posted 2 months ago on OSNews
It's been a while since we've done one of these, so here we go: some detailed platform and browser statistics for OSNews. They're collected using Google Analytics, between 12 April and 12 May. As always, these statistics are only relevant for OSNews, and can, in no way, be extrapolated to any other site. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
iOS 8 is likely to supercharge the functionality of Apple's iPad with a new split-screen multitasking feature, according to sources with knowledge of the enhancement in development. These people say that the feature will allow iPad users to run and interact with two iPad applications at once. Up until now, each iPad application either developed by Apple or available on the App Store is only usable individually in a full-screen view. The ability to use multiple applications simultaneously on a tablet's display takes a page out of Microsoft's playbook. Microsoft's Surface line of tablets has a popular "snap" multitasking feature that allows customers to snap multiple apps onto the screen for simultaneous usage. The feature is popular in the enterprise and in environments where users need to handle multiple tasks at the same time. No, this is not a "page out of Microsoft's playbook". What is wrong with these people that features that have been part of computing for decades are now magically new just because they're on a mobile device? Please, stop this madness.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The SD Times reports about Cider, which allows iOS applications to run on Android. From the research paper: We present Cider, an operating system compatibility architecture that can run applications built for different mobile ecosystems, iOS or Android, together on the same smartphone or tablet. Cider enhances the domestic operating system, Android, of a device with kernel-managed, per-thread personas to mimic the application binary interface of a foreign operating system, iOS, enabling it to run unmodified foreign binaries. This is accomplished using a novel combination of binary compatibility techniques including two new mechanisms: compile-time code adaptation, and diplomatic functions. Compile-time code adaptation enables existing unmodified foreign source code to be reused in the domestic kernel, reducing implementation effort required to support multiple binary interfaces for executing domestic and foreign applications. Diplomatic functions leverage per-thread personas, and allow foreign applications to use domestic libraries to access proprietary software and hardware interfaces. We have built a Cider prototype, and demonstrate that it imposes modest performance overhead and runs unmodified iOS and Android applications together on a Google Nexus tablet running the latest version of Android. It's developed by the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University. They have a video of it too.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
For years, the US government loudly warned the world that Chinese routers and other internet devices pose a "threat" because they are built with backdoor surveillance functionality that gives the Chinese government the ability to spy on anyone using them. Yet what the NSA's documents show is that Americans have been engaged in precisely the activity that the US accused the Chinese of doing. What surprises me the most is that there are still people who are surprised by this.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
At its TechEd conference today, Microsoft announced the next step in its "mobile first, cloud first" strategy with a preview of Apache Cordova support in Visual Studio. Cordova is a toolkit for building apps for iOS, Android, and Windows using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With the Cordova integration, Visual Studio will directly support building apps for all of these platforms. This new thing Microsoft's got going on takes a bit of getting used to. I hope it sticks for once, because this company has changed direction more often than a politician in need of campaign funding.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Matthew Garrett: So, in the face of a technical mechanism designed to enforce the author's beliefs about the copyright status of callers of this function, Oracle deliberately circumvent that technical mechanism by simply re-exporting the same function under a new name. It should be emphasised that calling an EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL() function does not inherently cause the caller to become a derivative work of the kernel - it only represents the original author's opinion of whether it would. You'd still need a court case to find out for sure. But if it turns out that the use of ktime_get() does cause a work to become derivative, Oracle would find it fairly difficult to argue that their infringement was accidental. Aside from the obvious jab at Oracle for being an untrustworthy company, what I found interesting about this story is how legal concerns have crept all the way down to the very lowest levels of the Linux kernel. It must be a nightmare to keep track of all this stuff and having to develop Oracle's DTrace for Linux. You can't just have fun coding away creating the best, most efficient, and most optimal code - nope, you have to code the best, most efficient legal workaround.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
