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OSS

Open Usage Commons: Google’s Initiative to Manage Trademark for Open Source Projects Runs into Controversy

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Google
OSS

Back in July, Google announced a new organization named Open Usage Commons. The aim of the organization is to help “projects protect their project identity through programs such as trademark management and usage guidelines”.

Google believes that “creating a neutral, independent ownership for these trademarks gives contributors and consumers peace of mind regarding their use of project names in a fair and transparent way”.

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Wiki.js: A Modern Open-source Wiki Engine for the Enterprise\

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OSS

Whenever there is a mention of a Wiki, the first thing that always come to thoughts is: Wikipedia.org. So first let's draw a like between Wiki and Wikipedia.

A Wiki is a software that built to ease collaborative writing and editing processes for teams. They are designed with a specific goal to provide productive writing environment for writers and editors, as well as a set of management tools for moderators and managers.

Wikis have been around since the dawn of the modern internet as we knew it, and the most popular Wiki system is MediaWiki which Wikipedia uses.

Over the years we used many wiki engines in work, starting from MediaWiki, DokuWiki, PmWiki, Wikkawiki, and TiddlyWiki. All of them are still popular wiki engines with loyal communities.

[...]

Wiki.js is a fully customizable and modular wiki engine written entirely in JavaScript. It comes with a rich set of features, and works smoothly on different systems and environments.

It's also a blazing fast web application, with an eye-candy design, furthermore, It supports many database interfaces with primary support for PostgreSQL (Note that the other database engines may be dropped in the next major release).

With a developer-friendly tool set, developer can integrate Wiki.js with any existing system as they can build modules, and create custom themes for it.

Wiki.js is a perfect solution for scientists, researchers, business managers, writers, historians, software developers and technical writers. It's also a polished solution for the enterprise. Here in this article we will explain why.

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Best Free and Open Source Load Balancers

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OSS

Load balancing is defined as the methodical and efficient distribution of network or application traffic across multiple servers in a server farm. Each load balancer sits between client devices and backend servers, receiving and then distributing incoming requests to any available server capable of fulfilling them.

The underlying concept is simple but powerful. Imagine you’re working with a website that needs to serve a huge number of users. Currently, the domain points to the IP address of a single web server. Responding to each request consumes some fraction of the server’s resources. When the server is using all of its resources, it will either take longer to respond to requests or the requests will fail entirely and the user experience will suffer. You can add more RAM, more storage capacity, and, in some cases, additional CPU cores, but you can’t scale forever. Enter load balancers.

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3 open source alternatives to Confluence

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OSS

One of the most important things to do well in a modern enterprise is to collect company knowledge. Organizations need shared workspaces where individuals and teams can collaborate and share their experience and knowledge. This makes knowledge-management systems essential in today's agile environments.

Some companies use Confluence, others use GSuite, and still others use SharePoint. But they're all proprietary software, which means they don't offer their source code for you to audit or modify. If you are uncomfortable entering your company's shared knowledge into software that you don't own or control, the open source projects BlueSpice, XWiki, and DokuWiki are excellent alternatives.

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Free Software (and OSS) Leftovers

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OSS
  • Where’s the Yelp for open-source tools?

    We’d like an easy way to judge open-source programs. It can be done. But easily? That’s another matter. When it comes to open source, you can’t rely on star power.

    The “wisdom of the crowd” has inspired all sorts of online services wherein people share their opinions and guide others in making choices. The Internet community has created many ways to do this, such as Amazon reviews, Glassdoor (where you can rate employers), and TripAdvisor and Yelp (for hotels, restaurants, and other service providers). You can rate or recommend commercial software, too, such as on mobile app stores or through sites like product hunt. But if you want advice to help you choose open-source applications, the results are disappointing.

    It isn’t for lack of trying. Plenty of people have created systems to collect, judge, and evaluate open-source projects, including information about a project’s popularity, reliability, and activity. But each of those review sites – and their methodologies – have flaws.

    [...]

    Solomon Hykes, Docker’s co-founder, strongly disagrees. “GitHub stars are a scam. This bullshit metric is so pervasive, and GitHub’s chokehold on the open-source community so complete, that maintainers have to distort their workflows to fit the ‘GitHub model’ or risk being publicly shamed by industry analysts. What a disgrace.”

    Hykes isn’t the only one who views GitHub stars as a misleading flop. Fintan Ryan, a Gartner senior director, thinks stars are just a game that confuses marketing and the code that’s actually on GitHub. And Microsoft project manager for open-source development on Azure, Ralph Squillace, tweeted, “In my opinion and for Microsoft project [engineering] and management they are worthless. [But] There are always people who seize on them anyway.”

  • How Nextcloud simplified the signup process for decentralization

    When you download the mobile or desktop app, the first thing you see is a choice for "Log in" or "Sign up with a provider."

