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The Demise of Chromium as Free Software

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  • This is why Leading Linux Distros going to remove Chromium from their Official Repositories

    Jochen Eisinger from Google team mentioned in a discussion thread that they will be banning sync support system of Chromium. This lead to lot of frustration in the Linux Dev community & rage against googles sudden decision.
    This Decision can kill small browser projects & lead the web to single browser monopoly i.e. Google Chrome!

    As a result of the googles decision multiple distros are strictly considering removal of Chromium from their official repositories. Leading distros like Arch Linux, Fedora, Debian, Slackware & OpenSUSE have stated that if the sync support goes down from google they will definitely remove chromium from their official repositories.

  • Chromium 88 removes Flash support [Ed: But DRM added]

    I uploaded a set of chromium packages to my repository today. Chromium 88.0.4324.96 sources were released two days ago.

    The release notes on the Google Chrome Releases Blog mention 36 security fixes with at least one being tagged as “critical” but the article does not mention that Flash support has been entirely removed from Chromium now.

    Adobe’s Flash was already actively being blocked for a long time and you had to consciously enable Flash content on web pages, but after Adobe discontinued Flash on 1st of January 2021 it was only a matter of time before support in web browsers would be removed as well.

    Let’s also briefly revisit the topic of my previous post – Google will remove access to Chrome Sync for all community builds of the open source variant of their Chrome browser: Chromium… thereby crippling it as far as I am concerned.

  • Chrome 89 Preparing To Ship With AV1 Encoder For WebRTC Usage [Ed: Massive patent trap]

    Now that Chrome 88 released, attention is turning to Chrome 89 of which an interesting technical change is the enabling of AV1 encode support within the web browser.

    Going back to 2018 there's been AV1 decode support within the browser when wanting to enjoy content encoded in this royalty-free, modern codec. But now for Chrome 89 is coming AV1 encode support.

    AV1 encode support is being added for the WebRTC use-case for real-time conferencing. Web applications like WebEx, Meet, and Duo (among others) already support using AV1 for better compression efficiency, improved low-bandwidth handling, and greater screen sharing efficiency. While hardware-based AV1 encoding isn't yet common, Chrome Linux/macOS/Windows desktop builds are adding the ability to use CPU-based AV1 encoding.

Use Chromium? Sync Features Will Stop Working on March 15

  • Use Chromium? Sync Features Will Stop Working on March 15

    Users of the Chromium web browser are about to lose access to several key features, including bookmark and password sync.

    Google is cutting off access to a number of private APIs used in Chromium builds from March 15, 2021.

    Among the APIs nixed are those supporting the browser’s account syncing services, translation, and spell checking.

Linux distributors frustrated by Google's new Chromium web brows

  • Linux distributors frustrated by Google's new Chromium web browser restrictions

    While Google Chrome is easily the most popular PC web browser, it's open-source big brother, Chromium, doesn't have that many users, but it's always had some fans on desktop Linux. Now, though, that love affair is in trouble.

    Google claims it recently found un-named third-party Chromium-based browsers integrating Google cloud-based features, such as Chrome sync and Click to Call, that were intended only for Google Chrome users. In other words, "This meant that a small fraction of users could sign into their Google Account and store their personal Chrome sync data, such as bookmarks, not just with Google Chrome, but also with some third-party Chromium-based browsers."

Fedora's Chromium maintainer suggests switching to Firefox

  • Fedora's Chromium maintainer suggests switching to Firefox as Google yanks features in favour of Chrome

    Fedora's maintainer for the open-source Chromium browser package is recommending users consider switching to Firefox following Google's decision to remove functionality and make it exclusive to its proprietary Chrome browser.

    The comments refer to a low-key statement Google made just before the release of Chrome 88, saying that during an audit it had "discovered that some third-party Chromium-based browsers were able to integrate Google features, such as Chrome sync and Click to Call, that are only intended for Google's use... we are limiting access to our private Chrome APIs starting on March 15, 2021."

    Tom Callaway (aka "spot"), a former Fedora engineering manager at Red Hat (Fedora is Red Hat's bleeding-edge Linux distro), who now works for AWS, remarked when describing the Chromium 88 build that: "Google gave the builders of distribution Chromium packages these access rights back in 2013 via API keys, specifically so that we could have open-source builds of Chromium with (near) feature parity to Chrome. And now they're taking it away.

Chromium restrictions by Google

  • Google to Limit Chrome Sync API following Current Audit

    Google has announced that it will be limiting access to private Chrome APIs that enable features such as Chrome sync and Click to Call so that only its browsers can use them.

  • Google is removing the ability for Chromium browsers to accidentally sync Chrome user data

    Google has taken the open-source code for Chromium and has put countless hours on top of it with their own in-house development teams to create experiences that are unique and competitive. The third-party browsers which were able to access Chrome Sync were not identified publicly via the Chromium Blog, but as a result of this, Google is limiting access to its private Chrome APIs starting March 15, 2021.

