Developer successfully virtualizes ARM Windows on Apple Silicon

A developer has successfully been able to virtualize the ARM version of Windows on Apple Silicon using the QEMU virtualizer.

Apple’s M1 MacBooks have proved their worth when it comes to performance and battery efficiency. But, since these run on a custom ARM chip, it’s not yet possible to install, dual boot, or emulate Windows; which is in popular demand.

Developer Alexander Graf, however, took to Twitter today to share his achievement: successfully being able to virtualize ARM Windows on Apple Silicon.

Nothing too surprising, of course, but the real barrier to Windows on ARM running on M1-equipped Macs is not running Windows on M1 Macs, but Microsoft actually making the ARM version of Windows available for this very purpose.

Geeking out with UEFI, again

A few weeks ago, we linked to an article that went in-depth into UEFI, and today, we have a follow-up.

But the recent activity reminded me that there was one thing I couldn’t figure out how to do at the time: Enumerate all the available UEFI variables from within Windows. If you remember, Windows has API calls to get and set UEFI variable values, but not to enumerate them. So I started doing some more research to see if there was any way to do that – it’s obviously possible as the UEFI specs describe it, a UEFI shell can easily do it, and Linux does it (via a file system).

My research took me to a place I wouldn’t have expected.

We can always go deeper.

v7/x86: the last true UNIX, ported to x86

V7/x86 is a port of the Seventh Edition of the UNIX operating system to the x86 (i386) based PC. UNIX V7 was the last general distribution (around 1979) to come from the Research group at Bell Labs, the original home of UNIX. The port was done mostly around 1999 when “Ancient UNIX” source code licenses first became available, and was revised for release, with some enhancements, during 2006-7.

The distribution includes the full UNIX Version 7 operating system, with source code, pre-built binaries, man pages, and original Version 7 documentation. Also included are a custom UNIX-style x86 assembler, an ACK-based C compiler, and several key early UCB software components such as the C shell, the editors ex and vi, and the pager more.

I’m inclined to try and run this virtually, to see just how bastardised and messy UNIX has become in our current UNIX derivatives.

The FreeBSD desktop series

The FreeBSD Desktop series are about creating efficient desktop environment on the FreeBSD system.

Why such series?

Because telling someone who wants FreeBSD desktop to buy Mac instead is like telling someone who wants Linux desktop to buy Windows because it has WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) inside.

This is one hell of a detailed and long series of articles – 21 of them. I’m not very well-versed in the world of BSD, and this series is making me want to give the world thing a go – just to learn and expand my horizons.

European Parliament votes for right to repair

In a landmark move, the European Parliament voted today to support consumers’ Right to Repair. The resolution was adopted with 395 in favour and just 94 against, with 207 abstentions.

[…]

The vote calls for the EU Commission to “develop and introduce mandatory labelling, to provide clear, immediately visible and easy-to-understand information to consumers on the estimated lifetime and reparability of a product at the time of purchase.”

Good.

Before the BSD kernel starts

In this article, I will walk through the early kernel initialization process, defining the meaning of this term. System initialization is a broad topic that ranges from the platform’s hardware design all the way up to typical functions of an operating system such as handling I/O operations. It is not possible to cover the entire topic adequately within the scope of an article. In this first part I will describe the well-known AMD64: 64-bit platform. I am going to highlight a very interesting part of the initialization process the early initialization of the kernel. Later, I will compare it with ARM64. In both cases I will discuss the topic in the context of NetBSD, the operating system known for its portability.

Some light reading.

Booting from a vinyl record

Most PCs tend to boot from a primary media storage, be it a hard disk drive, or a solid-state drive, perhaps from a network, or – if all else fails – the USB stick or the boot DVD comes to the rescue… Fun, eh? Boring! Why don’t we try to boot from a record player for a change?

I hope he’s using gold-plated triple-insulated Monster cables with diamond tips and uranium signal repeaters, because otherwise the superior quality of the vinyl will get lost. Would be a shame.

