lowRISC is a daring attempt at creating a completely open-source, Linux capable, and multi-core system on a chip (SoC) to promote open hardware systems. The project was co-founded by Rob Mullins, Alex Bradbury (both of whom were actively involved with Raspberry Pi project) and Gavin Ferris of Dreamworks.

lowrisc SoC opensource hardware

lowRISC: Open hardware for the masses!
According to lowRISC co-founder Alex Bradbury, the project is a "not-for-profit effort to produce a completely open source, Linux capable, multi-core SoC." He believes that the "benefits of open source we enjoy in the software world can be applied to the hardware world which will have a huge positive effect on the hardware industry, academia, and wider society," much like the Raspberry Pi project he was earlier involved in.

lowRISC's open-source SoC designs will be based on the 64-bit RISC-V open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) which allows anyone to freely use, design, manufacture and sell RISC-V chips and software. Alex Bradbury of lowRISC is of the opinion that "lowRISC SoC can act something like the 'Linux of the hardware world' - that others can take it as a base for their own SoC designs (startups, academics, larger companies)". But he is pessimistic about hitting the ultra low-cost price-points of Raspberry Pi, given the expected lower volumes.

He goes on to add that "..open source silicon design has much more to offer than just lowering unit costs and increasing profit margins for the existing dominant players. This is why we are established as an independent not-for-profit - we want open source hardware to benefit everyone, and its design to be a truly collaborative process. We have a long way to go, but that's the direction we want to help move things in."

lowRISC is a not-for-profit organisation working closely with the University of Cambridge and the open-source community. You can follow the project here or join the discussion on hacker news here. For more free and opensource (FOSS) related news and articles, go through our open-source feed.

Recommended read: 3 relatively unknown open-source web-browsers for Linux

Enterprise Ubuntu users have more reasons to cheer about. Canonical has partnered with Docker Inc. to provide professional grade support of Docker software to Ubuntu's Enterprise customers. Docker is a premier software container solution renowned for its ease of use and scalability. Docker Inc. already has similar contracts signed with major vendors such as Microsoft and HP.

docker

What is Docker?

Docker is an open-source software that automates the deployment of various Linux applications inside software containers. Docker Inc. is generally considered as the company that brought software containers to the mainstream. Docker makes it easy to run a far greater number of apps on the same old servers without compromising on usability or security.

Unlike VM hypervisors, software containers are very lean on system requirements since they use shared operating systems. Instead of virtualizing entire hardware, containers sit on top of a single Linux instance, for example. As a result, you can have as many as four-to-six times the number of server application instances on the same hardware. Here's a really good article about Docker and software containers in general if you are interested.

The Announcement:

A week ago, Docker and Canonical announced an integrated Commercially Supported (CS) Docker Engine offering on Ubuntu, providing Canonical customers with a single path for support of the Ubuntu operating system and CS Docker Engine in enterprise Docker operations. Apparently, there is a "large, positive overlap" of enterprise users that use Ubuntu and Docker together.

As per the contract, Docker Inc. will provide Ubuntu users with stable, up-to-date Docker releases using Ubuntu's snap packages technology and Canonical in return will provide a two-tier technical support for Docker engine. Ubuntu is already one of the most popular Cloud Linux platforms out there and is now the first among Linux vendors to provide direct, official Docker support.

"Through our partnership, we provide users with more choice by bringing the agility, portability, and security benefits of the Docker CS engine to the larger Ubuntu community," said Nick Stinemates, Vice President, Business Development & Technical Alliances at Docker. "Additionally, Ubuntu customers will be able to take advantage of official Docker support -- a service that is not available from most Linux distributions. Together, we have aligned to make it even easier for organizations to create new efficiencies across the entire software supply chain."
GNOME is perhaps *the* the most popular Linux desktop envoronment out there. And GNOME 3.22 is the latest stable release from GNOME foundation. Yet, it is almost impossible to find a mainstream Linux distro that ships the latest and greatest from GNOME. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS for example has no plans to bring this GNOME release to its users anytime soon. Forget Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, the still-in-development Ubuntu 16.10 will have GNOME 3.20 by default. But there is this one particular distro that already has the latest GNOME 3.22!

gnome 3.22 linux

Say Hello to openSUSE Tumbleweed!

