* Posts by Smirnov

122 posts • joined 10 Dec 2016

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Microsoft adds Buy Now, Pay Later financing option to Edge – and everyone hates it

Smirnov

the lack of Google was appealing to many

And yet, when it comes to privacy, Edge is even worse than Chrome:

https://www.scss.tcd.ie/Doug.Leith/pubs/browser_privacy.pdf

On top of that, Chrome (as bad as it is) at least never tried to upsell to me as Edge does ("Shopping with Microsoft", really?), and the fact that this stuff even exists in the corporate version of Edge is even worse.

Quality software from the market leader.

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

Smirnov

Re: Out all of them, I'd take the Lenovos every time (with the HP a close second).

I don't. We used Thinkpads before (we used to buy a mix of Lenovo, Dell, HP), actually since the IBM dats, and while they are generally pretty robust there have been a number of very annoying design flaws over the years.

On top of that, the average Thinkpad battery had been dead in less than two years tops. HP EliteBook batteries easily lasted double that, and we still have a few EliteBooks which are now >5yrs old and the batteries are still good.

Add a widely varying support to the mix and the decision was made that Lenovo was out. Now it's mostly HP and some Dell for the rest where reliability doesn't matter that much.

Smirnov

Re: Hmm

Not sure why you have been downvoted, after all Lenovo has a solid track record of delivering malware with its laptops.

Also, while the UK doesn't have an extradition treaty with China like it does with the US, the Chinese government has its fingers in all Chinese companies and actively seeks to exploit that path to gather industrial secrets.

If Huawei is considered a security risk then so should be Lenovo.

Microsoft quietly delivers Windows 11 Enterprise VMs for devs

Smirnov

Re: 'Clunky Windows Update' is all over the shop in Windows 11.

No problems with the KB5006363 update on the Windows 11 machines here. So far the only issue I had was a sound driver that refused to install on the early RTM of Windows 11 but that has resolved itself a week or so later.

"The bag of clunky rusty old nails, 'Windows Update' continues to be - just that."

I don't know, so far it has been a lot better than Windows 10 where I have experienced notably more showstoppers.

Microsoft slows Windows 10 release cadence to yearly. If they're all as dull as the November Update, this is fine

Smirnov

Re: But the fact that it will obsolete many perfectly serviceable PCs makes it a non-starter here.

It doesn't really "obsolete" older PCs, keeping in mind that the current release of Windows 10 also no longer supports older PCs (I think the cut-off is currently Core gen 5 and older). "Not supported" obviously doesn't equal "doesn't work", just that MS will not help you if things go wrong (which they rarely do anyways, even for "supported" configurations).

None of the computers I have Windows 11 installed are supported, although all have TPM (some have 1.2 others 2.0). During testing the only issue I found is that if you have an older intel iGPU then there are no DCH drivers and HVCI can't be enabled (it works on older PCs without intel GPU, though).

Smirnov

Re: Windows 10 / Windows 11 should transition to the Red Hat / Fedora model of releases.

I would really hate it if I had to go back to the dog's dinner that is Windows 10, with it's half-baked two UIs for keyboard/mouse and touch, and the mess that is the settings.

I can obviously speak only for myself but for me so far young Windows 11 has been a lot better than Windows 10 has ever been.

Apple is beginning to undo decades of Intel, x86 dominance in PC market

Smirnov

Transitioning to this maturity in 1 year is impressive

"Transitioning to this maturity in 1 year is impressive - none of the others, such as Windows on ARM, have transitioned to the same maturity as Apple, despite the latter having announcements far earlier than Apple."

Not really. Because the actual transition didn't happen in a year but more like 8 years. 8 years in which Apple added expertise to design its own silicon and switch is OS base (remember that iOS is a mobile OS derived from macOS) to that new architecture. A transition that started in iPhones and iPads and eventually moved towards Macs.

But yes, Apple is unique in having managed such a transition so smoothly, but that is mostly down to the fact that Apple owns both the hardware and software platforms for its products. Which gives it widely more control than other manufacturers like Microsoft have which are still dependent on 3rd parties making their processors (and Qualcomm is mostly busy with milking its ARM dominance in the mobile space than to really innovate, which means everyone other than Apple is stuck with slow silicon). So there's that.

Smirnov

Re: Speedbump

"This is not always true,"

No? So then tell me which intel Mac has seen longer support by macOS than by Windows?

"and you forget the driver story with Windows/PC. Also things like BIOS and EFI security updates. The majority of these "supported" Intel processors as you put it do not have BIOS fixes for eg for the spectre bug and variants. Only the extent of protections offered by the OS SW based mitigations exist."

