FreeBSD’s Journal, FreeNAS updates, Arduino’s on paper and extra bits – Snippets


FreeBSD Journal Edition One: The FreeBSD Journal has published its first digital edition for iPad, Android and Kindle devices. With 6 issues planned for each year, a $20 subscription and an editorial board drawn from the luminaries of the FreeBSD world, it looks like it has everything a FreeBSD fan could want. The first edition, themed around FreeBSD 10, has a five page look at that releases Clang support, ten pages on implementing system control nodes, a white paper on NYI’s use of FreeBSD as part of being an ISP, a six page guide to getting FreeBSD up and running on the BeagleBone Black, an article on ZFS and the future of storage and columns on the news from the ports tree, OS work and a look back on FreeBSD history.

FreeNAS gets an update: FreeNAS, the FreeBSD based NAS operating system, has had an update to 9.2.1, with upgraded SMB/CIFS support bring SMB3 by default, a switch from Avahi to mDNSresponder for better Mac support and around 189 bugs fixed.

Paperduino 2.0: Take a plotter, conductive ink, glossy photo paper and an ATmega328 and print your own Arduino with Paperduino 2.0! The folks behind the Circuit Scribe kickstarter wanted to demonstrate how far you could go with their inks and taking the original Paperduino as inspiration reworked the idea with surface mount components, conductive ink and superglue. Watch the video!

Extra bits: Node-RED and TinyTX boards being used for home monitoring. Gitbucket is a Github clone written in Scala with JGit underneath. Want FreeBSD on OpenStack? Check out bsd-cloudinit then.

Linux 3.13 lands, Node-RED re-flows, FreeBSD 10 close, BBB-SDR challenge – Snippets


  • Linux 3.13 lands: It took a couple of weeks longer than expected, but Linux 3.13 has been announced. KernelNewbies has their 3.13 summary up, or if you speak German, Thorsten Leemhuis has his What’s New up on heise. Highlights? New firewall packet subsystem nftables, new multi-queue I/O that works better with fast devices, open source driver Southern Islands Radeon (HD7550-HD7590) 3D support and power management (and HDMI audio) are now on by default. Throw in improved NUMA and hugepage support, squashfs performance and many more additions and changes and you got yourself a 3.13. Look for it to percolate out through the distros over the coming months.

  • Node-RED self-flows: I’ve talked about Node-RED before – it’s the neat GUI for connecting the Internet of Things, and more, together. In a neat article, Andy Stanford-Clark looks at making Node-RED make its own flows. Flows are what you create in Node-RED to implement how data flows around and the idea that Andy looks at is making a flow which would squirt out JSON which could be sent to other Node-RED instances to configure them. Imagine, stepping back for a moment, that you could have a flow which looked up all the devices that ran Node-RED and the other devices that could be accessed and created flows for all of them so they could all work together … thats where this idea is going. Worth a read (and if you haven’t played with Node-RED, make some time for it).

  • FreeBSD 10 very very close: It looks like FreeBSD 10 is just about to be announced – ISO images have appeared but there’s no announcement quite yet. There’s a frisson of activity around a Hacker News posting that the files have turned up, but it ain’t announced until the PGP-signed fat lady sings.

  • BeagleBone Black Radio challenge: The folks at Element 14 are running a BeagleBone Black Radio Challenge looking for people to propose how they’d make best road-test use of a package comprising of a BBB, a 4.3″ touchscreen cape and an AdaFruit Software-Defined-Radio USB Stick. So are you up to test your maker-mettle?

Enlightenment 0.18 lit, FreeNAS 9.2 released and Java 8 brews – Snippets


  • Enlightenment Updated: The Enlightenment/EFL window manager/libraries/desktop has been updated to version 0.18.0, just a year after the long silence that led up to the release of Englightenment 0.17.0. A full list of bug fixes and improvements is in the NEWS file for the release – compositing has been merged into the core, ten crashing bugs have been fixed and modules for music control, bluetooth, DBus application menus and compositing control have been added. Downloads are available from the project’s site.

