Tag Archives: Open Source

Samsung To Open Source Exynos 4 Platform — There Is A Catch Though!

Recently, Samsung has received a lot of criticism from the Android modding community and developers for the relatively closed source nature of its Exynos platform. The Exynos platform powers all the high-end products from Samsung including the Galaxy S3 and the Note 2, and the closed source nature of the platform hinders development for these devices.

After a lot of complaints and negative feedback, Samsung promised that it is looking into the situation of open-sourcing its Exynos platform.

Today, the company announced via its Twitter account that it will be open-sourcing the “integrated source code” of its Exynos 4 family of processors by the end of 2012. The company will also setup a git server which will be available to the public by November 2012.

Don’t jump to any conclusions and start praising Samsung here. The company will only be open-sourcing the source code for its OrigenBoard development board. The problem is that CyanogenMod developers still need the source code for other parts of the phone such as the Yamaha audio chip on the Galaxy S2, the Camera on the S3 and more to get a stable AOSP ROM on the S3 and the S2.

Until and unless Samsung open-sources or release AOSP compatible binaries for other closed source parts used on its handsets, getting a stable AOSP ROM on Exynos powered Samsung devices is going to be quite a challenge for developers.

Diaspora Introduces Makr.io, An Image Sharing Network With A Twist

Remember Diaspora? An open source initiative that powers you to stay social and have control on your data as well. It has recently rolled out Makr.io which lets you share images. Well that’s not just yet another image sharing network, it has a different angle.

makr-io-intro

Start by signing up for a free account with the service using your Facebook account or any email. Once you get in you will get to see what might appear as a flowing image feed. On a deeper study you will notice every(or most) image is remixed with some words that emphasizes the perspective that inspired the image. You can re-Remix any image and add your own text or effects. Images can be imported by URLs or uploaded from your local storage as well.

makr-io-remix

However simple the idea might seem, the image sharing on the service has a story telling angle which is the USP for the product. The images shared on Makr.io can also be shared across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Although Diaspora’s new initiative reminds me of Cowbird, the latter is a little better in storytelling while Makr.io is dead simple to use.

The whole campaign relates to the developer company’s core motto of preserving data ownership rights for users. According to the developers,

…..It isn’t just that people need to be able to own their own data, it’s that user data as it stands has no tangible meaning. We believe that ownership of data can be more valuable when you have the ability to create meaningful moments and experiences with your community.
Makr.io is solving the second part of the problem. It is an exploration of social communication that lets people make things they are proud of, and collaborate with other users….

In an age where every big shot social networking websites are busy taking control of every byte of data you share with them, Samaritan companies like Diaspora brings the sense of security back in the game. And that the community is so far responding well(Diaspora is already among top 2% of all open source initiatives) to the cause. More similar initiatives need to get born to help restore the freedom of web that it used to enjoy once.

While concluding with Makr.io, I can hardly resist a line and to append one of mine to it. An image says a thousand words although an image with the right words tells a story.

HP’s Roadmap for webOS Open Source Initiative

While it’s not news that HP have begun their open sourcing efforts for webOS, the fact that they have published their official roadmap for the project, however, is. 

Back in 2011, HP decided to open source webOS. They flogged their TouchPads and made a bunch of money. They couldn’t find any buyers to sell the platform they built from the ground up. They decided their best choice was to throw open the doors and give it away for free. It’s taken just under 2 months for them to release anything, and today they have.

The HP webOS Developer Blog has posted the official announcement of their efforts in open sourcing their Javascript Application Framework – Enyo. Enyo is a completely cross-platform, open source, highly customizable and extensible application framework. Open sourcing Enyo was the first step in the roadmap, with only 5 days left before a soft deadline.

According to their press release, HP hopes to have completed open sourcing of webOS by the end of August 2012, when they release “Open WebOS 1.0″. Scratch the first entry, it’s done.

  • January: Enyo 2.0 and Enyo source code Apache License, Version 2.0 
  • February: Intended project governance model, QT WebKit extensions, JavaScript core, UI Enyo widgets
  • March: Linux standard kernel, Graphics extensions EGL, LevelDB, USB extensions
  • April: Ares 2.0, Enyo 2.1, Node services
  • July: System manager (“Luna”), System manager bus, Core applications, Enyo 2.2
  • August: Build release model, Open webOS Beta, Open webOS 1.0

Hopefully by August, HP will have completely weeded out any and all binary blobs from webOS, open sourced all the bits under the hood, and packaged it with the proper license (Enyo is licensed under Apache 2.0) that truly gives developers, enthusiasts, hobbyists, and hackers the ability to push webOS forward.

