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​Major Linux redesign in the works to deal with Intel security flaw

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
Security

Long ago, Intel made a design mistake in its 64-bit chips -- and now, all Intel-based operating systems and their users must pay the price.

Linux's developers saw this coming early on and patched Linux to deal with it. That's the good news. The bad news is it will cause at least a 5-percent performance drop. Applications may see far more serious performance hits. The popular PostgreSQL database is estimated to see at least a 17-percent slowdown.

How bad will it really be? I asked Linux's creator Linus Torvalds, who said: "There's no one number. It will depend on your hardware and on your load. I think 5 percent for a load with a noticeable kernel component (e.g. a database) is roughly in the right ballpark. But if you do micro-benchmarks that really try to stress it, you might see double-digit performance degradation."

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Google and Red Hat

  • Red Hat Says Security Updates for Meltdown & Spectre Bugs May Affect Performance

    Red Hat's John Terrill informs Softpedia today that Red Hat is aware of the two hardware bugs (Meltdown and Spectre) affecting most modern microprocessors and they're working on security updates to mitigate them on their supported operating systems.

    The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities (CVE-2017-5753, CVE-2017-5715, and CVE-2017-5754) were publicly disclosed earlier today as critical hardware flaws affecting modern microprocessors made in the last two decades. These can be exploited by an unprivileged attacker to bypass hardware restrictions through three unique attack paths and gain read access to privileged memory.

    Red Hat Product Security provided us with several resources to better understand the impact of these hardware bugs on any of their supported Linux-based operating systems from an open source technology perspective. They said that Intel, AMD, POWER 8, POWER 9, IBM System z, and ARM chips are affected by the newly discovered vulnerabilities.

  • Google Makes Disclosure About The CPU Vulnerability Affecting Intel / AMD / ARM

    We're finally getting actual technical details on the CPU vulnerability leading to the recent race around (K)PTI that when corrected may lead to slower performance in certain situations. Google has revealed they uncovered the issue last year and have now provided some technical bits.

    Google says their Project Zero team last year discovered serious flaws in speculative execution that could lead to reading system memory where it shouldn't be authorized. Google was also able to demonstrate an attack where one VM could access the physical memory of the host machine and in turn read memory of other VMs on the same host.

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KaOS 2018.01 KDE-focused Linux distro now available with Spectre and Meltdown fixes

It can be difficult to find a quality Linux distribution that meets your needs. This is partly because there are just too many operating systems from which to choose. My suggestion is to first find a desktop environment that you prefer, and then narrow down your distro search to one that focuses on that DE. For instance, if you like KDE, both Kubuntu and Netrunner are solid choices. With all of that said, there is another KDE-focused Linux distro that I highly recommend. Called "KaOS," it is rolling release, meaning you can alway be confident that your computer is running modern packages. Today, KaOS gets its first updated ISO for 2018, and you should definitely use it to upgrade your install media. Why? Because version 2018.01 has fixes for Spectre and Meltdown thanks to Linux kernel 4.14.14 with both AMD and Intel ucode. Read more

Today in Techrights

KDE: Linux and Qt in Automotive, KDE Discover, Plasma5 18.01 in Slackware

  • Linux and Qt in Automotive? Let’s meet up!
    For anyone around the Gothenburg area on Feb 1st, you are most welcome to the Automotive MeetUp held at the Pelagicore and Luxoft offices. There will be talks about Qt/QML, our embedded Linux platform PELUX and some ramblings about open source in automotive by yours truly ;-)
  • What about AppImage?
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  • What’s new for January? Plasma5 18.01, and more
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GNU/Linux: Live Patching, Gravity of Kubernetes, Welcome to 2018

  • How Live Patching Has Improved Xen Virtualization
    The open-source Xen virtualization hypervisor is widely deployed by enterprises and cloud providers alike, which benefit from the continuous innovation that the project delivers. In a video interview with ServerWatch, Lars Kurth, Chairman of the Xen Project Advisory Board and Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix, details some of the recent additions to Xen and how they are helping move the project forward.
  • The Gravity of Kubernetes
    Most new internet businesses started in the foreseeable future will leverage Kubernetes (whether they realize it or not). Many old applications are migrating to Kubernetes too. Before Kubernetes, there was no standardization around a specific distributed systems platform. Just like Linux became the standard server-side operating system for a single node, Kubernetes has become the standard way to orchestrate all of the nodes in your application. With Kubernetes, distributed systems tools can have network effects. Every time someone builds a new tool for Kubernetes, it makes all the other tools better. And it further cements Kubernetes as the standard.
  • Welcome to 2018
    The image of the technology industry as a whole suffered in 2017, and that process is likely to continue this year as well. That should lead to an increased level of introspection that will certainly affect the free-software community. Many of us got into free software to, among other things, make the world a better place. It is not at all clear that all of our activities are doing that, or what we should do to change that situation. Expect a lively conversation on how our projects should be run and what they should be trying to achieve. Some of that introspection will certainly carry into projects related to machine learning and similar topics. There will be more interesting AI-related free software in 2018, but it may not all be beneficial. How well will the world be served, for example, by a highly capable, free facial-recognition system and associated global database? Our community will be no more effective than anybody else at limiting progress of potentially freedom-reducing technologies, but we should try harder to ensure that our technologies promote and support freedom to the greatest extent possible. Our 2017 predictions missed the fact that an increasing number of security problems are being found at the hardware level. We'll not make the same mistake in 2018. Much of what we think of as "hardware" has a great deal of software built into it — highly proprietary software that runs at the highest privilege levels and which is not subject to third-party review. Of course that software has bugs and security issues of its own; it couldn't really be any other way. We will see more of those issues in 2018, and many of them are likely to prove difficult to fix.