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The Chrome Cast 50: Linux on Chromebooks and the future of Chrome OS tablets

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Google

This week on The Chrome Cast, we’re exploring a couple seemingly-unconnected ideas that actually tie into one another quite well. First up is the heightened interest in Linux apps on Chrome OS. While we’ve been tracking along with the development of Crostini since before it was actually a thing, it’s been a while since we’ve really dug into what Chromebooks are capable of with Linux. As part of that renewed effort, we’ve launched Command Line, where we are focusing more on what users can do and get done with Linux apps on their Chromebook.

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Another new show:

  • 2020-02-28 | Linux Headlines

    The Open Source Initiative kicks a co-founder from its mailing lists, OBS faces backlash for receiving support from Facebook Gaming, and Collabora launches its version of LibreOffice for mobile.

Go 1.14 is released

Filed under
Development
Google

Today the Go team is very happy to announce the release of Go 1.14. You can get it from the download page.

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Also: Go 1.14 Released - Performance Improvements, Go's Module Support Production-Ready

Google helps devs speed up Firefox with open source Lighthouse extension

Filed under
Google
Moz/FF
OSS

Google has released a Firefox version of its Lighthouse browser extension, giving developers an easy way to test the performance of websites and web apps.

The open source extension makes use of the PageSpeed Insights API, and the new release brings Firefox in line with Chrome which has had a version of the extension for a few years now. The ultimate aim is to make it easier for developers to improve app and page performance by encouraging better practices.

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GNU/Linux in Crostini Form

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Google

  • Using 'LXPanel' as a UI for Crostini

    If you are used to a menu-driven user interface in Linux or find the Chrome OS application launcher not quite to your liking for accessing Crostini Linux applications then one option you could try is LXPanel.

    The panel generates a menu for installed applications automatically from '*.desktop' files and can itself be incorporated in its own '.desktop' file which if pinned to the Chrome OS shelf can also be used as a means to start the 'penguin' container after booting.

    Unfortunately it is not quite perfect as the panel is displayed in the middle of the screen and doesn't respond well to changing its position under geometry in its panel settings. However you can toggle its visibility by clicking the panel's icon on the shelf. Also closing the panel (by right clicking the icon) only closes the 'LXPanel' application in Chrome OS so to terminate it fully you need to use 'killall lxpanel' in a terminal session.

  • Linux apps on Chromebooks may be reason enough for external GPU support

    We’ve been tracking a device known only as ‘Mushu’ for about a month at this point, and it brings with it a very specific and interesting addition to the Chrome OS ecosystem: a discrete GPU (or dGPU for short). When we first reported on this device being in development, I suggested that I don’t see a ton of use cases for a Chromebook with a dGPU for most users. Without a proper video editor or tons of ways to play locally-stored games, its hard to make a case for dGPUs when existing Chromebooks are already so fast at what they do.

Malicious Proprietary Software From Microsoft and Google

Filed under
Google
Microsoft
  • Microsoft rolls out a new update for Surface Duo SDK Preview

    The new update is available for Mac, Windows and Ubuntu....

  • Microsoft Brings Its Windows 10 Antivirus Arsenal to Linux [Ed: Wow. Softpedia's "LINUX" section (Popa) is now an arm of Microsoft proprietary software marketing. Sure missing Marius Nester there. Whose arsenal is this? NSA's?]
  • Microsoft: Linux Defender antivirus now in public preview, iOS and Android are next [Ed: Of course Microsoft's sponsored propaganda network also promotes Microsoft proprietary software in the “LINUX” section. It does this all the time. The site has also just put "GitHub: We won't take down any of your content unless we really have to" under the "LINUX" section because proprietary software (GitHub) is somehow "LINUX"?!]
  • Chrome deploys deep-linking tech in latest browser build despite privacy concerns

    Google has implemented a browser capability in Chrome called ScrollToTextFragment that enables deep links to web documents, but it has done so despite unresolved privacy concerns and lack of support from other browser makers.

