Developing Wayland color management and HDR

Wayland (the protocol and architecture) is still lacking proper consideration for color management. Wayland also lacks support for high dynamic range (HDR) imagery which has been around in movie and broadcasting industry for a while now (e.g. Netflix HDR UI). While there are well established tools and workflows for how to do color management on X11, even X11 has not gained support for HDR. There were plans for it (Alex Goins, DeepColor Visuals), but as far as I know nothing really materialized from them. Right now, the only way to watch HDR content on a HDR monitor in Linux is to use the DRM KMS API directly, in other words, not use any window system, which means not using any desktop environment. Kodi is one of the very few applications that can do this at all. This is a story about starting the efforts to fix the situation on Wayland. This is a great article to read – and an important topic, too. Colour management and HDR should be a core aspect of Wayland, and these people are making it happen.

Microsoft unveils Pluton security processor

Today, Microsoft alongside our biggest silicon partners are announcing a new vision for Windows security to help ensure our customers are protected today and in the future. In collaboration with leading silicon partners AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., we are announcing the Microsoft Pluton security processor. This chip-to-cloud security technology, pioneered in Xbox and Azure Sphere, will bring even more security advancements to future Windows PCs and signals the beginning of a journey with ecosystem and OEM partners. Pluton immediately rings a ton of alarm bells, since initiatives like this tend to not be a good thing for alternative platforms. There’s good news, though, too – Pluton will take care of firmware updates for your motherboard, which I welcome with open arms, since the current state of firmware updates where you have to use garbage OEM applications is dreadful.

WinUI 3 Preview 3 is out with ARM64 support

Today, Microsoft is releasing the third preview of WinUI 3, and among the new features is native support for ARM64 PCs. If you’re not familiar with WinUI, you might remember it from Microsoft’s Build conference this year when the company announced Project Reunion. This is part of the firm’s plan to bring Win32 and UWP together, and do so without requiring a feature update to Windows 10. WinUI is the most important building block for an upcoming update to Windows 10 where things like Explorer and other Win32 applications will get a ‘modern’ makeover.

Servo project has a new home

The Servo Project is excited to announce that it has found a new home with the Linux Foundation. Servo was incubated inside Mozilla, and served as the proof that important web components such as CSS and rendering could be implemented in Rust, with all its safety, concurrency and speed. Now it’s time for Servo to leave the nest! Code for this independent web engine is out on Github.

Apple halves its App Store fee for the smaller companies

Apple, facing growing antitrust scrutiny over what it charges other companies for access to its App Store, said on Wednesday that it would cut in half the fee it took from the smallest app developers. Developers that brought in $1 million or less from their apps in the previous year will pay a 15 percent commission on those app sales starting next year, down from 30 percent, the company said. Good news, but it raises a whole bunch of questions – for instance, are developers going to remove their application from the store as they approach the 1 million dollar mark, since otherwise they’d have to make 1.25 million dollar the next year as to not lose out? Apple developer Twitter is confused as all heck about this. Then there’s this: The change will affect roughly 98 percent of the companies that pay Apple a commission, according to estimates from Sensor Tower, an app analytics firm. But those developers accounted for less than 5 percent of App Store revenues last year, Sensor Tower said. Apple said the new rate would affect the “vast majority” of its developers, but declined to offer specific numbers. In other words, this is a minor change for Apple, and will most likely do little to stave off antitrust concerns.

Apple M1 benchmarks roll in

AnandTech, after benchmarking the M1 in the new Mac Mini: The M1 undisputedly outperforms the core performance of everything Intel has to offer, and battles it with AMD’s new Zen3, winning some, losing some. And in the mobile space in particular, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in either ST or MT performance – at least within the same power budgets. Ars Technica on the M1 in the new Mac Mini: Despite the inherent limitations of trying to benchmark a brand-new architecture on a minority-share platform, it’s obvious that the M1 SoC is exactly what Apple told us it would be—a world-leading design that marries high performance to high efficiency. When its power consumption and thermal profiles are effectively unlimited as in the Mac mini tested here—or, presumably, the actively cooled 13-inch MacBook Pro—the M1 puts the smack down on very high-performance mobile CPUs, and in many workloads, even very high-performance desktop CPUs. Apple wasn’t lying. Every review and benchmark is clear: this is insanely good hardware. The M1 is bonkers. And obviously, I was so wrong I don’t even know where to start.

