posted 12 days ago on OSNews
I think it's safe to say the macadmin community has been hearing rumblings about the future of macOS administration. Whether it was Michael Lynn's excellent blog post, m(DM)acOS, APFS or even Sal Saghoian's position being axed, many macadmins (myself included) are worried about the future of macOS administration being a MDM only world. What if the new TBP Macs were the first piece to this future? An interesting technical look at what happens when one of the Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros can't find the embedded operating system running the Touch Bar, and what conclusions we can draw from that.

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posted 12 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft has made several adjustments to its design language over the last few years, starting with Windows 8 and evolving into what we now know as "Microsoft Design Language 2" or MDL2 in Windows 10. With MDL2 being the current design language used throughout Windows 10, Microsoft has plans to begin using a much more streamlined design language with Redstone 3, codenamed Project NEON. No matter how many times you refine or change your design language, it won't magically make your apps stop sucking.

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posted 15 days ago on OSNews
The FreeDOS Project has released RC2 for FreeDOS 1.2. "If you're having network problems with FreeDOS under VirtualBox, please update your VirtualBox to version 5.1.10, which fixes a compatibility bug from VirtualBox 5.1.8.

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posted 15 days ago on OSNews
The history and evolution of the Unix operating system is made available as a revision management repository, covering the period from its inception in 1970 as a 2.5 thousand line kernel and 26 commands, to 2016 as a widely-used 27 million line system. The 1.1GB repository contains about half a million commits and more than two thousand merges. The repository employs Git system for its storage and is hosted on GitHub. It has been created by synthesizing with custom software 24 snapshots of systems developed at Bell Labs, the University of California at Berkeley, and the 386BSD team, two legacy repositories, and the modern repository of the open source FreeBSD system. In total, about one thousand individual contributors are identified, the early ones through primary research. The data set can be used for empirical research in software engineering, information systems, and software archaeology. The project aims to put in the repository as much metadata as possible, allowing the automated analysis of Unix history.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft recently joined the Linux Foundation while still asserting its patents against the rest of the membership. As I found that odd, I tweeted some casually-calculated statistics about Microsoft’s patent revenues that seemed to me to simply be the aggregation of common knowledge. But maybe not - at least two respondents asked me to substantiate the figures. Having struck a nerve, this post is by way of explanation. I, too, find it odd that Microsoft is now a 'higher' member of the Linux Foundation than, say, Red Hat, yet it still asserts its patents against various companies using Linux. It just doesn't sit right.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
If you wanted a portable video editing workstation or a gaming machine you can take with you wherever you go, you'd be hard pressed to find more impressive specs from any manufacturer, let alone one that ships with Linux-compatible hardware like System76. So I mentioned to System76 that I wanted to test the Oryx Pro and compare it to the Dell XPS as a "developer" laptop. Frankly, the company was a little hesitant, pointing out that the two aren't really - aside from both shipping with Ubuntu installed - at all alike. And soon after the Oryx Pro arrived, I really understood just how different these machines area. System76 has really become a household name in Linux circles for great machines with fantastic out-of-the-box Linux support.

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posted 17 days ago on OSNews
The UK is about to become one of the world's foremost surveillance states, allowing its police and intelligence agencies to spy on its own people to a degree that is unprecedented for a democracy. The UN's privacy chief has called the situation "worse than scary." Edward Snowden says it’s simply "the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy." The legislation in question is called the Investigatory Powers Bill. It's been cleared by politicians and awaits only the formality of royal assent before it becomes law. The bill will legalize the UK's global surveillance program, which scoops up communications data from around the world, but it will also introduce new domestic powers, including a government database that stores the web history of every citizen in the country. UK spies will be empowered to hack individuals, internet infrastructure, and even whole towns - if the government deems it necessary. "Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame?"

