* Posts by bazza

2428 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

Lenovo certifies all desktop and mobile workstations for Linux – and will even upstream driver updates

bazza Silver badge

From the article:

Dell offers supported RHEL and Ubuntu on its XPS13 and Precision mobile workstations, plus the Precision tower workstations.

They don't make a song and dance of it, but if you dig around deeper into their documentation you can see that Inspirons are also rated to support Linux. See Specs for an Inspiron 7591. Says "Ubuntu".

And I can report that Ubuntu did indeed install smoothly, even through secure boot. The only trick was having to disable Intel RST first, and run the SSD in AHCI mode. Other than that - seems flawless.

'Beyond stupid': Linus Torvalds trashes 5.8 Linux kernel patch over opt-in Intel CPU bug mitigation

bazza Silver badge

Re: Real Fix

Hooray, that sounds like a return to PowerPC! (The risc bit)

Watch an oblivious Tesla Model 3 smash into an overturned truck on a highway 'while under Autopilot'

bazza Silver badge

Re: I get that the cameras may not have picked out the truck...

Teslas do have a radar, but not an imaging radar. They also do Doppler processing. So they can tell how far away something is and how fast it's moving relative to the vehicle, but it can't say in precisely what direction that something lies.

This is a problem if there's a stationary obstacle, because the radar can't really tell the difference between a stationary obstacle directly in front or a signpost on the side of the road. So it ignores stationary objects in its collision avoidance / mitigation algorithms. It's therefore entirely reliant on the video processing it performs. Which, clearly, is still inadequate.

Lidar is better, but not that much better. It attempts to build up a 3d map of the local terrain, using the time-of-travel of pulses of laser light. Because a laser beam is very narrow (whereas a radar beam is quite broad, unless you have a large antenna), a Lidar can more or less paint an accurate high resolution picture of the surroundings. That's fine if the obstacle immediately in front reflects back towards car, but if it were a mirror at an angle or, worse, painted in Vanta black, then a Lidar wouldn't see it properly either.

It's difficult to fool a human brain with mirrors, or indeed anything "odd". A human will almost always spot the mirror. The Pepper's ghost illusion relies largely in making it difficult to see the edges of the mirror used in.

One thing that I'd like to try (in safe, controlled circumstances obviously) is letting off a glitter bomb in front of a car with Lidar; that should be spectacularly confusing for it. If we do ever get self driving cars with Lidar en masse, it won't take kids long to realise they can have a lot of fun on bridges above highways with nothing more dangerous than a tube of glitter. It'd be an improvement on the bricks they currently throw.

So you really didn't touch the settings at all, huh? Well, this print-out from my secret backup says otherwise

bazza Silver badge

Re: Ah, customers.

This is why I like technologies like ASN.1, and well thought out JSON and XML. In all of these its easy to be very comprehensive in their schema languages as to exactly what forms a valid message / PDU, and therefore what does not. All of those schema languages allow you to define valid value ranges for PDU members, and valid array sizes. With the right tooling PDUs can be trivially validated before sending and whilst receiving. Makes it very very easy to spot when someone is breaking the agreed specification! XML is often let down by the tooling, JSON validators AFAIK work properly and good ASN1 tools that generally do everything properly can be found.

Anyone using GPB for a standardised interface is likely missing out on some tricks...

bazza Silver badge

Re: Load?

With a resistor.

As an emergency dump load it’s usually a sodding great hunk of bus bar strung up as a loop somewhere. It’s less necessary with gas turbine plants, which can be more or less instant off, but with steam turbines there has to be somewhere to dump the power if the grid connection goes offline, otherwise things start breaking apart.

Didcot A’s was, from distant memory, was a bus bar all around the outside of the turbine hall.

But for a five day test? No idea. Perhaps the bus bars are cooled somehow.

Gone in 9 seconds: Virgin Orbit's maiden rocket flight went perfectly until it didn't

bazza Silver badge

Re: Oh. Again?

The flexibility and responsiveness are indeed certainly the big plus points.

Potentially any airport, yes. In practice though you have to ask nicely before anyone will let you fuel up the rocket on their airside tarmac and take off from their runway carrying what, with only a tiny amount of squinting, looks very much like a very large bomb slung under the wing.

