Nvidia quietly prepares to abandon $40 billion Arm bid

Nvidia Corp. is quietly preparing to abandon its purchase of Arm Ltd. from SoftBank Group Corp. after making little to no progress in winning approval for the $40 billion chip deal, according to people familiar with the matter. 

Nvidia has told partners that it doesn’t expect the transaction to close, according to one person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. SoftBank, meanwhile, is stepping up preparations for an Arm initial public offering as an alternative to the Nvidia takeover, another person said.

Look, Nvidia is obviously far from perfect, but the alternatives seem far, far worse. Would you want Arm to end up at Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, or one of the big Chinese players? I’m simply afraid an independent Arm will end up in far worse arms a few years down the line than Nvidia.

The curse of NixOS

I’ve used NixOS as the only OS on my laptop for around three years at this point. Installing it has felt sort of like a curse: on the one hand, it’s so clearly the only operating system that actually gets how package management should be done. After using it, I can’t go back to anything else. One the other hand, it’s extremely complicated constantly changing software that requires configuration with the second-worst homegrown config programming language I’ve ever used.

I don’t think that NixOS is the future, but I do absolutely think that the ideas in it are, so I want to write about what I think it gets right and what it gets wrong, in the hopes that other projects can take note. As such, this post will not assume knowledge of NixOS — if you’ve used NixOS significantly, there probably isn’t anything new in here for you.

NixOS is talked about a lot – but it seems impenetrable for a newcomer or outsider to get into it.

That magical word: workstation

In retrospect, it might be a bit tough to put a circle around what constituted a workstation. Is a PERQ a workstation? Probably. Xerox Alto and Star? Definitely. Symbolics Lisp machines? Not sure. Probably? The real success stories came out of Apollo, Sun, HP,IBM,NeXT,DEC and Silicon Graphics. For a time it was a hot market, especially in what was known then as technical computing: research, manufacturing, CAD, graphics, simulations.

If you had a job where you were issued a Sun or an Apollo (back in the day) or an SGI, you were elevated. You were no longer some pleb coding in basic on a C64 or a tie wearing IBM clone user. You had entered a rarified sphere with limitless power at your fingertips. An Amiga was a grubby kids toy by comparison and the IBM PC was slow to move to graphical applications. The workstation manufacturers had fancy graphics, 32 bit processors and scarily huge margins. The designs of the boxes could be wild: The SGI Indy didn’t look like anything Bob from accounting had on his desk and you couldn’t buy anything like that at K-Mart.

UNIX workstations from the ’90s and early 2000s are definitely my favourite genre of computers. My personal white whale is definitely the SGI Tezro, the last hurrah of SGI before they went all in on Intel, closely followed by Sun’s Ultra 45, its last SPARC workstation. These machines are only getting more expensive by the month now, and people are charging insane amounts of money for these, effectively, useless, dead-end machines.

That’s why ordered all the parts for building my own dual-Xeon workstation.

Linux on a 486SX

I’ve spent the past several months trying on and off to make Linux run on the Presario. The 486SX is the oldest CPU Linux still supports! I was quite hindered by my lack of any floppy disks – fortunately, I managed to get my hands on a few working ones for Christmas this year and made some headway, first getting MS-DOS 6.22 installed on the new hard disk, then messing with the Linux kernel configuration until I got it to work.

And yesterday I finally got it! Here are the steps for configuring a basic kernel with Linux 5.14.8.

A lack of usefulness should not be a hindrance to having fun.

This is Microsoft’s canceled Andromeda OS running on a Lumia 950

Ever wondered what Microsoft’s canceled version of Windows for the Surface Duo was going to be like? Well wonder no more, as we’ve got a first hands-on look at a pre-release build from mid-2018 running on a Lumia 950. We’ve already shown you what Andromeda OS looked like in recreated mockups, so now it’s time to see the real thing running on video.

The idea of using a blank canvas for writing as the homescreen is fascinating, but it’s definitely not the first time this has been tried. In fact, one sure way to ensure your mobile platform will fail, is to build it around the notepad interface. It didn’t work for PenPoint OS, it didn’t work for Apple’s Newton, and it didn’t work for any other attempts either.

People simply do not want to do handwriting on a computer. It’s been tried over and over, and people just don’t like it. The only platform which has been able to sort of make handwriting work is Palm OS, but that’s a misnomer since Palm’s Graffiti was a standardised character set you had to learn – it didn’t recognise handwriting at all.