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posted 18 days ago on OSNews
From the debian-devel mailing list: debootstrap in unstable can now install with merged-/usr, that is with /bin, /sbin, /lib* being symlinks to their counterpart in /usr. LWN.net published an article in January 2016 going into this then-proposed change. Debian is the latest Linux distribution to consider moving away from the use of separate /bin, /sbin, and /lib directories for certain binaries. The original impetus for requiring these directories was due to space limitations in the first Unix implementations, developers favoring the change point out. But today, many of the services on a modern Linux system impose requirements of their own on the partition scheme - requirements that make life far simpler if /bin, /sbin, and /lib can be symbolic links to subdirectories within a unified /usr directory. Although some resistance was raised to the change, the project now seems to be on track to make "merged /usr" installations a supported option. And perhaps more importantly, the arguments favoring the merge suggest that many Debian developers would like to see that configuration eventually become the default. Any steps to clean up Linux' FHS implementation - no matter how small - is cause for widespread celebration all across the land. Call it forth!

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posted 18 days ago on OSNews
When you have built your retro computer the chances are you’ll turn it on and be faced with a BASIC interpreter prompt. This was the standard interface for home computers of the 8-bit era, one from which very few products deviated. If you were a teenager plugging your family's first ever computer into the living-room TV then your first port of call after getting bored with the cassette of free educational games that came with it would have been to open the manual and immerse yourself in programming. [...] The trouble is, in the several decades since, 8-bit BASIC skills have waned a little. Most people under 40 will have rarely if ever encountered it, and the generation who were there on the living room carpet with their Commodore 64s (or whatever) would probably not care to admit that this is the sum total of their remembered BASIC knowledge. 10 PRINT "Hello World" 20 GOTO 10 If you have built a retro-computer then clearly this is a listing whose appeal will quickly wane, so where can you brush up your 8-bit BASIC skills several decades after the demise of 8-bit home computers? When I was very, very young - I'm from 1984 - I did some very basic BASIC, mostly on an MSX, but I remember very little of it. BASIC programming didn't grab me as a kid, and as such, I never went down the programmer's path. Today, with an adult life with adult responsibilities, it seems like such a daunting undertaking, for which I simply don't have the time.

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posted 18 days ago on OSNews
Let me be clear: I am well aware of the problematic aspects of Facebook' s impact; I am particularly worried about the ease with which we sort ourselves into tribes, in part because of the filter bubble effect noted above (that's one of the reasons Why Twitter Must Be Saved). But the solution is not the reimposition of gatekeepers done in by the Internet; whatever fixes this problem must spring from the power of the Internet, and the fact that each of us, if we choose, has access to more information and sources of truth than ever before, and more ways to reach out and understand and persuade those with whom we disagree. Yes, that is more work than demanding Zuckerberg change what people see, but giving up liberty for laziness never works out well in the end. Absolutely, 100% spot-on.

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posted 19 days ago on OSNews
Since January 2016 (and maybe before), there's been talk that Microsoft was working on bringing x86 emulation to ARM processors. Sources of mine are now saying that this capability is coming to Windows 10, though not until "Redstone 3" in the Fall of 2017. Here's why this matters: Microsoft officials continue to claim that Continuum -- the capability that will allow Windows 10 Mobile devices to connect to external displays and keyboards -- is going to be a key for the company, its partners and its customers. There's been one very big limitation to Continuum so far, however: It only allows users to run Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and not full-fledged x86 apps. What if an ARM64-based device could run x86 apps via emulation, the same way that the WOW (Windows on Windows) emulator allowed 32-bit apps to run on 64-bit Windows? That would make Windows 10 Mobile, which as of now, continues to support ARM only, and Continuum a lot more interesting, especially to business users who need certain Win32/line-of-business apps. Quite compelling, to say the least. I've always considered the smartphone that turns into a full-fledged desktop when docked the holy grail of the mobile computing world, and i'm excited that Microsoft is still working on it. They'll get it right eventually. Infinite monkeys and all that.

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posted 19 days ago on OSNews
With another wave of restructuring underway, which would see Nokia lay off tens of thousands of employees over the next few years, conversations like these and the close but remote relationship that the two had established might soon come to an end. What they and their fellow Nokians needed was a way to stay in touch. And so, with little fuss or fanfare, Rentrop and Parumog set up the 'Beyond Nokia' Facebook group. [...] "It's a love story," says Sotiris Makrygiannis, who was previously director of applications and site manager of Nokia's Helsinki R&D center. "I've never seen such a large group of people adoring a company. It's remarkable. All these tens of thousands of people lost their jobs and instead of hating the company, actually admiring the company". To understand why, Rentrop points me to Nokia's old company slogan: Connecting People. "It was not just a marketing phrase," she says, "for many members Nokia became a family". That sentiment is echoed in the hundreds of messages and photos currently being posted to the group every hour. To this day, the demise of so much of Nokia is a black page in the EU's history. The deal with Microsoft should have never been allowed to go through, and there's definitely grounds for more thorough investigation into the history and circumstances of the deal. Of course, it's impossible to say if Nokia's smartphone arm would've survived with Android, but I'm quite confident the company would've faced far better odds. As I said from the very beginning: the moment Nokia decided to share the bed with Microsoft, was the moment Nokia signed its own death warrant.

