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Programming/Development: Minicoin, GNU Gengetop and Python

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  • Building and testing on multiple platforms – introducing minicoin

    While working with large-scale (thousands of hosts), distributed (globally) systems, one of my favourite, albeit somewhat gruesome, metaphors was that of “servers as cattle” vs “servers as pets”. Pet-servers are those we groom manually, we keep them alive, and we give them nice names by which to remember and call (ie ssh into) them. However, once you are dealing with hundreds of machines, manually managing their configuration is no longer an option. And once you have thousands of machines, something will break all the time, and you need to be able to provision new machines quickly, and automatically, without having to manually follow a list of complicated instructions.

    When working with such systems, we use configuration management systems such as CFEngine, Chef, Puppet, or Ansible, to automate the provisioning and configuration of machines. When working in the cloud, the entire machine definition becomes “infrastructure as code”. With these tools, servers become cattle which – so the rather unvegetarian idea – is simply “taken behind the barn and shot” when it doesn’t behave like it should. We can simply bring a new machine, or an entire environment, up by running the code that defines it. We can use the same code to bring production, development, and testing environments up, and we can look at the code to see exactly what the differences between those environments are. The tooling in this space is fairly complex, but even so there is little focus on developers writing native code targeting multiple platforms.

    For us as developers, the machine we write our code on is most likely a pet. Our primary workstation dying is the stuff for nightmares, and setting up a new machine will probably keep us busy for many days. But this amount of love and care is perhaps not required for those machines that we only need for checking whether our code builds and runs correctly. We don’t need our test machines to be around for a long time, and we want to know exactly how they are set up so that we can compare things. Applying the concepts from cloud computing and systems engineering to this problem lead me (back) to Vagrant, which is a popular tool to manage virtual machines locally and to share development environments.

  • GNU Gengetopt - News: 2.23 released

    New version (2.23) was released. Main changes were in build system, so please report any issues you notice.

  • Abolishing SyntaxError: invalid syntax ...

    Do you remember when you first started programming (possibly with Python) and encountered an error message that completely baffled you? For some reason, perhaps because you were required to complete a formal course or because you were naturally persistent, you didn't let such messages discourage you entirely and you persevered. And now, whenever you see such cryptic error messages, you can almost immediately decipher them and figure out what causes them and fix the problem.

  • Sending email with EZGmail and Python
  • Creating and Importing Modules in Python

More in Tux Machines

Security, Openwashing, Proprietary Software and Back Doors

  • Reproducible Builds in July 2020

    Welcome to the July 2020 report from the Reproducible Builds project. In these monthly reports, we round-up the things that we have been up to over the past month. As a brief refresher, the motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced from the original free software source code to the pre-compiled binaries we install on our systems. (If you’re interested in contributing to the project, please visit our main website.)

  • Have I Been Pwned — which tells you if passwords were breached — is going open source

    While not all password checkup tools actually use Hunt’s database (a just-announced LastPass feature calls on one hosted by Enzoic instead), many of them are apparently based on the same “k-Anonymity” API that Cloudflare engineering manager Junade Ali originally designed to support Have I Been Pwned’s tool.

  • Facebook’s new open-source Pysa security tool detects [cr]ackable code

    Pysa is designed exclusively to analyze code written in Python. That limits the scenarios where the tool can be applied, but it could be still useful for other companies because Python is the world’s second most widely used programming language as of earlier this year. It’s especially popular in artificial intelligence development and is also the language in which most of the code for Instagram is written.

    Facebook has applied Pysa to the Instagram code base to great effect. According to the company, the tool was responsible for spotting 44% of the server-side security issues that it detected in the photo sharing service during the first half of 2020. Some 49 of the flaws Pysa caught were determined to be “severe” vulnerabilities.

    Under the hood, the tool works by employing a technique known as static code analysis. It sifts through Facebook developers’ raw code files without the delay of running them to quickly generate security assessments.

  • [Cr]ackers can still steal wads of cash from ATMs. Here's the vulnerabilities that could let them in.

    “You’re literally trusting this machine to hold thousands of dollars, but it’s running [Windows operating system] CE 6.0? It is just a computer, on a network, running an older operating system,” Keown said, noting that the latest release for CE 6.0 was over a decade ago in 2009. “This is still a problem. Let’s focus some effort here and see if we can’t move the needle in the right direction.”

  • Canon Admits Ransomware Attack in Employee Note, Report

    The consumer-electronics giant has suffered partial outages across its U.S. website and internal systems reportedly, thanks to the Maze gang.

  • Windows, Gates and a firewall: Microsoft's delicate castle in China

    Microsoft arrived in China in 1992 and opened its largest research and development centre outside the United States. It now employs around 6,200 people in China.

