* Posts by _andrew

61 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Dec 2019

Page:

Arm says its Cortex-X3 CPU smokes this Intel laptop silicon

_andrew

Re: Girding of Loins

I tried to buy a reasonable Alpha based system for most of that decade, even after Samsung produced a couple of lines with the usual PC-style PCI peripheral interfaces in it. Lots of press releases and magazine articles, but would anyone sell me one? No, they would not. Pretty hard to gain market share when you won't sell a system to anyone with money in their pocket.

I'm in much the same situation right now with Arm: there are some pretty nice "server" parts that have been announced and are supposedly going into racks in data centers, but has it occurred to anyone to plop one on a MiniITX motherboard and sell it to me? Gigabyte claimed to have such a thing a few years ago, but no response to enquiry. As expected.

FreeBSD 13.1 is out for everything from PowerPC to x86-64

_andrew

That depends on whether you consider NetBSD forking (founding) itself from the Patchkit work (ostensibly to focus on support for non-PC hardware) means that it is older than the project that it forked from. That will depend on whether you think of FreeBSD starting when the name was changed (a recognition that 386BSD was never going to incorporate the patchkit into a new release) or before then, when the project of supporting and developing 386BSD started.

(I had a nice little 386BSD 80486 workstation at the time, forked to NetBSD for a while, before switching back to FreeBSD a bit later. The rest of the research group were Decstations, X-terminals and a couple of big Sun and Sony boxes, while a few weird, feeble networked PCs running DOS or Windows were starting to invade.)

Jeffrey Snover claims Microsoft demoted him for inventing PowerShell

_andrew

Re: You don't have to like it to appreciate it.

It pays to keep in mind that the "traditional" unix tools are all about flat/regular files embedded in a hierarchial file system. They don't do things like JSON queries well, but that's OK: there wasn't any JSON when they were pulled together. *

Today there's jq, and we can get on with pulling information out of JSON files in simple one-liners as the gods of REST intended.

(*): Call me old-fashoined and a slave to my favourite tools, but I've never met a JSON file that I prefer to the obvious alternative collection of flat multi-column files. Still, it's all the rage, and there's likely no going back. "Self-documenting", they say, as though that was a virtue.

_andrew

Re: Serious question @KSM-AZ

I've been using Unix for more than 30 years, and at first I had no idea what this comment and its parent was talking about. So I googled, and discovered something new. Thanks to you both! The gist is:

https://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/quotes.html

which describes how GNU broke ls in 2016, apparently in order to make it easier to cut-and-paste with a mouse.

I'm especially interested that it has apparently been a thing for eight years, and even though I use Linux and the gnu utilities quite often, they are not my "primary" unix environment, so "hmm, that's odd" hadn't percolated to the level of working out what was wrong, until now. As explained: the decoration is only applied if stdout is the terminal, not a pipe.

Regarding the comment "aren't many other UNIXes around anymore": well, there's still macOS and the BSDs, which is where I do most of my command-line work.

macOS Server discontinued after years on life support

_andrew

Re: Push email for IMAP

Isn't IDLE the right way to do that for IMAP? The IMAP servers that I know (I use Dovecot myself) have done IDLE for years, but I've never seen Apple Mail take advantage of it.

Apple's Mac Studio exposed: A spare storage slot and built-in RAM

_andrew

RAM upgrades? More than twenty years since that was a thing.

I don't get the hand-wringing about RAM upgrades. I think that the last time I actually upgraded DRAM on a system was mid-90s, and that was because I had under-spec'd it in the first place, due to being a poor student at the time. Ever since then I've found that by the time a machine started to feel as though more DRAM might be a good idea the technology had changed to the point where a motherboard and CPU replacement would also be necessary.

These days, DRAM is big enough. 32G is bigger than the hard drives you could buy back in the 90s, and since close-storage is flash and really, really quick itself, you don't really need to have all your files cached. So buy the 64G model and be happy.

