ChromeOS 117 brings Material You to ChromeOS

Google is rolling out ChromeOS 117, and it’s a very big update for Chromebooks that adds Material You, as well as other usability enhancements.

A pretty big update to ChromeOS, and the Material You is definitely welcome – perhaps it fixes up some of the issues I had with ChromeOS when I reviewed it a few months ago. The quick settings panel has been completely redesigned, too, this update adds specific colour correction settings for people with certain eye conditions, and a whole lot more.

The update will roll out over the coming days.

Linux interop is maturing fast… Thanks to a games console

Two unusual companies, Valve Software and Igalia, are working together to improve the Linux-based OS of the Steam Deck handheld games console. The device runs a Linux distro called Steam OS 3.0, but this is a totally different distro from the original Steam OS it announced a decade ago. Steam OS 1 and 2 were based on Debian, but Steam OS 3 is based on Arch Linux, as Igalia developer Alberto García described in a talk entitled How SteamOS is contributing to the Linux ecosystem.

Valve’s contributions to desktop Linux cannot be understated. Aside from Proton, the company also does a lot of work on graphics, as well as stuff like mentioned in the article. Without Valve, there would be no gaming on Linux – and it’s gaming that’s driving the recent surge in popularity of desktop Linux. Of course, it’s still small compared to Windows and macOS, but the growth is undeniable.

Dotfiles matter: please stop dumping files in users’ $HOME directories.

Dotfiles are important. We use them every day for storing configuration for all kinds of applications, knowingly or otherwise. You know the ones, hidden in your $HOME directory, ~/.ssh/ for your ssh keys, or ~/.Xauthority (whatever the heck that does). Something you may not know is these are legacy locations for configuration. Please do not copy their behaviour. Your application’s configuration may be the most important thing on a user’s machine. There are now standardised locations on major platforms for applications to store user-specific configuration.

Your application should not be dumping random files into an unconfigurable location in the user’s home directory.

This speaks to my soul.

Windows Subsystem for Android 2309 Preview released

We’ve shipped an update for Windows Subsystem for Android on Windows 11 to the Windows Subsystem for Android Preview Program. This update (2309.40000.2.0) includes improvements to platform reliability and functionality improvements.

It updates the Chromium WebView to version 117, allows .cer files to be shared to Android, contains various Android 13 platform updates, and more. The Windows Subsystem for Android is available in the Windows Store.

The Philips Hue ecosystem is collapsing into stupidity

Philips Hue products are about to get a whole lot worse – even the ones you already own.

Their latest round of stupidity pops up a new EULA and forces you to take it or, again, you can’t access your stuff. But that’s just more unenforceable garbage, so who cares, right? Well, it’s getting worse.

It seems they are planning on dropping an update which will force you to log in. Yep, no longer will your stuff Just Work across the local network. Now it will have yet another garbage “cloud” “integration” involved, and they certainly will find a way to make things suck even worse for you.

This should be illegal.

I wish Android 14 inspired as many app updates as iOS 17 did

Whenever Apple releases a major OS update, as it did last Monday with iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and watchOS 10, developers – both large but especially indie – release a slew of day one updates to support the latest platform features.


I understand how the Android update model is inherently different from Apple’s. Namely, updates start out only on Google’s Pixel phones, which have a relatively small market share, while Samsung’s lion’s share of Android phones are typically weeks or months behind. Third-party Android developers don’t have an incentive to update on day one as the majority of their users won’t be getting the new OS for quite some time.

It really depends on what kind of applications you’re looking at. Yes, the popular applications from big players like Facebook or Spotify are terrible at adopting new Android features, but there’s definitely a vibrant community of developers who care these days, and it’s entirely possible to use only applications that follow the latest features and visual style of Android.

It’s definitely not as good as it is on iOS, and it surely takes a bit longer, but it’s also not nearly as bad as some make it out to be.

macOS 14 Sonoma: the Ars Technica review

Apple released macOS 14.0 Sonoma today, and what’s the best way to celebrate the new release? Why, the Ars Technica review, of course.

So macOS Sonoma is a perfectly typical macOS release, a sort of “Ventura-plus” that probably has one or two additions that any given person will find useful but which otherwise just keeps your Mac secure and avoids weird iCloud compatibility problems with whatever software is running on your phone. You probably don’t need to run out and install it, but there’s no real reason to avoid it if you’re not aware of some specific bug or compatibility problem that affects the software you use. It’s business as usual for Mac owners. Let’s dive in.

You can download and install it from the usual place if your Mac supports it.