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posted 19 days ago on OSNews
Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company's focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision hasn't been publicly announced. Apple hasn't refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry. The decision to disband the team indicates the company isn't currently pushing forward with new versions of its routers. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s plans. You can pry my 2013 AirPort Extreme from my cold, dead hands. After a long string of terrible routers, I have nothing but positive experiences with it, and have zero intention of replacing it with anything else.

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posted 19 days ago on OSNews
Kaspersky Labs has developed its own operating system for switches and other networking devices. First, it's based on microkernel architecture, which allows to assemble 'from blocks' different modifications of the operating system depending on a customer's specific requirements. Second, there's its built-in security system, which controls the behavior of applications and the OS's modules. In order to hack this platform a cyber-baddie would need to break the digital signature, which - any time before the introduction of quantum computers - would be exorbitantly expensive. Third, everything has been built from scratch. Anticipating your questions: not even the slightest smell of Linux. All the popular operating systems aren't designed with security in mind, so it's simpler and safer to start from the ground up and do everything correctly. Which is just what we did. More details will follow soon, the company promises.

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posted 22 days ago on OSNews
Command Prompt has been around for as long as we can remember, but starting with Windows 10 build 14971, Microsoft is trying to make PowerShell the main command shell in the operating system. As a result, PowerShell officially replaces the Command Prompt in the Win + X menu, so when you right-click the Start menu, you’ll only be allowed to launch the more powerful app. Additionally, in File Explorer’s File menu and in the context menu that appears when pressing Shift + right-click in any folder, the old Command Prompt will no longer be available. Typing cmd in the run dialog will launch PowerShell as well, so Microsoft has made a significant step towards phasing out the traditional Command Prompt. It's funny - cmd has always been seen as a sort-of Baby's First Command Line, and compared to the shell that comes standard with any UNIX-based operating system, that was certainly true. However, now that Windows has a replacement that is much more capable than cmd, people will cry foul and hell over the possible deprecation of cmd. Us nerds are fickle.

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posted 23 days ago on OSNews
The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced that Microsoft has joined the organization at a Platinum member during Microsoft's Connect(); developer event in New York. For those of us who witnessed the Microsoft of the late '90s and early 2000s, this is yet another one of those "the industry has really changed" moments.

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posted 23 days ago on OSNews
The Verge's Surface Studio review (there's more reviews at Engadget and CNet): It's an engineering marvel of a monitor, but I really wish Microsoft sold it separately. I want to dock my Surface Book to it, or transform any laptop into a full Surface Studio. If I'm investing in a desktop PC at this kind of price then I also really want to be able to upgrade it and use it for gaming and more powerful work. I can't do either of those things with the Surface Studio. If this was a monitor with a powerful GPU in it designed to complement Microsoft's existing Surface devices and "upgrade" them, I'd probably be throwing my wallet at my screen right now. It's hard to do so knowing that I'm not getting the latest and greatest specs for that $2,999, and that's before you even consider the top model I've been testing is $4,199. That doesn't discount what Microsoft has attempted to do here. It's truly something unique and a hint of real innovation we haven't seen for some years with PCs. Others have tried to experiment, like HP's Sprout, but it's rare to see something more than just an all-in-one. Microsoft's exciting Surface Studio unveil has been compared to Apple's disappointing MacBook Pro launch, and with good reason. Many creatives I’ve spoken to about the Surface Studio have said the same thing: why isn't Apple doing this? Apple seems to be forcing creatives to choose an iPad Pro for touch and pen, but the powerful and professional apps just aren't there yet on iOS, and it's not clear if companies like Adobe are willing to rewrite their software to be just as useful on an iPad Pro. Microsoft has realized the potential in the market to reach out to creatives who feel abandoned by Apple, and it's an influential crowd that could be swayed over by devices like the Surface Studio. As awesome as the Surface Studio looks, the specs of the PC part of the equation lag behind - most of the high price is defined by the display - but I guess the biggest problem with it is that it runs Windows. The creative community has been using macOS for so long, and it's hard to leave a platform behind.

