Supermium: up-to-date Chromium for Windows XP, Vista, and 7

Modern browsers don’t really support older versions of Windows anymore, so anyone running Windows XP, 2003, Vista, and even Windows 7 and 8 are losing access to secure and capable browsers. While running those older versions of Windows on production machines isn’t exactly advised, they’re still great fun as retrocomputing platforms and to keep older Windows games accessible using period-correct hardware.

As such, there’s some awesome news: there is now a fully up-to-date variant of Chromium for these older versions of Windows called Supermium. It tracks current Chromium, supports extensions, sandboxing, Aero Glass, Google Sync, and even Widevine on Windows 7 and higher. Micheal MJD just published a video showing Supermium in action in case you’re curious.

You’ll need at least Windows XP SP3 and an Intel Pentium 4 with SSE2 in order to run it, and Windows 2000 support is in the works, too.

Redox gets massive performance boost

Redox has published the summary of development covering February, and there’s quite a few interesting leaps forward this month. First and foremost, the operating system got a major file read/write speed boost by implementing records in RedoxFS. The migration to UNIX-format paths is ongoing, Boxedwine is currently being ported, and more and more programs are getting ported, including complex applications like Audacity, Celestia, KiCad and Neothesia.

There’s a lot more this month, so be sure to read the whole report.

Apple walks back decision to disable home screen web apps in the EU

Following the release of the second beta version of iOS 17.4, it emerged that Apple had restricted the functionality of iOS web apps in the EU. Web apps could no longer launch from the ‌Home Screen‌ in their own top-level window that takes up the entire screen, relegating them to a simple shortcut with an option to open within Safari instead.

The move was heavily criticized by groups like Open Web Advocacy, which started a petition in an effort to persuade Apple to reverse the change, and it even caught the attention of the European Commission. Now, Apple has backtracked and says that ‌Home Screen‌ web apps that use WebKit in the EU will continue to function as expected upon the release of iOS 17.4.

↫ Hartley Charlton at MacRumors

A welcome move, but they will still be restricted to opening using WebKit instead of any other engine Europeans will be allowed to install. With criticism of Apple’s DMA plans mounting, and pressure on the European Commission to not approve Apple’s plans increasing, all of this might change over the coming months, still.

Apple silicon: a little help from friends and co-processors

So far in this series, I have looked in broad terms at how the CPU cores in Apple silicon chips work, and how they use frequency control and two types of core to deliver high performance with low power and energy use. As I hinted previously, their design also relies on specialist processing units and co-processors, the subject of this article.

↫ Howard Oakley

Another excellent read from Howard Oakley.

Why I use Firefox

Questions like “Which browser should I use?” regularly come up on the r/browsers subreddit. I sometimes respond to these posts, but my quick replies usually only contain one or two points. To be honest, until recently I wasn’t even sure myself why I use Firefox. Of course it’s a pretty good browser, but that doesn’t explain why I’ve stubbornly stayed loyal to Firefox for more than a decade. After giving it a bit more thought, I came up with the following reasons.

↫ Šime Vidas

There’s really no viable alternative to Firefox for me. I wish we had more choice, more competition, and more vibrancy in the browser space, and I’m definitely anxious about the future of Firefox, but with every other browser being either Chrome, possibly with skin, or Safari, there’s really nowhere else to go.

Google Messages is blocking RCS texts on rooted Android phones

Rooting an Android phone is no longer as popular as it was a few years ago. Plus, if you root your phone now, you will run into several issues, like Google Wallet and banking apps not working, as the device will fail the Play Integrity API test. It makes sense for Google to block banking apps and payment functionality on rooted phones for safety and security reasons. But the company is now taking things a step further and has started blocking RCS from working in Google Messages on rooted or bootloader unlocked Android devices.

↫ Rajesh Pandey

Entirely expected, but no less unconscionable. Banking applications, government ID services, and now even messaging platforms – all entirely crucial functions in the very fabric of society and government that we’re just handing over to two ruthless abusive companies. It’s simply no longer possible to function in many modern societies without having either a blessed Android device, or an iPhone, since any other platform will often lock you out of crucial functionality that you need to function in today’s world.

