Linux 5.8 released with AMD energy driver, F2FS LZO-RLE, IBM POWER10 booting

As Phoronix notes:

See our Linux 5.8 feature overview for all the exciting changes from an AMD Energy Driver for Zen/Zen2 CPUs to new F2FS compression capabilities, POWER10 CPUs starting to boot with the mainline kernel code, power management improvements, and much more. This is also the first major kernel release featuring the new inclusive terminology guidelines.

You can build it yourself, or just wait until it trickles down into your distribution of choice.

Telegram files EU antitrust complaint against Apple’s App Store

Telegram, the messaging app, has become the latest company to file a formal antitrust complaint to the EU over Apple’s App Store.

In a complaint to EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, Telegram, which has more than 400 million users, said Apple must “allow users to have the opportunity of downloading software outside of the App Store.”

Allowing applications from outside the App Store is the bare minimum of what our governments must mandate from Apple (and other platform makers with similar restrictions). I will go several steps further: all software and firmware on devices shipping to consumers must be open source. No exceptions.

To function in a modern western society, computers – smartphone, desktop, laptop – are required. They have become a hugely important pillar of our society, and yet, our devices are controlled not by society or our governments, but by large corporations who don’t have to answer to anyone.

This is unacceptable. Access to vital parts of our society are getting more and more restricted to computers, and this means we should have the right to control them, so we can prevent people being locked out because of opaque App Store rules or foreign government interference. If all these devices are open – open source, down to the firmware – we will never be locked out by anyone.

Imagine having to file your taxes, but for some reason Apple decided to not approve the latest update to the government app you’re supposed to use and remove it from the App Store. Is that the future we should want?

How Google is bringing Windows apps to Chromebooks

Google revealed earlier this year that it’s planning to support Windows applications on Chromebooks thanks to a partnership with Parallels. It’s a collaboration that will see a full version of Windows boot inside Chrome OS, providing businesses the option to run existing desktop apps on Google’s range of lightweight Chromebook devices. In an exclusive interview with The Verge, Google is now detailing how and why Windows apps are arriving on Chrome OS.

Google wants to give you access to Windows apps when you really need them, as a hop in and out experience. “The analogy I give is that yes, the world is all state of the art and Dolby Atmos home theaters, but every once in a while you do have that old wedding video on a VHS that you need to get to,” says Cyrus Mistry, group product manager for Chrome OS. “We want to make sure you have that option [for Windows apps] as well… so that every once in a while you’ll be able to get that when you need it, but we don’t want that to be the world you’re living in.”

This feels very much like a stopgap measure designed specifically for enterprises relying on old internal Win32 applications. For employees of such companies, Chromebooks – or anything that isn’t Windows – simply isn’t an option, but this might fix that.

Still, I doubt this will perform great.

Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy TikTok’s US operations

Amid reports that President Donald Trump plans to order TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell the social-media app’s US operations, Microsoft has emerged as a potential buyer.

I would think there are a lot bigger fish to fry when it comes to Chinese interests controlling western corporations, such as Apple, which is all but a Chinese company at this point, or the influence of Tencent, which has stakes in countless western companies.

Nvidia is reportedly in ‘advanced talks’ to buy ARM for more than $32 billion

SoftBank has been rumored to be exploring a sale of ARM — the British chip designer that powers nearly every major mobile processor from companies like Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei — and now, it might have found a buyer. Nvidia is reportedly in “advanced talks” to buy ARM in a deal worth over $32 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Nvidia is said to be the only company that’s involved in concrete discussions with SoftBank for the purchase at this time, and a deal could arrive “in the next few weeks,” although nothing is finalized yet. If the deal does go through, it would be one of the largest deals ever in the computer chip business and would likely draw intense regulatory scrutiny.

It’s not the worst option.

Upcoming review: something POWERful

I’ve got a very special piece of hardware coming my way for review: a Blackbird Secure Desktop from Raptor Computing Systems. The Blackbird is a desktop PC with an IBM POWER9 processor that is open source from top to its very bottom – no firmware blobs, no management engines, no proprietary BIOS.

As the product page details:

The Blackbird™ mainboard is an affordable, owner-controllable, desktop and entry server level mainboard. Built around the IBM POWER9 processor, and leveraging Linux and OpenPOWER™ technology, Blackbird™ allows you to secure your data without sacrificing performance. Designed with a fully owner-controlled CPU domain, you can audit and modify any portion of the open source firmware on the Blackbird™ mainboard, all the way down to the CPU microcode. This is an unprecedented level of access for any modern desktop-class machine, and one that is increasingly needed to assure safety and compliance with new regulations, such as the EU’s GDPR.