Review: System76’s Bonobo WS

Earlier this year, we reviewed System76’s Lemur Pro, a laptop designed for portability and long battery life. This time around, we’re going entirely the opposite direction with the System76 Bonobo WS – a mobile workstation that looks like a laptop (if you squint), but packs some of the fastest desktop-grade hardware available on the market.

Specifications

System76 sent us the latest version of the Bonobo WS, with some truly bonkers specifications for what is, technically, a laptop (sort of), at a total price of $4315.22. This mobile workstation comes with an Intel Core i9-10900K, which has 10 cores and 20 threads and runs at 5.3 Ghz – and this is not a constrained mobile chip, but the full desktop processor. It’s paired with an 8GB RTX 2080 Super graphics card – which, again, is the desktop part, not the mobile version. It has 32 GB of RAM configured in dual-channel at 3200 Mhz.

Full disclosure: System76 sent us the laptop as a loan, and it will be returned to them after publication of this review. They did not read this review before publication, and placed zero restrictions on anything I could write about.

To top it off, I configured it with a 250 GB NVMe drive for the operating system, and an additional 1 TB NVME drive for storage and other stuff. Both of these drives have a theoretical sequential read and write speeds of 3500 MB/s and 2300 MB/s respectively.

The Bonobo WS comes with a 17.3″ display, and I opted for the 1080p 144Hz version, since the 4K option was not yet available at the time of setting up the review unit. The 4K option, which I would normally recommend on a display of this size, might not make a lot of sense here since most people interested in a niche mobile workstation like this will most likely be using external displays anyway, making the splurge for the 4K option a bit moot, especially since it’s a mere 60 Hz panel.

There’s a few other specifications we need to mention – specifically the weight and battery life of a massive computer like this one. The base weight is roughly 3.8 kg, and its dimensions are 43.43 × 399.03 × 319.02 mm (height × width × depth). While this machine can technically be classified as a laptop, the mobile workstation moniker is a far more apt description. This is not a machine for carrying from classroom to classroom – this is a machine that most users will use in just two, possible three places, and don’t move very often.

Another reason for that is battery life. A machine with this much power requires a lot of juice, and the 97 Wh battery isn’t going to give you a lot of unplugged time to work. You’ll spend all of your time plugged into not one, but two power sockets, as this machine requires two huge power bricks. It even comes with an adorable rubber thing that ties the two power bricks together in a way that maintains some space between them for cooling and safety purposes. So not only do you have to lug around the massive machine itself, but also the two giant power bricks.

As this is a mobile workstation, the ports situation is excellent. It has a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (ugh)/Thunderbolt 3 port (type C), 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (type A) ports, and a MicroSD card slot. For your external display needs, we’ve got a full-size HDMI port, 2 mini DisplayPorts (1.4) and a DisplayPort (1.4) over USB type C. Furthermore, there’s an Ethernet port, the usual audio jacks (microphone and headphones, and one also has an optical connection), and the obligatory Kensington lock. Of course, there’s wireless networking support through an Intel dual-band WiFi 6 chip, as well as Bluetooth support.

Hardware

The hardware of this machine is entirely dictated by its internals, since cramming this much desktop power in a computer that weighs less than 4 kg doesn’t leave you with much room to mess around. The entire design is dictated by the required cooling, and there are vents all over the place. This is not a pretty or attractive machine – but it doesn’t need to be. People who need this much mobile power to lug around don’t care about what it looks like, how thin it is, or how aluminium the aluminium is – they need this power to be properly cooled, and if that means more thickness or more vents, then please don’t skimp.

If you care about form over function – which is an entirely legitimate criterion, by the way, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise – there are other devices to choose from.

While the laptop does have some RGB flourishes here and there, they’re not overly present or distracting, and the ability to switch between several colours for the keyboard lighting is very nice to have, since I find the generic white light most laptops use to not always be ideal. You can cycle through the various lighting options with a key combination.

