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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 15 min ago

Linus apologises for his years of abrasive behaviour

Monday 17th of September 2018 11:17:33 PM
Linus Torvalds on the lkml: This is my reality. I am not an emotionally empathetic kind of person and that probably doesn't come as a big surprise to anybody. Least of all me. The fact that I then misread people and don't realize (for years) how badly I've judged a situation and contributed to an unprofessional environment is not good. This week people in our community confronted me about my lifetime of not understanding emotions. My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry. The above is basically a long-winded way to get to the somewhat painful personal admission that hey, I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely. I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately. Actions speak louder than words, so we'll see if this sudden realisation will lead to anything tangible.

iOS 12: the MacStories review

Monday 17th of September 2018 11:11:33 PM
With iOS 12, Apple wants to rectify iOS' performance woes, proving to their customers that iOS updates should never induce digital regret. Perhaps more notably though, iOS 12 doesn't have a single consumer feature that encapsulates this release - like Messages might have been for iOS 10 or the iPad for iOS 11. Instead, iOS 12 is a constellation of enhancements revolving around the overarching theme of time. Apple in 2018 needs more time for whatever the next big step of iOS may be; they want iOS users to understand how much time they're spending on their devices; and they want to help users spend less time managing certain system features. Also, funnily enough, saving time is at the core (and in the very name) of iOS 12's most exciting new feature: Shortcuts. iOS 12 isn't Apple's Snow Leopard release: its system changes and updated apps wouldn't justify a "No New Features" slide. However, for the first time in years, it feels as if the company is happy to let its foot off the gas a little and listen to users more. Will the plan work? Federico Viticci's iOS reviews have become one of my favourite things about new iOS releases. They are detailed, thorough, fun to read, and lovingly crafted. So, after you're done updating your iOS devices - iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12 have all been released today - grab yourself a coffee or tea and enjoy.

A Commodore 64 operating system with modern concepts

Monday 17th of September 2018 08:50:57 PM
C64 OS has one goal. Make a Commodore 64 feel fast and useful in today's modern world. It's a very high bar. The C64 was introduced in 1982 and has an 8-bit, 1MHz, 6510 CPU with just 64 kilobytes of directly addressable memory. It has a screen resolution of 320x200 pixels, and a fixed palette of 16 colors. But, it is an incredibly versatile machine. And it enjoys an active userbase and a great variety of modern hardware expansions. The C64 has had many operating systems written for it, So why write another? Some of these projects were designed to be experimental, or to demonstrate a point, rather than to solve a problem or to make using the C64 better. Others had good intentions but pushed the machine in ways it wasn't designed for, compromising on speed and usability in the pursuit of features available on more powerful computers. The aim of C64 OS is to work with the limitations of the Commodore 64 and enable it to become useful. It never ceases to amaze me how much functionality programmers can squeeze out of old micros.

NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture deep dive: prelude to RTX

Monday 17th of September 2018 08:46:37 PM
It's been roughly a month since NVIDIA's Turing architecture was revealed, and if the GeForce RTX 20-series announcement a few weeks ago has clued us in on anything, is that real time raytracing was important enough for NVIDIA to drop "GeForce GTX" for "GeForce RTX" and completely change the tenor of how they talk about gaming video cards. Since then, it's become clear that Turing and the GeForce RTX 20-series have a lot of moving parts: RT Cores, real time raytracing, Tensor Cores, AI features (i.e. DLSS), raytracing APIs. All of it coming together for a future direction of both game development and GeForce cards. In a significant departure from past launches, NVIDIA has broken up the embargos around the unveiling of their latest cards into two parts: architecture and performance. For the first part, today NVIDIA has finally lifted the veil on much of the Turing architecture details, and there are many. So many that there are some interesting aspects that have yet to be explained, and some that we'll need to dig into alongside objective data. But it also gives us an opportunity to pick apart the namesake of GeForce RTX: raytracing. AnandTech's deep dive into NVIDIA's new Turing architecture - the only one you really need.

