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WWW: Chrome 89 and DevOps at Mozilla

Filed under
Google
Moz/FF

  • New in Chrome 89

    Chrome 89 is starting to roll out to stable now.

  • Chrome 89 Released With Various New Web APIs Deemed Stable

    Chrome 89 is out today as the latest stable version of Google's web browser. With Chrome 89 various new APis are deemed stable including WebHID, WebNFC, and Web Serial.

    Chrome 89 promoted its WebHID, WebNFC, and Web Serial support with those APIs for HID devices, near field communication, and serial devices being deemed ready for production use. Chrome 89 is also significant for AV1 encoding support for WebRTC in early form.

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  • DevOps at Mozilla

    I first joined Mozilla as an intern in 2010 for the “Tools and Automation Team” (colloquially called the “A-Team”). I always had a bit of difficulty describing our role. We work on tests. But not the tests themselves, the the thing that runs the tests. Also we make sure the tests run when code lands. Also we have this dashboard to view results, oh and also we do a bunch of miscellaneous developer productivity kind of things. Oh and sometimes we have to do other operational type things as well, but it varies.

Google for Slow Connections and Mozilla on Accessibility

Filed under
Google
Moz/FF
Web
  • Lyra: A New Very Low-Bitrate Codec for Speech Compression

    Connecting to others online via voice and video calls is something that is increasingly a part of everyday life. The real-time communication frameworks, like WebRTC, that make this possible depend on efficient compression techniques, codecs, to encode (or decode) signals for transmission or storage. A vital part of media applications for decades, codecs allow bandwidth-hungry applications to efficiently transmit data, and have led to an expectation of high-quality communication anywhere at any time.

    [...]

    To solve this problem, we have created Lyra, a high-quality, very low-bitrate speech codec that makes voice communication available even on the slowest networks. To do this, we’ve applied traditional codec techniques while leveraging advances in machine learning (ML) with models trained on thousands of hours of data to create a novel method for compressing and transmitting voice signals.

  • Google's New Lyra Voice Codec + AV1 Aim For Video Chats Over 56kbps Modems In 2021

    Google's AI team has announced "Lyra" as a very low bit-rate codec for speech compression designed for use-cases like WebRTC and other video chats... With a bit rate so low that when combined with the likes of the AV1 video codec could potentially allow video chats over 56kbps Internet connections.

    Google engineers formally announced Lyra on Thursday as this new codec to challenge the likes of Opus. Lyra leverages machine learning to make it suitable for delivering extremely low bit-rate speech compression.

    Google's Lyra announcement noted, "Lyra is currently designed to operate at 3kbps and listening tests show that Lyra outperforms any other codec at that bitrate and is compared favorably to Opus at 8kbps, thus achieving more than a 60% reduction in bandwidth. Lyra can be used wherever the bandwidth conditions are insufficient for higher-bitrates and existing low-bitrate codecs do not provide adequate quality."

  • Mozilla Accessibility: 2021 Firefox Accessibility Roadmap Update [Ed: Mozilla is not consistent. It speaks of people with disabilities, but was eager to go on with DRM (EME) inside Firefox despite is being an attack on disabled people]

    People with disabilities can experience huge benefits from technology but can also find it frustrating or worse, downright unusable. Mozilla’s Firefox accessibility team is committed to delivering products and services that are not just usable for people with disabilities, but a delight to use.

    The Firefox accessibility (a11y) team will be spending much of 2021 re-building major pieces of our accessibility engine, the part of Firefox that powers screen readers and other assistive technologies.

    While the current Firefox a11y engine has served us well for many years, new directions in browser architectures and operating systems coupled with the increasing complexity of the modern web means that some of Firefox’s venerable a11y engine needs a rebuild.

    Browsers, including Firefox, once simple single process applications, have become complex multi-process systems that have to move lots of data between processes, which can cause performance slowdowns. In order to ensure the best performance and stability and to enable support for a growing, wider variety of accessibility tools in the future (such as Windows Narrator, Speech Recognition and Text Cursor Indicator), Firefox’s accessibility engine needs to be more robust and versatile. And where ATs used to spend significant resources ensuring a great experience across browsers, the dominance of one particular browser means less resources being committed to ensuring the ATs work well with Firefox. This changing landscape means that Firefox too must evolve significantly and that’s what we’re going to be doing in 2021.