  • Community Member Monday: Pranam Lashkari (Collabora/GSoC)

    Today we’re talking to Pranam Lashkari from our Indian community, who is working in the LibreOffice ecosystem at Collabora, improving the web-based version of the suite…

  • Hello world from Eostre Emily Danne, intern with the FSF tech team

    In my hobby work, I've worked on making OS installs highly reproducible - my / is a read-only squashfs image that gets periodically rebuilt, my /etc is a git repo, and I keep my /home distributed across a few machines via Syncthing. At the FSF, I'm applying that experience by reimplementing some infrastructure as neat little scripted installs. Without revealing too much about our infrastructure, we have some systems that were created using forgotten knowledge by previous generations of sysadmins; it's my job to turn the arcane shell invocations in their ~/.bash_history files into something we can eventually manage with Ansible, though for now I'll just be writing shell scripts that do the same thing.

    This also comes as Trisquel is about to release version 9.0, so I'll probably end up testing that too.

RPI4, Raspberry Pi OS and MATE desktop - Essential tweaks

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OS
Linux
OSS

Hear, hear. Today, I have a rather lengthy article for you. I want to show you all the different changes and tweaks I had to introduce to my Raspberry Pi 4 and its resident Raspberry Pi OS, in order to transform a fairly bland operating system into a stylish, eye-turning desktop. To that end, first step, I installed the MATE desktop environment.

Similar to what we did with Ubuntu MATE, we will now tweak the MATE desktop on top of Raspberry Pi OS. Please note that most of the tips and tricks outlined in the other tutorial are valid and applicable here, but we need more. Now, take a deep breath and follow me, for there's quite some work ahead of us.

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Mark Text – simple and elegant open source Markdown editor

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OSS

Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax created by John Gruber in 2004. It’s designed to be easy-to-read and easy-to-write.

Readability is at the very heart of Markdown. It offers the advantages of plain text, provides a convenient format for writing for the web, but it’s not intended to be a replacement for HTML. Markdown is a writing format, not a publishing format. You control the display of the document; formatting words as bold or italic, adding images, and creating lists are just a few of the things we can do with Markdown. Mostly, Markdown is just regular text with a few non-alphabetic characters included, such as # or *.

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Best Free and Open Source Terminal-Based Music Players

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OSS

There’s a huge raft of free and open source music software available on the Linux platform which is both mature and sophisticated. Linux has many music tools which offer enhanced functionality and integration with internet music services. With most desktop environments having several audio players, together with cross-platform applications, integrated media players, there is a plethora of music players to choose from.

Like many types of software, the selection of a favorite music player is, to some extent, dependent on personal preferences. Nevertheless, we are confident that the applications featured in this article represent the most appealing music players.

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KMail account trouble

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KDE
OSS
Web

KMail is the open-source email client that I’ve always wanted to use. However, I’ve always given up on it after a few hours or days after running into critical bugs. I gave it another shot this month, and here’s how it went.

I’ve been using Evolution for the last few years. I’ve recently had serious issues with it corrupting messages, and its PGP-integration has been buggy for years. A couple of weeks ago, I needed to send off a PGP-encrypted email to [redacted] regarding a security issue. So I went looking for alternative email clients. As many times before, KMail was the first option on my list.

KMail has every feature I need, including PGP support and integration with my email provider (IMAP/SMTP) and address book server (CardDAV). It’s recommended by Use plain-text email and formats email messages in the way I like it. It even has a Unicode-compatible spellchecker (something Thunderbird is still missing in 2020!) It’s been an appealing option for me for years.

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Now and Then: What happened to 3 promising open source Linux terminal emulators?

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Linux
OSS

Many small utilities start when an individual senses the need for a project. That person announces their brainchild, working on an initial code base, and releases an early version. The individual together with a small number of contributors further develop the program until its reached a certain level of maturity. If the key developer decides to abandon the project, it can simply wither away. Or it can be forked by an interested party and development continues.

Way back in the mists of time (OK it was early 2015), we wrote an article highlighting 3 open source terminal emulators that were in an early stage of development. Definitely not stable, feature complete or remotely ready for a production environment. But they all were very promising for different reasons.

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More in Tux Machines

Raspberry Pi 4 as Desktop Computer: Is It Really Viable?

