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LWN Kernel Articles: 4.20/5.0 Merge, Jiri Kosina, Arnd Bergmann and Greg Kroah-Hartman

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Linux
  • 4.20/5.0 Merge window part 1

    Linus Torvalds has returned as the keeper of the mainline kernel repository, and the merge window for the next release which, depending on his mood, could be called either 4.20 or 5.0, is well underway. As of this writing, 5,735 non-merge changesets have been pulled for this release; experience suggests that we are thus at roughly the halfway point.

  • Improving the handling of embargoed hardware-security bugs

    Jiri Kosina kicked off a session on hardware vulnerabilities at the 2018 Kernel Maintainers Summit by noting that there are few complaints about how the kernel community deals with security issues in general. That does not hold for Meltdown and Spectre which, he said, had been "completely mishandled". The subsequent handling of the L1TF vulnerability suggests that some lessons have been learned, but there is still plenty of room for improvement in how hardware vulnerabilities are handled in general.

    There are a number of reasons why the handling of Meltdown and Spectre went bad, he said, starting with the fact that the hardware vendors simply did not know how to do it right. They didn't think that the normal security contact (security@kernel.org) could be used, since there was no non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place there. Perhaps what is needed is the creation of such an agreement or, as was discussed in September, a "gentleman's agreement" that would serve the same role.

  • Removing support for old hardware from the kernel

    The kernel supports a wide range of hardware. Or, at least, the kernel contains drivers for a lot of hardware, but the hardware for which many of those drivers was written is old and, perhaps, no longer in actual use. Some of those drivers would certainly no longer work even if the hardware could be found. These drivers provide no value, but they are still an ongoing maintenance burden; it would be better to simply remove them from the kernel. But identifying which drivers can go is not as easy as one might think. Arnd Bergmann led an inconclusive session on this topic at the 2018 Kernel Maintainers Summit.

    Bergmann started by noting (to applause) that he recently removed support for eight processor architectures from the kernel. It was, he said, a lot of work to track down the right people to talk to before removing that code. In almost every case, the outgoing architectures were replaced — by their creators — by Arm-based systems. There probably are not any more architectures that can go anytime soon; Thomas Gleixner's suggestion that x86 should be next failed to win the support of the group.

  • The proper use of EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL()

    The kernel, in theory, puts strict limits on which functions and data structures are available to loadable kernel modules; only those that have been explicitly exported with EXPORT_SYMBOL() or EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL() are accessible. In the case of EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL(), only modules that declare a GPL-compatible license will be able to see the symbol. There have been questions about when EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL() should be used for almost as long as it has existed. The latest attempt to answer those questions was a session run by Greg Kroah-Hartman at the 2018 Kernel Maintainers Summit; that session offered little in the way of general guidance, but it did address one specific case.

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

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    Icinga Director v1.6.0 has been released with Multi-Instance Support, Configuration Baskets and improved Health Checks. We’re excited to announce new features that will help you to work more efficiently.
  • Fedora Looks To Build Firefox With Clang For Better Performance & Compilation Speed
    Following the move by upstream Mozilla in switching their Linux builds of Firefox from being compiled by GCC to LLVM Clang, Fedora is planning the same transition of compilers in the name of compilation speed and resulting performance. FESCo Ticket 2020 laid out the case, "Mozilla upstream switches from gcc to clang and we're going to follow upstream here due to clang performance, maintenance costs and compilation speed. Tom Stellard (clang maintainer) has asked me to file this ticket to comply with Fedora processes."
  • Work in progress: PHP stack for EL-8
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    SolidRun’s “ClearFog CX 8K” SBC is built around a “CEx7 A8040” COM Express Type 7 module that runs Linux on a quad -A72 Armada A8040. Features include 4x 10GbE SFP+ ports and mini-PCIe, M.2, and SATA expansion. In August, SolidRun updated its ClearFog line of Linux-driven router boards with a high-end ClearFog GT 8K SBC with the same 2GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A72 Marvell Armada A8040 SoC found on its MacchiatoBIN Double Shot Mini-ITX board. Now, the company has returned to the headless (no graphics) Armada A8040 with the ClearFog CX 8K. [..] It’s rare to see an Arm-based Type 7 module.
  • Watch Out: Clicking “Check for Updates” Still Installs Unstable Updates on Windows 10
    Microsoft hasn’t learned its lesson. If you click the “Check for Updates” button in the Settings app, Microsoft still considers you a “seeker” and will give you “preview” updates that haven’t gone through the normal testing process. This problem came to everyone’s attention with the release of the October 2018 Update. It was pulled for deleting people’s files, but anyone who clicked “Check for Updates” in the first few days effectively signed up as a tester and got the buggy update. The “Check for Updates” button apparently means “Please install potentially updates that haven’t gone through a normal testing process.”

