The $34 billion all cash deal to purchase opensource pioneer Red Hat is IBM's biggest ever acquisition by far. The deal will give IBM a major foothold in fast-growing cloud computing market and the combined entity could give stiff competition to Amazon's cloud computing platform, AWS. But what about Red Hat and its future?


Another Oracle - Sun Micorsystems deal in the making? 
The alarmists among us might be quick to compare the IBM - Red Hat deal with the decade old deal between Oracle Corporation and Sun Microsystems, which was then a major player in opensource software scene.

But fear not. Unlike Oracle (which killed off Sun's OpenSolaris OS almost immediately after acquisition and even started a patent war against Android using Sun's Java patents), IBM is already a major contributor to opensource software including the mighty Linux Kernel. In fact, IBM was the 6th biggest contributor to Linux kernel in 2017.

What's in it for IBM?
With the acquisition of Red Hat, IBM becomes the world's #1 hybrid cloud provider, "offering companies the only open cloud solution that will unlock the full value of the cloud for their businesses", according to Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO. She adds:

“Most companies today are only 20 percent along their cloud journey, renting compute power to cut costs. The next 80 percent is about unlocking real business value and driving growth. This is the next chapter of the cloud. It requires shifting business applications to hybrid cloud, extracting more data and optimizing every part of the business, from supply chains to sales.”

The Future of Red Hat
The Red Hat story is almost as old as Linux itself. Founded in 1993, RedHat's growth was phenomenal. Over the next two decades Red Hat went on to establish itself as the premier Linux company, and Red Hat OS was the enterprise Linux operating system of choice. It set the benchmark for others like Ubuntu, openSUSE and CentOS to follow. Red Hat is currently the second largest corporate contributor to the Linux kernel after Intel (Intel really stepped-up its Linux Kernel contributions post-2013).

Regular users might be more familiar with Fedora Project, a more user-friendly operating system maintained by Red Hat that competes with mainstream, non-enterprise operating systems like Ubuntu, elementary OS, Linux Mint or even Windows 10 for that matter. Will Red Hat be able to stay independent post acquisition?

According to the official press release, "IBM will remain committed to Red Hat’s open governance, open source contributions, participation in the open source community and development model, and fostering its widespread developer ecosystem. In addition, IBM and Red Hat will remain committed to the continued freedom of open source, via such efforts as Patent Promise, GPL Cooperation Commitment, the Open Invention Network and the LOT Network." Well, that's a huge relief.

In fact, IBM and Red Hat has been partnering each other for over 20 years, with IBM serving as an early supporter of Linux, collaborating with Red Hat to help develop and grow enterprise-grade Linux. And as IBM CEO mentioned, the acquisition is more of an evolution of the long-standing partnership between the two companies.
"Open source is the default choice for modern IT solutions, and I’m incredibly proud of the role Red Hat has played in making that a reality in the enterprise,” said Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO, Red Hat. “Joining forces with IBM will provide us with a greater level of scale, resources and capabilities to accelerate the impact of open source as the basis for digital transformation and bring Red Hat to an even wider audience – all while preserving our unique culture and unwavering commitment to open source innovation."
Predicting the future can be tricky. A lot of things can go wrong. But one thing is sure, the acquisition of Red Hat by IBM is nothing like the Oracle - Sun deal. Between them, IBM and Red Hat must have contributed more to the open source community than any other organization.
One day left before the final release of Ubuntu 18.10 codenamed "Cosmic Cuttlefish". This is how you make the upgrade from Ubuntu 18.04 to 18.10.

Upgrade to Ubuntu 18.10 from 18.04

Ubuntu 18.10 has a brand new look!
As you can see from the screenshot, a lot has changed. Ubuntu 18.10 arrives with a major theme overhaul. After almost a decade, the default Ubuntu GTK theme ("Ambiance") is being replaced with a brand new one called "Yaru". The new theme is based heavily on GNOME's default "Adwaita" GTK theme. More on that later.

Upgrade from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to 18.10
If you're on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, upgrading to 18.10 "cosmic" is a pretty straight forward affair. Since 18.04 is a long-term support (LTS) release (meaning the OS will get official updates for about 5 years), it may not prompt you with an upgrade option when 18.10 finally arrives. 