  • FreeNAS 9.2 goes final: The network storage platform FreeNAS has been updated too with over 260 fixes and a rebasing on FreeBSD 9.2. The developers say it should sport improved performance, especially with encryption if appropriate hardware is available, and be more able to cope with higher loads. The release notes offer further details – Items I like on the list are full registration of all services through multicast DNS using Avahi, which should make a server much easier to just drop into a network, and the addition of a REST API for FreeNAS for remote control.

  • Java 8’s final draft: The final draft for the Java 8 specification is now available and this is going to be the reference document to the changes being made in Java 8, due in March 2014. Lambda expressions, new date and time APIs and type annotations are referenced with pointers out to the various JSRs to where Java will be next year.

Python 3.4 beta, Neo4J 2.0 RC1 and Redis 2.8.0 released – Snippets


  • Python 3.4’s beta days: The first beta of Python 3.4 has arrived and it has got the good stuff. Pathlib lets coders work with pure paths or filesystem dependent paths with the selection of the latter taken care of for them. There’s a standardised enum module along with new statistics, asyncio and tracemalloc modules. Throw in a new pickling protocol, new string and binary hashing algorithms, a C API for custom memory allocators and standardise on pip as a packaging format and you are talking a tasty new Python due to land at the end of February 2014.

  • Neo4J 2.0 goes RC: The Neo4J graph database is heading into the home straight with a 2.0.0 release candidate and a warning that if you’ve been tracking their version 2.0 milestones you will need to perform a manual update on your database before using 2.0.0RC1. Now tagged as feature complete, the new RC will be bringing matching with properties, optional matches, relationship merges and more simplified syntax to Neo4J’s Cypher query language. That’s in addition to the Neo4J browser and other changes made over the five other milestones (5, 4,3, 2, 1).

  • Redis 2.8.0: Salvatore Sanfilippo has announced that, after almost a year of development, Redis 2.8.0 is done. If you don’t know it, Redis is a key/value store which can also handle hashes, lists and sets. The new version include a partial resync for slaves option, iterable collections, a rewritten config system, IPv6 suppport, pub/sub keyspace notifications and better consistency support and key expiration. Actually 2.8.1 is out for download too – see the release notes for more on the BSD licensed key/value store.

Cassandra’s Europe Summit – The Keynote – Extra Scaling

cassandraeyeAt the opening of the conference day at Cassandra Summit Europe 2013, Johnathan Ellis, Datastax CTO, made a point of positioning Apache Cassandra as an enterprise scalable database and one that scales in a linear fashion to massive scales. Datastax is the leading developer of, and commercial vendor of Apache Cassandra in the form of DataStax enterprise.

MongoDB was very much in the company’s sights as it showed benchmarks with Cassandra running 20 times faster than MongoDB – the reason was simple though the dataset for the benchmark was bigger than the available memory on the nodes. While MongoDB performs well with the dataset in memory, Ellis says most customers want their hot-data in memory and their cold-data on disk and thats where Cassandra has the advantage with a balanced approach to memory and disk.

Away from the benchmarking, Ellis described this years focus for Cassandra as having been on was of use. That meant enhanced CQL, the Cassandra Query Language, a new CQL protocol for language drivers, more emphasis on features like tracing, lightweight transactions for the 1% of cases that need it and cursors to reduce query complexity.

Internal enhancements were equally important though. For example, 2.0 took back control of a lot of memory management in Cassandra, from the JVM and over to a more traditionally manually handled memory manager tuned for Cassandra’s needs. This has allowed lots of data structures to reside more efficiently in memory improving performance.

Next week will see the release of Cassandra 2.0.2 which will add what the DataStax people call “rapid read protection”. This means that when a query goes out to a cluster, rather than waiting until a node times out to return an error, the system will look for return times that are out of the ordinary (in the 99th percentile) and return an error on them early. This should make the ability to respond to nodes over-paused in GC or suffering some other performance hit.

Ellis also talked about Cassandra 2.1 which is pencilled in for January 2014. This will see nesting and collection indexing added to the database. The filtering inside the Cassandra software should also be improved with a new combination of pessimistic allocation and smarter estimates of required space using HyperLogLog to work out what data overlaps between sets. Ellis described his slides in this though as “hand wavy” as there was no code written yet and asked “Don’t send me hate mail…” if it didn’t make 2.1.

DataStax’s own certified DataStax Enterprise is set to move to a Cassandra 2.0 base by the end of the year.

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


  • 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.