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Exploring the Future of Computing
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Data of 143 million Americans stolen from Equifax

Thursday 7th of September 2017 11:45:22 PM
Equifax Inc. today announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company's investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. The company has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax's core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases. Names, social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers - this is a very big breach. Interestingly enough, three executives of the credit reporting agency sold their shares in the company days after the breach was discovered.

LLVM 5.0.0 released

Thursday 7th of September 2017 11:31:54 PM
This release is the result of the community's work over the past six months, including: C++17 support, co-routines, improved optimizations, new compiler warnings, many bug fixes, and more. The release notes contain more details.

Bringing back the iPhone headphone jack - in China

Thursday 7th of September 2017 04:10:39 PM
Remember when Scotty Allen built his own iPhone from parts bought in Shenzhen? This time around, he ups the ante and adds a headphone jack to an iPhone 7. He had to design his own custom circuit board, have it printed, and build it into his iPhone 7. It's an amazing project, and it's an incredibly interesting 30 minute video. I've spent the past four months in Shenzhen, China, modifying an iPhone 7 to add a fully functional headphone jack. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time anyone has done anything like this. In April, I decided to finally upgrade my iPhone 6s to an iPhone7 to get better camera quality for the videos I was shooting when I was out on adventures in the industrial markets and manufacturing world. But I was super annoyed that it doesn't have a headphone jack! I already have headphones I really liked, and I didn’t like the idea of having to keep track of an adapter just to use them. So I figured I'd add my own - after all, how hard could it be? It turns out, really really hard. But possible. He sent the circuit board he designed and built to Apple, and open sourced all the schematics needed so those with the right tools and expertise can build it at home.

Google: it is time to return to not being evil

Tuesday 5th of September 2017 11:08:30 AM
Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Vivalvi (and former CEO of Opera): Recently, our Google AdWords campaigns were suspended without warning. This was the second time that I have encountered this situation. This time, however, timing spoke volumes. I had several interviews where I voiced concerns about the data gathering and ad targeting practices - in particular, those of Google and Facebook. They collect and aggregate far too much personal information from their users. I see this as a very serious, democracy-threatening problem, as the vast targeting opportunities offered by Google and Facebook are not only good for very targeted marketing, but also for tailored propaganda. The idea of the Internet turning into a battlefield of propaganda is very far away from the ideal. Two days after my thoughts were published in an article by Wired, we found out that all the campaigns under our Google AdWords account were suspended - without prior warning. Was this just a coincidence? Or was it deliberate, a way of sending us a message? Large technology companies have an immense amount of control over and influence on our society, far more than they - or anyone else, for that matter - care to admit. We're way past the point where governments should step in and start to correct this dangerous situation. It's time for another breakup of the Bell System. It's time we, as society, take a long, hard look at corporations - in tech and elsewhere - and ask ourselves if we really want to be subject to the control of organisations we effectively have no democratic control over. I'm not a proponent of nationalisation, but I am a proponent of breaking up Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly others (I'm sticking to technology for now) to severely limit their power and influence. The products and services these companies create have become too important and too vital to the functioning of our society, and they should be treated as such. It wouldn't be the first time we, as society, decide a certain product has become too vital to leave in corporations' unrestricted hands.

Ars Technica's Android 8.0 review

Monday 4th of September 2017 10:20:44 PM
Ars has a very detailed review - more of an in-depth deconstruction, to be honest, and that's a good thing - of Android 8.0 Oreo. Take a closer look at Oreo and you really can see the focus on fundamentals. Google is revamping the notification system with a new layout, new controls, and a new color scheme. It's taking responsibility for Android security with a Google-branded security solution. App background processing has been reined in, hopefully providing better battery life and more consistent performance. There's even been some work done on Android's perpetual update problem, with Project Treble allowing for easier update development and streaming updates allowing for easier installation by users. And, as with every release, more parts of Android get more modularized, with emojis and GPU driver updates now available without an OS update. Saving this one for tomorrow.