The only workloads I know of that really chew through RAM are virtual machines (because they're stupidly inefficient that way), and these M1 systems can't do VMs anyway, so that's not a problem.

Meet Neptune OS, an attempt to give seL4 a Windows personality transplant

_andrew

Windows suits seL4 security model

The reason that seL4 doesn't already have a working Unix/Posix-shaped microkernel arrangement (like minix or Geode or GNU) is that their security thinking, of restricted communicating processes, really doesn't like the "inherit all the state" forking model of Unix. The "create a new process that just does this thing, with access to only these things" is closer to the Windows process model.

It's also the model used by Fuchsia, apparently, so they could have just gone with that? Not that Fuchsia has much in the way of application ecosystem yet.

Of course Unix is growing capability mechanisms too (such as Capsicum from Cambridge University, now in FreeBSD, and CHERI now getting hardware support from Arm), but I suspect that it's a bit of an up-hill battle.

Arm rages against the insecure chip machine with new Morello architecture

_andrew

286 bound instructions on one hand, and segment memory registers on the other, were an attempt at a cut-down (and therefore viable) version of the i432 project, which was indeed supposed to be a capability machine along the lines of the IBM AS400.

Bounded segment registers seem to have always had an impedance mismatch to real software, usually unable to deal nicely with large data structures, like frame buffers. (The 286's segment bounds were limited to 64k, which to be fair was quite a lot at the time.)

It's your Loki day: The Reg takes Elementary OS Jólnir for a quick test drive

_andrew
Unhappy

Re: Not for me

I like the idea of elementary OS, especially the use of Vala for their GUI apps, but a fixed dock-thing at the bottom of the screen is a deal-breaker for me. That'll probably keep me off Windows-11 for as long as I can arrange that, too. Vertical screen real-estate is too valuable. The left-hand side of the screen is the only correct location (for me). Windows-10, macOS and all of the other Unix distros that I've used manage it (or have no such thing, which is also fine). (Maybe not CDE, but I didn't use that for long before replacing it with something else.)

Apache takes off, nukes insecure feature at the heart of Log4j from orbit with v2.16

_andrew

Re: So why did this feature exist in the first place?

Exposing the feature to user-supplied content in a way that enables this particular exploit is a fairly natural outcome of the sort of feature-maximization that comes when you give your variable-expansion syntax general purpose function-invoking capabilities. The syntax and effect is not vastly dissimilar from GNU Make variable expansion and function application, and that's been around forever.

The part that executes remote code? That's a built in part of Java that has been there since the beginning. Java has always had the ability to load new classes at run time, and that is part of the object-oriented modelling: if some system that you're communicating with wants to send you data that happens to be of a type that your program doesn't recognize, then it can also send you the code that implements it, because why not? And since the code is write-once, run-anywhere, it'll run anywhere. This is such a core part of java that it is unusual to have ahead-of-time compilation of Java programs to native code, because such code would not be able to perform this particular trick/exploit.

These two come together in the ability of the variable expansion syntax to express JNDI lookup requests to LDAP based databases that can return data with new types and new code from arbitrary servers, where those variable expansions also apply to strings that can be supplied by users (such as user names and browser type).

A classic example of something being more than the sum of its parts: more like the product of its parts...

Intel's mystery Linux muckabout is a dangerous ploy at a dangerous time

_andrew
Unhappy

All PC-platforms already run secret below-the-OS code

This game (of knowing all of the code your system is running) was lost years ago. All PCs these days have varieties of secure-boot functionality, and whether the secure bits are turned on or not, the boot sequence winds up allocating a chunk of DRAM to various BIOS functions, and a significant chunk of peripheral interrupts route through that blob of mystery code before the host OS gets to see them. How else to you imagine "wake from lan" and other essential features work? And then there's the whole system-management-core issue. You know, that extra core that's running some minix dialect, with a full JVM stack to run the web GUI front end, all buried in there just waiting for the admin with the correct key to turn it on...

