Valve has been giving Steam users Linux love since 2012, and it’s not stopping with VR. The company just launched SteamVR for Linux, letting developers create Linux content for the HTC Vive VR headset, trackers and other hardware. The program is in beta, meaning developers must use an NVIDIA developer beta driver that’s built on “Vulkan,” the successor to OpenGL. You’re limited to “direct” mode, meaning you can only display images on the headset and not a desktop display at the same time.
Developers can also use an AMD card, but it requires more futzing and is limited to secondary “desktop” display mode. Intel graphics aren’t yet supported, and Linux OpenVR game development requires the Unity version 5.6. There are a few other known issues: Base station power management and headset audio device switching aren’t yet implemented, and as mentioned, you can’t switch between direct (headset) and desktop display modes.
Does anybody still think of a phone as a way of just making calls?
According to Informate Mi less than 10% of the time you spend on a phone is spent giving calls. That’s because phones have evolved from single function device to malleable pocket computers whose entire purpose is defined by the apps that they run. In reality, a smartphone is a software-defined device. What’s much less commonly known is that the world of telco is also becoming software-defined.
‘Software-defined everything’ represents a step change in the telco industry. The entire industry is moving away from a mode of organising and thinking about their network and services as a bunch of boxes with fixed functions to thinking about it as stacks of interacting software.
Look at some of the key themes at MWC this year…. 5G for example. Many people see it as just another iteration in the 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G where what matters is the additional bandwidth for the end user. But behind the scenes a drastic redesign of the telco mobile network is underway where fixed function networking equipment laid out in a static / predefined architecture is being replaced by mini-data centres of generic servers whose function is responsive to the needs of the network. 5G is really about the software-defined telco network.
Another key theme is IoT (Internet of Things). Many believe M2M (the ancestor of IoT) has been part of MWC since times immemorial, so why make a fuss about it all of a sudden? Once again the answer is software. M2M was simple with unidirectional exchanges of data, reflecting the simple nature of the software being run on M2M devices – images were sent down to a digital signage box and telemetry data was sent from an industrial gateway to a monitoring server. But today things are very different. The software run by all these devices has evolved drastically which has changed the very simple nature of these exchanges. For example, as well as displaying advertisements, a digital signage screen might be count the people that pass it or act as a wifi hotspot. IoT is reall about software-defined smart devices.
Autonomous cars, another big theme this year, is yet another example of the software-defined nature of things to come. In car maps was followed by telemetry data coming from cars which was then complemented by in-car hot-spots and infotainment. Today, complex self driving or navigation support systems offer a level of artificial intelligence never seen before in vehicles.
If you’re in Barcelona next week for MWC2017 drop by our booth at Hall P3 – 3K31 to learn how we see Ubuntu at the centre of our software-defined future.
Nils Christian Roscher-Nielsen, Product Manager, The Qt Company
Nils is a Qt Product Manager, responsible for Qt Lite as well as a focus on customer relations and content development, after many years as a technical sales engineers. He also serves as a Qt evangelist at tradeshows and conferences. In his role, Nils is responsible for evaluating The Qt Company’s product offering, driving the long term roadmap creation, managing the technology evaluation stage and serves as a key technical adviser and product advocate for Qt. He has worked closely with Qt for the past eight years in Trolltech, Nokia, Digia and now The Qt Company. He holds a M.Sc. degree in Engineering Cybernetics from the Norwegian University of Technology and Science NTNU. Nils is currently based in Oslo, Norway.
Pat McGowan; Director of Developer Tools and Apps, Canonical
John Kourentis, VP Sales and Partnerships, Canonical
The Snap format is becoming more and more popular for Ubuntu, but also for various other GNU/Linux operating systems that decided to adopt the universal binary format developed by Canonical, so Snapcraft being the tool to create these Snaps, it is always getting new features and important improvements.
