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GNOME Desktop: GNOME Shell Tweaks and PaperWM

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  • Alan Pope: My GNOME Tweaks

    One of the neat things about GNOME Shell is that it’s pretty tweakable - to some degree - to customise it to a user’s preferences. I know some people use GNOME Shell stock experience. I don’t. I have previously written about some of my must-have extensions and add-ons. This supplements that with what I do to further tweak my (currently) Ubuntu 20.10 system to my liking.

  • Jonathan Dowland: PaperWM

    My PaperWM desktop, as I write this post.

    Just before Christmas I decided to try out a GNOME extension I'd read about, PaperWM. It looked promising, but I was a little nervous about breaking my existing workflow, which was heavily reliant on the Put Windows extension.

    It's great! I have had to carefully un-train some of my muscle memory but it seems to be worth it. It seems to strike a great balance between the rigidity of a tile-based window manager and a more traditional floating-windows one.

OpenOffice Still Gets +1.5 Million Downloads Per Month, Despite Being Discontinued

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OpenOffice started as the open source version of “StarOffice” by Sun Microsystems in 1999. It continued to be a the mainstream Microsoft Office alternative through the 2000s and kept improving over time, until a community fork happened in 2011 after Oracle acquired Sun. The community feared that Oracle would shut down the project due to its past dark history against open source software and didn’t want to participate in a project under its control. Hence, LibreOffice was born in 2011 and most community members started working on LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.

Oracle found itself in a tough spot since most of the community migrated to the new fork, and hence decided to contribute the ownership of OpenOffice in the same year to the Apache Foundation. The Apache Foundation from its side continued the development a little bit for a while (Until 2016-2017) but then, OpenOffice stopped reciving any major updates.

The latest available version of OpenOffice right now is 4.1.8, which was released this month, but is nothing more than a bug-fixing release with no new features. Versions 4.1.7 and 4.1.6 were released in 2019 and 2018 respectively, and they also contained nothing more than few fixes (5-10) for some bugs. OpenOffice didn’t receive any major update since 2014, so this should give you a picture on how slow and discontinued the development is on the project.

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Standards/Consortia: Abolishing OOXML, Web Standards, and the European Commission's Interoperability Drive

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Web
OOo
  • Professors, please let us submit PDFs

    We are under two weeks away from a presidential election and already eight months into a deadly pandemic, but we still have time for the little things. No, I don’t mean smelling flowers and sipping pumpkin spice lattes, though you are welcome to do so—I mean the types of file formats that professors request students use to submit papers.

    In my experience, most professors ask for files with a DOCX extension, a format which was developed by Microsoft in 2007 to help standardize its file extensions across its various applications. Officially known as Office Open XML, the DOCX format broke backwards compatibility with the old .doc format. This meant that all previous versions of Microsoft Word prior to the new standard would be unable to open files with this particular extension. Consternation followed that development in 2007 (or 2008 for Mac users), but in the year 2020 we have mostly solved that issue, as most computers these days do not run any pre-2006 versions of Microsoft Office.

    The modern problems with DOCX are really not problems with DOCX itself, but rather with its place in the pantheon of file extensions that are now available. Most students in our current age produce their work in a Google Doc (in point of fact, this very article was produced in a Google Doc). It’s a simple workflow that has all the functionality of a full-blown application without having to leave a web browser or fight with a sign-in form (beyond the one that we’re always signed into as a part of daily campus life). I don’t support submitting an essay or exam as a raw Google Doc, however, and my reasons for not doing so are partially shared with my aversion to submitting in DOCX: all the writing tools are immediately available upon opening the document.

    [...]

    The obvious solution is for professors to request papers in Portable Document Format, PDF. Originally developed in 1993, the PDF file format has not outlived its usefulness. Anything, from Windows 10 to Windows 95, MacOS to OS X or Unix to Ubuntu, anything can open a PDF. And since anything can open it, when students finish writing and export to PDF, we can see exactly what it is we’re submitting with our names attached. And it’s not like professors should hate it; it’s the default format for any downloaded academic document, and providing comments is much closer to how comments are written on physical paper.

