* Posts by karlkarl

479 posts • joined 10 Apr 2015


Elecrow CrowPi2: Neat way to get your boffins-to-be hooked on Linux from an early age and tinkering in no time

karlkarl Silver badge

I love the idea! I really do want this kind of modular laptops to hit off. Not just for learning but also maintenance!

Though if the price is putting parents off buying something like this for their kids, I recommend a £40 ex-surplus Thinkpad X61. For the same price you can buy at least 4 and potentially, learning to program on this is possibly a little better experience. You can install the similar Debian OS for example and the keyboard is one of the best.

The only thing you miss out on is GPIO and lower level hardware and things like that. However if you buy two Thinkpads and network them or just get two USB RS-232 adapters, you can still teach your kid low level sockets or serial port programming for a fraction of the cost.

Relics of the past to be found in Oxford: A medieval friary, a Saxon wall, and... Windows 7

karlkarl Silver badge

I found out that my mechanic's MOT software is running on an elderly IBM workstation running Red Hat 9. I noticed the Bluecurve theme in the buttons and mouse pointer. So I asked to have a poke at it. He just thought I was weird XD.

Plenty of old platforms out in the wild that are still working perfectly fine. Microsoft ones just happen to have official spyware on them so get caught more often ;)

Who cares what Apple's about to announce? It owes us a macOS x86 virtual appliance for non-Mac computers

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Walled Garden? Linux?

You talk about macOS setting boundaries increasing security for its consumers.

Do you honestly believe a server running macOS (even if you managed to strip out its GUI frills) would be more secure than Linux, FreeBSD and OpenBSD.

These three platforms have no artificial boundaries enforced upon their users and yet I suspect they are indeed more secure.

I predict there are more spyware and viruses in the locked down Apple AppStore than in the completely open (and auditable) FreeBSD ports collection.

karlkarl Silver badge

Running an OS that can only work on a single vendors hardware...

Kinda sounds like it was the users own stupidity that left them in this position.

This was encountered and solved in the early 80's. People should pick up a history book and *learn*.

Is Little Timmy still enthralled by his Leapfrog tablet? Maybe check he hasn't sideloaded an unrestricted OS onto it

karlkarl Silver badge

God forbid Little Timmy mistakenly gets access to an "open" platform that he can tinker with and.... *gulp*... learn from!

Stop asking for Amazon, Google and Microsoft cloud with 'no justification': US Library of Congress told to drop its 'brand-name'-tastic RFP

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Standard practice

Agreed, and this is for the "big boys". An RFP from a smaller but more innovative company doesn't stand a chance and is only ever used by these guys to help bid down the big-name brands or to convince them to provide more "hand-outs".

But like many governmental policies, It is like watching a bunch of clowns roll around on the floor in their own excrement.

DPL: Debian project has plenty of money but not enough developers

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Window of Opportunity?

If you have escaped Windows for that long then you might not believe it. But yep!

The start menu occasionally gets random "featured" apps that you might "like". The initial install of Windows also has the start menu littered with this crap.

I really do look at my parents using it and feel sorry for them. My dad in particular has been with computers since the early days and really does deserve better than this. Us youngsters that have stood on his shoulders really have let him down.

Tried him with Linux desktop environments but there was too much learning and breakage for him (he is fairly old now!). Tried him with FreeBSD but the desktop environments still require a fair amount of porting work. There really is very little decent solutions for him and people like him. Windows 2000 was the last "real" OS he used.

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Window of Opportunity?

Yep, they wanted it to stagnate. Not regress to the pre "start menu" days of 3.1 ;)

The start menu has still not really recovered. Microsoft might not realise this but the addition of adverts doesn't entirely make up for the regression in usability.

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Window of Opportunity?

You raise a very good point.

Please, no-one tell Microsoft otherwise they will make sure to fsck that up in the next release.

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Window of Opportunity?

Redmond doesn't have developers anymore. Only evangelists and accountants.

This is why other than a few interns fiddling with the GUI, Windows has stagnated for decades.

karlkarl Silver badge

At the moment the project is playing things a little *too* safe. This is probably why so many projects can rely on it and yet it doesn't quite fire up enough passion from developers. Most people want to be rockstars, not maintainers!

