Ask Slashdot: Selecting a Version Control System For an Inexperienced Team 309

An anonymous reader writes: I have been programming in Python for quite a while, but so far I have not used a version control system. For a new project, a lot more people (10-15) are expected to contribute to the code base, many of them have never written a single line of Python but C, LabVIEW or Java instead. This is a company decision that can be seen as a Python vs. LabVIEW comparison — if successful the company is willing to migrate all code to Python. The code will be mostly geared towards data acquisition and data analysis leading to reports. At the moment I have the feeling, that managing that data (=measurements + reports) might be done within the version control system since this would generate an audit trail on the fly. So far I have been trying to select a version control system, based on google I guess it should be git or mercurial. I get the feeling, that they are quite similar for basic things. I expect, that the differences will show up when more sophisticated topics/problems are addressed — so to pick one I would have to learn both — what are your suggestions? Read below for more specifics.

OpenIndiana Hipster 2015.10: Keeping an Open-Source Solaris Going 149

An anonymous reader writes: It's been five years since Oracle killed off OpenSolaris while the community of developers are letting it live on with the new OpenIndiana "Hipster" 15.10 release. OpenIndiana 15.10 improves its Python-based text installer as it looks to drop its GUI installer, switches out the Oracle JDK/JRE for OpenJDK, and updates its vast package set. However, there are still a number of outdated packages on the system like Firefox 24 and X.Org Server 1.14 while the default office suite is a broken OpenOffice build, due to various obstacles in maintaining open-source software support for Solaris while being challenged by limited contributors. Download links are available via the release notes. There's also a page for getting involved if wishing to improve the state of open-source Solaris.

Book Review: Effective Python: 59 Specific Ways To Write Better Python 71

MassDosage writes: If you are familiar with the "Effective" style of books then you probably already know how this book is structured. If not here's a quick primer: the book consists of a number of small sections each of which focus on a specific problem, issue or idea and these are discussed in a "here's the best way to do X" manner. These sections are grouped into related chapters but can be read in pretty much any order and generally don't depend on each other (and when they do this will be called out in the text). The idea is that you can read the book from cover to cover if you want but you can also just dip in and out and read only the sections that are of interest to you. This also means that you can use the book as a reference in future when you inevitably forget the details or want to double check something. Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.

Google May Try To Recruit You For a Job Based On Your Search Queries 182 writes: If Google sees that you're searching for specific programming terms, they may ask you to apply for a job as Max Rossett writes that three months ago while working on a project, he Googled "python lambda function list comprehension." The familiar blue links appeared on the search page, and he started to look for the most relevant one. But then something unusual happened. The search results split and folded back to reveal a box that said "You're speaking our language. Up for a challenge?" Clicking on the link took Rossett to a page called "" that outlined a programming challenge and gave instructions on how to submit his solution. "I had 48 hours to solve it, and the timer was ticking," writes Rossett. "I had the option to code in Python or Java. I set to work and solved the first problem in a couple hours. Each time I submitted a solution, tested my code against five hidden test cases."

After solving another five problems the page gave Rossett the option to submit his contact information and much to his surprise, a recruiter emailed him a couple days later asking for a copy of his resume. Three months after the mysterious invitation appeared, Rossett started at Google. Apparently Google has been using this recruiting tactic for some time.

The Top 10 Programming Languages On GitHub, Over Time 132

An anonymous reader writes with a link to VentureBeat's article on the information that GitHub released this week about the top-ten languages used by GitHub's users, and how they've changed over the site's history. GitHub's chart shows the change in rank for programming languages since GitHub launched in 2008 all the way to what the site's 10 million users are using for coding today. To be clear, this graph doesn't show the definitive top 10 programming languages. Because GitHub has become so popular (even causing Google Code to shut down), however, it still paints a fairly accurate picture of programming trends over recent years. Trend lines aside, here are the top 10 programming languages on GitHub today: 1. JavaScript 2. Java 3. Ruby 4. PHP 5. Python 6. CSS 7. C++ 8. C# 9. C 10. HTML

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 IoT Core For Small, Embedded Devices 123

An anonymous reader writes: One of the more interesting aspects of Microsoft's Windows 10 push is their desire to see it running on hobbyist hardware platforms. Today they released Windows 10 IoT Core for the Raspberry Pi 2 and the MinnowBoard Max. They say, "Windows 10 IoT Core is a new edition for Windows targeted towards small, embedded devices that may or may not have screens. For devices with screens, Windows 10 IoT Core does not have a Windows shell experience; instead you can write a Universal Windows app that is the interface and "personality" for your device." Microsoft has posted a list of release notes for this version, calling out improved support for Python and Node.js, significantly improved GPIO performance, and more electronics support for breakout boards. Under a heading cheekily named 'Developers, Developer, Developers,' they lay out their plan for language support and provide a code sample.

