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Unlimited private repositories now available to free GitHub users

Tuesday 8th of January 2019 12:03:08 AM

Octocat, the GitHub mascot. (credit: Github)

The significant change to GitHub announced today by CEO Nat Friedman might be the first major change since Microsoft bought the company last year: free accounts can now create private repositories.

GitHub has become the home for a huge number of open-source projects. Some of these are major, widely used projects such as the Node.js server-side JavaScript platform, but many of them are small, personal projects, half-written programs, and experiments. These projects are typically open-source not because their authors have any particular desire to share them with the world but because GitHub gave them no choice: free GitHub accounts could only create public repositories.

As such, GitHub represented a trade-off: you could use GitHub's services for free, but you had to share. If you didn't want to share, you had to pay.

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TIL: Firefox has a little-known feature to spare your blushes on the new-tab page

Monday 7th of January 2019 07:48:35 PM

Enlarge / That "Top Sites" section should never contain anything too embarrassing.

For many of us, our browsers' new-tab pages are something of a liability. Whichever browser you use, they all follow a fairly similar style: a bunch of boxes linking to the sites that we use and visit regularly. This is great when your regular sites are Ars, Gmail, and Twitter. But all too often, sites of a less salubrious nature find their way onto our new-tab pages, disclosing to the world our dirty habits when nobody's watching. While we can, of course, clean up our new-tab pages by Xing out the buttons for the offending sites, a moment of inattention can all too easily expose our pornographic predilections to the world.

But one browser is working to protect our secrets: Firefox. A redditor spotted (via ZDNet, Techdows) that Firefox contains code to spare your blushes. The browser contains a hard-coded list of adult site domains, and if one of your most-visited sites is one of those domains, it will automatically be hidden from the new-tab page. As long as your porn viewing is reasonably mainstream, you never need to worry about Firefox spilling the beans.

It turns out that this isn't actually a new feature. Much like Chrome's advanced tab management capabilities, it's an old feature that's been newly spotted. Mozilla added the code to the browser about four years ago. It wasn't actually created to prevent potential new-tab page embarrassment; rather, it was to aid Firefox's commercialization efforts. Mozilla experimented with having sponsored content on the new-tab page, allowing companies to pay to have their sites promoted in those buttons. Many advertisers don't relish the thought of having their precious brands juxtaposed with Internet filth, so the Firefox developers added the blacklisting capability to try to prevent porn from appearing alongside sponsored content.

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Chrome is getting a dark mode on Windows to match the one for macOS

Thursday 3rd of January 2019 08:35:26 PM

Enlarge / Chrome's dark mode.

Chrome 73 is going to include support for macOS 10.14's dark mode, with an alternative color scheme for its user interface that cuts the brightness. It's now clear that a Windows version of the same is in development, though it seems it will trail the macOS version.

A bug report was spotted by Techdows, and preliminary work has been started to bring Windows its dark mode. Unlike its macOS counterpart, which should track the operating-system mode, the Windows dark mode currently has to be forcibly turned on with a command-line switch. Adding "--force-dark-mode" to the command line of current builds of Chrome 73 makes everything dark.

The dark theme is still unfinished, hence this menu with almost illegible black text on a dark grey background.

The macOS work has top priority (P1). The Windows work is only P2 (originally P3), surprisingly suggesting that it's less important, even though Chrome has far more Windows 10 users than it does macOS users. Development of the Windows theme was at least, for a time, hindered by one of the developers not having a Windows laptop to use.

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Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to

Monday 17th of December 2018 10:19:32 PM

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

With Microsoft's decision to end development of its own Web rendering engine and switch to Chromium, control over the Web has functionally been ceded to Google. That's a worrying turn of events, given the company's past behavior.

Chrome itself has about 72 percent of the desktop-browser market share. Edge has about 4 percent. Opera, based on Chromium, has another 2 percent. The abandoned, no-longer-updated Internet Explorer has 5 percent, and Safari—only available on macOS—about 5 percent. When Microsoft's transition is complete, we're looking at a world where Chrome and Chrome-derivatives take about 80 percent of the market, with only Firefox, at 9 percent, actively maintained and available cross-platform.

The mobile story has stronger representation from Safari, thanks to the iPhone, but overall tells a similar story. Chrome has 53 percent directly, plus another 6 percent from Samsung Internet, another 5 percent from Opera, and another 2 percent from Android browser. Safari has about 22 percent, with the Chinese UC Browser sitting at about 9 percent. That's two-thirds of the mobile market going to Chrome and Chrome derivatives.