Google funds Linux kernel developers to work exclusively on security

Filed under
Google
Security

Hardly a week goes by without yet another major Windows security problem popping up, while Linux security problems, when looked at closely, usually turn out to be blunders made by incompetent system administration. But Linux can't rest on its laurels. There are real Linux security concerns that need addressing. That's where Google and the Linux Foundation come in with a new plan to underwrite two full-time maintainers for Linux kernel security development, Gustavo Silva and Nathan Chancellor.

Silva and Chancellor's exclusive focus will be to maintain and improve kernel security and associated initiatives to ensure Linux's security. There's certainly work to be done.

Read more

Unlock your Chromebook's hidden potential with Linux

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Google

Google Chromebooks run on Linux, but normally the Linux they run isn't particularly accessible to the user. Linux is used as a backend technology for an environment based on the open source Chromium OS, which Google then transforms into Chrome OS. The interface most users experience is a desktop that can run Chrome browser apps and the Chrome browser itself. And yet underneath all that, there's Linux to be found. If you know how, you can enable Linux on your Chromebook and turn a computer that was probably relatively cheap and basic into a serious laptop with access to hundreds of applications and all the power you need to make it an all-purpose computer.

[...]

Now that you're running in Developer Mode, you can activate the Linux Beta feature in Chrome OS. To do that, open Settings and click on Linux Beta in the left column.

Activate Linux Beta and allot some hard drive space for your Linux system and applications. Linux is pretty lightweight at the worst of times, so you don't really need much space, but it obviously depends on how much you intend to do with Linux. 4 GB is enough for Linux plus a few hundred terminal commands and two dozen graphical applications. Because my Chromebook has a 64 GB memory chip, I gave 30 GB over to Linux because most of what I do on my Chromebook is in Linux.

Once your Linux Beta environment is ready, you can launch a terminal by pressing the Search button on your keyboard and typing terminal. If you're new to Linux, you may not know what to install now that you have access. This, of course, depends on what you want to do with Linux. If you're interested in Linux for programming, then you might start with Bash (that's already installed and running in the terminal) and Python. If you're interested in Linux for all of its amazing open source applications, you might try applications like GIMP, MyPaint, LibreOffice, or Inkscape.

The Linux Beta mode of Chrome OS lacks a graphical installer for software, but applications can be installed from the terminal. Install applications with the sudo apt install command.

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Also: Windows is losing to Linux... but not how you might think.

Chromebooks (Based on Gentoo GNU/Linux) on the Rise

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Google
  • Chromebooks outsold Macs worldwide in 2020, cutting into Windows market share [Ed: Even Microsoft boosters such as Microsoft Emil now admit Windows is in trouble, even on laptops]

    This is a big win for Google and a warning for both Apple and Microsoft. It also signals to app and game developers that Chrome OS can no longer be ignored. Frankly, any business that provides a product or service over the internet should be setting aside resources to ensure the Chrome OS experience is comparable to Windows and macOS.

  • Chromebooks continued to outsell Macs in 2020

    Data from both IDC and Strategy Analytics independently confirmed that trend. SA reported that Chromebooks outsold MacBooks during 2020 and especially during the fourth quarter. Research firm IDC (Disclosure: IDC and PCWorld are owned by the same parent company), which included desktops in its analysis, reported similar findings. A third analyst firm, Canalys, compiled data showing that total worldwide Chromebook shipments nearly quadrupled in 2020 to 11.2 million units, compared to just 2.9 million in 2019. SA's data is shown below.

  • Mac market share grew significantly last year, but Chromebooks pulled ahead

    However, the company said that a dramatic explosion in Chromebook sales during the year meant that ChromeOS convincingly kicked macOS into third place in the desktop OS battle…

Go 1.16 is released

Filed under
Development
Google

Today the Go team is very happy to announce the release of Go 1.16. You can get it from the download page.

The new embed package provides access to files embedded at compile time using the new //go:embed directive. Now it is easy to bundle supporting data files into your Go programs, making developing with Go even smoother. You can get started using the embed package documentation. Carl Johnson has also written a nice tutorial, “How to use Go embed”.