So here's how it's done. Disclaimer: back up your critical data before going forward. And better don't try this on mission critical machines. You're on LTS anyway.
  • An up-to-date Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is the first step. Do the following in Terminal.
$ sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade
$ sudo apt autoremove
  • The first command will check for updates and then proceed with upgrading your Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with the latest updates. The "autoremove" command will clean up any and all dependencies that were installed with applications, and are no longer required.
  • Now the slightly tricky part. You need to edit the /etc/update-manager/release-upgrades file and change the Prompt=never entry to Prompt=normal  or else it will give a "no release found" error message. 
  • I used Vim to make the edit. But for the sake of simplicity, let's use gedit. 
$ sudo gedit /etc/update-manager/release-upgrades
  • Make the edit and save the changes. Now you are ready to go ahead with the upgrade. Make sure your laptop is plugged-in, this will take time. 
  • To be on the safer side, please make sure that there's at least 5GB of disk space left in your home partition (it will prompt you and exit if you don't have enough space required for the upgrade). 
$ sudo do-release-upgrade -d
  • That's it. Wait for a few hours and let it do its magic. 
My upgrade to Ubuntu 18.10 was uneventful. Nothing broke and it all worked like a charm. After the upgrade is done, you're probably still stuck with your old theme. Fire up "Gnome Tweaks" app (get it from App Store if you already haven't), and change the theme and the icons to "Yaru". 
A real private mode in Firefox? A Tor integrated Firefox could just be that. Tor Project is currently working with Mozilla to integrate Tor into Firefox.

Over the years, and more so since Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mozilla has taken a progressively tougher stance on user privacy. Firefox's Facebook Container extension, for example, makes it much harder for Facebook to  collect data from your browsing activities (yep, that's a thing. Facebook is tracking your every move on the web). The extension now includes Facebook Messenger and Instagram as well.

Firefox with Tor Integration

For starters, Tor is a free software and an open network for anonymous communication over the web. "Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location."

And don't confuse this project with Tor Browser, which is web browser with Tor's elements built on top of Firefox stable builds. Tor Browser in its current form has many limitations. Since it is based on Firefox ESR, it takes a lot of time and effort to rebase the browser with new features from Firefox's stable builds every year or so.

Enter 'Project Fusion'

Now that Mozilla has officially taken over the works of integrating Tor into Firefox through Project Fusion, things could change for the better. With the intention of creating a 'super-private' mode in Firefox that supports First Party Isolation (which prevents cookies from tracking you across domains), Fingerprinting Resistance (which blocks user tracking through canvas elements), and Tor proxy, 'Project Fusion' is aiming big. To put it together, the goals of 'Project Fusion' can be condescend into four points.
  • Implementing fingerprinting resistance, make more user friendly and reduce web breakage.
  • Implement proxy bypass framework.
  • Figure out the best way to integrate Tor proxy into Firefox.
  • Real private browsing mode in Firefox, with First Party Isolation, Fingerprinting Resistance, and Tor proxy.
As good as it sounds, Project Fusion could still be years away or may not happen at all given the complexity of the work. According to a Tor Project Developer at Mozilla:
"Our ultimate goal is a long way away because of the amount of work to do and the necessity to match the safety of Tor Browser in Firefox when providing a Tor mode. There's no guarantee this will happen, but I hope it will and we will keep working towards it."
As If you want to help, Firefox bugs tagged 'fingerprinting' in the whiteboard are a good place to start. Further reading at TOR 'Project Fusion' page.
In another major win in a span of weeks for the proponents of open source solutions in EU, Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is pushing ahead with its plans to adopt open source tools as its software of choice for all its public schools. If all goes well, some 10,000 students in Switzerland schools could soon start getting their training using an IT infrastructure that is largely open source.

Switzerland's Largest Open Source deal

Over 10,000 Students to Benefit

Switzerland's largest open-source deal introduces a brand new IT infrastructure for the public schools of its capital city. The package includes Colabora Cloud Office, an online version of LibreOffice which is to be hosted in the City of Bern's data center, as its core component. Nextcloud, Kolab, Moodle, and Mahara are the other prominent open source tools included in the package. The contract is worth CHF 13.7 million over 6 years.