    Students shouldn’t be the only ones submitting files in PDF format either. For every file in DOCX a professor puts on Moodle, there are probably three copies on every student’s hard drive. Every weekday we face the choice of digging through our downloaded files for the syllabus we downloaded a week ago or downloading yet another copy of that same syllabus. Uploading PDF files instead of DOCX to Moodle lets students open it in a web browser, a faster and less cluttered operation that lets our focus stay on class instead of going through old files.

  • Static versus dynamic web sites

    In this post, I want to explore two fundamental principles or criteria that underpinned my original article, but were more or less unpronounced: sustainability and power. I also want to update you on my current site configuration.

  • [Old] Writing HTML in HTML

    I've just finished the final rewrite of my website. I'm not lying: this is the last time I'm ever going to do it. This website has gone through countless rewrites – from WordPress to Jekyll to multiple static site generators of my own – but this is the final one. I know so, because I've found the ultimate method for writing webpages: pure HTML.

    It sounds obvious, but when you think about how many static site generators are being released every day – the list is practically endless – it's far from obvious. Drew DeVault recently challanged people to create their own blog, and he didn't even mention the fact that one could write it in pure HTML:

    If you want a hosted platform, I recommend write.as. If you're technical, you could build your own blog with Jekyll or Hugo. GitHub offers free hosting for Jekyll-based blogs.

    Now, there's nothing wrong with Jekyll or Hugo; it's just interesting that HTML doesn't even get a mention. And of course, I'm not criticizing Drew; I think the work he's doing is great. But, just like me and you, he is a child of his time.

    That's why I'm writing this blog post – to turn the tide just a little bit.

  • Shaping the future interoperability policy

    The European Commission is currently evaluating the ISA² programme and the European Interoperability Framework to present a reinforced public sector interoperability policy in 2021.

    The related roadmaps (EIF and ISA²) are now published for feedback on the Commission’s Have your say portal. You can provide feedback on the EIF and future interoperability policy roadmap till 12 November 2020. Feedback on the roadmap for the evaluation of the ISA² programme is open till 13 November 2020.

Collabora Online moves out of The Document Foundation

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OOo

The Document Foundation (TDF) was formed in 2010 as a home for the newly created LibreOffice project; it has just celebrated its tenth anniversary. As it begins its second decade, though, TDF is showing some signs of strain. Evidence of this could be seen in the disagreement over a five-year marketing plan in July. More recently, the TDF membership committee sent an open letter to the board of directors demanding more transparency and expressing fears of conflicts of interest within the board. Now the situation has advanced with one of the TDF's largest contributing companies announcing that it will be moving some of its work out of the foundation entirely.

The dispute over the marketing plan has its roots in money, as is often the case. Developing a large system like LibreOffice requires the work of dozens of engineers, who need to be paid to be able to put a full-time effort into the project. Some of the companies employing those developers — Collabora in particular — think that TDF has succeeded too well; the free version of LibreOffice is solid enough that attempts to sell commercial support for it are running into a wall. The proposed marketing plan was designed to better differentiate "community-supported" LibreOffice from the professionally supported offerings from TDF member companies. This idea did not sit well with community members, who worried that LibreOffice was being pushed into a second-class citizen status.

The tension is at its highest around LibreOffice Online, which provides for collaborative editing of documents hosted on a central server. Evidently, what revenue does exist in the LibreOffice ecosystem is mostly focused on LibreOffice Online, which is a relatively hard service to set up and maintain without having somebody dedicated to the task. TDF has encouraged potential users to go with commercial offerings by, among other things, allowing the system to suggest commercial support to users and not offering binary builds of the LibreOffice Online server. Currently, if you want to establish a LibreOffice Online instance, you must start with the source and build it from there.

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More: an Online move ...

LibreOffice Drops An Open Letter to Legacy OpenOffice, and it's huge.

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The LibreOffice board announced their take on OpenOffice via an open letter today. And it seems a big deal.
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Open Letter to Apache OpenOffice

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OOo

Today marks 20 years since the source code to OpenOffice was released. And today we say: LibreOffice is the future of OpenOffice. Let’s all get behind it!

