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The New Stack covers the services and infrastructures that developers build.
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Sid Sijbrandij The New Stack

Why we’re sticking with Ruby on Rails at GitLab

Sid and the GitLab team continue to enjoy their Rails-based “modular monolith”

A modular monolith is the exact opposite of a distributed ball of mud: a well-structured, well-architected, highly modular program that runs as a single process and is as boring as possible.

Sid doesn’t pull any punches. No regrets!

Wouldn’t it be better to have a proper plugin interface? Or better yet, a services interface modeled on microservices? In a word: no. Not only do these approaches impose deployment and integration hurdles that go far beyond “I made a small change to the source code,” they often enforce architectural constraints too rigidly. Anticipating all the future extension points is a fool’s errand, one that we luckily did not embark on and do not have to.

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Literate programming might help you write better code

Solid piece on literate programming by Richard Gall for The New Stack. My foremost exposure to the practice came from Jeremy Ashkenas’ CoffeeScript and Backbone.js docs. I always found it cool and useful to read, but couldn’t imagine myself writing code/docs that way. Which brings us to this bit at the end of the article:

“One of the things we learned is that it’s very expensive,” he said. “And so you spend time trying to figure out what sort of situations justify the expense. And one of them is where people are building relatively small, sophisticated kernels that are going to be shared widely.”

Seems like Jeremy’s use case drilled it. If you’re mostly writing application code, literate programming probably isn’t worth the headache, but for library/framework authors…

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Margaret Hamilton recalls her life as a programming pioneer

The New Stack overviews a recently published 2017 (3-hours long) interview with the living legend, who rarely speaks publicly about herself:

Hamilton remembered being the only woman in her college physics class — “And at the time, I think the professor thought women should not be taking physics because he … well, you have to know the times.”

She added, “That was the only time somebody in college questioned that that might not be something I would be able to make use of.”

But Hamilton remained undeterred: “I just said, ‘Because I want to take it,’ you know.”

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The case for Rust as the future of JavaScript infrastructure

Lee Robinson from Vercel/Next.js:

Rust is now replacing parts of the JavaScript web ecosystem like minification (Terser), transpilation (Babel), formatting (Prettier), bundling (webpack), linting (ESLint) and more. Let’s take a deep dive into why this trend is gaining popularity and wider adoption.

We just discussed this topic (and some apprehension about it) on JS Party last week. Definitely a trned worth brushing up on, if you haven’t already.

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Will Grafana become easier to use in 2022?

B. Cameron Gain on The New Stack:

Despite an ample amount of documentation and demos made available by Grafana Labs and community members, Grafana can be a challenge to set up (although those that do get its dashboards working generally sing its praises). Many manual configurations and steps are required when installing the different dashboard options. Once installed, many users can be overwhelmed with the number of logs and other data to process for monitoring and observability.

Grafana sure does produce pretty (useful) dashboards 👇, but I do find it overwhelming at times.

Will Grafana become easier to use in 2022?

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PHP has survived for 26 years because it keeps evolving

Richard MacManus answers a couple of his own questions after the announcement of the newly formed PHP Foundation:

Why is PHP still such a critical part of the web, when other programming languages and frameworks are seemingly more suited to the modern web? Second, what are the motivations behind the companies that have formed this new foundation?

Did you know almost half of the top 10,000 websites on the internet use PHP?! That’s quite the footprint. I’m happy to hear PHP is still alive, kickin’, and continuing to evolve. The more tools we have to build awesome websites with, the better.

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Wait, do we need to hold up on GitOps?

Eric Gregory asks (and answers) himself a question on The New Stack:

For years now, blogs, webinars and white papers have opined that GitOps is the Next Big Thing, yet here a respected voice in the field is saying to tread carefully. So what gives? Do we need to pump the brakes? Is GitOps just a lot of unwarranted hype? Or is there a missing piece of the puzzle here? As in so many things, the answer is: It’s complicated. GitOps can be transformative for some teams, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

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How to find a mentor and get started in open source

The New Stack’s Jennifer Riggins covering Kubecon+CloudNativeCon 2021:

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation has more than 138,000 contributors making over 7 million contributions to more than 100 open source projects. It’s reasonable that getting started in open source would feel overwhelming — to say the least. So how do you get started as a contributor to cloud native projects? How do you find a mentor or guide to help you along?

