Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Jun 2018 23:36 UTC
Apple

Apple has dropped legacy frameworks very easily in the past though. But how exactly did that happen?

CPU changes. Once when MacOS went from PPC to Intel, and then once when MacOS went from 32 bit to 64 bit. Each time that transition happened Apple was able to say "OK, this legacy stuff just isn't going to be there on the new architecture". And since you had to recompile apps anyway to make them run on the new architecture, developers kind of shrugged and said "Well, yea. That's what I would have done too". It made sense.

So are we about to see 128 bit Intel processors anytime soon, to facilitate this change? I doubt it.

OK then, what about a new architecture?

Oh. Hello 64 bit ARM.

The Macintosh platform is going to transition to Apple's own ARM64 architecture over the coming years. The most succinct explanation as to why comes from Steven Troughton-Smith:

Opening ARM-based Macs to the iOS ecosystem to make one unified Apple platform, knowing what we know about Marzipan, makes so much sense that it becomes difficult to imagine it any other way. Apple finds itself completely unable to build the computers it wants to build with Intel.

Windows has already made the move to ARM, and macOS will be joining it over the coming years. There is a major architectural shift happening in desktop computing, and there are quite a few companies who have to worry about their long-term bottom line: Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Jun 2018 22:40 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Yesterday, we linked to a 1997 book about the Windows 95 file system, which is a great read. Don't let the fun end there, though - the site hosting said book, Tenox.net by Antoni Sawicki, is a true treasure trove of in-depth books that while outdated today, are still amazingly detailed reads. I honestly have no idea which to pick to quote here as an example, so out of my own personal interest, I couldn't really pass up "Configuring CDE: The Common Desktop Environment" by Charles Fernandez.

If you spend the major portion of your work day in front of a workstation chasing bits through the electronic networks of cyberspace, aka the information highway, so that your users can be more productive, this book is for you.

If you spend your days (or, thanks to some corporate edict, are about to spend your days) living in the Common Desktop Environment, so that your users can focus on their work and not the mechanics of getting to their work, this book shows you what you can do to make that environment their home.

There's countless other great reads in the list, so peruse them and find your own favourites.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Jun 2018 22:29 UTC
In the News

Bijan Stephen, writing about Elon Musk's adoring, unquestioning fans:

Gomez isn't alone. She's one member of a vast, global community of people who revere the 46-year-old entrepreneur with a passion better suited to a megachurch pastor than a tech mogul. With followers like her, Elon Musk - the South African-born multibillionaire known for high-profile, risky investments such as Tesla (electric cars), SpaceX (private space travel), the Boring Company (underground travel), and Neuralink (neurotechnology) - has reaped the benefits of a culture in which fandom dominates nearly everything. While his detractors see him as another out-of-touch, inexpert rich guy who either can't or won't acknowledge the damage he and his companies are doing, to his fans, Musk is a visionary out to save humanity from itself. They gravitate toward his charisma and his intoxicating brew of extreme wealth, a grand vision for society - articulated through his companies, which he has an odd habit of launching with tweets - and an internet-friendly playfulness that sets him apart from the stodgier members of his economic class. Among his more than 22 million followers, all of this inspires a level of righteous devotion rarely glimpsed outside of the replies to a Taylor Swift tweet.

The most vocal of those fans have an impact: they're an army of irregulars waiting to be marshaled via a tweet and sent on the digital warpath against anything Musk decides he doesn't like, the iron fist in Musk's velvet glove. They've become known for haranguing people they believe have crossed him, journalists especially, with relentless fervor. The attacks are standard social media-era fare: free-for-all bombardment across social platforms by people who are not always vitriolic but who nevertheless barrage the perceived enemy with bad-faith questions.

Just to reiterate: this article is about Elon Musk - not somebody else.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Jun 2018 21:35 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

The first version of Sailfish OS for the Gemini has been released.