In an interview given to 'Der Bund', one of Switzerland's oldest news publications, open-source advocate Matthias Stürmer, EPP city council and IT expert, told that this is probably the largest ever open-source deal in Switzerland.

Many European countries are clamoring to adopt open source solutions for their cities and schools. From the recent German Federal Information Technology Centre's (ITZBund) selection of Nexcloud as their cloud solutions partner, to city of Turin's adoption of Ubuntu, to Italian Military's LibreOffice migration, Europe's recognition of open source solutions as a legitimate alternative is gaining ground.

Ironically enough, most of these software will run on proprietary iOS platform, as the clients given to students will be all Apple iPads. But hey, it had to start somewhere. When Europe's richest countries adopt open source, others will surely take notice. Stay tuned for updates. [via]
Germany's Federal Information Technology Centre (ITZBund) opts for an on-premise cloud solution which unlike those fancy Public cloud solutions, is completely private and under its direct control.

Germany's Open Source Migration

Given the recent privacy mishaps at some of biggest public cloud solution providers on the planet, it is only natural that government agencies across the world are opting for solutions that could provide users with more privacy and security. If the recent Facebook - Cambridge Analytica debacle is any indication, data vulnerability has become a serious national security concern for all countries. 

In light of these developments, government of Germany's IT service provider, ITZBund, has chosen Nextcloud as their cloud solutions partner. Nextcloud is a free and open source cloud solutions company based out of Europe that lets you to install and run its software on your private server. ITZBund has been running a pilot since 2016 with some 5000 users on Nextcloud's platform.
"Nextcloud is pleased to announce that the German Federal Information Technology Center (ITZBund) has chosen Nextcloud as their solution for efficient and secure file sharing and collaboration in a public tender. Nextcloud is operated by the ITZBund, the central IT service provider of the federal government, and made available to around 300,000 users. ITZBund uses a Nextcloud Enterprise Subscription to gain access to operational, scaling and security expertise of Nextcloud GmbH as well as long-term support of the software."
ITZBund employs about 2,700 people that include IT specialists, engineers and network and security professionals. After the successful completion of the pilot, a public tender was floated by ITZBund which eventually selected Nextcloud as their preferred partner. Nextcloud scored high on security requirements and scalability, which it addressed through its unique Apps concept.
Not many might remember HP's capable webOS. The open source webOS operating system was HP's answer to Android and iOS platforms. It was slick and very user-friendly from the start, some even considered it a better alternative to Android for Tablets at the time. But like many other smaller players, HP's webOS just couldn't find enough takers, and the project was abruptly ended and sold off of to LG.

The Open Source LG webOS

Under the 2013 agreement with HP Inc., LG Electronics had unlimited access to all webOS related documentation and source code. When LG took the project underground, webOS was still an open-source project.

After many years of development, webOS is now LG's platform of choice for its Smart TV division. It is generally considered as one of the better sorted Smart TV user interfaces. LG is now ready to take the platform beyond Smart TVs. LG has developed an open source version of its platform, called webOS Open Source Edition, now available to the public at

Dr. I.P. Park, CTO at LG Electronics had this to say, "webOS has come a long way since then and is now a mature and stable platform ready to move beyond TVs to join the very exclusive group of operating systems that have been successfully commercialization at such a mass level. As we move from an app-based environment to a web-based one, we believe the true potential of webOS has yet to be seen."

By open sourcing webOS, it looks like LG is gunning for Samsung's Tizen OS, which is also open source and built on top of Linux. In our opinion, device manufacturers preferring open platforms (like Automotive Grade Linux), over Android or iOS is a welcome development for the long-term health of the industry in general.
Remember Automotive Grade Linux that we discussed earlier in detail? Well, is trying to make sure its speech-recognition/voice-assistant tech, Alexa, is compatible with AGL.

