Flutter: a portable UI framework for mobile, web, embedded, and desktop

Today marks an important milestone for the Flutter framework, as we expand our focus from mobile to incorporate a broader set of devices and form factors. At I/O, we’re releasing our first technical preview of Flutter for web, announcing that Flutter is powering Google’s smart display platform including the Google Home Hub, and delivering our first steps towards supporting desktop-class apps with Chrome OS. Do any OSNews readers with a far better grip on such frameworks than I do have experience with Flutter?

Microsoft unveils Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

Today we’re unveiling the newest architecture for the Windows Subsystem for Linux: WSL 2! Changes in this new architecture will allow for: dramatic file system performance increases, and full system call compatibility, meaning you can run more Linux apps in WSL 2 such as Docker. This is a massive new release of WSL, and for the first time for consumer-facing Windows, Microsoft will be shipping a full Linux kernel with its operating system. Beginning with Windows Insiders builds this Summer, we will include an in-house custom-built Linux kernel to underpin the newest version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This marks the first time that the Linux kernel will be included as a component in Windows. This is an exciting day for all of us on the Linux team at Microsoft and we are thrilled to be able to tell you a little bit about it. All changes will go upstream, and the kernel itself will be updated through Windows Update. Of course, this Linux kernel, which contains patches to optimise it for WSL 2, will be fully GPL compliant, so anyone will be able to build to their own custom kernel using these patches.

Introducing .NET 5

Today, we’re announcing that the next release after .NET Core 3.0 will be .NET 5. This will be the next big release in the .NET family. There will be just one .NET going forward, and you will be able to use it to target Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, tvOS, watchOS and WebAssembly and more. We will introduce new .NET APIs, runtime capabilities and language features as part of .NET 5. This will be a Microsoft-heavy day, since Microsoft’s developer conference is underway.

Linux 5.1 released

Linux 5.1 released has just been released. The main feature in this release is io_uring, a high-performance interface for asynchronous I/O. There are also improvements in fanotify to provide a scalable way of watching changes on large file systems, and it adds a method to allow safe delivery of signals in presence of PID reuse. Persistent memory can be used now as hot-plugabble RAM, Zstd compression levels have been made configurable in Btrfs, and there is a new cpuidle governor that makes better power management decisions than the menu governor. In addition, all 32 bit architectures have added the necessary syscalls to deal with the y2038 problem; and live patching has added support for creating cumulative patches. There are many other features and new drivers in the KernelNewbies changelog.

Microsoft announces Windows Terminal and WSL 2, coming in June

At its Build 2019 developers conference today, Microsoft announced a slew of offerings for Windows developers, including Windows Terminal, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2, XAML Islands, React Native for Windows, and MSIX Core. Windows Terminal, available in preview now, is a new application for command-line users that promises a user interface with “graphics-processing-unit-accelerated text rendering.” The application features tabs; tear-away windows; shortcuts; and full Unicode support, including East Asian fonts, emojis, ligatures, theming, and extensions. Windows Terminal is meant for users of PowerShell, Cmd, WSL, and other command-line applications. Windows Terminal seems to address quite a few shortcomings of Windows when it comes to its terminal – or lack thereof – and is certainly going to make a lot of developers and administrators quire, quite happy.

Here’s how to force your Mac to run only in 64-bit mode

Since macOS 10.15 will remove support for 32bit binaries, it might be time to start preparing for this as a user. Steven Troughton-Smith linked to this older article from last year: macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 gets us a step closer to ditching 32-bit mode for apps. In fact, you can force your Mac to run only in 64-bit mode if you aren’t afraid to pay a visit to the command line. This way, you can see if any applications you use are 32bit, and if you can live without them – if not, you can start looking for alternatives.

Due to expired certificate, all Firefox extensions disabled

Update: a partial fix has been shipped by Mozilla A few hours ago a security certificate that Mozilla used to sign Firefox add-ons expired. What this means is that every add-on signed by that certificate, which seems to be nearly all of them, will now be automatically disabled by Firefox as security measure. In simpler terms, Firefox doesn’t trust any add-ons right now. Basically, all your Firefox extensions will be disabled and won’t work until Mozilla fixes this embarrassing issue. Until they do, you can go to about:config and set xpinstall.signature.required to false. This is obviously a major security issue, so only change this flag if you know what you’re doing, and don’t forget to set it back to true once Mozilla fixes the issue.

