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4 big ways companies benefit from having open source program offices

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OSS

At first glance, one big reason why a company not in the business of software development might more enthusiastically embrace an open source program office is because they have less to lose. After all, they're not gambling with software products that are directly tied to revenue. Facebook, for example, can easily unleash a distributed key-value datastore as an open source project because they don't sell a product called "enterprise key-value datastore." That answers the question of risk, but it still doesn't answer the question of what they gain from contributing to the open source ecosystem. Let's look at a few potential reasons and then tackle each. You'll notice a lot of overlap with vendor open source program offices, but some of the motivations are slightly different.

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OSS Leftovers

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OSS
  • Review: 5 open source alternatives for routers/firewalls

    Open source software offers an economical and flexible option for deploying basic home, SMB or even enterprise networking. These open source products deliver simple routing and networking features, like DHCP and DNS. Plus, they are combined with security functionality, starting with a basic firewall and possibly including antivirus, antispam and Web filtering.

    These products can be downloaded and deployed on your own hardware, on a virtual platform, or in the cloud. Many of them sell pre-configured appliances as well if you like their feature-set or support, but don’t want to build your own machine.

  • Puppet Marches Forward, Takes Note of DevOps Employment/Salary Trends

    Folks who are focused on container technology and virtual machines as they are implemented today might want to give a hat tip to some of the early technologies and platforms that arrived in the same arena. Among those, Puppet, which was built on the legacy of the venerable Cfengine system, was an early platform that helped automate lots of virtual machine implementations. We covered it in depth all the way back in 2008. Fast-forward to today, and Puppet is still making news, creating jobs and more.

    Here are some of the recent notable newsbytes from Puppet, including its 2016 DevOps Salary Survey results.

  • Yahoo Open Sources Pulsar, a Powerful Low-Latency Messaging System

    For the past year, we've taken note of the many open source projects focused on Big Data that have been contributed to the community. Some of these are real difference makers--strong enough for new startup companies to align around them with business models focused on them. While the Apache Software Foundation has has announced many of these, some of the bigger tech companies are contributing as well.

    Now Yahoo has open sourced a distributed “publish and subscribe” messaging system dubbed Pulsar that’s capable of scaling while protecting low latencies. Yahoo uses Pulsar to drive several of its own in-house applications.

  • KDE Returns Home, QtCon Talks Videos Available

    KDE has finished its fantastic week, celebrating 20 years of hacking and freedom fighting together with Qt, VLC and FSFE in Berlin. We finished our week with a fun day trip to Pfaueninsel, Berlin's Peacock Island.

    Videos from many of the talks are now available to download with the rest being added in the coming weeks. They are also linked from the conference program with slides, where available.

    Many thanks to the organisers of the conference. We have now returned to our homes around the world to implement our plans for the next 20 years of being the best community for end-user software.

  • The end of design summits, launching a server with Ansible, and more OpenStack news

Open source routers deliver low cost, flexibility

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OSS

Open source software offers an economical and flexible option for deploying basic home, SMB or even enterprise networking. These open source products deliver simple routing and networking features, plus they are combined with security functionality, starting with a basic firewall and possibly including antivirus, antispam and Web filtering. These products can be downloaded and deployed on your own hardware, on a virtual platform, or in the cloud. Many of them sell pre-configured appliances as well. We reviewed five products: ClearOS, DD-WRT, pfSense, Untangle and ZeroShell. We found that ClearOS, pfSense, and Untangle could be appropriate for home use all the way up to the enterprise environment.

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Leftovers: OSS

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OSS
  • RoundCube-Next Is Woefully Behind Schedule

    After raising more than $103,000 USD last year via crowd-funding the RoundCube-Next web-based email client doesn't really appear to be going anywhere.

    A massive crowdfunding campaign was launched in early 2015 to make RoundCube-Next a reality where they raised $103,541 of their original $80k goal. RoundCube-Next is/was supposed to be completely redesigned, offer integrated chat functionality, support video conferencing with WebRTC, integrate cloud file access, and offer a new and quite nice looking responsive UI.