Microsoft backs off from 'warning' about Chrome and Firefox

Monday 17th of September 2018 11:06:01 AM
Microsoft started testing a warning for Windows 10 users last week that displayed a prompt when Chrome or Firefox was about to be installed. The software giant is now reversing this controversial test in its latest Windows 10 preview, released last Friday. The Verge understands Microsoft no longer plans to include this warning in the upcoming Windows 10 October 2018 Update that will ship next month, but that the company may continue to test these types of prompts in future updates. Good move, but I don't think we've seen the last of this quite yet.

The making of Total Annihilation

Monday 17th of September 2018 10:59:57 AM
Total Annihilation came out when games, and RTS games in particular, were quickly evolving. By the mid-Nineties, PCs were capable of capturing the necessary scale of battles, and online gaming was about to become a phenomenon. And it was that world Total Annihilation creator Chris Taylor was waiting for. We caught up with Chris and asked him about the game's origins. Total Annihilation was such an amazing game that kind of seemed to have gotten lost between the much more popular Command & Conquer and Warcraft games of its time. Which is a shame, because it had quite a few revolutionary elements for its time.

Flatpaks now sort of working on Microsoft Windows

Monday 17th of September 2018 10:57:45 AM
Flatpak creator and lead developer Alexander Larsson of Red Hat has got the basics of Flatpak applications working under Microsoft Windows 10. Before getting too excited, while he has the basics working, obviously there are some shortcuts involved. In particular, the Flatpak support requires Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL/a.k.a. "Ubuntu Bash for Windows") as well as needing to install a Win32 X11 Server.

x86 finds its way into your iPhone

Saturday 15th of September 2018 12:18:40 AM
In one of my several lives, I'm supposed to be a vulnerability researcher working on baseband exploitation. As every vulnerability researcher knows, being up to date with recent developments is of utmost importance for the success of your job. So of course, after Apple announced its new, shiny, big, bigger and biggest line of iPhone smartphones, I downloaded some OTA firmwares from ipsw.me and started to look into the new baseband firmware. What I discovered sent a shiver of horror down my spine, the kind of horror that only playing Doom at nighttime, alone in your room, without lights, can produce. Bear with me and I'll tell you what I found... So the baseband processor inside the iPhone XS is a tiny x86 processor. That's not really all that meaningful or impactful, but I find it deeply fascinating nonetheless.

Leaving Apple and Google: /e/ first beta is here

Saturday 15th of September 2018 12:16:27 AM
Less than a year ago, I posted a serie of articles "Leaving Apple & Google..." [part 2, part 2] to announce that I was planning to create a smartphone OS. A new OS that would: be free from Google (no Google services, no Google search, no Google Play store, etc.) be far more respectful of user’s data privacy be attractive enough so that Mom and Dad, children and friends would enjoy using it even if they aren't technophiles or geeks Today we release a first beta of what we have done so far to make the initial vision a reality. It's basically LineageOS with a number of additional tweaks and changes, but if it can become a fully-featured Google-free Android, that's always welcome.

Apple moves the iPhone away from physical SIMs

Thursday 13th of September 2018 09:51:17 PM
On Wednesday, Apple announced that its new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will use an eSIM - a purely electronic SIM that allows users to maintain a secondary phone line in a single device. That line could be a secondary domestic line (say you're a journalist and don't want to have separate personal and work iPhones), or the phone could have an American and Canadian number (if you travel across the border frequently). These handsets will have a new "dual SIM dual standby" option, one of which will be a nano SIM. In other words, they will have two distinct phone numbers. (Chinese models will have two SIM slots instead of the eSIM option.) I'm by no means an expert, but something about soldered electronic SIM cards seems unpleasant about me - it seems like another bit of control over our devices handed over to device makers and carriers. Won't this make it easier to lock devices even more?

