Enlightenment 0.24.2 released

Even without the Samsung OSG support these days, the Enlightenment project continues making nice progress. Enlightenment DR 0.24.2 was released today and with it comes several fixes, much faster thumbnail loading for pager, fixed the preloading of icons, various BSD fixes, and a variety of other fixes. Enlightenment keeps on trucking.

Google reportedly peeks into Android data to gain edge over third-party apps

Google for several years has collected app-usage data collected from Android phones to develop and advance its own competing apps, a new report alleges. The project, called Android Lockbox, “collects sensitive Android user data” for use within Google and has been in effect since at least 2013, The Information reports. Abuse such as this by platform vendors will continue to take place, and it will continue to get worse and more brazen, because governments and judicial systems simply aren’t designed to deal with the massive international nebulous webs of dozens of individual legal entities that make up a single company. They wield immense power, can spend infinite amounts of money to change any law they don’t like, and aren’t subservient to the people – i.e., the government – like they should be. Either governments start drastically cutting these massive corporations up – divide and conquer – or the entire western world is at risk of becoming corporate dystopias.

GNOME OS is taking shape but its to serve for testing the desktop

GNOME OS has traditionally been a virtual machine image for testing, but with the work done by Codethink and other GNOME developers it’s becoming possible to run GNOME OS on bare metal hardware. Additionally, thanks to the likes of Flatpak and OSTree, it’s becoming more like a working Linux distribution in terms of package availability. GNOME OS is part of the project’s continual testing investment and can be booted on real systems with UEFI via systemd-boot, systemd is leveraged throughout, Flatpak is available for a broad application base, Wayland and XWayland are utilized, the latest Mesa drivers are present, and OSTree provides atomic updates. GNOME OS seems similar to KDE Neon, and I think it’s a great idea. It allows GNOME developers and users to easily test the latest and great versions of their software, without being dependent on distributions.

How and why I (attempt to) use Links as main browser

Many browsers today are gigantic resource hogs, which are basically VMs for various web applications. On the other hand, Links is a HTML browser. It is not able to do everything. It allows me to avoid most distractions and control the content-experience. The goal of this exercise is not to force anyone to use this browser, but just to be watchful and conscious of their hypertext based internet usage (one might use gopher, and this phlog is available there, but probability tells me that a person reading this reads this from hypertext source and I am sure they are lovely). This takes some dedication, and while I wouldn’t take it quite this far, the author does make a good point.

Intel will delay move to 7nm for another year

Intel announced today in its Q2 2020 earnings release that it has now delayed the rollout of its 7nm CPUs by six months relative to its previously-planned release date, undoubtedly resulting in wide-ranging delays to the company’s roadmaps. Intel’s press release also says that yields for its 7nm process are now twelve months behind the company’s internal targets, meaning the company isn’t currently on track to produce its 7nm process in an economically viable way. The company now says its 7nm CPUs will not debut on the market until late 2022 or early 2023. Intel is in big trouble.

Nvidia reportedly interested in acquiring ARM

Last week it came to light that SoftBank may be trying to sell chipset design firm ARM, and according to a new report from Bloomberg, Nvidia could be interested. Citing the usual “people with knowledge,” Nvidia has apparently approached ARM to court a deal with the Cambridge company. Out of the various options we have, Nvidia might actually not be the worst option. Abusive companies like Apple and Google are clearly the worst possible option, and Intel and AMD already have enough sway over the market as it is. NVIDIA, while not exactly a cute puppy kitten of a company, isn’t so big and domineering that acquiring ARM would be a complete disaster for competition.

Slack files competition complaint against Microsoft in the EU

Slack says it has filed an anti-competitive complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission. “The complaint details Microsoft’s illegal and anti-competitive practice of abusing its market dominance to extinguish competition in breach of European Union competition law,” says Slack in a statement. Slack alleges that Microsoft has “illegally tied” its Microsoft Teams product to Office and is “force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.” “Microsoft is reverting to past behavior,” claims David Schellhase, general counsel at Slack. “They created a weak, copycat product and tied it to their dominant Office product, force installing it and blocking its removal, a carbon copy of their illegal behavior during the ‘browser wars.’ Slack is asking the European Commission to take swift action to ensure Microsoft cannot continue to illegally leverage its power from one market to another by bundling or tying products.” It’s what platform vendors do. Google, Apple, Microsoft – they all do this, and it only serves to hurt consumers and competition.

