Tag: canonical

Canonical yells at European cloud provider

cloudOpen saucy outfit Canonical is in the middle of a legal dispute with an unnamed  “a European cloud provider” over the use of its  own homespun version of Ubuntu on their cloud servers.

Canonical is worried that the implementation disables even the most basic of security features and Canonical fears that when something bad happens, the great unwashed will not blame the cloud provider but will instead blame Ubuntu.

Writing in the company bog, Canonical said that it has spent months trying to get the unnamed provider to use the standard Ubuntu as delivered to other commercial operations to no avail. It said that Red Hat and Microsoft wouldn’t be treated like this.

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, wrote that Ubuntu is “the leading cloud OS, running most workloads in public clouds today,” whereas these homegrown images “are likely to behave unpredictably on update in weirdly creative and mysterious ways. We hear about these problems all the time, because users assume there is a problem with Ubuntu on that cloud; users expect that ‘all things that claim to be Ubuntu are genuine’, and they have a right to expect that.

“To count some of the ways we have seen home-grown images create operational and security nightmares for users: clouds have baked private keys into their public images, so that any user could SSH into any machine; clouds have made changes that then blocked security updates for over a week… When things like this happen, users are left feeling let down. As the company behind Ubuntu, it falls to Canonical to take action.”

IBM intros Linux only mainframes

IBM LinuxONEIBM said that it has introduced two Linux mainframe servers which it claims are the most powerful and secure enterprise servers.

Dubbed LinuxONE, the mainframes use the SuSE Linux distribution while IBM also said it will create an Ubuntu distribution both for LinuxONE and z Systems, striking a deal with Canonical.

IBM said that over a third of IBM mainframe clients are running Linux but these two machines are something different.

The LinuxONE Emperor, used the IBM z13, is it’s claimed the worlds most advanced Linux system with the fastest processor in the world. It can scale up to 8,000 virtual machines. The smaller system, the LinuxONE Rockhopper, is designed for customers who want a smaller package.

The LinuxONE systems can be implemented as a virtual machine using the open source based KVM hypervisor.

Canonical, SuSE and Red Hat will all support KVM for the mainframe.

IBM will also provide the LinuxONE developer cloud for open access to programmers.

Ubuntu might beat Windows to phone convergence

ubuntu-wallpaper2It is starting to look like the Linux OS Ubuntu might beat Windows to true phone convergence.

One of the headline OS’s features for Windows 10 for PCs and Windows 10 for phones won’t be is true phone convergence. But it looks like Ubuntu might beat Vole to the punch.

Canonical’s Box Mark Shuttleworth said that the Unbuntu smart phone will fit in your pocket; which will be a phone; and which will give you a desktop experience.
“So, that pocket PC experience is real on Ubuntu. And, while I enjoy the race, I also like to win. And I bet you do too. And so it will be lovely for us to drive free software first into the convergence world,” he said.

Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu Phone’s application platform already allows for applications that can resize to fit various screen sizes, from smartphone-size to windows on your desktop. After focusing on Ubuntu Phone’s unique interface and design to get it out the door, Canonical is beginning to talk about convergence.

So just like Microsoft is doing with Windows 10, Ubuntu is aiming for convergence across all device types. But unlike Vole it is going to move a bit faster.

Word on the street is that while Windows 10 for PCs will ship this summer Windows 10 for phones will be much later.

The release date slip gives Ubuntu a chance to beat Microsoft to launching this feature. Both projects are scrambling to get the software done with a release date of sometime in 2015.

However there are also signs that Canonical might also have problems. The Unity 8 desktop interface and Mir are still in fairly rough.

Unity 8 and Mir were supposed to have been part of the default Ubuntu desktop image for several releases now, but this is clearly taking longer than expected. Unity 8 and Mir may be ready for Ubuntu 15.10, “Wily Werewolf,” in October.

China tackles piracy problem – by building its own OS

As part of the country’s drive to embrace open source software, China has contracted Canonical to help build an OS specifically with Chinese users in mind.