    Via Twitter on Tuesday, Peter Snyder, privacy researcher at privacy-focused browser maker Brave Software, observed that ScrollToTextFragment shipped earlier this month in Chrome 80 unflagged, meaning it's active, despite privacy issues that have been raised.

    "Imposing privacy and security leaks to existing sites (many of which will never be updated) REALLY should be a 'don't break the web,' never-cross redline," he wrote. "This spec does that."

    The debate over the feature percolated last year on mailing lists and in GitHub issues posts and picked up in October when the team working on Chrome's Blink engine declared their intent to implement the specification. The feature rollout serves to illustrate that the consensus-based web standards process doesn't do much to constrain the technology Google deploys.

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  • New Mexico Sues Google Over Collection of Children's Data

           

             

    New Mexico’s attorney general sued Google Thursday over allegations the tech company is illegally collecting personal data generated by children in violation of federal and state laws.

Google Code and Openwash

Filed under
Google
OSS

Detailed tests of search engines: Google, Startpage, Bing, DuckDuckGo, metaGer, Ecosia, Swisscows, Searx, Qwant, Yandex, and Mojeek

Filed under
Google
Reviews
Web

Since my last in-depth comparison review of alternative search engines in 2014, a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. Google is appearing as a loan-verb in more and more languages due to its continued dominance in the search engine market. But at the same time, Google is being increasingly demonized by privacy focused users. An even more more interesting development is the trend of complaints that Google’s algorithm is producing results that are less relevant and more indicative of artificial stupidity than artificial intelligence. I belong in this latter camp, as I am more of a pragmatist than a privacy pundit. I simply want the best search results with minimal effort and no nonsense. Back in my 2014 article, I was hopeful that DuckDuckGo was quickly becoming a viable and attractive alternative to Google. While DuckDuckGo continues to be the darling of privacy conscious users and is enjoying more popularity than ever, I am concerned that its core search infrastructure and algorithms have largely stagnated. Since my last article, many other alternatives have cropped up, bringing some very interesting features and concepts, but it still remains to be seen if they offer acceptable results in the fundamentally important area of relevant search results. This comparison sets out to analyze and compare the current batch of alternatives in 2020.

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Google to Samsung: Stop messing with Linux kernel code. It's hurting Android security

Filed under
Android
Linux
Google
Security

Samsung's attempt to prevent attacks on Galaxy phones by modifying kernel code ended up exposing it to more security bugs, according to Google Project Zero (GPZ).

Not only are smartphone makers like Samsung creating more vulnerabilities by adding downstream custom drivers for direct hardware access to Android's Linux kernel, vendors would be better off using security features that already exist in the Linux kernel, according to GPZ researcher Jann Horn.

[...]

Incidentally, the February update also includes a patch for critical flaw in "TEEGRIS devices", referring to Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) on newer Galaxy phones that contain Samsung's proprietary TEE operating system. The Galaxy S10 is among TEEGRIS devices.

But Horn's new blogpost is focused on efforts in Android to reduce the security impact of vendors adding unique code to the kernel.

"Android has been reducing the security impact of such code by locking down which processes have access to device drivers, which are often vendor-specific," explains Horn.

An example is that newer Android phones access hardware through dedicated helper processes, collectively known as the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) in Android. But Horn says vendors modifying how core parts of the Linux kernel work undermines efforts to "lock down the attack surface".

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Google's Chrome and Mozilla Firefox: HTTPS, Firefox 73, TenFourFox FPR19, Firefox for Android, Extensions in Firefox 73 and Firefox 73 New Contributors

Filed under
Google
Moz/FF
Web
  • Google Chrome to start blocking downloads served via HTTP

    Google has announced a timetable for phasing out insecure file downloads in the Chrome browser, starting with desktop version 81 due out next month.

    Known in jargon as ‘mixed content downloads’, these are files such as software executables, documents and media files offered from secure HTTPS websites over insecure HTTP connections.

    This is a worry because a user seeing the HTTPS padlock on a site visited using Chrome might assume that any downloads it offers are also secure (HTTP sites offering downloads are already marked ‘not secure’).

