posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The University of California, Berkeley, has been authorised by Alcatel-Lucent to release all Plan 9 software previously governed by the Lucent Public License, Version 1.02 under the GNU General Public License, Version 2. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; version 2 of the License. I never really dove too deep into Plan 9, but it has always fascinated me. I think it's time to learn more - and I suggest you do so too. It's weekend, after all, right?

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
BareMetal OS now supports TCP/IP by way of a port of LwIP, originally by Adam Dunkels for embedded devices. BareMetal is a 64-bit OS for x86-64 based computers. The OS is written entirely in Assembly, while applications can be written in Assembly or C/C++. BareMetal boots via Pure64 and has a command line interface with the ability to load programs/data from a hard drive. Current plans for v0.7.0 call for basic TCP/IP support, improved file handling, as well as general bug fixes and optimizations.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Another day, another fear-mongering 'Android is closed!'-article at Ars Technica. After Peter Bright's article last week (sharply torn to shreds by Dianne Hackborn), we now have an article with the scary title "New Android OEM licensing terms leak; 'open' comes with a lot of restrictions". The title itself is already highly misleading, since one, the licensing terms aren't new (they're from early 2011 - that's three years old), and two, they're not licensing terms for Android, but for the suite of Google applications that run atop Android. This article makes the classic mistake about the nature of Android. It conflates the Android Open Source Project with the suite of optional proprietary Google applications, the GMS. These old, most likely outdated licensing terms cover the Google applications, and not the open source Android platform, which anyone can download, alter, build and ship. Everyone can build a smartphone business based on the Android Open Source Project, which is a complete smartphone operating system. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Major scoop by Tom Warren. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans tell The Verge that the company is seriously considering allowing Android apps to run on both Windows and Windows Phone. While planning is ongoing and it's still early, we're told that some inside Microsoft favor the idea of simply enabling Android apps inside its Windows and Windows Phone Stores, while others believe it could lead to the death of the Windows platform altogether. The mixed (and strong) feelings internally highlight that Microsoft will need to be careful with any radical move. Now, I have a very crazy theory about this whole thing. I obviously have no inside sources like Warren has, so load this image in another tab while reading this, but what if instead of this being an attempt to bridge the 'application gap', this is the first step in a Microsoft transition towards Android as a whole? Much like the PC world, which eventually settled on two players, the mobile world has settled on two players: Android and iOS. It's the cold and harsh truth. Does it really make sense for Microsoft to focus all that energy on developing Windows Phone - not to a whole lot of avail so far - when they could just take Android, add their own services, and more importantly, their own very popular and ubiquitous enterprise software, and sell that instead? Microsoft actually started out as an application software provider, and not as an operating system vendor, so it's not like they would do something they're not comfortable with. The biggest reason this crazy, unfounded theory came to my mind is that I simply cannot believe Microsoft would actually make it possible to run Android applications on Windows Phone. First, running Android applications on another platform is not exactly issue-free. Second, this has not exactly helped BlackBerry (and Sailfish, for that matter) either. Third, Windows Phone (and Windows 8 Metro) are already afterthoughts for developers, nothing more than mere side-projects in between iOS and Android work. Why would any of them develop native applications if they can just send their already completed APK to Microsoft? It'd be the death of Windows Phone and Metro. Combined with the news that Nokia's Android phone is actually going to come out, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Microsoft is thinking about phasing out Windows Phone, with the ability to run Android applications on the platform as a first step in this migration. There are major issues with such an approach, of course, not least of which the problem Amazon has also run into: no Google Play Services, meaning several popular applications won't run at all. If you're truly, truly outrageous, you could even consider a pact between Microsoft and Google, a combined effort that would take some possible antitrust heat off Google's back, and would give them a united front against Apple and iOS. Even this has precedent: unlike what some think, Microsoft and Apple have a long history of close cooperation. There's no reason Microsoft wouldn't do it again, if needed. In any case, this is all very interesting stuff, and it shows just how much of a problem the lack of any presence in the mobile world has become for Microsoft. The new CEO has some very tough calls to make.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Jolla has released their Sialfish browser as open source, so it seems like a good moment to dive into the lower levels of their Gecko-based browser. In this post I'd like to shade some light on what technology is used in the browser application for Sailfish OS. By now it's a widely known fact that the browser is based on the Gecko engine which is developed by Mozilla corp. and is used in their Firefox browser and Firefox OS. For some reason it's not that known that the Sailfish browser is built upon the EmbedLite embedding API (also known as IPCLiteAPI) for Gecko. This embedding API started as a research project in Nokia by Oleg Romashin and Andrey Petrov at the times when Nokia was still developing the Maemo platform. Currently the project is maintained by Tatiana Meshkova.