As the first step in bringing Sailfish to Gemini, our friends at Planet Computers have today made the community edition of Sailfish OS 2.1 available for the Gemini PDA. This version has been tested and verified by both Jolla and Planet.

As it's a community initiative, the version is still somewhat limited, but essential features are supported. With this version you won't yet get software updates or support for Android apps. Also the overall support is limited to our community's efforts.

The Gemini is a fascinating device, reminiscent of the Psion devices of the early '90s, and the ability to run Sailfish only makes the device more interesting. I find the Gemini's price a little too steep for something I'd buy as a fun project, but I can totally see using it as the only device you carry, since it has both phone and laptop-like features. If you don't need to do a whole lot of mobile laptop computing, the Gemini could certainly satisfy your needs.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Jun 2018 21:28 UTC
Mac OS X

Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming macOS Mojave update to its public beta testing group, giving non-developers a chance to try out the software ahead of its fall public release. Today's public beta should be the same as the second developer beta, released last week.

Jason Snell published a review of the first developer beta (released during WWDC), and concludes:

Personally, I'm more excited about macOS Mojave than any recent macOS beta. The new dark mode alone is a huge change in what we have come to think of as the Mac interface, and the changes to Finder have an awful lot of potential. I'm also really happy to be able to control my HomeKit devices directly from my Mac, either via the Home app or Siri.

We're about to enter a major era of change for macOS. Mojave is the last hurrah for some technologies - most notably 32-bit apps - but it's also our first glimpse (in the four new Mac apps based on iOS technologies) of what is to come. Even if you don't install the public beta now, I expect this to be a compelling update when it arrives in final form this fall.

The final release is planned for later this year.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Jun 2018 20:19 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Wi-Fi Alliance introduces Wi-Fi WPA3, the next generation of Wi-Fi security, bringing new capabilities to enhance Wi-Fi protections in personal and enterprise networks. Building on the widespread adoption of WPA2 over more than a decade, WPA3 adds new features to simplify Wi-Fi security, enable more robust authentication, and deliver increased cryptographic strength for highly sensitive data markets. As the Wi-Fi industry transitions to WPA3 security, WPA2 devices will continue to interoperate and provide recognized security.

Good news, but it will most likely require you buy a new router, since I doubt many router makers will update their devices to add WPA3 support. I have the last Apple AirPort Extreme, and with Apple exiting the router market, I doubt we'll see them adding WPA3 support.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Jun 2018 23:34 UTC
Android

From about a month ago:

HMD announced a new slate of Nokia phones Tuesday. To go along with the previously announced Nokia 6.1, we have the Nokia 5.1, Nokia 3.1, and Nokia 2.1. The highest-end phone here starts at $220, and the price goes down from there.

Every Nokia phone is worth paying attention to, because they are all part of Google's Android One program. This means they run stock Android and get monthly security updates. Nokia promises two years of major OS updates and three years of security updates for everything. It's really hard to find good, cheap smartphones, and with this lineup (depending on distribution), HMD seems to have the market locked up.

The 3.1 will be available in the US starting 2 July, and browsing around Dutch stores, it seems they'll make it to The Netherlands (and thus, I assume, the rest of Europe) in early July as well. These look like some incredibly solid, affordable, and properly update-friendly phones (because they run Android One). I might pick one of these up myself.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Jun 2018 23:26 UTC
Apple

Apple this morning released the first public beta of iOS 12 to its public beta testing group, giving non-developers a chance to test the software ahead of its upcoming fall release. The first public beta of iOS 12 should correspond to the second developer beta, which was released last week.

Both iOS 12 betas have been remarkably solid on my iPhone X, and if that's any indication of the final release, iOS 12 is going to be a no-brainer update.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Jun 2018 18:04 UTC
Windows

This book will walk you through the inner workings of the Windows 95 file system. The standard file systems which ship with Windows 95 include: VFAT, the virtual FAT file system; VREDIR, the Microsoft Networks client; and NWREDIR, the Microsoft Netware client. These and other file systems supplied by third party developers register with the Installable File System Manager, or IFSMgr, to make their services available to the system. IFSMgr manages the resources which are currently in use by each file system and routes client requests to the intended file system.