It is expected that the OS, dubbed Ubuntu Kylin, will be designed for desktops and laptops, and will ship with Chinese characters. The idea is to create an operating system that is in tune with the way Chinese people use their computers, plus supporting Chinese dates, the BBC reports

Both in-house Canonical staff and Chinese researchers will be working on the OS at a Beijing lab. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will collaborate with Canonical to come up with Kylin to run on servers, aimed at websites, online shops, and hosting.

The move will be a mixed bag for Western companies that traditionally have dominated the Chinese IT landscape. There have been increasing calls for the country to crack down on rampant piracy, including from Microsoft, that has insisted in the past illicit copies of Windows have been profligate. Washington previously hoped to exert pressure onto China to take action against piracy. This move seems to indicate a desire to, at the very least, reduce reliance on the West.

Bundled with Ubuntu Kylin will eventually be popular Chinese language services like Baidu maps, alternatives to Office and image management, and the Taobao shopping service.

By leaning on Linux for its IT, China will also be encouraging coders to build and modify their own versions of Kylin.

Open source community wades into Ubuntu phone

While many open saucers are getting moist about the chances of a pure Linux phone running Canonical’s Ubuntu Phone, there are a few who are blowing trumpets of caution.

KDE’s Plasma Active team leader Aaron Seigo wrote on his blog that his eyebrows were raised when he saw Canonical’s press release and saw that the Ubuntu code will deliver a mobile, tablet, desktop or TV experiences depending on what device it is installed on, or where it is docked.

Seigo, having looked at the code behind Ubuntu’s Unity interface, thinks Canonical’s claim is hollow because the new phone will be based on QML, which Unity isn’t. 

He pointed out that there is a high level of fudge factor in the Ubuntu announcement and he thinks that Canonical is being “ethically weak”. In open source land that is fighting talk.  

Seigo said that the free software community was being told a fairy tale in hopes that it will swallow it and, as a result, support Canonical “under what amounts to false pretences”.

He added that if you are a free software developer, user, or supporter, and buy into these claims, “you’re being duped”.

Seigo thought the Ubuntu Phone is great, and the world needs more free software mobile efforts, particularly those using Qt/QML. But it was difficult “to sit on one’s hands and say nothing when such communication techniques that are not healthy for the free software movement are employed”.

Open source Pope Richard Stallman is not a big fan of Ubuntu which he has called spyware because the operating system sends data to Ubuntu maker Canonical when a user searches the desktop. Needless to say he is not impressed with the Linux phone either.

Red Hat feuds with Rising Tide Systems

A row has erupted between two Linux distributors with one of them accusing the other of breaching the GPL.

In open source land that is the sort of accusation which is so serious that the honour can only be satisfied with a dual with pistols in the presence of two seconds, a drunken priest, and a woman who screams “he ain’t worth it, Nigel”.

According to Muktwareit all started on the Linux kernel mailing list when Andy Grover, a Red Hat SCSI target engineer, requested that Nick Bellinger, the Linux SCSI target maintainer, provide proof of non-infringment of the GPL.

Now that is fighting talk. The Linux kernel mailing list is a place where Linux geeks write Linux code and the accusation of violating the GPL would require many readers to require smelling salts.

Bellinger and Grover are rivals. Bellinger works for Rising Tide Systems, a Red Hat competitor, and a maker of SCSI storage systems. This outfit recently produced a groundbreaking technology involving advanced SCSI commands which should give Rising Tide Systems a lead in producing SCSI storage systems. Grover’s Red Hat Software has no such feature and would like it very much and if it was GPL they should be allowed it.

Grover said that he had a lack of answers from Bellinger and thus was forced to bring this up on the list. He wants the source code for supporting the EXTENDED_COPY SCSI command by the terms of the GPL. It is not clear if this new source code is covered by the GPL.

By demanding the code, and implying that RTS has withheld it from Linux, Grover is accusing Rising Tide Systems of stopping code coming to other Linux developers.

This is a bit unfair as Rising Tide has donated a previous version of SCSI target source code to Linux.