Amazon wants its Alexa Voice Assistant Compatible with AGL
Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) is a project hosted by Linux foundation which aims to build a truly open, Linux based platform and framework for automotive applications. Currently, the market is utterly dominated by Android Auto and Apple Car Play. AGL, when it debuts in 2018 Toyota Camry, will be a more neutral, open, and inter-operable alternative to Android Auto and iOS CarPlay.

Amazon on the other hand is working with Nuance Communications Inc. and Voicebox Technologies Corp. to write code that makes AGL's in-vehicle apps compatible with several voice-assistant technologies (and not just Amazon's Alexa), eliminating the need for developers to make multiple versions. Given the fact that most automakers are also trying to diversify away from Google and Apple's restrictive eco-systems, this could eventually turn into a major win for all parties involved, including consumers.

Currently, Automotive Grade Linux has wide backing from major tech companies and auto giants such as Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Suzuki, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Subaru and the likes. Toyota is a platinum sponsor and has already unveiled solid plans for using Automotive Grade Linux's platform in its cars starting with hugely popular Toyota Camry model in 2018. 

"With Alexa integrated into AGL, the process of building voice experiences is dramatically simplified for developers," John Scumniotales, director of products at Amazon Alexa Automotive, said in an email to Bloomberg. "This would ultimately speed the rollout of voice services into cars. AGL has an opportunity to scale voice experiences across the automotive industry." Read more on this here.
Not many must have heard about the existence of something called Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a project hosted by Linux foundation to build a Linux based platform and framework for automotive applications. The project got kick-started back in 2012 and the founding members included marque automotive players such as Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, and Toyota, along with tech giants such as Fujitsu, HARMAN, NVIDIA, Renesas, Samsung and Texas Instruments (TI). Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) platform will debut in 2018 Toyota Camry.

AGL linux infotainment toyota camry

Toyota's AGL Adoption in 2018 Toyota Camry

Automotive Grade Linux or AGL is a Linux based open source car infotainment platform that has been in the works for the last several years. As a Linux Foundation backed project, AGL now boasts broad based support from auto majors across the world. Along with the founding members like JLR and Toyota, car manufacturing giants like Daimler AG, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi Motors, Subaru etc. are also paying members of the AGL project today.

The 2018 Toyota Camry will be the first car to utilize AGL. According to Dan Cauchy of AGL, "Toyota is an early adopter of Linux and open-source and has been an active member and contributor to AGL for several years. They have been a driving force behind the development of the AGL infotainment platform, and we are excited to see the traction that it’s gaining across the industry."

Auto makers have generally been clumsy when it comes to integrating and updating the latest/fastest tech to their in-house infotainment systems. And more and more players are going the easier route by simple giving customers the choice of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay or both. AGL can prove be a good compromise package by which the auto makers doesn't have to cede completely to Silicon Valley giants.

linux infotainment toyota

"The flexibility of the AGL platform allows us to quickly roll-out Toyota’s infotainment system across our vehicle line-up, providing customers with greater connectivity and new functionalities at a pace that is more consistent with consumer technology," said Keiji Yamamoto, Executive Vice President, Connected Company of Toyota Motor Corporation, in a press release. "Adopting an open source development approach has enabled us to focus resources on developing innovative new features and bringing them to market faster."

On a related note, here are two other obscure open source projects you've probably never heard about: 1. lowRISC: Open source, Linux capable SoC, 2. Udacity: An open source self-driving car project.

Long years ago, we've talked about a Skype alternative called Tox which was still in its early developmental stages. Tox was supposed to become the anti-thesis of Skype by being a fully open-source video and voice chat client that placed user privacy and security at its center. Well, guess what, there are now fully active and well-maintained chat clients that are built on top of Tox protocol. qTox is one of them.

qtox skype replacement for linux

qTox: Free and Open Source Skype Replacement for Linux
Tox is a peer-to-peer instant-messaging and video-calling protocol that offers end-to-end encryption. There are two popular clients built on top of Tox, namely uTox and qTox. Here we will discuss about qTox, the more feature-rich and configurable of the two.

qtox skype alternative ubuntu

The work flow of qTox video chat client is pretty straight forward. You just need to share you unique Tox ID (the one you get after you sign up) with the person you want to chat. Friend requests pop-up in your screen once it is sent and you can either accept or reject it. qTox is fully featured with support for video/voice chat (picture-in-picture mode for video calls), sending/receiving files, screen-sharing etc. By default, video chat is disabled for security reasons and you need to enable it first in qTox-Settings when you want to video chat.

qtox skype alternative

Installing qTox in Ubuntu 16.10:
Just copy-paste the following commands into Terminal one by one (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+ALT+T).

