Google Containers, Freeseer 3.0 and free JavaScript books – Snippets

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  • LMCTFY contains itself: A Google project, LMCTFY (Let Me Contain That For You) has emerged in the companies GitHub repository. It’s an open source version of Google’s container stack for Linux though it’s more application isolation and lacks Docker’s filesystem isolation. It’s apparently early days for the Apache licensed software but it will be one to keep an eye on as it could well turn into the basis for a Docker competitor.
  • Freeseer 3.0: The Freeseer project is an interesting platform for capturing in multiple video streams and presentations and managing them. Freeseer 3.0 came out about a month ago and has a completely rewritten backend, plugin system for GStreamer I/O and Mixing, RTMP streaming support and more. Built in Python and using GStreamer at its core, the software is GPLv3 licensed with source code on GitHub and it has been used to record many open source conferences. Find out more about the project in its documentation along with various guides.
  • JavaScript Allongé: The book JavaScript Allongé is now under a CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license and its author, Reginald Braithwaite, has written about why he has made it free. You can even get the source for the book in Markdown format and Braithwaite encourages posting issues, fixing and submitting pull requests to correct typos and other changes.

Apache CloudStack goes 4.2.0

cloudstackThe other other open source IaaS Cloud, CloudStack, has had an update with the release of CloudStack 4.2. What’s new? reveals a lot of work which the announcement summarises as 57 new features and 29 improved features such as the ability to plug in external or internal S3-compatible storage services and support for Cisco’s UCS compute chassis and SolidFire storage arrays.

A trawl through the release notes shows that there is far more than the headline items though. There’s a whole set of features to help support for regions, zone wide primary storage and a plug-in framework for writing UI extensions.

Networking has had a lot of work done to it too with initial support for IPv6 (as a technical preview), portable elastic IPs which can be transferred between zones, the ability to assign a VLAN to an isolated networks and persistent networks which can exist without VMs assigned to it. There’s also Cisco VNMC and VMware VDS support, enhanced support for Juniper gear and global server load balancing with health checks for load balanced instances.

Host support has not been left out. Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 can now be VM Guest OS’s, ownership of VMs can now be changed by an administrator, resizable data disk volumes, storage migration (for XenServer and VMware), the ability to scale CPU and memory on running VMs (VMware and XenServer again), over-provisioning of memory and cpu (VMware, XenServer and KVM), bare-metal provisioning kickstarter, VM resetting on reboot and VMware VM snapshots.

Finally, there’s a who set of enhancements to the monitoring, maintenance and operations end of CloudStack, with support for auto purging alerts, API request throttling, forwarding of alerts to external SNMP and Syslog systems, a log collection tool, ability to change default password encryption and new VM snapshot and backup capabilities.

You can download the source or binaries (in deb and rpm packages) from cloudstack.apache.org where there is also documentation including installation and admin guides.

Ubuntu 13.10’s Mir-miss

Mir_diagram.svgThe news that XMir and Mir will not be in desktop Ubuntu 13.10 is hardly a surprise. Canonical set an aggressive development schedule and its one they are going to miss on the desktop. Ubuntu Touch is already running Mir as it has no legacy X apps due to it being yet to be released as a finished product and not supporting X anyway. But XMir is critical for the desktop if Canonical want to push Mir into the space they’ve assigned it as core to their graphics strategy.

Brief reminder: Canonical broke from the consensus development of a new display server technology to replace the X server called Wayland to develop their own display server called Mir. To make the transition and support current X applications, a way to run X applications on the new display technology is needed. For Mir, that’s XMir, for Wayland, there’s a rootless X server.

But the desktop schedule delay is going to have consequences. With 14.04 next April being an LTS release, if XMir is landed as a default in that release then it’s going to an interesting five years of support. If I was Canonical, I’d be looking at cancelling the 14.04 LTS status and moving it on to 14.10, using 14.04 as what 13.10 should have been – the release where all the glitches in XMir get shook out as the default desktop in the hands of real users. They can still release to their OEM partners with 14.04 after they’ve explained they’ll want to push an update in 2014Q4.

Meanwhile, the Wayland developers are working steadily away without the obvious pressure of OEMs and commercial schedules and will have a tech preview shipping with Fedora 20 if all goes to plan. There is no race to ship a new display server technology for Linux, but one player has been running while another walking and they don’t seem, at least from here, to be that far apart. For developers, there’s still no pressing need to choose a path either – keep developing with Qt or GTK+ or X raw and you’ll still be good for some years.