Grover’s argument is that since that previous version of the SCSI target source code was donated, Rising Tide Systems’ current technology must also be free. His logic is that Rising Tide Systems has benefited by having Linux developers work on the previously donated SCSI target source code.

Much of the work on the code was done by Bellinger who is a keen Linux supporter.

His claim is that Bellinger gave the world the source code which is hacked about by the wider community for two years. Then he added a new killer feature to the code, but didn’t share it.

Needless to say lawyers are already involved. 

Red Hat, Canonical accused of being traitors to the open sauce cause

OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt has waded into Red Hat and Canonical over the way that the pair have reacted to Microsoft’s introduction of “secure” boot.

De Raadt told ITWIre that the pair wanted to be the “new Microsoft” which in open sauce language can be translated to mean “your mother swims after troop ships”.

De Raadt said he had no plans to allow his precious OpenBSD to play nice with the Windows 8 secure boot. He said that he will will watch the disaster unfold and hope that someone with enough power or influence sees sense.

Microsoft claims that Windows 8 has said that a “secure” boot process will be needed to boot the operating system on any platform. This needs keys to be used at two stages to recognise what is being loaded. The process is done through the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, or UEFI.

While there will be a method to turn off this booting on x86 hardware it will not work on the ARM platform.

De Raadt thinks that the European anti-trust regulators will go mental when “secure” boot is released in Europe.

He thinks that there could be many laptop vendors locked out of European markets by regulators by the secure boot restrictions.

He dubbed Red Hat and Canonical as traitors to the cause by coming to an arrangement with Vole.

He said that they were doing it mostly mostly for the money and power and they want to be the new Microsoft.

Red Hat’s method is to sign up to the Microsoft developer program and obtain a key which will be used to sign a “shim” bootloader.

This shim would then load the GRUB2 bootloader which will boot the operating system kernel, which will also be signed. Since the first key comes from Microsoft, it will be recognised by most PCs and laptops.

Canonical’s cunning plan is to have key which is distribution-specific in the firmware, and also a key blessed by Vole. 

Free Software Foundation wades into Canonical

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is furious with Canonical for the approach the company has taken in order to deal with the UEFI Secure Boot.

According to Muktwarethe problem is known as the “Ubuntu solution” and it requires the heresy of putting a Microsoft key on a Linux machine. Machines sold as “Ubuntu Certified,” preinstalled with Ubuntu, will have an Ubuntu-specific key, generated by Canonical. They will be required by the certification guidelines to have the Microsoft key installed.

Any Ubuntu CDs, distributed separately from hardware, will also depend on the presence of Microsoft’s key in the machine’s firmware to boot when Secure Boot is active.

In a whitepaper, FSF’s John Sullivan writes that their main concern with Ubuntu is the dropping of Grub 2, which is licenced under GNU GPLv3, in favour of another bootloader with a different license that lacks GPLv3’s protections.

He wrote that Canonical is worried someone might ship an Ubuntu Certified machine with Restricted Boot. To comply with GPLv3, Ubuntu thinks it would then have to divulge its private key so that users could sign and install modified software on the restricted system.

However, Sullivan said that argument doesn’t hold up and is based on a misunderstanding of GPLv3. He slammed Canonical for not getting on the blower to ask the FSF about these problems before pressing ahead with the changes.

Sullivan said that addressing the threat of Restricted Boot by weakening the license of the bootloader makes no sense.

He said that with a weaker licence, companies will now have a form of advance permission to obstruct the user’s ability to run modified software. Ubuntu has chosen a path which allows a Restricted Boot and is self defeating.

Sullivan called on Ubuntu and Canonical to reverse its decision, and promised to help it with any licensing concerns.

He wants Ubuntu to support users generating and using their own signing keys to run and share any versions of the software – not requiring users to install a key from Canonical to get the full use of their operating system. 

An open letter to Mark Shuttleworth: Long Term Support for a broken GUI

Dear Mark Shuttleworth,

I’ve been thinking about how to write this comment for the best part of two weeks, and in the end I decided that an open letter was the best way.

You might ask, who am I? No one. I’m your average Windows user. Former Macintosh, actually, who regularly takes Ubuntu out for a spin, just to see if we can ever get back to the bliss that 7.04 was.

