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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 week 4 days ago

Windows File Manager released as open source

Monday 9th of April 2018 10:25:24 AM
The Windows File Manager lives again and runs on all currently supported version of Windows, including Windows 10. I welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions. Open source under an MIT-license, and runs on modern versions of Windows. This is certainly a blast from the past.

I miss Windows Phone

Monday 9th of April 2018 10:22:41 AM
I first gave up on Windows Phone back in December 2014. Microsoft's mobile platform was being left behind, and I was tired of not getting access to the apps everyone else was using. It took Microsoft a few years to finally admit Windows Phone is dead, and the company is no longer planning to release any new hardware running its mobile OS or update it with any features. I recently switched on an old Windows Phone to create a silly April Fools' joke about returning to using it as my daily device, and then it hit me: I really miss Windows Phone. He's not alone. I loved the way Windows Phone worked and felt, but sadly, it just didn't have the applications, and Microsoft's various transitions really hurt the platform too. Too bad - it was innovative and fresh.

A beginner's guide to MorphOS

Friday 6th of April 2018 12:13:57 AM
You have installed MorphOS to a compatible machine, but... now what? You could always go and install a pre-configured package like Chrysalis, but you would end up with a system configured for someone else's taste and you still wouldn't know how to actually use the operating system. If you are in this situation and would like to learn how MorphOS works, this is a tutorial for you! The tutorial will guide you through the things you should do and notice after a fresh install, with practical examples from basic configuration options to installing new software. It won't cover all the details and is just an opinion on how to proceed, but it should give you some knowledge how to continue on your own and make your own decisions. I bought a used PowerBook last weekend - a 17" PowerBook G4 1.33Ghz with 512MB RAM with 2GB on the way - specifically for MorphOS and its recent 3.10 release, and I'm having a total blast. This guide is a great first stop after installing MorphOS, as is the accompanying tips and tricks article. Amiga-like operating systems have some very unique paradigms and ways of doing things, and articles like these really ease you into them, while offering a first few glimpses into the absolutely insane amount of customization options they offer.

Intel bumps up mobile chips to 6 cores

Friday 6th of April 2018 12:13:19 AM
Intel first launched its 8th-generation branding last year. In the mobile space, we had the U-series Kaby Lake-R: four-core, eight-thread chips running in a 15W power envelope. On the desktop, we had Coffee Lake: six-core, 12-thread chips. In both cases, the processor lineup was limited: six different chips for the desktop, four for mobile. Those mobile processors were joined earlier this year by Kaby Lake-G: four-core, eight-thread processors with a discrete AMD GPU on the same package as the processor. Today, Intel has vastly expanded the 8th generation lineup, with 11 new mobile chips and nine new desktop processors, along with new 300-series chipsets. Intel's naming scheme is a bit of a mess, isn't it? At this point I really have no idea what is what without consulting charts and tables. Can all the bright minds at Intel really not devise a more sensible naming scheme?

"Apple has an iPad gesture dilemma"

Friday 6th of April 2018 12:07:03 AM
At its launch back in 2010, the iPad was heavily criticized for being a big iPhone. iOS 11 and the iPad Pro proved that wasn't the case. Things further diverged with the introduction of the iPhone X, which has led to some confusion for anyone who regularly uses an iPad. I've been using an iPhone X and iPad Pro together for nearly six months now, and I often feel lost when moving back and forth between the devices - one with a physical home button, the other with webOS-like gestures. The result is a vastly different user experience, even though they run the same version of iOS on large rectangles of glass. I also use both an iPhone X and an iPad Pro 12.9", and I actually don't see this as a problem at all. The two devices are vastly different, and I use them in completely different ways - one as a smartphone, the other as a laptop - so it only makes sense to use them differently. Forcing the iPad into the same gestures and UI as the iPhone only leaves it hamstrung; it restricts the iPad into being an oversized iPhone, while what I want is for the iPad to gain more and more features from classic operating systems like macOS and Windows.

