Tesseract: An OpenSource FPS engine with In-Game Cooperative editing

Here’s another free and open source game engine to the steadily growing library on Linux. Tesseract is an open source First Person Shooter derived from the Cube 2: Sauerbraten engine.

Tesseract is a first-person shooter game focused on instagib deathmatch and capture-the-flag gameplay as well as cooperative in-game map editing. The game engine is derived from the Cube 2: Sauerbraten with specific unique enhancements that makes this game stand apart as a spate game engine altogether. The engine is open-sourced so it has the potential to be enhanced further. The game engine, although derived from the Cube 2, comes with upgraded with quite a few modern rendering techniques. The new rendering features include fully dynamic omnidirectional shadows, global illumination, HDR lighting, deferred shading, morphological/temporal/multisample anti-aliasing, and much more.

From the looks of the demo video, the game looks really pretty, something that would otherwise have definitely been paid. The starting map shown in the demo looks especially well-suited for an intense multiplayer session. In addition, the game’s in game editing capabilities needs special mention. You don’t need to be in a separate module to design your level and then have to load it up and test it. You can modify the level while inside the game, switching seamlessly between editing mode and gaming mode.

To make it even more interesting, you can even design the levels cooperatively, thus creating complex maps with your friends in no time. The character models and the guns are especially nice looking and they can be even further upgraded to be more realistic thanks to the engine being open source. As for the performance, the game seems to be even more efficient than Unity. According to user reports, the optimizations of this engines, makes the game run real smooth than other standard shooters. Anyways, this is just another nice addition to the steady library of Linux games, with the advantage of having a wonderful and innovative editor. The game is available from download from its parent size for Linux. The game weighs in about 237MB too, which is quite small given the things it allows you to do!

Source: Tesseract

Raspberry Pi Foundation issues $10,000 bounty for successful Quake III deployment on Pi

The Raspberry Pi has been around for two years now, and has done a lot to change the perception of ‘computers’ while allowing many others to code, invent, and create automated devices of their own. To commemorate their two year anniversary, The Raspberry Pi Foundation has decided to throw down the gauntlet to any developer who is able to run Quake III on the Pi with an acceptable frame rate.

The invitation comes after Broadcom announced that it had released “the full source OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 driver stack for the Broadcom VideoCore® IV 3D graphics subsystem used in the BCM21553 3G integrated baseband SoC.” As you may well know, this can easily be ported to the  BCM2835 application processor, which aptly runs our beloved Raspberry Pi.

With Broadcom’s announcement in mind, and a general feeling of celebration in the air, the guys at Raspberry Pi foundation decided to really push the limits of what the pocket PC could do, and they threw in the $10,000 reward as added incentive. The rules of the competition are listed here and if you are a developer, it just might be the break you were looking for — provided that you have not had any major breakthroughs in the past. It’s available globally and is definitely worth the shot.

Gaming is no longer comfined to consoles, PC’s and handhelds, but it is quickly moving on to other platforms; weird ones, like pocket PC’s that don’t have screens. With the momentum that Linux gaming has received over the past year or so (specifically steam machines), this is a very good move for the Pi. We’ve seen persons turn their Pi’s into desktops and even tablets before and maybe with this release from Broadcom, we’ll see the Pi turn up in the form of a console. For more details, hit the link after the break and also feel free to let us know of what you’ve created with your Pi.

Raspberry Pi

Telegram, an open-source competitor of WhatsApp

Telegram is a SMS like application, just like WhatsApp but with major advantages for security. Unlike regular emails or chat clients which send their information in plain text, Telegram sets two layers of secure encryption (server-client and client-client).

So what are the advantages of Telegram over WhatsApp which has been bought by Facebook?, Telegram owners wont ‘own’ your information.

Advantages

First of all Telegram is free and open-source, and you can grab the source from here. Well known security protocols are open-source and this gives the possibility for communities of cryptographers, hackers and public audience to test their actual security. Using two layers of secure encryption with 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, RSA 2048 encryption and Diffie–Hellman secure key exchange. It’s impossible to brute force a RSA 2048 encryption key with all the computers available on the universe.

