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With OpenStack Icehouse Here, Database-as-a-Service Tech Draws Attention

Fri, 18/04/2014 - 3:09pm

As we've been covering this week, Icehouse, the next major release of the OpenStack cloud platform is available now. Rackspace has made available a video on the development of Icehouse, and we previously covered it here. The OpenStack Foundation's Icehouse page, with source code and a press release, are here.

One notable thing about Icehouse is that it introduces a new database-as-a-service feature, focused on building and managing relational databases, called Trove. Trove is starting to get a lot of notice, and Tesora is among the companies with a stake in Trove's success. The company is focused on Database-as-a-Service technology.

The hope that Tesora and others have is that Trove will eventually become the OpenStack equivalent of Amazon RDS.  The Tesora Database Virtualization Engine, version 1.5, delivers adaptive multi-tenancy, elastic scale out and a Web-based intuitive UI with new features that add support for SQL views, a cost-based planner and official support for MariaDB. It can be used with OpenStack, Amazon Web services and other cloud platforms, as well as on premise.

"More and more business is done on the web and our customers find themselves trying to balance the growing demands of complex query processing, high concurrency and instantaneous response times," said Amrith Kumar, CTO of Tesora, in a statement. "At Tesora, we're committed to bringing the benefits of scale out DBaaS simplicity without forcing any customer code changes and making it easy to add database capacity as demand grows."

 Application developers today contend with demands from thousands of users who concurrently request access to customized online content. Such demands put stress on a company's database, and the players in the Database-as-a-Service space are focused on improving performance.

You can find out more about Database-as-a-Service technology here, including a discussion of how a New York-based mobile development company called Majestyk Apps is leveraging the Tesora Database Virtualization Engine to get their databases to scale and respond quickly. And, information on Trove and Database-as-a-Service technology running on OpenStack is available here


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Hey! Don't Criticize Open Source Code Over Quality

Fri, 18/04/2014 - 2:51pm

There has probably never been a catalyst for criticism of open source development models as influential as the OpenSSL "Heartbleed" bug, but critics analyzing the problems that Heartbleed is causing should pay attention to a couple of recent reports. A few days ago, I posted the results of this year's Future of Open Source Survey, sponsored by Black Duck and North Bridge Venture Partners. It found that open source applications and platforms are providing higher quality than the proprietary competition. Now, the 2013 Coverity Scan Open Source report is out, and it also determined that open source code is higher in quality than proprietary code.

Coverity has analyzed the code quality issue before, and this is the first year that open source code has outdone proprietary. As The Var Guy notes:

"Coverity Scan analysis found that defect density—the number of defects per 1,000 lines of code—was 0.59 among the open source code it analyzed, compared to 0.72 for proprietary code. Put another way, that means the open source code in the sample had 22 percent fewer errors than its proprietary cousin."

That's nothing to shake a stick at. Meanwhile, The Future of Open Source Survey found that security and quality were for the first time among the most commonly cited reasons why enterprises favor open source software. In a  2007 report, 80 percent of those surveyed by Gartner researchers cited cost as the primary driver of their open source use, but the primary drive now appears to be quality.

There will still be people who blame problems like the Heartbleed bug on open source, but quality wins out in the end.

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KDE 4.1.3 Released, Orphan Linux, and Mint Tips

Fri, 18/04/2014 - 3:07am

Today's news search might have been a bit of a bust if not for the release of KDE 4.1.3 yesterday. This release is said to bring major updates as well as new features and bug fixes. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols posted some tips and tricks for using Linux Mint. And finally, an orphanage is using Linux to teach children about computers and programming.

KDE 4.1.3 was released yesterday bringing new features, lots of updates, and the usual bug fixes. The announcement said:

Major improvements are made to KDE's Semantic Search technology, benefiting many applications. With Plasma Workspaces and the KDE Development Platform frozen and receiving only long term support, those teams are focusing on the transition to Frameworks 5.

The rest of the announcement seems to concentrate on Semantic Search, but some applications got new features and cloud storage support. Many saw performance improvements and Okular and Kate got interface revamps and little usability improvements. KMix "introduced remote control via the DBUS inter-process communication protocol, additions to the sound menu and a new configuration dialog, and a series of bug fixes and smaller improvements."

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols asks, "Want to get the most out of Linux Mint?" Assuming the answer was yes, he continued with, "Then I'm going to show you some handy tips you can use to get the most from Linux Mint 16 with Cinnamon 2.0." He begins with some commandline tips such as ps and kill and then goes into arranging the menu, setting up a firewall, and keeping "the hyperactive Update Manager in check."  Read the rest for more.

