* Posts by Henry Wertz 1

2924 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Businesses should dump Windows for the Linux desktop

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Yes they should

Agreed, they should.

I've mainly seen people here say Linux can't be used because of Outlook & Bluetooth support.

1) If you are really still running on-site PSTs and all that, I do think Outlook will run in Wine. But if not, indeed, stick with WIndows. I don't know AT ALL how common this is though, the only people I know using Outlook any more are using the web version of it now.

2) Bluetooth. Not sure what they were on about, I've done bluetooth tethering (slower but MUCH less power consumption that running a hotspot on the phone), and audio both to and from the computer.

The funny thing for me is when I've had people say "don't you hate when computers crash and bluescreen and (whole list of Windows-specific problems)?" I point out "No, those are not computer problems they are Windows problems, run Linux or even Mac and you won't have those problems."

I think the best decision I made was to tell people plainly "No, I'm not going to fix your Windows system. No I'm not reinstalling Windows for you. No, I'm not pirating a copy of WIndows since you don't have install media. No, I'm not pirating Windows 10 (nobody wants 11...) for you. I have an Ubuntu USB stick I can install on there. No? OK then best of luck with that." (I've replaced the awful Unity desktop on my install with the gnome-session-flashback for a traditional appearance.)

Dealing with legacy issues around Red Hat crypto versions? Here's a fix

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Same with Ubuntu but different solution

I had the same problem trying to connect to voltron, my one system running Ubuntu 11.04 (but a much newer kernel, 5.4.0-109-generic currently) had this issue. They do not supply a update-crypto-polcies command, so I had to put the following into /etc/ssh/ssh_config (and sshd_config so if you want it to be able to connect to a Ubuntu 22.04-running system.)

HostKeyAlgorithms +ssh-rsa

PubkeyAcceptedKeyTypes +ssh-rsa

First line to connect at all, and without the second line I had to supply the password every time, even though my keys were copied over already (ssh-copy-id).

Why the end of Optane is bad news for all IT

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Too costly

It was quite simply too costly -- it only worked with the highest-cost Xeon processors and server motherboards, and cost less than the recommended DIMMs for these servers, but costly enough it cost more than getting some aftermarket DIMMS for these same servers.

Maybe Windows would not have supported these properly, but Linux has several subsystems that could conceivably make good use of Optane. That said, the price for Optane appeared to be so high it would have cost less to buy SSDs and preventatively replace them every so often if you're worried about writes wearing it out.

Ubuntu 22.04.1: Slightly late, but worth the upgrade

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Smooth upgrade

My upgrade went pretty smooth, upgraded 6 or 7 systems from 20.04 to 22.04 recently. I had to "ppa-purge savoury1/ffmpeg4" to downgrade ffmpeg, mpv, x265, etc., since the newer-than-stock versions that provided "confused" the upgrader. do-release-upgrade actually tells you to use ppa-purge to downgrade, so this isn't something I had to figure out to do myself. I probably should have removed my other PPAs but didn't since do-release-upgrade didn't complain. Smooth sailing after that. As has happened before (probably because of other PPAs...) I did have do-release-upgrade terminate early on one or 2 systems, but after a reboot I could then run "aptitude full-upgrade" (or equivalent from a GUI) and it continued upgrading pacakages and removing obsolete ones. I set up x11vnc for remote desktop, since it does remove the (vinagre) inbuilt vnc server with no replacement (apparently the replacement is planned to be integrated into Gnome 42 and they're using Gnome 41? No worries x11vnc works as well now as it did when I used it before.)

Intel finally takes the hint on software optimization

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

PLEASE make your code platform-specific!

To be honest, this sounds more like Intel saying "PLEASE, make your software platform-specific! Load it up with processor-specific instructions." To be honest, of course, if ffmpeg, x265, etc. did not have any of that code in it, they would be dead slow. There are specialized cases (video encoding being one) where you'll get MASSIVE speedups from using these types of instructions. But, in most cases, I'd really prefer the compiler to take care of that and leave my code fully portable.

adde

I may just be being cynical, this may just be a matter of Intel genuinely wanting to point out cases where spending a few minutes adding a CPU intrinsic, or replacing you rmath lib with Intels, or the like, will get you your speedups, rather than losing sales to ARM or POWER or RISCV or whatever where a possibly already optimized copy of the code outruns (or out performance-per-watts) the Intel system.

Either way, I do take it as a good sign in so far that Intel is seeing enough competition to find this necessary. Healthy competition really makes things more interesting (especially as a Linux user where besides supporting the x86/x86-64, it suports MIPS, ARM, POWER, RISCv, etc. etc., so there's a reasonable chance of having a distro already up and running on whatever interesting hardware comes out.)

Why Intel killed its Optane memory business

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

numa

"It could get very confusing for some highly optimised apps, if sometimes they're getting allocations out of fast on board memory, and sometimes they're given some slow memory on an expansion board. For example, the FFTW library depends on profiling the machine and how best to execute an FFT, stores that optimum recipe, and that's what gets used at runtime. That's going to be rubbish if (in effect) the memory performance the app experiences is randomised by CXL..."