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posted 23 days ago on OSNews
Encryption protects your data if your phone falls into someone else's hands. The new Google Pixel and Pixel XL are encrypted by default to offer strong data protection, while maintaining a great user experience with high I/O performance and long battery life. In addition to encryption, the Pixel phones debuted running the Android Nougat release, which has even more security improvements. This blog post covers the encryption implementation on Google Pixel devices and how it improves the user experience, performance, and security of the device. These kinds of things should've been default a long time ago.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft is hosting its annual Connect(); developer event in New York today. With .NET being at the core of many of its efforts, including on the open-source side, it’s no surprise that the event also featured a few .NET-centric announcements, as well. For the most part, these center around the .NET Foundation, the open-source organization Microsoft established to guide the future development of the .NET Core project. As the company announced today, Google is now a member of the .NET Foundation, where it joins the likes of Red Hat, Unity, Samsung JetBrains and (of course) Microsoft in the Technical Steering Group. In addition, Samsung is bringing .NET to its Tizen platform, which it claims is installed on 50 million devices. Tizen is uses in Samsung smartwatches and TVs, among other things.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
ReactOS 0.4.3 has been released. Notable in this release is the switching to a new winsock library that had been started several years ago by Alex Ionescu and imported into trunk by Ged Murphy. Even after it was brought in however significant work remained to be done before it could replace the old winsock library, work which Peter Hater and Andreas Maier undertook. Their effort has now reached a point wherein the team feels it is ready to supplant the original library and 0.4.3 serves as the first release to incorporate it. As the winsock library underpins effectively all network operations in user mode applications, and its improvement should be a significant boon for ReactOS' compatibility with such programs as the Good old Games (GoG) client and newer versions of the Python runtime. The changelog offers all the details, and you can download it from their website.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Microsoft held the keynote for its Connect() developer conference today, where it announced the next version of its integrated development environment (IDE), Visual Studio 2017. The company is also offering a release candidate, which you can grab from VisualStudio.com. [...] The company's latest IDE has a heavy focus on mobile cross-platform development, coming with an iOS Simulator, a feature that used to be exclusive to developing on a Mac. In addition, as accidentally spoiled earlier this week, Visual Studio for the Mac has also been released. Technically, it's Xamarin, but Microsoft is rebranding it as Visual Studio.

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posted 24 days ago on OSNews
Samsung has announced that it has acquired Harman, the company behind over 20 brands including audio companies AKG, JBL and Harman/Kardon, as well as a suite of connected car technologies. Although you're probably more familiar with Harman for their audio brands, the company earns around two thirds of its revenues from automotive-related segments where it produces telematics, security and 'embedded infotainment' solutions.

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posted 25 days ago on OSNews
For about $50, you can get a smartphone with a high-definition display, fast data service and, according to security contractors, a secret feature: a backdoor that sends all your text messages to China every 72 hours. Security contractors recently discovered preinstalled software in some Android phones that monitors where users go, whom they talk to and what they write in text messages. The American authorities say it is not clear whether this represents secretive data mining for advertising purposes or a Chinese government effort to collect intelligence. Through Chinese manufacturer BLU, some 120.000 BLU phones in the US were effected as well. According to BLU, the company immediately removed the offending software. The original purpose of the software was, supposedly, to aid in the detection of junk messages.

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posted 25 days ago on OSNews
Complete formal verification of a non-trivial concurrent OS kernel is widely considered a grand challenge. We present a novel compositional approach for building certified concurrent OS kernels. Concurrency allows interleaved execution of kernel/user modules across different layers of abstraction. Each such layer can have a different set of observable events. We insist on formally specifying these layers and their observable events, and then verifying each kernel module at its proper abstraction level. To support certified linking with other CPUs or threads, we prove a strong contextual refinement property for every kernel function, which states that the implementation of each such function will behave like its specification under any kernel/user context with any valid interleaving. We have successfully developed a practical concurrent OS kernel and verified its (contextual) functional correctness in Coq. Our certified kernel is written in 6500 lines of C and x86 assembly and runs on stock x86 multicore machines. To our knowledge, this is the first proof of functional correctness of a complete, general-purpose concurrent OS kernel with fine-grained locking. Some light reading for your late Tuesday afternoon.