Go 1.16 also adds macOS ARM64 support (also known as Apple silicon). Since Apple’s announcement of their new arm64 architecture, we have been working closely with them to ensure Go is fully supported; see our blog post “Go on ARM and Beyond” for more.

Read more

Also: Go 1.16 released

Google proposes way for Fuchsia OS to run Android and Linux programs ‘natively’

Filed under
OS
Google

One of the bigger issues with making a new operating system, particularly one that’s being built from scratch like Fuchsia, is that people will rightfully want to be able to run their favorite apps on that OS. In the case of Fuchsia, which could theoretically serve as the successor to both Chrome OS and Android, people would likely expect to be able to run both Android apps and Linux apps, along with native Fuchsia apps.

Up to now, the expectation was that Fuchsia could accomplish this in the same way that Chrome OS is currently able to run Linux apps, by running a full instance of Linux in a virtual machine. Chrome OS is even set to use this same strategy for its ability to run Android apps, thanks to a project called arcvm.

However, there are some downsides to the virtual machine approach. For one, managing files between the “host” (Fuchsia, for example) and the “guest” (Android) can be tricky or cumbersome. Additionally, Fuchsia puts an emphasis on security, attempting to keep programs isolated from one another wherever possible. To maintain that level of isolation with Linux apps, Fuchsia would need to run more than one virtual machine, which could bog down performance.

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Google Betrayals

Filed under
Google
Gaming
  • Terraria canceled on Stadia after developer gets locked out of his Google accounts

    The co-creator of Terraria has called off development of the game for Google Stadia following a three-week stretch where he has been inexplicably locked out of all of his Google accounts.

    Andrew Spinks gave the ultimatum early Monday, after getting no response from Google since YouTube locked him out of his account in mid-January. The lockout has also cost Spinks access to apps he’s purchased on Google Stadia, wiped data he stored in Google drive, and terminated a Gmail account he’s used for more than 15 years.

  • ‘Terraria’ Creator Cancels Stadia Version After Google Account Lockout

    Spinks concludes that his problems stem from Google trying to “burn a bridge,” and if that’s the way it’s going to be, he says, he’s cancelling the Stadia release of Terraria, as he “will not be involved with a corporation that values their customers and partners so little. Doing business with you is a liability.”

  • Terraria co-creator says Stadia version is canceled after losing access to Google accounts

    The cancellation of a Stadia port for Terraria comes at a challenging time for Google Stadia: last week, the company announced it was closing its in-house development studio and said it would rely instead solely on third-party developers. The cloud gaming service is also losing one of its biggest exclusives, Crayta, as its timed exclusivity deal is slated to end soon.

  • Terraria on Stadia Canceled After Developer Is Locked Out Of Google Accounts

    The developers of Terraria, Re-Logic, have shared more details about what their severed ties with Google mean. Including how the boycott will include future versions of Terraria and future games from the studio. But existing versions of Terraria on Android and Google Play will not be impacted by the co-creator's decisions today.

    In a statement to IGN, Re-Logic says “Punishing existing customers who paid for our game on these platforms is not what we are about. To be clear: there should be no impact whatsoever to Terraria on Google platforms, both existing/purchased games as well as ongoing store availability.”

    The studio also provided a more in-depth timeline on how its issues with Google came about.

  • Terraria Creator Cancels Stadia Port, Calls Doing Business With Google A "Liability"

    "After using every resource I have to get this resolved, you have done nothing but given me the runaround." He cites his frustration as being linked to thousands of dollars in-app purchases, movie purchases, and Google Drive data now being beyond his reach. Additionally, "I can't access my YouTube channel. The worst of all is losing access to my Gmail address of over 15 years."

  • Google Chrome is killing off support for some ancient PCs

    If you’re one of the few whose PC contains an Intel Pentium 4 or an AMD Athlon 64, bad news: You’re about to lose access to Google’s Chrome browser.

LibreOffice Docs and 2021 Season of Docs

Filed under
LibO
Google
  • Make better presentations with the Impress Guide 7.0

    This 330-page book explores the basics of Impress, before moving on to master slides, styles, templates, graphic objects, effects, exporting in various formats, and much more.

  • The 2021 Season of Docs application for organizations is open!

