* Posts by ovation1357

241 posts • joined 27 Jan 2012

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Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Really interesting product that I'd never heard of and will now be reading about more, but f**k me, that guy on the video is annoying! I just couldn't keep watching him

What I'm especially waiting for is a laptop with the option to have a traditional keyboard again (i.e. non-chiclet), and I'd definitely also want physical buttons on the touchpad... Both things should theoretically be something that a fully modular laptop could offer.

That said, I'm coping better than expected with the chiclet keyboard on my Lenovo P14 although I still miss the keyboard of my T520 and I am _really_ missing the bottom set of physical touchpad buttons (there are still physical buttons above the touchpad which I use although this can be awkward and they're really part of the 'red nipple' track point device embedded in the keyboard).

Right! I'm off to find and explore Framework's website....

I've got a broken combine harvester – but the manufacturer won't give me the software key

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Devil

Re: I do wonder how much it would cost

4d experience... What's the four pence experience then? :-P

When free and open source actually means £6k-£8k per package: Atos's £136m contract with NHS England

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: £1k for a dns change

I'd agree with all of that except that I've dealt with several cases where the reassuringly expensive outsourced contractors have totally failed to keep accurate records or practice change control. They just seem to get away with it when they get caught out.

Hubble’s cosmic science is mind-blowing, but its soul celebrates something surprising about us

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Re: Correcting the Corrector?

Wow! I completely missed this. I remember watching a documentary about the servicing mission where COSTAR was installed - I had a physics teacher who was a keen astronomer. It was a mind blowing piece of engineering and a teenage me was seriously impressed

But I had no idea that they'd subsequently managed to remove it. Is the replacement spectrometer the same instrument they originally had to sacrifice in order to fit COSTAR?

Nobody expects the borkish bank-wisition: When I said I wanted some notes from the ATM, I never thought I'd see...

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OMG this is like Stockholm Syndrome for crappy software that's been so bad that people now want it to stay bad!

One of my big gripes about Windows is that has always shipped with the most basic, striped back programs that lack even the most basic useful features.

Notepad is high on my list of crapware that I only use when I'm on a locked down system with no other choice... Seriously, compared to any bundled editor from any other OS, it's complete pants.

The lack of support for UNIX line endings has been a pain forever and I'm glad that's one little thing they've tweaked.. it's a nuisance that Mac, Win and UNIX/Linux all use different line endings anyway but on a UNIX box it's dead easy to detect Windows line endings and convert them.

If I send a file to a Windows guy which has UNIX endings, I'm likely to get it sent back to me asking for an edited copy because there are no built in tools (at least, none that anyone is aware of) which can do conversion.

God bless this mess: Study says UK's Christian beliefs had 'important' role in Brexit

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Re: I find myself saying...

But then you get the "joy" of accidentally adding unwanted backslashes when you go to press Return but miss that tiny half-height key.

(Not that I ever miss my huge, British Enter key and add hashes/'pounds' if course!)

Zorin OS 16 beta claims largest built-in app library 'of any open source desktop ever'

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Re: @ovation1357 - Beware Zorin

Sorry you're telling me that if I select disk 2 for install, put all my partitions on disk 2, select disk 2 as my target for GRUB, accept an installation plan which only features disk 2; then it's not a bug if the installer then silently installer GRUB onto disk 1 as well?!?!

My suspicion is that the code that does this was built an tested on a machine with only a single disk and just defaults to the first drive it detects.

Dual booting on a single drive gets a bit messy and I think it's generally best to avoid doing it. It seems to be recommended to add your Linux partition to the Windows boot.ini so at least Windows updates hopefully won't Bork everything.

But dual booting on separate drives should be a lot simpler as there's no competition between the OSes.

As I've been exclusively running Linux for 15 years, I don't normally have to deal with dual boot (Windows can go in a VM if it really must but I haven't even needed that in about 5 years). It was only on my wife's laptop that I wanted her to try Ubuntu but still be able to not Win10. I gave up in the end the only workaround offered in the bug details was to remove the other drive which I wasn't willing to do on a brand new machine under warranty - I did try a few attempts to disable the other drive whilst booted but nothing that worked. Needless to say my wife has run Win 10 ever since although I wish the bastard thing wouldn't keep being inexplicably unable to print.

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Re: Beware Zorin

It absolutely should not be that way and I find it a real shame that Ubuntu's installer does this. I hope they fix it as it must have caused a great many people a lot of pain in screwed up Windows (or other) bootloaders

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Beware Zorin

Just because Windows installer is a pile of junk doesn't mean we should accept that in Linux installers. The issue of GRUB silently clobbering other disks is something that turned out to be a specific complaint against the a Ubuntu installer and not a problem with installers from other distros..

Sure, if you select a fully automatic partitioning setup then don't be entirely surprised if it takes over whatever it fancies (although an accurate, upfront summary of what it's going to automatically do is still beneficial) however if you've gone into custom setup, selected a specific disk and chosen you own partitioning and bootloader options then it's unquestionably a serious bug if the installer does anything to a disk which you excluded from that process, especially when there's no point it tells/warns you.

Normally one of the joys of working with Linux is having very tight control over every aspect of your OS. Windows likes to think it's clever; goes off and automatically does crazy things without telling you and it's very rare that it ever allows you any choice in the matter. It's always disappointing when anything on Linux behaves in such a way.

On a desktop system or older, more accessible laptop it's not too much trouble to remove a disk but on newer systems getting at the NVMe SSD drives can take a fair bit of disassembly and they're often held in place with glue as well... I can't remember the last time there was an option to disable a drive in a laptop BIOS.

In my specific case it was a brand new L series ThinkPad that I wanted to dual boot from a SATA SSD that was easily added without disassembling the whole thing. I wanted Windows on one drive and Linux on the other, each using their own bootloaders and just using the EFI Boot Menu to choose which drive. There wasn't really any option to remove the Windows drive.

I was eventually able to repair the busted Windows bootloader by booting from a Windows DVD about a million times and working through various iterations of fixmbr and fixboot and bcdedit and so on. I've had to repair a few borked Windows installations over the past few years and I can never get my head around how insanely bad their tools are for fixing it - including the fact that I've never, ever seen the automatic repair option in the GUI do anything other then fail..

GRUB2 is way overcomplicated and can be a bit of a pig too, but even with its warts I still think it's head and shoulders better than the flaky set of Windows boot management tools

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Beware Zorin

That may be Ubuntu's installer. I feel that it needs some serious improvement around the management of disks and bootloaders... There's an evil bug which means that if you've got two drives, say one with Windows and a new blank one for dual booting Linux, even if you're careful to only select the blank drive it will silently dump GRUB onto the primary disk and Bork Windows for you!