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posted 26 days ago on OSNews
Here's a short little tip with some interesting background information. If you are running Windows on your Mac - like I'm doing on my 2015 retina MacBook Pro because macOS is far too unoptimised to run on it - and it's using an Intel graphics chip, be sure to replace Apple's own Boot Camp graphics drivers with Intel's own latest drivers. The reason why you should do this is kind of fascinating. I noticed that while Windows as a whole ran quite fast and snappy - much more so than macOS with its crappy responsiveness, FPS drops, and hangs, even after reinstallations - two applications had responsiveness issues: Chrome and Microsoft Office. With Chrome, I chalked it up to #justchromethings and moved on. With Office though, I was perplexed. The past few versions of Office, including the current one, are fast, snappy, and instant. The days where Office applications were slow and cumbersome are long gone, even on lower-end hardware like the 2015 retina MacBook Pro. However, Office applications were slow, rendering was terrible, and things like dragging and resizing Office windows was literally a slide show - and I wanted to know why. I found out that on Windows, Microsoft Office uses its own rendering pipeline (framework? I'm not really sure what the accurate terminology is here), different from both Win32 and Metro applications. As it turns out, Office does its own check of the video card and driver to determine if hardware acceleration for Office should be disabled or not. By default, hardware acceleration is automatically disabled in Office programs if certain video card and video card driver combinations are detected when you start an Office program. If hardware acceleration is automatically disabled by the program, nothing indicates that this change occurred. Well, except that Office now runs like a total dog, of course. Apparently, the Office team maintains its own list of video card/driver combinations and keeps this list a secret. The list of video card/video driver combinations that trigger this automatic disabling of hardware graphics acceleration is not documented because the list is hard-coded in the Office programs and will be constantly changing as we discover additional video combinations that cause problems in Office programs. When I ran the Intel Driver Update Utility on my retina MacBook Pro to determine if the Apple-provided Intel graphics driver was up-to-date, the tool found a newer driver, but warned me that my OEM (Apple) had modified the already-installed driver, and that I would lose those customisations. I proceeded to download the new driver anyway, only to be hit by a very peculiar dialog upon trying to install the driver Intel told me was newer than what I had installed: the installer warned my I was installing an older driver than what I had installed. So, I decided to download the latest driver (the latest beta) manually, installed it, and this fixed not just Office, but also Chrome - which I find particularly baffling (maybe Chrome maintains a similar list?). The list that the Office team maintains is not of good drivers, but of bad drivers. For Office's hardware acceleration to fail, the driver needs to be on the list. This means that the combination "Apple-modified Intel graphics driver/Iris 6100" was, at some point, added to the list, triggering the disabling of hardware acceleration for Office. The combination "Intel's own graphics driver/Iris 6100" is not on the list. There's a number of possible explanations here, and I'm not really sure which one makes the most sense. Apple cares too little about Boot Camp users to intentionally cripple the Apple-supplied Intel drivers, so that's definitely not the cause. I also don't think the Intel driver magically improved a ton in the span of just a few weeks (there's only a few weeks of difference between the two versions, but I'm not trusting version numbers here) - but maybe it did? I honestly don't know. It's Intel's beta driver that isn't even signed by Microsoft, but somehow, the Office team tested it and removed it from their list? My first instinct was to think that because Apple had modified the driver, it wasn't on Microsoft's list - but since the list is for bad drivers, that makes no sense. The most logical explanation I have right now - suggested by Steven Troughton-Smith - is that Apple changes a few things in the Intel driver to optimise Windows' battery life, which in turn tune down the performance, causing the Office team to add this specific driver/video card combination to the list. I've been keeping an eye on battery life since installing the driver, but haven't noticed much of a difference. I don't think this little tip will be useful for a lot of people, but I really enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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