Elon Musk buys Twitter

Twitter, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk, for $54.20 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion. Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company. Elon Musk is now the founder and inventor of Twitter.

Ubuntu 22.04 LTS released

Ubuntu 22.04 LTS comes with the latest GNOME 42 desktop environment with the triple buffering patch included, yet it still uses apps from the GNOME 41 stack due to compatibility issues between GTK4 apps included in the upstream release and Ubuntu’s Yaru theme. Apps that weren’t ported to GTK4 are from the GNOME 42 stack, such as the Nautilus (Files) file manager. This is also the first LTS release with Wayland as its default (except for machines with NVIDIA GPUs, which will stick with X.org), which is a major milestone. On top of that, it comes with the latest releases of all the various packages that make up a Linux system, and will serve as the base for countless popular Ubuntu-based distributions. Of course, the countless other Ubuntu flavours also made the jump to 22.04.

OpenBSD 7.1 released

OpenBSD 7.1 has been released. The biggest improvement in this point release is support for Apple Silicon, which is now ready for general use. Of course, there’s a lot more in this new release, so head on over to the changelog to get all the details.

QEMU 7.1 released

QEMU 7.0 is out today as the newest version of this important piece of the open-source Linux virtualization stack. Since QEMU 6.2 at the end of last year, developers at Red Hat and other organizations have been busy working on QEMU 7.0 as this open-source emulator widely used as part of the free software Linux virtualization stack. QEMU 7.0 brings support for Intel AMX, a lot of ongoing RISC-V work, and more. QEMU is one of the great success stories of open source – and one operating system and classic computing enthusiasts benefit from every day.

Apple discontinues macOS Server

As of April 21, 2022, Apple has discontinued macOS Server. Existing macOS Server customers can continue to download and use the app with macOS Monterey. The most popular server features—Caching Server, File Sharing Server, and Time Machine Server are bundled with every installation of macOS High Sierra and later, so that even more customers have access to these essential services at no extra cost. I doubt many people are running macOS Server installations at this point, so I don’t think this will impact a great number of people.

Getting the basics of Windows 11 right should be a higher priority for Microsoft

Back when I reviewed Windows 11 for Neowin in 2021, I awarded it a score of 6.5/10, while saying that “simplification of UI isn’t a terrible idea but having it there in a half-baked manner doesn’t really make for an enticing user experience”. Although that was my opinion based on the launch version of the OS, unfortunately, it still hasn’t changed more than six months later. Microsoft seems intent on adding new features as we have seen in recent Insider releases, while ignoring all the UI inconsistencies and lack of basic functionalities in the existing release. The goal with Windows 11 was to make the UI more consistent, but as I predicted, it just seems Microsoft added yet another graphical layer atop the vast list of layers going back all the way to Windows 3.x in some places. Coming from the lovely visual and behavioural consistency of a Gtk+ desktop, seeing Windows 11 makes my brain hurt.

Leaked Game Boy emulators for Switch were made by Nintendo, experts suggest

Ars Technica reports: In most cases, the release of yet another classic console emulator for the Switch wouldn’t be all that noteworthy. But experts tell Ars that a pair of Game Boy and Game Boy Advance emulators for the Switch that leaked online Monday show signs of being official products of Nintendo’s European Research & Development division (NERD). That has some industry watchers hopeful that Nintendo may be planning official support for some emulated classic portable games through the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service in the future. It would be so much easier for everyone involved if companies like Nintendo embraced the classic gaming emulation scene instead of fighting it. Imagine if you could easily buy ROMs for classic NES, SNES, Game Boy, and so on, games, without having to resort to shady ROM sites.