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Edge dies a death of a thousand cuts as Microsoft switches to Chromium

Thursday 6th of December 2018 06:10:52 PM

Enlarge (credit: @AndreTelevise)

As reported earlier this week, Microsoft is going to use Google's Blink rendering engine and V8 JavaScript engine in its Edge browser, largely ending development of its own EdgeHTML rendering engine and Chakra JavaScript engine. This means that Microsoft will be using code from—and making contributions to—the Chromium open source project.

The company's browser will still be named Edge and should retain the current look and feel. The decision to switch was motivated primarily by compatibility problems: Web developers increasingly test their pages exclusively in Chrome, which has put Edge at a significant disadvantage. Microsoft's engineers have found that problematic pages could often be made Edge compatible with only very minor alterations, but because Web devs aren't using Edge at all, they don't even know that they need to change anything.

The story is, however, a little more complex. The initial version of Edge that shipped with the first version of Windows 10 was rudimentary, to say the least. It was the bare bones of a browser, but with extremely limited capabilities around things like tab management and password management, no extension model, and generally lacking in the creature comforts that represent the difference between a bare rendering engine and an actual usable browser. It also had stability issues; crashes and hangs were not uncommon.

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Report: Microsoft is scrapping Edge, switching to just another Chrome clone

Tuesday 4th of December 2018 05:25:12 PM

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich)

Windows Central reports that Microsoft is planning to replace its Edge browser, which uses Microsoft's own EdgeHTML rendering engine and Chakra JavaScript engine, with a new browser built on Chromium, the open source counterpart to Google's Chrome. The new browser has the codename Anaheim.

The report is short on details. The easiest thing for Microsoft to do would be to use Chromium's code wholesale—the Blink rendering engine, the V8 JavaScript engine, and the Chrome user interface with the Google Account parts omitted—to produce something that looks, works, and feels almost identical to Chrome. Alternatively, Redmond could use Blink and V8 but wrap them in Edge's user interface (or some derivative thereof), to retain its own appearance. It might even be possible to do something weird, such as use Blink with the Chakra JavaScript engine. We'll have to wait and see.

Since its launch with Windows 10, Edge has failed to gain much market share. The first iterations of Edge were extremely barebones, offering little more than a basic tabbed browser—no extensions, little control over behavior. Early releases of Edge were also not as stable as one might have liked, making the browser hard to recommend. Three years later on and Edge is greatly—but unevenly—improved. The browser engine's stability seems to be much better than it was, and performance and compatibility remain solid (though with the exception of a few corner cases, these were never a real concern).

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The next version of HTTP won’t be using TCP

Monday 12th of November 2018 10:41:57 PM

Enlarge (credit: Andy Maguire / Flickr)

The next version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)—the network protocol that defines how browsers talk to Web servers—is going to make a major break from the versions in use today.

Today's HTTP (versions 1.0, 1.1, and 2) are all layered on top of TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). TCP, defined as part of the core set of IP (Internet Protocol) layers, provides reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of data over an IP network. "Reliable" means that if some data goes missing during transfer (due to a hardware failure, congestion, or a timeout), the receiving end can detect this and demand that the sending end re-send the missing data; "ordered" means that data is received in the order that it was transmitted in; "error-checked" means that any corruption during transmission can be detected.

These are all desirable properties and necessary for a protocol such as HTTP, but TCP is designed as a kind of one-size-fits-all solution, suitable for any application that needs this kind of reliability. It isn't particularly tuned for the kinds of scenarios that HTTP is used for. TCP requires a number of round trips between client and server to establish a connection, for example; using SSL over TCP requires subsequent round trips to establish the encrypted connection. A protocol purpose-built for HTTP could combine these negotiations and reduce the number of round trips, thereby improving network latency.

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This is fine: IBM acquires Red Hat

Monday 29th of October 2018 04:34:43 PM

Enlarge / This will be... interesting. (credit: IBM)

This is no trick, and whether it's a treat remains to be seen: IBM and Red Hat executives announced Monday that IBM is acquiring the open source software and cloud services company in a $34 billion cash deal.