oday, Silicon Valley companies - especially Google - give generously to right-leaning think tanks that publish writing skeptical of copyright protection. Google has donated to almost every right-leaning think tank in Washington, including the R Street Institute, the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. So if you're a right-leaning copyright skeptic, it's easy to find organizations to publish your work. Even for if it's for a good cause, this kind of stuff still leaves a dirty taste in my mouth.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
My area of interest is broadly defined kernel development. In the spring of 2013 I implemented ASLR and DEP which caused minor confusion due to "activation" of bugs that have been hidden but I think that overall it worked out well for Haiku. Later I tinkered a bit with RTM (Restricted Transactional Memory), new extension introduced in Haswells but the code will need a lot of work before it will become usable. From October to mid-January, I was employed by Haiku, Inc. to work on the scheduler and adaptating Haiku for work on systems with more than one logical processor. Among other things, I got rid of the 8 processors limit, which was quite firmly rooted in the ABI inherited from BeOS. Great interview with a low-level Haiku developer.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency's vast capability for spying on Americans' electronic communications prompted a number of tech executives whose firms cooperated with the government to insist they had done so only when compelled by a court of law. But Al Jazeera has obtained two sets of email communications dating from a year before Snowden became a household name that suggest not all cooperation was under pressure. I'm so surprised.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Despite the fact that even some of Samsung's own devices with just 512MB RAM run KitKat just fine, the company still claims the international Galaxy SIII's and SIII mini's 1GB of RAM is not enough to run KitKat. In order to facilitate an effective upgrade on the Google platform, various hardware performances such as the memory (RAM, ROM, etc.), multi-tasking capabilities, and display must meet certain technical expectations. The Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions come equipped with 1GB RAM, which does not allow them to effectively support the platform upgrade. As a result of the Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions’ hardware limitation, they cannot effectively support the platform upgrade while continuing to provide the best consumer experience. Do not buy Samsung phones.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
A San Francisco federal judge had decided that Oracle could not claim copyright protection on parts of Java, but on Friday the three-judge Federal Circuit panel reversed that ruling. "We conclude that a set of commands to instruct a computer to carry out desired operations may contain expression that is eligible for copyright protection," Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O'Malley wrote. This is terrible news for the technology industry and us enthusiasts. This case should have ended with this. Everything after that is a sham.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Apple is close to striking a deal with Dr. Dre. In what would be the largest-ever purchase by the iPhone maker, Apple is in advanced talks to acquire headphone maker and music-streaming service Beats Electronics LLC for $3.2 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said. It's been corroborated by just about any major news outlet, so it has merit. I'm in no way an Apple expert, but this acquisition seems completely random and weird. Beats is essentially the Monster of headphones.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
LXQt is the Qt port and the upcoming version of LXDE, the Lightweight Desktop Environment. It is the product of the merge between the LXDE-Qt and the Razor-qt projects: A lightweight, modular, blazing-fast and user-friendly desktop environment. LXQt 0.7.0 brings you a fast and stable desktop environment, already usable in production desktop machines. It will not get in your way. It will not hang or slow down your system. It is focused on being a Classic Desktop with a modern Look & Feel. Already available on most mainstream distributions and with partial FreeBSD support. This is exactly what I've been wanting in this department: a straightforward, no-nonsense Qt desktop environment that doesn't shove touch nonsense in my face and, doesn't try to impose upon me a very specific way of working, and doesn't try to be everything to all people at all times.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Engadget is one of the first large sites to review the OnePlus One. For $300, no other phone comes close to what the OnePlus One offers. Not only does it look and feel like a premium device, but it also comes with specs similar to what you'd find in a flagship smartphone. If you want a high-end phone on a budget, look no further. At this point, you really have to wonder why you would want to shell out twice as much for a Samsung or an HTC. Lack of an SD card slot becomes a moot point with the OnePlus One, as the version with 64 GB of storage is only $349. I obviously haven't used it yet, but from all the information that's out there, the OnePlus One and the Find 7/7a really seem to be the best Android flagships of the year. I feel like a broken record at this point, but if I were Samsung or HTC, I'd be very, very afraid of these Chinese manufacturers.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
