Launching brand new BeOS, Mac OS X, and MS-DOS T-shirts in the OSNews Merch Store!

The holidays are coming, there’s a chill in the air (literally for me, I live in the Arctic), so it’s time for a few new additions to the official OSNews Merch Store.

Do you live in the terminal, breathe the terminal? We’ve got new shirts just for you. The opening message of the terminals of Mac OS X, BeOS, and MS-DOS (let’s be generous and call MS-DOS a terminal), with a command to call an osnews directory on the file system, printed on the front of the shirt. They sport the correct fonts, background colours, and exact verbiage used in the operating systems themselves. For the Mac OS X one, I had to choose a last login date and a username, so I opted for the exact time and date of birth of my oldest son, and a username that’s a bit of an Easter egg.

These shirts of the organic cotton variety, and all proceeds go to supporting OSNews’ continued existence so we don’t have to resort to SEO crap, “AI”-generated garbage, and malvertising. Every item sold on the store generates around $10 for us, with the rest going to our partner Bonfire for producing the items and running the store.

You can also support OSNews through individual donations on Ko-Fi, by becoming a Patreon, and by supporting us through LiberaPay.

Ousted propaganda scholar Joan Donovan accuses Harvard of bowing to Meta

A prominent disinformation scholar has accused Harvard University of dismissing her to curry favor with Facebook and its current and former executives in violation of her right to free speech.

Joan Donovan claimed in a filing with the Education Department and the Massachusetts attorney general that her superiors soured on her as Harvard was getting a record $500 million pledge from Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable arm.

↫Joseph Menn for The Washington Post

This is why “voting with your wallet” is such an empty platitude, usually used by corporatists trying to absolve corporations from misdeeds and shifting the blame to us, mere consumers. How on earth can us regular folks vote with our wallet when someone like Zuckerberg can just buy the entire “election” without blinking?

Finally: proper attribution

You may have noticed that starting today, I’ve been adding a dedicated link to the main story in every post on OSNews. Our old-fashioned 2001 method of “biggest link is main story” simply doesn’t hold up today as proper attribution, so from here on out every post will have a link marked by ↫ crediting the name and/or publication of the main linked article (or multiple where it makes sense). I’ve been unhappy with our attribution for years, and finally got my act together and settled on this solution. While I’ve had, in total, maybe no more than 2-3 complaints about this since I started in 2006 – it’s taken too long, and I apologise for that.

Credit and attribution matter.

For the curious: ↫ is part of the arrows Unicode block as U+21AB, titled “Leftwards arrow with loop”. I settled on it because the path of the loop and the arrow evoked a feeling of being yoinked back somewhere else, and that’s what a link does. Sure, I could’ve opted for a chain link or whatever, but that’s boring.

Porting Hare to OpenBSD

I was always very interested in OpenBSD and a few months ago, I decided to give it a try. I’ve quickly fallen in love with it! There is, however, a big problem: Hare does not fully support OpenBSD! So, I decided to port it and I am happy to announce that my work was merged yesterday and OpenBSD is now fully supported by Hare. Let me show you some of the tricky stuff that was involved in the port.

↫ Lorenz (xha) on the official Hare blog

Hare is a relatively new programming language, and originally only supported Linux and FreeBSD. This post details the process of porting it over to OpenBSD.

The world depends on 60-year-old code no one knows anymore

The problem is that very few people are interested in learning COBOL these days. Coding it is cumbersome, it reads like an English lesson (too much typing), the coding format is meticulous and inflexible, and it takes far longer to compile than its competitors. And since nobody’s learning it anymore, programmers who can work with and maintain all that code are a increasingly hard to find. Many of these “COBOL cowboys” are aging out of the workforce, and replacements are in short supply.

This puts us in a tricky predicament. We need to maintain and modernize the code that underpins so much of the business and finance worlds, but we don’t have enough skilled workers we need to carry out those updates.

This is precisely the kind of problem that IBM thinks it can fix with AI.

↫ JD Sartain for PCMag

It seems like learning and getting good at COBOL is a surefire way to ensure job security. I wonder if there’s a way to make modern applications or software in COBOL? I mean, there are COBOL compilers for modern platforms, of course, but are there any bindings (I think that’s the correct term?) for modern GUI toolkits like GTK, Qt, and so on?