I don’t yet know what exact specifications my review unit will have, but I’m assuming it’ll be the base model that has the 4-core POWER9 processor with SMT4 (4-way multithreading). I do know it’ll come with an AMD Radeon Pro WX4100 LP, which will be the only piece of hardware requiring card-side proprietary firmware (but it’s optional, since the mainboard itself has basic open source graphics capability too).

I don’t usually do this, but there’s a first thing for everything, so here we go: do any of you have any questions about this exotic hardware you want me to try and answer? Specific things to look into? I’ll also be able to ask some questions to Raptor’s CTO, so there’s a lot of opportunity to get some serious answers.

I’ll try to take as many suggestions into account as I can. The current estimated delivery date is 6 August, so expect the actual review in late August or early September. Also I’m sorry for the title pun.

M2OS: RTOS with simple tasking support for small microcontrollers

M2OS is a small Real-Time Operating System that allows running multitasking applications in small microcontrollers with scarce memory resources.

M2OS implements a simple scheduling policy based on non-preemptive one-shot tasks which requires a very small memory footprint. Moreover, with this scheduling policy the same stack area can be used by all the tasks and, consequently, the system only needs to allocate a stack area large enough to fit the largest task stack.

It’s quite rare we find an operating system that’s actually never been mentioned on ONSews before. To be fair, it’s only been around since March of this year and it’s highly niche, but still.

Tech CEOs invoke the American Dream to obscure the nightmare they created

During Wednesday’s congressional antitrust hearing, the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook used their opening statements to try and paint themselves—and their companies—as uniquely American success stories with humble origins, heart-warming anecdotes, and impactful lessons for the American people.

[…]

While these CEOs talked a lot about America and its possibilities, and how their companies and even personal histories embody it, it is undeniable that their actions are undermining what they claim to celebrate.

It was sad display.

You can now debug programs using GDB on Redox OS

Now, the reason for not finishing is that I’m basically done! That’s right, GDB has served us reliably for the past few weeks, where we’ve been able to debug our dynamic linker (ld.so) and find problems with shared libraries. We got to the point where the amazing @bjorn3 has managed to run his first rust program compiled on Redox using his rustc cranelift backend!

While obviously we would’ve found the bugs without gdb eventually, I’d love to attribute enough credit to it that it warrants being posted here!

Redox OS is an operating system written in Rust.

Mac OS 8 running as an Electron app emulating a 1991 Quadra

This is Mac OS 8, running in an Electron app pretending to be a 1991 Macintosh Quadra. Yes, it’s the full thing. I’m sorry.

Does it work?

Yes! Quite well, actually – on macOS, Windows, and Linux. Bear in mind that this is written entirely in JavaScript, so please adjust your expectations. The virtual machine is emulating a 1991 Macintosh Quadra 900 with a Motorola CPU, which Apple used before switching to IBM’s PowerPC architecture in the late 1990s.

This exists now.

Intel ousts its chief engineer, shakes up technical group after delays

Intel’s Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala is departing, part of a move in which a key technology unit will be separated into five teams, the chipmaker said on Monday.

Intel said it is reorganizing its technology, systems architecture and client group. Its new leaders will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan.

Ann Kelleher, a 24-year Intel veteran, will lead development of 7-nanometer and 5-nanometer chip technology processes. Last week, the company had said the smaller, faster 7-nanometer chipmaking technology was six months behind schedule and it would have to rely more on outside chipmakers to keep its products competitive.

Heads were going to roll eventually after so many years of 10 nm and now 7 nm delays. Intel is in a very rough spot.

Google reportedly peeks into Android data to gain edge over third-party apps

Google for several years has collected app-usage data collected from Android phones to develop and advance its own competing apps, a new report alleges.

The project, called Android Lockbox, “collects sensitive Android user data” for use within Google and has been in effect since at least 2013, The Information reports.

Abuse such as this by platform vendors will continue to take place, and it will continue to get worse and more brazen, because governments and judicial systems simply aren’t designed to deal with the massive international nebulous webs of dozens of individual legal entities that make up a single company. They wield immense power, can spend infinite amounts of money to change any law they don’t like, and aren’t subservient to the people – i.e., the government – like they should be.

Either governments start drastically cutting these massive corporations up – divide and conquer – or the entire western world is at risk of becoming corporate dystopias.

