Categories
Networking Open Source Software

Remove Spikes From RRDtool Graphs

I use RRDtool to make graphs on various things I monitor like server stats, network stats and it does a relatively good job. My one (big) complaint is that when you restart you occasionally see these gigantic spikes that completely mess up the data. I’ve even seen spikes larger than what the system can technically handle.

Nobody mentioned there’s a removespikes.pl script (download) that will remove these outliers from your rrds. I put together a quick shell script to make it quick for when I need to run it again:

!/bin/sh
 
for i in /path/to/graphs/rrd/*;
do
        perl removespikes.pl $i;
done;

If you have a ton of graphs a quick shell script to iterate through the directly may be quicker. If you only have a handful like me, no big deal.

Keep the script around for the next time you have spikes to deal with.

Categories
Mozilla Open Source

Theora Improvements

I mentioned back in January that there was a push to improve open video, something I think is very important for the future of the web. Chris Blizzard pointed to a recent Theora update which includes screenshots of the progress that has been made. It’s very impressive to actually see. Even more impressive is the mention that it’s using the “same encoder parameters, equal bitrates”. This isn’t just turning up the bitrate in an attempt to improve quality.

Since these improvements are in the encoder rather than the format, or the playback library that means existing Theora users, as well as all Firefox 3.5 users will be benefiting from the work already done, as well as work done in the future without needed continued software updates, though I bet even playback will get some improvements over time.

Even better is that open video is free unlike most other formats out there.

Categories
Mozilla Open Source

Chromium’s WebKit Fork Is No More

This is very cool news for both WebKit sand Chromium. Chromium will no longer use a forked version of WebKit. This will mean more contributions directly to WebKit and a more current Chromium.

I wish all browser vendors could agree and sync engines a bit more so that Safari/Chrome would ship the same version of WebKit rather than stagger based on their own release schedule. Same for Mozilla/Flock etc. While very difficult in many respects it would make it much easier on web developers to have less products out there to test against. I think it’s unlikely to happen, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be convenient. Some Web Developer bias speaking here.

[Via: Tony Chang]

Categories
Mozilla Open Source

Open Video

Just the other day I was complaining that Ogg Theora/Vorbis hasn’t really proven itself and achieved market penetration to the point where people will still care about it in several years. My concern with less popular file formats is that data is lost forever if future computing can’t view it. Popularity, while it may not be fair does help encourage it. For example I can still open up old WordPerfect files easier than I can Professional Write files (trip down memory lane anyone?)

I’m thrilled to see a push for open video. Better encoders and decoders along with working with the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia’s use of Theora can be very influential) will hopefully provide a boost for these formats which tends to be a cyclical trend once it gains momentum.

Categories
Apple Networking Open Source

Compiling RRDtool 1.3.x On Mac OS X

I’ve recently been trying to upgrade RRDtool to 1.3.x as I’ve previously been using 1.2.x. New in 1.3 is moving to Cairo graphics, which is pretty cool and provides much better anti-aliased text. MMAP IO should also help since I run it on an old box. It’s a worthwhile upgrade.

Categories
Hardware Mozilla Open Source

Firefox Tablet

TechCrunch popped the idea of creating a Web tablet based on Linux and Firefox. The idea is interesting and something I wanted to pick apart (and reassemble) a bit. It’s a novel idea and I’m very interested in watching it. Success or failure, I think important things will be learned in the industry of open source hardware. Here’s how it’s described:

The machine is as thin as possible, runs low end hardware and has a single button for powering it on and off, headphone jacks, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, and a microphone. It will have Wifi, maybe one USB port, a built in battery, half a Gigabyte of RAM, a 4-Gigabyte solid state hard drive. Data input is primarily through an iPhone-like touch screen keyboard. It runs on linux and Firefox. It would be great to have it be built entirely on open source hardware, but including Skype for VOIP and video calls may be a nice touch, too.

Overall it’s pretty sound though a few things jump out at me.

  • Battery LifeThe screen for something like this looks like it will be a decent size (9-12″), meaning it will need a decent battery. Getting a slim and light enough battery with enough battery life to allow for WiFi browsing (since that’s what the device is dedicated to) could be difficult. Your going to need more than an iPhone battery. I suspect under 4hrs will never go. 6-8 for any real adoption.
  • Resolution – If it doesn’t hit 1024×768 it’s going to have a tough time being popular. That’s pretty much the standard most sites are made for.
  • RAM – 512MB should be enough for a product that’s just a web browser / VoIP terminal, but if it left the ability to add up to 1GB (even if no easy access door) it may do better in terms of getting adoption.
  • PC Card – The major criticism of the MacBook Air was the lack of a PC Card slot for a wireless card. You know that will be a case here. This could be tricky.
  • Durability – Gadgets tend to last 2-4 years. We’ll go with 2 for the sake of this discussion. The front is a giant screen. It’s shaped like a book. Many people will want to carry it ina backpack or other bag containing other items. The iPhone is somewhat unique for using glass rather than plastic. The iPhone is tough as nails. If this screen gets scratched easily, it’s going to become a crappy experience overnight. If glass isn’t an affordable option, perhaps a low cost alternative is to make a cheap and easily replaceable plastic cover. So if it gets scratched up beyond the users threshold they can order another cover and just replace it.
  • Software – I agree with the slim idea, but this runs into the same issues as Apple had with the iPhone. Web Apps don’t always cut it. The ability to hit the OS should be there (at your own risk) with an easy way to restore your device to factory condition (perhaps by connecting to the desktop and running some application). I know I’d like an SSH client (openSSH will be fine). Pidgin perhaps? Skype would be cool too. Easily hackable would be a major plus. Especially considering the nature of the early adopters.
  • Stand – A stand with a built in USB hub and charger would be a very good accessory (keep cost of actual tablet low). It could be designed like a monitor so when you put the tablet in place, you can have a keyboard in front of it… and use it as a terminal with mouse/keyboard. Or just use the touch screen by tilting it back. All while it charges.