If there was ever anything the European Union should be fighting against, it’s this.

MenuetOS 1.50.00 released

MenuetOS has released two new versions recently, version 1.49.60 on 5 February, and 1.50.00 on 1 March. Aside from the usual bugfixes and updates, these two new versions bring, among other things, new screensavers, a musical chord calculator, and support for UEFI booting thanks to Easyboot.

MenuetOS is a small operating system written entirely in assembly, available in both 32bit and 64bit versions for x86.

Wikipedia no longer considers CNET a “generally reliable” source after “AI” scandal

Remember last year, when we reported that the Red Ventures-owned CNET had been quietly publishing dozens of AI-generated articles that turned out to be filled with errors and plagiarism?

The revelation kicked off a fiery debate about the future of the media in the era of AI — as well as an equally passionate discussion among editors of Wikipedia, who needed to figure out how to treat CNET content going forward.

[…]

Gerard’s admonition was posted on January 18, 2023, just a few days after our initial story about CNET‘s use of AI. The comment launched a discussion that would ultimately result in CNET’s demotion from its once-strong Wikipedia rating of “generally reliable.” It was a grim fall that one former Red Ventures employee told us could “put a huge dent in their SEO efforts,” and also a cautionary tale about the wide-ranging reputational effects that publishers should consider before moving into AI-generated content.

↫ Maggie Harrison Dupré

Excellent response by Wikipedia. Any outlet that uses spicy autocomplete to generate content needs to be booted off Wikipedia.

Microsoft announces super resolution DirectX API

We’re thrilled to announce DirectSR, our new API designed in partnership with GPU hardware vendors to enable seamless integration of Super Resolution (SR) into the next generation of games. Super Resolution is a cutting-edge technique that increases the resolution and visual quality in games. DirectSR is the missing link developers have been waiting for when approaching SR integration, providing a smoother, more efficient experience that scales across hardware. This API enables multi-vendor SR through a common set of inputs and outputs, allowing a single code path to activate a variety of solutions including NVIDIA DLSS Super Resolution, AMD FidelityFX™ Super Resolution, and Intel XeSS. DirectSR will be available soon in the Agility SDK as a public preview, which will enable developers to test it out and provide feedback. Don’t miss our DirectX State of the Union at GDC to catch a sneak peek at how DirectSR can be used with your games!

↫ Joshua Tucker at the DirectX Developer Blog

If this aides in making sense out of the confusing mess of terminology and marketing terms surrounding this technology, I’m all for it.

HP wants you to pay up to $36/month to rent a printer that it monitors

HP launched a subscription service today that rents people a printer, allots them a specific amount of printed pages, and sends them ink for a monthly fee. HP is framing its service as a way to simplify printing for families and small businesses, but the deal also comes with monitoring and a years-long commitment.

Prices range from $6.99 per month for a plan that includes an HP Envy printer (the current model is the 6020e) and 20 printed pages. The priciest plan includes an HP OfficeJet Pro rental and 700 printed pages for $35.99 per month.

↫ Scharon Harding at Ars Technica

Can I pay them not to put a printer in my house?

HDMI Forum rejects open-source HDMI 2.1 driver support sought by AMD

One of the limitations of AMD’s open-source Linux graphics driver has been the inability to implement HDMI 2.1+ functionality on the basis of legal requirements by the HDMI Forum. AMD engineers had been working to come up with a solution in conjunction with the HDMI Forum for being able to provide HDMI 2.1+ capabilities with their open-source Linux kernel driver, but it looks like those efforts for now have concluded and failed.

↫ Michael Larabel

So dumb.

KDE Plasma 6 released

KDE Plasma 6 has been released – and this is an important release with two massive low-level stack upgrades.