An interesting piece showed up on the University of Texas - Pan American student newspaper Website. Hidden down in the gory details of Some assembly required - UTPA club helps Mexican orphanage comes the tidbit that Linux was used to refurbish some donated computers for the Casa Hogar MAMI, a shelter for orphans "where education, room and board and medical/psychological attention are offered 24 hours a day." It was administered and operated almost entirely in Spanish according the article, but the girls are learning a lot and having a good time doing it. The post also pegs the number of Linux users to "76.5 million" as of February 2011.

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Containers Answer The Right Question

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 6:13pm

Russell Pavlicek from the Xen project asks "Are Containers the Right Answer to the Wrong Question? on the Citrix Open@Citrix blog. While Russell brings up many good points, including both Mirage OS and OSv, I believe his article misses the mark about where and how Linux containers are changing the way we do IT. Its true that containers are more limited than full blown virtual machines, but the real magic is about process and management.

The operating system of a server is both essential and completely besides the point. The choice of operating system can have a major affect on the structure and management of your application, so it is absolutely necessary to consider the OS family, flavor, and version carefully when planning deployment. But the client never sees the operating system. The web application that they interact with never (or at least, shouldn't) give an indication of the operating system powering it. So, in that way, the OS doesn't matter, it simply needs to be there and it needs to work flawlessly.

Since Linux containers share the same kernel as the host, it is impossible to run Windows. Or FreeBSD. Or NetBSD. Or another version of the Linux kernel. Or another Linux distribution which requires a different kernel. All of those scenarios are best handled by a real hypervisor.

Paylicek's argument is true, and if you need to test multiple operating systems and kernel versions than a hypervisor is the way to go. However, you might want to ask yourself the five whys about your process. Paylicek illustrates some of the reasons containers are the way of the future in the next paragraph:

However, some of the most vocal container advocates insist that these problems relating to containers are really application problems in disguise. Issues about kernel support and security are the results of improper application design, they claim. When we raise the bar on applications so that they are based solely on access to application servers, then the objections to containers will melt away -- and so will hypervisors, for the most part.

Exactly. Containers are a way to move forward in application design, system deployment, and, critically, versioning. When you have a virtualized environment through a traditional hypervisior, of course you can have lots of very small virtual machines that are very efficient. You can even argue that the complex infrastructure to support the virtual machines is necessary and not that difficult to support. What makes containers more intriguing to me is that if I have a single server with 100 application containers running on it, I still only have a single server. If I have a single server with 100 virtual machines, I have 101 servers that need to be managed, and each one is it's own special little snowflake. In a containerized application, especially using something like Docker, the entire container is part of the application, and is managed as part of the application, not as an independent operating system. The entire container is versioned, tested, and deployed as a whole. A failure in the container is a failure of the entire application.

This change of mindset has the capability to drastically reduce the manual intervention needed to run a modern datacenter. Now, does this mean that there will be no place for hypervisors like Xen or VMware? No, of course not. There are still thousands of uses for virtualizing the entire operating system, but that's not to say that there's not plenty of room for both technologies in the market. 

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OpenStack Deployments Spread Out as the Icehouse Release Arrives

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 3:33pm

This week, there is a slew of news about major OpenStack deployments going on at enterprises. Red Hat announced that a number of notable organizations, including The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and Midokura, are building out OpenStack deployments based on its platform. And, The Wall Street Journal has been covering some smaller companies, such as DigitalFilm Tree, doing deployments. Meanwhile, Icehouse, the next major release of OpenStack is arriving.

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a biomedical research institution focused on genomic medicine, has created an on-premise cloud with on-demand compute and self-service functionality. Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform and OpenStack are powering the deployment. Midokura, a global company focused on network virtualization, has built a private internal cloud based on Red Hat's OpenStack platform. And, PayPal and a number of other companies are expanding their OpenStack plans.

“Having an open source cloud platform where even the average customer can feel like they’re in control of their data is a tremendous advantage,” said Guillaume Aubuchon, DigitalFilm Tree’s chief technology officer, in a Wall Street Journal interview. “It’s the world as served by cloud.”  All of the deployments being covered this week represent evidence that OpenStack is moving from the hype stage to becoming mission-critical platform technology for businesses large and small.

At the same time, the next generation Icehouse release of the cloud computing platform is upon us. The OpenStack Foundation is officially debuting the next major milestone release today, and has provided a list of cloud feature updates and enhancements. As Network World notes:

"There are more than 350 new features in Icehouse that were created by contributions from 1153 individuals, which is a 25% increase from the last Havana release. More than 2975 bugs were fixed in the release."