The ability to adopt some or all of these ideas needs to take into account price. But these are what I think will likely gauge it’s success or failure, assuming it reaches the market. The benchmark is the iPhone, love it or hate it. Being as user friendly, flexible, and durable is important. Taking advantage of the form factor, and a reasonable price is what will set it apart.

What will we call it? The best name I can think of is the Firefox Tablet, but that will take a round of discussions with Mozilla.

With the modifications to Firefox, that’s not likely. Get ready for IceWeasel Tablet.

Now that I gave my $0.02, I’d be curious to know what others think of the idea.

Categories
Mozilla Open Source Security

Zero Day Vulnerability

This really isn’t very accurate. I don’t know the details of the vulnerability or even if there actually is one, but I question the marketing around the Zero Day Initiatives vulnerability report. The big news seems to be “only 5 hours” after the release.

This isn’t really accurate if you think about it. It would be if Firefox 3 were a tightly controlled product that nobody could see a final version of. Reality is that the entire source code lives in CVS, there are nightly builds, and formal release candidates posted. Could someone have downloaded it after release and found a security issue? Absolutely. Is the timing a little suspicious considering everything was done out in the open? Yes.

It wouldn’t have made any waves if a vulnerability was found in a release candidate. It would have just been patched and a new candidate posted.

The advantage to the open source development process is the transparency through the entire process. The code in the release build isn’t remotely new or surprising. Many people had been running it for days prior to the actual release.

Again, it’s possible it all happened in 5 hours. But I doubt someone discovered a security hole, documented it, then it was verified and confirmed in just 5 hours. Especially considering the open nature of the development process and how easy it is to check things out in advance.

Categories
Mozilla Open Source

Facebook Open Sources Platform

Facebook today released the code behind their application platform. What that entails:

This release includes the API infrastructure, the FQL parser, the FBML parser, and FBJS, as well as implementations of many common methods and tags. We’ve included samples and some dummy data to help you get started fast.

It’s mostly licensed under Common Public Attribution License (CPAL), with the exception of the FBML stuff, which is MPL. It’s actually Mozilla code, and seems to be based on Firefox 2.0.0.4. I wonder if they plan to upgrade to Firefox 3? Some enhancements that would presumably give would be JavaScript 1.8 support and native JSON encode/decode. Or at least the latest Firefox 2 release… but I digress.

Before releasing their API last year, Facebook bought Parakey, founded by Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt of Firefox fame. I don’t know if this code is actually derived from the unreleased Parakey, or even written by them. For all I know it could have been written by Facebook developers well before they were even acquired. Though if I had to place a bet, I’d guess this is code from Parakey. The code all looks pretty well scrubbed of anything that might give away Facebook secrets.

Categories
Around The Web Open Source

Big Buck Bunny

Big Buck Bunny

Big Buck Bunny, the new open movie made using Blender is out. It’s rather good, and impressive when you realize it’s made with open source products, meaning the only barrier to making one yourself (assuming you’ve got a rendering farm, or the patience to let your workstation churn out the pixels) is your skills. You can download it from the website (h.264 available) or watch on YouTube. I’d recommend the download so you can appreciate the HD quality. Some more screenshots can be found on Wikimedia Commons.

The first open movie was Elephants Dream back in 2007. Elephants dream used proprietary audio software. As far as I can tell, Big Buck Bunny didn’t.

Between the two I think I like Elephants Dream more. It was a little darker, but struck me as a little more entertaining. That’s my personal opinion though. It will be interesting to see what the next one is.

Categories
Open Source

MySQL Staying Open

Sun was initially thinking of a commercial fork for MySQL with some enhanced things like encryption and compression backup for commercial users. Obviously this created some outcry. It appears they’ve now reconsidered and those features will be open source. To quote Kaj Arnö:

…expect Sun/MySQL to continue experimenting with the business model, and with what’s offered for the community and what’s offered commercial-only. We won’t always know the right answer from the beginning, but we want MySQL to be the most popular database for both paying and non-paying users.

The willingness to listen to community feedback, and look for a balance means Sun may not prove to be a bad thing for MySQL, of course time is the ultimate test. More than once a product has been written off after an acquisition only blossomed, or has failed when success seemed certain.

Balancing open source in business is no easy matter, both from producing and from consuming. It forces many people into new rolls, developers, visionaries into lawyers, and lawyers into tech savvy computer elitists. There’s no standard model for everyone to follow as every project and every company is unique. Striking a balance in such a dynamic and evolving environment is tough, when there’s no simple formula to help model business plans, it’s even more complicated.

Given open source adoption in the enterprise is on the rise, and corporate backing of open source seems to be following that, I suspect there will be some innovation in this field in the next few years as some of the more clever individuals find new ways to strike that magic balance.