With Plasma 6, our technology stack has undergone two major upgrades: a transition to the latest version of our application framework, Qt, and a migration to the modern Linux graphics platform, Wayland. We have done our best to ensure that these changes are as smooth and unnoticeable to the users as possible, so when you install this update, you will see the same familiar desktop environment that you know and love. But these under-the-hood upgrades benefit Plasma’s security, efficiency, and performance, and improve support for modern hardware. Thus Plasma delivers an overall more reliable user experience, while paving the way for many more improvements in the future.

Aside from this, there’s so much in this release it’s hard to know where to begin. My favourite is the overhaul of KDE’s default Breeze theme, which now uses far, far fewer frames, meaning there’s fewer borders-on-borders. Spacing has also been made more consistent within Breeze. Both of these efforts make KDE applications and UI elements look a bit less cluttered and busy, which, while easily missed if you don’t look for it, certainly cleans things up nicely.

Another important improvements is the addition of support for HDR displays and colour management.

Plasma on Wayland now has partial support for High Dynamic Range (HDR). On supported monitors and software, this will provide you with richer and deeper colors for your games, videos, and visual creations.

Set an ICC profile for each screen individually and Plasma will adjust the colors accordingly. Applications are still limited to the sRGB color space, but we are working on increasing the number of supported color spaces soon.

To improve Plasma’s accessibility, we added support for color blindness correction filters. This helps with protanopia, deuteranopia or tritanopia.

Of course, this release is accompanied by updates to a large number of KDE applications, and several default settings in KDE have been changed as well to better suit what most users would expect. Plasma Search has been overhauled as well, making it faster and less resource-intensive, and giving users the ability to better control how search results are displayed.

There’s a lot more here, so be sure to dive into the release announcement, KDE Plasma 6 will find its way to your distribution or operating system of choice over the coming weeks and months.

New Wear OS devices run two operating systems

Wear OS smartwatches have a dual-chipset architecture inclusive of a powerful application processor (AP) and ultra low-power co-processor microcontroller unit (MCU). The architecture has a powerful AP capable of handling complex operations en-masse, and is seamlessly coupled with a low power MCU.

The Wear OS hybrid interface enables intelligent switching between the MCU or the AP, allowing the AP to be suspended when not needed to preserve battery life. It helps, for instance, achieve more power-efficient experiences, like sensor data processing on the MCU while the AP is asleep. At the same time, the hybrid interface provides a seamless transition between these states, keeping a rich and premium user experience without jarring transitions between power modes.

↫ Kseniia Shumelchyk on the Android Developers Blog

The new OnePlus Watch 2 is the first to use this new architecture, and the most interesting part is that it runs not one, but two operating systems: Wear OS, which is Android, running on the “AP”, and a smaller RTOS that runs on the “MCU”. In the case of the OnePlus Watch 2, the “AP” is a Snapdragon W5, while the “MCU” is a BES 2700, an ultra low power microcontroller.

I can’t seem to find any information on this “RTOS”, but I’d really love to know what it’s based on.

Tumblr and WordPress owner is striking deals with OpenAI and Midjourney for training data, says report

Speaking of collecting data, here’s another major content player signing a deal to sell your content to “AI” companies.

The owner of Tumblr and WordPress.com is in talks with AI companies Midjourney and OpenAI to provide training data scraped from users’ posts, a report from 404 Media alleges. The report, based on an anonymous source inside the company, says that deals between Automattic and the two AI companies are “imminent.” It follows nebulous rumors that have spread on Tumblr over the past week, suggesting a deal with Midjourney could provide a new revenue stream for the site.

↫ Adi Robertson at The Verge

We use WordPress for OSNews, but it seems this only applies to content hosted at WordPress.com, not on WordPress installations hosted elsewhere. If you host a site at WordPress.com, you might want to go to your admin panel and opting-out of this nonsense real fast.

Meta will start collecting “anonymized” data about Quest headset usage

Meta will soon begin “collecting anonymized data” from users of its Quest headsets, a move that could see the company aggregating information about hand, body, and eye tracking; camera information; “information about your physical environment”; and information about “the virtual reality events you attend.”