A few very rough ideas that might help (some are opinions that you may not agree with. Some I don't fully agree with! ;):

1) Make the core project a little *more* exclusive. Allow the developers to feel proud they are skilled enough to be part of the team rather than just another pair of "punching hands".

2) Some sort of very simple user package repo (similar to AUR, or even openbsd-wip ports). Somewhere that people can work on their packages in a public place that gets them tested and popular. As it stands it is very hard for outsiders to add / maintain / improve source debs.

3) A formal handbook (not a wiki like Arch. More like FreeBSD). I worry that people might feel they are wasting time learning things that aren't the defacto way of doing things. I.e they don't know if this is an undocumented feature, likely to change or not. This will help increase passion and justify time spent with the project.

4) This is controversial but I absolutely think Gnome 3 as the default target has skilled developers running for the hills. They don't want to deal with it, they don't want to support it. They might even suspect the project is running off track because of it.

So yes, I do feel the project does need a little more diversity *of thought* (I don't give a crap about skin colour or genital shape, that isn't going to solve software issues). It needs to become a little more opinionated and try to fire up technical interest rather than just support other projects that suck all the time and efforts from developers.

Unexpected risks of using Apple ID: 'Sign in with Apple' will be blocked for Epic Games

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Users that they will lose the ability to log into an Epic Games account via "Sign in with Apple"

This is where I normally would ramble on about the risks of DRM...

But I have refrained (low battery on my laptop). You are a lucky person.

China blocks access to website hosting code-for-kids tool Scratch and its forums

karlkarl Silver badge

For "learning", it is actually quite a good lesson to realise that the internet isn't always going to be accessible.

So for later life they can learn to not use IDEs with DRM (Microsoft Visual Studio), don't use toolchains that favor online distribution (Microsoft Visual C++), don't rely on software with tonnes of dependencies (NPM, Cargo, PIP, etc), don't use provisioning systems with DRM (Xbox Live Arcade, iOS) and just try to be a bit self sufficient!

Important lessons to learn if you want a robust career.

Angry 123-Reg customers in the UK wake up to another day where hosted mail doesn't get through to users on Microsoft email accounts

karlkarl Silver badge

I had quite a nice personal email system setup using opensmtpd and dovecot. Unfortunately I had to give it up because I was spending too much time masturbating Microsoft's filters.

The DKIM and SPF stuff was easy enough to set up but alas, it was not enough because my domain was not Microsoft or google owned. Email is not really an open platform any more :/

I notice a lot of "security" companies, really just offer little else other than a "pre-masterbated" domain for sending emails haha.

UK Home Office seeks suppliers: £25m up for grabs to build database to keep track of crimelords' ill-gotten gains

karlkarl Silver badge

Lets be honest, the UK Home Office has already chosen Microsoft. Your bid is really just to help provide them with leverage to negotiate a lower price.

Nintendo revives Game & Watch portable proto-console, adds color to 2.36-inch screen

karlkarl Silver badge

This is nice for collectors but in terms of landfill...

It would make more sense to buy a second hand Game Boy Micro (to save them from the land fill) for ~$20 (they have a similar size) and then purchase a ~$10 flash cart and then have access to the entire back catalogue of GB and GBA games. The Micros are fairly sturdy metal and easy to fix, you could keep them for a couple of generations ;)

If Nintendo did want the money, they would open up an official ROM download store where each file was ~$5 and DRM free.

^------- I want to live in this universe please :)

Apple commits to support human rights - 'We believe in the critical importance of an open society'*

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: "Apple has a huge influence on people’s freedom of expression globally"

Hah, so true. That's like saying:

"My little fluffy pet bunny called Alphonse has a huge influence on people's freedom of expression globally"

As awesome as it makes him feel, it is quite simply not true. The only difference is that my bunny is actually quite a big part of my life and I don't want to demolish every office building he owns.

Microsoft: We're getting rid of Flash by the end of the year - except you can still use it

karlkarl Silver badge

How about companies like Microsoft put pressure on Adobe to release the source so that the community can clean it up and keep all those childhood flash games running?

... oh and those few annoying sodding routers where the developers thought a flash config tool was a good idea. Bunch of clowns.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... a pair of black holes coalesced resulting in largest gravitational wave we've seen

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Not a "Fwoop"

Can I get that as a screensaver?