Miscreants make off with $150m of digital assets in BitMart security breach

_andrew

"Hot Wallet" == "Internet Banking"?

> "Because hot wallets are connected to the internet, they tend to be somewhat more vulnerable to hacks and theft than cold storage methods," BitMart's site says.

You know that "Internet Banking" is a thing almost everywhere, right? That's the bank that is storing your money, connected to the internet and accessible by nothing more complicated than a web browser or (for the crazy) a mobile app.

Of course real banks have real security departments, and experts who care about that sort of thing, and insurance schemes and regulations and a variety of fall-backs.

As System76 starts work on its own Linux desktop world, GNOME guy opens blog, engages flame mode

_andrew

Was the GNOME 3 debacle that prompted me to switch to macOS

or OS-X as it was known at the time. Development was actively hostile to non-Linux hosts.

I wish the Pop!_OS folk luck, but there are a lot of "other" applications out there that are going to want to keep doing things their own way. There will be a deal of work involved.

Reg reader returns Samsung TV after finding giant ads splattered everywhere

_andrew

Hope my lovely plasma TV lives forever...

Articles like this really aren't selling the modern world to me.

Read a quite frank interview with the CTO of VIZIO a year or so ago. He admitted to the data slurp and claimed that everyone was doing it: it was the only way to make TV production economical: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/7/18172397/airplay-2-homekit-vizio-tv-bill-baxter-interview-vergecast-ces-2019

> So look, it’s not just about data collection. It’s about post-purchase monetization of the TV.

>

> This is a cutthroat industry. It’s a 6-percent margin industry, right? I mean, you know it’s pretty ruthless. You could say it’s self-inflicted, or you could say there’s a greater strategy going on here, and there is. The greater strategy is I really don’t need to make money off of the TV. I need to cover my cost.

Lovely turn of phrase, that: "post-purchase monetization". Yay.

The return of the turbo button: New Intel hotness causes an old friend to reappear

_andrew

Re: Kids!

My first Arm system (an Archimedes) ran at both 4MHz _and_ 8MHz at the same time (well, 8MHz for memory ticks inside a DRAM "row", 4MHz when opening a new row. Well, it was all "Fast Page Mode" and rows were only four words wide, but that's the theory.) The PC Emulator software felt about the same as a classic 4.77MHz XT, which must have been some feat of tight coding. Used that emulator and a character-mode PC word processor to write my undergrad thesis...

Thinking about how fast it seemed at the time, and how slow I know that it was, modern terms, really puts software bloat into awful, stark relief...

FYI: Code compiled to WebAssembly may lack standard security defenses

_andrew
Pirate

WebAssembly execution involves a compilation step...

so anything that you can add by way of stack canaries in a C compiler you can also add in the WASM back-end. Just another compiler. And anyway: C compilers don't emit "stack canaries" by default, and certainly haven't for most of the history of C compilers. That's new security theatre.

Buffer overflow is these-days strictly a C or C++ problem (not that that makes it a small one!) Other languages, such as the Rust mentioned, trap buffer overruns in the language definition, so as long as the compiler produces a correct translation of the program the problem is dealt-with at a different level.

Google's 'Be Evil' business transformation is complete: Time for the end game

_andrew

Re: Wishful thinking

Irrelevant? MS are bigger than Apple at the moment, which makes them significantly bigger than Google or Facebook.

_andrew

Re: Wishful thinking

And how well have the resulting regional monopolies, and the loss of Bell Labs worked out for everyone?

Perhaps regulation is a better approach than dismemberment?

It's the end of the world as we know it, and we should feel fine

_andrew

Re: How about backup software that anyone can use reliably?

The industry's response to the backup problem has been to keep the user's data safe, somewhere away from the users and their unreliable computers. In the cloud. (All of the other issues that go along with that move come down to differences of policy and contract terms.) Buy a new phone these days and getting your old stuff back doesn't involve restoring from a backup: it involves logging in.