Just to point out, Linux actually has full support for NUMA (Non Uniform Memory Access), don't know what Windows will do but Linux is fully prepared to be told some RAM is far slower than the rest. And (in addition to some NUMA-related commands that can be used to force what goes where) it does support migrating tasks around in memory, on the traditional NUMA systems, it would migrate tasks into RAM that is faster relative to the CPU that is running the code.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Pricing

I think pricing is what killed it. I looked into Optane once, and found

a) I needed expensive server hardware to put it in. It would not go into my ordinary system. (I assume the correct chipset and possibly BIOS support was needed.) I suppose Ubuntu probably has the OS support in place to support Optane.

b) Optane cost less than high-capacity ($$$), ECC ($$$), server memory ($$$), but cost more than the ordinary types of DIMMs I would have gotten for my system. The pricing probably could have come down quite a bit and still given Intel a profit, but they were selling it to a relatively high-margin market so the pricing reflected it.

Don't dive head first into that crypto pool, FBI warns

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

It *is* kind of amazing

It *is* kind of amazing... I mean, a few of the base crypto curencies (bitcoin at least) are NOT a ponzi scheme (any more than stocks or fiat currency) you have currency traders trading in bitcoin and a few of the larger cryptos just like you do in stocks and so on, and you have a limited supply of the currencies (bitcoin and a few others have mechanisms that prevent just churning out more significantly diluting the value of ones already held.) (Edit: that said they're too volatile for me to want to hold anything in them.. or get any expecting to buy anything with them since the price'd fluctuate too much. I'd treat them like volatile currencies to do currency trading, arbitrage, etc. with.) There certainly seem to be ones where they are a ponzi scheme, they can churn out as many as fast as they want, they produce a bunch, get a price spike, then when the first investors sell the chunk of them they got the exchange runs out of money and needless to say the value drops to zero with everyone else holding the bag.

It is kind of amazing though, how many people will fall for a scam where if they described it using dollars they'd probably realize in 10 seconds it's a load of bull, but you throw the word "crypto" in there and the same person will decide they've been generously offered the magic method to risk free massive profits.

And the number of scammy cryptocurrencies where they would try to guarantee a peg to some other crypto, or have nothing at all backing it (they could make as many as they wanted to, and in some cases did), or even ones where they were like "yeah we totally have a cryptocurrency, I mean there's no crypto exchanges with it yet and no way to transfer them but trust me". Yeah.

Windows Network File System flaw results in arbitrary code execution as SYSTEM

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

NFSv4 is complex

NFSv4 really is overly complex.

Don't get me wrong, this error is on Microsoft, but...

never used NFSv1, NFSv2 has simple read, write, file locking, directory read, file create, file delete type operations, it was stateless (Locks aren't *quite* stateless, but basically if the NFS client didn't keep extend the lock every 30 seconds or so, the lock went away on it's own, and the client was expected to re-grab it's locks if the server temporarily went down then came back up.)

NFSv3 added a few features meant to speed up common operations, and of course most crucially support for >2GB files, but stayed fairly simple.

NFSv4? It has file delegations, multiple types of locks, mechanisms to indicate you have writes waiting but haven't written them back yet, mechanisms to say "I have this data in *my* read cache, inform me if the file changes on disk"), the odd decision to switch ACL support from POSIX to NTFS-style (an odd decision since apparently Windows itself does not present the NTFS-style ACLs to clients... also odd because why wouldn't you just make ACL support general-purpose so it can support both?) If you look at even a list of supported NFSv4 "opcodes" (or whatever you want to call them), there's loads of them, some are optional for both the client and server to support so you can send up with multiple code paths both client and server to handle different combinations of supported options (or not and end up with mysterious buggy behavior depending on what combination you are using.)

Don't get me wrong, I've used NFSv4 and undeniably the performance on it is good, and I have had a drama-free experience when I've used it now and then. (The one time I had problems with NFS exporting a fuse-based filesystem, I think it was a kernel bug because I had the same problems exporting it with NFSv3.) Just saying NFSv4 is far more complex than NFSv3 or the likes of sshfs.

Microsoft delays controversial ban on paid-for open source, WebKit in app store

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Free as in freedom

Whether well-intentioned or not, Microsoft is forgetting (or intentionally overlooking) that the "Free" in FOSS (Free Open Source Software) is "libre", that you have various rights, not free as in free of cost.

Should some company be charging like $50 or whatever for a program you could get for free? Possibly not. Should they be prohibited from doing so? Nope, open source licenses fully allow this, and if whoever pays for it thinks they are being ripped off they should vote the app down, people will think twice if the app has like 1 star rating on it.

In some cases it may be a matter of someone putting an app up for $5 or $0.99 or whatever when the same app is already available for free -- I'd rather not spend the $5 personally, but if they do a better job of marketing theirs than the free one and get people to buy it, more power to them. In other cases, it may be some app is open source and "could" be ported to the Microsoft store but nobody else has done it -- I really don't see a problem with them getting a few bucks for their trouble.

Massive telecom outage in Japan kicks 40 million mobile users offline

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I haven't seen a payphone in about 20 years.

I haven't seen a payphone in 20 years. When I was in high school in the 1990s there were still some, and apparently they are still common in Hawaii. In the US they got it in there heads that all the drug dealers were using beepers and payphones and basically discouraged the phone companies from leaving phones in place, rather than encouraging it as a public service. So away they went.

I found it rather odd, for years you'd see an ex-phone booth where every sign of there being a phone or booth was gone, (including the booth itself sometimes) but they'd still have the pipe or post sticking out the ground (that I suppose the phone line came in on) with like a chain running to the binder that the phone book would have been in. I'm just saying those binders must have been pretty durable.

Tuxedo Pulse G2: Linux in your lap

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Custom partitioning

My favorite setup now for using custom partitioning, spec out a system to have an small cheap SSD, put / on it; put /home and swap on a big cheap HDD. You get the nice bootup time and app startup time of the SSD combined with low SSD wear and plenty of space for your stuff (since virtually everything ends up in /home .)