I wasn't very impressed when I hit this. The workaround was to remove the disk you don't want it to touch! Not so easy on a new laptop with an NVMe disk buried inside.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

I think you probably need to broaden your idea of Windows users because they range from people practically no knowledge and/or confidence using a computer, to folks who are highly technical power users.

If you're talking about anything from those power users down to folks with intermediate skills then I'll completely agree with you that they'd do better with a decent UI and most likely don't need it to try to look like Windows... But at the bottom of the pile are people's elderly parents and relatives who didn't grow up with computers and many of whom have had to adapt but still aren't very confident with what they're doing.

In my own family both my mother and mother-in-law fall squarely into that category. And both currently run Linux!

In the case of my mother-in-law, I would probably have given her Windows 7 on her replacement PC back when it was still a current OS except that I wasted two days trying to install it due to a series of massive bugs in Windows Update. I lost the will, installed Linux Mint 17 MATE edition (installed and fully patched in less than an hour!), which looks similar to Windows out of the box... Except for a recent upgrade to the latest version, I've not had to touch it and it's been completely problem free for years now. She spends 99% of her time in Google Chrome, has a working printer/scanner and recently Zoom plus a webcam as well. No driver problems no fuss and no headaches for me.

With regard to the Windows UI thing I think it really makes sense in her and my mother's cases because both have learnt to use 'modern' computers on Windows 9x, XP and 7 which all had a similar Start Button, they're both completely unadventurous users - unlikely to ever question why there isn't a device manager icon or click on anything they don't understand; so a Windows-Like UI means they don't have to think much about where to find and control their tiny selection of preferred apps.

In my mother's case, she begged me not to put Windows 10 on her laptop when Win7 started scaring her with end-of-support messages. So I obliged and she now uses Ubuntu MATE edition in 'Redmond' mode. She seems happy enough with it

Deno 1.9 update includes proposal cold-shouldered in February, now hyped as '3x faster' performance bump

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Npm the most popular?

"home to over 1.3 million packages with 75 billion downloads a month."

If you measure popularity based on number of package downloads then it possibly is, but then this figure gets rather skewed by the fact that even a simple NodeJS package install can trigger a cascade of a thousand dependences....

I'm not surprised that the downloads clock up quickly.

Google putting its trust in Rust to weed out memory bugs in Android development

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Re: Garbage collection

There's no one size fits all solution and certainly situations where one language is more suitable than another for a task. I really liked C# when I did some significant application development with it a few years back, and also was impressed with the ease with which it could interface with C and C++ libraries as well as giving the power to use 'unsafe' segments of code where necessary.

If your first C# program crashed due to an underlying bug in an underlying library that's not necessarily a reason to dismiss the whole language. (And as an avid hater of most things Microsoft I really wanted to hate C#, but I couldn't). Mono had a few limitations which meant that I never got my code working on Linux as well as Windows but it seemed a pretty decent effort.

Managed languages are great when you want to be able to write some code using standard constructs that have been tested to death and manage their own memory, however it's definitely not fool proof. I've seen terrible code written in many different languages - one could suggest that the more abstract and high level the language, the most careless the developers become...

But there's no way anyone would suggest writing Kernel level code in a language like C# or Java - that's currently C/C++ territory with smatterings of assembly thrown in for good measure, especially not when the current trend seems to take your beautifully type safe language and then ignore that but using 'var' everywhere..

I've not had any need to learn nor use Rust as yet but the idea of it looks very sensible, they've clearly identified some of the most common patterns of human error and come up with an elegant way of protecting against they without abstracting everything away and removing control from the developer.

It sounds interesting and I'm watching this with great interest.

It's official: Microsoft updates Visual Studio Code to run on Raspberry Pi OS

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Re: Why one of the most popular IDEs

Ahem!

Desktop OS Market share? https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/desktop/worldwide says 75.5% worldwide. Well that's practically a monopoly on desktops, especially when you see how much control they hold over the chip manufacturers, even for the devices which don't run Windows.

Microsoft Office? Totally dominant, partly due to Microsoft's awful 'open' XML format and abject refusal to properly support Open Document Foundation files.

Office 365? As above but this time throw email and video conferencing into the mix.

For years we had the dreaded Internet Explorer, then Chrome stole their market but now they've re-badged Chrome into Edge and made it multi platform in an attempt to claw back their share (and I believe it's entirely possible that many/most Windows users may just go along with Edge as the default browser in future as it's convenient and should be compatible with anything that works on Chrome so why bother installing Chrome).

They may have lost out in certain areas but don't be fooled

Whilst I'm not going to start wearing a tin foil hat, and I'm sure there are some very well-meaning and talented engineers at MS behind some of their open source efforts, and yes; I'm very well aware they're contributing code to Linux as well. However I'm yet to be convinced that the corporation doesn't see this as a loss-leader; a way to gain influence and control over some of the opposition.

I've been bitten too badly in the past to start trusting them any time soon. Maybe I'll be proved wrong - I might just start to be convinced if the wild rumours of them ditching the NT kernel and building Windows as a GUI on top of Linux came true (yeah right!) Or perhaps if they were to open source Windows itself.

In the meantime I'm steering clear where possible.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Why one of the most popular IDEs

That's an excellent and well described use case.

Personally I love vim but I completely understand that it's not for everyone and whilst it absolutely can be set up as a very powerful IDE it requests a lot of fiddling with plugins and learning the various key combos - it's not for the faint of heart!

I'd imagine that the ability of VSCode to work on remote code over SSH is not a unique feature though. Great that it just works out if the box, and I suppose it's also great that it's free as well.

I currently use PHPStorm to invoke remote PHP via SSH but in my case the code item is already local and accessed on the remote system using NFS so I haven't had to try a remote editing option.

I'm going to guess that because it says 'Microsoft' in the title it's going to be the most likely tool that corporate IT might permit on a locked down laptop. Perhaps another case of Microsoft using its monopoly to dominate the market and push out any competition?

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Nope

I just can't do it! It's got Microsoft in its name and I just haven't been able to bring myself to try it. I simply do not trust them.

I'm not really getting quite why it's shot up to being one of the most popular IDEs now. Why do people like it so much? What advantage(s) does it bring over the many other open source IDEs?

Regarding the memory usage though - besides using vim (which is perfectly good but has a step learning curve) and anyone truly point to an IDE that doesn't hog a tonne of RAM?

