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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 20 min 53 sec ago

Apollo Vampire V4 announced

Saturday 5th of August 2017 07:12:30 PM
A new Apollo accelerator board has been released. What are these? 
Apollo Accelerators is an Amiga Classic accelerator board product line. It uses the Apollo core which is a code compatible Motorola M68K and ColdFire processor but is 3 to 4 time faster than the fastest 68060 at time. It also brings Amiga Classic near to Amiga NG by bringing digital video with millions of colours. The Vampire V4 improves upon its predecessors in numerous ways. As always, the Amiga community always manages to keep their own computers relevant and up-to-date, if even for just a small group of users. Amazing.

How old are operating systems?

Tuesday 1st of August 2017 11:09:59 PM
Today, it hit me that iOS is already ten years old. I consider iOS a relatively new and fresh operating system, but can we really say that at ten years old? In order to figure that out, I quickly threw together a little graph to visualise the age of both current and deprecated operating systems to get a better look at the age of operating systems. It counts operating system age in terms of years from initial public release (excluding beta or preview releases) to the last release (in case of deprecated operating systems) or until today (in case of operating systems still in active development). I've included mainly popular, successful, consumer-oriented operating systems, leaving out more server or embedded oriented operating systems (such as UNIX and QNX), which tend to have vastly different needs and development cycles. As far as the nomenclature goes, Windows 9x includes everything from Windows 1.0 to Windows ME, and Mac OS covers System 1 through Mac OS 9.2.2. Windows CE is currently called Windows Embedded Compact, but its line also includes Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, and Windows PocketPC. Red indicates the operating system is no longer being developed, whereas green means it's still under active development. The only question mark in this regard is Windows CE; its latest release is Embedded Compact 2013 in 2013, and while I think it's still in development, I'm not entirely sure. This graph isn't a scientifically accurate, well-researched, quotable piece of information - it takes many shortcuts and brushes several questions aside for brevity's sake. For instance, looking at the last official release doesn't always make sense, such as with Windows Service Packs or Mac OS X point releases, and I haven't even been entirely consistent with these anyway. On top of that, the graph doesn't take months or weeks into account, and just counts everything in terms of years. Linux shouldn't technically be included at all (since it's just a kernel), and you can conceivably argue that, for instance, Mac OS X is older than its initial release in the form of 10.0 since it's so heavily based on NEXTSTEP. Amiga OS is also a bit of a stretch, since its development pace is slow and has even died down completely on several occasions. You could maybe possibly argue that BeOS is still in active development in the form of Haiku, but I consider Haiku a reimplementation, and not a continuation. In any event, I originally wasn't planning on doing anything with this, but I figured I might as well publish it here since it's an interesting overview.

Apple's silence in China sets a dangerous precedent

Tuesday 1st of August 2017 09:25:31 AM
Farhad Manjoo, in The New York Times:
 A year ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation made an extraordinary demand of Apple. To get inside a dead terrorist's iPhone, law enforcement officials wanted the company to create a hackable version of the software that runs all iPhones. To many legal experts, it wasn't obvious that Apple had a winning case against the request. But facing great legal and political opposition, Apple took a stand anyway. Timothy D. Cook, Apple's chief executive, argued that the company had a financial and moral duty to protect its users' privacy and security. He made clear that Apple would obey American law - but only after trying to shape the law. The fight paid off. On the eve of a courtroom showdown, the F.B.I. rescinded its request. It is worth underlining this point: When Apple took a public stand for its users' liberty and privacy, the American government blinked. Yet in China over the weekend, when faced with a broad demand by the Chinese internet authority, it was Apple that blinked. Apple openly and publicly buts heads with the US government but not with the Chinese government because of one very simple reason: Apple is more dependent on, and beholden to, China than on and to the US. Virtually everything Apple sells is made in China, and Apple has nowhere else to go. For a company that always tries to strive for control, it really low-waged itself into a corner.