Snapcraft 2.27 is here a little over two weeks after the release of Snapcraft 2.26, and it couldn’t be possible without the great work of many contributors, including Colin Watson, Marco Trevisan, John Lenton, Kit Randel, and Loïc Minier. New in this release are a bunch of enhancements that promise to speed up the iteration and development.
The developers also note the fact that delta uploads have been disabled by default in Snapcraft 2.27, but you can enable them using the DELTA_UPLOADS_EXPERIMENTAL=1 environment variable. Snapcraft 2.28 should be the first release to make delta uploads ready for production use, but until then, the feature is considered unstable.
Among other improvements, we can mention that Snapcraft 2.27 now lets developers build classic confined Snaps with either the “cleanbuild” command or the Launchpad builder, build on other LXD remotes using the “snapcraft cleanbuild –remote my-remote” command, and simplify set up of the environment via new “apps” entry.
What’s budgie-remix 16.04.2, you may wonder? Well, as Ubuntu Budgie did not yet have a stable release, and because many people are still using the distro on their PCs with its previous name (budgie-remix), the developers updated it to be based on the recently released Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system.
Being based on Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS, which inherits the newer Linux 4.8 kernel and an updated graphics stack based on Mesa 12.0 3D Graphics Library from Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak), budgie-remix 16.04.2 comes equipped with its HWE kernel and graphics stack, as well as the latest Budgie 10.2.9 desktop environment.
Another novelty introduced in the budgie-remix 16.04.2 release is the enablement by default of Appindicators, which enables various indicators supported by Ubuntu Linux to be displayed in the system tray area of the Budgie desktop. Newcomers to this OS will also find the latest budgie-welcome app to help them get started faster.
Apart from numerous updated packages and all the latest security patches imported from the Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus) repositories, budgie-remix 16.04.2 includes a tool that lets users choose their favorite web browser, if they are supported by Ubuntu, of course.
Ever since the introduction of digital money, the world quickly came to realize how dire and expensive the consequences of centralized systems are. Not only are these systems incredibly expensive to maintain, they are also “single points of failures” which expose a large number of users to unexpected service interruptions, fraudulent activities and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious hackers.
Thanks to Blockchain, which was first introduced through Bitcoin in 2009, the clear benefits of a decentralized and “trustless” transactional settlement system became apparent. No longer should expensive trusted third parties be used for handling transactions, instead, the flow of money should be handled in a direct, Peer-to-Peer fashion. This concept of a Blockchain (or more broadly, a distributed ledger) has since then become a global phenomenon attracting billions of dollars in investments to further develop the concept.
Even though the potential of this paradigm shift of using Blockchains and transitioning towards decentralized system architectures is known to many, the technical limitations of the Blockchain architecture are hindering further growth and adoption in key areas such as the Internet of Things, where millions of devices need to be able to transact with each other. A single Bitcoin transaction today costs on average $0.83 to make, which in turn means that micro-payments are rendered infeasible. Furthermore, the scalability of the entire network is limited to roughly 7 TPS (Transactions Per Second) – in comparison, Visa on average handles 2000 TPS. These intrinsic properties has made real world deployment of blockchain, where high throughput of transactions and scale matters, impossible.
The team behind IOTA, working on new Blockchain architectures and consensus protocols since 2011, has been developing for the past 2 years a completely new architecture built from scratch that resolves these inherent blockchain limitations while staying true to its core principles. With the invention of the Tangle, which is a completely new open source permissionless distributed ledger architecture, the team has introduced a secure, scalable and lightweight transactional settlement solution with zero fees to the industry. With specific focus on the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine Payments, the platform is positioned to become the standard layer for real time settlements and data integrity.
Collaboration with Canonical
The founders of IOTA started exploring machine-oriented microbilling to resolve one of the biggest pain points for connectivity in the realm of Internet of Things, and recognized that Canonical’s unique position and experience in this market was much needed expertise to bring it to life. Now Canonical is working with the IOTA Foundation on use cases that showcase new, machine-oriented business models and micro-billing solutions for the telecommunications market. With the global telecommunication market expected to reach more than $1.5 Trillion in revenue by 2020, IOTA together with Canonical are uniquely positioned to solve one of the biggest problems that telecom companies face today: how to reimagine billing for machines.
