Thom Holwerda Archive

Panfrost achieves OpenGL ES 3.1 conformance on Mali-G52

The open source Panfrost driver for Mali GPUs has now achieved official conformance on Mali-G52 for OpenGL ES 3.1, as seen on the Khronos adopters list. This important milestone is a step forward for the open source driver, as it now certifies Panfrost for use in commercial products containing Mali G52 and paves the way for further conformance submissions on other Mali GPUs. Excellent news, and great progress.

Apple releases iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, HomePod 15, tvOS 15

Apple has released new versions of all of its platforms, with only the Mac lagging behind for now. There’s iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, HomePod 15, and tvOS 15. As usual, Apple’s device support for new updates is excellent and stretches back quite far, so pretty much every one of you who is an iOS users will be able to enjoy these new releases. You know where to find them.

Home computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair dies aged 81

Sir Clive Sinclair, the inventor and entrepreneur who was instrumental in bringing home computers to the masses, has died at the age of 81. His daughter, Belinda, said he died at home in London on Thursday morning after a long illness. Sinclair invented the pocket calculator but was best known for popularising the home computer, bringing it to British high-street stores at relatively affordable prices. One of the greatest.

Apple, Google cooperate with Putin to steal Russia’s elections

Alphabet’s Google and Apple have removed jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s tactical voting app from their stores, his team said on Friday, after Russia accused the U.S. tech firms of meddling in its internal affairs. Russia goes to the polls on Friday to elect a new parliament in a three-day vote that the ruling United Russia party is expected to win despite a ratings slump after the biggest crackdown on the Kremlin’s critics in years. Apple, only a few weeks ago during the CASM debacle, adamantly told the world it would never bow to government pressure. Unsurprisingly, that was a bold-faced lie. Google publicly commits itself to human rights, but apparently, that does not extend to Putin critics and the Russian opposition.

AMD: we stand ready to make Arm chips

AMD’s CFO Devinder Kumar recently commented that AMD stands ready to manufacture Arm chips if needed, noting that the company’s customers want to work with AMD on Arm-based solutions. Kumar’s remarks came during last week’s Deutsche Bank Technology Conference, building on comments from AMD CEO Lisa Su earlier in the year that underscored the company’s willingness to create custom silicon solutions for its customers, be they based on x86 or Arm architectures. Intel also intends to produce Arm and RISC-V chips, too, meaning that the rise of non-x86 architectures will be partially fueled by the stewards of the dominant x86 ecosystem. This is entirely unsurprising news. You don’t have to build Snapdragon or Apple-level ARM chips to make a lot of money with Arm, and companies like Intel and AMD would be stupid not to look into it.

GNOME to prevent theming, wider community not happy

If you’ve been paying attention to recent chatter in the GNOME and surrounding communities, you may have noticed there’s a lot of disgruntled developers within certain communities that rely on parts of the GNOME stack, such as Pop!_OS and Budgie. I’ve been trying to follow most of these discussions and have been itching to write about it, but with the discussions still ongoing and my own lack of knowledge on the intricacies of the interplay between distribution maintainers, desktop environment developers, application programmers, and GNOME itself, I figured I should stay away from it until someone with more knowledge stepped in. Well, thanks to Joshua Strobl, experience lead of Solus and one of the main developers of Budgie, I now have a great in-depth story to link to. I urge you to read the whole article, but here’s Strobl’s conclusions: 1. GTK4 has not met our expectations since its release in December of 2020, nor have we been satisfied with its state as of the writing of this post. 2. Current plans by GNOME for changes to how theming works is viewed as regressive for desktop Linux, developers, and user choice. 3. We do not believe that GNOME is treating its community, from individual users to entire operating systems, in a manner that is equitable and respectful of their choice on how they want to curate their own experience. 4. Budgie 11 will not be written in GTK4. 5. For Budgie Edition: we will be working on replacing software developed by GNOME with that of alternative software developers as well as “in-house” solutions. These will not necessarily be under the GetSolus organization nor will they be associated with Budgie. Adopting Budgie going forward (at least until 11, when we have our own control center) does not and will not require using our own apps. This has even remained true even for Budgie Desktop View, we support alternatives like Desktop Folder as alternative “desktop” implementations in Budgie. 6. GNOME Edition will be demoted to a non-curated edition and moved to a lesser position on our Downloads page in a future release of Solus. There are various problems non-GNOME GTK developers are running into, but as a user, my biggest problem is GNOME’s adoption of libadwaita. GNOME is going to ship a library, libadwaita, that when used by an application, will force it to use the default light Adwaita theme, with no option to change it to dark mode or a different theme. The end result is that if you use GNOME, you’re going to start seeing applications – both from GNOME itself as well as from third parties – that do not respect your choice of GTK theme, and instead always default to light Adwaita. But of course, this problem extends beyond GNOME itself, as other popular GTK desktops, such as MATE, Cinnamon, and Budgie, also make use of both GTK applications, as well as components and applications from GNOME. On top of that, countless popular distributions, such as Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Pop!_OS, all use custom themes. Their desktops will be severely broken since GNOME and GTK applications will no longer use their custom themes. As a result, Solus and Budgie will start transitioning to using EFL instead of GTK for various components, which is a pretty big shift. As far as I know, other distributions, such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Pop!_OS, have not made any plans yet as to how to handle this new reality, but I would assume they, too, will start to replace any offending applications and components, or hack GTK altogether as a workaround. This is a shitty situation, and the GNOME developers are causing a lot of bad blood and rifts here that really could have been avoided. Theming and customisation are a core aspect of the Linux desktop, and breaking it like this is going to make a lot of non-GNOME developers as well as users very, very unhappy.