*Right and wrong*

Tuesday 1st of August 2017 12:35:22 AM
Earlier today, John Gruber linked to this piece, and I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the superior orders defense. Gruber later followed up with a more detailed article, and wondered what I think Apple should do. Too many people reacting to this story think that it's about Apple deciding to acquiesce to this particular demand regarding VPN apps. It's not. The real issues are two-fold: Should Apple being doing business in China at all? Should the App Store remain the only way to install apps on iOS devices? Neither of these are simple topics, and I would (and am about to) argue that neither question has a clear-cut "this is the right thing to do" answer. Nonsense. In both of these cases, it's very "clear-cut" what "the right thing to do" is. No. No. Since the App Store question is obvious - my computer, my rules, my software, get out - let's move on to the China question. The only reason this issue is supposedly not "clear-cut" is because we live in a society that values money over people. People like John Gruber argue that Google's advertising practices and data collection are bad and evil, but in one breath argue that it's okay for Apple to buddy up to totalitarian regimes like the ones in China or Saudi-Arabia that have complete and utter disregard for human rights because it's good for Apple. You can certainly make that argument - and each and every one of us uses products that either depend on or are made in totalitarian regimes - but don't try to justify it or claim there's no clear right and wrong here. Collaborating with such regimes is clearly wrong, period. No ifs, buts, or maybes, and by buying products made in China or by putting Saudi-Arabian oil in our cars we are all complicit, whether we like it or not. We like to make it seem as if right and wrong are cloudy, nebulous concepts, but in reality, they rarely are. The only thing that's cloudy and nebulous is our own cognitive dissonance and the twisting, contorting, and justifying we - as a society - do to solve it. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

The history of the IBM PC, part two: the DOS empire strikes

Monday 31st of July 2017 09:54:56 PM
Since I abused the first part in Ars' two-parter on the history of the IBM PC for my own selfish purposes, it's only fair to use the publication of part two to actually talk about the subject matter at hand. In November 1979, Microsoft's frequent partner Seattle Computer Products released a standalone Intel 8086 motherboard for hardcore hobbyists and computer manufacturers looking to experiment with this new and very powerful CPU. The 8086 was closely related to the 8088 that IBM chose for the PC; the latter was a cost-reduced version of the former, an 8-bit/16-bit hybrid chip rather than a pure 16-bit like the 8086. IBM opted for the less powerful 8088 partly to control costs, but also to allow the use of certain hardware that required the 8-bit external data bus found on the 8088. But perhaps the biggest consideration stemmed, as happens so often, from the marketing department rather than engineering. The 8086 was such a powerful chip that an IBM PC so equipped might convince some customers to choose it in lieu of IBM's own larger systems; IBM wanted to take business from other PC manufacturers, not from their own other divisions. The IBM PC and its compatibles changed the computing landscape more than any other platform, and to this day it remains the archetype of what people think of when they think of "computer". While the archetypal computer is surely changing into a laptop or even a smartphone, they've got a long way to go before they push the PC out of the collective consciousness as the "default" computer.

A2osX: multitasking operating system for the Apple IIe

Sunday 30th of July 2017 10:40:32 PM
A2osX is a cooperative, event-driven multitasking kernel (meaning it is applications that are responsible to give back control to kernel). Its principal goal is to collect all "genius" 65c02 pieces of code ever written here and there, concentrated in the same environment (including IP Stack & HTTPD/TELNETD..., GUI & graphical tools...). "Complete working place", no needing any more to reboot to switch between tons of diskettes! A2osX is designed to work on any "stock" 128k Apple //e, with no additional hardware. The Apple II turned 40 this year and it still has a lot of life left in it.

Building an 8-bit breadboard computer

Sunday 30th of July 2017 08:58:44 PM
Ben Eater has built his own 8-bit computer, and documented the process. I built a programmable 8-bit computer from scratch on breadboards using only simple logic gates. I documented the whole project in a series of YouTube videos and on this web site.

Apple removes apps that help Chinese evade censorship

Sunday 30th of July 2017 08:56:11 PM
China appears to have received help on Saturday from an unlikely source in its fight against tools that help users evade its Great Firewall of internet censorship: Apple. Software made by foreign companies to help users skirt the country's system of internet filters has vanished from Apple's app store on the mainland. Profit over people is entirely normal for large corporations like Apple. They rarely choose the other way around.

AMD Ryzen 3 1300X and 1200 CPU review: Zen on a budget

Friday 28th of July 2017 07:49:15 PM
So far all the products launched with Zen have aimed at the upper echelons of the PC market, covering mainstream, enthusiasts and enterprise customers - areas with high average selling prices to which a significant number of column inches are written. But the volume segment, key for metrics such as market share, are in the entry level products. So far the AMD Zen core, and the octo-core Zeppelin silicon design, has been battling on the high-end. With Ryzen 3, it comes to play in the budget market. AnandTech's review and benchmarks of the new low-end Ryzen 3 processors.

