Mozilla to build anti-surveillance code verification system

Mozilla plans to establish an automated process which would verify that binaries contain only the code found in the official source repositories, and not spyware secretly added during the build process at the behest of government intelligence agencies. In a blog post entitled Trust but Verify, CTO Brendan Eich and R&D VP Andreas Gal note that governments "may force service operators to enable surveillance (something that seems to have happened in the Lavabit case)" and pledge to develop systems which will make Firefox resistant to this form of tampering.

Jolla’s journey of a year

Stefano Mosconi (CTO of Jolla) gives a review of the past year, talking about decisions and developments in the company such as changing the SoC manufacturer for their first handset, switching to Wayland with Qt5 for Sailfish and opening their Web store and co-creation site.

The road was extremely tough and still we managed to deliver a product to the market in time. We focused on quality and stability rather than on number of features and we committed to our customers to listen to them and support the phone so it will remain valuable, relevant and well performing. We did this in about 100 guys and girls: we built an OS, an app store, a product, logistic and sales channels, online collaboration tool, SDK and developer intake.

Advanced imaging reveals computer 1500 years ahead of its time

The findings, published in Nature, are probably best described as "mind blowing." Devices with this level of complexity were not seen again for almost 1,500 years, and the Antikythera mechanism's compactness actually bests the later designs. Probably built around 150 B.C., the Antikythera mechanism can perform a number of functions just by turning a crank on the side.

Haiku improves its processor support

In a blog post from Haiku developer Pawel Dziepak he describes the work he has been doing on improving processor support. Most notably removing the 8 processor limit. From the blog post:

The main scheduler logic has been completed and now I am concentrating mainly on bug fixes, adjusting tunables and some minor improvements. I also removed gSchedulerLock, a spinlock I mentioned in my last post, and replaced it with more fine grained locking. An new interfaces for cpufreq and cpuidle modules has been created together with a cpufreq module for Intel Sandy Bridge or newer cores and cpuidle module for all processors that support C-states and invariant TSC. Furthermore, IRQs (including MSI) can be now directed to an arbitrary logical processor. Implementation of inter-processor interrupts has been improved so that it avoids acquiring any lock if it is not necessary and supports multicast interrupts. And, last but not least, 8 processor limit has been removed.

Genode 13.11 adds Qt5 QML, Linux TCP/IP, FUSE file systems

The Genode project has released version 13.11 of their OS framework. This time, the focus lies on exploring new ways for bringing existing protocol stacks to the Genode world. FUSE-based file systems and the Linux TCP/IP stack have become available as user-level libraries, and the improved Qt5 port covers QML. Hardware-wise, the new version extends the support for Exynos-5, Raspberry Pi, and ARM TrustZone.

With the release cycle of version 13.11, the Genode developers took the chance to explore plenty of experimental features across the whole software stack.

Contiki 2.7 released

The Contiki operating system, known for its super-slim IPv6 stack, has been updated to version 2.7 with support for new Systems-on-a-Chip: single-chip devices with a microprocessor and an integrated 2.4 GHz radio. This new version has a much strengthened IPv6 wireless mesh networking setup that allows a bunch of chips to autonomously form wireless networks that can be connected directly to the Internet.

Linux 3.12 released

Linux kernel 3.12 has been released. This release includes support for offline deduplication in Btrfs, automatic GPU switching in laptops with dual GPUs, a performance boost for AMD Radeon graphics, better RAID-5 multicore performance, improved handling of out-of-memory situations, improvements to the timerless multitasking mode, separate modesetting and rendering device nodes in the graphics DRM layer, improved locking performance for virtualized guests, XFS directory recursion scalability improvements, new drivers and many small improvements. Here's the full list of changes.

And then Steve said, ‘let there be an iPhone’

This wasn't Grignon's typical route to work. He was a senior engineer at Apple in Cupertino, the town just west of Campbell. His morning drive typically covered seven miles and took exactly 15 minutes. But today was different. He was going to watch his boss, Steve Jobs, make history at the Macworld trade show in San Francisco. Apple fans had for years begged Jobs to put a cellphone inside their iPods so they could stop carrying two devices in their pockets. Jobs was about to fulfill that wish. Grignon and some colleagues would spend the night at a nearby hotel, and around 10 a.m. the following day they - along with the rest of the world - would watch Jobs unveil the first iPhone.