People don’t like even the remotest chance of that kind of thing being dropped on top of them!

Could it be? Really? The Year of Linux on the Desktop is almost here, and it's... Windows-shaped?

bazza Silver badge

And this may remain essential for those who have impaired or no vision at all. It seems that Wayland has made it nearly impossible to have a “screen reader” that read out the text in an application window. I’m not sure how commonplace such tech was with XServer, which was at least architecturally capable of supporting such things, but Wayland isn’t suitable at all.

Basically an XServer, which does all the text rendering for applications, is in a position to support screen reading; it could easily pass the text over to the reader for text-to-speech conversion. Wayland forced all applications to do their own text rendering, so the assistive technology has to be built into each and every application. Ooops

Gnome are building something into their desktop, presumably through the GTK libraries. But if you run a non GTK app, you’re screwed.

Well, that's something boffins haven't seen before: A strange alien streaks around Jupiter

bazza Silver badge

Oh No, Not Again

It’s just the Dwellers messing with us...

Microsoft announces official Windows package manager. 'Not a package manager' users snap back

bazza Silver badge

Re: One software manager to rule them all!

If I understand correctly, historically Windows has taken a slightly more MacOS-esq approach of assuming apps will redundantly install various versioned copies of libraries in their local Program Data (or .App) directories - rather than orchestrating shared ones (which bigger Linux distributions have the luxury of being able to coordinate. Would that make this more of an MSI-on-steroids rather than a "traditional package manager"?

Not sure myself yet.

One of the things I dislike about the way it's done on Linux is that it places a heavy emphasis on a distro adopting a piece of OSS software and including it in their repositories. Ok, for the able Penguinista it's perhaps not so difficult to use cmake or, heaven forbid, ./configure to build from source. But it's at that point where you've pretty much lost the un-*nix-savvy user. Even if a software developer chooses to go to all the phaff of maintaining packages for all the myriad different systems out there, it's still beyond the un-*nix-savvy user to add the software developer's repos to their apt, or yum, or dnf, or snap, etc setup.

The duplication of libraries thing: in my view its swings and roundabouts. Just this afternoon I've been needing an older version of the lexxer generator Flex. And, with Ubuntu / apt, finding and installing an older package version is an absolute nuissance. Microsoft's way does at least make this kind of thing totally trivial; you just uninstall the new version (though even that's not totally necessary, it's down to the app and how it manages its install), install the old, et voila you're off and away.

Also, with a large distro-centric package repository there's a need for each and every application within it to be built against the versions of libraries that are chosen for it. This has never been achieved 100%; dig around in some of the more obscure corners of a repo and its generally quite easy to find something that, though all dependencies are claimed to have been met, has been packaged up with the wrong dependencies for that particular version of the app.

Also, I'm just not convinced that storage is, generally speaking, sufficiently scarce to warrant a package management system that strives to ensure that the bare minimum of space is taken up by shared libraries. It's not exactly resulting in a modern full-fat Linux distro being anything less than a few GB installed. With a lot of software these days what takes up space is all the pretty bits - bitmaps and such - and they're generally not shared between applications anyway. Mass market IoT stuff in priinciple benefits on price from efficient use of storage space, but then again how much of that stuff is actually updated ever, anyway?

Anyway, it's sounding like MS have realised that getting rid of application installers ("Use the MS Store") was a bad idea, and is undoing that somewhat. Good.

bazza Silver badge

Cough, Splutter, Gasp

From the article:

Among the best features of Linux is the availability of package managers, such as Debian's Apt, that can install, remove and manage dependencies for applications from the command line.

Also among the very worst features of Linux distros is the availability of FAR TOO MANY DIFFERENT PACKAGE MANAGERS.

That is all.

TSMC to build new 5nm chip factory in Arizona with US government backing

bazza Silver badge

Re: Willing is not the same as committed

And I strongly suspect that TSMC will be under some pressure from the Taiwanese government to keep the core vital technologies in Taiwan. Having the USA worried about its strategic supply being in Taiwan is a reason for the USA to be militarily and diplomatically interested in maintaining Taiwanese independence. So I won’t be surprised if this new Arizonan factory takes quite a while to get going and is obsolete before it does.