It’s great to have a rich and diverse set of free and open source software projects. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have benefited from the choice and customisation that they bring. But sometimes, users can lose out when they’re not aware of newer alternatives, or when one brand overshadows another.

OpenOffice(.org) – the “father project” of LibreOffice – was a great office suite, and changed the world. It has a fascinating history, but since 2014, Apache OpenOffice (its current home) hasn’t had a single major release. That’s right – no significant new features or major updates have arrived in over six years. Very few minor releases have been made, and there have been issues with timely security updates too.

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Software: Office Suites, BleachBit and gti

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Software
OOo
  • List of Best Linux Office Suites

    Despite all the features, the freedom and the flexibility that Linux may offer you, it is not perfect. New Linux users face a lot of issues when they switch to Linux; such as not being able to use Microsoft Office, which is a popular productivity software!
    Now don’t panic just yet; there are two solutions to this problem. You can use a software called Wine that can enable you to install MS Office on your Linux. This solution is not preferred as not all version of MS Office are supported, leaving you with a very little choice.

    The second option is that you can use alternative MS Office suites that are available for Linux, which will be the topic of this article. Following is a list of the best Linux office suites.

  • FreeOffice on openSUSE

    I am not really much of an “Office Snob” but in recent weeks, I have heard people hammer and clammer about this FreeOffice for both “in favor of” and “against” it. In full disclosure, I mostly use LibreOffice and I still use Microsoft Office 2007 for certain very specific reasons. That said, I am obviously not an open source purest. Back to the reason for this write up, I use office products a lot for the purposes of creating product for home educating my kids as well as for many administrative things that I do as a part of my employment. For the most part, I don’t do anything terribly complex but I do like a certain uniformity and bits of information on things to keep me organized.

    Bottom Line Up Front, FreeOffice is a fine, well polished, very complete application. I am only using the “Free version” and I am very impressed with it. The user interface is flexible to your liking, looks clean and modern, most things work fantastically well and I am not sure how they get away with the look of the UIs similarity to Microsoft Office. Although this would likely serve all my needs, I will stick with LibreOffice because it is what I am most accustomed and I don’t gain anything by switching to FreeOffice. At a minimum, I would have to keep LibreOffice Draw for a few specific tasks.

  • BleachBit 4.0.0

    When your computer is getting full, BleachBit quickly frees disk space. When your information is only your business, BleachBit guards your privacy. With BleachBit you can free cache, delete cookies, clear Internet history, shred temporary files, delete logs, and discard junk you didn't know was there.

    Designed for Linux and Windows systems, it wipes clean thousands of applications including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, and more. Beyond simply deleting files, BleachBit includes advanced features such as shredding files to prevent recovery, wiping free disk space to hide traces of files deleted by other applications, and vacuuming Firefox to make it faster. Better than free, BleachBit is open source.

  • Linux Candy: gti – typo-based curio inspired by Steam Locomotive

    Linux Candy is a series of articles covering interesting eye candy software. We only feature open-source software in this series.

    gti is intended to catch accidental typos of ‘gti’ instead of ‘git’. It displays an animation of a car driving by, and then launches git. Any parameters or arguments given to gti are passed through to git.

    gti is a tiny C program, written in a mere 329 lines of code. It’s just an inoffensive bit of fun that might raise a smile now and then, particularly important in these trying times.

Why Use LibreOffice in Education and Celebrating Document Freedom Day 2020

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OOo
  • LibreOffice: A great choice for schools and education

    Because LibreOffice is free and open source software, students and teachers can download and install it on as many machines as they like, without worrying about license fees, subscriptions or audits. If you’re a teacher, you can be sure that your students won’t suddenly be locked out of their documents for not renewing a subscription. They can keep working, as long as they like!

  • Document Freedom Day 2020

    When you save a document on your computer, it is stored in a computer file. Whether it is a text file, a picture, a video or any other kind of work, it is saved with a specific coded structure, known as the file format.