FTC sues Amazon for illegally maintaining monopoly power

The Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorneys general today sued, Inc. alleging that the online retail and technology company is a monopolist that uses a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its monopoly power. The FTC and its state partners say Amazon’s actions allow it to stop rivals and sellers from lowering prices, degrade quality for shoppers, overcharge sellers, stifle innovation, and prevent rivals from fairly competing against Amazon.

I have been told that water is wet, but that it’s very difficult to legally prove that water is wet.

Despite reports, Apple does, in fact, not support right to repair

Cory Doctorow:

Right to repair has no cannier, more dedicated adversary than Apple, a company whose most innovative work is dreaming up new ways to sneakily sabotage electronics repair while claiming to be a caring environmental steward, a lie that covers up the mountains of e-waste that Apple dooms our descendants to wade through.

Why does Apple hate repair so much? It’s not that they want to poison our water and bodies with microplastics; it’s not that they want to hasten the day our coastal cities drown; it’s not that they relish the human misery that accompanies every gram of conflict mineral. They aren’t sadists. They’re merely sociopathically greedy.

Tim Cook laid it out for his investors: when people can repair their devices, they don’t buy new ones. When people don’t buy new devices, Apple doesn’t sell them new devices.

A few weeks ago, when news broke that Apple had changed from opposing California’s right to repair bill to supporting it, and the entire tech media was falling over itself to uncritically report on it, I instinctively knew something was up. Supporting right to repair was so uncharacteristic of Apple and Tim Cook, I just knew something was off. It turns out I was right.

Instead of relying on the lack of right to repair laws, Apple is simply making it so that using any parts not approved by Apple in a repair would make your Apple device not function properly. They do so by VIN-locking, or parts-pairing as it’s called in the tech industry, parts, and if the device’s SoC detects that an unapproved repair is taking place, the device simply won’t accept it, even if genuine Apple parts are being used. Trying to circumvent this parts-pairing violates the DMCA – and the DMCA is federal law, while California’s right to repair bill it state law, meaning the DMCA overrules it.

Doctorow lists various other things Apple does to limit your ability to repair devices, such as claiming to “recycle” devices when you return them to Apple, only for the company to shred them instead to prevent their parts from making it into the repair circuit. Apple also puts tiny serial numbers on every single part, so that even when devices are scrapped for parts, usually in Asia, Apple can work together with US Customs to intercept and destroy these fully working parts when they enter the US.

So, Apple supporting California’s right to repair bill is entirely and utterly meaningless and hollow. It’s all for show, for the optics, to mislead the gullible 20-somethings in the tech media.

I knew something was up, and I was right.

Gmail’s basic HTML view will go to the Google graveyard in 2024

Google will send Gmail’s basic HTML view sailing into the great beyond starting in January 2024, after which time everyone who uses it will be switched to the service’s far more modern “Standard” view. The change appears to have been announced around September 19th in a Google support article.

Though the vast majority of people use the Standard view on their PCs without question, the HTML version of Gmail has its perks. The stripped-down Gmail experience loads quickly, and users can access it even on very outdated machines or with much slower connections. Its leaner nature makes it useful in situations where the best you can muster is a 3G connection (3G died last year in the US, but still).

I’m sure the HTML version also made tracking a lot more difficult.

It’s time to let go, Apache Software Foundation

Projects become unmaintained every day. This is a fact of life, and is not the issue I am taking with The Apache Software Foundation. It is the way the foundation, and its contributors, do not disclose information relating to the lack of substantial updates or changes for nearly a decade, and seems to intentionally mask the lack of development.

I sometimes forget Open Office still exists. I have no idea why The Apache Software Foundation would regularly intentionally delete a few whitespaces to make it seem as if Open Office is still actively being developed.

Communicatios on St. Helena Island

I’ve always been fascinated by remote island communities, and few places are more remote and more island than St. Helena. They have a wonderful page about communications to, on, and from the island, and it’s delightful.

However you connect, the Internet on St Helena is slow and expensive! For technical details and pricing information please contact Sure.

Assuming you are a visitor you are best to access the Internet via your mobile (cell) Device. Otherwise you will not have a telephone account so will need to use one of the few Internet Kiosks, mostly in Jamestown, which are very expensive.

If you are staying longer you can sign up for an Internet access package, billed on your telephone account (this should be available even if you are renting accommodation but check with your landlord). Broadband Internet was introduced in 2007, but be aware that data transfer speeds on St Helena are considerably slower than in most other countries and monthly data transfer limits are very low.

None of the above will be surprising. There’s tons of information and history on this page, and it’s definitely worth a read.