With Icehouse, managers of OpenStack deployments can upgrade their infrastructure on the fly, without clouds and services having to be shut down. There are also new state management features, which allow for things like optimizing virtual machines and coordinating components without disrupting cloud services. And, Icehouse introduces a new database-as-a-service feature, focused on building and managing relational databases, called Trove.

Rackspace has made available a video on the development of Icehouse, and we previously covered it here. The OpenStack Foundation's Icehouse page and press release are here.

There is no doubt that OpenStack's momentum is really picking up. "We’ve seen OpenStack move from an enterprise promise to enterprise reality, said Radhesh Balakrishnan, General Manager, Virtualization and OpenStack, at Red Hat this week.


The OpenStack Foundation is set to officially debut its next major milestone release, dubbed "Icehouse," on April 17, providing a long list of cloud feature updates and enhancements. - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/cloud/openstack-icehouse-features-a-trove-of-open-source-cloud-updates.html/#sthash.udfn9Op3.dpuf


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In Intel, Android Has Gained a Mighty Friend

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 2:48pm

For a couple of years now, efforts to usher in devices that can run both Microsoft's Windows platform and Android have been  in the works. We've written about BlueStacks Player, which runs a virtualized instance of Android that can be used alongside Windows. And we've covered Hybrid PCs, which run both operating systems.Now, this trend is set to pick up momentum, as Intel warms up to Android, and puts in place plans to produce chips and platform technology for new generation Android tablets.

Many people think of Intel as permanently married to Microsoft and its operating systems, but Intel has actually become a big player on everything from Apple devices to Windows/Android hybrid computers. Computerworld has quoted Intel CEO Brian Krzanich as saying that its processors will be used in 40 million tablets this year, and 80% to 90% of those will be running Google's Android OS. "Our mix of OSes reflects pretty much what you see in the marketplace," Krzanich said on Intel's earnings call.

Of course, Intel has already been providing processors for Hybrid PCs that run Windows 8.1 and Android.  The fact is, we've seen the Android app ecosystem expand at phenomenal rates, and there are lots of apps for the platform that can translate to types of hardware devices other than smartphones. The real thing to note here, though, is that Intel swings a mighty big stick when it comes to making hardware devices successful, because of its dominance in the CPU arena. Its endorsement of Android will give the operating system legs for years to come.

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Use Tails to Avoid Prying Eyes

Thu, 17/04/2014 - 3:03am

It was a bit of a slow-news day today, however, www.engadget.com has a bit of a summary of Tails in the context of avoiding certain prying eyes. www.deccanherald.com posted an overview of Linux for its readers a few days ago saying, "It may not be widely known, but Linux did revolutionize computing." Red Hat has been hogging the headlines lately, but www.futuregov.asia recently published a two-part interview with Harrish Pillay, Red Hat Global Head for Community Architecture and Leadership.

Popular Website www.engadget.com today said Tails is the distribution Edward Snowden is using to avoid "the NSA's watchful eyes." As per their usual MO, engadget doesn't go into great detail, but they do offer helpful links for further reading. Of Tails they conclude, "the software is a big help to Snowden, journalists and others that want to keep their conversations under wraps with a minimum of effort."

Clarice Africa wrote up a two-part interview with Red Hat representative Harrish Pillay about Freeware and Open Source. Pillay is used to clear up "various misconceptions" on the topic. The first part concentrates primarily on how Open Source can help keep costs low for businesses and governments. In a short April 9 follow-up, Pillay tries to explain the difference between Freeware and Open Source.

The Deccan Herald posted a nice little overview of Linux the other day asking, "Have you ever wondered what happened to Linux?" They say:

Linux is the free software created through the open source development process that many technology enthusiasts had predicted would revolutionize the world of computing.

It may not be widely known, but Linux did revolutionize computing.

After a bit of clarification, the article briefs users on several popular distributions. Bodhi, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint are among the mentions. They conclude, "Linux is not for everyone. But if you enjoy choice and flexibility, you just may become hooked."

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Leading Linux Players Rapidly Shift Their Emphasis to the Cloud

Wed, 16/04/2014 - 3:20pm

This week, not only is Red Hat touting its success at getting a number of notable enterprises to choose its Linux platform and OpenStack offering for deployments, but Canonical is rolling out Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, and highlighting it as the best way to build out an OpenStack cloud environment. These efforts underscore that leading Linux platforms and cloud computing are going to be joined at the hip going forward, and the players behind them will need to offer top-notch support and compatibility. .

Among the attractions to Red Hat's Enterprise Linux platform, it serves as a good basis for an OpenStack cloud deployment and also comes with top-notch support. These are the same things Canonical is emphasizing with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, being released this week. Canonical notes that the platform brings "a new level of reliability, performance and interoperability to cloud and scale out environments with support and maintenance for five years."