You overstepped and infringed British sovereignty, Court of Appeal tells US in software companies' copyright battle

bazza Silver badge

Re: Popcorn !

And never forget : it is _not_ a good idea to upset someone in a wig. Ever.

Not even if its one's own QC, lest they cease being one's QC...

Coronavirus didn't hurt UK broadband speeds in March. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, on the other hand...

bazza Silver badge

Ample Margins

I don’t know if it was covered in the OFCOM report, but BT had previously told the BBC’s More or Less programme that traffic had risen from 5 to 7Tbps on the nation’s core network but that was OK because there was capacity for 17Tbps.

A healthy margin!

Stop tracking me, Google: Austrian citizen files GDPR legal complaint over Android Advertising ID

bazza Silver badge

Re: In all honesty

There is a grey area, and it's important. Gathering information about what someone does on your platform so you can make recommendations to them on that platform usually doesn't draw much ire. For example, I don't care if Amazon records a history of things I buy and uses it to suggest products while I'm logged into the same account.

Yes, and this is a well established, acceptable thing for a seller to do. Back in the old days when we had local grocers and butchers who'd deliver, their account book would be a record of who had bought what, and when, and for how much. Amazon does deviate from that to some extent, being also a market place and payment broker.

Wrong. We pay for phones. It's called the purchase price and it's quite high.

I'm afraid that's not quite right any more, at least not always so. For example, Facebook pay money to phone manufacturers to have the Facebook app pre-installed, subsidising the cost of the phone. Apple, who are making more money out of services these days and less from selling hardware, will price their hardware according to the revenue they can expect to get from the services they build into the hardware.

Ever wondered why an Alexa is so cheap?

Basically, manufacturers now are busily looking at excuses to internet connect everything, because then they might be able to monetise the "thing" that's been sold beyond the original purchase. An IoT security system for a house is a dream for the manufacturer. It tells the manufacturer when the house is occupied or not. Such data, aggregated, is valuable information for TV advertisers, energy companies, etc.

Basically, anything that can have an excuse to be Internet connected and is somehow desirable to the householder in its own right for being connected, is primed to be laden down with all manner of sensors to determine whose in the house and when. Give it a WiFi and Bluetooth sniffer, IR motion detect, audio sensing, the lot, regardless of whether those help it do its overt function. Put weight sensors under the shelves of fridges, so that you can tell when the weekly shop has been done...

bazza Silver badge

Re: It will fix nothing

You're missing the point.

The article also says that ID changing is only effective long term if it's done regularly and often. The problem is that other information can be used to eventually associate multiple advertising IDs with a single identity, so long as the ID isn't changed too often. The problem is that on Android you have to have an advertising ID and Google make sure that it is always unique, which is what makes such an association possible. Consequently, Google doesn't control whether other parties process for that association, and in fact is constructively assisting them in doing so by giving them access to a guaranteed-unique advertising ID. Doing such processing is probably illegal, and Google is choosing to be complicit with it.

Apple's system (if reported accurately here) means that you can have an ID that is not unique (all zeros), and therefore other processing cannot associate them together into a single identity.

The end really is nigh – for 32-bit Windows 10 on new PCs

bazza Silver badge

Re: I honestly thought it never existed

Ha! Yes, I recently had to run some old DOS software (had to - well, really just for nostalgia), and needed to run up an XP VM for that purpose.

VMWare Player still offers "MSDOS" as a guest type.

I think AMD's decision was fairly sensible; 16 bit modes had to go, and if not then, when? And of course they chose wisely by keeping a 32bit mode too. I expect that'll go too in due course, and then another generation can mourn the passing of the technology of their youth.

Another thing I forgot to mention in my last; I think MS has done a fantastic job of backward compatibility. To be running (quite happily) a piece of 1990s software on a modern, maintained version of Windows 25 years later is really quite an achievement.

bazza Silver badge

Re: I honestly thought it never existed

32bit Windows 10 does have a use - it'll still run Windows 3.x software.

Ok, so that's a very rare requirement these days.

