Google gives adblockers in Chrome another year as it postpones Manifest V3

Last year, Google announced plans to phase out Manifest V2-based browser extensions in favor of new Manifest V3 policies. Although Manifest V3 promises increased safety and “peace of mind,” developers argue that the new rules hurt innovations, decrease performance, and cripple content blockers without giving much better security. Google initially wanted to disable Manifest V2 extensions in Chrome in January 2023 but has now decided to revise its plans.

In a new Chrome Developers blog post, the company describes an updated timeframe for migrating from Manifest V2 to Manifest V3. Although Google remains on track to ditch old extensions, developers and customers gained one more year for using and supporting Manifest V2-based extensions. According to the revised schedule, Google will remove them from the Chrome Web Store on January 2024.

Chrome is an advertising delivery platform first and foremost, and anyone with even a hint of foresight and a disdain for ads should’ve switched to Firefox years ago. At this point, using Chrome is self-inflicted.

System76’s Pop!_OS COSMIC Desktop to make use of Iced Rust toolkit rather than GTK

System76 has been developing their own COSMIC desktop as the next evolution for their Pop!_OS Linux distribution built atop an Ubuntu base. Interestingly with this big COSMIC desktop undertaking, which is being written in the Rust programming language, they have decided to shift away from using the GTK toolkit to instead make use of Iced-Rs as a Rust-native, multi-platform graphical toolkit.

This makes more sense than some might think. One of the engineers over at System76 is also the creator and lead developer of Redox OS, and GTK itself has become more and more insularly focused on GNOME than any of the other GTK-based desktop environments on Linux, BSD, and similar platforms. This is a big bet for what is essentially still a small company, but it sure does show some gusto.

My major concerns would be consistency, both visually and behaviourally, since the vast majority of popular applications on Linux are either GTK or at least somewhat trying to integrate with GTK, so there’s a lot of work to do to make everything feels are least somewhat coherent. Still, I’m definitely curious to see what this will look like, what it will feel like, and how it will perform.

Alibaba T-Head TH1520 RISC-V processor to power the ROMA laptop

The ROMA RISC-V laptop was announced this summer with an unnamed RISC-V processor with GPU and NPU. We now know it will be the Alibaba T-Head TH1520 quad-core Xuantie C910 processor clocked at up to 2.5GHz with a 4 TOPS NPU, and support for 64-bit DDR at up 4266 MT.

The TH1520 is born out of the Wujian 600 platform unveiled by Alibaba in August 2022, and is capable of running desktop-level applications such as Firefox browser and LibreOffice office suite on OpenAnolis open-source Linux-based operating system launched by Alibaba in 2020.

This is a very important first step into ‘normal’ computing for RISC-V, but availability and pricing are, for now, major barriers here. I’d love to get my hands on one of these, but at these prices, that’s a massive ask.

Microsoft’s early Windows 8 concepts shown in new video

It’s been nearly 10 years since Windows 8 launched to the world as part of Microsoft’s big tablet push. While we’ve seen two heads of Windows since then, former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky has shared some early concept images for Windows 8 in a new video. The images show concepts for the Start menu, multiple monitor support, File Explorer, Internet Explorer, and lots more.

Windows 8 development began in the spring of 2010, and Microsoft held an all-team event for the Windows org (around 5,000 people) at the Seattle Convention Center. “This video was played as the meeting ended and the team departed the Seattle Convention Center,” explains Sinofsky. “It is a highlight or sizzle reel of the many months we spent planning the release and all of the inputs into the Windows 8 project.”

Windows 8 would’ve been a fascinating, innovative, fresh, and incredibly interesting operating system and graphical user interface if it hadn’t been Windows 8. Microsoft should’ve split Windows into something like “Windows” and “Windows Classic” over a decade ago. Let the two sides of the coin shine where they should, instead of trying to cram every single Windows interface from 3.1 onward into a single mess.