Although HP has indicated they have a good interest in using webOS in the near future, putting it all out there with a hands-off approach would likely better the chances of a bright future for webOS. Nokia did it with Maemo and there is a very strong and smart community who are still using and developing for devices that were EOL’d a long time ago. The webOS community is full of resilient, bright, and talented people who will take webOS under their wing.

All webOS needs is some new hardware. If the above image is what you have in mind and you work at HP, please walk yourself off a cliff before you ruin all the hard work Palm did.

YaCy: a Decentralized Approach to Search That Will Take on Google, Bing and Yahoo

The Internet is a storehouse of information and most of the information is accessed either through search or through content aggregators. Search forms an integral part of our online activity and it is too vital to be dominated and managed by one single entity. This was the ideology behind the  creation of YaCy, a decentralized search engine.

yacy-search-engine

YaCy  is a  free  search engine that anyone can use to build a search portal for their intranet or to help search the public internet.  When contributing to the world-wide peer network, the scale of YaCy is limited only by the number of users in the world and can index billions of web pages. It is fully  decentralized, all users of the search engine network are equal, the network does not store user search requests and it is not possible for anyone to censor the content of the shared index. We want to achieve freedom of information through a free, distributed web search which is powered by the world’s users.

YaCy dreams of taking over Google and other search engines one day, and has a very simple operating model. Each peer on the decentralized YaCy network has its curated index. As it connects to the YaCy network, other peers on the network start receiving that index.

YaCy is free from any private influence or central control. This makes it very hard to censor. Currently, YaCy has 1.4 billion documents in its index, and this size is increasing every day, with more than 600 peer operators. Around  130,000 search queries are performed on YaCy per day, which will only increase with more users.

A better explanation of YaCy can be found in this video.

FSCONS: YaCy Demo from Michael Christen on Vimeo.

YaCy is perfect in an ideal world, but there is a lot more to be done here. Currently, only expert users can use YaCy, and its index runs the risk of getting a poisoned. However, the idea is a revolutionary one, and it will be good to see YaCy succeed.

Linux Mint 12 with GNOME 3 and MGSE Released

After beta testing for three weeks, the Linux Mint team has released the final stable build of Mint 12 (codenamed Lisa). Mint initially gained popularity thanks to its clever mixture of beauty and productivity. With Lisa, the Mint team is trying to pull off another delicate balancing act. Mint 12 adopts the new GNOME 3 desktop environment, but slaps its own MGSE (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions) layer on top of it to retain the familiarity and power of the GNOME 2 desktop environment.

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, which uses its own Unity desktop environment that, in some ways, differs radically from the traditional desktop paradigm. Both GNOME 3 and Unity has proved to be controversial as they often break the traditional task based workflow. In fact, the backlash against GNOME 3 and Unity has helped boost Mint’s popularity in a big way. According to Distrowatch, Mint is now the most popular desktop Linux distribution, ahead of Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu.

Linux-Mint-12

Lisa also includes MATE, which is a fork of GNOME 2 that is compatible with GNOME 3. However, MATE is still a work in progress and isn’t entirely stable.

Mint 12 features DuckDuckGo, which is my favorite search engine, as the default search provider. The Mint team has decided to exclude search engines with which it couldn’t reach a revenue sharing agreement. However, it has also made installation of additional search engines easier than ever before, in case you are not comfortable with default providers. Other changes to Mint include new artwork and theme.

You can grab Linux Mint 12 from any of the mirrors listed here.

Developer Interview: Samuel Clay Of NewsBlur, a Google Reader Alternative

Newsblur Front Page

NewsBlur front page

Google Reader has been in the news of late after its recent changes, which have had a very sharply negative reaction from passionate fans. I had earlier written about how there are no good Google Reader alternatives in the market today and had mentioned NewsBlur then. Since then, I have been using NewsBlur daily, and have been extremely pleased with it. I got in touch with the developer, Samuel Clay, and he gladly made himself available to discuss life as an indie developer, developing NewsBlur, and how he plans on competing with Google.

Samuel Clay is an indie developer of NewsBlur. He just moved from Brooklyn to San Francisco. Previously, he worked at DocumentCloud, where they wrote Backbone.js, VisualSearch.js, Underscore.js, and many other open-source libraries. He is now at Tasty Labs, making a more useful social application on the web. Samuel can be reached on twitter at @samuelclay and NewsBlur is also on twitter at @newsblur.

Techie Buzz (TB): What is NewsBlur?
Samuel Clay (SC): NewsBlur is a feed reader with intelligence. It tries to do two things very well:

  1. Shows you the original site instead of a context-less feed. Read the original and NewsBlur marks the stories you’ve read as read.
  2. Filter stories you either like or dislike. A three-stop slider goes between dislike, neutral, and like (red, yellow, and green). Training is super-easy and all click-based (as opposed to you having to writing out what you like in a site, NewsBlur asks you, semi-Hunch-style, your opinions on facets of the site).

