* Posts by ovation1357

262 posts • joined 27 Jan 2012


Thunderbird 102 gets a major facelift, Matrix chat support


Modern == Hamburger Menu?

Like almost every major Linux app I use, Thunderbird is built on GTK.

The GNOME project has thrown away the rulebook on desktop UI design and done some pretty nasty things like deprecating support for proper title and menu bars (replacing the menu with a hamburger plus some buttons embedded in what should be the title bar).

These pretty much no escape from these changes and they affect anything using GTK even if you're using a traditional window manager like XFCE or MATE.

Now, Mozilla have so far done pretty well on this front! Firefox has a hamburger menu as, I believe, does Thunderbird. But they've put in efforts to enable users to have proper menu and title bars (although as I understand it there ain't nothing and no how they can do to get proper scroll bars back)...

I fear it's only a matter of time before GTK makes it so hard for them to support proper desktop UI elements that they are forced to go the way of the rest - do I dare to try this release and find out if this is the one??

Like another poster said, modern doesn't necessarily mean bad but I chose tools such as Thunderbird specifically because of things like stable UI design and, most importantly, user configurable options. I really hope they do continue to be a bastion of user choice! So far as I'm concerned they can change the default user interface to their hearts' content so long as I get the choice to switch to 'classic mode' and get on with some real work.

Oracle creates new form of free Solaris


Re: SRUs

That's one way to tell them where they can stick it!

The inevitability of the Windows 11 UI: New Notepad enters the beta channel


Ditto, and especially for referring to edit. I really missed it when they stopped bundling it with Windows.

Notepad sucks but it's at least better than having nothing at all

Fisher Price's Bluetooth reboot of pre-school play phone has adult privacy flaw


Security problems aside I just find it really sad that children's toys are now almost invariably made of flimsy plastic and are not built to last.

My kids still play with some of my wife's old toys which are almost bomb proof, some of which were already hand-me-downs in the early 80s so they're easily over 40 years old.

I was truly stunned by this Twitter thread https://twitter.com/Foone/status/1454230585933631488?t=26v95n--FxciXetRjMFugg&s=07 recently, where the writer does a tear-down of a new version of the old fisher price record player.. It beggars belief that they have abandoned a really simple Clockwork music box in favour of a crappy little electronic speaker and fake music box sounds coming off a chip, of course immediately requiring batteries to function.

What's truly amazing is the big reveal at the end which shows how they've achieved a clockwork mechanism to make the fake plastic records turn.

I've just wrapped a BBC branded cuddly toy which has a sound box in it and comes with a warning on the box that the batteries have an estimated 6 month lifespan based on occasional use and are not replaceable!

I feel like there should be strict laws about this - if the manufacture really feels it necessary to put risky functionally such as Bluetooth into a child's toy then it should be compliant with a minimum set of safety and security standards (although I can't help thinking that a dumb toy would be a better idea), and non replaceable batteries should be illegal.

Needless to say: Challenge accepted! I may well find myself unstitching the toy and replacing the batteries just to stick two fingers up at them.. A bit like my recent repair job on a Christmas 'robot' biscuit tin from Debenhams which my wife loves. Not only did that practically require a can opener to reach the circuit but the 3x LR44 batteries had been riveted to the board for good measure!

Fans of original gangster editors, look away now: It's Tilde, a text editor that doesn't work like it's 1976


Re: vim? Backslider!

I beg to differ, Sir. I cut my teeth on vi but always found it to be a bit basic once I'd got addicted all the sugar added to vim.

Vi had an especially annoying 'feature' whereby if any single 'ex' command failed then it would finally exit with a non-zero status even if the later commands (e.g. :wq ) succeeded... This meant that when I was using it as my email editor within Pine that if I mistyped a command inside vi then it would see the non zero status as an editor failure and discard what I'd typed.

I guess the same would be true using classic vi to edit git commit messages - it would probably just abort.

On the other hand vim exits based on the most recent command status which makes so much more sense.

