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Chrome and Mozilla (Robert O'Callahan Unlocks Secrets)

Sun, 2018-01-07 08:56
  • Robert O'Callahan: Ancient Browser-Wars History: MD5-Hashed Posts Declassified

    Another lesson: in 2007-2008 I was overly focused on toppling IE (and Flash and WPF), and thought having all the open-source browsers sharing a single engine implementation wouldn't be a big problem for the Web. I've changed my mind completely; the more code engines share, the more de facto standardization of bugs we would see, so having genuinely separate implementations is very important.

    I'm very grateful to Brendan and others for disregarding my opinions and not letting me lead Mozilla down the wrong path. It would have been a disaster for everyone.

    To let off steam, and leave a paper trail for the future, I wrote four blog posts during 2007-2008 describing some of my thoughts, and published their MD5 hashes. The aftermath of the successful Firefox 57 release seems like an appropriate time to harmlessly declassify those posts. Please keep in mind that my opinions have changed.

  • On Keeping Secrets

    Once upon a time I was at a dinner at a computer science conference. At that time the existence of Chrome was a deeply guarded secret; I knew of it, but I was sworn to secrecy. Out of the blue, one of my dinner companions turned to me and asked "is Google working on a browser?"

    [...]

    One thing I really enjoyed about working at Mozilla was that we didn't have many secrets to keep. Most of the secrets I had to protect were about other companies. Minimizing one's secrecy burden generally seems like a good idea, although I can't eliminate it because it's often helpful to other people for them to be able to share secrets with me in confidence.

  • Chrome is turning into the new Internet Explorer 6

     

    Chrome, in other words, is being used in the same way that Internet Explorer 6 was back in the day — with web developers primarily optimizing for Chrome and tweaking for rivals later. To understand how we even got to this stage, here’s a little (a lot) of browser history. If you want to know why saying "Chrome is the new Internet Explorer 6" is so damning, you have to know why IE6 was a damnable problem in the early ‘00s.

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Security: Meltdown & Spectre, Critical CSRF Security Vulnerability, OpenVPN and More

Sun, 2018-01-07 06:02
  • Meltdown & Spectre
  • Meltdown and Spectre Linux Kernel Status

    By now, everyone knows that something “big” just got announced regarding computer security. Heck, when the Daily Mail does a report on it , you know something is bad…

    Anyway, I’m not going to go into the details about the problems being reported, other than to point you at the wonderfully written Project Zero paper on the issues involved here. They should just give out the 2018 Pwnie award right now, it’s that amazingly good.

    If you do want technical details for how we are resolving those issues in the kernel, see the always awesome lwn.net writeup for the details.

    Also, here’s a good summary of lots of other postings that includes announcements from various vendors.

  • Spectre and Meltdown: What you need to know going forward

    As you've likely heard by now, there are some problems with Intel, AMD, and ARM processors. Called Meltdown and Spectre, the discovered attack possibilities are rather severe, as they impact pretty much every technical device on the network or in your house (PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, etc.).

    Here's a breakdown of all the things you need to know. As things change, or new information becomes available, this article will be updated.

    The key thing to remember is not to panic, as the sky isn't about to come crashing down. The situation is one that centers on information disclosure, not code execution (a far more damning issue to deal with).

  • Open Source Leaders: Take Intel to Task

    I do not know Linus Torvalds or Theo de Raadt. I have never met either of them and have read very little about them. What I do know, gleaned from email archives, is when it comes to bum hardware: they both have pretty strong opinions. Both Linus and Theo can be a bit rough around the edges when it comes to giving their thoughts about hardware design flaws: but at least they have a voice. Also, Linus and Theo have often been at odds whether it be about how to approach OS design, licensing etc but I suspect, or I at least have to believe, the latest incident from intel (the Spectre and Meltdown flaws) is one area they agree on.

    Linus and Theo cannot possibly be the only Open Source leaders out there who are frustrated and tired of being jerked around by intel. What I hope comes out of this is not many different voices saying the same thing here and there but instead, perhaps, our various leaders could get together and take intel to task on this issue. Intel not only created a horrible design flaw they lied by omission about it for several months. During those months the Intel CEO quietly dumped his stock. What a hero.

  • Docker Performance With KPTI Page Table Isolation Patches

    Overall most of our benchmarks this week of the new Linux Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) patches coming as a result of the Meltdown vulnerability have showed minimal impact overall on system performance. The exceptions have obviously been with workloads having high kernel interactions like demanding I/O cases and in terms of real-world impact, databases. But when testing VMs there's been some minor impact more broadly than bare metal testing and also Wine performance has been impacted. The latest having been benchmarked is seeing if the Docker performance has been impacted by the KPTI patches to see if it's any significant impact since overall the patched system overhead certainly isn't anything close to how it was initially hyped by some other media outlets.