A relative does use 32bit win-10 for this reason though. Larousse, noted French dictionariers, did a fantastic Windows 3 edition of their English / French dictionary way back in the 1990s. It had literally everything in it, it was massively comprehensive.

Then up popped the Internet, and it went online. Trouble was, and still is, that the on-line edition (even the paid-for one) is massively lacking in content in comparison to that Windows 3.1 software. So this relative has been keeping a 32bit Windows PC running ever since, simply to keep that software working.

Looks like I'm going to have to spin up a VM, running XP or 32bit Win 7, or something.

<BTW, it's not me down voting - it really has been exceedingly rare to see 32bit windows for, what, 15 years?>

Uncle Sam courting Intel, TSMC to build advanced chip fabs on home soil – report

bazza Silver badge

Re: Aren't the Intel fabs mainly in the US already?

Yes indeed, it seems as if Intel have hit a brick wall on their silicon processing know-how.

I'd read that Intel's 10 is akin to TSMC's 7. However, if TSMC move smoothly down to 5nm and Intel still can't make their 10nm work, there's a good chance that the US would fall permanently behind the curve forever being one step behind.

What About the Shareholders?

One might read into this situation the possibility that Intel has told the US gov that they've hit a brick wall and they can't see a way of resolving it. If so, I wonder if their shareholders would like to know that too???

Fancy some post-weekend reading? How's this for a potboiler: The source code for UK, Australia's coronavirus contact-tracing apps

bazza Silver badge

Try out the Lego Duplo Bluetooth enabled train app. Requires locations permission on Android to be allowed to use Bluetooth. That app goes to significant lengths to explain why it needs the permission, almost apologetically so. And says a that it doesn’t actually use location data whatsoever.

It’s just another way for Google to try and force Android users to share their every movement with Google. Google’s assumption likely being that Bluetooth is often used in cars, and they want car location data to keep Maps traffic data current.

bazza Silver badge

Re: Australian Gov legal team can not read it seems

The Australian gov dept tried to license it under a new license and claim copyright... which is not how this works...

Unless they’d been given permission to do so by the copyright holder.

I’ve no idea if that’s what’s happened, but I dare say that as it originates in a Singapore gov funded effort, and the two governments get on pretty well, we can’t discount the possibility.

The point of containers is they aren't VMs, yet Microsoft licenses SQL Server in containers as if they were VMs

bazza Silver badge

What's a VM These Days Anyway?

With so much of the IO being punted back to the host via very thin virtual devices, and often running a single application, such a VM is really nothing more than a fancy green threads scheduler sat on top of a host OS.

Sweet TCAS! We can make airliners go up-diddly-up whenever we want, say infosec researchers

bazza Silver badge

Re: Very Low Impact

So a state actor hasn't weaponised this on a drone yet...

A state actor might, but there's no profit in crashing airliners, only cost. That doesn't account for the lunatic state actor of course, and there's a few of those around these days...

bazza Silver badge

Very Low Impact

As with spoofing of other open unsecured radio systems of this type, this one is not really something to worry about.

First, as the article references, pilots are actually pretty good at sifting the crap from the normal.

To have an impact a spoofing transmitter would have to be in range. So to make the spoofing work you either go somewhere near the take off / landing flight paths of an airport (where you'd need to transmit some power), or you'd have to sit underneath a known flight lane (and transmit more power). For both, reports of duff TCAS activations is quite likely to result in OFCOM's surveillance aircraft (they have one) being launched pretty quickly, and they've got a track record of pinpointing annoying transmitters to within meters. That's if the numerous military aircraft capable of doing the same thing don't get involved first.

So second, someone actually trying this out is going to get noticed and found pretty quickly. And if they keep trying it on, that could be within seconds of them switching on their transmitter.

Third, whilst it would be possible for a nation state to do this within their own territory (they're in control of their version of OFCOM) they're unlikely to do so; countries get money from flights passing over their territory.

All in all, unlikely.

