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Endless OS, a Distribution Without Internet

Linux may or may not be able to crack the declining consumer PC market, thanks to smartphones and tablets, but a huge market exists that still needs to be tapped. One open source company, Endless Inc., is looking at that market with their Linux-based operating system called Endless OS (https://endlessos.com/home/).

Endless OS is a Debian-based distribution that offers a customized Gnome experience. It's designed for PCs with no or intermittent Internet connectivity. The OS uses Gnome's OSTree tool and offers only Flatpak applications. The experience is similar to Chrome OS, where updates are installed automatically without user intervention.

In an interview, Michael Hall, the community manager of Endless Inc., pointed out that billions of people still don't own a PC. Many countries in emerging economies lack the infrastructure for high-speed broadband Internet. What good is a computer without Internet? That's the problem Endless is trying to solve with their Linux-based distribution called Endless OS.

The main highlight of the distribution is offline applications and content. Endless is available in two versions: the basic version and the full version. The basic version is meant for PCs with standard Internet connectivity, so users can install applications and access content as they want. The full edition comes in different languages, with ISO images that can be as big as 13GB, and comes with offline apps, in which Endless teams have bundled freely available content with the OS through in-house applications.

With thousands of Wikipedia pages, thousands of tutorial articles, and what not, once you get a system with Endless OS, you pretty much have a treasury of information on your system, without the need for Internet. However, you can't expect people in emerging economies with very poor Internet to download 13GB of data. Endless works with major hardware vendors like Asus, HP, and others to sell PCs with Endless OS. Customers can just walk into a store and buy a PC with offline Internet installed.

Endless also works with cellular networks and ISPs to offer inexpensive Internet to these users at non-peak hours, so they can get system updates; otherwise, content is updated as they are connected. Endless offers not just offline articles, they are also working with local news publishers to package news stories. The way it works is, at night, when traffic is low, the OS syncs the news applications and pulls updates, so in the morning, you are greeted with the latest news stories.

Microsoft SQL Server 2017 RC Comes with Full Support for Linux

Microsoft loves Linux, at least in enterprise. The company has been building bridges between the two worlds by bringing Linux-centric technologies to Windows/Azure and Microsoft technologies to Linux.

Last year, Microsoft shook the world by announcing SQL Server for Linux. That was a sea-change in Microsoft's strategy, where they clearly demonstrated that they wanted to create an even playing field for Linux.

This week, Microsoft released the first release candidate of SQL Server 2017 with full support for Linux.

"SQL Server 2017 will bring with it support for the Linux OS and containers running on Windows, Linux, and macOS. Our goal is to enable SQL Server to run in modern IT infrastructure in any public or private cloud," Tony Petrossian, Partner Group Program Manager, Database Systems Group at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.

According to the release notes of SQL Server 2017, SQL Server 2017 support for Linux includes the same high-availability solutions on Linux as Windows Server, including Always On availability groups integrated with Linux native clustering solutions like Pacemaker.

Some of the core features of SQL Server 2017 include the following:

  • SQL Server on Linux Active Directory integration – With RC1, SQL Server on Linux supports Active Directory Authentication, which enables domain-joined clients on either Windows or Linux to authenticate to SQL Server using their domain credentials and the Kerberos protocol. Check out the getting started instructions.
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt data – SQL Server on Linux can use TLS to encrypt data that is transmitted across a network between a client application and an instance of SQL Server. SQL Server on Linux supports the following TLS protocols: TLS 1.2, 1.1, and 1.0.
  • Machine Learning Services enhancements – RC1 adds more model management capabilities for R Services on Windows Server, including External Library Management. The new release also supports Native Scoring.
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) – In addition to the enhancements to SSAS from previous Community Technology Previews of SQL Server 2017, RC1 adds additional Dynamic Management Views, enabling dependency analysis and reporting.
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) on Linux – The preview of SQL Server Integration Services on Linux now adds support for any Unicode ODBC driver, if it follows ODBC specifications. (ANSI ODBC driver is not supported.)
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) on Windows Server – RC1 adds support for SSIS scale-out in highly available environments. Customers can now enable Always On for SSIS, setting up Windows Server failover clustering for the scale-out master.

Microsoft has also announced a new microsite for DevOps using SQL Server that serves as a platform for developers and development managers to learn how to integrate SQL Server in their DevOps tasks.

OCI v1.0 Released

Open Container Initiative (OCI), a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project led by Docker and industry players has announced the OCI v1.0.0 run time and image specifications.

OCI is a cross-industry initiative to standardize technologies around Linux containers. Essentially, OCI seems to achieve the same goals that W3C achieved by standardizing web technologies such as HTML and CSS.

OCI was set up as a top-level project under the Linux Foundation's Collaborative Project in 2015. By 2016, they set up a governance model around OCI, and Docker donated its container run time and image format to the project. Fast forward to 2017, and we have the first version of OCI run time and image specifications.

David Messina, SVP, Marketing and Community at Docker Inc., told us in an interview that OCI v1.0 continues to show Docker's commitment to open standards and empowering the Docker ecosystem and community.

While Docker is working with the community around two core components of the container world – run time and image format – they are also open sourcing all of the core components of Docker itself to enable the community to consume the technologies being developed by the company.

During DockerCon this year, the company also announced two new open source projects, the Moby Project and LinuxKit, to further its commitment to open source.

Docker has also taken Linux containers beyond Linux by working with Microsoft to bring more than 900,000 Docker images to Microsoft Azure and Windows, thanks to the Hyper-V isolation work done by Microsoft. What it means is that now containers are cross-platform technology running on Windows, Linux, and Solaris.

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