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May 2020

Ubuntu/Debian/Misc. Leftovers

Filed under
Debian
Ubuntu
  • Free software activities in May 2020

    The Open Source Initiative held their twice-annual multi-day 'face-to-face' board meeting — this time held virtually — and participated in the accompanying conversations on strategy, tactical and governance issues, as well as the usual discussions regarding licensing and policy (minutes pending). I also attended the regular monthly meeting for Software in the Public Interest (minutes).

  • Sparky news 2020/05

    The 5th monthly report of 2020 of the Sparky project:

    • Linux kernel updated up to version 5.6.15 & 5.7-rc7
    • added to repos: Riot-desktop which replaces Riot-web, Xdman, RadioStation (a fork off Radiotray-Lite), Beaker Browser
    • Sparky 2020.05 of the rolling line released
    • Sparky 2020.05 Special Editions released
    • new app: ‘spterm’ (Sparky Terminal) – a very simple terminal emulator (a fork of k3rmit) which will be used by Sparky tools
    • new desktop: Openbox Noir – a variant of the Openbox, which provides dark and modern looks and feel of a lightweight desktop; by lami07

  • OpenOCD snapshot uploaded to Debian experimental

    One of the things I maintain in Debian is OpenOCD. I say maintain, but it’s so far required very little work, as it’s been 3 years since a release (0.10.0). I’ve talked about doing a git snapshot package for some time (I have an email from last DebConf in my inbox about it, and that wasn’t the first time someone had asked), but never got around to it. Spurred on by some moves towards a 0.11.0 release I’ve built a recent snapshot and uploaded it to the experimental suite in Debian.

  • Full Circle Magazine: Full Circle Magazine #157

    This month:
    * Command & Conquer
    * How-To : Python, LivePatch, and Rawtherapee
    * Graphics : Inkscape
    * Graphics : Krita for Old Photos
    * Linux Loopback
    * Everyday Ubuntu : Turbogfx 16
    * Ubports Touch : OTA-12
    * Review : Ubuntu, Lubuntu and Budgie 20.04
    * Ubuntu Games : Eagle Island
    plus: News, My Story, The Daily Waddle, Q&A, and more.

  • May 2020: OpenSMTPD 6.7.1p1 release, table-procexec and many PoCs

    TL;DR: Worked on the OpenSMTPD 6.7 release; Did a lot of work on the new table API; Wrote several PoCs;

OSS Leftovers

Filed under
OSS
  • Stop ‘Reinventing The Wheel’: Almanac Creates Open-Source Templates Library With $9M Seed Round

    Almanac, a cloud-based platform for professionals to create, collaborate and share open-source work documents, announced a $9 million seed round of funding on Thursday led by Mike Maples Jr., a Floodgate partner.

  • How open source fostered the community spirit in the tech world
  • RudderStack raises $5M seed round for its open-source Segment competitor
  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® CloudStack® v 4.14
  • Five Ways Open-Source Software Can Benefit You and Your Research
  • 10 Best Open Source and Free App Builders -- Plus, The Top App Development Agencies to Hire in 2020, According to App Developers Rating Platform
  • Beyond Linux and macOS: The best alternatives to Windows

    FreeDOS is, as its name allows us to guess, an heir to MS DOS. A free and free version If you are looking for alternatives to Windows pro, you don’t want multitasking or a graphical interface. Here you can run all MS-DOS programs and enjoy the classic adapted to the times. It receives continuous updates and works on any standard PC if you want to use any of the old code and classic operating system programs.

    [...]

    Among the best alternatives to Windows is ReactOS and so much so that from their website they promise that you wouldn’t notice the change. It came in the late nineties to imitate the windows operating system and it is an open source system compatible with most Windows applications and drivers. It was launched in 1996 as a clone of Microsoft and now, more than twenty years later it is still a good free option and with continuous updates, with a window system … it may seem retro algo’And obsolete at times but it can be a good option if you are looking for something new. You can download it from its website and, like most of this list, you will find the instructions and all doubts about its operation from the website itself. community behind ReactOS.

