Sir Clive Sinclair, the inventor and entrepreneur who was instrumental in bringing home computers to the masses, has died at the age of 81.
His daughter, Belinda, said he died at home in London on Thursday morning after a long illness. Sinclair invented the pocket calculator but was best known for popularising the home computer, bringing it to British high-street stores at relatively affordable prices.
Russia goes to the polls on Friday to elect a new parliament in a three-day vote that the ruling United Russia party is expected to win despite a ratings slump after the biggest crackdown on the Kremlin’s critics in years.
Apple, only a few weeks ago during the CASM debacle, adamantly told the world it would never bow to government pressure. Unsurprisingly, that was a bold-faced lie.
AMD’s CFO Devinder Kumar recently commented that AMD stands ready to manufacture Arm chips if needed, noting that the company’s customers want to work with AMD on Arm-based solutions. Kumar’s remarks came during last week’s Deutsche Bank Technology Conference, building on comments from AMD CEO Lisa Su earlier in the year that underscored the company’s willingness to create custom silicon solutions for its customers, be they based on x86 or Arm architectures. Intel also intends to produce Arm and RISC-V chips, too, meaning that the rise of non-x86 architectures will be partially fueled by the stewards of the dominant x86 ecosystem.
This is entirely unsurprising news. You don’t have to build Snapdragon or Apple-level ARM chips to make a lot of money with Arm, and companies like Intel and AMD would be stupid not to look into it.
If you’ve been paying attention to recent chatter in the GNOME and surrounding communities, you may have noticed there’s a lot of disgruntled developers within certain communities that rely on parts of the GNOME stack, such as Pop!_OS and Budgie. I’ve been trying to follow most of these discussions and have been itching to write about it, but with the discussions still ongoing and my own lack of knowledge on the intricacies of the interplay between distribution maintainers, desktop environment developers, application programmers, and GNOME itself, I figured I should stay away from it until someone with more knowledge stepped in.
1. GTK4 has not met our expectations since its release in December of 2020, nor have we been satisfied with its state as of the writing of this post.
2. Current plans by GNOME for changes to how theming works is viewed as regressive for desktop Linux, developers, and user choice.
3. We do not believe that GNOME is treating its community, from individual users to entire operating systems, in a manner that is equitable and respectful of their choice on how they want to curate their own experience.
4. Budgie 11 will not be written in GTK4.
5. For Budgie Edition: we will be working on replacing software developed by GNOME with that of alternative software developers as well as “in-house” solutions. These will not necessarily be under the GetSolus organization nor will they be associated with Budgie. Adopting Budgie going forward (at least until 11, when we have our own control center) does not and will not require using our own apps. This has even remained true even for Budgie Desktop View, we support alternatives like Desktop Folder as alternative “desktop” implementations in Budgie.
6. GNOME Edition will be demoted to a non-curated edition and moved to a lesser position on our Downloads page in a future release of Solus.
There are various problems non-GNOME GTK developers are running into, but as a user, my biggest problem is GNOME’s adoption of libadwaita. GNOME is going to ship a library, libadwaita, that when used by an application, will force it to use the default light Adwaita theme, with no option to change it to dark mode or a different theme. The end result is that if you use GNOME, you’re going to start seeing applications – both from GNOME itself as well as from third parties – that do not respect your choice of GTK theme, and instead always default to light Adwaita.
But of course, this problem extends beyond GNOME itself, as other popular GTK desktops, such as MATE, Cinnamon, and Budgie, also make use of both GTK applications, as well as components and applications from GNOME. On top of that, countless popular distributions, such as Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Pop!_OS, all use custom themes. Their desktops will be severely broken since GNOME and GTK applications will no longer use their custom themes.
As a result, Solus and Budgie will start transitioning to using EFL instead of GTK for various components, which is a pretty big shift. As far as I know, other distributions, such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Pop!_OS, have not made any plans yet as to how to handle this new reality, but I would assume they, too, will start to replace any offending applications and components, or hack GTK altogether as a workaround.
This is a shitty situation, and the GNOME developers are causing a lot of bad blood and rifts here that really could have been avoided. Theming and customisation are a core aspect of the Linux desktop, and breaking it like this is going to make a lot of non-GNOME developers as well as users very, very unhappy.
“Intel Seamless Update” is a forthcoming feature for Intel platforms seemingly first being exposed by their new Linux kernel patches working on the functionality… Intel is working on being able to carry out system firmware updates such as UEFI updates but doing so at run-time and being able to avoid the reboot in the process.
Pretty cool, but sadly, it’s only for enterprise machines and upcoming Xeon processors.