Right now I'm using PHPStorm from JetBrains which will occupy 1-2GB RAM before you've done anything but it was always a similar experience with NetBeans, Eclipse and even when I tried Atom I seem to recall that it was heavier on RAM than I'd expected.

The JavaScript ecosystem is 'hopelessly fragmented'... so here is another runtime: Deno is now a company

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By 'fragmented' are they referring to the fact that even installing a relatively simple project with a few direct dependencies can instantly cascade into npm downloading over a thousand sub dependencies?

I'm afraid I've always thought that server side JavaScript was utter madness and the dependency hell on steroids from Node.JS just gives me nightmares..

I know Java developers who couldn't tell you what a file descriptor or a BSD Socket is, so it comes as absolutely no surprise that JavaScript developers who are even further abstracted from the hardware and OS, may not have any clue about the core principles of what happens underneath. Perhaps some would argue this is unimportant and throw in a car engine analogy for good measure, but in the real world when this magical code isn't working, a grounding in the underlying tech can pay dividends when trying to diagnose issues.

It's curious that the very creator of Node.JS is now claiming that it's really broken. I wonder whether Deno is any less horrible.

X.Org says it's saving a packet with Packet after migrating freedesktop.org off Google Kubernetes Engine

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Are they going to call this the X11 Desktop Migration to Cloud Policy or XDMCP for short?

Or perhaps the X Reduce and Rethink or X RandR project?

I'll fetch my coat!

Cross-platform Windows Presentation Framework, anyone? The short answer: yes. Unpacking Avalonia

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I thought it was all about Electron these days?

Trouble with that is that it's a big old resource hog - relatively performant but Slack / Teams (for Linux) / Discord all occupy about 500MB of RAM during normal operation (and I'm talking RSS -the virtual size is much bigger) - even with plenty of RAM this starts to add up quickly.

The trouble now is that the market for 'thick client' desktops apps must surely be shrinking due to everything, for better or worse, becoming a web application; so it's hard to know what's going to happen with desktop frameworks.

I've always thought it's a huge shame that Microsoft tied WPF to being Windows-only. Not that I'm a particular fan of it per-se but it would be nice to be able to develop a .NET application with a relatively universal GUI just like with Java and Swing. Perhaps Avalonia will bridge this gap?

I'm an unashamed, Microsoft-hating Linux fan boy yet I have to admit that I loved using C# for a few projects several years ago and would consider it for future projects. If there Avalonia becomes a widely adopted, well supported, cross-platform UI toolkit for .NET Core then I think I'd give it very serious consideration if I need to build a desktop application.

PHP repository moved to GitHub after malicious code inserted under creator Rasmus Lerdorf's name

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There's a lot of hated towards PHP, and I've have joined you if we were talking about early versions and some of the horrors and awful, unmaintainable 'code' munged with HTML that people used to produce.

But the language has transformed an modernised a lot and I feel it deserves a new look.

It's not a perfect language by any means but modern OO PHP is pretty decent.

Ok, so Wordpress is pretty evil but Drupal is much cleaner and I believe that it underpins most of the UK Gov websites (not that they're much cop, but I doubt that's Drupal's fault), and then big PHP Frameworks like Symphony and Laravel have become immensely popular. They have a wide range of features, excellent testability, tidy structure, a mature toolset, are generally very performant, and they typically do

best practice security straight out of the box.

Personally I'm far more worried about the idea of people using JavaScript to write server side code.

For me, an especially important value of PHP is that it's ubiquitous - pretty much any Linux distro has it available as a native package along with your preferred choice of web server. Likewise, there's a tonne of hosting providers who support it natively. It might not be anywhere near the 'best' language but you can be certain to be able to run it on almost any platform.

I do wish that 'proper' debugging with breakpoints etc were easier however. Xdebug is really fiddly and a massive pain to get working.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

"Those guys will have no idea."

I'd beg to differ on this one. Your reverse-proxied sites might not directly show their source language but all of the languages you've named have their own traits and little idiosyncrasies; plus I'm most cases you'd be using some kind of framework based on the language which would almost certainly give away a load more clues.

I'm pretty sure that it would be entirely possible to build up a list of such details and deduce pretty reliably what language is being used and in some cases also a good stab at what version.

HTTP is a _really_ chatty protocol and the more chatter there is, the greater the odds of being able to create reliable fingerprints.

Feeling brave? GNOME 40 is here and you can have a poke around in the Fedora 34 beta

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Re: Not coming here

I did like GNOME 2 and after they shafted all of us by axing it and replacing it with a half-baked, incompatible and completely different GNOME 3 I switched to MATE (a maintained desktop forked from GNOME 2) and have been extremely happy with that choice..

Unfortunately, this goes beyond just the GNOME desktop because the majority of the major Linux applications are based on GTK and it's the underpinning library for many of the desktop environments including MATE and XFCE which means that some of the terrible GUI design decisions by GNOME are now bleeding through into the other desktops. This includes the use of client-side decisions for windows (meaning you get a fat, horrible title bar with nested buttons and a hamburger menu) as well as replacing traditional contextual menus with things called 'pop overs' which (in my opinion) look ridiculous but also behave more like mobile phone menus - I.e. very touch centric and useless for mouse users.

As for calling it GNOME 40 - well this to me just stinks of how corporate it's become. The marketing department has decided to ditch that pesky major number with no clear understanding of the implications.

It's a sorry state of affairs and I'm most upset that my non-GNOME desktop is now unavoidably behaving like GNOME 3.x :-(

Just wait until a few more of the XFCE users find themselves faced with hamburger menus after their next LTS distro upgrade!

Tired: Linux fans using the Edge browser. Wired: Linux fans using a Microsoft account to sign into the Edge browser

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Thanks! I'll check that out. I'm amazed that this is even configurable given how few settings there are.

If you can turn it off then this certainly helps, but it's still not normal behaviour for a Linux application to keep automatically re-adding itself to the startup applications if it's been removed.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

I did this with Teams for Linux (beta) - I really hate even admitting it!

Personally I think teams is a crock is s**t anyway but the Linux beta client proved to be more stable and performant on my antique ThinkPad compared to fairly new mid-range Windows laptop from my work.

HOWEVER it always loads on startup, and if I remove it from or disable it on the list of startup programs it automatically reenables itself.... Hmm just like a virus...

If will get uninstalled soon as I don't need it and it's rubbish

UK draft legislation enshrines the right to repair in law – but don't expect your mobile to suddenly be any easier to fix

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Devil

Re: Well it's a start...