Red Hat will remain a standalone business unit within IBM, and an IBM spokesperson said that IBM "will remain committed to Red Hat’s open source ethos, its developer community and its open source community relationships." Red Hat will maintain its current leadership team and remain in its current headquarters and facilities. The culture will remain as well—though it's possible IBM and Red Hat may cross-pollinate a bit more than they have in the past.

In a webcast, IBM Senior Vice President of Hybrid Cloud Arvind Krishna and Red Hat Executive Vice President and President of Products and Technologies Paul Cormier echoed the spokesperson's statement, stating that all of Red Hat's existing partnerships with other cloud providers and all of Red Hat's open source development projects—including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the OpenShift implementation of Kubernetes-based containers, and the OpenStack cloud computing platform—would continue as before. Likewise, Krishna said that IBM would continue its partnerships with other Linux distributions.

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GitHub is now officially a part of Microsoft

Friday 26th of October 2018 03:31:52 PM

Enlarge

satyan@redmond:~/src$ git checkout -b microsoft-acquisitions Switched to a new branch 'microsoft-acquisitions' satyan@redmond:~/src$ scp satyan@github.com:/github . satyan@redmond:~/src$ git add github satyan@redmond:~/src$ git commit -m "Microsoft announced in June that it > was buying the Git repository and collaboration platform GitHub for > $7.5 billion in stock. That acquisition has received all the necessary > regulatory approvals and has now completed. Nat Friedman, formerly of > Xamarin, will take the role as GitHub CEO on Monday. > > The news of the acquisition sent ripples through the open source world, > as GitHub has become the home for a significant number of open source > projects. We argued at the time that the sale was likely one of > necessity and that of all the possible suitors, Microsoft was the best > one due to common goals and shared interests. Friedman at the time > sought to reassure concerned open source developers that the intent was > to make GitHub even better at being GitHub and that he would work to > earn the trust of the GitHub community. Those views were reiterated > today. > > Since then, Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network, a patent > cross-licensing group that promises royalty free licenses for any patents > that apply to the Linux kernel or other essential open source packages. > This was a bold move that largely precludes Redmond from asserting its > patents against Android and should mean that the company will no longer > receive royalties from smartphone manufacturers. > > Sources close to the matter tell us that Microsoft's decision to join > OIN was driven in no small part by the GitHub acquisition. GitHub is > already a member of OIN, which left Microsoft with only a few options: > withdraw GitHub from OIN, a move that would inevitably upset the open > source world; acquire GitHub as some kind of arm's length subsidiary > such that GitHub's OIN obligations could not possibly apply to > Microsoft; or join OIN too, as the most straightforward approach that > also bolstered the company's open source reputation. Microsoft took > the third option." [microsoft-acquisitions baadf00d] Microsoft announced... 1 file changed, billions of insertions(+), 0 deletions(-) satyan@redmond:~/src$ git checkout microsoft-corp Switched to branch 'microsoft-corp' satyan@redmond:~/src$ git merge microsoft-acquisitions Updating cafef00d..baadf00d Fast-forward billions-of-files | billions ++++++++++++ satyan@redmond:~/src$ git branch -d microsoft-acquisitions

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Firefox 63 blocks tracking cookies, offers a VPN when you need one

Tuesday 23rd of October 2018 05:06:33 PM

Firefox 63, out today, includes the first iteration of what Mozilla is calling Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP), a feature to improve privacy and stop your activity across the Web from being tracked.

Tracking cookies store some kind of unique identifier that represents your browser. The cookie is tied to a third-party domain—the domain of the tracking company, rather than the site you're visiting. Each site you visit that embeds the tracking cookie will allow the tracking company to see the sites you visit and, using that unique identifier, cross-reference different visits to different sites to build a picture of your online behavior.

The new option to block third-party tracking cookies but permit other third-party cookies. (credit: Mozilla)

Firefox has long had the ability to block all third-party cookies, but this is a crude solution, and many sites will break if all third-party cookies are prohibited. The new EPT option works as a more selective block on tracking cookies; third-party cookies still work in general, but those that are known to belong to tracking companies are blocked. For the most part, sites will retain their full functionality, just without undermining privacy at the same time.

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Microsoft promises to defend—not attack—Linux with its 60,000 patents

Wednesday 10th of October 2018 05:58:09 PM

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has made billions from its extensive library of software patents. A number of Android vendors, including Samsung, pay the company a royalty on each phone they ship to license patents such as the ones covering the exFAT file system. But that situation may be coming to an end with the announcement today that Microsoft is joining the Open Invention Network (OIN).