Oracle kills Solaris

Monday 4th of September 2017 10:16:16 PM
Remember, back in December 2016, when there were rumours Oracle was killing Solaris? And how a month later, Solaris effectively switched to maintenance mode, and then to a "continuous deliver model"? The news from the ex-Sun community jungle drums is that the January rumours were true and Oracle laid off the core talent of the Solaris and SPARC teams on Friday. That surely has to mean a maintenance-only future for the product range, especially with Solaris 12 cancelled. A classic Oracle "silent EOL", no matter what they claim. With the hardware deprecated, my guess is that's the last of the Sun assets Oracle acquired written off. Just how good were Oracle's decisions on buying Sun? Sun's Solaris is dead. Bryan Cantrill on this news (this Bryan Cantrill): As had been rumored for a while, Oracle effectively killed Solaris on Friday. When I first saw this, I had assumed that this was merely a deep cut, but in talking to Solaris engineers still at Oracle, it is clearly much more than that. It is a cut so deep as to be fatal: the core Solaris engineering organization lost on the order of 90% of its people, including essentially all management. [...] Judging merely by its tombstone, the life of Solaris can be viewed as tragic: born out of wedlock between Sun and AT&T and dying at the hands of a remorseless corporate sociopath a quarter century later. And even that may be overstating its longevity: Solaris may not have been truly born until it was made open source, and - certainly to me, anyway - it died the moment it was again made proprietary. But in that shorter life, Solaris achieved the singular: immortality for its revolutionary technologies. So while we can mourn the loss of the proprietary embodiment of Solaris (and we can certainly lament the coarse way in which its technologists were treated!), we can rejoice in the eternal life of its technologies - in illumos and beyond!

100 days of postmarketOS

Sunday 3rd of September 2017 05:56:11 PM
We talked about postmarketOS back in late May, and this weekend the project published a summary of all the work they've done over the past 100 days. What you see here is only the tip of the iceberg. So much work has gone into fixing bugs, and little improvements, that it would be ridiculous to go through the effort and list them all. The community has grown so fast in such a short time and we have people with all kinds of skills on board, ranging from Linux experts to kernel hackers to people who reverse engineer bootloaders (hi @McBitter!). We collaborate with people from other projects as well, such as @pavelmachek, who is close to using his N900 as a daily driver with his own distribution, recently just reached out to us. So if you read through the whole post, you are probably interested in what we do. Consider contributing to the project, the entry barrier is really low. pmbootstrap automates everything for you and we are more than happy to help you through any issues you encounter in the chat. There are also a lot of opportunities to help with development, so there's plenty to do. And plenty of fun to have. That's a lot of work for just 100 days.

ReactOS 0.4.6 released

Saturday 2nd of September 2017 10:51:53 PM
0.4.6 is a major step towards real hardware support. Several dual boot issues have been fixed and now partitions are managed in a safer way avoiding corruption of the partition list structures. ReactOS Loader can now load custom kernels and HALs. Printing Subsystem is still greenish in 0.4.6, however Colin Finck has implemented a huge number of new APIs and fixed some of the bugs reported and detected by the ReactOS automated tests. Regarding drivers, Pierre Schweitzer has added an NFS driver and started implementing RDBSS and RXCE, needed to enable SMB support in the future, Sylvain Petreolle has imported a Digital TV tuning device driver and the UDFS driver has been re-enabled in 0.4.6 after fixing several deadlocks and issues which was making it previously unusable. Critical bugs and leakages in CDFS, SCSI and HDAUDBUS have been also fixed. That's some solid progress.

The first commercial Asteroid OS smartwatch revealed

Saturday 2nd of September 2017 12:43:28 AM
The first ever commercial Asteroid OS smartwatch, Connect Watch, was revealed today by a French company going by the same name. A Wi-Fi only model and a 3G model were unveiled with prices 99€ and 129€ respectively. Sales for these watches will commence tomorrow. Connect watch aims to provide a free watch alternative to the Android Wear and Tizen watches. The watches are capable to function on their own without the need for a smartphone and the 3G model can perform calls as well. Asteroid OS, for those of you who don't know, is a Nemo Mobile based open source smartwatch OS and thus shares a lot of blood with Sailfish OS. Spearheaded by a talented young programmer Florent Revest, The project has matured a lot in 2 years since it inception and garnered lot of interest around the world. Jolla's Sailfish OS for smartwatch demo displayed in Slush 2016 and MWC 2017 was also based on Asteroid OS. No Asteroid OS sync application for Sailfish OS is yet to be in development. It's 2017, and I can post a news item about an alternative operating system shipping on a smartwatch. Today was a good day.

The next big Windows 10 update will be out on October 17

Saturday 2nd of September 2017 12:39:08 AM
The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update now has a release date: October 17. Microsoft started finalizing the release last week, and we'd expect this release to follow the pattern seen in previous Windows updates: the final build will be done some time in September and roll out to members of the Windows Insider program's fast, slow, and release preview rings. Then it will hit Windows Update. From there, we'd expect a slow ramp up in availability. Not the most substantial Windows update for regular users, but I do like the faster update cycle for Windows. I'm glad the monolithic releases of yore are gone for most users, while enterprise users are still able to opt for the Long Term Servicing Branch for the more monolithic approach.

