Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 8th Dec 2015 23:31 UTC

Pixel C reviews are pouring in, and they're all virtually the same: pretty awesome hardware, but Android on tablets just isn't any good. The Verge:

But the performance issues, the lack of apps, and the lack of split-screen functionality show that, right now, Android isn’t really even trying to participate in that future. Simply put: the Pixel team has mostly delivered something really good, the Android team has not. Android may not be Google’s answer for the next generation of computing on a tablet. Maybe that will have to wait for whatever weird hybrid ChromeOS / Android thing that Google is supposedly working on.


iOS and Windows are both much better suited to a larger form factor device. Maybe some day Google will implement that "experimental" multi-window mode, which will help. However, right now it's selling a $650 tablet/keyboard combo that can display a single app at a time. Even with a hypothetical split screen mode, you'd still have to deal with a sea of phone apps from developers that are reluctant to implement a large-format layout, in part because even Google doesn't take its own tablet platform seriously.

They're all right, of course. That being said, it's clear the Pixel C isn't really intended as a mass-market product - at least, not right now. No, the real purpose of the Pixel C is to serve as a development device for Google's Android developers, who are currently, by all accounts, working hard not only on combining Android and Chrome OS, but also on bringing more traditional functionality, such as multiwindow, to Android.

Android is movin' on up, and the Pixel C is nothing more than the ladder Google's Android developers need to get there.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 8th Dec 2015 19:41 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones

Farewell Firefox OS smartphones. Mozilla today announced an end to its smartphone experiment, and said that it would stop developing and selling Firefox OS smartphones. It will continue to experiment on how it might work on other connected devices and Internet of Things networks.

Firefox OS was doomed from the start, just as all the other attempts at competing with iOS and Android. The cold, harsh, and sad truth is that modern mobile computing just isn't conducive to small and upstart platforms. You need the applications, you need the scale, you need the hearts and minds.

And all of those are taken by Google and Apple, and nobody else matters. It's too late.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 8th Dec 2015 19:35 UTC

Apple's released a whole bunch of point releases today - iOS 9.2, watchOS 2.1, and tvOS 9.1. These are all relatively minor point releases focused on bug fixes, so don't expect your experience to change in any drastic or meaningful way - unless, of course, one of the fixed bugs affected you.

You know where to get them.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 7th Dec 2015 23:20 UTC
Internet & Networking

Verizon is pushing for phones to be equipped with technology to make use of unlicensed spectrum to speed up the internet and clear congestion, but not everybody's happy.

That sounds great, say Google, Microsoft, Comcast, and others, except for one thing. The proposed system, called LTE in Unlicensed Spectrum or LTE-U, which relies on a combination of new, small cell towers and home wireless routers, risks disrupting the existing Wi-Fi access most people enjoy. For several months, the three companies have been among a group lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to delay LTE-U's adoption pending further tests. All three declined to comment for this story, referring instead to an Oct. 23 FCC filing they joined that claims LTE-U "has avoided the long-proven standards-setting process and would substantially degrade consumer Wi-Fi service across the country."

Let me put it like this: since the intricacies and specifics of wireless technology and its possible interactions are far beyond my own personal comprehension, I'll just make the safe bet and side with whomever is opposing the carriers, which in this case are Microsoft and Google, and Comcast.



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 7th Dec 2015 23:13 UTC
Internet & Networking

According to leaked documents from the Ministry of Interior the French government is considering two new pieces of legislation: a ban on free and shared Wi-Fi connections during a state of emergency, and measures to block Tor being used inside France.

Right, because the answer to people who want to attack our freedom is to restrict our freedom.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 5th Dec 2015 15:20 UTC
Internet Explorer

At JSConf in Florida today, Microsoft announced that it is open sourcing Chakra, the JavaScript engine used in its Edge and Internet Explorer browsers. The code will be published to the company's GitHub page next month.

Good move, but they should just go the whole way.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th Dec 2015 22:56 UTC

The HTC HD2 began its life unassumingly enough back in 2009 as a simple Windows Phone 6.5-powered smartphone. We highly doubt HTC knew of the legacy the phone would end up carrying. As most of you probably know, we're talking about how dev-friendly and dev-embraced the phone has been over the years, finding various ports of Unix, modern versions of Windows Phone up to 8, Firefox OS, and of course Android.

Over the years, the HTC HD2 has seen Android 2.1, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop, and now Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The HD2 might be the greatest phone of all time.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th Dec 2015 00:09 UTC
Amiga & AROS

Two major developments related to Linux hosted version of AROS reached significant milestones in November. Jyrki Koivisto continued development of the USB driver that communicates directly to Linux USB subsystem and brought it to a state where storage devices now can be accessed on the AROS side. Second development, the ALSA based AHI driver developed by Krzysztof Smiechowicz reached release level and is now included in the AROS nightly builds. It replaces the obsolete OSS based driver. This development was done based on bounty hosted by and this bounty has been closed as well.

