Thom Holwerda Archive

Apple, Google, and Microsoft will soon implement passwordless sign-in on all major platforms

In a joint effort, tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft announced Thursday morning that they have committed to building support for passwordless sign-in across all of the mobile, desktop, and browser platforms that they control in the coming year. Effectively, this means that passwordless authentication will come to all major device platforms in the not too distant future: Android and iOS mobile operating systems; Chrome, Edge, and Safari browsers; and the Windows and macOS desktop environments. A passwordless login process will let users choose their phones as the main authentication device for apps, websites, and other digital services, as Google detailed in a blog post published Thursday. Unlocking the phone with whatever is set as the default action — entering a PIN, drawing a pattern, or using fingerprint unlock — will then be enough to sign in to web services without the need to ever enter a password, made possible through the use of a unique cryptographic token called a passkey that is shared between the phone and the website. Passwords are a terrible security practice, and while password managers make the whole ordeal slightly less frustrating, using my phone’s fingerprint reader to log into stuff seems like a very welcome improvement.

Microsoft open-sourced the code for 1995’s 3D Movie Maker because someone asked

Ars Technica writes: Back in 1995, the Microsoft Kids division of the company released a program called Microsoft 3D Movie Maker. The same year that the original Toy Story proved that feature-length 3D computer animation was feasible, people could install software on their home computers that could spit out crude-but-creative 3D animated movies at 6 to 8 frames per second. Aside from releasing Doraemon and Nickelodeon-specific versions of Movie Maker later on, Microsoft never really returned to this software… until now. Microsoft Developer Division Community Manager Scott Hanselman announced yesterday that Microsoft was open-sourcing the code for 3D Movie Maker, posting it to Github in a read-only repository under an MIT license. Microsoft made some seriously weird products back in the ’90s, and this is definitely one of them. It’s great to see things like this released as open source – these are not the products that set the world on fire, but the idea to get it to compile and run on modern systems will surely spark the imagination of quite a few developers.

Sculpt OS release 22.04 available

Sculpt OS version 22.04 introduces the concept of service-level sandboxing and features completely new drivers for wireless, graphics, and USB. On the user-visible surface, the new version of Sculpt OS looks and feels familiar to users of the previous version. Under the hood, however, at the nitty-gritty hardware-support level, it features completely revamped device drivers for Intel wireless, Intel graphics, and USB. Get Sculpt OS’ latest release from the download page, and be sure to read the documentation for more detailed information.

Trinity Desktop Environment R14.0.12 released

The Trinity Desktop Environment, a fork of the KDE 3.x codebase, has released its latest version. This release comes with a new D-Bus based polkit authentication agent, new markdown document viewer, support for HTML5 in Quanta, support for Let’s Encrypt certificates, some improvements to GUI options, better cooperation between tdm and plymouth, fix for ICEAuthority ownership stealing when using sudo, various other bug fixes and improvements. It also adds support for Ubuntu Jammy while it drops support for Debian Jessie and Ubuntu Trusty. C++11 is now allowed in the code base. I doubt the audience for a KDE 3.x desktop is massive, but thanks to the wonders of open source – the people that want it, can have it.

Unity 7.6 released for testing

Unity 7.6 will be the first major release of Unity in 6 years (the last release was in May 2016). We have restarted the active development of Unity7 and will be releasing new versions with more features regularly. I was never a fan of Ubuntu’s Unity, but I’ve seen quite a few people over the years who miss it. Your call has been answered – this first release has a a lot of visual touch-ups and updates to make it look a bit more modern, and there’s bugfixes in here, too, of course.

Redox OS 0.7.0 released

A lot has changed since release 0.6.0! First thing, it is impossible to collect all the changes that happened since December 24, 2020 into one set of release notes, so this will focus on the highlights. It was very important to me that this be a release targeting the foundations of Redox OS. This includes, the bootloader, the filesystem, the package manager, the kernel, the drivers, and much more. The focus was on enabling Redox OS to boot on the widest set of hardware possible. Redox is a Rust-based operating system with a microkernel and a UNIX-like paradigm and an optional GUI. Its lead developer works for System76 as principal engineer.

Android 13 beta 1 released

It’s already April and we’ve been making steady progress refining the features and stability of Android 13, building around our core themes of privacy and security, developer productivity, as well as tablet and large screen support. Today we’re moving into the next phase of our cycle and releasing the first Beta of Android 13. Android 13 development seems to be ahead of the regular schedule.

The first developer preview of Privacy Sandbox on Android

Today, we’re releasing the first developer preview for the Privacy Sandbox on Android, which provides an early look at the SDK Runtime and Topics API. You’ll be able to do preliminary testing of these new technologies and evaluate how you might adopt them for your solutions. This is a preview, so some features may not be implemented just yet, and functionality is subject to change. See the release notes for more details on what’s included in the release. We’ll see if this initiative will have a material impact on user privacy on Android, but I have my sincerest doubt. Even if does make more applications respect your privacy, I have a feeling this is going to be a classic situation of “rules for thee but not for me” (a phrase far newer and more recent than I realised).

Celebrating 40 years of ZX Spectrum

Well color me old! The ZX Spectrum (affectionately known as “Speccy” or just “Spectrum” by its fans), one of the best-selling microcomputers of all time, was released 40 years ago today. Can you believe it still has a large and active community creating new content, archiving old content, and hacking on all sorts of hardware? I have never owned or used one, but the Spectrum is one of those machines everyone is familiar with – like the C64, the Apple II, TRS 80, and so on.

Apple Self Service Repair store now available

Apple today launched the Self Service Repair Store, allowing iPhone customers in the United States access to parts and manual that they can use to repair their own devices. The new store enables repairs of iPhone SE, iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 components, including display, battery and camera replacements. Apple also said it will launch Mac self-service repairs later this year. A good start.

Microsoft’s internal upgrade to Windows 11

Microsoft’s upgrade to Windows 11 is largely considered the smoothest we’ve ever had. The Microsoft Digital Employee Experience team was able to upgrade 190,000 employee devices in just five weeks. We learned a lot so, in this post, I’m sharing our learnings with you to help with your deployment journey. Our success was built around several factors: far fewer app compatibility challenges than in the past, not needing to build out a plethora of disk images, and delivery processes and tools already that were greatly improved during the rollout of Windows 10. We divided our upgrade into three stages: plan, prepare, and deploy. It would be pretty pathetic if not even Microsoft itself could smoothly update its employees’ machines to the latest version of Windows, but that being said – I do not envy the people tasked with doing so.

How macOS manages M1 CPU cores

CPUs in Apple Silicon chips are different, as they contain two different core types, one designed for high performance (Performance, P or Firestorm cores), the other for energy efficiency (Efficiency, E or Icestorm cores). For these to work well, threads need to be allocated by core type, a task which can be left to apps and processes, as it is in Asahi Linux, or managed by the operating system, as it is in macOS. This article explains how macOS manages core allocation in all Apple’s M1 series chips, in what it terms asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP, although others prefer to call this heterogeneous computing). This design has now also made its way to x86 with Intel’s 12th Gen processors.

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.