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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 58 min ago

Apple's new OS "activation" for Touch Bar MacBook Pros

Monday 28th of November 2016 06:44:42 PM
I think it's safe to say the macadmin community has been hearing rumblings about the future of macOS administration. Whether it was Michael Lynn's excellent blog post, m(DM)acOS, APFS or even Sal Saghoian's position being axed, many macadmins (myself included) are worried about the future of macOS administration being a MDM only world. What if the new TBP Macs were the first piece to this future? An interesting technical look at what happens when one of the Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros can't find the embedded operating system running the Touch Bar, and what conclusions we can draw from that.

Microsoft is working on a new design language for Windows 10

Monday 28th of November 2016 06:33:30 PM
Microsoft has made several adjustments to its design language over the last few years, starting with Windows 8 and evolving into what we now know as "Microsoft Design Language 2" or MDL2 in Windows 10. With MDL2 being the current design language used throughout Windows 10, Microsoft has plans to begin using a much more streamlined design language with Redstone 3, codenamed Project NEON. No matter how many times you refine or change your design language, it won't magically make your apps stop sucking.

FreeDOS 1.2 RC2 released

Friday 25th of November 2016 08:51:02 PM
The FreeDOS Project has released RC2 for FreeDOS 1.2. "If you're having network problems with FreeDOS under VirtualBox, please update your VirtualBox to version 5.1.10, which fixes a compatibility bug from VirtualBox 5.1.8.

Unix history repository, now on GitHub

Friday 25th of November 2016 08:49:28 PM
The history and evolution of the Unix operating system is made available as a revision management repository, covering the period from its inception in 1970 as a 2.5 thousand line kernel and 26 commands, to 2016 as a widely-used 27 million line system. The 1.1GB repository contains about half a million commits and more than two thousand merges. The repository employs Git system for its storage and is hosted on GitHub. It has been created by synthesizing with custom software 24 snapshots of systems developed at Bell Labs, the University of California at Berkeley, and the 386BSD team, two legacy repositories, and the modern repository of the open source FreeBSD system. In total, about one thousand individual contributors are identified, the early ones through primary research. The data set can be used for empirical research in software engineering, information systems, and software archaeology. The project aims to put in the repository as much metadata as possible, allowing the automated analysis of Unix history.

Microsoft, Linux, patents, and tweets

Wednesday 23rd of November 2016 10:22:25 PM
Microsoft recently joined the Linux Foundation while still asserting its patents against the rest of the membership. As I found that odd, I tweeted some casually-calculated statistics about Microsoft’s patent revenues that seemed to me to simply be the aggregation of common knowledge. But maybe not - at least two respondents asked me to substantiate the figures. Having struck a nerve, this post is by way of explanation. I, too, find it odd that Microsoft is now a 'higher' member of the Linux Foundation than, say, Red Hat, yet it still asserts its patents against various companies using Linux. It just doesn't sit right.

System76 Oryx Pro: Linux on a laptop has never been better

Wednesday 23rd of November 2016 10:19:33 PM
If you wanted a portable video editing workstation or a gaming machine you can take with you wherever you go, you'd be hard pressed to find more impressive specs from any manufacturer, let alone one that ships with Linux-compatible hardware like System76. So I mentioned to System76 that I wanted to test the Oryx Pro and compare it to the Dell XPS as a "developer" laptop. Frankly, the company was a little hesitant, pointing out that the two aren't really - aside from both shipping with Ubuntu installed - at all alike. And soon after the Oryx Pro arrived, I really understood just how different these machines area. System76 has really become a household name in Linux circles for great machines with fantastic out-of-the-box Linux support.

The UK is about to wield unprecedented surveillance powers

Wednesday 23rd of November 2016 03:53:30 PM
The UK is about to become one of the world's foremost surveillance states, allowing its police and intelligence agencies to spy on its own people to a degree that is unprecedented for a democracy. The UN's privacy chief has called the situation "worse than scary." Edward Snowden says it’s simply "the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy." The legislation in question is called the Investigatory Powers Bill. It's been cleared by politicians and awaits only the formality of royal assent before it becomes law. The bill will legalize the UK's global surveillance program, which scoops up communications data from around the world, but it will also introduce new domestic powers, including a government database that stores the web history of every citizen in the country. UK spies will be empowered to hack individuals, internet infrastructure, and even whole towns - if the government deems it necessary. "Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame?"