Data in safe hands

A lot can be done with the information on your cellphones; data mining is a real business and there are people willing to pay for massive amount of information (Facebook gained access to contact details of millions of WhatsApp users by purchasing the service). Since Telegram is not owned by a company, users won’t have to worry about someone taking over their data, the way it happened with WhatsApp and Facebook.

Secret Chats

Another privacy respecting feature of Telegram is Secret chats. Telegram chats establish client-to-client connection with self-destroy timer, leaving no trace of the conversation. The project has challenged hackers offering $200,000 US dollars in BTC, for intercepting and deciphering a message. This challenge encourages the communities of hackers and cryptographers to test well known protocols for a reward that in the end that will lead to strengthen Telegram protocols.

Since it’s cloud-based you can use different clients simultaneously on GNU/Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Mac thus you are not locked into one platform.

Why some open source projects die?

Open Source community is really huge and everyday we witness new software being released. Most of the softwares are aimed to solve some set of problems. Surfing over Github or BitBucket one can see most of them. Red Hat, billion dollar revenue says that Open Source is a viable business model & is here to stay.

Ohloh, a web portal and activity tracker which monitors various Open Source projects, has listed 660,919 projects. Big numbers, isn’t it?

But a  closer look at statistics gives a shocking observation. Over 50% of the listed available projects[available PAI] are either inactive or have very low participation.

atul-jha-graph-1

What went wrong with them?

Not too many interested contributors
Open Source project hugely depends on community contribution. If it’s not lucrative & does not address the needs of contributors it is almost  dead.

Not too many users
Even though  if one has built a brilliant software, unless it has users to test/deploy it in production environment and give the feedback, the developer may lose his motivation to pursue further.  One needs to find motivated evangelists to promote the software for traction

Not moved on with time
Cloud computing is the next big thing, if you want to stay in the picture better change your software to fit in the distributed environment.

Oracle attacks Open Source; says community developed code is inferior

Oracle has a love hate relationship with Open Source technologies. While by acquiring Sun Microsystem Oracle became one of the significant Open Source players. However the way company handled core Open Source projects (OpenOffice and MySQL) they failed to earn any respect from the Free Software community. Then Oracle attacked Android with its Java and failed miserably – losing any respect that was left.

At the same time Oracle is known as one of the most ruthless companies which sells their services at extremely high cost. Recently the company was sued by the US government for overcharging (meaning taxpayers overpaid for Oracle products).

Now the company is busy spreading non-sense against Open Source use by government. Oracle has published a paper in which it regurgitates the rhetorical that one can expect from proprietary companies.

Oracle claims that TCO (total cost of ownership) goes up with the use of Open Source technologies, basically to build a case of selling its own over prices products to the government.

Oracle paper says:

At first glance it might seem that DoD organizations can avoid buying commercial software products simply by starting with open source software and developing their own applications. As we will see, total cost of ownership (TCO) for open source software often exceeds that of commercial software. While minimizing capital expenses by acquiring “free” open source software is appealing, the up front cost of any software endeavor represents only a small fraction of the total outlay over the lifecycle of ownership and usage. And while cost effectiveness is important, it must be carefully weighed against mission – effectiveness.

Government sponsored community development approaches to software creation lack the financial incentives of commercial companies to produce low defect, well documented code and are not subject to the same market pressure at the software code level.

 

Community developed code is inferior

Oracle also attacks the community based development model calling it more insecure than company developed products.

Government sponsored community development approaches to software creation lack the financial incentives of commercial companies to produce low defect, well documented code and are not subject to the same market pressure at the software code level. Oracle helps ensure that open source software fits well within the surrounding infrastructure and provides a route to enterprise grade production. However, for the intensive, mission critical capabilities required by most DoD projects, Oracle recommends its flagship commercial software products.

