Open Source Software

  1. There has been a lot of talk about open source sustainability over the past few years, and for good reason. Open source now powers much of the world’s most critical new technologies, from programming languages and application platforms to machine learning and data infrastructure. As such, we need more, not less, open source innovation. However, the most innovative and sustainable open source rarely depends exclusively upon a single individual or company.

    Don’t believe me? Look at some of the most foundational open source projects of the past few decades. Linux? Scads of companies contribute. Or consider PostgreSQL, which has boomed in popularity over the past decade—it’s a true community effort, with contributors from a wide array of companies. Or how about the more recent Kubernetes? Though Google founded the project, many more companies contribute to it today.

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  2. Addressing performance bottlenecks in the Git distributed version control system, Microsoft has introduced Scalar, a set of tools and extensions for Windows and MacOS users that helps Git scale.

    Scalar is a C# application that accelerates Git command performance by setting recommended configuration values and running background maintenance. By running scalar register in a Git repo, the following Git features are enabled:

    • Sparse checkout to limit the size of a working directory. 
    • File system monitoring to eliminate the need for Git to scan an entire work tree.
    • Multi-pack indexing to allow fast object lookups across many pack-files.
    • Commit-graph to accelerate commit walks and reachability calculations, speeding up commands such as git log.

    Microsoft developed Scalar to address Git’s struggles when managing growing amounts of data. Microsoft has used VFS for Git, formerly the GVFS network protocol, which uses a virtualized file system to help Windows developers use Git with very large repositories. While using VFS for Git, Microsoft identified performance bottlenecks using a trace system and collecting user feedback. The results led to several contributions to the Git client including improvements to git push. Building on these contributions, Microsoft began a project to support very large repositories without needing a virtualized file system. Scalar was the result of those efforts.

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  3. Microsoft has released DeepSpeed, a new deep learning optimization library for PyTorch, that is designed to reduce memory use and train models with better parallelism on existing hardware.

    According to a Microsoft Research blog post announcing the new framework, DeepSpeed improves PyTorch model training through a memory optimization technology that increases the number of possible parameters a model can be trained with, makes better use of the memory local to the GPU, and requires only minimal changes to an existing PyTorch application to be useful.

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  4. Microsoft’s open source development tool is an important piece of the developer’s toolkit. Built using GitHub’s cross-platform Electron framework, Visual Studio Code is a full-featured code editor that supports a wide selection of languages and platforms, from the familiar C and C# to modern environments and languages like Go and Node.js, with parity between Windows, MacOS, and Linux releases.

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    (Insider Story)
  5. The politics of the Silicon Valley are colliding with customers and impacting innocent bystanders who put their trust in open source software.
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