The rest of Intel Arc’s A700-series GPU prices: A750 lands Oct. 12 below $300

Intel’s highest-end graphics card lineup is approaching its retail launch, and that means we’re getting more answers to crucial market questions of prices, launch dates, performance, and availability. Today, Intel answered more of those A700-series GPU questions, and they’re paired with claims that every card in the Arc A700 series punches back at Nvidia’s 18-month-old RTX 3060.

After announcing a $329 price for its A770 GPU earlier this week, Intel clarified it would launch three A700 series products on October 12: The aforementioned Arc A770 for $329, which sports 8GB of GDDR6 memory; an additional Arc A770 Limited Edition for $349, which jumps up to 16GB of GDDR6 at slightly higher memory bandwidth and otherwise sports otherwise identical specs; and the slightly weaker A750 Limited Edition for $289.

These are excellent prices, and assuming Intel can deliver enough supply to meet demand, I think I may have found my next GPU. If history is anything to go by, these will have excellent Linux support, but of course, we would be wise to let the enthusiasts iron out the bugs and issues. Six to twelve months after launch, these could be amazing allrounders for a very good price.

CDE 2.5 released

CDE 2.5.0 is now available on SourceForge. This is a significant release compared to the previous one with, among many other things, a replacement of the build system from ancient Imake to somewhat less ancient Autotools.

There’s also a ton of bug fixes, as well as new features and other changes.

Google shuts down Stadia

A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia. And while Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.

We’re grateful to the dedicated Stadia players that have been with us from the start. We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023 so they can complete final play sessions. We expect to have the majority of refunds completed by mid-January, 2023.

Another Google product announced with much fanfare is shutting down, as many, many people expected it would be. It seems Google is at least handling the refunds properly, and I hope the Stadia controllers can still be used with other platforms so they don’t turn into e-waste.

Another one for the graveyard.

IBM AIX for IA64 runs again

Project Monterey was an attempt to unify the fragmented Unix market of the 90s in to a single cross vendor Unix that would run on Intel Itanium (and others). The main collaborators were: IBM who brought its AIX, HP was supposed to bring some bits from HP-UX, Sequent from DYNIX/ptx and SCO from UnixWare. The project shared fate of Itanium – it totally failed. In the end Linux took its spot as a single Unix. The main legacy of Project Monterey was the famous SCO vs IBM lawsuit.

IBM did however produce AIX version for IA64 architecture! According to Wikipedia, 32 copies were sold in 2001. Except of course no one has kept a copy and the famous OS was lost forever.

Until now! This rare release has been recovered, imaged, and uploaded for posterity. It’s going to be difficult to actually run it, though, as there’s no emulator capable of running it – you’re going to need a very specific type of Itanium machine, an Intel Engineering Sample Itanium workstation, which were available from several vendors.

The MIPS ThinkPad, kind of

Say hello to the RISC ThinkPad that’s not a ThinkPad, the IBM WorkPad z50.

[…]

Let’s say you went to CompUSA, or, I dunno, Fry’s, or Circuit City, in mid-1999. Why, you might pick up an Ethernet hub and a BeOS advanced topics book, and marvel at this lithe little laptop IBM was selling for US$999 ($1780 in today’s dollars) MSRP. It had all the ThinkPad design cues and a surprisingly luxurious 95% keyboard, plus that frisson-inducing bright red mouse stick. And you might say, I want this, and I’m going to take it home.

I want one of these so very bad – but like so many things classic computing, eBay prices have gone batshit insane, making it very, very hard to justify.

Anatomy of a PumpkinOS app

We have seen how PumpkinOS runs a classic 68K application. First, code.0 and data.0 resources from the PRC are loaded and decoded. Then code.1 is loaded and the 68K emulator starts running it. Native applications, that is, applications compiled from source to the target architecture of PumpkinOS (x86 or ARM), are still stored in PRC files, having access to all PalmOS resources like forms, bitmaps, alerts, etc. In fact, the same resource compiler (pilrc) used to generate the binary resources for PalmOS is used in PumpkinOS. The difference lies in how code and data are stored and processed.

PumpkinOS’ developer also sent out a tweet with a video of a new shell – which looks quite cool.