In version 91 of Firefox, released on August 10th, Mozilla has reverse engineered the way Microsoft sets Edge as default in Windows 10, and enabled Firefox to quickly make itself the default. Before this change, Firefox users would be sent to the Settings part of Windows 10 to then have to select Firefox as a default browser and ignore Microsoft’s plea to keep Edge.
Mozilla’s reverse engineering means you can now set Firefox as the default from within the browser, and it does all the work in the background with no additional prompts. This circumvents Microsoft’s anti-hijacking protections that the company built into Windows 10 to ensure malware couldn’t hijack default apps. Microsoft tells us this is not supported in Windows.
Sadly, this does not work on Windows 11, where Microsoft is now forcing users to change the default handler for every individual file type a browser might use.
Under the AFA, manufacturers could not equip their handsets with modified versions of Android, known as “Android forks”. That has helped Google cement its market dominance in the mobile OS market, the KFTC said.
Under the ruling, Google is banned from forcing device makers to sign AFA contracts, allowing manufacturers to adopt modified versions of Android OS on their devices.
Good. This particular kind of paper restrictions need to die in a fire.
A number of years ago, the Computer History Museum together with Microsoft released the source code for MS-DOS 1.25 (very close to PC DOS 1.1) and MS-DOS 2.11. I never did anything with it beyond glancing at the code, in no small part because the release was rather poorly organized.
The obvious gaping hole is the lack of any source code for IBMBIO.COM. I do not know exactly what arrangement IBM and Microsoft had at the time, but in the days of DOS 1.x and 2.x OEMs did not get the source code for IBMBIO.COM/IO.SYS suitable for PC compatibles.
I toyed with the idea of writing my own IBMBIO.COM replacement, but eventually gave up because it’s not a totally trivial piece of code and I had no real documentation to work with (until much later). The MSDOS.ASM source code obviously uses the IBMBIO interface, but makes no attempt to document it. The provided IO.ASM source is quite useful, but SCP’s hardware was different enough from the IBM PC that it is of limited utility.
On Friday, the Northern California judge handling the closely watched Epic Games v. Apple court case turned in a ruling that, in many ways, works out in Apple’s favor—but with one massive, App Store-changing exception.
This is a massive blow to Apple’s money printing machine, since it means both applications as well as gambling apps (or “games” as Apple refers to them) can now circumvent Apple’s 30% protection racket. Since the vast majority of App Store revenue – and thus, the vast majority of Apple’s services revenue – comes from exploitative gambling apps, this will have a major impact on Apple’s current strategy of sucking as much money out of Candy Crush whales.
WSLg is short for Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI and the purpose of the project is to enable support for running Linux GUI applications (X11 and Wayland) on Windows in a fully integrated desktop experience.
WSLg provides an integrated experience for developers, scientists or enthusiasts that prefer or need to run Windows on their PC but also need the ability to run tools or applications which works best, or exclusively, in a Linux environment. While users can accomplish this today using a multiple system setup, with individual PC dedicated to Windows and Linux, virtual machine hosting either Windows or Linux, or an XServer running on Windows and projected into WSL, WSLg provides a more integrated, user friendly and productive alternative.
WSLg will ship with Windows 11, but despite it being developed and tested on Windows 10, it won’t become available for Windows 10 users, and is currently only accessible to users of Windows beta builds.
Google executives have been aware since at least May 2019 that the company was failing to comply with local laws in the UK, Europe and Asia that mandate temporary workers be paid equal rates to full-time employees performing similar work, internal Google documents and emails reviewed by the Guardian show.
But rather than immediately correct the errors, the company dragged its feet for more than two years, the documents show, citing concern about the increased cost to departments that rely heavily on temporary workers, potential exposure to legal claims, and fear of negative press attention.
Another severe case of theft nobody will go to jail for.
I’ve long been intrigued by Thunderbolt add-in cards. Apparently regular looking PCIe expansion cards, but shipped with a mystery interface cable to the motherboard, of which there is a small list of supported models.
It’s not a secret that these cards may work in a motherboard which isn’t supported, but full functionality is not a given. I have spent the past few evenings trawling through many forums, reading about the many different experiences people are having, and have also purchased some hardware to play around with myself, so we can dig into these problems and see what (if any) solutions there are.
Excellent deep dive into a topic I had never once in my life stopped to think about. As the author concludes, it would be cool if we ever got working, reliable Thunderbolt add-in cards for AMD or earlier Intel systems, but it seems unlikely.
