Arstechnica - Open Source
The Art of Technology
Updated: 12 weeks 6 days ago
Since 2009, it's been possible to develop iOS applications using C# and .NET, courtesy of MonoTouch. But one important detail has always been missing. If you wanted to use Visual Studio—the premier C# and .NET development environment, the one that almost every C# developer calls home—you were out of luck.
With Xamarin 2.0, that all changes. You can now develop and debug apps for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in Visual Studio in Windows. Don't want to use Visual Studio? Xamarin has a new cross-platform IDE, Xamarin Studio. To make apps easier to build, Xamarin now offers a component store, giving Xamarin developers instant access to a range of free and paid pre-built libraries and user interface controls. Topping it all off, there's a new pricing model that starts from free.
I've been taking a look at it for the past few weeks to see how it all works.
Read 49 remaining paragraphs | Comments
This series is proving a lot more popular than I'd figured. Who would have thought so many people enjoy noodling around with Web servers? By popular demand, "Web Served" now enters the bonus round with two things I didn't think I was going to be able to get to: MediaWiki in this piece, and Etherpad Lite in the next.
Wikipedia is a staple of the World Wide Web, used by millions of folks every single day. From casual readers checking a quick fact to journalists who need to verify esoteric details of a story to students too lazy to go to the library and consult more reliable primary sources, it's the go-to crowdsourced information site on the Internet.
Wikipedia is powered by a PHP-based application called MediaWiki. The concept of a "wiki" is simple: MediaWiki provides a framework where anyone can create pages, which can be edited by anyone else. The usage isn't limited to an encyclopedia—MediaWiki can power any kind of collaborative environment. Want to set up something for a working team to quickly throw ideas against the wall? MediaWiki can do that. Want to set up a photo library or other document repository? MediaWiki can do that. Want to make your own documentation library, complete with version tracking? MediaWiki can do that.
Read 61 remaining paragraphs | Comments
Canonical will release Ubuntu Phone images for both the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 next Thursday.
Whether you're an Ubuntu fan or you're just not happy with any of the current mobile operating systems, this is good news for you: Canonical has announced that it will be releasing the first public preview for its Ubuntu Phone operating system on February 21. The software, intended both for developers and adventurous end-users, will be made available as images for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset as well as LG's Nexus 4. Source code will also be released for those who would like to port the operating system to other phones.
This fulfills the company's promise to release the preview in late February and is the first step toward getting actual phones in stores—something that Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth wants to do by October of this year. While Canonical's press release is careful to point out that this software is intended primarily for development use on "spare handsets" (as opposed to your primary smartphone), it should give us a good idea of how the software will stack up to current offerings.
We've already looked (with our eyes, not with our hands) at an early version of the Ubuntu Phone OS at Canonical's CES booth, but this will be our first chance to actually dig into the operating system and use it as a daily driver. If you've got a Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4 that you'd like to use as a guinea pig, full instructions for flashing your phone will be available on the Ubuntu wiki starting on February 21st. We'll be flashing our phones and taking Ubuntu for a spin as soon as we've got the software in-hand.
Read on Ars Technica | Comments
LibreOffice version 4.0 came out today, with project organizers boasting a "cleaner and leaner code base" along with various new features and greater interoperability with business systems and document formats.
LibreOffice was launched in 2010 to overtake OpenOffice as the preeminent open source office suite. Google Docs may still be the biggest threat to Microsoft Office, but LibreOffice has carved out a niche for itself, becoming the default productivity software on many popular Linux distributions.
Cleaning up the code has been a major focus. "The resulting code base is rather different from the original one, as several million lines of code have been added and removed, by adding new features, solving bugs and regressions, adopting state of the art C++ constructs, replacing tools, getting rid of deprecated methods and obsoleted libraries, and translating twenty-five thousand lines of comments from German to English," the Document Foundation said in its LibreOffice 4.0 announcement. "All of this makes the code easier to understand and more rewarding to be involved with for the stream of new members of our community."
Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments
UPDATE: Two weeks after this story ran, Canonical revealed that it doesn't expect the first Ubuntu smartphones to ship until Q1 2014. However, the Ubuntu phone code itself is still expected to available in October, and can be installed on compatible devices. Read our new story for details.
Original story follows:
The first Ubuntu phones will be sold to customers in October of this year, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth reportedly told the Wall Street Journal.
Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments
How would you like to create a smartphone operating system? If you get involved in Canonical's Ubuntu phone project you can, in a way. As we reported, Canonical is taking community input on what the core applications (e-mail, calendar, clock/alarm, weather, file manager, document viewer, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter) should look like.
While an early version of the operating system is supposed to be released as open source code in late February, we haven't been able to go hands-on with Ubuntu for phones just yet. Still, it's fun to take a look at the application designs developers have come up with for core Ubuntu phone apps. So we're going to show you a sampling of them in this gallery.
If you see any designs you hate, don't worry. These mockups are suggestions from Ubuntu community members rather than designs made by Canonical's phone team. This is part of the building process: the best aspects of community proposals will hopefully make it into Ubuntu phones when they finally hit the market sometime toward the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014.
Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments
When the Raspberry Pi project was unveiled more than a year ago, two models were promised: one costing $25 and a more powerful one for $35. Ultimately, only the $35 device went on sale, to extreme popularity, with possibly a million sold.
But for those of you who felt $35 was just too expensive for a computer, that $25 "Model A" is finally available. It's now on sale in Europe, and the company will "lift this restriction very soon so the rest of the world can order too," Raspberry Pi spokeswoman Liz Upton wrote today.
Model A has one USB port instead of two. It also lacks an Ethernet port and comes with 256MB RAM, as opposed to the 512MB of RAM the latest version of Model B ships with. Without Ethernet, users needing Internet access have to use the USB port for a Wi-Fi adapter. Thus, if you need Internet and an extra USB port for a keyboard or other peripheral, a USB splitter would be necessary (which may require a powered USB hub).
Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments
The Wine emulator, which is used to run Windows programs on Unix-like systems such as Linux and OS X, is being ported to Android.
Wine project leader Alexandre Julliard delivered a keynote yesterday at the FOSDEM open source conference in Brussels, where he did a "brief showing of Wine on Android," reports the tech news site Phoronix. Performance in the demo was reported to be "horrendously slow," but that was at least partly because Julliard was using an emulated version of Android on a laptop rather than an Android phone or tablet.
Wine, by the way, stands for "Wine Is Not an Emulator," although the Wine wiki notes that it is more accurate to say "Wine is not just an emulator" because it does more than simple emulation.
Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments
Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock
We've come a long way since starting this series, and we've got a little further to go before the end. Your Nginx Web server is operational and happily serving out WordPress (hopefully with an eye toward safety and security), but we're going to take things to the next level by setting up a full-blown Web forum.
As with all of our other components, there are many choices. Far and away the most popular (and most well-supported) is phpBB, a mature and extensible piece of software that's used all over the Web, including on Ars Technica's own OpenForum. As long as you stay updated and keep on top of installing all the security updates, it's a good choice for a production website, and it offers an almost ridiculous amount of configurability. We're not going to use it, though. This series is about experimenting and learning new and useful tools. phpBB is most definitely useful, but it's a complex beast and overkill for a personal forum.
Other popular forum application choices are things like Simple Machines Forum and FluxBB (or vBulletin, but it's not free)—we're not going to use those, either. There's nothing wrong with them at all, but they're not my personal choice and they're not what I'm going to talk about configuring.
Read 58 remaining paragraphs | Comments
Liam's Robohand, the product of a collaboration between Ivan Owen in Bellingham, Washington and Richard Van As in South Africa—and produced on a MakerBot 3D printer.
Not too long ago, Liam had no fingers on his right hand. The South African five-year old was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which causes amputation of digits before birth. But since November, Liam has been using a series of prosthetic hands designed by two men living on opposite sides of the planet, using open source software and 3D-printing technology.
Now, those two men—Ivan Owen in Bellingham, Washington and Richard Van As in South Africa—have published the design for Robohand, the mechanical hand prosthesis, on MakerBot's Thingiverse site as a digital file that can be used to produce its parts in a 3D printer. They've intentionally made the design public domain in the hopes that others around the world who don't have access to expensive commercial prosthetics (which can cost tens of thousands of dollars) can benefit from it.
Liam, on his third day with his completed Robohand.
The project began with a mechanical hand Owen made for a science fiction convention in 2011. He works for a school supply business during the day, but he also works from home creating special effects. When a video of Owen demonstrating the oversized hand went viral, it got the attention of Van As, who had lost most of four fingers on his right hand in a woodworking accident. Van As had been told that prosthetic fingers, such as the X-Finger, would cost him at least $10,000 per finger replaced, so he set about in his workshop trying to design his own.
Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments
Committing code to a git repository in Visual Studio.
Microsoft announced Wednesday that it is adding git support to TFS and Visual Studio, putting the distributed version control system on an equal footing with its current centralized system. In so doing it makes Visual Studio and TFS much better choices for distributed development teams and open source developers. Many of them were put off from even looking at TFS for one reason in particular: centralized version control. With git support, that could start to change.
Microsoft TFS is an all-encompassing application lifecycle management platform. Both the on-premises Team Foundation Server and the cloud-hosted Team Foundation Service provide version control, bug tracking, software building, testing, and more, all in one integrated platform. But a lot of people aren't interested in TFS at all, because of that version control component. It's a centralized version control system, so there's a single source code repository that every developer uses, and that repository tracks all the branches and modifications that everyone uses.
That model still has its adherents, and especially for corporate users, it works well. But there's competition from distributed version control systems (DVCS), which have become extremely popular. In these systems, developers have their own repositories with their own branches and modifications. These repositories are published, and patches can be moved between repositories. In particular, this model has thrived in open source projects and in any situation where developers or developer teams work in multiple locations.
Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments
The Ubuntu phone operating system will come with a terminal application. That's right: experienced users will have access to the full power of the Linux system running underneath the phone's shiny graphical user interface.
While Ubuntu phone code hasn't been released publicly yet, it seems that development will take place somewhat in the open, with a wiki devoted to the platform's core applications, which include e-mail, calendar, clock/alarm, weather, file manager, document viewer, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
In addition, the terminal application will emulate the Linux terminal in an application window and perhaps have a special keyboard layout optimized for Linux commands. One of the key development requirements is that the terminal app integrate with BusyBox, a set of Unix tools. Developers are welcome to propose designs for the application. To get things started, Canonical has posted a few mockups contributed by community members, including this one:
Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments
Ubuntu 12.10—one of the last versions to abide by the 6-month release cycle?
In the nine-year history of Ubuntu Linux, a new version of the operating system has come out every six months. But Canonical, Ubuntu's developer, is considering ditching that model in favor of one that produces an entirely new version only once every two years—while speeding up the overall pace of development by adopting a "rolling release" cycle in between.
Ubuntu 12.10 (thus named because it came out in October 2012) has just arrived, and 13.04 and 13.10 will come in April and October of 2013. But 14.04 in April 2014 could be the last version released after just a six-month development period. 14.04 is also the next "Long Term Support" or LTS edition. Every two years, Ubuntu is sort of frozen in place with a more stable edition that is guaranteed support for five years. If the change Canonical is considering is adopted, every future edition starting with 14.04 will be an LTS, so the next version after 14.04 would be 16.04 in April 2016.
Why bother? Canonical kernel team manager Leann Ogasawara explained in a Google hangout today that this proposal is on the table because Canonical thinks it can deliver both stability and cutting-edge features with rolling releases. For the two years between LTS releases, there would be no new versions but there would be lots of updates.
Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments
The Keon from Geeksphone will be a budget model to develop and test HTML-based Firefox OS apps.
Mozilla announced on Tuesday that it has teamed up with Spain-based Geeksphone to build and distribute developer preview hardware for its upcoming mobile Firefox OS. One device will be a budget model with the bare essentials for testing apps, while the other boasts some pretty competitive hardware.
The budget model is called Keon. With a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 processor, a 3.5-inch HVGA touchscreen, and a barebones 3MP rear-facing camera, it's designed as an inexpensive device for "developing software for Firefox OS in a performant environment." The other model is beefier, boasting a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, a 4.3-inch qHD (960×540) IPS touchscreen, a 2MP front-facing camera, and a LED flash-equipped, 8MP rear-facing camera. Both devices have unlocked HSPA/GSM radios, 802.11n Wi-Fi, GPS, and MicroSD slots for storage.
Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments
Dell's Chief Architect and Technologist Jimmy Pike shows an Iron board with six individual 64-bit ARM servers at the Open Compute Summit.
At today's Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, California, Dell showed off a new generation of X-Gene 64-bit ARM-based servers that the company is developing for data center customers. It also demonstrated new management software based on Open Compute Project standards allowing remote control of both Intel and ARM-based servers. The software and server designs Dell demonstrated would allow Intel and ARM-based systems to run in the same chassis.