I'm fully anticipating that their next piece of pointless research will be spoofing maritime AIS, "causing ships to crash". Well, they'd have to spoof the ship's nav radar, and unless they're doing this from another vessel they'd have to do it somewhere like the Straits of Dover; there's a whole load of traffic monitoring radar systems round that area too, so those too would have to be spoofed. And anyone trying AIS spoofing is as likely to be geolocated pretty quickly these days too; AIS validation is a topic these days. The only hard part about that is having the signal collection assets in place (e.g. waking up OFCOM or the RAF); the processing is easy.

I don't know whose funding this bunch, but I'd suggest that they consider whether or not they're getting value for money. There is some merit in the occassional poke at such radio systems to remind people that they're intended to supplement the Mark I eyeball / brain, not replace it, but funnily enough the regulators and practitioners in various fields of transport are already pretty hot on that.

A far more valuable area of concern is GPS spoofing / denial, but there's already a load of other researchers working on that. There's even a properly thought out solution, it's just a matter of persuading countries to fund it.

For the record the solution is a combination of 1) GNSS systems, possibly enhanced to improve resilience, 2) eLORAN to provide an alternative location and timing source (pretty accurate, and usable by all but the smallest applications i.e. it might not fit in a mobile phone), 3) use the existing radio clock transmitters like MSF for another source of timing.

Florida man might just stick it to HP for injecting sneaky DRM update into his printers that rejected non-HP ink

bazza Silver badge

Re: HP printers

I got fed up with ink cartridges altogether, always drying out, head cleaning drains an entire one, etc. I have gone for one of Epson’s tank printers which works well. Pretty difficult to DRM that.

Happy birthday, ARM1. It is 35 years since Britain's Acorn RISC Machine chip sipped power for the first time

bazza Silver badge

Re: "All issues with management blobs etc. aside, this is a bit debatable IMO"

I’m a fan of all things POWER too, though currently, sadly, not to the point of having an OpenPower desktop.

I think that the reason RiscV has garnered so much attention is that it’s an academic project, and has always been free. I think that the university background has lent it an air of newness and cool, which help it get noticed regardless of whether or not it’s any good. I’ve certainly noticed an air of “oh that’s interesting” amongst fellow engineers, all of whom have none the less diligently avoided it when choosing a part for an actual design job.

OpenPower has previously cost money to join the club and actually get the specs, though not nowadays, and has a big corporate background of possibly the dullest origins imaginable, IBM. That’s not helpful in communicating it’s coolness, which is a pity because these OpenPower desktops are pretty phenomenally amazing. Open source all the way down to the PCB and silicon masks. More or less.

POWER doesn’t have the same micro to CPU scalability as RiscV but I think that’s largely a distraction. The history of embedded electronics is one of a march from the very primitive (PICs?) towards embedded Linux. I’ve seen some ludicrous things in my time; eg a microcontroller running a drinks machine interfaced to a Raspberry Pi stumping up a web interface. The ludicrous part was that an ARM SBC could easily have run the drinks machine too, saving the hassle of integrating it with a microcontroller, and benefiting from the tighter coupling between hardware and web interface. Anyway my point is that RiscV microcontrollers are probably just not a worthwhile aspect of the family.

Another aspect is that I don’t think that people really care much about open source chips, they’re much more interested in cheap chips. And ARM based chips, even though the manufacturers pay ARM a license fee, are cheap enough. That’s where ARM innovated the most - make it cheap, wait, don’t gouge the market more than it will bear.

Less is more with OpenCL 3.0: Implementing the 2.x spec was tricky – so now everything beyond 1.2 is optional

bazza Silver badge

Re: So just like OpenGL.

Presumably MS are more interested in pushing their own Direct APIs? I can't blame them, no one's telling them they can't do that.

However in some fields they've pretty much voluntarily plumped solidly for cross platform (e.g. .NET), so perhaps in times yet to come they may very well start open up Direct... But it'd take an enormous effort from large swathes of the industry to re-write code against a new API, or change OSes and drivers to implement Microsoft's current API on Linux, MAC.

There probably ought to be an industry wide conference on the matter, with free lunch.

Cisco UCS servers slugged by 'This SSD will self-destruct in 40,000 hours' firmware farrago

bazza Silver badge

Re: Kind of Hertz

Or one of those bath tubs nicely sloped for one's comfort and reclinement, the other end is a steep slope upto the taps. The only question then is, mixer or separate taps?

bazza Silver badge

Re: Obsolescence by design?