Back in 2011, I made the point that support will differentiate cloud platform providers, and we're seeing that play out now. 

“Ubuntu is the primary platform for cloud – public, private or hybrid. In this release, our third LTS with deep roots in cloud, we raise the bar for efficiency and orchestration at scale. That’s why businesses are adopting Ubuntu as they move to the cloud computing era,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical, in a statement.

Canonical has also released these testimonials to successful OpenStack deployments being built on Ubuntu:

“Time Warner Cable (TWC) is running Ubuntu OpenStack and partnering with Canonical as part of our strategy to improve infrastructure utilisation and accelerate service innovation, deployment, and delivery.  We’re looking forward to seeing the latest 14.04 LTS release,” says Matt Haines, VP at Time Warner Cable.

“Using Ubuntu OpenStack is enabling NEC to maximise margins on cloud  services, minimise cloud deployment risks and speed up time to market. The arrival of 14.04 LTS supporting OpenStack Icehouse version promises a great release for continuing to reap benefits of cloud,” comments Shou Watanabe, Executive Specialist at NEC.

Additionally, Canonical is highlighting its OpenStack Interop Lab (OIL), which covers partners such as Cisco, Brocade, Dell, EMC, Emulex, Fusion-io, Mellanox Technologies, Open Compute, HP, IBM, Inktank/Ceph, Intel, Juniper, LSi, SeaMicro and VMware. The lab runs over 3,000 OpenStack tests each week, using different combinations of Ubuntu, OpenStack and third party technologies.

Many of the companies partnered with Canonical on the Interop Lab are also big contributors to OpenStack, and many have their own deployments based on the platform. 

Over the next five years, look for Red Hat and Canonical to solidify their positions in cloud computing, focused on OpenStack. As they do that, the positioning of the companies and their places in the Linux ecosystem will shift as well.

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Red Hat Announces Several Enterprise OpenStack Deployments

Wed, 16/04/2014 - 2:53pm

Today, in conjunction with Red Hat Summit, Red Hat officials are providing updates on the company's continuing effort to focus its strategy on the OpenStack cloud computing platform. Since their introduction in June 2013 , Red Hat’s enterprise OpenStack offerings have spread out, and the company has made important related partnerships, including one with Dell Computer in which Dell effectively becomes an OEM for Red Hat. According to a new announcement, several dozen organizations have embarked on proof-of-concept deployments for Red Hat’s OpenStack offerings, with customers around the world now moving to enterprise implementations.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, currently available in version 4.0, delivers an integrated foundation for building OpenStack cloud deployments. Here are some of the organizations that Red Hat has announced are using RHEL and OpenStack together:

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a biomedical research institution focused on genomic medicine, created an on-premise cloud with on-demand compute and self-service functionality. Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform and OpenStack are powering the deployment. 

Midokura , a global company focused on network virtualization, has built a private internal cloud to provide a scalable, multi-tenant environment for their IT resources after scaling their existing public cloud environment was proving too costly over time. A new deployment runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform.

National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) at The Australian National University. Australia’s national research computing service was the first organization worldwide to deploy the Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. NCI, which provides high-end services to Australia’s researchers, needed to add  support to their internally assembled OpenStack platform, and chose Red Hat on that basis.

Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager, Virtualization and OpenStack, Red Hat, said in a statement:  “We're thrilled by the early momentum behind Red Hat’s OpenStack-powered offerings since general availability in July of last year. We’ve seen OpenStack move from an enterprise promise to enterprise reality, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure have emerged as industry-leading offerings for secure, scalable private clouds. These customer successes underscore the value Red Hat is offering through a solution engineered together with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenStack, as well as establishing the standard for the largest OpenStack partner ecosystem to provide an open alternative to customers' private cloud needs."

In addition to these announcements, you can find out more about Red Hat's deepening partnership with Dell in this post


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Red Hat 7 RC, Ubuntu 14.04 Server, and Why GNOME

Wed, 16/04/2014 - 3:20am

In today's Linux news, Red Hat announced the release of their Enterprise 7 Release Candidate saying, "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 RC offers a near-final look at the only operating system crafted for the open hybrid cloud." In other news, Ubuntu is trying to breath down Red Hat's neck and Matt Hartley explains why he switched to GNOME. This and more in today's Linux news review.