_andrew

Re: Thought Experiment

ARM2-like cores are still everywhere: the smaller Cortex-M series of microcontrollers are not too dissimilar. (Thumb2 instruction set there though, not the old ARM32 or ARM26 instructions, so you couldn't just run an old RISC-OS image.)

Those are now found in things so small that you would not even have thought of it, back in Clive Sinclair's heyday. Things like earbuds, passively-powered sensors, credit cards, ...

LibreOffice 7.2 release candidate reveals effort to be Microsoft-compatible

_andrew

Re: to see "office" applications go away - pages are so last century

I'm quite a lot more confident of documents authored in markdown being useful in 75 years than any particular "office" format. Agree though that at least ODF seems to be heading in something of the right direction. I'm just not confident that a volunteer team can keep useful presentation software going for such a complicated specification in perpetuity. We'll see.

I'd say that PDF probably stands a decent chance too, except for the javascript features and editable bits.

(One of the) points about corporate wikis and web standards is that it's a different and interesting twist on longevity. The storage format isn't generally described at all, and the display implementation doesn't really matter, and can track whatever web standards exist at the time. Point is that the entire document repository is online and live all the time, so changes in the back-end ought to be applied as they go, fixing incompatibilities as they arise. As everyone who has ever had anything to do with software knows, there's a lot of "if" in that plan, and it does rather depend on your vendor staying alive, which I'm sure they love.

I used to think that (La)TeX was a good basis for document longevity, what with being open-source and readily available, but it's currently aging poorly, IMO, and interacting badly with Unicode, so I'm no-longer so confident.

Reckon I'll stick with unadorned ASCII, or perhaps markdown. Maybe troff?

_andrew
Happy

I think that I'm gradually starting to see "office" applications go away - pages are so last century

I'm sure that everyone's work environment is different, and there are no doubt many people who still use these things, but it seems to me that their grip is finally starting to slip. Not replaced by yet another document format, but by web-native modes of communication. Corporate wiki document storage, email, various chat applications where once there might have been circulated memos, even markdown files for code project documentation. Blogs. Socials. I find that I can go weeks without firing up Word. Powerpoint seems to have some extra staying power, but that now has some competition from various non-page, continuous scroll presentation tools.

America tops ITU's Global Cyber Security Index, UK in tie for second with Saudi Arabia

_andrew
Thumb Down

Sloppy report, worth the paper it's printed on.

Looked up the local country (AUS): the scatter-plot of the results is clearly buggy, so what else is wrong? We were pipped on "Technical Measures" by Mauritius, Khazakstan and Azerbaijan, so that's making a lot of sense, especially since we have essentially the same sorts of CERT bodies and reporting schemes as all of the other early-internet players. Scroll down a bit further and by the time you get to Serbia they've stopped bothering to score their dimensions out of 20, and are just making the numbers up. Reading a bit more deeply, it seems that the person in Australia who answered their questionnaire was someone at ASPI, a defense-industry funded think-tank who were among the loudest voices shouting down Huawai's role in 5G, not an actual government body or representative of any sort.

In short: don't bother. And treat anyone who makes reference to it in any forum with deep suspicion.

On the other hand, perhaps they're paying attention to our nationally-legislated ability to overrule mathematics and decrypt messages by official fiat.

Good news: Google no longer requires publishers to use the AMP format. Bad news: What replaces it might be worse

_andrew

Re: Will the Register lead the way?

At least the Register has stopped infesting their own RSS feed with AMP links. The (relatively brief) period where that was happening was the only time I've seen an AMP version of a Register article.

I've long since given up extrapolating to the community from my own experience, but I am still surprised that a tech news site like the Reg gets any significant fraction of its traffic from search engine referrals. Surely most comes from feed readers or bookmarks? Both of those are mechanisms of the open web and have nothing to do with search engines.