You can now try merged /usr in Debian

Tuesday 22nd of November 2016 11:06:55 PM
From the debian-devel mailing list: debootstrap in unstable can now install with merged-/usr, that is with /bin, /sbin, /lib* being symlinks to their counterpart in /usr. LWN.net published an article in January 2016 going into this then-proposed change. Debian is the latest Linux distribution to consider moving away from the use of separate /bin, /sbin, and /lib directories for certain binaries. The original impetus for requiring these directories was due to space limitations in the first Unix implementations, developers favoring the change point out. But today, many of the services on a modern Linux system impose requirements of their own on the partition scheme - requirements that make life far simpler if /bin, /sbin, and /lib can be symbolic links to subdirectories within a unified /usr directory. Although some resistance was raised to the change, the project now seems to be on track to make "merged /usr" installations a supported option. And perhaps more importantly, the arguments favoring the merge suggest that many Debian developers would like to see that configuration eventually become the default. Any steps to clean up Linux' FHS implementation - no matter how small - is cause for widespread celebration all across the land. Call it forth!

The BASIC issue with retro computers

Tuesday 22nd of November 2016 11:00:38 PM
When you have built your retro computer the chances are you’ll turn it on and be faced with a BASIC interpreter prompt. This was the standard interface for home computers of the 8-bit era, one from which very few products deviated. If you were a teenager plugging your family's first ever computer into the living-room TV then your first port of call after getting bored with the cassette of free educational games that came with it would have been to open the manual and immerse yourself in programming. [...] The trouble is, in the several decades since, 8-bit BASIC skills have waned a little. Most people under 40 will have rarely if ever encountered it, and the generation who were there on the living room carpet with their Commodore 64s (or whatever) would probably not care to admit that this is the sum total of their remembered BASIC knowledge. 10 PRINT "Hello World" 20 GOTO 10 If you have built a retro-computer then clearly this is a listing whose appeal will quickly wane, so where can you brush up your 8-bit BASIC skills several decades after the demise of 8-bit home computers? When I was very, very young - I'm from 1984 - I did some very basic BASIC, mostly on an MSX, but I remember very little of it. BASIC programming didn't grab me as a kid, and as such, I never went down the programmer's path. Today, with an adult life with adult responsibilities, learning to program seems like such a daunting undertaking, for which I simply don't have the time.

Ben Thompson on fake news

Tuesday 22nd of November 2016 10:53:09 PM
Let me be clear: I am well aware of the problematic aspects of Facebook' s impact; I am particularly worried about the ease with which we sort ourselves into tribes, in part because of the filter bubble effect noted above (that's one of the reasons Why Twitter Must Be Saved). But the solution is not the reimposition of gatekeepers done in by the Internet; whatever fixes this problem must spring from the power of the Internet, and the fact that each of us, if we choose, has access to more information and sources of truth than ever before, and more ways to reach out and understand and persuade those with whom we disagree. Yes, that is more work than demanding Zuckerberg change what people see, but giving up liberty for laziness never works out well in the end. Absolutely, 100% spot-on.

Microsoft's x86 on ARM64 emulation: a Fall 2017 feature

Monday 21st of November 2016 09:02:23 PM
Since January 2016 (and maybe before), there's been talk that Microsoft was working on bringing x86 emulation to ARM processors. Sources of mine are now saying that this capability is coming to Windows 10, though not until "Redstone 3" in the Fall of 2017. Here's why this matters: Microsoft officials continue to claim that Continuum -- the capability that will allow Windows 10 Mobile devices to connect to external displays and keyboards -- is going to be a key for the company, its partners and its customers. There's been one very big limitation to Continuum so far, however: It only allows users to run Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and not full-fledged x86 apps. What if an ARM64-based device could run x86 apps via emulation, the same way that the WOW (Windows on Windows) emulator allowed 32-bit apps to run on 64-bit Windows? That would make Windows 10 Mobile, which as of now, continues to support ARM only, and Continuum a lot more interesting, especially to business users who need certain Win32/line-of-business apps. Quite compelling, to say the least. I've always considered the smartphone that turns into a full-fledged desktop when docked the holy grail of the mobile computing world, and I'm excited that Microsoft is still working on it. They'll get it right eventually. Infinite monkeys and all that.