  • Limiting Private API availability in Chromium

    During a recent audit, we discovered that some third-party Chromium based browsers were able to integrate Google features, such as Chrome sync and Click to Call, that are only intended for Google’s use. [...]

  • Google to limit Chrome sync API following audit

    The web giant said that users of some third-party browsers were able to sign in to their Google Account and store and retrieve their Chrome sync data in their third-party browser. The data they could access includes bookmarks and presumably passwords. Google isn’t happy this is happening and has said that the APIs that enable these features will be restricted from March 15, 2021.

  • What’s The Deal With Chromium On Linux? Google At Odds With Package Maintainers

    To the average Chromium user, this doesn’t sound like much of a problem. In fact, you might even assume it doesn’t apply to you. The language used in the post makes it sound like Google is referring to browsers which are spun off of the Chromium codebase, and at least in part, they are. But the search giant is also using this opportunity to codify their belief that the only official Chromium builds are the ones that they provide themselves. With that simple change, anyone using a distribution-specific build of Chromium just became persona non grata.

    Unhappy with the idea of giving users a semi-functional browser, the Chromium maintainers for several distributions such as Arch Linux and Fedora have said they’re considering pulling the package from their respective repositories altogether. With a Google representative confirming the change is coming regardless of community feedback, it seems likely more distributions will follow suit.

Mozilla RUINS Firefox, Google RUINS Chromium.

  • Mozilla RUINS Firefox, Google RUINS Chromium.

    It's feels like every day is moving farther away from the idea of a FREE AND OPEN SOURCE web. That's depressing, especially watching Mozilla make dumbfounding decisions that further diminish its market standing.

Google should really open source Chromium

  • Google should really open source Chromium

    On March 15, 2021, Google will limit access to many Chrome application programming interfaces (API) inside the open-source Chromium web browser. Google's doing this because, "third-party Chromium-based browsers integrating Google cloud-based features, such as Chrome sync and Click to Call, that were intended only for Google Chrome users".

    In other words, "this meant that a small fraction of users could sign into their Google Account and store their personal Chrome sync data, such as bookmarks, not just with Google Chrome, but also with some third-party Chromium-based browsers".

    [...]

    That's especially true when you consider just how dominant Chromium is in the web browser world. You could even argue that Chromium is the single most important end-user, open-source program in the world. Think about it. With 90% control of the browser marketplace, that's not just people "using" the web. No, it's 90% of people buying goods from Amazon; working at their jobs using Microsoft 365; running their line of business programs such as Salesforce, and on and on.

    It's time to think about taking Chromium out of Google's control and giving it to a neutral third-party foundation. If Google doesn't want to go along with this idea, fine. Fork Chromium. It won't be the first or last time a top open-source program has been forked.

    Yes, the problem here isn't with the code itself. It's with the rules that Google has applied to its APIs. We've just had our noses rubbed into how those service APIs have locked developers into a world where Google calls all the shots.

    It's not easy to replace those API service functionalities. Just ask the developers behind the Google-less Android /e/OS operating system and smartphones. But, it can be done, and it could be done much easier by a community foundation with, or without, Google's help.

Google Yanks These Features From Chromium...

  • Google Yanks These Features From Chromium...

    Chromium is open source project which Google Chrome is built upon and for the longest time it has made use of some Google Chrome APIs for some it's features however after March 15th that will be changing as Google will be pulling support for these features from the browser.

Chromium losing Sync support in early March

  • Chromium losing Sync support in early March

    Google has announced that they are going to block everything but Chrome from accessing certain Google features (like Chrome sync) starting on March 15. This decision by Google is going to affect Arch's chromium package a bit earlier, on March 2, when Chromium 89 gets released.

    We know for sure that data syncing will stop working (passwords, bookmarks, etc.). Other features such as geolocation or enhanced spell check might continue to function for a bit longer. Extensions integrating with Google Drive might misbehave and LibreOffice will lose access to documents stored there.

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When the PinePhone began shipping to early adopters, it had all the hardware you’d expect from a smartphone, but it lacked the software needed to make some of that hardware work. If you were one of the first people to get your hands on a PinePhone, you had a Linux-friendly phone with a camera that couldn’t be used to take pictures or record video. But over time kernel and app developers got the phone’s front and rear cameras working, and now most Linux distributions for the PinePhone allow you to take pictures (of mediocre quality). One thing you couldn’t do until recently though? Video calls. But now it looks like that’s possible too… soft of. The process looks rather painful at the moment, but it should get better over time. Read more Also: Plasma Mobile tarball release: bugfixes and new releases

A warning about 5.12-rc1

  • A warning about 5.12-rc1
    Hey peeps - some of you may have already noticed that in my public git
    tree, the "v5.12-rc1" tag has magically been renamed to
    "v5.12-rc1-dontuse". It's still the same object, it still says
    "v5.12-rc1" internally, and it is still is signed by me, but the
    user-visible name of the tag has changed.
    
