posted 2 days ago on OSNews
If I told you that my entire computer screen just got taken over by a new app that I’d never installed or asked for — it just magically appeared on my desktop, my taskbar, and preempted my next website launch — you’d probably tell me to run a virus scanner and stay away from shady websites, no?But the insanely intrusive app I’m talking about isn’t a piece of ransomware. It’s Microsoft’s new Chromium Edge browser, which the company is now force-feeding users via an automatic update to Windows. People should run whatever the hell they damn well please, but the last few years it has become increasingly clear that Windows is deteriorating fast. Oddly enough, it’s not the operating system itself that’s deteriorating – in fact, Windows is probably in a better technical state than it’s ever been – but the policies and anti-user ‘features’ draped around it. If you read OSNews, you are most likely technically inclined. People who read OSNews don’t need Windows, and shouldn’t be running it. It’s actively hostile towards its users, and you deserve better.

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posted 2 days ago on OSNews
Through a fair bit of digging, we were able to obtain a copy of Borealis, which turned out to be another full Linux distribution. Unlike Crostini, which is based on Debian, Borealis is based on Ubuntu, another popular variety of Linux. Just like the existing Linux apps support, we believe Borealis will integrate itself with Chrome OS rather than being a full desktop experience.However, we found one key difference between Borealis and a normal installation of Ubuntu, as Borealis includes a pre-installed copy of Steam. This lines up with what we learned at CES 2020, when Kan Liu, Google’s director of product management for Chrome OS, shared that the upcoming Steam gaming support would be based on Linux. I am very curious to see how this will perform. My gut feeling is that they will position this more as an endpoint for Steam’s in-home streaming feature than as a way to play games locally on-device, since I don’t know of any ChromeBook with more graphical power than whatever integrated GPU Intel stuffs in their low-end processors.