A large research project in the physical sciences usually involves experimenters, theorists, and people carrying out calculations with computers. There are computers and terminals everywhere. Some of the people hunched over these screens are writing papers, some are analyzing data, and some are working on simulations. These simulations are also quite often on the cutting edge, pushing the world’s fastest supercomputers, with their thousands of networked processors, to the limit. But almost universally, the language in which these simulation codes are written is Fortran, a relic from the 1950s. Ars looks at three possible replacements for Fortran.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Nintendo's reported a staggering loss of $456 million for the past financial year. The blame is being laid squarely at its relatively young console, the Wii U. Sales have slowed significantly: Nintendo sold 2.72 million Wii Us in the last twelve months. (Running totals for the Xbox One and PS4: five and seven million, respectively). In the last quarter, only 310,000 units were sold. Meanwhile, Nintendo's handhelds continue to sell more favorably: 12 million 3DSes were sold in the last financial year, meaning there's now just shy of 43 million sold globally. It remains third consecutive year of losses for Nintendo, but CEO Iwata claims that this incoming financial year will see a return to operating profit ($394 million, he reckons) and millions more consoles sold. Then again, he said similar things last year. It's not looking good.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
One single paragraph from one of the many court documents (via!) in the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung. One single paragraph that not only perfectly highlights the hypocrisy of technology companies, but also the complete and utter disjoint between a technology company's legal, marketing, and engineering departments. Contrary to the image it has cultivated in the popular press, Apple has admitted in internal documents that its strength is not in developing new technologies first, but in successfully commercializing them. When Apple was developing its campaign to promote the first iPhone, it considered - and rejected - advertisements that touted alleged Apple "firsts" with the iPhone. As one Apple employee explained to an overly exuberant Apple marketer, "I don't know how many things we can come up with that you can legitimately claim we did first. Certainly we have the first successful versions of many features, but that's different than launching something to market first." In this vein, the employee methodically explained that Palm, Nokia and others had first invented the iPhone's most prominent features. The marketing department has no clue about the technology it needs to advertise. The legal department cleverly writes its patent application despite knowing full well that the technology it tries to patent is not new. Meanwhile, the engineer - the actual person implementing the technology - knows exactly what is going on, but is gagged from openly speaking his or her mind. The only thing I'm not sure about is which of these three is the biggest hypocrite. Intellectual property - and patents in particular - has ruined the technology industry with lies, deceit, and hypocrisy. We just stood by and let it happen.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
If you haven't picked up a Chromebook just yet, you might want to wait a little longer. Intel has just announced plans to roll out as many as 20 new Chromebooks by the latter half of this year. This new set will be thinner, lighter, more powerful and generally more diverse in terms of design. It's clear that Google is making a play for the mainstream. I applaud any efforts to get people to buy new platforms, but in all honesty, I've yet to see a Chromebook in the wild - in fact, I don't even think I've ever even seen one in a store. Granted, I live in a small country nobody cares about, and the uptake of non-Windows platforms in desktops and laptops has always been pretty abysmal here, but you'd think you'd see more of these things. What is the current state of Chrome OS? Owners, do you use it every day? What do you miss in a Chromebook that a traditional Linux/Windows/OS X laptop does offer?

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
When a federal jury two years ago clobbered Samsung with nearly $1 billion in damages for violating Apple's iPhone and iPad patent rights, the jury foreman emphasized that the verdict was meant to send a strong message about copying in the tech industry. But there was no such deliberate message in the verdict in the latest patent showdown between Apple and Samsung that drew to an end on Monday, according to jurors who spoke outside the federal courthouse after finishing their role. In fact, the jury foreman said the mixed verdict in the trial sequel was not intended to send any broader message in the smartphone wars. It's almost as if having a jury led by a technology patent holder has a huge stake in making sure patents are as valuable as possible. The foreman in the current case, Thomas Dunham, stated that this jury didn't intend to send a message - it just looked at the evidence and awarded fair damages. Either of the two company's initial claims - Apple's $2 billion and Samsung's $0.12 billion - were dismissed by the jury as unfair and unjust. "Ultimately, the consumer is the loser in all this," Dunham said. "I'd like to see them find a way to settle. I hope this (verdict) in some way helps shape that future." Clearly, one of these two foremen is the wise one.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