Ubuntu 16.10 "Yakkety Yak" will have GNOME 3.20 by default. You might be able to upgrade GNOME 3.20 to 3.22 with some unofficial PPAs, but that is not a perfect solution, especially on productions machines.

Worry not, openSUSE Tumbleweed has you covered. The Tumbleweed distribution is a pure 'rolling release version of openSUSE containing the latest stable versions of all software instead of relying on rigid periodic release cycles.' Tumbleweed is based on openSUSE's main development codebase and is updated once the codebase's bleeding edge software has been integrated, stabilized and tested. In effect, openSUSE Tumbleweed contains the latest stable applications and is ready and reliable for daily use.

gnome 3.22 opensuse

This image was tweeted by openSUSE Chairman himself. Less than 48 hours after the unveiling of GNOME 3.22 (Karlsruhe), openSUSE Tumbleweed users are getting the full upstream experience of the latest GNOME. Official announcement by openSUSE on GNOME 3.22 integration can be found here. Also read: Tumbleweed download and installation instructions. I have just completed the download, but haven't tested it on any of my machines yet. Will hopefully do a full review on GNOME 3.22 once that's done.

Keep in mind that, Debian Unstable and Arch Linux also have updated GNOME 3.22 packages. But as far as I understand, both versions are not really recommended for daily use. Since I have never used Arch, I can never be sure about this. Feel free to correct me if I wrongly assumed Arch's GNOME 3.22 implementation to be less stable. Thanks for reading. If all goes well, we'll be reviewing GNOME 3.22 with openSUSE Tumbleweed soon.

bing wallpapers ubuntu

Bing Wallpapers for Linux app brings the gorgeous "Bing Image of the Day" featured wallpapers to Linux. The app itself is pretty straight forward. You can either manually check/update if/when a new wallpaper is available or you could just restart your system and find Bing's latest "featured image" as your desktop wallpaper. And I have to say, they are pretty darn good! By default, the app would check for new wallpapers every 3 hours.

bing image of the day for linux

Though I have tested this only on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, this should work on other Debian based distros such as elementary OS or Linux Mint. Installation is just 3 steps, do the following in Terminal.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:whizzzkid/bingwallpaper
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bingwallpaper

Done. As you can infer from the post-installation instructions in Terminal, the Bing Wallpapers for Linux app will automatically set the latest Bing "featured image" as your wallpaper upon reboot. But if you want to see the results immediately, you need to run the following command in Terminal.

sh /usr/bin/bingwallpaper

Voila! And you have your latest Bing wallpaper up and running in Ubuntu! If you are inclined, all the images will be available at the following directory in Ubuntu: "~/Pictures/Bing/". See project's page on GitHub. Thanks to our reader Evan for sharing this news with us. And thanks for reading!

open source self driving car

Open Source is not alien to self-driving car technology. We know for fact that Google's self-driving cars are using 'lightly customised Ubuntu' at its core, and we have spotted Ubuntu on Mercedes-Benz driverless research car. But what Sebastian Thrun and Udacity is proposing is something radically different.

Not many here must have heard about Udacity. They are a for-profit online education startup who recently created a self-driving car engineering Nanodegree program to cater the burgeoning autonomous car industry. The company is partnering with Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Didi, Otto, and Nvidia on this nanodegree program for self-driving cars.

udacity

During the TechCrunch Disrupt event, Udacity co-founder, Sebastian Thrun revealed that the company intends to build its own self-driving car as part of its self-driving car engineering Nanodegree program, and that it also intends to open source the technology that results, so that "anyone" can try to build their own self-driving vehicle.

Consulting firm BCG believes the market for partially and fully autonomous vehicles will be at $22 billion by 2025. And Udacity intends to fill some of that gap for skilled engineers with its new Nanodegree program. The open-sourcing of resulting tech could help the eco-system grow even faster. The crowdsourced autonomous vehicle plans will ultimately be created in service of the school, rather than as an end-product. More on Udacity's attempts to create the first fully open-source self-driving car here.