Pine64, KDE launch PinePhone with KDE Plasma Mobile

The PinePhone – KDE Community edition includes most of the essential features a smartphone user would expect and its functionalities increase day by day. You can follow the progress of the development of apps and features in the Plasma Mobile blog. Plasma Mobile is a direct descendant from KDE’s successful Plasma desktop. The same underlying technologies drive both environments and apps like KDE Connect that lets you connect phones and desktops, the Okular document reader, the VVave music player, and others, are available on both desktop and mobile. Thanks to projects like Kirigami and Maui, developers can write apps that, not only run in multiple environments but that also gracefully adapt by growing into landscape format when displayed on workstation screen and shrinking to portrait mode on phones. Developers are rapidly populating Plasma Mobile with essential programs, such as web browsers, clocks, calendars, weather apps and games, all of which are being deployed on all platforms, regardless of the layout. This seems like a really interesting combination, and I really want to see if I can get my hands on a review unit.

[Updated with response from Apple] Macs are a privacy nightmare

Update: Overnight, Apple PR sent out an e-mail about this issue to multiple websites and blogs, including me, for some reason. The company has updated its knowledge base article about “safely opening apps” on the Mac with new information, including a number of promises to fix this issue in the near future: Original story: Almost nine years ago, I wrote an article titled “Richard Stallman was right all along“, still one of the most popular, if not the most popular, articles ever posted on OSNews. That’s the very core of the Free Software Foundation’s and Stallman’s beliefs: that proprietary software takes control away from the user, which can lead to disastrous consequences, especially now that we rely on computers for virtually everything we do. The fact that Stallman foresaw this almost three decades ago is remarkable, and vindicates his activism. It justifies 30 years of Free Software Foundation. And, in 2012, we’re probably going to need Free and open source software more than ever before. At the Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin late last year, Cory Doctorow held a presentation titled “The Coming War on General Purpose Computation“. In it, Doctorow warns that the general purpose computer, and more specifically, user control over general purpose computers, is perceived as a threat to the establishment. The copyright wars? Nothing but a prelude to the real war. Yesterday, every Mac user got a taste of what happens when you don’t actually own the computers you pay a lot of money for. Because Apple wants to control everything you do with the computer you rent from them, and because Apple wants to know everything you do while using the computer you rent from them, a random server somewhere going down meant Mac users couldn’t open their applications anymore. Why? Because applications on macOS will only open if Apple allows them to be opened, and that means macOS phones home every time you do anything on Apple’s Mac that you rented. This has some serious privacy implications, as Jeffrey Paul notes: This means that Apple knows when you’re at home. When you’re at work. What apps you open there, and how often. They know when you open Premiere over at a friend’s house on their Wi-Fi, and they know when you open Tor Browser in a hotel on a trip to another city. It gets worse. The data that’s being sent as part of this phone home procedure is sent unencrypted, passes through third parties like Akamai, and since Apple is part of the US intelligence program PRISM, the US government has unfettered access to without the need for warrants. I’ve been warning about the consequences of handing over control of our software and computers to corporations and governments for well over a decade now here on OSNews, and every year, we seem to slide a little farther down the slippery slope, and every time, people wave it away. Yet yesterday, Mac users all over the world were confronted with the reality of being an Apple user today. Macs are not yours. They are controlled, owned, and operated by Apple, and are an absolute privacy and security nightmare. Exactly as the Free and open source software movement has been warning about for 40 years now.