Beyond Nokia: a love story

Monday 21st of November 2016 08:58:39 PM
With another wave of restructuring underway, which would see Nokia lay off tens of thousands of employees over the next few years, conversations like these and the close but remote relationship that the two had established might soon come to an end. What they and their fellow Nokians needed was a way to stay in touch. And so, with little fuss or fanfare, Rentrop and Parumog set up the 'Beyond Nokia' Facebook group. [...] "It's a love story," says Sotiris Makrygiannis, who was previously director of applications and site manager of Nokia's Helsinki R&D center. "I've never seen such a large group of people adoring a company. It's remarkable. All these tens of thousands of people lost their jobs and instead of hating the company, actually admiring the company". To understand why, Rentrop points me to Nokia's old company slogan: Connecting People. "It was not just a marketing phrase," she says, "for many members Nokia became a family". That sentiment is echoed in the hundreds of messages and photos currently being posted to the group every hour. To this day, the demise of so much of Nokia is a black page in the EU's history. The deal with Microsoft should have never been allowed to go through, and there's definitely grounds for more thorough investigation into the history and circumstances of the deal. Of course, it's impossible to say if Nokia's smartphone arm would've survived with Android, but I'm quite confident the company would've faced far better odds. As I said from the very beginning: the moment Nokia decided to share the bed with Microsoft, was the moment Nokia signed its own death warrant.

Apple abandons development of wireless routers

Monday 21st of November 2016 05:54:32 PM
Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company's focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision hasn't been publicly announced. Apple hasn't refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry. The decision to disband the team indicates the company isn't currently pushing forward with new versions of its routers. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s plans. You can pry my 2013 AirPort Extreme from my cold, dead hands. After a long string of terrible routers, I have nothing but positive experiences with it, and have zero intention of replacing it with anything else.

New OS from Kaspersky Labs

Monday 21st of November 2016 03:44:19 PM
Kaspersky Labs has developed its own operating system for switches and other networking devices. First, it's based on microkernel architecture, which allows to assemble 'from blocks' different modifications of the operating system depending on a customer's specific requirements. Second, there's its built-in security system, which controls the behavior of applications and the OS's modules. In order to hack this platform a cyber-baddie would need to break the digital signature, which - any time before the introduction of quantum computers - would be exorbitantly expensive. Third, everything has been built from scratch. Anticipating your questions: not even the slightest smell of Linux. All the popular operating systems aren't designed with security in mind, so it's simpler and safer to start from the ground up and do everything correctly. Which is just what we did. More details will follow soon, the company promises.

Microsoft replaces cmd with PowerShell in new Windows 10 build

Friday 18th of November 2016 03:56:46 PM
Command Prompt has been around for as long as we can remember, but starting with Windows 10 build 14971, Microsoft is trying to make PowerShell the main command shell in the operating system. As a result, PowerShell officially replaces the Command Prompt in the Win + X menu, so when you right-click the Start menu, you’ll only be allowed to launch the more powerful app. Additionally, in File Explorer’s File menu and in the context menu that appears when pressing Shift + right-click in any folder, the old Command Prompt will no longer be available. Typing cmd in the run dialog will launch PowerShell as well, so Microsoft has made a significant step towards phasing out the traditional Command Prompt. It's funny - cmd has always been seen as a sort-of Baby's First Command Line, and compared to the shell that comes standard with any UNIX-based operating system, that was certainly true. However, now that Windows has a replacement that is much more capable than cmd, people will cry foul and hell over the possible deprecation of cmd. Us nerds are fickle.

Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation

Thursday 17th of November 2016 11:07:23 PM
The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced that Microsoft has joined the organization at a Platinum member during Microsoft's Connect(); developer event in New York. For those of us who witnessed the Microsoft of the late '90s and early 2000s, this is yet another one of those "the industry has really changed" moments.