MySQL a 'pretty poor database' says departing Oracle engineer


Re: PHP is somewhat responsible for MySQL’s uptake

The problem with database abstraction layers is that they are forced into offering the lowest common functionally and inevitably end up having to allow raw queries or some other way tto permit the use of propriety commands...

MySQL/Maria's 'GROUP_CONCAT' springs to mind here - immensely useful but specific to the DB.

Oracle introduced something supposed to be an equivalent in 11i but I was not intuitive and it took me a while to get it to work for a simple report.

I believe postgres doesn't even have an equivalent.

ORMs and abstraction layers can seem like a good idea but I find myself fighting the abstraction to get what I want (and having to learn yet-another-ORM with its own syntax and idiosyncrasies) and then having to use some special exceptions which then tie it to one specific backend database again.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate ORMs and I do use them sometimes but so often I find myself thinking I could write a decent SQL query with much less effort, and/or finding that the ORM encourages writing poor/wasteful queries.

Reviving a classic: ThinkPad modder rattles tin to fund new motherboard for 2008's T60 and T61 series of laptops


OMG Why did nobody tell be before!?!

To be fair I'm more pleased with my current P14s than I'd expected and I don't hate the keyboard (which I expected I would), but this is a great idea!

A bit like putting a souped up engine into a crap old car and then leaving the boy racers in the dirt at the red lights! I'd love to have a vintage laptop which flies!

Lenovo ThinkPad T14s: Impressively average, which is how corporate buyers like it


Re: Nice set of options, but Ethernet?

I've got a P14s which is near identical form factor and has a proper Ethernet port on it. I agree with you about the dongles and don't really understand why this model would even need to do that.

Just this evening a friend asked for help with his Dell XPS laptop and had to get a dongle out just to be able to connect a USB-A device - this kind of nonsense was a big driver towards me staying with Lenovo

Nobody cares about DAB radio – so let's force it onto smart speakers, suggests UK govt review


Re: "lots of old folks still love their "wireless""

Yes and let's not forget the news that BT is going to be switching off PSTN and giving everyone a VoIP box with some kind of battery backup.

DAB is technically pretty shit, meanwhile the loss of AM/FM will definitely make our national communications network more fragile and then taking our 'proper' phones away will compound this

I reckon that if we had the zombie apocalypse tomorrow there's a pretty good chance that a combination of analogue radio plus PSTN would survive to keep people in contact.

I really don't fancy our chances with DAB and VoIP.

GNOME 41: Slick with heaps of new features for users and devs – but annoyances remain


Re: Title bar

I'm totally with you Bob. Hamburgers are, at best, for touchscreens only.

I know I'm repeating myself here now, but the only thing I actually want is for this to be a user choice. You and me, we'll clutch to our title bars until the day we shuffle off this planet - some other folks quite like it.

I'm happy for those people to like hamburgers and to use hamburgers if that's their choice. I'm quite happy for some fresh-faced kid to go and invent a 'pizza' menu or whatever... Go ahead and add that to the list of UI options. Heck, make it the default option if you love it that much. But please remember to make it an option!

MATE is especially good in this regard - using the mate tweak tool you can quickly switch between having a desktop which looks like GNOME2, Windows, MacOS and others, and you can freely pick and choose. Want an icon dock but also a Windows-style start menu? No problem!

LibreOffice has taken a similar approach. You want a ribbon? Sure you can have that! You hate the ribbon with all of your being? No worries, have classic menus and several other options instead...

These folks are showing us that personal choice is completely possible and mainly also practical to offer and maintain. Long may those guys keep this up, and maybe they could have a word with the CSD / Hamburger zealots over at GNOME HQ


Re: Title bar

The almighty self-appointed deities of GNOME declare that you are wrong about this puny human! All hail the almighty Wayland, harbinger of client side decorations!

Basically some guy at GNOME has declared that title bars are a waste of space and that allowing them to adopt the theme of your desktop environment or, heaven forbid change colour to highlight the active window, is just plain folly.

Personally I'm with you. I hate it! But more than that I'm pro-choice. There's simply no excuse for this being made into the only option - Linux is all about choice and GNOME gives none whatsoever in this regard :-(


Re: Nice

I hear your pain about choosing a /usr/bin binary for opening file types Bob!

