Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 31st Oct 2015 19:56 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

GNU Hurd 0.7 and GNU Mach 1.6 have been released.

The GNU Hurd is the GNU project's replacement for the Unix kernel. It is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux).

Since day one of the GNU project, Hurd was supposed to be its kernel - as we all know, of course, it turned out Linux provided a far better kernel with a much faster pace of development, and it's been used as the de-facto GNU kernel ever since. Those with an appreciation for history will love the lingering, mildly dismissive tone of "...such as Linux".


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 31st Oct 2015 19:52 UTC

You can read the German source version of the article, or the English translation.

A CCC made Apple TV App for displaying CCC-talks may not be released on the platform. According to Apple the app is in breach of developer terms and conditions because it enables access to content of which the company disapproves: Apple criticizes that the CCC's app allows watching publicly given talks, which among others deal with security holes in the widely used Bluetooth technology, or help "jailbreaking" Apple devices - enabling the use of applications that have not been approved by Apple. The talks criticized by Apple are all available under the website and can also be watched through the Apple TV YouTube app, which is not criticized by Apple.

Still feel comfortable with letting Apple police the news you read?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 30th Oct 2015 10:59 UTC

So after yesterday's news about Chrome OS and Android supposedly merging, we got a bit more insight into what is actually happening. As it turns out, Google claims Chrome OS isn't disappearing - it's just going to promote Android as an additional choice for OEMs to put on laptops and desktop machines, as Recode reports.

Starting next year, the company will work with partners to build personal computers that run on Android, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. The Chrome browser and operating systems aren't disappearing - PC makers that produce Chromebooks will still be able to use Chrome. But they will now have the choice of Android. And its arrival suggests the supremacy of mobile inside Google, which has prioritized how to best handle the shift away from desktop across all its divisions.

Ever since Google unveiled Material Design, which works well on just about any size application, from full-screen tablets applications to small smartphone applications, and everything in between, it was clear to me Google was looking into expanding Android beyond smartphones and tablets. They've apparently been working on this for several years, with the first developer releases hitting next year, and the first devices in 2017.

This probably also explains the Pixel C. Pixel devices have always been kind of odd in that they clearly aren't meant for the general public to buy, but more as showcases for people inside Google itself. The Pixel C - the Surface clone - would serve as a perfect developer and testing device for an Android that is more oriented towards dekstops and laptops.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Oct 2015 21:13 UTC

Alphabet Inc.'s Google plans to fold its Chrome operating system for personal computers into its Android mobile-operating system, according to people familiar with the matter, a sign of the growing dominance of mobile computing.

Google engineers have been working for roughly two years to combine the operating systems and have made progress recently, two of the people said. The company plans to unveil its new, single operating system in 2017, but expects to show off an early version next year, one of the people said.

The writing's been on the wall for a while now, and to be honest, this makes perfect sense. Android is the more popular and more capable of the two, and already runs Chrome as it is.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Oct 2015 20:55 UTC

Early next year, we expect to be re-categorizing Windows 10 as a "Recommended Update". Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device. Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue. And of course, if you choose to upgrade (our recommendation!), then you will have 31 days to roll back to your previous Windows version if you don’t love it.

We don't think twice about updating to new operating systems releases on smartphones of tablets, but on PCs, we always get really uppity about it. I think it's pretty irresponsible to continue using outdated software that isn't receiving security updates anymore (is Windows 7 in that category yet?), but at the same time, it is your machine, and if you want to run insecure software - well, be my guest.

Still, I hope every single Windows installation moves to Windows 10 soon, especially those still using dreadful Windows XP.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Oct 2015 18:20 UTC

Paul Thurrott, on Microsoft's new Android launcher Arrow:

Consider the following.

You can now unlock your Android device with Microsoft’s Next Lock Screen or Picturesque Lock Screen. Interact with your apps, contacts, reminders, and recent items with the Arrow home app replacement. Access first-class Microsoft experiences via Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Groove. Use mobile-specific solutions such as Microsoft Wi-Fi, Health, Office Lens, Office Remote, and MSN News, Sports, Money and Weather. And even test-drive Android-/mobile-only Microsoft apps like Microsoft Translator, Send, Tossup, and Xim. You could configure a fully-functioning Android handset that used almost nothing but Microsoft apps (plus a few stragglers like the phone, messaging and camera apps, plus Google Maps).