SteamOS, Linux, and Steam Machines

Wednesday 4th of April 2018 09:35:37 PM
While it's true Steam Machines aren't exactly flying off the shelves, our reasons for striving towards a competitive and open gaming platform haven't significantly changed. We're still working hard on making Linux operating systems a great place for gaming and applications. We think it will ultimately result in a better experience for developers and customers alike, including those not on Steam. Through the Steam Machine initiative, we've learned quite a bit about the state of the Linux ecosystem for real-world game developers out there. We've taken a lot of feedback and have been heads-down on addressing the shortcomings we observed. We think an important part of that effort is our ongoing investment in making Vulkan a competitive and well-supported graphics API, as well as making sure it has first-class support on Linux platforms. Valve has done a lot for Linux gaming, and it's good to hear they pledge to continue doing so.

Random throwback: Intel selling XScale to Marvell

Monday 2nd of April 2018 11:24:02 PM
XScale is a microarchitecture for central processing units initially designed by Intel implementing the ARM architecture (version 5) instruction set. XScale comprises several distinct families: IXP, IXC, IOP, PXA and CE (see more below), with some later models designed as SoCs. Intel sold the PXA family to Marvell Technology Group in June 2006. Marvell then extended the brand to include processors with other microarchitectures, like ARM's Cortex. With the smartphone and tablet revolution dominated by ARM, with Windows and Apple moving to ARM, we can probably say that, with the magical superpower of hindsight, Intel selling its XScale business to Marvell will probably go down as one of the biggest blunders in technology history. The entire computing world is slowly moving to ARM - first smartphones, then tablets, now laptops, soon surely servers and desktops - leaving Intel (and AMD, for that matter) in a terrible position.

OpenBSD 6.3 released

Monday 2nd of April 2018 11:16:01 PM
We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 6.3. This is our 44th release. We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of more than twenty years with only two remote holes in the default install. As in our previous releases, 6.3 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system.

Apple plans to use its own chips in Macs from 2020

Monday 2nd of April 2018 08:10:17 PM
Apple Inc. is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel Corp., according to people familiar with the plans. The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple's devices - including Macs, iPhones, and iPads - work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The project, which executives have approved, will likely result in a multi-step transition. This shouldn't be at all surprising. Apple's own Ax chips are quite amazing, but still limited in how far they can be pushed because of the small form factors they're being used in. On top of that, everything seems to be pointing towards the latest Windows-on-ARM devices having multiple-day battery life, with which Intel chips simply can't compete. It makes 100% sense for Apple to put its own processors inside Macs.

Introduction to Objective-C in MorphOS 3.10

Saturday 31st of March 2018 03:41:56 PM
Objective-C is conceptually similar to BOOPSI - it's generally an add-on to the C programming language. In both Obj-C and BOOPSI calling a method implies calling a dispatcher function that resolves the actual method to call and invokes it. With the addition of reference counting to BOOPSI in MorphOS, both follow the same memory management principles. The main difference comes from the fact that BOOPSI classes need to be manually created with functions being manually assigned their IDs and let's not even start on the extra hassle of having to write the code for the dispatchers. This made programmers reluctant to add new classes in their applications, in turn making the overall code less object oriented. Here's where Objective-C fills in. Meanwhile, the MorphOS team has also released an early beta of the operating system's future default email client, Iris. It uses many of the new features introduced in MorphOS 3.10, and support IMAP, OAth2 for Gmail and Outlook, and much more.

A history of the Amiga, part 12: Red vs. Blue

Friday 30th of March 2018 10:47:45 PM
Ars Technica's long-running series on the history of the Amiga continues, with part 12 published today. As always - required reading. The year 2000, which once seemed so impossibly futuristic, had finally arrived. Bill McEwen, president of the new Amiga Inc., celebrated with a press release telling the world why he had bought the subsidiary from Gateway Computers. "Gateway purchased Amiga because of Patents; we purchased Amiga because of the People." It was a bold statement, the first of many that would come from the fledgling company. Amiga Inc. now owned the name, trademark, logos, all existing inventory (there were still a few Escom-era A1200s and A4000s left), the Amiga OS, and a permanent license to all Amiga-related patents. They had also inherited Jim Collas' dream of a revolutionary new Amiga device, but none of the talent and resources that Gateway had been able to bring to bear. The Amiga world is one of the strangest subcultures in technology. I can't believe it's still going sort-of strong, and in various flavours even.

macOS 10.13.4 adds external GPU support

Friday 30th of March 2018 10:42:10 PM
macOS 10.13.4, released to the public yesterday afternoon, introduces official support for eGPUs (external graphics processors) on Thunderbolt 3 Macs. Alongside the release, Apple has published a detailed support document that outlines how eGPU support works and provides graphic card and chassis recommendations for use with your Mac. External GPUs seem like an incredibly clunky solution to a problem I doubt many people actually have. If your workload relies heavily on GPU power, you're probably not using Apple laptops anyway.