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posted 4 days ago on OSNews
If you’re a Linux user on the hunt for a new laptop, there’s quite a bit of preparation and research you must do on top of the regular research buying such an expensive piece of equipment already entails. Reading forum posts from other Linux users with the laptop you’re interested in, hunting for detailed specifications to make sure that specific chip version or that exact piece of exotic hardware is fully supported, checking to see if your favourite distribution has adequate support for it, and so on. There is, however, another way. While vastly outnumbered, there are laptops sold with Linux preinstalled. Even some of the big manufacturers, such as Dell, sell laptops with Linux preinstalled, but often only on older models that have been out for a while, or while not fully supporting all hardware (the fingerprint reader and infrared camera on my XPS 13 were not supported by Linux, for instance). For the likes of Dell, Linux in the consumer space is an afterthought, a minor diversion, and it shows. If you want the best possible out-of-the-box Linux experience, you’ll have to go to one of the smaller, more boutique Linux-only OEMs. One of the more prominent Linux OEMs is System76, who have been selling various laptops and desktops with Linux preinstalled for more than decade now. Recently, they launched their new ultraportable, the Lemur Pro, and they kindly loaned one to us for review. Full disclosure: System76 sent us the laptop as a loan, and it will be returned to them after publication of this review. They did not read this review before publication, and placed zero restrictions on anything I could write about. Specifications The Lemur Pro configuration System76 sent to us comes in at $1492, and packs a 4C/8T 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10510U, with frequencies of 1.8 up to 4.9 GHz and 8MB Cache. It came with 16GB of RAM, of which 8 is soldered onto the motherboard, and 8 is seated in the single RAM expansion slot. Storage-wise, it is equipped with a 500GB SSD in one of its two user-accessible M.2 slots – a Samsung 970 Evo Plus. The 14.1″ display has a resolution of 1920×1080 with a matte finish, with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. The display is powered by the integrated GPU, and there’s no option for a discrete GPU. The battery is a 73 Wh unit, and is entirely user-replacable. Remove a few easily accessible screws, and the bottom cover goes right off – no fragile plastic clips, glue, or other shenanigans. Bucking a trend in the industry, the Lemur Pro is reasonably equipped when it comes to ports: one USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 port, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a MicroSD Card Reader, a full-size HDMI port, a barrel connector for the included charger (USB-C charging is also supported), a combined headphone/microphone jack, and the usual Kensington lock. The USB-C port can also be used as a display port with DisplayPort 1.2. Hardware The design of the Lemur Pro is unassuming, mostly black, and free of the kind of design frivolities other laptops tend to suffer from. There’s no RGB here, no flames painted on the lid to make it go faster, no screaming logos or gamer accents – just a black laptop with a System76 logo on the lid. That’s it. My fiancée thinks the logo is a bit too big, but I dig it. It is incredibly light, weighing a mere 0.99 kg – for comparison, a MacBook Air weighs 1.29 kg, so the Lemur Pro is considerably lighter. This does come at a price, however, and the Lemur Pro just doesn’t feel as strong and sturdy as similar laptops with a bit more heft to it. There’s an amount of flex in the display lid, bottom cover, and keyboard cover that you just won’t see in a MacBook Air or an XPS 13. It’s a trade-off you have to make – if you really value the extreme kind of portability the Lemur Pro provides, it means giving in somewhere else. I’m disappointed System76 does not provide a high refresh rate display on the Lemur Pro, in the very least as an option. Once you’ve gotten used to 144Hz (or even higher) on your computer displays, using a 60Hz display feels like a major step back. I understand the battery life concerns, but I’m definitely more than willing to give up a little bit of battery life if it meant a buttery-smooth 144Hz UI. Aside from the lack of a high refresh rate option, the display is excellent – it’s bright and the colours look normal, but note that I’m not a colour expert, so I can’t make any claims about colour accuracy. For my general use, however, I didn’t run into any issues. Speaking of battery life – this is one of the major strong points of the Lemur Pro. System76 advertises a maximum battery life of 14 hours, and while these kind of figures are usually complete nonsense, I think they’re not far off the mark here. Since we do not (yet) have a long history of laptop reviews, we do not have any consistent methodology for measuring battery life, so anything I say here is very subjective and difficult for you as a reader to parse. That being said, with casual use – meaning, browsing, writing, Twitter and e-mailing while watching YouTube videos – I could definitely hit the 10 hour mark at the balanced power setting. Switching to the power saver setting yielded me even more hours of battery life, but it did cause a notable hit in performance, especially for video. Simple 1080p YouTube video – either played in Firefox or locally – would stutter and lag, but everything else seemed to perform just fine. My guess is that the power saver setting targets the integrated Intel GPU quite aggressively, but honestly, for several hours of additional battery life, I think it’s worth it. The battery life is especially remarkable since getting proper battery life