    Google Open Source is delighted to announce Season of Docs 2021!

    The 2019 Season of Docs brought together open source organizations and technical writers to create 44 successful documentation projects. In 2020, we had 64 successful standard-length technical writing projects and are still awaiting long-running project results.

    In 2021, the Season of Docs program will continue to support better documentation in open source and provide opportunities for skilled technical writers to gain open source experience. In addition, building on what we’ve learned from the successful 2019 and 2020 projects, we’re expanding our focus to include learning about effective metrics for evaluating open source documentation.

  • The 2021 Season of Docs application for organizations is open

    Google Open Source has announced the 2021 edition of Season of Docs.

Control Chromecast Devices From A Linux Desktop Via MPRIS Widgets Using chromecast_mpris

Filed under
Google
Software

chromecast_mpris is a daemon that allows you to control Chromecast devices from your Linux desktop using MPRIS widgets. The tool can also be used to open media and play YouTube videos on your Chromecast from the command line.

MPRIS (Media Player Remote Interfacing Specification) support is available by default in the Plasma Desktop and Linux Mint, GNOME has a simple MPRIS widget in its Date / Time menu (and there are third-party extensions for this as well, like this MPRIS Indicator Button), playerctrl (a command line utility and library for controlling media players that implement the MPRIS D-Bus Interface Specification), etc.

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More in Tux Machines

Python: Security and NumPy 1.20 Release

  • Python Package Index nukes 3,653 malicious libraries uploaded soon after security shortcoming highlighted

    The Python Package Index, also known as PyPI, has removed 3,653 malicious packages uploaded days after a security weakness in the use of private and public registries was highlighted. Python developers use PyPI to add software libraries written by other developers in their own projects. Other programming languages implement similar package management systems, all of which demand some level of trust. Developers are often advised to review any code they import from an external library though that advice isn't always followed. Package management systems like npm, PyPI, and RubyGems have all had to remove subverted packages in recent years. Malware authors have found that if they can get their code included in popular libraries or applications, they get free distribution and trust they haven't earned. Last month, security researcher Alex Birsan demonstrated how easy it is to take advantage of these systems through a form of typosquatting that exploited the interplay between public and private package registries.

  • A pair of Python vulnerabilities [LWN.net]

    Two separate vulnerabilities led to the fast-tracked release of Python 3.9.2 and 3.8.8 on February 19, though source-only releases of 3.7.10 and 3.6.13 came a few days earlier. The vulnerabilities may be problematic for some Python users and workloads; one could potentially lead to remote code execution. The other is, arguably, not exactly a flaw in the Python standard library—it simply also follows an older standard—but it can lead to web cache poisoning attacks. [...] [Update: As pointed out in an email from Moritz Muehlenhoff, Python 2.7 actually is affected by this bug. He notes that python2 on Debian 10 ("Buster") is affected and has been updated. Also, Fedora has a fix in progress for its python2.7 package.]

  • NumPy 1.20 has been released

    NumPy is a Python library that adds an array data type to the language, along with providing operators appropriate to working on arrays and matrices. By wrapping fast Fortran and C numerical routines, NumPy allows Python programmers to write performant code in what is normally a relatively slow language. NumPy 1.20.0 was announced on January 30, in what its developers describe as the largest release in the history of the project. That makes for a good opportunity to show a little bit about what NumPy is, how to use it, and to describe what's new in the release. [...] NumPy adds a new data type to Python: the multidimensional ndarray. This a container, like a Python list, but with some crucial differences. A NumPy array is usually homogeneous; while the elements of a list can be of various types, an ndarray will, typically, only contain a single, simple type, such as integers, strings, or floats. However, these arrays can instead contain arbitrary Python objects (i.e. descendants of object). This means that the elements will, for simple data types, all occupy the same amount of space in memory. The elements of an ndarray are laid out contiguously in memory, whereas there is no such guarantee for a list. In this way, they are similar to Fortran arrays. These properties of NumPy arrays are essential for efficiency because the location of each element can be directly calculated. Beyond just adding efficient arrays, NumPy also overloads arithmetic operators to act element-wise on the arrays. This allows the Python programmer to express computations concisely, operating on arrays as units, in many cases avoiding the need to use loops. This does not turn Python into a full-blown array language such as APL, but adds to it a syntax similar to that incorporated into Fortran 90 for array operations.