  • Welcome to ChefConf Online Week

    Welcome to ChefConf Online week! On the surface, this year’s event looks a lot different than years past. While we’ve moved to a new online format, what hasn’t changed is creating the opportunity for the Chef community to gather in one place, learn about what’s new in the DevSecOps and Automation space, get best practices and expert guidance from your peers, and have some fun and celebrate what makes our community so special.

  • Open Source Vet Joins Taylor English IP Team In San Antonio

    Taylor English Duma LLP announced this week it has hired a veteran intellectual property attorney from Dykema Gossett PLLC who is experienced with open source software to the firm's intellectual property practice in San Antonio, Texas.

    Van Lindberg joined Atlanta-based Taylor English as partner in March after serving as a member at Dykema Gossett for about three years, where he represented companies in high-stakes litigation and inter partes reviews.

    Before that, Lindberg made his name in the open source community by serving as general counsel, vice president of technology and vice president of intellectual property at cloud computing service company Rackspace,...

  • How open standards guide us in a world of change

    As I write this article in my home office in Beaverton, Oregon, a Portland suburb, I'm relying (and reflecting) on years of work that went into standards like TCP/IP, HTTP, NTP, XMPP, SAML, and many others, as well as open source implementations of these standards from organizations such as the Apache Software Foundation. The combination of these standards and technologies is literally saving lives, as many of us are able to work from home while "flattening the curve."

    Nothing has dominated the news more in 2020 than COVID-19. Yet, in the midst of challenging time, I've found opportunities for personal and industrial renewal. By fortunate (some may say unfortunate) timing, I found myself switching roles in the middle of this crisis from helping to build and run Open Source Program Offices (OSPOs) to becoming the executive director at OASIS Open, a standards development organization that is helping bring standards and open source together in practical and productive ways.

    Looking through the many articles on Opensource.com related to standards (and there are quite a few), I went on an interesting journey through the different thought processes—and sometimes biases—that people involved in each community have. What stood out most was this: both standards professionals and open source advocates want the same thing—better technology that we all can rely on.

    As I was transitioning to this new role at OASIS, some colleagues and friends in the open source world that I've been a part of for many years questioned my motivations for making this move. In explaining why I took this job, I reflected on the larger role I think the intersection of standards and open source can play, especially in the current crisis we all face.

Openwashing and Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

Filed under
Misc

Red Hat Fluff and News

Filed under
Red Hat
  • Q&A: How open source made Kubernetes appealing to enterprise app developers

    A: We are at an interesting inflection point right now with computing. We went from physical hardware to virtual machines to containers and to concepts like serverless computing. And we’re asking questions like, “Can it get even smaller?”

    We’re trying to make the underlying platform more powerful, but less and less visible. So if it’s invisible to developers, do we just stop caring about it?

    But you could make the same argument with Linux, right? If the application is done well, and Linux is doing its job, you shouldn't care about it. It's just running, it’s fast, it’s scalable. Kubernetes probably follows that path more than anything.

  • How open source communities work and what enterprises can learn
  • Inside Red Hat: Its open source heritage means big opportunity in cloud computing

    The open source proposition has been embedded in Red Hat’s roots since the company’s founding in 1993 and has since remained at the core of its guiding principles, with Linux operating system (OS) at the heart of all its innovations. Vendor loyalty and clearly charted paths were the mantras many companies operated on for years, while “digital transformation” was barely on an enterprise’s short-term road map.

    Then a decade ago, cloud adoption surged, creating the impetus to embrace more agile and flexible development models, and open source technologies emerged.

    [...]

    While the topic of COVID-19 did not overtly dominate the discussions or significantly color the overarching Red Hat messaging, it became clear that the ability to pivot rapidly, embrace change and remain flexible will underscore Red Hat’s efforts to successfully promote transformation amid the pandemic. Red Hat’s reputation has historically been predicated on its open and agile approach to development and deployment, long before such attributes were considered valuable, let alone essential.

  • Red Hat: Holding Its Own and Fueling Open Source Innovation

    When IBM acquired Red Hat for $34 billion in 2019, it was considered the industry’s largest software acquisition. The synergy between the two companies led them to become one of the leading hybrid multi-cloud providers globally.