Mosquitto’s home, Firefox memory, OpenOffice updates – Snippets

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  • Eclipse erects Mosquitto net: The MQTT broker Mosquitto is being proposed as a new open source project at Eclipse. It not only implements the TCP based MQTT but has support for MQTT-SN, a connectionless version for UDP and other networks. The plan is to merge Mosquitto and RSMB, a previously closed source MQTT broker implementation, at Eclipse. If, or more when, this proposal is accepted, it will mean that the Eclipse M2M initiative will have a full MQTT cross platform stack under their wing. If you want a low-nonsense, low-overhead publish and subscribe messaging system, you will want to look at MQTT.
  • Firefox memory saves: Sometimes memory saving is marginal. Other times, like this it can be huge. A combination of two fixes applied to the Firefox code base have take peak memory use on image heavy pages down from, in an example, 3GB in Firefox 23 to “a couple of hundred megabytes” in Firefox 26 (Aurora). Excellent work from the Firefox Memshrink team; this wasn’t just a matter of closing leaks but working out what was and wasn’t onscreen and what could have been likely to be on screen.
  • Apache OpenOffice updates: Apache OpenOffice 4.0 has just had its first update in the shape of version 4.0.1. Along with bug fixes, there’s 9 new translations (Basque, Khmer, Lithuanian, Polish, Serbian Cyrillic, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Turkish and Vietnamese) getting OpenOffice up to 32 languages supported, and a number of performance improvements including speeding up Excel spreadsheet saving by 230% in “one common scenario”. Release notes also show updated translations and updated English (US and proper), Gaelic, French, Italian and Spanish dictionaries. And if you are wondering what this has to do with code; remember you can use OpenOffice headless as a document processing service (start it with the -headless parameter).

Updates for RethinkDB and FreeBSD and a 64-bit .NET JIT boost – Snippets

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  • RethinkDB gets multi-indexing: The developers of the open source, NoSQL database RethinkDB have announced version 1.10 which comes with the ability to index rows with fields of multiple values, like say an list of tags for a blog entry. Looking for all records with a particular tag previously required slow iteration, but now with the multi-index it is possible to index the set of values within the field and then to “get_all” for a particular tag value using that index. RethinkDB server is written in C++ and AGPL licensed with Apache licensed client drivers.
  • FreeBSD 9.2 released: In the latest FreeBSD release ZFS gets added TRIM support for solid state drives and lz4 compression and there’s updates for OpenSSL (to 0.9.8y), DTrace (to 1.9.0), Sendmail (to 8.14.7) and OpenSSH (to 6.2p2). There’s also virtio drivers and enabled Dtrace in the “GENERIC” kernel. Read more in the FreeBSD 9.2 release announcement.
  • RyuJIT for .NET: Over in the world of .NET, interesting things are afoot with a new 64-bit just-in-time compiler, RyuJIT, making its debut as a CTP (Community Technical Preview). .NET’s had a 64-bit JIT for some time, though the JIT has apparently been quite slow. RyuJIT runs twice as fast and overall gives a 30% speed up to start up. One benchmark with regular expressions went off the scale, going from a 1.4GB working set and 60 seconds run time to 199MB and 1.8 seconds run time – yes the older compiler is particularly bad at regular expressions.

OpenStack costs, Boot2Gecko on APC, Python debugging and a storage warning – Snippets

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  • OpenStack Hardware Calculator: Mirantis have an interesting OpenStack calculator which lets you how many and how big you want your average virtual machine, pick hardware and networking vendor and whether you want high availability or not. It comes back to you with a couple of configurations based on those requirements and $ pricing of the cloud’s hardware.
  • Boot2Gecko on Rock and Paper: Via has announced a preview of Boot2Gecko for it’s APC single board ARM-based PCs “Rock” and “Paper”. Boot2Gecko is the name of Firefox OS when its on unblessed devices as Liliputing pointed out, although the GitHub repository is still labelled APC-Firefox-OS. There’s plenty of known issues, but Via are offering free APCs to anyone who fixes them and sends a pull request. Wondering what to fix? There’s a list of bugs and enhancements awaiting work.
  • Python Debugging: Over on Hacker News, people are recommending pudb, the Python Urwid Debugger, which works in the console as a full terminal application. Older hands will get the “Turbo Pascal” vibe from it as it appears to have take some inspiration from there. So, Unix based Python programmers may want to check it out.
  • A warning about storage: A useful reminder from Christopher Deutsch’s blog about making sure that when you release an open source project you aren’t including any URLs which will cost you money. In Deutsch’s case it was a test file on Amazon S3 which was used by HiSRC to check bandwidth… and has just cost him $20 on his monthly Amazon bill.

ARM64, GNU Hurd and APL and curious binary – Snippets

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  • ARM64 and iPhone explained: A useful look at what is actually changing with Apple’s A7 and ARM64 architecture from Mike Ash’s blog. Worth a read especially for the repurposed isa pointer.
  • GNU Hurd Updates: On the 30th anniversary of the GNU project, the Hurd developers released an update to the project’s operating system along with an update to GNU Mach and RPC translator GNU MIG.
  • GNU APL 1.0 Lands: APL is one of the venerable languages dating back to 1964 which has classically been associated with number crunching. And now, after some time in development, Jürgen Sauermann has announced the availability of GNU APL 1.0.
  • Polyglot binary code: CorkaMIX is a set of binaries for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, each one of which is also a PDF document, a Java JAR file and a HTML document with JavaScript. As the author says “they serve no purpose, except proving that file formats not starting at offset 0 are a bad idea”.