KDE, Slimbook anounce third KDE Slimbook

KDE and Slimbook, a Spanish Linux laptop manufacturer, have announced the third iteration of the KDE Slimbook. The KDE Slimbook runs KDE Neon, and sports the latest and greatest AMD technology. Inside the svelte body, you will find the AMD Ryzen 7 4800 H processor — another first, as currently no other manufacturer offers Linux laptops with Ryzen 4000 series CPUs, with 8 cores and 16 threads, up to 64 GBs of DDR4 RAM that runs at 3200 MHz, and three USB ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI socket, a RJ45 for wired network connections, as well as support for the new Wifi 6 standard. The KDE Slimbook comes in two sizes: the 14-inch screen version weighs only 1.1 kg, and the 15.6-inch version weighs 1.5 kg. The screens themselves are Full HD IPS LED panels and cover 100% the sRGB range, making colors more accurate and life-like, something that designers and photographers will appreciate. This is looking like a great offering, and the KDE team has put me in contact with Slimbook to see if I can receive a review unit. This would be a great alternative to the System76 Lemur Pro, which we reviewed a few weeks ago.

Windows on Raspberry imager

WoR is a tool that can install Windows 10 ARM64 on your SD card for use in a Raspberry Pi. Exactly what it says on the tin. This isn’t Windows 10 IoT, since that’s 32bit – this is Windows 10 on 64 bit ARM. Don’t expect any crazy performance on the Raspberry Pi, but a neat tool it is nonetheless.

Fixing Mass Effect black blobs on modern AMD CPUs

Mass Effect is a popular franchise of sci-fi roleplaying games. The first game was initially released by BioWare in late 2007 on Xbox 360 exclusively as a part of a publishing deal with Microsoft. A few months later in mid-2008, the game received PC port developed by Demiurge Studios. It was a decent port with no obvious flaws, that is until 2011 when AMD released their new Bulldozer-based CPUs. When playing the game on PCs with modern AMD processors, two areas in the game (Noveria and Ilos) show severe graphical artifacts. What makes this issue particularly interesting? Vendor-specific bugs are nothing new, and games have had them for decades. However, to my best knowledge, this is the only case where a graphical issue is caused by a processor and not by a graphics card. In the majority of cases, issues happen with a specific vendor of GPU and they don’t care about the CPU, while in this case, it’s the exact opposite. This makes the issue very unique and worth looking into. An extremely detailed look into the analysis and fix for this very specific bug – and a download with the fix, of course.

EU rejects US data sharing agreement over privacy concerns

The highest court in Europe has struck down the EU-US Privacy Shield over concerns that the agreement leaves the data of European customers too exposed to US government surveillance. The agreement, which has been in place since 2016, allows companies operating in the EU to transfer data back to the US and over 5,000 companies currently operate under its terms. Good news, of course, but while the focus is often on the US and China, we shouldn’t forget that European countries are also quite, quite adept at mass surveillance.

I’m back into the grind of FreeBSD’s wireless stack and 802.11ac

Yes, it’s been a while since I posted here and yes, it’s been a while since I was actively working on FreeBSD’s wireless stack. Life’s been… Well, life. I started the ath10k port in 2015. I wasn’t expecting it to take 5 years, but here we are. My life has changed quite a lot since 2015 and a lot of the things I was doing in 2015 just stopped being fun for a while. But the stars have aligned and it’s fun again, so here I am. It’s always good when a good hacker gets back to what they do best after life has thrown them a curve ball.

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Apple, and others hacked in unprecedented Twitter attack

The Twitter accounts of major companies and individuals have been compromised in one of the most widespread and confounding hacks the platform has ever seen, all in service of promoting a bitcoin scam that appears to be earning its creator quite a bit of money. I’m so incredibly surprised people smart enough to use bitcoin aren’t smart enough to not to fall for an obvious scam like this.

