Mac OS 9 on an unmodified Wii

Via Hackaday:

We’re used to the so-called “Hackintoshes”, non-Apple hardware running MacOS. One we featured recently was even built into the case of a Nintendo Wii. But Dandu has gone one better than that, by running MacOS on an unmodified Wii, original Nintendo hardware (French, Google Translate link).

How has this seemingly impossible task been achieved? Seasoned Mac enthusiasts will remember the days when Apple machines used PowerPC processors, and the Wii uses a PowerPC chip that’s a close cousin of those used in the Mac G3 series of computers. Since the Wii can run a Linux-based OS, it can therefore run Mac-on-Linux, providing in theory an environment in which it can host one of the PowerPC versions of MacOS.

So it’s not really running MacOS 9.2.2 directly on the hardware, but it’s close enough. Impressive work.

Apple is becoming an ad company despite privacy claims

Apple currently brings in roughly $4 billion from advertising and is forecasted to bring in as much as $30 billion by 2026. While these amounts are an order of magnitude smaller than the $210 billion Google made from its ad services, they represent a change in philosophy for Apple, which only earned around $300 million for ads in 2017.

This new emphasis on advertising also undermines Apple’s claims about privacy with its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and its “Privacy. That’s iPhone” ad campaign. In fact, it appears ATT may have been more about blocking competitors than protecting user privacy. Since Apple introduced ATT, its ad revenue has skyrocketed, leading German regulators to investigate Apple to see if it’s abusing its power.

Apple has one of the most valuable repositories of credit card information and user behaviour data in the world, and after years of sanctimonious lying about how much they care about privacy, all bets are off now. iOs is already infested with ads, and it’s only going to get worse.

It’s not like you’re going to switch platforms anyway at this point.

MusicStudio: a Music/SFX editor for Commodore 64

Music Studio is a Windows-based SID music creator software. For an accurate C64 sound, it utilises the newest RESID-FP emulation available, both old (6581) and new (8580) SID chips. MS2 is capable of creating 1x speed tunes and many SID chip parameters can be edited directly using the various commands. Classic and new C64 sounds can be created with envelope parameters that can be set up in few simple steps.

While I’m sure purists will greatly prefer real hardware, the cold and harsh truth is that the number of real, authentic Commodore 64 models is slowly running out, and there’s only so many Adrian Blacks in the world capable of repairing the few that can actually be repaired. Emulation – even for specific features of the C64 such as its sound capabilities – will make the C64 immortal.

Intel officially introduces pay-as-you-go chip licensing

Intel has officially revealed its Intel On Demand program (opens in new tab) that will activate select accelerators and features of the company’s upcoming Xeon Scalable Sapphire Rapids processor. The new pay-as-you-go program will allow Intel to reduce the number of SKUs it ships while still capitalizing on the technologies it has to offer. Furthermore, its clients will be able to upgrade their machines without replacing actual hardware or offering additional services to their clients.

Intel’s upcoming Intel’s 4th Generation Xeon Scalable Sapphire Rapids processors are equipped with various special-purpose accelerators and security technologies that all customers do not need at all times. To offer such end-users additional flexibility regarding investments, Intel will deliver them to buy its CPUs with those capabilities disabled but turn them on if they are needed at some point. The Software Defined Silicon (SDSi) technology will also allow Intel to sell fewer CPU models and then enable its clients or partners to activate certain features if needed (to use them on-prem or offer them as a service).

On the one hand, in a perfect world where people and companies are fair, this seems like a great idea – it allows you to buy one processor (or, in the datacentre case, one batch of processors) and then unlock additional features and capabilities as your needs change. Sadly, the world is not perfect and people and companies are not fair, so this is going be ripe for abuse.

We all know it.

Redox OS 0.8.0 released

We have a lot to show since the 0.7.0 release! This release, care has been taken to ensure real hardware is working, i686 support has been added, features like audio and preliminary multi-display support have been enabled, and the boot and install infrastructure has been simplified and made more robust. I highly recommend skimming through the changes listed below before jumping into the images, if you want more details. It is also recommended to read through the Redox OS book if you want more information on how to build and use Redox OS.

Redox OS is written in Rust, and created and maintained by System76 Principal Engineer Jeremy Soller. There’s a ton of changes in this release – far too many to list here – and while native installation is possible, there’s always going to be struggles with hardware support for any alternative operating system.

Atlas: third party Windows ISO for gaming

Atlas is a Windows version designed for gamers. Atlas users can enjoy higher framerate, lowered input delay & latency. Great for people on a low-end system, or high-end gaming machine.

I had no idea people still did this – create custom versions of Windows ISOs and try to pawn them off as something special. The legality of this is more than dubious, of course, and you can probably achieve the same results with some of the countless scripts that are out there that also remove services, telemetry and pointless applications.

