* Posts by John Savard

2449 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Sep 2007

HashiCorp's new license is still open source-ish, just with less free lunch

John Savard

They Wrote It

At least most of it. More, because they hadn't accepted many outside contributions.

So if their duty to stockholders means the best they can do is distribute their code under a quasi-open-source license - and one with a fairly narrow exclusion, to boot, just service bureaus directly competing with them - it's hard for me to find this to be wrong.

It's okay to be disappointed, but furious?

Google Chrome to shield encryption keys from promised quantum computers

John Savard

Re: Teaser......Diffie/Helman might be more secure than described......

In this case, it's the discrete logarithm problem that is the question, not factoring, but your correction stands otherwise.

Say hello to Downfall, another data-leaking security hole in several years of Intel chips

John Savard

Re: Downfall

"Everyone with an AMD processor, leave the room."

John Savard

Re: Planned Obsolescence

It's definitely just a happy little accident.

How do I know? These vulnerabilities are the result of a standard technique to improve computer performance that has been around for ages, out-of-order executiion. This was introduced with the IBM System/360 Model 91, which only handled floating-point instructions with OoO. That computer was succeeded with the Model 195, which added cache memory, another very successful performance-increasing innovation from the System/360 Model 85.

So fast-forward decades later, after Moore's Law finally let that level of complexity be put on a microchip - and out came the Pentium Pro and the Pentium II, which, just like the 360/195, had cache on the chip, and OoO execution for the floating-point section. (And an advanced division algorithm, although not quite as fast as the one the 360/195 used.)

So they were trying to make the best chip they could, using a proven way to increase performance... but which, sadly, had a weakness that could finally be uncovered in today's more hostile computing environment.

Fujitsu pulls the plug on European client PC sales

John Savard

North America

This makes me wonder about the North American market. Is Fujitsu still selling client systems there, or has it left that market even earlier than Europe?

Soon the most popular 'real' desktop will be the Linux desktop

John Savard


Since the MacOS is (legally) available only with Macintosh hardware - and now that it's moving to Apple Silicon from Intel, the qualifier will soon be droppable - even if only Microsoft went to the cloud, a lot of people would indeed have Linux as their only choice.

In packages of DOS, though, Microsoft used to include a registration card that bore the text "Do you want the phone number of the most important person at Microsoft?", the joke being "So do we" - you can't have a company without paying customers. Sure, Microsoft may get greedy, but they won't be stupid enough to go where customers will refuse to follow. So this kind of development is not certain - and, if it does happen, it may take quite a while before it does.

Twitter's giant throbbing X erected 'without a permit'

John Savard


I am amazed that a Twitter employee would deny access to the premises to a building inspector.

But the solution to that is obvious. The next time, the building inspector should be escorted by an armed police officer. I mean, presumably this is against the law.

And surely the municipality has other recourse. You denied access to one of our building inspectors? Right, you've got 48 hours to tear down your whole building.

Linux has nearly half of the desktop OS Linux market

John Savard

What is Chrome OS anyways?

Google's Chrome OS certainly is based on Linux.

Back when Chromebooks first came out, though, comparing the possible major alternatives available - a Macintosh, a Windows PC, and a Chromebook - the Chromebook couldn't keep resident applications on a local disk, it could only run software it got off the Internet. That got me to reject it as not a computer, but a useless toy.

They've now fixed that limitation of the Chrome OS. But even so, I am strongly sympathetic to those who reject it out of hand. Maybe not being truly Linux isn't really what its problem is, but it's less flexible than Windows, while Linux is more flexible than Windows.

Since Chromebooks can't normally run typical Linux software (no package manager) then they don't increase the size of the market for typical Linux software. That is the most fundamental sense in which Chromebooks fail to enlarge the market share of "Linux", and I think this is a sufficiently real concern that taking notice of it isn't hair-splitting religious warfare.

It isn't what Chrome OS took from Linux that counts; it's what it gives back to Linux that matters.

AlmaLinux project climbs down from being a one-to-one RHEL clone

John Savard

Open and Shut

I'm surprised to hear that "it would be hard to prove in a court of law"; the license under which Linux is distributed is clear and unequivocal: you can freely make and distribute copies of Linux, either identical copies or copies you have made changes to; there is no restriction on what you can charge for them (after all, blank CD-ROMs cost money); but you may not place any restriction on the ability of those who recieve those copies to copy them themselves.