As we reported exactly an year ago, Italian Military's plans to migrate its entire fleet of desktop PCs to LibreOffice is well underway and has reached its first milestone. Since the project got started about an year ago, the Italian military have switched over 8000 PC workstations to LibreOffice.

libreoffice

Italian Military's LibreOffice Migration Well Underway

As they say, well begun is half done. Italian Military's long drawn out plans for migrating its computers from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice is well under way. In the first phase of the project, over 8000 of its PC workstations has been successfully migrated to LibreOffice. And over the next 4 years, LibreDifesa project (as it is officially known) aims to migrate Italian Military's entire 100,000+ systems to LibreOffice. This would make it the largest free software transition involving desktop PCs by a European public administration.

LibreItalia, an an open source advocacy group based out of Italy, is helping Italian Military in this massive endeavour. LibreItalia volunteers are working with the military, training the trainers and the support staff. They also introduce LibreOffice to top officials, and help prepare the communication that explain the motive for the switch. The LibreDifesa project is expected to save EUR 26 to 29 million for the exchequer.

But saving money isn't just the only concern for the Military. According to open source observatory, "the main motives for the switch include interoperability and long-term accessibility of documents and information. The military are standardising on the Open Document Format (ODF) and are urging its users to use free fonts."
"The switch to LibreOffice is so far posing no real problems for the users", said Sonia Montegiove, who is also the president of the LibreItalia open source advocacy group. She presented the LibreDifesa project last Friday at the FSFE Summit in Berlin.
Apparently, the military is also contemplating the use of Linux for their desktop workstations, and are piloting the Zimbra email, calendaring and collaboration suite. And it's not just the Italian Military. Only recently we learned that big MNCs like Daimler AG has been migrating its critical servers to SUSE Linux. Even cities as large as Toulouse in France and Turin in Italy have opted for Ubuntu and other open solutions thereby saving millions of Euros.

[Via Open source observatory; Also read Sonia Montegiove's presentation (PDF) at FSFE Summit, Berlin]
For some unknown reason, Paramount Pictures has decided that the freely distributed Ubuntu OS torrents are "infringing" their copyrights on Transformers movie! Paramount Pictures recently sent a DMCA takedown notice to Google, accusing Ubuntu OS of infringing their copyrights.

DMCA takedown notice

Paramount Pictures Sends Takedown Notices to "Infringing" Ubuntu Torrents

Just when you thought the copyright infringement drama can't get any sillier, Paramount Pictures decides to send takedown notice to Google, accusing Ubuntu OS torrents of "infringing" their copyrights over 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' movie. According to torrentfreak, copyright holders sent millions of takedown requests to Google every week and "it’s no surprise that errors are made". But their latest "error" seems rather odd. 

DMCA Ubuntu takedown notice

As you can see, the torrent URL or the destination doesn't contain any references of this particular movie. Yet, a notice sent out by the movie studio's anti-piracy partner a few days ago, and Google was asked to remove the Ubuntu torrent download page on ExtraTorrent, a popular torrent download website.

What's even more interesting is the fact that, instead of any fact-checking, Google went ahead and took down the "infringing" URL. May be its just the standard practice given the sheer volume of takedown requests Google receives every other day (some three million requests per day, as per some reports). But here is the thing.
"Paramount's mistake may be relatively harmless, but it shows once again how much can go wrong with these automated DMCA notices. Whether these errors can be rooted out is doubtful as there is very little incentive for copyright holders to improve their accuracy."
Read the detailed report and discussions at TorrentFreak
Taskwarrior is a simple, straight-forward command-line based TODO app for Ubuntu/Linux. This open-source app has to be one of the easiest of all CLI based apps I've ever used. Taskwarrior helps you better organize yourself, and without installing bulky new apps which sometimes defeats the whole purpose of TODO apps.

taskwarrior

Taskwarrior: A Simple CLI based TODO App That gets the Job Done!

Taskwarrior is an open-source and cross-platform, command-line based TODO app, which lets you manage your to-do lists right from the Terminal. The app lets you add tasks, shows you the list, and removes tasks from that list with much ease. And what's more, it's available within your default repositories, no need to fiddle with PPAs. In Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and similar, do the following in Terminal to install Taskwarrior. 

sudo apt-get install task

A simple use case can be as follows:

$ task add Read a book
Created task 1.
$ task add priority:H Pay the bills
Created task 2.