My $169 development Chromebook

Friday 28th of July 2017 07:44:59 PM
In the last year while talking to respected security-focused engineers & developers, I've come to fully appreciate Google's Chrome OS design. The architecture benefited from a modern view of threat modeling and real-world attacks. For example, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) hardware chips are built into every Chromebook and deeply incorporated into the OS. The design documents go into some detail on the specific protections that TPM provides, particularly around critical encryption functions. I also learned that Chromebook is the daily driver for many of Google's own senior developers and security engineers. In short, the combination of the underlying Chromebook hardware with the OS architecture makes for a pretty compelling secure development environment. [...] It's pretty neat to consider the possibility of pre-travel "power washing" (resetting everything clean to factory settings) on an inexpensive Chromebook and later securely restore over the air once at my destination. Since there is a wide range in Chromebook prices, the engineering challenge here was to find something powerful enough to comfortably use exclusively for several days of coding, writing, and presenting, but also cheap enough that should it get lost/stolen/damaged, I wouldn't lose too much sleep. The threat model here does not include recovery from physical tampering; if the machine were somehow confiscated or otherwise out of my custody, I could treat it as a burner and move on. Interesting guide on how to turn an inexpensive Chromebook into a burner developer device safe for international travel.

GNUSTEP live CD 2.5 released

Wednesday 26th of July 2017 08:56:11 PM
After almost 8 years (we talked about it, of course), a new version of the GNUSTEP live CD has been released - version 2.5, for amd64. The live CD is based on Debian 9, has low hardware requirements, and uses Linux 4.9 with compressed RAM and no systemd. The live CD is a very easy and non-destructive way of testing out and playing with GNUSTEP, a free software implementation of OPENSTEP. It's been a long, long time since I got to use our glorious *STEP database category. Isn't that one beautiful icon?

FreeBSD 11.1 released

Wednesday 26th of July 2017 02:24:40 PM
FreeBSD 11.1 has been released, and as you can tell by the version number, it's a point release. The release announcement, release notes, and errata are available for your perusal. FreeBSD users already know full well how to upgrade - they're probably already running it - and newcomers can go to the download page to download the proper ISO.

Adobe discontinues Flash

Tuesday 25th of July 2017 04:11:51 PM
Today, Adobe announced that Flash will no longer be supported after 2020. Microsoft will phase out support for Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer ahead of this date. Flash led the way on the web for rich content, gaming, animations, and media of all kinds, and inspired many of the current web standards powering HTML5. Adobe has partnered with Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Apple, and many others, to ensure that the open web could meet and exceed the experiences that Flash has traditionally provided. HTML5 standards, implemented across all modern browsers, provide these capabilities with improved performance, battery life, and increased security. We look forward to continuing to work with Adobe and our industry partners on enriching the open web without the need for plug-ins. We will phase out Flash from Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, culminating in the removal of Flash from Windows entirely by the end of 2020. Adobe's own announcement is coughing up HTTP 500 errors right now; hence the link to Microsoft's announcement. You can also read Apple's/WebKit's announcement, and the one from Chrome/Google.

MaXX Desktop Indy 1.1 released

Monday 24th of July 2017 11:26:40 PM
A new version of the MaXX Desktop hasbeen released. We linked to the project almost two months ago, but the short of it is that it is a continuation of 5dwm.org and intends to bring the IRIX desktop to Linux. New features in this release include new xterm-330 with support for UTF-8 characters, SGI color schemes for GTK applications, a new console, new configuration files, SGI demos, as well as other small fixes. And I'll keep putting these in the otherwise entirely useless and defunct SGI database category.

OpenMoko: 10 years after

Monday 24th of July 2017 11:22:51 PM
Michael Lauer, employee #2 at OpenMoko, has written a detailed article about the project and its eventual demise. For the 10th anniversary since the legendary OpenMoko announcement at the "Open Source in Mobile" (7th of November 2006 in Amsterdam), I've been meaning to write an anthology or - as Paul Fertser suggested on #openmoko-cdevel - an obituary. I've been thinking about objectively describing the motivation, the momentum, how it all began and - sadly - ended. I did even plan to include interviews with Sean, Harald, Werner, and some of the other veterans. But as with oh so many projects of (too) wide scope this would probably never be completed. As November 2016 passed without any progress, I decided to do something different instead. Something way more limited in scope, but something I can actually finish. My subjective view of the project, my participation, and what I think is left behind: My story, as OpenMoko employee #2. On top of that you will see a bunch of previously unreleased photos (bear with me, I'm not a good photographer and the camera sucked as well). Mr. Lauer ends the article on a sad but entirely true note: Right now my main occupation is writing software for Apple's platforms - and while it's nice to work on apps using a massive set of luxury frameworks and APIs, you're locked and sandboxed within the software layers Apple allows you. I'd love to be able to work on an open source Linux-based middleware again. However, the sad truth is that it looks like there is no business case anymore for a truly open platform based on custom-designed hardware, since people refuse to spend extra money for tweakability, freedom, and security. Despite us living in times where privacy is massively endangered. If anyone out there thinks different and plans a project, please holler and get me on board! We'd all love such a project to succeed.