Looks like Oracle needs a reality check on its own Java insecurity; how Adobe Flash is a cracker’s heaven; how Internet Explorer and Windows are uses a ‘tools’ by cracker to hijack computers. All these products are developed privately by extremely rich proprietary companies.

The paper is full of a lot of non-sense against Open Source which you can read here.

RHEL 5.10 arrives with improved stability

RHEL 7 is scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2013, but there are still many users who are running RHEL 5 which will be supported till Q1 2020. Red Hat has just pushed minor updates for RHEL 5.x series.

The version 5.10 offers enhanced features for reliability and security, including an updated version of OpenSCAP – the open source Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) configuration scanner, which meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) SCAP 1.2 standard.

Jim Totton, vice president and general manager, Platform Business Unit, Red Hat said, “The release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.10 continues Red Hat’s commitment to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 platform’s 10-year lifecycle, with new capabilities to provide platform viability for years to come.”

Some of the most notable features of version 5.10 also include:

  • MySQL 5.5, the most recent, stable version of that open source database. MySQL 5.5 includes a number of improvements in terms of speed, scalability, and ease of use. For customers’ convenience, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.10 also includes MySQL 5.1, which is required in order to upgrade to MySQL 5.5.
  • Enhanced Subscription Management Tools, which now provide more insight into how customers can optimize and benefit from their Red Hat subscriptions. With Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.10, customers can better match subscriptions to their unique system needs, better report on and manage subscription usage across a large inventory of systems, and add custom, searchable key value pairs to systems, all without having to go through the Red Hat Customer Portal.
  • Red Hat Access, delivered through the Red Hat Support Tool, provides an integrated, seamless way to get answers with exclusive Red Hat Knowledge, use Red Hat’s automated diagnostic services for problem determination and engage with Red Hat directly from a Linux terminal. Customers can use Red Hat Access to quickly resolve issues and analyze log files, core dumps and error messages, all from within Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.10.

Red Hat is also offering 5.10 customers access to Red Hat Developer Toolset 2.0, which offers users a selection of open source developer tools. Red Hat Developer Toolset 2.0 has a more frequent release cadence and exists on a separate lifecycle from Red Hat Enterprise Linux, enabling developers to take advantage of the latest stable open development tools for application innovation.

How non developers can contribute to OpenStack

I have attended over dozen conferences and gave presentations/talks too on OpenStack. Most of the time I meet bunch of motivated students/professionals and one common question was “I am not a developer tell me how can I contribute to OpenStack?” My simple answer to their question was like any other FOSS project OpenStack too needs a lot of volunteers in many domains apart from developing the software. I would mention the areas in which one can contribute to OpenStack project.

Documentation

Documentation is a key component/part of any FOSS project. With so many components and codes getting added in every new release maintaining a quality doc is big ask. I would suggest this as a best place to start off with if one wants to join the OpenStack community. To understand how over all documentation process/workflow takes place this wiki.

Bug Report

It happens at times when you are trying out deployment & you noticed something which might be a bug. So you can simply report the bug along with explaining your environment setup and if possible attaching log file, screen shot. This will help the developers in reproducing and triaging the reported bugs. Also before filing the bug make sure to check if it has already been reported or not. One can file bugs related to the various OpenStack components.

Ask

We also have https://ask.openstack.org where people come and ask their questions, its one of the place where you can share your knowlege and the community. Also don’t forget to check the FAQ before you starting to answer the questions.

IRC

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat, most FOSS projects has their own channels similarly OpenStack projects got some channels like : #openstack, #openstack-101, #openstack-dev, #openstack-doc on freenode server. In case you are not sure/aware how IRC works and which channel to be in this link will be helpful.

Evangelist

Success of free software depends on its adoption. Its always good to have lots and lots of people involved in spreading words about the software.