Although it's not at all obvious, you can actually type a file path into the application chooser... You'll see that if you hit the forward slash button then the 'buttons' representing each segment of the path turn into a regular text input and it even auto-completes as you type! I discovered it by accident but you might find it useful next time.

As for the 2D Flatty McFlatFace I couldn't agree more! Plus the abomination of the CSD title bar with embedded buttons and evil hamburger menu.

Sadly, some of this stuff is creeping into MATE and basically anything that runs GTK based applications but I'm hoping that by the time it gets forced on us they'll either have changed their minds or somebody will have come up with a stable fork to avoid it completely.

Why tell the doctor where it hurts, when you could use emoji instead?


This probably highlights the current inconsistency of how they are displayed. In my experience, Windows does not render them very well.

On mobile devices I think they're much clearer although another commenter rightly pointed out that they're not consistently drawn between all applications.

Although surely if a picture paints a thousand words, a tiny emoji still has to be worth perhaps one hundred?


I was a tad surprised by the downvotes on this and then I re-read it.

I've managed (perhaps somewhat ironicly) to miss a really, REALLY important bit of punctuation in my post!

It should say "What the hell is wrong with people!?! Sending monkey emojis as a racial slur.... - not cool"

I absolutely mean what is wrong with the people who do it and think it's somehow okay, and NOT what is wrong with doing it! Sorry to anyone who was offended.

There's no substitute for a properly punctuated sentence.

Peace and good vibes to all!


I personally love emojis, although I believe they are best used in combination with written text in order to disambiguate the meaning and tone of the message.

Back when SMS was pretty new, one of the criticisms of sending text messages (apart from how it might take one longer to type the message than it would to just trying the person and tell them) was that text alone is very easily misinterpreted by the receiver. I've certainly had messages and emails like this, where I manage to read something bad from something neutral or even positive or vice-versa.

By adding emojis it becomes easier to add the equivalent of a facial expression that one might use if one were talking face to face.

In extremis: "You're a dick! :angry_face:" vs "You're a dick! :Laughing:" should hopefully clear up whether this is anger or banter.

Likewise, more subtly, "Great!" In response to something could mean good or it could be a sarcastic expression. Addition of a smiley face it one with rolling eyes should make the intention of the writer much clearer.

I don't use a huge range of emojiis but I do use them all the time (and it irks me that our beloved el-reg comments don't support them!) From happy/sad/silly/angry faces, rolling eyes, grimacing, shrugging and the three wise monkeys (Sidenote: FFS What the hell is wrong with people sending monkey emojis as a racial slur: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-58503093 - not cool!!)

So I'm glad we have these to augment our written language - no doubt there's also countless possibilities for emojis to help where there's a language barrier or learning disability as well.

It will be interesting to see whether they get further adopted into use for professional purposes... Right now on my corporate machine I'm stuck with Outlook covering very limited smiled into characters from the Wingdings font!


Re: Accessibility Fail.

Granted that there could be some ironic meaning which could be lost in a description but as for the emojiis creating silence on a screen reader, I agree that at least for some of them, they could be described by their name.

There seems to be a common expression which I use daily on Slack, Discord and WhatsApp (and also very poorly supported in MS Teams chat). Which is simple text expressions such as :laughing: or :man_shrugging:

I hope that other chat providers and other tools will adopt support for this, especially as it works as a pretty convenient way to input them in a 'real' keyboard.

Internet Explorer 3.0 turns 25. One of its devs recalls how it ended marriages – and launched amazing careers


I'm a little surprised by the apparent love and compliments being eschewed for IE4/5 Vs Netscape.

I absolutely loved Netscape and found IE to be a poor alternative. I guess for starters it was because it lacked mail and Usenet, but I also disliked the typical Microsoft deliberate breaks from convention such as using Favourites when everything else used bookmarks.

For the most part I found Netscape to be pretty stable and it's high degree of configurability was a boon. It wasn't perfect and it did crash from time to time but in the main it made both a decent IMAP mail client (something neither Outlook nor Outlook Express even supported) and was a decent browser too.