    In most acquisitions, the acquired entity sometimes loses momentum and sheds some of its original luster. This does not seem to be the case with Red Hat.

Audio and Video: GNU World Order, Test and Code, More

Filed under
Development
GNU
Linux
  • GNU World Order 356

    Learn a little Postscript in this episode about **Ghostscript**.

  • Test and Code: 115: Catching up with Nina Zakharenko

    One of the great things about attending in person coding conferences, such as PyCon, is the hallway track, where you can catch up with people you haven't seen for possibly a year, or maybe even the first time you've met in person.

    Nina is starting something like the hallway track, online, on twitch, and it's already going, so check out the first episode of Python Tea.

    Interesting coincidence is that this episode is kind of like a hallway track discussion between Nina and Brian.

  • How to install Google Chrome on Pop!_OS 20.04
  • Are Custom Linux Kernels Faster than Stock?

    Are Custom Linux Kernels Faster than Stock? Benchmarks are done and will be compared using phoronix test suite. We will be analyzing 3 kernels, Liquorix, Mainline, and Xanmod.

Linux Lite 5.0 Final Released

Filed under
Linux

Linux Lite 5.0 Final Codename Emerald is now available for download and installation.

This is the most feature rich, complete Linux Lite release to date. This is the release many people have been waiting for.
See below for details.

Read more

Also new: Whonix VirtualBox 15.0.1.3.4 - Point Release!

Open Data and GIS

Filed under
OSS
  • How Open-Source Data Can Drive Automotive Innovation
  • LiDAR-Captured Road Data Now Publicly Available in Open-Source Machine Learning Dataset

    Scale AI says COVID-19 has shown the value of autonomous vehicles for no-contact delivery. They're making real-world road data available to train machine learning models to this end.

    Last week, Scale AI released PandaSet to the open-source community. According to Scale AI, PandaSet is the world’s first publicly-available machine learning dataset to include images from forward-facing solid-state LiDARs and mechanical spinning LiDARs. These two LiDAR technologies from Hesai will allow ML development teams to reap complex, real-world road data.

  • Podcast: Why should you take a closer look into Open Source GIS?
  • This German town replicated itself in VR to keep its tourism alive

    Nicolai Reith, Head of the Control and Communication department and advisor to the Mayor of Herrenberg, told Cities Today: “You don’t have to make a decision and then see [what happens]; you can see before you make the decision what the effect will be via the digital twin. This makes it easier to make the right decision for our city council, politicians, and citizens.”Herrenberg is already using the digital twin, which incorporates super-computing and technologies typically deployed in advanced aerospace, to visualize city data and citizens’ emotional responses to inform better decision-making.

    There are now plans to develop the emerging area of virtual tourism for the town, which has a population of around 31,000.

    “We have a very beautiful city center so tourists can explore it in a digital way with VR glasses before they come to Herrenberg, which is an interesting benefit for the future,” Reith said.

    [...]

    The team then added in geographic information system (GIS) data and traffic control systems data to incorporate topography, road geometry , and detailed traffic flows. Using the open-source fluid dynamics code OpenFOAM — which is typically used for modeling fuel injector sprays or airplane aerodynamics —they also created realistic models of the movement of wind and emissions through the city.

Development Boards and Open Hardware/Modding

Filed under
Hardware
  • Cucumber ESP32-S2 Development Board Comes with USB OTG Port, Optional Sensors

    Yesterday, I wrote about LilyGO TTGO ESP32-S2 WiFi IoT board, but one commenter mentioned it missed one of the key features of ESP32-S2 chip: a USB OTG port. While USB OTG is accessible through the header pins, it’s not the most convenient to use.

    I also quickly mentioned Cucumber ESP32-S2 development board in that post, but I did not expand too much since I thought it should only ship within Thailand. But the board does include two USB Type-C ports, one for the usual USB UART connector, and the other for USB OTG, and I found out the board is available worldwide.

