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Article from Issue 189/2016

Updates on technologies, trends, and tools

CoreOS Announces Distributed Storage System

CoreOS has announced a new distributed storage tool called Torus. Torus is a scalable distributed storage system for application containers and cluster orchestration platforms like Kubernetes.

According to CoreOS, many of the available open source storage solutions are not designed for the GIFEE (Google Infrastructure for Everyone Else) approach, which creates massive clusters of inexpensive and small machines. Commercial solutions offer GIFEE functionality, but they can be very expensive and difficult to integrate with other systems.

The goal of the Torus project is to build GIFEE into an open source storage solution. Torus uses the etcd distributed key-value database to store and retrieve file or object metadata. etcd provides a solid, battle-tested base for core distributed systems operations that must execute rapidly and reliably. Torus acts as a building block and enables various types of storage, including distributed block devices or large-object storage.

Torus is written in Go and available on GitHub.

Google Beats Oracle in the Android Lawsuit

A jury unanimously found that Google did not violate Oracle's copyright in its Android Operating system. The jury found that, while Google did use Oracle's Java APIs, they were used under fair use doctrine, which means Google didn't need Oracle's permission. As a result, Oracle is not entitled to any damages. The decision brings another end to the $9 billion lawsuit Oracle filed against Google. Oracle is likely to appeal, but once a jury decides on the facts, an appeals court has limited options for overturning the decision.

The courtroom battle between Google and Oracle has gone on for several years. Google achieved an earlier victory when Judge William Alsup decided the API was not copyrightable, but Oracle went to the Federal Circuit court, which decided that APIs are subject to copyright. The case then went back to a lower court to decide whether Google's use of the APIs was fair.

Although Google has won this particular case, it's not a victory for developers. EFF's Parker Higgins wrote in a blog post, "While developers of interoperable software can take some comfort in the fact that reimplementation may be fair use, a simpler and fairer solution would simply have been to recognize API labels as a system or method of operation not restricted by copyright."

Linux is the Largest Software Development Project in History

Greg Kroah-Hartman, a leading Linux kernel developer, delivered a keynote at CoreOS Fest on May 10-11 in Berlin, Germany. Kroah-Hartman shared some impressive numbers about Linux kernel development. He noted that in 2015, more than 440 companies were involved with the kernel and more than 4,000 people contributed to it. The latest release of Linux (4.5) has more than 21 million lines of code. Every single day, more than 10,800 lines of code are added, 5,300 lines of code are removed, and 1,875 lines of code are modified. The current pace of development boils down to more than eight changes per second.

Kroah-Hartman said, "It's the largest software development project ever, in the history of computing – by the number of people using it, developing it, and now using it, and the number of companies involved. It's a huge number of people." But all of these changes are for a reason: They bring security fixes and introduce new features. Kroah-Hartman urged companies and communities using Linux to keep up with the changes. He praised the updating mechanisms used by projects such as ChromeOS and CoreOS that keep the system up-to-date without user intervention.

Kroah-Hartman said that vendors should provide a system for regular updates and encourage users to take advantage of it. He sent a very strong message to computer vendors saying: "… your machine is insecure unless you're running my kernel, or based on my kernel, or based on another [recent] one. If you're not taking these fixes, then it is insecure."

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