In the frame with the Great MS Bakeoff: Microsoft sets out plans for Windows windows

karlkarl Silver badge

I'm not convinced. By the time it gets to the compositor, it is OpenGL instructions. How are these going to be converted to high level RDP instructions? The best you will get is sending across a raster image like VNC where you lose a large amount of performance and bandwidth. This is why a "network aware" GUI system is crucial from the ground up.

The best Wayland could do is probably send across the OpenGL commands, but this is still not going to be fantastic performance each frame.

karlkarl Silver badge

Like I said, just because they are used, doesn't make it the correct choice. The constant migration towards Wayland (which doesn't support multiple sessions) shows a considerable lack of interest in remote desktop.

Losing a network aware GUI system is a mistake as far as I am concerned. X11 was fairly inefficient as far as these go (unfortunately compared to RDP) but it did support multiple sessions.

karlkarl Silver badge

Are you suggesting that new stuff is always better?

karlkarl Silver badge

I am going to have to be careful with my wording so not to confuse. Or better yet...

Notice how Athena widgets (Xaw) and Motif widgets can interact and exist together on the same Window? This is the benefit of having a common underlying base (Xt).

This is what I meant. That way legacy "widgets" still work and nothing is lost. No-one is tied into a constant treadmill of re-engineering.

Gtk+ and Qt are not good examples of what "good" GUIs should do. They are fairly inefficient, especially over remote connections. Microsoft's RDP needs to be a little bit more mindful of this kind of stuff. Linux dropped the ball a little with X11 and VNC is not really comparable in performance.

karlkarl Silver badge

I think this is a great idea and about time they focused on core tech rather than just piling layers on top. Microsoft should "improve" it by deprecating a number of "modern" Metro wrappers and focus on the standard winapi. Just add extensions to it. Kind of like how Motif (Xm) added extensions on top of XIntrinsics (Xt).

The WndProc stuff was not actually too bad for using C (i.e a single callback with a "type" id). It also made wrapping it in objects i.e for C++ fairly easy.

if they feel they must get away from C style architecture and onto C++, I really do hope they bring smart pointers in. I am sick of being carelessly handed a raw pointer that has no real consistent lifespan guarantees. If they are not skilled / disciplined enough to do this with C++ and have to migrate to Rust, then... well I guess people will stick with the old winapi due to legacy requirements and nothing will be achieved.

Happy birthday to the Nokia 3310: 20 years ago, it seemed like almost everyone owned this legendary mobile

karlkarl Silver badge

Haha, a story very light on details went like this.

A dodgy and suspiciously well funded charity terrified of auditors fscked up and wanted it all gone. I got thanked in the process XD

Edit: I have a more detailed version of this story now in my undo buffer because I have just noticed your username and feel a little uneasy suddenly. Let the past be the past I always say. No need to dredge up old history.

karlkarl Silver badge

I never subscribed to smart phones and still have my Nokia 5110...

... or rather, due to an ancient mistake in the order / shipping I have a crate full and have been using them ever since.

It has the same "OS" as the 3210 installed on it (so Snake 1) and thankfully still works.

My biggest worry is that the batteries in them naturally degrade in storage (They haven't been "activated" so believe I am safe on that front). I am also worried that the mobile phone radio standards change rendering them all deaf. Again, that doesn't seem to be the case with BT (O2) or Vodafone.

So, unless either of these two things break, I have enough of the things to last me at least a new one every year for my birthday. Annoyingly it is really the battery that will go (lasts about 2-3 years). The phones themselves are built like tanks.

I so hope these don't need to get sent to the landfill haha.

Hidden Windows Terminal goodies to check out: Retro mode that emulates blurry CRT display – and more

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Note for everyone: There is full serial console support in Windows Server...

Many modern hypervisors use serial to manage VMs. For example OpenBSD's vmm and for a while Byhve too.

A server operating system would be an absolute joke if it didn't provide serial access. The Windows SAC is there... but like most other Microsoft solutions is pretty weak.

Debugging kernel panics is also fairly reliant on serial connection. Not everyone wants to just stare at a BSOD all day and do nothing about it.

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Windows does have job control now

This isn't job control.

I.e you cannot put a command line program (i.e a text editor) into the background, do something else and then bring the old text editor back into the foreground.

Try it now.

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Quit whining

Sounds like you have never connected to an SSH server and needed to then open 5 tabs on that *same* server.

karlkarl Silver badge

Not so bad when you can pipe output through pagers like less or more but... Windows doesn't have those either!