In this case it's not by design, it's by Total and Utter Bollix-Up. At least, I'm inferring that it was unintended by the fact that there's a firmware fix...

The other bug can be fixed in the time-honoured way with Tippex.

Python 2 bows out after epic transition. And there was much applause because you've all moved to version 3, right? Uh, right?

bazza Silver badge

Re: Repeat Offenders?

Depends on how careful the coder has been to stick to standard C++. Use a library that’s outside of the standard, and all bets are off.

Same goes for dependencies in other languages too. Python is no different.

bazza Silver badge

Repeat Offenders?

Thing is, can the Pythonistas be trusted to not do this ever again? It’s been fairly off putting.

I strongly suspect that the differences will continue to annoy for a long time to come. Somewhere or other someone will have some Python2 code running fulfilling a critical application that they never quite get round to updating, until it turns out to have been too late.

Getting a pizza the action, AS/400 style

bazza Silver badge

And What’s Wrong with Pineapple?

Unless you’re actually Italian in Italy of course...

Cloudflare goes retro with COBOL delivery service. Older coders: Who's laughing now? Turns out we're still vital

bazza Silver badge

COBOL can be compiled to Java byte code and can fully interoperate with Java applications. That's just about this side of 1990...

bazza Silver badge

Re: academics

I spotted that too, and wondered how often those criticising academic computer scientist of the time actually had to deliver a useful system. They were probably jealous... Grace Hopper and colleagues did an excellent job of work with COBOL, even by today's standards; 60 years and still going strong is a testiment to that.

I have seen serious systems done in Prolog, but it was a bit of a mess. The people doing it had a grip on how to write Prolog alright, but had no concept of how to get it running fast enough to be useful in their application (one failed specialised processing hardware procurement after another ought to have given them a clue). In the end Moore's Law solved the problem quicker than they could think about optimised bespoke kit, and it was moderately successful after that.

Suspicious senate stock sale spurt spurs scrutiny scheme: This website tracks which shares US senators are unloading mid-pandemic

bazza Silver badge

Re: Not selling airline or hotel stocks when this spread from Wuhan...

Cruise bookings are apparently up.

Ransomware scumbags leak Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX documents after contractor refuses to pay

bazza Silver badge

Re: Anti-mortar system?

Yes, it’s learning the firing location that is the primary idea, so that you can lay in your own artillery on that location. The idea is, if you’re paying attention, to have your rounds heading back before theirs even land.

Of course, if they’ve got the same sort of radar you probably want to be careful to fire back only if their rounds are on target, because they may be firing in a general direction to illicit your artillery response so they then learn your actual location...

And if you throw in battlefield ESM too, your radar is giving away your location anyway, so you might not want to be using it routinely. That places an emphasis on keeping one’s ears open, switching your radar on only when you hear a thump, and make sure that your radar is well away from your artillery. But then you still have to second guess whether theirs are on target in the first place.

All in all, best be sneaky and be somewhere else entirely.

French pensioner ejected from fighter jet after accidentally grabbing bang seat* handle

bazza Silver badge

Re: Double ejection

Fortunately France has an excellent health service. Who knows what his future care options would have been in a state without socialised healthcare...

COVID-19 is pretty nasty but maybe this is taking social distancing too far? Universe may not be expanding equally in all directions

bazza Silver badge

Re: This needs a bigger better study

It’s not clear that this an extraordinary claim. It seems that homogeneity of the universe was a bit of an assumption rather than carefully measured, re-measured and peer reviewed fact. At least, not measured to the accuracy possible today.

Given that, there’s no particular intuitive reason to suppose that the universe is homogeneous.

If at first you don't succeed, fly, fly again: Boeing to repeat CST-100 test, Russia preps another ISS taxi

bazza Silver badge

Re: "Hats off to Boeing for recommending a repeat of their Orbital Flight Test"

Um, in a word : no. Boeing should not get accolades for simply trying to do a second time around what they should have done the first time around.