The telecommunications market has changed radically over the last decade, with OTT (Over-the-Top) players such as Netflix, Skype, Whatsapp and other service providers increasingly threatening important revenue streams of telco operators. To counter this disruptive competition, stakeholders need to look out for new markets and reshape their service offerings.
The Internet of Things offers exactly this rapidly expanding landscape for communication service providers (CSP’s) to explore new revenue and growth opportunities. With IoT connections expected to reach more than 1 billion by 2020, the need for a secure, cheap and scalable micro-billing mechanism is apparent to everyone.
What to expect at Mobile World Congress
At the Mobile World Congress you can expect to see a live demo of IOTA’s novel micro-billing solution. In collaboration with Canonical and Lime Micro, the telecommunication world will be introduced to the next generation of decentralized, trustless and machine-focused micro-billing. Combined with the concept of a software defined radio, we will showcase how new revenue opportunities for CSP’s and independent application developers alike will look like.
If you are interested to learn more about IOTA and how it can apply to your industry, reach out to the Team at the Canonical/Ubuntu booth in Hall P3 – 3K31 at Mobile World Congress. You can also reach out to them via Twitter or Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) In a second blog post we will go into a deep dive into how IOTA works and how to actually use it in combination with snaps.
We’ve got a lot of news to cover this month and many exciting details to share with you. Before we get started, I’d like to take a minute to thank the people who help our project grow. Many thanks to all our sponsors and all the people who send donations to us, many thanks for funding us. Special thanks also to the administration team for their work on the forums this month, the many artists who joined and participate in the design team and of course to our developers for the fantastic work we do together.
The new stable ISOs for LMDE 2 “Betsy” should be released this week.
Work continues in the design team on revamping the authentication, comments and rating systems to make the website compatible with the Facebook, Google and Github APIs.
The development team continues to review and improve the Cinnamon spices. Obsolete applets/desklets/themes/extensions are being removed and buggy ones are being fixed on a daily basis. Some themes which were extremely popular in the past but which hadn’t been updated for years (some of them since 2012) were updated to work with Cinnamon 3.2.
We’re getting very close to a fully functional collection of spices and thanks to the integration with Github and the automated delivery system we don’t expect spices to lag behind Cinnamon in the future anymore. Any changes required for spices to be compatible with an upcoming Cinnamon release can now be implemented directly by the development team, so spices can and should support future versions of Cinnamon even before they are released.
Bluetooth is going to be much better in Linux Mint 18.2.
Here is what the new Blueberry user interface looks like:
As you can see, a stack switcher was added in the toolbar and new settings were added to the application:
OBEX file transfers are now supported out of the box, so you can send files very easily over Bluetooth to your computer from any remote device.
An option was added also so you can change the Bluetooth name of your computer. That name usually defaults to your hostname or to “mint-0” and many people don’t know how to change it via the command line.
Last but not least, in addition to its cross-desktop system tray, Blueberry now provides a Cinnamon applet which uses symbolic icons and looks similar to other status applets, such as the power, sound or network applets. When this applet is present, the tray icon is hidden.
A lot of work went into Xed, the generic text editor.
“Word wrap” was made more accessible and added to the menu, so you can enable/disable that function without going in the Xed preferences.
You can also select a few lines and sort them by pressing F10, or using “Edit -> Sort Lines”.
You can now zoom in and out with the menu, keyboard shortcuts or even the mouse wheel to modify the size of the text.
The search now supports regular expressions.
You can now switch between tabs with the mouse wheel.
Python extensions are now supported and porting Gedit 3 extensions to Xed is very easy.
And as you might have noticed in the screenshot above, Xed features really exciting visual improvements. For instance, it comes with smart side and bottom bars which automatically adjust to the loaded content and which you can hide or show with a click of a button.
The ability to prefer dark themes was added, so if you’re using Mint-Y-Darker for instance, you can select whether your text editor should be light or dark.