This book anticipates some of the changes to the file system which will appear in the successor to Windows 95 (code-named Memphis). These new features include FAT32, support for volumes up to 2 terabytes in size, and WDM (the Win32 Driver Model). The Microsoft Networks file and printer sharing protocol-the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol-is also undergoing some changes to make it suitable for accessing the Internet. SMB's future extension to the Internet as CIFS (the Common Internet File System) is also examined.

Yet another old article (or book in this case) from the '90s world of Windows - this book was published in 1997.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Jun 2018 18:02 UTC
GTK+

When we started development towards GTK+ 4, we laid out a plan that said GTK+ 3.22 would be the final, stable branch of GTK+ 3. And we've stuck to this for a while.

I has served us reasonably well - GTK+ 3 stopped changing in drastic ways, which was well-received, and we are finally seeing applications moving from GTK+ 2.

But, GTK+ 4 is taking its time to mature (more on that in another post), and some nice new features (such as font variation support, or Emoji completion) languish unused in master. We also get requests for critical APIs from some of the ported applications.

Therefore, we have decided that it is better to change course and allow a limited amount of new features and API in GTK+ 3.x, by doing a GTK+ 3.24 release in September.

I'm not even remotely versed enough in the world of GTK+ to say anything meaningful about this, but it does seem like a welcome move for developers and users of GTK+ alike.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 24th Jun 2018 19:52 UTC
Multimedia, AV

In a previous blogpost we talked about the Opus codec, which offers very low bitrates. Another codec seeking to achieve even lower bitrates is Codec 2.

Codec 2 is designed for use with speech only, and although the bitrates are impressive the results aren’t as clear as Opus, as you can hear in the following audio examples. However, there is some interesting work being done with Codec 2 in combination with neural network (WaveNets) that is yielding great results.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 23rd Jun 2018 14:38 UTC
Windows

If your PC doesn't run Streaming Single Instructions Multiple Data (SIMD) Extensions 2, you apparently won't be getting any more Windows 7 patches. At least, that's what I infer from some clandestine Knowledge Base documentation changes made in the past few days.

Even though Microsoft says it's supporting Win7 until January 14, 2020, if you have an older machine - including any Pentium III - you've been blocked, and there's nothing you can do about it.

While support has to end somewhere - processors without SSE2 are really, really old - it's quite unfair to say you support Windows 7 until 2020, and then cut it off early for a number of customers. Consumer protection agencies should have something to say about this, right?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 23rd Jun 2018 14:33 UTC
Apple

It wasn't long after Apple changed the mechanisms of its MacBook keyboards that reports of sticky keys and other problems surfaced. Over time as anecdotal evidence mounted, it became apparent that the problem was widespread, but of course, only Apple knew exactly how common the issues were.

Now, in response to the keyboard problems, Apple has begun a keyboard service program to fix or replace keyboards with faulty butterfly switch mechanisms.

As usual when it comes to systemic defects in its products - hello PowerPC logic board failures - Apple really dragged its feet on this one. Unlike the Apple-verse, I'm not even going to commend them for this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Jun 2018 21:41 UTC
Google

One of the greatest struggles of creating an entirely new OS, especially today, is the chicken-and-egg problem. Without good apps, why would consumers buy a product? And conversely, with no consumers, why would developers make apps?

We've looked, time and time again, at the possibility of Fuchsia getting Android compatibility, but what if it didn't stop there? If Fuchsia is to be a full-fledged laptop/desktop OS, shouldn't it also have some compatibility with apps for a traditional OS?

