October 7th, 2020
Hardware from NVIDIA and Turing Pi, and new releases for Python, Nextcloud and Magisk. Plus Bruce Perens drafts his Post-Open License, Fedora looks to go mobile, the FSF celebrates another anniversary, and more.
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News from NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference seemed to dominate the tech press on Monday, but there's still a couple of hardware announcements from the day that I think are worth briefly covering. Corporate users will likely have found their heads being turned by the company's new data processing units — which are basically souped-up network cards with lots of additional processing power on-board, and which can be used to off-load work from compute servers. While companies such as 3Com and Chelsio have tried to market NICs with additional functionality in the past, their offerings never gained the widespread industry support needed for them to become ubiquitous. But NVIDIA appears to have corralled many key players behind their new product range, so we're likely to hear a lot more about DPUs in the future. And the company also announced something for the developer and hobbyist market, by unveiling a new sixty dollar wireless version of its Jetson Nano AI development board. The updated board features just two gigabytes of RAM where its predecessor had four, but is $40 cheaper and accompanied with free online tutorial materials that can lead to an AI certification for its users.
• Nvidia Presents the DPU, a New Type of Data Center Processor
• Nvidia unveils Jetson Nano 2GB for students and robot hobbyists
And staying with small-scale but flexible hardware for a moment, pre-orders are currently open for the next run of the Turing Pi clustering solution. The single-board platform allows you to cluster up to seven Raspberry Pi Compute Modules without the network- and power-cabling mess common with do-it-yourself builds, and can be mounted inside a standard Mini-ITX case. The board features HDMI and Gigabit Ethernet ports, along with power and audio jacks, and eight USB ports. Sadly, the current iteration of the design doesn't come with connectivity for case power switches or status LEDs, and it's a shame that an I/O shield isn't included in the package for finishing off the rear of any case-mount installations. But these are pretty minor quibbles, and didn't stop the board from selling well the last time that it was available. Having checked with Turing yesterday, more than two thirds of the upcoming production run have already been pre-ordered, so if you're interested in the current version you'll need to move fast — although a redesigned model is slated for development sometime next year.
• 7-slot Raspberry Pi CM3 cluster board returns in limited run
Version 3.9 of Python has been released. While the update brings a number of language improvements, the most eye-catching change is the implementation of PEP 617 — which was championed by former benevolent dictator for life, Guido van Rossum. In this enhancement proposal, van Rossum argued that the time had come to switch out the traditional LL parser used by CPython in favor of one based on a parsing expression grammar; and after testing, that's exactly what's happened — with this release now using the new parser by default.
• What’s New In Python 3.9
• A new parser for CPython
The latest update from the Nextcloud project has made significant changes to Nextcloud Hub. Version 20 sees the Hub deploying a new dashboard that aims to act as a portal for its users, giving them easy access not just to features provided by the Nextcloud software stack, but also to external platforms such as Twitter and GitHub. To make all of this work, Nextcloud has beefed-up its integration story — and that carries through to its Talk audio and video chat service, which can now be bridged over to platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, with integration of other popular services like WhatsApp and Telegram possibly appearing in the future. The release also adds enhanced search functionality, which extends across some of the newly integrated platforms, along with improvements to performance, security, and feature updates for many of Nextcloud's core applications.
• Nextcloud Hub 20 debuts Dashboard, unifies search and notifications, integrates with other technologies
• bridging chat services in Talk
Version 21 of Magisk has been released. The most popular root solution for Android devices has been updated to work with Android 11, and also brings with it a completely redesigned Magisk Manager application. While the update seems to be suffering teething issues on some MediaTek-powered handsets, it's currently being rolled out to the public beta channel, and anybody particularly impatient can install it themselves from the project's GitHub repos. And while we're talking about mobiles, the Fedora Project is attempting to revive its Mobility special interest group. The initiative originally kicked off in October 2010, but hadn't seen any public activity after the following month until an announcement at the end of last week. While the group's plans aren't fully fleshed out yet, its overall aim is to produce a version of Fedora that will run on mobile platforms, and is targeting support for the PinePhone as its initial goal.
• Magisk v21 and Magisk Manager 8.0.0 released with Android 11 support, app redesign, and much more
• (Re)Announcing the Mobility SIG!
If there's one issue that's plagued the Free and Open Source Software movement since Stallman kickstarted things all those years ago, it's been how to ensure that developers are fairly rewarded for their work, while their code remains freely available to all. One possible approach was discussed in an interesting Hacker News thread this week, in which a number of devs offered their take on the benefit of dual licensing code with the GPL and a proprietary license. But while hacks like this might be seen by some as necessary to work within the current constraints, OSI co-founder Bruce Perens has been thinking about a completely new paradigm for the movement. Having previously recorded a video explaining what he thinks needs to be put in place to ensure that the development community is paid for its efforts, Perens has now published a draft of the new license agreement that he hopes might underpin the regime that he envisages bringing to life. And you can read more about this, and all of today's other stories, in the shownotes.
• Dual licensing GPL for fame and profit
• Post-Open Source License – Early Draft
Digital Ocean has promoted its App Platform from beta status into general availability. The platform allows developers to concentrate on coding their applications on GitHub, and seamlessly creates containerized builds from those codebases that are automatically deployed into the cloud. App Platform is provided as a fully managed service with all of the provisioning being undertaken by Digital Ocean, and claims to support horizontal and vertical scaling with zero application downtime.
• Introducing DigitalOcean App Platform: reimagining PaaS to make it simpler for you to build, deploy, and scale apps.
Finally today, Daniel Foré has written a blog post providing a sneak peak at some of the changes slated to appear with version 6 of elementary OS. And with a distro well-known for its strong emphasis on design aesthetics, it's perhaps not surprising to see a rework of its stylesheet handling figure in Daniel's update — which should make for a more uniform user experience, and improve elementary's dark mode support. A new screensaver implementation which better respects requests from applications not to lock the screen will likely be welcomed by many movie watchers, and the update will also feature an improved notification system and multi-touch gesture support. And while Daniel mentions a bunch of other changes, the last that I'm going to flag up is that the release is set to gain system-wide Flatpak support, with the Epiphany browser being the first of many applications that the project plans to package and ship in this way going forward.
• Platform Changes in elementary OS 6