  • TTGO ESP32-S2 WiFi IoT Board Comes with Optional MicroSD Card and Battery Support

    All ESP32-S2 boards I’ve seen so far were from Espressif Systems themselves including ESP32-S2-Saola-1 and ESP32-S2-Kaluga-1, but LilyGO TTGO ESP32-S2 is the first third-party board for sale so far.

    The tiny board is somewhat similar to ESP32-S2-Saola-1 board and comes in two versions with a similar form factor, but a completely different pinout and the presence of a MicroSD card socket and a battery connector on one of the boards.

    [...]

    The boards are a bit more different than I expected at first look. Please note that specifications should be seen as preliminary, as there were obvious mistakes such as Bluetooth support (not available for ESP32-S2) which I did not included in the specs above, but there may be others which I missed.

  • CR Deck Mk.1 Is An Open Source AR Headset Based On Project North Star With Ultraleap Hand-Tracking
  • Open Source Ventilators Helped by Electronic Design Software

    In the early days of the pandemic, the first major challenge facing nations was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. The former helps safeguard hospital personnel from potential contamination; the latter are necessary to keep the most critically ill patients breathing once the virus attacks their respiratory systems.

    Ventilators are traditionally large and very costly devices; smaller ventilators—known as field emergency ventilators (FEVs) have been used in emergency settings, including combat missions and in Third World nations for decades to help keep patients alive as they await transport to hospitals for intubation.

  • NASA JPL Team Fires up Open Source PPE Respirator Designs

    Does it really take a team of rocket scientists to rapidly engineer a top-notch line of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against COVID-19 spread? And then to open source its production designs for the benefit of anyone with access to a 3D printer?

    The answer: not necessarily, but it sure can help.

    That’s the latest good news on the pandemic front from the technology and innovation team at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

  • NASA and other innovators work to redesign ventilators for Covid-19 patients

    NASA scientists as well as other innovators are busy developing alternatives to the traditional ventilator being used worldwide to treat severe cases of Covid-19. The movement is in response to growing evidence that in some cases ventilators can cause more harm than good in some patients with low oxygen levels. Statistics tell the story: 80% of patients with the coronavirus die on such machines.

    This comes just a few months since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when U.S. healthcare providers said that they needed ventilators to accommodate the flood of new patients, and lots of them. The crisis triggered the Trump administration to activate the Defense Production Act so manufacturers including Ford, GM and GE could start ventilator production to produce these medical devices for the U.S. government.

Software: NetworkManager, Google's Chrome/Chromium, Best Linux Remote Desktop Tools, RapidDisk and Mastodon

Filed under
Software
  • NetworkManager 1.26 Development Progressing With New Functionality

    NetworkManager 1.25.2-dev is the latest development version of this important Linux networking component in the road towards NetworkManager 1.26.

    NetworkManager 1.25.2-dev was bumped this weekend as another milestone towards the upcoming 1.26 stable release of this widely used component for configuring wired and wireless networking on Linux and other platforms. Some of the changes building up so far for NetworkManager 1.26 include:

    - A new "firewalld-zone" option that is enabled by default that will install a firewalld zone for connection sharing and put the IPv4/IPv6 shared mode interfaces in this zone.

  • Chrome Is Reaching The Point Of Good X11 + Wayland Support In Same Build

    Google's Chrome/Chromium web browser is finally reaching the stage where having both the X11 support and Ozone abstraction layer for Wayland can be enabled concurrently in the same build.

    Thanks to the work by Google, Igalia, and others, the Chrome/Chromium code-base is nearly at the stage where the traditional X11 support can be built along with the Ozone platform support concurrently. Ozone is the platform abstraction layer being worked on for years for handling low-level input/graphics and necessary for Wayland support as well as various embedded use-cases and other platform abstraction capabilities. An overview of the Ozone code can be found here.

  • Best Linux Remote Desktop Tools For Ubuntu 20.04 LTS To Share Your Desktop In 2020

    7. KDE Connect
    KDE Connect helps you to enable remote desktop sharing with the help of Android and Linux applications.

