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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 1 min ago

Building a QNX 7 desktop

Friday 28th of April 2017 10:19:08 PM
BlackBerry QNX is an embedded operating system targeting applications in the automotive, general embedded, and medical markets. However, it is not your garden-variety embedded OS: QNX is a full-blown, UNIX-like, POSIX-compliant operating system with all of the features you would expect of a desktop or server-class OS. Compatibility with other systems means that, at least in theory, porting various open source projects to SDP 7 should be a relatively easy task. And so, while there is no official support in this release for a desktop environment, there is nothing precluding someone from building such a system. With that in mind, I set myself the task of building a BlackBerry QNX 7 desktop. Written by QNX kernel developer Elad Lahav, so you know the information in this article is solid.

Why is Microsoft turning its Surface business into the next Nokia?

Friday 28th of April 2017 09:10:57 PM
If Microsoft wants to make PC hardware, it needs to do so properly and commit to the same kinds of updates as other PC OEMs. Almost every other PC OEM has refreshed its systems for Kaby Lake. Almost every other PC OEM has adopted, at least for machines in the premium space that Surface occupies, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3. Surface Pro - a machine which, in its early generations, arguably defined that particular style of two-in-one systems - is no longer unique. HP, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, and others all have solid two-in-one offerings. These machines are modeled after the Surface Pro concept, but they now embody that concept better than Microsoft's own system. The Surface has been out-Surfaced. The failure to do anything with Surface for so long makes us wonder just what Microsoft is up to. If the company is serious about its hardware ambitions - and officially, at least, it still says that its intent is to produce market-leading systems under the Surface brand - then it has to take its hardware seriously. That means refreshing it to keep pace with the competition. He's exactly right. I love my surface Pro 4 - no way I'm ever going back to cumbersome laptops with fixed, stand-in-the-way keyboards - but it definitely leaves a few things to be desired hardware-wise. Although not a huge problem for me since I don't use it, the pen tracking is pretty terrible, the display has some light bleeding issues here and there, the processor is nice but definitely a generation behind, and battery life is decent, but not exceptional. Except for the pen, these are all things that could be addressed by refreshing the device with Intel's latest. So, Microsoft - what will it be?

New update options for Windows 10, version 1703

Thursday 27th of April 2017 08:41:55 PM
With the release of Windows 10, we simplified the servicing process by moving to cumulative updates, where each update released contains all the new fixes for that month, as well as all the older fixes from previous months. Today, most organizations deploy these cumulative updates when they are released on the second Tuesday of every month, also called "Update Tuesday." Because these updates contain new security fixes, they are considered "Security Updates" in Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and System Center Configuration Manager. Based on feedback from customers, we are making some adjustments to the updates that we are releasing for Windows 10, version 1703 (also known as the "Creators Update"). With these changes, we will routinely offer one (or sometimes more than one) additional update each month. These additional cumulative updates will contain only new non-security updates, so they will be considered "Updates" in WSUS and Configuration Manager.

Alphabet's self-driving cars to get their first real riders

Thursday 27th of April 2017 08:40:03 PM
After almost a decade of research, Google's autonomous car project is close to becoming a real service. Now known as Waymo, the Alphabet Inc. self-driving car unit is letting residents of Phoenix sign up to use its vehicles, a major step toward commercializing a technology that could one day upend transportation. This is going to change our society a lot quicker than people seem to think.

Google rewrites its search rankings to bury fake news

Thursday 27th of April 2017 08:30:55 PM
Google isn't planning to rid fake news from its search results - but it's trying to purge it from the top. The Alphabet Inc. company is making a rare, sweeping change to the algorithm behind its powerful search engine to demote misleading, false and offensive articles online. Google is also setting new rules encouraging its "raters" - the 10,000-plus staff that assess search results - to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls "low-quality" content. Good - but also possibly incredibly dangerous.