There’s little doubt that the Raspberry Pi 4 is significantly more powerful than its predecessors. Its based on the faster ARM Cortex-A72 microarchitecture and has four cores pegged at marginally-higher clock speeds. The graphics subsystem is significantly beefed up as well, running at twice the maximum stock clocks as the outgoing model. Everything about it makes it a viable desktop replacement. But is it really good enough to replace your trusty old desktop? I spent three weeks with the 8GB version of the Pi 4 to answer that million-dollar question. Read more

10 Linux Distributions and Their Targeted Users

As a free and open-source operating system, Linux has spawned several distributions over time, spreading its wings to encompass a large community of users. From desktop/home users to Enterprise environments, Linux has ensured that each category has something to be happy about. [...] Debian is renowned for being a mother to popular Linux distributions such as Deepin, Ubuntu, and Mint which have provided solid performance, stability, and unparalleled user experience. The latest stable release is Debian 10.5, an update of Debian 10 colloquially known as Debian Buster. Note that Debian 10.5 does not constitute a new version of Debian Buster and is only an update of Buster with the latest updates and added software applications. Also included are security fixes that address pre-existing security issues. If you have your Buster system, there’s no need to discard it. Simply perform a system upgrade using the APT package manager. The Debian project provides over 59,000 software packages and supports a wide range of PCs with each release encompassing a broader array of system architectures. It strives to strike a balance between cutting edge technology and stability. Debian provides 3 salient development branches: Stable, Testing, and Unstable. The stable version, as the name suggests is rock-solid, enjoys full security support but unfortunately, does not ship with the very latest software applications. Nevertheless, It is ideal for production servers owing to its stability and reliability and also makes the cut for relatively conservative desktop users who don’t really mind having the very latest software packages. Debian Stable is what you would usually install on your system. Debian Testing is a rolling release and provides the latest software versions that are yet to be accepted into the stable release. It is a development phase of the next stable Debian release. It’s usually fraught with instability issues and might easily break. Also, it doesn’t get its security patches in a timely fashion. The latest Debian Testing release is Bullseye. The unstable distro is the active development phase of Debian. It is an experimental distro and acts as a perfect platform for developers who are actively making contributions to the code until it transitions to the ‘Testing’ stage. Overall, Debian is used by millions of users owing to its package-rich repository and the stability it provides especially in production environments. Read more

LWN on Linux and Linux Foundation Bits

  • Modernizing the tasklet API

    Tasklets offer a deferred-execution method in the Linux kernel; they have been available since the 2.3 development series. They allow interrupt handlers to schedule further work to be executed as soon as possible after the handler itself. The tasklet API has its shortcomings, but it has stayed in place while other deferred-execution methods, including workqueues, have been introduced. Recently, Kees Cook posted a security-inspired patch set (also including work from Romain Perier) to improve the tasklet API. This change is uncontroversial, but it provoked a discussion that might lead to the removal of the tasklet API in the (not so distant) future. The need for tasklets and other deferred execution mechanisms comes from the way the kernel handles interrupts. An interrupt is (usually) caused by some hardware event; when it happens, the execution of the current task is suspended and the interrupt handler takes the CPU. Before the introduction of threaded interrupts, the interrupt handler had to perform the minimum necessary operations (like accessing the hardware registers to silence the interrupt) and then call an appropriate deferred-work mechanism to take care of just about everything else that needed to be done. Threaded interrupts, yet another import from the realtime preemption work, move the handler to a kernel thread that is scheduled in the usual way; this feature was merged for the 2.6.30 kernel, by which time tasklets were well established. An interrupt handler will schedule a tasklet when there is some work to be done at a later time. The kernel then runs the tasklet when possible, typically when the interrupt handler finishes, or the task returns to the user space. The tasklet callback runs in atomic context, inside a software interrupt, meaning that it cannot sleep or access user-space data, so not all work can be done in a tasklet handler. Also, the kernel only allows one instance of any given tasklet to be running at any given time; multiple different tasklet callbacks can run in parallel. Those limitations of tasklets are not present in more recent deferred work mechanisms like workqueues. But still, the current kernel contains more than a hundred users of tasklets. Cook's patch set changes the parameter type for the tasklet's callback. In current kernels, they take an unsigned long value that is specified when the tasklet is initialized. This is different from other kernel mechanisms with callbacks; the preferred way in current kernels is to use a pointer to a type-specific structure. The change Cook proposes goes in that direction by passing the tasklet context (struct tasklet_struct) to the callback. The goal behind this work is to avoid a number of problems, including a need to cast from the unsigned int to a different type (without proper type checking) in the callback. The change allows the removal of the (now) redundant data field from the tasklet structure. Finally, this change mitigates the possible buffer overflow attacks that could overwrite the callback pointer and the data field. This is likely one of the primary objectives, as the work was first posted (in 2019) on the kernel-hardening mailing list.