Android 13 deep dive: every change up to DP2, thoroughly documented

Building on the foundation laid by Android 12, described by many as the biggest Android OS update since 2014, this year’s upcoming Android 13 release refines the feature set and tweaks the user interface in subtle ways. However, it also includes many significant behavioral and platform changes under the hood, as well as several new platform APIs that developers should be aware of. For large screen devices in particular, Android 13 also builds upon the enhancements and features introduced in Android 12L, the feature drop for large screen devices. Android 13 is set for release later this year, but ahead of its public release, Google has shared preview builds so developers can test their applications. The preview builds provide an early look at Android 13 and introduces many — but not all — of the new features, API updates, user interface tweaks, platform changes, and behavioral changes to the Android platform. In this article, we’ll document all of the changes that we find so you can prepare your application or device for Android 13. This is a long and detailed article, and both users and developers alike should be able to find some interesting information in here. You might want to set aside a decent amount of time for this one.

LXQt 1.1.0 released

LXQt 1.1.0 has been released. As its version number makes clear, this isn’t a major release, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the changelog – there’s a lot in here. The biggest improvement is better integration of Gtk+ applications into the desktop environment, so that, among other things, applications like Chromium and Firefox can call LXQt’s own file picker. There’s a lot more, so be sure to read the release notes.

Calculating Pi digits on the first Intel microprocessor (Intel 4004)

One day I thought about the performance gap between the first Intel processor and modern machines. Of course, we can try to do some estimations empirically – we know clock rate and how the pipeline is organized and what features intel 4004 CPU has (but it would not be standard FLOPS, because there was no embedded support for float numbers yet). But there are few details: architecture bit width (only 4 bits in comparison with modern 64 bits!), very limited instruction set (it’s missing even basic logical operators like AND or XOR) and peripheral limitations (ROM/RAM accesses). So I decided to research the subject in practice. After some thinking, I chose π number calculation as a benchmark. After all, even ENIAC did that (in 1949) and achieved a new record for the amount of calculated digits. Silly, perhaps, but still quite illustrative.

Announcing the first Oracle Solaris 11.4 CBE

This you don’t see every day – Oracle doing something fun and interesting. I’m very happy to announce that today we are releasing a new version of Oracle Solaris 11.4 for free/open source developers and non-production personal use. Today marks the first delivery of our “Common Build Environment” (CBE) releases for the Oracle Solaris 11.4.To enable us to make new features and fixes available quicker and to more systems Oracle Solaris now uses a continuous delivery model of SRU/micro releases rather than much larger minor releases every few years. Now, this isn’t a return to releasing Solaris as an open source product – something Oracle cancelled after acquiring Sun – but at least it provides enthusiasts with the ability to install an up-to-date version of Solaris. It’s all very typical Oracle though – you need an account, and as mentioned, this is only free for non-commercial use, and not open source. The reason for this move is probably to drum up some interest to get developers to port newer versions of popular open source tools to Solaris. Regardless, it might be a fun weekend for some of us.

Google Chrome/Chromium experimenting with a Qt back-end

Public code reviews started this week on Qt platform support for Google’s Chromium open-source browser code. It looks like Google is at least evaluating the prospects of Qt toolkit support for the Chromium/Chrome UI. Chrome might get a Qt-based UI option before it even gets video decoding acceleration on Linux that doesn’t require custom builds or hacks. Possibly good news for KDE users.

Haiku acitivity report for March 2022

The latest Haiku activity report is here – covering the month of March – and it’s a real grab bag of tons of changes, but I’m not seeing any big ticket items. This means there should be something for everybody in here, from improved support for various Intel integrated grahpics chips, to more work on the ARM port, to glibc fixes, to… Well, you get the point.