Android 9 Pie, thoroughly reviewed

Thursday 13th of September 2018 09:42:45 PM
Android 9 Pie brings Google's updated Material Design spec (don't call it "Material Design 2") to Android OS, and it begins a wave of UI updates that will spread across Google's entire portfolio. In Android, that means revamped interfaces for the notification panel, Recent Apps, settings, and various bits of system UI. For future smartphone designs (like, say, the Pixel 3), Android 9 includes an experimental gesture navigation system and built-in notch support. There's also a new screenshot editor, lots of improvements for text selection, and changes to the way rotation works. Under the hood, more changes have come, too, with AI-powered battery usage controls, new rules for Play Store developers, and changes to how apps get distributed. The usual Android review by Ars. Always worth a read.

Where in the world Is Larry Page?

Thursday 13th of September 2018 09:34:38 PM
It's not just Washington. Even in Silicon Valley, people have started wondering: where's Larry? Page has long been reclusive, a computer scientist who pondered technical problems away from the public eye, preferring to chase moonshots over magazine covers. Unlike founder-CEO peers (Mark Zuckerberg comes to mind), he hasn't presented at product launches or on earnings calls since 2013, and he hasn't done press since 2015. He leaves day-to-day decisions to Pichai and a handful of advisers. But a slew of interviews in recent months with colleagues and confidants, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were worried about retribution from Alphabet, describe Page as an executive who's more withdrawn than ever, bordering on emeritus, invisible to wide swaths of the company. Supporters contend he's still engaged, but his immersion in the technology solutions of tomorrow has distracted him from the problems Google faces today. "What I didn't see in the last year was a strong central voice about how [Google's] going to operate on these issues that are societal and less technical," says a longtime executive who recently left the company. The money quote - quite literally: "People who know him say he's disappearing more frequently to his private, white-sand Caribbean island.". With the numerous challenges Google is facing, it seems odd that Page is being so reclusive.

FrontPage 98: elegant and exquisite

Wednesday 12th of September 2018 08:13:08 PM
How about a throwback to 1997? I've used and tinkered with every HTML Editor out there and I can say without qualification or pause that Microsoft FrontPage 98 is the easiest and most powerful suite of Web Design and Management tools available today -- and the fact that it's presently only in a beta state must make the competition shiver -- for the bar of excellence has not just gently risen with the debut of FrontPage 98. That bar of excellence has been crushed through to the uppermost level by FrontPage 98 and few website HTML programs have the means or inspiration to meet that new watermark of exquisite elegance in creating websites. Microsoft FrontPage 98 proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Web Creation and Site Manipulation can, finally and without excuse or caveat, be friendly while providing hardcore functionality in the same brilliant stroke. Those were the days.

Windows 10 warns users when opening Firefox, Chrome

Wednesday 12th of September 2018 07:45:13 PM
Windows 10 insider build 17744, which will be available in next month to the public as Windows 10 2018 October update has warned a user when he tries to install Firefox browser to open and use Microsoft Edge. We know Windows 10 nudges to use Edge as the default browser, but this is definitely different. A user shared about this on Twitter, here is what the dialog informed the user. I'm already an Edge user so I won't be bothered by these dialogs, but it's really annoying how browser makers - and by browser makers I mean Microsoft and Google - are taking every opportunity to shove annoying "please use Chrome/Edge" dialogs in our faces. It's user-hostile behaviour, and it feels cheap and scummy.

Apple unveils new iPhones, new Apple Watch

Wednesday 12th of September 2018 07:42:12 PM
Apple today in California officially announced the "iPhone Xs" and "iPhone Xs Max", the latest iPhone models coming this year. The company confirmed that both models will come in Space Gray, Silver, and Gold color options, with Gold being the new addition to the iPhone Xs lineup this year. The iPhone Xs models have the same design as the iPhone X from 2017, with an edge-to-edge OLED display, greatly reduced bezels, and a "notch" that houses the front-facing TrueDepth Camera system. The iPhone Xs is the direct iPhone X successor and measures in at 5.8 inches, while the XS Max is Apple's biggest iPhone yet at 6.5 inches. Even by "S" standards, this is a relatively small update to the top-tier iPhone, but as an iPhone X user I can say that's honestly perfectly fine - the X is simply still one of the best phones on the market today. Apple also unveiled the iPhone Xr, a cheaper version of the same iPhone X design, which sports an LCD display instead of OLED, and comes in a variety of colours. Lastly, Apple also released the Apple Watch Series 4, which is a bigger update. It has a much larger display than the Series 3, it's noticeably thinner, and comes with a electrocardiogram functionality and other FDA-approved heartrate functions. They also come with a processor that supposedly makes them twice as fast. A nice upgrade for sure.