Red Hat Enterprise 7 is due later this year but today brings the news of its Release Candidate. This release will be available to partners as well as the general public next week. Some of the key features of RHEL 7 RC include:

* Expanded Windows interoperability capabilities
* Significant file system enhancements

* Improved subsystem management through OpenLMI

* Virtual machine (VM) migration

* Docker container support

Ubuntu won't let the news cycle end without entering their name as well. In fact, Serdar Yegulalp at InfoWorld.com titled his coverage "Ubuntu chases after Red Hat with OpenStack and Docker bundles." He then said, "With the release of Ubuntu 14.04 on Thursday, Canonical is attempting to further define how it stands out from enterprise-centric distributions like Red Hat even as it shares features typically associated with Red Hat." Joab Jackson at ITworld.com said, "With Thursday's release of the server edition of its Linux distribution, Ubuntu 14.04, Canonical will emphasize how it can be used for organizations as the base for running large mission-critical applications in hosted environments and cloud-friendly software programs, such as Docker and the latest edition of OpenStack." The Var Guy joins in the choir with his coverage too saying, "For server users the latest and greatest Ubuntu release delivers more, particularly in the realms of automation, cloud computing and virtualization."

Matt Hartley wrote yesterday, "I've had a love/hate relationship with GNOME since its early day. As a long time XFCE fan, I tinkered off and on with GNOME 3 in hopes of making the switch a permanent one. After finally settling on running GNOME full-time, it turns out the switch was much easier than I had anticipated." He then compares and contrasts several key features of other popular desktop to GNOME and concludes, "I think GNOME 3 is fantastic."

Bonus links today are Debian Project News - April 14th, DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 554, 14 April, and Intro to Linux Training Opens Up a World of Commands.

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Dell and Red Hat's OpenStack Partnership Deepens

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 3:01pm

Dell has unveiled a series of upgrades and announcements focused on the datacenter this week, and is deepening its cloud computing ties with Red Hat, as the firms focus on OpenStack. Dell and Red Hat recently announced that Dell will effectively become an OEM for Red Hat's Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform by selling systems that run the platform. Dell has also joined the Red Hat OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network as an Alliance Partner.

At the Dell Enterprise Forum EMEA in Frankfurt, Germany and the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco this week, officials from the two companies announced further plans to team up on OpenStack initiatives focused on IT departments, and agreements to deliver cloud-based test environments for mobile and analytics apps.

Dell has issued a release on many of its datacenter and IT initiatives, seen here.  “IT leaders are facing the challenge of balancing costs with the need to provide bleeding-edge IT services to ensure businesses do not risk losing customers, revenue or productivity. The fact of the matter is handling an increased traffic of any kind puts strain on a data center – and many solutions currently in the market only address parts of the problem,” said Marius Haas, chief commercial officer and president, Enterprise Solutions, Dell, in the announcement. “By leveraging organic and inorganic intellectual property, Dell is accelerating the delivery of its enterprise vision and providing businesses with a unique workload acceleration solution that helps increase agility and be more responsive to their customers.”

Red Hat and Dell are also in the news this week as Red Hat announced that CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has deployed Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat Technical Account Management services to provide a reliable and stable platform for mission-critical applications. The infrastructure for CERN's platform is comprised of physical two-socket servers and is virtualized using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization on Dell PowerEdge M610 servers (with Intel Nehalem or Ivy Bridge processors with between 96 GB and 256 GB RAM per server) and a Brocade FC8 SAN with a NetApp data storage system.

We're likely to see Dell and Red Hat team up even more closely on OpenStack solutions going forward. Dell wants to shift its business model away from low margin PCs and be more of a player in the services and support arena, especially for cloud computing. And, Red Hat is making ever bigger bets on OpenStack.

Back in December, when Dell and Red Hat announced their OpenStack initiatives, Paul Cormier, President, Products and Technologies, Red Hat, said: "Our collaboration with Dell keeps getting better and today’s announcement to co-engineer OpenStack solutions marks a significant milestone for both companies and customers. Just as we successfully collaborated with Dell to establish Red Hat Enterprise Linux as an enterprise industry standard, we’re now extending our collaboration to help establish Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform as the standard for open private cloud in the enterprise. Dell and Red Hat are committed to jointly developing and delivering enterprise-grade OpenStack offerings to help customers pursue private cloud today, and advanced computing models in the future.”

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Google Patches Pesky Android Icon Permissions Problem

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 2:42pm

Android users should be aware of a sneaky phishing and malware scheme that FireEye mobile security researchers have uncovered. The researchers have put up a blog post about the issue, which involves a malicious app with normal protection level permissions that can probe icons on an Android home screen and then modify them to point to phishing websites or a malicious app without notifying the user. Basically, the malicious app makes very subtle modifications to the desktop, leaving hard to detect booby traps.

