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Unlimited private repositories now available to free GitHub users

Tuesday 8th of January 2019 12:03:08 AM

Octocat, the GitHub mascot. (credit: Github)

The significant change to GitHub announced today by CEO Nat Friedman might be the first major change since Microsoft bought the company last year: free accounts can now create private repositories.

GitHub has become the home for a huge number of open-source projects. Some of these are major, widely used projects such as the Node.js server-side JavaScript platform, but many of them are small, personal projects, half-written programs, and experiments. These projects are typically open-source not because their authors have any particular desire to share them with the world but because GitHub gave them no choice: free GitHub accounts could only create public repositories.

As such, GitHub represented a trade-off: you could use GitHub's services for free, but you had to share. If you didn't want to share, you had to pay.

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TIL: Firefox has a little-known feature to spare your blushes on the new-tab page

Monday 7th of January 2019 07:48:35 PM

Enlarge / That "Top Sites" section should never contain anything too embarrassing.

For many of us, our browsers' new-tab pages are something of a liability. Whichever browser you use, they all follow a fairly similar style: a bunch of boxes linking to the sites that we use and visit regularly. This is great when your regular sites are Ars, Gmail, and Twitter. But all too often, sites of a less salubrious nature find their way onto our new-tab pages, disclosing to the world our dirty habits when nobody's watching. While we can, of course, clean up our new-tab pages by Xing out the buttons for the offending sites, a moment of inattention can all too easily expose our pornographic predilections to the world.

But one browser is working to protect our secrets: Firefox. A redditor spotted (via ZDNet, Techdows) that Firefox contains code to spare your blushes. The browser contains a hard-coded list of adult site domains, and if one of your most-visited sites is one of those domains, it will automatically be hidden from the new-tab page. As long as your porn viewing is reasonably mainstream, you never need to worry about Firefox spilling the beans.

It turns out that this isn't actually a new feature. Much like Chrome's advanced tab management capabilities, it's an old feature that's been newly spotted. Mozilla added the code to the browser about four years ago. It wasn't actually created to prevent potential new-tab page embarrassment; rather, it was to aid Firefox's commercialization efforts. Mozilla experimented with having sponsored content on the new-tab page, allowing companies to pay to have their sites promoted in those buttons. Many advertisers don't relish the thought of having their precious brands juxtaposed with Internet filth, so the Firefox developers added the blacklisting capability to try to prevent porn from appearing alongside sponsored content.

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Chrome is getting a dark mode on Windows to match the one for macOS

Thursday 3rd of January 2019 08:35:26 PM

Enlarge / Chrome's dark mode.

Chrome 73 is going to include support for macOS 10.14's dark mode, with an alternative color scheme for its user interface that cuts the brightness. It's now clear that a Windows version of the same is in development, though it seems it will trail the macOS version.

A bug report was spotted by Techdows, and preliminary work has been started to bring Windows its dark mode. Unlike its macOS counterpart, which should track the operating-system mode, the Windows dark mode currently has to be forcibly turned on with a command-line switch. Adding "--force-dark-mode" to the command line of current builds of Chrome 73 makes everything dark.

The dark theme is still unfinished, hence this menu with almost illegible black text on a dark grey background.

The macOS work has top priority (P1). The Windows work is only P2 (originally P3), surprisingly suggesting that it's less important, even though Chrome has far more Windows 10 users than it does macOS users. Development of the Windows theme was at least, for a time, hindered by one of the developers not having a Windows laptop to use.

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Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to

Monday 17th of December 2018 10:19:32 PM

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

With Microsoft's decision to end development of its own Web rendering engine and switch to Chromium, control over the Web has functionally been ceded to Google. That's a worrying turn of events, given the company's past behavior.

Chrome itself has about 72 percent of the desktop-browser market share. Edge has about 4 percent. Opera, based on Chromium, has another 2 percent. The abandoned, no-longer-updated Internet Explorer has 5 percent, and Safari—only available on macOS—about 5 percent. When Microsoft's transition is complete, we're looking at a world where Chrome and Chrome-derivatives take about 80 percent of the market, with only Firefox, at 9 percent, actively maintained and available cross-platform.

The mobile story has stronger representation from Safari, thanks to the iPhone, but overall tells a similar story. Chrome has 53 percent directly, plus another 6 percent from Samsung Internet, another 5 percent from Opera, and another 2 percent from Android browser. Safari has about 22 percent, with the Chinese UC Browser sitting at about 9 percent. That's two-thirds of the mobile market going to Chrome and Chrome derivatives.

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Edge dies a death of a thousand cuts as Microsoft switches to Chromium

Thursday 6th of December 2018 06:10:52 PM

Enlarge (credit: @AndreTelevise)

As reported earlier this week, Microsoft is going to use Google's Blink rendering engine and V8 JavaScript engine in its Edge browser, largely ending development of its own EdgeHTML rendering engine and Chakra JavaScript engine. This means that Microsoft will be using code from—and making contributions to—the Chromium open source project.

