Haiku gets initial 3D acceleration

I implemented RadeonGfx driver server mode and now it is possible to run multiple processes that use 3D acceleration. Because of GFX ring reset hack, command buffer scheduling is limited and only one command buffer can be executed at moment of time.

That’s right – that’s X512, the amazing developer who ported Haiku to RISC-V, now working on bringing initial 3D acceleration to Haiku. There’s a long road ahead for this to become a default, working part of Haiku, but that doesn’t make these first steps any less impressive.

DESQview/X : the forgotten mid-1990s OS from the future

So. What is DESQview/X? Many people, in the current day and age, may have never even heard of this system from the mid-1990s.

Its predecessor, DESQview (without the “/X”) which was first released in 1985, was a multi-tasking, windowing system for DOS. It allowed someone, with very modest PC hardware, to run multiple text-mode DOS applications at the same time. With overlapping, resizable windows.

Pretty darned cool.

This multitasking wasn’t the cooperative multi-tasking that we saw in early Windows (through 3.11) and MacOS up through version 9. No sir-ee bob. DESQview had true, preemptive multi-tasking. Fast. Stable. Lightweight. It was downright impressive.

But it was all text-mode.

Then DESQview/X came along, in the 1990s, bringing a complete X11 (aka X Windows) graphical interface with it.

Impressive, for sure. I have heard of it, but never actually used it or even tried it. This article has piqued my interest, and I’m definitely going to fire up a VM and play around with this. For more in-depth information, there’s a book called DESQview/X: A Technical Perspective from 1990 on Archive.org.

ungoogled-chromium: Google Chromium, sans integration with Google

ungoogled-chromium is Google Chromium, sans dependency on Google web services. It also features some tweaks to enhance privacy, control, and transparency (almost all of which require manual activation or enabling).

ungoogled-chromium retains the default Chromium experience as closely as possible. Unlike other Chromium forks that have their own visions of a web browser, ungoogled-chromium is essentially a drop-in replacement for Chromium.

In light of the previous post, if you really do need to use Chromium for whatever reason, forego Microsoft ‘coupon clipper‘ Edge, the closed-source Vivaldi, or the cryptoscammy Brave – and opt for ungoogled-chromium instead.

Firefox is the only alternative

Supposedly today we have a lot of browsers to choose from – Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Brave, Opera, Vivaldi, etc. Having choices is a good thing, right? Nobody wants to relive the time of almost complete Internet Explorer domination again. Unfortunately our choices are significantly fewer than they seem to be at first glance, as Chrome and Safari (thanks to the iPhone) totally dominate the browser landscape in terms of usage and almost all browsers these days are built on top of Chromium, Chrome’s open-source version. Funny enough even Edge is built on top of Chromium today, despite the bitter rivalry between Google and Microsoft. What’s also funny is that Chrome and Safari control about 85% of the browser market share today, and Microsoft’s Edge commands only about 4%.

Firefox all the way for me. We need more than one browser engine to succeed, and Firefox is the only viable alternative to Chrome’s dominance. Safari is tied to Apple so far too limiting, but at least it’s not Chromium-based, so that’s a plus.

I’ve been starting to see websites that simply do not work in Firefox, which has me deeply worried about just how long I can keep up using my browser of choice.

VMware mouse driver for Windows 3.x

Running Windows 3.1 in VMware (or seemingly, QEMU, but it’s not yet tested), but annoyed by having to grab and ungrab the cursor manually?

Wish you could just move the cursor in and out like a modern OS (one with USB tablet support or VMware Tools drivers), with no Ctrl+Alt dancing?

Or want to control your cursor at all under the ESXi web UI? (It doesn’t do relative input.)

With this driver, now you can. It implements the interface that VMware uses (the backdoor), replacing the existing PS/2 mouse driver.

Vital for anyone who runs Windows 3.x virtual machines.

EU coalition urges EU to push back against gate keeping by Microsoft, files official complaint

A coalition of EU software and cloud businesses joined Nextcloud GmbH in respect of their formal complaint to the European Commission about Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior in respect of its OneDrive (cloud) offering. In a repeat from earlier monopolistic actions, Microsoft is bundling its OneDrive, Teams and other services with Windows and aggressively pushing consumers to sign up and hand over their data to Microsoft. This limits consumer choice and creates a barrier for other companies offering competing services.

I mean, anything to reign in the power of these massive technology companies, but I’m not sure browser choice screens and versions without Windows Media Player are the way to go. I want a more permanent solution – just like we’ve done countless times in the past, break these massive companies up into various smaller pieces that have to compete on merit, instead of being propped up by one or two deeply entrenched money-printing products.

Why V7 Unix matters so much

When I talk about things involving the history of Unix, I often wind up mentioning V7, also known as Seventh Edition of Research Unix from Bell Labs (for a recent example, in my entry on when Unix got stack size limits). If you’re relatively new to the history of Unix, you might wonder why V7 keeps coming up so often. There are a number of reasons that V7 matters so much both for the history of Unix and for what is what we think of as being ‘Unix’ and the Unix way.