Reversing Sound Blaster X7 Control for fun and Linux support

The Sound Blaster X7 is a DAC (Digital Analog Converter) and amplifier. It allows several inputs to be mixed together toward a single output. Its configuration is maintained directly on the device and can be controlled by either a mobile device over Bluetooth or from a Windows machine over USB. When using my work laptop, I can’t change the X7 volume or output. This is an issue when you need to jump into a quick call as you can’t switch over to headset easily. Since control over Bluetooth works well from the Android application, it is possible to control all the features I need over Bluetooth. There is only one issue: the only thing I’ve ever reversed is a USB msi keyboard to implement support on Linux. I don’t know much about how Bluetooth works, nor about Android and from what I could gather, I can’t live capture the Bluetooth traffic (on my device) like I did for USB. It is nothing that can’t be fixed by a bit of reading and some work, so let’s do this. It’s amazing to me that a lot of more obscure and less popular hardware has Linux support only because some random person in Nowhere, Nebraska, had a need for it.

u+237c ⍼ right angle with downwards zigzag arrow

Known as right angle with downwards zigzag arrow, angle with down zig-zag arrow, \rangledownzigzagarrow, and ⍼, no one knows what ⍼ is meant to represent or where it originated from. Section 22.7 Technical Symbols from the Unicode Standard on the Miscellaneous Technical block doesn’t say anything about it. Who doesn’t love a good what-the-hell-is-this-glyph story?

EndeavourOS delivers new tiling window manager

EndeavourOS is an Arch-based Linux distribution, and in and of itself not something I’d write about here. However, at the very end of the release notes for its latest release, there’s this: This release is also shipping with a brand-new Window Manager developed by our community editions team member Codic12 and we are more than proud to present you this WM that was developed a little bit under our wing. Codic12 decided to develop this WM to satisfy his need for a lightweight window manager that worked well with both floating and tiling modes and had window decorations with minimise, maximise and close buttons in any layout desired and that could run on a semi-embedded system like the PIZero. Worm is written in Nim and is based on X11, a Wayland version isn’t in the pipeline in the near future, according to him. There’s been a surge of interest in tiling window managers lately, with tons of articles and howtos about things like i3 and Awesome, and System76, too, made tiling a prime feature in Pop!_OS. Heck, even Windows is in on the game. Tiling isn’t for me – I’ll manage and resize my window manually, like an animal, thank you very much – but there’s no denying there seems to be a huge demand for tiling features.

Raspberry Pi OS no longer defaults to user “pi”

Up until now, all installs of Raspberry Pi OS have had a default user called “pi”. This isn’t that much of a weakness – just knowing a valid user name doesn’t really help much if someone wants to hack into your system; they would also need to know your password, and you’d need to have enabled some form of remote access in the first place. But nonetheless, it could potentially make a brute-force attack slightly easier, and in response to this, some countries are now introducing legislation to forbid any Internet-connected device from having default login credentials. So with this latest release, the default “pi” user is being removed, and instead you will create a user the first time you boot a newly-flashed Raspberry Pi OS image. This is in line with the way most operating systems work nowadays, and, while it may cause a few issues where software (and documentation) assumes the existence of the “pi” user, it feels like a sensible change to make at this point. This is a pretty substantial change that might break some applications that assume the default “pi” user exists.

Why not Pentium III?

Word is out there that an individual is trying to develop Pentium III emulation as part of a fork of 86Box, regardless of how slow it is, in the name of “hardware preservation”. But why didn’t we do it in the first place? Why did we, developers of a PC emulator clearly aimed at the preservation of hardware and software, limit ourselves to the Pentium II and an underperforming competitor (the VIA Cyrix III), and why did we do these two knowing they’re already pretty slow to emulate? It’s story time. When I started reading this article I had no idea there was going to be some classic open source/forking drama at the end, but even with that, it’s a good article and definitely worth a read.

Abandoned applications delisted from the Play Store

Starting on November 1, 2022, existing apps that don’t target an API level within two years of the latest major Android release version will not be available for discovery or installation for new users with devices running Android OS versions higher than apps’ target API level. As new Android OS versions launch in the future, the requirement window will adjust accordingly. This is a very welcome move, since finding incredibly old and abandoned applications is not an uncommon occurrence in the Play Store. Clean-ups like this almost make up for Google removing the “last updated on” field in Play Store listings. Almost.