This is the same example I used in the screenshot above. Yes, you can set priority levels (H, L or M) as shown. And then you can use 'task' or 'task next' commands to see your newly-created todo list. For example:

$ task next

ID Age P Description                      Urg
-- --- - -------------------------------- ----
 2 10s H Pay the bills                     6
 1 20s   Read a book                       0

And once its completed, you can use 'task 1 done' or 'task 2 done' commands to clear the lists. A more comprehensive list of commands, use-cases can be found here. Also, Taskwarrior is cross-platform, which means you'll find a version that fits your needs no matter what. There's even an Android version if you want one. Enjoy!
SUSE technologies are helping Daimler AG, the German automotive behemoth, to migrate a large proportion of its mission-critical servers from proprietary UNIX operating systems to 'the open and flexible Linux platform'.

daimler migrates to linux

Daimler AG: Automotive Giant Latest to Adopt Linux

Daimler AG joins a long list of companies and even cities that have joined the open source bandwagon. SUSE technologies, being one of the earliest providers of Enterprise Linux solutions, helped Daimler AG to migrate a large proportion of its mission-critical servers from proprietary systems to Linux platform, specifically to SUSE Linux. This is a major win for the proponents of enterprise level solutions based on Linux and open-source.

Historically, Daimler AG used a number of proprietary UNIX distributions for the task. But managing multiple environments increased costs and required the company to maintain different skill sets to accomplish very similar tasks on different platforms. This is where SUSE technologies pitched in with their Linux Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
"A key target for the new project was to migrate away from UNIX on proprietary hardware towards Linux on commodity x86 servers. The objective was to standardize on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as a single distribution of Linux wherever practical. The openness and ease of customization of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, as well as its closeness to UNIX, made it the ideal starting point for this virtual platform concept."
Initially, the company deployed SUSE Manager with 28 distributed SUSE Manager proxy servers for comprehensive Linux lifecycle management. As part of the migration process, SUSE Manager builds a tailored image with the requested packages and features. These operating system images may include SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions with 24x7 Priority Support, a disaster-recovery tool, the SUSE Manager client and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications with the SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Manager eventually helped Daimler AG to successfully migrate a large proportion of its mission-critical workloads from proprietary UNIX platforms to Linux. The company has cut the number of UNIX instances by 40 percent, as it moves crucial applications to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
"The success of the transition to the SUSE platform is reflected in the growth of the company’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server landscape. In the last few years, the number of Linux instances has increased by a factor of four. This considerable expansion demonstrates both the successful ongoing project to migrate UNIX applications to Linux and the organic growth in the company’s web applications where SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has become the preferred platform."
[You can download the full PDF report here]
Ars is reporting that, OpenOffice might be shutting down its operations soon. For long, OpenOffice reigned as the premier Office suite, giving the open-source community a robust alternative to Microsoft Office.

OpenOffice could shutdown operations soon, reports say

OpenOffice was Linux's showcase app for long. It started its journey as an open-sourced version of the StarOffice, which Sun Microsystems acquired in 1999 for a whopping US$59.5 million. Apparently, Sun bought it for internal use as it was costlier to license Microsoft Office for its entire staff. 

Sun open-sourced the software in July 2000 and pitched it as an "open" alternative to Microsoft Office. Over the years, OpenOffice became a massively popular Office suite which found its way into many Linux distros as the default choice. It even achieved 14% penetration in the large enterprise market by 2004. OpenOffice played an important part in attracting new users to Linux. 

But everything changed in 2010 when Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle. Though Oracle 'reiterated' its commitment for the continued development of OpenOffice, it pretty much abandoned the project in practice. Not much long after, majority of outside contributors left and formed The Document Foundation. They released the OpenOffice fork named LibreOffice in Jan 2011, which become widely successful. As many speculated before the acquisition, Oracle completely stopped OpenOffice development in April 2011 and fired the development team. Oracle contributed the trademarks and Oracle-owned code to the Apache Software Foundation for re-licensing under Apache License. This formed the basis for Apache OpenOffice project which we see today.

End of the Road for Apache OpenOffice? Not so Fast

The speculation started when a thread titled "What would OpenOffice retirement involve?" was started by Dennis Hamilton, vice president of Apache OpenOffice, in openoffice-dev mailing list.

"It is my considered opinion that there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together," Hamilton wrote. No decisions have been made yet, but Project heads are particularly worried about their ability to fix security problems. And hence the Project's 'retirement remains a serious possibility'. Read the complete story at arstechnica.

