cron.weekly issue #8: BorinGCC, Ruby, Hadoop, Ispy, OpenBSD, TLS and many more

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Mattias Geniar, December 27, 2015

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Welcome to cron.weekly issue #8 for Sunday, December 27th. To everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! May your favourite open source beta project reach a stable release in 2016! 😉

I would have thought Christmas and the years’ end would make for a slow and empty edition, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Lots of new releases but very little new projects and guides. Bloggers are taking some time off, it seems. This also makes this release a bit atypical.


pfSense 2.2.6 released

A new release of the pfSense firewall which fixes several security vulnerabilities. If you’re running a 2.2 release, you’ll want this upgrade.

Darktable 2.0 released

A new major release for Darktable is out! This RAW photo editor compares to Adobe’s Lightroom, but is completely open source.

Ruby 2.3.0 released

The new release features improved debug messages, a new “safe navigation operator” (&.), frozen strings (immutable variables) and much more.

SpaceX: powered by Linux

Linux runs everywhere at SpaceX, from desktops to spacecraft. This article explores why Linux was chosen and offers quite a bit of background story.

Fedora 24 to ship with gcc 6

This may seem like a small change, but the Fedora team wants to recompile all current binaries with gcc 6 for the Fedora 24 release. Most packages will have to rebuild too, because of dependencies on libtool, llvm, gcc, …

Gitlab 8.3 released

This new release of the open source Github/Bitbucket clone features an auto-merge option and, just like Github Pages, the new Gitlab Pages feature that allows you to host a static version of your site (for now: enterprise edition only, I’m sure the community edition will soon follow).

OpenSSL inconsistenties: This is why we can’t have nice things

A well-founded rant on cryptography in general but mostly aiming at OpenSSL’s implementation of different ciphers. TLS ciphers are different for Apache, Nginx, Ruby, … and can cause a world of (debug) pain.

Opinion: how package systems should allow you to pin versions

Another well-written post on what ‘good package management’ would be in terms of version pinning different packages.

Cracking Linux with the backspace key?

This is follow-up of last weeks’ issue on Grub2’s security vulnerability. It offers more background and confirms that while the bug is indeed embarrassing for the Linux community, exploiting it was only possible in very specific circumstances.

Vagrant 1.8 released

This release packs a whole lot of awesome: auto-installing Virtualbox, Linked Clones (less disk space consumption), easier snapshots, powershell support and easier port-management.

Open source is ugly: Improving UI and UX

Let’s face it, most of us hackers can write super useful and convenient tools, but we’re no masters of usability or design. This interview offers good insights as to why that is often the case.

Gephi 0.9 released

Gephi is the leading graph visualization software – known as the “Photoshop for networks” and is open-source and free. This release took more than 3 years to see the light of day.


Google has already created the OpenSSL fork “BoringSSL” and is planning to do the same for the gcc project, naming it boringcc. It’s targeting one of our core tools (gcc) so I’ll be interested to follow its releases.

Tools & Projects

Docker Alpine

A super small Docker image based on Alpine Linux. The image is only 5 MB and has access to a package repository that has more features than most other BusyBox based images.

The Hadoop Ecosystem Table

This impressive overview keeps the track of all the Hadoop related projects, focussing on open source environments. Quite the overview and it looks like a good starting point if you want to explore the Hadoop space.

OpenTSDB – A Distributed, Scalable Monitoring System

The OpenTSBD project allows you to store and serve massive amounts of time series data without losing granularity.

Tiling window manager for OSX

We’ve had tiling window managers for Linux for ages, and since I know many Linux users run Mac’s (either personally or for work), you may find this interesting too. This project brings the tiling window manager to OSX.

Tup: file-based build system

This very minimalist and efficient build system offers support for Linux, Mac and Windows. It seems versatile enough to replace _make _in most cases.

Keybox: web-based central access system

KeyBox is a web-based SSH console that centrally manages administrative access to systems. Web-based administration is combined with management and distribution of user’s public SSH keys. Key management and administration is based on profiles assigned to defined users.


Ispy can monitor the output of terminals and processes. Instead of using screen to share a terminal session, you can use ispy to follow someone else’s actions.

Guides & Tutorials

Secure Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 14.04

While it focusses on Ubuntu, the guide is also applicable to Debian based distributions or other versions of Ubuntu. Since Let’s Encrypt is so easy to use, these guides practically write themselves.

OpenBSD jumpstart

It’s not Linux, but it is open source. This presentation gives a solid introduction to the security-focussed OS with practical pointers on configuring network, config files, routing, …

Reddit post: lifesaving linux tools

It feels odd linking to a Reddit post, but this one is worth it: everyone shares their favourite “lifesaving” linux tool. It’s got some surprising commands like ethtool, disown, cssh, …

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