While on topic of bounties, a bounty to deliver a working implementation of FUSE filesystem and read/write driver for NTFS filesystem has been completed by Frederik Wikstrom. The bounty was also hosted by The sources of the port are not yet integrated into AROS, but are freely available on GitHub.

AROS has finally been posting development news on its website again, making it a little easier to follow what's going on. Great progress!


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 3rd Dec 2015 22:18 UTC

Today we launched the open source Swift project along with the website. We couldn't be more excited to work together in an open community to find and fix issues, add enhancements, and bring Swift to new platforms.

Apple's Swift is open source now.

Swift is made up of a number of different projects, providing a complete ecosystem for building great software. The Swift compiler project interprets Swift syntax, produces diagnostics to help you write correct code, and employs LLVM to generate machine instructions. The LLDB project is a first-class debugger that includes a REPL for interactive programming. And the Swift standard library project includes all the core types and basic functionality you need to write software in Swift.

Today, we released two additional projects for Swift in open source: the Core Libraries project, and a new Swift Package Manager project.

It's also available on Linux.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd Dec 2015 23:59 UTC
Internet & Networking

If the global Internet is going to be warped to suit governments' interests, we must ensure that it isn't broken up into cantonized national networks with less privacy, less efficiency, less commerce and less speech. That means making it easier for foreign governments to get data when that access is justified and harder when it is not.

International agreements are one solution, and America and Britain are rumored to be negotiating such a deal. In the meantime, American technology companies should be free to comply directly with foreign government requests for data, as long as that access is warranted and meets international standards of due process and human rights. If America fails to allow such access, it will happen anyway in a brute and extralegal manner - and the result will be a less secure, less efficient Internet.

Hand over data, with all the privacy risks that involves, or the internet breaks up. Really? That's the best we can? Those are the outcomes we have to settle for?

What a deception.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd Dec 2015 23:50 UTC
General Development

If you are an iOS developer, the Windows ecosystem can appear a strange and frightening place. Writing an app for Windows requires an investment in all kinds of new things: new tools (Visual Studio), new languages (C#), new APIs and Controls (Win32, XAML), new graphics engines (DirectX) and before you know it, life seems too short and wouldn't another Flappy Birds clone be more fun anyway?

Fear not, brave adventurer, for Project Islandwood is here.


Linked by nfeske on Tue 1st Dec 2015 21:46 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

With the just released version 15.11, the Genode OS framework takes a big step towards desktop computing. On that account, its GUI and audio stacks have become much more modular, dynamic, and flexible. Moreover, the release features the port of Intel KMS from Linux, extends the support for the USB Armory and Xilinx Zynq-7000, and introduces new file-system infrastructure such as a VFS server.

In their release documentation, the Genode developers dedicate an entire section (including screenshots) to the ambition to use Genode as desktop OS. It turns out that the framework's existing component architecture solves a number of difficult problems in new and elegant ways. For example, the configuration of all types of components - be it low-level device drivers or high-level GUI components - can be edited live with a plain text editor. The changes become effective by merely saving a file. This works even for components that have no means or permissions to access a file system at all. Another interesting twist on classical GUI-integration features is Genode's new copy-and-paste mechanism that prevents the clipboard to be misused by malicious applications as a covert information channel while retaining the convenience of traditional clipboard mechanisms.

At a lower level, the desktop theme of the release is supported by the new Intel KMS driver ported from the Linux kernel. It allows the use of multiple displays, and screen resolutions can be switched on the fly. With nearly 70,000 SLOC of Linux kernel code, the porting was a major feat. This work continues the pattern of reusing Linux kernel code, which already enabled Genode to use the Intel wireless stack, the Linux USB stack, and the Linux TCP/IP stack as user-level components. The Intel KMS driver is interesting also in another respect: Since it is tightly coupled with the Intel GEM and DRM infrastructure of the Linux kernel, those subsystems had to be ported as well. So the driver may become a suitable starting point for the development of a future GPU multiplexer.

Thanks to the developer's continuous focus on making the framework fit for day-to-day computing, Genode is now used by a hand full of die-hard Genode enthusiasts as their primary OS. Still, many tasks are carried out via a guest OS in VirtualBox. But all of the circa 40 underlying components such as the kernel, device drivers, protocol stacks, and a growing number of applications are working nicely together and are stable and fast enough to get productive work done.

