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.

Haiku repository files and identifiers

Software on a computing platform such as Haiku is typically distributed as a package. Without a packaging system it would be hard for users to install software and because software often depends on other software, the chain of dependencies would be difficult for a user to resolve themselves. To orchestrate the distribution and management of the packages, Haiku has a packaging system which consists of applications, online tools, on-host tools and software libraries. One aspect of the packaging system is the coordination and identification of repositories. An overview of the inner workings of package management on Haiku.

Microsoft and Google team up to make PWAs better in the Play Store

We’re glad to announce a new collaboration between Microsoft and Google for the benefit of the web developer community. Microsoft’s PWABuilder and Google’s Bubblewrap are now working together to help developers publish PWAs in the Google Play Store. PWABuilder.com is Microsoft’s open source developer tool that helps you build high quality PWAs and publish them in app stores. Bubblewrap is Google’s command line utility and library to generate and sign Google Play Store packages from Progressive Web Apps. I hope this further improves PWAs, since they are a godsend for smaller operating systems and even bigger ones that are not macOS or Windows. Sure, nothing beats a proper native application, but if the choice is no application or a reasonably integrated PWA – I’ll take the PWA.

Resurrecting BeIA

Did you ever wonder what BeIA really was? A lot of people talked about BeIA back in the days Be, Inc. was still developing its OS for internet appliances, but after Be, Inc. closed its doors, BeIA vanished as well. A thread over on the Haiku discussion forums – which began as a talking point for how Haiku could recreate a BeIA style concept – turned in to a treasure trove of BeIA information, including examples of BeIA running and an overview of some of the process of building BeIA distributions. This video shows it all in action, including BeIA running under emulation. There’s also a wonderful video shot in Be, Inc’s offices where a Hungarian UG member gets a tour and shown BeIA hardware, with terrible framerate and resolution, but well worth checking out.

Canonical and Google enable Linux desktop app support with Flutter through snap

It has long been our vision for Flutter to power platforms. We’ve seen this manifest already at Google with products like the Assistant so now we’re thrilled to see others harnessing Flutter to power more platforms. Today we are happy to jointly announce the availability of the Linux alpha for Flutter alongside Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, the world’s most popular desktop Linux distribution. I welcome any additional investment in Linux or other operating systems that aren’t the macOS or Windows, but this one has a major downside: it’s all tied to Canonical’s snaps and Snap Store. In case you are unaware – snaps are quite controversial in the Linux world, and Linux Mint, one of the most popular Linux distributions, has taken a very proactive approach in removing them. Their reasoning makes it very clear why snap is so problematic: Applications in this store cannot be patched, or pinned. You can’t audit them, hold them, modify them or even point snap to a different store. You’ve as much empowerment with this as if you were using proprietary software, i.e. none. This is in effect similar to a commercial proprietary solution, but with two major differences: It runs as root, and it installs itself without asking you. On top of all this, the snap server is closed source. Snap is simply a no-go, and I’m saddened Google decided to opt for using it. Then again, Google has never shown any interest whatsoever in desktop Linux – preferring to simply take, but not give. None of their applications – other than Chrome – are available on Linux, and opting for snap further demonstrates Google doesn’t really seem to understand the Linux ecosystem at all. All they had to do was release a source tarball, and for a few extra brownie points, maybe a .deb and/or .rpm, but that isn’t even necessary. If your tool is good enough, it will be picked up by distributions and third parties who will make those packages for you. Google opting for snap instead indicates they have little faith in their own product being good and valuable enough to be embraced by the Linux distribution community. And if they don’t have any faith, why should I?

Microsoft and Zoom join Hong Kong data ‘pause’

Microsoft and Zoom have said they will not process data requests made by the Hong Kong authorities while they take stock of a new security law. They follow Facebook, Google, Twitter and the chat app Telegram, which had already announced similar “pauses” in compliance over the past two days. China passed the law on 30 June, criminalising acts that support independence, making it easier to punish protesters. This feels more like a “let’s get some good press in the west while we resume normal operation in aiding the genocidal Chinese regime when people stop caring” than a real principled stand, but with how everybody just rolls over for China, I’ll take any element of resistance – no matter how weak sauce – I can get. It doesn’t get much weaker than “pausing”, though. Apple says it is “assessing” the rules. Oh turns out I was wrong. It does get weaker.

The super duper universal binary

A question I got repeatedly the last couple days was, now that AARM (Apple ARM) is a thing, is the ultimate ARM-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binary possible? You bet it is! In fact, Apple already documents that you could have a five-way binary, i.e., ARM64, 32-bit PowerPC, 64-bit PowerPC, i386 and x86_64. Just build them separately and lipo them together. You’ll be able to eventually build a binary that contains code for every Mac hardware and software platform starting from Classic all the way up to macOS Big Sur, and from m68k all the way up to ARM. I doubt anyone will use it, but that doesn’t make it any less cool.

Nokia to add open interfaces to its telecom equipment

Finland’s Nokia on Tuesday became the first major telecom equipment maker to commit to adding open interfaces in its products that will allow mobile operators to build networks that are not tied to a vendor. The new technology, dubbed Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN), aims to reduce reliance on any one vendor by making every part of a telecom network interoperable and allowing operators to choose different suppliers for different components. I’m definitely not versed enough in low-level networking equipment to understand just how significant it is, but on the face of it, it does sound like a good move.

The Document Foundation clarifies “Personal Edition” label for LibreOffice 7.0

Due to draft and development work in the area of branding and product naming, some speculation, in particular related to the “Personal Edition” tag shown in a LibreOffice 7.0 RC (Release Candidate), has started on several communication channels. So let us, as The Document Foundation’s Board of Directors, please provide further clarifications: 1. None of the changes being evaluated will affect the license, the availability, the permitted uses and/or the functionality. LibreOffice will always be free software and nothing is changing for end users, developers and Community members. Basically, The Document Foundation intends to offer – through partners – professional paid-for support for LibreOffice to enterprise customers, and hence the tentative name to differentiate the LibreOffice we all know from the supported one.

Booting a 486 from floppy with the most up-to-date stable Linux kernel

Since I wanted to see how Linux would detect the drive that meant I needed to find a way to boot Linux. After a bit of googling I discovered the make tinyconfig option which makes a very small (but useless) kernel, small enough to fit on a floppy. I enabled a couple of other options, found a small enough initramfs, and was able to get it to boot on the 486. And as expected Linux has no problem with seeing that the drive is connected and the drive’s full capacity. Next step is to actually get Linux installed to the hard drive. I’d rather not roll my own distro but maybe I’ll have to. Another possibility is to boot Linux from floppy and then download a kernel and initrd from a current distro and kexec over to it. But that feels to me like reinventing iPXE. That’s version 5.8 of the Linux kernel running on a 486. I shouldn’t be surprised that this is possible, yet I’m still surprised this is possible.