Surface Studio review: a beautiful invader of Apple's base

Thursday 17th of November 2016 11:03:26 PM
The Verge's Surface Studio review (there's more reviews at Engadget and CNet): It's an engineering marvel of a monitor, but I really wish Microsoft sold it separately. I want to dock my Surface Book to it, or transform any laptop into a full Surface Studio. If I'm investing in a desktop PC at this kind of price then I also really want to be able to upgrade it and use it for gaming and more powerful work. I can't do either of those things with the Surface Studio. If this was a monitor with a powerful GPU in it designed to complement Microsoft's existing Surface devices and "upgrade" them, I'd probably be throwing my wallet at my screen right now. It's hard to do so knowing that I'm not getting the latest and greatest specs for that $2,999, and that's before you even consider the top model I've been testing is $4,199. That doesn't discount what Microsoft has attempted to do here. It's truly something unique and a hint of real innovation we haven't seen for some years with PCs. Others have tried to experiment, like HP's Sprout, but it's rare to see something more than just an all-in-one. Microsoft's exciting Surface Studio unveil has been compared to Apple's disappointing MacBook Pro launch, and with good reason. Many creatives I’ve spoken to about the Surface Studio have said the same thing: why isn't Apple doing this? Apple seems to be forcing creatives to choose an iPad Pro for touch and pen, but the powerful and professional apps just aren't there yet on iOS, and it's not clear if companies like Adobe are willing to rewrite their software to be just as useful on an iPad Pro. Microsoft has realized the potential in the market to reach out to creatives who feel abandoned by Apple, and it's an influential crowd that could be swayed over by devices like the Surface Studio. As awesome as the Surface Studio looks, the specs of the PC part of the equation lag behind - most of the high price is defined by the display - but I guess the biggest problem with it is that it runs Windows. The creative community has been using macOS for so long, and it's hard to leave a platform behind.

Pixel security: better, faster, stronger

Thursday 17th of November 2016 10:52:52 PM
Encryption protects your data if your phone falls into someone else's hands. The new Google Pixel and Pixel XL are encrypted by default to offer strong data protection, while maintaining a great user experience with high I/O performance and long battery life. In addition to encryption, the Pixel phones debuted running the Android Nougat release, which has even more security improvements. This blog post covers the encryption implementation on Google Pixel devices and how it improves the user experience, performance, and security of the device. These kinds of things should've been default a long time ago.

Google signs on to the .NET Foundation

Wednesday 16th of November 2016 11:57:08 PM
Microsoft is hosting its annual Connect(); developer event in New York today. With .NET being at the core of many of its efforts, including on the open-source side, it’s no surprise that the event also featured a few .NET-centric announcements, as well. For the most part, these center around the .NET Foundation, the open-source organization Microsoft established to guide the future development of the .NET Core project. As the company announced today, Google is now a member of the .NET Foundation, where it joins the likes of Red Hat, Unity, Samsung JetBrains and (of course) Microsoft in the Technical Steering Group. In addition, Samsung is bringing .NET to its Tizen platform, which it claims is installed on 50 million devices. Tizen is uses in Samsung smartwatches and TVs, among other things.

ReactOS 0.4.3 Released

Wednesday 16th of November 2016 10:05:35 PM
ReactOS 0.4.3 has been released. Notable in this release is the switching to a new winsock library that had been started several years ago by Alex Ionescu and imported into trunk by Ged Murphy. Even after it was brought in however significant work remained to be done before it could replace the old winsock library, work which Peter Hater and Andreas Maier undertook. Their effort has now reached a point wherein the team feels it is ready to supplant the original library and 0.4.3 serves as the first release to incorporate it. As the winsock library underpins effectively all network operations in user mode applications, and its improvement should be a significant boon for ReactOS' compatibility with such programs as the Good old Games (GoG) client and newer versions of the Python runtime. The changelog offers all the details, and you can download it from their website.