Hardening the kernel in Android Oreo

Saturday 2nd of September 2017 12:34:32 AM
The hardening of Android's userspace has increasingly made the underlying Linux kernel a more attractive target to attackers. As a result, more than a third of Android security bugs were found in the kernel last year. In Android 8.0 (Oreo), significant effort has gone into hardening the kernel to reduce the number and impact of security bugs. Android Nougat worked to protect the kernel by isolating it from userspace processes with the addition of SELinux ioctl filtering and requiring seccomp-bpf support, which allows apps to filter access to available system calls when processing untrusted input. Android 8.0 focuses on kernel self-protection with four security-hardening features backported from upstream Linux to all Android kernels supported in devices that first ship with this release. Is it common to have to backport security features of newer Linux versions to older ones? Or is this just a peculiarity of Android's Linux kernel being so far behind the times?

Genode 17.08 supports Intel Gen-8 GPUs

Friday 1st of September 2017 10:00:39 AM
With version 17.08, the Genode OS project conquers the highly complex topic of hardware-accelerated graphics. In true microkernel fashion, Genode's new Intel-GPU multiplexer provides the bare minimum of functionality to enable (potentially untrusted) components to use the GPU without interfering with each other. Further highlights of the new release are the broadened support for the seL4 microkernel on ARM and 64-bit x86, the ability to boot via UEFI, and Genode's use as Xen DomU domain. Seven years ago, the Genode developers took their first baby steps with the use of hardware-accelerated graphics. However, their original port of the Intel graphics execution manager along with Mesa/Gallium to the Genode user land never outgrew an experimental stage. One particular limitation was that the GPU could only be used by a single application exclusively. At that time, the secure sharing of GPUs among multiple - and potentially malicious - applications was an afterthought in the predominant driver architectures like Linux' DRI. A port of this driver architecture to Genode would not magically solve that. In the meanwhile, hardware features like per-process graphics translation tables (PPGTT) and hardware contexts have proliferated and are now present in all modern Intel GPUs. What MMU-based virtual memory is to a CPU, these features are to a GPU. They in principle allow the sandboxed execution of GPU commands under the regime of a potentially very small GPU driver, analogously to how a microkernel facilitates an MMU to sandbox user-level components. However, with about 100K lines of code, Intel's official i915 driver stack as used in the Linux kernel is far from being small and simple. To put the number in perspective, modern microkernels like seL4 or NOVA consist of merely 10K lines of code. Inflating Genode's trusted computing base by on order of magnitude would be a tough decision. There had to be another way. Hence, one year ago, an experiment was started to develop a clean-slate GPU multiplexer as a Genode component. In contrast to the i915 driver stack that needs to accommodate a mind boggling number of legacy hardware that is still in broad use, Genode's custom GPU multiplexer could do a clear cut by only supporting very recent GPUs. The result is quite reassuring. At far less than 10K of code, Genode's new user-land GPU multiplexer is able to accommodate trusted and untrusted OpenGL applications side by side. The current release features the first version of this component along with several examples. Besides the GPU topic, the new release comes with numerous other improvements. Most noteworthy is the ability to use Genode with the seL4 kernel on the ARM and 64-bit x86 architectures. The upgraded seL4 support also enables SMP on x86, priorities, and Genode's CPU-monitoring facilities. Following up on the big infrastructural changes of the previous releases, the current release comes with gradual refinements of the VFS infrastructure, the timing accuracy, and the package-management tools. The complete picture is presented in the official release documentation.

Apple finally openly supports net neutrality

Friday 1st of September 2017 09:58:51 AM
Apple finally has something to say about net neutrality. In its first comment to the FCC about proposed upcoming rollbacks to net neutrality rules, Apple writes: Our deep respect for our customers' security, privacy, and control over personal information extends to our customers' broadband connectivity choices. We work hard to build great products, and what consumers do with those tools is up to them - not Apple, and not broadband providers. Apple therefore believes that the Federal Communications Commission should retain strong, enforceable open internet protections that advance the following key policy principles: The comment's a good - albeit late - start, but it does leave some wiggle room, as it, for instance, doesn't advocate for keeping internet traffic under Title II. Apple is, at the very least, in good company, as a staggering 98.5% of all comments to the FCC were in favour of maintaining the United States' current strong net neutrality rules.

