IBM CEO Ginni Rometty took to the Mobile World Congress stage and announced a global competition to spur developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by its Watson supercomputer platform.
Watson is the heart of the company’s cognitive computing technology. IBM is pulling out all the stops to make Watson a success. Last month, the company set up a new division, the Watson Business Group, to create and run cloud-based cognitive applications and services for enterprise users.
“By 2016, a quarter of the apps in the world will be in the cloud,” Rometty said. These apps are generating massive amounts of data, she said.
“You can’t program enough to make sense of all the data in the world,” Rometty said, adding that the vast amount of data generated every day is leading to a new era of computing.
“The new era is cognitive, of teach and learn,” Rometty said.
“I want to make an offer to you,” Rometty said. “We’re gonna offer the Watson Mobile Developer Challenge.”
The competition is taking place under the newly formed IBM Watson Group. It aims to encourage development of cognitive computing apps.
Watson cognitive computing comprises services, software and apps that analyze and improve by learning. The idea is to answer complex questions derived from massive amounts of disparate data, Rometty said.
IBM is setting up the Watson Mobile Developer Challenge specifically to seed efforts to develop cognitive apps that can change the way consumers and businesses interact with data on their mobile devices, Rometty said.
Over the next three months, the global challenge will invite mobile developers and entrepreneurs to share their best ideas to build and develop mobile apps into prototypes.
IBM will invite three winners to join the Watson Ecosystem Program, in which the company is assembling content providers and independent software vendors to collaborate on the development and release of “Powered by IBM Watson” applications.
“We’ve already got thousands of applicants,” to be part of the ecosystem, Rometty said.
The winners of the challenge will work with IBM’s recently launched global consulting practice, IBM Interactive Experience, to receive design consulting and support from IBM experts to develop a commercial app, IBM detailed in a statement accompanying Rometty’s talk.
IBM is serious about encouraging the development of applications that run in the cloud. For IBM, more applications mean more data generated, and more of a need for the analytics software and services that it sells.
“We have a big-data analysis business of $16 billion,” Rometty said.
On Monday, IBM announced it will spend $1 billion on its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) strategy, separate from the money it is investing in Watson, to encourage software makers to build cloud apps.
As part of that announcement, made at its Pulse event in Las Vegas, IBM will become a major contributor to the Cloud Foundry, an open source PaaS that is run under the aegis of Pivotal, a spinout from VMware and EMC.
IBM first developed Watson as a research project to compete against humans on the game show “Jeopardy.” Watson can come up with answers to questions using a range of sources in various formats. It was able to hone its answers by learning how to formulate the best responses in an iterative, trial and error process.
Because this approach to problem solving emulates how humans think, it is known as cognitive computing.
After Watson beat human contestants in “Jeopardy” in 2011, IBM has worked to commercialize Watson technologies.
BQ and Meizu, both Chinese phone makers, will produce the phones that will launch “well within” 2014, said Mark Shuttleworth, in a conference call with reporters.
Shuttleworth didn’t disclose any other details of the phones, but he hinted that the BQ phone would have dual-SIM slots and the Meizu phone would match Ubuntu with Android on a dual-boot system.
Samples of both phones will be shows at next week’s Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona.
Ubuntu is best-known for its desktop and server Linux OS, which has a reputation for being easier to use and install than many other Linux operating systems.
Canonical, the company behind the OS, first announced plans for an Ubuntu mobile OS at the beginning of 2013.
In the middle of the year, the company launched a crowd-funding project for a high-end concept phone based on the operating system. While the campaign for the Ubuntu Edge phone received a strong launch — over a million dollars were raised in the first few hours — enthusiasm quickly tailed off and the campaign raised just under $13 million, which was well below the target of $32 million.
As it enters the mobile space, Shuttleworth said Ubuntu is looking to become the number-three platform in the industry.
That would put it ahead of Microsoft’s Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS, which are the current third and fourth-ranked platforms behind Android and Apple’s iOS.
But to date, consumers appear to be quite happy with the market leaders, which account for 94% percent of the entire market. Microsoft and BlackBerry share 5% and other operating systems account for just 1% of smartphone shipments, according to data from Gartner.
Shuttleworth said he believes a key to gaining market share will be convergence — the fusing of desktop and mobile platforms so computing done on one is immediately available through apps on the other. The company is planning to eventually bring together its desktop and mobile operating systems as a common platform.
It will also focus on growing the number of apps available for the Ubuntu phone platform.