Blender's prehistory: traces on Commodore Amiga

Wednesday 28th of March 2018 10:02:42 PM
The following article is a historical look at the era that spawned the first raytracers for home computers, a predecessor to Blender among them. It's possible thanks to the fact, that, for the first time, the program and source code of said predecessor are publicly available. Today Blender is one of the industry leaders, but it started quite small, three decades ago. If you ever wondered when and where some of the most iconic Blender conventions like "right-click select" or 3D cursor originated, it's then, in the Amiga era, even before Blender was born.

Bring your own Linux to Windows

Wednesday 28th of March 2018 10:01:02 PM
After starting with Ubuntu, Microsoft has added a number of Linux distributions to its Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) Linux runtime environment. A Windows machine can simultaneously offer an Ubuntu, SUSE, Debian, and Kali "personality," providing users with a choice of the different distributions' preferences and package management. But if your distribution isn't yet available or if you want a Linux installation that's customized just the way you like it, there's now an answer: Microsoft has an open source tool for building your own Linux package. The tool is aimed at two groups: distribution owners (so they can produce a bundle to ship through the Microsoft Store) and developers (so they can create custom distributions and sideload them onto their development systems). Neat.

Federal court overturns Oracle v. Google

Wednesday 28th of March 2018 01:46:18 AM
A US federal court has overturned the jury's decision in favour of Google from 2016. Google's use of Java shortcuts to develop Android went too far and was a violation of Oracle's copyrights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Tuesday. The case - first filed in 2010 - was remanded to a federal court in California to determine how much the Alphabet Inc. unit should pay. Oracle had been seeking $8.8 billion, though that number could grow. Google expressed disappointment and said it's considering its next steps in the case. The dispute, which could have far-reaching implications for the entire software industry, has divided Silicon Valley for years between those who develop the code that makes software steps function and those who develop software programs and say their "fair use" of the code is an exception to copyright law. "It's a momentous decision on the issue of fair use," lawyer Mark Schonfeld of Burns & Levinson in Boston, who's been following the case and isn't involved. "It is very, very important for the software industry. I think it's going to go to the Supreme Court because the Federal Circuit has made a very controversial decision." This could be one of the absolute worst legal decisions in technology history.

Android Studio 3.1 released

Tuesday 27th of March 2018 04:48:16 AM
New to Android Studio 3.1 is a C++ performance profiler to help troubleshoot performance bottlenecks in your app code. For those of you with a Room or SQLite database in their your app, we added better code editor support to aid in your SQL table and query creation statements. We also added better lint support for your Kotlin code, and accelerated your testing with an updated Android Emulator with Quick Boot.

MorphOS 3.10 released

Monday 26th of March 2018 11:41:30 PM
The MorphOS development team is proud to announce the immediate availability of MorphOS 3.10, which represents one of the biggest updates in its history yet. This brand new version introduces support for AmigaOne X5000 systems as well as A-EON X5000 mainboards, and it greatly expands the general hardware compatibility by adding numerous new drivers for graphics cards, scanners, network cards, SATA controllers, and USB audio devices. Furthermore, MorphOS 3.10 brings Flow Studio, which is an integrated development environment that offers features such as a built-in source level debugger and seamless MorphOS shell access. In addition to many bug fixes and general performance improvements, MorphOS 3.10 also provides varied user interface and usability improvements. This release includes modern themes, new fonts, and support for vector graphics, such as SVG icons, as well as time zones via Coordinated Universal Time. This is a huge update, and it contains so many improvements I don't even know where to start. The massive list of hardware compatibility improvements is incredibly welcome, as are the brand new themes which make MorphOS look a bit less dated. Be sure to read the full, detailed list of changes. This is definitely the release that finally pushed me to get a PowerBook G4 to run MorphOS on (preferably the 17" 1.67Ghz with DDR2), since this release really reaffirms that the team is 100% dedicated to the operating system. I can't wait to go used PowerBook shopping this week.