out of laptops designed for Windows running Linux is often a major hassle, and no matter what you do, Linux battery life on laptops not designed for Linux always lags behind Windows – which makes sense when you think about it. Opting for a Linux-first laptop demonstrates that when hardware, software, and firmware (which we’ll get to in a minute) are designed together, Linux laptops can easily have similar or better battery life than Windows or macOS laptops. The Lemur Pro has a multitouch trackpad that is entirely unremarkable in its operation. It works fine, but doesn’t come anywhere close to the quality of MacBook trackpads or the trackpad on my XPS 13. It’s not bad – just very average and middle-of-the-road. The trackpad surface has a bit too much resistance for my tastes, and since it has a ‘diving board’ design physically hinged at the top, it gets progressively harder to click the higher your finger goes, and at the top rim it becomes entirely impossible to click at all. I would prefer the type of trackpad that you can click anywhere. The keyboard is solid, has a good feel, and nice clickiness without being annoyingly loud or overbearing. Due to the mentioned flex in the keyboard cover, keys in the middle of the keyboard do flex downwards a bit for those among you with a more forceful stroke. The only true issue with the keyboard is the placement of the page up and down keys right above the left and right arrow keys, which is something not everyone likes. I’ve gotten used to this layout because my XPS 13 uses it as well, but for the first few weeks, you will definitely hit page up and down instead of the left and right arrows. I’ve gotten used to this layout on my Dell already, but boy was it annoying for a few weeks. Two other points about the keyboard: first, there’s no Fn lock. This can be annoying since things like display brightness, volume, and keyboard lighting/brightness are all adjusted using Fn+Fx. Since I – and many others with me – don’t use the actual Fx keys all that often, but do adjust brightness and volume all day long, an Fn lock would be greatly appreciated. Two, and this is a minor nitpick but one that bothers me nonetheless: the keyboard lighting is not automatic. On my XPS 13, when you move the mouse, click, or strike a key, the keyboard lighting comes on automatically (you can turn this feature off, too), and after a few seconds of inactivity, it gradually turns off, too. This is a great feature if you often use your laptop in dark environments to watch video, like I do. On the Lemur Pro, you constantly have to manually turn the keyboard lighting on and off using the Fn+Fx keys, which is just plain annoying. There’s a 720p webcam included in the top bezel of the display, and as with all other webcams in laptops, it’s barely passable. It technically gets the job of displaying video done, but for some reason no laptop manufacturer seems even remotely interested in including webcams from later than 2004, so we’re stuck with what we have. If you rely on webcams for your job – as many have discovered this year they might – get an external quality webcam instead. As said, though, this applies to all laptops on the market today. The included charging brick connects to the laptop using a barrel plug, which is an odd choice for such a modern laptop, especially taking into consideration it also supports charging over USB-C. I’ve had bad experiences with barrel plugs over the years regarding longevity, and since this is an ultraportable in 2020, it should’ve come with a USB-C charger and an additional USB-C/A port instead of the barrel connector. A minor annoyance with the included charging brick is that the fixed cable with the brick on one end and the barrel connector on the other is incredibly short. It’s only about 67 cm long, meaning you always have to keep the brick on your desk, or when using the laptop on your lap, next to you on the couch. If you’re using the charger at a busy airport or whatever with no room to place the brick on the chair next to you – good luck, you’ll have to stick it between your legs or stuff it between your leg and the person sitting next to you. In short, get a third-party USB-C charger with a longer cable. A few notes on performance and thermals If you’re in the market for an ultraportable machine like the Lemur Pro, you’re not going to use it for gaming or heavy video editing, since that’s simply not what it’s designed for. If you want a gaming laptop or a video editing workstation, you simply won’t be considering a laptop like this – you’ll be looking at laptops with discrete GPUs and processors with more cores. The truth is that every ultraportable in this segment equipped with the latest Intel or AMD mobile processors will perform great, and the Lemur Pro is no exception. With the 10th Gen Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and the Samsung Evo M.2 SSD, this machine never slows down, and I’m pretty sure the same will apply for the slightly cheaper Core i5 model. You can spec the Lemur Pro up all the way to 40GB of RAM, so even if you have to run a bunch of local virtual machines to test your code, this laptop can serve you. The Lemur Pro’s thermal solution leaves something to be desired, and I’m not sure if that’s because of software or hardware. It uses a single fan, and I have an issue where while watching video, every minute or so, the fan will spin up, spin for roughly 10 seconds, and then spin down. Now, I really don’t like fan noise and can be quite anal about, but I still feel like during such light use as a bit of browsing or a bit of video watching – nothing crazy, no 4K or anything – the fans should simply never spin up unless something is wrong. The laptop tends to get relatively hot during such light use, and I feel this might be because the only ventilation openings are inside the hinge – there are no vents on the bottom or sides of the laptop for the fan to draw cold air from. What I think is happening in my case is that the temperature keeps just barely hitting the fan threshold, after which a few seconds of the fan spinning brings it back down just enough – rinse, repeat. This is nothing less sensitive thermal thresholds or a mild undervolt couldn’t solve, but I’m obviously not going to experiment with a laptop that’s only on loan. That being said, not everyone cares as much about fan noise or temperature as I do, so your mileage may vary. If you mostly use your laptop in noisier settings like coffee shops or busy offices, a fan spinning up for a bit won’t be an issue for you, and the fan isn’t excessively loud either. Software and firmware The Lemur Pro comes preinstalled with System76’s own Pop!