from time to time, which is what Hoogland said at the time of his departure.

In today's announcement, Hoogland also announced the availability of Bodhi Linux 3.0 RC2. It shipped with Enlightenment 19.2, Linux 3.16, and is based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Core. See the announcement for download links. Bodhi Linux 3.0 removes the user theme configuration at the start of first boot and will instead incorporate a release-wide uniformity. Hoogland and colleagues have also been working on the Bodhi Linux website and forums, so excuse the cones.

Softpedia.com is today reporting that Ubuntu may soon be heading to Mars. Silviu Stahie said that NASA is hoping to put boots and operating systems on Mars by 2025 and since Ubuntu is Bas Lansdorp's favorite, it'll probably be the first one. "This would actually make a lot of sense, if you want to get something stable and capable or running for years on end, without breaking."

Adam Williamson today blogged about a new mysterious bug in the Fedora 21 PackageKit stack that causes up to seriously annoying issues. Williamson says they're working on the problems and have an early update in repos. His post gives more details and how to.

In other Fedora news, Phoronix.com today reported that Fedora 23 could be the version that switches Fedora's graphical system from Xorg to Wayland. "By the Fedora 23 release due out before the end of the calendar year we could see Wayland-by-default on this major tier-one Linux distribution." Additionally, Kevin Fenzi today posted about recently Fedora Infrastructure database dumps.

In other news:

* Analysis Of The Top 10 Linux Distributions Of 2014

* Manjaro 0.8.11 - The lonely goatherd

* TrackingPoint 338TP, the Linux rifle that's accurate up to a mile

* What’s new in SUSE LINUX 12?

* Linux Mint 17.1: Best KDE Spin Ever!

* DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 593, 19 January 2015

* Security problems need to be made public: Linus Torvalds

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Interview: Mesosphere's Ben Hindman on the Need for a Data Center OS

Monday 19th of January 2015 04:50:17 PM

One of the most interesting new companies leveraging an open source Apache project has to be Mesosphere, which OStatic covered in a recent post. The company offers a “data center operating system” (DCOS) built on the open source Apache Mesos project, and has announced a recent round of $36M in Series B funding. New investor Khosla Ventures led the round, with additional investments from Andreessen Horowitz, Fuel Capital, SV Angel and others.

According to Mesosphere’s leaders, the tech industry now needs a new type of operating system to automate the various tools used in the agile IT era.  They argure that developers and operators don’t need to focus on individual virtual or physical machines but can easily build and deploy applications and services that span entire datacenters.

OStatic caught up with former Twitter lead engineer and Apache Mesos co-creator Ben Hindman (seen here), who is now leading the design of Mesosphere’s DCOS, for an in-depth interview. Here are his thoughts.

What advantages can organizations get from a data center operating system?

The biggest advantages come from automating manual operations. The number of machines that most enterprise are working with is growing, and so is the variety of services and frameworks they’re trying to run. Organizations are under immense pressure to deliver software faster, with more “agility”. The combination of these has made static partitioning and human-scale management of machines and applications impractical.

Humans will always have a role in the datacenter, but things should be more automated with common services. Automation enables us to be smarter about scheduling and resource allocation, helping us drive up utilization (which drives down costs) and better handle machine and hardware failures.

Higher utilization is a key advantage of a datacenter operating system. If you’re in the cloud, you might be buying 8 core machines but only using 2 cores. Your cloud provider is really the one benefiting from virtualized resources, not you! The datacenter operating system enables you to more fully utilize your machines by automating the placement of your applications across your machines, using as many resources as it can per machine.

Dealing with failures gets much easier with a datacenter operating system too. When you are running 2-3 machines dealing with failures is a pain, but you can usually track down and fix any issues within a small amount of time. But when you begin to scale to tens, then hundreds, then thousands of machines, dealing with failures becomes an expensive manual operation.

Finally, a datacenter operating system enables developers, who traditionally have had to  interface with humans for access to machines, to develop and run their applications directly against datacenter resources via an API. Whether they’re claiming resources for existing applications or building new frameworks, the abstraction layer of the datacenter operating system makes it easier to build applications and share those applications across organizations.

Obviously Mesosphere's platform is based on Apache Mesos, but it's more complex than just Mesos. Tell us about the guts of the platform and how it was developed.  

The guts really are Mesos, which acts as the kernel for the distributed operating system. It provides the basic primitives of the DCOS, including starting and stopping applications - and the bridge between applications and the hardware.

What was built around Mesos and packaged into the Mesosphere DCOS are the other components that you would expect of an operating system. For example, the DCOS includes Marathon which acts as the distributed “init” system. Marathon uses the Mesos kernel to automatically launch and scale specific system and user applications. In addition to Marathon, the Mesosphere DCOS includes Chronos which provides distributed cron, i.e., the ability to launch applications on a regularly scheduled basis. The Mesosphere DCOS includes a Service Discovery component as well - a way of naming and finding specific applications as they are moved around in your datacenter or cloud.

There are a number of other components we’ve built in related to storage, managing containers, and other functionality that we view as key for running the next generation of distributed applications. And as with any other successful operating system, a huge focus for its evolution will be expanding the library of applications and frameworks that are natively supported.

In 2015, what do you think are the major trends we'll see in data centers?

Operators will stop thinking in terms of individual servers, and more in terms of reasoning across pools of resources and running distributed applications.

Some particularly interesting distributed applications will fall under the domain of “stateful services”, which is a challenging application to run in the cloud today and is ripe for innovation in the next few years.

There will be a lot of interesting work using machine learning to better automate and manage applications as well. Humans are notoriously bad at figuring out how many resources they need and will ultimately be completely handled via software.

From the hardware side of things I think we’ll start to hear more about concepts like disaggregated racks - where racks become like a big single computer. But we also see a trend towards the completely disaggregated datacenter. There are a number of scenarios where transporting the compute makes little sense, where you want to instead do local processing. Cell towers might have a mini datacenter, so you don’t have to get it back to the cloud, for example.

I've heard you talk about some data centers needing to do things like run multiple instances of Hadoop, and other tools. Why would such needs arise?

Primarily, you want to run multiple instances because you have different organizations in your company and you want to create isolation. Most organizations who have run multiple instances do so by creating a whole other cluster, which they have to set up - and then run independently. The problem here, however, is that you’ll often have large pools of idle resources in one cluster while another cluster might be completely overloaded. Using something like Mesos lets you run those two instances of Hadoop on the same hardware!

Another reason organizations will have multiple instances of Hadoop is when they want to upgrade from one version of Hadoop to another, which usually is performed in a completely new cluster. This is an expensive way to upgrade a Hadoop cluster, but there aren’t many other options out there!

Can you provide some anecdotal detail about a particular organization that is benefiting from Mesosphere's DCOS? How are efficiencies being captured there?

The Mesosphere DCOS was just launched, and we’ll be sharing lighthouse customer usage success stories in 2015. But I think a really good example of a compelling Mesos story is how eBay was able to pool its Jenkins instances. That’s an example of an organization that had to run multiple instances of a framework (Jenkins) and leveraged Mesos to collocate Jenkins on a single cluster.

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