The company's browser will still be named Edge and should retain the current look and feel. The decision to switch was motivated primarily by compatibility problems: Web developers increasingly test their pages exclusively in Chrome, which has put Edge at a significant disadvantage. Microsoft's engineers have found that problematic pages could often be made Edge compatible with only very minor alterations, but because Web devs aren't using Edge at all, they don't even know that they need to change anything.

The story is, however, a little more complex. The initial version of Edge that shipped with the first version of Windows 10 was rudimentary, to say the least. It was the bare bones of a browser, but with extremely limited capabilities around things like tab management and password management, no extension model, and generally lacking in the creature comforts that represent the difference between a bare rendering engine and an actual usable browser. It also had stability issues; crashes and hangs were not uncommon.

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Report: Microsoft is scrapping Edge, switching to just another Chrome clone

Tuesday 4th of December 2018 05:25:12 PM

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich)

Windows Central reports that Microsoft is planning to replace its Edge browser, which uses Microsoft's own EdgeHTML rendering engine and Chakra JavaScript engine, with a new browser built on Chromium, the open source counterpart to Google's Chrome. The new browser has the codename Anaheim.

The report is short on details. The easiest thing for Microsoft to do would be to use Chromium's code wholesale—the Blink rendering engine, the V8 JavaScript engine, and the Chrome user interface with the Google Account parts omitted—to produce something that looks, works, and feels almost identical to Chrome. Alternatively, Redmond could use Blink and V8 but wrap them in Edge's user interface (or some derivative thereof), to retain its own appearance. It might even be possible to do something weird, such as use Blink with the Chakra JavaScript engine. We'll have to wait and see.

Since its launch with Windows 10, Edge has failed to gain much market share. The first iterations of Edge were extremely barebones, offering little more than a basic tabbed browser—no extensions, little control over behavior. Early releases of Edge were also not as stable as one might have liked, making the browser hard to recommend. Three years later on and Edge is greatly—but unevenly—improved. The browser engine's stability seems to be much better than it was, and performance and compatibility remain solid (though with the exception of a few corner cases, these were never a real concern).

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The next version of HTTP won’t be using TCP

Monday 12th of November 2018 10:41:57 PM

Enlarge (credit: Andy Maguire / Flickr)

The next version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)—the network protocol that defines how browsers talk to Web servers—is going to make a major break from the versions in use today.

Today's HTTP (versions 1.0, 1.1, and 2) are all layered on top of TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). TCP, defined as part of the core set of IP (Internet Protocol) layers, provides reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of data over an IP network. "Reliable" means that if some data goes missing during transfer (due to a hardware failure, congestion, or a timeout), the receiving end can detect this and demand that the sending end re-send the missing data; "ordered" means that data is received in the order that it was transmitted in; "error-checked" means that any corruption during transmission can be detected.

These are all desirable properties and necessary for a protocol such as HTTP, but TCP is designed as a kind of one-size-fits-all solution, suitable for any application that needs this kind of reliability. It isn't particularly tuned for the kinds of scenarios that HTTP is used for. TCP requires a number of round trips between client and server to establish a connection, for example; using SSL over TCP requires subsequent round trips to establish the encrypted connection. A protocol purpose-built for HTTP could combine these negotiations and reduce the number of round trips, thereby improving network latency.

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This is fine: IBM acquires Red Hat

Monday 29th of October 2018 04:34:43 PM

Enlarge / This will be... interesting. (credit: IBM)

This is no trick, and whether it's a treat remains to be seen: IBM and Red Hat executives announced Monday that IBM is acquiring the open source software and cloud services company in a $34 billion cash deal.

Red Hat will remain a standalone business unit within IBM, and an IBM spokesperson said that IBM "will remain committed to Red Hat’s open source ethos, its developer community and its open source community relationships." Red Hat will maintain its current leadership team and remain in its current headquarters and facilities. The culture will remain as well—though it's possible IBM and Red Hat may cross-pollinate a bit more than they have in the past.

In a webcast, IBM Senior Vice President of Hybrid Cloud Arvind Krishna and Red Hat Executive Vice President and President of Products and Technologies Paul Cormier echoed the spokesperson's statement, stating that all of Red Hat's existing partnerships with other cloud providers and all of Red Hat's open source development projects—including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the OpenShift implementation of Kubernetes-based containers, and the OpenStack cloud computing platform—would continue as before. Likewise, Krishna said that IBM would continue its partnerships with other Linux distributions.