  • Can We Replace Intel x86 With an Open Source Chip?
  • Critical CSRF Security Vulnerability in phpMyAdmin Database Tool Patched

    A "cross site request forgery" vulnerability in a popular tool for administrating MySQL and MariaDB databases that could lead to data loss has been patched.

  • 8 reasons to replace your VPN client with OpenVPN

    OpenVPN could be the answer. It's an ultra-configurable open source VPN client which works with just about any VPN provider that supports the OpenVPN protocol. It gives you new ways to automate, optimize, control and troubleshoot your connections, and you can use it alongside your existing client, or maybe replace it entirely – it's your call.

  • I’m harvesting credit card numbers and passwords from your site. Here’s how.

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Solaris 11.4 To Move From GNOME 2 Desktop To GNOME Shell

Sun, 2018-01-07 02:46

For those happening to use Oracle Solaris on desktops/workstations, Solaris 11.4 will finally be making the transition from GNOME 2 to the GNOME 3.24 Shell.

GNOME Shell has been the default GNOME user interface since 2011 while with the upcoming Solaris 11.4 update is when Oracle is finally making the plunge from GNOME 2.x to GNOME 3.24. Longtime Sun/Solaris developer Alan Coopersmith confirmed, "Gnome Shell is coming in Solaris 11.4, which upgrades GNOME to version 3.24."

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4MLinux 23.2 released.

Sun, 2018-01-07 02:24

This is a minor (point) release in the 4MLinux STABLE channel, which comes with the Linux kernel 4.9.75 (*). The 4MLinux Server now includes Apache 2.4.29, MariaDB 10.2.11, and PHP 7.0.26 (see this post for more details). Additionally, some popular programs (Audacity, Chromium, VLC) have been updated, too. 4MLinux 23.2 includes bugfixes for VLC (which now plays the "https" network streams correctly) and Chromium (restored good sound quality).

You can update your 4MLinux by executing the "zk update" command in your terminal (fully automatic process).

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Security: Currencies, Marcus Hutchins, and Hardware Bugs

Sat, 2018-01-06 18:21
  • Hot New Cryptocurrency Trend: Mining Malware That Could Fry Your Phone
  • PyCryptoMiner Attacks Linux Machines And Turns Them Into Monero-mining Bots
  • Marcus Hutchins' lawyers seek information around arrest

    Lawyers acting for British security researcher Marcus Hutchins have filed a motion seeking additional information on a number of aspects surrounding his arrest in order to prepare for a trial that is expected to take place this year.

  • AMD Did NOT Disable Branch Prediction With A Zen Microcode Update

    With the plethora of software security updates coming out over the past few days in the wake of the Meltdown and Spectre disclosure, released by SUSE was a Family 17h "Zen" CPU microcode update that we have yet to see elsewhere... It claims to disables branch prediction, but I've confirmed with AMD that is not actually the case.

    AMD did post a processor security notice where they noted their hardware was not vulnerable to variant threee / rogue data cache load, for the "branch target injection" variant that there was "near zero risk" for exploiting, and with the bounds check bypass it would be resolved by software/OS updates.

  • Spectre and Meltdown Attacks Against Microprocessors

    "Throw it away and buy a new one" is ridiculous security advice, but it's what US-CERT recommends. It is also unworkable. The problem is that there isn't anything to buy that isn't vulnerable. Pretty much every major processor made in the past 20 years is vulnerable to some flavor of these vulnerabilities. Patching against Meltdown can degrade performance by almost a third. And there's no patch for Spectre; the microprocessors have to be redesigned to prevent the attack, and that will take years. (Here's a running list of who's patched what.)

  • OpenBSD & FreeBSD Are Still Formulating Kernel Plans To Address Meltdown+Spectre

    On Friday DragonFlyBSD's Matthew Dillon already landed his DragonFly kernel fixes for the Meltdown vulnerability affecting Intel CPUs. But what about the other BSDs?

    As outlined in that article yesterday, DragonFlyBSD founder Matthew Dillon quickly worked through better kernel/user separation with their code to address the Intel CPU bug. Similar to Linux, the DragonFlyBSD fix should cause minimal to small CPU performance impact for most workloads while system call heavy / interrupt-heavy workloads (like I/O and databases) could see more significant drops.

