Chrome OS switching to the Android Linux kernel and related Android subsystems

Surprisingly quietly, in the middle of Apple’s WWDC, Google’s ChromeOS team has made a rather massive announcement that seems to be staying a bit under the radar. Google is announcing today that it is replacing many of ChromeOS’ current relatively standard Linux-based subsystems with the comparable subsystems from Android.

To continue rolling out new Google AI features to users at a faster and even larger scale, we’ll be embracing portions of the Android stack, like the Android Linux kernel and Android frameworks, as part of the foundation of ChromeOS. We already have a strong history of collaboration, with Android apps available on ChromeOS and the start of unifying our Bluetooth stacks as of ChromeOS 122.

↫ Prajakta Gudadhe and Alexander Kuscher on the Chromium blog

The benefits to Google here are obvious: instead of developing and maintaining two variants of the Linux kernel and various related subsystems, they now only have to focus on one, saving money and time. It will also make it easier for both platforms to benefit from new features and bugfixes, which should benefit users of both platforms quite a bit.

As mentioned in the snippet, the first major subsystem in ChromeOS to be replaced by its Android counterpart is Bluetooth. ChromeOS was using the BlueZ Bluetooth stack, the same one used by most (all?) Linux distributions today, which was initially developed by Qualcomm, but has now switched over to using Fluoride, the one from Android.

According to Google, Fluoride has a number of benefits over BlueZ. It runs almost entirely in userspace, as opposed to BlueZ, where more than 50% of the code resides in the kernel. In addition, Fluoride is written in Rust, and Google claims it has a simpler architecture, making it easier to perform testing. Google also highlights that Fluoride has a far larger userbase – i.e., all Android users – which also presents a number of benefits.

Google performed internal tests to measure the improvements as a result from switching ChromeOS from BlueZ to Fluoride, and the test results speak for themselves – pairing is faster, pairing fails less often, and reconnecting an already paired device fails less often. With Bluetooth being a rather problematic technology to use, any improvements to the user experience are welcome.

At the end of Google’s detailed blog post about the switch to Fluoride, the company notes that it intends for the project as whole – which is called Project Floss – to be a standalone open source project, capable of running on any Linux distribution.

↫ Russ Lindsay, Abhishek Pandit-Subedi, Alain Michaud, and Loic Wei Yu Neng on the chromeOS dev website

We aspire to position Project Floss as a standalone open source project that can reach beyond the walls of Google’s own operating system in a way where we can maximize the overall value and agility of the larger Bluetooth ecosystem. We also intend to support the Linux community as a whole with the goal that Floss can easily run on most Linux distributions.

If Fluoride can indeed deliver tangible, measurable benefits in Bluetooth performance on Linux desktops, I have no doubt quite a few distributions will be more than willing to switch over. Bluetooth is used a lot, and if Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch, and so on, can improve the Bluetooth experience by switching over, I’m pretty sure they will, or at least consider doing so.

Arm, Qualcomm legal battle seen disrupting AI-powered PC wave

The new Windows on ARM Copilot+ PC thing, running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite and Pro chips, isn’t even out the door yet, and we’re already dealing with legal proceedings.

But the main conversation among conference attendees was over how a contract dispute between Arm Holdings and Qualcomm, which work together to make the chips powering these new laptops, could abruptly halt the shipment of new PCs that industry leaders expect will make Microsoft and its partners billions of dollars.

↫ Max A. Cherney at Reuters

The basic gist of the story is as follows. Qualcomm acquired a company named Nuvia, founded by former Apple processor engineers, in order to gain new technology to build its Snapdragon X Elite and Pro chips. Nuvia was planning on developing ARM chips for servers, but after the acquisition, Qualcomm changed their plans and repurposed their technology for use in laptops – the new X chips. ARM claims that Nuvia was only granted a license for server use, and not laptop use. Qualcomm, meanwhile, argued that it has a broad license to use ARM for pretty much anything, and as such, that any possible restrictions Nuvia had are irrelevant.

While this all sounds like very rich corporations having a silly legal slapfight, it could have real consequences. If the legal case goes very, very wrong for Qualcomm, it could halt the sale of devices powered by the Snapdragon X chips well before they’re even shipping. I doubt it’ll get that far – it rarely does, and there’s some big names and big reputations at play here – but it does highlight the absurdity of how the ARM ecosystem works.