The keyboard has a little bit more key travel than I’m used to from most laptops, probably owed to its chunky size leaving more room for the keys to travel. The keys have a bit of wobble, but not enough to cause me to miss keystrokes. I am not a fan of the font used on the keyboard, but that’s a mere matter of taste.

The trackpad is decent, feels fine enough, and works great with Linux (obviously). In what I first thought was a blast from the past, the laptop has physical buttons for right and left click underneath the trackpad. However, after a little bit of use, I realised just how nice it was to have actual, physical buttons, and not a diving board or – god forbid – a trackpad that only supports tapping. Of course, it’s not nearly as good as Apple’s force touch trackpad that simulates an eerily realistic click wherever you press, but it does the job just fine.

That being said, though, much like with the display, I doubt many people who need a machine like this will really care. They’ll most likely not only have an external monitor – or two, or three – but also an external keyboard and mouse, to use the laptop docked pretty much all the time.

That’s not to say the display is bad – quite the opposite. If you are okay with a 1080p resolution on a 17.3″ monitor – which many people are – you’ll get a bright and pleasant display, and the 144 Hz refresh rate with G-SYNC is what every laptop of around €1000 and up should offer (at the very least). I do notice some light bleed at the edges when the device boots up (so when the display is entirely dark), but during general use I didn’t notice it at all.

On top of all this, the Bonobo WS is expandable. You have access to four RAM slots for a maximum total of 128 GB of RAM, and four M.2 slots of size 2280 each for a maximum of… A lot of storage. You can also replace the battery, the wireless/Bluetooth card, and, of course, the CMOS battery. And yes, even the processor and GPU can be replaced.

The processor uses an LGA 1200 socket, which is the latest Intel socket, so if you buy a machine with a lower-spec processor, there’s room for an upgrade later. The GPU uses the MXM III slot, which is quite a bit more exotic, and probably less likely to be upgradeable in the future. Still, if, for some reason, your GPU fails outside of warranty, there’s at least the possibility of finding an MXM III replacement, either new or used.

Overall, the Bonobo WS is exactly what you’d expect from a mobile workstation with desktop parts: it’s heavy, barely portable, not the prettiest to look at, but none of that really matters if you need a machine like this – because you’re getting the performance and upgradeability you need.

Performance

Before we get into some harder data, I want to begin with some generic remarks on performance and related matters. It will not surprise you that a machine with a 10 core, 20 thread processor and RTX 2080 Super performs like an absolute monster. A machine like this doesn’t ever slow down, stutter or lag. Whatever game, application, or task you throw at it is pretty much going to work out.

I’ve been hooked on Crusader Kings 3 ever since it came out, which is a 4X strategy game that doesn’t tax a GPU much, but does ask a lot from the processor, especially during large-scale wars or when zoomed out to show the entire map. On my own main gaming PC – with a 7700K and a GTX 1070, running the game at 1440p/144Hz – the game lags and stutters when it has to calculate a lot of AI movements and decisions, but on the Bonobo WS running at at either 1080p/144Hz (internal display) or 4K/60Hz (on an external display), the game never lags or stutters.

As for real benchmarks, I used the Phoronix Test Suite to run three test suites – Timed File Compression, Timed Code Compilation, and the Unigene Test Suite. Individual benchmarks within these suites are run three times each to come to an average score. Since you can easily upload Phoronix Test Suite results to OpenBenchmarking.org, you can actually open up the detailed results of these runs – compression, compilation, and Unigene – and perform the exact same benchmarks on your own machine to contrast and compare.

I’m not going to bore you with detailed descriptions and treatises of every single result – especially since you can run them yourself, too – but I do want to highlight a few red threads and patterns that run through these results when compared to other hardware.