    
    
    
    The reason is fairly straightforward: this merge window, we had a very
    innocuous code cleanup and simplification that raised no red flags at
    all, but had a subtle and very nasty bug in it: swap files stopped
    working right.  And they stopped working in a particularly bad way:
    the offset of the start of the swap file was lost.
    
    
    
    
    Swapping still happened, but it happened to the wrong part of the
    filesystem, with the obvious catastrophic end results.
    
    
    
    
    Now, the good news is even if you do use swap (and hey, that's nowhere
    near as common as it used to be), most people don't use a swap *file*,
    but a separate swap *partition*. And the bug in question really only
    happens for when you have a regular filesystem, and put a file on it
    as a swap.
    
    
    
    
    And, as far as I know, all the normal distributions set things up with
    swap partitions, not files, because honestly, swapfiles tend to be
    slower and have various other complexity issues.
    
    
    
    
    The bad news is that the reason we support swapfiles in the first
    place is that they do end up having some flexibility advantages, and
    so some people do use them for that reason. If so, do not use rc1.
    Thus the renaming of the tag.
    
    
    
    
    Yes, this is very unfortunate, but it really wasn't a very obvious
    bug, and it didn't even show up in normal testing, exactly because
    swapfiles just aren't normal. So I'm not blaming the developers in
    question, and it also wasn't due to the odd timing of the merge
    window, it was just simply an unusually nasty bug that did get caught
    and is fixed in the current tree.
    
    
    
    
    But I want everybody to be aware of because _if_ it bites you, it
    bites you hard, and you can end up with a filesystem that is
    essentially overwritten by random swap data. This is what we in the
    industry call "double ungood".
    
    
    
    
    Now, there's a couple of additional reasons for me writing this note
    other than just "don't run 5.12-rc1 if you use a swapfile". Because
    it's more than just "ok, we all know the merge window is when all the
    new scary code gets merged, and rc1 can be a bit scary and not work
    for everybody". Yes, rc1 tends to be buggier than later rc's, we are
    all used to that, but honestly, most of the time the bugs are much
    smaller annoyances than this time.
    
    
    
    
    And in fact, most of our rc1 releases have been so solid over the
    years that people may have forgotten that "yeah, this is all the new
    code that can have nasty bugs in it".
    
    
    
    
    One additional reason for this note is that I want to not just warn
    people to not run this if you have a swapfile - even if you are
    personally not impacted (like I am, and probably most people are -
    swap partitions all around) - I want to make sure that nobody starts
    new topic branches using that 5.12-rc1 tag. I know a few developers
    tend to go "Ok, rc1 is out, I got all my development work into this
    merge window, I will now fast-forward to rc1 and use that as a base
    for the next release". Don't do it this time. It may work perfectly
    well for you because you have the common partition setup, but it can
    end up being a horrible base for anybody else that might end up
    bisecting into that area.
    
    
    
    
    And the *final* reason I want to just note this is a purely git
    process one: if you already pulled my git tree, you will have that
    "v5.12-rc1" tag, and the fact that it no longer exists in my public
    tree under that name changes nothing at all for you. Git is
    distributed, and me removing that tag and replacing it with another
    name doesn't magically remove it from other copies unless you have
    special mirroring code.
    
    
    
    
    So if you have a kernel git tree (and I'm here assuming "origin"
    points to my trees), and you do
    
    
    
    
         git fetch --tags origin
    
    
    
    
    you _will_ now see the new "v5.12-rc1-dontuse" tag. But git won't
    remove the old v5.12-rc1 tag, because while git will see that it is
    not upstream, git will just assume that that simply means that it's
    your own local tag. Tags, unlike branch names, are a global namespace
    in git.
    
    
    
    
    So you should additionally do a "git tag -d v5.12-rc1" to actually get
    rid of the original tag name.
    
    
    
    
    Of course, having the old tag doesn't really do anything bad, so this
    git process thing is entirely up to you. As long as you don't _use_
    v5.12-rc1 for anything, having the tag around won't really matter, and
    having both 'v5.12-rc1' _and_ 'v5.12-rc1-dontuse' doesn't hurt
    anything either, and seeing both is hopefully already sufficient
    warning of "let's not use that then".
    
    
    
    
    Sorry for this mess,
                 Linus
    
    
    
    
    
  • A warning about 5.12-rc1

    Linus Torvalds has sent out a note telling people not to install the recent 5.12-rc1 development kernel; this is especially true for anybody running with swap files. "But I want everybody to be aware of because _if_ it bites you, it bites you hard, and you can end up with a filesystem that is essentially overwritten by random swap data. This is what we in the industry call 'double ungood'." Additionally, he is asking maintainers to not start branches from 5.12-rc1 to avoid future situations where people land in the buggy code while bisecting problems.

  •  
  • Linux 5.12-rc2 Likely Coming Early Due To That Nasty File-System Corruption Bug

    Linus Torvalds has now warned developers over using Linux 5.12-rc1 as a basis for their future branches and is looking to release 5.12-rc2 ahead of schedule as a result of that problematic file-system corruption bug stemming from a swap file bug. 

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