The Windows Subsystem for Linux in the Microsoft Store is now generally available on Windows 10 and 11

Today the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in the Microsoft Store is dropping its “Preview” label and becomes generally available with our latest release! We are also making the Store version of WSL the default for new users who run wsl --install and easily upgradeable by running wsl --update for existing users. Using the Store version of WSL allows you to get updates to WSL much faster compared to when it was a Windows component.

In response to the WSL community’s requests, WSL in the Store will now also be available on Windows 10 in addition to Windows 11. So, Windows 10 users will also be able to enjoy all of the latest features for WSL including systemd and Linux GUI app support!

I obviously have no hard data on this, but I feel like WSL is actually quite popular among developers, as it gives Windows users easy access to a very popular tool chain and development platform. I don’t know just how transferable knowledge and experience gained through WSL is to “real” Linux, but it seems close enough.

Improving Firefox on Windows stability with this one weird trick

The first computer I owned shipped with 128 KiB of RAM and to this day I’m still jarred by the idea that applications can run out of memory given that even 15-year-old machines often shipped with 4 GiB of memory. And yet it’s one of the most common causes of instability experienced by users and in the case of Firefox the biggest source of crashes on Windows.

A detailed technical explanation of why Windows’s memory management – and only Windows’s – is causing so many crashes for Firefox, as well as a solution they found to address the problem.

Asahi Linux November 2022 progress report

Time for another overdue progress report! This month’s update is packed with new hardware support, new features, and fixes for longstanding pain points, as well as a new bleeding-edge kernel branch with long-awaited support for suspend and the display controller!

Asahi Linux is the project bringing Linux to Apple’s M1 and M2 platform, and they continue to make great strides. I’m still skeptical about how wise it is to buy expensive hardware you have zero control over to run an operating system not explicitly endorsed, but y’all are smart enough to make those calls on your own.

DOS/4GW and Protected Mode

We’ll start our conversation by saying that DOS/4GW is a DOS extender. That means DOS/4GW is a program responsible for adding some useful stuff on top of the vanilla DOS kernel you have installed on your system. And look, I know this does not really answer anything yet, but we’ll get there.

Let’s begin our journey trying to understand why DOS needs extending in the first place.

I definitely remember seeing DOS/4GW a lot when playing MS-DOS games back in the ’90s, but I had entirely forgotten about it. This article is from 2021, and explains what it is, and why it was needed.

Investigating why Steam started picking a random font

Out of the blue my Steam started picking a random font I had in my user fonts dir: Virgil, the Excalidraw font.

That triggered me all sorts of emotions, ranging from laugh to total incredulity. I initially thought the root cause was a random derping from Valve but the Internet seemed quiet about it, so the unreasonable idea that it might have been my fault surfaced.

Who doesn’t love a good technology mystery story?

The HP-UX Porting and Archive Centre

The HP-UX Porting and Archive Centre was established in August 1992 in the Department of Computer Science at Liverpool University in the United Kingdom, but has been run by Liverpool-based Connect Internet Solutions Limited since 1995. Its primary aim is to make public domain, freeware and Open Source software more readily available to users of Hewlett-Packard UNIX systems.

The archive began with an initial collection of 150 packages, all of which had been successfully compiled and tested locally by staff at the Liverpool centre before being installed and made available on the archive. The centre continues to act as a porting body as well as an archive site – all software held in the archive has been verified to run successfully on HP-UX PA-RISC (and now Itanium) systems. As of October 2012, the Centre held over 1,500 packages!

For reasons that will become apparent somewhere in the coming weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring and using HP-UX, and the HP-UX Porting and Archive Centre is one of those things that the four enthusiasts running HP-UX might find useful. It’s a vast collection of open source and freeware software built for HP-UX, installable either manually or using a specific script to resolve dependencies. This is one heck of a labour of love, considering HP-UX’, shall we say, unpopular status.

Sadly, the Archive has a major limitation, one that I ran into: since 2017, only the very latest version of HP-UX – 11.31, also known as 11i v3 – is supported, meaning packages for the version I’m running, 11.11 or 11i v1, have long ago been deleted. On top of that, since 2020, all PA-RISC packages are marked as deprecated, meaning they’re no longer updated and will, at some point, be deleted too, leaving only Itanium 2 packages up for download.

Using HP-UX as an enthusiast is one hell of a challenge, I can tell you that.

Ads in Windows 11 might make sense to Microsoft, but it’s really bad for consumers

Earlier in the week, some Windows 11 Dev Channel users spotted Start menu ads/promos encouraging them to back up their data to OneDrive, sign up for a Microsoft account, and complete their profile. This obviously opened the door to lots of conversations over on social media platforms such as Twitter as well as the comments section on our own coverage as the majority of readers proceeded to bash Microsoft for pushing what they believe to be advertisements in their OS.

To be fair, this backlash isn’t surprising. Microsoft has previously been caught red-handed testing advertisements for Microsoft Editor in the File Explorer. At that time, the company quickly removed them, claiming that they were not meant to be published externally. Even then, I expressed concern that while the banner ads were published accidentally this time, the real problem here is that Microsoft is definitely playing around with this idea and there’s no knowing when the tech giant decides that it’s the right time to green light this initiative for the public.