It's really happening. And Arrow is a big piece of the puzzle.

The Microsoft Android phone is incoming.


Linked by David Adams on Thu 29th Oct 2015 04:53 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Andrew “bunnie” Huang & Sean Cross tell, in great detail, how they created the Novena laptop, using solely open source software and hardware. For anyone familiar with or even interested in how computers really work, it's quite a gripping tale. I believe their work could have lasting beneficial effects on the hobbyist computing and open source communities. Even though it's published in a trade journal for professional electrical engineers, the article is accessible, even rudimentary at times. They faced some considerable obstacles, such as a lack of driver support for their GPU. Fortunately, "the user community behind Novena is trying to create, through reverse engineering, open-source drivers that would allow the built-in GPU on the i.MX6 chip to render graphics directly." Most interesting feature: "a field-programmable gate array (FPGA), a type of processor chip that can be reconfigured by its user to change the chip’s specs and capabilities. Basically, this reconfigurability allows the chip to do things in hardware that would otherwise have to be done in software." Also, two ethernet ports.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 28th Oct 2015 23:27 UTC
Internet & Networking

Last month, I wrote:

The second method by which publishers and ad brokers will combat ad-blocking is by making ads harder to detect. We've already seen a huge increase in "advertorials", ads written to look like regular editorial content. Right now, there will be tags or other markers to separate advertorial content from regular editorial content, but in the near future you can expect these borders to become ever more vague, until eventually, they'll vanish altogether.

Today, Condé Nast, parent company of, among other things, Ars Technica, announced a new type of ad campaign, as reported by Observer.

"Creating the most compelling content and obsessively pushing boundaries is what drives Condé Nast," chief marketing officer and president of Condé Nast Media Group Edward Menicheschi said in the announcement. "Partnering with Cadillac, a brand with similar DNA, will result in premium storytelling that engages and inspires our shared consumers."

The marketing boundaries will be pushed by "the talented storytellers from Condé Nast's editorial staff" who, in a variety of formats and across the company's distribution platforms (aka editorial properties), will "dare greatly" to reimagine the relationship between editorial and advertising. Condés Cadillac campaign will consist of more than 50 pieces of custom content, including articles and video.

Give it a few years, and the boundaries between advertising and content will be gone completely. It's the only way to combat ad blockers and deliver advertising to consumers on the web.

Oh, how we'll long for today's ads.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 28th Oct 2015 19:20 UTC

A bit of a fluff piece, as these articles tend to be, but still a fun and great read.

"No. 1, the importance and value of great hardware has not diminished in any way," he said. "Across the board, our goal is to make the best in the categories we choose to compete in. It's what we're doing and it's reflected in customers choosing our products over anyone else's. So I do think people are showing with their choice that they do value quality and beauty of the hardware and that is not diminishing."

"I have never heard anyone say, 'Because I like to keep my stuff in the cloud, I will take a cheap piece of hardware and I want it to be ugly.' All things being equal, of course, nobody wants that," Schiller said.

While I personally believe Apple's software leaves a lot to be desired, and even though Apple sometimes makes absolutely ridiculous hardware choices (5400RPM? Seriously?), there's no denying that when it comes to the sheer feel of Apple's hardware - such as my iPhone 6S, or retina MacBook Pro - they really are in a league of their own. They say the latest Galaxy phones and the new Nexus 6P come close, but I haven't used them yet.

In any event, especially compared to other PC OEMs, Apple is so far ahead it's not even a contest anymore, really. Let's hope Microsoft's hardware efforts finally - finally - lights a few fires.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 28th Oct 2015 00:05 UTC
Internet & Networking

The European Parliament has passed the flawed compromise text on net neutrality without including any of the amendments that would have closed serious loopholes. The vote, with 500 in favour, and 163 against, took place in a plenary session a few hours after a rather lacklustre debate this morning, which was attended by only 50 MEPs out of the European Parliament's total of 751, indicating little interest in this key topic among most European politicians.