  • All you need to hijack a Mac is an old Office document and a .zip file

    The exploit uses a rigged Office document, saved in an archaic format (.slk), to trick the target machine into allowing Office to activate macros without consent and without notifying the user.

    The attack then takes advantage of two further vulnerabilities in order to seize control of the machine. By including a dollar sign at the start of the filename, [an attacker] can break free of the restrictive Office sandbox, while compressing the file within a .zip folder bypasses macOS controls that prevent downloaded items from accessing user files.

  • Apple’s Chinese business could be devastated by Trump’s WeChat ban

    Apple has a significant Chinese customer base, and nearly all of its critical manufacturing and assembly partners are based there. Trump’s ban might not only force Apple to remove WeChat from its App Store — which would destroy Apple’s Chinese smartphone business — it could existentially change how Apple is able to build and sell new products in the future.

  • It's Time To Stop Talking and Take Action Against the Beasts that Want to Control Us

    I know I have not been active on this BLOG the past year. No reasons. Anyway, I'm back at it. This time, I have a specific focus on Big Tech. The way I see it, the root of the problem is not the tech companies themselves, it starts with the software we use. This includes Adobe, Intuit, Microsoft. I call them AIM. They are the worst offenders in there attempts to control the free world.

Linux 5.9 and AMD Sensor Fusion Hub Driver

  • Several Drivers Promoted Out Of Staging With Linux 5.9

    The "staging" area of the kernel, where new drivers and other code live that has yet to prove itself or live up to kernel code quality standards, saw a few drivers graduate into Linux mainline proper for the current 5.9 cycle. Linux 5.9's staging area is quite vibrant along with the IIO (Industrial I/O) changes sent in as part of the pull request as usual by Greg Kroah-Hartman.

  • Linux 5.9 Brings More IBM POWER10 Support, New/Faster SCV System Call ABI

    With Linux 5.8 there is initial support for booting POWER10 CPUs while with Linux 5.9 there is more POWER10 work underway. Additionally, Linux 5.9 is bringing support for the newer and faster system call ABI for POWER9 and newer with the SCV instruction. Linux 5.9 has "support for a new faster system call ABI using the scv instruction on Power9 or later." That is the recently covered work on POWER System Call Vectored (SCV). Using SCV can utilize faster registers and reducing machine specific register updates among other benefits for existing POWER9 CPUs and future POWER10 hardware.

  • AMD Sensor Fusion Hub Driver Under Review A Sixth Time For Linux

    While a lot of interesting changes are coming for the in-development Linux 5.9 kernel, sadly a long overdue change isn't going to make the merge window and that is the AMD Sensor Fusion Hub driver. The AMD Sensor Fusion Hub is utilized by some AMD Zen laptops for accelerometer and gyroscopic sensors on the devices, akin to the Intel Sensor Hub (ISH) that has long been supported under Linux. While the Sensor Fusion Hub (SFH) is used by laptops going back to Zen 1 hardware, it was only earlier this year that the AMD SFH Linux driver was posted.

Porteus-v5.0rc2 is released

After nearly 14 months and a lot of developments (circumstantial and technical), Team Porteus is happy to announce Porteus-v5.0rc2. Read more

Perl Programming

  • On Perl 7 and the Perl Steering Committee

    For those who are wondering about the state of the proposed Perl 7 fork and the role of the newly formed Perl Steering Committee, Ricardo Signes has put together a detailed explanation that is worth a read. "You should not expect to see a stream of unjustified dictates issuing forth from some secret body on high. You should expect to see perl5-porters operating as it generally did: with proposals coming to the list, getting discussion, and then being thumbed up or down by the project manager. This is what has been happening for years, already. Some proposals were already discussed by the project manager and some were not. If you eliminated any named mailing list for doing this, it would still happen. The PSC is a means to say that there is a default group for such discussions. If you were wondering, its initial membership was formed from 'the people who came to or were invited to the Perl Core Summit' over the last few years."

  • LWN: On Perl 7 and the Perl Steering Committee

    LWN has covered an email from Rjb's to perl5-porters

  • The Perl Ambassador: Curtis 'Ovid' Poe

    This month’s interview is Curtis ‘Ovid’ Poe, one of the most-respected and well-known leaders in the Perl community. Curtis has been building software for decades. He specializes in building database-driven websites through his global development and consulting firm, All Around The World. He’s the main developer behind Tau Station, a text-based Massive Multiplayer Online Browser Game (MMOBG) set in a vibrant, far-future universe.

  • Mohammad S Anwar: Thank you for the support

    Inspired by the blog by Gabor Szabo, I am writing this blog to thank all the supporters on Patreon. I would also like to thank Gabor Szabo for the support and guidance. I wouldn't have come this far without your support.