RTM/Z80

RTM/Z80 is a multitasking kernel, built for Z80 based computers, written in Z80 assembly language, providing its users with an Application Programming Interface (API) accessible from programs written in the C language and the Z80 assembly language.

It is intended to be a simple and easy to use learning tool, for those who want to understand the tips and tricks of the multitasking software systems.

This is certainly not the only hobby operating system for Z80-based computers, but the more the merrier.

Google requiring all ‘G Suite legacy free edition’ users to start paying for Workspace this year

In 2020, G Suite became Google Workspace as part of a mass reorganization of the company’s apps for the “future of work.” Various plans were migrated over, and Google is now finally getting rid of the G Suite legacy free edition.

“Google Apps” for businesses and schools were introduced 16 years ago and was discontinued in 2012. However, the company made no significant changes to those free accounts in the past decade, until today.

In an email to administrators this morning, Google said it “will now transition all remaining users to an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription based on your usage.” As such, Workspace’s only free plans are for Nonprofits and Education (Fundamentals).

After getting free Gmail, Drive, Docs, and other apps for the past several years, companies/people will need to start paying for those Google services and the ability to use your own custom domain (instead of just gmail.com).

OSNews happens to be an organisation that started out using the original Google Apps for Your Domain, and over the years, we’ve been migrated left, right, and centre through the various iterations and rebrandings of Google’s collection of services for organisations. We are one of the accounts that have been grandfathered into the current Google Workspace stuff, but we never had a choice – Google just migrated you.

That doesn’t sound too bad, until you, as I have done over the past several years, find out that tons of Google services, and specific features of services, are not available to you. The reasoning here is that while Google Apps for Your Domain originally started out a service for individuals, families, and small organisations, it eventually grew into this massive corporate software suite where it perhaps makes sense to limit certain services and features.

Because Google originally advertised this collection of services as much for personal accounts as it did for organisational accounts, many people, including myself, never could have anticipated our personal accounts would be forcibly turned into corporate accounts, which come with the aforementioned limitations. I can’t set calendar appointments through Google Assistant, for instance, which is annoying since we use Google Home devices. I cannot invite my fiancée to become a member of our household and control our lights and other Google Home devices through her account and phone. I cannot use Google Stadia (not that I’d want to, but still). And that’s just a small selection.

Why don’t we just migrate to a regular Google account, you ask? Well, because it’s not possible. Google offers no way to either change an account from what is now Google Workspace into a personal account, nor does Google offer the ability to migrate all your accounts’ data, settings, emails, and so on from a Workspace account into a new personal account. Unless we throw everything out the window, or painstakingly move over every tiny bit of data for every single service manually, we’re going to be stuck.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable of Google to ask that we old, grandfathered accounts pay for their services. That’s fine. What is not fine, however, is slowly locking us into stunted, limited accounts, after advertising it as a personal service for years.

Microsoft set to purchase Activision Blizzard in $68.7 billion deal

Microsoft announced plans on Tuesday morning to purchase gaming mega-publisher Activision Blizzard for a record-setting $68.7 billion. When finalized, the acquisition would bring franchises like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and many more under the umbrella of the Xbox maker.

That’s a lot of money for a bunch of games and a ton of sexual harassment claims.

Windows 11’s Device Manager finally uses OS path instead of A:

Microsoft took a while to figure out that the A: assignment is pointless as the era of Floppy drives is now over. This has been fixed in Windows 11 Build 22000 (stable). Starting with Windows 11, Device Manager no longer defaults to A: i.e it doesn’t ask you for a floppy disk for drivers (icon has also been replaced).

Device Manager can now automatically detect the OS drive, so you can easily locate the driver package if you extracted the downloaded zip file to a folder on the system drive.

Everything about this user experience is terrible, but at least the ditching of A: makes it slightly less terrible. I can’t believe we’re at Windows 11 in 2022, and this UI is still identical to what was first shipped in Windows 95.

Debut of X

I’ve spent the last couple weeks writing a window system for the VS100. I stole a fair amount of code from W, surrounded it with an asynchronous rather than a synchronous interface, and called it X. Overall performance appears to be about twice that of W. The code seems fairly solid at this point, although there are still some deficiencies to be fixed up.

The original mailing list announcement of the Linux kernel gets regurgitated quite often, but I had never seen the original announcement for X. Fascinating.

