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July 2019

Open Hardware and Linux Devices

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  • A New KiCAD Tutorial Hits The Scene

    KiCAD has a rightfully earned image problem regarding beginners. The shiny new version 5 has improved things (and we’re very excited for v6!) but the tool is a bit obtuse even when coming from a electronics design background, so we’re always excited to see new learning material. [Mike Watts] is the latest to join the esteemed group of people willing to export their knowledge with his KiCAD tutorial series on GitHub that takes the aspiring user from schematic through fab and assembly.

  • Alibaba’s open source processor targets complex cloud workloads like 5G

    If demanding telecoms workloads like virtualized RAN and 5G core are to move to the public cloud, the cloud providers will need to ensure their infrastructure is based on processors capable of supporting these functions. Suppliers like Intel are already investing in accelerators to surround their processors, for cloud hardware that can cope with artificial intelligence (AI), vRAN and other very high performance tasks. But in some cases, the webscalers themselves are also designing or commissioning their own processors to meet the demands of the new generation of cloud-based services and make sure their clouds are a match for specialized private cloud platforms. Google, Amazon AWS and others have periodically announced such developments, raising new challenges for Intel and other…

  • A digital tally list for hackerspaces

    Overall our plan is to write a digital tally list in two weeks, going from idea to running prototype. This tally list should support donations with a variable amount, drinks with set price, as well as assorted items like the workshop fee. It also needs to support rudimentary user management and some kind of admin interface. All users will be verified by RFID.

    Currently consumption is logged into a monthly log-file, so we can easily handle the payments. Users are managed by the UI itself, we just have to put the initial UID into a json file. Drink prices are read from JSON and a price update requires a restart of the app. The app itself will run on a Raspberry PI with an attached 7" display and an RFID reader attached via the serial port.

    The entire app is written in Python with a QML frontend.

    I'm ordering the RFID hardware and the display this week, so we have a full weekend of hacking ahead of us.

  • Snapdragon 410-based module offers 96Boards and touch-panel eval kits

    Keith & Koep’s tiny, Linux-ready “Myon I” module features the quad -A53 Snapdragon 410 with up to 8GB eMMC, extended temp support, and an optional WiFi/BT/GPS module. The Myon I powers a “ConXM” carrier and “i-PAN M7 CoverLens Touchpanel PC.”

    Keith & Koep, which offers a line of SODIMM-style “Trizeps” computer-on-modules such as the recent i.MX8M-based Trizeps VIII and i.MX8M Mini-driven Trizeps VIII Mini, is introducing a Myon I module with a smaller 48 x 32 x 4.2mm footprint and no edge connector. While the Trizeps line started out with Marvell XScale processors before moving on to Freescale/NXP i.MX SoCs, the Myon I taps Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410.

Python Programming Leftovers

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  • Stack Abuse: Serverless Python Application Development with AWS Chalice

    In software development, we are constantly building solutions for end-users that solve a particular problem or ease/automate a certain process. Therefore, designing and building the software is not the only part of the process as we have to make the software available to the intended users.

    For web-based applications, deployment is a very important aspect and part of the process since the application not only needs to work, but also needs to work for many users concurrently and be highly available.

    Some of the deployment options that are available to us include buying our own server hardware and deploying our applications or renting server space in other companies. This comes at a cost not only of the resources needed to acquire them, but also the maintenance costs and personnel to monitor the server resources.

  • Release of Relatorio 0.9.0

    Relatorio is a templating library which provides a way to easily output several kinds of files but mainly OpenDocument.

  • HTML Parser — Developer Tools

    This article contains a shortlist with a few code blocks written in Python on top of BeautifulSoup library, used by me to process and manipulate HTML files.

  • Pylint false positives

    In some recent discussion on Reddit, I claimed that, for cases where I’m already using flake8, it seemed as though 95% of Pylint’s reported problems were false positives. Others had very different experiences, so I was intrigued enough to actually do some measurements.


    I took part of the code from a side project where I don’t use Pylint, ran Pylint (with some very basic tuning) and tried to analyse the result in terms of helpful warnings compared to false positives etc.

  • Understanding the Python Traceback

    Python prints a traceback when an exception is raised in your code. The traceback output can be a bit overwhelming if you’re seeing it for the first time or you don’t know what it’s telling you. But the Python traceback has a wealth of information that can help you diagnose and fix the reason for the exception being raised in your code. Understanding what information a Python traceback provides is vital to becoming a better Python programmer.