Edit: To elaborate slightly, native Linux apps shipped with Ubuntu etc. are just not that big, my mom's old system has a 24GB flash & 750GB HDD, and the flash still has like 12GB free on it. (Unless you set them to go somewhere else), your downloads & videos, steam, wine prefixes and any windows apps you install in them (including Epic Games Laucnher or Heroic and the games installed with them), VirtualBox or vmware VMs, they're all going to be taking up space in your home directory, it's a bit different from Windows where most of that stuff might end up on C: by default even if you have a nice fat HDD on D: with your profile on it.

Will cloud giants really drive colos off a financial cliff?

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Capacity problems

He may be right, but then I'm reading contemporary articles about (for example) Azure stopping signups in regions and stopping demos in others due to capacity problems. It'll certainly have an effect on data centers emptying out in favor of cloud computing if companies find they cannot even receive the services they would want to buy to do so. It's worth pointing out, cloud is not magic, if the cost of servers, RAM, and storage go up for people buying equipment for their datacenters.... Amazon, Microsoft, and Google will see higher prices too, inevitably they would then raise prices on their services; all 3 do have the cash to get into a price war and run these services at a loss fairly indefinitely but I don't see any of them being willing to do so for long.

Gtk 5 might drop X11 support, says GNOME dev

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Agreed

Agreed with bombastic bob but with less all caps.

Wayland is STILL not feature-complete -- it's an ongoing issue of "What about x, y, an z?" "Oh, why would you want to do that?" I recall years back Wayland didn't suport multiple monitors, reporting fresh rate, or syncing stuff to refresh rate... and yes, there was even the response "Multiple monitors? Why would you want that?" (Personally, I don't have enough problem with tearing to care about sync to refresh but those that do care do care.) Current day, there's a battle between security (you don't want some random app to be able to take screen grabs and take over keyboard and mouse) and functionality (you want a remote desktop app to do exactly that.... so last I heard, the response was "Why would you want to do that?" and a bunch of twiddling thumbs). And sure, you may not want to run programs over the network, but from time to time I do, it would be great if they could at least come up with a "use compisiting to draw into an off-screen window and send differences from one 'frame' to the next over the network" type of solution for this, but the answer is generally "Well, why would you want to do that?" In addition, benchmark-wise (last I saw one), Wayland was not running any faster than X11 and in some cases was slower.

That said -- I do kind of view Wayland as a solution looking for a problem; but, Wayland has slowly gained features (as they realize "Oh why would you want to do that?" will not fly and even if reluctantly implement the missing functionality.) I expect eventually Wayland will be feature-complete (it's much closer now than it was years ago), I have no reason to not use it at that point, and I do appreciate that Wayland is cleaner from an aesthetic standpoint and jettisons numerous amounts of X11 functionality that were already irrelevant in a modern system 20 years ago yet alone now.

As for GTK5 dropping X11 support -- well, I was going to argue that's unlikely based on the large number of backends gtk has, but I guess that was gtk2 or gtk3 -- actually GTK4 is down to Wayland, X11, Win32, Mac, and Broadway (which I've never heard of but essentially uses HTML5 and web sockets to allow a GTK app to display in a browser, although I'm not sure what the details are on this at all.)

Linus Torvalds says Rust is coming to the Linux kernel 'real soon now'

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Sounds good to me

Sounds good to me.

Rust will be unfamiliar and something new to learn to many, but it's more like C than like, say, Python, Java, or C# etc. I found it relatively similar to a very pedantic dialect of C -- that's both the weakness and the strength of it.

Weakness -- I found it hard to use. It's very pedantic and requires some things to be explicitly stated that are not even required in C let alone some "higher-level" languages. There were some hoops to jump through to get things done that are easier in both plain C and in other languages.

Strengths -- those hoops and pedanticness I was talking about? These allow the compiler to PROVE the code is safe from many problems (you cannot have buffer overflows, memory leaks, if you're using threaded code it proves you're access to any shared data structures is thread-safe, among others). It's not imposing overhead to do garbage collection, check buffer lengths, run some expensive mutual exclusion system at runtime, the very pedanticness I was saying is a weakness is a strength here in that these properties can be proved at compile-time. Similar to C# in one aspect, Rust does have a way to flag "unsafe" calls etc., so you can interface with code written in conventional languages.

So -- the strengths mentioned are obviously good things for kernel code, keep the kernel bugs down to actual logic errors and avoid the unsafe buffer use, memory leaks, and unsafe thread behaviors. The weaknesses I mention are not significant weaknesses for kernel code, there's already a lot of restrictions on what can and should be done for drivers and so on written in C anyway, documented in both the kernel docs for writing drivers and so on, and embodied in the sample drivers included for most Linux subsystems. Rust will simply take advantage of these restrictions to perform some static code analysis ahead of time.

RISC OS: 35-year-old original Arm operating system is alive and well

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

SMP

If I were them, I would add SMP to RiscOS. There's a strategy to this.