It’s interesting to note that the end result of both Boeing’s and SpaceX’s approach is that they keep trying until it works. The difference is that SpaceX always said that’s they way they’d do it, and Boeing didn’t.

An interesting question is, is it possible to do it properly first time of asking? Perhaps. Ariane came very close (again Ariane 5 first launch failure was a software balls up). Even the Japanese, noted as they are for doing engineering processes by the book, have got rockets wrong now and then.

So on the face of it we’re not justified in expecting it to have worked first time, but for the failure to be down to essentially rampant cost cutting is the lousiest explanation yet. Ariane had to confess to that too after the failure of the first 5 to be launched.

How do we stop that happening? Well clearly we (as a species) don’t do these things often enough for the lessons learned from one bad experience to be remembered when designing the next one. Especially if it’s being done for a fixed amount of money.

Trouble is there’s very few government money counters willing to fund constant development just to keep a team together that’s really good at it.

I’ve long thought that in many of the endeavours of this sort, the costs of keeping the teams together doing constant development is far cheaper than the costs of the (often explosive) failures that result from starting from scratch every time. The damage done by even a brief spell of cost savings can be very significant.

Want to stay under the radar for a decade or more? This Chinese hacking crew did it... by aiming for Linux servers

bazza Silver badge

Re: @Tom 7 - Penetration?

The worrying part is that they seem to have been careful to not betray their presence on systems. If they've been using exploitable flaws in Linux, rather than configuration mistakes by admins, there's a possibility that they're on a lot of stuff an no one knows it.

To me their apparent gently-gently approach smacks of an intent to go after some major targets. Hmm lets see, who runs Linux? Google? Amazon? Outfits like that? Can you imagine the consequences if it turns out they've been running round inside, purely as a hypothetical example, Google's infrastructure unobserved for years?

Already in final beta? That's Madagascar: Ubuntu 20.04 'Focal Fossa' gets updated desktop, ZFS support

bazza Silver badge

Re: ZFS is for dedicated file-servers

For one, it eats memory like no other filesystem. The projects itself states that it can be used with 2GB, but 8GB+ is recommended for decent performance. The consensus among major users seems to be 8GB + 1GB per terabyte of storage.

To be fair to Ubuntu they are only experimenting with ZFS on the desktop at present. They must be pretty confident of striking a good balance between performance and RAM consumption. It's probably a safe assumption that those wanting to use ZFS for its features are in the "power user" camp, and likely have a stack of RAM installed already.

Also, wait a couple of years and 8GB is going to look like a surpassingly trivial amount of memory. This might mean that Ubuntu are doing this at the right time, when machine specs are moving into the area where no one would care. Ubuntu should be just about finished experimenting by then.

bazza Silver badge

Re: @Degenerate Scumbag - ZFS is for dedicated file-servers

It works, is widely used, and has features like nothing else. Other attempts to match it have not succeeded. It does use chunks of memory, but then so would anything else doing the same job. And it's not like PCs are stuck with small amounts of RAM these days. There are unresolved licensing vaguenesses w.r.t. GPL2 (Linux) - but it's clearly alright for individuals to integrate it with their own Linux installations. Other open OSes have no problems with its license.

Saying, "don't use it", is like saying, "make do without its unique features" and isn't offering a viable alternative. Like it or not, Sun did do an excellent job of thinking anew about what storage had to do. People are using it because, yes, they've read the specs and can't really get those features from anything else. The reason why Ubuntu are going out on a slight limb is that they're responding to demand.

bazza Silver badge

Re: ZFS is for dedicated file-servers

Surely you're not hinting that they should use btrfs instead?

Software package management is heading towards using ZFS snapshots. It'll be the way you get software, or uninstall it. It's a pretty neat idea.

There's many features of ZFS that are highly attractive to desktop usage. It's far, far more flexible for different storage requirements inside a single machine than something like the (venerable but certainly respected) ext filesystems, and why wouldn't a desktop user want flexibility in how their disparate data types are stored?

UK judge gives Google a choice: Either let SEO expert read your ranking algos or withdraw High Court evidence

bazza Silver badge

Re: Alternatively...

Just like the business of running search engines then!