Speaking of the ARM ecosystem, Qualcomm isn’t the only ARM chip makers dying to break into the PC market. Qualcomm currently has a weird exclusivity agreement with Microsoft where it’s the only ARM chip supplier for PCs, but that agreement is running out soon. Another player that’s ready to storm this market once that happens is MediaTek, who is also developing a chip geared towards Microsoft’s Copilot+ specifications, with a release target of 2025. Let’s hope MediaTek will be as forthcoming with Linux support as Qualcomm surprisingly has been, but I have my sincerest doubt.

Linus Torvalds: extensible scheduler “sched_ext” in Linux 6.11

The extensible scheduler “sched_ext” code has proven quite versatile for opening up better Linux gaming performance, more quickly prototyping new scheduler changes, Ubuntu/Canonical has been evaluating it for pursuing a more micro-kernel like design, and many other interesting approaches with it. Yet it’s remained out of tree but that is now changing with the upcoming Linux 6.11 cycle.

Linus Torvalds as the benevolent dictator for life “BDFL” of the Linux kernel announced he intends to merge the sched_ext patches for Linux 6.11 even though there has been some objections by other kernel developers. Torvalds feels the sched_ext code is ready enough and provides real value to the mainline Linux kernel. It’s not worth dragging out sched_ext continuing to be out-of-tree.

↫ Michael Larabel at Phoronix

I haven’t felt the need to mess around with the Linux scheduler in a long, long time – I have some vague memories of perhaps well over a decade ago where opting for a different scheduler could lead to better desktop-focused performance characteristics, but the details in my brain are so fuzzy that it may just be a fabricated or confabulated memory.

OpenBSD extreme privacy setup

This is an attempt to turn OpenBSD into a Whonix or Tails alternative, although if you really need that level of privacy, use a system from this list and not the present guide. It is easy to spot OpenBSD using network fingerprinting, this can not be defeated, you can not hide the fact you use OpenBSD to network operators.

I did this guide as a challenge for fun, but I also know some users have a use for this level of privacy.

↫ Solène Rapenne

Written by OpenBSD developer Solène Rapenne, so you’re probably not going to find a guide written by anyone more knowledgeable.

Microsoft pulls release preview build of Windows 11 24H2 after Recall controversy

Microsoft recently announced some big changes to the Recall feature in Windows, and now it’s pulled the Release Preview version which contained Recall entirely.

It’s likely not a coincidence that Microsoft also quietly pulled the build of the Windows 11 24H2 update that it had been testing in its Release Preview channel for Windows Insiders. It’s not unheard of for Microsoft to stop distributing a beta build of Windows after releasing it, but the Release Preview channel is typically the last stop for a Windows update before a wider release.

↫ Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica

The company doesn’t actually mention why the release was pulled, but the reason is pretty obvious if you connect the dots. I’m at least glad Microsoft is taking the complaints seriously, and while I don’t personally think Recall is a good idea, if a user gives their consent and uses it knowingly and willingly, I don’t see any problems with it.

Under pressure from Russian censors, Mozilla removes anti-censorship extensions

A few days ago, I was pointed to a post on the Mozilla forums, in which developers of Firefox extensions designed to circumvent Russian censorship were surprised to find that their extensions were suddenly no longer available within Russia. The extension developers and other users in the thread were obviously not amused, and since they had received no warning or any other form of communication from Mozilla, they were left in the dark as to what was going on.

I did a journalism and contacted Mozilla directly, and inquired about the situation. Within less than 24 hours Mozilla got back to me with an official statement, attributed to an unnamed Mozilla spokesperson:

Following recent regulatory changes in Russia, we received persistent requests from Roskomnadzor demanding that five add-ons be removed from the Mozilla add-on store. After careful consideration, we’ve temporarily restricted their availability within Russia. Recognizing the implications of these actions, we are closely evaluating our next steps while keeping in mind our local community.