  • Texinfo 6.3 released
  • Report: Students Can Save Thousands By Using 'Digital, Open-Source Textbooks'​

    A report related to a state pilot program has declared that college and university students across the state can save thousands with the use of "digital, open-source textbooks."

    The results of the pilot program were published last month.

  • Some notes on programming languages and web development

    Even before I begin, I must state that I'm not a web developer. I've never been one, and I have no intention to turn into one either. It isn't that I don't like developing web applications. On the contrary, I find the topic incredibly interesting. It's just that everything I need has pretty much already been developed by web developers, so I've never had to write an app myself. Add to that my lack of interest in pursuing a career the software development industry - I prefer my research - the implications are that I will always prioritise research related development.

    Take this blog, for example. It once used to be a Wordpress deployment, but I eventually got fed up with it bleeding the resources of my shared hosting space and moved to a static site. I didn't even bother learning a new language like Ruby to use Jekyll. I found something that was written in Python, a language that I know pretty well - Pelican - which works really well. So, really, for my web requirements, I tend to pick the path of least effort.

Women & Free Software projects

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OSS

To many women, a large social group of men they are supposed to join may be intimidating – the same could probably be said of any men joining a large social group primarily populated of women. But when what looks intimidating reveals itself as being actually oppressing , that is the moment we have a true problem. Male developers shunning, criticizing, belittling and offending female developers because they are females, even when not necessarily expressed in an explicit way, is purely not acceptable. It is neither on the most basic moral grounds nor in the letter and spirit of the Free Software movement. The Internet, unfortunately, reveals protracted bullies, the kind of people who would probably not have the guts to ask the targeted woman out, or even not dare look at a female developer in the eyes and tell her what he would be able to write from the comfort of his own keyboard, miles away from her.

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Leftovers: OSS

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OSS
  • GPL Time-bomb an interesting approach to #FOSS licensing

    In short I have put a time limit of 3 years to make money out of the product and if I am unable it is turned over to the world to use as they see fit. Even better, assuming searchcode server becomes a successful product I will be forced to continually improve it and upgrade if I want to keep a for sale version without there being an equivalent FOSS version around (which in theory could be maintained by the community). In short everyone wins from this arrangement, and I am not forced to rely on a support model to pay the bills which frankly only works when you have a large sales team.

    Here’s hoping this sort of licencing catches on as there are so many products out there that could benefit from it. If they take off the creators have an incentive to maintain and not milk their creation and those that become abandoned even up available for public use which I feel is a really fair way of licencing software.

  • The kernel community confronts GPL enforcement

    Some of the most important discussions associated with the annual Kernel Summit do not happen at the event itself; instead, they unfold prior to the summit on the planning mailing list. There is value in learning what developers feel needs to be talked about and, often, important issues can be resolved before the summit itself takes place. That list has just hosted (indeed, is still hosting as of this writing) a voluminous discussion on license enforcement that was described by some participants as being "pointless" or worse. But that discussion has served a valuable purpose: it has brought to the light a debate that has long festered under the surface, and it has clarified where some of the real disagreements lie.

    It all started when Karen Sandler, the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), proposed a session on "GPL defense issues." Interest in these issues is growing, she said, and it would be a good time to get the kernel community together for the purposes of information sharing and determining what community consensus exists, if any, on enforcement issues. It quickly became clear that some real differences of opinion exist though, in truth, the differences of opinion within the community may not be as large as they seem. Rather than attempt to cover the entire thread, this article will try to extract some of the most significant points from it.

  • Moving to Pelican and GitHub pages

    I have decided to move to using GitHub pages and Pelican to create my person ‘hub’ on the Internet. I am still in the debate about moving some content over to the new hub, but have not made a decision yet.

  • Token-based authorship information from Git

    At LinuxCon North America 2016, Daniel German presented some research that he and others have done to extract more fine-grained authorship information from Git. Instead of the traditional line-based attribution for changes, they took things to the next level by looking at individual tokens in the source code and attributing changes to individuals. This kind of analysis may be helpful in establishing code provenance for copyright and other purposes.

