LJ Archive

New Products

James Gray

Issue #262, February 2016

SoftMaker Office

Founded in 1987, the Germany-based software vendor SoftMaker has spent the modern PC era developing and improving its own office program, SoftMaker Office. SoftMaker Office 2016 for Linux is SoftMaker's latest release of the office suite, which consists of the word processor TextMaker, the spreadsheet program PlanMaker and the presentation program SoftMaker Presentations. SoftMaker's value proposition vs. other office suites includes a compact footprint, stability, availability in Standard and Professional versions, add-ons for the Thunderbird e-mail client, as well as compatibility with (and a five-fold speed advantage over) Microsoft Office. The new SoftMaker Office 2016 boasts more than 400 new features, such as optimized software architecture accelerated by the use of OpenGL for screen display and multiple CPU cores for graphic rendering, improved compatibility features with MS-Office, built-in version management for documents, support for 9,000 label formats, improved pivot-table functionality, smart guides for alignment of objects in presentations and more. The Professional edition adds four high-quality dictionaries by Berlitz for easy translation between English, Spanish, Italian, German and French. All modern Linux distributions are supported.


Thomas Erl, Wajid Khattak and Paul Buhler's Big Data Fundamentals (Prentice-Hall)

Because Big Data will only get bigger, the case for reading Big Data Fundamentals: Concepts, Drivers & Techniques will only get stronger. Co-authored by best-selling IT author Thomas Erl and collaborators Wajid Khattak and Paul Buhler, Big Data Fundamentals is a pragmatic, no-nonsense introduction to Big Data for business and technology professionals. The authors clearly explain key Big Data concepts, theory and terminology, as well as fundamental technologies and techniques. All coverage is supported with case-study examples and numerous simple diagrams. The authors commence by explaining how Big Data can move an organization forward by solving a wide range of previously intractable business problems. Next, they demystify key analysis techniques and technologies and show how a Big Data solution environment can be built and integrated to offer competitive advantages. Other key topics include differences between Big Data and previous forms of data analysis and science, business motivations and drivers behind Big Data adoption and recognizing the five “V” characteristics of datasets in Big Data environments: volume, velocity, variety, veracity and value.


Ziften ZFlow

As enterprises have migrated to the cloud for economic and operational purposes, traditional network visibility has been lost due to a lack of access at the infrastructure layer. To help organizations avoid operating in the dark in the penguin zone, security specialist Ziften has released a new version of its flagship Ziften ZFlow for the Linux operating system. Ziften ZFlow delivers greater network visibility by providing full visibility, contextual intelligence, user behavioral analysis and integration into previously deployed security tools. This new integration with Linux provides previously non-existent visibility into the public cloud infrastructure and enables Ziften's new Cloud Visibility Initiative. The initiative helps secure cloud operations with the visibility that security professionals need to identify and respond to potential threats and attacks quickly. Ziften adds that ZFlow is lightweight, meets IPFIX standards and enables better east-west visibility to identify lateral movement of an attack within the data center.


Varnish Software's Zipnish

Gaining insights into how quickly services are running or whether they are adding latency is a difficult task in distributed architectures such as microservices. To simplify this task, Varnish Software launched Zipnish, a new open-source, architecture-agnostic tool that tracks performance and helps resolve latency issues in microservices architectures. Zipnish uses the Varnish logging API from Varnish Cache 4.0 to monitor transactions and uses Python and the event library Twisted to transport the data. MySQL is used as the database for storage. The presentation back end is done in Python, whereas a slightly modified version of Zipkin is used as front end.


Red Hat CloudForms

To meet customer demands in today's hybrid, heterogeneous world, Red Hat established an alliance with Microsoft to release Red Hat CloudForms 4, the latest version of the company's open-platform hybrid cloud management solution that now features Microsoft Azure support. Red Hat declares that Red Hat CloudForms 4 goes beyond self-service, offering a consistent experience and comprehensive lifecycle management across platforms, covering virtualization, private cloud, public cloud and containers. In addition to enabling Azure customers to manage those workloads and resources within CloudForms, release 4 adds management for container architectures and improved self-service dashboards and charts to better analyze the relationships between different cloud platforms and container hosts. Other platforms besides Azure into which Red Hat CloudForms 4 provides operational insight include Amazon Web Services, Hyper-V, OpenShift by Red Hat, OpenStack, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and VMware.


Imagination Technologies' Creator Ci40

“Where do I start?” is a common question for those of us exploring the Internet of Things (IoT) and embedded computing markets. Imagination Technologies answers that question in the form of a product, namely the firm's new Creator Ci40 IoT kit, which helps one make sense of the oh-so-many boards and accessories, hardware and software interfaces, connectivity standards and APIs in IoT. The Creator Ci40 includes not only the hardware building blocks needed to prototype a wireless IoT system from scratch quickly, but also the open-source software frameworks, the network stacks and the cloud connectivity capabilities required to connect and authenticate devices to the cloud securely. The included Ci40 microcomputer has been specifically designed for smart home, IoT and other connected devices (drones, robots and so on) and features the hardware requirements (802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi, an Ethernet port, SD and USB storage) for use as a high-speed wireless router. The board runs Linux (Debian, OpenWrt) and is part of Google's golden reference program for its Brillo OS for IoT. Rounding out the kit are add-ons from Mikroelectronica: two battery-powered Clicker board development kits and three Click boards for measuring temperature, detecting motion and controlling a relay.


Opera Max

Cheapo data hogs (like you) with limited data plans can stretch their budgets and double their streaming of video—and now music—using Opera Max, Opera ASA's upgraded data-management and data-saving app for Android. The latest release adds streaming audio optimization to the existing video optimization functionality. Opera notes that nine hours of streaming music or on-line radio require 1GB of throughput, which easily can burn through a data plan when using mobile networks. Complementing Opera Max's existing ability to optimize streaming-video services like YouTube and Netflix comes new functionality that optimizes streaming music apps, such as YouTube Music, Pandora, Slacker Radio, Gaana and Saavn, with others on the way. Opera's optimization technique for audio involves applying technology from Rocket Optimizer for converting MP3 and MP4 audio streams to the more efficient AAC+ codec, which delivers high audio quality over a low bitrate connection to any compatible device.


Sander van Vugt's Beginning the Linux Command Line, 2nd Edition (Apress)

IT author Sander van Vugt says that his book Beginning the Linux Command Line, now in it second edition, is for everyone who uses Linux—no exceptions. Van Vugt's book is a guide to Linux in which the user digs deeply into the system, wielding the shell as a shovel. Key overarching goals include understanding how Linux is organized and how to “think Linux”. Other learning objectives include finding the right command for the task at hand, working with text editors and intelligent filters, shell programming, configuring access to hardware devices and more. Beginning the Linux Command Line is checked against all of the most important Linux distributions and follows a task-oriented approach that is distribution-agnostic. This new second edition of the book covers features of the very latest versions of the Linux operating system, including the new Btrfs filesystem, the systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.


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