Android permissions are divided into several protection levels: “normal”, “dangerous”, “system”, “signature” and “development.”  Dangerous permissions “may be displayed to the user and require confirmation before proceeding, or some other approach may be taken to avoid the user automatically allowing the use of such facilities”. In contrast, normal permissions are automatically granted at installation,  “without asking for the user's explicit approval (though the user always has the option to review these permissions before installing).”

According to the FireEye post:

"We have found that certain 'normal' permissions have dangerous security impacts. Using these normal permissions, a malicious app can replace legit Android home screen icons with fake ones that point to phishing apps or websites. The ability to manipulate Android home screen icons, when abused, can help an attacker deceive the user. There’s no surprise that the com.android.launcher.permission.INSTALL_SHORTCUT permission, which allows an app to create icons, was recategorized from “normal” to “dangerous” ever since Android 4.2. Though this is an important security improvement, an attacker can still manipulate Android home screen icons using two normal permissions: com.android.launcher.permission.READ_SETTINGS and com.android.launcher.permission.WRITE_SETTINGS."

Google has acknowledged the vulnerability, and has released a patch to its OEM partners. The vulnerability is evidence, though, that as we all make increasing use of mobile devices, susceptibility to malware is an ongoing issue.

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New MakuluLinux Released and Reviewed

Tue, 15/04/2014 - 2:15am

Ken Miller, Makulu forum moderator, wrote this weekend to announce the release of MakuluLinx 6 MATE. This release, based on Debian Testing, features MATE 1.8, Linux 3.13.7 PAE, and systemd support. MakuluLinux 6 also introduced a new installer that Jamie Watson calls much improved.

The announcement says this release improves version 5 because "we have placed control into the users hands. The user can now switch animations, wallpaper changer, dockbar on and off at will, install common everyday software with a few clicks... Manage repositories with a few clicks... Much of the use of the terminal has been removed in this release."

Version 6 was released officially April 13 and today Jamie Watson at ZDNet.com posted his review. Although the new installer is improved, Watson still had a few issues with it. It just asked too many questions according to Watson, "34 by my count." Despite his frustration he concluded, "This installer, with Easy Installation Mode, is a significant improvement over the previous release."

Read Watson's full review and the release announcement for lots more details, but the take away comes from Watson:

Makulu Linux 6 MATE rocks. It's solid, it's easy, it's beautiful, and it's fun.

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Future of Open Source Survey: FOSS Means Quality

Mon, 14/04/2014 - 3:08pm

The results from this year's Future of Open Source Survey, sponsored by Black Duck and North Bridge Venture Partners, are out and, as usual, point to some interesting trends. We've noted that the cloud and the Internet of Things are identified in the survey as important trends to the open source community, but what's been overlooked by many analysts is that the survey also points to open source applications and platforms providing higher quality than the proprietary competition.

The results of the lastest survey illustrate the increased strategic role that OSS has in today’s enterprises, the crucial function OSS plays in developing new technologies, the growth of first-time developers within the OSS community, and the impact it has on daily life. Security and quality, though, were for the first time among the most commonly cited reasons why enterprises favor open source software. In the past, enterprise respondents have been more likely to cite cost savings as a reason to choose open source.

In fact, in a  2007 report, 80 percent of those surveyed by Gartner researchers cited cost as the primary driver of their open source use. But we aren't seeing cost emerge as the biggest driver anymore. Seventy-two percent of respondents in the Future of Open Source survey chose to use OSS because of it provides stronger security than proprietary solutions, signaling a growing awareness that the proper management and use of OSS actually provides an even more secure environment than proprietary solutions. Building upon this, 80 percent of respondents reported choosing open source because of its quality over proprietary alternatives.

Fifty percent of enterprises also report openly contributing to and adopting open source in the survey, signaling a shift in the way organizations view the value of and their role in making contributions to the community.

All of this, of course, is worth keeping in mind as people blame problems like the Heartbleed bug on open source and open source practices.  Open source projects, like proprietary ones, can stumble, but there is mounting evidence that open source platforms and applications are favored for quality and security.

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Reports: Google Beta Testing Android App for Chrome Remote Desktop

Mon, 14/04/2014 - 2:53pm

For about a year now, Google has been working on an Android version of its Chrome Remote Desktop app and new reports from Engadget, PCMag and other outlets claim that it is imminent. The origins of the project go all the way back to a short post from The Chromium Team, and many people have been waiting for the ability to access a remote computer or device from Android.