Say helloSystem: Mac-like FreeBSD project emits 0.5 release

_andrew

package systems and security

Package systems really are a bit of a crutch for the disorganised approach that modern Unix has become. Sure, they can do anything, by design, but is that what you really want? I don't know helloSystem yet, but early (PPC) vintage OSX (pre macOS) gave a considerable nod to application installation via App bundles, which was a slight warming-over of RiscOS application directories, which was a slight dilution of Plan-9 application mounts (which are arguably re-imerging in a drug-induced hallucination that is SNAP apps). Keep things self-contained and recursively mirror the Unix bin, dev, etc, lib, var, (src) hierarchy. Union mount to avoid PATH mangling for extra kudos.

Security: the FreeBSD 12.x that helloSystem is using has capsicum. Not sure if they're using it much, but that's a really good foundation to build from, if you want to head towards a modern, zero-trust security model.

Firefox 89: Can this redesign stem browser's decline?

_andrew

Re: Please, Firefox, just go away already!

I have a relatively new machine, and haven't run JetStream2 before, so just gave it a shot on Safari, Chrome and FirefoxDE (my daily driver). Safari is ahead by a good margin (172.9) from Chrome (150.0) vs FirefoxDE (91.6). The nice thing about JetStream2 is that it reports good statistics about all of the component tests, and the differences are interesting. SpiderMonkey actually wins a few rounds (eg regexp), but there are others (splay, which is claimed to be a heavy test of the garbage collector) which it loses to Safari by a factor of nearly nine. Mostly its behind by a factor of about two, which is further than I had thought.

And yet it's perfectly fast enough for me, and what I use it for. I suspect that the multi-threaded layout engine from Servo probably helps more than the last percent of wasm performance, most of the time.

JetStream2 is, as it says on the tin, a javascript engine benchmark, which doesn't say anything very much about the overall browser experience, which includes rendering, CSS, layout and all the rest.

And none of that is why I use Firefox. I use it because it's the hold-out for ecosystem diversity, because it runs on all of the platforms that I use, and because the sync protocol that gives me a uniform auto-fill and access to all of my cross-device tabs is client-side encrypted.

_andrew
FAIL

Re: Please, Firefox, just go away already!

Don't think you're really grasping the concept of internet standards here. In fact, without Firefox it is likely that web standardization would grind to a halt, because it requires two independent implementations being shown to interoperate to form one. Most of the robustness of the internet (such as it is) comes from deliberately shunning monocultures.

I don't think that you're making a great case for JavaScript performance, either. How many years has it been since JavaScript performance was well and truly good enough? Many. Sure there are probably incremental gains to be had, and better performance translates to longer battery life, which is always a good thing, but the limitations to web performance these days aren't JavaScript performance, they're inherent network bandwidth/latency/protocol limitations and the cubic truckloads of pointless surveillance scripting that gets shoveled into pages to make sure that a real human looked at the ads.

I agree with the last comment though: it was a good article.

'Biggest data grab' in NHS history stuffs GP records in a central store for 'research' – and the time to opt out is now

_andrew

When the AUS government offered exactly this boon, a year or so ago, they made quite clear that they planned to share the data with all and sundry, and that such sharing would end up being a profitable business for them. Yeah, nuh.

Of course this sort of thing sounds brilliant in the abstract, in the "wouldn't it be great for medical research" context, but then you look at the spivs and blackguards who are devising and running the thing. And you think "this is the same mob that couldn't keep the cryptojackers out". And really, how far would you trust them?

Yes, the problems are trust and competence, and our respective governments aren't doing much to show themselves trustworthy or competent.

Microsoft unveils Rust for Windows v0.9, with 'full consumption support' for the Windows API

_andrew

Re: Is anyone using Rust for anything hefty?

Well apparently fairly significant chunks of Firefox are in rust now (and all of Servo), and Dropbox seem to have used it to scale up their synchronization thing: https://dropbox.tech/infrastructure/rewriting-the-heart-of-our-sync-engine

Each of those have a few users.

The quest for faster Python: Pyston returns to open source, Facebook releases Cinder, or should devs just use PyPy?

