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Google

Google Boosts Python By Turning It Into Go (infoworld.com) 129

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Grumpy, an experimental project from Google, transpiles Python code into Go, allowing Python programs to be compiled and run as static binaries using the Go toolchain... In a blog post announcing the open source release, Google stated the project stemmed from its efforts to speed up the Python-powered front end for YouTube. But Google hit an obstacle that's familiar to folks who've deployed Python in production: It's hard to get CPython -- the default Python interpreter written in C -- to scale efficiently. "We think Grumpy has the potential to scale more gracefully than CPython for many real world workloads," writes Google...

Because it doesn't support C extensions, Grumpy doesn't have CPython's Global Interpreter Lock, which is commonly cited as a roadblock to running Python concurrent workloads smoothly. Grumpy also uses Go's garbage collection mechanisms to manage memory under the hood, instead of CPython's. Grumpy creates close interoperation between Python and Go by allowing Go packages to be imported and used with the same syntax as Go modules.

Open Source

Hands On With the First Open-Source Microcontroller (hackaday.com) 83

The folks at SiFive have offered Brian Benchoff from Hackaday a look at the HiFive 1, the first hands-on with the first Open Hardware microcontroller. From the report: The design files for the HiFive 1 were made with Altium, a proprietary and non-Free software. Basically, the HiFive 1 is the SiFive FE310 microcontroller packaged in an Arduino Uno form factor. The pin spacing is just as stupid as it's always been, and there is support for a few Adafruit shields sitting around in the SDK. There are no analog pins, but there are two more PWM pins compared to the standard Arduino chip. The Arduino Uno and Leonardo have 32 kilobytes of Flash, while the HiFive 1 has sixteen Megabytes of Flash on an external SOIC chip. The HiFive 1 supports 3.3 and 5V I/O, thanks to three voltage level translators. The support for 5V logic is huge in my opinion -- nearly every dev board manufacturer has already written off 5V I/O as a victim of technological progress. The HiFive doesn't, even though the FE310 microcontroller is itself only 3.3V tolerant. It should be noted the addition of the voltage level translators add at least a dollar or two to the BOM, and double that to the final cost of the board. It's a nice touch, but there's room for cost cutting here. Other than that, the only other chip of note on the board is the FTDI FT2232HL, a well-supported but most certainly not Free and Open Source USB to UART chip. This is a two-port chip that provides programming, serial, and debug connections simultaneously. The folks at SiFive realize documentation and SDKs are necessary to turn a chip into a development board. To that end, they have a bare-metal SDK and support for the Arduino IDE. The board itself comes with a bootloader, and when you plug the HiFive 1 into a USB you get the equivalent of the Blink sketch from the Arduino. Yes, you too can have Open Source blinkies. What a magical time to be alive. Right now there are two methods of programming the HiFive 1. The Freedom E SDK, and the Arduino IDE. The Arduino IDE appears to be dependent on the Freedom E SDK, so either way, you'll have to get the SDK running. Right now, the SDK only works under Linux (and OS X, and possibly Cygwin), but support for Windows is coming. For Linux users, the getting started guide is more than sufficient, although it will take quite a while (at least 30 minutes) to build all the tools. Once the Freedom E SDK is installed, support for the Arduino IDE pretty much falls into place. You'll have to futz around with the Boards Manager, but with a few clicks, you get something fantastic. You can blink an LED with Open Source Hardware.
Open Source

Pull Requests Are Accepted At About The Same Rate, Regardless of Gender (techinasia.com) 94

An anonymous reader writes: Remember that story about how women "get pull requests accepted more (except when you know they're women)." The study actually showed that men also had their code accepted more often when their gender wasn't known, according to Tech In Asia -- and more importantly, the lower acceptance rates (for both men and women) applied mostly to code submitters from outside the GitHub community. "Among insiders, there's no evidence of discrimination against women. In fact, the reverse is true: women who are on the inside and whose genders are easy to discern get more of their code approved, and to a statistically significant degree."

Eight months after the story ran, the BBC finally re-wrote their original headline ("Women write better code, study suggests") and added the crucial detail that acceptance rates for women fell "if they were not regulars on the service and were identified by their gender."