The headline’s probably a bit hyperbolic, but the core of the issue stands.

Everything you ever wanted to know about HP’s 9000 Series 300

Hewlett-Packard’s 9000 Series 300 (HP300) was a range of technical workstations based on Motorola 680×0 microprocessors. Superbly engineered in modular form, and ahead of the curve in terms of functionality, these workstations were used mainly as instrument controllers and for desktop technical computing. The HP300 series launched in 1985 with the models 310 (pictured below) and 320. It evolved through numerous variants of increasing power, concluding with the 38x models released in 1991. The series was officially obsolete as of 1997.

The definitive website dedicated to vintage Hewlett-Packard computers is the wonderful HP Computer Museum, which has excellent and wide-ranging archival resources. The present site is focused specifically on the HP 9000 series 300 and is for anyone interested in the history, conservation and restoration of these personal workstations.


Everything you could possibly ever want to know about the series 300, in one place. It’s incredibly detailed, and if you have your eyes on buying one of these machines, I urge you to keep this resource in a permanently open tab so you know what you’re doing.

The Unix V6 shell and how control flow worked in it

On Unix, ‘test‘ and ‘[‘ are two names for (almost) the same program and shell builtin. Although today people mostly use it under its ‘[‘ name, when it was introduced in V7 along side the Bourne shell, it only was called ‘test; the ‘[‘ name was only nascent until years later. I don’t know for sure why it was called ‘test‘, but there are interesting hints about its potential genesis in the shell used in V6 Research Unix, the predecessor to V7, and the control flow constructs that shell used.

↫ Chris Siebenmann

I’m fairly sure if I read this about 12 more times, I’ll start to maybe understand some of it.

Fuchsia version 14 rolling out to Nest Hub Preview Program

According to Google’s official support page listing the current firmware versions of its speakers and smart displays, version 14.20230831.4.72 is now available to those enrolled in the Preview Program (which can be accessed via the Google Home app). These updates are often released in stages, meaning it may be a few weeks before your Nest Hub gets the latest build.

On the project’s website, Google offers a more in-depth look at what has changed in Fuchsia version 14 (as well as version 13, which the Nest Hubs skipped). Most of the changes will only be relevant to Fuchsia developers, but there are a handful of user-facing improvements.

Google is providing some very detailed release notes for each version of Fuchsia, which are quite interesting to peruse. The recent layoffs at Google hit the Fuchsia team hard, likely reducing its future prospects as Google’s unified consumer-facing operating system, but that clearly doesn’t mean it’s entirely dead in the water.

Windows-as-an-app is coming

Windows App, which is still in beta, will let you connect to Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365, Microsoft Dev Box, Remote Desktop Services, and remote PCs from, well, pretty much any computing device. Specifically, you can use it from Macs, iPhones, iPads, other Windows machines, and — pay attention! — web browsers.

That last part means you’ll be able to run Windows from Linux-powered PCs, Chromebooks, and Android phones and tablets.

So, if you’ve been stuck running Windows because your boss insists that you can’t get your job done from a Chromebook, Linux PC, or Mac, your day has come. You can still run the machine you want and use Windows for only those times you require Windows-specific software.

So remote desktop in a shinier package and some additional marketing.

Microsoft soliciting feedback about an “Windows Advanced Settings” panel

Currently, there are many settings/registry keys that developers desire to tweak that are either not accessible via the Windows Settings app and/or are difficult to discover throughout the OS. Users may have to resort to running scripts or manually changing registry keys to get their machine into their ideal state. Furthermore, there is not a single place for developers to discover and tweak new Windows features specific to developer workflows that are in development and provide feedback on them. This means that developers may not even be aware of features or settings that they can tweak to improve their workflows and optimize their productivity/machine performance. Finally, lots of developers have to search the web to find the best settings to tweak to optimize their machine for their specific use case — there isn’t a single place to find what settings are recommended by fellow developers.

Microsoft is soliciting feedback on a possible new settings panel that would centralise popular advanced settings in Windows that currently require registry hacks or are otherwise difficult to find. The company wants to know which features and settings are a good fit for such a panel, and what such a panel should look like.

This is an excellent idea, and something I’m sure many of the Windows users here would love to see.