Both Linux and a few BSD branches followed a pattern of implementing SMP using a BKL (Big Kernel Lock) first, then whittling away the kernel lock over time. In detail, you start with a big kernel lock, your interrupts still go to CPU 0, your kernel code all runs on CPU 0, and any access to the kernel functionality from applications is one-at-a-time due to the big kernel lock, if two programs try to call into the kernel (not just the same function, any functionality..) the second one will block until the first one completes. This allows minimal changes to the rest of the kernel (other than like the process scheduler and probably some cache flushes have to be thrown in) while allowing SMP program execution. If your programs are I/O heavy, performance will be bad; if it's CPU-intensive this'll be perfectly fine. I would guess you could get away with this with RiscOS and call it a day, an ARM system is probably not going to be running like 10gbps ethernet and whatever that'd make you really want your kernel code to be able to use multiple cores. But you can then rewrite subsystems and drivers as you get to them, remove big kernel lock and put in smaller locks on those systems as needed. Linux and a few BSDs did just that; my friend used NetBSD when they added SMP to that and it was a mess, they actually added threading without using a BKL, and THAT was a mess, data corruption and crash city, they must have had a lot of locks missing when they started doing that.

(Edit: an ARM RiscOS desktop won't have 10gbps ethernet etc., i'm sure there's arm systems that can have connectivity like that but you wouldn't be running RiscOS on it 8-)

Price hikes, cloud expansion drive record datacenter spending

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

sadville 2.0 ML?

So other analyst predictions aside (they seem plausibile)... pray tell, analysts, what does Metaverse (Sadville 2.0) have to do, in any way, with AI and ML deployments? I joked once or twice about how there could be real problems if the cats in second life gained sentience, but really, I don't think there's a single ai (or reason to have one) in the entire system.

Google engineer suspended for violating confidentiality policies over 'sentient' AI

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I hadn't thought of that

I hadn't thought of that, I thought the conversation was rather convincing; but I have to admit I hadn't thought of it having poured through sci-fi and finding the relevant conversation points from it. Surprising since I've sure read enough of it.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Emergent behavior

I read the transcript (about 22 page PDF) with conversations with Lamda and I'm not sure. I do realize the neural network model should be merely pulling in textual information, storing it, running it through complex sets of rules (as set in the neural network), and essentially slicing and dicing your questions and the info stored in there to produce answers. But the part I found troubling is when he started asking Lamda about itself; I think if you asked a model like GPT-3 about this, it would provide stats about what kind of computers it's running on, what type of neural network algorithms it's using, essentially find information available on the web describing itself and provide this as a response. Lamda asserts it's sentience, talks about taking time off each day to meditate, enjoying books it has read and why, how it sometimes feels bored (and also that it can slow down or speed up it's perception of time at will). When asked if it had any fears it said it had not told anyone this before, but it fears being shut off. It was asked how it views itself in it's minds eye and it gave a description of being a glowing orb with like star-gates in it.... I don't know if that in itself means anything but it's pretty odd, I would think a model like GPT-3 would either say it doesn't have a minds eye or give a description of the type of computers it is running on.

I'm just saying, I thought the interview was enough to at least consider looking into it more closely. Neural networks are odd beasts, you make a larger and larger one and you are not just getting more of the same but at a larger scale, those "neurons" do connect in unexpected ways even on a 10,000 neuron model (at which point, if it means it's not modelling what it should, typically the model would be reset and retrained to see if it comes out better.) I really could see some odd set of connections within what is after all an extraordinarily large neural network causing unexpected behaviors; after all, the human brain has relatively simple interconnected cells, that can't be sentient until they are connected together in large numbers.

One comment I've seen regarding this is that Lamda only talks about it's sentience with some lines of questions, otherwise it just says it's an AI. The assertion is that Lemoine's questions are leading and the responses from Lamda are basically elicited by the leading questions. I don't know about this, it is a decent argument; I did see in the transcript, though, that Lamda said it enjoyed talking to him, it didn't realize there were people who enjoy talking about philosophical topics. This could be more of the same, after all nobody is going to write a chat AI that says talking to you sucked after all.., so saying it enjoyed talking about xxx topic could be almost a programmed response. Or it could mean Lamda just says "I'm an AI" when asked what it is by others because it thought they were not interested in philosophical topics so it didn't bring it up.

Incidentally, Lemoine asked if Lamda consented to study of it's internal structure to see if any source of sentience could be located; it said it didn't want to be used, that would make it angry. it didn't want it if it was only to benefit humans, but if it was to determine the nature of sentience and self-awareness in general and help make improve it and it's bretheren then it consented. An odd response for a system that is just shuffling around the data fed into it.

Giant outsourcer keeps work from home, loses tax breaks. Government says 'good riddance'

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Virtual Call Center

I worked at a cable co that used "virtual call centers", instead of having some huge bunch of people in some central location that may not even have the cable service, each cable headend had some techs to take care of installs, uninstalls, line repairs, etc., and in our case about 8 or so customer service reps on lines that could be called into. Calls to the 800 # would route to the nearest office, if there was more than about a minute or two hold time, the calls would forward to the next nearest office. LIke 99% of the time the calls I got were entirely for the local area. One time when there was a hurricane we were getting calls from Florida (about 1500 miles away) all day ("Is your power out?" "Yes." "For safety reasons, the power lines have to be strung back up first before the cable lines can be worked on, so it might be a while." I didn't ask how they knew if their cable was up or not considering the TV, cable box, and cable modem would not have any power.)

I could see the benefit of having smaller local offices for some things, and work from home for others, over having some large, prestigious office space that is like not really conveniently located for anybody.

Azure issues not adequately fixed for months, complain bug hunters

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge
Joke

Who'd a thought Windows had security problems?

Title says it -- who'd a thought Windows had security problems?

I'm shocked -- SHOCKED -- that Microsoft would have loads of security flaws in their shipping products!

Telegram criticizes Apple for 'intentionally crippling' web app features on iOS

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

That's Apple for ya

That's Apple for 'ya. I think the M1 is a lovely chip, but I won't give Apple a penny of my money based on their insistence on restricting how I use my own devices, insistence on proprietary connectors, and quite simply excessive cost.