The media player, Xplayer, also received improvements to its user interface.
All the controls and the seeker bar were placed on the same line and the statusbar was removed to make the application more compact.
You can now control the playback speed with the same keyboard shortcuts as in MPV, so you can make your own slow motion replays, or watch lengthy matches in about half the time it would take.
Subtitles files are now loaded automatically but subtitles are also now hidden by default. You can switch them ON or OFF, or cycle through subtitles tracks by pressing “S” on the keyboard.
You can also cycle through audio/language tracks by pressing “L” on the keyboard.
The OSD (on-screen display) was fixed and now shows the audio track or subtitle track or playback speed you selected, or your position in the movie when seeking forward or backward.
Many bugs were fixed and just like in Xed, the ability to prefer dark themes was added.
A total of $9,670 were raised thanks to the generous contributions of 483 donors:
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This release has seen some contributions from outside of the snapcraft core team, so we want to give a shout out to these folks, here’s a team thank you for:
New in this release
This release brings in many features to speed up development and iteration, the biggest under the covers improvement is caching of stage-packages works correctly again succesive pull steps including a repeated set of stage-packages will be a breeze.
The other improvment is that delta uploads are now possible, it is currenly disabled but can be toggled by a feature flag in the environment, just set DELTA_UPLOADS_EXPERIMENTAL=1 and enjoy the benefits. The tentative plan is for this to be the default in snapcraft 2.28
Improvements have been made to the experimental classic confinement build setup to be more robust and reliable. These improvements allow to build classic confined snaps that work across a wider set of OS releases (particularly those with differing glibc versions). An early adopter of this work is conjure-up which now sports Trusty Tahr support. Learn more about conjure-up by visiting http://conjure-up.io/
The python plugin has also received some attention with regards to classic confinement. Most importantly it now does not leak any variables specific to the plugin into the environment.
Another improvement that has been made is that the plugin is now capable of detecting already staged interpreter instances and use that instead of providing one itself. This allows one to choose their own interpreter (which is important for classic confined snaps until the core snap implements use of –library-path for ld).
Making use of your own interpreter is really easy as it uses the common language already implemented in snapcraft (the plugin is just now smarter), here’s a snippet:
And with that you get to use python 3.6.0 in your snap!
Previous to snapcraft 2.27 it was not possible to build on non snapd enabled environments as the core snap needs to be available on the system where the classic confined snap is to be built. From this version onwards it should be possible to build classic confined snaps either with cleanbuild or Launchpad builders as snapcraft is hinted about the environment and sets up core accordingly.
Building on other lxd remotes
A simple but useful feature is offloading builds to different instances, with that in mind one can now offload cleanbuild executions onto other lxd remotes. It is as simple as
snapcraft cleanbuild --remote my-remote
To create my-remote just follow the setup instructions on https://linuxcontainers.org/lxd/getting-started-cli/#multiple-hosts
Setting up environment
No more wrapper scripts just to setup on environment entry, this is now tied into an app entry in apps. Here’s a quick example:
Releasing to tracks worked out of the box, this is a user experience improvement on the result one sees when trying do to so.
If you are wondering what tracks are, here’s a simple explanation, they are like a Long Term Support channel added to your regular stability level channels (i.e.; stable, candidate, beta, edge), this is useful for cases where some users need to stick to a major version number such as the case of etcd where some might want to stick to 2.3 while others are happy with tracking latest (which is an implicit track).
From a snap developer point of view, here’s how to push and release to edge on the 0.2 track,
$ snapcraft push hello_0.3_amd64.snap --release 0.2/edge Pushing 'hello_0.3_amd64.snap' to the store. Uploading hello_0.3_amd64.snap [==============================================] 100% Ready to release! Revision 3 of 'hello' created. Arch Track Series Channel Version Revision amd64 0.2 16 stable - - candidate - - beta - - edge 0.3 3
The telecom industry is not as buoyant as it was some years back. Telecom operators ‘ revenues are under pressure due to innovations from over the top players. Costs are spiralling out of control because of 4/5G deployments, fibre to the premise, social networking data explosions, 4K video streaming, IoT and more. Time to market was always measured in months, not days or hours.