The history of Unix is… Complicated.

Microsoft pushes ahead with controversial ‘buy now, pay later’ feature for Edge browser

Microsoft is introducing a new feature in Edge allowing customers to pay for e-commerce transactions in installments – and not everybody is happy.

The ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) feature is, controversially, integrated at the browser level, thanks to a partnership with third-party payments provider Zip, formerly QuadPay.

The option is similar to those already offered by many e-commerce sites and web payment providers such as PayPal.

Tacky and tasteless feature.

Apple, Google and Facebook may be forced into cross-platform messaging

Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech companies may be forced into finding a solution that allows users to connect across the various messaging platforms. Currently, each service has its own way of handling communication that is not compatible with others, placing a burden upon the user when there is a need to reach someone using a different platform or service.

A universal communication method would benefit the end-user, whether using an iPhone or Android phone, with Facebook, iMessage, or other social media apps. A cross-platform solution works against the existing model that social media and tech companies have accepted as standard, keeping their customers or users circling back to the same company rather than moving between different services. It’s the same reason for members’ rewards cards at grocery stores and punch cards for a free sandwich at the deli. Keeping the existing customer is much easier than recruiting a new one.

This is such an obvious and popular requirement, I’m baffled it’s taking governments around the world this long to get to implementing it. So much of our communication infrastructure is owned by 3-4 giant technology companies, all incompatible with each other, with absolutely zero control over what happens to your messages and your data. Forcing them to be interoperable – preferably via forcing the publication of open APIs third party developers can tap into – is not only the bare minimum we should expect from our online communication channels, it’s probably also a highly popular requirement that would simplify the the lives of people all across the European Union, where different countries favour different messaging protocols.

How could anybody without a financial stake in Apple, Google, or Facebook be against this?

Of course, the very, very sour note here is that at the same time, the European Commission is also toying with the idea of weakening or outright eliminating end-to-end encryption in messaging applications, so it might well turn out to be all for naught.

Go does not need a Java-style GC

Modern languages such as Go, Julia and Rust don’t need complex garbage collectors like the ones use by Java C#. But why?

To explain why, we need to get into how garbage collectors work and how different languages allocate memory in different ways. However, we will start by looking at why Java in particular needs such a complex garbage collector.

Good info on how Go deals with memory versus how Java, mainly, handles memory. The most interesting start of a rabbit hole is the mention of research work around memory allocators.

The secret history of ATAPI

The other day I asked myself a seemingly trivial question: What was the first ATAPI CD-ROM drive and when was it available? Given that ATAPI was a major technology which instantly obsoleted all proprietary CD-ROM interfaces and made SCSI much less desirable, one might expect that there would have been some press releases touting the advantages of the new technology, articles describing the whys and wherefores, but… nope. There is nothing.

And so begins a deep dive into the origins of ATAPI, through examining early drivers and their code.

airyxOS Tanuki v0.3.0 released

Airyx OS has seen its first beta release, with a quite a few big improvements.

• Default application bundles: Firefox, Terminal, and Kate
• A new AppKit-based ObjectiveC installer (Install airyxOS.app)
• Java SDK 17.0.1+12
• Updated to FreeBSD 12.3RC base OS and kernel
• Improvements to AppKit including better support of color catalogs and color lists, more Mac-like default colors, support for pop-up menus, fixed scrollbar icons, improved font handling, system key bindings, improved NIB support, fixed glitches in window resizing and moving, and more.
• Updated many packages

You can read more about Airyx on its website, and be sure to follow the project’s account on Twitter for more updates.

Apple sues NSO Group for abuse of state-sponsored spyware, yet continues to aid China in the abuse of state-sponsored spyware

Apple today filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and its parent company to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users. The complaint provides new information on how NSO Group infected victims’ devices with its Pegasus spyware. To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices.

I wonder if this means Apple will sue itself next, because what the NSO Group does is not that different from what Apple itself does in, for instance, China. Apple has given the Chinese government full access to the iCloud data of all Chinese Apple users, so much so that even Apple itself cannot enter the date centres where Chinese iCloud data is stored. If Apple is suing the NSO Group for the “surveillance and targeting of Apple users”, why isn’t Apple saying anything about how it is aiding China to do the exact same thing?

Don’t get me wrong – the NSO Group is terrible and if they get sued out of existence that’s a major win, but the blatant hypocrisy here is so obvious I almost feel like Apple is doing this just to see how far its supporters are willing to go to defend them.

It’s easy to stick to your morals in countries with fair and open judicial systems. It’s how you act in those that don’t that show who you really are.

Arcan 0.6.1 released

The “desktop-engine” Arcan has put out a new release after close to a year of development, continuing its current focus on improving network transparency. A recent and long post on Arcan as OS Design is also a worthwhile and interesting view into this fascinating project.