Red Hat's license for RHEL is now no longer compliant with that last condition of the GPL. Not all of IBM's lawyers should be able to obfuscate the fact that the GPL means what it says, and says what it means.

Of course, though, it is understandable that those responsible for Linux are loath to take drastic steps, like withdrawing IBM's license to use and distribute Linux for this violation.

China chokes exports of semiconductor secret sauces gallium and germanium

John Savard

Re: Middle Kingdom

If a state condones harmful individual actions, if it allows its citizens to violate the rights of others, surely it is responsible for doing so?

However, there are no countries that could carry out regime change in the United States of America. And its peers are genuine dictatorships, while the United States is an imperfect democracy, which, over the years, has made progress towards a greater measure of justice for its black citizens.

The American federal system, by allowing excessive latitude to individual states, permits individual states to have laws which besmirch the reputation of the whole country abroad. Because it requires the consent of 3/4 of the several states to amend the Constitution, it is difficult to correct this.

John Savard

Free Enterprise

As a privately owned company, why would I even consider invesing a large amount of money developing either a mine for gallium or germanium, or processing facilities for them, when China can do it cheaper, and there's no way to tell when China will drop its export restrictions? Especially since China would be likely to do that as soon as outside sources reduced the impact of this measure.

So since the real benefit of having these outside sources is hard to monetize, it's governments that should be building these mines and factories for everyone's benefit - which they will yield even if they don't manage to sell much product.

Red Hat strikes a crushing blow against RHEL downstreams

John Savard

Re: GPL violation

When the wording of the GPL is clear, plain, and obvious, and the violation of the contract is clear and direct, even the very limited amount of legal counsel the FSF can afford from donations should suffice.

John Savard

Re: GPL violation

Precisely. This point was missing from the article. Red Hat will indeed not be in compliance with the GPL when they implement this policy.

If they want a free UNIX-like operating system that they can turn into a proprietary product, they will have to do what Apple did to make OS X. So long Red Hat Linux, hello Red Hat BSD.

Another redesign on the cards for iPhone as EU rules call for removable batteries

John Savard

Not just Apple

Hardly any smartphones have removable batteries these days. Even LG, one of the last holdouts, stopped with the V30. So users of Samsung phones, for example, will gain by this too.

WTF is solid state active cooling? We’ve just seen it working on a mini PC

John Savard

Done before?

I think this kind of tiny membrane fan is new and unique.

But when I saw the headline, I thought it was something that certainly has been done before: thermoelectric cooling.

Court gives FTC 30 days to swing again in privacy bout with location data slinger

John Savard

Home Address

That an individual's location at night is likely the individual's home address, from which that individual's identity can be deduced seems to me to be rather obvious, and not something highly speculative. Thus, I am dismayed by the judgement. But what is clearly needed is an amendment to the Federal wiretap statute which would make collecting or selling that kind of data utterly illegal from the get-go.

Ex-Uber CSO gets probation for covering up theft of data on millions of people

John Savard

The Real Excess Leniency

It's those who are truly culpable, who freely chose to break the law, that need to be punished. But the CEO of the company at the time hasn't even been charged. So I'm not upset at the leniency granted to someone who no doubt was acting under threat.

Taiwan asks US if it could chill out on the anti-China rhetoric

John Savard


Of course the United States is attempting to prevent the People's Republic of China from being able to make its own state-of-the-art semiconductors because of how useful they are in all sorts of military equipment. Why should there be any doubts about its motives there?

Of course, as a nuclear-armed state, if the PRC does invade Taiwan, the options of the U.S. may be limited, therefore it is high time to get, say, 95% of the world's advanced semiconductor capability located in safe countries - not Taiwan, where China might attack, and not South Korea, where North Korea might attack. This doesn't have to mean just the United States. There's Europe. There's Canada. And, even closer at hand, there's Australia.

Of course, Australia is short of water, which chip production uses, but desalination is possible, and it could even be powered by the abundant solar energy in the dry parts of Australia.

Google destroyed evidence for antitrust battle, Feds complain

John Savard

It Should be Simple

If the government can prove that Google did indeed insttruct its employees to talk about matters related to how the company reacts to competition by voice, which is not recorded, rather than E-mail, which is retained for evidentiary use in antitrust proceedings, from that point on it should be a slam dunk to find Google guilty of whatever antitrust offence the government might claim it has engaged in.

Russian developers blocked from contributing to FOSS tools

John Savard

Rational Reason

Well, people who live inside Russia might be forced to include malicious code in their contributions to open-source projects.