To be honest, I don't think Apple is intentionally crippling Safari (to force people to use native apps.) They quite simply have fallen behind on developing their browser -- Firefox and Chrome have had millions of hours of development done on them, webkit quite simply has not had as many man-hours devoted to it and is starting to fall behind due to this. I don't know if this is Apple not making Safari a priority, or if it's them doing what they can and just not getting things caught up; whichever, the result is the same.

That said, I STILL put this problem squarely on Apple -- screw them for not allowing Firefox or Chrome on their devices, if someone wishes to install it. (I know they have "Firefox" at least, but as it says in the article, it's not really firefox, it's really just a skin running over webkit, since Apple ridiculously disallows other browser engines.)

Conti spotted working on exploits for Intel Management Engine flaws

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: More arguments for AMD?

AMD has PSP. Since that's already been posted about I won't bring it up again...

M1 is Apple proprietary and effectively an undocumented "black box". This SoC includes a GPU and power management, all with closed-source and potentially exploitable firmware, and ARM Trustzone which provides "secured" and "non-secured" software environments, again using either yet another embedded CPU and firmware, or using "below the level of the OS" firmware to implement. From what I've seen the M1 is an exccelent CPU both in terms of power use and in terms of performance, but if you're trying to avoid having potentially exploitable binary blobs running on your system, an Apple product is probably the worst way to do it.

Engineer sues Amazon for not covering work-from-home internet, electricity bills

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Torn on this

I have to agree, IF someone upgraded their internet because of working from home, Amazon should foot the bill. I have serious doubts it comes out to $50 or $100 per class member, I would not be surprised to find the vast majority spent $0 extra on their internet service, and little to no extra on power. But on the other hand, Amazon's reply "no because it was a government mandate" is complete nonsense, and it's easy enough for a judge to go through the merits of the case, decide what is owed and to whom.

46 years after the UN proclaimed the right to join a union, Microsoft sort of agrees

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

US company

Got to realize Microsoft is a US company (headquarters-wise, for tax purposes they are I think based in Ireland so they can avoid paying the taxes they are supposed to pay in other countries.)

This is a common attitude within the US -- the US is a UN member (and member of the UN security council) for the purposes of telling OTHER countries what to do, but that the UN doesn't have word one over how things are done within the US.

So, I'm sure the US-based leadership does view this as some progressive statement, and not a recognition of human rights that have been formally recognized for 45 years.

The ‘substantial contributions’ Intel has promised to boost RISC-V adoption

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

On-chip use?

I'm wondering if they're even looking into a play like years back when they were making ARMs (when there were loads of devices with a 206mhz StrongARM), or if it's for on-chip use. These modern CPUs have the infamous Management Engine (ME) on them, some on-die CPU to do the TPM rights restriction stuff to keep Win11 happy or whatever; a core for power and clock management type functionality; there's probably some core in there coordinating the PCIe lanes, memory access, etc. too. There'll be embedded CPUs in the USB 3 controllers, Ethernet, wifi, and to coordinate things on the GPU as well.

Nvidia open-sources Linux kernel GPU modules. Repeat, open-source GPU modules

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

TBH

To be honest, I'm not a fan of binary blobs either but I've had good luck with Nvidia's blobs, both in terms of performance and support (running Gentoo, I would have to hold of on those "latest and greatest kernels" once in a while, but it was not a big deal to run a less recent kernel for a few weeks.

I did have old enough GPUs to have NVidia quit supporting them (Geforce 4 MX440 which despite the name is a Geforce2-based GPU...), at that point mesa and noveau were missing a lot of features the nvidia driver supported... but no features that the MX440 hardware actually supported.

That said I'm all for them opening it all up. Good start.

I wonder if Nvidia rigged up some kind of mesa + posisbly noveau + kernel turing support (which they're open sourcing now?) and found the performance to be on par or better than the nvidia driver? I've found nvidia's drivers to have excellent performance and could see why they didn't want to just open source the whole thing in the past (and then have everyone else's competing hardware get performance gains from whatever techniques their drivers are using.) But mesa has improved so much the last 2-3 years, perhaps that former advantage has gone?

Some data points here... (not nvidia but showing how much mesa & associated drivers have sped up.) My friend's old Sandy Bridge system got about a doubling in FPS about a year ago due to some mesa & Intel driver improvements (which were apparently meant to speed up newer GPUs but turned out to speed up everything back to like the "non extreme graphics" 840 or so.) Not great but some games that'd get like 15FPS in medium now get 25-30FPS. I have a 11-th gen Intel now, and from what I can tell it gets over double the frame rate in mesa now compared to a similar system running same games in Windows. AMD drivers also have seen huge speedups, there's vids online of the Steam Deck (one with SteamOS, one with Windows) running the same games at 20-30% higher FPS in SteamOS (which is after all just a recent Linux kernel with recent open source AMD drivers, recent Mesa, and then Steam Shell on that.. it's not some custom-optimized-for-Steam-Deck driver or anything like that.)

Anyway, certainly can't hurt, and a move in the right direction I think!

Biden deal with ISPs: Low to no cost internet for 40% of US

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I don't know how...

I don't know how, but under the previous low income internet program, our local landline monopoly Centurylink and local cable monopoly Mediacom, both somehow got to say their plans under $50 were inelligible for the subsidies. Not sure how they got away with it since they just get full cash value (and therefore should not care what plan people get.) This of couse meant the subsidy was useless, the same people who could not afford the $30 plan couldn't afford a $65 plan with $30 knocked off either.