  • Automated Report Generation with Papermill: Part 2

    Welcome to part 2 of this two-part series post about automating report generation using python, jupyter, papermill, and a couple of other tools.

    In the first part, we covered 4 main important processes that are part of the automation process. In this second and final part, we will bring everything together and build our report automation system.

    Note: This code was written in python 3.7. You might have to adapt the code for older versions of python.

  • NumPy 1.17.0 released

    The NumPy team has announced the release of NumPy 1.17.0. NumPy is a fundamental package for scientific computing with Python. "The 1.17.0 release contains a number of new features that should substantially improve its performance and usefulness. The Python versions supported are 3.5-3.7, note that Python 2.7 has been dropped."

SUSE displaces Red Hat @ Istanbul Technical University

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Red Hat

Did you know the third-oldest engineering sciences university in the world is in Turkey? Founded in 1773, Istanbul Technical University (ITU) is one of the oldest universities in Turkey. It trains more than 40,000 students in a wide range of science, technology and engineering disciplines.

The third-oldest engineering sciences university selected the oldest Enterprise Linux company. Awesome match of experience! The university ditched the half-closed/half-open Red Hat products and went for truly open, open source solutions from SUSE.

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Train Valley and Train Valley 2 released DRM-free on GOG with Linux support

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Here's a nice surprise to start your week with, both Train Valley and Train Valley 2 are now available DRM-free on GOG. Both games have supported Linux for some time and thankfully today's GOG release comes with the Linux build ready for both games. Despite being a series, both games actually play quite differently. I'm quite a fan of Train Valley 2 myself, it's quite challenging.

The basic idea of both games is very similar, with you building up a rail network and ensuring your trains don't smash into each other. While the basics and interactions are the same, the goals are completely different.

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Also: Beamdog have announced that Axis & Allies 1942 Online will release on July 31st

Kubernetes News/Views

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  • Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes – The Blending Continues [Ed: Cloud Foundry Foundation dominated by proprietary software firms]

    At the recent Cloud Foundry Summit in Philadephia, Troy Topnik of SUSE participated in the latest iteration of a panel discussing how the community continues to blend Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes. There is some interesting and insightful discussion between members of the panel from Google, IBM, Microsoft, Pivotal, SAP, and Swarna Podila of the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

    Cloud Foundry Foundation has posted all recorded talks form CF Summit on YouTube.

  • Don’t Throw Your Kubernetes Away

    The adoption of Kubernetes is growing at an unprecedented rate. Companies of all sizes are running it in production. Almost all of these companies were early adopters of Kubernetes where different dev teams brought Kubernetes inside the organization.

    Kubernetes is a very engineer-driven technology. Unlike instances like virtualization or other infrastructure components that are managed by the central IT team which offers them to different development groups, Kubernetes is something that developers bring into the organization.

  • Issue #2019.07.29 – Kubeflow Releases so far (0.5, 0.4, 0.3)

    Kubeflow 0.5 simplifies model development with enhanced UI and Fairing library – The 2019 Q1 release of Kubeflow goes broader and deeper with release 0.5. Give your Jupyter notebooks a boost with the redesigned notebook app. Get nerdy with the new kfctl command line tool. Power to the people – use your favourite python IDE and send your model to a Kubeflow cluster using the Fairing python library. More training tools added as well, with an example of XGBoost and Fairing.

5 open-source Firefox alternatives for Linux users

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Mozilla Firefox is an excellent open-source web browser, perhaps one of the best tools on the entire Linux platform. Still, the Firefox browser is adding more and more features, and these new additions aren’t for everyone. If you’re looking for an open-source alternative to Firefox on Linux, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 open-source Firefox alternatives for Linux users.

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Linus Torvalds prepares to wave goodbye to Linux floppy drives

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When Linus Torvalds first created Linux in 1991, he built it on a 386-powered PC with a floppy drive. Things change. In 2012, Torvalds bid the i386 processor adieu saying, "I'm not sentimental. Good riddance." Now, it's the floppy drive's turn to bid Linux adieu.

Torvalds has declared the floppy drive project "orphaned."

Why? Because floppy drives have become historical relics. No one's using them. Indeed, Jiří Kosina, the Czech Linux kernel developer in charge of the floppy drive driver, said he "no longer has working hardware."