That is not true. Pretty much everything starting from Sandy Bridge and later has seen fixes for these issues, and BIOS/UEFI fixes have been quickly made available by the big PC vendors such as HP and Dell. Of course, the latter may not be the case for any junk system out there but that's simply the result of buying, well, junk which its manufacturer has no interest supporting.

Besides, it's not that the same CPU bugs didn't affect Macs. For example, the Nehalem/Westmere based Mac Pros are as vulnerable to the bugs in its processors as any other Nehalem/Westmere system. However, while Apple has stopped support for these computers after Mohave (i.e. three macOS generations ago), they happily run the latest version of Windows 10. Which contains workarounds for at least some of the bugs in its processors.

And then there are the unfixable bugs in Apple's own hardware, like the early T2 security processors in some Macs which have an unfixable critical security hole:

https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/10/05/apples-mac-t2-chip-has-an-unfixable-vulnerability-that-could-allow-root-access

"When Apple say supported, it is the whole thing from boot firmware, drivers, os, hw, service support."

Sure, just that Apple may or may not actually fix a problem. And I'm not just talking about the many instances where Apple denied responsibility for problems caused by idiotic design decision (like butterfly keyboards or too short display cables, or spontaneously cracking displays on its early M1 Macbooks). Because unless you're always on the latest macOS version then you may have to wait a long time to get patches for a security problem that was quickly fixed in the latest version of macOS:

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/11/psa-apple-isnt-actually-patching-all-the-security-holes-in-older-versions-of-macos/

Then there are the various minor issues which remain unfixed by Apple, like the issues M1 Macs have with many standard monitors.

That's Apple "support" for you.

"Put another way, any SW not written by Microsoft is almost certainly vulnerable on older PCs."

The same can be said about a Mac, which normally runs 3rd party applications.

But as shown above, even if you're only using Apple software you may well be left out in the cold waiting for a fix for a critical update.

"Also as for Microsoft, support is dropped but masked by the use of "it is running Windows 10", which is the latest right?

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/design/minimum/windows-processor-requirements"

What you miss here is that "support" in Apple's circles has a different meaning than "support" does for Microsoft. Because just because Apple "supports" a specific Mac model or macOS version doesn't mean it's actually providing fixes for problems that are discovered on these products. For Microsoft, "supported" means that it will actually go and fix problems that occur on a supported platform.

Also, because Apple actively prevents the installation of new macOS versions on unsupported Macs, having a Mac that's "supported" is a lot more important on the Mac side than it is on the PC side. Even Windows 11 installs fine on older PCs (the oldest one I have it running is from 2012, and that's only because I have no PC that is older to try) without any hacks.

Smirnov

Re: Speedbump

"Well, given that I have 2014 Intel machines that not only still work but also still get security updates (ditto for an iPhone 6 from that era, by the way), I'd say that I'm not bothered by Apple switching. Their support tends to last well beyond what I have seen from any PC manufacturer."

Is this a joke? Pretty much *every* intel Mac has been supported much longer by Apple's main competitor (Microsoft) than by Apple itself. As someone else said, 7 years is nothing for a Windows PC.

Oh, and as to Apple's "support" for previous macOS versions, unless you're on the latest version you may have to wait a very long time for getting any updates:

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/11/psa-apple-isnt-actually-patching-all-the-security-holes-in-older-versions-of-macos/

FYI: If the latest Windows 11 really wants to use Edge, it will use Edge no matter what

Smirnov

Re: Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.

"Perhaps the folks who like conspiracies would do well to investigate these two cases ... and ask themselves why they, just perhaps mind, should question the authority of a non-engineer making claims about the engineering aspects of pretty much everything ... especially when that person doesn't even care enough about the subject matter to ever bother acquiring the equivalent of a driver's license[0] for the <thing> he is vilifying."

The same happened to Windows Vista when wannabe-scientist Peter Gutman posted his loony theories of how Vista works, all without having even used it once.

And like with the Pinto story, the stupid media spread the nonsense unchecked.

Microsoft: Many workers are stuck on old computers and should probably upgrade

Smirnov

Re: I see no point upgrading so I can then run Windows 11.

I see no point in upgrading as well and hence I am now running Windows 11 on a number of old PCs, the oldest one sporting an Ivy Bridge E processor. Admittedly, they all have TPMs (1.2 or 2.0), but so far Windows 11 runs perfectly fine and much better than Windows 10 has ever been.

All I did was to perform a fresh installation from the standard Windows 11 ISO (no hacks, no patches), and all machines have TPM and Bitlocker enabled, and aside from one (a Dell Core-M tablet/convertible) also HVCI (I also did some tests on a Haswell E system and the performance difference between HVCI enabled and disabled was less than 5% for my tasks which include gaming).