    8. VNC Connect
    VNC Connect is a simple and secure remote desktop sharing tool for Linux. VNC Connect is equipped with 256 bit AES session encryption and it uses Remote Frame Buffer protocol to remotely control another computer.

  • RapidDisk version 6.1 released

    RapidDisk is an advanced Linux RAM Disk which consists of a collection of modules and an administration tool. Features include: Dynamically allocate RAM as block device. Use them as stand alone disk drives or even map them as caching nodes to slower local disk drives.

  • Experience With Mastodon
  • Share PeerTube Videos on Mastodon

Security and Proprietary Issues

Filed under
Security
  • 10 open source cloud security tools to know [Ed: The moment you choose 'clown computing' you've already disowned your own infrastructure and lost privacy, security, control. So this is sort of missing the point of "open" (the environment itself is proprietary).]

    Pacu is written in Python and maintained by Rhino Security Labs, a penetration testing provider.

  • Cisco security breach hits corporate servers that ran unpatched software

    Six servers Cisco uses to provide a virtual networking service were compromised by hackers who exploited critical flaws contained in unpatched versions the open source software service relies on, the company disclosed on Thursday.

  • Zoom to Strengthen Encryption for Paying Customers: Reuters

    In response to queries, Zoom pointed to its May 27 report that said its focus is to build the so-called end-to-end encryption for its meeting product, which may be later rolled out for its chat, phone and webinar offerings. “Only our paid users will have access to end-to-end encryption for their meetings,” it said. “However, all users will use the 256-bit GCM encryption on May 30 regardless of their license type.”

  • Zoom paid accounts reportedly will get strong encryption for calls

    Zoom published a draft paper May 22nd outlining some of its encryption plans.

  • Zoom Publishes Draft Design of End-to-End Encryption Offering

    Once we have assessed this feedback for integration into a final design, we will announce our engineering milestones and goals for deploying an end-to-end encryption offering for Zoom users.

  • Exclusive: Zoom plans to roll out strong encryption for paying customers

    The company, whose business has boomed with the coronavirus pandemic, discussed the move on a call with civil liberties groups and child-sex abuse fighters on Thursday, and Zoom security consultant Alex Stamos confirmed it on Friday.

    In an interview, Stamos said the plan was subject to change and it was not yet clear which, if any, nonprofits or other users, such as political dissidents, might qualify for accounts allowing more secure video meetings.

    He added that a combination of technological, safety and business factors went into the plan, which drew mixed reactions from privacy advocates.

  • NHS contact tracing undermined by hackers sending fraudulent warnings to public

    The new NHS test and trace programme is being undermined by hackers sending out phishing scams falsely warning the public they may have Covid-19.

    Public Health England have warned potential contacts to check suspicious messages against the Government website after a flurry of reports of Britons being falsely informed they may have coronavirus.

More in Tux Machines

Servers: Kubernetes, MicroK8s and Ubuntu

  • What’s up with the Kubernetes ecosystem

    This week’s acquisition of Rancher Labs by the veteran enterprise Linux firm SUSE neatly illustrates the growing momentum of container-based application deployment. It also underlines the importance of Kubernetes as the orchestration tool of choice for managing all those containers. So, what does this latest move mean for the broader Kubernetes ecosystem? When containers first garnered corporate attention six or seven years ago, Docker and its tools were the centre of attention. But the focus soon shifted to management frameworks capable of automating the deployment and scaling of containers, and Kubernetes, developed by Google from technology used in its cloud platform, quickly won out. Like many open source tools, Kubernetes has its share of rough edges and does not necessarily provide all the capabilities that users need to build a functioning container-based infrastructure. Companies such as Rancher sprang forth to provide a complete software stack built around Kubernetes for those who didn’t want to build it all themselves.