Torching the modern-day Library of Alexandria

Tuesday 25th of April 2017 07:41:34 PM
It was strange to me, the idea that somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25-million books and nobody is allowed to read them. It's like that scene at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie where they put the Ark of the Covenant back on a shelf somewhere, lost in the chaos of a vast warehouse. It's there. The books are there. People have been trying to build a library like this for ages - to do so, they've said, would be to erect one of the great humanitarian artifacts of all time - and here we've done the work to make it real and we were about to give it to the world and now, instead, it's 50 or 60 petabytes on disk, and the only people who can see it are half a dozen engineers on the project who happen to have access because they’re the ones responsible for locking it up. I asked someone who used to have that job, what would it take to make the books viewable in full to everybody? I wanted to know how hard it would have been to unlock them. What's standing between us and a digital public library of 25 million volumes? You'd get in a lot of trouble, they said, but all you'd have to do, more or less, is write a single database query. You'd flip some access control bits from off to on. It might take a few minutes for the command to propagate. You know those moments, when reading about history, where you think "how could these people have been so stupid? Why didn't drinking from, defecating in and washing in the same body of water raise a red flag? Why did people think slavery was an a-ok thing to do? Why did they sacrifice children to make sure the sun would rise in the morning? Were these people really that stupid?" A hundred years from now, people are going to look back upon the greatest library of mankind, filled with countless priceless works that nobody has access to, fully indexed, ready to go at a push of a button - this invaluable, irreplaceable treasure trove of human culture, and think, "how could these people have been so stupid?"

Apple forces recyclers to shred all iPhones and MacBooks

Tuesday 25th of April 2017 06:47:52 PM
Apple released its Environmental Responsibility Report Wednesday, an annual grandstanding effort that the company uses to position itself as a progressive, environmentally friendly company. Behind the scenes, though, the company undermines attempts to prolong the lifespan of its products. Apple's new moonshot plan is to make iPhones and computers entirely out of recycled materials by putting pressure on the recycling industry to innovate. But documents obtained by Motherboard using Freedom of Information requests show that Apple's current practices prevent recyclers from doing the most environmentally friendly thing they could do: Salvage phones and computers from the scrap heap. Having "old" but perfectly usable products in the marketplace is a terrible place for a company like Apple to be in. Most computers, smartphones, and tablets from, say, the past 4-5 years are still perfectly fine and usable today, and a lot of people would be smart to buy one of these "old" devices instead of new ones. Except, of course, that Apple doesn't get a dime when people do that. So, they have "recycling" companies destroy them instead. Remember: profit always comes before customer. Apple is executing an environment and sustainability PR campaign right now through its usual PR outlets - don't be fooled.

Darwin 0.1 and Rhapsody DR 2 booted

Monday 24th of April 2017 10:40:16 PM
So the recently recovered source code to Darwin 0.1 corresponds with the release of the PowerPC only OS X Server 1.0. However as we all found out, Darwin will still built and maintained on Intel, as it was a very secretive plan B, in case something went wrong with the PowerPC platform. Being portable had saved NeXT before, and now it would save Apple. So with this little background, and a lot of stumbling around in the dark, I came up with some steps, that have permitted me to build the Darwin 0.1 kernel under DR2. This is beyond awesome.

Is it time to break up the major tech companies?

Monday 24th of April 2017 10:36:53 PM
The original headline (I changed it) is clickbaity, but the article raises good points. In just 10 years, the world's five largest companies by market capitalization have all changed, save for one: Microsoft. Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Citigroup and Shell Oil are out and Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon and Facebook have taken their place. They're all tech companies, and each dominates its corner of the industry: Google has an 88 percent market share in search advertising, Facebook (and its subsidiaries Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) owns 77 percent of mobile social traffic and Amazon has a 74 percent share in the e-book market. In classic economic terms, all three are monopolies. We have been transported back to the early 20th century, when arguments about "the curse of bigness" were advanced by President Woodrow Wilson's counselor, Louis Brandeis, before Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court. Brandeis wanted to eliminate monopolies, because (in the words of his biographer Melvin Urofsky) "in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people." We need look no further than the conduct of the largest banks in the 2008 financial crisis or the role that Facebook and Google play in the "fake news" business to know that Brandeis was right. Any entity which becomes a threat to the well-being of our society, our planet, or the people on it must be dealt with. I'm not quite sure if e.g. Google or Apple qualify for that, and if they do, how to deal with that, but I sure as hell do not wish to live in a society where any one corporation is more powerful than the people.