Pumpkin is the name I have given to my port of PalmOS running on the x64 architecture. Please refer to this article for basic information on this project. Also look for other articles in the PalmOS category for more information and some technical details on the implementation. This article is about the first Technology Preview of this project: a functional version of Pumpkin OS running on the Windows platform. This first release is limited on purpose: just a few PalmOS applications and nothing much else. This is also a binary only distribution, but do not worry, full source code will be released in the future.
I’ve been following this project for a while now, and this is bonkers awesome work. Very limited for now, of course, but as a longtime Palm OS user and lover of all things Palm OS, this feels like it’s made just for me.
While POWER9 was big for open-source fans with the formation of the OpenPOWER Foundation and Raptor Computing Systems designing POWER9-based systems that are fully open-source down to schematics and the motherboard firmware, the same can’t be currently said about POWER10.
While IBM has published a lot of the POWER10 firmware as open-source, remaining closed for at least the time being is their off-chip OMI DRAM bridge and their on-chip PPE I/O processor.
This sucks. I am a huge fan of Raptor’s fully open POWER9 workstation and boards, and despite Raptor hinting for months now there were issues with POWER10’s openness, I was hoping things would be figured out before the release of IBM’s new POWER10 processors this month. Sadly, this seems to have been wishful thinking. Raptor’s POWER9 workstations are the only fully open performance-oriented computers you can get, and until IBM decides otherwise, it’s going to stay that way.
Android 12 Beta 5 is here. For those that haven’t been following along at home, this is the last expected release before it hits stable and is ready for the masses — a so-called “release candidate” version that should be almost good to go. This latest version also picks up support for the brand new Pixel 5a, and it’s your last chance to get those beta-testing toes wet before Android 12 is released. On that note, Google also gives us a hint about its schedule, promising that Android 12 is “just a few weeks away.”
Well, a few weeks away for a very small number of phones. For most users, this release is months away, at best, and infinity away, at worst.
How do you write a review of a laptop when you’re struggling to find truly negative things to say? This is rarely an issue – every laptop is a compromise – but with the KDE Slimbook, I feel like I’ve hit this particular problem for the first time. A luxury, for sure, but it makes writing this review a lot harder than it’s supposed to be.
First, let’s talk about Slimbook itself. Slimbook is a Linux OEM from Spain, founded in 2015, which sells various laptops and desktops with a variety of preinstalled Linux distributions to choose from (including options for no operating system, or Windows). A few years ago, Slimbook partnered with KDE to sell the KDE Slimbook – a Slimbook laptop with KDE Neon preinstalled, and the KDE logo engraved on the laptop’s lid. The current KDE Slimbook is – I think – the third generation, and the first to make the switch from Intel to AMD.
With the help of the KDE organisation, Slimbook sent over a KDE Slimbook for me to review, and here’s my impressions.
Power and quality
The KDE Slimbook is the first modern AMD laptop I’ve tested and used, and it feels great to see AMD at the top again when it comes to laptops. The laptop Slimbook sent me comes in at € 1149, and packs the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H, which has 8 cores and 16 threads, running at a base clock of 2.9Ghz and a boost clock of 4.2Ghz. That’s more cores and threads than in any of my desktop PCs (save for the dual-processor POWER9 workstation I’m currently reviewing as well), which I still find kind of bonkers.
Integrated onto the processor die is the Radeon RX Vega 7 GPU, with 7 compute units running at 1600Mhz. This obviously isn’t a gaming-oriented GPU, but it can run less intensive games in a pinch, and since it’s AMD, it works perfectly fine with Wayland, too.
My unit was configured with a total of 16GB of RAM, in dual-channel mode (as it should be), running at 3200 MT/s. The motherboard has two RAM slots, both accessible, and can be configured with a maximum of 64GB of RAM – making this a rather future-proof laptop when it comes to memory.
It won’t surprise you in 2021 that my review unit came with an NVMe SSD – a 256GB, PCIe 3.0 model from Gigabyte, good for a maximum sequential read speed of 1700 GB/s and a maximum sequential write speed of 1100 GB/s. This isn’t exactly the fastest SSD on the market, but Slimbook offers the option for faster – and more expensive – Samsung EVO SSDs as well. On top of that, the M.2 2280 slot is user-accessible, so you can always upgrade later.
Slimbook sent me the 15.6″ model, which comes with a 15.6″ 1920×1080 60Hz panel. There is also a 14″ model with the same resolution and refresh rate. The panel is 100% sGRB, and is plenty bright and pleasant to look at. Sadly, Slimbook does not offer 1440p, 4K, or high-refresh rate options, which is a big downside in 2021. If it were up to me, I’d love to see at least a 1440p/144Hz option on both the 14″ and 15.6″, and I hope the next generation of the KDE Slimbook will offer this as an option.