When it comes to benchmarks focusing on the performance of the processor – the compression test in particular – a clear pattern emerges: obviously the 10900K performs extremely well, usually in the top of processors tested with the Phoronix Test Suite. However, when you dig a little bit deeper, you’ll see that in every one of the tests, it lags a little behind test results for other 10900K processors, presumably the desktop variant.

Moving on to the code compilation tests, we see the exact same pattern emerge. For instance, compiling the Linux kernel took the Bonobo WS 81 seconds, whereas the average for the 10900K is 63 seconds. Or look at the time it takes to compile FFmpeg – 57 seconds on the Bonobo WS, but the average for the 10900K is 45 seconds. This patterns repeats.

This implies that despite the Bonobo WS coming with a desktop part, it is still mildly thermally constrained. On top of that, this being the Linux and open source world, there can be vast differences between the software setups of machines with a 10900K, such as CPU governors, and tons of other possible optimisations, distribution differences, and so on. I could most likely squeeze better processor performance out of this machine by manually optimising my software environment, but I specifically decided to stick to the stock settings provided by System76, since that makes the most sense for a review.

The graphics performance is a different story, however – there’s no negative deviation from the mean here. The RTX 2080 Super inside the Bonobo WS performs exactly within line of the different RTX 2080 Super models from the various OEMs. This seems to indicate that at least as far the graphics card goes, you’re not giving up any performance compared to the same card in a desktop. Of course, you do most likely give up overclocking headroom, but if that’s your concern, you’re not going to look at a mobile workstation anyway.

Overall, though, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that performance on this machine is outstanding. The cooling system’s fans do, of course, ramp up when using all that power, but that’s the price to pay for relatively portable power. The fans were never so loud as to be excessive considering the hardware, but for longer stretches of gaming or performance-heavy work, I do suggest some decent speakers or headphones to drown out the noise. Again, fan noise is just a part of the trade-off with machines like this.

Software and firmware

All the same benefits of the firmware on the Lemur Pro apply to the Bonobo WS as well; it runs the same combination of coreboot and System76’s own firmware tools as its BIOS/UEFI environment, as well as System76’s controller firmware for various other functions. This code is all entirely open source and available on Github, so you can make your own modifications if you so desire.

This is a rarity among laptops and computers in general, and a major selling points for System76’s machines. Even if you’re not interested in hacking or do not have the skills to hack this code, the mere idea that someone else might come up with improved firmware, or the fact you’re supporting one of the few open source Linux PC vendors has value. It’s not like there’s a lot of choice out there in this regard.

As with the Lemur Pro, I don’t want to spend too much time on System76’s Pop!_OS, since most of us here have our own favourite distributions. That being said, Pop!_OS follows Ubuntu’s update schedule very closely, and System76 has added a number of useful features, like firmware upgrades from within the Gnome settings application, advanced window tiling functionality, and improved support for NVIDIA graphics cards (such as switching between the integrated Intel GPU and the dedicated NVIDIA GPU).

Monstrous

Everything about this mobile workstation – the size, the thickness, the vents, the fans, the processor, the GPU, the two massive power bricks – is simply monstrous. It’s rare that I get to use hardware like this, and that alone made this whole process a lot of fun.

The Bonobo WS is a niche product, and even here on OSNews there are probably very few people who truly need a machine like this. That being said, I think its performance and upgradeability warrant its high price tag, since you’ll be able to enjoy top-notch performance for years to come, and even if it does start to lag behind in the future, upgrades are plenty and easy to perform, especially compared to many other modern fancy laptops.

If you have to perform a lot of processor and GPU intensive workloads, sometimes work at the office, sometimes at home, and perhaps sometimes on-site, the Bonobo WS will be an excellent work tool for years and years to come.

Sega VR revived: emulating an unreleased Genesis/Mega Drive accessory

Until now, most of what we know about Sega VR comes from trade show appearances, marketing materials, patent documents, and firsthand accounts. This has meant that many of unit’s the technical details have remained speculative or completely unknown. When looking back and studying hardware that pushed so many of the technical boundaries of its time, however, those details are important! Whether Sega VR achieved its many ambitious goals or not, it remains a fascinating and notable entry in VR history.