John Deere: only corporations can own property

Monday 24th of April 2017 10:17:33 PM
John Deere has turned itself into the poster-child for the DMCA, fighting farmers who say they want to fix their own tractors and access their data by saying that doing so violates the 1998 law's prohibition on bypassing copyright locks. Deere's just reiterated that position to a US Copyright Office inquiry on the future of the law, joined by auto manufacturers (but not Tesla) and many other giant corporations, all of them arguing that since the gadgets you buy have software, and since that software is licensed, not sold, you don't really own any of that stuff. You are a licensee, and you have to use the gadget according to the license terms, which spell out where you have to buy your service, parts, consumables, apps, and so on. This is finally a moment where without a doubt I can be all smug and entirely unhelpful by saying I do not use any stuff made by John Deere.

Debian GNU/Linux port for RISC-V 64-bit (riscv64)

Monday 24th of April 2017 07:28:10 PM
This is a post describing my involvement with the Debian GNU/Linux port for RISC-V (unofficial and not endorsed by Debian at the moment) and announcing the availability of the repository (still very much WIP) with packages built for this architecture.

Reverse engineering APFS

Monday 24th of April 2017 07:26:37 PM
I started to reverse engineer APFS and want to share what I found out so far. Notice: I created a test image with macOS Sierra 10.12.3 (16D32). All results are guesses and the reverse engineering is work in progress. Also newer versions of APFS might change structures. The information below is neither complete nor proven to be correct.

AmigaOne X5000: first impressions

Friday 21st of April 2017 11:02:24 PM
Many were waiting for the day when new and strong Amiga(One) will appear. That happened now. Currently, the X5000 can be purchased with the dual-core processor. In the future, a more powerful machine will be available. Is it worth buying the current model or wait for a four-core version? A look at the new X5000. Note that the author is Polish (I think), and English isn't her or his first language.

Google plans ad-blocking feature in popular Chrome browser

Thursday 20th of April 2017 09:18:34 AM
Alphabet Inc.'s Google is planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature in the mobile and desktop versions of its popular Chrome web browser, according to people familiar with the company's plans. The ad-blocking feature, which could be switched on by default within Chrome, would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web. Google could announce the feature within weeks, but it is still ironing out specific details and still could decide not to move ahead with the plan, the people said. An ad-blocker from Google? Something tells me this won't go down well with antitrust regulators.

Apple promises to stop mining for rare-earth materials

Thursday 20th of April 2017 09:12:59 AM
Apple has one of the most aggressive sustainability and recycling programs in tech, but it still pulls plenty of metals and toxic rare-earth materials out of the ground to make iPhones, iPads, Macbooks and other products. That's about to change. The company is set to announce a new, unprecedented goal for the tech industry, "to stop mining the earth altogether". Apple plans to stop mining for rare-earth materials, and exclusively use recycled materials (from iPhones and other Apple products, presumably). Incredibly ambitious goal - one among many environmental goals the company revealed yesterday - and quite laudable. They have the money to blaze these trails, and I'm glad they're using it for this.

TouchWiz is actually pretty nice

Wednesday 19th of April 2017 08:54:24 PM
I challenge anyone to receive a notification on Samsung s Galaxy S8 and not be charmed by the elegant blue pulse of light that traces the contours of the phone's gorgeous screen. This sort of subtlety, this sort of organic, emotive, instant appeal is not something I ever expected Samsung would be capable of. But the company once judged to have cynically copied Apple's iPhone design has exceeded all expectations this year: the 2017 version of Samsung's TouchWiz brings its software design right up to the high standard of its hardware. I have always hated TouchWiz. It was ugly, overbearing, complex, and annoying. Keyword here is was. As per my philosophy to never rot stuck in a single brand or platform, I replaced my Nexus 6P with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge a few weeks ago. I was assuming I'd have to root it and install a custom ROM on it within days, so I had the proper files and reading material ready to go the day the phone arrived. But as I was using the phone for a few days, it dawned on my that TouchWiz on the S7 Edge was... Not that bad. I buy off-contract, so I didn't get any carrier crapware (as far as I know, Dutch carriers don't really do crapware to begin with), and even Samsung's own stuff was remarkably sparse, and you could hide most of Samsung's stuff anyway. I was pleasantly surprised. I was even more pleasantly surprised when it dawned on me that several parts of TouchWiz were superior to Google's stock Android versions. The stock Android alarm/clock application is a UI disaster, but the TouchWiz version is clean, simple, and much easier to use. TouchWiz' contacts application, too, sports a cleaner look and I find it easier to use than the stock version. Most of all, though, Samsung's settings application is so much better than the stock Android one in terms of looks, organisation, search capabilities, and so on, that I'm surprised Google hasn't copied it outright. Within just a few days, I thought to myself "...okay right so that's why Samsung dominates Android and has 80% smartphone market share in The Netherlands". Samsung has truly cleaned up TouchWiz, and I'm curious to see if I hit that thing everybody is talking about where Samsung phones get slower over time, something that didn't happen to my Nexus devices. CGP Grey once said, in one of his videos: The trick is to keep your identity separate from your opinions. They're objects in a box you carry with you, and should be easily replaceable if it turns out they're no good. If you think that the opinions in the box are "who you are", then you'll cling to them despite any evidence to the contrary. Bottom line: if you always want to be right, you need to always be prepared to change your mind. I try to apply this as much as possible, including here on OSNews. Any longterm reader of this site knows I haven't been kind to TouchWiz over the years. A few weeks with a modern Samsung phone has completely changed my mind.