Battery life has been outstanding. The device loses little charge when sleeping, and I easily get 7-8 hours of regular use out of the battery.
The keyboard deviates from the norm a little bit, in that it’s not the usual island chicklet type keyboard where the keys are surrounded by metal. Instead, the keys float in the keyboard deck, which instantly brought back memories of Apple’s aluminium PowerBook line. I prefer this type of keyboard design over the chicklet island design, and typing is a delight on the KDE Slimbook – the keys are stable, clicky, and requiring just the right amount of force. I also happen to think it looks really, really nice, and it has full-height inverted T arrow keys. Nice.
The keyboard does have two minor niggles, though, and they both relate to the backlight. First, it takes 1-2 seconds for the keyboard backlight to come back on after it has faded off, and that’s a lot more annoying than you would think. The second issue has to do with the lettering on the keyboard. The backlight shines through the lettering on the keyboard, but in some places, it just does not shine through at all. I’m not sure what the underlying issue is – the placement of the individual LEDs or the lettering etching process – but it makes some keys hard to read when the backlight is on.
The trackpad is excellent, feels smooth, pleasant, and responsive, and I haven’t experienced any issues. It’s of the diving board design, and I think it’s glass, but I’m not entirely sure. Even if it’s plastic – if it feels and works well, that’s not an issue to me. I am, however, deeply intrigued by that little LED in the top-left corner. I have no idea what it’s for, and I am fairly sure I’ve seen it come on at least a few times. I made it a point not to look it up to see if I could figure it out, but here we are, and I still have no clue.
The KDE Slimbook comes packed with ports, which is a godsend in the modern world. On the left side, there’s a microSD slot, a headphone/microphone jack, a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, an Ethernet jack, and a Kensington lock. On the right side, there’s a USB-C port (no Thunderbolt, since this is an AMD machine), a USB 3.0 port, a full-size HDMI port, and the barrel plug power connector.
That’s a solid set of ports, and I have no complaints about the selection. The one big miss here is that the machine does not support charging over USB-C, tying you to the bundled charger with its barrel plug. I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t like barrel plugs – the sockets tend to be more fragile than they need to be, and it makes finding replacement chargers harder than it needs to be. In 2021, I expect laptops of this calibre and price to charge over USB-C. The USB-C port also doesn’t function as a video output, but the full-size HDMI port makes that not much of an issue.
Build quality is where the Slimbook really shines. It’s made of magnesium, a material that always feels nice to the touch and gives it more than enough rigidity in both the lid as well as the deck. Neither flex in any meaningful way, and thanks to the magnesium, it’s quite light too, at a mere 1.55 kg. The unit just feels nice, premium, and solid, and I like that.
As far as grab bag features – there’s a webcam, and it works. As usual with laptop webcams, it’s the bare minimum, but fine enough for the video conferencing a lot of people need to do these days. There’s also an IR camera for Windows Hello-style facial recognition, and Slimbook provides a Linux application in its repositories to set it up that makes use of Howdy. Sadly, this application does not work with KDE – while you can scan your face and save it, trying to set up the log-in-with-your-face feature will throw up an error message about KDE not being compatible yet. I’m assuming I could get it to work with manual finagling, but the point of buying a ready-made Linux laptop is that I shouldn’t have to.
The speakers are downfiring, and sound perfectly fine to me. Many laptops this thin sound very tinny, bordering on the unpleasant, but the Slimbook manages to avoid that and sound a bit more well-rounded and full. Of course, it’s never going to be room-filling, but you can’t beat physics.
Moving on to what I find one of the most important aspects of a laptop like this – the fans and cooling system – I was very pleasantly surprised. Coming from a long string of Intel laptops, I’m used to lots of hotspots on laptops and whiny, high-pitched fans that drive me nuts. I pretty much do whatever it takes to shut those fans down, including downclocking and similar measures. I take this matter very seriously, and as my fiancée can attest to – my hatred for fan noise runs deep.
The Slimbook is the first Linux laptop where I haven’t had to do any manual tuning. The fans rarely come on during regular, day-to-day use, including when playing video, a common issue on Linux laptops. Even when the fans do come on, their sound isn’t whiny and high-pitched, but more a soft whooshing sound that doesn’t bother me at all. As you can clearly tell, I am terrible at describing sounds and noise, so I hope this makes sense. The end result is that I don’t even feel the need to mess around with power profiles and fan settings, since the defaults work just fine for me.
The Slimbook comes with a fairly standard BIOS, but it does have one interesting feature: it gives you the option to disable things like the camera and microphone at a firmware level. Sadly, the BIOS is not open source, and the laptop does not seem to use software like Coreboot like some other Linux laptops do, such as those from System76.