↫ Mozilla spokesperson via email

I and most people I talked to already suspected this was the case, and considering Russia is a totalitarian dictatorship, it’s not particularly surprising it would go after browser extensions that allow people to circumvent state censorship. Other totalitarian dictatorships like China employ similar, often far more sophisticated methods of state control and censorship, too, so it’s right in line with expectations.

I would say that I’m surprised Mozilla gave in, but at the same time, it’s highly likely resisting would lead to massive fines and possible arrests of any Mozilla employees or contributors living in Russia, if any such people exist, and I can understand a non-profit like Mozilla not having the means to effectively stand up against the Russian government. That being said, Mozilla’s official statement seems to imply they’re still in the middle of their full decision-making process regarding this issue, so other options may still be on the table, and I think it’s prudent to give Mozilla some more time to deal with this situation.

Regardless, this decision is affecting real people inside Russia, and I’m sure if you’re using tools like these inside a totalitarian dictatorship, you’re probably not too fond of said dictatorship. Losing access to these Firefox extensions through the official add-store will be a blow to their human rights, so let’s hope the source code and ‘sideloaded’ versions of these extensions remain available for them to use instead.

Apple WWDC 2024: the 13 biggest announcements

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote has come to a close — and the company had a whole lot to share. We got our first look at the AI features coming to Apple’s devices and some major updates across the company’s operating systems.

If you missed out on watching the keynote live, we’ve gathered all the biggest announcements that you can check out below.

↫ Emma Roth at The Verge

Most of the stuff Apple announced aren’t particularly interesting – a lot of catch-up stuff that has become emblematic of companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft when it comes to their operating systems. The one thing that did stand out is Apple’s approach to offloading machine learning requests to the cloud when they are too difficult to handle on device. They’ve developed a new way of doing this, using servers with Apple’s own M chips, which is pretty cool and harkens back the days of the Xserve.

In short, these server are using the same kind of techniques to encrypt and secure data on iPhones, but now to encrypt and secure the data coming in for offloaded machine learning requests.

The root of trust for Private Cloud Compute is our compute node: custom-built server hardware that brings the power and security of Apple silicon to the data center, with the same hardware security technologies used in iPhone, including the Secure Enclave and Secure Boot. We paired this hardware with a new operating system: a hardened subset of the foundations of iOS and macOS tailored to support Large Language Model (LLM) inference workloads while presenting an extremely narrow attack surface. This allows us to take advantage of iOS security technologies such as Code Signing and sandboxing.

↫ Apple’s security research blog

Apple also provided some insight into where its training data is coming from, and it claims it’s only using licensed data and “publicly available data collected by our web-crawler”. The words “licensed” and “publicly available” are doing a lot of heavy lifting here, and I’m not entirely sure what definitions of those terms Apple is using. There are enough people out there who feel every piece of data – whether under copyright, available under an open source license, or whatever – is fair, legal game for ML training, so who knows what Apple is using based on these statements alone.

From Apple’s presentations yesterday, as well as any later statements, it’s also not clear when machine learning requests get offloaded in the first place. Apple states they try to run as much as possible on-device, and will offload when needed, but the conditions under which such offloading happens are nebulous and unclear, making it hard for users to know what’s going to happen when they use Apple’s new machine learning features.

Tuxedo showcases prototype Linux laptop with Snapdragon X Elite

I’ve long been waiting for a powerful ARM laptop that can run Linux comfortably, and it seems that with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X Elite SoC, that’s finally going to happen. We talked earlier about how for once, Qualcomm is taking Linux support for their new laptop-focused processors very seriously, and that promise and associated effort is paying dividend. Tuxedo, a popular Linux OEM from Germany, has announced it’s working on a laptop with the Snapdragon X Elite chip, and they showed off a working prototype at Computex in Taiwan.

We have been working with a first prototype for some time, which will soon be replaced by a second one. The development is still in the alpha stage, as some drivers are still missing, which will hopefully be available with the next two kernel versions.

It is quite conceivable that an ARM notebook from TUXEDO will be under your Christmas tree in 2024. However, there are still too many pieces of the hardware, software and delivery capability puzzle missing to even begin to set a release date. TUXEDO for ARM will come, but we don’t yet know exactly when.