Will we ever get tired of buying iPhones?

Wednesday 12th of September 2018 07:33:09 PM
It's iPhone launch day today, which I would usually greet with some meditation on the expected features or design of the new device and how it fits into the wider competitive field. This year, however, I want to zoom out rather than in. Because no matter how much or how little the iPhone changes today, no matter how awful its new naming scheme, we can all be certain that Apple will sell tens of millions of its 2018 iteration before the year is through. It's this apparent inevitability to Apple's commercial success that I find fascinating. The only danger the iPhone can run into at this stage is a sudden collapse in its perceived coolness factor among the general public - but barring anything unforeseen, I don't see that happening any time soon. We'll be stuck with the iPhone being the smartphone all others get compared to for a long time to come.

Porting Hyperkernel to the ARM architecture

Wednesday 12th of September 2018 07:29:16 PM
This work describes the porting of Hyperkernel, an x86 kernel, to the ARMv8-A architecture. Hyperkernel was created to demonstrate various OS design decisions that are amenable to push-button verification. Hyperkernel simplifies reasoning about virtual memory by separating the kernel and user address spaces. In addition, Hyperkernel adopts an exokernel design to minimize code complexity, and thus its required proof burden. Both of Hyperkernel's design choices are accomplished through the use of x86 virtualization support. After developing an x86 prototype, advantageous design differences between x86 and ARM motivated us to port Hyperkernel to the ARMv8-A architecture. We explored these differences and benchmarked aspects of the new interface Hyperkernel provides on ARM to demonstrate that the ARM version of Hyperkernel should be explored further in the future. We also outline the ARMv8-A architecture and the various design challenges overcome to fit Hyperkernel within the ARM programming model.

Chrome OS to get native support for Windows file sharing

Wednesday 12th of September 2018 12:03:33 AM
A coming revision to Chrome OS will enable Windows-compatible network browsing by default. This means that Chromebooks will be able to connect with Windows PCs just as easily as other Windows PCs do today. A very welcome change, especially among corporate users.

Mojave's security protections face usability challenges

Wednesday 12th of September 2018 12:00:51 AM
Back in 2016, security researcher and developer Jonathan Zdziarski released a tool called Little Flocker that could protect Macs at the file level. Much as a firewall analyzes and blocks network traffic, Little Flocker locked down the file system and allowed only authorized applications access to only approved files. Little Flocker was too complex to manage for average users, but it quickly became a darling among Mac security experts. [...] When Zdziarski took a job at Apple in 2017, he sold Little Flocker to the security vendor F-Secure, which released it as Xfence. Zdziarski's job change started the clock ticking on when we might see similar capabilities built into macOS. With macOS 10.14 Mojave, Apple has added file-level protections, plus some additional security enhancements. And you know what? Mojave is running into the same usability issues that users of Little Flocker endured. I had never heard of this functionality. It seems like one of those things particularly Apple ought to be good at to integrate in a user-friendly manner.

Microsoft extends paid updates for Windows 7 beyond 2020

Tuesday 11th of September 2018 11:57:04 PM
As previously announced, Windows 7 extended support is ending January 14, 2020. While many of you are already well on your way in deploying Windows 10, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the upgrade process. With that in mind, today we are announcing that we will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year. Windows 7 ESUs will be available to all Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers in Volume Licensing, with a discount to customers with Windows software assurance, Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education subscriptions. In addition, Office 365 ProPlus will be supported on devices with active Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. This means that customers who purchase the Windows 7 ESU will be able to continue to run Office 365 ProPlus. Lots of corporate customers are still using Windows 7, and for many, there's little reason to upgrade. Microsoft is just catering to those customers, while making sure it'll be nigh-impossible for regular consumers to benefit from this paid-for extended support.

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