Thursday, May 22, 2014

Canonical's cloud in a box

Mark Shuttleworth's keynote speech at OpenStack Summit in Atlanta covered new Ubuntu OpenStack cloud and Juju DevOps goals, but it also showed a unique piece of new hardware. (Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of Canonical, in case you were wondering...)

The point of Mark's speech was not to push this new hardware package, since Canonical is not really in the hardware business.

In fact, Mark had stated that he was not expecting this kind of a reaction to the dubbed "Orange Box", and that it's purpose was "just a means to an end".

While the audience found Mark's information on OpenStack and JuJu valuable, the attention was stolen by the box system, and as Mark tried to point the attention back towards those points, one attendee stated that Mark should just "Shut up and take my money." -Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet Contributing Editor

Mark did decide to talk them up a bit finally, stating "you can do anything with these Orange Boxes."

The interest stirred up moved Chris Kenyon, Canonical's senior VP for worldwide sales and business development to tell Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols "We've had people come up to the booth wanting to order a hundred of them."

Ok, so that's the back story, now onto the box's juicy details!

Here's a pic thanks to the article I quoted by Steven:

"The Orange Box, an OpenStack cloud in a box, is designed to be luggable; the system is a bit smaller than a roll-along suitcase. At 37.4 pounds for the unit itself and 70 pounds with the accessories in its flight case, it's a bit too heavy to put above your seat. But, noted Canonical product marketing manager Mark Baker, "It's just light enough to be shipped as checked luggage."

Inside the Orange Box, you'll find ten Intel micro-servers powered by Ivy Bridge i5-3427U CPUs. Each mini-server has four cores, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 16GBs of DDR3 RAM, a 128GB SSD root disk, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The first computer also includes a Centrino Advanced-N 6235 Wi-Fi Adapter, and 2TB Western Digital hard drive. These are all connected in a cluster with a D-Link Gigabit switch. Put it all together and you get a 40-core, 160GB RAM, 1.2TB SSD cluster in a box.

The Orange Box, which was designed by Canonical and the UK computer OEM Tranquil PC, sells for £7,575.00, or approximately $12,750." -ZDNet

Now $12,750 dollars sounds like a lot, and if you are a home computer user, it is.
Not that a home computer user would even have a use for this piece of hardware...

If you are running a business and need a cloud, or especially if you need a cloud you can move from site to site, this is an excellent price for what you get.

The interest garnered has moved Canonical to make a website just for the Orange Box.

It's here:

The site adds this last blurb to the Orange Box information:

"The Orange Box is a complete mobile cluster and an easy, low-risk way to deploy OpenStack cloud infrastructure on your premises, for testing or proof of concept. There’s no safer way to create your first cloud than with Canonical engineers by your side. Each Orange Box contains 10 nodes, each with 4 cores, 16GB of RAM, and generous SSD storage. The box is pre-loaded with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, MAAS, and Juju."

The website also has a PDF with more information on the box, so if you want to read into it more, or to show the boss, this is the link:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Want $30 Million? Go to the moon, circle and land on it.

"The Google Lunar XPRIZE, the largest international incentive based prize of all time, aims to do something humanity has never accomplished: the safe landing of a private craft on the surface of the Moon. More than half of the world’s population has never had the opportunity to view a live transmission from the lunar surface.  The Google Lunar XPRIZE aims to create a new “Apollo” moment for this generation and to spur continuous lunar exploration with $30 million in incentive based prizes. In order to win this money, a private company must land safely on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters above, below, or on the Lunar surface, and send back two “Mooncasts” to Earth. Teams may also compete for Bonus Prizes such as exploring lunar artifacts or surviving the lunar night, and can be awarded prize money earlier by completing terrestrial or in-space milestones. All of this must be completed by December 31, 2015. The race is on!" -

To those that follow everything Google, or space news and rocketry, this is probably not news.

What is news is that the contest is truly heating up.

Now there is even an Israeli company named SpaceIL who has decided to ask to have their moon campaign crowd funded by like minded folk. -

Google + travel to moon + crowd funding = geeky enough to make it here on Denny's Home World.

So let's see you guys get to the moon, and then buy me some pizza and a couple beers with the 30 million. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WattOS switches to Debian

The newest version of WattOS, R8, will be built on Debian.

Not a huge issue, considering it was an Ubuntu derivative right up to R7, and Ubuntu is inherently Debian at its core.

The reason quoted is a hopefully more stable environment.