Having an old PC is no reason to give up on Windows 11 just because Microsoft officially "supports" only computers made in the last two years or so. It should be remembered than Microsoft has long ended "support" for older PCs on Windows 10 as well, so sticking with Windows 10 isn't necessarily the better option anyways.

Battery in 2021 MacBook Pro way easier to replace, says iFixit – shame about the rest

Smirnov

Re: Windows updates

"Put it another way - I'd rather let the Missus have one of these and never have to deal with update shite than suffer Windows and it's near perpetual hour or two a week of troubleshooting."

I don't know, I have several Macs here and at work (including some M1 minis) and updates can (and do) break things occasionally, so it's not quite the trouble-free experience you seem to think it is.

And considering that macOS only has a handful of strictly controlled hardware configurations (all made by Apple) to support while Windows has to deal with a gazillion of 3rd party hardware and drivers, I'd say macOS is actually worse than Windows when it comes to breakage.

Windows Subsystem for Android: What's the point?

Smirnov

Re: Maybe another OS2?

Not just on OS/2. Look at BlackBerry OS 10, which came with an Android emulator. The result was that hardly any developer came up with a native BBOS version of their apps when they could just push the existing Android version.

Windows 11 Paint: Oh look – rounded corners. And it is prettier... but slightly worse

Smirnov

Windows 11 runs perfectly fine on a HP z620, z640, z840 and the zBook 15G3 I'm typing this on, despite that none of these machines have CPUs that are on the supported list (and the z620 only has TPM 1.2).

Granted, all have been fresh installs (not upgrades) but so far Windows 11 has been better for me than Windows 10 ever was.

Microsoft shows off Office 2021 for consumers ahead of the coming of Windows 11

Smirnov

Softmaker Office

I know the usually recommended alternative if you're fed up with Microsoft's shenanigans is LibreOffice, but for those that are forced to work with Microsoft file formats or don't want an UI that's coming straight from Microsoft Office 98 I suggest to have a look at Softmaker Office, which has a modern UI and better compatibility with MS Office files than LibreOffice, and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

There's also a free version (FreeOffice) for non-commercial use, but even the full paid-for version isn't very expensive (Standard is £70.99, Professional is £88.99, upgrades are even cheaper).

Softmaker Office is developed by a German company and for the few times we needed support they have been very helpful. They also quick to fix any MS Office compatibility issues that may come up if you send them an example file to reproduce the problem.

Got enterprise workstations and hope to run Windows 11? Survey says: You lose. Over half the gear's not fit for it

Smirnov
Coat

Re: I'm not sure how well i'd do with NT4 and things like manually assigning IRQ's

"I'm not sure how well i'd do with NT4 and things like manually assigning IRQ's etc these days."

Simple, leave IRQ assignment to your Microchannel based computer ;)

Smirnov

Re: new hardware requirements

"ou sure about the dropped CPU support? I'm writing this on an Ivy Bridge machine running 20H2, and we still deploy Nehalem machines for some people without problem."

Yes, I am. We are using Windows 11 Preview in anger on our machines and everything has been working fine (better than in Windows 10) and pretty much rock solid.

We have some Ivy Bridge E workstations (and I also have one as my personal gaming rig) but I haven't tested Windows 11 on them so far, however these machines all have only TPM 1.2 (non-upgradeable) so for now I assume they will be out.

Nehalem, well, it's really time to retire them, not just because they are really old but also because they suffer from major security holes that will remain unfixed (Sandy Bridge and newer got microcode updates, Nehalem didn't).

Smirnov

Re: for most people MS Support is about as useful as a f***ing chocolate teapot

"Well for most people MS Support is about as useful as a f***ing chocolate teapot anyway!!!! It’s the last place I go to find solutions – I’m more inclined to go to Windows 10 Forums / Windows 11 Forums or Tom's Hardware"

Not just for most people, MS business support isn't exactly stellar either.

Smirnov

The TPM revision was added to bring in servers to the party.

Windows 11 isn't really aimed at servers.

Smirnov

Re: Fscking hell I'm sticking to Windows XP

I don't know, if I suddenly decided to stick with an obsolete and unsupported version of Windows I'd probably go back to WindowsNT 4. To hell with ACPI, soft power off and all that newfangled USB stuff ;)

Smirnov

Can't confirm any of that'. I'm running the Windows 11 Preview (although not the Dev Channel ones) on several systems including a bunch of workstations (one which has an old Geforce GTX 770 graphics card), desktops, laptops and a tablet, and I am not seeing anything of what you describe.

