Fedora, UUIDs, and user tracking

“User tracking” is generally contentious in free-software communities—even if the “tracking” is not really intended to do so. It is often distributions that have the most interest in counting their users, but Linux users tend to be more privacy conscious than users of more mainstream desktop operating systems. The Fedora project recently discussed how to count its users and ways to preserve their privacy while doing so.

As always, an exceptionally good article from LWN.

DuckDuckGo switches to Apple Maps for search results

We’re excited to announce that map and address-related searches on DuckDuckGo for mobile and desktop are now powered by Apple’s MapKit JS framework, giving you a valuable combination of mapping and privacy. As one of the first global companies using Apple MapKit JS, we can now offer users improved address searches, additional visual features, enhanced satellite imagery, and continually updated maps already in use on billions of Apple devices worldwide.

With this updated integration, Apple Maps are now available both embedded within our private search results for relevant queries, as well as available from the “Maps” tab on any search result page.

I’m sure Apple users in San Francisco will be very happy with this news.

For me, this means there’s no way I’ll be using DuckDuckGo’s location search and other mapping functions – Apple Maps is entirely unusable in The Netherlands, with severely outdated and faulty maps that are outright dangerous. I understand the privacy angle, but I feel like are better, more accurate options than Apple Maps. The world is larger than Silicon Valley.

Intel Core i9-9990XE: up to 5.0 GHz, auction only

AnandTech has seen documents and supporting information from multiple sources that show that Intel is planning to release a new high-end desktop processor, the Core i9-9990XE. These documents show that the processors will not be sold at retail; rather they will only be sold to system integrators, and then only through a closed online auction. 

This new processor will be the highest numbered processor in Intel’s high-end desktop line. The current top processor is the i9-9980XE, an 18 core part with a base frequency of 3.5 GHz and a turbo frequency of 4.0 GHz. The i9-9990XE, on the other hand, is not simply the 9980XE with an increase in frequency.

The Core i9-9990XE will be a 14 core processor, but with a base frequency of 4.0 GHz and a turbo frequency of 5.0 GHz. This makes it a super-binned 9940X.

This probably means this is very much a low-yield chip Intel can’t make enough of to sell at retail.

The first Windows 10 build for foldable devices appears

According to BuildFeed, which regularly posts about new builds of Windows 10, the first build of a new SKU for foldable devices has been compiled. It comes with the build string rs_shell_devices_foldables.190111-1800, and it’s from the 19H1 development branch. The build number is 18313.1004.

The obvious conclusion to draw is that this is for Microsoft’s rumored Andromeda device. While the project was shelved back in July, it was originally for a foldable PC that could fit in your pocket. It’s likely now that it will be a larger device that’s slated for later on this year.

Foldable devices are definitely coming this year, but I feel like it might take a while for both users and device and software makers to figure out where, exactly, the fit into our lives.

Vintage gaming on Xenix

This post is about vintage gaming in vintage unusual operating systems, focused on Xenix/x86. Tried Hampa’s turnkey xenix86 images while they had been tested in fake86, 8086tiny and other emulators. The installation was surprisingly easy, because most software packages in floppy/tape images are basically in .tar format, so let’s check GAMES 360k floppy image’s content on host.

I can’t get enough of articles like these.

“Don’t kill my app!”

With Android 6 (Marshmallow), Google has introduced Doze mode to the base Android, in an attempt to unify battery saving across the various Android phones.

Unfortunately, vendors (e.g. Xiaomi, Huawei, OnePlus or even Samsung..) did not seem to catch that ball and they all have their own battery savers, usually very poorly written, saving battery only superficially with side effects.

Naturally users blame developers for their apps failing to deliver. But the truth is developers do the maximum they can. Always investigating new device specific hacks to keep their (your!) apps working. But in many cases they simply fall short as vendors have full control over processes on your phone.

This is a legitimate problem on my OnePlus 6T. I enjoy using this phone, but the aggressive non-standard application cycle management definitely leads to issues with not receiving notifications or login procedures being restarted as you leave an application. It doesn’t happen often enough to truly bother me, but I can definitely see how people who make more extensive use of their phone than I do run into this issue every day.

Getting an IBM AS/400 midrange computer on the internet

Recently I’ve gotten a hold of an old IBM mid-range computer, an AS/400 150. This is an 1997 server very much aimed at businesses, pay-rolling, inventory management and such. It can be used as a multi user system, with users logging in via a terminal. The operating system it runs is OS/400 and that is also the only OS it can run, no Linux available for this system. Of course it comes with all the fun programming languages like COBOL and RPG, all the business classics.


It’s compatible with the IBM system/36, so any programs made for an 80’s S/36 machine run without problems on the AS/400 machines. It also looks very much 90s, though I personally like the cover at the back, hiding all ports.

Stories like these are always great reads. This is the kind of hardware I eventually want to collect and play around with once I have the space to do so.