    To be able to share data, software programs must be able to communicate with each other. It implies that no barrier whatsoever may hinder the exchange of data and the related write or read operations. For such a seamless exchange to be possible, software programs are required to be “interoperable”.

    Interoperability is guaranteed when it relies on open standards, i.e. public technical specifications, freely usable by everyone, without restriction nor compensation, and maintained by an open decision-making process. File formats based on these open standards are “Open Formats”.

    Where software interoperability is set aside, or if a program editor does not give access to the key information for interoperability or if the file design recipe is kept undisclosed, or if the file design recipe is available but is not followed by the program, file formats are considered to be “closed” and do not allow interoperability. For a software user, choosing between an Open File Format or a closed one has a deep impact on the ownership of and the access to his/her own data and their availability over time.

Season of Docs 2020 and Document Freedom Day 2020

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Google
OSS
OOo
  • Announcing Season of Docs 2020

    Season of Docs brings technical writers and open source projects together for a few months to work on open source documentation. 2019 was the first year of Season of Docs, bringing together open source organizations and technical writers to create 44 successful documentation projects!

  • Announcing Season of Docs 2020

    Google Open Source has announced the 2020 edition of Season of Docs, a program to connect open source projects with technical writers to improve documentation. Open source organizations may apply from April 14-May 4. Once mentoring organizations and technical writers are connected, there will be a month long community bonding period, beginning August 11. Writers will then work with mentors to complete documentation projects by the December 6 deadline.

  • Paint a Dove for Document Freedom Day

    Help us celebrate the Twelfth Anniversary of Document Freedom Day by making a paper dove!

    Download the dove template and the instructions from this link: https://tdf.io/dfd1, and once you are done with your dove take a picture of it and upload your photo using this link: https://tdf.io/dfd2.

TDF new Board of Directors

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OOo

The new Board of Directors of The Document Foundation has just started the two year term on February 18, 2020. Members are: Michael Meeks, Thorsten Behrens, Franklin Weng, Daniel Rodriguez, Cor Nouws, Lothar Becker and Emiliano Vavassori. Deputies are: Nicolas Christener and Paolo Vecchi.

Five people have been elected for the first time to the Board of Directors: Daniel Armando Rodriguez from Posadas in Argentina; Lothar Becker from Karlsruhe in Germany; Emiliano Vavassori from Bergamo in Italy; Nicholas Christener from Bern in Switzerland; and Paolo Vecchi from Luxembourg (in Luxembourg).

During the first meeting of the Board of Directors, the nine members have elected Lothar Becker as Chairman and Franklin Weng as Deputy Chairman. In the meantime, also the responsibilities and areas of oversight have been discussed and decided.

At the same time, six people – who have served as board members and deputies during the previous term(s) – have left the board, but will continue their activity as TDF Members: Marina Latini, Chairwoman; Björn Michaelsen, Deputy Chairman; Eike Rathke, Member; and Jan Holešovský, Simon Phipps and Osvaldo Gervasi, Deputies.

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Also: QA/Dev Report: February 2020

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Free Software Leftovers

  • Ingo Juergensmann: Migrating from Drupal to WordPress

    If you can read this on planet.debian.org then migrating my blog from Drupal to WordPress was successful and the feed has been successfully changed by the Debian Planet Maintainers (thanks!). I’ve been a long term Drupal user. I think I started to use Drupal since it was included in Debian. At some point Drupal was removed from Debian and I started to use Serendipity instead. Later Drupal was included in Debian again and I moved back to Drupal. I think this must have been around Drupal 4 or Drupal 5. No idea. I even became active in the Drupal community and went to one of the first Drupal barcamps in Germany, namely in Cologne. This was shortly before Dries Buytaert started a business off of Drupal and went to the USA. I met with many devs of Drupal in Cologne and enjoyed the community and started with others a local Drupal User Group in Rostock. [...] So, after all the years my Drupal journey will come to an end. It was a long time with you. Sometimes joyful, sometimes painful. I wish you all the best, Drupal!