Google blocks GApps from running on uncertified devices

Monday 26th of March 2018 10:19:17 PM
Even though Android is open source, virtually every Android device sold outside of China contains a chunk of closed code from Google in the form of Google Play Services and the GApps. These two deeply related software packages turn a rather stale mobile operating system into the full-on Google Android most of us know. There aren't a whole lot of Android users (again, outside of China) who aren't using these. Since these packages aren't open source, custom Android ROMs ship without them; you have to sideload them manually after installing your ROM image. Luckily for us, Google has always allowed this, but it's always been a bit tenuous. It's about to get a whole lot more tenuous, since Google appears to be blocking GApps from running on uncertified Android devices - but thankfully, they're allowing custom ROM users to register their Android device to get an exception. Earlier this week, we received an anonymous tip from a person claiming to be within the industry. This person, who said they worked for an OEM/ODM, notified us that Google has started entirely locking out newly built firmware from accessing Gapps. This change apparently went into effect March 16th and affects any software builds made after this date (Google Play Services checks ro.build.fingerprint for the build date apparently). You can register your device to get an exception, and you can register up to 100 devices per user - which should be enough for virtually everyone, I assume.

Booting Windows NT on a DEC Multia

Sunday 25th of March 2018 11:52:28 PM
I stumbled upon an absolute gem of a website over the weekend - Sophie Haskins' Pizza Box Computer. On this site, Haskins details a number of ancient non-x86 workstations. All of the posts on the site are fun and interesting reads, so let's pick one of her machines - a DEC Multia running Windows NT for Alpha - The Multia was an attempt by Digital to make a lower-cost Alpha workstation for running Windows NT. There were Alpha and Intel Pentium models, and they use a lot of off-the-shelf PC components rather than custom Digital ones (hence its later name, the "Universal Desktop Box"). It's quite tiny - so much so that it has laptop PCMCIA slots for expansion! The latest post details getting Windows NT up and running on the Multia, and is certainly worth a read - like the rest of the site.

Windows 10 feature updates process improved

Sunday 25th of March 2018 10:02:04 PM
Feature updates are the bigger updates to Windows 10, released twice a year, that are probably more akin to the service packs of yore than regular updates or full releases. Microsoft is improving the process of installing these larger updates. The Windows Fundamentals team focuses on the underlying technologies that are used to install feature updates as well as a host of other things. We've heard your feedback about the lengthy amount of time your PC is unusable during a feature update installation, and we've been working on ways to decrease this time. Today, I am excited to share more details about the improvements we've made to the feature update experience. For as much as Windows has problems, I really like that Microsoft is working on improving things like this. It would be very easy for them to set low-level work like this aside in favour of flashy stuff that's easy to show off in an ad blurb, so I appreciate the effort put in addressing less sexy problems like this. A faster, less invasive update process is always welcome.

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • CRI: The Second Boom of Container Runtimes
    Harry (Lei) Zhang, together with the CTO of HyperHQ, Xu Wang, will present “CRI: The Second Boom of Container Runtimes” at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU 2018, May 2-4 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The presentation will clarify about more about CRI, container runtimes, KataContainers and where they are going. Please join them if you are interested in learning more.
  • Meet Gloo, the ‘Function Gateway’ That Unifies Legacy APIs, Microservices, and Serverless
    Gloo, a single binary file written in Go, can be deployed as a Kubernetes pod, in a Docker container, and now also on Cloud Foundry. The setup also requires a copy of Envoy, though the installation process can be greatly simplified through additional software developed by the company, TheTool. The user then writes configuration objects to capture the workflow logic.
  • Why is the kernel community replacing iptables with BPF?

    The Linux kernel community recently announced bpfilter, which will replace the long-standing in-kernel implementation of iptables with high-performance network filtering powered by Linux BPF, all while guaranteeing a non-disruptive transition for Linux users.