It’s not going to matter. People who (think they) need Windows will keep using Windows, keep taking the user-hostile nonsense, because they don’t know any better. Windows users are a goldmine waiting to be split open and rushed, and Microsoft knows it.

“Project Volterra” review: Microsoft’s $600 Arm PC that almost doesn’t suck

It’s undeniably good for the Arm Windows app ecosystem to have a viable, decently specced PC that is usable as an everyday computer. The Dev Kit 2023 is priced to move, so there may be some developers who buy one just for the hell of it, which might have some positive trickle-down effects for the rest of the ecosystem.

Because eventually, the Windows-on-Arm project will need to develop some tangible benefit for the people who choose to use it. What you’re getting with an Arm Windows device right now is essentially the worst of both x86 and Arm—compatibility problems without lower power use and heat to offset them and so-so performance to boot. Apple has cracked all three of these things; Windows and Qualcomm are struggling to do any of them.

I’m just not entirely sure who Windows on ARM is supposed to be for. I want it to succeed – the more choice the better, and x86 needs an ass-kicking – but I don’t think the current crop of Windows on ARM devices are even remotely worth it. Either Qualcomm finally gets its act together and comes up with an SoC to rival Apple’s M series, or Microsoft takes matters into its own hands.

Either way, they’re going to need to do something about the performance of x86 code on Windows on ARM.

In praise of Plan 9

Plan 9 is an operating system designed by Bell Labs. It’s the OS they wrote after Unix, with the benefit of hindsight. It is the most interesting operating system that you’ve never heard of, and, in my opinion, the best operating system design to date. Even if you haven’t heard of Plan 9, the designers of whatever OS you do use have heard of it, and have incorporated some of its ideas into your OS.

Plan 9 is a research operating system, and exists to answer questions about ideas in OS design. As such, the Plan 9 experience is in essence an exploration of the interesting ideas it puts forth. Most of the ideas are small. Many of them found a foothold in the broader ecosystem — UTF-8, goroutines, /proc, containers, union filesystems, these all have their roots in Plan 9 — but many of its ideas, even the good ones, remain unexplored outside of Plan 9. As a consequence, Plan 9 exists at the center of a fervor of research achievements which forms a unique and profoundly interesting operating system.

I’ve never used Plan 9, but whenever I read about I feel like it makes sense, like that’s how things are supposed to be. I’m sure its approaches present their own unique challenges, problems, and idiosyncrasies, but the idealised reality in articles like these make me want to jump in.

ZealOS: a modernised fork of TempleOS

The Zeal Operating System is a modernized, professional fork of the 64-bit Temple Operating System. Guiding principles of development include transparency, full user control, and adherence to public-domain/open-source implementations.

ZealOS strives to be simple, documented, and require as little of a knowledge gap as possible. One person should be able to comprehend the entire system in at least a semi-detailed way within a few days of study. Simplify, don’t complicate; make accessible, don’t obfuscate.

Yes, somebody picked up Terry Davis‘ baton and ran with it. This makes me happy – it seemed wrong for TempleOS to remain but an inanimate memorial.

The unusual bootstrap drivers inside the 8086 microprocessor chip

The 8086 microprocessor is one of the most important chips ever created; it started the x86 architecture that still dominates desktop and server computing today. I’ve been reverse-engineering its circuitry by studying its silicon die. One of the most unusual circuits I found is a “bootstrap driver”, a way to boost internal signals to improve performance.

This circuit consists of just three NMOS transistors, amplifying an input signal to produce an output signal, but it doesn’t resemble typical NMOS logic circuits and puzzled me for a long time. Eventually, I stumbled across an explanation: the “bootstrap driver” uses the transistor’s capacitance to boost its voltage. It produces control pulses with higher current and higher voltage than otherwise possible, increasing performance. In this blog post, I’ll attempt to explain how the tricky bootstrap driver circuit works.

I don’t fully understand all the details, but I do grasp the main point here. This is quite an ingenious design.

AMD EPYC Genoa gaps Intel Xeon in stunning fashion

The AMD EPYC 9004 series, codenamed “Genoa” is nothing short of a game-changer. We use that often in the industry, but this is not a 15-25% generational improvement. The new AMD EPYC Genoa changes the very foundation of what it means to be a server. This is a 50-60% (or more) per-socket improvement, meaning we get a 3:2 or 2:1 consolidation just from a generation ago. If you are coming from 3-5 year-old Xeon Scalable (1st and 2nd Gen) servers to EPYC, the consolidation potential is even more immense, more like 4:1. This new series is about much more than just additional cores or a few new features. AMD EPYC Genoa is a game-changer, and we are going to go in-depth as to why in this article.

These are absolutely monster processors, and widen the already existing gap between AMD and Intel in the server space even more.