And thus, with one fell swoop, the progress several countries had made - including my own - is undone, by a bunch of incompetent, spineless toads in Brussels. We had full net neutrality in The Netherlands, but such rules are now effectively illegal.

And then people wonder why the EU is so incredibly unpopular.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Oct 2015 23:09 UTC, submitted by uridium
Hardware, Embedded Systems

There are various Commodore 80286 PCs. The ones I know: the PC30-III, PC35-III, PC40-III and PC45-III. All these systems use the PC40-III motherboard. [...]

What they have in common is the fact that all these PCs only support HDDs up to 512 MB. This was a quite normal limit for those days and only servers were equipped with HDDs larger than 100 MB. The problem however is that HDDs smaller than 512 MB hardly can be found and HDDs larger than 512 MB won't be recognised.

The solution is a piece of software to enable the PC to handle these larger HDDs: XTIDE Universal BIOS. It was originally meant to enable XTs to handle 16-bits IDE HDDs on their 8-bits ISA bus. But is has been expanded in such a way that ATs and larger PCs could benefit from its features as well.

Obscure solution for an obscure problem. I love it.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Oct 2015 20:56 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Asteroid is a free and open-source community-centered smartwatch platform based on Qt5, OpenEmbedded and libhybris. Qt5 is used to create a rock-solid user experience, OpenEmbedded provides the build system and core components of the distribution and libhybris allows Asteroid to be run on top of Android Wear devices. It shares a lot of technological and philosophical choices with smartphones projects such as SailfishOS, NemoMobile, WebOS-Ports, SHR or Ubuntu Touch but adapted to the needs of smartwatches. For now the project is still in early stages and is in need of contributors.

libhybris is the gift that just keeps on giving.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 26th Oct 2015 23:32 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

This project started as a simple experiment to see if I could create a "modern" looking graphical user interface for the commodore 64.

Once I got the basic user interface working, I decided to add an optional touch screen. It pretty much works! Of course cOS can still be operated by a standard joystick or the cursor keys.

These people are gods.


Written by Adam S on Mon 26th Oct 2015 14:00 UTC
Mac OS X For all of the strengths of OS X, two of the complaints recycled year after year are the aged filesystem, HFS+, with its lack of file integrity, and the file manager, the Finder. While replacing HFS+ remains out of our reach, an alternative to the Finder for day-to-day tasks has been achievable for some time. Enter "Commander One," a dual-pane file manager that seeks to fill in the holes that the Finder has famously left. Let's dig in and see what Commander One has to offer.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Oct 2015 23:11 UTC

Apple is currently embroiled in a legal tussle with the US Department of Justice over a defendant's iPhone. The DoJ wants to force Apple to unlock the phone, but Apple argues that first, it technically cannot do so, and second, that it doesn't have to. It's that second point the DoJ is trying to address in a very interesting way.

Effectively, the DoJ is arguing that because Apple only licenses iOS to its users, and because Apple specifically states it retains ownership of iOS, Apple can be forced to unlock the phone. It is, namely, the DoJ argues, iOS which is thwarting law enforcement's ability to do its job, and the copy of iOS on the phone in question is, as Apple itself clearly states, Apple's property. Or, in the DoJ's legalese:

Apple designed, manufactured, and sold the Target Phone that is the subject of the search warrant. But that is only the beginning of Apple's relationship to the phone and to this matter. Apple wrote and owns the software that runs the phone, and this software is thwarting the execution of the warrant. Apple's software licensing agreement specifies that iOS 7 software is "licensed, not sold" and that users are merely granted "a limited non-exclusive license to use the iOS Software." [...] Apple cannot reap the legal benefits of licensing its software in this manner and then later disclaim any ownership or obligation to assist law enforcement when that same software plays a critical role in thwarting execution of a search warrant.