GNOME 43 released

After nearly six months of development, the GNOME 43 “Guadalajara” desktop is finally here and introduces a few interesting changes, the most prominent one being the Quick Settings menu that can be accessed from the system top bar, very similar to those you probably saw on Android devices or the latest Windows 11 and macOS systems.

Nautilus has also been improved considerably, and Epiphany (GNOME Web) now supports WebExtensions, instantly making the browser a lot more useful. The move to GTK4 continues, too, of course, and there’s countless other improvements.

Hacking anything with GNU Guix

Perhaps my favourite feature of Guix is guix shell. It is one of those tools that I don’t know how to do without. Even if you are not ready to use Guix as a package manager (or distro), guix shell alone might be a reason to have Guix installed.

Why?

This article describes a really nifty feature of Guix.

Microsoft releases Windows 11 22H2, formally dubbed the “2022 Update”

As predicted, Microsoft is formally releasing Windows 11 version 22H2 to the general public today. Also called the “Windows 11 2022 Update,” version 22H2 is a major update that brings a plethora of fixes and refinements to the operating system, improving the Start menu, jettisoning some more Windows 8-era user interface designs, adding new touchscreen and window management features, and more. We covered many of the new features earlier this year, when the update was still undergoing beta testing.

The rollout to Windows Update will be phased, but if you want to get your hands on the update now, you can use the Windows 11 Installation Assistant, because that makes sense.

Upcyling a 40-year-old Tandy Model 100 Portable Computer

The M100’s LCD is really 10 separate displays, each controlled by its own HD44102 driver chip. The driver chips are each responsible for a 50-by-32-pixel region of the screen, except for two chips at the right-hand side that control only 40 by 32 pixels. This provides a total screen resolution of 240 by 64 pixels. Within each region the pixels are divided into four rows, or banks, each eight pixels high. Each vertical column of eight pixels corresponds to one byte in a driver’s local memory.

The Tandy Model 100’s odd display arrangement was done to make it considerably faster, but it does mean that modernising the hardware inside the M100 today can be a but of a challenge.

The Texas Instruments TMX 1795: the (almost) first, forgotten microprocessor

The first 8-bit microprocessor, the TMX 1795 had the same architecture as the 8008 but was built months before the 8008. Never sold commercially, this Texas Instruments processor is now almost forgotten even though it had a huge impact on the computer industry. In this article, I present the surprising history of the TMX 1795 in detail, look at other early processors, and explain how the TMX 1795 almost became the first microprocessor. (Originally I thought the TMX 1795 was the first microprocessor, but it appears that the 4004 slightly beat it.)

Very detailed article about early micrprocessors, including lots of pretty pictures.

Linux optimised for 386 and 486

Do you have some old 386 or 486 machines lying around, collecting dust, but want them to become productive members of your computer household? Fret no more – there’s gray386linux and gray486linux, distributions specifically tailored for these two older architectures. I’m not entirely sure what you’d actually do with them, but fascinating projects nonetheless.

Unicode 15.0.0 adds more eyes to ꙮ

The character “ꙮ” (U+A66E) is being updated in version 15.0.0. Because it doesn’t have enough eyes. It needs to have three more eyes.

This character is rare. Very, very rare.

Rare enough to occur in a single phrase, in a single text written in an extinct language, Old Church Slavonic. The text is a copy of the Book of Psalms, written around 1429 and kept in Russia.

Basically, in some old Slavic languages, authors would stylise the “O” in their word for eye (“ꙩкꙩ”) by adding a dot in the middle to make it look like an eye. If there were two eyes, two of these characters would be joined together (“ꙭчи”). The final evolution of this character was “ꙮ”, used only once in human history, in the phrase “серафими многоꙮчитїи”, which translates to “many-eyed seraphim”.

Here’s how this relates to Unicode: the person who originally added this character to Unicode made a mistake, and didn’t count the number of eyes correctly. There should be ten eyes, not seven. This error was discovered in 2020, and now it has been corrected.

Awesome.