Graduation Snippets – Docker 1.0, RHEL 7.0, Firefox 30.0


Docker 1.0: The Docker container management platform has hit version 1.0 though the major work had been done by version 0.11 – this is the project’s graduation, acknowledging its ready for production. The actual packaging and management software is going to be referred to as Docker Engine now as the announcement is also the signal for Docker (the company) to roll out 1.0 of Docker Cloud, a platform for sharing Docker packaged apps. Actual changes in 1.0 are things like a new COPY command and an improved ADD command for developers and the ability to pause and resume running containers, added XFS support and performance improvements in container removal. Make a note too. Posts 2375 and 2376 are now officially the HTTP and HTTPS ports for Docker. Docker has changes how people think about package and run applications on Linux and all it would need is for major players to adopt Docker and … oh Google’s added App Engine support for Docker to go with its Compute Engine support and then there’s…

RHEL 7.0: Red Hat has rolled out version 7.0 of its enterprise Linux and 7.0 is looking like a cracking release. Top of their highlights, containers and Docker support, XFS as default file system and new caching file systems (Btrfs is still experimental), systemd and new management components and more capabilities to work with Windows domains. The release notes as with all Red Hat releases are comprehensive and cover things like the switch to GNOME 3 on the desktop (while retaining a classic shell). RHEL 7 is the commercially supported upstream for other distributions, most notably the CentOS distribution which is working on its CentOS 7 release – no dates on that yet but it is the first test of the new relationship between Red Hat and CentOS.

Firefox 30.0: Thirty… As Firefox versioning heads out of the twenties, the [release of Firefox 30.0] has brought sidebar button for toolbar, support for GStreamer 1.0, command-E find selected, various developer changes and five critical and two high security fixes. Now it is thirty, Firefox is well on its way to settling down to a boring life where change is mostly about moving the furniture about and keeping an eye on the neighbours. The place to look for excitement is Mozilla’s Servo browser, being developed in Mozilla’s Rust language and is developing steadily.

Qt 5.3 released, an OS in JS and Papilio’s FPGA power – Snippets

Qt 5.3: The folks at Digia seem to be keeping the Qt development pace up, and not forgetting to take a breather and getting the stability story right. The latest release, Qt 5.3 appears to be one of those breather releases with lots of fixes for the desktop platforms and a supported beta for the Windows 8 Runtime. There’s some new additions too; a QtQuickWidget lets Qt Quick UIs be embedded into older Qt Widget based applications for a smoother transition between the old to new development style and there’s now WebSockets support for plugging into more web applications. You’ll find all the open source tools and downloads on the Qt Project website.

Os.js: Every generation is doomed to reinvent the previous generation and here we have OS.js which looks to implement an entire desktop environment, within the browser, in JavaScript. Thats not to say its not interesting as the idea of having a desktop to your cloud isn’t without merit, especially so if the desktop is portable. There’s already a lot in the alpha version of the platform and it seems way more developed than similar projects I’ve encountered in the past. Window and file management, a GUI library, multi-user support, theming and applications such as Draw, Preview, Textpad and Writer make this a project worth looking at. There’s a demo online too and its all under what appears to be a BSD 2-clause licence.

Papilio:Just turning up on my radar, and I’m late to the party, is Papilio, a single board controller which looks like a turboed up Arduino but at its heart is not an Atmel chip but an FPGA chip. That FPGA can be configured with a soft clone of the AtMega chips and driven with the Arduino IDE or it can run a “ZPUino” configuration which works like an “Arduino on steroids” at 100Mhz.

The compatibility with Arduino isn’t the driver for the project though, its more of a stepping stone into FPGA programming. Videos on the site show the Papilo programmed to emulate the Pacman and Frogger motherboards with FPGA emulations of Z80s and other classic CPUs or getting the Papilo to emulate the SID chip from the Commodore 64. The chip, on the Pro version at least, is a Xilinx Spartan 6 LX FPGA – There’s a couple of boards and the UK supplier, SK Pang, offers the newer Pro for £80 inc VAT (and a slightly older, cheaper Paplio One 500K for around £65). A list of other regional distributors is also availble.

There’s also an expansions, such as the LogicStart MegaWing for getting into FPGA/VHDL development, the Arcade MegaWing for game emulation, the Retrocade MegaWing for audio/midi work and [and numerous single purpose “wings. It looks like there’s already a whole ecosystem for the budding FPGA hacker to dive into.