In order to study hardware of this nature, if you don’t have access to the hardware or its implementation details, access to the software is often the next best thing. The software will tell you exactly what it expects of the hardware, and given those expectations, you might find that you have enough information to emulate the hardware. At the very least, you’ll have enough information to emulate a version of the hardware that conforms to the software’s expectations, and that’s exactly where we’re headed!

Rebuilding the announced, but never shipped Sega VR from the early ’90s. What an effort.

Windows Subsystem for Linux: the lost potential

If you have followed Windows 10 at all during the last few years, you know that the Windows Subsystem for Linux, or WSL for short, is the hot topic among developers. You can finally run your Linux tooling on Windows as a first class citizen, which means you no longer have to learn PowerShell or, god forbid, suffer through the ancient CMD.EXE console.

Unfortunately, not everything is as rosy as it sounds. I now have to do development on Windows for Windows as part of my new role within Azure… and the fact that WSL continues to be separate from the native Windows environment shows. Even though I was quite hopeful, I cannot use WSL as my daily driver because I need to interact with “native” Windows tooling.

I believe things needn’t be this way, but with the recent push for WSL 2, I think that the potential of an alternate world is now gone. But what do I mean with this? For that, we must first understand the differences between WSL 1 and WSL 2 and how the push for WSL 2 may shut some interesting paths.

I was only vaguely aware of the fact WSL 2 switched to using a virtual machine instead of being an NT subsystem as WSL 1 was. There’s arguments to be made for and against either approach, but the NT subsystem approach just feels nice, more holistic to me – even if it is way more work to keep it in step with Linux.

Developing Wayland color management and HDR

Wayland (the protocol and architecture) is still lacking proper consideration for color management. Wayland also lacks support for high dynamic range (HDR) imagery which has been around in movie and broadcasting industry for a while now (e.g. Netflix HDR UI).

While there are well established tools and workflows for how to do color management on X11, even X11 has not gained support for HDR. There were plans for it (Alex GoinsDeepColor Visuals), but as far as I know nothing really materialized from them. Right now, the only way to watch HDR content on a HDR monitor in Linux is to use the DRM KMS API directly, in other words, not use any window system, which means not using any desktop environment. Kodi is one of the very few applications that can do this at all.

This is a story about starting the efforts to fix the situation on Wayland.

This is a great article to read – and an important topic, too. Colour management and HDR should be a core aspect of Wayland, and these people are making it happen.

Microsoft unveils Pluton security processor

Today, Microsoft alongside our biggest silicon partners are announcing a new vision for Windows security to help ensure our customers are protected today and in the future. In collaboration with leading silicon partners AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., we are announcing the Microsoft Pluton security processor. This chip-to-cloud security technology, pioneered in Xbox and Azure Sphere, will bring even more security advancements to future Windows PCs and signals the beginning of a journey with ecosystem and OEM partners.

Pluton immediately rings a ton of alarm bells, since initiatives like this tend to not be a good thing for alternative platforms. There’s good news, though, too – Pluton will take care of firmware updates for your motherboard, which I welcome with open arms, since the current state of firmware updates where you have to use garbage OEM applications is dreadful.

WinUI 3 Preview 3 is out with ARM64 support

Today, Microsoft is releasing the third preview of WinUI 3, and among the new features is native support for ARM64 PCs. If you’re not familiar with WinUI, you might remember it from Microsoft’s Build conference this year when the company announced Project Reunion. This is part of the firm’s plan to bring Win32 and UWP together, and do so without requiring a feature update to Windows 10.

WinUI is the most important building block for an upcoming update to Windows 10 where things like Explorer and other Win32 applications will get a ‘modern’ makeover.

Apple halves its App Store fee for the smaller companies

Apple, facing growing antitrust scrutiny over what it charges other companies for access to its App Store, said on Wednesday that it would cut in half the fee it took from the smallest app developers.