Open Source

Postal, the Legendarily Violent Video Game by Running With Scissors, Is Now Open Source (ndtv.com) 66

An anonymous reader writes: Video game developer Running With Scissors has announced that it is open sourcing the original version of its most popular title-Postal, which was released back in 1997. Even though violence in video games has been a topic of debate for over decades now, Postal has been one of the most criticised games out of the lot. Running With Scissors has published the code for the game on Bitbucket under the GPL2 license and further said that it is entrusting the fans with the fate of its game. "Anyone with the time and skills can now tweak/change/update/modify anything in the game at all!" the company was quoted as saying in the report. Postal is popularly known for being termed "digital poison" by US Senator Joe Lieberman but developed an audience for itself over the years. Earlier this year, a high-definition remaster of the game called Postal Redux was released on Steam as well as PS4.
Open Source

HandBrake 1.0.0 Released After 13 Years Of Development (fossbytes.com) 143

HandBrake, popular open source video transcoder, has finally hit version 1.0.0 affter spending roughly more than 13 years in development. HandBrake 1.0.0 brings tons of new presets and support for more devices and file types. From a report: HandBrake 1.0.0 comes with new web and MKV presets. The official presets from HandBrake 0.10.x can be found under 'Legacy.' New Jason-based preset system, including command line support, has been added. The additional features of HandBrake are title/chapter selection, queuing up multiple encodes, chapter markers, subtitles, different video filters, and video preview. Just in case you have a compatible Skylake or later CPU, Intel QuickSync Video H.265/HEVC encoder support brings performance improvements. HandBrake 1.0.0 also brings along new online documentation beta. It's written in a simple and easy-to-understand language.You can download it here.
Open Source

FreeDOS 1.2 Is Finally Released (freedos.org) 146

Very long-time Slashdot reader Jim Hall -- part of GNOME's board of directors -- has a Christmas gift. Since 1994 he's been overseeing an open source project that maintains a replacement for the MS-DOS operating system, and has just announced the release of the "updated, more modern" FreeDOS 1.2! [Y]ou'll find a few nice surprises. FreeDOS 1.2 now makes it easier to connect to a network. And you can find more tools and games, and a few graphical desktop options including OpenGEM. But the first thing you'll probably notice is the all-new new installer that makes it much easier to install FreeDOS. And after you install FreeDOS, try the FDIMPLES program to install new programs or to remove any you don't want. Official announcement also available at the FreeDOS Project blog.
FreeDOS also lets you play classic DOS games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem, and Jill of the Jungle -- and today marks a very special occasion, since it's been almost five years since the release of FreeDos 1.1. "If you've followed FreeDOS, you know that we don't have a very fast release cycle," Jim writes on his blog. "We just don't need to; DOS isn't exactly a moving target anymore..."
Android

All Cyanogen Services Are Shutting Down (cyngn.com) 113

Long-time Slashdot reader Nemosoft Unv. writes: A very brief post on Cyanogen's blog says it all really: "As part of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16. The open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod personally." Of course, with no focused team behind the CyanogenMod project it's effectively dead. Building an Android OS from scratch is no mean feat and most users won't be able to pull this off, let alone make fixes and updates. So what will happen next? Cyanogen had already laid off 20% of its workforce in July, and in November announced they had "separated ties" with Cyanogen founder and primary contributor Steve Kondik. One Android site quoted Kondik as saying "what I was trying to do, is over" in a private Google+ community, and the same day Kondik posted on Twitter, "Time for the next adventure." He hasn't posted since, so it's not clear what he's up to now. But the more important question is whether anyone will continue developing CyanogenMod.

UPDATE: Android Police reports that the CyanogenMod team "has posted an update of their own, confirming the shutdown of the CM infrastructure and outlining a plan to continue the open-source initiative as Lineage." The team posts on their blog that "we the community of developers, designers, device maintainers and translators have taken the steps necessary to produce a fork of the CM source code and pending patches."
Open Source

LibreOffice Will Have New 'MUFFIN' UI (documentfoundation.org) 173

New submitter iampiti writes: The Document Foundation has announced a new user interface concept for LibreOffice. Users will be able to choose from several toolbar configurations including the "Notebook bar" which is similar to Microsoft Office's ribbon. According to TDF, "The MUFFIN (My User Friendly -- Flexible Interface) represents a new approach to UI design, based on the respect of user needs rather than on the imposition of a single UI to all users"
Microsoft

Is Microsoft 'Reaping the Rewards' From Open-Sourcing Its .NET Core? (infoworld.com) 257

An anonymous reader quote InfoWorld: Two years ago Microsoft did the unthinkable: It declared it would open-source its .NET server-side cloud stack with the introduction of .NET Core... Thus far, the move has paid off. Microsoft has positioned .NET Core as a means for taking .NET beyond Windows. The cross-platform version extends .NET's reach to MacOS and Linux...

Developers are buying in, says Scott Hunter, Microsoft partner director program manager for .NET. "Forty percent of our .NET Core customers are brand-new developers to the platform, which is what we want with .NET Core," Hunter says. "We want to bring new people in." Thanks in considerable part to .NET Core, .NET has seen a 61% uptick in the number of developers engaged with the platform in the past year.