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qtox.list"
wget -nv -O Release.key
sudo apt-key add - < Release.key
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install qtox

The first line adds the repository while the second and third line download the key for authentication. Then you update the repositories and install the app, which is 'qtox' here.

Installing qTox in Ubuntu 16.04:
Installing qTox in Ubuntu 16.04.2 "Xenial Xerus", being the latest LTS release. Same as before, copy-paste the following lines to your Terminal.

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qtox.list"
wget -nv -O Release.key
sudo apt-key add - < Release.key
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install qtox

Done! After installing you can quick-launch the app from Ubuntu launcher, just search for 'qTox'. I have installed the app in Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 16.10 and Windows 10. The video and voice chat worked across platforms. Tried screen-sharing too with Windows 10, but the experience could have been a lot smoother. But as I understand, qTox is still in active development. So you can expect improvements to happen over time.

qTox is cross-platform and is available on a wide range of OSes. For downloading qTox for your favourite Linux OS (Arch, CentOS, Fedora, openSUSE supported), follow this link. For Windows and OSX installers, see here. qTox is still very much on the bleeding-edge side of things and we strongly recommend adequate testing before using it on production machines. Thank you for reading. Related: Meet the new Skype for Linux Beta.

After long years of inactivity, a new Skype for Linux was released about an year ago. Though the version of Skype released for Linux was in its early alpha and had many critical features missing, it was reassuring to know that Microsoft has not abandoned Skype for Linux platform entirely after acquiring it. Microsoft recently released the beta version of Skype for Linux platform giving a major fillip to many missing features.

new skype for linux ubuntu

New Skype for Linux Beta: What works, what doesn't?

So, the new Skype for Linux beta is here. It is not a finished product yet and has its limitations. But unlike the earlier alpha release, the Skype beta comes loaded with all the basic functionalities one expects from a video/voice chat software. It supports one to one video calls from Linux to other platforms and vice versa. Skype credits is also enabled by which you can make calls to mobiles and landlines.  

Screen sharing though is still tricky. Apparently, as a Linux user, you can view shared screens from other Skype desktop clients (Windows and Mac), but you cannot share your screen with other platforms, which is a major letdown for business users. Deeper integration with Ubuntu's Unity launcher is another plus. For example, Skype beta now shows the number of unread conversations on the Unity launcher. 

The launch of Steam platform for Linux in 2012 was a watershed moment for Linux desktop market. For gamers struggling with their dual boot setups, this was as good as it gets, or so we thought. Not even the biggest optimists amongst us expected such a huge turn around with Valve releasing games at an unprecedented rate (more than 100 games per month) on its Steam for Linux platform since its first release. But Valve is not ready to slowdown with its Linux ambitions as yet. Valve has just opened its SteamVR platform for Linux! Developers will now be able to create Linux content for HTC Vive VR headset and other VR hardware.

SteamVR Support for Linux Launched

Valve has just launched its SteamVR for Linux platform and developers can now start creating content for the same. The program is still in beta, meaning developers must use NVIDIA developer beta driver built on "Vulcan", dubbed as the "next generation OpenGL initiative". As a developer, you are also limited to access only "direct" mode which means you cannot display images on the headset and the display at the same time. There is also limited support for AMD based cards but Intel graphics card isn't supported.
The importance of Linux platform in Valve's scheme of things was pretty evident when Gabe Newell himself clarified that Valve builds and runs all of its source code, animation and assets on Linux. With the latest addition of SteamVR support, Valve is doubling down on its commitment towards its Linux based SteamOS platform. 