I started working on NewsBlur to see if I could do it, put the AI together with the back-end feed processing and fetching, along with the nifty front-end of the original site. This is one of those projects where I just kept pushing in all directions until I felt I had something good, not knowing if I could do it at all, but believing the entire time that I was able to complete the project.

Intelligence Trainer Slider
Intelligence trainer slider

Ubuntu 12.04 Named, The Countdown Begins

The very popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu, has received its new name. With every public frozen release of Ubuntu, a code-name is chosen which traces its roots back to when Canonical took the reigns and pushed out ‘Warty Warthog’ in 2004. Since then, each 6 month release has received a name made up of a carefully selected adjective paired to the name of an animal. From 8.10 ‘Intrepid Ibex’ to 11.10 ‘Oneiric Ocelot’,  we have now arrived at the latest iteration of Ubuntu nearing release – 12.04.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical Ltd, explains the thought process for coming up with the newly named release, Precise Pangolin.

We’re looking for something phonetic, something plausible and something peaceful too. We’ll avoid the petulant, the pestilent, the phlegmy (phooey!), the parochial, the palliative and the psychotic. We’re aiming for mildly prophetic, and somewhat potent, without wanting to be all pedantic and particular. Phew.

Let’s ask the question differently what are we trying to convey? 12.04 is an LTS. So we want it to be tough and long-lasting, reliable, solid as a rock and well defended. It’s also going to be the face of Ubuntu for large deployments for a long time, so we want it to have no loose ends, we want it to be coherent, neat.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the  Precise Pangolin.

So, what on earth is a pangolin and why is it precise?

It’s very similar to an ant-eater. It has armor to protect itself, it’s versatile and can adapt to the environment. Fitting name for an operating system that needs to be robust and reliable, yet friendly and approachable by a new user.

To anticipate the launch, the Ubuntu team has put up an online countdown timer. It’s vague and they’re purposely skimping on details to create a stir. The timer runs in real-time and will end in just over 24 hours, when everything will, hopefully, be revealed.

Breathtaking Mandelbrot Videos – Now in Brilliant 3D

Yesterday, I saw the most amazing videos. These are called Mandelbulb videos, and half the fun of watching them is understanding the science and mathematics behind them. If you don’t want to learn how these are made, you can skip to the end of this article.

What is a Mandelbulb?

It’s a type of mathematical entity that’s based on ideas behind  Fractals  which were discovered in the 17th century. Fractal mathematics describe  geometric patterns that repeat at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. Fractal patterns are often seen in nature, such as in snowflakes. Here’s an example of a Von Koch curve, which is one of the simplest forms of a fractal.

 

von koch curve

When a fractal shape is calculated, it is calculated in steps, or iterations. You can see the shape change, above, as it goes through each iteration.

Here’s another example of a complex fractal which was generated by the  GoogleLabs JuliaMap Generator.

Google Labs Juliamap web app

If you follow that link to Google Labs, your web browser will generate a fractal. One of the unique properties of fractals are that you can zoom in on the patterns and see even smaller but very similar patterns.

Over the years, many mathematicians have tried to determine the formulas for true 3D fractals. Finally, in 2007,  an amateur fractal image maker,  Daniel White, came up with some formulas that seem to generate these 3D fractal shapes. Daniel started his work by using one of the most famous fractal types, called the  Mandelbrot set. The resulting shapes are called Mandelbulbs.

A couple of months later, some software hackers and fractal enthusiasts got together to work on software to render Mandelbulbs on computers. The Mandelbulber Project has been a success, and as you’ll see below, it’s also resulted in some very fantastic images and videos.

Here’s a screenshot of what the software looks like, running on a Linux PC. The software is Open Source, completely free to download  and also runs on Windows PCs.

Mandelbulb Interface

Here are a few screen-shots of Mandelbulber’s artificial worlds.

mandelbulb 45

 

mandelbulb 14a

 

mandelbulb image

 

mandelbulb 1

 

mandelbulb 2

 

mandelbulb 3

 

mandelbulb 4

Finally, we have reached the video. As you’ll see, Mandelbulber can create entire virtual worlds that can be explored. In fact, it can create an infinity of different worlds and some of them are almost scary in their complexity.

Video:  Trip to center of hybrid fractal

Here are more Mandelbulb videos from XLACE. It’s interesting to see how his videos have evolved over the years, and how Mandelbulber has suddenly changed the world of fractals forever. Someday, I expect to see these artificial worlds appear in movies. If you need an alien place for a Sci-Fi movie, it’s pretty easy to see where you could get one.