  • The round-the-world trip to fix a bug

    Mrs. Vera Cavalcante (@veracape), from Brazil, a long-time contributor for the Portuguese documentation on LibreOffice, was reviewing the translation of the Calc Guide and double-checking the translated text, with respect to the current user interface and the Help pages. Vera noticed that the Help pages on conditional formatting were not correct any more, and reported in the Brazilian team Telegram group (Bugzilla is still very hard for non-native English speakers).…

  • Red Kubes Container Platform Flies Open Source Flag

    Red Kubes, a Dutch-based startup, open sourced a free community edition of its Otomi Container Platform in a bid to remedy the ongoing complexity surrounding Kubernetes configurations. The scalability, agility, and speed-to-market advantages that Kubernetes offers have been handsome enough to capture a growing share of the enterprise market, but this very strength can become an Achilles heel for container deployments. In this sense, it’s far too easy – and common – to create thousands or even tens of thousands of containers across applications. Not only does this create an operational money pit, but management becomes a herculean feat to any container newbie.

  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® ECharts™ as a Top-Level Project

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today Apache® ECharts™ as a Top-Level Project (TLP). Apache ECharts is an intuitive, interactive, and powerful charting and visualization library ideally suited for commercial-grade presentations. The project originated in 2013 at Baidu and entered the Apache Incubator in January 2018.

  • Shots fired in disputes over OSS-as-a-Service

    Cloud services are the great disruptor of both IT organizations and vendors, and wrapping open source software around a service is the latest flashpoint. The open source development model has proven to be an incredible incubator of innovative software by democratizing and distributing the conception, design, implementation and debugging of new titles, advantages that were thoroughly explored more than two decades ago in the book, The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Although open source has since been adopted, encouraged and sponsored by every major software company, its origins were decidedly non-commercial with utopian overtones of liberating code from the tyranny of proprietary shackles. The earliest open source projects, notably Gnu Emacs and other tools from the Gnu Project, embraced this idealistic ethos with a restrictive, comprehensive license, GPL, that applies to derivative work using the code.

  • AWS to Fork Elasticsearch as Elastic Moves Away from Open Source

    Elastic’s license change from open source ALv2 to SSPL appears to have moved Amazon Web Services to “launch new forks of both Elasticsearch and Kibana.” Elasticsearch’s move towards the more restrictive Server Side Public License has already begun to ruffle feathers among developers.

Programming Leftovers

  • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn Tcl - LinuxLinks

    Tcl (Tool Command Language) is a dynamic programming/scripting language based on concepts of Lisp, C, and Unix shells. Here's our recommended free tutorials to learn Tcl.

  • ROC and Precision-Recall curves - How do they compare?

    Both curves offer two useful information: how to choose the positive class prediction threshold and what is the overall performance of the classification model. The former is determined by selecting the threshold which yield the best tradeoff, in adequation with the prediction task and operational needs. The latter is done by measuring the area under the curves which informs about how good the model is, because by measuring the area under the curves, one computes the overall probability that a sample from the negative class has a lower probability than a sample from the positive class. With scikit-learn, the values can be computed either by using the roc_auc attribute of the object returned by plot_roc_curve() or by calling roc_auc_score() directly for ROC curves and by using the average_precision attribute of the object returned by plot_precision_recall_curve() or by calling average_precision_score() directly for PR curves.

  • Write GIMP scripts to make image processing faster | Opensource.com

    Some time ago, I wanted to give a blackboard-style look to a typeset equation. I started playing around with the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) and was satisfied with the result. The problem was that I had to perform several actions on the image, I wanted to use this style again, and I did not want to repeat the steps for all the images. Besides, I was sure that I would forget them in no time.

  • Bash wait Command | Linuxize

    wait is a command that waits for the given jobs to complete and returns the exit status of the waited for command. Since the wait command affects the current shell execution environment, it is implemented as a built-in command in most shells. In this article, we’ll explore the Bash built-in wait command.

  • Santiago Zarate: Cron do not send me empty emails
  • Rust & the case of the disappearing stack frames | Inside Rust Blog

    Now that the FFI-unwind Project Group has merged an RFC specifying the "C unwind" ABI and removing some instances of undefined behavior in the "C" ABI, we are ready to establish new goals for the group. Our most important task, of course, is to implement the newly-specified behavior. This work has been undertaken by Katelyn Martin and can be followed here.