According to PCMag:

"For those who haven't had the chance to partake in Chrome Remote Desktop, the name is pretty self-explanatory. Install the extension into your browser for the world's easiest Virtual Network Computing (VNC) setup. From there, all you then have to do is install Chrome Remote Desktop on a second computer that uses the same Google login as the first (a process you can simplify by synchronizing your Google settings between the two systems)."

"Flip on both systems, fire up the app on the "client," or the system that you want to use to connect to the other one, and you'll soon be able to access the contents of your desktop as if you were sitting directly in front of the second system — so long as your network connection isn't horrific."

Androidi tablet users, in particular, are likely going to benefit from being able to access data and resources on remote computers, simply because it's an activity that calls for a fair amount of screen real estate in most cases.

Google's own Francois Beaufort has posted some of the features to expect in the Android app, which include finger swipes for zooming and the ability to add and remove toolbars. GigaOm also has a podcast on Chrome Remote Desktop including some discussion of what to expect in an Android version. 

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Overclocking w/ Linux, Heartbleed Ideas, and LibreOffice 4.2.3

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 2:21am

Today in Linux news is a lot of suggestions on what to do to avoid the pitfalls of Heartbleed and InfoWorld.com runs down some in simple terms. In other news, Phoronix.com is reporting that NVIDIA overclocking is back with latest drivers. And finally, a fresh LibreOffice 4.2.3 was released yesterday.

The Heartbleed OpenSSL bug is still toping the news on most technology sites, but InfoWorld.com is suggesting folks "take a closer look at SSL alternatives from Mozilla and others." In his article, Serdar Yegulalp says "it's worth looking beyond OpenSSL and bearing in mind it's one of several competing software projects that satisfy many of the same needs." First up he suggests Mozilla's Network Security Services (NSS). "Another possibility: GnuTLS, which has broad support for many different protocols and standards." See his full story for full details. Wayne Rash has a few more suggestions as well.

Michael Larabel at Phoronix.com is reporting that NVIDIA's latest Linux driver brings GPU overclocking support for the GeForce 400 series and newer. Larabel explains "the new CoolBits over/under-clocking is all based upon offsets rather than absolute values and there's no support for manually manipulating the GPU voltage." But check out the full article for more.

Yesterday The Document Foundation announced the release of LibreOffice 4.2.3. Italio Vignoli wrote, " LibreOffice 4.2.3 “Fresh” is the most feature rich version of the software, and is suited for early adopters willing to leverage a larger number of innovations." It also, coincidently, includes a fix for that Heartbleed bug.

Today's bonus link is another from Jack M. Germain who writes about the shortage of software developers in the U.S.

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CloudOps Extends the Security of Apache's CloudStack Platform

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 3:15pm

CloudStack became an Apache Top-level Project (TLP) back in March 2013, and is the open source muscle behind many cloud deployments. Originally donated to Apache by Citrix, CloudStack depends on community contributions to keep its feature set growing and its security hardened. This week, CloudOps, which provides private, public and hybrid cloud solutions for enterprises, announced security enhancements that the company has contributed to Apache CloudStack and the availability of their implementation and managed services for Apache CloudStack 4.3.

Apache CloudStack is an integrated Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud platform that has been well maintained by Apache, and it recently arrived in version 4.3. For its part, CloudOps has contributed code to CloudStack 4.3 that enables support of Palo Alto Networks as an integrated security service and that enables a new Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) termination.

“Successful Open Source communities thrive with diverse, active participants, and contributions to the project’s development,” said Hugo Trippaers, Vice President of Apache CloudStack, in a statement. “We appreciate this code donation, which frees up precious resources for computing and saves users from having to manually configure SSL in their environments.”

 “Many IT organizations are transforming their networks into end-to-end cloud delivery platforms,” added Chad Kinzelberg, Senior Vice President of Business and Corporate Development at Palo Alto Networks. “We are pleased to be integrated in Apache CloudStack to deliver essential enterprise security capabilities so organizations can easily realize their cloud goals without compromising performance or security and employees can safely access any application from any device or location.”

It's worth noting that Citrix has a proprietary initative around its own fee-based, supported CloudStack platform, and the company regularly points out that the platform is as viable a cloud choice as OpenStack--as seen in a Citrix post:

 "CloudStack continues to gain rapid adoption with large scale deployments around the world, both with major service provider and enterprise customers. While you might not realize it from reading the press releases, CloudStack is far and away the most widely deployed open source platform in the cloud. It’s not even a close race. While other platforms have lots of 'PR wins,' very few have been successful in real deployments."


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Jasper: An Open Source, Voice Controlled Personal Assistant

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 2:49pm

 Shubhro Saha and Charlie Marsh would otherwise be just a couple of students at Princeton University, but the two have teamed up to create an open source voice-control application that bears some resemblance to Apple's Siri. It's called Jasper, and one way you can use it is as an automated, voice controlled personal assistant for the Raspberry Pi.