For three years, Apple and Samsung have clashed on a scale almost unprecedented in business history, their legal war costing more than a billion dollars and spanning four continents. Beginning with the super-secret project that created the iPhone and the late Steve Jobs's fury when Samsung - an Apple supplier! - brought out a shockingly similar device, Kurt Eichenwald explores the Korean company's record of patent infringement, among other ruthless business tactics, and explains why Apple might win the battles but still lose the war. Once you brush off the apple pie that spontaneously erupts from your monitor and get over the "Asian Samsung bad, American Apple good!"-mentality, this article has some very decent stuff in it. Worth the read.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Every programmer occasionally, when nobody's home, turns off the lights, pours a glass of scotch, puts on some light German electronica, and opens up a file on their computer. It's a different file for every programmer. Sometimes they wrote it, sometimes they found it and knew they had to save it. They read over the lines, and weep at their beauty, then the tears turn bitter as they remember the rest of the files and the inevitable collapse of all that is good and true in the world. This file is Good Code. StillDrinking writes on the torment of being a programmer.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
An eight-person jury on Friday handed back a mixed verdict in the Apple v. Samsung patent-infringement case. The jury found Samsung's gadgets infringed Apple's '647 patent, but not the '959 patent or '414 patent. Results were mixed for the '721 patent, with some Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus, found to infringe, and others not. The jury awarded Apple only $119.6 million for the infringement. Apple wanted more than $2 billion. The verdict is still being read, and the jury has also ruled that Apple infringed on one of Samsung's patents, awarding Samsung $158000 for it. So, pocket change both ways. A total waste of money, public resources, the jury members' time, and the court system. Well done you, patent system.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
So I set myself the task of picking five great works of software. The criteria were simple: How long had it been around? Did people directly interact with it every day? Did people use it to do something meaningful? I came up with the office suite Microsoft Office, the image editor Photoshop, the videogame Pac-Man, the operating system Unix, and the text editor Emacs. Each person has his or her own criteria for these sorts of things, but in my view, this list is woefully inadequate. If it were up to me, I would pick these, in no particular order: A-0 System: the first ever compiler, written by Grace Hopper in 1951 and 1952, for the UNIVAC I. UNIX: This one's a given. WorldWideWeb/CERN HTTPd: the first web browser and the first web server, both written by Tim Berners-Lee. Also a given. Xerox Star: this one is actually a tie between the Star, its research predecessor the Alto, and Douglas Engelbart's NLS. These three combined still define the way we do computing today - whether you look at a desktop, a smartphone, or a tablet. I decided to go with the Star because it was the only one of the three that was commercially available, and because it's so incredibly similar to what we still use today. Windows: you cannot have a list of the greatest software of all time without Windows. You may not like it, you may even hate it, but the impact Windows has had on the computing world - and far, far beyond that - is immense. Not including it is a huge disservice to the operating system that put a computer on every desk, in every home. This leaves a whole bunch of others out, such as Lotus 1-2-3, DOS, the Mac OS, Linux, and god knows what else - but such is the nature of lists like this.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
This is a bit of a weird topic, but I think it might be interesting to figure out what, exactly, is going on here. Ever since its very first release Chrome has had a very small, barely noticeable visual bug in its user interface: its window widgets (or buttons) are not aligned properly. As you can see in the screenshot below, they are shifted slightly to the right compared to a window without the bug. Now, this has never been too big of an annoyance to bother the developers with, so I never made a bug report out of it, and I still don't think it's important enough. Chrome has a custom titlebar compared to regular Windows windows (because of the tabs-on-top), so I figured that was the cause. Since yesterday, I've been using Firefox 29, and I noticed that it has the exact same bug: Now my interest is properly piqued. Upon closer inspection, you can see that Chrome and Firefox actually have different offsets. The below image also illustrates that in the normal situation, the right edge of the close widget lines up pixel-perfect with the content area (the red line); this is not the case for Chrome and Firefox, where the close widget and content are misaligned. These are two different applications with two entirely different codebases, and yet, they have the same visual bug, albeit slightly different in presentation. For some reason, this fascinates me; is it a limitation in how Windows handles custom titlebars? Is it, perhaps, a feature, and is there a deeper reasoning behind it? Is it just sloppiness? Do we have any Windows developers here who could possibly shed a light on this? Some will call this petty whining, and surely, it is. However, I'm not asking this because I'm bothered by it; I'm asking this because I'm genuinely curious where this bug comes from.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly. This is what Snowden uses. Tails released version 1.0 a few days ago.

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