There initially have been a few minor issues (such as the explorer and with it the taskbar occasionally crashing and restarting) but these have been fixed through updates, and so far the Preview has been better than Windows 10 has ever been for me.

Smirnov

Re: new hardware requirements

I'm running the Windows 11 Preview on a number of systems, amongst them a HP z640 (XEON E5 v4 Broadwell), a Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140 tablet (Core-M) and the zBook 15 G3 (Core i7 6th gen) I'm typing this on. All these systems have TPM 2.0 as standard and Windows 11 installed on them without any hacks or tweaks. It just works.

As to drivers, from what I have seen at least on the z640 and this zBook all drivers are DCH. Heck, the z640 has an old Geforce GTX 770 4GB card, and guess what, the Nvidia Windows 11 driver for that almost ancient (in technological terms) graphics card is DCH.

What many forget is that Windows 10 also dropped support for many older processors (for example, Ivy Bridge support dropped I believe some four years ago!). The difference is that "dropping support" only means that MS doesn't help you if you encounter problems with newer Windows 10 versions on old hardware, which is fair enough. Only with Windows 11 they decided to make this "support" a much bigger issue than it really is.

Microsoft behaves like idiots here. Stating that only newer CPUs are supported is fine (and I see no problem with the TPM 2.0 requirement, although allowing TPM 1.2 would be great), but what's new is how much they go out of their way to discourage using Windows 11 on older systems with threats of instability and loss of update rights, stopping only short of actively blocking installation on unsupported systems.

Which is really a shame, considering that Windows 11 Preview has shown here to be much better than any version of Windows 10 has ever been. It's also the first version where using it on a tablet/convertible isn't a painful experience.

Seeing as everyone loves cloud subscriptions, get ready for car-as-a-service future

Smirnov

Too Late...

BMW has been offering Apple CarPlay as a subscription for a while, and is already working on offering other options such as heated seats on a subscription model.

VMware shreds planned support for 'cheese grater' Mac Pro

Smirnov

Re: The older Mac Pro units made great ESXi hosts.

"The older Mac Pro units made great ESXi hosts. I know people who had multiple Pro boxes in their homelab. Same with the older Mac Minis. You could even get it running on the trashcan (6.1) variant at a pinch."

That may be true for homelabs where obsolete hardware is looking to retain some excuse to prevent it being recycled and where reliability counts for nothing. And even then it's often questionable if it makes sense to keep them for ESXi instead of selling it on. Even more so when considering how limited Apple hardware is to other alternatives, in addition from not being the most reliable either.

For example, older versions of the classic Mac Pro (Cheesegrater) come with CPUs that lack even basic vt-d support (i.e. IOMMU), and while the later versions (MP4,x/MP5,x) have vt-d support their (XEON 5500/5600) processors they also are vulnerable to a range of security exploits for which intel didn't provide any microcode updates. All MPs also lack the remote management capabilities that any contemporary PC workstation came with. Their design (where the SATA ports are part of the mainboard) also doesn't allow the use of standard RAID controllers, they aren't exactly maintenance friendly (aside from the CPU tray), and have a weak point in that their PRAM is prone to failure after too many reboots (so you should always keep a copy of your NVRAM content).

The successor Mac Pro (MP6,1, Trashcan) has a long and solid history of being an unreliable POS, with the proprietary and long obsolete GPUs dying because of the inability of it's poor thermal design to remove all they heat they generate. The Trashcan is one of the most unreliable Macs ever made (probably second only to the Mac Cube), and on top of that has very poor expandability (limited memory, no internal PCIe slots or SATA, just a single M.2 MiniPCIe 2.0 x4 slot for a PCIe SSD which can be used for some NVMe SSDs and which is limited to 2GB/s plus four very temperamental ports for the obsolete Thunderbolt 2 standard). Considering it's become some kind of collector's item which sells for insane prices, it makes zero sense to use one as ESXi host when it could be sold for a lot of money (which even basic machines in poot condition do), which would easily buy one a much better/faster better system which is much more suited for running ESXi.

Mac minis, especially older ones, are also prone to overheating (especially the Core i7 variants) and all have very limited expandability, so they, too, aren't exactly well suited for being used as a VM host. If that's what you have then it makes more sense to install a newer macOS version using OPLC and sell them on ebay, and again use the proceeds to buy a non-Apple system which is better suited for ESXi instead.