  • Retpoline v5 Published For Fending Off Spectre Branch Target Injection

    David Woodhouse of Amazon has sent out the latest quickly-revising patches for introducing the "Retpoline" functionality to the Linux kernel for mitigating the Spectre "variant 2" attack.

    Retpoline v5 is the latest as of Saturday morning as the ongoing effort for avoiding speculative indirect calls within the Linux kernel for preventing a branch target injection style attack. These 200+ lines of kernel code paired with the GCC Retpoline patches are able to address vulnerable indirect branches in the Linux kernel.

    The Retpoline approach is said to only have up to a ~1.5% performance hit when patched... I hope this weekend to get around to trying these kernel and GCC patches on some of my systems for looking at the performance impact in our commonly benchmarked workloads. The Retpoline work is separate from the KPTI page table isolation work for addressing the Intel CPU Meltdown issue.

  • Intel hit with three class-action lawsuits over chip flaws
  • Meltdown, aka "Dear Intel, you suck"

    We have received *no* non-public information. I've seen posts elsewhere by other *BSD people implying that they receive little or no prior warning, so I have no reason to believe this was specific to OpenBSD and/or our philosophy. Personally, I do find it....amusing? that public announcements were moved up after the issue was deduced from development discussions and commits to a different open source OS project. Aren't we all glad that this was under embargo and strongly believe in the future value of embargoes?

  • Hack-proof Quantum Data Encryption

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Standards/Graphics: Alliance for Open Media (AOM), Vulkan 1.0.67, Mega/RadeonSI

Sat, 2018-01-06 18:19
  • Apple joins Alliance for Open Media to support online video compression

    Iphone flogger Apple has quietly joined the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), a consortium focused on developing next-generation media formats, codecs and technologies

  • Vulkan 1.0.67 Released With Conservative Rasterization Extension

    The Khronos Group has released their first Vulkan graphics/compute programming specification update of 2018.

    Vulkan 1.0.67 is the newest specification for this nearly two-year-old standard. It's been over one month since the Vulkan 1.0.66 update but now there's finally v1.0.67 to ring in the new year. While there's been a lot of time, this update mostly consists of documentation fixes and only one new extension.

  • Marek Working On 32-bit GPU Pointers For RadeonSI

    Well known open-source AMD 3D driver developer Marek Olšák has published a set of new patches featuring his latest optimization work: 32-bit GPU pointers.

    15 patches sent out this Saturday plumb into RadeonSI/Gallium3D support for 32-bit heaps, a 32-bit virtual memory allocator in the Radeon Winsys, and other changes for supporting 32-bit GPU pointers. These Mesa patches also depend upon two yet-to-be-merged LLVM patches in their AMDGPU back-end.

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Latest of LWN (Paywall Expired)

Sat, 2018-01-06 18:17
  • Python 3, ASCII, and UTF-8

    The dreaded UnicodeDecodeError exception is one of the signature "features" of Python 3. It is raised when the language encounters a byte sequence that it cannot decode into a string; strictly treating strings differently from arrays of byte values was something that came with Python 3. Two Python Enhancement Proposals (PEPs) bound for Python 3.7 look toward reducing those errors (and the related UnicodeEncodeError) for environments where they are prevalent—and often unexpected.

    Two related problems are being addressed by PEP 538 ("Coercing the legacy C locale to a UTF-8 based locale") and PEP 540 ("Add a new UTF-8 Mode"). The problems stem from the fact that locales are often incorrectly specified and that the default locale (the "POSIX" or "C" locale) specifies an ASCII encoding, which is often not what users actually want. Over time, more and more programs and developers are using UTF-8 and are expecting things to "just work".

  • Shrinking the kernel with link-time garbage collection

    One of the keys to fitting the Linux kernel into a small system is to remove any code that is not needed. The kernel's configuration system allows that to be done on a large scale, but it still results in the building of a kernel containing many smaller chunks of unused code and data. With a bit of work, though, the compiler and linker can be made to work together to garbage-collect much of that unused code and recover the wasted space for more important uses.
    This is the first article of a series discussing various methods of reducing the si

  • The current state of kernel page-table isolation

    At the end of October, the KAISER patch set was unveiled; this work separates the page tables used by the kernel from those belonging to user space in an attempt to address x86 processor bugs that can disclose the layout of the kernel to an attacker. Those patches have seen significant work in the weeks since their debut, but they appear to be approaching a final state. It seems like an appropriate time for another look.
    This work has since been renamed to "kernel page-table isolation" or KPTI, but the objective remains the same: split the page tables, which are currently shared between user and kernel space, into two sets of tables, one for each side. This is a fundamental change to how the kernel's memory management works and is the sort of thing that one would ordinarily expect to see debated for years, especially given its associated performance impact. KPTI remains on the fast track, though. A set of preparatory patches was merged into the mainline after the 4.15-rc4 release — when only important fixes would ordinarily be allowed — and the rest seems destined for the 4.16 merge window. Many of the core kernel developers have clearly put a lot of time into this work, and Linus Torvalds is expecting it to be backported to the long-term stable kernels.