>> Mass production is all about maximising profit, and what better way to do that than to enable/disable things in software rather than having actual differences in product? Even your logic board can be the same...

Yes! Now just wait until your washing machine requires an internet connection to function and you're invited to subscribe to the Washing365 cloud license in order to keep it running.

Want to use the whizzy Super-Spin 2000 mode? No problem! Just Upgrade to the next licensing tier online and you're good to go!

All for the affordable price of just £15.99 per month.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Well it's a start...

Oh yes the good old 1970s! I missed them myself but lots of older people tell me how great they were: all those great British products, especially cars, and how patriotic it felt to be paying 8% -12% interest on your mortgage.

The opening letter in the Ebac brochure would be most effective if ready, very passionately, with land of hope and glory playing in the background and gradually increasing in volume until we all join in the chorus together!

In other words it was nauseating! Fully of stuff about how proud you can feel about supporting British jobs for British people and how by buying this great British washing machine you're securing the futures of your grandchildren :vomit_emojii:

The guy himself John Elliott is clearly a very passionate man and is very proud that his company is making a high quality product. That's all fine and laudable but then if you see him in interviews he's very bitter about the demise of the British manufacturing industry (also a valid point) but then starts ranting (in the context of Brexit) about how the Japanese are now making our trains.

I put the guy in the category of somebody who's rightly angry that their industry has been destroyed, but who's angry with completely the wrong people.

Hopefully Ebac will (if they haven't already) adjust their brochures to tone down the Brexit propaganda and focus on the really positive aspects such as lower carbon footprint by buying 'locally', top energy ratings, built-to-last products and the value of such a long warranty.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Well it's a start...

It's a pity that this falls short of including the many smaller consumer goods that are becoming less repairable but just might help a little with the bigger stuff.

On the subject of washing machines I've ended up with an Ebac machine which is a brand I'd never heard of until I discovered, following a drum bearing failure on an Indesit machine, that almost all manufacturers including Bosch are now using sealed drums where the bearing cannot be replaced. The only known ones to still be making repairable machines are Miele and eBac.

I've got 3 young kids so a to bigger machine is a must. The entry 7kg Miele was already over £600 but Ebac was offering a mighty 9kg size machine for about the same price but with the added bonus of a 7 year parts and labour warranty, 12 months interest free credit, and the option of a hot water inlet so I can use my gas-heated water... A year on and the machine is serving us well.

Unfortunately for Ebac, their chief is a forming at the mouth rabid Brexiter, a fact I only discovered after the machine arrived with a glossy book full of Union flags and gushing with pride in their British manufacture. The company could improve their logistics a bit as the first machine arrived damaged and the delivery dates were slow and inflexible - not hugely competitive there when you consider that next Day and even same day delivery is becoming the norm.

We did have to make use of the warranty as the machine sprang a leak, which seemed to be due to where a tie wrap had been used in lieu of a proper hose clamp. To be fair the engineer said he rarely gets any problems with Ebacs and confirmed to me that they're very repairable anyway.

I guess I'm saying that they're worth considering despite a few flaws.

My fridge is made by "EuroLec" which went bust about 10 years ago. The main bottle shelf in the door shattered and it's been impossible to find a replacement. I guess this law won't help in the scenario of a cheap brand flooding the market with low end goods and then closing down... Maybe if manufacturers were forced to publish 3D printing specs for propriety bits of plastic then this could be avoided in future.

Finally, on dishwashers (but this applies to other goods too) - I tried to repair the main PCB on a Zanussi dishwasher a few years back where a relay had failed and a small surface mount resistor had burnt itself out. It was at this point I discovered just how secretive the white goods market is... Nobody could/would tell me anything about the board (all I wanted was the resistor value) - Zanussi claimed that they don't have any circuit diagrams for their PCBs. But worse than that, if I'd bought a new PCB for around £120 it would need 'programming' to be usable but they won't share the secret key combinations except with registered engineers. I believe one reason behind this is that you might be able to upgrade the machine to the more expensive model if the only difference is software features, but still, it really hampers repairability.

In the end I found a specialist PCB repairer who did a warrantied repair for half the price of a new board... Still a lot more than the components would have cost me but at least they had the means to fully test the board as well.

When you compare this to consumer electronics where detailed diagrams and service manuals are easily found for many products the white goods industry really needs to open up and share more info so that people can do component level repairs.

I'm reckoning this new law won't achieve us anything more than whole module parts and I'd love to see if/how they tackle the secret dealer codes situation.

Linus Torvalds issues early Linux Kernel update to fix swapfile SNAFU

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Re: swap space

This is an especially pertinent issue because it turns out that having a modern SSD in your machine creates a very interesting (and rather annoying) situation as per this Linux Kernel Mailing List thread https://lkml.org/lkml/2019/8/5/416

The crux of the matter is that with or WITHOUT a swap file/partition, if you 'run out' of memory on a Linux system with an SSD then it's going to become almost completely unresponsive and thrash the living hell out of your SSD for an indeterminate (but long) amount of time!

Despite having 16GB RAM in my laptop I occassionaly failed to notice my memory running low due to having a tonne of stuff open and ended up just having to Alt + SysRq + REISUB my system, losing any unsaved files in the process (http://blog.kember.net/articles/reisub-the-gentle-linux-restart/).

N.B. There's an option to force the OOM Memory killer (Alt + SysRq + f ) but by default Ubuntu only allows a subset of Magic SysRq commands and I hadn't expanded that.

N.N.B. Remember that the magic key is 'f'! Don't think of 'o' for 'OOM' because, as I found out once: 'o' is for 'Shutoff the system', which does exactly what it says!

After a couple of hangs due to OOM, I noticed that I had a swapfile which I thought I'd gotten rid of. So I booted with no swap at all and then, to my suprise, hit exactly the same thrashing issue! I then reinstated swap so as to keep the benefits of larger virtual address space and the abililty to lose pages which are completely unused as per other comments here.

I don't fully understand the reasons behing the 'without swap' situation, but I believe it's essentially to do with the Kernel trying write back pages of memory that are backed by files (as opposed to anonymous pages which aren't). With a classic spinning rust hard drive the response times are slow enough that the Kernel detects a series of 'page faults' trying to do this and then invokes the OOM Killer to recoupe some physical RAM and unlock the system.

As per the LKML thread, it seems that SSDs are so fast that they break this mechanism by essentially being fast enough not to trigger OOM but actually leaving the system going through a long period of thashing and being slow. My basic understanding here is that this is generally less of a problem with server workloads but is really bad for interactive desktops.