Smirnov

Workstation Prices

From the article: "One more thing: the 2019 Mac Pro drew criticism for reaching prices well in excess of $50,000 when equipped with maximal CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage options. Then as now, RAM and GPUs added most to the machine's cost, and do so on other manufacturers' workstations too. The Register just whipped up a config for a Dell Precision 7920 Tower Workstation with a price tag that topped $127,000, thanks to the inclusion of twin Xeon Platinum processors, 3TB of RAM, and three Nvidia Quatro RTX6000 GPUs."

What the author misses here (aside from the fact that the Mac Pro is a single CPU system so comparing it with a dual processor machine is kind of silly, the Dell Precision T5820 is what would be the equivalent to the Mac Pro) is that no-one pays list price for a Dell, HP, Lenovo or Fujitsu workstation while the discounts even for large buyers (if there were any) of Mac Pros are negligible at best (usually within single digit percentages, if any).

For a big brand workstation, discounts of 20-30% are common even for lower order numbers, and then there are manufacturer refurbished systems like HP RENEW which look like new, smell like new and come with the same warranty (usually 3yrs onsite) and which cost even less. Compared to Apple Refurbished where Apple graciously shaves off $250 from a $7k Mac Pro config, that's a huge difference.

And even a $50k Mac Pro still only comes with a single year of warranty unless you pay extra for the overpriced AppleCare option, and in any case gives you the privilege to schlepp your heavy computer to the next Apple Store whenever it has a problem because Apple doesn't do "onsite" support, where it will be examined by a Genius who very likely has never seen that model before.

Smirnov

Virtual Workstations

"We could go on, but you get the idea – this is a serious workstation with enough power to handle its stated purpose of helping video production types to breeze through their days. It also has enough muscle to handle the job of hosting macOS virtual machines. That may not be the most in-demand workload in the world, but virtual workstations are increasingly in demand as it's hard to build efficient media production pipelines that include remote workers."

It's quite difficult to do media production on a system without graphics acceleration, which macOS doesn't support when running on ESXi.

Which is the main reason why those that rely on macOS who require a remote system just employ a stack of cheap Mac minis, because not only does it give them accelerated graphics but it's also much cheaper than buying an expensive Mac Pro (which has zero redundancy, not even dual PSUs, and therefore presents a single point of failure) plus expensive ESXi licenses.

Report details how Airbus pilots saved the day when all three flight computers failed on landing

Smirnov

Re: Automation Issue

"In aviation, there have been many cases were the skill of the pilots to handle an unexpected and dangerous situation almost instinctively have saved many lives."

Unfortunately, there have been many more cases where the pilots were unable to handle even comparatively benign situations and killed many lives in the process.

The reality is that the meat bag at the helm is still responsible for some 80% of all air accidents. Eliminating the Human Factor from the cockpit would result in a huge increase in the safety of flying.

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

Smirnov

But you have to turn on "insecure access mode" in Gmail preferences to use them

That's has been the case until a couple of years ago but today most email clients including Outlook, Thunderbird and Evolution support Google's OAuth implementation, so there's no need to enable insecure applications (which is essentially generating app passwords which circumvent 2FA).

The Register just found 300-odd Itanium CPUs on eBay

Smirnov

When is HPE keen on us using second-hand kit?

"You can't even download BIOS and firmware (ILO, etc) for their last gen servers without a service agreement."

Wrong!

While you needed a live warranty or support contract to download BIOS updates, firmware for iLO and controllers has always been free.

And starting with Gen10 servers I believe even BIOS downloads no longer require a live warranty/support contract, just a free HPE account.

Microsoft's Cloud PCs debut – priced between $20 and $158 a month

Smirnov

This kind of machine makes no sense in the standard corporate environment.

"It's designed for the BYOD environment where the user owns the hardware but logs onto the company environment."

In that case good luck trying to sensitive keep company data secure when it's accessed from a potentially compromised remote endpoint your IT department has no control over. Of course, if your business doesn't have sensitive data that can be accessed via Windows 365 and thereby isn't accessible through the BYOD device then I guess that's not a problem.

Still, I can't see this being useful in more than some niche situations.

Smirnov

It seems what goes around comes around (in this case after more than half a century).

Remember Sun's slogan "the network is the computer" from the early '90s, which almost two decades later has been successfully repackaged as "cloud computing".

Intel scoops out five flavours of Ice Lake Xeons for workstations

Smirnov

Re: I'm sure there is probably a use case somewhere for these Intel parts

"I'm sure there is probably a use case somewhere for these Intel parts, but I can't see it myself atm?"

There is. Apple's 2022 Mac Pro.

We can't believe people use browsers to manage their passwords, says maker of password management tools

Smirnov

We can't believe people use browsers to manage their passwords

I'm not sure why ThycoticCentrify puts out so much hate for browser-integrated password managers. Because it really doesn't matter wether you store your passwords in the browser or in a separate password safe app, if the system they run on are compromised then so are very likely your passwords.