_andrew

Re: You don't always need speed

Many years ago I thought so too, and wrote an exploratory project in Python (a compiler, of sorts). It was so excruciatingly slow that I re-wrote it in another cross-platform dynamic interpreted language that happened to have a good JIT (Racket scheme) and was completely happy ever after. Python is OK for what it is, and as a general purpose wrapper for fast C code it's quite excellent, but it has some dynamisms that are particularly egregious for attempts to go fast, after the fact.

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

_andrew

Re: If uninitialized variables really are 3-5% of errors

"Why didn't they change their code to initialize all variables when they are declared long ago?"

Because to a first-order approximation, the code in question is not "their" code. Most of these systems are enormous agglomerations of third-party open source libraries. Probably 80 or 90%. Sure, if you cared to look into that library you might fix it, but then you have a change against the up-stream that you have to track, or try to persuade the maintainer, if there is one, to wake up and accept it. Or publish it as a fork. Or merge your change back in when upstream does release a new version that changes something else. Ob xkcd: https://xkcd.com/2347/

Best not to look.

Facebook says dump of 533m accounts is old news. But my date of birth, name, etc haven't changed in years, Zuck

_andrew
FAIL

It could be worse

The extremely clever federal government in Australia is currently debating legislation that would require "social media" sites to access 100 "points" of identification data (passport, drivers license, birth certificate etc) on creation of accounts. Exactly the same sort of stuff (and the same amount) as required to open a bank account. Notionally it's in order to "prevent anonymous online bullying", but won't it be great when this sort of data leak includes all of that extra, juicy information!

Google's multi-platform app framework Flutter reaches version 2, expands to the web

_andrew

Re: The Dart part is a definite deal breaker

All of the prominent (modern) GUI layers have their own language now. On Apple products it's Swift (transitioning from objective-C), on Windows it's essentially C#, although there are other options. On Android it's Java (transitioning to Kotlin). On the web (and that includes Electron apps on desktops) it's JavaScript. All of these have an FFI (Foreign Function Interface) escape hatch to C, so you can still nominally keep application logic separate and portable, but it isn't obvious that many people actually do that (you have to squint to see it for the web, but it's there in wasm and emsscripten). Flutter is (supposedly) the native GUI layer for Fuchsia, so it isn't all that surprising that it has its own language too. Being cross-platform is a pretty good way to build up a library of applications that will be ready to run on Fuschia, if it ever materializes.

Qt is keeping a cross-platform story going for C++, but it's clearly a lot of work, because Qt licenses are expensive (IMO).

Australia facepalms as Facebook blocks bookstores, sport, health services instead of just news

_andrew
Facepalm

Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

Doesn't have to be commercial news. The govt, Murdoch and Nine wrote the definition of "news" in the law so broad that they didn't think that FB or G would be able to escape it. It's basically "anything that Australians might find interesting". Doesn't even need to be in the public interest. Sport. Everything. Read the leg: it's on the web. FB's only doing what it can to follow the "else" clause, and not fit the definition of a company that can be arbitrarily blagged.

Facebook bans sharing of news in Australia – starting now – rather than submit to pay-for-news-plan

_andrew

Re: What is the Fuss ?

Google doesn't have the "friends and family sharing" business model to fall back on, that Facebook does, so they've gone the other way (it appears) and struck the necessary (they hope) deals. And they seem to be staying as a full-service search engine. Game's not over yet, so perhaps they'll change their mind, but the result looks workable to me.

Foundation thrillogy: Rust programming language gets new home and million-dollar spending account

_andrew

The blog is also (I think mistakenly) equating "popularity" with longevity. Or even positing "ubiquity" as the only stable place on the popularity curve. He went back to COBOL and Fortran as identifying niches, but the Lisp family (especially some of the schemes) are still kicking along, with many implementations and many users, just not as many as JavaScript.