The article includes an interesting quote from Microsoft-watching analyst Rob Sanfilippo. "It could be argued that the technology generates indirect revenue by incenting the use of Azure services or Microsoft developer tools."
Open Source

3D Freeciv-Web (Beta) Released (freeciv.org) 68

It's the open source web version of the classic Linux strategy game, and now Slashdot reader Andreas(R) -- one of its developers -- has an announcement. Now the developers are working on bringing the game to the modern era with 3D WebGL graphics [and] a beta of the 3D WebGL version of Freeciv has been released today. The game will work on any device with a browser with HTML5 and WebGL support, and three gigabytes of RAM... It's a volunteer community development project and anyone is welcome to contribute to the project. Have fun and remember to sleep!
The developers of Freeciv-web are now also working on a VR version using Google Cardboard, according to the site, while the original Freeciv itself has still been maintained for over 20 years -- and apparently even has its own dedicated port number.
Open Source

GoboLinux 016 Released With Its Own Filesystem Virtualization Tool (gobolinux.org) 47

Long-time Slashdot reader paranoidd writes: GoboLinux announced Thursday the availability of a new major release. What's special about it is that it comes together with a container-free filesystem virtualization that's kind of unique thanks to the way that installed programs are arranged by the distro. Rather than having to create full-fledged containers simply to get around conflicting libraries, a lightweight solution simply plays with overlays to create dynamic filesystem views for each process that wants them. Even more interesting, the whole concept also enables 32-bit and 64-bit programs to coexist with no need for a lib64 directory (as implemented by mostly all bi-arch distributions out there).
"Instead of having parts of a program thrown at /usr/bin, other parts at /etc and yet more parts thrown at /usr/share/something/or/another, each program gets its own directory tree, keeping them all neatly separated and allowing you to see everything that's installed in the system and which files belong to which programs in a simple and obvious way."
Google

Google Joins the Open Source Cloud Foundry Foundation (betanews.com) 6

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: Today, Google announces that it has joined the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a gold member. This is yet another example of the search giant's open source focus. Google joins some other respected companies at this membership level, such as Verizon, GE Digital, and Huawei to name a few. For whatever reason, the search giant stopped short of committing as the highest-level platinum member, however. "From the beginning, our goal for Google Cloud Platform has been to build the most open cloud for all developers and businesses alike, and make it easy for them to build and run great software. A big part of this is being an active member of the open source community and working directly with developers where they are, whether they're at an emerging startup or a large enterprise. Today we're pleased to announce that Google has joined the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a Gold member to further our commitment to these goals", says Brian Stevens, Vice President, Google Cloud.
Google

Google Makes Embedding Projector an Open Source Project (betanews.com) 14

Reader BrianFagioli writes: One of the best way to digest and present data is with visualizations and dashboards. Not everyone is a data scientist, so how you tell a story matters. Today, Google is making a rather nifty data visualization tool an open source project. Called "Embedding Projector", it can show what the search giant calls high-dimensional data. "To enable a more intuitive exploration process, we are open-sourcing the Embedding Projector, a web application for interactive visualization and analysis of high-dimensional data recently shown as an A.I. Experiment, as part of TensorFlow. We are also releasing a standalone version at projector.tensorflow.org, where users can visualize their high-dimensional data without the need to install and run TensorFlow," says Google.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.9 Officially Released (kernel.org) 80

"As expected, today, December 11, 2016, Linus Torvalds unleashed the final release of the highly anticipated Linux 4.9 kernel," reports Softpedia. prisoninmate shares their article: Linux kernel 4.9 entered development in mid-October, on the 15th, when Linus Torvalds decided to cut the merge window short by a day just to keep people on their toes, but also to prevent them from sending last-minute pull requests that might cause issues like it happened with the release of Linux kernel 4.8, which landed just two weeks before first RC of Linux 4.9 hit the streets... There are many great new features implemented in Linux kernel 4.9, but by far the most exciting one is the experimental support for older AMD Radeon graphics cards from the Southern Islands/GCN 1.0 family, which was injected to the open-source AMDGPU graphics driver...

There are also various interesting improvements for modern AMD Radeon GPUs, such as virtual display support and better reset support, both of which are implemented in the AMDGPU driver. For Intel GPU users, there's DMA-BUF implicit fencing, and some Intel Atom processors got a P-State performance boost. Intel Skylake improvements are also present in Linux kernel 4.9.

There's also dynamic thread-tracing, according to Linux Today. (And hopefully they fixed the "buggy crap" that made it into Linux 4.8.) LWN.net calls this "by far the busiest cycle in the history of the kernel project."
Open Source

Fedora-based Linux Distro Korora (Version 25) Now Available For Download (betanews.com) 31

BrianFagioli writes: If you want to use Fedora but do not want to spend time manually installing packages and repos, there is a solid alternative -- Korora. Despite the funny-sounding name, it is a great way to experience Fedora in a more user-friendly way. Wednesday, version 25, code-named 'Gurgle', became available for release.
Open Source

Linux Mint 18.1 'Serena' BETA Ubuntu-based Operating System Now Available For Download (betanews.com) 137

BrianFagioli shares his story on Beta News: Feeling fatigued by Windows 10 and its constant updates and privacy concerns? Can't afford one of those beautiful new MacBook Pro laptops? Don't forget, Linux-based desktop operating systems are just a free download away, folks!

