GNU Make 4.0, Firefox OS 1.1, SSL Pulse and Linux defined – Snippets

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  • GNU Make 4.0: GNU Make 4.0 is the latest version of the GNU Project’s version of the Make utility. The release’s headline feature is the integration of GNU Guile, the Scheme-based extention language recommended for GNU projects, into the compilation orchestrator. Other additions include an option to sync output to avoid jumbling results from parallel makes, tracing of targets, a switch to disable all debugging settings, various enhancements to the Windows version, the implementation of “::=” for POSIX portable make files and of “!=” for compatibility with BSD make files and the ability to write to a file directly. The announcement has details of where to download it and further information on the changes.
  • Firefox OS 1.1 on its way: The first proper update for Firefox OS, version 1.1 is heading to handsets soon. With MMS support, an API for Push Notifications, better app searching, enhanced contacts, faster app loading and scrolling (and it needs it), downloading of images and audio or video in the browser, autocorrect for the keyboard, a draft mode and attachment support for the email app and a lightly improved calendar app, there’s a lot of decent catching up with the rest of the pack. Mozilla say this will come with the second wave of Firefox OS phones, and appear for existing Firefox OS phones at the same time. We’ll be reporting on the update when it arrives on our ZTE Open.
  • Watching SSL: Wondering how widespread Forward Secrecy and RC4 are with SSL/HTTPS web sites? Wonder no more as the SSL Pulse report now tracks them too. Ivan Ristic explains whats being tracked in this blog post and how the results currently stack up.
  • Predefining Linux: An informative and interesing Stack Overflow moment as one person finds “linux” is defined as “1” and opens the door of the world of pre-defined symbols and other mystery meats that can be found in the larder of C compilers.

Game On! with Gameduino 2

beautySay you wanted to build a games machine with an Arduino at its core, you’d might be a trifle stuck with a stock Arduino. You could do a lot of the interfacing to controllers or the logic, but what about the display and sound. Well, previously you may have got a Gameduino which gave you 400×300 512 colour VGA output, hardware sprites and audio in a nifty Arduino shield. It is pure 8 bit epicness.

But that was back in 2011 and now the sequel is being kickstarted, Gameduino 2, and its a little cracker. With a smarter graphics engine, the FT800, it handles full 32 bit colour, JPEG loading in hardware and has what is described as an “OpenGL” style command set. Now it displays 480×272 in 24 bit colour and can handle 2000 sprites, rotated and scaled. It has 256KB of RAM and 6 sizes of font, 8 musical instruments and 10 percussion sounds already loaded into its ROM.

But where would you find a display for this device? As part of the Gameduino 2, there’s a 4.3″ touchscreen so you have that display and control surface you need for a modern game. It also has a 3 axis accelerometer for orientation-oriented gaming, a headphone jack for audio out and a microSD slot. It basically looks splendid and may even be the missing link in getting more kids into Arduinos – show them this playing games, then take it apart and show them how they can take control. Did I mention how the hardware and software is all open source too (BSD licensed), so ripe for hacking!

I’ll admit I’ve already backed the project – it has passed its $6700 goal and still has 28 days of kickstarter time to go. Now, who’s going to make a handheld case and power kit for this beast.

LibreOffice updated, iPython sponsored, Warden contained – Snippets

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  • LibreOffice gets a maintenance bump: There’s an update for LibreOffice 4.1, the just announced 4.1.2 but the Document Foundation are still not up to recommending it for enterprise adoption and say a 4.0.5 (and soon 4.0.6) version of the office suite is still recommended for that. As usual they’ve scattered the changelogs over 3 different documents (at some point they might think about consolidating minor point updates changelogs into oooh a single release note), but in summary, things have been fixed most of which are listed in the RC1 changelog.
  • iPython gets Microsoft mad money: The iPython project, which creates a Python based architecture for interactive notebooks, visualisation, interpreters and parallel computing work, has just announced $100,000 sponsorship from Microsoft. Apparently they did one heck of a demo for the Microsoft Research folks. The sponsorship went through NumFocus who are sponsored by J.P.Morgan and Microsoft among others to promote open source scientific software.
  • More containers: Everyone’s got a plan for managing containers these days. This time it’s Cloud Foundry’s warden, an Apache licensed “simple API for managing isolated environments”. The server readme provides more details; apparently initially developed with LXC, Warden no longer depends on LXC. It uses aufs or overlayfs depending on edition of Ubuntu Linux and talks JSON over sockets between its server and clients.

Arduino’s x86 and TI/ARM treats

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Arduino Tre – Bristling with connections

Arduino has been working with both Intel and TI to create two new boards, both of which are quite interesting departures from their previous designs. Both run Linux, in different ways but while one tries to replace the AVR microcontroller of the classic Arduino, the other hugs the classic Arduino deep into its design.

The first board announced was the Arduino Galileo which is powered by Intel’s Quark SoC X1000 running at 400Mhz and in due to be available in November and, according to some reports, will be “less than $80”. The processor is a 32-bit “Pentium-class” chip and the datasheet(pdf) details how the board has a set of 3.3V (or jumper settable 5V) connectors which are Arduino Uno R3 pin compatible. There’s also 10/100 Ethernet, a PCI Express mini card slot, micro-SD slot and USB client and USB host connectors on the board. This is very much an Intel rendering of what an Arduino would be with Intel’s Quark at its core; note, for example, that for a board of its spec, there’s no video out of any form, despite being closer to the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black in pricing and that from the higher side. It’s an interesting iteration which gets Intel into the emerging market of small embeddable devices, but will it play with the makers – it doesn’t look easy to go from a Galileo to a production device.

The other board may be more exciting for makers, even if it is not available till next Spring and being shown now only as a sneak peek. Designed as part of a collaboration between Arduino and the BeagleBoard.org foundation, the Arduino Tre is a double processor sandwich with a 1GHz TI Sitara AM335x processor running Linux wrapped around a Atmega32u4 based Arduino – yes, the BeagleBone Black and Arduino have had a love-child and the Tre is the result; an ARM based Linux running processor to do the heavy compute lifting and networking and a classic Arduino to do the interfacing. The Tre is covered in connectors to wire up to, with the Arduino shield pins in the centre and the BeagleBone style cape connectors still on the board but separated by a whole Arduino now.

How this’ll work in practice, who knows, but it opens up a range of opportunities, especially as the Tre, unlike the Galileo, has HDMI video out too. Again no official pricing and this is down for a Spring landing so a bit of a wait. Till then, if you haven’t got one, get yourself a BeagleBone Black and interface it to your Arduino to simulate at least some of the experience.

Which reminds me… (he said getting his BeagleBone Black out)…

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.

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.