Anyhow, there are moves to improve this in the Kernel, hopefully it will become a bit smarter and more configurable.

In the mean time I've installed Facebook's 'oomd' (https://github.com/facebookincubator/oomd - but just 'apt install oomd' will do) which monitors memory 'pressure' PSI stats and theorectically makes it less likely for the system to reach an unresponsive state.

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Devil

Re: Windows 10 20H2: CHKDSK /F damages file system on SSDs with KB4592438 installed (08.12.2020)

What if I helpfully chime in and suggest that nobody should be running Windows? :-P

Here's an extra helpful meme for the situation!

helloSystem: Pre-alpha FreeBSD project chases simplicity and elegance by taking cues from macOS

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Drivers, drivers, drivers

Sounds awesome! I'll keep my eyes peeled for this.

I'd heard that graphics cards are in short supply but the reality of it when I was trying to buy one came as quite a shock. Pages of "out of stock" and "coming soon" and very little available to buy now. I really wasn't expecting it to be quite so bad

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Drivers, drivers, drivers

When you say discrete cards do you mean they might put their graphics cores onto a PCI-E card?

That's what I'd ideally have bought this time round. The old HP Z620 with a Xeon doesn't have any means to support the CPU based Graphics as with their i-series processors so I have to use a card and it looked like there's basically only a choice between AMD and NVIDIA at the moment. This also seems to mean that the bulk of available cards are highly expensive 3d chips when all I want is a solid 2d desktop workhorse.

I noticed that there are some Matrox branded cards but I'm not sure if they're actually still AMD chips.

I suppose the problem now is that desktops are generally kept for either gaming or high end specialist stuff like CAD whilst your average user has moved to using a laptop for everything. That was/is me, but I wanted to offload some of my development stuff onto a beefier machine with more RAM.

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Re: Valuing menus

I'm willing to try KDE again as it's been a while but I am a bit fixated on using a no-frills UI which I think is almost perfect in MATE.

I was never keen on things like single clicking in KDE doing what a double click should do although I presume that's configurable?

The main problem for me if that there really isn't a mainstream web browser that's based on Qt, nor am I aware of a Qt based version of Thunderbird which I rate very highly as a mail client.

So if want to use Mozilla stuff, or Google stuff then it's all based on GTK and so will have all the new GNOME atrocities bundled in even if my main desktop environment were KDE.

One application that isn't part of GNOME but which has adopted the new toolbar layout is 'Remmina' which is a brilliant remote desktop client for RDP, VNC and others. When they first switched over they still have XFCE users a classic menu but then decided it was too much maintenance and removed it. So now it's got Client-Side Decorations, fat title bar with integrated hamburger and other buttons plus they've switched their icons from colourful bitmaps to monochrome SVGs which make it look terribly bland. GNOME/GTK could easily allow their menu building code to accept a user choice and render accordingly and Remmina could have allowed themes or a choice of classic Vs new icons. But they didn't. Some developer just decided they'd fundamentally change the user interface and all the uses just have to suck it up. That's the sort of thing we expect from Microsoft - I'm disappointed that some FOSS players are now taking the same approach.

Anyway... Next time I'm trying live USB images I'll give KDE a spin

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Drivers, drivers, drivers

Curious you should mention a Z series. I just bought an old one, which came with an old ATI FirePro graphics card.

I wasted several days of tinkering trying to get the thing to work with Linux (tried Manjaro and Ubuntu) but with no success at all - black screen as soon as I allow kernel modesetting. Scary messages about clock voltages being exceeded.

It was a pity because these old cards are supposedly very well supported by the old drivers. It opened a minefield for me because it seems that the most compatible graphics by far is Intel, which is what I've used on numerous laptops with no issues.

Nvidia seems to be proprietary drivers old, which means for some older cards you may have to downgrade X to an old version that still supports the binary blob driver (same seems to be true for the older proprietary ATI drivers as well) - this risks security as you then can't upgrade X.

So for my workstation I ended up with a cheap AMD card which worked first time out of the box using the open source 'amdgpu' driver but I've read plenty of accounts of folks having issues with some modern AMDs too so it was a bit of a gamble.

I'm sure BSD must be hitting all the same problems. I really don't understand why, in the 21st century, folks like NVIDIA still won't openly document their interfaces and allow for open source drivers... It's not like they're giving away the inner workings or blueprints. For want of a better analogy it's like a aeroplane manufacturer refusing to provide a manual of what all the switches do in have cockpit.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Well...

Aaaarrrrgh! Nooooo! Hamburger menu? No thanks.

I totally agree about the context menu behind a daft idea. I always found it very inefficient having to move to the very top of the screen for the menus when I used a Mac.

Personally I like each application to have a classic menu bar attached to its window and I'm dead against hamburgers on desktop OSes - it's an extra unnecessary click each time to get to the menu. With GTK3+ the GNOME team has deprecated classic menu bars (and might remove them in GTK4!) and they've converted most of their applications to use a fat title bar with a hamburger and other large buttons embedded into it (yuck!).

This is trickling, unavoidably, down into every other desktop that is based on GTK including MATE which I use, and XFCE which is really pissing of the desktop purists now.

I'm losing hope about it now - it's almost irreversible already :-(

Chrome zero-day bug that is actively being abused by bad folks affects Edge, Vivaldi, and other Chromium-tinged browsers

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Re: Mozilla Firefox

I'm generally loving Firefox developer edition although it can be a bit of a resource hog (which isn't really any different from Chrome TBH).

I was really chuffed to discover 'about: memory' the other day, which not only can give you a very detailed analysis of RAM usage but also has a button to minimise memory usage that actually seems to work.

ThinkPad T14s AMD Gen 1: Workhorse that does the business – and dares you to push that red button

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Re: Red pointy thing

Not just KDE - middle click paste is an X-Windows thing that seems to be implemented in every X-based desktop environment I've ever used.

It's one of my core, must-have features and is also one of the many reasons that I remain wedded to ThinkPads.

Every time I have to use Windows or a Mac I end up swearing each time the last thing I selected doesn't get pasted when I middle click...

Sadly it's a feature that isn't easy to implement on other OSes either - there used to be a freeware implementation on older versions of Windows but I believe it stopped working on Win8 upwards. And on the Mac the only utility I found was deeply unsatisfactory: it's not just that highlighting auto-copies and middle click pastes, but that it does it to a separate buffer... It's immensely useful to pick up a username and password combo in one hit using the two clipboard buffers.

As for the trackpads - I'm definitely in the camp of wanting physical buttons and I prefer the trackpad (with all 'tapping' actions disabled because tap-to-click is a really stupid idea), however I use the middle button above the trackpad, which technically belongs to the nipple.