↫ Tuxedo’s website

Their timeline of more Qualcomm drivers making it into the next two kernel versions lines up with Qualcomm’s own timeline, so it seems we’re mostly just waiting for them to finish their Linux drivers and add them to the kernel. This is quite exciting, and a much better option for Linux users than buying a Windows version of an X Elite or Pro laptop and hoping for the best.

NetBSD 10 with disk encryption on UEFI, and NetBSD 10 on the Pinebook Pro

NetBSD 10 was released recently, so a lot of people are experimenting with it and writing down their thoughts. I’ve got two of those for you today, to help you in case you, too, want to install NetBSD 10 and play around with, or just use, it.

First, what if you want to install NetBSD 10 on a UEFI system, but with full disk encryption in case your device gets stolen? It turns out there are countless guides for installing with full-disk encryption on MBR-based systems, but once you use UEFI – as you should be – things get a lot more complicated. The NetBSD installer is apparently rather basic, and a better solution is to drop to a shell and install NetBSD that way instead, and even then, full disk encryption with UEFI is actually not possible, as it seems the root file system – where the operating system itself resides – cannot be encrypted.

The restriction is in the root file-system. It needs to be in plain-text and in a regular partition. It seems to me that rootfs in CGD or LVM is not well supported.

↫ vsis.online

This seems like something the NetBSD team may need to take a look at, since full disk encryption should be an easy option to choose, even, or especially in 2024, on UEFI systems. Such encryption is easily achieved on Linux or Windows systems, and it seems odd to me that NetBSD is lagging behind a bit here. In the meantime, the linked guide will be a good jumping-off point for those of you interested in going a similar route.

The second article I want to highlight concerns NetBSD 10 on the Pinebook Pro, the inexpensive ARM laptop that normally ships with Linux. It turns out there’s a NetBSD 10 image for this device, so installation is quite a bit more straightforward than the more exotic setup I mentioned earlier. It seems most of the hardware works quite well out of the box, with the inly exception being the on-board Wi-Fi, which the author addressed with a USB W-Fi dongle.

Other than that, NetBSD is running well on the Pinebook Pro for the author, which is great to read since that makes this cheap device a great starting point for people interested in running NetBSD.

Void Linux on ZFS

Last night, I ran through the ZFSBootMenu documentation guide for Void and followed it both on a VM and then on an external SATA HDD plugged through a USB case, taking some notes and getting a general idea of the process.

The Void installer does not support ZFS out of the box, so the Void Handbook itself recommends the ZFSBootMenu documentation before its own (a manual chroot installation) when it comes to doing a ZFS-on-root install. This guide from ZFSBootMenu is what we’ll be following throughout this post.

↫ Juno Takano

There’s a ton of good stuff in this lengthy, detailed, and helpful blog post. First, it covers Void Linux, which is one of the best signifiers of good taste, classy style, and generally being a good person. Void is not necessarily underappreciated – it gets a lot of mentions in the right places – but I do feel there are a lot more people for whom Void Linux would be a perfect fit but who don’t yet know about it. So, time for a very short introduction.

Void Linux is distribution with its own unique and very user-friendly package manager that’s an absolute joy to use. Unlike many other custom, more obscure package formats, the Void repositories are vast, generally some of the most up-to-date, and you’ll be hard-pressed to be asking for some piece of software that isn’t packaged. Void eschews systemd in favour of runit, and while I personally have no issues with systemd, diversity is always welcome and runit is, in line with everything else Void, easy to grasp and use. Lastly, while Void also comes in a GNU libc flavour, it feels like the “real” Void Linux is the one using musl.

Second is a tool I had never heard of: ZFSBootMenu. The name is rather self-explanatory, but in slightly more detail: it’s a self-contained small Linux-based bootloader that detects any Linux kernels and initramfs images on ZFS file systems, which can then be launched using kexec. It makes running Linux on ZFS quite a bit easier, especially for systems that don’t over ZFS as an option during installation, like, in this case, Void Linux.

And that’s what the linked post is actually about: setting up a root-on-ZFS Void EFI installation. It’s a great companion article for anyone trying something similar.