Developers that brought in $1 million or less from their apps in the previous year will pay a 15 percent commission on those app sales starting next year, down from 30 percent, the company said.

Good news, but it raises a whole bunch of questions – for instance, are developers going to remove their application from the store as they approach the 1 million dollar mark, since otherwise they’d have to make 1.25 million dollar the next year as to not lose out? Apple developer Twitter is confused as all heck about this.

Then there’s this:

The change will affect roughly 98 percent of the companies that pay Apple a commission, according to estimates from Sensor Tower, an app analytics firm. But those developers accounted for less than 5 percent of App Store revenues last year, Sensor Tower said. Apple said the new rate would affect the “vast majority” of its developers, but declined to offer specific numbers.

In other words, this is a minor change for Apple, and will most likely do little to stave off antitrust concerns.

Apple M1 benchmarks roll in

AnandTech, after benchmarking the M1 in the new Mac Mini:

The M1 undisputedly outperforms the core performance of everything Intel has to offer, and battles it with AMD’s new Zen3, winning some, losing some. And in the mobile space in particular, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in either ST or MT performance – at least within the same power budgets.

Ars Technica on the M1 in the new Mac Mini:

Despite the inherent limitations of trying to benchmark a brand-new architecture on a minority-share platform, it’s obvious that the M1 SoC is exactly what Apple told us it would be—a world-leading design that marries high performance to high efficiency. When its power consumption and thermal profiles are effectively unlimited as in the Mac mini tested here—or, presumably, the actively cooled 13-inch MacBook Pro—the M1 puts the smack down on very high-performance mobile CPUs, and in many workloads, even very high-performance desktop CPUs.

Apple wasn’t lying. Every review and benchmark is clear: this is insanely good hardware. The M1 is bonkers.

And obviously, I was so wrong I don’t even know where to start.

Pine64, KDE launch PinePhone with KDE Plasma Mobile

The PinePhone – KDE Community edition includes most of the essential features a smartphone user would expect and its functionalities increase day by day. You can follow the progress of the development of apps and features in the Plasma Mobile blog.

Plasma Mobile is a direct descendant from KDE’s successful Plasma desktop. The same underlying technologies drive both environments and apps like KDE Connect that lets you connect phones and desktops, the Okular document reader, the VVave music player, and others, are available on both desktop and mobile.

Thanks to projects like Kirigami and Maui, developers can write apps that, not only run in multiple environments but that also gracefully adapt by growing into landscape format when displayed on workstation screen and shrinking to portrait mode on phones. Developers are rapidly populating Plasma Mobile with essential programs, such as web browsers, clocks, calendars, weather apps and games, all of which are being deployed on all platforms, regardless of the layout.

This seems like a really interesting combination, and I really want to see if I can get my hands on a review unit.

[Updated with response from Apple] Macs are a privacy nightmare

Update: Overnight, Apple PR sent out an e-mail about this issue to multiple websites and blogs, including me, for some reason. The company has updated its knowledge base article about “safely opening apps” on the Mac with new information, including a number of promises to fix this issue in the near future:

These security checks have never included the user’s Apple ID or the identity of their device. To further protect privacy, we have stopped logging IP addresses associated with Developer ID certificate checks, and we will ensure that any collected IP addresses are removed from logs.

In addition, over the the next year we will introduce several changes to our security checks:

• A new encrypted protocol for Developer ID certificate revocation checks
• Strong protections against server failure
• A new preference for users to opt out of these security protections

These are good promised changes, especially the first and third one. Turning off the security checks is the most welcome change, but it remains to be seen if this cripples the user experience in some other way.

It’s also interesting to note that I’ve been inundated by random people claiming there was no issue here at all, yet it seems Apple sure does disagree with that. A response like this over the weekend, emailed to not only the usual Apple news outlets, but also insignificant ones like OSNews seems highly unusual for something that, according to a lot of random people, isn’t an issue at all.