But then, the idea behind password managers (no matter if the ones built into browsers, the OS or as standalone apps) wasn't to secure your password against invaders, it's a tool to help you to manage passwords across accounts so users don't re-use passwords because they can only memorize a limited number of them. And password managers built into browsers are as good as any standalone app to do that.

And if your PC is hacked then it's 2FA which keeps your accounts safe, but at that point it still means your passwords are compromised (and so are all your accounts without 2FA!) and should be changed.

Remember the bloke who was told by Zen Internet to contact his MP about crap service? Yeah, it's still not fixed

Smirnov

Re: At least you have choices.

"At least you have choices."

Yes and no. I have lots of choices of ISPs but since they all use the same network owned by the monopoly that is OpenReach this doesn't necessarily help getting faulty lines sorted out.

"Up here in the States you often have one ISP servicing any specific area, with the only alternatives being having a business line installed by that same ISP (need the proper paperwork and 10-50k USD sitting around for that) or satellite. Last-mile with 5G or etc. isn't an option either, since it's really only done out in the boonies, and not in built-up suburban/residential areas"

I know (I lived in the American SW many years ago), and I agree the overall broadband situation is even worse.

Funny enough, all these problems could be easily sorted out by regulation.

Lenovo says it’s crammed a workstation into a litre of space – less than three cans of beer

Smirnov

Re: Silly Marketing Bollocks

Wrong on all accounts.

PC workstations only became a thing when x86 hardware and especially PC graphics cards overtook the much more expensive proprietary workstations from vendors such as SGI, Sun, HP or IBM, and that was in well in second half of the '90s after Windows NT 4 Workstation (ever wondered by it was named this way?) came out. As a result, many ISVs ported their UNIX applications to Windows and certified them on PC workstations, same as they did for the older UNIX machines before.

So no, PC workstations aren't "silly marketing bollocks" but were simply an evolution of the existing workstation mantra (which is a desktop computer dedicated to specific critical applications).

Smirnov

Re: "Workstation" has become a marketing term that has lost any useful meaning.

""Workstation" has become a marketing term that has lost any useful meaning."

No, it hasn't, it's just that many people never understood what makes a workstation a workstation in the first place.

Because raw performance has never really been a differentiator.

Smirnov

Re: There's no such thing as a workstation

"There's no such thing as a workstation. There are just computers. Some are more powerful, some are less powerful."

That's nonsense, and no, raw performance isn't really a criteria (in fact, many workstations aren't particularly powerful).

One of the main criteria for a workstation is stability under continuous high workload scenarios. Workstations are designed to endure constant high workloads while a standard desktop PCs may or may not survive for an extended amount of time under the same conditions (they are mostly designed around average workloads with only occasional high workloads).

On top of that, workstations are workstations because they come with ISV certification for specific applications which often makes the difference wether you're getting support for your $10k+ software application from the software manufacturer if something goes wrong. If you use your computer to make money then these certifications are important because it means you can spend your time on work that earns you a living than working around the incompatibilities and issues of standard PC hardware and generic drivers.

The basic idea of a workstation is that it is a system which is guranteed to run a specific application, and does so reliably and with full support by the ISV. That's what it always has been even in the days of Sun/SGI/HP/DEC and other proprietary systems, and what it is now. Compared to a standard PC which is a general purpose system, a workstation has always been aimed at executing specialist software programs for a specific task.

And that is no different today.

Things that needn't be said: Don't plonk a massive Starlink dish on the hood of your car

Smirnov

Re: Linky

From that link:

"Sir I stopped you today for that visual obstruction on your hood. Does it not block your view while driving?" CHP of Antelope Valley wrote in a Facebook post about the incident.

Why am I not surprised? I love the AV but things like this are what often makes it into a little Florida.

Chinese chip designers hope to topple Arm's Cortex-A76 with XiangShan RISC-V design

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Not for children: Audacity fans drop the f-bomb after privacy agreement changes

Smirnov

Nothing wrong with telemetry...

"Nothing wrong with telemetry or legally tight privacy policies."

Just that telemetry in general is pretty useless to improve a product, because it can't capture user intentions. And without the user context it's impossible to determine if the behavior of the software is correct or not.

Where telemetry can be of some use is in the form of crash reports which are sent to the developer, but again without user context the information is often not sufficient to pinpoint it to a problem.

Telemetry however is very good for building user profiles and use them for marketing purposes.

