open-source software

Yandex suite of free Android tools sidesteps Google

Russian search and software company Yandex is offering a collection of free tools to turn the Android open-source foundation into a usable phone operating system.

The software, called Yandex.Kit, gives a Yandex-flavored experience by linking to the company's own services -- e-mail, maps, contacts, online storage, and app store -- rather than Google's alternatives. It's also got lower-level components like a browser and home screen.

Two phone makers who've signed up for the approach, Huawei and Explay, will show the technology next week at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Yandex announced Wednesday.

There … Read more

CyanogenMod version of Android exceeds 10M installations

CyanogenMod, a version of Android popular among those unhappy with the operating system that came with their phones, has now been installed more than 10 million times.

That's according to the CyanogenMod statistics site, which tracks installations. CyanogenMod got its start as an enthusiast project built from Google's Android Open Source Project -- the public releases of Android's source code, updated each time Google releases a new version of the OS.

Now, though, Cyanogen is a company with venture capital, and it's getting more attention with Oppo N1 phone support and employee hiring.

As of 6:… Read more

Google deepens involvement in open-source patent effort

Expanding its involvement in an open-source legal defense effort, Google has joined the board of the Open Invention Network, an organization that cross-licenses patents to try to reduce the risk of lawsuits against those using Linux and another open-source software projects.

Google previously was an Open Invention Network associate member but now joins Sony, Red Hat, Novell, IBM, Phillips, and NEC with the higher level of involvement.

"Linux now powers nearly all the world's supercomputers, runs the International Space Station, and forms the core of Android. But as open source has proliferated, so have the threats against it, … Read more

Google ejects CyanogenMod installer, citing warranty worries

The CyanogenMod app to more easily install the open-source Android variant only lasted two weeks on Google Play.

CyanogenMod developers removed the installer because Google said it violates Google Play developer terms, but the startup has hopes it'll be restored. Cyanogen explained the installer removal in a blog post Wednesday:

They advised us to voluntarily remove the application, or they would be forced to remove it administratively. We have complied with their wishes while we wait for a more favorable resolution...

After reaching out to the Play team, their feedback was that though application itself is harmless, since it &… Read more

Google building Spark, a Web-based development tool

Google likes Web apps, but one area where native software remains dominant is programming tools. A Google project called Spark that came to light Thursday could change that.

Spark is a Web-based IDE (integrated development environment) that runs in a browser for developers writing Chrome apps, according to Google's Francois Beaufort, who tracks Chrome developments closely. That means, among other things, that Chromebook coders would have a way to be productive without having to move to a Windows, Mac, or Linux box.

"This is still the very beginning," Beaufort said on Google+. "There's not much … Read more

With Snap.svg, Adobe gets animated SVG religion -- again

Eight years after Adobe Systems acquired Macromedia for $3.4 billion, in part for its Flash technology that vanquished the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format, the company has released an open-source project called Snap.svg designed to bring some Flash-like characteristics to the Web.

Flash is slowly being squeezed off the Web -- at least newer parts of it -- by the fact that it doesn't run on mobile devices and that browser developers are starting to banish plug-ins. Adobe has redirected a lot of its staffing accordingly to Web standards that work in browsers without plug-ins, and SVG … Read more

Telefonica's Yotam Ben-Ami fights for Firefox phones (Q&A)

Android and iOS won the mobile operating system wars, right?

Not if you're Yotam Ben-Ami, who as director of open Web services at Spanish carrier Telefonica is responsible for bringing a new competitor to market, Firefox OS. Last week, Mozilla finished Firefox OS 1.1, but even with some shortcomings fixed, the smartphone operating system faces immense challenges competing against Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

But Ben-Ami has some evidence that the open-source, browser-based operating system has a shot at becoming the third operating system for mobile devices. Since its first Firefox OS phones went on sale in July, … Read more

Google pays coders to improve open-source security

Pushed both by corporate desires for better security and less wholesome motives, the market for finding security holes is getting bigger.

In an attempt to improve security for software it and many others use on the Internet, Google said Wednesday it's offering to pay programmers $500 to $3,133.70 for changes that make widely used open-source software less vulnerable to attack.

With the Chrome reward program and the vulnerability reward program, Google already offers two mechanisms to pay people for finding specific weaknesses in its browser and its online services. The new patch rewards program goes a step … Read more

How Facebook stands to gain by sharing its trade secrets

Remember the days when a company would tightly guard its operations lest competitors gain an advantage by divining its trade secrets?

Secrecy is alive and well, of course, but there are striking examples where the opposite practice makes sense. Exhibit A: Facebook's detailed disclosure Monday about how it runs its data centers, powers its Web site, and develops its mobile apps.

A 71-page report (PDF) goes into great detail about the company's approach -- everything from removing the plastic bezels from the fronts of its "vanity-free" servers to rejecting mobile app modifications that increase power consumption … Read more

Linux development by the numbers: Big and getting bigger

Linux is growing -- that we knew. Now we know how fast.

In the last two years, the number of developers who collectively create Linux has increased from 1,131 with version 3.0 in July 2011 to 1,392 with version 3.10, released in June 2013, according to the Linux Foundation's latest annual Linux development report. Also on the rise: the lines of code in the project, the number of changes accepted into each new version, and the frequency at which those changes arrive.

"This rate of change continues to increase, as does the number of … Read more