 

Indian Government Makes Open-Source Drivers A Requirement For e-Governance Projects

india-open-source The Indian Government has initiated its e-Governance projects to connect the millions of Indians living in villages to the internet and related services. A very important part of this project is the procurement of the required hardware most notably PCs and peripherals – for use by the people.

The Indian Government has announced that open drivers are a requirement for the hardware that will be procured under the e-governance projects. This is what the preamble of the Policy on Device Drivers for Procurement of Hardware for e-Governance says:

Government of India (GOI) endeavours to provide e-Governance services, which are technology-neutral, cost effective, interoperable and vendor-neutral. GOI Policy on open standards is a step towards meeting this objective in the development of e-Governance applications.

Because of this new policy, the OEM and vendors have to guarantee that the computer and peripherals that they are supplying can run all General Purpose Operating Systems and that open source drivers are available for all the components.

The policy allows for certain relaxations in case open source drivers are not available. The OEM or vendor has to first provide a justification as to why open source drivers are not available and give guarantee that the open source drivers will be made available before delivery.

A proper implementation of this policy will ensure that choices are available in case changes need to be made in the future. The availability of an open driver will prevent vendor lock-in and ensure that the vendors cannot take any unfair advantage in the future. It is good to see the government actively promoting Free and Open Source Software.

You can see a PDF version of the Policy on Device Drivers for Procurement of Hardware for e-Governance here.

[via: EFYTimes]

[image credit]

 

BlueGriffon: A Cross-Platform Open Source WYSIWYG HTML Editor [Review]

The issue that most people have with creating their own website is that they don’t know how to do it. They can figure out how to get a host, a domain, and even a .com if they want it. Where they run into trouble is the part of the process where you take a design and make it into HTML (the backbone of a lot of websites.) If that is what is holding you back, then fret no more. BlueGriffon, a free Open Source WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor based on the Firefox rendering engine, is here to help.

I don’t think that its important for me to take you through the steps of implementing a design using BlueGriffon. What I am going to do for this review is let you know what I think are the biggest strengths and short comings of the software. All screenshots will be from the Mac OS X version of the software, but there are clients available for Windows and Linux as well.

What BlueGriffon Does Right

I think its best to start with what BlueGriffon gets right. In my time playing with it and testing it out, I found myself loving the ability to manipulate my images and text and have code written for me. While I have some experience writing in HTML, I sometimes find parts of it cumbersome, like arranging images. This is one of the best things about BlueGriffon, and any WYSIWYG editor. You can move things around, and the code automatically updates to reflect the changes.

One of the biggest plusses for BlueGriffon is the range of HTML that it can support. Not only does it support the more basic HTML 4 version of the standard language, but it also supports HTML 5. HTML 5 has become very popular among developers, and is considered the gold standard at the moment. One major reason for this being such a big deal is Apple’s iOS, which supports HTML 5, but not Flash, which HTML 5 is sort of designed to replace.

BlueGriffon HTML EditorBlueGriffon has also found a great price point (FREE!) for an editor of this caliber. While the stock set of features is a little bare for my professional needs, which we will talk about later, it would be perfect for an amateur just looking to set up a simple webpage. On top of being great for amateurs, its one of the first free cross-platform editors of its kind. That has a special place in my heart because, while I write and work on a Mac, a large part of my development and web design is done on a Windows machine.

What BlueGriffon Gets Wrong

BlueGriffon Add-on only

As I said above, BlueGriffon doesn’t come with all the features I look for in a web development toolkit out of the box. These features are available, but they cost money. One of the things I really need is an advanced CSS editor, which BlueGriffon offers as an ‘add-on’ for around $15 USD, or 9.99 Euros. Another add-on that I wish came with the suite is the FTP uploader. While i understand the reasoning behind selling these more advanced features as add-ons, it is sad to see them not be made free like the main program.

Another issue that I have with BlueGriffon is its lack of support for other coding languages. While I championed its offering of HTML 5, I have to shame it by saying that all it really offers is HTML and CSS. Some of the things I need to write or implement are done in JavaScript or even PHP. Neither of these are natively supported by BlueGriffon.

Final Verdict On BlueGriffon

BlueGriffon presents its self as the “next-generation Web Editor.” While I agree that it has some fo the best potential and features of any free web editor I have come across, it doesn’t exactly live up to its name. If you need to do simple HTML work, or if you are looking to write in HTML 5, then I would check out BlueGriffon. However, if you are an advanced user, then you will probably need to buy some add-ons.

It is important to note that, even with all the add-ons, BlueGriffon is one of the most affordable web editing suites around. If you are int he market for a web editor, I recommend you check out BlueGriffon. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and the download itself is Free.

Final Rating: 4/5, for a freemium model for HTML  editors.