What if all of this can be changed for the better? What if costs can be reduced exponentially? What if time to market can be expressed in minutes? What if telecom startups can help create thousands of new ideas and solutions that are generating new revenues? What if we can make telecom innovation the new “sexy” trend for 2017?
In the beginning of 2016 it looked impossible that software defined radio would be something that excited people. The collaboration between Lime Micro and Canonical changed that. The LimeSDR is the first software defined radio that can be programmed via open source apps, called snaps, that anybody can download from an app store. There are now multiple thousands of developers who have or shortly will receive their LimeSDR. They will be able to create all types of protocols and share them among the community. LTE, LoRa, Bluetooth, ZigBee and many more. Even invent their own protocols. Generation Y, the millennials, are discovering that wireless innovation is fun.
To make sure these new diamonds of wireless innovation are not lost upon us, we need to provide them with a market. That market will be created via the launch of open source production-ready base stations with app stores. We really liked how the last crowdfunding campaign created a community of innovators. That is why we will after Mobile World Congress launch the firsttelecom production-ready hardware crowdfunding campaign, called LimeNet.
Why open source the design for base stations?
As stated before, telecom operators have their costs spiralling out of control. Base stations need to become dramatically cheaper because with future protocols like 5G we will have exponentially more of them. Not only the price of a base station needs to go down, but also the total cost of ownership. Everything from who deploys, maintains and supports base stations, how and where will be put into question.
Why app stores on base stations?
The first reason is to decide what software you want to use. We are open sourcing the hardware but we want to see both open source and commercial software compete. The value is in software defining base stations. Just like on your mobile phone, some apps will be free and others are paid for or have in-app purchases.
If telecom innovators can make money by selling solutions to both telecom operators and their customers then more new revenue generating solutions will be launched. Installing these solutions via apps from an app store, makes it an easy and quick process. In minutes you can go from nothing to a working solution that automatically integrates with other apps and back-end systems.
What about security and manageability?
The number one Cloud operating system in the world is Ubuntu. Canonical has taken the same Ubuntu that is being used by Netflix, Uber, AirBnB, Snapchat and many others and shrunk it down to Ubuntu Core. We introduced lots of changes to make running third-party apps, called Snaps, secure and transactionally upgradeable. This means that if something goes wrong you can roll back to the previous working version. You can implement DevOps for Devices and continuously roll out new updates and functionalities in a controlled way. Any time a security issue arises, it can be easily patched. Snaps are contained, hence bugs or exploits don’t affect the other snaps or the operating system.
What about telecom software?
On MWC we will showcase LTE stacks from companies like Amarisoft and Eurecom/OpenAirInterface, as well as EPC solutions from Quortus. Telecom solutions will no longer need a lengthy RFP process. You just download the Snap from the Brand Store, test it and you are ready for roll-out. Procurement of software should be based on features, quality and fit for purpose. This process should be measured in days at most. Not months or sometimes years. In a world of integrations in minutes, you will be able to change your mind. To allow everybody to be able to run a complete 4G network, Eurecom and Canonical have enabled an open software ecosystem for 4G-ready networking powered by OpenAirInterface and Canonical model-driven NFV solution that can be deployed as network apps on any cloud and easily integrated into the new base station with a snap.
Where can I get the LTE-ready open source apps?
Today, OpenAirInterface develops an ecosystem for open source software/hardware development for the core network (EPC) and access-network (EUTRAN) of 3GPP cellular networks. It offers a 5G Cellular Stack based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware that can be used as legacy packages, Juju Charms, and Ubuntu Core Snaps.
Will telecom operators be the only enterprises buying and running base stations?
