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CERN Moves to Free/Libre Software With Latest Change

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OSS
Sci/Tech
  • CERN ends trial of Facebook Workplace

    New changes to the status of CERN’s Workplace account prevent the Organization from continuing on the platform. CERN’s presence on Workplace will end on 31 January 2020. In October 2016, Facebook made Workplace available to any company or organisation.

  • CERN Replacing Facebook Workplace With A Set Of Open-Source Software Alternatives

    Facebook Workplace is Facebook's corporate-focused product for internal real-time communication and related communication needs within organizations. CERN had been making use of Facebook Workplace and in addition to data privacy concerns, they were recently confronted with either paying Facebook or losing administrative rights, no more single sign-on access, and Facebook having access to their internal data. But now they have assembled their own set of software packages to fill the void by abandoning Facebook Workplace.

The 15 Best Physics Tools for Linux System in 2020

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Software
Sci/Tech

There are different types of applications of Linux physics software in the study and research of theoretical and applied physics. So, it’s very difficult to call a single piece of software the best. Here we have enlisted a collection of 15 best Physics tools for Linux.

Some of them are for analyzing data, some for numerical applications, some for simulation, and even some will help you in programming the solution of different physics-related problems. We are certain that no matter what your requirement is, you are going to love this curated collection of Linux physics software.

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The 15 Earth Science or Geoscience Software for Linux

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GNU
Linux
Software
Sci/Tech

Geoscience or earth science is not only about boring theories. There are many practical implementations of the knowledge of geoscience in real life. And, there are some computer programs which will help you to simulate the ideas of this important field of science. Normally, students and academicians of geoscience use these tools.

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Educational Data Sets

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KDE
Sci/Tech

There are many online sources available that provide data sets for educational and study purposes. They cover many different areas (physics, statistics, medicine, etc.) and many tools and frameworks provide wrappers for them and allow you to easily play around with the data sets. In many cases, the technical tasks of fetching the data from the server, parsing it and installing it are completely transparent for users.

We recently added a similar functionality to LabPlot and we plan to release this new feature as part of the upcoming 2.8 version. The initial implementation for this was done by Ferencz Kovács during Google Summer of Code 2019.

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KStars v3.3.9 is Released

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KDE
Software
Sci/Tech

We kickoff 2020 with a brand new KStars v3.3.9 release for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

This release incorporates the continued improvements to KStars base while introducing new long-awaited features in a few areas.

Stretch Controls

Hy Murveit implemented adjustable and fast stretch controls for mono and color images within the FITS Viewer. These allow fine changes in Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights clipping even for high resolution astro-photos.

Adjusting the controls do not change the underlying data, only the previewed image. After any stretch adjustment is made, the user can always revert to the automatic stretching again by clicking on the small wizard icon at the bottom right corner of the controls panel.

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Happy 50th Birthday To All You Epoch Birthers

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OS
Sci/Tech

Good morning everyone, and what a lovely start to the new year it is, because it’s your birthday! Happy birthday, it’s your 50th! What’s that you say, you aren’t 50 today? (Looks…) That’s what all these internet databases say, because you’ve spent the last decade or so putting 1970-01-01 as your birth date into every online form that doesn’t really need to know it!

It’s been a staple for a subset of our community for years, to put the UNIX epoch, January 1st 1970, into web forms as a birth date. There are even rumours that some sites now won’t accept that date as a birthday, such is the volume of false entries they have with that date. It’s worth taking a minute though to consider UNIX time, some of its history and how its storage has changed over the years.

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CERN to switch to Kopano mail server for its 40,000 users

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OSS
Sci/Tech

In June the IT trade press reported widely on CERN's Microsoft Alternatives (MALT) project. “It started off as a very unfortunate situation with license costs increasing, but has turned into a great opportunity to review the way we do things in order to move towards open solutions,” Tenaglia told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.

The first tangible outcome of this is a switch to the Kopano mail server. CERN is currently evaluating Kopano, aiming in due course to support 40,000 users and some 60 terabytes of mail data. CERN is running an on-premises pilot of the same size as its production server, which uses Microsoft Exchange. The research organisation, based in Meyrin, Switzerland, has a support contract with Kopano, the Dutch/German software company that is developing the eponymous mail server. “Kopano offers support for their 100% open source software. That sets it apart from business that offer support for premium features built onto their basic open source product,” Tanaglia says.

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Hardware, Science and History

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OS
Hardware
Sci/Tech
  • An Open Source Toolbox For Studying The Earth

    Fully understanding the planet’s complex ecosystem takes data, and lots of it. Unfortunately, the ability to collect detailed environmental data on a large scale with any sort of accuracy has traditionally been something that only the government or well-funded institutions have been capable of. Building and deploying the sensors necessary to cover large areas or remote locations simply wasn’t something the individual could realistically do.

    But by leveraging modular hardware and open source software, the FieldKit from [Conservify] hopes to even the scales a bit. With an array of standardized sensors and easy to use software tools for collating and visualizing collected data, the project aims to empower independent environmental monitoring systems that can scale from a handful of nodes up to several hundred.