Status update on KDE Frameworks 5

According to a recent article on, work is proceeding well on the modularization of KDElibs. Instead of being one large static library, KDElibs is being divided into a multi-tiered module system that consists of three framework categories.

These modules will be able to be used by any Qt application without the need to pull in unneeded code as was often the case with version 4 of KDElibs. This change from one large library to a set of smaller but interlinked modules has necessitated a name change from KDE Platform to KDE Frameworks for this aspect of the larger KDE Project.

From the article:

The Frameworks can be divided into three categories:

Functional elements have no runtime dependencies. For example, KArchive handles compression and decompression for many archive formats transparently and can be used as a drop-in library.

Integration designates code that requires runtime dependencies for integration depending on what the OS or platform offers. For example, Solid supplies information on available hardware features and may require runtime components to deliver some of the data on some platforms.

Solutions have mandatory runtime dependencies. For example, KIO (KDE Input/Output) offers a network-transparent virtual filesystem that lets users browse and edit files as if they were local, no matter where they are physically stored. And KIO requires kioslave daemons to function.

Modules may be written in such a way that they require only limited tiers of dependency chains. This should allow Qt application creators to use only the aspects of KDE that they find useful for their application. This modularization will allow for leaner, cleaner code and opens KDE technology to many more platforms than was previously practical; especially in the embedded and mobile markets.

If you would like to know more about the work on KDE Frameworks 5 the article offers many useful links; including work with upstream, a roadmap, and current progress.

The BSD family, pt. 1: FreeBSD 9.1

I've been a big fan of FreeBSD since I first acquired 4.4 on 4 CDs. By that point, I had already spent a lot of time in Linux, but I was always put off by its instability and inconsistency. Once I had FreeBSD installed, it felt like a dream. Everything worked the way it was supposed to, and the consistency of its design meant even older documentation would be mostly applicable without having to figure out how my system was different. There is a reason why in the early days of the Internet, a huge portion of servers ran FreeBSD.

But, that was a while ago. Since then, Linux has matured greatly and has garnered a lot of momentum, becoming the dominant Unix platform. FreeBSD certainly hasn't stood still, however. The FreeBSD team has kept current with hardware support, new features, and a modern, performant design.

A beginner’s guide to NoSQL

Let’s say you’ve decided to set up a website or an application. You'll obviously need something to manage the data. Yes, that's right, a database. So, what is it going to be? MySQL, MS-SQL, Oracle or PostgreSQL? After all, nothing can be as amazing as a good old RDBMS that employs SQL to manage the data.

Well, allow me to introduce to you an entirely unique and unconventional Database model - NoSQL.

Nokia Q2 report: below expectations

The decline continues for Nokia. While Lumia sales volume increased by 32% to 7.2 million during Q2, this was well short of the 8.1 million analysts expected would be sold. Meanwhile, smartphone sales are down 10.2 million units from Q2 2012, based solely on the death of Symbian. Did Nokia jump from a burning platform to a sinking ship? Or will the next Windows Phone update finally bring feature parity with Symbian? Note from Thom: Loads of new models, yet still not the turning point we are promised every time Nokia releases quarterly figures. I'm sure the next quarter, with the next new flagship, will turn it all around.

The future of Linux: evolving everywhere

Serdar Yegalulp offers a long view of the current evolution of Linux, one that sees the open source OS firmly entrenched as a cornerstone of IT, evolving in almost every direction at once - including most demonstrably toward the mobile and embedded markets. "If Linux acceptance and development are peaking, where does Linux go from up? Because Linux is such a mutable phenomenon and appears in so many incarnations, there may not be any single answer to that question. More important, perhaps, is how Linux - the perennial upstart - will embrace the challenges of being a mature and, in many areas, market-leading project. Here's a look at the future of Linux: as raw material, as the product of community and corporate contributions, and as the target of any number of challenges to its ethos, technical prowess, and growth."

Linux 3.10 released

"This release adds support for bcache, which allows to use SSD devices to cache data from other block devices; a Btrfs format improvement that makes the tree dedicated to store extent information 30-35% smaller; support for XFS metadata checksums and self-describing metadata, timer free multitasking for applications running alone in a CPU, SysV IPC and rwlock scalability improvements, the TCP Tail loss probe algorithm that reduces tail latency of short transactions, KVM virtualization support in the MIPS architecture, many new drivers and small improvements."