  • Android kernel notes from LPC 2020

    Todd Kjos started things off by introducing the Android Generic Kernel Image (GKI) effort, which is aimed at reducing Android's kernel-fragmentation problem in general. It is the next step for the Android Common Kernel, which is based on the mainline long-term support (LTS) releases with a number of patches added on top. These patches vary from Android-specific, out-of-tree features to fixes cherry-picked from mainline releases. The end result is that the Android Common Kernel diverges somewhat from the LTS releases on which it is based. From there, things get worse. Vendors pick up this kernel and apply their own changes — often significant, core-kernel changes — to create a vendor kernel. The original-equipment manufacturers begin with that kernel when creating a device based on the vendor's chips, but then add changes of their own to create the OEM kernel that is shipped with a device to the consumer. The end result of all this patching is that every device has its own kernel, meaning that there are thousands of different "Android" kernels in use. There are a lot of costs to this arrangement, Kjos said. Fragmentation makes it harder to ensure that all devices are running current kernels — or even that they get security updates. New platform releases require a new kernel, which raises the cost of upgrading an existing device to a new Android version. Fixes applied by vendors and OEMs often do not make it back into the mainline, making things worse for everybody. The Android developers would like to fix this fragmentation problem; the path toward that goal involves providing a single generic kernel in binary form (the GKI) that all devices would use. Any vendor-specific or device-specific code that is not in the mainline kernel will need to be shipped in the form of kernel modules to be loaded into the GKI. That means that Android is explicitly encouraging vendor modules, Kjos said; the result is a cleaner kernel without the sorts of core-kernel modifications that ship on many devices now. This policy has already resulted in more vendors actively working to upstream their code. That code often does not take the form that mainline developers would like to see; some of it is just patches exporting symbols. That has created some tension in the development community, he said.

  • Vibrant Networking, Edge Open Source Development On Full Display at Open Networking & Edge Summit

    The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today marked significant progress in the open networking and edge spaces. In advance of the Open Networking and Edge Summit happening September 28-30, Linux Foundation umbrella projects LF Edge and LF Networking demonstrate recent achievements highlighting trends that set the stage for next-generation technology.

  • Vibrant Networking, Edge Open Source Development On Full Display at Open Networking & Edge Summit

    The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today marked significant progress in the open networking and edge spaces. In advance of the Open Networking and Edge Summit happening September 28-30, Linux Foundation umbrella projects LF Edge and LF Networking demonstrate recent achievements highlighting trends that set the stage for next-generation technology. [...] “We are thrilled to announce a number of milestones across our networking and edge projects, which will be on virtual display at ONES next week,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IOT, at the Linux Foundation. “Indicative of what’s coming next, our communities are laying the groundwork for markets like cloud native, 5G, and edge to explode in terms of open deployments.”

GNU Projects: GnuPG, GCC and GNU Parallel 20200922 ('Ginsburg')

  • OpenPGP in Rust: the Sequoia project

    In 2018, three former GnuPG developers began work on Sequoia, a new implementation of OpenPGP in Rust. OpenPGP is an open standard for data encryption, often used for secure email; GnuPG is an implementation of that standard. The GPLv2-licensed Sequoia is heading toward version 1.0, with a handful of issues remaining to be addressed. The project's founders believe that there is much to be desired in GnuPG, which is the de facto standard implementation of OpenPGP today. They hope to fix this with a reimplementation of the specification using a language with features that will help protect users from common types of memory bugs. While GnuPG is the most popular OpenPGP implementation — especially for Linux — there are others, including OpenKeychain, OpenPGP.js, and RNP. OpenPGP has been criticized for years (such as this blog post from 2014, and another from 2019); the Sequoia project is working to build modern OpenPGP tooling that addresses many of those complaints. Sequoia has already been adopted by several other projects, including keys.openpgp.org, OpenPGP CA, koverto, Pijul, and KIPA. Sequoia was started by Neal H. Walfield, Justus Winter, and Kai Michaelis; each worked on GnuPG for about two years. In a 2018 presentation [YouTube] (slides [PDF]) Walfield discussed their motivations for the new project. In his opinion, GnuPG is "hard to modify" — mostly due to its organic growth over the decades. Walfield pointed out the tight coupling between components in GnuPG and the lack of unit testing as specific problem areas. As an example, he noted that the GnuPG command-line tool and the corresponding application libraries do not have the same abilities; there are things that can only be done using the command-line tool.

  • BPF in GCC

    The BPF virtual machine is being used ever more widely in the kernel, but it has not been a target for GCC until recently. BPF is currently generated using the LLVM compiler suite. Jose E. Marchesi gave a pair of presentations as part of the GNU Tools track at the 2020 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) that provided attendees with a look at the BPF for GCC project, which started around a year ago. It has made some significant progress, but there is, of course, more to do. There are three phases envisioned for the project. The first is to add the BPF target to the GNU toolchain. Next up is to ensure that the generated programs pass the kernel's verifier, so that they can be loaded into the kernel. That will also require effort to keep it working, Marchesi said, because the BPF world moves extremely fast. The last phase is to provide additional tools for BPF developers, beyond just a compiler and assembler, such as debuggers and simulators.

  • GNU Parallel 20200922 ('Ginsburg') released

    GNU Parallel 20200922 ('Ginsburg') has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/