_OS, which is a fairly standard Ubuntu derivative with some tweaking done to the kernel and power management to make things like the great battery life possible. Since I feel most OSNews readers have their own favourite distributions, and because this is a laptop review, I’m not going to spend too much time on Pop!_OS. It does seem you can add System76’s own PPA to other Ubuntu-based distributions to gain some of the benefits of System76’s drivers and kernel changes, and of course, you can look at their code and implement it on your own distribution of choice too if you have the skills to do so. You’re not tied to Pop!_OS (or Linux, for that matter) at all, and can run whatever distribution you want. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find quality, no-nonsense design in laptops like this these days. What I do want to talk about, however, is the firmware of this machine. Like other System76 machines, the Lemur Pro uses a combination of coreboot and System76’s own firmware tools as a BIOS/UEFI environment, as well as System76’s controller firmware for various other functions, which are all entirely open source and available on Github. This means that there’s a lot more low-level open source code powering this laptop than most other laptops on the market. If you know how to program controller firmware or how to work with things like coreboot, you can pull the code from Github, make any changes you desire, and flash your own firmware onto the laptop. This isn’t something most average consumers – including myself – have the skills to do, but it does mean that it’s highly unlikely there’s anything nefarious hiding in the BIOS or firmware. Add to that the fact that all System76 laptops ship with Intel’s Management Engine disabled, and the Lemur Pro gives you lot more privacy and hacking options than most other laptops on the market. There are also benefits for average users, however. For instance, thanks to the relatively lightweight nature of the System76’s BIOS replacement, this machine boots incredibly fast. Furthermore, the controller firmware, which controls things like battery management, thermals, the fan, special functions keys, and a host of other functions, plays a big role in achieving the excellent battery life figures this laptop achieves. Still, there’s clearly a major missed opportunity here, something that might even be in the pipeline for all I know. Since System76 is using its own controller firmware for thermals, the battery, and fan control, the next step would be to integrate control over these into Pop!_OS itself, with an easy-to-use graphical interface to control fan speeds, thermal thresholds, power savings, processor frequencies, and so on. This is a major weak point in Linux compared to Windows, and System76 has a prime opportunity here to further set their computers apart from the rest. In fact, with fine-grained control over the fans and thermal thresholds, I could probably pinpoint and smooth out my fan issue within a few minutes, setting up fan curves and thresholds specifically tailored for my use case – something I do manually in the BIOS of my two Linux desktops (but sadly not in Linux itself). As a whole though, it’s an almost surreal experience to see such integration on the open source front. Not only was it an interesting experience to unbox a brand new laptop and have it boot straight to Linux, realising so many usually proprietary bits were open source just felt right. This kind of integration and low-level firmware stuff isn’t exactly sexy, and I find it commendable that System76 is investing in it. I hope they – and us, as users – will reap more benefits in the future. All-rounder After a few weeks of using the Lemur Pro, I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really fail at anything, and has a few standout features – most notably the excellent battery life and the open source firmware. If you’re a Linux user looking for a powerful, understated ultraportable with amazing battery life, I honestly don’t know where you can do better than the Lemur Pro. The situation changes a bit if you’re currently a Windows or macOS user and are looking for a new laptop. While the Lemur Pro is still a great laptop and you’ll enjoy using it, it can’t quite measure up to the best the Windows and macOS platforms have to offer in a few key areas. The trackpad is good, but not great – there’s better ones on similarly priced Dells or Macs. The display is good, but there’s no high refresh rate or 1440p/4K option as Windows PCs offer. The build quality is good, but it’s definitely not on the same level as an XPS or MacBook. It basically is a good all-rounder for non-Linux users, but an unequalled option for Linux users. That being said, if you had told me even just 5 or 10 years ago that we’d get a Linux-only laptop that was this good out of the box right now, I would not have believed you. There’s room for improvement, but there’s no denying this is simply a really solid offering.