    KPTI, in other words, has all the markings of a security patch being readied under pressure from a deadline. Just in case there are any smug ARM-based readers out there, it's worth noting that there is an equivalent patch set for arm64 in the works.

  • Containers without Docker at Red Hat

    The Docker (now Moby) project has done a lot to popularize containers in recent years. Along the way, though, it has generated concerns about its concentration of functionality into a single, monolithic system under the control of a single daemon running with root privileges: dockerd. Those concerns were reflected in a talk by Dan Walsh, head of the container team at Red Hat, at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon. Walsh spoke about the work the container team is doing to replace Docker with a set of smaller, interoperable components. His rallying cry is "no big fat daemons" as he finds them to be contrary to the venerated Unix philosophy.

  • Demystifying container runtimes

    As we briefly mentioned in our overview article about KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, there are multiple container "runtimes", which are programs that can create and execute containers that are typically fetched from online images. That space is slowly reaching maturity both in terms of standards and implementation: Docker's containerd 1.0 was released during KubeCon, CRI-O 1.0 was released a few months ago, and rkt is also still in the game. With all of those runtimes, it may be a confusing time for those looking at deploying their own container-based system or Kubernetes cluster from scratch. This article will try to explain what container runtimes are, what they do, how they compare with each other, and how to choose the right one. It also provides a primer on container specifications and standards.

  • HarfBuzz brings professional typography to the desktop

    By their nature, low-level libraries go mostly unnoticed by users and even some programmers. Usually, they are only noticed when something goes wrong. However, HarfBuzz deserves to be an exception. Not only does the adoption of HarfBuzz mean that free software's ability to convert Unicode characters to a font's specific glyphs is as advanced as any proprietary equivalent, but its increasing use means that professional typography can now be done from the Linux desktop as easily as at a print shop.

    "HarfBuzz" is a transliteration of the Persian for "open type." Partly, the name reflects that it is designed for use with OpenType, the dominant format for font files. Equally, though, it reflects the fact that the library's beginnings lie in the wish of Behdad Esfahbod, HarfBuzz's lead developer, to render Persian texts correctly on a computer.

    "I grew up in a print shop," Esfahbod explained during a telephone interview. "My father was a printer, and his father was a printer. When I was nine, they got a PC, so my brother and I started learning programming on it." In university, Esfahbod tried to add support for Unicode, the industry standard for encoding text, to Microsoft Explorer 5. "We wanted to support Persian on the web," he said. "But the rendering was so bad, and we couldn't fix that, so we started hacking on Mozilla, which back then was Netscape."

    Esfahbod's early interest in rendering Persian was the start of a fifteen-year effort to bring professional typography to every Unicode-supported script (writing system). It was an effort that led through working on the GNOME desktop for Red Hat to working on Firefox development at Mozilla and Chrome development at Google, with Esfahbod always moving on amiably to wherever he could devote the most time to perfecting HarfBuzz. The first general release was reached in 2015, and Esfahbod continues to work on related font technologies to this day.

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A quick update: eelo is getting some momentum

Sat, 2018-01-06 18:16

Honestly, when I started eelo a few weeks ago, I thought that maybe it would catch the attention of a few hundreds people in my personal network, and be a cool “side-project” project for me. Nothing more…

But the Kickstarter campaign seems to actually catch a lot of attention. It completed its initial goal in 6 days and did 200% in 15 days. We’re getting more and more articles about eelo in the press, and more than 2600 people have registered at eelo.io.

What’s more interesting is that the incoming web traffic at eelo.io is coming from all over the world. So either eelo is addressing a “global niche”, or it really has the potential to become a game changer. And as concerns about data privacy are really growing, my bet is that we could actually become a game changer.

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Debian/Ubuntu: deepin GNU/Linux, Lubuntu, Debian LTS

Sat, 2018-01-06 18:14
  • Are You Looking for 32 Bit deepin GNU/Linux?