Firefox 69 will have Flash disabled by default

According to Mozilla’s plugin roadmap, the firm planned to disable Flash by default in Firefox sometime this year. Now, a new bug filing has revealed that the plugin will be disabled as of Firefox 69 which is due for release on September 3, 2019. Mozilla will disable Flash beginning with the Nightly builds before it works its way down to the Stable channel.

The disabling of Flash comes in anticipation of Adobe ending support for its Flash plugin at the end of 2020. Mozilla has said that it will completely remove Flash support for consumer versions of Firefox in early 2020, while the Extended Support Release (ESR) version will have support until the end of the year. In 2021, Mozilla has said that Firefox will refuse entirely to load the plugin due to a lack of security updates from Adobe.

Aside from the occasional Flash-based online game, is Flash even a thing these days? Do any of you still use it on a regular basis?

LG’s groundbreaking roll-up TV is going on sale this year

LG is going several steps further by making the TV go away completely whenever you’re not watching. It drops slowly and very steadily into the base and, with the push of a button, will rise back up in 10 seconds or so. It all happens rather quietly, too. You can’t see the actual “roll” when the TV is closed in, sadly; a transparent base would’ve been great for us nerds to see what’s happening inside the base as the TV comes in or unfurls, but the white is certainly a little more stylish. Functionally, LG tells me it hasn’t made many changes to the way the LG Display prototype worked aside from enhancing the base. I didn’t get to ask about durability testing — how many times the OLED TV R has been tested to go up and down, for example — but that’s something I’m hoping to get an answer to.

We don’t really talk about TVs all that much on OSNews – it’s generally a boring industry – but this rollable display technology is just plain cool.

Software patents poised to make a comeback under new patent office rules

Ars Technica reports that software patents might be making a comeback.

landmark 2014 ruling by the Supreme Court called into question the validity of many software patents. In the wake of that ruling, countless broad software patents became invalid, dealing a blow to litigation-happy patent trolls nationwide.

But this week the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) proposed new rules that would make it easier to patent software. If those rules take effect, it could take us back to the bad old days when it was easy to get broad software patents—and to sue companies that accidentally infringe them.

What could possibly go wrong?

Making a Game Boy game

Recently I got an internship doing back-end PHP and Python stuff for a website for my university. It’s a really nice job that I find fun and I’m thankful to have. But… at the same time, doing all this high-level web dev stuff has given me a big itch I need to scratch. That itch being the fun of low level bit fiddling.

itch.io’s weekly game jam email came in my inbox and it announced the Mini Jam 4. It was a 48 hour (well, a bit more actually) jam where the restriction was to have graphics like a Game Boy. My perfectly logical and sound reaction to this was to make a Game Boy homebrew, because that seemed neat to do. The themes were “seasons” and “flames”.

I’n not a programmer, but I can imagine old consoles like the Game Boy are great platforms to use to expand your programming skills.

AMD reveals Radeon VII: high-end 7nm Vega video card

Speaking of AMD, the company is on a roll as it also announced a new high-end consumer graphics card, which it says can take on Nvidia’s RTX 2080 graphics card.

As it turns out, the video card wars are going to charge into 2019 quite a bit hotter than any of us were expecting. Moments ago, as part of AMD’s CES 2019 keynote, CEO Dr. Lisa Su announced that AMD will be releasing a new high-end, high-performance Radeon graphics card. Dubbed the Radeon VII (Seven), AMD has their eyes set on countering NVIDIA’s previously untouchable GeForce RTX 2080. And, if the card lives up to AMD’s expectations, then come February 7th it may just as well do that.

[…]

At a high level then, the Radeon VII employs a slightly cut down version of AMD’s Vega 20 GPU. With 60 of 64 CUs enabled, it actually has a few less CUs than AMD’s previous flagship, the Radeon RX Vega 64, but it makes up for the loss with much higher clockspeeds and a much more powerful memory and pixel throughput backend. As a result, AMD says that the Radeon VII should beat their former flagship by anywhere between 20% and 42% depending on the game (with an overall average of 29%), which on paper would be just enough to put the card in spitting distance of NVIDIA’s RTX 2080, and making it a viable and competitive 4K gaming card.

AMD has managed to shake up the processor market with their Zen architectures, and it’s high time the same happens to the video card market. Nvidia has basically had this market all to itself for several years now, so hopefully this new Radeon card can shake things up a bit and hold us over until 2020, when Intel will be entering the dedicated graphics card market as well.

AMD Ryzen 3rd gen ‘Matisse’ coming mid 2019

During AMD’s CES keynote, the company unveiled some of the details of its upcoming 3rd generation Ryzen processors, which are built on top of the Zen 2 architecture. We don’t have any independent benchmarks quite yet, of course, but the power figures comparing a Ryzen 3 processor to an Intel 9900K are nothing to sneeze at (note that these figures are coming from AMD, so get out your salt).