Lack of major apps has been a common criticism leveled at both Microsoft and BlackBerry, and Shuttleworth said he wants to have “the top 50 apps from Android and iOS when we launch these devices.”
That’s what Steve Ballmer said as Microsoft CEO when the company launched its Windows Phone 8 platform and it took the company many months to get developers on board. In some cases, Microsoft itself paid for the app development work.
Ubuntu will not offer cross-platform apps as soon as it had hoped.
Canonical had raised hopes that its plan for Ubuntu to span PCs and mobile devices would be realised with the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 release, providing a write-once, run-on-many template similar to that planned by Google for its Chrome OS and Android app convergence.
This is already possible on paper and the infrastructure is in place on smartphone and tablet versions of Ubuntu through its new Unity 8 user interface.
However, Canonical has decided to postpone the rollout of Unity 8 for desktop machines, citing security concerns, and it will now not appear along with the Mir display server this coming autumn.
This will apply only to apps in the Ubuntu store, and in the true spirit of open source, anyone choosing to step outside that ecosystem will be able to test the converged Ubuntu before then.
Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon told Ars Technica, “We don’t plan on shipping apps in the new converged store on the desktop until Unity 8 and Mir lands.
“The reason is that we use app insulation to (a) run apps securely and (b) not require manual reviews (so we can speed up the time to get apps in the store). With our plan to move to Mir, our app insulation doesn’t currently insulate against X apps sniffing events in other X apps. As such, while Ubuntu SDK apps in click packages will run on today’s Unity 7 desktop, we don’t want to make them readily available to users until we ship Mir and have this final security consideration in place.
“Now, if a core-dev or motu wants to manually review an Ubuntu SDK app and ship it in the normal main/universe archives, the security concern is then taken care of with a manual review, but we are not recommending this workflow due to the strain of manual reviews.”
As well as the aforementioned security issues, there are still concerns that cross-platform apps don’t look quite as good on the desktop as native desktop versions and the intervening six months will be used to polish the user experience.
Getting the holistic experience right is essential for Ubuntu in order to attract OEMs to the converged operating system. Attempts to crowdfund its own Ubuntu handset fell short of its ambitious $20m target, despite raising $10.2 million, the single largest crowdfunding total to date.
Red Hat and Hortonworks have expanded their strategic partnership surrounding Hadoop and Big Data.
At a joint press briefing yesterday the partners announced innovations including Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) on Red Hat Storage, Red Hat Enterprise Linux with OpenJDK and Red Hat JBoss Data Virtualisation with HDP.
The companies will offer a joint support service for customers to take advantage of the alliance, with Red Hat customers able to enjoy Hortonworks’ Hadoop specialist knowledge.
Hortonworks VP of corporate strategy Shaun Connolly said, “This enables you to pull data from multiple data sources including NoSQL, enterprise applications, and now Hadoop. It normalises the data model and makes it easier for developers to write apps.”
“People want to consume data in Hadoop using their existing skills and tools when building new analytic apps. This integration speaks to enabling business analysts and application developers in the enterprise today.”
The two firms have been working behind the scenes to combine their product stacks with the goal of allowing users of both systems to inject Hadoop workloads into the combined stack.
Red Hat VP of Storage and Big Data Ranga Rangachari said, “Now we truly have a best-of-breed solution that is truly open as well as giving customers choice.”
Some elements of the partnership are still in beta while others are ready for use now, with further announcements expected in the near future.
The news follows Red Hat’s recent announcement of its latest testing release, Fedora 20, codenamed Heisenbug.
The openSUSE Forums were hijacked today by a Pakistani hacker who goes by handle H4x0r HuSsY. Apparently the hacker exploited the vulnerability in vBulletin 4.2.1 software which SUSE uses to host the forum. The problem is that the hack revealed that the openSUSE Forums were based on proprietary forum software.
The openSUSE team has denied that the users’ passwords were compromised by the hack.
“The credentials for your openSUSE login are not saved in our application databases as we use a single-sign-on system (Access Manager from NetIQ) for all our services. This is a completely separate system and it has not been compromised by this crack,” the team said.
What the cracker reported as compromised passwords where indeed random automatically set strings that are in no way connected to your the passwords.
While it was good that none of the user data was compromised open sourcers are scratching their collective heads and wondering if the attack would have happened if the outfit had been eating its own dogfood and used some nice open source technologies.
