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today's leftovers

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Misc
  • This Stealth Warship Runs On Linux and Doesn't Need Humans to Defend Itself

    In the ongoing fight between Macs and PCs, it's hard to deny that Linux has the biggest actual firepower. Case in point: the USS Zumwalt, the most advanced surface ship in existence, which weighs in at over 10,000 tons and features 80 missile silos (its Tomahawk missiles can cover a distance of 1,550 miles), as well as a main gun that fires rocket-assisted, GPS-guided rounds (which can hit within 30 inches of a target roughly 72 miles away). What's really interesting, though, is its ability to detect, analyze, and respond to potential threats, all without the need for human intervention at all. This is where Linux comes in.

  • The Default Wallpaper of Plasma 5.11

    Meet the new KDE Plasma default wallpaper set to ship in the the next major stable release, Plasma 5.11, later this year.

  • Krita 3.2.0 Supports Smart Patching Elements in Paintings and 7 New Brushes Presets

    Krita Team has announced a new release Krita 3.2.0 It brought many new substantial features will enhance creating a high-quality painting. Many bugs have been fixed since the earlier stable release Krita 3.1.4 released 3 months ago. Let’s take a quick look at what’s new in Krita 3.2.0.

  • Bodhi 2.10.0 released

today's leftovers

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Misc
  • NVIDIA Working On A New OpenGL Memory Usage Extension

    NVIDIA is working on a new OpenGL memory usage reporting extension, NV_query_resource. Before anyone jumps though to bash NVIDIA over coming up with yet-another-memory-reporting extension for OpenGL, this one is aimed at reporting the usage at an object-level rather than just overall amounts.

  • Fun to Play Open Source Real-Time Strategy Games – Fight for Glory

    A Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game is a time-based game which typically focuses on finding resources, managing resources, and building an empire. You can engage other players and make alliances, and find different ways to conquer foes. This type of game puts you in control of a personal army. There are no turns to take, everything takes place continuously, with players issuing commands at any time.

    RTS games have a large fan base since their inception. This game genre requires cunning, creativity, and the ability to devise innovative strategies to usurp your opponents. Some of the best known proprietary RTS series are Warcraft, Starcraft, Command & Conquer, and Age of Empires.

  • Window Maker Live 0.95.7-3 is available [Ed: 0.95.7-4 has just been made available too]

    This is an updated build mainly to address the recently fixed glibc getaddrinfo stack-based buffer overflow as described at security-tracker.debian.org/tracker/CVE-2015-7547 in more detail. Also includes all official updates released for Debian/Jessie at the time of building these ISO images. As an additional benefit, the included 3rd party programs have been updated to their most current release versions.

  • Running Remote Desktop Manager On Linux
  • Correctness in Rust: building string
  • Canonical Invites You to Test Out the Chromium Web Browser Snap on Ubuntu Linux

    Canonical's Olivier Tilloy has put out a call for testing for what it would appear to be the very first Chromium Snap package for Ubuntu Linux and other Snappy-enabled distros.

    Snap is a universal binary format created by Canonical to allow for easy distribution of third-party, proprietary apps across all supported Ubuntu releases, as well as other GNU/Linux distributions. It also enables users to have the latest version of an app installed on their computers.

Oracle's Exadata (GNU/Linux-powered) and VirtualBox 5.2 Beta

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  • Oracle Brings Bare Metal Exadata Performance to the Cloud

    Oracle's Exadata Cloud Service price list for non-metered services currently starts at a list price of $55,000 a month. For that price, organizations get the Oracle Database Exadata Cloud Service with a quarter-rack bare-metal Exadata X6 system.

  • Oracle Outs Second VirtualBox 5.2 Beta to Support Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4

    Oracle's Director of Product Management Simon Coter was pleased to announce on Wednesday the release and immediate availability for download of the second VirtualBox 5.2 Beta.

    VirtualBox 5.2 is currently under heavy development, and a first Beta release was published a week ago, giving users a glimpse at the major new features coming to the open-source and cross-platform virtualization software from Oracle.