UNIX co-creator Ken Thompson is a… what user now?

John Savard


Shocking that Ken Thompson is using a form of Linux?

I mean, it might have been shocking that instead of something UNIX-related, he was using a Macintosh.

I was expecting the "shocking" revelation that he used the operating system that actually lets people get work done, for which a large number of applications are available. Microsoft Windows. I could see people being shocked about that.

Bringing cakes into the office is killing your colleagues, says UK food watchdog boss

John Savard

An Error of Analysis

I could accept that people need an environment that supports their choice to eat a healthy diet. And so if more people brought in lettuce or whatever to snack on instead of cake, those people might be helped.

However, many people don't feel that way.

But the thing in the article that made me think that the people saying this had lost their senses was right at the end.

People don't prefer chocolate cake over cauliflower because there are more advertisements on TV for chocolate cake. This isn't food industry brainwashing at work. These are the innate food preferences that are natural for people; some people have struggled against those preferences after learning that some foods are healthier than others. Of course, ever since agriculture started, it's been too easy to make what we like, so that our preferences are out of sync with what's healthy.

When meat and calories were hard to get, and there were no refined sugars, our preference for fats made us eat enough protein to survive, and our preference for sweetness got us to eat healthy fruit.

If you think the source of the problem is TV commercials, you're not going to make any real headway in solving it.

Lawyer mom barred from Rockettes show by facial recognition tech

John Savard

Re: "This whole scheme is a pretext for doing collective punishment..."

As noted in the article, they're in violation of the terms of their liquor license.

Because people need to have a job to live, place of employment should be a protected characteristic; if this sort of thing is legal, then that just means there is an urgent need to amend the laws so that it is strictly illegal.

A suitable penalty would be to allow her to collect punitive damages of the sum total of the firm's assets. That would ensure no other company would think about behaving this way in future.

China files complaint with WTO against US chip export controls

John Savard

And it totally is

Are you insinuating that the United States is insincere about its export controls being about preventing China from having the most advanced military equipment?

IBM to create 24-core Power chip so customers can exploit Oracle database license

John Savard

Re: For now...

But if that's the case, why didn't they change them long ago? You can get Oracle for x86 hardware as well, and Intel and AMD both make chips with more than 24 cores.

John Savard


It's not as if IBM is setting out to scam Oracle here.

After all, you can also run Oracle on x86 hardware, and there are x86 processors from both Intel and AMD that have a lot more than 24 cores per chip. So IBM is simply doing what it must to remain competitive.

Nvidia faces lawsuit for melting RTX 4090 cables as AMD has a laugh

John Savard


It's good to know that a correctly installed 4090, with the connector plugged in carefully, is unlikely to have this issue.

However, does this sort of thing routinely happen on other video cards? Like the Nvidia 3000 series, or AMD's cards? If not, then clearly plugging in the connector just right has suddenly become a lot more critical than it used to be.

So Nvidia ought to be pulling the 4090 with the 12-pin connector, and replacing it with one with a different arrangement, better able to handle its demand for power. It might look to IBM for examples of how a serious company handles an "Oops" moment.

Qualcomm: Arm threatens to end CPU licensing, charge device makers instead

John Savard

Put an End to the Shenanigans

I should think that the point ought to be very clear.

Nuvia paid engineers to develop designs.

Nuvia paid ARM for their license.

For Qualcomm to have to pay again is clearly unfair. And the best thing the courts could do is simply strip ARM Holdings of its proprietary rights to the architecture. They would still continue to own the IP for the ARM cores they design, but anyone else should just be able to design and sell an ARM core as if it was RISC-V.

Of course, the same thing should have been done long ago for x86, so that all chip-making companies - like Motorola, Texas Instruments, Fairchild - would have had equal access to the giant PC market.

Google kills forthcoming JPEG XL image format in Chromium

John Savard


If Microsoft has a patent on a core technology JPEG XL requires, then clearly nobody would be able to use it. But we already have a new image format that offers a major improvement over the original JPEG; JPEG 2000. It is kind of slow, though, although it offers a high level of compression. Whatever happened to that?

Biden wants SpaceX to beam internet to Iran amid uprising

John Savard

Re: Pirate radio?

And, of course, if Iran is supplying Russia with drones now - and Russia isn't just using Iranian drones it bought before the war started - why hasn't Iran already undergone regime change?

John Savard

Re: Pirate radio?

Well, then, I guess the Republic of Colombia ought to change its name too. And, for that matter, British Columbia is taking a name that includes the rest of Canada as well as Guyana!