  • MicroK8s HA tech preview is now available
  • Ubuntu Support of AWS Graviton2 Instances
  • Ubuntu Support of AWS Graviton2 Instances

    Ubuntu is the industry-leading operating system for use in the cloud. Every day millions of Ubuntu instances are launched in private and public clouds around the world. Canonical takes pride in offering support for the latest cloud features and functionality. As of today, all Ubuntu Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace listings are now updated to include support for the new Graviton2 instance types. Graviton2 is Amazon’s next-generation ARM processor delivering increased performance at a lower cost. This

Linux and Linux Foundation: Rust, Windows, SystemD and More

  • Linux Developers May Discuss Allowing Rust Code Within The Kernel

    A Google engineer is looking to discuss at this year's Linux Plumbers Conference the possibility of allowing in-tree Rust language support. Nick Desaulniers of Google, who is known for his work on LLVM Clang'ing the Linux kernel and related efforts, is wanting to bring up the matter of in-tree Rust support for the kernel. The extent though of allowing Rust within the kernel isn't clear yet but would likely be very limited.

  • Emulating Windows system calls in Linux

    The idea of handling system calls differently depending on the origin of each call in the process's address space is not entirely new. OpenBSD, for example, disallows system calls entirely if they are not made from the system's C library as a security-enhancing mechanism. At the end of May, Gabriel Krisman Bertazi proposed a similar mechanism for Linux, but the objective was not security at all; instead, he is working to make Windows games run better under Wine. That involves detecting and emulating Windows system calls; this can be done through origin-based filtering, but that may not be the solution that is merged in the end. To run with any speed at all, Wine must run Windows code directly on the CPU to the greatest extent possible. That must end, though, once the Windows program makes a system call; trapping into the Linux kernel with the intent of making a Windows system call is highly unlikely to lead to good results. Traditionally, Wine has handled this by supplying its own version of the user-space Windows API that implemented the required functionality using Linux system calls. As explained in the patch posting, though, Windows applications are increasingly executing system calls directly rather than going through the API; that makes Wine unable to intercept them. The good news is that Linux provides the ability to intercept system calls in the form of seccomp(). The bad news is that this mechanism, as found in current kernels, is not suited to the task of intercepting only system calls made from Windows code running within a larger process. Intercepting every system call would slow things down considerably, an effect that tends to make gamers particularly cranky. Tracking which parts of a process's address space make Linux system calls and which make Windows calls within the (classic) BPF programs used by seccomp() would be awkward at best and, once again, would be slow. So it seems that a new mechanism is called for. The patch set adds a new memory-protection bit for mmap() called PROT_NOSYSCALL which, by default, does not change the kernel's behavior. If, however, a given process has turned on the new SECCOMP_MODE_MMAP mode in seccomp(), any system calls made from memory regions marked with PROT_NOSYSCALL will be trapped; the handler code can then emulate the attempted system call.

  • systemd 246-RC1 Released

    With this being the first systemd release since March, there is a lot in store for the v246 milestone. There are many systemd 246 features including new unit settings, the service manager has support for the cgroup v2 freezer, the CPU affinity setting now supports a NUMA value, systemd.hostname= can be used for setting the hostname from the kernel command line during early boot, hardware database updates, systemd-journald now supports Zstd compression, numerous networkd additions, systemd-cryptsetup now supports activating Microsoft BitLocker volumes during boot, systemd-homed improvements, the new systemd-xdg-autostart-generator, and much more. Just yesterday was one of the latest additions of exposing host OS information to containers.

  • Intel Gen12/Xe Graphics Have AV1 Accelerated Decode - Linux Support Lands

    On top of Intel Gen12/Xe Graphics bringing other media engine improvements and much better 3D graphics support, another exciting element of the next-generation Intel graphics is now confirmed: GPU-accelerated AV1 video decoding! There has been talk of Gen12/Xe supporting AV1 at least on the decode side but a lack of hard information to date. But landing this week in Intel's Media Driver for Linux is indeed AV1 decode wired up for Gen12. This is nice to see happen and a bit of a surprise as so far the Intel Media Driver support matrix has lacked any references to AV1.