    Focusing on improvements and regression fixes for the first Beta, VirtualBox 5.2 Beta 2 is here today to introduce support for the recently released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 operating system in the Linux Additions component.

today's leftovers: "For Fun and Profit", Solus 3, and Debian's 24th Birthday

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  • For Fun and Profit: A New Book on the History of Linux and Open Source

    Sure, you can explain Linux’s popularity today in terms of factors that exist in the present — its technical features, the dynamism of the open source community, the corporate backing that Linux enjoys today, and so on.

    But, to understand what really launched Linux into the position it enjoys today, however, you need to know the history of Linux — as well as the history of the larger free and open source software universe.

  • Solus 3 released
  • Happy 24th Birthday, Debian!

    Today, August 16, 2017, Debian, the universal, Unix-like computer operating system powered by the Linux kernel turns 24 years of existence since the late Ian Murdock first announced the Debian Project back in 1993.

    Since then, the Debian Project decided to set the day of August 16 as the Debian Day, to celebrate the project's anniversary each year with organized social gatherings in various parts of the world.

today's leftovers

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  • AMD Patches MJPEG Decoding For VA-API Gallium3D

    Leo Liu of AMD is out today with another series if video/multimedia related patches for the open-source Radeon Linux graphics driver stack.

  • VDPAU Video Playback For The Radeon RX Vega On Linux

    An oversight from yesterday's AMD Radeon RX Vega Linux review was forgetting to mention the VDPAU video playback capabilities for this Vega graphics card on the open-source driver stack.

  • Benchmarking small file performance on distributed filesystems

    The benchmark I used was compilebench, which was designed to emulate real-life disk usage by creating a kernel tree, simulating a compile of the tree, reading all the files in the tree, and finally deleting the tree. I chose this benchmark because it does a lot of work with small files, very similar to what most file access looks like in our school. I did modify the benchmark to only do one read rather than the default of three to match the single creation, compilation simulation and deletion performed on each client.

  • GNOME turns 20
  • Happy Birthday GNOME!
  • New LibreELEC Kodi Linux distro update arrives -- download it now!

    Kodi is one of the best media centers available. Its cross-platform nature makes it usable on many different operating systems. Not only is it good for locally stored music and video, but with the use of add-ons, the sky is the limit. Fans of Premier League Football (soccer), for instance, can use Kodi to watch matches.

    Where Kodi really shines, however, is with Linux. More specifically, the best experience is when the media center is the star of the show. Luckily, there are some Linux distros that exist solely to run Kodi. One such popular distro is LibreELEC -- a fork of OpenELEC. Today, an update to that operating system becomes available and you can download it immediately. There are images available for Raspberry Pi, WeTek, and of course, x86_64.

  • Qt 4 removal in Debian testing (Buster)/unstable
  • Debian Buster Hopes To Drop Qt4

    Debian developers are still hoping they will be able to remove the Qt4 tool-kit during the Debian 10 "Buster" development cycle.

    While there is still some open and proprietary software continuing to use the Qt4 tool-kit, Debian developers hope they transition soon to Qt5 or another tool-kit.

today's leftovers

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Misc
  • Reasons Why You Should Replace Windows With Linux Mint

    If you are looking for an alternative to Windows, look no further. In this article, I'm going to share with you why Linux Mint can be a good alternative to Windows users. Linux Mint 18.2 is the latest release and its familiar for Windows users whether they are coming from Windows XP, Vista,7, 8 or Windows 10. With a smaller footprint and also the familiarity of Windows, your experience will be equal or better for the most part of it. I am not saying Linux Mint is better than Windows or any other desktop OS, but for some Windows users, it just might be a better option. Let me show you why.