She draws many solid takeaways from a panel that discussed this exact topic at the event. This quote from Grafana’s Uchechukwu Obasi is spectacular:

“I think open source really changed my life,” Obasi said. “I’m African, I live in Africa, but having the opportunity to work on software that impacts millions of lives, it’s an opportunity that I never take for granted. If open source can change my life, it can change yours too.”

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Remembering Dan Kaminsky

David Cassel, on The New Stack:

Widely-respected security expert Dan Kaminsky passed away on April 23 from diabetic ketoacidosis at the age of 42. His considerable legacy went beyond expertise with a rare and memorable kindness.

I met Dan very briefly at ShmooCon back in 2004. His kindness was memorable, for sure, but the thing I remember most was just how larger-than-life he was to me at the time. The guy contributed so much to the infosec community and yet remained humble and kind despite it all. It was striking.

By the age of 22, he was giving talks at Black Hat himself, as well as at other tech conferences around the world. Kaminsky told the site he was thrilled to be interacting “with the smartest people I’d ever met in my life.”

Oddly enough, that’s how I felt when I interacted with Dan. It’s a tragedy that he died so young.

Remembering Dan Kaminsky

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How I built an on-premises AI training testbed with Kubernetes and Kubeflow

This is part 4 in a cool series on The New Stack exploring the Kubeflow machine learning platform.

I recently built a four-node bare metal Kubernetes cluster comprising CPU and GPU hosts for all my AI experiments. Though it makes economic sense to leverage the public cloud for provisioning the infrastructure, I invested a fortune in the AI testbed that’s within my line of sight.

The author shares many insights into the choices he made while building this dream setup.

How I built an on-premises AI training testbed with Kubernetes and Kubeflow

Lawrence Hecht The New Stack

ClickHouse has rapidly rivaled other open source databases in active contributors

Lawrence Hecht:

ClickHouse has come out of seemingly nowhere to rival Elasticsearch as the database-related open source software project with the most active contributors…

ClickHouse is column-oriented and allows for analytics reports to be generated using SQL queries in real-time. ClickHouse’s rise in popularity began in 2016, which happens to be when Apache Spark’s peak.

I first heard of ClickHouse last year when I learned that our friends at Plausible use it for their analytics backend (teamed with Postgres for relational data).

ClickHouse has rapidly rivaled other open source databases in active contributors

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Microsoft Excel is now Turing-complete

Microsoft’s researchers believe they’ve now finally transformed Excel into a full-fledged programming language, thanks to the introduction of a new feature called LAMBDA. “With LAMBDA, Excel has become Turing-complete. You can now, in principle, write any computation in the Excel formula language,” a Microsoft blog proclaimed.

Two questions:

  1. What’s the most influential consumer application history and why is it Excel?
  2. Can we please stop naming things Lambda?

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An open source leader is gone, a remembrance of Dan Kohn

Thanks to Alex Williams over at The New Stack for doing a great write up remembering Dan Kohn and the tremendous mark he has left on open source and Cloud Native. Of course Dan had help along the way, but by-and-large the CNCF and “cloud native” as we know it are the direct result of Dan’s vision and leadership.

Thank you Dan. You will be missed.

We knew little in 2016 about what Dan was up to but we soon got a hint. The CNCF was already established but what it represented was still a bit unclear. If anything, Dan was a businessman and a computer scientist. He knew the economic importance of at-scale computing and the technical complexity that made it so fascinating.

The technical community was ready for someone like Dan — they needed help. Open source cloud native projects were growing but the resources were essential to keep progress moving. He was there to make sure the work got done that technologists should not have to do: Building awareness, supporting the publicity of new projects and perhaps most of all, smoothly running the conferences.

We’ve had Dan on The Changelog a few times. Go back and listen to episode #276 and episode #314 to hear from Dan himself about the journey of the CNCF and Cloud Native.

An open source leader is gone, a remembrance of Dan Kohn

Joab Jackson The New Stack

Microsoft gradually switching to Rust to build its infrastructure software

No matter how much investment software companies may put into tooling and training their developers, “C++, at its core, is not a safe language,” said Ryan Levick, Microsoft cloud developer advocate, during the AllThingsOpen virtual conference last month, explaining, in a virtual talk, why Microsoft is gradually switching to Rust to build its infrastructure software, away from C/C++. And it is encouraging other software industry giants to consider the same.