Hello Mac OS X Tiger

2005! The future is here! You have just spent $129 for the newest release of Mac OS X: Tiger. You’re amazed by the brand new Spotlight and Safari RSS, you like your new OS so much you want to develop apps for it. You read on Apple’s website about this app “Xcode” that just received the version 2.0 update. That’s it! Time to code!

You fire up Safari, go to Yahoo! and start searching for Xcode tutorials, unfortunately, besides a bunch of Geocities websites mentioning “Web 2.0” (or whatever that means), you don’t find much information online on how to create apps for Tiger.

Wouldn’t it be nice to find a tutorial to help you to get started?

I attended a launch party for Tiger at a third party Apple reseller in Berlin. The good old days – when Apple was fun. Good times.

GhostBSD 22.01.12 released

This new ISO contains fixes, improvements, and software updates. Finally, the installer hanging at the cleaning stage for ZFS installation got fixed, and OpenRC and dhcpcd were removed from the base code. Furthermore, automation configuration for HD 7000 series and older GPUs has been added. I also added the support for os-release to show GhostBSD name and GhostBSD version in applications like mate-system-monitor, python distros, pfetch, and neofetch and added a new set of wallpapers for 2022 and removed p7zip from the default selection since it is vulnerable and unmaintained.

GhostBSD is a desktop-oriented FreeBSD distribution, mating Mate with the FreeBSD base system.

Exploring System76’s new Rust-based desktop environment

A few months ago, System76 announced that they would be developing a new desktop environment based on the Rust programming language called COSMIC.

Their idea is to create a desktop environment that is similar to the one that is currently available for the Pop!_OS operating system, but with a different focus.

System76’s objective is to create something that is faster, more customizable, and free of the limitations of the GNOME desktop environment, and let’s face it, we’re all curious how this desktop will look.

This post will explore how this new desktop environment is shaping up.

There’s not a ton to see here yet, and it’s clearly very early days. Still, it’s interesting to see the beginnings.

PCIe 6.0 specification published

PCI Express technology has served as the de facto interconnect of choice for nearly two decades. The PCIe 6.0 specification doubles the bandwidth and power efficiency of the PCIe 5.0 specification (32 GT/s), while providing low latency and reduced bandwidth overhead.

We’re barely seeing the rollout of PCIe 5.0 begin, and we’re already moving ahead. Also, who knew the standards organisation for PCIe is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, of all places. Although, to be fair, any city that understands and caters to the beautiful, thrilling, and honest sport of curling is a great city. And I’m not joking here – curling is exquisite, and quite probably the noblest of sports.

Linux 5.16 released

Linux 5.16 has many new features including the FUTEX2 futex_waitv system call for helping Steam Play (and Wine), memory folios have been mainlined, AMD Ryzen 6000 mobile series support is getting into better shape, Intel Alder Lake S graphics are now considered stable, Intel AMX support for Sapphire Rapids has landed, big AMD Ryzen with Radeon graphics performance improvements, and a wealth of other hardware improvements.

And this new kernel release will find its way to your computer soon if you’re using either a bleeding edge distribution or manually added a kernel repository with up-to-date kernels (I tend go with xanmod).

A data black hole: Europol ordered to delete vast store of personal data

The EU’s police agency, Europol, will be forced to delete much of a vast store of personal data that it has been found to have amassed unlawfully by the bloc’s data protection watchdog. The unprecedented finding from the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) targets what privacy experts are calling a “big data ark” containing billions of points of information. Sensitive data in the ark has been drawn from crime reports, hacked from encrypted phone services and sampled from asylum seekers never involved in any crime.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that authorities illegally amassing huge troves of data on unsuspecting and innocent people is not something that only happens in the US. But it is also worth noticing how in EU we at least have institutions that are trying curb these blind mass surveillance tendencies. If that fight will have measurable effects in the long run is something that we can’t foresee.

Pluton is not (currently) a threat to software freedom

At CES this week, Lenovo announced that their new Z-series laptops would ship with AMD processors that incorporate Microsoft’s Pluton security chip. There’s a fair degree of cynicism around whether Microsoft have the interests of the industry as a whole at heart or not, so unsurprisingly people have voiced concerns about Pluton allowing for platform lock-in and future devices no longer booting non-Windows operating systems. Based on what we currently know, I think those concerns are understandable but misplaced.

As usual, Matthew Garrett does an excellent job explaining complex topics like this.