  • Summer 2017 Red Hat Intern Expo

    Now wrapping up summer #2 as a Red Hat intern, the 2017 Intern Expo was a relatively familiar environment. This event this year for the Boston/Westford interns was held in the Westford office on August 17th, in the same “classic middle school science fair” manner as 2016. This year, though, I came prepared with visuals, visuals, and yes, more visuals (I’m a graphic designer, it’s in my blood)! I created a site, from scratch, that I had been working on in small bits and pieces throughout the course of the summer consisting of tutorials for getting involved in the Fedora Design-Team and Fedora-Badges groups, Fedora style basics, and a library of my entire summer of work. My original hope was to create the site using Fedora Bootstrap, but because of time constraints the static-HTML-to-Bootstrap conversion didn’t happen. Because I don’t have hosting for this site and cannot attach zip folders here, I’ve attached screenshots of the site!

  • Red Hat acquires Permabit Assets

    Red Hat has acquired the assets and technology of Permabit Technology, a provider of software for data deduplication, compression and thin provisioning.

  • Technical Reports on Application Software Equities -- Oracle, Red Hat, Twilio, and Zendesk
  • Red Hat (RHT) Upgraded to Strong Buy on Diversified Portfolio
  • New Ubuntu 17.10 dock revealed
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today's leftovers

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  • The recent Linux port teaser from Feral Interactive seems to be coming to Mac first now

    It seems the recent teaser of a new Linux & Mac port from Feral Interactive has seen the two platforms split, with Mac now getting it first.

    When the "West Norwood" teaser was first announced, it was shown as coming to Linux & Mac at the same time. Now they each have an entry, with the Mac version due out first.

  • State of Sway August 2017

    Is it already time to write another one of these? Phew, time flies. Sway marches ever forward. Sway 0.14.0 was recently released, adding much asked-after support for tray icons and fixing some long-standing bugs. As usual, we already have some exciting features slated for 0.15.0 as well, notably some cool improvements to clipboard support. Look forward to it!

    Today Sway has 24,123 lines of C (and 4,489 lines of header files) written by 94 authors across 2,345 commits. These were written through 689 pull requests and 624 issues. Sway packages are available today in the repos of almost every Linux distribution.

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  • Get paid for your skills in the Indonesia, Next Apps (INA) 4.0 Developer competition launched

today's leftovers

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  • Restarting the free accounting search

    ack in 2012, we started a quest to find a free replacement for the QuickBooks Pro package that is used to handle accounting at LWN. As is the way of such things, that project got bogged down in the day-to-day struggle of keeping up with the LWN content treadmill, travel, and other obstacles that the world tends to throw into the path of those following grand (or not so grand) ambitions. The time has come, however, to restart this quest and, this time, the odds of a successful outcome seem reasonably good.

    Accounting data is crucial to the proper operation of any but the most trivial of businesses. It provides metrics showing how well the business is operating, and a company's duties to report to governments cannot be performed without it. Accounting is often tightly tied to a company's day-to-day operations, such that a failure of the accounting system can bring the entire business down. Given that, one would think that businesses would demand open and free access to their own accounting data.

    Proprietary systems like QuickBooks do not provide that access; instead, accounting data is stored in a mysterious, proprietary file format that is difficult to access — especially if one is uninterested in developing on Windows using a proprietary development kit. Locking up data in this way makes moving to a competing system hard, naturally, though a number of (proprietary) alternatives have found a way. It also makes it hard to get company data into the system in any sort of automated way. LWN operates with a set of scripts that convert data into the IIF format for importing, for example.

  • OSGeo-Live 11.0 Released

    Version 11.0 of the OSGeo-Live GIS software collection (http://live.osgeo.org) has been released, ready for FOSS4G which is the International Conference for Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial ((http://2017.foss4g.org/) - 2017 in Boston, USA.

  • 6 hardware projects for upgrading your home

    Every day, hobbyists and tinkerers are pushing the boundaries of what we can do with low-cost microcontrollers and mini-computers like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi. That trend doesn't stop when it comes to IoT and home automation. In this article, I'll round up six projects from Adafruit Industries that use open source hardware and software to improve home life (or at the very least, make more fun) in new and interesting ways.

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today's leftovers

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Misc
  • BTRFS is Toast | TechSNAP 331

    We discuss just how hard, or not, responsible disclosure really is, share some sad news about the status of BTRFS on RHEL, a few more reasons to use ZFS.