We have discussed Vivaldi before. It's a feature packed and very power-user friendly web browser for Windows, Mac and Linux. And from our limited experience, the browser seems pretty darn fast too.

vivaldi for linux

Vivaldi 1.3 Released

Living up to its tagline "the most customisable web browser", the new update brings a whole host of new features that enhances Vivaldi's customisability. The new version comes with powerful themeing abilities for example. In our earlier review of Vivaldi web browser, we did complain about the slightly overdone color schemes and such. The new changes give you powers to tweak its looks the way you want. I especially liked the new dark themes.

vivaldi browser new release

Mouse gestures is perhaps one of my favourite feature in Vivaldi, even though I always prefer keyboard shortcuts. There are more than 90  browser actions that can be performed with mouse gestures now.

Also in this release, the developers have addressed some of Linux platform specific issues, which means that "tab hibernation now works as it should, and some proprietary media embedded in HTML5 content can now be enjoyed in Vivaldi on Linux without problems." 

There are other improvements on the Privacy front too with the added ability to turn off WebRTC. Overall, I'm really impressed with Vivaldi's improvements on the performance front. It is definitely faster and more responsive than before, and without any compromises on functionality. Features like 'Tab Stacks' work just as good. Both 32 and 64 bit DEB/RPM packages are available (see link below). Share your thoughts on Vivaldi. Thanks for reading.

I'm not really happy with my laptop's battery performance, and hence the need for reliable battery indicator apps. From simple widgets to full-fledged apps, there are quite a few to choose from. 'Battery Monitor' is the latest entrant. Use the following PPA to install Battery Monitor in Ubuntu and other Debian based distros.


Battery Monitor for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

What makes Battery Monitor different from a whole host of similar apps is its clever integration with Ubuntu notifications. It will notify user about charging, discharging, not charging and critically low battery states. Installation is pretty straight forward. Fire up your Terminal and do as following.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:maateen/battery-monitor -y
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install battery-monitor -y

After installation, there are two ways to start Battery Monitor immediately. Either run battery-monitor in your Terminal itself OR hit ALT + F2 and run battery-monitor. I prefer the later. A few more screenshots.




Project homepage. Do share your thoughts.
After long years of neglect, Skype has reaffirmed its commitment towards Linux platform by announcing a brand new Skype client for Linux, and even goes on to release an Alpha version of the same which you can download and install right now. They come in DEB and RPM packages which must cover a vast variety of Linux platforms.


Finally! A New Skype client for Linux

A brand new Skype for Linux client was officially announced few hours ago. The new version of Skype for Linux is a brand new client using WebRTC, although, the just released Alpha version is not a fully functioning Skype client yet. In our experience, the new client definitely features a faster and more responsive Skype UI. Missing features will be added in the newer releases. Further information on Skype for Linux Alpha can be found here.

And there's more! Anyone using a Chromebook or Chrome on Linux can now visit web.skype.com and make one-to-one and group voice calls on top of the messaging features they get today. This again is an alpha version of Skype based on WebRTC and inherits the same features of the Alpha version of the Skype for Linux client. Video calling and calls to landlines and mobiles are coming soon to Chrome browsers in Linux and Chromebooks. This looks like a a sea change in Skype's attitude towards Linux platform. A welcome change I must say. Following download options are available right now. Do share your thoughts.
Mozilla releases the first nightly builds of its next generation web rendering engine, code-named Servo. This is the first technical demonstration of Mozilla's much awaited high-performance, next-gen web-browser engine being developed for application and embedded use. The first nightly builds also come with a very basic HTML based browser UI so that you can experience the new Servo engine first hand.

servo mozilla web browser engine

Mozilla's New Servo Browser Engine
Being developed at Mozilla Research, Servo engine is also being ported to Android and ARM processors by Samsung. The project "seeks to create a highly parallel environment, in which many components (such as rendering, layout, HTML parsing, image decoding, etc.) are handled by fine-grained, isolated tasks." Source code for the project is written in Rust programming language. Also according to wikipedia, Servo is named after Tom Servo, a robot from a 1980s television show, Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Downloadable snapshots of Servo available here (for Mac OS X and Linux only for now). These pre-built nightly snapshots are not anywhere near ready for regular use yet though. Happy testing.