Microsoft this week announced at its Connect conference in New York City an expansion of its developer tools with a focus on Linux, Android and open source. The move is an effort to help close the gap between Microsoft’s developer platforms and the open source world. The programs include free access for developers who are getting started, updates to .NET, and the renaming of Visual Studio Online.
Docker this week announced new security enhancements at DockerCon EU in Barcelona, Spain, including hardware signing of container images — an industry first — through a partnership with Yubico. Docker Content Trust offers hardware signing through support for Yubico’s YubiKey. The YubiKey 4 lets Docker users digitally sign code during initial development and through subsequent updates.
Canonical last week announced plans to launch the Internet of Toys, an open source initiative calling on toy makers, hackers, Internet of Things fans and innovators to build the next generation of Web-accessing toys. Participants will build the next generation of toys around open source tools such as Cylon JS, Gobot, Snappy Ubuntu Core, Snapcraft, ROS and Erle-Spider.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation on Tuesday announced the availability of a touchscreen that brings the low-cost tiny computer one step closer to becoming a standalone mobile device. The touchscreen was in development for nearly two years. The first round of screens will require some assembly of parts that arrive in a small kit, noted Gordon Hollingworth, director of software at Raspberry Pi.
Apple this week announced Swift 2 and said it would open-source it later this year. Swift 2 is a programming language for iOS, OS X and watchOS. It has a new error-handling model. Two new features in Objective-C — nullability annotations and generics — make Swift 2 work better with Apple SDKs. Swift is “a modern language where memory management is internalized,” said IDC’s Al Hilwa.
Google on Thursday kicked off its I/O developers conference with the introduction of a new app for better managing, organizing and storing photos, as well as an Android spinoff for the Internet of Things, and an offline feature for Maps. The new Google Photo application allows shutterbugs to back up photos automatically from any device to a personal home site on the Net.
Arduboy, a new pocket-sized 8-bit game device, has ignited a firestorm of interest on Kickstarter. With 27 days to go, the campaign already has drawn contributions of more than eight times its modest $25k goal. The rapid funding response could spark a miniature retro revolution. The handheld Arduboy has the potential to divert gamers from smartphones and tablets.
C.H.I.P., a Linux-based mini-PC priced at just $9, is receiving an overwhelming response on Kickstarter. Launched last Thursday with a funding goal of $50,000, it has chalked up more than 16,000 backers who have shelled out upwards of $815,000. The project still has 25 days to go. The tiny open source device, made by Next Thing Co., has been dubbed the “Raspberry Pi killer.”
Microsoft last week released a preview of the next version of its .Net Core runtime distribution, fulfilling last fall’s pledge to open source .Net and take it cross-platform for Mac and Linux. “Windows 10 is and will be a standard .Net platform, and improving the interoperability of .Net builds bridges from those platforms to Windows 10,” said Black Duck Software’s Bill Weinberg.
It looks and sounds good, but virtual reality is still establishing how to get around in the digital worlds it creates. OSVR has placed the controls in the hands of Leap Motion, which may be a stellar move. Leap’s novel approach embeds the VR controls in a faceplate that can be attached to an OSVR-compatible headset. The faceplate will be bundled with OSVR’s Hacker Dev Kit when it ships in June.
18F, a development unit within the General Services Administration, was established a year ago to tap into the success of the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Services unit by pursuing a similar strategy. The unit is tasked with getting developers from Silicon Valley and the ranks of civic developers all over the country to change how federal technology gets done.
Google has decided not to fix vulnerabilities in WebView for Android 4.3 and older, sparking heated discussions among developers. Those versions of WebView run on the WebKit browser. Fixing them “required changes to significant portions of the code and was no longer practical to do so safely,” explained Adrian Ludwig, lead engineer for Android security.
Docker has moved from an obscure Linux project to one of the most popular open source technologies in cloud computing. Project developers have witnessed millions of Docker Engine downloads. Hundreds of Docker groups have formed in 40 countries. Many more companies are announcing Docker integration. Even Microsoft will ship Windows 10 with Docker preinstalled.
Darkcoin has exited beta and is now ready for mainstream use. Also, the software’s code is now open source. Darkcoin is the first fully open source cryptocurrency with financial privacy built directly into the software, its developers claimed. Open-sourcing financial software is vitally important, they said, because it instills confidence that users’ financial privacy is protected.
An unplanned convergence of Android apps and the Chrome OS may be setting the stage for a wide-open cross-platform architecture that combines Android and Chrome. Freelance programmer Vlad Filippov, aka “Vladikoff,” discovered a way around Google’s limitations on its ARC, or App Runtime for Chrome, which is essentially a Chrome extension application programming interface.
A team of Netflix programmers merged the company’s videos with the virtual reality capability offered by the Oculus Rift headset as a fun project on Netflix Hack Day. The Oculix media app lets users browse a floating 3D Netflix video catalog using head turning movements and hand gestures. Once a selection is made, the user can watch the video in a VR theater setting.
For long-suffering Linux users who have endured the dearth of high-quality action games on their open source desktops, the wait for better game developer support soon may be over. New technology is making Linux more attractive to game makers. Until now, game makers have relied primarily on Windows PCs and gaming consoles powered by proprietary alternatives to the Linux OS.
Google on Wednesday announced a plethora of opportunities for developers at its I/O conference. The upcoming version of Android, currently known as “L,” will have 5,000 new apps. Android L offers a new design language consistent across Android, desktops, tablets and the Web. “It’s all about developing the ecosystem,” said tech analyst Ronald Gruia.
Has Google been spreading FUD to discourage computer makers from using an Android OS retooled to run on legacy computers? The maintainer of the Android-x86 Project has suggested that the Justice Department should investigate whether Google has been interfering with adoption of the open source code his community is developing. The FOSS development world is hardly free of rivalry and power plays.
Google is ramping up its plans to bring the Project Ara modular smartphone to market by scheduling its first developer conference. The company will hold the conference on April 15-16 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. A limited number of developers will be able to attend the conference in person, but anyone can participate online through a live stream and interactive Q&A.