    German, who is from the University of Victoria, worked on the project with Kate Stewart of the Linux Foundation and Bram Adams of Polytechnique Montréal. It was a "combination of research plus hacking", he said, and the results were fascinating.

Julia Reda, MEP: "Proprietary Software threatens Democracy"

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Julia Reda ended the QtCon, a conference for the Free Software community, with a closing keynote on, among other things, Free Software in the European Public Sector.

Ms Reda, a member of the EU Parliament for the Pirate Party, explained how proprietary software, software that forbids users from studying and modifying it, has often left regulators in the dark, becoming a liability for and often a threat to the well-being and health of citizens.

An example of this, she said, is the recent Dieselgate scandal, in which auto-mobile manufacturers installed software that cheated instruments that measured fumes in test environments, only to spew illegal amounts of toxic exhaust into the atmosphere the moment they went on the road.

Ms Reda also explained how medical devices running proprietary software posed a health hazard for patients. She gave the example of a woman with a pacemaker who collapsed while climbing some stairs due to a bug in her device. Doctors and technicians had no way of diagnosing and correcting the problem as they did not have access to the code.

Also worrying is the threat software with restrictive licenses pose to democracy itself. The trend of substituting traditional voting ballots with voting machines is especially worrying, because, as these machines are not considered a threat to national security, their software also goes unaudited and is, in fact, unauditable in most cases.

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Open365 mail – You’ve got … something?

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OSS
Reviews

Ladies, gentlemen, everyone else. Not that long ago, I reviewed Open365, a free, open-source, cloud-based productivity suite based on LibreOffice, with some nice spicy additions. I liked it. It’s a pretty decent product, with a lot of potential. But there’s still a lot more work to be done.

The one aspect of the five-app combo you get in Open365 that I missed in the earlier article is the mail functionality. You have the three power programs – LibreOffice Writer, Calc and Impress – plus GIMP, with the mail client as the fifth element. Get the joke? Oh my. Well, it is time to right all past wrongs and give the final piece of the cloud suite its due review. Rhyme. Word.

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New FOSS Projects

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OSS
  • Yahoo! Open Sources Pulsar, a Pub/Sub Messaging Platform

    According to Yahoo!, Pulsar is a low latency Pub/Sub messaging system that can be scaled horizontally across multiple hosts and datacenters. Yahoo! has been using Pulsar in production for Mail, Finance, Gemini Ads, Sherpa, and Sports since Q2/2015. By making it open source, they hope it will be widely used by being integrated with other open source products. Yahoo! has deployed Pulsar in over ten datacenters, reaching over 100B msgs/day spread over 1.4 million topics with an average publish latency of less than 5ms. Pulsar comes with guaranteed delivery of messages and two persisted copies, automatic cursor management for message readers and cross-datacenter replication.

  • Penn researchers develop open-source software to infer evolutionary track of tumor metastasis

    Individual cells within a tumor are not all the same. This may sound like a modern medical truism, but it wasn't very long ago that oncologists assumed that taking a single biopsy from a patient's tumor would be an accurate reflection of the physiological and genetic make-up of the entire mass.

    Researchers have come to realize that cancer is a disease driven by the same "survival of the fitter" forces that Darwin proposed drove the evolution of life on Earth. In the case of tumors, however, individual cells are constantly evolving as a tumor's stage advances. Mobile cancer cells causing metastasis are a deadly outcome of this process.

  • New package gettz on CRAN
  • RProtoBuf 0.4.6: bugfix update

    Relatively quickly after version 0.4.5 of RProtoBuf was released, we have a new version 0.4.6 to announce which appeared on CRAN today.

    RProtoBuf provides R bindings for the Google Protocol Buffers ("Protobuf") data encoding and serialization library used and released by Google, and deployed as a language and operating-system agnostic protocol by numerous projects.

The Sun gets it wrong, we're here to help.