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GitHub is now officially a part of Microsoft

Friday 26th of October 2018 03:31:52 PM

Enlarge

satyan@redmond:~/src$ git checkout -b microsoft-acquisitions Switched to a new branch 'microsoft-acquisitions' satyan@redmond:~/src$ scp satyan@github.com:/github . satyan@redmond:~/src$ git add github satyan@redmond:~/src$ git commit -m "Microsoft announced in June that it > was buying the Git repository and collaboration platform GitHub for > $7.5 billion in stock. That acquisition has received all the necessary > regulatory approvals and has now completed. Nat Friedman, formerly of > Xamarin, will take the role as GitHub CEO on Monday. > > The news of the acquisition sent ripples through the open source world, > as GitHub has become the home for a significant number of open source > projects. We argued at the time that the sale was likely one of > necessity and that of all the possible suitors, Microsoft was the best > one due to common goals and shared interests. Friedman at the time > sought to reassure concerned open source developers that the intent was > to make GitHub even better at being GitHub and that he would work to > earn the trust of the GitHub community. Those views were reiterated > today. > > Since then, Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network, a patent > cross-licensing group that promises royalty free licenses for any patents > that apply to the Linux kernel or other essential open source packages. > This was a bold move that largely precludes Redmond from asserting its > patents against Android and should mean that the company will no longer > receive royalties from smartphone manufacturers. > > Sources close to the matter tell us that Microsoft's decision to join > OIN was driven in no small part by the GitHub acquisition. GitHub is > already a member of OIN, which left Microsoft with only a few options: > withdraw GitHub from OIN, a move that would inevitably upset the open > source world; acquire GitHub as some kind of arm's length subsidiary > such that GitHub's OIN obligations could not possibly apply to > Microsoft; or join OIN too, as the most straightforward approach that > also bolstered the company's open source reputation. Microsoft took > the third option." [microsoft-acquisitions baadf00d] Microsoft announced... 1 file changed, billions of insertions(+), 0 deletions(-) satyan@redmond:~/src$ git checkout microsoft-corp Switched to branch 'microsoft-corp' satyan@redmond:~/src$ git merge microsoft-acquisitions Updating cafef00d..baadf00d Fast-forward billions-of-files | billions ++++++++++++ satyan@redmond:~/src$ git branch -d microsoft-acquisitions

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Firefox 63 blocks tracking cookies, offers a VPN when you need one

Tuesday 23rd of October 2018 05:06:33 PM

Firefox 63, out today, includes the first iteration of what Mozilla is calling Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP), a feature to improve privacy and stop your activity across the Web from being tracked.

Tracking cookies store some kind of unique identifier that represents your browser. The cookie is tied to a third-party domain—the domain of the tracking company, rather than the site you're visiting. Each site you visit that embeds the tracking cookie will allow the tracking company to see the sites you visit and, using that unique identifier, cross-reference different visits to different sites to build a picture of your online behavior.

The new option to block third-party tracking cookies but permit other third-party cookies. (credit: Mozilla)

Firefox has long had the ability to block all third-party cookies, but this is a crude solution, and many sites will break if all third-party cookies are prohibited. The new EPT option works as a more selective block on tracking cookies; third-party cookies still work in general, but those that are known to belong to tracking companies are blocked. For the most part, sites will retain their full functionality, just without undermining privacy at the same time.

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Microsoft promises to defend—not attack—Linux with its 60,000 patents

Wednesday 10th of October 2018 05:58:09 PM

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has made billions from its extensive library of software patents. A number of Android vendors, including Samsung, pay the company a royalty on each phone they ship to license patents such as the ones covering the exFAT file system. But that situation may be coming to an end with the announcement today that Microsoft is joining the Open Invention Network (OIN).

The Open Invention Network is a group of about 2,400 companies around the world that have agreed to cross-license their patents on a royalty-free basis for use by the "Linux System," a collection of projects including the Linux kernel, many tools and utilities built on top of Linux, and large parts of Android. Member companies also promise not to assert their patents against the Linux Community.

This move should put an end to the lingering threat of patent lawsuits from Microsoft that many Linux and Android companies have faced. With that threat gone, it should also put an end to the royalties that the company was collecting from Android vendors.

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More in Tux Machines

Games: Zombie Panic! Source, Dicey Dungeon, NVIDIA RTX, Steam Play, Battle Motion, Ravva and the Cyclops Curse, Feudal Alloy