Intel Seamless Update: Intel preparing for system firmware updates without the reboot

“Intel Seamless Update” is a forthcoming feature for Intel platforms seemingly first being exposed by their new Linux kernel patches working on the functionality… Intel is working on being able to carry out system firmware updates such as UEFI updates but doing so at run-time and being able to avoid the reboot in the process. Pretty cool, but sadly, it’s only for enterprise machines and upcoming Xeon processors.

Mozilla has defeated Microsoft’s default browser protections in Windows

In version 91 of Firefox, released on August 10th, Mozilla has reverse engineered the way Microsoft sets Edge as default in Windows 10, and enabled Firefox to quickly make itself the default. Before this change, Firefox users would be sent to the Settings part of Windows 10 to then have to select Firefox as a default browser and ignore Microsoft’s plea to keep Edge. Mozilla’s reverse engineering means you can now set Firefox as the default from within the browser, and it does all the work in the background with no additional prompts. This circumvents Microsoft’s anti-hijacking protections that the company built into Windows 10 to ensure malware couldn’t hijack default apps. Microsoft tells us this is not supported in Windows. Sadly, this does not work on Windows 11, where Microsoft is now forcing users to change the default handler for every individual file type a browser might use.

South Korea fines Google, allows Android forks

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday Google’s contract terms with device makers amounted to an abuse of its dominant market position that restricted competition in the mobile OS market. Under the AFA, manufacturers could not equip their handsets with modified versions of Android, known as “Android forks”. That has helped Google cement its market dominance in the mobile OS market, the KFTC said. Under the ruling, Google is banned from forcing device makers to sign AFA contracts, allowing manufacturers to adopt modified versions of Android OS on their devices. Good. This particular kind of paper restrictions need to die in a fire.

PC DOS 1.1 from scratch

A number of years ago, the Computer History Museum together with Microsoft released the source code for MS-DOS 1.25 (very close to PC DOS 1.1) and MS-DOS 2.11. I never did anything with it beyond glancing at the code, in no small part because the release was rather poorly organized. The obvious gaping hole is the lack of any source code for IBMBIO.COM. I do not know exactly what arrangement IBM and Microsoft had at the time, but in the days of DOS 1.x and 2.x OEMs did not get the source code for IBMBIO.COM/IO.SYS suitable for PC compatibles. I toyed with the idea of writing my own IBMBIO.COM replacement, but eventually gave up because it’s not a totally trivial piece of code and I had no real documentation to work with (until much later). The MSDOS.ASM source code obviously uses the IBMBIO interface, but makes no attempt to document it. The provided IO.ASM source is quite useful, but SCP’s hardware was different enough from the IBM PC that it is of limited utility. So, disassembler it was, and I produced reconstructed source code for PC DOS 1.1 IBMBIO.COM. Actually assembling it turned out to be a bit of an adventure; more on that below. More early DOS shenanigans to brighten your day.

Major win for Epic Games: Apple has 90 days to open up app store payments

On Friday, the Northern California judge handling the closely watched Epic Games v. Apple court case turned in a ruling that, in many ways, works out in Apple’s favor—but with one massive, App Store-changing exception. The ruling from US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers includes a single-page permanent injunction demanding that Apple open up payment options for any software sellers on the App Store. In other words, Epic Games’ effort to add Epic-specific payment links inside the free-to-play game Fortnite, and thus duck out of paying Apple’s 30 percent fee on in-app transactions, can now happen. This is a massive blow to Apple’s money printing machine, since it means both applications as well as gambling apps (or “games” as Apple refers to them) can now circumvent Apple’s 30% protection racket. Since the vast majority of App Store revenue – and thus, the vast majority of Apple’s services revenue – comes from exploitative gambling apps, this will have a major impact on Apple’s current strategy of sucking as much money out of Candy Crush whales.

Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI

WSLg is short for Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI and the purpose of the project is to enable support for running Linux GUI applications (X11 and Wayland) on Windows in a fully integrated desktop experience. WSLg provides an integrated experience for developers, scientists or enthusiasts that prefer or need to run Windows on their PC but also need the ability to run tools or applications which works best, or exclusively, in a Linux environment. While users can accomplish this today using a multiple system setup, with individual PC dedicated to Windows and Linux, virtual machine hosting either Windows or Linux, or an XServer running on Windows and projected into WSL, WSLg provides a more integrated, user friendly and productive alternative. WSLg will ship with Windows 11, but despite it being developed and tested on Windows 10, it won’t become available for Windows 10 users, and is currently only accessible to users of Windows beta builds.

Revealed: Google illegally underpaid thousands of workers across dozens of countries

Google has been illegally underpaying thousands of temporary workers in dozens of countries and delayed correcting the pay rates for more than two years as it attempted to cover up the problem, the Guardian can reveal. Google executives have been aware since at least May 2019 that the company was failing to comply with local laws in the UK, Europe and Asia that mandate temporary workers be paid equal rates to full-time employees performing similar work, internal Google documents and emails reviewed by the Guardian show. But rather than immediately correct the errors, the company dragged its feet for more than two years, the documents show, citing concern about the increased cost to departments that rely heavily on temporary workers, potential exposure to legal claims, and fear of negative press attention. Another severe case of theft nobody will go to jail for.

Why that Thunderbolt add-in card doesn’t work properly in your unsupported PC

I’ve long been intrigued by Thunderbolt add-in cards. Apparently regular looking PCIe expansion cards, but shipped with a mystery interface cable to the motherboard, of which there is a small list of supported models. It’s not a secret that these cards may work in a motherboard which isn’t supported, but full functionality is not a given. I have spent the past few evenings trawling through many forums, reading about the many different experiences people are having, and have also purchased some hardware to play around with myself, so we can dig into these problems and see what (if any) solutions there are. Excellent deep dive into a topic I had never once in my life stopped to think about. As the author concludes, it would be cool if we ever got working, reliable Thunderbolt add-in cards for AMD or earlier Intel systems, but it seems unlikely.

Pumpkin OS: Palm OS ported to x86-64

Pumpkin is the name I have given to my port of PalmOS running on the x64 architecture. Please refer to this article for basic information on this project. Also look for other articles in the PalmOS category for more information and some technical details on the implementation. This article is about the first Technology Preview of this project: a functional version of Pumpkin OS running on the Windows platform. This first release is limited on purpose: just a few PalmOS applications and nothing much else. This is also a binary only distribution, but do not worry, full source code will be released in the future. I’ve been following this project for a while now, and this is bonkers awesome work. Very limited for now, of course, but as a longtime Palm OS user and lover of all things Palm OS, this feels like it’s made just for me.

Unlike POWER9, IBM’s new POWER10 processors are not completely open source

While POWER9 was big for open-source fans with the formation of the OpenPOWER Foundation and Raptor Computing Systems designing POWER9-based systems that are fully open-source down to schematics and the motherboard firmware, the same can’t be currently said about POWER10. While IBM has published a lot of the POWER10 firmware as open-source, remaining closed for at least the time being is their off-chip OMI DRAM bridge and their on-chip PPE I/O processor. This sucks. I am a huge fan of Raptor’s fully open POWER9 workstation and boards, and despite Raptor hinting for months now there were issues with POWER10’s openness, I was hoping things would be figured out before the release of IBM’s new POWER10 processors this month. Sadly, this seems to have been wishful thinking. Raptor’s POWER9 workstations are the only fully open performance-oriented computers you can get, and until IBM decides otherwise, it’s going to stay that way. That just sucks.

Android 12 is ‘just a few weeks away’ as release candidate Beta 5 lands

Android 12 Beta 5 is here. For those that haven’t been following along at home, this is the last expected release before it hits stable and is ready for the masses — a so-called “release candidate” version that should be almost good to go. This latest version also picks up support for the brand new Pixel 5a, and it’s your last chance to get those beta-testing toes wet before Android 12 is released. On that note, Google also gives us a hint about its schedule, promising that Android 12 is “just a few weeks away.” Well, a few weeks away for a very small number of phones. For most users, this release is months away, at best, and infinity away, at worst.