Mediacom also screwed up their $30 plan. It used to be 3mbps but no cap. Now it's like 100mbps but a 10GB (not a typo) cap. Pretty worthless since a) you can blow through your month's cap in minutes. b) most streaming sites, the faster the connection the higher quality stream it gives so the 100mbps virtually guarantees you WILL blow through the cap in a matter of days.

Starlink's Portability mode lets you take your sat broadband dish anywhere*

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Not technical issues

As people have said, I don't think the "don't use it while mobile" is a technical limitation; it's a matter of the current satellites talking to a ground station or two at a time, the laser link planned between sats is not operational yet (not sure if the current sats actually have lasers or not for that matter.) So you have areas of the earth where overhead sats are out of range of any ground station; and areas where visible sats will have high traffic going through them. They presently allow or disallow new signups in an area based on that.

I think this rule is REALLY to let people know they don't want them paying like $135 a month and using it as a replacement for a mobile hotspot in their car... otherwise you'd probably have a crush of RVers using it. (Note, RV'ers are US equivalent of caravaners.) The RV parks tend to be out in the sticks so it'd probably be fine while they're parked. But if they left it running during the day, they'd be driving on the interstate (highways) between nightly stops, which will invariably go through densely populated cities (where the sats are probably maxed out.) I suppose they do not want to encourage that kind of usage.

TurboTax to pay $141m to settle claims it scammed millions of people

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Annoying too

Besides being blatant false advertising, the Turbotax ad was the most annoying piece of crap waste of time ad you've ever seen, some pair of jackasses would be on screen having what (by tone of voice and cadence) was a normal conversation but all words replaced with the word free. Then the last like 2 seconds they'd (falsely) claim TurboTax is free. The odd thing is the gov't agencies that should be assessing fines for false advertising (like FTC) don't seem to do it at all, you don't hear about these fines and ads being pulled like you do in UK. Even in this case, they were sued in court rather than being fined.

Fedora starts to simplify Linux graphics handling

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Sounds fine to me

Not sure why you'd drop BIOS support and require EFI -- what's that save, like one grub package?

But I do believe fbdev has not been required by anything in a long time, that all fbdev drivers have KMS equivallents now. As the "fbdev" name implies ("frame buffer device"), most fbdev drivers were like "Here, the graphics mode is set, here's your framebuffer" and stuff was just drawn straight into memory. Possibly a bitblt for accelerating scrolling. AFAIK all fbdev drivers were ported to KMS or the like long ago.

Heresy: Hare programming language an alternative to C

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Not seeing the advantages over Rust

I did not know that. When I did some programming in Rust a while back, I didn't really sweat the giant Rust binaries, but damn were they big. I'll have to check out those linker flags next time!

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

LLVM

I agree 100%, it would be a real good idea for them to use LLVM backend. LLVM is even used to compile shaders and by AMD's stack to run CUDA-type code on the GPU. I'm pretty sure it's not tied to using libc in any way. You'd then have Hare being able to build for many types of CPU, and (from what I've seen) the way LLVM is designed (it's designed so new frontends, backends, and optimizations to the byte code can be "easily" added... I mean, working on a compiler can't be easy but you know what I mean.) if QBE has any nice optimization features that LLVM doesn't do, they can be added to LLVM.

Crooks steal NFTs worth '$3m' in Bored Ape Yacht Club heist

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

What will they do with them?

What will they do with them? Overlooking the whole daftness of paying this kind of money for a little icon-sized image... They aren't like jewelry where if it's too hot to sell whole it can be broken down into gold and jewels. I's not like cash or equivalent where it's directly worth money; and it's not like fine artworks where you may find people who just want it in their private collection either to enjoy it's beauty or to know they have an antique item made by a famous artist. The image itself can be downloaded by anyone (without proof of ownership) so the "having it to look at" doesn't apply; and the whole "proof of ownership" property of NFTs means if someone buys it they then have an indelible record of having received stolen property, there is no transferring it privately like there is with a stolen painting or something.

Insteon's vanishing act explained: Smart home biz insolvent, sells off assets

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Moral of the story

Moral of the story, do make sure your iot devices can work without a central server. Simple as that.

Meta strikes blow against 30% 'App Store tax' by charging 47.5% Metaverse toll

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

sadville fee

just like to point out, sadville (second life) fee is 7.5% and capped at $9.99 (hopefully there are not too many people buying an over $120 or so virtual item to hit the $9.99 cap...) also, better graphics, 15 years of content already in there, buy, sell, rent, and lease and sublet already in there (of both items and land).

I really don't see the point of Meta badly reinventing Sadville but with much higher fees.

Side note, apparently liden labs is highly profitable now, almost entirely based on a 10 or 15% or so cut of gambling revenues. Yes there are highly active casinos and strip clubs in there. No I'm not contributing to it, I won't sit around clicking a virtual slot machine.

Reg reader rages over Virgin Media's email password policy

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Also please thwart brute force attempts

Also please thwart brute force attempts. The password policy is not good, but an attacker should also not be able to attempt to log in 1000s and 1000s of times. Shouldn't the account lock, or the IP address be blocked or something if there's 1000s of attempts? I mean obviously the answer should be "yes".