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The Amiga Operating System implementation of FUSE has been realized via a project called Filesysbox by Leif Salomonsson. A special thanks goes out to Leif for allowing his hard work to be utilized. Amiga programmer extraordinaire Fredrik Wikström was then commissioned to port Filesysbox over to AmigaOS. Fredrik took the original code and updated it to AmigaOS 4.1 standards. This work included utilizing advanced DOS features such as object notification and the new file system API which seeks to completely avoid the esoteric DOS packet interface. Colin Wenzel is the main man behind the advanced DOS features. Since I'm sure at least some of you will do a double-take upon reading this summary: they're referring to another kind of DOS.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The mysterious developer of the world's most popular free app, who drew global attention this past weekend with his sudden decision to remove it, tells Forbes that Flappy Bird is dead. Permanently. This will go down as one of the craziest stories in what I reluctantly call "technology" of all time.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
A lot of new features in Windows Phone 8.1 - to be released around April - are starting to appear. First and foremost, it seems Windows Phone is finally getting a notification centre, which was long overdue. Microsoft originally intended live tiles to replace notifications, but as someone who has used Windows Phone extensively, live tiles are annoying in that they don't always show the notification count, and on top of that, are generally too small to contain enough information, forcing you to go into the application anyway, defeating their purpose. It seems Microsoft has finally figured out that a notification centre is pretty much mandatory these days. Furthermore, the private SDK releases reveal some more information, including some low-level changes. The first significant change appears to be the initial signs of a Windows Phone and Windows RT merger. Microsoft has been hinting at this plan, and the SDK includes "Universal App" support with templates to build Windows Store and Windows Phone Store apps from the same shared HTML and JavaScript code. There's more interesting stuff in there, like the ability to change the default messaging application, the back button will no longer terminate applications but suspend them, an improved camera application, and more. All in all, it does look like a worthy update for Windows Phone users, but there's nothing in there that other platforms haven't been enjoying for years now. In other words, it doesn't really contain anything that gives the platform an edge over the competition or that makes it stand out. None of these features is going to convince an iOS or Android user from leaving their platform behind. Still, these are just the new features and changes extracted from the private SDK, so there's bound to be more stuff hiding in the shadows that we don't yet know about. It's curious though that the preview SDK releases are private, something that was met with lots of complaints back during the run-up Windows Phone 8, since it means developers can't get their stuff ready before the release hits. Luckily, though, the new developer program does mean anyone can get the 8.1 update as soon as it's released. I'm hoping my relatively old HTC 8X won't be left out of the loop, because this looks like a worthy update for Windows Phone users.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Nokia plans to release this month a smartphone that runs a version of Google's Android mobile software, according to people familiar with the matter, as it concludes the sale of its handset business to Microsoft. It's all but confirmed now that the Nokia X Android phone will actually be released. Number one question: will this be Nokia's next N9 (dead on arrival, released because it's done anyway), or will it be a true attempt by Nokia - and thus Microsoft - to establish a lasting replacement for Asha? Second question: how successful can a Play Services-less Android phone really be?

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The reason this happened is that while Sinofsky had the maniacal power and force of will of a Steve Jobs, he lacked Jobs' best gift: An innate understanding of good design. Windows 8 is not well-designed. It's a mess. But Windows 8 is a bigger problem than that. Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word. This is not open to debate, is not part of some cute imaginary world where everyone's opinion is equally valid or whatever. Windows 8 is a disaster. Period. Paul Thurrott shares some of his inside information, and it's pretty damning. According to him, Sinofsky's team - even up to his major supporter, Steve Ballmer - were removed from the company after it became clear just much of a disaster Windows 8 was. I agree with his conclusion: razor-sharp focus on productivity, Windows' number one use. The desktop side of Windows 8.x is pretty good as it is, and has been progressively getting better with every update. I would go one step further than Thurrott. Windows 9 (desktops/laptops) and Windows Metro (tablets/smartphones). These two can still be one product (e.g., connect a keyboard/mouse/monitor to your x86 smartphone and it opens the desktop), but they should be entirely separate environments.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Speaking with Wired editor David Rowan at an event launching the magazine's March issue, Tim Berners-Lee said that although part of this is about keeping an eye on for-profit internet monopolies such as search engines and social networks, the greatest danger is the emergence of a balkanised web. "I want a web that's open, works internationally, works as well as possible and is not nation-based," Berners-Lee told the audience, which included Martha Lane Fox, Jake Davis (AKA Topiary) and Lily Cole. He suggested one example to the contrary: "What I don't want is a web where the Brazilian government has every social network's data stored on servers on Brazilian soil. That would make it so difficult to set one up." A government never gives up a power it already has. The control it currently has over the web will not be relinquished.