  • Four years of Zephyr

    The Zephyr project is an effort to provide an open-source realtime operating system (RTOS) that is designed to bridge the gap between full-featured operating systems like Linux and bare-metal development environments. It's been over four years since Zephyr was publicly announced and discussed here (apparently to a bit of puzzlement). In this article, we give an update on the project and its community as of its v2.3.0 release in June 2020; we also make some guesses about its near future. The authors are both Zephyr developers working for Nordic Semiconductor; Cufí was the release manager for the v2.3.0 release. [...] The Zephyr kernel supports multiple architectures and scheduling algorithms. There are cooperative and preemptive threads, along with facilities for reducing interrupt latencies and guaranteeing the execution of key threads. An optional user mode can use the Memory Protection Units (MPUs) typically present in microcontrollers to isolate and sandbox threads or groups of threads from one another and the kernel. Zephyr supports six major architectures (x86, Arm, ARC, NIOS II, Xtensa, and RISC-V) and also runs in emulation. Both 32- and 64-bit processor support exists for some architectures. Within the Arm architecture, the emphasis has been on the usual 32-bit Cortex-M cores, but experimental support for Cortex-R and Cortex-A (including 64-bit Cortex-A) exists and continues to improve. Beyond "real hardware," Zephyr runs on QEMU, and as an ELF executable. It supports a simulated radio, which can save time and expense when testing and debugging radio frequency (RF) issues. In all, there are upstream support files for over 200 "boards". Zephyr has logging and shell subsystems. These have configurable transports, including traditional serial ports (for both) and over the network (for logging). Logging is optionally asynchronous; in this case, a separate thread actually sends log messages. The logging calls themselves post compact messages to a queue, which can be done quickly, so logging can be done even from within interrupt context. Hardware-specific APIs are built around a lightweight device driver model that is tightly integrated with the kernel. It supports a wide range of peripherals and sensors under this common model. Multiple storage options are available. These range from basic key-value storage optimized for NOR flash to filesystems.

Mozilla Leftovers and Firefox Development

  • Browser Wish List - Tab Splitting for Contextual Reading

    On Desktop, I'm very often in a situation where I want to read a long article in a browser tab with a certain number of hypertext links. The number of actions I have to do to properly read the text is tedious. It's prone to errors, requires a bit of preparation and has a lot of manual actions.

  • Mozilla Privacy Blog: Laws designed to protect online security should not undermine it

    Mozilla, Atlassian, and Shopify yesterday filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Van Buren v. U.S. asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider implications of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for online security and privacy. Mozilla’s involvement in this case comes from our interest in making sure that the law doesn’t stand in the way of effective online security. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was passed as a tool to combat online hacking through civil and criminal liability. However, over the years various federal circuit courts have interpreted the law so broadly as to threaten important practices for managing computer security used by Mozilla and many others. Contrary to the purpose of the statute, the lower court’s decision in this case would take a law meant to increase security and interpret it in a way that undermines that goal.

  • Changes to storage.sync in Firefox 79

    Firefox 79, which will be released on July 28, includes changes to the storage.sync area. Items that extensions store in this area are automatically synced to all devices signed in to the same Firefox Account, similar to how Firefox Sync handles bookmarks and passwords. The storage.sync area has been ported to a new Rust-based implementation, allowing extension storage to share the same infrastructure and backend used by Firefox Sync. Extension data that had been stored locally in existing profiles will automatically migrate the first time an installed extension tries to access storage.sync data in Firefox 79. After the migration, the data will be stored locally in a new storage-sync2.sqlite file in the profile directory.

  • SpiderMonkey Newsletter 5 (Firefox 78-79)

    SpiderMonkey is the JavaScript engine used in Mozilla Firefox. This newsletter gives an overview of the JavaScript and WebAssembly work we’ve done as part of the Firefox 78 and 79 Nightly release cycles. If you like these newsletters, you may also enjoy Yulia’s weekly Compiler Compiler live stream, a guided tour of what it is like to work on SpiderMonkey and improve spec compliance.