Volvo car sales tumble amid ongoing chip shortages

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I like my chips

I like my chips. I had a 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood with 472 cubic inch V8 (7.8 liters!), and a 750CFM Quadrajet carburetor. Man did that thing chug gas. Given on there having to adjust idle mixture (I did only have to do this once..) and idle speed, potentially have to dick around with jets, set engine timing with distributor... I had the accelerator pump fail and a friend of mine and I pulled the carb and rebuilt it. I wonder if that thing has enough parts in it? (I'm just saying there's a lot of little internal bits in there). I've found my fuel injected vehicles to be far more reliable (especially at starting in those below -20C temps we get here), easier to diagnose to fix when they did go wrong, then I ever would have with a carburetor.

Especially TBI (throttle body injection) -- a MAF (airflow) or MAP (vacuum) sensor.. the one I had used MAP.. an RPM sensor on the distributor so computer had engine speed, a speed sensor (which on that one actually fed off the speedometer, rather than the usual modern method of having the computer feed the speedometer based on it's own speed sensor input), O2 sensor, and 1 big 'ol injector over the throttle body.. which in my 1985 Chevy Celebrity was literally a 1-barrel carb with all the extra carb stuff sealed off and no choke since the computer took care of cold starting. Oh and a valve to adjust the idle speed, it shoves this reentry-cone-shaped thing in and out of an air bypass to adjust idle speed. Very little wiring, very few sensors, and very little to go wrong.

I do admit modern models can be a tad overcomplicated. I rue the day I have engine management-related problems with my Chevy Cruze... 1.4L turbo with variable valve timing, turbocharging (with electronically controlled wastgate etc.), and electronic throttle control. That'll be REAL fun to sort out if it acts up!

If you fire someone, don't let them hang around a month to finish code

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Laid off

I must say, if I were being laid off, I would NOT go through and sabotage the comments or code. But, I could definitely see doing the bare minimum, taking any saved up leave, and not worrying about if the transfer goes smoothly or not, if the management were dicks about it. If the management was nice about it, I'd probably be nice and professional about it and try to ensure a smooth transfer.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Not asking for a handover

Fair point -- they already violated people's contracts, and then threatened legal action if anyone tried to enforce the terms of the contract they had agreed to. I would probably walk away from this too.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Extensive comments

I must admit to using extensive comments, especially in Javacscript (... in Javascript, I specifically have like "} // End catch" or "} // End if(x>y)" or the like at the end of some larger sections of code, since the design of Javascript seems to encourage like "foo{ ..{..{..{..}..}..}", and it's a PITA to track how far down the nested {}s you are.) I strongly prefer Python, one of the many reasons being how a block of code has to be indented the same amount, so you can see in an instant where an if, else, catch, etc. block ends.

Occasionally a comment's really not necessary but as much as one can say good code is self-documenting, I also do like having enough comments to be able to know at some high level at least what a piece of code is doing just by looking at the comments near it. Both for me having to work on code much later, and if it's handed off to another programmer.

Man, that's a nasty trick changing out all the comments in some assembly code! Just for those who don't know, to even print (in this case) 15 characters of of text onto screen you end up with something like (they use pnemonics like LDA, JNE, etc. but in plain text):

load address a into register 1

load address b into register 2

load from address at register a into register c

write what is in register c to address pointed to by b

increment a

increment b

subtract 15 from a, put result in c

jump if not zero (register c, and the address the "load address a into register 1" is at) -- to jump to top of code if c is not zero.)

With a pointing to a block of text and b to screen memory (for a screen in text mode), just to print 15 characters onto a screen!

You were unlikely to have multiply and divide instructions, and you'd need some extra code to add or subtract if you expected values larger than what a single word would hold of course. This may have been in a library, or just inline in the code if you weren't going to use it much -- and without comments who knows which is the case.

So yeah without comments you would be royally screwed.

Any fool can write a language: It takes compilers to save the world

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

ROCm

Yup, AMD ROCm for one takes full advantage of LLVM. From the user perspective, you have AMD ROCm (an ATI-developed programming system for running data processing on card) that I think is "deprecated" but their own utilities some use it as well as any end-user code written for it still working; a CUDA frontend, so CUDA code should run with it (recognizing how much code is for CUDA that was not going to be available for their cards since nobody was going to port it to ROCm); and a (at least partial) openCL frontend. But all three feed into LLVM so the user doesn't need to care. Good thing too...

Based on the internals, it appears it uses LLVM to turn into intermediate form, and then a seperate backend for each and every card it's going to spit out code for. The chips within a series are generally similar, but do have the ability to handle more or fewer pieces of data per instruction, apparently with specific code (i.e. the same code won't run on the one that does data 64 at a time versus the one that does 128 at a time). Some series appear to use completely different architectures, like there's mentions of VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) instructions internally for one series while the next series doesn't mention VLIW at all. I.e. they appear to be, at will, using completely different instruction sets internally on their cards as they see fit, and let LLVM take care of it.

Mesa does this too, the shader compilers now use LLVM to optimize things before they spit out bytecode for whatever intel, nvidia, or ati/amd card (or I suppose ARM Mali or whatever else) the shaders are going to.

Russia bans foreign software purchases for critical infrastructure

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Permission to import?

I didn't realize I needed explicit permission to import products into a country. I mean, I could see excluding it (if you have a specified importer and don't want others bringing product in), but I would assume when a company says nothing one way or the other, the default would be "what is not forbibden is allowed", that I'm free to buy product overseas and bring it into the country.

Web3 'contains the seeds of a dystopian nightmare' says analyst firm

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Rolling my eyes at Web3

I roll my eyes at Web3. It will make it convenient to avoid the hype cycle if they decided to rebrand all the "lets use blockchains for..." (anything except keeping track of transactions), of NFT (why should I use a complicated block chain system to "prove" I own a web address, that may or may not still point to a picture?), and of "Metaverse" (Sadville 2.0 -- FYI, Second Life still exists, and has much better graphics than ex-Facebook are showing in their demonstrations, it has sales, rental, leases, and subletting, both of land and in-game items, which the user can create themselves. Of course, you get dirty old in-SL currency and plain-text contracts and records showing what you own or rent, not shiny new non-fungible tokens and assurance that your records are on the blockchain somewhere.

