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Open Source / Software Development

This Week in Programming: Open Source is Better and Worse Than Ever

Aug 9th, 2019 3:00pm by
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This week brings us two tech news stories so diametrically opposed it’s hard to see them both occupying the same reality. First, The Register brings us the story of Linux Journal shutting down for the second, and final time after 25 years, with the magazine’s editor firing a parting shot at proprietary software, telling the Register that he fears that “if current trends continue, we could be back to a world of proprietary software, vendor lock-in and closed protocols like the world before 1994.”

Meanwhile, InfoWorld’s open source aficionado Matt Asay argued this week that open source has never been stronger and that “there has never been clearer evidence that we’re in the golden age of open source.”

Perhaps both of these viewpoints can occupy the same universe?

The Register quotes Linux Journal editor Kyle Rankin as saying:

Linux and FOSS are more hidden than ever. So many of those FOSS projects on GitHub ultimately are used as building blocks for proprietary software. So many companies that seem to champion FOSS by helping upstream projects they rely on also choose to keep the projects they write themselves proprietary. Although Linux dominates the cloud, more and more developers and system administrators who use the cloud do so via proprietary APIs and proprietary services.

Asay, on the other hand, points to Kubernetes, TensorFlow, and Azure Functions, among numerous others, as proof that “open source has never been healthier,” writing that “the clouds — yes, all of them — are open sourcing essential building blocks that expose their operations. Google rightly gets credit for moving first on this with projects like Kubernetes and TensorFlow, but the others have followed suit.”

Of course, points of view vary drastically in their estimation of what constitutes such a golden era. For Rankin, 2007 was that era, when “FOSS advocates […] often make presentations on the benefits of FOSS from proprietary laptops running Windows or macOS.” Asay, however, points to that same era as a time when Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst plead for greater enterprise involvement in open source, which led to this modern day renaissance, wherein “such involvement is happening both at the elite level (public clouds) and in more mainstream ways, ushering in a golden era of open source.”

Something, something, about the eye of the beholder, right?

If that’s not enough for you, why not kick off your weekend with an analysis of the language of programming:

This Week in Programming

  • Facebook Open Sources Abusive Content Detection Tech: ProgrammableWeb brings us the news of Facebook open sourcing its video and photo matching technology, which looks to “cut down on harmful internet content such as child exploitation, terrorist propaganda, and graphic violence.” The Temporal Match Kernel basically makes it easy for developers to stop the viral spread of videos, by detecting similar, if not identical content. Likewise, Facebook’s photo-matching technology, PDQ, offers the same functionality for images.
  • Android Q Reaches Final Beta Before Release: Google has announced that the final beta update for Android Q, with the expected release of the latest Android just a few weeks away. For you developers out there, that of course means it’s time to make sure your apps are ready for the changes. So, now’s the time to give Android Q a test run, make sure it jives with new privacy features and doesn’t use restricted non-SDK interfaces, etc. Of course, just functioning is the least you can do — Android Q also offers new features you could implement, such as the dark theme, gesture navigation, and support for foldable devices among other new features and APIs.

  • The Latest on Quarkus: JAXEnter has an interview with self-described “Java Champion” Alex Soto about what’s next for the lightweight Java framework Quarkus. Reaching version 0.20.0 — Soto points out that the framework pushes a release every two weeks — they go through the latest features, which include support for OAuth 2 and a guide on how to deploy Quarkus in Microsoft Azure, as well as the history of the project and more. For those of you new to the idea of Quarkus, The New Stack also profiled the technology earlier this year, and a Quarkus cheat sheet by Soto is available on JAXEnter. If you don’t feel like clicking through, here’s the takeaway: “Well it is an open-source project, this means that version 1.0.0 will be ready when it is ready, but we plan to have it around within the calendar year. We are very confident of the code quality of Quarkus – if nothing else that the runtime code just calls frameworks that are rock solid (Netty, Vert.x, RESTEasy, Hibernate ORM, Camel, etc.). The reason it is not in 1.0 is that we are not quite ready to cast some of the extension APIs in stone. We are also refining the ecosystem model and want it to be present when 1.0 is released. That said, we know a lot of companies that are running Quarkus in production. In the end, the version number is just a number, we take care of all releases in a way that they are production ready.”

  • Visual Studio Code Python Extension Updates: Microsoft’s Python extension for Visual Studio Code has been released and comes with a total of 76 issues being closed, including Jupyter Notebook cell debugging, the introduction of an insiders program, and improvements to auto-indentation and to the Python Language Server. The “insider’s program” is opt-in and lets you “try out new features and fixes before the release date by getting automatic installs for the latest insiders builds of the Python extension, in a weekly or daily cadence” while the improvements to the Python language server add some new functionality to “go to definition” and “go to declaration.” To note, Microsoft has also started A/B testing some features, and if you don’t want to have any part of that, simply disable telemetry in Visual Studio Code.

Red Hat is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature Image by Couleur from Pixabay.

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