Torvalds continued, "Actual working physical floppy hardware is getting hard to find, and while Willy was able to test this, I think the driver can be considered pretty much dead from an actual hardware standpoint. The hardware that is still sold seems to be mainly USB-based, which doesn't use this legacy driver at all."

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Server: IBM, Amazon, Elastic, Cloudera and YugaByte

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  • IBM CTO: ‘Open Tech Is Our Cloud Strategy’

    IBM may not be as splashy as some of the other tech giants that make big code contributions to open source. But as Chris Ferris, CTO for open technology at IBM says, “we’ve been involved in open source before open source was cool.”

    By Ferris’ estimation, IBM ranks among the top three contributors in terms of code commits to open source project and contributors to the various open source communities. “It’s really significant,” he said. “We don’t run around with the vanity metrics the way some others do, but it’s really important to us.”

  • TurboSched Is A New Linux Scheduler Focused On Maximizing Turbo Frequency Usage

    TurboSched is a new Linux kernel scheduler that's been in development by IBM for maximizing use of turbo frequencies for the longest possible periods of time. Rather than this scheduler trying to balance the load across all available CPU cores, it tries to keep the priority tasks on a select group of cores while aiming to keep the other cores idle in order to allow for the power allowance to be used by those few turbo-capable cores with the high priority work.

    TurboSched aims to keep low utilization tasks to already active cores as opposed to waking up new cores from their idle/power-savings states. This is beneficial for allowing the CPU cores most likely to be kept in their turbo state for longer while saving power in terms of not waking up extra cores for brief periods of time when handling various background/jitter tasks.

  • AWS Turbocharges new Linux Kernel Releases in its Extras Catalogue

    Amazon says it has added AWS-optimised variants of new Linux Kernel releases to its extras catalogue in Amazon Linux 2 – a Linux server operating system (OS) – saying the boost results in higher bandwidth with lower latency on smaller instance types.

    Amazon Linux is an OS distribution supported and updated by AWS and made available for use with Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances. Amazon Linux users will now be able to update the operating system to Linux Kernel 4.19, as released in October 2018.

  • Elastic Cloud Enterprise 2.3 turns admins into bouncers

    Version 2.3 of Elastic Cloud Enterprise (ECE) is now available for download, finally bringing role-based access control (RBAC) to its general user base and letting admins decide who gets to see what. ECE allows the deployment of Elastic’s search-based software as a service offerings on a company’s infrastructure of choice (public cloud, private cloud, virtual machines, bare metal).

    The new version is the first to come with four pre-configured roles to help admins control deployment access and management privileges. This is only the first step in the product’s RBAC journey, though. Customisable deployment-level permissions and greater abilities to separate users by teams are on the ECE roadmap.

  • Cloudera open source route seeks to keep big data alive

    Cloudera has had a busy 2019. The vendor started off the year by merging with its primary rival Hortonworks to create a new Hadoop big data juggernaut. However, in the ensuing months, the newly merged company has faced challenges as revenue has come under pressure and the Hadoop market overall has shown signs of weakness.

    Against that backdrop, Cloudera said July 10 that it would be changing its licensing model, taking a fully open source approach. The Cloudera open source route is a new strategy for the vendor. In the past, Cloudera had supported and contributed to open source projects as part of the larger Hadoop ecosystem but had kept its high-end product portfolio under commercial licenses.

    The new open source approach is an attempt to emulate the success that enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat has achieved with its open source model. Red Hat was acquired by IBM for $34 billion in a deal that closed in July. In the Red Hat model, the code is all free and organizations pay a subscription fee for support services.

  • YugaByte goes 100% open under Apache

    Open source distributed SQL database company YugaByte has confirmed that its eponymously named YugaByte DB is now 100 percent open source under the Apache 2.0 license.

    The additional homage to open source-ness means that previously commercial features now move into the open source core.

    YugaByte says it hopes that this will directly create more opportunities for open collaboration between users, who will have their hands on 100% open tools.

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This week in NeoChat

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StarLabs StarLite is an Attractive 11-inch Linux Laptop

This dinky 11.6-inch Linux notebook, the latest from UK-based company StarLab, is modestly priced and moderately spec’d. Consciously so. See, not everyone needs to crunch code, battle orcs, or render 4K video. “More power” is nice, but when all you really do with a laptop is browse the web, e-email, Zoom, and binge-watch Netflix shows… A mid-range laptop can suffice. Problem is there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to mid-range (and well-made) Linux laptops in the lower price brackets. Read more