  • Make Your Desktop Elegant With Victory Theme And Icons

    Victory Gtk theme is not new and the initial release was way back in April, 2010. The development was stopped then creator started working again on this theme a while ago. The entire theme is recreated as a vibrant, elegant, bright and flat using minimalistic approach. From day one this theme is targeting Xfce and Lxde desktops but now it does work in Gnome and Cinnamon desktops as well without any issue, and Openbox desktop also supported by this theme. It is available for Gtk 3.18/3.22/2.24 that means you can install it in Ubuntu 17.10/17.04/16.04 and Linux Mint 18, as well as other related Ubuntu derivatives. There is also Victory icon theme available by the same creator which we did share in past and below you can find the commands to install those icons as well. If you find any kind of bug or problem with the theme then report it creator and hopefully it will get fixed in the next update.

  • Flat Remix Icon Theme for Linux
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  • Randa Meetings 2017: It's All About Accessibility

    Randa 2015 was about bringing touch to KDE apps and interfaces. At Randa 2016, developers worked on building frameworks that would allow KDE apps to work on a wider range of operating systems, like Windows, MacOS and Android.

    Randa Meetings 2017 will be all about accessibility.

    At KDE, we understand that using an application - be it an email client, a video editor, or even educational games aimed at children - is not always easy. Different conditions and abilities require different ways of interacting with apps. The same app design will not work equally well for somebody with 20/20 vision and for somebody visually impaired. You cannot expect somebody with reduced mobility to be able to nimbly click around your dialogue boxes.

    This year we want to focus on things that have had a tendency to fall by the wayside; on solving the problems that are annoying, even deal-breaking for some, but not for everyone.

  • Placing the Spotlight on Red Hat Inc (RHT): Technical Stock Update
  • ScyllaDB meets Gentoo Linux

    I am happy to announce that my work on packaging ScyllaDB for Gentoo Linux is complete!

    Happy or curious users are very welcome to share their thoughts and ping me to get it into portage (which will very likely happen).

  • Fedora Classroom Session 3

    Ankur Sinha (“FranciscoD”) is a Free Software supporter and has been with the Fedora community for the better part of a decade now. Rahul Sundaram mentored him as font package maintainer in his early days with Fedora. Ankur has since branched out to acquaint himself with many other teams and SIGs.

    He is a Fedora Workstation user, and prefers to use the terminal as much as possible. Currently, he is working on his PhD in computational neuroscience in the UK. When he does have time to spare, he focuses on the Fedora Join SIG and on maintaining his packages.

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More in Tux Machines

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?
    I see a lot of people asking about state of AppImage support in Discover. It’s non-existent, because AppImage does not require centralized software management interfaces like Discover and GNOME Software (or a command-line package manager). AppImage bundles are totally self-contained, and come straight from the developer with zero middlemen, and can be managed on the filesystem using your file manager This should sound awfully familiar to former Mac users (like myself), because Mac App bundles are totally self-contained, come straight from the developer with zero middlemen, and are managed using the Finder file manager.
  • What’s new for January? Plasma5 18.01, and more
    When I sat down to write a new post I noticed that I had not written a single post since the previous Plasma 5 announcement. Well, I guess the past month was a busy one. Also I bought a new e-reader (the Kobo Aura H2O 2nd edition) to replace my ageing Sony PRS-T1. That made me spend a lot of time just reading books and enjoying a proper back-lit E-ink screen. What I read? The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams, A Shadow all of Light by Fred Chappell, Persepolis Rising and several of the short stories (Drive, The Butcher of Anderson Station, The Churn and Strange Dogs) by James SA Corey and finally Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. All very much worth your time.

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.