Google researchers’ attack prompts ChatGPT to reveal its training data

A team of researchers primarily from Google’s DeepMind systematically convinced ChatGPT to reveal snippets of the data it was trained on using a new type of attack prompt which asked a production model of the chatbot to repeat specific words forever. 

Using this tactic, the researchers showed that there are large amounts of privately identifiable information (PII) in OpenAI’s large language models. They also showed that, on a public version of ChatGPT, the chatbot spit out large passages of text scraped verbatim from other places on the internet.

So not only are these things cases of mass copyright infringement, they also violate countless privacy laws.


My long quest to revive a ’90s Windows gaming cult classic

As 2023 draws to a close—and as we start to finalize our Game of the Year contenders—I really should be catching up on the embarrassingly long list of great recent releases that I haven’t put enough time into this year. Instead, over the last few days, I’ve found myself once again hooked on a simple, addictive, and utterly unique Japanese Windows freeware game from the late ’90s that, until recently, I thought I had lost forever.

Pendulumania is a cult classic in the truest sense of the word: Few people have heard of it, even in hardcore gaming circles, but those who have experienced it tend to have very fond memories of it. And while I shared those memories, it wasn’t until this week that I’ve been able to share my effusive praise for a game whose name and playable executable had eluded me for well over a decade.

What a great story.

First bits of a Haiku compatibility layer for NetBSD

Does anyone here remember Cosmoe? Cosmoe was an attempt to combine Haiku’s API with the Linux kernel and related tools, started in the early 2000s. The project eventually fizzled out, now only an obscure footnote for BeOS diehards such as myself. It seems, though, that the idea of combining the Haiku API with a mature UNIX-like operating system refuses to die, and a few days ago, on the NetBSD Users’s Discussion List, a developer by the name of Stephan picked up the baton.

Some years ago I already started to work on a compatibility layer for NetBSD and resumed working on it recently.


I think a compatibility layer would mostly consist of kernel components and a custom I have created a libroot that provides functionality missing in libc and it should behave like the original one. It makes use of libc and libpthread at the moment as well as syscalls of the kernel components. The source can be found on Github.

This is clearly an experimental project, but Stephan does note he has had success running the Haiku IPC test programs, so it’s definitely more than scribbles on a napkin. The attraction of this idea is clear, too – Haiku API, but on a stable kernel with vastly superior hardware and device support. I’m not entirely sure if it’s got life in it, but even if it doesn’t – it’s amazing work, and that in an of itself makes it a success.

Cinnamon 6.0 arrives with initial Wayland support

Cinnamon, the desktop environment mostly associated with Linux Mint, has released its sixth version.

It also adds support for AVIF images, a new option for notification screen selection, a new gesture for desktop zoom, a new menu details option, color picker support in the screenshot service, and an xdg-portal configuration file.

Various improvements are present as well to fix missing thumbnails for windows that are created while the Menu applet is open, enable window resizing in the Cinnamon Menu Editor, fix a bug causing the Menu applet to be partly behind the panel, fix the Power applet’s battery status, fix reloading of desklets after an update when multiple instances are running, and ensure the Settings window fits the toolbar when expanded.

Cinnamon 6.0’s biggest new feature is an experimental Wayland session, marking the first steps towards fully supporting Wayland in the near future.

How Huawei made a cutting-edge chip in China and surprised the US

This ambition to escape dependence on foreign technology rests on the shoulders of Huawei and SMIC. The successful launch of the Kirin 9000S injected new vigor into the semiconductor industry, with executives reporting that chip start-ups are seeing a surge in funding.

But Huawei’s long-term ambitions are not limited to the markets in China’s orbit. The original nickname for the Kirin 9000S—Charlotte—is a symbol of these hopes. It was named not for an individual, but for the city in North Carolina. Other mobile semiconductors in development are also named internally for US cities, insiders say.

Using American names, says one Huawei employee, reflects “our desire to one day reclaim our place in the global supply chain.”

It’s amazing how without any official support and using cobbled-together outdated lithography machines, Huawei and SMIC have managed to make a reasonably competitive smartphone SoC. As I keep saying – Chinese chip makers have the full financial might of the Chinese state behind them, and they’ll stop at nothing to reduce their dependence on ASML, TSMC, Intel, AMD, and so on.