In English - although, admittedly, not in French and Spanish - there is absolutely no confusion. America is the USA; the Americas are North, South, and Central America.

Indian tech minister picks a fight with Wikipedia over cricketer's dropped catch

John Savard

Re: Definitely a CTO-type

The point is that Section 230 is generally recognized in the United States as absolutely essential legislation in order to make it possible for people to have sites which allow user-generated content. Like the comments on news articles right here, and like the articles in Wikipedia.

So we would expect anyone with any knowledge about computers and the Internet to recognize it. Thus, if one of the designers of the 486 expresses a different opinion - clearly he is someone who should know better, and he must be deliberately lying in order to serve as a shill for his government.

Maybe that isn't fair. After all, in India, a lot of lives have been lost in what is euphemistically called "communal violence". So trying to keep the lid on things not only trumps the First Amendment for many in India, it also trumps the development of innovative new ways to make money off the Internet. That this means someone in India won't be able to create the next Facebook is an acceptable price by their standards.

Rather than arguing about this... I think that Wikipedia will simply have to face the sad fact that it will not be able to include India in order to achieve their goals for the foreseeable future.

I can understand India's position. But your wording, "many other nations believe that you have to be responsible for what you say" could conceivably be interpreted as a defense of the actions of the People's Republic of China as well, for example; that is an implication you really ought to have steered well clear of. India has a valid concern. China is simply a totalitarian dictatorship protecting its evil tyrants.

Appeals court already under fire for upholding Texas no-content-moderation law

John Savard

Re: Here we go...

So you're okay with police officers murdering unarmed black people?

Riots and looting are bad things. It's just that focusing on them, without recognizing what black people in America have had to endure for so long is now, at long last, being recognized as racist.

That's not the same as supporting looting, arson, and vandalism.

For some reason, a significant group of people in the United States is trying to fight against the realization that change has to come; that hard-working law-abiding black Americans must finally recieve justice, that they must live in a country where they can hold their heads high, and expect the same kind of experiences in their daily lives that white people have been able to expect all along. That's what we've seen when Trump was voted in, and that's what we've seen on January 6th.

The Confederate flags make it useless to keep lying any more.

The shameless use of voter suppression by Republicans make it useless to keep lying any more.

John Savard

End Run

If I remember correctly, either the Texas law, or the Florida law of this type also had a clause saying that the companies are not allowed to stop doing business in their states as a way to get around that law. It seems to me that this particular clause, at least, ought not to withstand scrutiny by any U.S. court.

The truth about that draft law banning Uncle Sam buying insecure software

John Savard

The Naked Sun

Isaac Asimov's The Naked Sun was the second of his Daneel Olivaw novels, the sequel to The Caves of Steel. I once had a paperback editioin of that book, which said (in the back cover blurb) the world would not be safe until it understood the implications of a new kind of robot that the Three Laws only prevented from knowingly doing harm to humans. Apparently, the earlier robots were able to magically foresee the consequences of their actions without conventional sources of information.

You know what they say: They don't make 'em like they used to!

I was reminded of this when reading that the U.S. government was going to make its computers secure by only buying software without known flaws. Which I suppose means they can only buy Windows after Patch Tuesday, not before.

Emergency services call-handling provider: Ransomware forced it to pull servers offline

John Savard


How long is it that we've had ransomware? And yet they still haven't improved the security of Windows so that such attacks are no longer possible?

Russian invasion has dangerously destabilized cyber security norms

John Savard


When Russia chose to invade Ukraine, it made itself an international outlaw, just like Germany did when it invaded Poland in 1939. So there is no irregularity involved in cyber attacks, or any other kind of attack, on Russia from the territory of any nation. Only pragmatic reasons, not moral ones, might advise against some forms of attack.

President Biden signs CHIPS and Science Act into law

John Savard

Global Foundries?

How is Qualcomm going to compete with Apple, if they're getting their chips from a supplier that isn't interested in making anything denser than 12nm?

I mean, isn't the CHIPS act all about ensuring the U.S. would have domestic sources that could fill in for TSMC if Taiwan disappeared from the face of the Earth?

China's 7nm chip surprise reveals more than Beijing might like

John Savard

Re: Hold on there

I should also note that the computer I'm using as my daily driver has a Ryzen 9 3900 processor in it. Twelve cores. The I/O portion of the package is on a 14nm GlobalFoundries process, but the CPU cores are on the early 7nm process from TSMC that used only DUV, if I'm not mistaken.