The 28-inch model will be able to display images at a 4K — or a 3840 x 2160 pixel — resolution, which is considered the next high-definition standard. The monitor, announced on Sunday, is one of two 4K displays being shown by Lenovo at International CES in Las Vegas this year.
Most high-definition TVs and monitors shipping today are capable of high-definition resolutions of 1920 x 1080 pixels, but the 4K resolution provides four times the depth. 4K TVs were the first to appear, and were soon followed by monitors, which are still priced above $1,000.
Sharp’s 32-inch PNK321 is on sale for $2,995 on B&H Photo and Video, Asus’ PQ321Q 31.5-Inch 4K monitor is priced at $2,940 on Amazon, while Dell’s 24-inch UltraSharp 24 Ultra HD Monitor is priced at $1,299.
Lenovo also wants to quickly bring 4K to its customers as it expands its product lineup, thus the aggressive pricing, said Matt Bereda, marketing director for Lenovo’s Think Business Group.
“It’s an ideal device for someone working with high-end graphics,” Bereda said.
The ThinkVision Pro2840m has DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort and HDMI ports. A stand allows the monitor to be adjusted in multiple orientations. It also supports MHL (mobile high-definition link) for display of content from mobile devices.
The monitor will ship in April this year.
Lenovo also introduced the ThinkVision 28, a 4K monitor that doubles up as an Android all-in-one. Lenovo insisted that the device is first a 4K monitor and can be an Android desktop when needed. The monitor has Nvidia’s Tegra processor and a stock version of Android.
The monitor will be able to run Android apps and games, and also stream 4K content if available. Wireless features allow it to access data from Android smartphones and tablets. The monitor has three HDMI ports, one Displayport and five USB 3.0 ports. The company did not provide a price, but said the monitor will ship in April.
Red Hat has made available a beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL 7) for testers, just weeks after the final release of RHEL 6.5 to customers.
RHEL 7 is aimed at meeting the requirements of future applications as well as delivering scalability and performance to power cloud infrastructure and enterprise data centers.
Available to download now, the RHEL 7 beta introduces a number of enhancements, including better support for Linux Containers, in-place upgrades, XFS as the default file system, improved networking support and improved compatibility with Windows networks.
Inviting customers, partners, and members of the public to download the RHEL 7 beta and provide feedback, Red Hat is promoting the upcoming version as its most ambitious release to date. The code is based on Red Hat’s community developed Fedora 19 distribution of Linux and the upstream Linux 3.10 kernel, the firm said.
“Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 is designed to provide the underpinning for future application architectures while delivering the flexibility, scalability, and performance needed to deploy across bare metal, virtual machines, and cloud infrastructure,” Senior Product Marketing Manager Kimberly Craven wrote on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux blog.
These improvements address a number of key areas, including virtualisation, management and interoperability.
Linux Containers, for example, was partially supported in RHEL 6.5, but this release enables applications to be created and deployed using Linux Container technology, such as the Docker tool. Containers offers operating system level virtualisation, which provides isolation between applications without the overhead of virtualising the entire server.
Red Hat said it is now supporting an in-place upgrade feature for common server deployment types. This will allow customers to migrate existing RHEL 6.5 systems to RHEL 7 without downtime.
RHEL 7 also makes the switch to XFS as its default file system, supporting file configurations up to 500TB, while ext4 file systems are now supported up to 50TB in size and B-tree file system (btrfs) implementations are available for users to test.
Interoperability with Windows has also been improved, with Red Hat now including the ability to bridge Windows and Linux infrastructure by integrating RHEL 7 and Samba 4.1 with Microsoft Active Directory domains. Red Hat Enterprise Linux Identity Management can also be deployed in a parallel trust zone alongside Active Directory, the firm said.
On the networking side, RHEL 7 provides support for 40Gbps Ethernet, along with improved channel bonding, TCP performance improvements and low latency socket poll support.
Other enhancements include support for very large scale storage configurations, including enterprise storage arrays, and uniform management tools for networking, storage, file systems, identities and security using the OpenLMI framework.
Red Hat has commissioned some researchers to blow its trumpet for it, revealing that the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of an IT infrastructure based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux is cheaper than one based on Microsoft Windows Server.
The figures weren’t just minor improvements, with 34 percent TCO savings that meant “superior operational efficiencies and could support more users and that the superior scale and density of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux platforms translated directly into lower overall infrastructure costs”.
While Red Hat wouldn’t have released the report if it wasn’t good news for it, we’re interested to know what firm carried out the research, as having read the white paper we only found reference to “a premier global market intelligence firm”. Why didn’t it want to be named?