Anyway, Mark, with the Precise Pangolin upon us – and that’s an LTS release – shall we chat about Unity a little bit?

Dear Mark,

An OS X-like sort of a dock, actually on the left side of the screen, was a bright, marvellous idea! But then you made the menu-bar disappear. If I’m right, this would be the third release sporting the disappearing menus. I understand that the whole “global menubar affair” caused quite a stir in the Penguin community, but I think it works fairly well on OS X – and has been doing great since the first Macintosh arrived, some 28 years or so ago. The only difference being that those menus stay there – it’s actually a fundamental cornerstone in that UI.

Why this obstinately different behaviour with Unity? After all, the global menu-bar is still there: but it’s empty 99.99 percent of the time. Let’s consider the large screen sizes we’re getting used to on a desktop system: a mouse trip to the upper-left corner of the screen just to make the menus appear, and then travel back, let’s say, to its middle to click on what you were looking for in the first place, is not a very pleasant experience. It’s cumbersome. 

But then, Mark, you might say that the HUD, the only UI change Pangolin will bring, will solve this problem. You just type what you’re looking for in an application, and the relevant options will be automagically offered to you. That’s a nice idea! But it doesn’t solve the problem at all. The menus are still hidden, and I, the user, am supposed to blind-type what I need. Good luck with that!

Dear Mark. In its present state, Unity attracts a lot of criticism. Some of it is unfounded, some of it – sadly – is spot on. Yet, you just leave it broken. Because that’s your Vision. It’s the curse or the blessing, depending on your opinion, of a “benevolent dictator” – not unlike Steve Jobs.

Mark. Don’t get me wrong. The company is yours. You have every right to follow your divine Vision, please, prove me wrong. I’m going to ask you, humbly, for a favour instead: would it be such a financial drain to come up with an officially supported Gnome3 spin? Removing LightDM, Unity, QT & Overlay Scrollbars, and installing GDM & Gnome can easily be done – if you know your way around a terminal and you know which packages to install and remove. But that’s not really “Linux for Human Beings”, is it?

Furthermore, vanilla Gnome3 is little more than an empty canvas. Extensions are what really make it shine. Canonical could include some of the most popular, or perhaps even build some of its own. There’s no consumer distro that really takes advantage of Gnome3’s capabilities; why not be the first?

Despite my criticism about Unity, I’m not asking you to drop it at all. But I think that with very little effort you could give your users even more choice than they enjoy today.

Oracle tries to woo the Java crowd again

An analyst claims that Oracle has finally pulled its finger out and started to fix its relationship with the Java community,

Charles Humble, who works for PRPi Consulting, claims that after an undeniably rocky start, Oracle is making significant efforts to re-engage with the wider Java community.

Writing in InfoQHumble said that the company is now working to engage with the Java User Group leaders and Java Champions. Humble sees signs that membership of the OpenJDK project is growing, and the company is making efforts to reform the Java Community Process (JCP).

Not only that, Oracle has published a clear, well-defined Java roadmap toward Java 8 and Java 9, he thinks.

Humble said that it is encouraging to see Oracle tackling some of the problems in the JCP, and there are other promising signs. However, Oracle’s biggest problem is that its moves to sue Google over its use of Java for Android has caused a lot of bad blood, he said.

Some of this is to do with Java developer fears about the software’s relevance in the mobile space. While Java ME was an early success story for Java, and is still shipped on a large number of phones, the rise of the current generation of smartphones and tablets, led by Apple with the iPhone and iPad, largely consigned Java ME to irrelevance.

Now Nokia has shifted its focus to Windows Phone. RIM is shifting away from Java ME to a new OS based on QNX with native C/C++, so Android has become incredibly important for Java, Humble said.

He said that a theoretical accommodation could be reached with Google, but Oracle’s decision to pursue the search company over IP infringement in Android is risky. Google could simply decide to drop support for Java from Android, moving instead to a language it owns and controls, such as Go, or more likely Dart, and kill off Java on mobile.