Here is the press release, thanks to PlanetWatt:

"The wattOS team is pleased to announce the release of the new version of wattOS - Release 8 - (also known as R8). After 5 years being an Ubuntu based distro, we have made the change to Debian. Specifically Debian Wheezy as the base, with some backports thrown in (for example a newer Kernel), and in a couple of small places a little Jessie where warranted. But for the most part, its Debian Wheezy as a base to build from."

While I personally have nothing against using Debian, I wholly disagree with the belief that somehow Ubuntu is becoming unstable.

Ubuntu in my opinion is  not the desktop environment, but the rest of the operating system.

Ubuntu server, for instance, is very very stable. More stable in fact (in my opinion) than Debian Wheezy, the version being used in WattOS R8.

I do agree though that Canonical has spent more time bringing their new desktop environment Unity to fruition than working out the kinks.

I personally have seen Ubuntu be more stable and solid as of 14.04.

I use Xubuntu, and it has been a rock of an operating system for me since 14.04's release.

If you are a fan of WattOS, check out the new version and decide for yourself.

I am by no means infallible.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

RawTherapee, as good as Adobe's Lightroom?

I usually don't quote an entire article, but I don't think I can do any better. Softpedia covered RawTherapee very well here.

"RawTherapee is a cross-platform raw image processing program released under the GNU General Public License Version 3. It is written in C++, using a GTK+ frontend and a patched version of dcraw for reading raw files.


96-bit (floating point) processing engine
Advanced color handling
Batch processing
Denoising methods
Parallel editing
Much, much more

RawTherapee is an application that specializes in the development of RAW images and it's probably one the best you will find on the Linux platform. It comes with so many features that it might even put Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom to shame.

Editing RAW images usually requires some very expensive applications. If you are running anything else besides Linux, you will have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to get some decent features. The latest version of Photoshop Lightroom is the perfect proof.

Nobody is disputing the fact that Photoshop Lightroom is a great asset, but Linux users would expect to get the same kind of functionality for free from an open source product. Like many other software categories, you will find a variety of applications competing for the prize of being the best at what they do.

RawTherapee is among the better solutions available for RAW processing, and the software is so complex that it will take a professional to completely enjoy and experiment with the application. I am more of a novice, so I will only talk about some of the features that I use on a regular basis. Keep in mind that RawTherapee is capable of much, much more.


If you check the official website, you will find that it's a little behind what can be found in the repositories. We installed RawTherapee from Ubuntu Software Center and it features a higher version number,

You will need to be root in order to install the application, but it should work without any problems. If you choose to download it from the official website, you must select the appropriate version for your system.


RawTherapee works like any other application of its kind. You import a folder with the RAW files (it works with regular images as well) and you start by editing each of them. You won't have to worry about modifying the originals because the software doesn't touch them, so it's perfectly safe.

If you are like me, you probably just want to make sure that the images look as close to natural as possible. All the major features of the application can be found on the right side, in a series of five tabs: Exposure, Details, Color, Transform, and RAW.

For beginners like myself, the first tab is usually enough. Users can change the exposure of the image, influence the shadows and contrast, and they can even apply a little vignetting if they feel like it.

The Details tab, on the other hand, has options like Sharpening, Edges, Microcontrast, Noise Reduction, Defringe, and Contrast by Details levels. You can see that the more you go into the application, the more you find complex functions that are usually not accessible to beginners.

Users can also perform a number of simple actions, like Crop and Resize, although those functions do support a number of options that can't be found in some professional editing applications.

Other functions that you will discover in RawTherapee are Advanced color handling, denoising methods, Batch processing, a good CIE Color Appearance Model 2002 module, a 96-bit (floating point) processing engine, and much more.

It's also possible to apply one of the many presets that are available if you don't want to do all the work that is usually required. Those presets might be enough for what you are trying to achieve with the images.

The Bad

This is such a complete application that it's hard to find any faults with it. Maybe it's missing some extravagant options that only a handful of users will notice, but it's difficult to determine which ones. I only had one problem with it because I couldn't figure out how to do some basic editing and how to start the process itself. This is mostly because the interface is flooded with buttons and you have to find out by process of elimination what everything does.

The Good

This is one of the most complex applications for RAW editing that I have tested so far, and I have to say that I was impressed with the sheer number of features. It's unlikely that you won't find something that you need, and this is probably that greatest strength of the software." -Softpedia

If you use Adobe photo software such as Photoshop or Lightroom, then you are already very familiar with the raw photo processing power they have.

What you may not know is that Linux is keeping in stride with Adobe's best, with programs like GIMP and RawTherapee.

I don't do much with photos, so for me GIMP and RawTherapee are over kill, but for those of you who work with photos all the time and are forver adding new layers, lighting effects and the like, I suggest giving RawTherapee a try. (And also GIMP.)