Redesigned Notepad for Windows 11 begins rolling out to Windows Insiders

We are very excited to introduce to all of you the redesigned Notepad for Windows 11, which includes a number of changes we think the community will enjoy! First, you will notice a completely updated UI that aligns with the new visual design of Windows 11, including rounded corners, Mica, and more. We know how important Notepad is to so many of your daily workflows, so we designed this modern spin on the classic app to feel fresh, but familiar. I mean, it’s just a notepad application, but finally seeing a modern Notepad from Microsoft is quite something for a company that’s been so lazy with its first-party applications for such a long time. I wonder if word wrap is still turned off by default?

OpenIndiana Hipster 2021.10 released

Another 6 months have passed and we are proud to announce the release of our 2021.10 snapshot. The images are available at the usual place. As usual we have automatically received all updates that have been integrated into illumos-gate. The new images are interesting for people with newer hardware that hasn’t been supported in the past. There is no necessity to re-install from newer images as OpenIndiana Hipster is a rolling release and will bring all updates with a simple call of “pfexec pkg update -v”. That’s all there’s to it, as there are no further details or release notes at this point, and I’m not well-versed enough in the world of Solaris and OpenIndiana and similar offshoots to provide more details myself.

Diacritical marks in Unicode

I won’t bury the lede, by the end of this article you should be able to write your name in crazy diacritics like this: Ḡ͓̟̟r̬e̱̬͔͑g̰ͮ̃͛ ̇̅T̆a̐̑͢ṫ̀ǔ̓͟m̮̩̠̟. This article is part of the Unicode and i18n series motivated by my work with internationalization in Firefox and the Unicode ICU4X sub-committee. There are three motivations behind linking to this article. First, it’s an deep technical look at how Unicode handles complex diacritics, which in and of itself is interesting. Second, it’s related to language and writing, which sparks my person interest. And third and finally, I want to see if this will break OSNews. Sorry Adam.

FreeBSD 12.3 released

FreeBSD 12.3 has been released. As a true point release, there’s no major new features or massive updates in here – there’s updated network drivers, kernel bug fixes, and so on. The full release notes have all the details.

Microsoft makes it easier to set your default browser in Windows 11

Microsoft has been courting much controversy in Windows 11 by making it difficult to set your default browser to anything but Edge. After much outcry and a seeming change in strategy, Microsoft appears to have come round in the latest Windows 11 Insider Builds, and are now making it relatively easier to set the default browser to your own preference. This was an untenable situation, and I’m glad for Windows users Microsoft has relented. However, as always, this once again goes to show that with platforms like Windows, you are entirely at the mercy of corporate control and manipulation – down to your individual application choices. Not a good place to be.

Hackers are spamming businesses’ receipt printers with ‘antiwork’ manifestos

Someone or multiple people are blasting “antiwork” manifestos to receipt printers at businesses around the world, according to people who claim to have seen the printed manifesto, dozens of posts on Reddit, and a cybersecurity company that is analyzing network traffic to insecure printers. An intersection between technology and social issues – and an inventive and effectively harmless one, too. Especially the United States, but a lot of other countries too, desperately needs a lot more strong unions, and if this plays even a small role in getting there, it’s worth it.

Booting Haiku’s RISC-V images

Thanks in large part to the hard work by X512 and everyone developing on Haiku, our nightly RISCV64 images are now functional. RISC-V marks Haiku’s first functional non-Intel/x86 port! This is still crazy to me. This port has taken relatively little time, yet it marks a major milestone in Haiku’s history.

KDE developer urges KDE to embrace simplicity by default, without removing features

This is what I think we should shoot for in KDE: software that is simple by default so it can work for 1-dot users, but powerful when needed via expansive customization, so that it can appeal all the way to the 4-dot users–which includes many KDE developers. This is currently a strength of KDE software, and it won’t be going away! Essentially we need to fully embrace Plasma’s motto of “Simple by default, powerful when needed” all KDE software, not just Plasma. Nate Graham, KDE developer, is arguing that KDE needs simpler defaults – without losing the customisability that makes KDE, well, KDE. I think this is a good goal – especially since many distributions can opt for different defaults anyway. KDE is an amazing collection of software, but there’s no denying its plethora of options and customisation can also be intimidating and a little bit overwhelming, even for experienced users such as myself. Of course, this can only really work if the option to tweak every individual pixel remains available for those of us that want it – we don’t need Knome.