Intel’s Ponte Vecchio: chiplets gone crazy

Intel is a newcomer to the world of discrete graphics cards, and the company’s Xe architecture is driving its effort to establish itself alongside AMD and Nvidia. We’ve seen Xe variants serve in integrated GPUs and midrange discrete cards, but Intel’s not stopping there. Their GPU ambitions extend to the datacenter and supercomputing markets. That’s where Ponte Vecchio (PVC) comes in.

Like other compute-oriented GPUs, PVC goes wide and slow. High memory bandwidth and FP64 throughput differentiate it from client architectures, which emphasize FP32 throughput and use caching to reduce memory bandwidth demands. Compared to Nvidia’s H100 and AMD’s MI210, PVC stands out because it lacks fixed function graphics hardware. H100 and MI210 still have some form of texture units, but PVC doesn’t have any at all. Combine that with its lack of display outputs, and calling PVC a GPU is pretty funny. It’s really a giant, parallel processor that happens to be programmed in the same way you’d program a GPU for compute.

Another great feature from Chips and Cheese. Speaking of Intel – the company also unveiled that Meteor Lake CPUs are coming to the desktop in 2024.

OpenBSD: viable ROP-free roadmap for i386/armv8/riscv64/alpha/sparc64

Years later, Todd Mortimer and I developed RETGUARD. At the start of that initiative he proposed we protect all functions, to try to guard all the RET instructions, and therefore achieve a state we call “ROP-free”. I felt this was impossible, but after a couple hurdles the RETGUARD performance was vastly better than the stack protector and we were able to protect all functions and get to ROP-free (on fixed-sized instruction architecures). Performance was acceptable to trade against improved security.


RETGUARD provides up to 4096 cookies per DSO, per-function, but limited to avoid excessive bloat. It is difficult to do on architectures with very few registers. Code was only written for clang, there is no gcc codebase doing it. clang code for some architectures was never written (riscv64).

I hope that sets the stage for what is coming next.

We were able to enable RETGUARD on all functions because it was fast.

Look, I have no clue what any of this means. None at all. However, I do somewhat grasp this is a big deal… I just need OSNews readers to explain in layman’s terms why, exactly.

No more stale bots!

On github, there has been an increasing trend of using “Staleness detector bots” that will auto-close issues that have had no activity for X amount of time.

In concept, this may sound fine, but the effects this has, and how it poisons the core principles of Open Source, have been damaging and eroding projects for a long time, often unknowingly.

I’m not a developer and even I can instantly see such bots would create countless problems. I had no idea such bots were being used.

Microsoft experiments with Windows driver development in Rust

Microsoft has opened a GitHub repository for a set of tools to create Windows drivers in Rust.

This repo is a collection of Rust crates that enable developers to develop Windows Drivers in Rust. It is the intention to support both WDM and WDF driver development models.


Note: This project is still in early stages of development and is not yet recommended for commercial use. We encourage community experimentation, suggestions and discussions!

So both Linux and Windows are now experimenting with using Rust to write drivers.

EU fines Intel $400 million for blocking AMD’s market access through payments to PC makers

The European Commission has fined Intel $400 million (€376 million) for hindering competitors’ access to the market through naked restrictions between 2002 and 2007. The fine comes after a long-running antitrust court battle dating back to 2009 when the Commission initially fined Intel a record $1.13 billion for abuse of dominance.

While some of Intel’s actions, like hidden rebates, were dropped on appeal due to lack of evidence of harm, the Commission upheld that Intel paid PC manufacturers to delay or limit products using AMD processors.

Specifically, the Commission cited examples where Intel paid HP not to sell AMD-powered business PCs to small and medium businesses through direct channels from 2002-2005. It also paid Acer to delay the launch of an AMD-based notebook from late 2003 to early 2004. Intel also paid Lenovo to push back the launch of AMD notebooks by six months.

While it’s great that fines are being levied for these crimes, the problem is that the damage is already done and a fine won’t actually undo said damage. Of course, there’s no way to know exactly what the industry would’ve looked like had Intel not committed these crimes, but I feel like quite often these fines are more seen as a cost of doing business than as an actual detrimental punishment. It reminds me a lot of speeding tickets – they can be devastating to somebody of lower means, but to the upper classes they’re just the cost of driving a car and barely even register.

I’d be much more in favour for not just fining companies that violate antitrust, but also going after the people within those companies that enabled and advocated for such behaviour through massive personal fines and jail time. None of the people involved will feel even the slightest bit of sting from their actions, and will do it all over again next time they get the chance.