Reverse-engineering MenuetOS 64: primary boot loader

Now that we have the MenuetOS 64 disk image file (M6414490.IMG), it is time to analyze! We will analyze the image file both statically and dynamically. Static analysis is reading and analyzing code without running it, whereas dynamic analysis is running the code and watching how it changes registers and memory during execution. Each analysis mode compliments the other; there are some things that can only be discerned through code execution, like register values or stack layout at a specific point in time during execution. Static analysis is useful for “filling in the blanks” when executing code to understand what the code should do next (or just did). Since MenuetOS 64 is written in Intel x64 assembly, our static analysis will consist of memory mapped disassembly in Ghidra. After reading this post, readers should understand how to launch a MenuetOS 64 virtual machine using QEMU as well as how to attach a debugger (gdb) to QEMU in order to debug while code is executing. Also, readers should understand how MenuetOS 64 begins the boot process as control of execution is passed to MenuetOS 64 code from the virtualization firmware.

↫ Nicholas Starke

This is an old post – from late 2022 – but a great read nonetheless, and considering MenuetOS doesn’t change very much from year to year, it’s still mostly relevant.

What is PID 0?

The very short version: Unix PIDs do start at 0! PID 0 just isn’t shown to userspace through traditional APIs. PID 0 starts the kernel, then retires to a quiet life of helping a bit with process scheduling and power management. Also the entire web is mostly wrong about PID 0, because of one sentence on Wikipedia from 16 years ago.

There’s a slightly longer short version right at the end, or you can stick with me for the extremely long middle bit!

But surely you could just google what PID 0 is, right? Why am I even publishing this?

↫ David Anderson

What a great read. Just great.

Adobe terms clarified: will never own your work, or use it for AI training

Adobe Creative Cloud users opened their apps yesterday to find that they were forced to agree to new terms, which included some frightening-sounding language. It seemed to suggest Adobe was claiming rights over their work.

Worse, there was no way to continue using the apps, to request support to clarify the terms, or even uninstall the apps, without agreeing to the terms.

↫ Ben Lovejoy at 9To5Mac

Of course users were going to revolt. Even without the scary-sounding language, locking people out of their applications unless they agree to new terms is a terrible dark pattern, and something a lot of enterprise customers certainly aren’t going to be particularly happy about. I’ve never worked an office job, so how does stuff like this normally go? I’m assuming employees aren’t allowed to just accept new licensing terms from Adobe or whatever on their office computers?

In response to the backlash, Adobe came out and said in a statement that it does not intend to claim ownership over anyone’s work, and that it’s not going to train its ML models on customers’ work either. The company states that to train its Firefly ML model, it only uses content it has properly licensed for it, as well as public domain content. Assuming Adobe is telling the truth, it seems the company at least understands the concept of consent, which is good news, and a breath of fresh air compared to crooks like OpenAI or GitHub. Content used for training ML models should be properly licensed for it, and consent should be properly obtained from rightsholders, and taking Adobe at their word, it seems that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Regardless, the backlash illustrates once again just how – rightfully – weary people are of machine learning, and how their works might be illegally appropriated to train such models.

Initial Fuchsia support upstreamed to Mesa 3D

We haven’t been hearing much out of the Fuchsia team anymore after said team was hit hard by the Google layoffs, but we’ve got some news so my fancy Fuchsia database category doesn’t go entirely to waste. As Phoronix highlights, Fuchsia support is being upstreamed to Mesa 3D, indicating that no, Fuchsia is not entirely dead.

This adds fairly standard support for Fuchsia in src/util. It’s being used in downstream forks of Lavapipe and it’s useful for gfxstream-vk. The idea is to incrementally merge these obvious changes to help reduce the patch load until someone has time to upstream the full driver.

↫ Gurchetan Singh

As you can tell from the language here, we’re dealing with the first experimental steps, and a lot more work is required before full Fuchsia support can be added to Mesa 3D, as further evidenced by the various friendly conversations attached to the merge request. After some small changes to the code here and there, the code was merged a few days later, so it seems the process can continue.

It used to be quite easy to predict where Fuchsia was going, since pretty much every indication was that Google had grand ideas for the project, and consequently, the Fuchsia team was large, staffed with well-known names, and the kind of progress we saw all pointed towards a role for Fuchsia on smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and perhaps even beyond. There was a real sense that Google intended to almost silently replace the Linux base with Fuchsia in Android, and all the technologies to do so were either in place or actively being worked on.