Apple to replace iPhone home button with gestures

Wednesday 30th of August 2017 07:19:21 PM
Mark Gurman has a major scoop about the next iPhone: Apple Inc. plans to transform the way people use its next high-end iPhone by eliminating the concept of a home button and making other adjustments to a flagship device that's becoming almost all screen, according to images of the new device viewed by Bloomberg News and people familiar with the gadget. The home button is the key to the iPhone and the design hasn't changed much since it launched in 2007. Currently, users click it to return to the starting app grid that greets them multiple times a day. They hold it down to talk to the Siri digital assistant. Double click it and you get multitasking where different apps screens can be swiped through like a carousel. Apple is preparing three new iPhones for debut next month. One of the models, a new high-end device, packs in enough changes to make it one of the biggest iPhone updates in the product's decade-long history. With a crisper screen that takes up nearly the entire front, Apple has tested the complete removal of the home button - even a digital one - in favor of new gesture controls for tasks like going to the main app grid and opening multitasking, according to the people and the images. I don't really dwell too much on iPhone rumours, but this one is an exception because one, it's about a major change to the core user interaction model of iOS and the iPhone, and two, I happen to know this rumour happens to be accurate. The removal of the home button and replacing it with what is effectively a gesture area is probably the single-biggest user interface change in iOS since the day it was released, and it also happens to be yet another step in the enduring quest Android and iOS are on to become more like webOS. Steven-Troughton-Smith (go support his work!) showed a number of mockups to give a better idea of what it's going to look like. Replacing the iconic home button with a gesture area is actually a pretty fundamental shift in the interaction model of iOS. It seems to indicate that Apple is confident enough that users are well-versed in touch interfaces enough to start "hiding" important, crucial interactions - like going back to the homescreen - behind gestures that are clearly less discoverable than that huge home button. Google did something similar - but far less consequential - by removing the "drawer" button in Android's dock with a swipe-up gesture. If this trend persists, it would seem Apple's (and to a lesser extent, Google's) engineers think that the touch paradigm is old and established enough to be more abstract, which opens up a whole slew of other possibilities. Up until now, undiscoverable gestures were generally used for more power-user oriented interactions, but with this next iPhone, they will be used for basic, cornerstone iOS interactions.

NYPD needs to replace 36000 useless smartphones

Wednesday 30th of August 2017 07:01:06 PM
The NYPD has to scrap the 36,000 smartphones it gave cops over the past two years because they're already obsolete and can't be upgraded, The Post has learned. The city bought Microsoft-based Nokia smartphones as part of a $160 million NYPD Mobility Initiative that Mayor Bill de Blasio touted as "a huge step into the 21st century". In 2014. They bought these in 2014. In 2014.

Sailfish OS 2.1.1 released

Tuesday 29th of August 2017 09:43:15 PM
Jämsänjoki update fixes dozens of bugs reported by our community, adds many improvements and new corporate features, like mobile device management (MDM), new Camera user interface with quick access from Lock Screen, smarter Calendar on Events, WPA2 Enterprise PEAP support, new VPN options (PPTP, L2TP), Bluez version 5 for Jolla C and much more. At some point, I need to write a retrospective of some sort about Sailfish OS. My Jolla Phone and Tablet are collecting dust in a closet somewhere, so I might as well put them to good use. In any event, Jolla also unveiled something called Sailfish X, which is a ROM image of Sailfish for the Sony Xperia X. Interestingly enough, the ROM image isn't free - it costs about €50 and requires a Linux PC to flash it onto the Xperia X you need to buy separately. Peculiar business model, but who knows - I've seen stranger things.

Google announces ARCore, its answer to Apple's ARKit

Tuesday 29th of August 2017 09:36:03 PM
With more than two billion active devices, Android is the largest mobile platform in the world. And for the past nine years, we've worked to create a rich set of tools, frameworks and APIs that deliver developers' creations to people everywhere. Today, we're releasing a preview of a new software development kit (SDK) called ARCore. It brings augmented reality capabilities to existing and future Android phones. Developers can start experimenting with it right now. We've been developing the fundamental technologies that power mobile AR over the last three years with Tango, and ARCore is built on that work. But, it works without any additional hardware, which means it can scale across the Android ecosystem. ARCore will run on millions of devices, starting today with the Pixel and Samsung's S8, running 7.0 Nougat and above. We're targeting 100 million devices at the end of the preview. We're working with manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, LG, ASUS and others to make this possible with a consistent bar for quality and high performance. Essentially Google's answer to Apple's ARKit, and definitely a rebranding (at least partially) of Project Tango.