And you're right, there's nothing wrong with some business buying up a FOSS project to monetize it's users, at least as this happens within the laws such as GDPR. But there's equally nothing wrong with users voting their dislike for a business snapping up and monetizing their favorite FOSS project, and there's also nothing wrong with someone forking it (and thereby de-valuing the business's asset they just bought). Such is live.

"People moaning should concentrate on helping to improve it."

They do, by forking it. You can't really expect people to help improving a program which monetizes its users' data.

Rocky Linux release attracts 80,000 downloads as ex-CentOS users mull choices

Smirnov

Ah yes CentOS the linux distro for those who like their packages years out of date.

Isn't this more an audience for Debian Stable?

Also RH backports a lot of stuff from newer packages so the version number of a package isn't really a good indicator on how old it is.

Happy with your existing Windows 10 setup? Good, because Windows 11 could turn its nose up at your CPU

Smirnov
Facepalm

Re: Windows 11 also requires the presence of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) – version 2.0

There's this:

https://twitter.com/dwizzzleMSFT/status/1408471426122670086?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1408471426122670086%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onmsft.com%2Fnews%2Fmicrosoft-clarifies-its-windows-11-requirements-to-make-modern-processors-and-tpm-2-0-mandatory

However, that was yesterday, and today is a new day, and in a fashion that has been so typical for Microsoft under Satya Nadella it didn't take long for Microsoft to make a public 360:

https://www.onmsft.com/news/microsoft-clarifies-its-windows-11-requirements-to-make-modern-processors-and-tpm-2-0-mandatory

*holding breath waiting for the next MS guy to come out and post another statement contradicting everything else*

So here we are, with a new product being introduced of which no-one (not even the manufacturer, apparently) really knows what system specs it actually requires.

Smirnov
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Windows 11 also requires the presence of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) – version 2.0

No, it doesn't. The pre-release version that just has been made available requires TPM 2.0 but Microsoft has been clear in that the final version of Windows 11 will only need a TPM 1.2, which is available in systems much older than the ones listed in the article. TPM 2.0 is only recommended (and many TPM 1.2 modules can be software-upgraded to TPM 2.0 anyways).

The same is true for the supported processors. If you're still running an early Core i processor or E3/E5 XEON then you'll be fine. All the systems mentioned in the article are only on the recommended list (Windows 11 will run on any 64bit x64 processor with at least 2 cores and 1GHz, and with a minimum of 4GB RAM).

What got the axe with Windows 11 is the 32bit version (of course, the 64bit version will still run 32bit code so no change there).

This is a big nothing-burger, really, and a sloppily researched article that's below what I'd expect from El Reg.

Vissles V84: Mechanical keyboard hits all the right buttons for Mac power users

Smirnov

Ugh! Why are there no decent full size Mac keyboards? I need that keypad!

I'm using a Redragon K580 mechanical keyboard I think I paid some GBP70 5 years ago. It's got replaceable Cherry style switches and works fine with both the two Macs and two PCs that it is connected to through a KVM switch.

It does have the standard LED lightship but it can be programmed not only through a Windows tool but also through a direct programming mode on the keyboard itself, and I just set it to constant white so I got a nice backlight keyboard (and I can control the intensity with the volume roller).

Build quality is excellent (like a tank) and even after half a decade of intensive use it still feels as solid as the legendary IBM keyboards from the old days.

Dependable Debian is like a rock in a swirling gyre of 'move fast and break things', and version 11 is no different

Smirnov

Re: If, on the other hand, you're one of us many disgruntled former CentOS users

"a purely community-driven Linux" where the community includes heavyweights like Google and Cannonical is more like an industry standard."

Nope. gLinux is Debian Testing derived but heavily modified, and is used for internal use only (mostly on development PCs). Literally no-one cares for gLinux outside Google. Canonical's Ubuntu is also just Debian derived but Canonical deviates in many areas. Both use the Debian toolset because it's perfect if you want to roll your own Linux distro (so yes, if you define "industry" as those who want to to that then Debian is pretty much the standard). For the end user however, who doesn't want to roll his own, that's pretty irrelevant. Similar for businesses which need a stable and supported platform to run their applications on (unless you're a cloud or hosting provider, in which case you might want to roll your own distro).

Outside the roll-your-own world of cloud and hosting providers however Debian isn't an "industry standard", not only because it's supported by almost no commercial ISV. The big players here are Red Hat and SUSE, and increasingly Ubuntu as well. Classic CentOS was the free copy of RHEL, openSUSE Leap is the free copy of SEL, and Ubuntu has been free all along. Debian can replace neither of them because even Ubuntu is sufficiently different that it's down to sheer luck if ISV software certified for Ubuntu actually works on Debian.