If you do decide to jump on the open source bandwagon, a good place to start is Linux Mint. Both the Mate and Cinnamon desktop environments should prove familiar to Windows converts, and since it is based on Ubuntu, there is a ton of compatible packages. Today, the first beta of Linux Mint 18.1 'Serena' becomes available for download.

Here's the release notes for both Cinammon and MATE.
Cloud

Canonical Sues Cloud Provider Over 'Unofficial' Ubuntu Images (ostatic.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes OStatic's update on Canonical's lawsuit against a cloud provider: Canonical posted Thursday that they've been in a dispute with "a European cloud provider" over the use of their own homespun version of Ubuntu on their cloud servers. Their implementation disables even the most basic of security features and Canonical is worried something bad could happen and it'd reflect badly back on them... They said they've spent months trying to get the unnamed provider to use the standard Ubuntu as delivered to other commercial operations to no avail. Canonical feels they have no choice but to "take legal steps to remove these images." They're sure Red Hat and Microsoft wouldn't be treated like this.
Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, wrote in his blog post that Ubuntu is "the leading cloud OS, running most workloads in public clouds today," whereas these homegrown images "are likely to behave unpredictably on update in weirdly creative and mysterious ways... We hear about these issues all the time, because users assume there is a problem with Ubuntu on that cloud; users expect that 'all things that claim to be Ubuntu are genuine', and they have a right to expect that...

"To count some of the ways we have seen home-grown images create operational and security nightmares for users: clouds have baked private keys into their public images, so that any user could SSH into any machine; clouds have made changes that then blocked security updates for over a week... When things like this happen, users are left feeling let down. As the company behind Ubuntu, it falls to Canonical to take action."
Open Source

Devuan's Systemd-Free Linux Hits Beta 2 (theregister.co.uk) 338

Long-time Slashdot reader Billly Gates writes, "For all the systemd haters who want a modern distro feel free to rejoice. The Debian fork called Devuan is almost done, completing a daunting task of stripping systemd dependencies from Debian." From The Register: Devuan came about after some users felt [Debian] had become too desktop-friendly. The change the greybeards objected to most was the decision to replace sysvinit init with systemd, a move felt to betray core Unix principles of user choice and keeping bloat to a bare minimum. Supporters of init freedom also dispute assertions that systemd is in all ways superior to sysvinit init, arguing that Debian ignored viable alternatives like sinit, openrc, runit, s6 and shepherd. All are therefore included in Devuan.
Devuan.org now features an "init freedom" logo with the tagline, "watching your first step. Their home page now links to the download site for Devuan Jessie 1.0 Beta2, promising an OS that "avoids entanglement".
Hardware Hacking

Own An Open Source RISC-V Microcontroller (crowdsupply.com) 101

"Did you ever think it would be great if hardware was open to the transistor level, not just the chip level?" writes hamster_nz, pointing to a new Crowd Supply campaign for the OnChip Open-V microcontroller, "a completely free (as in freedom) and open source 32-bit microcontroller based on the RISC-V architecture." hamster_nz writes: With a completely open instruction-set architecture and no license fees for the CPU design, the RISC-V architecture is well positioned to take the crown as the 'go to' design for anybody needing a 32-bit in their silicon, and Open-V are crowd-sourcing their funding for an initial manufacturing run of 70,000 chips, offering options from a single chip to a seat in the design review process. This project is shaping up to be a milestone for the coming Open Source Silicon revolution, and they are literally offering a seat at the table. Even if you don't end up backing the project, it makes for very interesting reading.
Their crowdfunding page argues "If you love hacking on embedded controllers, breaking down closed-source barriers, having the freedom to learn how things work even down to the transistor level, or have dreamed of spinning your own silicon, then this campaign is for you."
Open Source

Open-Source Hardware Makers Unite To Start Certifying Products (infoworld.com) 57

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld on the new certifications from the Open Source Hardware Association: The goal of certification is to clearly identify open-source hardware separate from the mish-mash of other hardware products. The certification allows hardware designs to be replicated. For certification, OSHWA requires hardware creators to publish a bill-of-materials list, software, schematics, design files, and other documents required to make derivative products. Those requirements could apply to circuit boards, 3D printed cases, electronics, processors, and any other hardware that meets OSHWA's definition of open-source hardware...OSHWA will host a directory for all certified products, something that doesn't exist today because the community is so fragmented.
After signing a legally-binding agreement, hardware makers are allowed to use the Open Hardware mark, which one of their board members believes will help foster a stronger sense of community among hardware makers. "People want to be associated with open source."

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