What Microsoft's GitHub Deal Promises to Programmers

1 week 3 days ago
Microsoft sent tremors through the open source world last week, when it announced that it would acquire the popular developer platform GitHub for $7.5 billion in company stock. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. GitHub, one of the world's largest computer code repositories, is home to more than 28 million developers for collaboration and distribution of projects.
Jack M. Germain

The Lustre Filesystem Dropped from the Linux 4.18 Kernel

1 week 3 days ago
by Petros Koutoupis

It's now official: the latest RC1 pull request for the Linux 4.18 will not host the nearly 15-year-old Lustre filesystem.

Greg Kroah-Hartman has been growing weary of the team developing its source code not pushing cleaner and fixed code to the staging tree. The removal was committed on June 5, 2018: with the following notes:

The Lustre filesystem has been in the kernel tree for over 5 years now. While it has been an endless source of enjoyment for new kernel developers learning how to do basic coding style cleanups, as well as a semi-entertaining source of bewilderment from the vfs developers any time they have looked into the codebase to try to figure out how to port their latest api changes to this filesystem, it has not really moved forward into the "this is in shape to get out of staging" despite many half-completed attempts.

And getting code out of staging is the main goal of that portion of the kernel tree. Code should not stagnate, and it feels like having this code in staging is only causing the development cycle of the filesystem to take longer than it should. There is a whole separate out-of-tree copy of this codebase where the developers work on it, and then random changes are thrown over the wall at staging at some later point in time. This dual-tree development model has never worked, and the state of this codebase is proof of that.

So, let's just delete the whole mess. Now the lustre developers can go off and work in their out-of-tree codebase and not have to worry about providing valid changelog entries and breaking their patches up into logical pieces. They can take the time they have spent doing those types of housekeeping chores and get the codebase into a much better shape, and it can be submitted for inclusion into the real part of the kernel tree when ready.

Honestly, I do not blame him. The staging tree is primarily intended for unstable and less than mature code, which ideally should move to the mainline within a short time of further development. It's a temporary (that is, staging) location. It's not that I don't appreciate the Lustre filesystem. In fact, I once wrote about it for Linux Journal in the past.

For those who are less familiar with this filesystem: Lustre (or Linux Cluster) is a distributed filesystem typically deployed in large-scale cluster computing environments. Lustre is designed to be both performant and to scale to tens of thousands of nodes and to petabytes of storage. And as what may have just been alluded to already, a distributed filesystem allows access to files from multiple hosts sharing a computer network.

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Petros Koutoupis

Andrew Hutton of the OLS Needs Your Help, US Debuts World's Fastest Supercomputer, FCC's Repeal of Net Neutrality Goes into Effect Today and More

1 week 3 days ago

News briefs for June 11, 2018.

Andrew Hutton organized and ran the Linux Symposium for years (otherwise known as OLS). He is one of the people who helped put Linux on the map through his sheer determination, perseverance and enthusiasm for Linux. Several months ago, Andrew suffered a heart attack and now needs our help. Please remember, a donation of any amount helps tremendously.

Court orders Open Source Security, Inc, and Bradley Spengler to pay $259,900.50 to Bruce Perens' attorneys. See Bruce Perens' blog post for more details on the lawsuit against him, which sought $3 million "because they disagreed with my blog posts and Slashdot comments which expressed my opinions that their policies regarding distribution of their Grsecurity product could violate the GPL and lead to liability for breach of contract and copyright infringement."

The US now has the world's fastest supercomputer, named Summit, reclaiming its "speediest computer on earth" title from China and its Sunway TaihuLight system, OMG Ubuntu reports. And of course, the Summit, which boasts 200 petaflops at peak performance, runs Linux—RHEL to be exact. See the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory's post for more details.

Jarek Duda, inventor of a new compression technique called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) a few years ago, which he dedicated to the public domain, claims that Google is now seeking a patent that would give it broad rights over the use of ANS for video compression, Ars Technica reports. Google denies it's attempting to patent Duda's work, but "Duda says he suggested the exact technique Google is trying to patent in a 2014 email exchange with Google engineers'—a view largely endorsed by a preliminary ruling in February by European patent authorities."

ownCloud recently announced "the introduction of the Virtual File System within the ownCloud Desktop Client". This allows users to synchronize with the end device only when needed, which will require significantly less local storage space and improve ownCloud user experience. You can download it here.

The FCC's repeal of net neutrality officially goes into effect today. See the New York Times story on how this could affect you, and see also the story on Wired for more information on the fight.

News Community Google HPC RHEL OwnCloud Cloud Net Neutrality
Jill Franklin

OpenStreetMap Should Be a Priority for the Open Source Community

1 week 3 days ago
by Glyn Moody

Why open source needs an open geographic dataset.

Open source has won. The fact that free software now dominates practically every sector of computing (with the main exception of the desktop) is proof of that. But there is something even more important than the victory of open source itself, and that is the wider success of the underlying approach it embodies. People often forget just how radical the idea of open, collaborative development seemed when it appeared in the 1990s. Although it is true that this philosophy was the norm in the very earliest days of the field, that culture was soon forgotten with the rapid rise of commercial computing, which swept everything before it in the pursuit of handsome profits. There, a premium was placed on maintaining trade secrets and of excluding competitors. But the appearance of GNU and Linux, along with the other open software projects that followed, provided repeated proof that the older approach was better for reasons that are obvious upon reflection.

Open, collaborative development allows people to build on the work of others, instead of wastefully re-inventing the wheel, and it enables the best solutions to be chosen on technical, rather than commercial, grounds. The ability to work on areas of personal interest, rather than on those assigned by managers, encourages new talent to join projects in order to pursue their passions, while the non-discriminatory global reach of the open method means that the pool of contributors is much larger than for conventional approaches. However, none of those advantages is tied to software: they can be applied to many fields. And that is precisely what has happened in the last two decades, with the ideas underlying free software producing astonishing results elsewhere.

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Glyn Moody