OIN and OpenStack, X and Security, Docker and Mac OS X – Snippets

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  • Linux patent pool now covers clouds: By deftly expanding the list of packages it considers part of the Linux ecosystem to include OpenStack and Red Hat’s OpenShift Origin, the Open Invention Network in now including the cloud computing platforms as part of its protective cross-licence network. The change is set to take effect in March Companies can join OIN by dint of agreeing not to pursue patent litigation against other companies with respect to that package list. In return, they get a royalty free licence to the OIN’s patent pool. It will be interesting to see how well the OIN’s new safe harbour works for cloud providers.

  • X Security – It ain’t good: At the Chaos Computer Club’s 30th Congress, one presentation took on the issue of the security of X Window System in terms of its implementation in the X.org code. Ilja van Sprundel has been working through the code over the past year and after finding 80 bugs in the client code, he’s gone on to just submit 120 bugs for the server side and he says he’s far from finished.

  • Docker on OS X: Mac OS X doesn’t have containers so running Docker natively is a no-no. The advice has been to setup a Linux VM with Vagrant, ssh into that and run Docker on there. But some people wanted a bit more simplicity and came up with Docker-osx which is a shell script which lets you run docker commands. It uses VirtualBox and Vagrant, automatically configuring the VM if needed. From then on, running “docker docker-command” sees the command automatically passed through to docker in the VM. There’s also two “new” docker commands, “halt” (to stop the VM) and “ssh” (to open a terminal session). A simple enough script but rather handy.

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.