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OSS

Recently the Sun published an article by Ryan Sabey (@ryansabey), “UNION HACK Jeremy Corbyn’s digital democracy manifesto ‘would let foreign spooks rob UK'”. The post included several criticisms from government officials and pundits challenging the quality and security of open source software, cautioning readers, “sensitive data could be at risk under Labour leader's plans.”

Mr. Corbyn's, “Digital Democracy Manifesto” calls for public bodies in the U.K. to, “encourage publicly funded software and hardware to be released under an Open Source license,” and “financially reward staff technicians who significantly contribute to Open Source projects”.

Neil Doyle, who the Sun simply identified as an expert, warned, “cyber-criminals and foreign intelligence agencies would have a field day” under such an approach while, “private firms or individuals would be reluctant to get involved in public sector projects.”

Adding further criticism was British MP Nigel Adams who said Mr. Corbyn’s initiative, “ignores the issue of Internet abuse” adding, “his shambolic policies could leave us open to malicious attack and put our national security at risk.”

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Also: Open source at the European Broadcasting Union/Eurovision

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More in Tux Machines

Networking and Security

  • FAQ: What's so special about 802.11ad Wi-Fi?
    Here are the broad strokes about 802.11ad, the wireless technology that’s just starting to hit the market.
  • 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet Now Official Standards
    In 2014, multiple groups started efforts to create new mid-tier Ethernet speeds with the NBASE-T Alliance starting in October 2014 and MGBASE-T Alliance getting started a few months later in December 2014. While those groups started out on different paths, the final 802.3bz standard represents a unified protocol that is interoperable across multiple vendors. The promise of 2.5 and 5 Gbps Ethernet is that they can work over existing Cat5 cabling, which to date has only been able to support 1 Gbps. Now with the 802.3bz standard, organizations do not need to rip and replace cabling to get Ethernet that is up to five times faster. "Now, the 1000BASE-T uplink from the wireless to wired network is no longer sufficient, and users are searching for ways to tap into higher data rates without having to overhaul the 70 billion meters of Cat5e / Cat6 wiring already sold," David Chalupsky, board of directors of the Ethernet Alliance and Intel principal engineer, said in a statement. "IEEE 802.3bz is an elegant solution that not only addresses the demand for faster access to rapidly rising data volumes, but also capitalizes on previous infrastructure investments, thereby extending their life and maximizing value."
  • A quick fix for stupid password reset questions
    It didn’t take 500 million hacked Yahoo accounts to make me hate, hate, hate password reset questions (otherwise known as knowledge-based authentication or KBA). It didn't help when I heard that password reset questions and answers -- which are often identical, required, and reused on other websites -- were compromised in that massive hack, too. Is there any security person or respected security guidance that likes them? They are so last century. What is your mother’s maiden name? What is your favorite color? What was your first pet’s name?
  • French hosting provider hit by DDoS close to 1TBps
    A hosting provider in France has been hit by a distributed denial of service attack that went close to one terabyte per second. Concurrent attacks against OVH clocked in at 990GBps. The attack vector is said to be the same Internet-of-Things botnet of 152,464 devices that brought down the website of security expert Brian Krebs. OVH chief technology officer Octave Klaba tweeted that the network was capable of attacks up to 1.5TBps.
  • Latest IoT DDoS Attack Dwarfs Krebs Takedown At Nearly 1Tbps Driven By 150K Devices
    If you thought that the massive DDoS attack earlier this month on Brian Krebs’ security blog was record-breaking, take a look at what just happened to France-based hosting provider OVH. OVH was the victim of a wide-scale DDoS attack that was carried via network of over 152,000 IoT devices. According to OVH founder and CTO Octave Klaba, the DDoS attack reached nearly 1 Tbps at its peak. Of those IoT devices participating in the DDoS attack, they were primarily comprised of CCTV cameras and DVRs. Many of these types devices' network settings are improperly configured, which leaves them ripe for the picking for hackers that would love to use them to carry our destructive attacks.