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

  • Lenovo Cloud Director: Open Source Technologies Are The Glue That Binds The Hybrid Cloud
    Hardware giant Lenovo is banking on a future where both public and private clouds are critical in driving IT innovation, and the glue binding those hybrid environments is mostly open source technologies. Dan Harmon, Lenovo's group director of cloud and software-defined infrastructure, encouraged solution providers attending the NexGen Cloud Conference & Expo on Wednesday to explore opportunities to engage Lenovo as its products stock the next generation of cloud data centers. Both public and private clouds are growing rapidly and will dominate the market by 2020, Harmon told attendees of the conference produced by CRN parent The Channel Company.
  • Cloudera Ratchets Up its Training for Top Open Source Data Solutions
    Recently, we've taken note of the many organizations offering free or low cost Hadoop and Big Data training. MIT and MapR are just a couple of the players making waves in this space. Recently, Cloudera announced a catalog of online, self-paced training classes covering the company's entire portfolio of industry-standard Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark training courses. The courses, according to Cloudera, allow you to learn about the latest big data technologies "in a searchable environment anytime, anywhere." Now, Cloudera has announced an updated lineup of training courses and performance-based certification exams for data analysts, database administrators, and developers. The expanded training offerings address the skills gap around many top open source technologies, such as Apache Impala (incubating), Apache Spark, Apache Kudu, Apache Kafka and Apache Hive.
  • Netflix’s open-source project Hollow, NVIDIA’s deep learning kits for educators, and new IBM Bluemix integrations—SD Times news digest: Dec. 6, 2016
  • Open governance enhances the value of land use policy software
    In December 2015, the COP21 Paris Agreement saw many countries commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through initiatives in the land sector. In this context, emissions estimation systems will be key in ensuring these targets are met. Such solutions would not only be capable of assessing past trends but also of supporting target setting, tracking progress and helping to develop scenarios to inform policy decisions.
  • Blender Institute collaborate with Lulzbot in the name of open source
    Blender Institute, a platform for 3D design and animation, are collaborating with Lulzbot 3D printers. This project a continuation of Lulzbot and Blender Institute’s approach to open source and aimed at enhancing collaboration. The Blender Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is an important figure in the Free and Open Source Software community (FOSS). Providing open source design tool software for 3D movies, games, and visual effects. While Lulzbot, a product line of Aleph Objects take an open source approach to hardware through their 3D printers.
  • Bluetooth 5 Specification Released

Remembering Linux Installfests

Ah, yes. I remember the good old days when you had to be a real man or woman to install Linux, and the first time you tried you ended up saying something like “Help!” or maybe “Mommmmyyyyy!” Really, kids, that’s how it was. Stacks of floppies that took about 7,000 hours to download over your 16 baud connection. Times sure have changed, haven’t they? I remember Caldera advertising that their distribution autodetected 1,500 different monitors. I wrote an article titled “Monitor Number 1501,” because it didn’t detect my monitor. And sound. Getting sound going in Linux took mighty feats of systemic administsationish strength. Mere mortals could not do it. And that’s why we had installfests: so mighty Linux he-men and she-women could come down from the top of Slackware Mountain or the Red Hat Volcano and share their godlike wisdom with us. We gladly packed up our computers and took them to the installfest location (often at a college, since many Linux-skilled people were collegians) and walked away with Linuxized computers. Praise be! Read more

What New Is Going To Be In Ubuntu 17.04 'Zesty Zapus'

Right on the heels of Ubuntu 16.10 'Yakkety Yak' is Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus. Ubuntu 17.04 is currently scheduled for release on April 13, 2017 but know that this is only an estimate. One thing to know is that all things being equal, it is going to be released in April 2017. Ubuntu Zesty Zapus will be supported for only 9 months until January 2018 as it is not a LTS (long term support) release. Read
more

Security News

  • News in brief: DirtyCOW patched for Android; naked lack of security; South Korea hacked
  • Millions exposed to malvertising that hid attack code in banner pixels
    Researchers from antivirus provider Eset said "Stegano," as they've dubbed the campaign, dates back to 2014. Beginning in early October, its unusually stealthy operators scored a major coup by getting the ads displayed on a variety of unnamed reputable news sites, each with millions of daily visitors. Borrowing from the word steganography—the practice of concealing secret messages inside a larger document that dates back to at least 440 BC—Stegano hides parts of its malicious code in parameters controlling the transparency of pixels used to display banner ads. While the attack code alters the tone or color of the images, the changes are almost invisible to the untrained eye.
  • Backdoor accounts found in 80 Sony IP security camera models
    Many network security cameras made by Sony could be taken over by hackers and infected with botnet malware if their firmware is not updated to the latest version. Researchers from SEC Consult have found two backdoor accounts that exist in 80 models of professional Sony security cameras, mainly used by companies and government agencies given their high price. One set of hard-coded credentials is in the Web interface and allows a remote attacker to send requests that would enable the Telnet service on the camera, the SEC Consult researchers said in an advisory Tuesday.
  • I'm giving up on PGP
    After years of wrestling GnuPG with varying levels of enthusiasm, I came to the conclusion that it's just not worth it, and I'm giving up. At least on the concept of long term PGP keys. This is not about the gpg tool itself, or about tools at all. Many already wrote about that. It's about the long term PGP key model—be it secured by Web of Trust, fingerprints or Trust on First Use—and how it failed me.