This is a remarkable argument, and it fascinates me to no end - if the DoJ actually manages to pull this one off, it will not only be a glorious case of the insane anti-consumer implications of commercial software licensing coming to bite a large corporation in the ass, but it will also have far-reaching consequences for the power the US government has - in a very, very bad way, as Cory Doctorow explains:

To my knowledge, this is an entirely novel argument, but as I say, it has far-reaching consequences. Virtually every commercial software vendor licenses its products, rather than selling them. If the DoJ establishes the precedent that a product's continued ownership interest in a product after it is sold obliges the company to act as agents of the state, this could ripple out to cars and pacemakers, voting machines and tea-kettles, thermostats and CCTVs and door locks and every other device with embedded software.

Commercial software licensing is a shady practice that should've come under intense scrutiny decades ago, but this is not the manner in which I want it to be done.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Oct 2015 22:50 UTC, submitted by pek
OSNews, Generic OSes

OZ V4.6, a continuation of the actual operating system of the Z88, has been released.

This web space has been created by and for the 'die-hard' users of the Cambridge Z88, the iPad of the 80's, launched in September 1987 at the PCW computer show in London. The company behind it was Cambridge Computer, a spring-off company of Sinclair Research, founded by Clive Sinclair.

The object of this project is to streamline the operating system, OZ and to build new applications by replacing the built-in ROM with a larger device. All the software and documents here, is provided for free, ready to be downloaded in source code, or as ready-made binaries - all GPL V2 licensed.

Incredibly impressive project.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Oct 2015 11:53 UTC

There's a worrying new trend in the Windows Phone world - applications are disappearing.

American Airlines, Chase Bank, Bank of America, NBC, Pinterest, and Kabam have all discontinued their Windows Phone apps in the past year. These huge apps have simply disappeared or will no longer be updated. Some companies have cited a lack of Windows Phone users, and others have remained silent, but each removal has put Microsoft another step behind in the mobile race.

It's not just third-party apps disappearing, either. Microsoft has removed several MSN apps and its popular Photosynth app, and the software maker has also killed off a number of special Lumia camera apps. Windows Phone users still don't have great Skype or Office apps like Microsoft produces for the iPhone. It's stunning that, after five years, the best experience of using Skype or Office on a phone isn't on one powered by Windows. This will change in Windows 10 Mobile, but it's not available yet.

Considering Microsoft's broken promises, abysmal messaging, glacial development pace, endless resets, and confusing strategies, it's entirely and 100% understandable that developers are giving Windows Phone the boot. I'm sure we'll get comments about "just you wait until Windows Phone 10!", but nobody is falling for those empty promises anymore.

Windows Phone could've been great, if only it hadn't been managed by utter incompetency.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Oct 2015 11:53 UTC

A very in-depth presentation concerning Virtualization Based Security (VBS) in Windows 10/Server 2016, something Microsoft seems to be investing heavily in. It's from Alex Ionescu, of ReactOS fame, delivered at Blackhat 2015.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Oct 2015 10:10 UTC
Internet & Networking

So, Medium tried a new thing on their website in which they render the site in system fonts - San Francisco, Roboto, Segoe - but soon they started getting bug reports from people about Medium showing blocky, pixellated fonts.

I looked again at all the system fonts and none seemed to match any of the descriptions. What was going on? I started asking for screenshots, and eventually a few trickled in.

And, suddenly, I realized I know this font. It was a font I saw on my first PC.

I love this story.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 22nd Oct 2015 21:04 UTC

If the ads pointing to a Friday pre-order date for the Priv didn't have you salivating already, things are starting to heat up. BlackBerry is now listing the Priv on ShopBlackBerry, and although you can't pre-order just yet, we now have a good look at pricing. For those of us in the U.S., it looks like the BlackBerry Priv is running a cool $750 unlocked. In Canada, on the other hand, it'll set you back $949 - definitely a pricey little beast. In addition, we're looking at a ship date of November 16 after pre-orders begin.

I like the Priv - finally a modern phone with a proper keyboard - but that is one hefty price tag. I think this kills a lot of the possible, albeit modest, success.