Debian 7.3, Dart at ECMA, Cloud-stealing – Snippets


  • Debian 7.3: The latest patch rollup update for Debian 7, Wheezy, has arrived. As usual, don’t throw away your media as all the changes are available as existing updates. This is just rolling up all the updates to date to make new installation media for newcomers. The announcement lists all the changes, security fixes and two packages that were removed. Further info at the release information page for Debian 7. Valve’s SteamOS beta, the operating system for its PC/Console SteamBox, is based on Debian.

  • Dart goes to ECMA: Google has made its move to make Dart, its JavaScript replacement language, a standard with the creation of TC52 (Technical Committee) at ECMA. Google says that since Dart 1.0’s release the language is production ready and ready for standardisation. Ready, yes, but it ain’t a standard yet… but people are picking up on it – For example, Notch, creator of Minecraft, used Dart in his Ludum Dare (48 hours to write a game) competition entry – and you could even watch him work in the Dart Editor live.

  • Securing clouds: Luke Chadwick had a nasty surprise when his Amazon Web Services bill leapt from $69 to $3000. He’d accidentally pushed his AWS credentials into GitHub and someone had decided to use them to load up 20 large AWS compute engines to do Litecoin mining. As the Hacker News commenters note, that’s $3000 burnt to make a whole $40 of Litecoin; the comments also include suggestions on securing code when checking in by auditing and scanning and how to make the AWS dashboard alert you when something out of the ordinary is happening.

1.0aplooza – Ceylon and Dart go 1.0

ceylondartRed Hat and Google have announced version 1.0’s of their long baking new languages, Ceylon 1.0.0 and Dart SDK 1.0. With three years of work on Ceylon and at least two years behind Dart, are they worth looking at?

Red Hat’s Ceylon comes from Gavin King’s team at the company who’ve been working for around three years on a language which initially targeted the Java virtual machine but now also can generate JavaScript. Created as a Java (the language) replacement, it features the a fairly familiar curly brace syntax, adds in declarative syntax for tree structures, removes primitive types as part of a new powerful static type system and mixes in mixin inheritance.

But thats just scratching the surface – the documentation’s introduction gives a better feel for the extensive re-envisioning of a large systems language. There’s also a tour to get some hands on experience and an Eclipse-based IDE for Ceylon already. The language and tools are all Apache 2.0 Licensed and source is up on GitHub. The JVM is a hotbed for new languages and Ceylon adds to the mix with what feels like a pragmatic approach.

Meanwhile, Google’s Dart 1.0 doesn’t go near the JVM; it’s designed for browsers and specifically as an alternative to JavaScript. Although Dart can translate to JavaScript that is predominantly so Dart code can be run in current browsers. Google’s long game is to see a Dart virtual machine in every browser and get higher performance browser code. The language on first look feels like a more formal JavaScript, but with a push on readability, structure and expressiveness. On second look, it feels more like Java, with annotations, an import system,  Its libraries bring along support for streams, lazy iterables, futures, a cleaner DOM API and more. There’s plenty to look at and this presentation from Google I/O covers more of the language.

CoffeeScript, TypeScript and other browser-centric languages work more in harmony with JavaScript and don’t set out to replace it entirely, but thats what Dart has set out to do and that may be its biggest problem – the big performance benefits of Dart come with most browsers having the Dart virtual machine, but with only Google onboard, that isn’t going to happen. The JavaScript tool chain has some neat tricks though like tree-shaking (reducing library dependency) and minifying.

Will it gain traction? There’s a whole web of JavaScript that’s a standing bet against it and personally I find it somewhat hard to get excited by the language itself; Brendan Eich’s ten day hack that is JavaScript is still impressive, if rich in dark corners and sharp edges, but it does have cross-vendor support and standards backing it up. But if the development of JavaScript as a language and a standard stumbles again as it has in the past, Dart may have a window. The tipping point to look for is when another major browser maker adopts it. Dart is also open source (BSD licence) and source code is available on its Google Code project.

What Ceylon and Dart do have in common is their version 1.0’s are richly tooled and documented. That should, in itself, be a model for anyone wanting to bring a new language to the world. Anyone wanting to look at either language is not going to have difficulty getting started.