LLVM did kick the language design business along mightily, IMO. Before LLVM you had to be prepared to write your own optimization passes and target the several interesting processor instruction sets, or do without either or both, or use something like C as an intermediate compilation step, an abstract assembly language. There are some interesting language constructs, like closures, that aren't easy to do from C, so that's a bit limiting (notwithstanding Chicken).

And now for something completely different: A lightweight, fast browser that won't slurp your data

_andrew

Where did you see webkit in that article? Seemed like a convincing story of a ground-up renderer that couldn't even do most of HTML until recently. Servo-style multi-threading is a strong anti-WebKit indicator IMO. Completely different idea. Yay for genetic diversity, IMO.

The revolution will not be televised because my television has been radicalised

_andrew
Meh

Re: The algorithms

The term "AI", as used here is a bit grandiose, IMO. There's no "inteligence" involved. It's just an optimization process. A control system, if you will, but instead of an air conditioner being controlled, it's people. So it's a big, complicated control system, but it's just an optimization process. The trick with optimization processes is always around the definition of the goal.

Recent work on human intelligence has suggested that the ability to tell stories that aren't about immediately tangible things is the defining characteristic of Homo Sapiens, and is what separates us from the Neanderthals and Denisovans. It's how we create religion and motivate notions of tribal identity. We have a definite predisposition to create "explanations" for the things that happen, even the ones that "just happen". A bug in the wetware, perhaps.

Geekbench stats show Apple Silicon MacBook Air trouncing pricey 16-inch MacBook Pro

_andrew

Re: guessing

Pictures suggest that they're side-by-side on a carrier, like the HBM GPU memory of a few years ago, or the chiplets on AMD processors. I've read at least one comment that that is at least partly to avoid the differential-expansion problems that stacked combinations seem to suffer.

Apple now Arm'd to the teeth: MacBook Air and Pro, Mac mini to be powered by custom M1 chips rather than Intel

_andrew

Re: Confusing much?

More confusingly, there are a few extra half-steps in there. All of PowerPC, x86 and Arm have had architecture changes from 32-bit to 64-bit versions within those steps (32-bit Arm only on iPhone though). These sneak past because the hardware itself manages a lot of the backward-compatibility, so hardly anyone whinges, but they are extra instruction set changes that have to be handled by the OS and software ecosystem (compilers, developers, etc).

The upshot is that Apple developers are really quite good at it by now, after all that training.

Linux Mint pushes out its own Chromium build to help users avoid Canonical's Snap Store

_andrew

Re: Is this the year of Linux on the desktop?

Of course! What else are you going to run on your RPi 400? https://www.theregister.com/2020/11/02/pi-400/

_andrew

Re: No.

Moving to a Wayland + XWayland model seems to have a couple of nice advantages: you get the networking for the apps that can do that, and the X part doesn't have to concern itself with actually driving displays, which is the part that has been described "abandonware".

That model clearly leaves the option open for _other_ network-aware protocols to slot in beside XWayland at the same time. I used to have a soft-spot for Display Postscript, and might even still have the manual somewhere. Or perhaps QNX Photon, or Plan9's 9P?

Remember when the keyboard was the computer? You can now relive those heady days with the Raspberry Pi 400

_andrew

Re: 4GB

While true, don't forget that the first few generations of "real workstations" that ran BSD-derived Unix had one thousandth the memory (and one hundredth the clock frequency). Clearly software bloat is still very much a thing. (Yeah, like running your browser in a VM image just because...)

SiFive inches closer to offering a true RISC-V PC: Latest five-core dev board includes PCIe, SSD interfaces

_andrew

Strip off the decoder...

Not especially likely, as that would expose micro-architectural details that you probably want to be able to vary from model to model, such as number and structure of pipelines and size of re-order/re-name buffers.

Has been done before though, twice: Transmeta did essentially exactly that, replacing the x86 decode logic with a software dynamic compilation system that targeted an in-order VLIW processor to do the work. Nvidia's "Denver" cores and follow-up (as seen in the Nexus-9 tablet and several of the car-AI modules) do a very similar thing but for an Arm source-instruction-set.