    Use Manjaro Deepin 32 bit instead! As you may know, deepin GNU/Linux doesn't provide 32 bit version, and it's still no "Ubuntu Deepin Remix" with latest version  for 32 bit until today, so you having 32 bit computers may want a 32 bit, living & supported GNU/Linux distro with Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE). The closest answer for that is Manjaro Deepin 32 bit, a new community edition of Manjaro that comes with DDE + latest applications, and being actively developed. This article includes the download links + screenshots + short list of its default applications.

  • Lubuntu 17.04 End Of Life and Lubuntu 17.10 Respins

    Following the End of Life notice for Ubuntu, the Lubuntu Team would like to announce that as a non-LTS release, 17.04 has a 9-month support cycle and, as such, will reach end of life on Saturday, January 13, 2018. Lubuntu will no longer provide bug fixes or security updates for 17.04, and we highly recommend that you update to 17.10, which continues to be actively supported with security updates and select high-impact bug fixes.

    [..]

    We are pleased to announce that images with the affected driver disabled are being created at the time of writing, and should be ready for testing in the next day or so, which could be released next Thursday. Once images are ready for testing, we will announce a call for testing on the Lubuntu-devel mailing list, so please subscribe to that if you are interested. As always, we will announce something on our official blog at Lubuntu.me once we are ready to release these images.

  • My Free Software Activities in December 2017

    My monthly report covers a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world. I write it for my donors (thanks to them!) but also for the wider Debian community because it can give ideas to newcomers and it’s one of the best ways to find volunteers to work with me on projects that matter to me.

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Red Hat Leftovers

Sat, 2018-01-06 18:13

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KDE: Latte Dock and LibAlkimia

Sat, 2018-01-06 18:11
  • Latte Dock, KDE Fundraising 2017

    Latte Dock is preparing its next stable version (0.7.3) which you will be able to get the next days and of course new features at its git version. I wont describe now the fixes, improvements and new features both versions contain because this article is for another reason.

  • LibAlkimia 7.0 released

    LibAlkimia is a base library that contains support for financial applications based on the Qt C++ framework.

    One of its main features is the encapsulation of The GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library (GMP) and so providing a simple object to be used  representing monetary values in the form of rational numbers. All the mathematical details are hidden inside the AlkValue object.

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Linux Journal's Return, OpenSource.com Roundup, and LWN's 2017 Retrospective

Sat, 2018-01-06 18:09
  • Linux Journal returns, Automotive Grade Linux at CES, and more open source news

    In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we cover the rebirth of Linux Journal, Automotive Grade Linux infotainment systems, and more.

  • A 2017 retrospective

    The December 21 LWN Weekly Edition will be the final one for 2017; as usual, we will take the last week of the year off and return on January 4. It's that time of year where one is moved to look back over the last twelve months and ruminate on what happened; at LWN, we also get the opportunity to mock the predictions we made back in January. Read on for the scorecard and a year-end note from LWN.
    Your editor led off with a prediction that group maintainer models would be adopted by more projects over the course of the year; this prediction was partly motivated by the Debian discussion on the idea of eliminating single maintainers. Debian appears to have dropped the idea; Fedora, meanwhile, has seen some strong pushback from maintainers who resent others touching "their" packages. Group maintainership may have made a few gains here and there, but it has not yet succeeded in taking over the free-software world.

    The prediction that the vendor kernels shipped on Android devices would move closer to the mainline was not a complete failure. Google has made some efforts to push vendors toward less-ancient kernels, and efforts to get those vendors to work more closely with the mainline are beginning to bear fruit. It will be a long and slow process, though.

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UBports Is Making Progress With Unity 8 On The Desktop

Sat, 2018-01-06 17:06

While it's approaching one year since Canonical decided to divest from Unity 8 and mobile/convergence, the UBports community continues making some progress in getting their forked desktop environment ready for their forked Ubuntu Touch environment as well as the desktop.

Shared this weekend on YouTube is a new video showing off the current state of Unity 8 on the desktop. Recent work by the UBports folks includes better XMir support so applications like Google Chrome will behave properly, and more.

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9 Most Beautiful Linux Distros You Need To Use (2018 Edition)

Sat, 2018-01-06 16:59

Linux users have the liberty to enjoy an unparalleled freedom while choosing the Linux distributions as per their needs. Using different open source technologies, the developers keep creating something new and surprising the enthusiasts. Here, in this article, I’ll be listing the most beautiful Linux distros that have impressed me and other Linux users. This list is a mixture of newcomers and popular distros.

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