Then came Google’s massive layoffs, though, and the Fuchsia team was hit proportionally harder than other teams, and now, it’s not so clear anymore what the future has in store for this custom operating system. Several Fuchsia-related efforts were wound down, from no longer porting Chrome to Fuchsia to killing Fuchsia smart speaker efforts. This was one of the few truly interesting projects inside Google, and it presented a real chance that we might see a new major operating system enter the market, for the first time in decades.

Alas, Google gonna Google.

US agencies to probe AI dominance of Nvidia, Microsoft, and OpenAI

The US Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission reportedly plan investigations into whether Nvidia, Microsoft, and OpenAI are snuffing out competition in artificial intelligence technology.

The agencies struck a deal on how to divide up the investigations, The New York Times reported yesterday. Under this deal, the Justice Department will take the lead role in investigating Nvidia’s behavior while the FTC will take the lead in investigating Microsoft and OpenAI.

↫ Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica

Even if there’s no findings of wrongdoing, these kinds of investigations are incredibly important, if only to let the megaocorporations know we’ve got our eyes on them. Artificial intelligence is a whole new world of potential monopolistic and other forms of abuse, and I’d like the various competition authorities to be on top of it right from the beginning for once, so we don’t end up with a fait accompli like we have in so many other parts of the technology sector.

Microsoft implements drastic changes to Recall after criticism

It turns out that the storm of criticism Microsoft’s recently unveiled Recall feature has actually pushed Microsoft to change its mind and make some very significant changes to the feature. Today, after over a week of sustained criticism and worries, Redmond announced it’s going to implement Recall very differently.

First and foremost, instead of Recall being enabled by default and only configurable after installation and the out-of-box experience, it will not be disabled by default, and the user will be prompted during the OOBE if they want to enable the feature or not. This in and of itself should alleviate quite a few worries, since having this on by default without most users really realising it was a recipe for disaster and privacy issues.

Second, Recall will not be taking advantage of Windows Hello, and using Window Hello will be a requirement before you can use Recall. On op of that, Recall will use Windows Hello presence detection, so that it will only show any collected and saved data if you’re the one sitting behind the computer. It’s wild to me that they didn’t think of this one sooner, but alas – I have a feeling a lot of this “AI” stuff has been implemented in a bit of a hurry.

Last but definitely not least, the Recall database, where information extracted from the screenshots is stored as well as the search index will now be properly encrypted. They will only be decrypted once the user in question is authenticated. Here, too, one really has to wonder why it wasn’t implemented this way from the very beginning, and the fact that it wasn’t makes me think we’ll be finding more questionable security and implementation details as the feature becomes widely available in a few weeks.

Quick out-of-the-box BSD support for the Topton GM1

I bought a Topton GM1 Industrial Mini PC for my HomeLab. It is aimed at running Slackware Linux but I wanted to have a quick look at how well BSD OSes support it out-of-the-box.

↫ Joel Carnat

That’s really all there’s to this story. I just really, really love tiny industrial and office computers and thin clients, and every time I see another one for sale I really have to stop myself from buying one I have absolutely no use for. There’s just something about how these little guys are built that speaks to me – they’re different than regular PCs, but only marginally so, making them fun to play around with, getting drivers for everything, seeing if Linux and BSD have any issues with it, and so on.

They’re also often fanless, which is a major boon. The Dell thin client I wrote about last week has been run through a gauntlet of operating systems to see just how capable it is, and I’m surprise by just how much you can do even with a pedestrian Pentium Silver. For now it’s running Fedora GNOME to get an idea how the most default of default Linux environments performs and feels – so I can include it in future articles about it – but I think I’m going to set it up as a retrogaming console using Batocera.

Industrial, office, and thin client computers are just fun to play around with, and they’re incredibly cheap when buying used. If things like a Raspberry Pi are hard to get, backordered, or overpriced due to demand outstripping supply, it’s definitely a good idea to see if you can find some cast-off thin client or whatever for your project instead.

