Wayland on NetBSD – trials and tribulations

Related to yesterday’s post about NetBSD switching to ctwm: After I posted about the new default window manager in NetBSD I got a few questions, including “when is NetBSD switching from X11 to Wayland?”, Wayland being X11’s “new” rival. In this blog post, hopefully I can explain why we aren’t yet! The short answer? Wayland is too Linux-specific to be easily ported or adapted to NetBSD, so don’t expect it any time soon.

Default window manager switched to CTWM in NetBSD-current

For more than 20 years, NetBSD has shipped X11 with the “classic” default window manager of twm. However, it’s been showing its age for a long time now. In 2015, ctwm was imported, but after that no progress was made. ctwm is a fork of twm with some extra features – the primary advantages are that it’s still incredibly lightweight, but highly configurable, and has support for virtual desktops, as well as a NetBSD-compatible license and ongoing development. Thanks to its configuration options, we can provide a default experience that’s much more usable to people experienced with other operating systems. The ctwm website has more information for those interested.

Max thread room

For a lot of organizations that buy servers and create systems out of them, the overall throughput of each single machine is the most important performance metric they care about. But for a lot of IBM i shops and indeed even System z mainframe shops, the performance of a single core is the most important metric because most IBM i customers do not have very many cores at all. Some have only one, others have two, three, or four, and most do not have more than that although there are some very large Power Systems running IBM i. But that is on the order of thousands of customers against a base of 120,000 unique customers. We are, therefore, particularly interested in how the performance of the future Power10 processors will stack up against the prior generations of Power processors at the single core level. It is hard to figure this out with any precision, but in its presentation in August at the Hot Chips conference, Big Blue gave us some clues that help us make a pretty good estimate of where the Power10 socket performance will be and we can work backwards from there to get a sense of where the Power10 cores could end up in terms of the Commercial Performance Workload (CPW) benchmark ratings that IBM uses to gauge the relative performance of IBM i systems. ARM, RISC-V, POWERx – there’s definitely renewed interest in non-x86 architectures, and that makes me very, very happy.

Firefox Nightly flips on new JIT “Warp” code for greater JavaScript performance

Warp aims to improve the Firefox JavaScript performance by reducing the amount of internal type information that is tracked along with other optimizations. Warp can lead to greater responsiveness and faster page load speed. Numbers cited by Warm developers are normally in the 5~15% range. As of yesterday, Firefox Nightly now enables Warp by default. The enabling in Firefox Nightly is seeing 20% faster load times for Win64 Google Docs, 13% faster for the Android Reddit SpeedIndex, 18% faster for PDFPaint, and other measurable improvements elsewhere. That’s a big improvement, and sadly, due to the state of the modern web, a very, very welcome one.

Microsoft’s Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 source code leaked online

The source code for Windows XP SP1 and other versions of the operating system was allegedly leaked online today. The leaker claims to have spent the last two months compiling a collection of leaked Microsoft source code. This 43GB collection was then released today as a torrent on the 4chan forum. This is a massive leak of old code, and other than Windows XP, it also includes Windows Server 2003 and various versions of MS-DOS and Windows CE. One of the funnier tidbits we’ve already learned from the leak is that Microsoft was working on a Mac OS X Aqua theme for Windows XP, probably just to see if they could. I doubt much of this code will be useful to any serious projects, since no serious developer working on things like ReactOS or Wine will want to be found anywhere near this code. That being said, individuals, tinkerers, and those crazy people still making community-updated builds of Windows XP will have a field day with this stuff.

Swift System is now open source

In June, Apple introduced Swift System, a new library for Apple platforms that provides idiomatic interfaces to system calls and low-level currency types. Today, I’m excited to announce that we’re open-sourcing System and adding Linux support! Our vision is for System to eventually act as the single home for low-level system interfaces for all supported Swift platforms. Never a bad thing to see potentially useful code enter the open source world.

Edge for Linux coming in October

If you were brave and bored enough to read through this long, long list of enterprise babble from Microsoft, you’d eventually come to the interesting bit: Our mission to bring Microsoft Edge to the platforms our customers use daily takes its next step: starting in October, Microsoft Edge on Linux will be available to download on the Dev preview channel. When it’s available, Linux users can go to the Microsoft Edge Insiders site to download the preview channel, or they can download it from the native Linux package manager. And just like other platforms, we always appreciate feedback—it’s the best way to serve our customers. Microsoft announced that Edge would come to Linux earlier this year, but now they’ve set a date for the availability of developer builds. I wonder if it will come with the old and by now well-tested VA-API patches to enable hardware accelerated video decoding, something Google is refusing to enable for Chrome for Linux.