Flatpak is not the future

The current solutions involve packaging entire alternate runtimes in containerized environments. Flatpak, Snap, AppImage, Docker, and Steam: these all provide an app packaging mechanism that replaces most or all of the system’s runtime libraries, and they now all use containerization to accomplish this.

Flatpak calls itself “the future of application distribution”. I am not a fan. I’m going to outline here some of the technical, security and usability problems with Flatpak and others. I’ll try to avoid addressing “fixable” problems (like theming) and instead focus on fundamental problems inherent in their design. I aim to convince you that these are not the future of desktop Linux apps.

I fully agree. If you’re a Linux application developer, packaging your application up as an RPM and DEB is really all you need to do; you’ll cover by far the most desktop Linux users, and your code will most likely be packaged up by package maintainers of smaller package management systems as well. All these “solutions” just add additional layers of confusion, bloat, issues, and bugs that can be easily avoided by sticking to your distribution’s own package manager.

I simply avoid any application packaged up in any of these formats – with the exception of Steam – and move on to something from a developer who does understand and care about desktop Linux.

Fun with Red Star OS

Let’s say you got your filthy hands on an ISO of Red Star OS Desktop 3.0 (like, 5 years ago but you forgot about it). The obvious next step is to install it on your main computer and give it access to the outside so it can spread love and goodness. Just kidding, install that motherfucker in a virtual machine (VirtualBox, VMware, etc), just because.

These articles looking at North Korea’s Red Star OS pop up every few years, and they’re always a fun read.

You don’t have to play ‘League of Legends’ to enjoy the masterful animation of Netflix’s ‘Arcane’

If you’ve been putting off watching Netflix’s Arcane because you don’t play League of Legends, stop that right now. Friends, you’re missing out on some truly incredible animation.

The first TV series from Riot Games and French animation studio Fortiche, created by Christian Linke and Alex Yee, Arcane landed on Netflix on Nov. 6, rolling out three episodes per week until the finale on Nov. 20. And while fans and players of League will find references, Easter eggs, and character signatures aplenty throughout the show, any viewer can jump into it and fully appreciate the series’ compelling story, nuanced characters, and unique, stunning animation style.

To be clear: I don’t play League of Legends and I loved it.

It’s a bit outside of the usual OSNews content, but Arcane is an absolute milestone in both animation and storytelling. It will be the benchmark all other animation studios will be compared to for years to come, and rightfully so. Yes, my fiancée and I both play League of Legends, but even if you don’t, Arcane is something you simply do not want to miss.

Podcast: OSNews’ David Adams talks tech and politics with Flux’ Matthew Sheffield

Flux is an independent online news source that covers politics, religion, philosophy, and technology, and the way that they intersect. I sat down with its founder, and talked about the state of the operating system world in 1997 when I started OSNews, and what has changed since then, both in the computing realm and in the political milieu that pervades our lives. We talked about Microsoft and Apple, UNIX and Linux, the rise and fall of general purpose computing, and how the rise of platforms based on hardware/software/marketplace ecosystems has changed the landscape for what makes an OS platform viable and relevant.

You can read a transcript, listen to the podcast, or watch a video of our conversation

This discussion is aimed at the more-mainstream audience of Flux’s Theory of Change podcast, but as you can tell from the conversation, Sheffield is a huge nerd and is very interested in discussions of computing, and how it intersects with politics. On that topic, he and I are laying the groundwork to collaborate on a regular podcast, a partnership between OSNews and Flux. I’d love to hear your advice and feedback on topics that you’d be interested in having us cover, people that you’d like to have us interview, or if you’d be interested in participating in some way, let me know.

Qualcomm has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for Windows on ARM

Last week, we reported that MediaTek is planning to build a chipset for Windows on ARM. As it turns out, the Windows on ARM chipset space could be even hotter than that, because there’s a reason that we’ve only seen Qualcomm SoCs in ARM PCs so far. Qualcomm actually has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for Windows on ARM, and speaking with people familiar with it, we’ve learned that the deal is set to expire soon.

That certainly explains the dearth of Windows on ARM devices.

Well, that, and the fact nobody wants Windows on ARM devices.

Nreal Light review: hardware is only half the battle

Nreal’s Light sunglasses, which Verizon will start selling later this month, are one of only a few consumer-focused augmented reality headsets. They’re an impressive technical feat: small for an AR or VR product, comparatively affordable at $599, and capable of full-fledged mixed reality that projects images into real space, not just a flat heads-up overlay like the North Focals.

Unfortunately, Nreal’s software doesn’t fulfill its hardware’s promise. The Light is hampered by a bare-bones control scheme, a patchy app ecosystem, and a general user experience that ranges from undercooked to barely functional. Nreal may well have shown us the future of AR, but it seems disinterested in making the experience very pleasant.

Everybody is talking about AR glasses being the next big thing after smartphones, but to me they feel deeply dystopian and creepy – for very, very little benefit over using a smartphone. I’m sure AR glasses will be very welcome in countless professional settings, but I’m not so sure it will be embraced by general consumers in everyday life.