Linux Kernel Development

  • New Sound Drivers Coming In Linux 4.16 Kernel
    Due to longtime SUSE developer Takashi Iwai going on holiday the next few weeks, he has already sent in the sound driver feature updates targeting the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel cycle. The sound subsystem in Linux 4.16 sees continued changes to the ASoC code, clean-ups to the existing drivers, and a number of new drivers.
  • Varlink: a protocol for IPC
    One of the motivations behind projects like kdbus and bus1, both of which have fallen short of mainline inclusion, is to have an interprocess communication (IPC) mechanism available early in the boot process. The D-Bus IPC mechanism has a daemon that cannot be started until filesystems are mounted and the like, but what if the early boot process wants to perform IPC? A new project, varlink, was recently announced; it aims to provide IPC from early boot onward, though it does not really address the longtime D-Bus performance complaints that also served as motivation for kdbus and bus1. The announcement came from Harald Hoyer, but he credited Kay Sievers and Lars Karlitski with much of the work. At its core, varlink is simply a JSON-based protocol that can be used to exchange messages over any connection-oriented transport. No kernel "special sauce" (such as kdbus or bus1) is needed to support it as TCP or Unix-domain sockets will provide the necessary functionality. The messages can be used as a kind of remote procedure call (RPC) using an API defined in an interface file.
  • Statistics for the 4.15 kernel
    The 4.15 kernel is likely to require a relatively long development cycle as a result of the post-rc5 merge of the kernel page-table isolation patches. That said, it should be in something close to its final form, modulo some inevitable bug fixes. The development statistics for this kernel release look fairly normal, but they do reveal an unexpectedly busy cycle overall. This development cycle was supposed to be relatively calm after the anticipated rush to get work into the 4.14 long-term-support release. But, while 4.14 ended up with 13,452 non-merge changesets at release, 4.15-rc6 already has 14,226, making it one of the busiest releases in the kernel project's history. Only 4.9 (16,214 changesets) and 4.12 (14,570) brought in more work, and 4.15 may exceed 4.12 by the time it is finished. So far, 1,707 developers have contributed to this kernel; they added 725,000 lines of code while removing 407,000, for a net growth of 318,000 lines of code.
  • A new kernel polling interface
    Polling a set of file descriptors to see which ones can perform I/O without blocking is a useful thing to do — so useful that the kernel provides three different system calls (select(), poll(), and epoll_wait() — plus some variants) to perform it. But sometimes three is not enough; there is now a proposal circulating for a fourth kernel polling interface. As is usually the case, the motivation for this change is performance. On January 4, Christoph Hellwig posted a new polling API based on the asynchronous I/O (AIO) mechanism. This may come as a surprise to some, since AIO is not the most loved of kernel interfaces and it tends not to get a lot of attention. AIO allows for the submission of I/O operations without waiting for their completion; that waiting can be done at some other time if need be. The kernel has had AIO support since the 2.5 days, but it has always been somewhat incomplete. Direct file I/O (the original use case) works well, as does network I/O. Many other types of I/O are not supported for asynchronous use, though; attempts to use the AIO interface with them will yield synchronous behavior. In a sense, polling is a natural addition to AIO; the whole point of polling is usually to avoid waiting for operations to complete.

Security: OpenSSL, IoT, and LWN Coverage of 'Intelpocalypse'

  • Another Face to Face: Email Changes and Crypto Policy
    The OpenSSL OMC met last month for a two-day face-to-face meeting in London, and like previous F2F meetings, most of the team was present and we addressed a great many issues. This blog posts talks about some of them, and most of the others will get their own blog posts, or notices, later. Red Hat graciously hosted us for the two days, and both Red Hat and Cryptsoft covered the costs of their employees who attended. One of the overall threads of the meeting was about increasing the transparency of the project. By default, everything should be done in public. We decided to try some major changes to email and such.
  • Some Basic Rules for Securing Your IoT Stuff

    Throughout 2016 and 2017, attacks from massive botnets made up entirely of hacked [sic] IoT devices had many experts warning of a dire outlook for Internet security. But the future of IoT doesn’t have to be so bleak. Here’s a primer on minimizing the chances that your IoT things become a security liability for you or for the Internet at large.