So China is a few years behind... but the capacity they're developing is not going to only allow them to build chips that are hoplessly obsolete. Although, it is true that without EUV, it is a dead end - it won't let them go to 5nm, 4nm, 3nm, and so on. But will even 3nm be that much better than earlly 7nm? Or will China be able to manage just fine?

And while it would need to get EUV lithography equipment from ASML, it claims to have some domestic capability in DUV lithography, and I don't find that claim too difficult to believe, even if their domestic DUV equipment might have some way to go before it could be used to make even 14nm parts, let alone 7nm.

John Savard

Hold on there

It is certainly true that it would be better, from China's point of view, to be able to use EUV to make chips. However, being able to make 7nm chips on DUV is not an accomplishment of no value. For one thing, the chips we in the West are using, although they now have a layer or two made with EUV, are still mostly made with DUV, because EUV is still difficult and expensive. For another, we're still trying to make chips on process nodes beyond late 7nm. Like 5nm or 3nm. So the same tricks that were used to breathe more life into DUV, like double patterning, are going to be used in the future with EUV as well.

Plus, of course, it may take some time for China to make its own EUV machinery. So they are not wasting their time, developing early 7nm technology is going to improve their capabilities considerably and provide them with know-how that will remain relevant for some time to come.

How TSMC killed 450mm wafers for fear of Intel, Samsung

John Savard

TSMC is big now

But does that mean that 450nm makes sense? If it was just a gimmick to squeeze smaller competitors out, then maybe it still doesn't make sense for TSMC even if it is the biggest fish. It would improve yields slightly, but the investment it would require may be wasteful, given how much money it costs to build fabs for each new generation of chips; if you can't do both, advanced technology is still the right focus.

Apple tells suppliers to use 'Taiwan, China' or 'Chinese Taipei' to appease Beijing

John Savard

Better Computers

I would be very pleased if TSMC told Apple that this wasn't in the original contract for their 4nm allocation, and thus that AMD would be pleased to get it instead.

However, I very much doubt this will happen, and instead I think they'll cave unless Taiwan's government makes it illegal to label exports from the island in this way.

John Savard

Violating Sanctions?

I am distressed when Apple engages in behavior that I disapprove of, as are noted in this article.

But the fact that those quoted in this article as criticizing Apple's behavior are claiming that it is violating U.S. sanctions against China is another matter. The U.S. government has shown, time and again, that it is fully prepared to prosecute any and all violators of its laws in this area. It is therefore hard for me to believe that any prospect of profit would tempt the management of Apple to play such a dangerous game.

The many derivatives of the CP/M operating system

John Savard


I thought the x86 version of GEM was sued out of existence by Apple, and thus even today no one could legally use it.

Charter told to pay $7.3b in damages after cable installer murders grandmother

John Savard

Re: $7.3 billion for a murder ?

Reasons were presented as to why he should have been fired long before: he had been robbing other customers of the cable company. Of course, maybe the cable company had no knowledge of this. But even if they're only 1% responsible, $730 billion is still not enough money to raise someone from the dead. So the victim will still not recieve the medical care needed to recover fully from the attack she recieved, and that is the primary way in which justice has not been done.

John Savard

Re: $7.3b in damages

No, the meaning of the word "appealing" in this context means that the cable company is taking the decision against it to an appellate court in hopes of having the judgment reduced.

John Savard

Re: $7.3 billion is heartless and cruel

I don't understand. How is 7.3 billion dollars an excessive award? After all, the medical care the grandmother in question will require to recover from being murdered, as it will require a massive medical research program, will clearly cost far more than that.

Intel to sell Massachusetts R&D site, once home to its only New England fab

John Savard

Most Advanced Microprocessors in the World?

Would that be a reference to the DEC Alpha chips, as opposed to the implementations of the VAX on a chip?

Former AMD chip architect says it was wrong to can Arm project

John Savard


Given what an incredible success Ryzen has been for AMD - it basically saved the company - and that before Ryzen, AMD's resources were limited, for AMD to concentrate everything on Ryzen, and not spread itself too thin... would not seem to have been a mistake at all. It may have been a disappointment, and now may be the time for AMD to begin re-entering the field of ARM server chips, but for AMD to concentrate everything on saving itself through its core business was an eminently sensible decision, rather than a mistake.

First details on TSMC's 2nm node: Chipmaker reveals nanosheet transistors

John Savard

Isn't this...

the same as GAAFET, which we heard of some time ago?