FTC sues to block Nvidia acquiring ARM

The Federal Trade Commission today sued to block U.S. chip supplier Nvidia Corp.’s $40 billion acquisition of U.K. chip design provider Arm Ltd. Semiconductor chips power the computers and technologies that are essential to our modern economy and society. The proposed vertical deal would give one of the largest chip companies control over the computing technology and designs that rival firms rely on to develop their own competing chips. The FTC’s complaint alleges that the combined firm would have the means and incentive to stifle innovative next-generation technologies, including those used to run datacenters and driver-assistance systems in cars. It seems increasingly unlikely that this acquisition will go through. I think that’s a good thing – while I’d rather Nvidia purchase ARM than Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Amazon, an even better outcome would be a profitable, independent ARM.

Oxide Announces Hubris OS

Oxide announced Hubris, their microkernel OS for embedded systems, and Humility the debugger for it. As time went on in early 2020 and we found ourselves increasingly forcing existing systems out of the comfort of their design centers, we wondered: was our assumption of using an existing system wrong? Should we in fact be exploring our own de novo operating system? Instead of having an operating system that knows how to dynamically create tasks at run-time (itself a hallmark of multiprogrammed, general purpose systems), Cliff had designed Hubris to fully specify the tasks for a particular application at build time, with the build system then combining the kernel with the selected tasks to yield a single (attestable!) image. This is the best of both worlds: it is at once dynamic and general purpose with respect to what the system can run, but also entirely static in terms of the binary payload of a particular application — and broadly static in terms of its execution. Oxide is working on producing what is basically a rack sized blade server. It’s a rack pre-populated with hardware controlled by a single control plane. The rack is meant to be a single, sealed unit, and as such, they needed something which could be embedded into the various controllers in the rack. Hubris is written in Rust, it’s MPL licensed, and there is a GitHub repository.

Haiku gets initial 3D acceleration

I implemented RadeonGfx driver server mode and now it is possible to run multiple processes that use 3D acceleration. Because of GFX ring reset hack, command buffer scheduling is limited and only one command buffer can be executed at moment of time. That’s right – that’s X512, the amazing developer who ported Haiku to RISC-V, now working on bringing initial 3D acceleration to Haiku. There’s a long road ahead for this to become a default, working part of Haiku, but that doesn’t make these first steps any less impressive.

DESQview/X : the forgotten mid-1990s OS from the future

So. What is DESQview/X? Many people, in the current day and age, may have never even heard of this system from the mid-1990s. Its predecessor, DESQview (without the “/X”) which was first released in 1985, was a multi-tasking, windowing system for DOS. It allowed someone, with very modest PC hardware, to run multiple text-mode DOS applications at the same time. With overlapping, resizable windows. Pretty darned cool. This multitasking wasn’t the cooperative multi-tasking that we saw in early Windows (through 3.11) and MacOS up through version 9. No sir-ee bob. DESQview had true, preemptive multi-tasking. Fast. Stable. Lightweight. It was downright impressive. But it was all text-mode. Then DESQview/X came along, in the 1990s, bringing a complete X11 (aka X Windows) graphical interface with it. Impressive, for sure. I have heard of it, but never actually used it or even tried it. This article has piqued my interest, and I’m definitely going to fire up a VM and play around with this. For more in-depth information, there’s a book called DESQview/X: A Technical Perspective from 1990 on Archive.org.

ungoogled-chromium: Google Chromium, sans integration with Google

ungoogled-chromium is Google Chromium, sans dependency on Google web services. It also features some tweaks to enhance privacy, control, and transparency (almost all of which require manual activation or enabling). ungoogled-chromium retains the default Chromium experience as closely as possible. Unlike other Chromium forks that have their own visions of a web browser, ungoogled-chromium is essentially a drop-in replacement for Chromium. In light of the previous post, if you really do need to use Chromium for whatever reason, forego Microsoft ‘coupon clipper‘ Edge, the closed-source Vivaldi, or the cryptoscammy Brave – and opt for ungoogled-chromium instead.