Also, in that same test, it showed the system level power. This includes the motherboard, DRAM, SSD, and so on. As the systems were supposedly identical, this makes the comparison CPU only. The Intel system, during Cinebench, ran at 180W. This result is in line with what we’ve seen on our systems, and sounds correct. The AMD system on the other hand was running at 130-132W.

If we take a look at our average system idle power in our own reviews which is around 55W, this would make the Intel CPU around 125W, whereas the AMD CPU would be around 75W.

Even assuming these figures are idealised, that’s still a pretty startling difference.

Windows 10 19H1: all the changes we know so far

Microsoft is now hard at work on the next feature update for Windows 10, codenamed 19H1 and scheduled for release this April. This update is expected to include yet more changes, new features, and further UI refinements and improvements. Development of this release is almost at the halfway mark, meaning it shouldn’t be long now before 19H1 is marked as “feature complete” internally and a focus on fixing bugs before release begins.

This new release is still a few weeks off, but this article is a detailed overview of what’s coming. I personally see a lot of good things in here, but Microsoft’s recent release history when it comes to Windows updates hasn’t exactly been stellar, so the company certainly has something to prove here.

ZFS on FreeBSD based on ZFS On Linux can now be tested with TrueOS

It was recently decided that FreeBSD’s ZFS file-system support would be re-based atop ZFS On Linux. That new “ZFS On BSD” implementation based on ZOL continues moving along and it’s now easier to test thanks to iX Systems and their TrueOS platform.

With the ZFS On Linux code-base being more actively maintained and improved upon than the OpenZFS support within the Illumos kernel, FreeBSD developers are working on merging their “ZOB” changes with ZOL. 

Interesting to see that the Linux implementation sees more active development than the original one – although not entirely surprising.

Bash-5.0 released

This release fixes several outstanding bugs in bash-4.4 and introduces several new features. The most significant bug fixes are an overhaul of hownameref variables resolve and a number of potential out-of-bounds memory errors discovered via fuzzing. There are a number of changes to the expansion of $@ and $* in various contexts where word splitting is not performed to conform to a Posix standard interpretation, and additional changes to resolve corner cases for Posix conformance.


The most notable new features are several new shell variables: BASH_ARGV0, EPOCHSECONDS, and EPOCHREALTIME. The ‘history’ builtin can remove ranges of history entries and understands negative arguments as offsets from the end of the history list. There is an option to allow local variables to inherit the value of a variable with the same name at a preceding scope. There is a new shell option that, when enabled, causes the shell to attempt to expand associative array subscripts only once (this is an issue when they are used in arithmetic expressions). The ‘globasciiranges’ shell option is now enabled by default; it can be set to off by default at configuration time.

AMD announces its new mobile Ryzen processors

This year at CES, we have a series of announcements from AMD before the company’s keynote presentation. Addressing the company’s mobile offerings, AMD is launching the first parts of the Ryzen 3000-series of processors, focused around the Ryzen Mobile 2nd Gen family for both the general 15W market as well as the high-performance 35W market. On top of this, AMD is also making an announcement regarding how it will address graphics drivers for these platforms, and then some icing on the cake comes from AMD’s venture into Chromebooks.

AMD continues its hot streak, and now we even have several new inexpensive Chromebooks running on AMD hardware, a market segment the company wasn’t active in. The future is looking bright for AMD.

Samsung Smart TVs adding support for iTunes video content and AirPlay 2

Samsung today announced that it has worked with Apple to integrate iTunes movies and TV shows, as well as AirPlay 2 support, into its latest smart TVs. The features will roll out to 2018 models via a firmware update this spring and will be included on new 2019 models. iTunes movie and TV show access will come via a new dedicated app for Samsung’s TV platform, available in over 100 countries. 

Apple pretty much had to do this, since it’s unreasonable to expect people to buy relatively expensive Apple TV devices to be able to watch iTunes content on their TVs. Several other platforms tend to be built right into TVs or can be added with cheap dongles like the Chromecast, and Apple couldn’t compete with that.

Apple has announced that iTunes content will also become available on TVs from other brands.

Nvidia adds FreeSync support to its GPUs, but not for all monitors

FreeSync support is coming to Nvidia; at its CES event today, Nvidia announced the GSync-Compatible program, wherein it says it will test monitors that support the VESA DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync protocol to ascertain whether they deliver a “baseline experience” comparable to a GSync monitor.

Coincidentally, AMD’s FreeSync utilizes the same VESA-developed implementation, meaning that several FreeSync-certified monitors will now be compatible with Nvidia’s 10- and 20-series GPUs.


This is great news, since GSync support requires additional hardware and this increases prices; you’ll find that the GSync version of a display is always significantly more expensive than the FreeSync version.