  • The Beta of Zombie Panic! Source was updated recently, should work better on Linux
    Zombie Panic! Source is currently going through an overhaul, as part of this it's coming to Linux with a version now in beta and the latest update should make it a better experience. [...] I personally haven't been able to make any of the events yet, so I have no real thoughts on the game. Once it's out of beta and all servers are updated, I will be taking a proper look as it looks fun. No idea when this version will leave beta, might be a while yet.
  • Dicey Dungeons, the new unique roguelike from Terry Cavanagh and co introduces quests
    We have a lot of roguelikes available on Linux (seriously, we do) yet Dicey Dungeons from Terry Cavanagh, Marlowe Dobbe, and Chipzel still remains fresh due to the rather unique game mechanics. I still can't get over how fun the dice mechanic is, as you slot dice into cards to perform actions. It's different, clever and works really well.
  • Quake 2 now has real-time path tracing with Vulkan
    If you have one of the more recent NVIDIA RTX graphics cards, here's an interesting project for you to try. Q2VKPT from developer Christoph Schied implements some really quite advanced techniques.
  • Steam Play versus Linux Version, a little performance comparison and more thoughts
    Now that Steam has the ability officially to override a Linux game and run it through Steam Play instead, let's take a quick look at some differences in performance. Before I begin, let's make something clear. I absolutely value the effort developers put into Linux games, I do think cross-platform development is incredibly important so we don't end up with more lock-in. However, let's be realistic for a moment. Technology moves on and it's not financially worth it to keep updating old games, they just don't sell as well as newer games (with exceptions of course). As the years go on, there will be more ways to run older games better and better, of that I've no doubt.
  • Battle Motion, a really silly massive fantasy battle game will have Linux support
    Sometimes when looking around for new games I come across something that really catches my eye, Battle Motion is one such game as it looks completely silly.
  • Ravva and the Cyclops Curse looks like a rather nice NES-inspired platformer
    Another lovely looking retro-inspired platformer! Ravva and the Cyclops Curse from developer Galope just released this week with Linux support.
  • Become a fish inside a robot in Feudal Alloy, out now with Linux support
    We've seen plenty of robots and we've seen a fair amount of fish, but have you seen a fish controlling a robot with a sword? Say hello to Feudal Alloy.

Addressing Icons Themes (Again)

I wrote some time ago on how platforms have a responsibility to respect the identity of applications, but now there’s some rumblings that Ubuntu’s community-built Yaru icon set (which is a derivative of the Suru icon set I maintain) intends to ignore this and infringe upon applications’ brands by modifying their icons... [...] For instance, the entire point of the GNOME icon refresh initiative is to address visual mismatches between third-party app icons and GNOME icons and we been have reaching out to developers to see about updating their icons to new design—this is the appropriate approach for a platform visual overhaul, by the way—which could always use more help on. Now I don’t see this ever happening, but I have hopes that someday Ubuntu will fully embrace GNOME and promote it as its desktop solution—especially given the desktop is out of the scope of the Ubuntu business these days. Read more

Wine 4.0 RC7

  • Wine Announcement
    The Wine development release 4.0-rc7 is now available.The Wine development release 4.0-rc7 is now available.
  • Juicy like the good stuff, Wine 4.0 RC7 is out with a delightful aroma
    No need to worry about a sour aftertaste here, we're of course talking about the wonderful software and not the tasty liquid. As usual, they're in bug-fix mode while they attempt to make the best version of Wine they can and so no super huge features made it in.
  • Wine 4.0-RC7 Released With Fixes For Video Player Crashes, Game Performance Issues
    Wine 4.0 should be officially out soon, but this weekend the latest test release of it is Release Candidate 7 that brings more than one dozen fixes. Wine 4.0 remains in a feature freeze until its release, which will likely be within the next two weeks or so. Since last Friday's Wine 4.0-RC6, the RC7 release has 13 known bug fixes. Catching our interest are some game performance regressions being resolved, including for Hot Pursuit, Project CARS, Gas Guzzlers, and others. There are also video player crash fixes when opening audio or video files.

Wikipedia cofounder: How and why I transitioned to Linux—how you can, too

My first introduction to the command line was in the 80s when I first started learning about computers and, like many geeky kids of the time, wrote my first BASIC computer programs. But it wasn’t until my job starting Nupedia (and then Wikipedia) that I spent much time on the Bash command line. (Let me explain. “Bash” means “Bourne-again shell,” a rewrite of the class Unix shell “sh.” A “shell” is a program for interacting with the computer by processing terse commands to do basic stuff like find and manipulate files; a terminal, or terminal emulator, is a program that runs a shell. The terminal is what shows you that command line, where you type your commands like “move this file there” and “download that file from this web address” and “inject this virus into that database”. The default terminal used by Linux Ubuntu, for example, is called Gnome Terminal–which runs Bash, the standard Linux shell.) Even then (and in the following years when I got into programming again), I didn’t learn much beyond things like cd (switch directory) and ls (list directory contents). It was then, around 2002, that I first decided to install Linux. Back then, maybe the biggest “distro” (flavor of Linux) was Red Hat Linux, so that’s what I installed. I remember making a partition (dividing the hard disk into parts, basically) and dual-booting (installing and making it possible to use both) Linux and Windows. It was OK, but it was also rather clunky and much rougher and much less user-friendly than the Windows of the day. So I didn’t use it much. Read more