One can do it via many ways:

a) Social Media: Spreading information about the development , upcoming announcement, feature release on Twitter, facebook or your own personal blog. One can even create screen cast, podcasts & spread it among the peers. One can follow official OpenStack twitter handle.

b) Conferences & Meetups: Speaking about OpenStack at local meetup or opens source user groups or Conferences. One can even form a small team in his/her college/workplace & educate others about OpenStack, hosting a demo day would be a good idea as well. If you want to organize meetup in your town/city/county join this group. if a group already exists be part of it, help it.

Translations

OpenStack project has users from over 85 countries & English might not be the prime language of teaching. So if one wants he can be part of translation team & help us in putting OpenStack resources in his/hers local/prime language. The link will be helpful.

I have tried my best to add most of the ways of contribution but chances are i might have missed few, if that is the case kindly comment in the blog & i will try to add & modify the content.

Open Source Camera On Its Way

We have open source software, so why not open source hardware? Well… it’s not that simple. It’s actually much more difficult than making open sourced software.

Why?

Because when we talk about software, we don’t talk about something made of physical objects, we talk about basically ideas and concepts, that never get out of the digital realm (or don’t usually get out). Making hardware is not easy — there are so many external factors over which you have no control – and usually it requires decent financial investment. So it’s a really big thing when someone actually makes open source hardware.

I bet on the fact that all of us heard at least of one open source piece of hardware. I’ll give you a hint: Arduino. It’s that hardware controller board with sensors and various I/O ports usually used by students/teachers and by anyone who wants a nice platform to apply their creative ideas/projects on. And what makes this open source example better than a “closed source” piece of hardware? I can give you three main reasons:

  • It’s cheap! For example, even a preassembled Arduino module usually costs under $50.
  • It usually has a programming enviroment evolved from mistakes/bugs. Open source means open to public. That translates into people actively reporting bugs and helping to improve the actual hardware and adding features.
  • It’s cross-platform! When the hardware is open source, the software is usually also open source. So it’s also working on multiple platforms(Linux/Windows/Mac).

So, now that we know what’s all about open source hardware, let’s get back to our story.

In the last six years, Apertus has been working on a open source “digital cinematography video camera”. If you paid attention at what I previously said, you will know that hardware with open source don’t usually make a great team together, and this statement is actually backed by the Apertus development team itself:

For 6 years Apertus has been a community-only driven project. People contributed because of personal interest and so the project evolved into several directions over time. But in the end it was anarchy, nobody had any responsibilities and while we had goals we had no means to guarantee we would really end up there. Parts of the project were stagnating because we could not find the people with the required skills.

But yay, the day when everything comes together has finally come! Apertus  has announced that they are starting to put all the bits and pieces created in those six years into a manufacturable product! And this product will be the Axiom: a 4K camera that’s able to take virtually any lens mount.

But wait. How will they get the money for funding this brave project so it can finally hit the shelves? The first answer that would come in the mind should be croud-funding (Kickstarter). But there is a problem that is thoroughly explained on their website. So if not croud-funding, and not an investor at the moment for the project, what’s the next step for Axiom?

The truth is we do not know where to go. Maybe we will figure out a way to use Kickstarter, maybe they will change their policy again, maybe they will finally respond to our support emails with a real answer rather than an automated reply with the link to the Kickstarter FAQ. Maybe we will use Indiegogo. The only certain thing is that our campaign will use the all-or-nothing system and that we wont stop just because life isn’t always easy. :-)

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Linux & Open Source Dominate North Korea?

You may or may not have heard of Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was visiting the secretive country North Korea. His daughter posted a blog about N-Korea which became quite popular.

Schmidt posted on his Google+ page that it “was a private visit to North Korea to talk about the free and open Internet.” Google is a champion of a free and open web so this is a great move by Google. Well, there will be a business angle as well.

As Linux site what got our attention was the mention of Linux in his post. Schmidt clearly stated:

They also demonstrated their software and technology based on open source (mostly Linux) and it was obvious to us that access to the Internet and all of this was possible for the government, the military, and universities, but not for the general public.