I used Netscape on Windows 3.11, Windows 95, macOS 8/9, Solaris and Linux until I switched to Opera, which was by far the superior browser of the time with all its fancy Qt goodness in the form of tabs and Mouse gestures. (I'm a bit surprised it didn't get a mention in this article).

I seem to recall trying the version of IE that got released for Solaris and thinking it was a bit crap and I'm trying to rack my brain to recall whether there was a Mac port as well... Truly IE was only ever a Windows browser, so Netscape was already a clear winner for multi platform support (and Opera also released builds for quite a few platforms - I used it on Solaris for a couple of years)

To me, Internet Explorer has always been the epitome of Microsoft's abuses of its monopoly. Embedding it into the OS and bundling it with every PC and called 'The Internet' was an anticompetitive and rather evil deception.

All these years later we've only just escaped from the Hell of supporting IE with its demented box model, magic runes in IE6 to avoid being in 'quirks mode (not that 'standards mode' actually followed the standards) and its proprietary JavaScript was by far the worst but I've had to handle quirks in later versions too.

Ironically now it seems to be Safari that's most likely to mangle a page that works fine in FF and Chrome, which is an extra nuisance given that Apple only releases it for their devices: I'm not inclined to start paying the idiot tax just to be able to use their wanky browser.

Personally I'm very sad that Opera gave up on it's proprietary rendering engine - it did certainly struggle with some pages but I think it held up pretty well against the bigger players. Now Opera exists only by name as yet another skin around Chromium.

Vivaldi at least tried to get back to the core principals of the legacy Opera but I still found it a bit too 'chromy' for my liking.

I've ended up settling on FireFox, which just about fits my needs but I do lament the true lack of browser choice these days. At least, for the most part, I can write some HTML+CSS and be reasonably confident it will render fine on almost anything (except possibly Safari).

Thunderbird 91 lands: Now native on Apple Silicon, swaps 'master' for 'primary' password, and more


Re: Dated interface

Outlook's user interface is diabolical! I've tried the online version and I hate that even more.

The search is utterly appalling and the complete lack of control over the ultra-low-contrast colour theme and massive areas of wasted white side make it a miserable daily use experience for me.

I'd give anything to use Thunderbird for my work email and did once try it using the old 'exquilla' plugin for Exchange, but in a highly locked down Windows environment it wouldn't work. So I'm stuck being miserable and less productive with Outlook instead.

I really don't understand how Microsoft gets away with charging so much money for this utter shite

I love the 'dated' UI of Thunderbird and will be very sad if they change it significantly without retaining user options to keep it in 'classic mode'... I'm not anti change but I'm also very pro-choice when it comes to UIs.

Microsoft has gone from being 'passable' to 'nil points' for allowing user control over their applications, whereas both Firefox and Thunderbird continue to give a wonderful raft of personalisation options plus mainly sensible defaults for new users.


Re: More like Chunderbird, amirite?

^^^ This, this, THIS ^^^

Firefox 91 introduces cookie clearing, clutter-free printing, Microsoft single sign-on... so where are all the users?


Re: Bold move

The latest UI update (at least on Developer Edition) has changed the tabs from being actual tabs to being rounded edge rectangles, which just looks stupid and I can't find a way to undo it!

E.g instead of the bottom edge of the tab being connected to the panel containing the page, it's detached by a small gap.

They've also done something in dark mode which means the text of my menu bar is black on a dark gray background! Extra annoying given that I loathe the hamburger menu and choose Firefox for the reason it can still use proper title and menu bars.

New GNOME Human Interface Guidelines now official – and obviously some people hate it


Re: More upgrades to avoid!!

XFCE you say? Ahem, sorry my friend but I have some really terrible news I need to break to you...



TL;DR; XFCE is getting client side decorations. Although they might not be putting hamburger menus on apps they distribute, I think you're going to find that lots of 3re party GTK Apps are going to have hamburger menus and other horrors that you can't turn off nor configure :'(

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


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


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


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


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...


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


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'


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


Re: Why one of the most popular IDEs


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.


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?



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


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


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


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


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.


"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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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!



Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022