Computers as Docker Platforms

Docker (using LXC, Linux cgroups, Linux namespaces and union mounted file systems) is a powerful and efficient alternative to virtual machines. docker.io released their 1.0 version last month.

This is an ingenious implementation of boundary separation as seen implemented in the past on computers as inter-process communication (IPC), OS virtualization (as KVM and Solaris Containers) and
Java servlets on tomcat. As a side note, in the software world Java was heavily promoted with a promise of allowing the writing once and running anywhere of software. Reality has not fulfilled these promises. Recently Java was surpassed by python as the most popular programming language for teaching programming in higher education.

An operating system simply allows software applications to run. Keeping application boundaries clear has been tied to operating systems for a long time. UNIX software and the hardware used to run these computers has changed a lot. Docker may be the answer. The power of boundary separation and abstractions is that you don’t need to understand the other parts. It’s gotten so “easy” for end users that even without a full understanding of how things work many people today in the developed world can use embedded computers in their TVs, thermostats, raspberry pi, phones/tablets/mobile (often using iOS or Android), laptops or desktop computers. Yet when something goes wrong, down the rabbit hole we must go to figure out what’s really going on across the layers of abstractions and boundaries. What do you think?

Due to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final game viewing we may not be able to get as much space at Bobby Gs as we need. We may seek more space at Cafe Au Coquelet down University on the same block, 2000 University Ave.

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.

Fast Lanes

How can you have a fast lane without a slow lane? What do you think?

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.

Net Neutrality, Part II

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

So the FCC’s fast lane Internet proposal was proposed by the chairman and the vote passed. Many people were surprised. With so much public, vocal opposition it is an example of how a broken system makes broken decisions. If this moves forward it will affect all Internet users directly and/or indirectly. The challenge is getting more people to understand what this means and why it matters to them.

What does this mean? No new rules are in effect yet however this proposal will not go away. The FCC is moving forward developing what was passed. In opposition, Net Neutrality advocates are strengthening their determination and efforts. I look forward to seeing comments here about additional developments in this story.

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.

Wi-Fi 802.11ac

Let’s talk about wireless. The new specification has been passed, making different use of both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Some devices clearly are easier than others to modify and change using Linux distributions such as OpenWRT among others. Device manufacturers change hardware (chipsets and other things) without changing version numbers, helping lead to further confusion about what a new router/access point really can do. The number of radios and antennas in each device can make a big difference in performance. Manufacturers also constantly change models and price points. It’s hard to keep up with all the changes to commonly available Wi-Fi brand network adapters (built in or USB) and access points. Software defined radio (making hardware changes less necessary) is still far too expensive for most applications. People most interested in radio often become amateur radio operators by passing tests to get privileges to legally experiment with radio in the US and elsewhere.

How are the Wi-Fi chipsets you own supported by the Linux Kernel? What access points do you use and what would you now recommend to friends? What do you think about the so called Super Wi-Fi proposal by the FCC? How do you feel the SF Digital Inclusion (or other municipal network efforts) are going?

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.

2014 User Experiences

One of the advantages (and sometimes confusing) aspects of Free Software and open source software is the choice of user experiences (UX). Desktop choices include Gnome (and derivatives including Mate, Cinnamon & Unity), KDE, LXDE and XFCE. Google’s Android UX and derivatives are perhaps even more popular now. The fragmentation of end user communities is specifically allowed by the licenses these groups choose for their software and the licenses of the underlying software.

Coming up April 17th Canonical and the community are scheduled to release 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr. 14.04’s Gnome derived Unity experience is designed to transcend the phone, tablet, desktop and television form factors. 14.04 LTS is also enabled for phones and tablets which is called the Touch UI. You can try the Touch UI by installing 14.04 on at least the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 devices. California 14.04 release parties in San Francisco and Fullerton are developing as mentioned on the BerkeleyLUG email list and many others throughout the world organized by local communities. Please consider yourself invited.

In five years every TV may have an Internet experience built in. The need for a separate device like the newly announced Amazon set top box Fire TV, Linux powered Roku, AppleTV or other device may go away. Not content with just millions of Chromecast dongle sales, last week The Verge broke a story on the heels of the Fire TV announcement that Google plans an Android TV. I hope user freedoms are preserved on these and future devices.

Other recent news also supports the move of the computing industry as it focuses on convergence and UX. Facebook recently purchased (wired, marketplace) Oculus VR. In recent weeks Microsoft announced it will be focusing on UIs that do not require keyboards and mice, they have released Office365 for the iPad and their Build 2014 annual developer conference (mobile, desktop and other platforms) in SF has just concluded. What user experiences and on what form factors do you compute?

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.

Windows XP End-of-Support Day

Microsoft’s support for Windows XP is officially over today.
Nope, Not kidding!! MS’s official announcement is linked here ==> http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/end-support-help

Anyone still have Windows XP installed alone or else installed dual boot?
Other than those of you who have XP installed in a VM or a Hypervisor, what are your thoughts about using Windows XP further??

Are any of you going to fully migrate to Linux with maybe using Wine for any remaining gotta-have XP apps? Or assuming your hardware is sufficient for upgrading, any of you with XP still around contemplating a straight move to Windows 7 or Windows 8?? Or are some of you (admittedly like me!) going to keep Windows XP as a side Operating System; never to be seriously used any longer for most purposes???

Here is a helpful link for those of us who may want to keep Windows XP around, even though support has absolutely ended; ==> http://www.zdnet.com/windows-xp-support-end-10-steps-to-cut-security-risks-7000028193/

Feb 2014 Software

2014-02-gtrendsHere’s what Google Trends (image at right) says are last month’s top search items for software technologies. Are these the ones you use most often?

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our list.