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posted 4 days ago on OSNews
In Android 11 we continue to increase the security of the Android platform. We have moved to safer default settings, migrated to a hardened memory allocator, and expanded the use of compiler mitigations that defend against classes of vulnerabilities and frustrate exploitation techniques. An overview of the security-related changes in Android 11.

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posted 4 days ago on OSNews
With the advent of higher performance Arm based cloud computing, a lot of focus is being put on what the various competitors can do in this space. We’ve covered Ampere Computing’s previous eMag products, which actually came from the acquisition of Applied Micro, but the next generation hardware is called Altra, and after a few months of teasing some high performance compute, the company is finally announcing its product list, as well as an upcoming product due for sampling this year.Ampere’s Altra is a realized version of Arm’s Neoverse N1 enterprise core, much like Amazon’s Graviton2, but this time in an 80-core arrangement. Where Graviton2 is designed to suit Amazon’s needs for Arm-based instances, Ampere’s goal is essentially to supply a better-than-Graviton2 solution to the rest of the big cloud service providers (CSPs). Of the companies that have committed to an N1 based design, so far on paper Ampere is publically the biggest and fastest on the books. Can we have these in workstations please? I know they’re not designed for my kinds of uses, but damn if these aren’t awesome.

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posted 5 days ago on OSNews
We have a dark mode now. That’s the news. You can click the link in the sidebar to switch between dark mode and the regular version of the site. You can thank our webmaster Adam for OSNews no longer burning your retinas at night.

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posted 5 days ago on OSNews
After the release of the second beta a few weeks ago, Haiku continues its steady pace of improvements and fixes. A few highlights from the work done since the beta release: Korli also worked on improving support for modern x86 CPUs, including the xsave instruction, and enabling use of AVX which requires saving more CPU registers during context switches.[…]A new version of HaikuWebKit has finally been released after help from KapiX and X512 to fix the remaining bugs. It uses a lot less memory, crashes less often, and has better support for modern website. There is ongoing work for further updates and improvements. There’s a lot more in there, so if you have beta 2 running, be sure to update it.

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posted 5 days ago on OSNews
What follows is a list of the 25 most ingenious and influential Java apps ever written, from Wikipedia Search to the US National Security Agency’s Ghidra. The scope of these applications runs the gamut: space exploration, video games, machine learning, genomics, automotive, cybersecurity, and more. It’s posted by Oracle and thus it makes me feel dirty to link to it, but I guess it’s still an interesting list – albeit with one obvious, huge, giant, inescapable elephant of an mission.

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posted 8 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft is removing the ability for business users to defer manually Windows 10 feature updates using Windows Update settings starting with the Windows 10 2004/May Update. Microsoft seemingly made this change public with a change in its Windows 10 2004 for IT Pros documentation on June 23. I’ve read the article three times and I still don’t quite understand what’s going on.

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posted 9 days ago on OSNews
I was working in the mobile phone industry just as smartphones were taking off. I saw the Palm Pilot rise and fall. I witnessed NEC and Sagem and a host of companies launch smartphones and then disappear. But the greatest tragedy of them all was Nokia and their Symbian Operating System.Symbian was, for its time, a brilliant OS. It ran 3D games smoothly, had terrific hardware support, a decent ecosystem for developers. And it was bloody annoying for users.Every few minutes, Symbian would interrupt you to ask “Are you sure you want this app to connect to the Internet?” His final paragraph has a point.

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posted 9 days ago on OSNews
To meet our customers where they are and relieve customer challenges in managing multiple security solutions to protect their unique range of platforms and products, we have been working to extend the richness of Microsoft Defender ATP to non-Windows platforms. Today we are excited to announce general availability of Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) for Linux!Adding Linux into the existing selection of natively supported platforms by Microsoft Defender ATP marks an important moment for all our customers. It makes Microsoft Defender Security Center a truly unified surface for monitoring and managing security of the full spectrum of desktop and server platforms that are common across enterprise environments (Windows, Windows Server, macOS, and Linux). Defender ATP is an enterprise product, so this news doesn’t mean the end-user program that ships with Windows is coming to Linux. Still, seeing Microsoft embracing Linux left, right, and centre is still a weird sight for someone who still hasn’t forgiven Microsoft for their role in killing any chances of BeOS catching on. I’m still bitter over that one.