You can read his entire post here.

Open Source Technologies That Changed The World In 2012

The year 2012 has been extremely successful for the GNU/Linux and Open Source technologies. These technologies dominated almost every aspect of the IT world. Here are some of the top movers & shakers which changed the IT landscape in 2012 and hold great promises for the future.

Android

Android has finally brought Linux to mainstream and made it a dominant force in the consumer space.  Google shook the market with the launch of extremely cheap yet elegant Nexus 7 which has become a rage. The company did not stop there and showed that smartphones and tablet should be as expensive as they are at the moment. The company released Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 which are comparatively cheap and are already sold out.

Android eventually did what Canonical has been trying with Ubuntu since 2004 – make Linux a dominant force in the consumer space.

Android also managed to win major legal fights that Apple and Oracle waged against it. Oracle saw one of the most embarrassing defeats in a high profile case where as Apple, after initial success started to lose its battle around the globe. The UK court forced the company to apologize publicly for accusing Samsung of copying its designs.

Red Hat

The leading force in the open source world, which contributes heavily to the development of the Linux kernel and some of the core technologies used in the Linux world became the first pure open source company to cross the $1 billion revenue mark in this year. Red Hat has proved that a company can become hugely profitable with pure open source technologies. The company also made some significant acquisitions throughout the year to strengthen it’s position on the cloud space. It acquired and then open source OpenShift, further sending the message that open source is the only way to go in future.

Raspberry Pi

This UK-based project has become a phenomenon globally. The $35 credit-card sized computer running Debian, Fedora, Arch etch…is being used not only by individuals but also by businesses. The device expected to hit one million shipment by this Christmas. This tiny device has revolutionized the computing world, making is one of the most important innovations of 2012.

LibreOffice

The Document Foundation brought almost dead OpenOffice back to life with LibreOffice. The body gained legal status in Feb 2012 as a German Stiftung. This kind of structure is recognized worldwide as a legally stable, safe and long term entity, providing the ideal cornerstone for the long term growth of the community and its software. There has been a huge adoption of LibreOffice globally. According to a TDF report, The number of unique IPs who have downloaded LibreOffice has grown from just over 200,000 per week in January to well over 600,000 in December, for a total of 15 million unique IPs in 2012. Linux users, with very few exceptions, do not download LibreOffice as they can get the software from the repository of their distribution of choice. The year 2013 may see a mobile port of LibreOffice along with a much anticipated brand new UI for desktops.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint has been rising in popularity as it tweaked and made Gnome 3 Shell more usable for user. In 2012 LM replaced Ubuntu from the #1 spot on DistroWatch and has now maintained a very huge gab with Ubuntu sliding to #3 after Mageia (fork of once extremely popular Mandriva). Linux Mint’s approach has been simply, and is also the reson of it’s success. Instead of innovating for the sake of innovation and making it harder for users to learn new tricks to do the same old tasks, it put users in the center and changed/tweaked technologies to offer users with the same interface on top of the latest and greatest technologies.

OwnCloud

Cloud remained the buzz word for the year (though it was also as confusion as it could be). MegaUpload disasteer and the way Microsoft blocked SkyDrive users raised serious concern around data syncing cloud services. It is becoming increasing important that just the way GNU/Linux and Open Source gives user complete control over a user must also have control over his cloud computing. No 3rd party, whether a company like Microsoft or repressive government, should gain warrant-less access to user’s personal data. This is where ownCloud emerges as the ‘GNU/Linux’ of the cloud world. Anyone can download ownCloud, buy a domain not controlled by the US and set up a server outside the US to run her ownCloud instance. This will keep your private data away from the hands of governments and companies like Microsoft. The team has establish a company which now sells enterprise solutions so there a sustainable business model behind ownCloud. ownCloud holds great potential for the year 2013.