And they’re making progress.

This month in Servo: better floats, :has(), color-mix(), and more!

Our nightly example browser, servoshell, is now easier to navigate, accepting URLs without http:// or https:// both in the location bar and on the command line, and should no longer lock up when run with --no-minibrowser. Local paths can also be given on the command line, and are still preferred when the path points to a file that exists.

Work is now underway to improve our embedding story and prepare Servo for integration with Tauri, starting with precompiled ANGLE for faster initial builds, better support for offscreen rendering, and support for multiple webviews. These changes haven’t landed yet, but once they do, apps will be able to open, move, resize, and interleave Servo with other widgets.

I’m curious what the future will bring to Servo. It seems under very active development, but it’s not part of any of the main browser projects. Let’s hope they can keep up the momentum so that it can grow into a viable alternative.

Because lord do we need one.

Evaluating M3 Pro CPU cores: general performance

Evaluating the performance of CPUs with identical cores is relatively straightforward, and they’re easy to compare using single- and multi-core benchmarks. When there are two different types of core, one designed primarily for energy efficiency (E), the other for maximum performance (P), traditional benchmarks can readily mislead. Multi-core results are dominated by the ratio of P to E cores, and variable frequency confounds further. In this series of articles, I set out to disentangle these when comparing core performance between Apple’s original M1 Pro and its third-generation M3 Pro chips.

This first article explains why and how I am investigating this, and shows overall results for performance and power use under a range of loads.

Articles like these will help you make an informed decision about whether or not your workloads can benefit from moving from an M1/M2 to an M3.

Windows NT: peeking into the cradle

Reading the story of how Windows NT came to be was entertaining, as it is a story of the system itself and the dynamics between Dave Cutler, the original designer and lead for NT, and the other people involved in the project. I was shy of being 10 years old when Windows NT launched and I didn’t comprehend what was going on in the operating systems world and why this release was such a big deal. Reading the book made me learn various new things about the development process, the role of Microsoft in that era, and allowed me to settle some questions I’ve had over the years.

This article is a mixture of a book review and a collection of thoughts and reflections that the book evoked. Let’s begin because we have a lot of ground to cover.

Dave Cutler’s impact on the word of computing really can’t be understated. I often wonder how he truly feels about what his and his team’s creation turned into today – does he like what Windows NT has become? Does he consider Windows 11 worthy of carrying on the torch of NT? As Cutler still works at Microsoft, we won’t get an answer any time soon, but I sure do hope he intends to write down his memoirs in a tell-all book about his life and career, because I’d be down for reading that.

Microsoft contributes Azure RTOS to open source

We’re pleased to share an important update regarding Azure RTOS – an embedded development suite with the ThreadX real-time operating system that has been deployed on more than 12 billion devices worldwide. Reinforcing our commitment to innovation and community collaboration, Azure RTOS will be transitioning to an open-source model under the stewardship of the Eclipse Foundation, a recognized leader in hosting open-source IoT projects.

With Eclipse Foundation as the new home, Azure RTOS becomes Eclipse ThreadX – a comprehensive embedded development suite including a small but powerful real-time operating system that provides reliable, ultra-fast performance for resource-constrained devices. It’s easy-to-use, market proven, and trusted by developers and manufacturers for over two decades. It also supports the most popular 32-bit microcontrollers and embedded development tools so teams can make the most of their existing skills.

The Eclipse’s Foundation announcement post has more details.

New Chinese Loongsoon chip matches Intel’s 14600K in IPC tests

Chinese chip designer Loongson has finally launched its loong teased “next-generation” 3A6000-series processors based on the LoongArch microarchitecture. IPC tests showed the 3A6000 matching Intel’s Raptor Lake i5-14600K in IPC (instructions per clock), with both chips clocked at 2.5GHz.

As well as the headlining x86 compatible processor came the announcement of numerous partner desktop, laptop, and all-in-one machines — plus a consumer-grade motherboard from Asus. It was also entertaining to see a recorded overclocking session, which took an LN2-cooled 3A6000 chip to the current maximum 3 GHz.

Many of us are being dismissive now, but give it a few more generations and Chinese PC users won’t be depending on Intel or AMD anymore – and that’s pretty impressive.