I'm not too sure about the idea of the trackpad moving and giving a 'thunk' though. I really prefer ones that don't move at all although the one I use on a Yoga 370 is way nicer than the weird bouncy one they tried on the T 530/430 and X 230 series machines - those were appalling and I'm glad I never had to use one

Missing GOV.UK web link potentially cost taxpayers £50m as civil servants are forced to shuffle paper forms

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Crappy websites seem to be what Gov.UK excels at :-(

I use the Tax-Free Childcare site which, although run by HMRC rather than the Home Office, is all part of that 'unified' Gov.UK brand.... It's just awful!

The normal route in if you start from where it redirects you upon logging out requires you to click 'Sign in to my childcare account' (just a text link halfway down a long page about many services), which links to a page with the same title, but does it contain a login prompt? Alas! No.... It contains a green 'Sign In' button below another page of text.

Ok, so can I actually log in now? NO! This takes you to "Government Gateway: sign in or set up" with another green button labelled 'Start Now' which finally takes you to a page where you can log in using your lovely and memorable all-numeric government gateway ID (No, not your Self Assessment one! Same system, different ID)....

If you thought you were going to be clever and bookmark the login page - bad luck. It's a generic intermediate auth service which, if loaded directly, just gives an error page saying you can't do this.

Anyway: AFTER successfully inputting the correct login details, you still don't get to access the account until you've received and typed in a code by SMS for 2FA and then clicked through another whole-page message.

So it takes navigating through about 6 pages to get logged in. I did eventually manage to bookmark an intermediate page to cut this down a bit, but it wasn't simple - the first few bookmarks I tried didn't work on second use.

The system itself is pretty shocking - Clunky, clumsy UI, dreadful search for adding registered providers and it can't handle numerical transactions properly...

It's the replacement for 'Childcare Vouchers' which were deducted from gross pay and the principle is that for people earning under £100k, the government will give them 'tax free' childcare by giving them 20p for every £1 they pay in (i.e roughly returning the basic-rate of UK tax). You're supposed to use it like an online bank account except you can only pay OFSTED-registered providers..

There's a maximum benefit of about £500 per quarter from the government yet despite this being a cumulative total of benefit, for the first couple of years the 'available benefit' counter would not only go down as you paid money in, but back up again when you paid money out!! (Doh!).

You also have to reconfirm your eligibility every 90 days, which is relatively simple except that again, for the first couple of years (and despite a number of phone calles and complaints), it would reject my confirmation every time claiming that they could find no record of my children! (You know: The ones I'd already been paying for on that very same system.)

But the bug that still exists is this: Every time you make a payment, it immediately returns you to the account summary but the amounts are all complete nonsense. E.g. You've got £1000 in the child's account and you pay the provider £500. The page then will return you to a summary which might say something like 'Total Balance '314.65' , Cleared Funds '-67' - or, without any explanation of what brackets mean: Cleared Funds (37.1) - They don't even uniformly format the numbers to 2 decimal places! I do sometimes wonder to myself whether the reason it doesn't include the currency symbol is simply that the devs didn't know about using £ in their HTML...

If you refresh the page manually both figures will then update to be £500. I mean, seriously! They had one job! My guess is that this is an asyncronous transaction which gets read before it's actually complete!

I've been using the system for about 3 years and still have zero confidence in it (there's more issues but I've written enough for now).

I live in the vain hope that they might fix it but it seems unlikely.

To end on a more positive note - it's not all bad. I seem to recall that the most recent passport applications I did were fairly well digitised and definitely easier than trying to manually fill in the paper forms. Let's hope that Gov.UK can eventually take notes from its better parts to improve the worse ones.

Decade-old bug in Linux world's sudo can be abused by any logged-in user to gain root privileges

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Re: How is this possible?

Yes - this is absolutely a risk and is known to have happened in the wild. However, the same organisations are known to pay proprietary vendors to insert bugs/backdoors so this isn't a great deal different, and again - with open source at least the code _can_ be inspected even if people don't.

Agencies need to be pretty sly with any poison patches because anything blatently obvious is likely to get picked up quickly. The art is to write something that looks completely innocuious but has a very subtle weakness. I guess nobody except the security agencies knows how prevelant these kinds of attack are, however they know full-well that any backdoor they add could well be discovered and exploited by bad actors as well - so I suspect they tread with caution.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: How is this possible?

I don't doubt that this happens, but being closed source won't make proprietary code any safer:

The big players of this game will be very well adjusted to looking for the very same weaknesses in closed code and will exploit them. They'll be analysing the underlying system library calls, they'll be picking through the assembly - no doubt they will be very knowledable about the weaknesses of some core OS components and bugs in compilers.

Just look at the law-enforcement agencies paying huge sums to private security firms for exploits they can use against things like iPhones which are very closed and highly protected. These guys are pros - being able to see the source code will only be one weapon in their arsenal, but IMO is probably a minor detail to them.

How about the deliberate back-doors that get placed into closed OSes and other software/firmware as a result of secret agreements between the agencies and the vendors? I don't have references to hand but I'm pretty sure that there has been evidence of this and not mere speculation.

Personally - I think that if you understand that open source software is not perfect, then it's still a better bet than a black box of 'unknown' in my opinion.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: How is this possible?

'utterly fake' is probably a bit disingenuous to be fair.

Sure, your mileage may vary with open source software - there will be well written/tested code all the way to spaghetti (or should I say Swiss Cheese) code. And the level of peer review and vulnerability scanning is likely to correlate with how widely used each program is, especially whether or not it has been adopted for inclusion in the majors distros (including non-Linux platforms).

However, firstly if you think that closed source code is going to be better just because it came from a big and reassuringly expensive vendor then think again. I've seen the code behind some closed source abominations that would be ripped to shreds if shared. The big difference is that with open source at least you or anybody can inspect the code, contribute to it, patch it, fix it.

With closed source all your can do is prey that the vendor is doing its best to write safe code, that it quickly patches any vulnerabilities that get discovered and prey it doesn't abandon the product or go bust.

I suspect this bug is in a piece of code that looks safe and has passed a thousand experienced eyes and all sorts of automatic 'code sniffers', but then someone persistently chipping away at it has noticed a very specific set of circumstances where an almost unpredictable permutation of events opens up an unforeseen hole.

Sudo, like many open source utilities, is available on all major Linux distros, BSD, macOS, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX and presumably also Windows WSL... There is simply no way that all of those vendors have chosen to adopt it without scrutinising the code.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Only sissies use sudo

I'm taking your post as being a bit tongue-in-cheek but are you aware that sudo goes beyond simply running commands as root?