The Fairphone 3+ is a repairable dream that takes beautiful photos

A few weeks ago, I found myself in need of a repair for a borked camera lens on my iPhone 11. I do everything in my power to essentially encase my Apple products in bubble wrap, but a nearly imperceptible fracture in one lens had greatly impacted the functionality of my phone’s camera. I hadn’t anticipated that repairing it was going to be a whole thing, but finding a way to get it repaired quickly in my area turned out to be futile. And repairing it myself? Pfft, forget it. This inability to quickly remedy such a small issue stuck with me as I was demoing the Fairphone 3+, a £425.00 (roughly $550) modular phone currently only available overseas. I desperately wish it or something like it were available in the United States because it makes it so easy to repair that just about anyone can fix their own phone—a rarity in this gadget repair dystopia we’re living in. This should be more normal than it is.

Facebook says it will stop operating in Europe if regulators don’t back down

Facebook has threatened to pack up its toys and go home if European regulators don’t back down and let the social network get its own way. In a court filing in Dublin, Facebook said that a decision by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) would force the company to pull up stakes and leave the 410 million people who use Facebook and photo-sharing service Instagram in the lurch. The decision Facebook’s referring to is a preliminary order handed down last month to stop the transfer of data about European customers to servers in the U.S., over concerns about U.S. government surveillance of the data. …is this supposed to be a threat? Because it sounds more like a gift to me. Please, Zuck, go home! I think we here in Europe will do just fine without your criminal enterprise.

Sculpt OS 20.08 released

The new version of Sculpt OS is based on the latest Genode release 20.08. In particular, it incorporates the redesigned GUI stack to the benefit of quicker boot times, improved interactive responsiveness, and better pixel output quality. It also removes the last traces of the noux runtime. Fortunately, these massive under-the-hood changes do not disrupt the user-visible surface of Sculpt. Most users will feel right at home. It’s really time I set up a specific category for Genode-related items. It’s been appearing here on OSNews for years and years now.

ARM is now backing Panfrost Gallium3D as open-source Mali graphics driver

Most information presented during the annual X.Org Developers’ Conference doesn’t tend to be very surprising or ushering in breaking news, but during today’s XDC2020 it was subtly dropped that Arm Holdings appears to now be backing the open-source Panfrost Gallium3D driver. Panfrost has been developed over the past several years as what began as a reverse-engineered effort by Alyssa Rosenzweig to support Arm Mali Bifrost and Midgard hardware. This driver had a slow start but Rosenzweig has been employed by Collabora for a while now and they’ve been making steady progress on supporting newer Mali hardware and advancing the supported OpenGL / GLES capabilities of the driver. This is a major departure from previous policy for ARM, since the company always shied away from open source efforts around its Mali GPUs.

US will ban WeChat and TikTok downloads on Sunday

The Commerce Department plans to restrict access to TikTok and WeChat on Sunday as the Trump administration’s executive orders against the two apps are set to take effect. The Department said Friday that as of Sunday, any moves to distribute or maintain WeChat or TikTok on an app store will be prohibited. Apple and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. While users who have already downloaded the apps may be able to continue using the software, the restrictions mean updated versions of the apps cannot be downloaded. This will hit American companies doing business in China hard, since virtually all consumer purchases there take place via WeChat.

Rust on Haiku: the case of the disappearing deceased threads

For a long time I have been maintaining the build of the Rust compiler and development tools on Haiku. For this purpose, I maintain a separate tree with the Rust source, with some patches and specific build instructions. My ultimate end goal is to have Rust build on Haiku from the original source, without any specific patches or workarounds. Instead we are in the situation where we cannot build rust on Haiku itself (instead we need to cross-compile it), and we need a customization to be able to run the Rust compiler (rustc) and package manager (cargo) on Haiku. This summer my goal would be to find out the underlying issue, and fix it so that the patch will no longer be necessary in the future. Let’s go! There seems to be quite a bit of excitement around the Rust programming language, so it makes sense for Haiku to jump on the bandwagon as well.

