October 31st, 2020
The RISC-V desktop comes into view, while Mozilla can't catch a break. An unofficial build of Android 11 for the Pi 4, free training from the OpenSSF, TimescaleDB 2 is nearly here, the FSF wants to hear from you, and much more.
Show Transcript and Links
RISC-V manufacturer SiFive has now officially announced the desktop form factor development board that we'd been expecting. Priced at $665, the board features a five-core processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, 32MB of QSPI flash memory, and a microSD card slot on the motherboard. Designed for mounting in a standard mini-ITX case, the board also sports the usual complement of USB and Gigabit Ethernet ports, a PCIe 3 slot for expansion, and two M.2 interfaces — one to accept an NVMe solid-state drive, and the other for a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth module. While still very much aimed at the developer market, the new board will likely help usher in more competitively priced RISC-V platforms in a traditional desktop package, and see the instruction architecture increasingly make its way into regular consumer hardware.
• The Heart of RISC-V Development is Unmatched
Mozilla has unveiled further details about the changes coming to its MDN Web Docs platform. The organization had previously hinted at a move for its key reference material away from an in-house wiki solution to being hosted on GitHub, but the model it's now outlined is far more cumbersome than many of us imagined — and instead of replacing its old system with another, is actually combining the two. And there'll be more details in today's shownotes for anyone who uses or contributes to Mozilla's documentation project. Meanwhile, Mozilla's hopes of diversifying some of its income stream away from search engine royalties took a bit of a knock this week, with Google announcing that it's rolling out its own free of charge VPN solution. The new offering will be available to anyone who subscribes to the two terabyte or better plan of Google's One program, which provides paid-for cloud storage and other benefits to its customers. Google has promised not to log the network addresses of those using the new service, and is releasing all of the code powering its VPN as open source — and an independent third-party audit is already underway. While starting life with a proprietary protocol, the company has committed to soon switch to IPsec, and may also include support for WireGuard in the future. And although Google's VPN will only be available to customers on the higher tiers of its One program, with the cheapest of these plans coming in at just ten dollars a month, the math is pretty compelling — with adopters gaining an additional service that would likely cost half of that from another provider anyway, and like the cloud storage itself, open to use by other household members completely free of charge.
• MDN Web Docs evolves! Lowdown on the upcoming new platform
• More online protection with the new VPN by Google One
• [PDF] VPN by Google One, explained
Canonical has announced that installing Ubuntu on WSL 2 is about to get even easier. Starting with the latest preview build of Windows, users can configure a complete WSL setup, including the installation of Ubuntu into it, by executing a single command in PowerShell. While it wasn't particularly difficult for devs to setup WSL previously, the change removes all of the friction that did exist — and could well encourage those with just a casual interest to try WSL for themselves. The new functionality already supports the installation of specific distro versions; and Microsoft intends to backport it from its Insider Dev channel in the future, to make it available for users running stable versions of Windows 10.
• New installation options coming for Ubuntu on WSL
The FSF has put out a call for input, having decided to revise its High Priority Projects list for the first time in almost four years. The list details a number of key areas in which software is used in the modern world, and sets out the projects that the FSF will support and champion within each category — whether they directly fall under the GNU umbrella or not. The Foundation is also keen to hear about non-software related initiatives that it might consider throwing its weight behind, and will be taking suggestions until early January next year.
• Committee begins review of High Priority Projects free software list — your input is needed by January 8
XDA Developers has announced the release of an unofficial Android 11 port for the Raspberry Pi 4. The ROM can boot from either a regular microSD card or an external USB storage device, and offers a variant that includes the microG framework — which should enable many applications designed for Google Play Services to run without them being present. While the image currently lacks support for hardware accelerated video playback and has a couple of other minor gotchas, it is under active development, and looks to be well worth keeping an eye on for anybody interested in running Android on the latest Pi.
• Raspberry Pi 4 gets a taste of Android 11 via OmniROM
SUSE has joined the likes of Canonical, Red Hat, and Google, and become the latest major organization to join the Open Source Security Foundation. As yet another Linux Foundation offshoot, the OpenSSF aims to develop industry best practice, and help professionals collaborate on security issues around the open source ecosystem. And as part of its educational outreach, the OpenSSF has just launched three online courses that are designed to help developers produce code and systems that are inherently more secure. While the new courses are available for free, they also form part of a paid certification program — which students could potentially use to demonstrate their competence to an employer.
• SUSE joins OpenSSF as Trustworthy Security Drives Innovation
• Announcing: Secure Software Development EdX course, Sign Up Today!
Version 2 of TimescaleDB is just about to land, and the company behind the PostgreSQL extension has written a blog post to introduce its new features. The license change that I mentioned on a previous show will see features that had been limited to Timescale's Enterprise customers now become freely available to all, with just some minor constraints on their use. The new release also introduces multi-node distributed hypertables to the platform, which allow users to easily scale their databases horizontally — and which have proven so effective in test production that a twenty-two node cluster run by a major US corporation is currently using it to ingest over a billion rows of data every day. And like many of the blog posts from Timescale, this latest one is worth a read as much for the background information that it contains as for the actual product pitch — particularly if you work for an organization that found itself swept along in the NoSQL craze of the last few years.
• TimescaleDB 2.0: A multi-node, petabyte-scale, completely free relational database for time-series
And finally, most everything is going to grind to a halt next week — at least until the initial results of the Presidential election are in. So I'm going to take a well-earned breather, and won't be producing a mid-week show. Hopefully things will have started to settle down by the end of the week — and the podcast will return next Saturday as usual, to catch us all up. Until then, stay safe!