4 Best Free and Open Source Graphical MPD Clients

MPD is a powerful server-side application for playing music. In a home environment, you can connect an MPD server to a Hi-Fi system, and control the server using a notebook or smartphone. You can, of course, play audio files on remote clients. MPD can be started system-wide or on a per-user basis. MPD runs in the background playing music from its playlist. Client programs communicate with MPD to manipulate playback, the playlist, and the database. The client–server model provides advantages over all-inclusive music players. Clients can communicate with the server remotely over an intranet or over the Internet. The server can be a headless computer located anywhere on a network. There’s graphical clients, console clients and web-based clients. To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 4 best graphical MPD clients. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to listen to their music collection via MPD. Here’s our recommendations. They are all free and open source goodness. Read more

LWN on Kernel: 5.12 Merge, Lockless Algorithms, and opy_file_range()

  • 5.12 Merge window, part 1 [LWN.net]

    The beginning of the 5.12 merge window was delayed as the result of severe weather in the US Pacific Northwest. Once Linus Torvalds got going, though, he wasted little time; as of this writing, just over 8,600 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline repository for the 5.12 release — over a period of about two days. As one might imagine, that work contains a long list of significant changes.

  • An introduction to lockless algorithms [LWN.net]

    Low-level knowledge of the memory model is universally recognized as advanced material that can scare even the most seasoned kernel hackers; our editor wrote (in the July article) that "it takes a special kind of mind to really understand the memory model". It's been said that the Linux kernel memory model (and in particular Documentation/memory-barriers.txt) can be used to frighten small children, and the same is probably true of just the words "acquire" and "release". At the same time, mechanisms like RCU and seqlocks are in such widespread use in the kernel that almost every developer will sooner or later encounter fundamentally lockless programming interfaces. For this reason, it is a good idea to equip yourself with at least a basic understanding of lockless primitives. Throughout this series I will describe what acquire and release semantics are really about, and present five relatively simple patterns that alone can cover most uses of the primitives.

  • How useful should copy_file_range() be? [LWN.net]

    Its job is to copy len bytes of data from the file represented by fd_in to fd_out, observing the requested offsets at both ends. The flags argument must be zero. This call first appeared in the 4.5 release. Over time it turned out to have a number of unpleasant bugs, leading to a long series of fixes and some significant grumbling along the way. In 2019 Amir Goldstein fixed more issues and, in the process, removed a significant limitation: until then, copy_file_range() refused to copy between files that were not located on the same filesystem. After this patch was merged (for 5.3), it could copy between any two files, falling back on splice() for the cross-filesystem case. It appeared that copy_file_range() was finally settling into a solid and useful system call. Indeed, it seemed useful enough that the Go developers decided to use it for the io.Copy() function in their standard library. Then they ran into a problem: copy_file_range() will, when given a kernel-generated file as input, copy zero bytes of data and claim success. These files, which include files in /proc, tracefs, and a large range of other virtual filesystems, generally indicate a length of zero when queried with a system call like stat(). copy_file_range(), seeing that zero length, concludes that there is no data to copy and the job is already done; it then returns success. But there is actually data to be read from this kind of file, it just doesn't show in the advertised length of the file; the real length often cannot be known before the file is actually read. Before 5.3, the prohibition on cross-filesystem copies would have caused most such attempts to return an error code; afterward, they fail but appear to work. The kernel is happy, but some users can be surprisingly stubborn about actually wanting to copy the data they asked to be copied; they were rather less happy.

Banana Pi BPI-M2 Pro is a compact Amlogic S905X3 SBC

Banana Pi has already designed an Amlogic S905X3 SBC with Banana Pi BPI-M5 that closely follows Raspberry Pi 3 Model B form factor, but they’ve now unveiled a more compact model with Banana Pi BPI-M2 Pro that follow the design of the company’ earlier BPI-MP2+ SBC powered by the good old Allwinner H3 processor. BPI-M2 Pro comes with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC storage, HDMI video output, Gigabit Ethernet, Wifi & Bluetooth connectivity, as well as two USB 3.0 ports. Read more