Original story: Almost nine years ago, I wrote an article titled “Richard Stallman was right all along“, still one of the most popular, if not the most popular, articles ever posted on OSNews.

That’s the very core of the Free Software Foundation’s and Stallman’s beliefs: that proprietary software takes control away from the user, which can lead to disastrous consequences, especially now that we rely on computers for virtually everything we do. The fact that Stallman foresaw this almost three decades ago is remarkable, and vindicates his activism. It justifies 30 years of Free Software Foundation.

And, in 2012, we’re probably going to need Free and open source software more than ever before. At the Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin late last year, Cory Doctorow held a presentation titled “The Coming War on General Purpose Computation“. In it, Doctorow warns that the general purpose computer, and more specifically, user control over general purpose computers, is perceived as a threat to the establishment. The copyright wars? Nothing but a prelude to the real war.

Yesterday, every Mac user got a taste of what happens when you don’t actually own the computers you pay a lot of money for. Because Apple wants to control everything you do with the computer you rent from them, and because Apple wants to know everything you do while using the computer you rent from them, a random server somewhere going down meant Mac users couldn’t open their applications anymore.

Why? Because applications on macOS will only open if Apple allows them to be opened, and that means macOS phones home every time you do anything on Apple’s Mac that you rented. This has some serious privacy implications, as Jeffrey Paul notes:

This means that Apple knows when you’re at home. When you’re at work. What apps you open there, and how often. They know when you open Premiere over at a friend’s house on their Wi-Fi, and they know when you open Tor Browser in a hotel on a trip to another city.

It gets worse. The data that’s being sent as part of this phone home procedure is sent unencrypted, passes through third parties like Akamai, and since Apple is part of the US intelligence program PRISM, the US government has unfettered access to without the need for warrants.

I’ve been warning about the consequences of handing over control of our software and computers to corporations and governments for well over a decade now here on OSNews, and every year, we seem to slide a little farther down the slippery slope, and every time, people wave it away. Yet yesterday, Mac users all over the world were confronted with the reality of being an Apple user today.

Macs are not yours. They are controlled, owned, and operated by Apple, and are an absolute privacy and security nightmare. Exactly as the Free and open source software movement has been warning about for 40 years now.

macOS 11.0 Big Sur: The Ars Technica review

And, as is tradition, a new macOS release means a new Ars Technica macOS review. The one to read, as it is with every release, and as it will be forever. So say we all.

In a lot of ways, Big Sur is the kind of incrementalist macOS update that we’ve come to expect in the last few years. It’s a collection of tweaks and minor feature upgrades and under-the-hood enhancements that bumps the platform forward but doesn’t radically change it. It simply builds on the foundation laid by the last few releases of the operating system, something I talked about last year. Big Sur makes the Mac look and sound a lot different than it did before! But it’s still close enough to what you’re used to that you’ll use it for a few weeks or months and then it will just be what macOS looks like.

I’m obviously much more interested in Big Sur on the new ARM Macs, but for that, we’ll have to wait until next week.

macOS Big Sur launch appears to cause temporary slowdown in even non-Big Sur Macs

Mac users today began experiencing unexpected issues that included apps taking minutes to launch, stuttering and non-responsiveness throughout macOS, and other problems. The issues seemed to begin close to the time when Apple began rolling out the new version of macOS, Big Sur—but it affected users of other versions of macOS, like Catalina and Mojave.

Other Apple services faced slowdowns, outages, and odd behavior, too, including Apple Pay, Messages, and even Apple TV devices.

It didn’t take long for some Mac users to note that trustd—a macOS process responsible for checking with Apple’s servers to confirm that an app is notarized—was attempting to contact a host named oscp.apple.com but failing repeatedly. This resulted in systemwide slowdowns as apps attempted to launch, among other things.

What a brave new world – some server goes down, and you can’t use your applications anymore.