The latest development server, called Dell Iron, was shown by Dell Chief Architect and Technologist Jimmy Pike. It was built using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) from Applied Micro. Last June, Dell started shipping a 32-bit ARM-based server (called Copper), which was based on a similar architecture, as "microserver" boards plugged into Dell's PowerEdge C5000 chassis. Copper had 4 system-on-a-chip nodes per board; Iron is designed to support six physical ARM servers per board for potentially up to 72 ARM servers in a single 3-unit chassis. And the ARM sleds, which support the Open Compute Project's remote machine management specification, could be installed side-by-side with servers based on Intel and AMD x86-based processors in the same physical chassis.
The problem with massive numbers of ARM-based servers, however, is that they all have to be managed. "We're going to see volumes (of servers) we've never imagined," Pike said in his presentation at the Open Compute Summit.
Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments
Fedora 18 was released today, and among the promised new features are alternatives to the GNOME desktop in the form of MATE and Cinnamon. Fedora users who dislike the latest versions of GNOME may be disappointed to learn that it's still the only desktop environment that is installed by default—MATE and Cinnamon have to be installed separately.
These alternative desktop environments could already be installed through the command line on Fedora 17. Promising support for both MATE and Cinnamon in official release notes and press announcements might have led some to hope that the interfaces would be included right up front. But with the full install DVDs going up to 4.4GB and MATE alone adding another 104MB, Fedora maintainers decided not to bulk up that download any further.
Thus, you still have to do some extra work to get an alternative to GNOME. Here's how to do it.
Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments
A few months ago, Ars took a look at how cars are getting smarter, mainly in the aid of fuel efficiency and safety. All that technology stuffed under the hood creates data, and where there’s data, there are nerds eager to analyze it.
It used to be that, unless you were a professional racing team, you had to be satisfied with the dials and gauges on your dash if you wanted to know what was going with your vehicle. But the steady drumbeat of Moore’s law has a way of democratizing technology. Data acquisition is now coming to the masses, thanks to Autosport Labs. Based in Seattle, the company is at the final stage of raising funds to develop Race Capture Pro, an open-source alternative to more expensive data gathering setups like those from TraqMate or RaceLogic.
As almost anyone who’s driven on track can tell you, if you want to go fast, the best place to start isn’t the tires or engine. It's the driver. Some drivers might be faster than others thanks to quicker reflexes or better eyesight, but as with any skill there’s more to it than natural talent. This is where data acquisition comes in. A good data acquisition system will do a number of things. GPS pinpoints exactly where the car is with sufficient resolution to see whether or not you’re using the right line. Accelerometers will record your g-forces, while other data is collected from the engine, brakes, and so on, building up a detailed portrait of exactly what the car is doing. It’s easy to talk a big game when you're sitting around in the paddock with a beer. But when your data tells you everyone else was taking a particular turn with pedal flat to the floor and you weren’t, there’s nowhere to hide.
Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments
The Raspberry Pi, the $35 credit card-sized computer, has lived an interesting life despite being less than a year old. It has been used to teach programming and host servers, but above all it has provided a near-perfect platform for some of the most fun and interesting hobbyist projects in the computing world.
Arcade cabinets, computing clusters housed in LEGOs, musical instruments, robots, and wearable computers are just some of the uses Pi owners have found. It turns out you can do a lot with an ARM processor, GPU, a few ports and GPIO pins, and an operating system (typically Linux-based) loaded onto an SD card. Here are 10 of the coolest Raspberry Pi creations we've been able to find.
A Pi-powered arcade cabinet
Lots of people have installed gaming emulators on the Raspberry Pi—not as many have used it to build an entire arcade cabinet. One such brave soul named Darren J described his epic MAME project in a guest post on the official Raspberry Pi blog last month.
Read 55 remaining paragraphs | Comments
We've got a Web server. We've got SSL/TLS. We've got PHP. We've got a database. Now, finally, it's time to do something with them: we're going to set up self-hosted WordPress, one of the Internet's most popular blogging platforms.
Certainly, WordPress isn't the only choice. There are many blogging platforms out there, ranging from big and full-featured content management systems (like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla) to static site generators like Jekyll (and its customized variant Octopress, which I use on my own blog). However, WordPress is extremely popular, and it also has a wealth of themes and plugins available with which you can customize its behavior. So, because it's the platform that first comes to mind when people think of "blogging," we're going for it.
Disclosure, and a word on security
This isn't the first time I've talked about setting up WordPress. Some parts of this article will be taken from my previous blog post on the subject, though the instructions here will contain a number of improvements.
Read 72 remaining paragraphs | Comments