File system improvements for Windows Subsystem for Linux

Wednesday 19th of April 2017 08:38:03 PM
In the latest Windows Insider build, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) now allows you to manually mount Windows drives using the DrvFs file system. Previously, WSL would automatically mount all fixed NTFS drives when you launch Bash, but there was no support for mounting additional storage like removable drives or network locations. Now, not only can you manually mount any drives on your system, we've also added support for other file systems such as FAT, as well as mounting network locations. This enables you to access any drive, including removable USB sticks or CDs, and any network location you can reach in Windows all from within WSL. There's a lot of work being done on WSL.

Introducing power throttling

Wednesday 19th of April 2017 08:36:26 PM
Most people running Windows like having multiple apps running at the same time - and often, what's running in the background can drain your battery. In this latest Insider Preview build (Build 16176), we leveraged modern silicon capabilities to run background work in a power-efficient manner, thereby enhancing battery life significantly while still giving users access to powerful multitasking capabilities of Windows. With "Power Throttling", when background work is running, Windows places the CPU in its most energy efficient operating modes - work gets done, but the minimal possible battery is spent on that work. My biggest worry with technology like this is that it affects unsaved work. Luckily, you're supposed to be able to turn it on and off.

The curious case of the New York Times' Galaxy S8 coverage

Tuesday 18th of April 2017 08:28:22 PM
The review embargo for the Samsung Galaxy S8 was lifted today, so there's reviews all over the place - and they're all pretty much universally positive, so also kind of uninteresting. An article in The New York Times stood out, though. When a splashy new smartphone hits the market, consumers often weigh whether to place an order right away or to wait and see how others react to the device. But with the Galaxy S8, Samsung's first major smartphone release since the spontaneously combusting Galaxy Note 7 was discontinued last year, there isn't much of a debate. Your best bet is to wait to buy the roughly $750 device - not just for safety reasons, but also because other uncertainties surround it. Since I think you should never rush out and buy a complex and expensive device like a smartphone on release day anyway, this is sage advice. However, it is quite unusual for a major publication to just flat-out tell consumers to wait and not buy the latest and greatest new smartphone from Samsung (or Apple, for that matter) in such an overt, put-it-in-the-headline kind of way. The next paragraph in the NYT article makes me suspicious. Samsung declined to provide an early review unit of the Galaxy S8 to The New York Times, but several consumer electronics experts who tried the device ahead of its release this Friday were cautiously optimistic about the product. Even so, they said the phone had some radical design changes that might make people uncomfortable, a few key features were unfinished and Samsung’s recent safety record remained a concern. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the above article would not have been written had the NYT been given a review unit of the Samsung Galaxy S8. The tone of the entire article is mildly vindictive, like it was written by someone scorned. It feels a little unprofessional for a publication like the NYT to do this. That being said - the advice still stands: don't rush out on release day for expensive and complex equipment like a smartphone. Wait a few weeks to see if there's any teething problems before plonking down hundreds of euros.

Steve Ballmer serves up a fascinating data trove

Tuesday 18th of April 2017 08:16:14 PM
On Tuesday, Mr. Ballmer plans to make public a database and a report that he and a small army of economists, professors and other professionals have been assembling as part of a stealth start-up over the last three years called USAFacts. The database is perhaps the first nonpartisan effort to create a fully integrated look at revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments. Want to know how many police officers are employed in various parts of the country and compare that against crime rates? Want to know how much revenue is brought in from parking tickets and the cost to collect? Want to know what percentage of Americans suffer from diagnosed depression and how much the government spends on it? That’s in there. You can slice the numbers in all sorts of ways. This is exactly the kind of thing technology should be used for in a democracy: to provide (relatively) easy insight into otherwise incredibly obtuse and splintered government data. Well done.