Screen has the ability to change the scrollback buffer. <ctrl-a>: scrollback 1000<enter>

Tmux has <ctrl-b>PgUp

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: I've used a lot of terminals...

I think every developer should try it at least one. It was woefully wasteful of paper but honestly I would much rather use it even today than one of the typical web browser IDEs that the cool (albeit misguided) kids are using.

For example the ex command:


Would still work. Cloud IDE's just assume your line endings are whatever "they" use. I am also fairly sure that the typical Cloud IDE developer doesn't quite know that different line endings exist...

Again, if it didn't kill so many damn trees, the paper is really nice on your eyes too XD

karlkarl Silver badge

>> Suffice to say I miss it when I have to use bash for something (talk about awkward

That probably means you are running bash in the standard (pre-10) Windows console. Agreed, the copy and paste in the Windows console is bizarre.

Normally bash is distributed by Cygwin and with it, the mintty terminal. In that case you just select the text with your mouse (no copy needed) and then middle click to paste. Copying off the traditional X11 approach. Works very nicely and no risk of sending a ctrl-c signal to the running program (haha!) (actually I guess that *was* the reason behind the decision for Microsofts weird "enter" to copy system of old)

karlkarl Silver badge

The main issue with local tabs is you need to keep relogging into the SSH server every time you create a new one. It is much more effective to "open up a tab" on the server session instead.

Sure, if you only edit the occasional config file, who cares but if you have many tabs, i.e text editor (nvi), compiler (clang), debugger (lldb) and manpages all up at once on the remote machine, it soon becomes inefficient to log in and change directory for each one.

In the past we happily solved this with job control (ctrl-z, bg, fg) and it worked great but... of course flipping Windows is lacking that fundamental thing too! XD

Most people install a POSIX layer like Cygwin and get on with their lives but unfortunately Cygwin minces up the environment just enough that it can make testing and debugging native win32 software unreliable (for example it changes a lot of environmental variables).

karlkarl Silver badge

My rant is a little further down below ;)

I made this tmux clone. https://github.com/osen/vimux

It isn't perfect but does just about allow us to avoid making multiple SSH sessions. You might find it useful too?

(Edit: I tested it on Win7+ but it should also run on older, such as Windows XP)

karlkarl Silver badge

Hmm, tabs... how quaint. Do people not use SSH or (even less likely) Remote Powershell? How about some sort of sodding console multiplexer on the hosts end so I don't need to make about 5 separate ssh connections just to develop/debug software remotely on this annoying platform?

tmux, screen.... (even DESQview from the 90s!). All very popular for a reason.

I even had to hack up a "poor man's tmux" (https://github.com/osen/vimux) for whenever I have to babysit a "special" Windows machine.

Techie studied ancient ways of iSeries machine, saved day when user unleashed eldritch powers, got £50 gift voucher

karlkarl Silver badge

Lucky it was an "elderly" bit of code...

Newer codebases would take more than 2 hours to work out the stupid sodding build system and fetch all the billions of unnecessary dependencies!

A cool article though, I could feel the tension XD

Google wants to listen in to whatever you get up to in hotel rooms

karlkarl Silver badge

Damn, Google might hear that blasted mini-fridge open in the night during my moment of weakness. Then my plan of replacing the lost stock in the morning will be sabotaged!

Relying on plain-text email is a 'barrier to entry' for kernel development, says Linux Foundation board member

karlkarl Silver badge

I do hope the Linux Foundation realises that Microsoft is not one of us. It does not move in the same direction.

Though, digging into it, the Linux Foundation is looking less and less like one of us too sadly. It is starting to cater more for corporations rather than the communities who made it.

Adobe yanks freebie Creative Cloud offer – now universities and colleges have to put up or shut up

karlkarl Silver badge

GIMP is getting pretty slow and horrible to use. Soon it will easily be able to replace Photoshop at least :)

It also seems like most companies are jumping onto the Blender Foundation; I can really see critical mass being reached for the open-source alternatives.

Chromium devs want the browser to talk to devices, computers directly via TCP, UDP. Obviously, nothing can go wrong

karlkarl Silver badge

I have written a fair number of WebSocket servers in C and C++ (because most existing open-source solutions are a bloated mess).

After doing so, I still can't quite see the additional security it provides over a raw SSL socket...