GNOME OS is taking shape but its to serve for testing the desktop

GNOME OS has traditionally been a virtual machine image for testing, but with the work done by Codethink and other GNOME developers it’s becoming possible to run GNOME OS on bare metal hardware. Additionally, thanks to the likes of Flatpak and OSTree, it’s becoming more like a working Linux distribution in terms of package availability.

GNOME OS is part of the project’s continual testing investment and can be booted on real systems with UEFI via systemd-boot, systemd is leveraged throughout, Flatpak is available for a broad application base, Wayland and XWayland are utilized, the latest Mesa drivers are present, and OSTree provides atomic updates.

GNOME OS seems similar to KDE Neon, and I think it’s a great idea. It allows GNOME developers and users to easily test the latest and great versions of their software, without being dependent on distributions.

How and why I (attempt to) use Links as main browser

Many browsers today are gigantic resource hogs, which are basically VMs for various web applications. On the other hand, Links is a HTML browser. It is not able to do everything. It allows me to avoid most distractions and control the content-experience. The goal of this exercise is not to force anyone to use this browser, but just to be watchful and conscious of their hypertext based internet usage (one might use gopher, and this phlog is available there, but probability tells me that a person reading this reads this from hypertext source and I am sure they are lovely).

This takes some dedication, and while I wouldn’t take it quite this far, the author does make a good point.

Intel will delay move to 7nm for another year

Intel announced today in its Q2 2020 earnings release that it has now delayed the rollout of its 7nm CPUs by six months relative to its previously-planned release date, undoubtedly resulting in wide-ranging delays to the company’s roadmaps. Intel’s press release also says that yields for its 7nm process are now twelve months behind the company’s internal targets, meaning the company isn’t currently on track to produce its 7nm process in an economically viable way. The company now says its 7nm CPUs will not debut on the market until late 2022 or early 2023.

Intel is in big trouble.

Nvidia reportedly interested in acquiring ARM

Last week it came to light that SoftBank may be trying to sell chipset design firm ARM, and according to a new report from Bloomberg, Nvidia could be interested. Citing the usual “people with knowledge,” Nvidia has apparently approached ARM to court a deal with the Cambridge company.

Out of the various options we have, Nvidia might actually not be the worst option. Abusive companies like Apple and Google are clearly the worst possible option, and Intel and AMD already have enough sway over the market as it is. NVIDIA, while not exactly a cute puppy kitten of a company, isn’t so big and domineering that acquiring ARM would be a complete disaster for competition.

Slack files competition complaint against Microsoft in the EU

Slack says it has filed an anti-competitive complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission. “The complaint details Microsoft’s illegal and anti-competitive practice of abusing its market dominance to extinguish competition in breach of European Union competition law,” says Slack in a statement. Slack alleges that Microsoft has “illegally tied” its Microsoft Teams product to Office and is “force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.”

“Microsoft is reverting to past behavior,” claims David Schellhase, general counsel at Slack. “They created a weak, copycat product and tied it to their dominant Office product, force installing it and blocking its removal, a carbon copy of their illegal behavior during the ‘browser wars.’ Slack is asking the European Commission to take swift action to ensure Microsoft cannot continue to illegally leverage its power from one market to another by bundling or tying products.”

It’s what platform vendors do. Google, Apple, Microsoft – they all do this, and it only serves to hurt consumers and competition.

KDE, Slimbook anounce third KDE Slimbook

KDE and Slimbook, a Spanish Linux laptop manufacturer, have announced the third iteration of the KDE Slimbook. The KDE Slimbook runs KDE Neon, and sports the latest and greatest AMD technology.

Inside the svelte body, you will find the AMD Ryzen 7 4800 H processor — another first, as currently no other manufacturer offers Linux laptops with Ryzen 4000 series CPUs, with 8 cores and 16 threads, up to 64 GBs of DDR4 RAM that runs at 3200 MHz, and three USB ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI socket, a RJ45 for wired network connections, as well as support for the new Wifi 6 standard.

The KDE Slimbook comes in two sizes: the 14-inch screen version weighs only 1.1 kg, and the 15.6-inch version weighs 1.5 kg. The screens themselves are Full HD IPS LED panels and cover 100% the sRGB range, making colors more accurate and life-like, something that designers and photographers will appreciate.

This is looking like a great offering, and the KDE team has put me in contact with Slimbook to see if I can receive a review unit. This would be a great alternative to the System76 Lemur Pro, which we reviewed a few weeks ago.