If you upgrade to Windows 11 on an unsupported PC, you will have to sign a waiver first

While we now know that Microsoft will only provide support for the new OS to the processors from both Intel and AMD that are in its list of supported CPUs, the company also stated that users on unsupported systems could still go ahead with an install using ISOs if they are interested. But this in return would leave their systems in an unsupported state.

It has been reported that this unsupported state may even mean that such PCs won’t also receive critical security updates. So when a user does want to upgrade to Windows 11 from such existing systems, the following formal agreement, or something similar, would be popping up.

The notice basically states that installing Windows 11 on such PCs is “not recommended”, and that they are “not entitled to updates”. I could muster up some respect for Microsoft if their cut-off was a hard cut, but this wishy-washy situation is terrible for consumers.

Microsoft’s fall Surface event: the 7 biggest announcements

Microsoft just wrapped up its latest Surface event, and it was packed with news — including the redesigned Surface Pro 8, a camera-equipped Surface Duo 2, and even a new flagship laptop that puts a hinge behind the screen.

There’s a lot of cool new hardware in here. I’ve always liked Microsoft’s Surface line of devices, and even own a few of them. They’re not much use to me anymore – Surface Linux support is spotty, at best, especially for newer devices – but for Windows users, they’re definitely worthy to take into consideration.

EU proposes mandatory USB-C on all devices, including iPhones

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has announced plans to force smartphone and other electronics manufacturers to fit a common USB-C charging port on their devices. The proposal is likely to have the biggest impact on Apple, which continues to use its proprietary Lightning connector rather than the USB-C connector adopted by most of its competitors. The rules are intended to cut down on electronic waste by allowing people to re-use existing chargers and cables when they buy new electronics.

In addition to phones, the rules will apply to other devices like tablets, headphones, portable speakers, videogame consoles, and cameras. Manufacturers will also be forced to make their fast-charging standards interoperable, and to provide information to customers about what charging standards their device supports. Under the proposal, customers will be able to buy new devices without an included charger.

It was the European Union that spearheaded the change from one-charger-per-device to standardising on Micro-USB, which was followed by USB-C later on. There’s a lot of pro-Apple, anti-government, right-wing talking points going around the internet today, especially coming from the United States, but unlike what they want you to believe, laws like this do not stop or even hinder innovation or the arrival of newer charging ports or standards. New charging standards can be rolled into USB-C, and the law can be changed for newer ports if the industry asks for it and there is sufficient consensus.

Nobody liked the situation we had where every single device had its own incompatible charger. In fact, I have countless Palm OS devices I have a hard time charging because I lost some of their chargers over time. It was an infuriating time, and it’s thanks to EU pressure that the situation has improved as much as it has. However, due to Apple’s reluctance to play ball, the EU now has to step in and regulate – had Apple been a good citizen and adopted USB-C like everyone else, we probably wouldn’t have needed this law.

Too bad for Apple. They most likely won’t be able to buy their way out of this one, and we don’t have historically black colleges Apple can take back promised funding from, either.

Android to take an “upstream first” development model for the Linux kernel

The Linux Plumbers Conference is this week, and since Android is one of the biggest distributors of the Linux kernel in the world, Google software engineer Todd Kjos stopped by for a progress report from the Android team. Android 12—which will be out any day now—promises to bring Android closer than ever to mainline Linux by shipping Google’s “Generic Kernel Image” (GKI) to end-users.

This is a big issue, and I’m glad Google and the Android team are addressing it. Hopefully, we will eventually end up in a situation where the Android kernel and the mainline Linux kernel are far, far closer to each other than they are now.

Panfrost achieves OpenGL ES 3.1 conformance on Mali-G52

The open source Panfrost driver for Mali GPUs has now achieved official conformance on Mali-G52 for OpenGL ES 3.1, as seen on the Khronos adopters list. This important milestone is a step forward for the open source driver, as it now certifies Panfrost for use in commercial products containing Mali G52 and paves the way for further conformance submissions on other Mali GPUs.

Excellent news, and great progress.

Home computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair dies aged 81

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.

One of the greatest.

Apple, Google cooperate with Putin to steal Russia’s elections

Alphabet’s Google and Apple have removed jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s tactical voting app from their stores, his team said on Friday, after Russia accused the U.S. tech firms of meddling in its internal affairs.

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.

Google publicly commits itself to human rights, but apparently, that does not extend to Putin critics and the Russian opposition.

AMD: we stand ready to make Arm chips

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.

GNOME to prevent theming, wider community not happy

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.

Well, thanks to Joshua Strobl, experience lead of Solus and one of the main developers of Budgie, I now have a great in-depth story to link to. I urge you to read the whole article, but here’s Strobl’s conclusions:

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: Intel preparing for system firmware updates without the reboot

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.

Mozilla has defeated Microsoft’s default browser protections in Windows

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.

South Korea fines Google, allows Android forks

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday Google’s contract terms with device makers amounted to an abuse of its dominant market position that restricted competition in the mobile OS market.

[…]

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.

PC DOS 1.1 from scratch

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.

So, disassembler it was, and I produced reconstructed source code for PC DOS 1.1 IBMBIO.COM. Actually assembling it turned out to be a bit of an adventure; more on that below.

More early DOS shenanigans to brighten your day.

Major win for Epic Games: Apple has 90 days to open up app store payments

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.

The ruling from US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers includes a single-page permanent injunction demanding that Apple open up payment options for any software sellers on the App Store. In other words, Epic Games’ effort to add Epic-specific payment links inside the free-to-play game Fortnite, and thus duck out of paying Apple’s 30 percent fee on in-app transactions, can now happen.

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.

Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI

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.

Revealed: Google illegally underpaid thousands of workers across dozens of countries

Google has been illegally underpaying thousands of temporary workers in dozens of countries and delayed correcting the pay rates for more than two years as it attempted to cover up the problem, the Guardian can reveal.

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.

Why that Thunderbolt add-in card doesn’t work properly in your unsupported PC

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.