macOS 11.0 Big Sur: The Ars Technica review

And, as is tradition, a new macOS release means a new Ars Technica macOS review. The one to read, as it is with every release, and as it will be forever. So say we all. In a lot of ways, Big Sur is the kind of incrementalist macOS update that we’ve come to expect in the last few years. It’s a collection of tweaks and minor feature upgrades and under-the-hood enhancements that bumps the platform forward but doesn’t radically change it. It simply builds on the foundation laid by the last few releases of the operating system, something I talked about last year. Big Sur makes the Mac look and sound a lot different than it did before! But it’s still close enough to what you’re used to that you’ll use it for a few weeks or months and then it will just be what macOS looks like. I’m obviously much more interested in Big Sur on the new ARM Macs, but for that, we’ll have to wait until next week.

macOS Big Sur launch appears to cause temporary slowdown in even non-Big Sur Macs

Mac users today began experiencing unexpected issues that included apps taking minutes to launch, stuttering and non-responsiveness throughout macOS, and other problems. The issues seemed to begin close to the time when Apple began rolling out the new version of macOS, Big Sur—but it affected users of other versions of macOS, like Catalina and Mojave. Other Apple services faced slowdowns, outages, and odd behavior, too, including Apple Pay, Messages, and even Apple TV devices. It didn’t take long for some Mac users to note that trustd—a macOS process responsible for checking with Apple’s servers to confirm that an app is notarized—was attempting to contact a host named oscp.apple.com but failing repeatedly. This resulted in systemwide slowdowns as apps attempted to launch, among other things. What a brave new world – some server goes down, and you can’t use your applications anymore.

macOS Big Sur released

macOS Big Sur, the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, is now available to Mac users as a free software update. Big Sur introduces a beautiful redesign and is packed with new enhancements for key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, as well as new privacy features. And Big Sur has been engineered, down to its core, to take full advantage of all the power of the M1 chip to make the macOS experience even better for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. The combination of Big Sur and M1 truly takes the Mac to a whole new level with incredible capabilities, efficiency, and more apps than ever before, while maintaining everything users love about macOS. I’m not entirely sure if I like the new interface with all the big UI elements and excessive whitespace, but other than that, this seems like a solid release. You know where to get it.

.NET 5.0 released

We’re excited to release .NET 5.0 today and for you to start using it. It’s a major release — including C# 9 and F# 5 — with a broad set of new features and compelling improvements. It’s already in active use by teams at Microsoft and other companies, in production and for performance testing. Those teams are showing us great results that demonstrate performance gains and/or opportunities to reduce hosting costs for their web applications. ASP.NET Core, EF Core, C# 9, and F# 5 are also released today. You can download .NET 5.0 for Windows, macOS, and Linux on both x86 and ARM.

Apple unveils first ARM-based Macs

Today, Apple announced its first three ARM-based Macs – a the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro 13″, and the Mac Mini. They are all equipped by the Apple M1 system-on-a-chip, which was, of course, the main focus of the unveiling. Apple made a lot of bold claims about their first ARM-based Mac chip, but sadly, refused to show any real-world use cases, benchmarks, or any other verifiable data, making it very hard to assess the company’s lofty claims about performance and battery life. That being said, AnandTech has done some deep diving into the A14, found in the latest iPhones and iPad Air, and it would seem they boast excellent performance figures. What we do know is that all of these machines – including the MacBook Pro which definitely has Pro in its name – cap out at a mere 16GB of RAM, which seems paltry, especially since that 16GB is shared with Apple’s integrated GPU. This RAM is on-die, and since there’s no SIM slot on any of the new machines, it cannot be expanded. On top of that, the base models of al of these machines only ship with 8GB of RAM, which should be a crime. Just like on the latest iPhones, the two laptop models also do not ship with high-refresh rate displays, so you’re stuck with a paltry 60Hz display – it’s not even available as an option. Much like the 8GB of RAM, shipping such expensive machines with mere 60Hz displays is inexcusable. The MacBook Air is fanless, but the MacBook Pro and Mac Mini are not. This most likely allows the latter two models to sustain their peak performance for longer than the MacBook Air can, which makes sense considering their price points and marketing. The new machines will ship a week from today.