  • Mozilla Firefox 73 Is Now Available for Download, Here’s What’s New

    The Mozilla Firefox 73 open-source web browser is now available to download for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, Windows, and macOS.

    Scheduled to be released by Mozilla on February 11th, the Firefox 73 release can now be downloaded from the official servers for all supported platforms and architectures. Linux users can get the binaries for 64-bit and 32-bit systems, as well as a Snap package and the source tarball.

    This is the final version that will also be released by Mozilla tomorrow. If you can’t wait until then, or until Firefox 73 will land in the stable software repositories of your favorite GNU/Linux distribution, you can get a head start by downloading the official binaries.

  • TenFourFox FPR19 available

    Due to a busy work schedule and $REALLIFE, TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 19 final is just now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). This version is the same as the beta except for a couple URL bar tweaks I meant to land and the outstanding security updates. If all goes well, it will go live tomorrow Pacific time in the evening.

  • The 7 best things about the new Firefox for Android

    The biggest ever update to Firefox for Android is on its way. Later this spring, everyone using the Firefox browser on their Android phones and tablets will get the update. Your favorite features — like your history, bookmarks, saved logins, and tab sharing — will stay the same.

  • Extensions in Firefox 73

    As promised, the update on changes in Firefox 73 is short: There is a new sidebarAction.toggle API that will allow you to open and close the sidebar. It requires being called from a user action, such as a context menu or click handler. The sidebar toggle was brought to you by Mélanie Chauvel. Thanks for your contribution, Mélanie!

    On the backend, we fixed a bug that caused tabs.onCreated and tabs.onUpdated events to be fired out-of-order.

  • Firefox 73 new contributors

    With the release of Firefox 73, we are pleased to welcome the 19 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 18 of whom were brand new volunteers!

Opposition grows to Microsoft's make-Chrome-use-Bing plan for Office 365 customers

Filed under
Google
Microsoft
Web

Resistance has mounted over the last several days to Microsoft's decision to change the default search engine of Google's Chrome to Bing on personal computers running Office 365 ProPlus.

Microsoft quietly announced the move Jan. 21 on its Microsoft 365 Roadmap page, then on Jan. 22 published support documents with additional information and a blog post that stated the company's rationale.

Commentary on Microsoft's blog, the support document and elsewhere — including an Office 365 website dedicated to user requests — was almost universally negative.

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More in Tux Machines

5 GNU/Linux Distros to Try KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Right Now

Released on February 11th, 2020, KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS brings lots of goodies for fans of the popular desktop environment including a new global edit mode for customizing the desktop, better integration of GTK apps, and improved notifications system that now shows when a connected Bluetooth device is low on battery power. Also new in KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS is support for Nvidia GPU stats in KSysGuard, a new Emoji selector, a new system tray widget for enabling the Night Color feature, as well as an optional User Feedback page in System Settings for those who want to help KDE improve future release of the Plasma desktop. Read more

Displaying Problems inline in KDevelop

In 2018 the KTextEditor framework which powers the editor of KDevelop gained support for displaying inline notes enabling to show information inside the editor without interfering with the editing process. One of the prototypes shown during the development of the interface for displaying such notes was showing detetcted problems like compiler warnings and errors in the affected line. Being a KDevelop user for quite some time now I was excited about that feature when I read the blog post linked earlier. Unfortunately, it didn’t get implemented straight away and I forgot about it - until recently when the inline note cababilities were brought up on IRC. I though to myself: “How hard can it be?” And thanks to the incredible work done when implementing the InlineNote and related interfaces into KTextEditor and the extensible structure of KDevelop it wasn’t hard at all! The work needing to be done was basically plugging the two systems together and deciding how the notes should look like. Read more

Security and FUD: Updates, Keeper, WireGuard and Concerns About 2038

  • Security updates for Friday

    Security updates have been issued by CentOS (java-1.7.0-openjdk and ppp), Debian (libimobiledevice, libusbmuxd, and pure-ftpd), Fedora (caddy, firejail, golang-github-gorilla-websocket, golang-vitess, hugo, mingw-libpng, php, and proftpd), openSUSE (chromium, enigmail, ipmitool, libsolv, libzypp, zypper, weechat, and yast2-rmt), Oracle (java-1.7.0-openjdk and ppp), Red Hat (java-1.7.0-openjdk and ppp), Scientific Linux (java-1.7.0-openjdk and ppp), and SUSE (java-1_8_0-ibm, kernel, mariadb, mariadb-100, openssl, php5, python, rsyslog, and texlive-filesystem). 

