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My first FOSS love was Perl

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Set the wayback machine to 1993. I was working at a small company as a programmer and product deployment specialist. The product was COBOL-based and the OS was SCO Xenix. Both were based on open standards, but not open source. I was hired because I knew the medical software business and I had experience in several flavors of what was then called Micro-Unix. I didn't know a thing about COBOL, but that was the job opening. (PS, if you get any calls from the past: COBOL is not hard to learn.)

After a stint as a maintenance and enhancement programmer on the product line, I was tasked with managing the integration process, builds, version control, and releases as well as endpoint installation. I had been struggling with some cool but, by then, very complex C shell (CSH) scripts. I needed a better tool.

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Indian developers contribute actively to open source projects: Report

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Developers in India are more likely to contribute to open source than developers from other countries, with more than two-thirds (68 percent) actively participating. This is one of the key findings of the DigitalOcean Currents report, which in its fifth edition is focused entirely on open source to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the movement .DigitalOcean is an American cloud infrastructure provider firm.

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GNU: Changes to GNU C Library and Bradley Kuhn on GNU Kind Communication Guidelines and Related Material

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  • Intel Developer's New Proposal For Shipping Optimized Glibc Subset (libcpu-rt-c)

    While the Intel Open-Source Technology Center invests heavily into the GNU/Linux toolchain in ensuring their future processors will have their full feature set and performance potential exploited, when it comes to the GNU C Library "glibc" in particular it can be quite a while before Linux distributions pull in a new release that contains various Intel performance optimizations. As a result, Intel Linux veteran toolchain developer H.J. Lu has laid out a new proposal.

    Intel does a lot of tuning to Glibc's math and string functions, among others, for ensuring they are optimized for today's processors with AVX-2/AVX-512 and other features. But as Linux distributions don't liberally pull in new Glibc releases, it can sometimes be years before users get to enjoy those optimizations.

  • Bradley M. Kuhn: My Views on GNU Kind Communication Guidelines and Related Material

    I have until now avoided making a public statement about my views on the various interrelated issues regarding the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines that came up over the last month. However, given increasing interest in our community on these issues, and the repeated inquiries that I received privately from major contributors in our community, I now must state my views publicly. I don't have much desire to debate these topics in public, nor do I think such is particularly useful, but I've been asked frequently about these GNU policy statements.

Qt: Speed-Up for Charting on Embedded, Qt 5.12 Release Candidate Available

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  • A Speed-Up for Charting on Embedded

    I’d like to talk about a common problem that we have seen come up in several projects, namely how to plot large datasets over time in an efficient manner using Qt. This seems to be a general issue, especially in embedded situations and is affecting many people. Because of this, I thought we’d share one approach that we have found to work well in some situations, maybe it helps you out in your project.

  • Qt 5.12 Release Candidate Available, Final Coming In Early December

    As likely the last development milestone before officially releasing Qt 5.12 LTS, the release candidate was issued this morning. 

    The Qt 5.12 Release Candidate is now available for last-minute testing. The Qt 5.12 RC release has many documentation updates, several bug/regression fixes, and other maintenance items taken care of. Details on today's release candidate can be found via the mailing list.

GNU Compiler and Bison 3.2.2 Release

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  • Intel Cascade Lake Support Posted For The GCC Compiler

    Intel developers have submitted their GCC compiler enablement patch for the Cascade Lake 14nm CPUs due out starting in early 2019.

    The GNU Compiler Collection patch adds support for the -march=cascadelake target for generating optimized code for these upcoming server and enthusiast class processors.

  • Bison 3.2.2 released [stable]

    Bison 3.2 brought massive improvements to the deterministic C++ skeleton, When variants are enabled and the compiler supports C++11 or
    better, move-only types can now be used for semantic values. C++98 support
    is not deprecated. Please see the NEWS below for more details.
    Many thanks to Frank Heckenbach for paving the way for this release with his
    implementation of a skeleton in C++17, and to Nelson H. F. Beebe for testing
    exhaustively portability issues.

Red Hat and Oracle: DTrace, Microsoft Wanted to Buy Red Hat and More

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Red Hat
  • Oracle Exploring DTrace With eBPF

    While this year Oracle was successful in getting DTrace working well on Linux assuming you apply their patches or (more easily) using their Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel on Oracle Linux, they are looking at enhancing DTrace with the increasingly-used eBPF framework / in-kernel JIT.

  • Red Hat Exec Says IBM Must Keep the Open-Source Culture Untouched

    IBM buying Red Hat for $34 billion took many by surprise, including none other than the company’s senior vice president of Customer Experience and Engagement, Marco Bill-Peter.

    Speaking at the Red Hat Forum 2018 in Sydney, Bill-Peter explained that the acquisition “shocked” the company’s employees, suggesting that this takeover should take place smoothly in order to leave the open-source culture untouched.