I doubt I know all its features but you can certainly limit not just the command but also the arguments so you can allow a user to act upon just a specific item without allowing them to act upon anything else.

Setuid is fine for something like the passwd binary which is designed to be run by any regular user but which acts upon a privileged file but it's not necessarily an option when you need to allow, say, a web developer (or group of Devs) to be allowed to restart Apache/Nginx but not any other services.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Linux is more than just distros

I'd argue that one of the features of an 'appliance' is that it's a self-contained image that is typically supported solely by it's vendor - e.g it might have CentOS or a completely custom build under the hood but you're not supposed to really 'care' nor tat with the underlying OS - you get your patches/image updates from the appliance vendor and that's that..

Of course in reality you end up with legacy Appliances that are no longer supported by the vendor... Aside from the fact that it's now time to replace them with supported ones you do, unfortunately, have a problem to solve yourself.

I don't think Linux can be blamed however, for your self-admitted complex, uncontrolled environment though. That sounds much more down to poor planning and management. (I'm also presuming by the fact you're owning up to having a mess, that you're the poor person who inherited it. You have my sympathy!)

Although there's a huge number of Linux distros there aren't really so many that you're likely to see in a business setting - I'm sure there will be edge cases but it's likely to be mainly RHEL/CentOS with maybe a bit of Ubuntu or Debian thrown in. But sudo goes beyond Linux -it's available (although not necessarily bundled) on at least Solaris and BSD as well. I don't know but I'd hazard an educated guess that it also comes with WSL on Windows too.

I bet you've got something still hosted on Windows 2003 or older - what do you do about new CVEs that affect that? After all you're on your own - MS has ended support and they own the code so often nobody in the community can help with a fix.

At least with sudo, even if you had to compile it yourself, it _could_ feasibly be updated on all of your legacy systems no matter how old and unsupported they are...

There's potentially a saving grace with this bug because in order to use sudo you first need to be logged into a shell as an unprivileged user, which is hopefully not something that's open to many people on your appliances. The write-up also says that this vulnerability affects systems using the 'default configuration' which implies that you might be able to mitigate this hack through a config change.

There's a massive collection of tools for Linux, both free and paid, which will scan your estate for vulnerabilities and/or help you manage these machines. I don't think Windows is unique in this, and I'd go so far as to say it still lags behind in the automated configuration management game.

The point here is that all OSes are vulnerable to security bugs, not all handle patching them as well and some are more prone to flaws than others - 'Appliances' have to use an OS of some kind and be it something really low level like VxWorks, embedded Linux/Windows, or a full version of OS/2, BSD, Solaris, Linux or Windows (undoubtedly plus others) they will all fall prey to bugs from time to time and will all need patches.

Now is definitely not the time to be blaming fragmentation in the Linux ecosystem. You, Sir (or madam, for I make no assumptions here), have the onerous task of trying to discover what's actually running in your estate and prioritise updates to systems which are most at risk from being exploited. Good luck! (And I do mean that sincerely).

I shall being doing similar as a top priority in the morning although I believe me and my team are fortunate to be starting out knowing exactly what kits we're dealing with. We apply security updates automatically so it should be a case of checking we're already patched and then dealing with the few stragglers but let's wait and see.

Must 'completely free' mean 'hard to install'? Newbie gripe sparks some soul-searching among Debian community

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: RE: doing things behind the curtain

Isn't it still a bit sad though, that Windows doesn't have the power of the sysinternals tools available as built in commands and instead has to rely on some very outdated-looking tools...

Most Linux distros come bundled with lsof (list open files), strace and ltrace (trace System/Library calls). I believe many also now include Sun's powerful dtrace utility although I admit to barely ever using it - even, most shamefully, during my days at Sun!

With Linux you also get an army of system monitoring tools for seeing applications using CPU, RAM, I/O etc. Plus, of course the awesome /proc and /sys filesystems.

Things are improving very, very, slowly on Windows Server as powershell gets a few more useful tools (ironically with aliases to their UNIX/Linux counterparts such as 'curl') but it still feels like I've had my hands chopped off when diagnosing Windows problems.

A year or so back I had to look into a problem on a Windows box which turned out to be a bug in the antivirus causing exhaustion of ephemeral TCP ports (i.e the random port number used for replies to outgoing requests). I found a powershell command that would show me all open connections and the owning process (similar to 'netstat -tunl' on Linux), only it didn't show the process column no matter what I tried.

It eventually turned out that the missing column was simply off the edge of the default 80 column terminal. No word-wrap and no scrollbar or other indicator to show that there was more information than being displayed. Ages wasted!

I just don't get Microsoft's attitude towards support. For all the years I've been computing (since around the tail end of MS-DOS 3.31) nothing has changed with regard to getting necessary information out of a Microsoft OS. Things just typically fall with 'FATAL ERROR: ±<big number>'. If you're lucky there might be something in the event log but don't count your chickens. With UNIX/Linux stuff it's far more common to have at least a verbose or debug output flag for each command and/or a log file along with a much more descriptive and helpful error in the first place.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: RE: doing things behind the curtain

"Over 4,000 machines."

To make it a fair comparison I wonder how the experience would have been if you'd been using a Linux distro that includes propriety drivers out of the box... I reckon you'd have had no trouble with something like Ubuntu.

Considering that it's hardly a fair fight to begin with - Microsoft is in bed with many of the manufacturers who keep their as specs and APIs a secret and only produce binary blobs for Windows (perhaps also for Mac these days) - Linux is doing outstandingly well. It's very rare that I encounter a machine now on which the Ubuntu live image doesn't simply boot and work (WiFi, Sound - the lot). In fact the only example I can remember out of many machines is a very recent experience with an HP desktop using a very old ATI FirePro card from before the time that AMD bought them and opened up the code. It doesn't play nicely and boots to a black screen but can be tamed fairly easily.

My most recent Win10 problem was on an old Win7 laptop (an Acer IIRC). A fairly old machine but still serviceable with an SSD added - Yes, Win10 did install and boot however I noticed that the trackpad couldn't do any kind of scrolling. My search for a driver led me nowhere after a fair amount of time spent. It's old kit so you're stuck with the most basic driver and nothing else is available. I also had to spend a fair amount of time stripping out Cortana and other junk that gets forced upon you.