Intel’s Tiger Lake 11th Gen Core i7-1185G7 review and deep dive: baskin’ for the exotic

The big notebook launch for Intel this year is Tiger Lake, its upcoming 10nm platform designed to pair a new graphics architecture with a nice high frequency for the performance that customers in this space require. Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered the microarchitecture as presented by Intel at its latest Intel Architecture Day 2020, as well as the formal launch of the new platform in early September. The missing piece of the puzzle was actually testing it, to see if it can match the very progressive platform currently offered by AMD’s Ryzen Mobile. Today is that review, with one of Intel’s reference design laptops. AnandTech’s deep dive into Intel’s new platform, which is the first chip to use Intel’s much-improved graphics processor.

iOS 14, iPadOS 14 released

Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple’s software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The link contains all the information you’d ever want – including the most prominent new features. As always, Apple manages to release their latest operating system update for quite a few older devices as well – the iPhone 6s is 5 years old, so this adds another year to its useful life span for people who don’t always need, want, or can afford the latest and greatest.

IBM open sources its A2O POWER processor core through the OpenPOWER Foundation

The A2O core is an out-of-order, multi-threaded, 64-bit POWER ISA core that was developed as a processor for customization and embedded use in system-on-chip (SoC) devices. It’s most suitable for single thread performance optimization. A follow-up to its parent high-streaming throughput A2I predecessor, it maintains the same modular design approach and fabric structure. The Auxiliary Execution Unit (AXU) is tightly-coupled to the core, enabling many possibilities for special-purpose designs for new markets tackling the challenges of modern workloads. Intel’s current troubles and the rise in popularity of alternatives is creating a very rare and ever so small opportunity for smaller ISAs to gain some traction. I’ll take what I can get in our current stratified technology market.

Red Hat has been working on new NVFS file system

Yet another new file-system being worked on for the Linux/open-source world is NVFS and has been spearheaded by a Red Hat engineer. NVFS aims to be a speedy file-system for persistent memory like Intel Optane DCPMM. NVFS is geared for use on DAX-based (direct access) devices and maps the entire device into a linear address space that bypasses the Linux kernel’s block layer and buffer cache. I understood some of those words.

“I have blood on my hands”: a whistleblower says Facebook ignored global political manipulation

Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee and obtained by BuzzFeed News. The 6,600-word memo, written by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, is filled with concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion. In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them. Facebook needs to be investigated, broken up, and its executives prosecuted. I don’t care who does it – the United States, the European Union – but it’s clear this company is one of the very worst excesses of the tech industry’s arrogance and dominance, and it needs to be held accountable.

Nvidia nears deal to buy chip designer Arm for more than $40 billion, sources say

Update: it’s official now – NVIDIA is buying ARM. Original story: Nvidia Corp is close to a deal to buy British chip designer Arm Holdings from SoftBank Group Corp for more than $40 billion in a deal which would create a giant in the chip industry, according to two people familiar with the matter. A cash and stock deal for Arm could be announced as early as next week, the sources said. That will create one hell of a giant chip company, but at the same time – what alternatives are there? ARM on its own probably won’t make it, SoftBank has no clue what to do with ARM, and any of the other major players – Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft – would be even worse, since they all have platforms to lock you into, and ARM would be a great asset in that struggle. At least NVIDIA just wants to sell as many chips to as many people as possible, and isn’t that interested in locking you into a platform. That being said – who knows? Often, the downsides to deals like this don’t come out until years later. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Huawei’s Harmony OS is coming to smartphones, with code release promised for October 2021

Huawei has been in a tight spot in the past couple of years, and their situation keeps getting tighter. But the Chinese giant has no intention of going anywhere, at least not without putting up a good fight. Last year, at HDC 2019, Huawei had announced its own first-party operating system, Harmony OS, showing off an important piece of its vision for the future. Harmony OS was shown off first on the Honor Vision Smart TV, and Huawei remained committed to Android at the time for its smartphone needs. The company reiterated those plans again in December 2019. But recent developments have forced the company to rethink its strategy. At HDC 2020, Huawei has now announced that Harmony OS will come to smartphones after all, with an expected beta SDK by the end of 2020, and a phone release around October 2021. We will probably not see much of this operating system here in the west, but I’m still intrigued. It’s entirely custom – not based on Linux – and they’ve been working on it for quite a while now. I have no interest in it from a general use perspective since I doubt it will be very useful here in the west, but am incredibly curious to see what they’re cooking up.