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The ReactOS Project is pleased to announce the release of version 0.3.16. A little under a year has passed since the previous release and a significant amount of progress has been made. Some of the most significant include completion of the CSRSS rewrite and the first stages of a shell32 rewrite. 0.3.16 is in many ways a prelude to several new features that will provide a noticeable enhancement to user visible functionality. A preview can be seen in the form of theme support, which while disabled by default can be turned on to demonstrate the Lautus theme developed by community member Maciej Janiszewki. Another user visible change is a new network card driver for the RTL8139, allowing ReactOS to support newer versions of QEMU out of the box. It's certainly been a while. Very good news.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The webOS Enyo team has released Moonstone (UI) and Spotlight (user interaction) libraries as part of a new webOS TV SDK>, powering the next generation of LG Smart TV. There is also a new version of Enyo coming (2.4). While Moonstone and Spotlight are certainly highlights of Enyo 2.4, you may be just as interested in the robust new data-layer support you’ll find in this release. Enyo 2.4 has support for observers, one- and two-way bindings, computed properties, models and collections, and a set of new data-aware UI controls.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Jonathan Mahler, on 'long-form' articles: What's behind this revival? Nostalgia, partly, for what only recently had seemed to be a dying art. And technology: High-resolution screens make it much more pleasant to read a long piece online than it was even a few years ago. Also the simple and honorable intention to preserve a particular kind of story, one that's much different from even a long newspaper feature, with scenes and characters and a narrative arc. Up until the moment I read this article, I had no idea there was a specific term for long(er) articles, let alone that some consider it a genre. I realised that virtually all of my reviews are apparently "long-form"; the Jolla review, for instance, was 9000 words long. I've done much crazier than that, though - the Palm article was 22000 words long. However, in both of these cases, I never intended for the articles to become that long, or in fact, to achieve any specific length. When I start out, I just have a number of things that I want to discuss, and I won't stop writing until all of those things are in the article. I will make a distinction between things that get lots of attention (say, the gestures in Sailfish) and things that get a passing mention (e.g., the backplate), usually based on some sort of combination between what I personally find interesting and what you, the readers, might find interesting. Since the gestures in Sailfish are at the core of the user experience, it gets a lot of attention; because the backplate and its hardware potential offers little to no benefit right now, it gets a passing mention. I also like to pick some sort of overarching red thread, like the whole The Last Resort thing in the Jolla/Sailfish review, to tie everything together and frame the article. This can be a dangerous thing, since it's usually very personal and can easily be misinterpreted as pretentious or have other unwelcome side-effects. Originally, I framed the Jolla/Sailfish article using Manifest Destiny, but I quickly realised that its pitch-black consequences were unacceptable in a mere technology article. Combine these things, and the article is done. Whether the resulting article turns out to be 2000 words or 10000 words is irrelevant to me; if it contains everything I want to convey, it's done. If it leaves things out just to be short and more digestible, it's a bad article. If it contains useless, irrelevant crap just to pad the word count, it's a bad article. Years ago, when both my best friend and I were writing our master's theses, we ended up with very, very different word counts - mine was 27000, hers was a mere 8000. Both contained all the required information; nothing more and nothing less. Both were graded positively. Word count is a measure of nothing. By now, some of you might be wondering why the sales pitch for the Palm article did contain the word count - which seems to contradict the above. My reasoning there was simple: we were selling the Palm article. I figured that since I was asking people to pay money for an article that was freely available on that very same page, I should at least give them information about what they were spending their money on. Long articles like the ones mentioned above are not for everyone. In fact, their potential audience is much, much smaller than, say, a three paragraph jab at software patents. While those jabs are fun - sort of - it's these long articles that are by far the most fulfilling to write. The Palm article alone took months and months of work - research, making notes, educating myself about low-level stuff, devising a structure, setting a tone, organising the six hundred different subjects I wanted to cover, the actual writing process, revising it all, while also doing my regular job, and so on - but it is by far the most rewarding experience I've ever had for OSNews. I'll never forget getting emails from former Palm executives and engineers - big names - congratulating me on a job well done. Writing articles like that is not easy, with my biggest enemy being a lack of time because OSNews is a hobby, not a full-time job (I wish it was!). A few weeks after publishing the Palm article, I started work on a similar article about Psion and Symbian, but due to work and personal life (which was rather tumultuous in 2013) sucking up a lot of time last year, I never found the time to continue work on it. With things having settled down since December, I'm making plans to dust off the Psion and Symbian material, possibly take a few weeks off work, and finish it. That article could end up being 8000 words, or 50000 words. I don't know. The goal is not be long, but to be comprehensive, and this is my inherent problem with the term "long-form". This term puts the focus on length instead of content, which absolutely baffles me. A good article is not defined by its length - or lack thereof - but by its content. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Satya Nadella needs to find Microsoft's new "a computer on every desk and in every home running Microsoft software". Here's my stab at it: Microsoft services, sending data to and from every networked device in the world. The next ubiquity isn't running on every device, it's talking to every device. Interesting view.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