Both work nicely on loopy, numerical code, but quite poorly on large, non-loopy code like user interfaces, database engines and operating systems.

Interestingly, Dave Ditzel was involved in both of those designs, and is now founder of Esperanto, a RISC-V company.

Is Google fudging search rankings to benefit pages that embed YouTube vids? Or is this just another ‘bug’?

_andrew

Re: iframe and probably object/embed too

I'm in favour of anything that down-rates pages that have different-size advertisements that make the text that I'm trying to read jump up and down as they change and force page reformats. Not that I use search or ratings to get to most of the web, but if big-G can use its influence on the ones that do, then I'm for it.

Google screwed rivals to protect monopoly, says Uncle Sam in antitrust lawsuit: We go inside the Sherman parked on a Silicon Valley lawn

_andrew
Coat

The default search on the default browser on the default operating system on every PC...

... is not Google. Yes they have the mobile market mostly stitched up, but that happened long after they were established as far-and-away the best search option.

What do you imagine will happen if Apple are forced to stop accepting Google's placement coin for search defaults? I'd expect that the _only_ effect will be that apple has to raise that extra revenue elsewhere, by putting up their prices: almost everyone will choose Google themselves, given the choice, because the alternatives are worse.

Worst outcome, I expect, will be the death of Firefox, which lives entirely on the income of that default search placement.

I remember the days of Yahoo! curated links and AltaVista. I'll choose Google any day.

After ten years, the Google vs Oracle API copyright mega-battle finally hit the Supreme Court – and we listened in

_andrew

Re: Declarations and implementations

Java doesn't have declarations, only implementations. The things that show up in javadocs that look like declarations are extracted from the .class files automatically. There _is_ no source file to claim copyright on in this case. The claim is over the structure and names of the base classes themselves, irrespective of their origin.

And to comment on a different topic up-stream: the fact that no-one has filed suit against GNU classpath is almost certainly that no-one cares, because it is costing no-one any assumed business. Or perhaps they will, once this case goes Oracle's way.

_andrew

Re: The case is about the APIs themselves

In Java there isn't any "API source code", as such: there is only implementation and the resulting .class files, and (pertinently here) the javadoc and interface description that can be mechanically extracted from the .class files. I'm pretty sure that that's what they're arguing about: the list of classes, methods and function names from the Java base library set. Names, arguments, structure. There isn't a source file with copyright notices on it, like a C header file. To be compatible, even a clean-room implementation would have to give you the same result.

_andrew

Re: The devel is in the details - Part II

As near as I can tell, this case does not turn on whether or not the APIs in question were a clean-room implementation or not. The case is about the APIs themselves, absent any implementation at all.

_andrew

Re: The devel is in the details

I think that you'll find that the border between "language" and API is fuzzier than you are making out. Not all programming interfaces exist just as function prototypes in a C-like syntax: some syntax is api. Every word in forth, smalltalk and lisp/scheme "languages" is a function API. Whether access to an API is by changing an instruction pointer value or a dialog in a particular serialised protocol (say, HTTP, or CORBA) is unlikely to make any significant difference to the principle at stake here. Sure, Matlab and SQL are languages, but they're also the APIs to a database and matrix engine, and within them there are both procedures and functions that have specific meanings. Now SQL has been standardized, but it originally belonged to IBM, and not all standards (even ISO standards) have free terms, let alone RAND, especially where patents are involved.

That OpenGL was open-sourced by SGI themselves may or may not be pertinent. Java was open-sourced by its creator too. Clearly the details do matter, but I think that reasonable people can disagree about the significance and meaning of specific details.

I'm not saying that there are impending court cases in any of these examples. Just pointing out that the activity in question is, on one form or another, common practice and has long historical record.

If we're really, really lucky, the ruling on the current case will be narrow enough that we (other than google and oracle specifically) can go about our business as before.

Page:

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR WEEKLY TECH NEWSLETTER