One of my laptops started acting weird recently. For some reason the laptop's wifi signal became so weak that it stopped connecting to my home wifi unless the router is very close. The obvious answer was to use my Android Phone's hotspot. But 4G data doesn't come cheap. As I found out later, you can also turn your Android phone into a wifi repeater or wifi extender by pairing Ubuntu and Android via Bluetooth. Here's how you do it.

bluetooth tethering ubuntu to android

Android to Ubuntu Bluetooth Tethering (How to)

  • Make sure Bluetooth is turned ON and visible on both the devices.
  • In Ubuntu, go to Bluetooth settings and hit the '+' button on the bottom to pair your phone.
wifi extender android
  • Select your device and hit 'Next'.
android to ubuntu via bluetooth wifi
  • A pop-up will appear in your Android phone asking to Pair the devices. Also hit the 'Matches' button above.
  • After successful pairing, you can now proceed to share your phone's wifi internet with your Ubuntu desktop. 
  • Start by enabling "Bluetooth tethering" in your Android phone by going to Settings - Wireless & networks - Tethering & portable hotspot - Bluetooth tethering.
android bluetooth tethering in ubuntu
  • Finally, in your Ubuntu, launch Network Connections from wifi dropdown - Edit Connections. You will see a new Bluetooth submenu which you have to double-click and enable. Now, simply use the wifi dropdown menu from the top panel in Ubuntu to select your Phone's network. That's it. 
  • One problem though, connections via Bluetooth tethering will be significantly slower than your original wifi speeds. Still usable, and can be reliable last ditch method to extend your wifi. 

soundnode soundcloud for ubuntu linux

Soundnode is a pretty great Soundcloud client for Linux and Ubuntu. If you frequent for your music needs, this stand alone app could be of real use. Another app you don't want to miss in the music genre is GPMDP aka Google Play Music Desktop Player, which is also open source like Soundnode. Both are cross-platform as well, different versions for Windows, OS X and Linux are available.

Installing Soundnode in Ubuntu 16.10
Installing Soundnode in most Debian based distros is a straight forward affair. Just copy-paste the following in Terminal. Test machine was running the latest Ubuntu 16.10 "Yaketty Yak".

curl -s | sudo bash
sudo apt-get install soundnode

Done. Hope the installation went smooth. More Linux download options on the app homepage.

soundcloud for ubuntu

Thanks to an anonymous tip from a follower. Strangely enough, even though I have had zero issues installing the app and launching it afterwards, I'm having some trouble playing music, please let me know in the comments if you face similar sort of problems. Also fyi, unlike Soundcloud, Google Play Music is a subscription only service. EDIT: Apparently, there is an API limit, probably the source of my issues with playing music on Soundnode.

"Red Hat is now our backbone. Our business cannot run if Red Hat is not there." That is India's biggest stock exchange's CEO talking. Established in 1875, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is considered to be Asia’s earliest established stock exchange with an overall market capitalization of $1.43 Trillion in 2016 making it the world's 11th largest. Open Source have had many major wins last year, and this has to be one of the biggest.

bse linux migration india

India's BSE joins the Linux bandwagon

After struggling with inefficient and costly proprietary technologies for over two decades, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) built a new trading system using open source technology from Red Hat. "As a result, BSE has expanded from 10 million to 400 million orders per day, achieved the fastest trading speed in the world, and reduced its total cost of ownership (TCO) by 90%." This also enabled the stock exchange to venture into the currency markets which it didn't had any presence earlier, and now represents about 50% of that market in India.

india stock exchange fastest after redhat adoption

Since its switch-over to Linux and open source based solutions, the Indian stock exchange has increased trading volume from 10 million orders per day to 400 million per day. With a median trade speed of just 6 microseconds, the trading platform now claims to be the world's fastest of its kind. There were even bigger wins to be made on the cost front. The shift has enabled the Bombay Stock Exchange to reduce its hardware expenses by 66% and lowered total cost of ownership by 90%!

Apparently, the transition to the new system was seamless, with zero downtime, claims Red Hat. The high-ranking BSE officials had only high-praise for the Red Hat support team. BSE also won the prestigious Red Hat Innovation Awards for 2016. You can find a more detailed case study on BSE's success using Red Hat here.