  • The Early History of Usenet, Part II: Hardware and Economics

    There was a planning meeting for what became Usenet at Duke CS. We knew three things, and three things only: we wanted something that could be used locally for administrative messages, we wanted a networked system, and we would use uucp for intersite communication. This last decision was more or less by default: there were no other possibilities available to us or to most other sites that ran standard Unix. Furthermore, all you needed to run uucp was a single dial-up modem port. (I do not remember who had the initial idea for a networked system, but I think it was Tom Truscott and the late Jim Ellis, both grad students at Duke.)

    There was a problem with this last option, though: who would do the dialing? The problems were both economic and technical-economic. The latter issue was rooted in the regulatory climate of the time: hardwired modems were quite unusual, and ones that could automatically dial were all but non-existent. (The famous Hayes Smartmodem was still a few years in the future.) The official solution was a leased Bell 801 autodialer and a DEC DN11 peripheral as the interface between the computer and the Bell 801. This was a non-starter for a skunkworks project; it was hard enough to manage one-time purchases like a modem or a DN11, but getting faculty to pay monthly lease costs for the autodialer just wasn't going to happen. Fortunately, Tom and Jim had already solved that problem.

  • UNIX Version 0, Running On A PDP-7, In 2019

    WIth the 50th birthday of the UNIX operating system being in the news of late, there has been a bit of a spotlight shone upon its earliest origins. At the Living Computers museum in Seattle though they’ve gone well beyond a bit of historical inquiry though, because they’ve had UNIX (or should we in this context say unix instead?) version 0 running on a DEC PDP-7 minicomputer. This primordial version on the original hardware is all the more remarkable because unlike its younger siblings very few PDP-7s have survived.

    The machine running UNIX version 0 belongs to [Fred Yearian], a former Boeing engineer who bought his machine from the company’s surplus channel at the end of the 1970s. He restored it to working order and it sat in his basement for decades, while the vintage computing world labored under the impression that including the museum’s existing machine only four had survived — of which only one worked. [Fred’s] unexpected appearance with a potentially working fifth machine, therefore, came as something of a surprise.

Open Data for Genome Research: Multiplex Assays of Variant Effect (MAVE)

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OSS
Sci/Tech
  • New, open-source database improves genomics research collaboration

    Sharing datasets that reveal the function of genomic variants in health and disease has become easier, with the launch of a new, open-source database developed by Australian and North American researchers.

    The MaveDB database is a repository for data from experiments - called multiplex assays of variant effect (MAVEs) - that systematically measure the impact of thousands of individual sequence variants on a gene's function.

  • Open-source database enhances genomics research collaboration

    An open-source database of genomic variants in health and disease has been developed by Australian and North American researchers to simplify the sharing of this information between academics.

    The MaveDB database stores data from multiplex assays of variant effect (MAVE) experiments, which systematically measure the impact of thousands of individual sequence variants on a gene’s function. It was developed by researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, as well as the University of Washington in the US and the University of Toronto in Canada.

  • Open-source Database Enhances Genomics Research Collaboration

    The MaveDB database is a repository for data from experiments – called multiplex assays of variant effect (MAVEs) – that systematically measure the impact of thousands of individual sequence variants on a gene’s function. These experiments can provide valuable information about how proteins produced by that gene function, how variants in that gene may contribute to disease, and how to engineer synthetic versions of naturally occurring proteins that are more effective than the original protein.

    MaveDB is the first publicly accessible database for this data. Its development was led by Alan Rubin from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia, Associate Professor Douglas Fowler from the University of Washington, US, and Professor Frederick Roth from the University of Toronto, Canada.

Halloween Update for FreeCAD & Debian Science Work

Filed under
Debian
Sci/Tech

In August, a major milestone towards unified, mainline mechanical assembly functionality in FreeCAD was reached.

One of the core challenges in implementing assembly functionality is the problem of topological naming. In a CAD model there are topological entities, such as solids, faces, edges, and vertices. We must choose some algorithm to name them so that you can refer to relationships to make an assembly. A simple example would be two cubes, connected by touching faces. If a parameter in your model changes, and after recalculation, your "Face_N" is on the wrong side of the cube, your assembly may break, or not be what you are expecting. Without a good approach to topological naming, parametric FreeCAD models won't be robust to changes and recalculations, which defeats the purpose of parametric modeling.

Because this is such a difficult problem, progress has been slow. However, recently a relatively new FreeCAD developer, 'realthunder', put significant work towards this problem, with a solution finally on the horizon. Because it required major changes to FreeCAD's internals, the review and testing period was and continues to be lengthy.

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Linux Jargon Buster: What is FOSS (Free and Open Source Software)? What is Open Source?

FOSS means Free and Open Source Software. It doesn’t mean software is free of cost. It means that source code of the software is open for all and anyone is free to use, study and modify the code. This principle allows other people to contribute to the development and improvement of a software like a community. In the 60s and 70s, computers were hardware focused and the hardware were expensive. They were mainly used by academics in universities or researchers in labs. The limited amount of software used to come for free or with their source code and the users were allowed to modify the source code to suit their need. In the late 70s and early 80s, the manufacturer’s stopped distributing source code in an attempt to not let their software run on their competitor’s computers. Read more