NASA mulls restoring Saturn V to service as SLS delays and costs mount

bazza Silver badge

Re: I actually believed it for a moment ...


31,000 lbs thrust isn't too far off that needed for Boeing's NMA, for which there's no suitable off the shelf engine. Perhaps F1B turbo pumps would do the job!

bazza Silver badge

Re: I actually believed it for a moment ...

Aha, so that explains the story as to why NASA hadn't got the drawings; they'd never had them in the first place! Thanks :-)

It ought to be possible to recreate an F1 engine from those drawings, if they're a complete set. They ought to contain the manufacturing information too. Whatever was need back then could probably be either matched or bettered with today's manufacturing tools. Though I think you're right about the expertise; with such nearly one-off, highly specialised things there's a lot of scope for some key knowledge to have been in peoples' heads.

The F1 engine drawings are going to have been done to 1960's standards, and there's probably plenty of people who understand them. What's interesting is to consider how drawing standards have changed.

A fairly recent great reconstruction project was the UK Science Museum's rebuild of a Babbage Difference Engine, following Charles Babbage's drawings. One difficulty they had was understanding all the symbology and nomenclature of Victorian engineering drawings, which was very different to that which we're used to in the 21st century.

Similarly during the construction of the new Crossrail line in London, they decided to re-use an abandoned tunnel dating from the Victorian era. That meant they had to get familiar with Victorian architectural drawing standards, because that's when the official tunnel design was created! Doing so was necessary because they needed to modify the tunnel and that meant needing to get a proper understanding of how it had been built. If I recall correctly, when they started the work, they discovered that sometime around about WW2 some extra work had been done on the tunnel, but hadn't been documented anywhere.

bazza Silver badge

Nice as it would be to see a Saturn V lift off again, I sense a little of the 1st April in the story... Sad face...

20 years later, Microsoft's still hammerin' Xamarin: Bunch of improvements on the way for cross-platform coding toolset

bazza Silver badge

AndrueC, that's terrific :-) Thanks

bazza Silver badge

AndrueC, it's experiences such as yours that are very intriguing for somone who has yet to dip their toes into mobile app development, but may soon have to. It sounds (and not just from your post, I've quite a lot of encouraging stuff elsewhere too) that MS / Xamarin / .NET Core / etc might just be evoloving into the ecosystem to use, even if it is a bit rough still.

It would also be a right turn up for the books if MS ended up accidentally having a stranglehold on mobile app development, by having control of the one cross-platform technology that actually does it well enough for most purposes. All it takes is for a majority of developers to move to MS's tools, et voila. The question then is what would Google and Apple pay MS to ensure that their phones are well supported by MS's tools? And if this did happen, i) it'd be a massive miss by Oracle / JAVA, ii) that'd teach Google and Apple not to build walled gardens.

The only thing that worries me about this is that, with control over all the libraries, etc. that everyone would then be using for all mobile development, would MS take the opportunity to slurp a load of data by loading those libraries with lots of "additional" functionality? Afterall, if most mobile apps ended up being written using MS technology, and run on either iOS or Android, that'd give MS more slurping power than either Google or Apple. Is there any hint yet in Xamarin of this kind of thing going on? I hope not...

What happens when the maintainer of a JS library downloaded 26m times a week goes to prison for killing someone with a motorbike? Core-js just found out

bazza Silver badge

In an email to The Register, Ben Balter, senior product manager for community and safety at GitHub, said the company is continuing to think through repo ownership transfers in cases where project maintainers are unresponsive.

Sounds tricky. It would amount to an in-place fork, and change the ownership status of someone’s account.

There’s also the issue of who owns the diffs, the project history. Even if the code is open source (and therefore forkable), and individual submitted diffs are themselves open source, the combination of all those diffs (the project commit log) is in itself a “work”, probably. Transferring ownership of that work to someone else is probably alarmingly close to pinching someone else’s copyright. Everything is copyrighted by default, even if there’s no copyright mark in it!

Firefox to burn FTP out of its browser, starting slowly in version 77 due in April

bazza Silver badge

Of course we use a 2400baud terminal, if we’re in a hurry. No sense things happening fast; what you need is for one command to run for the time it takes to get to the pub and back.


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