Microsoft Paint gets deprecated

Monday 24th of July 2017 01:53:15 PM
Microsoft has announced - through a boring table, because Microsoft - that MS Paint has been deprecated. This means that it will soon be removed from Windows completely, superseded - supposedly - by their new Paint 3D. When Microsoft Paint will officially be removed from Windows has yet to be confirmed, while a precise date for the release of the Windows 10 Autumn Creators Update is equally up in the air. Whether, like Clippy, Windows users will celebrate or decry Paint's removal, it will be a moment in the history of Windows as one of its longest-standing apps is put out to pasture. To be honest, I don't quite understand why you'd use Paint for anything since Paint.NET is far more capable and also free.

Microsoft Paint gets depracated

Monday 24th of July 2017 01:53:15 PM
Microsoft has announced - through a boring table, because Microsoft - that MS Paint has been deprecated. This means that it will soon be removed from Windows completely, superseded - supposedly - by their new Paint 3D. When Microsoft Paint will officially be removed from Windows has yet to be confirmed, while a precise date for the release of the Windows 10 Autumn Creators Update is equally up in the air. Whether, like Clippy, Windows users will celebrate or decry Paint's removal, it will be a moment in the history of Windows as one of its longest-standing apps is put out to pasture. To be honest, I don't quite understand why you'd use Paint for anything since Paint.NET is far more capable and also free.

The "Million Dollar Homepage" as a decaying digital artifact

Monday 24th of July 2017 12:05:17 PM
But to what extent has this history been preserved? Does the Million Dollar Homepage represent a robust digital artifact 12 years after its creation, or has it fallen prey to the ephemerality common to internet content? Have the forces of link rot and administrative neglect rendered it a shell of its former self? I remember this quite well - and I can't believe it's already been 12 years. As the article notes, it serves as a great preserved microcosm of that era's web - good and bad.

An interactive map of the Odyssey

Saturday 22nd of July 2017 08:36:51 PM
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are, in my humble view, two of the greatest works of art of all times. From a very young age, I started reading children-friendly versions of the two stories, and later, during ancient Greek class in high school, we translated parts of the original works. Personally, I prefer the Odyssey, but I guess the Iliad is probably the greater, more popular epic. Thanks to the blessings of modern computing, the internet, and technology, we can now make beautiful interactive maps of stories, and I've been thoroughly enjoying The Odyssey Map today. I've seen such maps before, but not as smooth and nicely illustrated as this one. Add it to the list of awesome historical maps, such as the amazing 200-year topographical history of The Netherlands, or the countless interactive maps of the Roman Empire.

Debian 9.1 released

Saturday 22nd of July 2017 08:25:22 PM
The Debian project is pleased to announce the first update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available. This isn't actually a new version or anything like that; a Debian point release just means a number of packages have been updated.

More in Tux Machines

Server: NASA, Kubernetes at GitHub, and Docker in Mainframes

  • NASA Launches Supercomputer Servers into Space
    During that time, it will run a series of supercomputing benchmarks, including High Performance Linpack, the High Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG) suite, and the NASA-derived NAS parallel benchmarks. Its operation will be compared to HPE servers of the same construction back on Earth. The idea is to make sure that the ISS-based system is able to deal with the realities of cosmic radiation, solar flares, unstable electrical power, and wide variations in temperature.
  • Kubernetes at GitHub
    Over the last year, GitHub has gradually evolved the infrastructure that runs the Ruby on Rails application responsible for github.com and api.github.com. We reached a big milestone recently: all web and API requests are served by containers running in Kubernetes clusters deployed on our metal cloud. Moving a critical application to Kubernetes was a fun challenge, and we’re excited to share some of what we’ve learned with you today.
  • Docker Can Now Containerize Legacy Apps Running on Mainframes
    Docker this week announced the first update to its rebranded flagship platform with the release of Docker Enterprise Edition (EE) 17.06. Back in March, Docker rolled out the first Docker EE, built on the backs of what had been known as Docker Commercially Supported and Docker Datacenter. The new release comes on the heels of a report last week from Bloomberg that the container company has been raising money, which will result in $75 million dollars being added to its coffers by the end of the month, bringing with it a new valuation of $1.3 billion — up $300 million from its previous valuation.

Linux Foundation's Dronecode, Ethereum Blockchain, and Kernel Changes

today's howtos

Games: Out of Reach, Darkwood and F1 2017