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posted 10 days ago on OSNews
At this point, saying Android has a serious problem when it comes to phones receiving reliable Android upgrades is getting old. We’ve written about it a lot — even I, specifically, have written about it a lot. You’ve told us your thoughts. We all get it. Even with all that, though, the latest announcement of iOS 14 really sends the message home.This week, Apple officially confirmed that the 2020 iteration of iOS will land on every iPhone since the iPhone 6S. That’s a phone that came out in September 2015, which is nearly five years ago. […]Meanwhile, the flagship Android device from 2015 was the Samsung Galaxy S6. The most recent official version of Android that phone received was Android 7 Nougat, which dropped in 2016. Of course, it was well into 2017 before the Galaxy S6 actually got it. Since then: nothing. Apple deserves praise for being pretty much the only smartphone manufacturer supporting its devices for this long. Despite years of attempts and failed promises, Android devices still barely get two years of updates, and even if, they arrive with major delays.

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posted 11 days ago on OSNews
If you have used tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you probably have run into a suggestion to use “next-gen image formats”, namely Google’s WebP image format. Google claims that their WebP format is 25 – 34% smaller than JPEG at equivalent quality.[…]I think Google’s result of 25-34% smaller files is mostly caused by the fact that they compared their WebP encoder to the JPEG reference implementation, Independent JPEG Group’s cjpeg, not Mozilla’s improved MozJPEG encoder. I decided to run some tests to see how cjpeg, MozJPEG and WebP compare. I also tested the new AVIF format, based on the open AV1 video codec. AVIF support is already in Firefox behind a flag and should be coming soon to Chrome if this ticket is to be believed. Spoiler alert: WebP doesn’t really provide any benefits, and since websites generally use JPEG as a fallback anyway, you end up with having to store two images at the same time, defeating the purpose entirely.

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posted 11 days ago on OSNews
Rosetta is a translation process that allows users to run apps that contain x86_64 instructions on Apple silicon. Rosetta is meant to ease the transition to Apple silicon, giving you time to create a universal binary for your app. It is not a substitute for creating a native version of your app.To the user, Rosetta is mostly transparent. If an executable contains only Intel instructions, macOS automatically launches Rosetta and begins the translation process. When translation finishes, the system launches the translated executable in place of the original. However, the translation process takes time, so users might perceive that translated apps launch or run more slowly at times. A short overview of Rosetta 2, the translation layer that allows 64bit x86 applications to run on the upcoming ARM-based Macs.

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posted 12 days ago on OSNews
The era of macOS 10 is over, and we’re entering the next era of macOS’s life cycle. This is going to be a massive update, and aside from the transition to ARM, it can be summed up as “macOS: iOS Edition”: the entire graphical user interface has been redesigned to resemble iOS, including massive amounts of whitespace, touch-friendly design, and very white roundrect icons. The new operating system brings the biggest redesign since the introduction of macOS 10, according to Apple. Big Sur borrows a number of elements from Apple’s iOS, including a customizable Control Center, where you can change brightness and toggle Do Not Disturb, and a new notification center, which groups related notifications together. Both interfaces are translucent, like their iOS counterparts.A number of apps have received streamlined new redesigns, including Mail, Photos, Notes, and iWork. Apple has introduced a new search feature to Messages (which organizes results into links, photos, and matching terms), as well as inline replies for group chats, a new photo-selection interface, and Memoji stickers. There’s a new version of Maps for Mac that borrows features from the iOS app, including custom Guides, 360-degree location views, cycling and electric vehicle directions (which you can send directly to an iPhone), and indoor maps. Apple introduced a number of new Catalyst apps as well. I’m not entirely sure about the look, especially since it feels very much like a touch UI that won’t work and feel as well when using a mouse of a trackpad – it looks like a 1:1 copy of the iPad Pro’s iPadOS user interface, for better or worse. Still, judging a GUI by mere screenshots and short videos is a folly, so let’s reserve final judgment until we get to use it. That being said, if you want to try the new GUI now, you can just load up any GNOME-based distribution and apply any of the countless iOS-inspired themes found on Gnome-Look.org. An additional massively important feature is that the upcoming ARM-based Macs will be able to run iOS and iPadOS application unmodified, as-is, much like how Chrome OS can run Android applications. This further underlines how despite years of Apple and its advocates poo-pooing Windows for combining cursor and touch-based interfaces, Apple is now pretty much past any idea of combining the two, and has instead just opted to make everything touch-first, whether you use a mouse or not. Lastly, macOS 11 will come with Rosetta 2, which will allow x86 applications to run unmodified on ARM-based Macs. That’s definitely good news for early adopters, but performance will obviously be a concern with emulation technology such as this.