  • Keeper – A Robust, Security-Centric Password Manager [Ed: This 'article' from FOSSmint (not FOSS) is referral SPAM. Proprietary software promoted for a fee. This -- yes, this -- is what kills journalism.]

    We’ve covered several password managers over the years with popular names like RememBear, Buttercup, Pass, and Enpass, and I am happy about the positive feedback from readers over the years. Today, I would like to introduce you to a strong password generator and security-centric manager application and it goes by the convenient name of Keeper. Keeper is a top-rated freemium password manager designed to provide personal users, families, students, and businesses with a reliable application for generating strong passwords as well as storing them while ensuring protection from cyberthreats and password-related data breaches.

  • WireGuard – A Fast, Modern and Secure VPN Tunnel for Linux

    WireGuard is a modern, secure, cross-platform and general-purpose VPN implementation that uses state-of-the-art cryptography. It aims to be speedy, simpler, leaner and more functional than IPsec and it intends to be more performant than OpenVPN. It is designed for use in various circumstances and can be deployed on embedded interfaces, fully loaded backbone routers, and supercomputers alike; and runs on Linux, Windows, macOS, BSD, iOS, and Android operating systems. It presents an extremely basic yet powerful interface that aims to be simple, as easy to configure and deploy as SSH. Its key features include a simple network interface, crypto key routing, built-in roaming and container support. Note that at the time of writing, it is under heavy development: some of its parts are working toward a stable 1.0 release, while others are already there (working fine).

  • Modern Computers Might Stop Working on January 19, 2038

    Nearly every computer in the history of computers keep time using a 32-bit integer, counting forward from 00:00:00 UTC on the 1st of January 1970, referred to as the epoch. This instant of time was set as the standard for modern computing systems, but there's a major problem. Seven seconds after 3:14 am UTC on the 19th of January 2038, the 32-bit integer storing this time data will run out of positions. The problem is similar to the Y2K issue where a 2-digit value could no longer be used to encode the years 2000 or later, but different in that this 32-bit bug is related to Unix-like systems and the Unix time format. These similarities to the Y2K bug have widely lead to the 2038 problem being known as the Unix Millennium Bug. [...] Embedded systems like those in cars and appliances are designed to last the lifecycle of the device without a software update. Connected electronics can be quickly fixed with a software update when the time comes, but these embedded systems will likely wreak the most havoc in 2038 since most won't be updated. One option is to change the data storage system of the 32-bit integer to an unsigned 32-bit integer. This would theoretically allow for date storage all the way to 2106, but any system that used a date prior to 1970 would run into issues accessing this data. If we increased the data storage to 64-bit, we would run into compatibility storage issues between older systems that only use 32-bit data storage. There's no current universal solution to the problem and even the most widely accepted fixes still have bugs in certain usage areas. There is positive news at the end of this.

The Chrome Cast 50: Linux on Chromebooks and the future of Chrome OS tablets

This week on The Chrome Cast, we’re exploring a couple seemingly-unconnected ideas that actually tie into one another quite well. First up is the heightened interest in Linux apps on Chrome OS. While we’ve been tracking along with the development of Crostini since before it was actually a thing, it’s been a while since we’ve really dug into what Chromebooks are capable of with Linux. As part of that renewed effort, we’ve launched Command Line, where we are focusing more on what users can do and get done with Linux apps on their Chromebook. Read more Another new show:

  • 2020-02-28 | Linux Headlines

    The Open Source Initiative kicks a co-founder from its mailing lists, OBS faces backlash for receiving support from Facebook Gaming, and Collabora launches its version of LibreOffice for mobile.