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The End of a Year of Open Source

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OSS

One year ago, without any discernable tech skills or any practical experience within the fields of open hardware, free software or free culture, I embarked on a project to try to live as 'open source' as possible for a whole year. Rather than buying proprietary solutions to my day-to-day problems, I chose to hunt down, adapt or develop open source options.

I did this to document the experience in writing and videos, to test out how well the open source idea could apply to areas outside of software, and to show the experience of a newbie taking his first tentative steps into the collaborative world of the commons.

Today is the end of the Year of Open Source. A year of research, challenges, fascinating conversations, and much trial and error. My adventure took me in so many new directions, learning new skills, meeting new people... it will have a lasting effect on me and my work, and hopefully other people will also be able to learn from my experience.

rest here




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  • Intel CPU Bug Affecting rr Watchpoints
    I investigated an rr bug report and discovered an annoying Intel CPU bug that affects rr replay using data watchpoints. It doesn't seem to be hit very often in practice, which is good because I don't know any way to work around it. It turns out that the bug is probably covered by an existing Intel erratum for Skylake and Kaby Lake (and probably later generations, but I'm not sure), which I even blogged about previously! However, the erratum does not mention watchpoints and the bug I've found definitely depends on data watchpoints being set. I was able to write a stand-alone testcase to characterize the bug. The issue seems to be that if a rep stos (and probably rep movs) instruction writes between 1 and 64 bytes (inclusive), and you have a read or write watchpoint in the range [64, 128) bytes from the start of the writes (i.e., not triggered by the instruction), then one spurious retired conditional branch is (usually) counted. The alignment of the writes does not matter, and it's not related to speculative execution.

In Memoriam: Robin "Roblimo" Miller, a Videographer and Free Software Champion

Videographer Robin Roblimo Miller

Robin "Roblimo" Miller was a clever, friendly, and very amicable individual who everyone I know has plenty of positive things to say about. I had the pleasure of speaking to him for several hours about anything from personal life and professional views. Miller was a very knowledgeable person whose trade as a journalist and video producer I often envied. I have seen him facing his critics in his capacity as a journalist over a decade ago when he arranged a debate about OOXML (on live radio). Miller, to me, will always be remembered as a strong-minded and investigative journalist who "did the right thing" as the cliché goes, irrespective of financial gain -- something which can sometimes be detrimental to one's longterm health. Miller sacrificed many of his later years to a cause worth fighting for. This is what we ought to remember him for. Miller was - and always will be - a FOSS hero.

May everything you fought for be fulfilled, Mr. Miller. I already miss you.

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