The study, which is based on a range of setups in different comparable industries and locales around the world, shows significiant cost savings. The topline figures show a 29 percent savings in infrastructure costs, a 41 percent savings in IT staffing costs, and a staggering 54 percent improvement in productivity.
Although we know that this is a glorified sales brochure, these figures make for interesting reading at a time when budgets are being squeezed everywhere. Red Hat believes that this level of TCO savings will enable IT managers to innovate and move forward, rather than simply “keep the lights on”.
After problems with the last kernel, it seems there is a bit of a debate going on that Linux is coming out too fast and is not being properly tested.
The last release had a couple of significant bugs and had to be redone, something which Linux messiah Linus Torvalds agrees is not good enough. There are mutterings on the Linux blogs that versions are coming out too fast and without proper testing.
Torvalds has ruled out the need for an rc release but thinks that code should be in the standard git tree for at least a week. Part of the problem is that Linux does not have that many people who run git kernels.
“People who do don’t tend to update daily anyway.” But at least this kind of embarrassing: “We found a bug within almost minutes of it hitting mainline. It should not make it into stable,” he wrote.
According to the firm it has now raised more money than the Pebble smartwatch and still has almost a week left to run.
“When we started this campaign three weeks ago, we hoped it would resonate with our community. So, to break the world record for a crowdfunding campaign is absolutely mind-blowing,” said Canonical CEO Jane Silber.
“We felt that innovation had substantially slowed down in the mobile industry, so [we] wanted to address this. We’re still astonished by the generosity of our community and will continue to do all we can to make the Ubuntu Edge a reality.”
Canonical launched the Ubuntu Edge phone crowdfunding campaign three weeks ago and had a good first 24 hours, pulling in around $3m.
Since then it seemed to flag, until at least one enterprise package was sold. Just a week ago it had $8,509,946 invested towards its $32m goal. Now it is about $2m closer.
That still leaves it with around $20m left to raise, which is quite a large amount of money.
According to the Canonical the Ubuntu smartphone project has generated a good buzz, and the story is being tweeted about at least twice a day. A Reddit chat with Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth generated over 3,200 questions this week.
Canonical claimed it needs to raise all the money in order to deliver its concept smartphone and PC handset. The Ubuntu Edge handset is offered to anyone who pledges over $695. Canonical said it will produce a first run of 40,000 devices.
Members of the open-source Fedora Linux Project are plotting a different path for the operating system. The plan is for the distribution to evolve from a general-purpose open-source operating system to a new model with core functionality and then separate specific builds for different use cases.
The move comes from the Flock conference which is also a move away from FUDcon (Fedora Users and Developer) conference that Fedora has had for the past eight years. The feeling is that FUDcon events were typically loaded with talks about things that Fedora was already doing, rather than looking forward at the strategic future of the project.
Fedora developer Matthew Miller made a call to rearchitect the Fedora Linux distribution so that it became more agile. The idea is to make Fedora modular enough to fit into different environments. Miller’s proposal is to have a series of Rings. Ring One provides the base level of core functionality and provides the foundation on which other levels can be built. Ring Two functionality would be driven by Fedora’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that will be enabled to add and build the functionality that is required for their specific use cases.
The idea is that the core of Fedora will be closely vetted. The most recent Fedora 19 release, code-named Schrödinger’s Cat, appeared potentially dead and alive in July. Fedora 20 is currently in development and it is not clear if any of the changes from Flock will be used.
The Xen Project overseen by The Linux Foundation produces an open source hypervisor that is a popular alternative to KVM. The project will release the Xen 4.3 hypervisor today with support for ARM servers, performance improvements and a technology preview of Open Vswitch.
The Xen Project is backed by a number of big firms including AMD, Cisco, Google, Intel and Samsung, and is one of the first hypervisors to support ARMv8 based processors along with the ARMv7 architecture. The Xen Project said it has been working with ARM server vendor Calxeda to validate Xen 4.3 on its ARMv7 and ARMv8 servers.
For the Xen Project, ARM server support, in particular ARMv8 support, will be key as servers using the architecture start to appear later this year and in volume during 2014. Given that Amazon Web Services, arguably the biggest cloud service provider around, is supporting the Xen Project, ARMv8 support in the hypervisor could be painful for VMware as it tries to compete against a free, industry supported alternative.