1) You have the handshake with some random magic number (which is always the same) where you hash it and things.

2) You have the payload header which is just an "old school" way of specifying how large the "packet" is.

3) You then mask the bytes as you send them (basically to ensure caching proxies don't do anything weird)

4) [optional] Everything using an SSL bio

None of this prevents my browser from doing anything any compared to a raw TCP socket anyway.

FYI: Chromium's network probing accounts for about half DNS root server traffic, says APNIC

karlkarl Silver badge

Yes they did!

So now they can turn around and say:

"Because we are such good guys, we are now going to use our own "special" server for DNS queries before we pass the request onto the standard"

Chinese State media uses new release of local Linux to troll Trump

karlkarl Silver badge

I am a little jealous. Privacy concerns aside, just getting people away from Windows will do wonders for productivity.

C++ still rules the Chromium roost though Rust has caught our eye, say browser devs

karlkarl Silver badge

Re: Lazy programmers

I do understand this. I am sick of Microsoft (i.e MSSQL API) spitting out some stupid raw "C++" pointer because they refuse to write modern safe C++.

But I am *sure* Microsoft will also manage to fsck up, even when using Rust.

karlkarl Silver badge

In order for rust to be able to call (i.e an OpenGL) function, you need to make a Rust to C binding.

OpenGL has a *lot* of functions. Would take a long time to bind that.

And then going the other way (which I think you are referring to). Getting C++ to know about a Rust struct and the lifespan of it (i.e can C++ use a unique_ptr, shared_ptr or will Rust be the memory holder so Raw or wea_ptr?). Can C++ even hold a weak_ptr to a Rust Arc type?

It can't work easily. Bindings are necessary for both directions.

karlkarl Silver badge

"and you need to generate bindings but you can easily call from one to the other."

I think you underestimate the time required to develop and maintain bindings. Generators don't work on things like function callbacks for example.

karlkarl Silver badge

The interop is always an issue. It is in fact what gives rise to all these dependency "solutions" such as NPM, PIP, CPAN, crates.io and other language based package managers. These rack up a technical debt that makes future maintenance a mess. Bindings suck to make and suck to maintain.

The only way this can be truly solved is by adding a basic C compiler to the new language. Not because C is the nicest language to use but because it gives you access to APIs that the real world uses. For example, do you think C++ would have ever become a success if it couldn't consume C libraries?

I love Rust but I hate dependencies so C++ is still the only solution for me for now :/

Whoa-o BlackBerry, bam-ba-lam: QWERTY phone had a child. 5G thing's newly styled

karlkarl Silver badge

My suggestion is:

If you don't need to put it online, just get a cheap ~£20 Blackberry Bold from CEX instead.

If you do need to put it online. Don't, buy a laptop instead.

Someone please have mercy on this poorly Ubuntu parking machine that has been force-fed maudlin autotuned tripe

karlkarl Silver badge

Why did they set that unit up with a full fledged consumer desktop environment?

These automatic updaters are a menace. Keep the system on an offline network and all your problems go away.

Linux kernel maintainers tear Paragon a new one after firm submits read-write NTFS driver in 27,000 lines of code

karlkarl Silver badge

"I suspect 20 years ago, someone would have said thanks, jumped on it and cleaned it up for inclusion."

In some ways it is nice to see Linux not quite so reliant on handouts. They can focus on quality and maintenance. This is good evidence that the project is reaching critical mass and one day proprietary companies will be unlikely to compete.

I also see Linux as something that shouldn't become a "code dump". With companies feeling that their end-of-life projects that cannot be monetised can just be maintained for free as part of Linux. If paragon did commit to contributing their code earlier, perhaps they would have been welcomed a little more. I see this quite a lot with embedded obsolete ARM hardware that is no longer sold. It bloats out the kernel without benefiting over 99.9999% of users.

But at the same time, the kernel developers should jump on this one. For too long we have been under the tyranny of Microsofts NTFS and fuse has never really been up to speed in the enterprise space. Also it kinda takes the wind from Microsoft's sails if they ever tried to contribute their driver to Linux for control and publicity (and EEE of course).

Outage: Faulty UPS at data centre housing London Internet Exchange causes grief for ISPs and telcos alike

karlkarl Silver badge

Have they tried turning it off and on again?

Preferably leaving it off.

... the fire, that is.



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