More in Tux Machines

Desktop Themes

  • Numix White Icons Looks Better On Dark Themes, Install In Ubuntu/Linux Mint Via PPA
  • Make Your Gnome Shell Kind Of Look Like Unity With United Gnome Theme
    Beside theme you can install these extensions to make desktop look more like Unity. Dash to dock: Enable panel mode and position it on the left; Dynamic Panel Transparency: The non-dark variant comes with a semi-transparent panel. Square icons used in the following screenshots.
  • Albatross Theme Forked From Shimmer Project For Ubuntu/Linux Mint
    It is glad to see that theme development is much faster now than past. Albatross theme is forked from Shimmer project team, they stopped the development long ago. If you want to keep your desktop simple, clean and elegant then for sure this theme is for you, it is specially targeting Gnome desktop and may work with Xfce. Currently this theme is compatible with Gtk 3.24+/3.22/3.20. If you intend to use this theme in the Xfce desktop then you must use xfwm4 from "Greybird/Adwaita" since that is not packed with this theme. Since this theme is in active development, if you encounter any bug or problem with this theme then report it to get it fixed. Obsidian-1 icons used in the following screenshot.
  • Pop Theme Suite: Make Your Ubuntu/Linux Look Like System76 Upcoming Desktop
    As I mentioned in my previous posts that lots theme development going on now but Linux community and a company is not even behind called "System76". Well they designed theme and icons for their own computers that run Ubuntu but good news is that it is free and comes under GPL-V2 license that means anyone can copy, share or remake their theme suite.

Hands on with the Pinebook

The Pine A64 was a 64-bit Quad-Core Single Board Computer which was kickstarted at the tail end of 2015 for delivery in the middle of 2016. Costing just $15, and hailed as a “Raspberry Pi killer,” the board raised $1.7 million from 36,000 backers. It shipped to its backers to almost universally poor reviews. Now they’re back, this time with a laptop—a 11.6-inch model for $89, or a 14-inch model for $99. Both are powered by the same 64-bit Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53 as the original Pine A64 board, but at least Pine are doing a much better job this time around of managing user expectations. Read more

OpenELEC 8.0.3

Linux, Graphics, and Tonight's Release

  • Linux 4.11 Set To Be Released Today
    After it was postponed last weekend, the Linux 4.11 kernel is set to be officially released in a matter of hours. As of writing, the Linux 4.11 codename remains the "Fearless Coyote", but there is the possibility that Torvalds may rename it when tagging the official 4.11.0 release today.
  • Linux Kernel 3.18.51 Released with MIPS, ARM, and CIFS Changes, Updated Drivers
  • Linux Kernel 4.4.65 LTS Is a Small Patch with Networking and File System Fixes
  • USB Type-C Port Manager Coming To Linux 4.12
    Another feature to look forward to with the Linux 4.12 kernel for those using newer hardware featuring USB Type-C is a port manager. The "TCPM" driver is queued as a new staging driver via usb-next for entering the Linux 4.12 kernel in the next two weeks. This USB Type-C Port Manager driver implements a power delivery state machine for source/sink ports. This driver serves as a state machine while other USB Type-C drivers are responsible for the rest of the functionality.
  • DirectFB Is Back To Being Dormant
    Back in August of 2015, DirectFB disappeared with its project site and code vanishing. Last November DirectFB re-appeared along with a new site and renewed focus on the project. Unfortunately, it's once again gone silent. With all the news this month about Ubuntu dropping Mir / Unity 8 and the continued work by many different desktop/compositor teams on Wayland, I was curious this weekend to check on how DirectFB is doing in 2017... Sadly, DirectFB.net as the new DirectFB site launched last November is now down again. The original DirectFB (dot) org web-site remains squatted. I've been unable to find any other "new" DirectFB website.
  • Sway Wayland Compositor Adding Proprietary NVIDIA Driver Support
    The Sway Wayland compositor that aims to be i3-compatible continues picking up new features.