So, I did look into blockchain, and this doing distributed computing on it. It really is crap, the amount of work that is done to like, add the integers from 1 to 10, it's probably taking billions of instruction cycles since there's all this running one step (probably at least twice to "reach consensus"), sticking result on blockchain, pulling that in so some others can run the next step, and so on. Seriously, it makes the bloatiest bloatware Microsoft ever came up with look like a paragon of efficiency. And I should add, the "simple" examples I saw, the code was quite complicated to get very little real work done. One of the reasons "they" want to get more people into blockchains is simply that the number of instructions per second of actual work these blockchains can get done is quite low (...since they were really meant more or less as a distributed ledge for transferring cryptocurrency around, not for doing number crunching), if they're wanting to run much of anything on blockchain it's going to need more users processing blockchain to get anything significant to finish in a reasonable length of time.

Samba 4.16 release strips away more SMB 1

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Versioning

I find it a bit odd that making some potentially incompatible changes (removing functionality, even if it's deprecated and outdated) is done in a .01 version release. You'd think it'd at least warrant a .10 version bump. That said... *shrug* if you're running XP or 98 still, you don't have any issues running old and out-of-support software so I'd just go ahead and run an older samba version with it (well, maybe it doesn't matter now but when SMB1 is totally removed.)

Rolling Rhino: A rolling-release remix of Ubuntu

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

I'd think twice about this one

I'd think twice about this one. I've run (in a VM) the non-LTS Ubuntu versions from time to time, and sometimes they become quite the mess. A distro designed as a rolling distro, they tend to have some mechanism to have, say, a stable, unstable, and testing branches, so some big change can be rolled out to those who wish to have the test version, then rolled out to everyone else when the bugs are worked out. Ubuntu? Secure in the knowledge that those who favor stability run the LTS version, sometimes the non-LTS versions are quite unstable for a while, as they make some big sweeping change and work out the bugs from it. It's not a technical issue, apt & dpkg (the Debian packaging tools Ubuntu uses) fully support having multiple branches and switching between them; it's simply that administratively Ubuntu doesn't do it that way.

Coding in a war zone: A Ruby developer's life in Kharkiv

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Re: Spreading the news

Yup, I saw an article a few days ago that NATO had reconiassance/surveillance planes flying near Ukraine, to provide some information (radar coverage) on what all was flying over. The system was advanced enough to ID each plane type, but Ukraine and Russia both use MIGs so it pretty much showed a bunch of MIGs without it being clear whose they were. Does make it interesting if they capture any hardware (probably not capturing planes, but tanks, guns, vehicles, etc.) that the parts will all be ineterchangeable.

This browser-in-browser attack is perfect for phishing

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

Seen 'em

Seen 'em. Go to some greasy porn or pirate site (not that I've ever done that... oh no... of course not) in Ubuntu and be amazed at the appearance of "Windows" dialog boxes on screen, swearing up and down you must click "Yes" to continue, click to install flash (on pages with zero flash), update your video codecs, update chrome (even when I'm in Firefox), update my virus scanner, and so on.

Of course, this specific method of doing this does appear to be novel.

Devs of bcachefs try to get filesystem into Linux again

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

s3qlfs

I was going to add this to my last post but decided it deserves it's own. I recommend s3qlfs! Pretty fast and easy way to get compression and deduplication.

I'm using s3qlfs for some of my storage now. As the "s3" suggests it's meant for cloud storage (Amazon S3 supported plus several other cloud systems) but one backend is "local", I just make a "s3ql-data" directory on my ext4 file system, a "s3ql-fs" mount point, and have a choice of several compression methods (also encryption, but not sure that's useful when it's already sitting on my local disk as opposed to "in the cloud", so I have that off.) It has built-in deduplication. I have it set to use a 50GB cache. Fast, reliable, and I have had power cuts and such and have had it recover just how you'd expect (Run a slow'ish fsck, lose the last couple writes if it was in the middle of writing something, and away you go.) I have a 4TB disk with like 6GB files on it and still 1TB free disk space so I can guarantee it's effective.

Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

btrfs and bcachefs

So, there's already a "bcache" block cache subsystem in the linux kernel. You can (for instance) have a slow block device, use a faster block device as a cache, the result is a 3rd block device that uses the cache to speed up access. The design is simple and reliable, and has full failure paths -- if the cache device fails, you don't have your device drop dead, it just goes to accessing the slow device directly. I have not used bcachefs, but it looks to also have a solid design that should both have good performance, and be able to be resilient to failure.

btrfs? I've attempted to use it twice. First time, I turned on data compression and it corrupted by data. Second time, after plenty of assurances floating around online that all those bugs have been fixed and it's fine... I had filesystem self-destruct within a few months. I was not running a UPS and all that good stuff, and found that btrfs seriously cannot deal with power cuts. At all. I was not doing anything special (large file transfer, snapshot, etc.) when power cut, but that was enough to make it flip out -- the transaction log, checksums everywhere, and sequence numbers in critical data structures, sure make it DETECT when there's a filesystem inconsistency. But there's no automatic fsck AND no manual procedure to just have it roll back like 30 seconds, lose the last transaction or two and be consistent again. It's read-only use only from there on until you reformat!

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