Buzz: a Novel Programming Language For Heterogeneous Robot Swarms 30

New submitter pRobotika writes: Designing the behavior of robot swarms is difficult; the larger the group, the more tricky it is to predict its dynamics and the causes of errors. Buzz is a new open-source programming language specifically for robot swarms. It's designed for ease of use and is inspired by well-known programming languages such as JavaScript, Python and Lua. Buzz also includes a number of constructs specifically designed for swarm-level development. The “swarm” construct allows a developer to split the robots into multiple groups and assign a specific task to each. Swarms can be created, disbanded, and modified dynamically. The “neighbors” construct captures an important concept in swarm systems: locality. In nature, individuals interact directly and only with nearby swarm-mates. Interactions include communication, obstacle avoidance or leader following. The neighbors construct provides functions to mimic these mechanisms.
Open Source

Battle For Wesnoth Seeks New Developers 58

jones_supa writes: Twelve years ago, David White sat down over a weekend and created the small pet project that we know today as the open source strategy game The Battle For Wesnoth. At the time, Dave was the sole programmer, working alongside Francisco Muñoz, who produced the first graphics. As more and more people contributed, the game grew from a tiny personal project into an extensive one, encompassing hundreds of contributors. Today however, the ship is sinking. The project is asking for help to keep things rolling. Especially requested are C++, Python, and gameplay (WML) programmers. Any willing volunteers should have good communication skills and preferably be experienced with working alongside fellow members of a large project. More details can be found at the project website.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Building an Open Source Community For a Proprietary Software Product? 85

An anonymous reader writes: I run a company that develops scientific computing software. Our core product is a traditional proprietary application — we develop the software and deliver the "binaries" to our customers. We're considering changing our deployment to include all of the source code and giving our customers some additional rights to explore and extend it. The codebase is HTML/JavaScript/Python/SQL, so a lot of the code is available in some form already, albeit minified or byte compiled.

Because we are in a scientific domain, most of our customers use Open Source software alongside our product. We also maintain Open Source projects and directly support others. We're strong supporters of Open Source and understand the value of having access to the source code.

We also support a free (as in beer) version of the software with a smaller feature set (production and enterprise elements that individual users don't need are removed). We'd like that version to use the same model as well to give users that don't need the full commercial version the ability to extend the software and submit patches back to us for inclusion in future releases.

Overall, we'd really like to find a model that allows our core product to work more like an Open Source product while maintaining control over the distribution rights. We'd like to foster a community around the product but still generate revenue to fund it. In our space, the "give the product away but pay for support" model has never really worked. The market is too small and, importantly, most customers understand our value proposition and have no problem with our annual license model.

We've looked at traditional dual licensing approaches, but don't think they're really right fit, either. A single license that gives users access to the code but limits the ability to redistribute the code and distribute patches to the "core" is what we'd prefer. My questions for the Slashdot community: Does anyone have direct experience with models like this? Are there existing licenses that we should look at? What companies have succeeded doing this? Who has failed?

Larry Wall On Perl 6, Language Design, and Getting Kids To Code 133

M-Saunders writes: Perl 6 has been a long time in the making, but Larry Wall, the language's chief developer, now says it should arrive in time for Christmas. In this interview with Linux Voice, Wall explains why Perl 6 took so long, and describes how his background in linguistics influenced the design of the language. He also discusses ways to get kids interested in coding, and notes that Python has done a better job so far in this respect.

The 2015 Open Source Summer Reading List 31

ectoman writes: has just published its annual Open Source Summer Reading List. This year's edition contains 15 recommendations for books that celebrate open source values and practices. Topics include Python programming, Grace Hopper, open-minded leadership, and teaching children to code. There are also books on the philosophy of open information, an intro to DIY/Maker activities, and even a book about mastering Emacs. What would you add to this list?

How Much Python Do You Need To Know To Be Useful? 263

Nerval's Lobster writes: Since Python is a general-purpose language, it finds its way into a whole lot of different uses and industries. That means the industry in which you work has a way of determining what you actually need to know in terms of the language, as developer Jeff Cogswell explains in a new Dice piece. For example, if you're hired to write apps that interact with operating systems and monitor devices, you might not need to know how to use the Python modules for scientific and numerical programming. In a similar fashion, if you're hired to write Python code that interacts with a MySQL database, then you won't need to master how it works with CouchDB. The question is, how much do you need to know about Python's basics? Cogswell suggests there are three basic levels to learning Python: Learn the core language itself, such as the syntax and basic types (and the difference between Python 2 and Python 3); learn the commonly used modules, and familiarize yourself with other modules; learn the bigger picture of software development with Python, such as including Python in a build process, using the pip package manager, and so on. But is that enough?
Open Source

Open Source Haxe/OpenFL Platform Will Support Home Game Consoles 20

lars_doucet writes: At last week's World Wide Haxe conference, a coalition of game developers announced that the open source platform Haxe/OpenFL is coming soon to home game consoles. The first three games that will ship using the technology are Yummy Circus, Defender's Quest (HD edition), and the award-winning Papers, Please. Haxe is a programming language that compiles to other programming languages (everything from C++ to Javascript to Python), has been around for about 10 years and is quite powerful. OpenFL is a hardware-accelerated cross-platform reimplementation of the Flash API, built on top of Haxe (but does not have the Flash player's performance and security limitations and has nothing to do with Adobe), and is built on a low-level cross-platform layer called Lime, which can be used separately for those who have no need for a Flash-like API. This could eventually lead to console compatibility for engines that are built on top of Haxe/OpenFL, such as Away3D, Stencyl, HaxeFlixel, and HaxePunk.