GCC 9.1 released

GCC 9.1 is a major release containing substantial new functionality not available in GCC 9.x or previous GCC releases. In this release C++17 support is no longer marked experimental. The C++ front-end implements the full C++17 language (already previous GCC major version implemented that) and the C++ standard library support is almost complete. The C++ front-end and library also have numerous further C++2a draft features. GCC has a new front-end for the D language. GCC 9.1 has newly partial OpenMP 5.0 support and almost complete OpenACC 2.5 support.

Running Fuchsia on the Android Emulator

With as quickly as Fuchsia is being developed, this may not be relevant for too long, but I hope that it can help at least a few people for the time being. Horus125 and I have been working on this for the past couple days or so and we’re glad we finally got it working and are happy to share our process. We still have no idea what Google intends to do with Fuchsia, but at least we can run in the Android Emulator.

Google introduces auto-delete controls for Location History and activity data

You can already use your Google Account to access simple on/off controls for Location History and Web & App Activity, and if you choose—to delete all or part of that data manually. In addition to these options, we’re announcing auto-delete controls that make it even easier to manage your data. Choose a time limit for how long you want your activity data to be saved—3 or 18 months—and any data older than that will be automatically deleted from your account on an ongoing basis. These controls are coming first to Location History and Web & App Activity and will roll out in the coming weeks. And now we have to assume that they will actually delete said data. Do we really have any way to check? Or due to a complete lack of oversight into the kind of data these companies store, can we only believe them on their blue eyes?

GNOME 3.32 is awesome, but still needs improvements in key areas

GNOME 3.32 is the latest release of the most popular Linux Desktop Environment (Interface+Apps) that is used by Ubuntu, Fedora and many other Linux distributions as their default experience (with or without changes). GNOME 3.32 packs itself with new niceties such as a refreshed theme and icon set, many much-needed performance fixes, updated apps, etc. However, GNOME continues to have key areas that stick out like a sore thumb in terms of intuitiveness or convenience. I have laid them down below with links to bug reports, please treat my feedback as constructive criticism of a project that I respect, but find confusing. As a former heavy user of GNOME 2.x, I find GNOME 3 wholly unpleasant – unlike its predecessor, it seems to want to force a certain way of working on me that I just can’t wrap my head around. Add to that the numerous problems – many of which are highlighted in this article – and I just don’t see myself ever returning to the world of GNOME any time soon. KDE all the way for me.

Announcing Wio: a clone of Plan 9’s Rio for Wayland

In short, Wio is a Wayland compositor based on wlroots which has a similar look and feel to Plan 9’s Rio desktop. It works by running each application in its own nested Wayland compositor, based on Cage – yet another wlroots-based Wayland compositor. I used Cage in last week’s RDP article, but here’s another cool use-case for it. The behavior this allows for (each window taking over its parent’s window, rather than spawning a new window) has been something I wanted to demonstrate on Wayland for a very long time. This is a good demonstration of how Wayland’s fundamentally different and conservative design allows for some interesting use-cases which aren’t possible at all on X11. It’s a very different approach to windowing than most of us are used to, but I find it strangely appealing.

Upcoming Wear OS update will feature widget-like ‘Tiles’ for common actions

With the introduction of Tiles, it will be possible to pick from an assortment of new screens that appear in a swipeable carousel from the watch face. Tiles can be arranged in whatever order you like, but the current list is fairly short, adding up to just six. I’m not entirely sure what Google’s future plans for Wear OS are. I wear a Wear OS smartwatch every day, but it’s an older model with limited performance – I’d love to get something newer, but there simply aren’t any. Most of them still use Qualcomm’s terrible 2100 SoC, and while some do use the newer 3100 SoC, it’s barely a step up and simply not worth the price of admission. Google’s Wear OS is held hostage by a disinterested Qualcomm, which in turn means Google isn’t really doing a whole lot to advance the platform either. Either Qualcomm gets off its butt, or Google develops its own SoC. If not, Wear OS will continue to languish.