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posted 12 days ago on OSNews
Building on its industry-leading A-series chips for iPhones and iPads, Apple wants Macs with its custom silicon to have the highest performance with lower power usage. Apple says the vast majority of Mac apps can be quickly updated to be “universal” with support for both Intel-based Macs and those with Apple’s custom silicon.Starting today, developers will be able to apply for a Mac mini with an A12Z chip inside to help prepare their apps for Apple’s custom silicon. The special Mac mini will be running the macOS Big Sur beta and the latest version of Xcode. The news everyone new was coming. The transition will take roughly two years, and the first consumer device will become available later this year.

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posted 12 days ago on OSNews
Apple has announced iOS 14 onstage at WWDC 2020, giving the first (official) look at the latest version of its software for the iPhone, and it’s bringing the biggest change to the iOS home screen in years: widgets.Widgets come in a variety of sizes and can still be viewed in the Today view, but in iOS 14, Apple allows widgets to be added to the main Home screen to live right alongside your apps. To add them, there’s a new “widget gallery” where users can easily add and customize widgets. There’s also a new “Smart Stack” widget that automatically shows relevant apps based on the time of day. iOS 14 will be a big update, but a lot of it is catching up to features other platforms have had for a decade now, such as the above-mentioned widgets, which look virtually identical to live tiles on Windows Phone. It also comes with an application drawer (like Android), divided into various application categories (like the Palm OS launcher), and the ability to set your own default browser and email application (like every other operating system since the dawn of time). There’s more, of course, such as picture-in-picture support, something called App Clips where parts of applications can be displayed for quick access (Android has had a similar features for a few years now), and a number of other, smaller things. All in all, it seems like a decent update, bringing a number of features to iOS that most of the world’s smartphone users have been enjoying for a decade or more now. Good news for iOS users, I suppose, but nothing groundbreaking.

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posted 12 days ago on OSNews
As a society, we need an open source device for reading. Books are among the most important documents of our culture, yet the most popular and widespread devices we have for reading — the Kobo, the Nook, the Kindle and even the iPad — are closed devices, operating as small moving parts in a set of giant closed platforms whose owners’ interests are not always aligned with readers’.The Open Book aims to be a simple device that anyone with a soldering iron can build for themselves. The Open Book should be comprehensible: the reader should be able to look at it and understand, at least in broad strokes, how it works. It should be extensible, so that a reader with different needs can write code and add accessories that make the book work for them. It should be global, supporting readers of books in all the languages of the world. Most of all, it should be open, so that anyone can take this design as a starting point and use it to build a better book. Whenever someone asks what “putting your money where your mouth is” means, just link them to the Open Book.

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posted 12 days ago on OSNews
Thousands of users across the internet are reporting severe issues with their Samsung Blu-ray players, home theater, and home cinema systems.[…]A more realistic explanation is that the issues are being caused by an expired SSL certificate that the Samsung Blu-ray players were using to connect to Samsung servers via HTTPS. I kept thinking about smart locks stuck in reboot loops.

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posted 12 days ago on OSNews
For the past two years, modern CPUs—particularly those made by Intel—have been under siege by an unending series of attacks that make it possible for highly skilled attackers to pluck passwords, encryption keys, and other secrets out of silicon-resident memory. On Tuesday, two separate academic teams disclosed two new and distinctive exploits that pierce Intel’s Software Guard eXtension, by far the most sensitive region of the company’s processors.[…]The new SGX attacks are known as SGAxe and CrossTalk. Both break into the fortified CPU region using separate side-channel attacks, a class of hack that infers sensitive data by measuring timing differences, power consumption, electromagnetic radiation, sound, or other information from the systems that store it. The assumptions for both attacks are roughly the same. An attacker has already broken the security of the target machine through a software exploit or a malicious virtual machine that compromises the integrity of the system. While that’s a tall bar, it’s precisely the scenario that SGX is supposed to defend against. Is this ever going to stop?