I make a point of not turning Linux laptop reviews into distribution reviews, but with this being the KDE Slimbook, I do have to say a few things about how the operating system is set up. It comes preloaded with KDE Neon, which is, for all intents and purposes, the official KDE Linux distribution, based on Ubuntu. You get all the latest KDE software, and new KDE releases become available as updates much quicker than in many other distributions.
There are a few niggles about KDE on the KDE Slimbook, though. First and foremost, KDE Neon uses something called offline updates, which I find an anti-feature instead of a feature. Offline updates make it so that once updates become available, they are downloaded to disk, and then installed upon the next reboot. This theoretically limits possible cases of update problems, but ti also makes the updating process a lot more cumbersome than what I’m used to. Why do I need to reboot my computer for a new version of Firefox and some other non-essential updates?
By all means, mark certain updates as offline updates – new kernels, X or wayland updates, in-use libraries, whatever – but making you reboot for every single update is not a pleasant user experience, and brings back terrible memories of the awful macOS and Windows update experiences.
Speaking of Wayland – since this is an all-AMD machine with AMD graphics, Wayland is fully supported and works great. You can use plain old X.org, too, of course, but it’s good to know this machine is entirely ready for the switch to Wayland. KDE itself has made immense progress on this front, too, and I haven’t run into any issues whatsoever (I ran Wayland exclusively on the KDE Slimbook).
This is an excellent laptop. I have so few complaints, and the ones I do have are so minimal, I have no qualms about recommending the KDE Slimbook as an outstanding choice for both existing and new Linux users. The hardware is solid, fast, and attractive, the keyboard is great to type on, the touchpad is smooth and pleasant, and KDE Neon is an excellent Linux distribution for Linux users of all experience levels.
If you are a KDE user looking for a new laptop, the KDE Slimbook is a massive no-brainer: it should be the yardstick all other laptops you might be considering should be measured against. There are very few – if any – other laptops that come preinstalled with KDE, and even fewer that have the KDE logo so beautifully engraved on the lid. Part of the proceeds of the KDE Slimbook is donated to KDE, so by buying this machine, you’d also be supporting KDE financially.
Add to this the very, very reasonable pricing Slimbook employs, and this laptop is a total winner.
I don’t use KDE as my main desktop environment – I’m a Cinnamon person – but if I did, this would be my next laptop, no doubt about it. The good thing if you’re not a KDE user is that the KDE Slimbook is also available as the Slimbook PRO X, with a wide variety of preinstalled Linux distributions to choose from, as well as the option to go with an Intel version. Slimbook seems to understand the Linux community well, and is willing to go the extra mile to cater to the diversity inherent in using Linux.
Slimbook offers a number of other machines in the same price bracket, and I’m very curious to try them out and review them for y’all too – especially the Slimbook Executive, which comes with a 90Hz 14″ 2880×1800 display, and which may just offer a peek at the next generation KDE Slimbook.
Apple is gearing up to roll out iOS 15 later this year. The company plans to roll it out to several of its devices, going all the way back to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. This will make Apple the only smartphone OEM to offer seven years of software updates to its devices. That’s a remarkable feat, considering that only a couple of OEMs on the Android side promise three years of OS upgrades and four years of security updates. To bridge this gap, the EU proposed a new law earlier this year that would force all smartphone OEMs to offer up to five years of security updates for their devices and deliver reasonably priced spare parts for the same duration.
Although the EU’s new right to repair laws are yet to go into effect, the German Federal Government has now announced plans to extend the support timeline by two years. A spokesperson for Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics recently said (via Heise Online) that the government body plans to enforce stricter rules that would require OEMs to deliver spare parts and software updates for seven years. In addition, the Federal Government wants OEMs to publish the spare part prices and not increase them over time.
That’s excellent news. With Germany being such an important part of the EU, I can only hope they will set the tone for the rest of the countries to follow. Do note, however, that it’s election season in Germany, so be on the lookout for political trial balloons.
Earlier today, Microsoft pushed a promotional message to early adopters of Windows 11. The promo intended to promote the upcoming operating system’s integration with Microsoft Teams. Instead, it caused Explorer (the Windows desktop shell) to stop responding and left users without a working Start menu and taskbar.
Based on the Microsoft-provided workaround, I narrowed the problem down to a registry key that contained a serialized JSON blob. The blob contained an advertisement for Microsoft Teams. The messaging and imagery in the promotion were identical to the panel you get when you press the Windows key + C on a Windows account not already set up with Teams. It’s unclear if it’s this exact promotion, however.
Microsoft broke every single Windows 11 computer through an ad. Windows users – you can choose a better way.