This sounds SO familiar, as heard from Josh Aas recently on The Changelog (listen here).

We certainly should not be writing any new code in C and C++. The opportunity for vulnerabilities – I mean, it absolutely will have vulnerabilities, and we need to get that type of code away from our networks to start with, and then probably away from most other things, too… So I would hope that in 10-20 years we think it’s crazy to be deploying major (or maybe even minor) pieces of software that are written in languages that are not memory-safe.

So we’re trying to remove code written in C and C++ from our infrastructure at Let’s Encrypt. I think that’s just a basic part of diligence applied to secure infrastructure. If your stack is some giant pile of C++ or C at the network edge, followed by OpenSSL written in C, followed by a Linux kernel written in C, glibc - your whole pathway has got all this code that you just know is full of security holes. It absolutely is. You just can’t claim that those are even close to secure systems. They’re absolutely not. We’re gonna look back on this and say “That was crazy. We have better options today.”

Lawrence Hecht The New Stack

Few testers have programming skills

Some interesting analysis by Lawrence Hecht for The New Stack:

The 2020 version of JetBrains’ State of the Developer Ecosystem does quantify the extent to which this specialty has disappeared. One finding is that 43% of teams or projects have less than one tester or QA engineer per 10 developers. This is not necessarily a problem if most testing is automated, but that is only true among 38% of those surveyed.

38% is far too low a percentage of folks doing automated testing.

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How git changed the way we code

The New Stack takes us on a fun trip down memory lane:

Fifteen years ago a number of the Linux kernel developers tossed their hands in the air and gave up on their version control system, BitKeeper. Why? The man who held the copyright for BitKeeper, Larry McVoy, withdrew free use of his product on claims that one of the kernel devs had reverse engineered one of the BitKeeper protocols.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds sought out a replacement to house the Linux kernel code. After careful consideration, Torvalds realized none of the available options were efficient enough to meet his needs:

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Why I moved my personal projects to GitLab

To answer the question in the headline:

  1. I find the GitLab UI to be cleaner in general and easier to find my way around. However, this is purely a matter of taste and probably not a strong reason to move.
  2. I also like how GitLab is open source. I am far from an open source zealot, but I do prefer to write and use open source software. While Github is full of Open Source projects, Github itself is proprietary. In contrast, Gitlab has a well-supported open source version.
  3. The project import feature worked very well, so it was trivially easy to move the code, branches and issues over.

The author goes on to describe why GitLab’s project management workflow works well for him.

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The rise of RISC-V

John Cassel from The New Stack lays out the quiet-yet-effective push toward open source hardware. We first heard about RISC-V from Ron Evans on Go Time. He was very excited about its potential, saying:

it’s an open source set of silicon designs, so that you can build your own custom chips the same way that we’ve been able to build our own custom operating systems; either pieces of Linux to create their own Linux distros - we’ll be able to do the same exact things with custom silicon

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Why Bruce Perens is proposing "coherent open source"

This is a solid (text) interview with Bruce Perens, former member of the OSI:

… a recognized pioneer of the Open Source movement, 62-year-old Bruce Perens is still thinking about ways to protect the freedoms of software users. “Most people who develop open source don’t have access to lawyers” Perens told the Register last month. “One of the goals for open source was you could use it without having to hire a lawyer. You could put [open source software] on your computer and run it and if you don’t redistribute or modify it, you don’t really have to read the license.”

Bruce suggests we all limit ourselves to just three licenses: AGPL 3, LGPL 3, and Apache 2. He’s a fascinating guy with lots to say on the matter. It’s an exciting time in software licensing, which is a sentence I never expected to write in my life.

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WireGuard VPN protocol coming the Linux kernel soon

Dan Guido mentioned this might be a thing on our Algo VPN episode. Turns out he was right (once version 5.6 of the Linux kernel hits package mirrors for download).

Linus had this to say about WireGuard:

“Can I just once again state my love for it and hope it gets merged soon? Maybe the code isn’t perfect, but I’ve skimmed it, and compared to the horrors that are OpenVPN and IPSec, it’s a work of art,”

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