    Otherwise, Red Hat’s mission would be altered and this could eventually lead to en-masse departures from the company.

    “At Red Hat we have like 13,000 people. If the open source culture gets impacted, trust me, many of those 13,000 people will leave,” he was quoted as saying.


    Red Hat has long been a target for tech giants, and while the IBM takeover took many by surprise, people familiar with the matter revealed many years ago that talks over a potential acquisition involved several other companies, including software firm Microsoft and Google.

  • Red Hat announces full support for Clang/LLVM, Go, and Rust
  • PyCon Canada 2018

    I've very happy to have had the opportunity to attend and speak at PyCon Canada here in Toronto last week.

    PyCon has always been a very well organized conference. There are a wide range of talks available, even on topics not directly related to Python. I've attended previous PyCon events in the past, but never the Canadian one!

    My talk was titled How Mozilla uses Python to Build and Ship Firefox. The slides are available here if you're interested. I believe the sessions were recorded, but they're not yet available online. I was happy with the attendance at the session, and the questions during and after the talk.

Building The Linux Kernel With Clang Is Becoming Popular Again

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Years ago there was much interest in the ability to build the mainline Linux kernel with the LLVM Clang compiler as an alternative to using the GCC compiler in order to ensure better code portability, shaking out GCC'isms, possible build speed improvements, and other benefits. But in recent years it seems to have waned in interest but now things are heating up again.

After the formal LLVMLinux project faded away for building the Linux kernel with the LLVM stack and what feels like years since the last presentation on the topic, at last week's Linux Plumbers Conference were three presentations on the topic.

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OSS: Development and Conferences

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  • Give your students edit access to their course syllabus

    I wanted to give students more agency in their learning. So I let them make pull requests against the syllabus.


    This exercise was a learning experience for both my students and me, as we clearly had different visions of what constituted a "disruption." While we all agreed that students should pay attention to the instructor and engage in all classroom activities, students thought they should be able to take "important" calls during class time and that texting during class was acceptable. I thought that cell phones should be turned off entirely during class. Students also thought that leaving the classroom to get a drink without asking permission was acceptable, while I thought that they should handle thirst needs before or after class.

    This resulted in a discussion about professionalism and the expectations associated with college-level work. We discussed what constituted a distraction and agreed that making sounds, whispering, and talking in class all counted as distractions. This in turn led to a discussion of the impacts distractions can have on a learning environment and the importance of paying attention in class. We also explored the impact various learning technologies can have on a classroom—for example, the tools students with disabilities require to fully participate in class, such as a screen reader—and agreed that noise generated by these was acceptable under the policy we intended to construct.

  • Open source tools to consider for your RESTful APIs

    At the start of a RESTful API development project, a software team might be tempted to buy an expensive commercial API management tool when an open source tool can just as easily do the trick. In fact, there are plenty of open source tools that can help with each stage of the API lifecycle and help get an API development program off the ground at low cost.

  • London Perl Workshop

    As celebrates its 20th anniversary, join Katherine Spice in conversation with a panel of the group's former leaders.

  • GNOME at Capitole du Libre 2018

    Last Saturday and Sunday I went to the Capitole du Libre 2018 to animate the GNOME booth and help on the Purism one.

  • Find Out the Visa Requirements to Attend oSC19

    For people planning on attending the openSUSE Conference 2019 in Nuremberg, Germany, from May 24 – 26, there are certain requirements necessary to receive a visa for those who are not a citizen of a Schengen country.

Linux To Start Alternative To glibc?

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The world of open source software, and Linux/GNU in particular, is a strange one, governed by internal politics and beliefs. Now frustration seems to have the better of the Linux developers who are now considering creating their own Linux call library.

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  • Radeon GCC Back-End Updated For Running Single-Threaded C & Fortran On AMD GPUs

    Back in September Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics posted the Radeon GCC back-end they have been developing with the cooperation of AMD. This is for allowing the GCC compiler to eventually offload nicely to Radeon GPUs with its different programming languages and supported parallel programming models, particularly with OpenMP and OpenACC in mind. But for now this patch series just works with single-threaded C and Fortran programs. The second version of this port was posted for review.

    Hitting the GCC mailing list on Friday was the updated version of this AMD GCN port targeting Tonga/Fiji through Vega graphics hardware. Code Sourcery will post the OpenACC/OpenMP support bits at a later date while for now the code works with single-threaded C/Fortran programs with C++ not yet supported, among other initial shortcomings. For now the AMDGPU LLVM back-end is far more mature in comparison, which is what's currently used by the open-source AMD Linux driver compute and graphics stacks.

  • AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler 1.3 Brings More Zen Tuning

    Earlier this month AMD quietly released a new version of their Optimizing C/C++ compiler in the form of AOCC 1.3. This new compiler release has more Zen tuning to try to squeeze even more performance out of Ryzen/EPYC systems when using their LLVM-based compiler.

    The AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler remains AMD's high performance compiler for Zen compared to the earlier AMD Open64 Compiler up through the Bulldozer days. AOCC is based on LLVM Clang with various patches added in. Fortunately, with time at least a lot of the AOCC patches do appear to work their way into upstream LLVM Clang. AOCC also has experimental Fortran language support using the "Flang" front-end that isn't as nearly mature as Clang.

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today's leftovers

OSS Leftovers

  • #RecruitmentFocus: Open source skills in high demand
    The unemployment rate in South Africa rose to 27.5% in the third quarter of 2018, while the demand for skills remains high - leaving an industry conundrum that is yet to be solved. According to SUSE, partnerships that focus on upskilling graduates and providing real-work skills, as well as placement opportunities - could be exactly what the industry in looking for.
  • Stable: not moving vs. not breaking
    There are two terms that brings a heavy controversy in the Open Source world: support and stable. Both of them have their roots in the “old days” of Open Source, where its commercial impact was low and very few companies made business with it. You probably have read a lot about maintenance vs support. This controversy is older. I first heard of it in the context of Linux based distributions. Commercial distribution had to put effort in differentiating among the two because in Open SOurce they were used indistictly but not in business. But this post is about the adjectivet stable…
  • Cameron Kaiser: A thank you to Ginn Chen, whom Larry Ellison screwed
    Periodically I refresh my machines by dusting them off and plugging them in and running them for a while to keep the disks spinnin' and the caps chargin'. Today was the day to refurbish my Sun Ultra-3, the only laptop Sun ever "made" (they actually rebadged the SPARCle and later the crotchburner 1.2GHz Tadpole Viper, which is the one I have). Since its last refresh the IDPROM had died, as they do when they run out of battery, resetting the MAC address to zeroes and erasing the license for the 802.11b which I never used anyway. But, after fixing the clock to prevent GNOME from puking on the abnormal date, it booted and I figured I'd update Firefox since it still had 38.4 on it. Ginn Chen, first at Sun and later at Oracle, regularly issued builds of Firefox which ran very nicely on SPARC Solaris 10. Near as I can determine, Oracle has never offered a build of any Firefox post-Rust even to the paying customers they're bleeding dry, but I figured I should be able to find the last ESR of 52 and install that. (Amusingly this relic can run a Firefox in some respects more current than TenFourFox, which is an evolved and patched Firefox 45.)
  • Protecting the world’s oceans with open data science
    For environmental scientists, researching a single ecosystem or organism can be a daunting task. The amount of data and literature to comb through (or create) is often overwhelming. So how, then, can environmental scientists approach studying the health of the world’s oceans? What ocean health means is a big question in itself—oceans span millions of square miles, are home to countless species, and border hundreds of countries and territories, each of which has its own unique marine policies and practices. But no matter how daunting this task may seem, it’s a necessary and vital one. So in 2012, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and Conservation International publicly launched the Ocean Health Index (OHI), an ambitious initiative to measure the benefits that oceans provide to people, including clean water, coastal protections, and biodiversity. The idea was to create an annual assessment to document major oceanic changes and trends, and in turn, use those findings to craft better marine policy around the world.

Openwashing Leftovers

The Last Independent Mobile OS

The year was 2010 and the future of mobile computing was looking bright. The iPhone was barely three years old, Google’s Android had yet to swallow the smartphone market whole, and half a dozen alternative mobile operating systems—many of which were devoutly open source—were preparing for launch. Eight years on, you probably haven’t even heard of most of these alternative mobile operating systems, much less use them. Today, Android and iOS dominate the global smartphone market and account for 99.9 percent of mobile operating systems. Even Microsoft and Blackberry, longtime players in the mobile space with massive revenue streams, have all but left the space. Then there’s Jolla, the small Finnish tech company behind Sailfish OS, which it bills as the “last independent alternative mobile operating system.” Jolla has had to walk itself back from the edge of destruction several times over the course of its seven year existence, and each time it has emerged battered, but more determined than ever to carve out a spot in the world for a truly independent, open source mobile operating system. After years of failed product launches, lackluster user growth, and supply chain fiascoes, it’s only been in the last few months that things finally seem to be turning to Jolla’s favor. Over the past two years the company has rode the wave of anti-Google sentiment outside the US and inked deals with large foreign companies that want to turn Sailfish into a household name. Despite the recent success, Jolla is far from being a major player in the mobile market. And yet it also still exists, which is more than can be said of every other would-be alternative mobile OS company. Read more