Apple has €13bn Irish tax bill overturned

Apple has been told it will not have to pay Ireland €13bn (£11.6bn) in back taxes after winning an appeal at the European Union’s second-highest court. It overturns a 2016 ruling which found the tech giant had been given illegal tax breaks by Dublin. The EU’s General Court said it had annulled that decision because there was not enough evidence to show Apple broke EU competition rules. The European Commission will more than likely appeal the decision, bringing the case to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s supreme court. This case will drag on for a few more years.

ReactOS hires developer to work on storage stack

During his contract with ReactOS Deutschland e.V., Victor will primarily work on the storage stack, a long neglected piece of ReactOS. He plans to finally turn scsiport into a Plug & Play aware driver and fix kernel Plug & Play bugs in the process, thereby improving USB storage support and compatibility to Windows storage drivers. If time permits, stretch goals include continuing his previous work on integrating Google’s Kernel Address Sanitizers into ReactOS and fixing booting with our APIC-enabled HAL. It’s always good to see such a small and alternative operating system project hire a developer, even if only for a short time.

In search of 2.11BSD, as released

Almost all of the BSD releases have been well preserved. If you want to find 1BSD, or 2BSD or 4.3-TAHOE BSD you can find them online with little fuss. However, if you search for 2.11BSD, you’ll find it easily enough, but it won’t be the original. You’ll find either the latest patched version (2.11BSD pl 469), or one of the earlier popular version (pl 430 is popular). You can even find the RetroBSD project which used 2.11BSD as a starting point to create systems for tiny mips-based PIC controllers. You’ll find every single patch that’s been issued for the system. What you will not find, however, is the original 2.11BSD release tapes. You won’t find the original sources. With some digging, you can find is 2.11BSD pl 195. This was released about 30 months after the original was released, and is the oldest one that’s known to exist. And so starts the search for the original code.

New EU regulation protects App Store and Play Store developers from Apple and Google

The EU has enacted new regulations to protect developers operating in the App Store and Play Store from Apple and Google (let’s be real here – that’s who this is aimed at). Platforms will have to provide 30 days notice to publishers before removing content from stores, allowing them time to appeal or make changes to their software. So no immediate and opaque bans (article 4). The regulations (in article 5) will force stores to be more transparent in how their ranking systems work, letting publishers understand how ‘trending’ apps are being chosen for instance. Article 7 follows similar themes, with storefronts having to disclose any ‘differentiated treatment’ it may give one seller of goods over another, which should put paid to any real (or imagined) preferential treatment for larger publishers – or at least make it clear to everyone how and when the playing field isn’t even. The rules also demand access to third party mediation in case of disputes. This seems like a set of reasonable rules that should’ve been in place ages ago.

SoftBank could sell or spin off Arm way sooner than it planned

SoftBank is reportedly assessing spin-off options for its semiconductor firm, Arm Holdings. The Wall Street Journal reports from its sources that those options include having an initial public offering or a sale. The Japanese tech conglomerate picked up Arm back in 2016 for $32 billion and currently shares some ownership with investors in the SoftBank Vision Fund. The moves are being considered as SoftBank fends off challenges from activist investment house Elliott Management over major losses for its Vision Fund, including WeWork’s attempted IPO. SoftBank is supposedly targeting $41 billion in immediate fundraising through share buybacks and divestitures. Depending on Arm’s current prospectus, a sale could be more likely to happen than an IPO. I’m linking to the AndroidPolice item since the original article is stuck behind a paywall. Whoever intends to acquire ARM better have a very good story to tell antitrust regulators, because I doubt Intel, Apple, Google, or any of the other major technology companies will be allowed to acquire it. I wonder who else could be a potential buyer – maybe another investment fund?

Linus Tech Tips takes a look at TempleOS

Terry Davis may not be as well-known as Linus Torvalds, but his open source operating system may be a legacy that will live on forever. What is it, and how do you use it? I honestly never expected something like TempleOS and Terry Davis to make its way onto a popular YouTube channel like Linus Tech Tips (and OSNews even makes a small cameo). Linus and Anthony do a good job of providing an overview of TempleOS and its creator. Davis used to frequent OSNews, even during the harsher spells of his illness, and it wasn’t easy to deal with someone like him, even in a small community like OSNews. He didn’t just post religious ramblings, but also deeply racist ramblings. It’s sad that, like so many others, he wasn’t able to get the medical help he clearly needed.