The EU may be looking into breaking end-to-end encrypted chats

The EU is often at the forefront of consumer protection when it comes to privacy laws like the GDPR. But now it looks like the Council of the European Union might undermine all of this with a move to cancel secure end-to-end encryption as we know it, the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) reports. The ORF obtained an internal draft in which the Council argues that the motion is meant as a counteract against terrorism, pointing to last week’s Vienna shooting. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the terror attack could’ve been prevented without further surveillance powers if it wasn’t for egregious mistakes in the Austrian counterterrorism office. It seems like the attack is used as a pretense to gain public support. Throwing babies out with the bathwater under nebulous claims of “but terrorism!” isn’t just an American thing. For now, this is just a proposal by one cog in the EU government machine and it’s unlikely to go anywhere (for now!), but wheels are definitely in motion, and just like our friends in the US, we have to remain vigilant for politicians abusing terrorist attacks to erode our rights and freedoms.

AMD Zen 3 Ryzen deep dive review: 5950X, 5900X, 5800X and 5600X tested

When AMD announced that its new Zen 3 core was a ground-up redesign and offered complete performance leadership, we had to ask them to confirm if that’s exactly what they said. Despite being less than 10% the size of Intel, and very close to folding as a company in 2015, the bets that AMD made in that timeframe with its next generation Zen microarchitecture and Ryzen designs are now coming to fruition. Zen 3 and the new Ryzen 5000 processors, for the desktop market, are the realization of those goals: not only performance per watt and performance per dollar leaders, but absolute performance leadership in every segment. We’ve gone into the new microarchitecture and tested the new processors. AMD is the new king, and we have the data to show it. AMD didn’t lie – these new processors are insanely good, and insanely good value, to boot. If you’re building a new PC today – AMD is the only logical choice. What a time to be alive.

The untimely demise of workstations

Last month’s news that IBM would do a Hewlett-Packard and divide into two—an IT consultancy and a buzzword compliance unit—marks the end of “business as usual” for yet another of the great workstation companies. There really isn’t much left when it comes to proper workstations. All the major players left the market, have been shut down, or have been bought out (and shut down) – Sun, IBM, SGI, and countless others. Of course, some of them may still make workstations in the sense of powerful Xeon machines, but workstations in the sense of top-to-bottom custom architecture, like SGI’s crossbar switch technology and all the custom architectures us mere mortals couldn’t afford, are no longer being made in large numbers. And it shows. Go on eBay to try and get your hand on a used and old SGI or Sun workstation, and be prepared to pay out of your nose for highly outdated and effectively useless hardware. The number of these machines still on the used market is dwindling, and with no new machines entering the used market, it’s going to become ever harder for us enthusiasts to get our hands on these sorts of exciting machines.

Windows 10 just made it impossible to access retired Control Panel pages

In the latest preview builds, Microsoft has removed all shortcuts that allowed you to access the retired pages of the Control Panel. In other words, you can no longer right-click within the File Explorer and select ‘Properties’ to open the retired ‘System’ page of the Control Panel. Likewise, Microsoft has even blocked CLSID-based IDs and third-party apps. Open Shell and Classic Shell, are also no longer able to launch the hidden System applet of the Control Panel. Now, when a user tries to open the retired Control Panel page, they are brought to the About page instead. This is a good thing. The weird, split-personality nature of Windows is odd, uneccesary, and needlessly complicated, and it’s high time Microsoft fully commits to something for once when it comes to Windows. Whether or not the ‘modern’ path is the one most OSNews readers want Microsoft to take is a different matter altogether.

Trinity Desktop Environment R14.0.9 released

This release comes with new styles providing better look and feel (Baghira, Domino, Ia Ora), new widgets (KoolDock and TastyMenu), new utilities (KXMLEditor, Mathemagics, Qalculate) and new applications (Codeine, TDEDocker, TDEPacman). It also adds support for Xine 1.2.10, improves compatibility with PulseAudio, fixes various bugs, adds support for brightness control from keyboard and integrates CVE-2020-17507 to prevent buffer overflow in XBM parsers. I both want and do not want to run the Trinity Desktop Environment. It harkens back to simpler times, but I’m not entirely sure that’s what people actually want.