Open Hardware: Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Thomas Petazzoni (Bootlin) on Training

  • Qsync fixed on the Pi4 and FF compiled

    The Raspberry Pi4 does not have a hardware battery-backed clock, so relies on getting the date and time from an Internet time server. In EasyOS, Qsync is the utility that does that. At first bootup, QuickSetup has a checkbox to enable getting time from the Internet, which will launch Qsync. At first bootup on the Pi4, if you are going to connect to Internet via wifi, not ethernet, then there won't be an immediate Internet access. No problem, Qsync will run once the Internet connection is established. Qsync will run just once at bootup and after Internet connection. That's fine, but I couldn't understand why it would suddenly stop working. Then discovered that /etc/init.d/qsync was getting its executable-flag cleared.

  • Arduino Blog » This children’s console looks like something straight out of a superhero’s lair

    Kids have wonderful imaginations, and to help students at a primary school have a super time, creator “palladin” was asked to construct a console for them to use. The device features a variety of lights and sci-fi additions, including glowing “reactor” tubes that diffuse light using hair gel and a “memory bank” that emits flashing patterns for a 1950s supercomputer look.

  • Arduino Blog » This pen plotter draws detailed maps the size of walls

    Christopher Getschmann wanted a wall-sized map of the world. He soon realized, however, that it’s tough to actually buy such a map that’s both beautiful and detailed enough to satisfy his cartographic tastes. While many would simply move on to the next “thing,” Getschmann instead took things into his own hands, and built a pen plotter specifically to draw massive 2×3 meter map for his wall.

  • New training course: embedded Linux boot time optimization

    For many embedded products, the issue of how much time it takes from power-on to the application being fully usable by the end-user is an important challenge. Bootlin has been providing its expertise and experience in this area to its customers for many years through numerous boot time optimization projects, and we have shared this knowledge through a number of talks at several conferences over the past years. We are now happy to announce that we have a new training course Embedded Linux boot time optimization, open for public registration. This training course was already given to selected Bootlin customers and is now available for everyone.

Red Hat/Fedora Leftovers

     
  • A brief introduction to Ansible roles for Linux system administration

    In this part one of two articles, learn to use rhel-system-roles with your Ansible deployment to better manage functionality such as network, firewall, SELinux, and more on your Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers.

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  • From Docker Compose to Kubernetes with Podman | Enable Sysadmin

    Use Podman 3.0 to convert Docker Compose YAML to a format Podman recognizes.

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  • Fedora Community Blog: Software Management (RPM, DNF) 2020 retrospective

    On behalf of the RPM and DNF teams, I would like to highlight changes that have appeared in our packages in 2020. Thanks everyone for your bug reports and patches!

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  • Application and data resiliency for Kubernetes

    Using tools like Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage, organizations are developing and deploying more stateful applications and microservices at an accelerating pace. According to a recent Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) research study, 41% of companies currently use containers for production applications. Another 33% use containers for dev/test and pre-production only but plan to use containers for production applications in the next 12 months.

  • Red Hat Introduces Data Resilience for Enterprise Kubernetes Applications

    Red Hat, Inc., the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today introduced new data resilience capabilities for cloud-native workloads with the release of Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 4.6. This offering from Red Hat Data Services enables customers to extend their existing data protection solutions and infrastructure to enhance data resilience for cloud-native workloads across hybrid and multicloud environments.

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  • Why Red Hat killed CentOS—a CentOS board member speaks

    This morning, The Register's Tim Anderson published excerpts of an interview with the CentOS project's Brian Exelbierd. Exelbierd is a member of the CentOS board and its official liaison with Red Hat. Exelbierd spoke to Anderson to give an insider's perspective on Red Hat's effective termination of CentOS Linux in December, in which the open source giant announced CentOS Linux was to be deprecated immediately—with security upgrades to CentOS Linux 8 ending later in 2021 rather than the 2029 end of support date CentOS users expected.