• As you might already know, many open source projects are moving away from autotools as a build system and are embracing Meson. GStreamer was one of the first projects to initiate this move as the community pushed for it to happen. Meson has many advantages over autotools, but one I would like to talk about in this post is the notion of subprojects, which Meson introduces. Basically, thanks to this it’s easy to build several projects as if it was one; GStreamer has many components that were formerly independent in the build system, meaning that if you wanted to build the latest version of, say, gst-plugins-bad, you also needed to build GStreamer core and GStreamer base one way or another. Previously, we had some scripts to help with this process, but it was still necessary to clone and build everything separately and handle interdependency between things manually. Today, things are different when using […]

    Read More
  • June 13, 2017 - Ben Lloyd Pearson

    The Business Value of Open Source Software

    This article is part of the comprehensive guide to open source for business. The previous article in this series covered the technical reasons for why OSS is often better than proprietary software. This article will explore how OSS can benefit a business from a non-technical perspective. Open Source Development Reduces Costs One of the major reasons more companies are adopting OSS is because it is a very effective way to reduce development costs. The two primary ways open source reduces development costs is by simplifying software licensing and increasing development speed. Simplifies Licensing Initially, the most obvious place OSS reduces costs is through the complete lack of licensing costs. Proprietary software typically includes initial licensing costs and ongoing maintenance contracts that can be a significant portion of the initial costs; these are often unavoidable. OSS licenses grant free use, modification, and distribution rights to everyone, meaning there is no initial […]

    Read More
  • Wayland: there have been many blog posts, articles, and news items about the new Linux display protocol. There have been developers working to extend the protocol for new and extremely helpful use cases, but new frontiers continue to be explored: putting a multiseat Wayland compositor into a toolkit widget. Due to Wayland’s philosophy of “build your own compositor,” there is no de-facto implementation of a Wayland display server that is analogous to Xorg for X11. Wayland implementations are written using the libwayland server API, and this is flexible enough to be used even in the case of a widget. Overall, the only noteworthy difference between putting a compositor in a widget and a normal nested compositor is that the output size is set to the size of the widget instead of the size of the window. With this in mind, a compositor widget can be manipulated just like any other […]

    Read More
  • The Tizen Developer Conference (TDC) is just around the corner; it will be held May 16 – 17 at the Hilton Union Square Hotel in San Francisco, CA. Our team contributes a ton of code to some of the critical open source software that makes up Tizen, so of course we’ll be spending some time there to network with app developers and device makers who work with Tizen. What’s Happening with Tizen? There has been quite a few exciting developments for Tizen over the last year; for starters Samsung joined forces with Microsoft to bring .NET to Tizen, allowing developers to build applications for Tizen using C# and Visual Studio. Additionally, Tizen has continued to show up on a growing number of consumer devices including the Gear S3, Z2,  Gear 360, AR9500M air conditioner, POWERbot VR7000, multiple smart TV’s, and more. Finally, Tizen RT was released last year, making it […]

    Read More
  • Memory usage is often overlooked as Moore’s law brings us larger amounts of memory year after year; still, it matters significantly for multiple reasons. First, even if the total memory available to an application has been increasing, speed and cache size haven’t. This means that the more memory an application has to walk, the more likely it is to step out of the cache and slow down the application, a problem for performance-critical tasks. There is a difference in latency access of two orders of magnitude to use cache vs. the main memory; for reference, you can use 1ns for a cache hit and 100ns for a memory access. Something else you might not realize is that fetching data from the memory subsystem consumes more energy than not doing so. Stating it like this seems obvious, but it’s true, consuming less memory also means consuming less energy. Some hardware can […]

    Read More
  • Recent development in Enlightenment’s Wayland compositor has focused on implementing cross-desktop protocols and improving stability. One of the recently handled protocol series has been relative and constrained pointers. Relative pointer motion is a method for providing pointer movement deltas directly to applications. This is useful for a number of cases, though the easiest to imagine might be first person shooter games. In this case, the application receives movement deltas, allowing the player to endlessly scroll the screen in one direction without hitting the boundaries of the screen. Under Enlightenment, this is handled in different ways depending on the output backend being used. For backends using libinput, e.g., DRM, it’s possible to get relative motion deltas directly from the events and then emit them for compositor use. Other backends, however, such as nested Wayland compositors, have no access to libinput’s hardware events. In this case, Enlightenment must manually calculate the deltas […]

    Read More
  • After my previous blog post, you should now be using SSH and Tor all the more often, but things are probably slow when you are trying to setup a secure connection with this method. This may well be due to your computer lacking a proper source of entropy to create secure cryptographic keys. You can check the entropy of your system with the following command.

    This will return a number, hopefully it’s above 3,000 because that’s what is likely needed to keep up with your needs. So what do you do if it’s not high enough? This article will cover two tips to improve your computer’s entropy. All examples in this guide are for Linux distributions that use systemd. rngd rngd is a tool designed to feed the system with more entropy from various sources. It is part of the rng-tools package. After installing it, the rngd service needs to […]

    Read More
  • I want to use this short article to point out a big problem in code that uses libdrm. This, or a variant of this, is lurking in a shocking amount of software:

    Stop doing this, it has always been a crash waiting to happen. drmEventContext is part of libdrm’s ABI and there are strict promises that the structure won’t be randomly re-ordered. However, it may grow as the need arises when new versions of libdrm offer functionality which didn’t exist before. libdrm 2.4.78 introduces another page flip handler, adding a new function pointer harmlessly at the end of the structure page_flip_handler2. It also bumps DRM_EVENT_CONTEXT_VERSION from 2 to 3, as that’s the current version of the structure in the header file. As a result, the code above crashes… sometimes. What went wrong? The Proper Way to Use drmEventContext DrmEventContext.version is intended to tell the library what version of the […]

    Read More
  • April 10, 2017 - Ben Lloyd Pearson

    What Does the Samsung OSG Do?

    In case you haven’t heard the news, we’re currently on a quest to hire a new Linux Kernel engineer, so we thought this would be a good time to explain what our team does for Samsung. Samsung relies on open source software for the vast majority of products and services the company produces and as a result, it has become an imperative for the company to have a team dedicated to improving and leveraging open source software. Essentially, the OSG has two primary purposes. The first is to provide open source leadership within Samsung by helping other divisions in the company understand how to participate in and benefit from open source development. The second is to serve as Samsung’s representatives in the wider open source community. The mandate of this team is to focus on enhancing key open source projects and technologies via active contributions to them, and to be […]

    Read More
  • April 7, 2017 - Phil Coval and Sanjeev BA

    How OCF is Creating the Connected Car

    The Connected Car & Fragmentation Traditional car manufacturers have begun including early iterations of touchscreen technology with access to media and apps that can also provide basic HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and A/C) controls for the vehicle. These features can often be accessed through mobile devices with tailor-made apps from each car maker. However, this has led to OEMs building their own ecosystem silos, similar to the trends observed in the smartphone industry. The lack of an open, standardized framework has resulted in a fragmented market, where experiences from one OEM won’t work with another in any streamlined way; consequently, developers aren’t thinking about how to provide a rich user experience that allows cars and drivers to work in unison; this is a huge missed opportunity. Samsung OSG, OCF, and IoTivity The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) is creating a specification and sponsoring the IoTivity open source project to deliver an open and secure connectivity and […]

    Read More