Remote desktop finally coming to GNOME on Wayland

Tuesday 29th of August 2017 08:29:15 PM
Daniel Aleksandersen writes: Jonas Ådahl from Red Hat has been busy adding new D-Bus APIs to libmutter. Mutter is the GNOME window manager and Wayland compositor. The two new APIs, org.gnome.Mutter.RemoteDesktop and org.gnome.Mutter.ScreenCast, expose a PipeWire stream containing the contents of the system's screens. The new APIs can create full-screen streams, or streams for individual windows. Only the former has been implemented. These new APIs finally allows for services such as RDP and VNC servers and screen recording under Wayland. Once again, Mr. Åhdahl delivers! He has also created GNOME Remote Desktop, a new user-level systemd service daemon that is built on the new RemoteDesktop API in libmutter, plus VNC support from libvncserver. The new service can be used to connect up a remote VNC client to your local screen’s session. GNOME Remote Desktop appears to be a drop-in replacement for Vino server. GNOME has been without its own Remote Desktop option since the switch to Wayland, and this work fills that gap.

More in Tux Machines

XFree KWin, Plasma, KDE, and Qt/GTK

  • Announcing the XFree KWin project
    Over the last weeks I concentrated my work on KWin on what I call the XFree KWin project. The idea is to be able to start KWin/Wayland without XWayland support. While most of the changes required for it are already in Plasma 5.11, not everything got ready in time, but now everything is under review on phabricator, so it’s a good point in time to talk about this project.
  • Adapta Theme is Now Available for the #KDE Plasma Desktop
    A new port brings the Adapta GTK theme to the KDE Plasma 5 desktop for the first time, news that will please fans of its famous flat stylings.
  • A New Project To Let You Run Qt Apps With GTK+ Windowing System Integration
    A Norwegian developer has developed a new Qt platform abstraction plug-in to let Qt applications make use of GTK+ for windowing system integration. The Qt apps rely upon GTK+ as a host toolkit to provide GTK menus, GTK for input, and other integration bits.
  • Ant is a Flat GTK Theme with a Bloody Bite
    Between Arc, Adapta and Numix it kind of feels like Linux has the whole flat GTK theme thing covered. But proving their’s always room for one more is Ant.

Android Leftovers

Development: Blockchain for Good Hackathon, ASUS Tinker Board, React License, JavaScript, Pascal, Python

  • Blockchain for Good Hackathon, Saturday, 30 September and Sunday, 1 October
    The Blockchain for Good Hackathon takes place Saturday, 30 September and Sunday, 1 October. Full agenda can be found here.
  • ASUS Tinker Board Is An Interesting ARM SBC For About $60 USD
    Earlier this year ASUS announced the Tinker Board as their first step into the ARM single board computer world. Earlier this month I finally received a Tinker Board for testing and it has been quite interesting to say the least. The Tinker Board with its Rockchip SoC has been among the most competitive ARM SBCs we have tested to date in its price range and the form factor is compatible with the Raspberry Pi.
  • Configure Thunderbird to send patch friendly
  • Facebook to Relicense React Under MIT [Ed: as we hoped [1, 2]]
    Facebook has decided to change the React license from BSD+Patents to MIT to make it possible for companies to include React in Apache projects, and to avoid uncertain relationship with the open source community. Adam Wolff, an Engineering Director at Facebook, has announced that a number of projects - React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js – will soon start using the more standard MIT License instead of BSD+Patents. The reason provided is "because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don't want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons." While aware that the React’s BSD+Patents license has created "uncertainty" among users of the library, prompting some to select an alternative solution, Facebook does not "expect to win these teams back" but they still hope some will reconsider the issue. The change in license will become effective when React 16 will be released next week. Regarding other projects, Wolff said that "many of our popular projects will keep the BSD + Patents license for now", while they are "evaluating those projects' licenses too, but each project is different and alternative licensing options will depend on a variety of factors." It seems from this clause that Facebook plans to get rid of the BSD+Patents license entirely, but they need to figure out the best option for each project. [...] Facebook’s plan to switch to a standard license MIT, supported by Apache, completely solves this problem with React and several other projects. It remains to see what happens with the license of other Facebook projects, and how much this license issue has affected how React is perceived by the community.
  • To type or not to type: quantifying detectable bugs in JavaScript
  • Plug For PASCAL
  • V. Anton Spraul's Think Like a Programmer, Python Edition

New Manjaro Release

What a week we had. With this update we have removed most of our EOL tagged kernels. Please adopt to newer series of each, when still be used. PulseAudio and Gstreamer got renewed. Also most of our kernels got newer point-releases. Series v4.12 is now marked as EOL. Guillaume worked on Pamac to solve reported issues within our v6 series. The user experience should be much better now. Latest NetworkManager, Python and Haskell updates complete this update-pack. Please report back and give us feedback for given changes made to our repositories. Read more