BTW, as a an interesting side note, I suggest to have a look which parties actually contribute upstream to the Linux kernel and projects (hint: RHEL and SUSE contribute the most of all Linux vendors while Canonical is pretty much just a taker and contributes less than even Microsoft; same goes for Debian but at least they're not a commercial entity).

Smirnov

Re: If, on the other hand, you're one of us many disgruntled former CentOS users

"Have you got a list of these? Would be educational."

I did find a list some time ago but I no longer have the link. So I'll just link a few examples from memory:

- There's of course the well-known OpenSSL fiasco (2008?)

- There's the lesser well known systemd fiasco (2014), although that also affected Ubuntu.

- In 2018 a bug was found which caused a regular update to remove various packages from servers (that one was great fun for some web hostel I know)

- Also in 2018 there was another bug where pam-auth-update may empty config files and thereby deactivates all authentication (https://justi.cz/security/2019/01/22/apt-rce.html). Worth noting is that the bug was reported in Nov 1st, 2017 but the first reaction was not until almost 5 months later which for a security-related bug isn't exactly stellar.

- In 2019 a remote code execution bug in apt/apt-get was found in Debian and derivates which was especially harmful because Debian insists that insecure http is good enough for its repositories. What makes this really said is that a similar bugs were already found in 2014 and 2016, yet no efforts were made to mandate something better than http as default protocol for repositories.

This is the kind of stuff that should make toenails curl for anyone who needs to maintain a stable and secure Linux platform. Then there is other stupid stuff like this:

In 2016 they had a bug where Debian's xscreensaver was telling its users that its package is obsolete. In a typical fashion, Debian's community didn't decide to simply update that package with a newer version, no they discussed how they could patch out the warning:

https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=819703

Here's what the developer of xscreensaver had to say about this:

https://www.jwz.org/blog/2016/04/i-would-like-debian-to-stop-shipping-xscreensaver/

As I said, Debian is a great platform if you like to fiddle with the innards of your OS or want to build your own distribution, but in an enterprise scenario it's simply sub-par. That the Debian community is often more focussed on activism than fixing Debian's many problems and often quite toxic (including death threats to main contributors) doesn't help either, also that contributions often come from people who can't even write a proper bug report.

So if you value what made classic CentOS so great then you won't find that in Debian.

Smirnov

If, on the other hand, you're one of us many disgruntled former CentOS users

"If, on the other hand, you're one of us many disgruntled former CentOS users, this may be right up our alley."

I'm not sure a purely community-driven Linux distro with a long track record of bad decisions (including some really bad security fuckups) and with just two years of support (plus another three years for the "LTS" support by another, smaller community) makes for a good replacement for classic CentOS (which was pretty much a 1:1 copy of the largest enterprise-level Linux distro, RHEL). Even more so considering that commercial ISV support for Debian is negligible at best.

Debian is great if you like fiddling with your operating system guts, but it's as far away from what CentOS (Community Enterprise OS) is as any Linux distro can be.

For disgruntled CentOS users which need the long-term support, stability, reliability and ISV support classic CentOS offered the only real alternatives are to either stick with the RHEL platform and move to one of the CentOS forks such as Rocky Linux, move to the other rpm-based enterprise Linux platform besides RH which SUSE (which is 2nd largest enterprise Linux vendor after RH) and its free distro openSUSE Leap, or go with Ubuntu LTS.

oepnSUSE Leap is certainly worth a look, even more so considering that thanks to SUSE's management tool YaST it's probably the by far easiest to manage Linux distro out there.

Say helloSystem: Mac-like FreeBSD project emits 0.5 release

Smirnov

Package manager bad?

Sounds like pretty much anything that goes over DOS with a nice desktop UI on top is considered bad.

Smirnov

""the btrfs file system;" - Pretty reasonable, zfs is much better

ZFS is much more complex than BTRFS, its memory-intensive, and still lacks capacity expansion (RAIDz expansion was just announced to become available somewhere next year while outside ZFS capacity expansion functionality has been commonplace for decades). And while ZFS is pretty robust, if things go wrong then there isn't much a user can do to recover aside from rebuilding the storage setup and restoring from the last good backup (which hopefully exists).

BTRFS on the other side is equally reliable (just stay away from it's built-in RAID5/6 functionality and use dmraid or hw RAID instead), less resource hungry (and performs better on systems with limited resources), there are tools to repair file system damage and it has had basic features like capacity expansion for ages. The fact that it's been the default (and fully supported) file system for SUSE Enterprise Linux for several years now just shows that BTRFS today is nothing like it was 10 years ago.

ZFS is great for a storage system which doesn't have hardware RAID, but for a desktop system it's overkill.

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