Android Leftovers

  • Goodbye QWERTY: BlackBerry stops making hardware
    BlackBerry CEO John Chen has been hinting at this move for almost a year now: today BlackBerry announced it will no longer design hardware. Say goodbye to all the crazy hardware QWERTY devices, ultra-wide phones, and unique slider designs. Speaking to investors, BlackBerry CEO John Chen described the move as a "pivot to software," saying, "The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners. This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital." The "Outsourcing to partners" plan is something we've already seen with the "BlackBerry" DTEK50, which was just a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4. Chen is now betting the future of the company on software, saying, "In Q2, we more than doubled our software revenue year over year and delivered the highest gross margin in the company's history. We also completed initial shipments of BlackBerry Radar, an end-to-end asset tracking system, and signed a strategic licensing agreement to drive global growth in our BBM consumer business." BlackBerry never effectively responded to the 2007 launch of the iPhone and the resulting transition to modern touchscreen smartphones. BlackBerry took swings with devices like the BlackBerry Storm in 2008, its first touchscreen phone; and the BlackBerry Z10 in 2013, the first BlackBerry phone with an OS designed for touch, but neither caught on. BlackBerry's first viable competitor to the iPhone didn't arrive until it finally switched to Android in 2015 with the BlackBerry Priv. It was the first decent BlackBerry phone in some time, but the high price and subpar hardware led to poor sales.
  • Oracle's 'Gamechanger' Evidence Really Just Evidence Of Oracle Lawyers Failing To Read
    Then on to the main show: Oracle's claim that Google hid the plans to make Android apps work on Chrome OS. Google had revealed to Oracle its "App Runtime for Chrome" (ARC) setup, and it was discussed by Oracle's experts, but at Google I/O, Google revealed new plans for apps to run in Chrome OS that were not using ARC, but rather a brand new setup, which Google internally referred to as ARC++. Oracle argued that Google only revealed to them ARC, but not ARC++ and that was super relevant to the fair use argument, because it showed that Android was replacing more than just the mobile device market for Java. But, here's Oracle's big problem: Google had actually revealed to Oracle the plans for ARC++. It appears that Oracle's lawyers just missed that fact. Ouch.
  • Understanding Android's balance between openness and security
    At the 2016 Structure Security conference, Google's Adrian Ludwig talked about the balance between keeping Android as open as possible, while also keeping it secure.
  • Google's Nougat Android update hits the sweet spot: Software 'isn't flashy, but still pretty handy'
    Nougat, Google's latest update of its Android smartphone software, isn't particularly flashy; you might not even notice what's different about it at first. But it offers a number of practical time-saving features, plus a few that could save money — and perhaps even your life. Nougat is starting to appear on phones, including new ones expected from Google next week.
  • How to change the home screen launcher on Android
  • Andromeda: Chrome OS and Android will merge
  • Sale of Kodi 'fully-loaded' streaming boxes faces legal test
  • Android boxes: Middlesbrough man to be first to be prosecuted for selling streaming kits

Endless OS 3.0 is out!

So our latest and greatest Endless OS is out with the new 3.0 version series! The shiny new things include the use of Flatpak to manage the applications; a new app center (GNOME Software); a new icon set; a new Windows installer that gives you the possibility of installing Endless OS in dual-boot; and many bug fixes. Read more

Expandable, outdoor IoT gateway runs Android on i.MX6

VIA’s “Artigo A830” IoT gateway runs Android on an i.MX6 DualLite SoC and offers HDMI, GbE, microSD, numerous serial and USB ports, plus -20 to 60° operation. As the name suggests, the VIA Technologies Artigo A830 Streetwise IoT Platform is designed for outdoor Internet of Things gateway applications. These are said to include smart lockers, vending machines, information kiosks, and signage devices that run “intensive multimedia shopping, entertainment, and navigation applications.” The outdoors focus is supported with an extended -20 to 60°C operating range, as well as surge and ESD protection for surviving challenges such as a nearby lightning strike. Read more