In an email sent to Quest users Monday, Meta notes that it currently collects “the data required for your Meta Quest to work properly.” Starting with the next software update, though, the company will begin collecting and aggregating “anonymized data about… device usage” from Quest users. That anonymized data will be used “for things like building better experiences and improving Meta Quest products for everyone,” the company writes.

↫ Kyle Orland at Ars Technica

Is it just me, or is the idea of Facebook collecting this type of data in particular just exceptionally creepy? I mean, browsing history or whatever is one thing – already bad enough – but hand, body, and eye movements, and camera information? Of course, this was the only expected course for Quest owners, but now that the time is here, it still feels just as creepy as when we first imagined it when Facebook bought Oculus.

Microsoft wants to update your Windows 11 PC without forcing you to reboot

If there’s one thing Windows users hate about Windows, it’s Windows updates interrupting your workflow or gaming session with a popup asking you to restart your PC finish installing the latest security update. It happens at least once a month, because that’s how often Microsoft rolls out security updates to Windows PCs.

This may soon be a thing of the past, as the company is now testing an update method called “hot patching” for Windows 11 PCs. Hot patching is already in use on some Windows Server editions, as well as Xbox, and now it appears the company is preparing to bring it to devices running Windows 11.

↫ Zac Bowden at Windows Central

A welcome, good improvement every Windows user is going to benefit from. This is the kind of improvements Microsoft should really be focusing on, instead of adding more ads or useless “AI” features.

A history of the tty

It’s one of those anachronisms that is deeply embedded in modern technology. From cloud operator servers to embedded controllers in appliances, there must be uncountable devices that think they are connected to a TTY.

I will omit the many interesting details of the Linux terminal infrastructure here, as it could easily fill its own article. But most Linux users are at least peripherally aware that the kernel tends to identify both serial devices and terminals as TTYs, assigning them filesystem names in the form of /dev/tty*. Probably a lot of those people remember that this stands for teletype or perhaps teletypewriter, although in practice the term teleprinter is more common.

↫ J. B. Crawford

I remember first using Linux in like 2000 or 2001, and running into the abbreviation tty, and not having a single clue what that meant since I came from a DOS and Windows background. Over time I gained a lot more understanding of the structure of modern UNIX-like systems, but it’s still great to read such a detailed history of the concept.

Windows-as-a-nuisance: How I clean up a “clean install” of Windows 11 and Edge

I frequently write about Windows, Edge, and other Microsoft-adjacent technologies as part of my day job, and I sign into my daily-use PCs with a Microsoft account, so my usage patterns may be atypical for many Ars Technica readers. But for anyone who uses Windows, Edge, or both, I thought it might be useful to detail what I’m doing to clean up a clean install of Windows, minimizing (if not totally eliminating) the number of annoying notifications, Microsoft services, and unasked-for apps that we have to deal with.

↫ Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica

Five pages of nonsense you have to go through to make Windows 11 somewhat less of a trashfire. I can’t believe we’ve reached a point where this is normal and accepted, and often even defended by Windows users, here on OSNews as well. I know “just install Linux” generally isn’t a helpful comment, but at what point is installing Linux the path of least resistance compared to whatever the hell this is? Especially now that most work is done online in the browser anyway?

The Plop boot managers

I wrote different boot managers. Three boot managers are available as download. The Plop Boot Manager 5, PlopKexec and the new boot manager PBM6. The new boot manager is under development.

↫ Elmar Hanlhofer

I had never heard of the three Plop boot managers, written by Elmar Hanlhofer, but they seem like quite the capable tools. First, Plop Boot Manager 5 is the most complete version, but it’s also quite outdated by now, with its last release stemming from 2013. That being said, it’s incredibly feature-packed, but since it lacks UEFI support, its use case seems more focused on legacy systems. PBM6, meanwhile, is the modern version with UEFI support, but it’s not complete and is under development, with regular releases. Finally, PlopKexec is exactly what the name implies – a boot manager that uses the Linux kernel.

I’ve never encountered these before, but they seem quite interesting, and if it wasn’t for how much I do not like messing with bootloaders, I’d love to give these a go. Have any of you ever used it?