Lars Kurth, community manager for the Xen Project said, “The ARM server support is an exciting development for the community and we’re excited about the opportunities this will bring to customers.”
Xen 4.3 also includes improvements to power efficiency by using the MWAIT extension for processors such as Intel’s Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell.
Linux Foundation VP and COO Mike Woster talked up the importance of virtualisation to the Linux and open source community. He said, “Virtualization is important to Linux and the open source community and the Xen Project is helping companies realize new levels of scalability and efficiency in areas such as cloud computing.
“With the latest release of Xen Project, organizations can advance their cloud computing strategies to deliver on customer expectations for their enterprise environments.”
The Xen 4.3 hypervisor was released yesterday.
The 8XT will cost $99.99 and the ATIV S Neo will cost $149.99. Both prices apply after rebate and require a two-year service agreement.
Sprint didn’t announce a sales date, but said both devices will be launched this summer. Customers can register on the Sprint website for more information.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introduced both Windows Phone 8 phones for Sprint along with recent Nokia models, calling them “really beautiful phones.” He spoke at the opening of the company’s annual BUILD developers conference in San Francisco.
The ATIV S offers a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor with a 4.8-in. display and a 2,000 mAh removable battery. Data sharing with ATIV Beam uses an internal NFC chip.
It also includes an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9-megapixel front camera.
The 8XT has a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. I also has a 4.3-in. display and an 1,800 mAh battery.
It includes an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 1.6 megapixel front camera.
For the first time in a Windows Phone 8 smartphone, HTC will provide dual front-facing stereo speakers for better sound.
Both phones feature micro SD expansion slots for greater storage. Also, both provide Office Mobile for Windows Phone so that users can access, view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, which can be transmitted in the proper format to a desktop computer or a Windows tablet.
FreeBSD has over the years seen its mainstream popularity dwindle as the Linux kernel and the many distributions that use it have seen rapid development. However FreeBSD turned 20 on 19 June and it continues to run vital network infrastructure services.
FreeBSD introduced a number of innovations that have been adopted by some Linux distributions. In particular FreeBSD’s Ports collection, which builds software from source code rather than pre-packaged binaries, was copied by Gentoo Linux with its portage system.
FreeBSD is also known for having one of the most robust internet networking stacks and is frequently used by researchers and industry as the basis for simulation and production systems. Monowall and Pfsense are popular FreeBSD based distributions intended for use in network appliances that feature everything from firewalls to virtual private networks and even ADSL bonding in an easy to use system.
While FreeBSD isn’t the only free, widely distributed variant of BSD Unix, it is unlike OpenBSD, which tries to be the most secure operating system, and NetBSD, which tries to run on anything with a micro-processor, and has become the standard for general purpose BSD.
However FreeBSD isn’t just about networking and daemons, as in recent years desktop BSD Unix distributions based on FreeBSD have popped up, with PC-BSD being perhaps the most well known.
FreeBSD, due to its performance and licensing, is used by commercial companies such as Citrix, Netapp and Juniper.
In recent years even the Linux community has started to warm to parts of FreeBSD, with Debian offering a version of its distribution that uses the FreeBSD kernel. Despite the running gag of whether BSD is dead or not, given its industry support, it is likely to rumble on for decades to come.
Revenue for the social networking company increased to $1.46 billion for the quarter ended March 31, up 38% from $1.06 billion from the same period last year.
The company’s advertising revenue was $1.25 billion, representing 85% of Facebook’s total sales and a 43% increase from 2012′s first quarter, the company said. Mobile advertising revenue constituted 30% of the company’s total ad revenue.
Facebook posted net income of $219 million for the quarter, up 7% from the year-ago quarter. The company’s net earnings per share were 9 cents, less than the consensus expectations of 13 cents in a poll of analysts by Thomson Financial.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in the first few months of the year,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings announcement, also citing “strong growth and engagement across our community.”
Facebook’s daily active users were 665 million for the quarter, 26% more than last year. Monthly active users increased by 23% to 1.11 billion, the company said.
On mobile, monthly active users increased by 54% to 751 million. Facebook did not disclose numbers for mobile daily active users.
The mobile ad revenue gains Facebook reported Wednesday were on par with the gains it reported in 2012′s fourth quarter, when its mobile ad revenue as a percentage of total ad revenue jumped from 14% in the third quarter to 23% in the fourth quarter.
Monetizing its services on mobile devices as more users migrate away from the desktop and onto their smartphone and tablets is one of Facebook’s biggest challenges today.