OSS Leftovers

  • DAV1D v0.1 AV1 Video Decoder Released
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  • PikcioChain plans for open-source MainNet in roadmap update
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  • New Blockstream Bitcoin Block Explorer Announces The Release Of Its Open Source Code Esplora
    Blockstream has just announced a release of Esplora, its open source software. This is the software that keeps the website and network running. This new release follows on the heels of its block explorer that was released in November to the public. The company released the block explorer, and after making sure it was successful, released the code behind that block explorer. This way, developers can easily create their block explorers, build add-ons and extensions as well as contribute to Blockstream.info.
  • Will Concerns Break Open Source Containers?
    Open source containers, which isolate applications from the host system, appear to be gaining traction with IT professionals in the U.S. defense community. But for all their benefits, security remains a notable Achilles’ heel for a couple of reasons. First, containers are still fairly nascent, and many administrators are not yet completely familiar with their capabilities. It’s difficult to secure something you don’t completely understand. Second, containers are designed in a way that hampers visibility. This lack of visibility can make securing containers extremely taxing.
  • Huawei, RoboSense join group pushing open-source autonomous driving technology
    Telecommunications equipment giant Huawei Technologies, its semiconductor subsidiary HiSilicon and RoboSense, a maker of lidar sensors used in driverless cars, have become the first Chinese companies to help establish an international non-profit group that supports open-source autonomous driving projects. The three firms are among the more than 20 founding members of the Autoware Foundation, which aims to promote collaboration between corporate and academic research efforts in autonomous driving technology, according to a statement from the group on Monday. The foundation is an outgrowth of Autoware.AI, an open-source autonomous driving platform that was started by Nagoya University associate professor Shinpei Kato in 2015.
  • 40 top Linux and open source conferences in 2019
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  • Adding graphics to the Windows System for Linux [Ed: CBS is still employing loads of Microsoft boosters like Simon Bisson, to whom "Linux" is just something for Microsoft to swallow]/
  • Kong launches its fully managed API platform [Ed: Typical openwashing of APIs, even using the term "open source" where it clearly does not belong]g
  • How Shared, Open Data Can Help Us Better Overcome Disasters
    WHEN A MASSIVE earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant failed, leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere and water. People around the country as well as others with family and friends in Japan were, understandably, concerned about radiation levels—but there was no easy way for them to get that information. I was part of a small group of volunteers who came together to start a nonprofit organization, Safecast, to design, build, and deploy Geiger counters and a website that would eventually make more than 100 million measurements of radiation levels available to the public. We started in Japan, of course, but eventually people around the world joined the movement, creating an open global data set. The key to success was the mobile, easy to operate, high-quality but lower-cost kit that the Safecast team developed, which people could buy and build to collect data that they might then share on the Safecast website.

Security: Updates, Ransomware, and DNS Blame Misplaced

  • Security updates for Tuesday
  • Ransomware still dominates the global threat landscape
     

    Ransomware attacks continues as the main world’s main security threat and the most profitable form of malware, but a new global report indicates that despite “copious” numbers of infections daily there’s emerging signs the threat is no longer growing.  

  • Someone messed with Linux.org's DNS to deface the website's homepage [Ed: That's not "deface"' but more like redirect and it's not the site's DNS system but something upstream, another company that's at fault]
    SO IMAGINE YOU REALLY LOVE OPEN SOURCE; you've poured yourself a glass of claret from a wine box and have settled into a night of perusing Linux.org. You feel a tingle of excitement as you type in the URL - you're old skool - but that sours to despair as you see a defaced website greet your eyes. Yep, it looks like someone managed to get into the Linux.org website's domain name service (DNS) settings and point the domain to another server that served up a defaced webpage, which depending on when you may have accessed it, greeted visitors with racial slurs, an obscene picture and a protest against the revised Linux kernel developer code of conduct.

Tails 3.11 and Tor Transparency (Financials)