FOSS Feats and Follies: Q&A With Red Hat Fedora Project Leader Paul Frields

Red Hat Linux and the Fedora Project developers will soon introduce coretechnological improvements to provide better desktop environments andvideo driver support in the upcoming release of both the commercialand the free open source operating systems later this year.

The first weekend in December saw more than 200 Fedora developers,open source enthusiasts and contributors gather at the York campus ofSenaca College in Toronto, Canada, for the Fedora Users and DevelopersConference (FUDCon). Their goal was to share knowledge about theFedora free operating system and their vision for the next generationof open source technologies. FUDCon is held several times per year atlocations around the globe.

This most recent gathering was one of the largest and most successfulevents the Fedora community ever hosted, according to Paul Frields,Red Hat’s Fedora Project Leader. Red Hat is the commercial developerof the Red Hat Linux distribution. Fedora Linux is the free opensource community-based version.

LinuxInsider discussed with Frields what lies ahead for the nextgeneration of FOSS and how to address some of the lingering problems of Linuxcommunities.

Listen to the podcast (26:44 minutes).

Here are some excerpts:

LinuxInsider: How does FUDCon fit into Fedora’s development plan?

Paul Frileds:

FUDCon is where we gather a group of users, developersand community members, mix them up in a big melting pot and let themdiscuss the issues and solutions. It’s a great place for buildingsynergies through these different groups. One of the key tenants inFedora is that everything we build and use is 100 percent freeand open source software. It is one of the differentiators. We feelthat is equally important to walking the walk and talking the talk ofopen source software. So we drink our own champaign when it comes tousing open source software.

LI: How is that different from other communities?


There are a number of other communities out there thatdon’t make 100 percent free software their rule. They’re OK withusing software that is not freely licensed, or build pieces that arenot released under copyleft-type licenses like the GPL. From the verybeginning, Fedora Project has always published everything that we make,from the Web site to the tools that we use to the automated systemsthat serve our many contributors. All of these are fully free, andyou can download the source code for all of them.

So in fact, it is totally possible for somebody to take the entireinfrastructure of Fedora, and they can plop it down on other hardware.Essentially, if you think about it, we actually make it possible forsomebody to fork the Fedora Project if they want. The only exceptionto that is our logo and trademarks. Those are owned by Red Hat, whoadministers them on behalf of the community. As long as you add yourown logo, you can essentially copy everything that we have done fromday one when the project was started in 2003 and even before that.Every piece of source code and everything we’ve done is availablepublicly and is available under a free license.

LI: Why is this such a critical issue?


We feel that it is really important that we do thatbecause we are trying to convince other people of the effectiveness ofopen source software so you have to be willing to use it yourself. AndI feel that using it exclusively is the only way to accomplish that.

LI: Has this philosophy helped the community to be moreresponsive to users’ needs?


That has in fact helped us to identify gaps and closethem. So when we find there is a need for a particular piece ofinfrastructure, we can build it. It’s easy to identify because we gotthe source code available. Just as with any open source customer orconsumer out there, you can open up the code, get under the hood andtinker a little bit and make it do whatever you want. We make a pointalso of bringing all of those changes to the upstream community wherethey belong.

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LinuxInsider Channels


Linux Spreads, Nvidia Now Part Open-Source, Backup Tool Gets More Time

Microsoft continues to supplement its Windows and cloud platforms with more of its own “borrowed” Linux roots. The developing symbiotic “WindLux” integration could spawn an open-source hybrid of Windows on Linux. Might this be a new pathway for the growing popularity of cross-platform applications and cloud-based computing?

Nvidia has quietly stepped into the open-source world and helped to satisfy part of a long-time need among Linux developers. The company has released an open-source component to help more easily drive its video circuitry in hardware devices running Linux.

Linux users have several cloud storage options that do not require a corporate membership. However, few of them are open source based and free. One service that meets those criteria is Peergos.

Now that we’re warmed up, here’s the scoop.

Linux for ARM Boards

The Armbian “distro” is a build framework to create ready-to-use images with working kernels in variable user space configurations for supported single board computers (SBCs). These are usually Debian or Ubuntu flavored.