A conspiracy to kill IE6

The bittersweet consequence of YouTube’s incredible growth is that so many stories will be lost underneath all of the layers of new paint. This is why I wanted to tell the story of how, ten years ago, a small team of web developers conspired to kill IE6 from inside YouTube and got away with it. I doubt many of us will shed a tear for Internet Explorer 6, but this story does illustrate just how much power and influence large technology companies really have. Google has repeatedly been caught using similar tactics to derail Firefox, and tactics like this will only grow more popular the more they see they can get away with it.

Bloomberg says ‘hidden backdoors’ were found in Huawei equipment, Vodafone denies report

A new report by Bloomberg claims that telecom giant Vodafone had found potential hidden backdoor vulnerabilities in Huawei equipment, but the claims have been refuted the carrier. The Bloomberg report makes claims that Vodafone Italy confirmed that they had found vulnerabilities as far back as 2009 in Huawei telecoms and internet equipment. Obviously Vodafone has a massive interest in denying these stories, and I find it suspicious that stories like this are almost always waved away with a we forgot to turn off/remove a diagnostic thing, oopsie!, but for us mere mortals it’s just impossible to get a good reading on this. I mean, it’s not as if we have much of a choice but to assume our carriers know what they’re doing. …wait.

Apple is telling lawmakers people will hurt themselves if they try to fix iPhones

In recent weeks, an Apple representative and a lobbyist for CompTIA, a trade organization that represents big tech companies, have been privately meeting with legislators in California to encourage them to kill legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics, Motherboard has learned. According to two sources in the California State Assembly, the lobbyists have met with members of the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, which is set to hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday afternoon. The lobbyists brought an iPhone to the meetings and showed lawmakers and their legislative aides the internal components of the phone. The lobbyists said that if improperly disassembled, consumers who are trying to fix their own iPhone could hurt themselves by puncturing the lithium-ion battery, the sources, who Motherboard is not naming because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said. Apple employing the ever effective think of the children argument. In typical Apple-fashion, anti-consumer, scummy, and full of lies.

Systems with small disks won’t be able to install Windows 10 May 2019 update

Previously, 32-bit Windows had a minimum storage requirement of 16GB, and 64-bit Windows needed 20GB. Both of these were extremely tight, leaving little breathing room for actual software, but technically this was enough space for everything to work. That minimum has now been bumped up: it’s 32GB for both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows. Part of this growth may be due to a new behavior that Microsoft is introducing with version 1903. To ensure that future updates install without difficulty, 7GB of disk space are permanently reserved for the install process. While this will avoid out-of-disk errors when updating, it represents a substantial reduction in usable space on these low-storage systems. It’s remarkable just how much space a default Windows installation takes up – and it’s even worse just how hard it has become on Windows to even properly find out where all that space is going as your machine starts to rack up the months or even years of use. While other modern operating systems such as Linux or macOS may not be as bad as Windows, they, too are starting to treat disk space like a commodity, and they, too, can be difficult to manage.

An overview of Secure Boot in Debian

This blog post isn’t meant to be a definitive guide about Secure Boot in Debian. The idea is to give some context about the boot sequence on the PC architecture, about the Secure Boot technology, and about some implementation details in Debian. Exactly what it says on the tin – a detailed article about how Debian handles Secure Boot.

The Amiga before the Amiga: the Amiga Development System

Prior to that epic event, however, there was another Amiga – a lesser-known member of the family most have never even heard of. Back in 1984/1985 Commodore created a few hundred “Development Edition” machines called the Amiga Development System. Sometimes, due to a very unique early design, they are also sometimes referred to as “Velvet” which was a name for a particular motherboard layout some had. Commodore sent these computers to companies around the world in the hopes they would decide to support the new platform in the form of creating software and tools. Thus, the Development System is a very unique machine most of which have been lost to the sands of time. Prior to this writing it was believed that only 5 Development Systems remained around the world. Assuming that’s true, there are now six. As indicated, this is an incredibly rare Amiga machine, so it’s probably the only time we ever get to see such a close and detailed look at it. The linked article contains a detailed video of the outside and inside of the machine as well.

The future of Firefox for Android

A recently published support document highlights Mozilla’s plans for the current Firefox for Android and also Fenix. Mozilla’s main idea is to maintain the legacy version of Firefox for Android until Fenix reaches migration readiness status. Firefox users on Android should be able to use the legacy version until Fenix is ready while Mozilla wants to minimize support costs. Fenix currently does not support extensions just yet, so I’ll be staying on the regular Firefox for Android until that has been addressed.