Microsoft blocks Windows 11 workaround that enabled local accounts

Before PC users can enjoy everything Windows 11 has on tap, they must first enter an e-mail address that’s linked to a Microsoft account. If you don’t have one, you’ll be asked to create one before you can start setting it up.

A frequently used trick to circumvent this block is a small but ingenious step. By entering a random e-mail address and password, which doesn’t exist and causes the link to fail, you end up directly with the creation of a local account and can thus avoid creating an official account with Microsoft.

↫ Laura Pippig at PCWorld

Microsoft has now “fixed” this trick, and it’s no longer possible to use it. The other popular method of circumventing the Microsoft account requirement, by opening the command prompt during installation and running OOBE\BYPASSNRO, still works, but one has to wonder how long it’s going to take before Microsoft plugs that method, too. It seems the company is hell-bent on getting every consumer onto the Microsoft Account train, come hell or high water, so I wouldn’t be surprised seeing local accounts eventually being positioned as a “pro” or even “enterprise” feature that will simply no longer be available on consumer PCs.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with offering an online account option, but the keyword here is option. You should always be able to set up any computer to run with a regular old local account, even if only because internet access isn’t always a given in many places around the world. Add the obvious privacy concerns to that – an issue amplified by Recall – and I doubt users’ desire to run a local account and jump through hoops to do so will fade any time soon.

OSNews needs your help to stay alive

As some of you will know, I recently started working on OSNews as my full-time job, and that means I sometimes need to be annoying and remind you all that I need your help in keeping the website going. Ad income has been going down the drain for years and years now, so your support is crucial in keeping OSNews online. We’ve been providing you with the latest technology news for over 25 years now, and I’d really like to keep things going for another 25 years. So, how can you help?

You can become an OSNews Patreon, which will remove ads from OSNews, and give you a little bit of flair on every comment you post to show off that you support us. We offer three pricing tiers with an increasing level of prominence for your flair, with the highest tier giving you the option of choosing your own flair to really show off to your fellow readers and commenters that you are just a little bit more equal than everyone else.

You can also make individual donations through Ko-Fi. Since I really need to replace the monitor of my OSNews workstation – after eight years of loyal use, the cheap monitor is started to show ghosting and flickering, and I feel like it could give out at any moment – I’ve set a goal on Ko-Fi for this very purpose. I don’t expect this goal to be met any time soon, but it’s a nice target to aim for and look forward to. I intend to replace the old 4K display with the cheapest 4K/144Hz panel I can find here in Sweden, but since that will most likely be unrealistic price-wise, the goal is rooted more in aspiration than reality.

There are other ways to support us too – you can make a donation through Liberapay, or go to our merch store and buy T-shirts, mugs, and other cool items.

The ultimate goal that I’m working towards is to eventually be able to offer ad-free by default, fully supported by you, our generous readers. This is a long-term goal and not something we’ll achieve overnight, but I want to maintain OSNews’ independence at all costs. Virtually every other technology news site you visit is part of a major media empire, such as The Verge or Ars Technica, with huge amounts of staff and massive funds backing them – and all the questionable relationships between writers and the technology companies that entails. Add to it the rise of artificial intelligence and the negative consequences that’s going to have, and the need for independent, reader-funded technology websites is greater than ever.

That being said, we will not be gating content behind paywalls, so even if you cannot or are unwilling to support us, you will still get all the same content as everyone else. As such, supporting OSNews financially is entirely optional, and will not degrade your experience in any way. Still, OSNews’ continued existence is entirely dependent on me being able to generate enough income through it, so while you do not have to support us, it’s definitely needed.

A BSD person tries Alpine Linux

I’ve barely scratched the surface, but there’s enough here for me to seriously consider a switch to it as my primary Linux distro for testing and servers. I love that htop(1) and lsof(1) only shows a small list of recognisable processes, that it uses OpenRC, that package management seems straight forward, and that it’s so simple to configure. I’ve wondered what a modern, functional “Occam’s Linux” would look like. This is it.

↫ Ruben Schade

Alpine is very popular among people inclined towards BSD, but who still want to run Linux as well – and it’s easy to see why when you try it out or read about it. This article is a good jumping-off point for those of you curious about Alpine.