 According to PC World:

"The idea is to let Jasper carry out any kind of automated task you can think of using voice commands, such as reading you news headlines or social networking notifications, or sending commands to automated equipment. Don't expect to hear the smooth tones of Apple's personal assistant. Jasper's speech is very robotic, sounding more like Joshua from the 1983 movie WarGames than modern personal assistants on smartphones."

You can find documentation and a link to the GitHub repository for Jasper at the top of the page here. The developers are seeking modules built and shared for the project and bill Jasper as an always-on voice control platform. When you say Jasper's name it beeps to let you know that it is ready for voice instructions.

Many people don't realize that there are a number of open source, voice control and speech recognition projects out in the field. Jasper happens to be built on  CMUSphinx, CMUCLTK and Phonetisaurus. It is a 100 percent open source project.

For a video featuring Jasper's developers, visit this page



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CAELinux, FSF Awards, Knowing Linux

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 3:47am

Today in Linuxville, Jack Germain reviews CAELinux, a distribution with "specialized software for printing, graphical display, engineering and electronics." Elsewhere, Sam Varghese says the Linux community should have never buckled to Microsoft's UEFI Secure Boot pressure. And finally, Matt Hartley says tech journalists are always getting Linux technical details wrong.

Matt Hartley says tech journalists continue to spread misinformation about Linux and its software. He uses "Linux is difficult to install" as his first example saying writers are still saying that despite the fact that it isn't. He asked, "Why are so many tech writers claiming Linux is too difficult for the average user?" Check out Hartley's full article for his explanation and other ways tech writers get it wrong.

Linuxland's favorite curmudgeon, Sam Varghese, today said that Matthew Garrett got the FSF Award for the wrong reasons. The article really isn't about Garrett, Varghese is saying Linux and Linux vendors should have never given in to Microsoft's secure boot trap. He said, "Linux has no need of secure boot. If one buys a new computer/laptop that has secure boot turned on, one can simply turn it off and install any distribution of Linux." He says what should have been done is for "all the Linux distributions, plus other companies that depend on Linux for their profits, to band together under the Linux Foundation and use their combined clout to influence things with hardware vendors." See his full article for more.

LinuxInsider's Jack Germain reviewed CAELinux today and it's always nice to see a review on something different. He introduces CAELinux by saying:

The primary reason for adopting CAELinux is the specialized scientific and engineering computing tasks of its users. This distro comes packed with Linux versions of leading multiplatform programs that are workhorse tools. Specialized software includes dozens of titles for printing, graphical display, engineering and electronics. Even the caliber of office and computing accessories is impressive.

Other tidbits around the Web:

* Linux distro 'elementary' grows up, starts paying developers

* With the death of Windows XP, now is the perfect time to switch to Linux

* Windows XP Is Dead – Long Live Linux!

* Windows XP's Demise Will Help Linux Leapfrog Mac OS X 10.9

* Warning: Here’s What to Do About “Heartbleed” Bug

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Firefox OS 2.0 Is Taking Shape

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 3:01pm

Firefox OS, the mobile operating system that Mozilla is aligning its whole company around, continues to evolve. There are now many screenshots online of version 2.0 of the mobile platform, with lots of them seen in these galleries. The OS has a fresher look in the shots, and there are also a lot of new features. Here are more details.

Sören Hentzschel, a Mozilla representative in Germany, published a gallery of images showing the new version of Firefox OS, seen below. According to CNet:

"Firefox OS 2.0 plans include copy and paste support, a new mechanism for launching apps and switching among them, a more useful lock screen, a find-my phone system, and more. Those features will be crucial to the success of the nascent OS, which lags Android and iOS by years but which is critical to Mozilla's continued relevance."

Also this week, I covered Geeksphone's concept for a high-end Firefox OS phone called Revolution that would purportedly run both Mozilla's platform and Android.



















 Now, the Geeksphone Revolution, an Android smartphone on which it is easy to install Firefox OS, has gone on sale in France, Germany and the U.K. Some reports say that it will also go on sale in Italy.

The Revolution has a 1.6-GHz Intel Z2560 Atom dual-core processor, and a 4.7-inch, 960-by-540 pixel screen. There is 1GB of RAM and 4GB of integrated storage, expandable via a microSD card. The phone also has an 8-megapixel camera.

Version 2.0 of Firefox OS looks a lot slicker than the first version, and we're likely to see much more of it in coming days. Mozilla seems to moving quickly to evolve its young mobile platform.




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