  • Testing Firefox more efficiently with machine learning

    At Mozilla we have around 50,000 unique test files. Each contain many test functions. These tests need to run on all our supported platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android) against a variety of build configurations (PGO, debug, ASan, etc.), with a range of runtime parameters (site isolation, WebRender, multi-process, etc.). While we don’t test against every possible combination of the above, there are still over 90 unique configurations that we do test against. In other words, for each change that developers push to the repository, we could potentially run all 50k tests 90 different times. On an average work day we see nearly 300 pushes (including our testing branch). If we simply ran every test on every configuration on every push, we’d run approximately 1.35 billion test files per day! While we do throw money at this problem to some extent, as an independent non-profit organization, our budget is finite. So how do we keep our CI load manageable? First, we recognize that some of those ninety unique configurations are more important than others. Many of the less important ones only run a small subset of the tests, or only run on a handful of pushes per day, or both. Second, in the case of our testing branch, we rely on our developers to specify which configurations and tests are most relevant to their changes. Third, we use an integration branch. [...] The early results of this project have been very promising. Compared to our previous solution, we’ve reduced the number of test tasks on our integration branch by 70%! Compared to a CI system with no test selection, by almost 99%! We’ve also seen pretty fast adoption of our mach try auto tool, suggesting a usability improvement (since developers no longer need to think about what to select). But there is still a long way to go! We need to improve the model’s ability to select configurations and default to that. Our regression detection heuristics and the quality of our dataset needs to improve. We have yet to implement usability and stability fixes to mach try auto. And while we can’t make any promises, we’d love to package the model and service up in a way that is useful to organizations outside of Mozilla. Currently, this effort is part of a larger project that contains other machine learning infrastructure originally created to help manage Mozilla’s Bugzilla instance.

  • Async Interview #8: Stjepan Glavina

    Several months ago, on May 1st, I spoke to Stjepan Glavina about his (at the time) new crate, smol. Stjepan is, or ought to be, a pretty well-known figure in the Rust universe. He is one of the primary authors of the various crossbeam crates, which provide core parallel building blocks that are both efficient and very ergonomic to use. He was one of the initial designers for the async-std runtime.

  • Missing structure in technical discussions

    People are amazing creatures. When discussing a complex issue, they are able to keep multiple independent arguments in their heads, the pieces of supporting and disproving evidence, and can collapse this system into a concrete solution.

  • Thank you, Julie Hanna

    Over the last three plus years, Julie Hanna has brought extensive experience on innovation processes, global business operations, and mission-driven organizations to her role as a board member of Mozilla Corporation. We have deeply appreciated her contributions to Mozilla throughout this period, and thank her for her time and her work with the board. [...] We look forward to continuing to see her play a key role in shaping and evolving purpose-driven technology companies across industries.

Why Windows Power Users Break Linux

As more people come to Linux, those of us who help the Windows refugees make the switch will need to be very patient with them. The more someone knows about Windows, the more likely it is that they will break Linux. Handing them a Linux laptop and saying, “Here ya go…” is not enough if they are going to succeed. You’re going to have to hold their hand for a while and telling them to “RTFM” will just drive them back to Windows. Understanding why they struggle as much as they do will help you to help them avoid some of the common pitfalls. I specialize in helping people get started with Linux. I’ve helped hundreds of people over the last few years and I can pretty much spot the ones who are going to do well and those who are going to be frustrated. If a client approaches me and they start the conversation with “I’ve been using Windows for 20 years…” I know it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The pattern is always the same: I walk them through an install and all is well for about two weeks and then I get a frustrated message from them about how Linux is stupid and doesn’t work. I know without asking that they’ve broken something major or borked up the whole system. I usually can fix the problem and make a good lesson out of it for them. I have gone so far as to walk them through a second installation from scratch. If the system is totally hosed, that’s the best way to go. Give them a clean slate to work with and hope they learned something. On the other hand, if a client tells me that they know nothing about computers but they need one to get things done like writing documents, spreadsheets, web surfing and email then they usually have zero issues. I get them setup and I don’t hear from them again. I usually contact then after a month or two and they invariably tell me everything is working perfectly. I got a call from a gentleman I hadn’t heard from in a year and a half recently. He said everything was working nicely but he wanted some advice about upgrading his Linux Mint from 17.3 to 18.1 and could I help him get it right. No problem. Wonderful to hear that all is well! Read more