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
I am a programmer. I do not deal with digital painting, photo processing, video editing. I don’t really care for wide gamut or even proper color reproduction. I spend most of my days in a text browser, text editor and text terminal, looking at barely moving letters.So I optimize my setup to showing really, really good letters. A good monitor is essential for that. Not nice to have. A MUST. And in “good” I mean, as good as you can get. These are my thoughts, based on my own experience, on what monitors work best for programming. There’s a lot of good advice in here. We all know higher pixel densities make our user interfaces and text crisper, but a surprising number of people still don’t seem to know just how much of a gamechanger high refresh rates can be. If you’re shopping around for a new monitor, and you have to choose between higher pixel count or a high refresh rate, you should 100% without a doubt go for the higher refresh rate. The difference 120Hz or 144Hz will make in just how smooth and responsive a UI can be is astonishing. I think the sweet spot is 1440p at 144Hz, preferably with FreeSync or Gsync. Both Windows and Linux support high refresh rates out of the box, but as the linked article notes, macOS basically has no clue anything above 60Hz exists, and you’ll have to be very careful about what display you buy, and be willing to jump through annoying hoops every time you load up macOS just to enable high refresh rates.

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posted 18 days ago on OSNews
The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 11.4-RELEASE. This is the fifth and final release of the stable/11 branch. Read the announcement for more information.

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posted 18 days ago on OSNews
Hidden deep in a blog post full of PR speak, Google has announced that it’s bringing Microsoft Office to Chrome OS through a partnership with Parallels. At Google, we recognize the modern way of working as being a cloud worker—on a browser and browser-based apps for the vast majority of the work day (you’re reading this in one, right?), untethered because the devices you use are mobile-friendly and cloud-native. We’ve long been saying that almost any business role can be a cloud worker, and COVID-19 has dramatically made this point.  As a result, the Chrome OS team is working on new ways to make sure every company can benefit from the velocity created by supporting a cloud workforce. For example, our new partnership with Parallels brings legacy application support—which includes Microsoft Office desktop apps—to Chromebooks.  More to come on this over the coming months. The Verge has more details on how, exactly, this is going to work, and the gist is that Parallels will be integrated with Chrome OS to allow Microsoft Office to run locally on the device. While Chrome OS has long supported Windows desktop apps that are streamed via the cloud through a Parallels Remote Application Server, this new partnership means the apps will run virtualized on Chromebooks instead. The new feature is set to be available this fall for Chrome Enterprise customers.Parallels Desktop will be integrated natively into Chrome OS, improving performance and enabling offline access for these applications on Chromebooks. It’s a surprising, but welcome move that will mean Chrome OS will be able to support both Android apps and Windows apps in the future. This is an interesting move, and I hope it will become available to regular, non-enterprise consumers, too.

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posted 18 days ago on OSNews
The European Commission has opened two formal antitrust investigations into Apple. The first investigation concerns “the mandatory use of Apple’s own proprietary in-app purchase system and restrictions on the ability of developers to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps.” The second investigation concerns “Apple’s terms, conditions and other measures for integrating Apple Pay in merchant apps and websites on iPhones and iPads, Apple’s limitation of access to the Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality (‘tap and go’) on iPhones for payments in stores, and alleged refusals of access to Apple Pay.”

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posted 19 days ago on OSNews
Twenty years ago, Microsoft released Windows 2000. A rock-solid, 32-bit business-oriented alternative to Windows 98 and Windows Millennium Edition, it paved the way for future consumer versions, including Windows 10. Here’s why we remember it so fondly. Windows 2000 was definitely an important release, and many people seem to have good memories of it. I personally never used it back when it was new, and I never liked Windows XP. The only Windows release I truly have fond memories of – other than 95 and 3.11, which I used as a kid and can be attributed to pure nostalgia – is Windows Server 2003. I used it as my regular desktop operating system, and it always felt more stable, safer, and faster than XP. Regardless, like Server 2003, Windows 2000 defaulted to the utilitarian beauty that is the Windows Classic theme, something Microsoft really ought to bring back to modern releases of Windows.

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