Firefox is the only alternative

Supposedly today we have a lot of browsers to choose from – Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Brave, Opera, Vivaldi, etc. Having choices is a good thing, right? Nobody wants to relive the time of almost complete Internet Explorer domination again. Unfortunately our choices are significantly fewer than they seem to be at first glance, as Chrome and Safari (thanks to the iPhone) totally dominate the browser landscape in terms of usage and almost all browsers these days are built on top of Chromium, Chrome’s open-source version. Funny enough even Edge is built on top of Chromium today, despite the bitter rivalry between Google and Microsoft. What’s also funny is that Chrome and Safari control about 85% of the browser market share today, and Microsoft’s Edge commands only about 4%. Firefox all the way for me. We need more than one browser engine to succeed, and Firefox is the only viable alternative to Chrome’s dominance. Safari is tied to Apple so far too limiting, but at least it’s not Chromium-based, so that’s a plus. I’ve been starting to see websites that simply do not work in Firefox, which has me deeply worried about just how long I can keep up using my browser of choice.

VMware mouse driver for Windows 3.x

Running Windows 3.1 in VMware (or seemingly, QEMU, but it’s not yet tested), but annoyed by having to grab and ungrab the cursor manually? Wish you could just move the cursor in and out like a modern OS (one with USB tablet support or VMware Tools drivers), with no Ctrl+Alt dancing? Or want to control your cursor at all under the ESXi web UI? (It doesn’t do relative input.) With this driver, now you can. It implements the interface that VMware uses (the backdoor), replacing the existing PS/2 mouse driver. Vital for anyone who runs Windows 3.x virtual machines.

EU coalition urges EU to push back against gate keeping by Microsoft, files official complaint

A coalition of EU software and cloud businesses joined Nextcloud GmbH in respect of their formal complaint to the European Commission about Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior in respect of its OneDrive (cloud) offering. In a repeat from earlier monopolistic actions, Microsoft is bundling its OneDrive, Teams and other services with Windows and aggressively pushing consumers to sign up and hand over their data to Microsoft. This limits consumer choice and creates a barrier for other companies offering competing services. I mean, anything to reign in the power of these massive technology companies, but I’m not sure browser choice screens and versions without Windows Media Player are the way to go. I want a more permanent solution – just like we’ve done countless times in the past, break these massive companies up into various smaller pieces that have to compete on merit, instead of being propped up by one or two deeply entrenched money-printing products.

Why V7 Unix matters so much

When I talk about things involving the history of Unix, I often wind up mentioning V7, also known as Seventh Edition of Research Unix from Bell Labs (for a recent example, in my entry on when Unix got stack size limits). If you’re relatively new to the history of Unix, you might wonder why V7 keeps coming up so often. There are a number of reasons that V7 matters so much both for the history of Unix and for what is what we think of as being ‘Unix’ and the Unix way. The history of Unix is… Complicated.

Microsoft pushes ahead with controversial ‘buy now, pay later’ feature for Edge browser

Microsoft is introducing a new feature in Edge allowing customers to pay for e-commerce transactions in installments – and not everybody is happy. The ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) feature is, controversially, integrated at the browser level, thanks to a partnership with third-party payments provider Zip, formerly QuadPay. The option is similar to those already offered by many e-commerce sites and web payment providers such as PayPal. Tacky and tasteless feature.

Apple, Google and Facebook may be forced into cross-platform messaging

Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech companies may be forced into finding a solution that allows users to connect across the various messaging platforms. Currently, each service has its own way of handling communication that is not compatible with others, placing a burden upon the user when there is a need to reach someone using a different platform or service. A universal communication method would benefit the end-user, whether using an iPhone or Android phone, with Facebook, iMessage, or other social media apps. A cross-platform solution works against the existing model that social media and tech companies have accepted as standard, keeping their customers or users circling back to the same company rather than moving between different services. It’s the same reason for members’ rewards cards at grocery stores and punch cards for a free sandwich at the deli. Keeping the existing customer is much easier than recruiting a new one. This is such an obvious and popular requirement, I’m baffled it’s taking governments around the world this long to get to implementing it. So much of our communication infrastructure is owned by 3-4 giant technology companies, all incompatible with each other, with absolutely zero control over what happens to your messages and your data. Forcing them to be interoperable – preferably via forcing the publication of open APIs third party developers can tap into – is not only the bare minimum we should expect from our online communication channels, it’s probably also a highly popular requirement that would simplify the the lives of people all across the European Union, where different countries favour different messaging protocols. How could anybody without a financial stake in Apple, Google, or Facebook be against this? Of course, the very, very sour note here is that at the same time, the European Commission is also toying with the idea of weakening or outright eliminating end-to-end encryption in messaging applications, so it might well turn out to be all for naught.