The term “Armbian” is comprised of ARM for the RISC processor architecture and the last half (bian) from Debian. Unlike Debian, Armbian Linux is focused and optimized for the ARM architecture. This can be a handy alternative to those who play in the realm of alternatives to the Raspberry Pi board.

It supports a wide variety of popular ARM-based devices, including Banana Pi, Cubieboard, Olimex, Orange Pi, Odroid, Pine64, and others. It originated in Slovenia and currently offers Cinnamon and Xfce desktop versions. This video goes into more detail:

Linux for M$ Windows

Microsoft and Linux are getting together for better computing results. Microsoft has a few of its own Linux distributions for internal use. Based on Debian Linux, these insider distros let Microsoft utilize Linux for a wide range of its projects.

In recent years, the proprietary Windows OS maker has cleverly integrated the Windows Subsystem for Linux, or WSL, to run within Windows. One such creation, Common Base Linux-Mariner, or CBL-Mariner, is for Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure, edge products, and related services. It is designed to provide a consistent platform for these devices and services.

Wait, there is more!

Microsoft maintains a distro called CBL-Delridge used to power its Azure Cloud Shell. It is based on Debian version 10 Buster, making it different than CBL-Mariner, which is built from scratch. The current version of CBL-Delridge, aka CBL-D, is also version 10, and is codenamed Quinault. Both are geographic locations around the company’s Washington state campus.

Sometimes coincidences just happen!

You cannot download these Microsoft Linux versions as they are not available as a public product, free or otherwise. But thanks to Hayden Barnes, a senior engineering manager responsible for Windows containers at Suse, you can get hands-on experience with DBL-D and import the distro to WSL if you are so inclined.

Check out his blog for more details.

Nvidia Plays Nicer With Linux

This manufacturer of high-end graphics processing units (GPUs) is nudging up to open source like never before, though it is still a proprietary product that often puts Linux operating systems through configuration hassles.

Nvidia recently announced an open-source initiative to improve the GPU experience on Linux.  What may be even better news for Linux developers and users is Nvidia’s May 31 follow-up release of its 515.48.07 display driver for GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris systems as the first stable version in the 515 series that brings open-source kernel modules.

This is the first stable version of Nvidia’s graphics driver for Unix systems to offer the source code to a variant of the Nvidia Linux kernel modules. The source code is available here.

Its dual license under MIT/GPLv2 adds a new “kernelopen” feature tag to the supported-gpus.json file to indicate the Nvidia GPUs that are compatible with open-gpu-kernel-modules.

These Open-Source GPU kernel modules will help improve the interaction between the kernel and the proprietary driver. The move will benefit gamers and developers and could eventually eliminate the need for any proprietary Nvidia driver support.

According to Nvidia’s announcement, the technical benefit allows developers to trace into code paths and see how kernel event scheduling is interacting with their workload for faster root cause debugging. In addition, enterprise software developers can now integrate the driver seamlessly into the customized Linux kernel configured for their project.

Linux Mint To Maintain Timeshift

One of the great internal strengths of the Linux developer community is support for projects that otherwise would fall to the sidelines.

Timeshift is, in my opinion, one of the easiest and efficient backup tools in Linuxland. Its developer, Tony George, recently announced his intent to no longer maintain Timeshift due to other project commitments.

Enter the Linux Mint developer team who built parts of its upgrade process for users around Timeshift’s ability to save and restore working copies of boot files, complete system backups, and configurations. The Linux Mint devs reached out to George and agreed to take over Timeshift’s maintenance, new releases, and development activity.

Linux Mint tends to maintain certain applications as X-Apps to ensure they are not dependent on a particular desktop.

Open-Source Replacement for Google Drive

Peergos provides free open-source cloud storage with a mini social network platform. It is a secure and private cloud space to store and share your photos, videos, music, documents, and more. Its quantum-resistant end-to-end encryption helps ensure all your stuff — and with whom you share it — remains private.

Sharing is easy using secret links to your files to send to friends and family. Security is worry-free, too. You can log into your account from any device with your username and password.

Peergos does not link your identity to any other data like your phone number or email address, nor does it monitor your online activity. So, you do not have to worry about the service selling your information to advertisers and other third parties that attract unwanted intruders like web scrapers.

Security is enhanced with decentralized storage across several servers. Peergos asserts that your contact list, file sizes, and directory structure are never available to anyone.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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