  • A look at the handling of Meltdown and Spectre
    The Meltdown/Spectre debacle has, deservedly, reached the mainstream press and, likely, most of the public that has even a remote interest in computers and security. It only took a day or so from the accelerated disclosure date of January 3—it was originally scheduled for January 9—before the bugs were making big headlines. But Spectre has been known for at least six months and Meltdown for nearly as long—at least to some in the industry. Others that were affected were completely blindsided by the announcements and have joined the scramble to mitigate these hardware bugs before they bite users. Whatever else can be said about Meltdown and Spectre, the handling (or, in truth, mishandling) of this whole incident has been a horrific failure. For those just tuning in, Meltdown and Spectre are two types of hardware bugs that affect most modern CPUs. They allow attackers to cause the CPU to do speculative execution of code, while timing memory accesses to deduce what has or has not been cached, to disclose the contents of memory. These disclosures can span various security boundaries such as between user space and the kernel or between guest operating systems running in virtual machines. For more information, see the LWN article on the flaws and the blog post by Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton that well describes modern CPU architectures and speculative execution to explain why the Raspberry Pi is not affected.
  • Addressing Meltdown and Spectre in the kernel
    When the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities were disclosed on January 3, attention quickly turned to mitigations. There was already a clear defense against Meltdown in the form of kernel page-table isolation (KPTI), but the defenses against the two Spectre variants had not been developed in public and still do not exist in the mainline kernel. Initial versions of proposed defenses have now been disclosed. The resulting picture shows what has been done to fend off Spectre-based attacks in the near future, but the situation remains chaotic, to put it lightly. First, a couple of notes with regard to Meltdown. KPTI has been merged for the 4.15 release, followed by a steady trickle of fixes that is undoubtedly not yet finished. The X86_BUG_CPU_INSECURE processor bit is being renamed to X86_BUG_CPU_MELTDOWN now that the details are public; there will be bug flags for the other two variants added in the near future. 4.9.75 and 4.4.110 have been released with their own KPTI variants. The older kernels do not have mainline KPTI, though; instead, they have a backport of the older KAISER patches that more closely matches what distributors shipped. Those backports have not fully stabilized yet either. KPTI patches for ARM are circulating, but have not yet been merged.
  • Is it time for open processors?
    The disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities has brought a new level of attention to the security bugs that can lurk at the hardware level. Massive amounts of work have gone into improving the (still poor) security of our software, but all of that is in vain if the hardware gives away the game. The CPUs that we run in our systems are highly proprietary and have been shown to contain unpleasant surprises (the Intel management engine, for example). It is thus natural to wonder whether it is time to make a move to open-source hardware, much like we have done with our software. Such a move may well be possible, and it would certainly offer some benefits, but it would be no panacea. Given the complexity of modern CPUs and the fierceness of the market in which they are sold, it might be surprising to think that they could be developed in an open manner. But there are serious initiatives working in this area; the idea of an open CPU design is not pure fantasy. A quick look around turns up several efforts; the following list is necessarily incomplete.
  • Notes from the Intelpocalypse
    Rumors of an undisclosed CPU security issue have been circulating since before LWN first covered the kernel page-table isolation patch set in November 2017. Now, finally, the information is out — and the problem is even worse than had been expected. Read on for a summary of these issues and what has to be done to respond to them in the kernel. All three disclosed vulnerabilities take advantage of the CPU's speculative execution mechanism. In a simple view, a CPU is a deterministic machine executing a set of instructions in sequence in a predictable manner. Real-world CPUs are more complex, and that complexity has opened the door to some unpleasant attacks. A CPU is typically working on the execution of multiple instructions at once, for performance reasons. Executing instructions in parallel allows the processor to keep more of its subunits busy at once, which speeds things up. But parallel execution is also driven by the slowness of access to main memory. A cache miss requiring a fetch from RAM can stall the execution of an instruction for hundreds of processor cycles, with a clear impact on performance. To minimize the amount of time it spends waiting for data, the CPU will, to the extent it can, execute instructions after the stalled one, essentially reordering the code in the program. That reordering is often invisible, but it occasionally leads to the sort of fun that caused Documentation/memory-barriers.txt to be written.