Besides the main focus on desktop computing, the release is not short of other areas of improvement. Xilinx Zynq-7000 has been added to the supported platforms, TrustZone on the USB Armory received a lot of attention, and a new VFS server makes Genode's file-system infrastructure much more flexible. Those and many more topics are covered by the detailed release documentation.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st Dec 2015 21:46 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones

Mozilla chairperson Mitchell Baker:

Therefore I believe Thunderbird should would thrive best by separating itself from reliance on Mozilla development systems and in some cases, Mozilla technology. The current setting isn't stable, and we should start actively looking into how we can transition in an orderly way to a future where Thunderbird and Firefox are un-coupled. I don't know what this will look like, or how it will work yet. I do know that it needs to happen, for both Firefox and Thunderbird's sake. This is a big job, and may require expertise that the Thunderbird team doesn't yet have. Mozilla can provide various forms of assistance to the Thunderbird team via a set of the Mozilla Foundation’s capabilities.

Are there still any Thunderbird users left? It's been in maintenance mode for a while, and there's several great alternatives (some of them even based on Thunderbird). That being said, having Thunderbird as a separate entity from Firefox, that can make its own decisions, could benefit the open source project greatly.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st Dec 2015 18:54 UTC

The one thing that disappointed me about the Robin was the state of its software optimization. Nextbit hopes to ship out the first handsets to preorder customers and Kickstarter backers in late January, but it still has a long way to go until its software is up to the task. The Robin's current Android build is slow, in spite of the capable Snapdragon 808 processor within, and unfortunately buggy. The camera app, for example, is not yet functional, so there's nothing to judge one of the phone's key components on.

This phone would be a lot more interesting if they cut the cloud nonsense, and just focused on delivering this unique design as a high-quality, affordable pure Android phone.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st Dec 2015 18:51 UTC
Mac OS X

There are a number of reasons for Sketch leaving the Mac App Store - many of which in isolation wouldn't cause us huge concern. However as with all gripes, when compounded they make it hard to justify staying: App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable.

And this is yet another lauded developer leaving the fledgling Mac App Store behind. Tapbots' Paul Haddad is pretty on point.

Five to ten years from now, we'll all laugh about how terrible of an idea the centralised, controlled, closed application store was, and mourn the immense damage it has done to developers. A short gold rush, followed by the total destruction of the independent developer community. I hope it was worth it.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st Dec 2015 00:37 UTC, submitted by Anonymous

To provide the best experience for the most-used Linux versions, we will end support for Google Chrome on 32-bit Linux, Ubuntu Precise (12.04), and Debian 7 (wheezy) in early March, 2016. Chrome will continue to function on these platforms but will no longer receive updates and security fixes.

We intend to continue supporting the 32-bit build configurations on Linux to support building Chromium. If you are using Precise, we'd recommend that you to upgrade to Trusty.

The first signs of the end of 32bit are on the wall - starting with Linux. I wonder how long Google will continue to support 32bit Chrome on Windows. For some strange reason, Microsoft is still selling 32bit Windows 10.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st Dec 2015 00:33 UTC
Internet & Networking

The following series of maps depicts the speed at which news traveled to Venice, fron 1500 to 1765. The isochronic lines represent one week, and give a broad indication of the time required for letters to reach their destination. All three maps describe the speed of letters traveling toward Venice.

Today, thanks to telephony and internet, this is all instantaneous. Kind of amazing how we went from weeks and weeks for news to get around, to mere seconds, in a matter of just several centuries. The moment I press 'publish' on this news item, it's there in your browser, hitting the RSS feeds, going on Twitter.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th Nov 2015 22:34 UTC

If a report from the Japanese blog Macotakara is to be believed, Apple is planning on getting rid of the headphone jack in the next iPhone. As it attempts to once again shrink its flagship device, Apple is reportedly planning on shipping EarPods that connect through the Lighting port with the next iPhone in order to remove the thicker 3.5mm headphone jack. This is a bad idea.

Indeed it is. If Apple were to really remove the 3.5mm jack, it will do so for one reason: control. The 3.5mm jack is obviously an open standard, and Apple can do little to control what kind of headphones you use. Now that Apple owns a very popular brand of headphones, I'n sure the company is itching to lock consumers into its Lightning port.

If true, yet another terrible anti-consumer move from Apple.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 29th Nov 2015 17:47 UTC

I am less frustrated, and more focused working on this setup. A big chunk of that is even outside the constant popups in OS X, there's simply less to be distracted by.

I've gone so far as to have to literally switch a cable to move between machines (as opposed to a KVM), to help me train my brain into a different context.

Overall I'm quite happy with the choices I made here.

A nice write-up from someone switching from OS X to FreeBSD, and everything that entails.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 29th Nov 2015 17:42 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

XINU stands for Xinu Is Not Unix -- although it shares concepts and even names with Unix, the internal design differs completely. Xinu is a small, elegant operating system that supports dynamic process creation, dynamic memory allocation, network communication, local and remote file systems, a shell, and device-independent I/O functions. The small size makes Xinu suitable for embedded environments.