Six console targets are planned: Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita, 3DS, and PS3; footage of demos running on the Wii U was presented at the talk and are included in the linked article.

MediaGoblin 0.8.0 "A Gallery of Fine Creatures" Released 32

paroneayea writes: GNU MediaGoblin has released version 0.8.0 dubbed "A Gallery of Fine Creatures". This release includes a number of improvements including an upgrade to GStreamer 1.0, improved video thumbnailing, and preliminary Python 3 support. Additionally, an improved Social API support making use of the Pump API means that existing clients like Pumpa and Dianara are now compatible with MediaGoblin. This coincides with work underway by MediaGoblin developers working with the W3C Social Working Group to build a general federation standard, of which a draft submission to the group is already in progress.

C Code On GitHub Has the Most "Ugly Hacks" 264

itwbennett writes: An analysis of GitHub data shows that C developers are creating the most ugly hacks — or are at least the most willing to admit to it. To answer the question of which programming language produces the most ugly hacks, ITworld's Phil Johnson first used the search feature on GitHub, looking for code files that contained the string 'ugly hack'. In that case, C comes up first by a wide margin, with over 181,000 code files containing that string. The rest of the top ten languages were PHP (79k files), JavaScript (38k), C++ (22k), Python (19k), Text (11k), Makefile (11k), HTML, (10k), Java (7k), and Perl (4k). Even when controlling for the number of repositories, C wins the ugly-hack-athon by a landslide, Johnson found.

Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language? 267

Nerval's Lobster writes: Ask a group of developers to rattle off the world's most popular programming languages, and they'll likely name the usual suspects: JavaScript, Java, Python, Ruby, C++, PHP, and so on. Ask which programming languages pay the best, and they'll probably list the same ones, which makes sense. But what about the little-known languages and skill sets (Dice link) that don't leap immediately to mind but nonetheless support some vital IT infrastructure (and sometimes, as a result, pay absurdly well)? is it worth learning a relatively obscure language or skill set, on the hope that you can score one of a handful of well-paying jobs that require it? The answer is a qualified yes—so long as the language or skill set in question is clearly on the rise. Go, Swift, Rust, Julia and CoffeeScript have all enjoyed rising popularity, for example, which increases the odds that they'll remain relevant for at least the next few years. But a language without momentum behind it probably isn't worth your time, unless you want to learn it simply for the pleasure of learning something new.

USBKill Transforms a Thumb Drive Into an "Anti-Forensic" Device 288

Orome1 writes with a snippet from a report at; a hacker going by Hephaestos has shared with the world a Python script that, when put on an USB thumb drive, turns the device in an effective kill switch for the computer to which it's plugged in. USBkill, as the programmer dubbed it, "waits for a change on your USB ports, then immediately kills your computer." The device would be useful "in case the police comes busting in, or steals your laptop from you when you are at a public library," Hephaestos explained.
Open Source

Getting Started Developing With OpenStreetMap Data 39

Nerval's Lobster writes In 2004, Steve Coast set up OpenStreetMap (OSM) in the U.K. It subsequently spread worldwide, powered by a combination of donations and volunteers willing to do ground surveys with tools such as handheld GPS units, notebooks, and digital cameras. JavaScript libraries and plugins for WordPress, Django and other content-management systems allow users to display their own maps. But how do you actually develop for the platform? is a good place to start, home to the Osmium library (libosmium). Fetch and build Libosmium; on Linux/Unix systems there are a fair number of dependencies that you'll need as well; these are listed within the links. If you prefer JavaScript or Python, there are bindings for those. As an alternative for Java developers, there's Osmosis, which is a command-line application for processing OSM data.

No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC 87

theodp writes: In Why My MOOC is Not Built on Video, GWU's Lorena Barba explains why the Practical Numerical Methods with Python course she and colleagues put together has but one video: "Why didn't we have more video? The short answer is budget and time: making good-quality videos is expensive & making simple yet effective educational videos is time consuming, if not necessarily costly. #NumericalMOOC was created on-the-fly, with little budget. But here's my point: expensive, high-production-value videos are not necessary to achieve a quality learning experience." When the cost of producing an MOOC can exceed $100,000 per course, Barba suggests educators pay heed to Donald Bligh's 1971 observation that "dazzling presentations do not necessarily result in learning." So what would Barba do? "We designed the central learning experience [of #NumericalMOOC] around a set of IPython Notebooks," she explains, "and meaningful yet achievable mini-projects for students. I guarantee learning results to any student that fully engages with these!"
Open Source

How Device Drivers Are Reverse Engineered 27

An anonymous reader writes: Linux Voice magazine has published a long article about how people go about reverse engineering drivers for hardware peripherals. They use Python and a USB radio-controlled car to demonstrate, walking us through the entire process. It's a cool, easy-to-follow insight into what often seems to be a rather opaque process.