The answer will be “definitely NOT”! We will be showcasing solutions from Telet Research and Soracom that allow others to run base stations and telecom infrastructure as well. In a software defined world, we can make deployment of private mobile infrastructure as simple as rolling out WiFi. With the arrival of unlicensed and licensed shared access (LSA) spectrum, small cells can be remotely configured as a managed service, just as you can buy cloud compute and storage. IoT SIM cards and IoT specific value added services, capable of operating on private and existing mobile networks will be available for purchase in quantities as small as one. Hotels and homes that currently have poor or non-existent mobile coverage be able to guarantee perfect coverage, even if their telecom operator doesn’t. Meeting rooms underground should have perfect coverage. Rural communities should be able to deploy their own networks. Industrial consortiums as well. Networks don’t have to be for mobile, they can be for any type of smart device.
Multi Operator Neutral Host (MONeH) solutions offer a highly advantageous business model; they are quicker and less expensive to set up, yet manage to provide coverage for multiple operators in areas where conventional macro network builds simply are not cost effective or are not appropriate (such as in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty). These solutions are not limited to just mobile services – they can also offer Fixed Wireless Broadband and 5G IoT services on the same SDR-based small cells.
IoT-Ready and New Revenue Generating
Soracom will showcase IoT SIMs that can go into low cost NB-IoT or LTE-M type of devices such as the 5-network FiPy from Pycom.
What about using custom protocols for new types of devices. Spur is a great example of how a hotel, bank or any consumer facing business that runs their own base station could install a Spur Snap to also have immediate feedback on service quality.
The traditional innovation killer: OSS integrations
In a telecom world where every service needs to be integrated into billing, call centre support, inventory management, workflow management and lots of other systems, an app store which allows you to launch thousands of new services each year needs a new way of thinking as well.
Supporting devices with lots of different app solutions from many vendors, requires IoT cloud native support platforms. RevTwo will be demoing theirs. The best of cloud, mobile and IoT all into one support platform.
Billing has been traditionally very challenging as well, particularly at the edge of the network. Most billing systems are centralised, expensive and are hard to scale and protect from tampering. IOTA’s next-generation Blockchain solution resolves this and allows for billing systems to be build in a distributed manner in which adding more base stations makes the complete system more scalable, resilient, tamper-proof and above all: free of fees. Each base station will be part of a distributed ledger. Unlike traditional Blockchain, IOTA can do fast transaction handling without fees, endure glitchy connectivity from main net and scale, which they will demo on the booth.
Sometimes things break in a network or have to be upgraded and you will have to dispatch people or take automatic repair actions. To show you how this works the effortless Salesforce IoT Cloud integration and solutions will be demoed.
What will open source base stations look like?
In a software defined world the answer can be: “Totally Different”! SocialVend will be demoing what the new base stations will look like when you combine them with their vendmini™. Experience Social Telecom Vending on MWC in which a vending machine becomes a base station, provides you with SIMs, allows you to top up your balance and via an app store can do a million things more.
Come and see us at MWC2017 in Hall 3 Come and see the future of wireless networks at the Ubuntu booth in Hall P3 – 3K31. Book a meeting with our executive team.
A newly discovered “app-in-the-middle” attack threatens the security of business data stored in Android for Work, which was designed to keep business and personal accounts separate.
The premise behind Android for Work, introduced in version 5.0 Lollipop, was to support the growth in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Users create two separate personas: a business persona with enterprise-level controls, and an open, unmanaged personal profile.
Enterprise apps, emails, and documents could be managed and secured through the business persona so admins wouldn’t be able to monitor their personal apps. IT departments could manage their environments for work activities without restricting personal apps.
The platform relied on Android’s user separation functionality, which allows different users to employ the same device. Work profiles are considered separate users, but they share icon badges and notifications with the personal profile.
It was a seemingly secure framework. Android for Work was created as an additional secure container so apps in the device’s personal profile should not have any access to the activity or content in the business persona.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. At this year’s RSAC, Skycure will demonstrate how a vulnerability in the separation logic of Android for Work can let malicious personal apps to view, steal, and manipulate apps and content that should be secured in the business profile.