The Open Invention Network is a group of about 2,400 companies around the world that have agreed to cross-license their patents on a royalty-free basis for use by the "Linux System," a collection of projects including the Linux kernel, many tools and utilities built on top of Linux, and large parts of Android. Member companies also promise not to assert their patents against the Linux Community.

This move should put an end to the lingering threat of patent lawsuits from Microsoft that many Linux and Android companies have faced. With that threat gone, it should also put an end to the royalties that the company was collecting from Android vendors.

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More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

Audiocasts: Linux in the Ham Shack (LHS), Linux Action News, Open Source Security Podcast and Let’s Encrypt

  • LHS Episode #266: #$%&! Net Neutrality
    Welcome to the first episode of Linux in the Ham Shack for 2019. In this episode, the hosts discuss topics including the 2018 RTTY Roundup using FT-8, Cubesats and wideband receivers in space, the ORI at Hamcation, Wekcan, Raspberry Pi-based VPN servers, the LHS Linux distributions, CW trainers and much more.
  • LHS Episode #267: The Weekender XXII
    Welcome to the 22nd edition of the LHS Weekender. In this episode, the hosts discuss upcoming amateur radio contests and special event stations, Open Source events in the next fortnight, Linux distributions of interest, news about science, technology and related endeavors as well is dive into food, drink and other hedonistic topics.
  • Linux Action News 89
    Another troubling week for MongoDB, ZFS On Linux lands a kernel workaround, and 600 days of postmarketOS. Plus our thoughts on the new Project Trident release, and Mozilla ending the Test Pilot program.
  • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 130 - Chat with Snyk co-founder Danny Grander
  • The ACME Era | TechSNAP 395
    We welcome Jim to the show, and he and Wes dive deep into all things Let’s Encrypt.

Review: Sculpt OS 18.09

The Sculpt OS website suggests that the operating system is ready for day to day use, at least in some environments: "Sculpt is used as day-to-day OS by the Genode developers." Though this makes me wonder in what capacity the operating system runs on the machines of those developers. When I tried out the Haiku beta last year, the operating system had some limitations, but I could see how it could be useful to some people in environments with compatible hardware. In theory, I could browse the web, perform some basic tasks and develop software on Haiku. With Sculpt though, I was unable to get the operating system to do anything, from a user's point of view. The small OS could download packages and load some of them into memory, and it could display a graph of related components. Sculpt could connect to my network and mount additional storage. All of this is good and a fine demo of the Genode design. However, I (as a user) was unable to interact with any applications, find a command line, or browse the file system. All of this put a severe damper on my ability to use Sculpt to do anything useful. Genode, and by extension Sculpt OS, has some interesting design goals when it comes to security and minimalism. However, I don't think Sculpt is practical for any end-user tasks at this time. Read more

This Week in Linux, Chrome OS, and Death of Windows 10 Mobile

  • Episode 51 | This Week in Linux
    On this episode of This Week in Linux, we got some new announcements from Inkscape, Purism, Solus, Mozilla, and Steam. We’ll also check out some new Distro releases from Netrunner, Deeping, Android X86 and more. Then we’ll look at some new hardware offerings from Purism and Entroware. Later in the show will talk about some drama happening with a project’s licensing issues and then we’ll round out the episode with some Linux Gaming news including some sales from Humble Bundle. All that and much more!
  • Chrome OS 73 Dev Channel adds Google Drive, Play Files mount in Linux, USB device management and Crostini backup flag
    On Tuesday, Google released the first iteration of Chrome OS 73 for the Dev Channel and there are quite a few new items related to Project Crostini, for Linux app support. Some things in the lengthy changelog only set up new features coming soon while others add new functionality. Here’s a rundown on some of the Crostini additions to Chrome OS 73.
  • Tens to be disappointed as Windows 10 Mobile death date set: Doomed phone OS won't see 2020
    Microsoft has formally set the end date for support of its all-but-forgotten Windows 10 Mobile platform. The Redmond code factory said today that, come December 10, it's curtains for the ill-fated smartphone venture. The retirement will end a four-year run for a Microsoft phone effort that never really got off the ground and helped destroy Nokia in the process. "The end of support date applies to all Windows 10 Mobile products, including Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise," Microsoft declared.