  • The developer of Helium Rain gave an update on their sales, low overall sales but a high Linux percentage
    Helium Rain [Steam, Official Site], the gorgeous space sim from Deimos Games is really quite good so it's a shame they've seen such low overall sales. In total, they've had around 14,000€ (~$17,000) in sales which is not a lot for a game at all. The good news, is that out of the two thousand copies they say they've sold, a huge 14% of them have come from Linux. It's worth noting, that number has actually gone up since we last spoke to them, where they gave us a figure of 11% sales on Linux.
  • Want to try Wild Terra Online? We have another load of keys to give away (update: all gone)
    Wild Terra Online [Steam], the MMO from Juvty Worlds has a small but dedicated following, now is your chance to see if it's for you.
  • Arch Linux Finally Rolling Out Glibc 2.27
    Arch Linux is finally transitioning to glibc 2.27, which may make for a faster system. Glibc 2.27 was released at the start of February. This updated GNU C Library shipped with many performance optimizations particularly for Intel/x86_64 but also some ARM tuning and more. Glibc 2.27 also has memory protection keys support and other feature additions, but the performance potential has been most interesting to us.
  • Installed nvidia driver
  • Stephen Smoogen: Fedora Infrastructure Hackathon (day 1-5)
  • Design and Web team summary – 20 April 2018
    The team manages all web projects across Canonical. From www.ubuntu.com to the Juju GUI we help to bring beauty and consistency to all the web projects.
  • Costales: UbuCon Europe 2018 | 1 Week to go!!
    We'll have an awesome weekend of conferences (with 4 parallel talks), podcasts, stands, social events... Most of them are in English, but there will be in Spanish & Asturian too.
  • Tough, modular embedded PCs start at $875
    Advantech has launched two rugged, Linux-ready embedded DIN-rail computers with Intel Bay Trail SoCs and iDoor expansion: an “UNO-1372G-E” with 3x GbE ports and a smaller UNO-1372G-J with only 2x GbE, but with more serial and USB ports.

OSS Leftovers

  • IRS Website Crash Reminder of HealthCare.gov Debacle as OMB Pushes Open Source
    OMB is increasingly pushing agencies to adopt open source solutions, and in 2016 launched a pilot project requiring at least 20 percent of custom developed code to be released as open source – partly to strengthen and help maintain it by tapping a community of developers. OMB memo M-16-21 further asks agencies to make any code they develop available throughout the federal government in order to encourage its reuse. “Open source solutions give agencies access to a broad community of developers and the latest advancements in technology, which can help alleviate the issues of stagnated or out-dated systems while increasing flexibility as agency missions evolve over time,” says Henry Sowell, chief information security officer at Hortonworks Federal. “Enterprise open source also allows government agencies to reduce the risk of vendor lock-in and the vulnerabilities of un-supported software,” he adds.
  • Migrations: the sole scalable fix to tech debt.

    Migrations are both essential and frustratingly frequent as your codebase ages and your business grows: most tools and processes only support about one order of magnitude of growth before becoming ineffective, so rapid growth makes them a way of life. This isn't because they're bad processes or poor tools, quite the opposite: the fact that something stops working at significantly increased scale is a sign that it was designed appropriately to the previous constraints rather than being over designed.

  • Gui development is broken

    Why is this so hard? I just want low-level access to write a simple graphical interface in a somewhat obscure language.

OpenBSD and NetBSD

Security: Twitter and Facebook

  • Twitter banned Kaspersky Lab from advertising in Jan
     

    Twitter has banned advertising from Russian security vendor Kaspersky Lab since January, the head of the firm, Eugene Kaspersky, has disclosed.  

  • When you go to a security conference, and its mobile app leaks your data
     

    A mobile application built by a third party for the RSA security conference in San Francisco this week was found to have a few security issues of its own—including hard-coded security keys and passwords that allowed a researcher to extract the conference's attendee list. The conference organizers acknowledged the vulnerability on Twitter, but they say that only the first and last names of 114 attendees were exposed.

  • The Security Risks of Logging in With Facebook
     

    In a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study published on Freedom To Tinker, a site hosted by Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, three researchers document how third-party tracking scripts have the capability to scoop up information from Facebook's login API without users knowing. The tracking scripts documented by Steven Englehardt, Gunes Acar, and Arvind Narayanan represent a small slice of the invisible tracking ecosystem that follows users around the web largely without their knowledge.

  • Facebook Login data hijacked by hidden JavaScript trackers
     

    If you login to websites through Facebook, we've got some bad news: hidden trackers can suck up more of your data than you'd intended to give away, potentially opening it up to abuse.