This is where the 'Guest' app becomes relevant. Guest allows you to boot up a virtual OS, inside of Fuchsia. Officially, Guest supports Zircon (Fuchsia) and Linux-based OSes (including Debian), but there’s also evidence that suggests it's being tested to work with Chrome OS. At the time of writing, I've only been able to successfully test Guest with a simple version of Linux.

Fuchsia is clearly so much more than just a research operating system. There's also a slightly older article from a few months ago looking at the various layers that make up Fuchsia, as well as various other articles about Google's new operating system.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Jun 2018 21:36 UTC, submitted by JohnnyO
Windows

This is an article written 20 years ago by Mark Russinovich, which compares VMS and Windows NT.

When Microsoft released the first version of Windows NT in April 1993, the company's marketing and public relations campaign heavily emphasized the NT (i.e., New Technology) in the operating system's (OS's) name. Microsoft promoted NT as a cutting-edge OS that included all the features users expected in an OS for workstations and small to midsized servers. Although NT was a new OS in 1993, with a new API (i.e., Win32) and new user and systems-management tools, the roots of NT's core architecture and implementation extend back to the mid-1970s.

And now... The rest of the story: I'll take you on a short tour of NT's lineage, which leads back to Digital and its VMS OS. Most of NT's lead developers, including VMS's chief architect, came from Digital, and their background heavily influenced NT's development. After I talk about NT's roots, I'll discuss the more-than-coincidental similarities between NT and VMS, and how Digital reacted to NT's release.

Great read.

 

Linked by Mike Bouma on Fri 22nd Jun 2018 21:33 UTC
Amiga & AROS

Toni Wilen has released a massive new update of WinUAE. This major new release hosts a wealth of new features and bugfixes. Also check out Worthy's release trailer, a new commercial game by Pixelglass for the Amiga 500, which is also available as digital download for use in UAE.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Jun 2018 21:32 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

There are a lot of great smartphone options available at any given moment, so it can be a challenge to sort through them all if you're trying to choose the absolute best one. The stakes here can't be understated: your smartphone is the most important gadget in your life, and you ll probably be living with the one you buy for at least a year, if not two or three.

Most of the time, there's a phone that stands out from the pack in all the areas that matter: performance, value, camera, and support. But this year, depending on who you ask, you could get as many as four different answers for what the best phone is to buy. And depending on what kind of phone user you are, any one of them could be the ideal phone for you.

The answer has been the iPhone for years, and as long as expensive Android flagships don't get updates and the Google Pixel is only available in three countries, that's not going to change any time soon - whether Android people like it or not.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Jun 2018 22:49 UTC
General Development

Rust 1.27.0 has been released! As regular readers will know, I'm not a programmer and know very little about the two main new features in this release. The biggest new feature is SIMD.

Okay, now for the big news: the basics of SIMD are now available! SIMD stands for "single instruction, multiple data".

The detailed release notes have more information.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Jun 2018 22:45 UTC
Legal

The shifting rules about software patentability reflect a long-running tug of war between the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit loves software patents; the Supreme Court is more skeptical.

That fight continues today. While the Federal Circuit has invalidated many software patents in the four years since the Alice ruling, it also seems to be looking for legal theories that could justify more software patents. Only continued vigilance from the Supreme Court is likely to ensure things don't get out of hand again.

The 40-year-old Flook ruling remains a key weapon in the Supreme Court's arsenal. It's the court's strongest statement against patenting software. And, while software patent supporters aren't happy about it, it's still the law of the land.

That's the third US legal article in a row, but it's a great article that looks at the history of the tug of war between the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Jun 2018 22:41 UTC
Legal

A California net neutrality bill that could have been the strictest such law in the country was dramatically scaled back yesterday after state lawmakers caved to demands from AT&T and cable lobbyists.

While the California Senate approved the bill with all of its core parts intact last month, a State Assembly committee's Democratic leadership yesterday removed key provisions.

"What happened today was outrageous," Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), the bill author, said. "These hostile amendments eviscerate the bill and leave us with a net neutrality bill in name only."

Corruption works.