OUYA

One field which was not taking advantage of Open Source and GNU/Linux was the gaming consoles. With the success of Android presence and unexpected areas gave some hope for Linux’s arrival to gaming consoles. Julie Uhrman created OUVY in 2012 which became one of the most successful Kickstarter projects ever. OUYA managed to shipt first stock for developers in 2012, making 2013 a promising year for this Android-based open source gaming console.

Novacut

After gaming film-editing is another weak spots for GNU/Linux as there are no professional grade film-editing. LightWorks was promised for Linux and was made available to limited users, we may see any release only in 2013. However, there is a promising Kickstarter project, just like OUYA, which may bring professional grade, open source film-editing to GNU/Linux. The project is its initial stage and is not yet a replacement of Adobe Premier, FCP or Sony Vegas Pro it is under heavy development and may see feature rich releases in 2013.

Vivaldi

KDE’s project lead Aaron Seigo dared to bring the first tablet to run a pure GNU/Linux based distribution. KDE’s Active Plasma is optimized for tablets which gives it quite a lot of advantage over other competitors which are not yet ready to take advantage of the touch based-devices. Unfortunately, the devices have not been shipped yet due to manufacturing issues. It took Apple almost 3 decadses to marter the supply chain so we do hope that 2013 will see the release of Vivaldi.

Steam for Linux

Though it’s not an Open Source project, the arrival of Steam for Linux patches yet another huge hole in the GNU/Linux — lack of professional games for the platform. Steam’s arrival to GNU/Linux also encourages Nvidia (which was fingered by Linus Torvalds) also announced enhanced drivers for Linux. Steam may increase the adoption of Linux and encourage other game developers to port their game to GNU/Linux.

JollaMobile

Microsoft succeeded in turning market leading Nokia into it’s Pizza (hardware) delivery guy and dismantle the core open source projects started by Nokia — trying to damage the open source world. However, Qt was taken over by Digia which has just released Qt5 at the same time MeeGo team left Nokia and started Jolla to being MeeGo to the market. The company has already succeeded in cracking deals with Chinese and Finnish players to bring the Jolla powered devices to the market, so the year 2013 is going to be exciting for Jolla.

Firefox OS

Google once again returned as the leading sponsor of Mozilla Firefox, through the search engine deal, the organization also managed to crack a deal with Microsoft which was responsible to butchering Netscape, which returned at Mozilla. Mozilla’s Thunderbird reportedly uses Bing as the search engine. However, the biggest story was the launch of Firefox OS, earlier known as Boot to Geeko, an Open Source operating system for mobile device. The organization demonstrated the OS at the Mobile World Congress this year and also announce market place to sell apps for Firefox OS as well as announced deals with hardware players to bring Firefox phones to the market. On a negative side, the organization also announced that it was putting Thunderbird on innovation freeze.

Canonical/Ubuntu

The year has not been very exciting for Canonical/Ubuntu. Despite big promises around Ubuntu for Android and Ubuntu TV, there were no products announced till the end of the year. Even companies like Jolla managed to crack hardware deals with leading players and expect hardware to be available in the market, there are no concrete reports around Ubuntu TV or Ubuntu for Android.

Canonical got bad press when it pulled out of Kubuntu funding. The Kubuntu developer Jonatha Riddell quit Canonical and joined BlueSystems which is now sponsoring Kubuntu.

While Unity continue to receive criticism for lack of personalization and customization, it attracted ‘serious’ criticism from bodies like EFF and FSF over Amazon shopping lens which are enabled by default and send local search queries to Ubuntu servers.

Another controversy was with Indie Game which accused Canonical of selling their game on Ubuntu Software Center without permission and not paying the developers anything from the sales for almost an year.

Canonical has never been shy in trying out new things and admitting its failure if they don’t work out. Canonical has also been extremely flexible and open in making big changes. So, it is expected that 13.04 may bring the much needed changes to its shopping lens as demanded by FSF and EFF. This year may also see the release of Ubuntu TV, Ubuntu for Android and some Canonical hardware running Ubuntu tablets and smartphones.

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