Prior to the Windows upgrade I'd booted it from a Ubuntu USB drive and two-finger scrolling worked straight out of the box (as did everything else, which is what I've come to expect these days). Personally, I'd have installed Ubuntu on it but this user specifically wanted MS Office.

The thing about running Win 10 on older hardware is that it might have a broad range of hardware support but you typically get only very basic and sometimes extremely old drivers out of the box, and unless the manufacturer is still supporting the hardware then that is all you will ever get.

This is where open source really comes into its own because you get the very latest available drivers. That doesn't guarantee that the drivers aren't also old, but you can be sure they'll get updates for security and quite possibly bug fixes as well.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: RE: doing things behind the curtain

"Oh, yes. Hell yes!, compared to Linux."

Really? REALLY?

Anyone who believes that Windows 'just works' (or even macOS for that matter) is lying.

Windows may give the appearance of just working if it get it preinstalled but installing from scratch can present all sorts of challenges about missing divers or hardware which just says 'not working' even with the right driver. And how many times have we all spent hours trawling dodgy-looking, malware-ridden 'drivers' sites in the hunt for that specific missing driver - sometimes it's for a cheap Chinese device but I've definitely had to do it for big brand hardware as well.

Or when Windows 10 just says that an error occurred the print subsystem when trying to print from anything that is an 'app', and you spent half a day reading pages and pages of people discussing the same problem on MS forums but nobody finding any solution, so in the end you have to hurry leave it broken and find a workaround?!

Linux isn't perfect but you're more likely to have a smooth experience if you get past a couple of installation issues. For almost all mainstem hardware from HP, Dell or Lenovo from the past 5+ years. You're likely to find that a distro like Mint or Ubuntu will 'just work'.

Granted of you _need_ Photoshop or other incompatible proprietary software then it might still not be the OS for you, but certainly for general use (and many specialist tasks too) it's very much capable of serving that need for people who know absolutely nothing about how it works.

My mother and my mother-in-law are running Linux now - do you know how many support calls I've had from them in the past year? One. Just one when my mum couldn't remember the instructions I'd given her for copying the photos from her phone to her laptop.

When they were running Windows I'd get a call every few weeks. I'd call this a big win for Linux, personally.

CentOS project changes focus, no more rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux – you'll have to flow with the Stream

ovation1357 Bronze badge

"no where near the level you had from, say, Sun in the very good old days"

Why, thank you! :-)

Of course I can't actually take credit for even a tiny fraction of it all but I spent over 10 years at Sun doing 3rd line support of Solaris and the SPARC + x86 hardware. I can certainly say that it was an incredible place to work and that the vast majority of my colleagues, both in the UK and the ones I got to know in other countries, were really passionate about our products.

It was quite common that we'd get support calls for problems with a certain monolithic relational database where the customers would say that they knew it wasn't our product but we'd be likely to triage the Problem better than the correct support channel (I never experienced said DB's support offering so cannot judge it myself)

And then Sun had a stint at offering RHEL on some of their tin and I distinctly remember customers being less than impressed with their offering.

There was a slightly embarrassing situation where Sun was selling a fairly beefy x86 workstation with an equally beefy NVIDIA GPU in it which required a proprietary driver - when customers choose the RHEL option with support they weren't so impressed when, upon getting kernel "oops" panics, the response from red hat was along the lines of "Propriety driver loaded? Oh, so your kernel is tainted then. Not supported. Bye!". My understanding is that they simply wouldn't even look at it in such a situation, even if the graphics driver had nothing to do the the crash.

I know there were tonnes of cases where we'd do a full crash dump analysis to identify which 3rd party driver had caused the crash an often an outline explaination of why as well. Obviously we'd then have to send the customer back to their other vendor.

It was a thriving, happy place to work in support.

Many of the great minds have moved on or retired but there's still a small core of the original Sun backline techs working at Big Red and still being just as passionate about what they do even though big changes to the product line and support model may make it less likely you'll get to speak to them directly.

A bygone era sadly, but a happy memory for many.

150,000 lost UK police records looking more like 400,000 as Home Office continues to blame 'human error'

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: The fickle finger of blame...

... Which is exactly the argument we have to make to managers all the time when they try to insist that we surely don't need to pay for nightly backups because the database is replicated across multiple nodes.

NHS COVID-19 app is trying to tell Android users something but buggy notification appears stuck on 'Loading...' screen

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Me too. My battery was draining way quicker than usual, notification wouldn't go away until I did a force stop - was back again a bit later so I just uninstalled it.

To be frank I have very little faith that the Bluetooth technique being used stands very much chance of accurately determining if I've been at risk of exposure anyway. Neither does the venue check in but no check out fill me with much confidence.

Next time I go to a venue and they ask me to check in with the app (or if I have to go to a crowded place/office) then out of respect for others I will reinstall it and do that despite my personal beliefs about the efficacy of this thing.

But for now I'm enjoying a longer battery life whilst I'm stuck at home going nowhere

All it took was a pandemic to revive PCs: Canalys proclaims sales up 25% in Q4 as world+dog stays home

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Re: Just four?

I've just bucked the trend (having sworn I'd never buy a desktop machine again) and have bought myself and old HP z-series machine with an 8 core Xeon and 64GB Ram as an upgrade from my T520 laptop with an i5 and 16gb.

Both machines are around 8 years old and I'm only just starting out with this latest one.

I'm frequently exhausting the 16 GB max ram in my old laptop and I tried upgrading the CPU to an i7 but despite decent thermal paste and a clean fan it's hitting nearly 100°c core temp when busy and getting throttled for safety.

Everything made since this generation of Lenovo T and W laptops (T420, 520 etc) has switched to using horrible chiclet keyboards and weird trackpads so I'm not interested in those.

Now I'm working mainly from home I might as well run off a box without the thermal constraints of a small form factor and just take the old laptop out when I need portability.

4 years? I cry bullshit. Even with Windows you can go much longer these days so the old possible grounds for claiming 4 years is that the manufacturer might not officially supply parts much beyond that. I'm sure for some corporate clients they'll prefer to have full onsite service but I'm happy with scouring eBay when necessary

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: "PCs are here to stay"

My ageing Lenovo ThinkPad T520, which is approximately 8 years old will happily drive two external monitors (1x DisplayPort and 1x VGA) as well as the internal screen using the Intel graphics built into a 2nd Gen it (sandy bridge).

With a docking station I think I could drive 3 or perhaps even 4 externals although I'd have to try it to be sure.

Personally I find even dual screens too much since monitors went wide-screen so I just stick to one at a decent resolution but I get it that multi screen is what most folks prefer.

My point being that it's not just 'laptops these days' which can do it

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