As Satya Nadella becomes the third CEO of Microsoft, he brings a relentless drive for innovation and a spirit of collaboration to his new role. He joined Microsoft 22 years ago because he saw how clearly Microsoft empowers people to do magical things and ultimately make the world a better place. Many companies, he says, "aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance." Say what you will - I won't say anything, I know nothing about this stuff - but I love this webpage introducing the new CEO. Very well done.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
A few days ago I inadvertently caused a bit of a fuss. In writing about GOG's Time Machine sale, I expressed my two minds about the joy of older games being rescued from obscurity, and my desire that they be in the public domain. This led to some really superb discussion about the subject in the comments below, and indeed to a major developer on Twitter to call for me to be fired. I wanted to expand on my thoughts. Fascinating article on Rock Paper Shotgun from John Walker on why he thinks software copyright (and possibly other kinds too) should come with a much shorter shelf life. Although ostensibly about videogames, much of it could be said to apply to recent events in mobile OS development too.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
I don't like writing negative articles that don't include a solution to the problem, but in this case, there is no solution. The state of in-app purchases has now reached a level where we have completely lost it. Not only has the gaming industry shot itself in the foot, hacked off their other foot, and lost both its arms ... but it's still engaging in a strategy that will only damage it further. Why are these gaming studios so intent of killing themselves? Because massive application stores created a race to the bottom - as well as a huge pile of crap to wade through. Ten to twenty years from now, we won't look back favourably upon the App Store or Google Play.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Every game that is featured on this site is either completely free with no advertising, has a one time up front cost or one time IAP to unlock the full content ad free. All screenshots are from a Nexus 7 2013, full sized and un-cropped. For your game to be considered please make sure the game is aesthetically pleasing and controls well on a touchscreen (no ports that were originally designed to be played with controllers). Games must also support proper full screen scaling (no letterboxing) and HD graphics for tablets. With mobile gaming torn to shreds by scummy in-application purchasing, this is a great initiative.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
In my review of Jolla and Sailfish, one of my biggest issues was the rather lacklustre browser, which didn't support landscape mode. Yesterday, Jolla released the January update for their operating system, version 1.0.3.8, which includes many small new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements, but most of all, it has vastly improved landscape support. Half of the screen no longer turns blank when opening the keyboard in landscape mode, and support for it has been added to the default browser - which suddenly becomes a whole lot more useful, since browsing the web without landscape mode was a major pain in the butt. Jolla has also implemented full gesture support in landscape mode; before this update, gestures would not rotate with the screen orientation, but now they do. The update contains a lot more improvements, and as promised, it was delivered in January. In addition, The New York Times has an article about Jolla as well. Not a lot of new information for those of us keeping up with all this stuff, but it's interesting to see major new soutlets talking about Jolla.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
BlackBerry OS 10.2.1 has been released. The biggest new feature is much better support for Android applications - you no longer have to convert APK files into BAR files, and can install them as-is. BlackBerry details the other, smaller improvements as well. I still have yet to see any BlackBerry 10 device, which makes me sad - I'd love to see what it's all about.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Microsoft is once again planning to alter the way its Start Screen works in Windows 8.1 Update 1. While the software giant originally released Windows 8.1 last year with an option to bypass the "Metro" interface at boot, sources familiar with Microsoft's plans have revealed to The Verge that the upcoming "Update 1" for Windows 8.1 will enable this by default. Like many other changes in Update 1, we’re told the reason for the reversal is to improve the OS for keyboard and mouse users. Wow, a touch interface does not work with a mouse and keyboard. Who saw that coming. I expect photos of many people eating crow.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
In October 2011, with the writing on the wall after Nokia switched to Windows Phone and closed the long-running MeeGo project, several former Maemo Nokians left the company ("Nokia was a coward"). With support from their old employer through the Nokia Bridge program, but without any access to Nokia's intellectual property or patents, the new company - called Jolla - continued the work that spawned the legendary N9, only able to use the open source parts of that phone's software. Late 2013, their work culminated in Sailfish, running on their own smartphone, the Jolla. In a way, this device and its software has been in the making since 2004-2005, and considering the rocky roads and many challenges these people had to overcome between then and now, the phone sometimes seems to radiate defiance and determination. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
In early January, while the rest of the consumer technology world at CES marveled at the sheer size of Samsung's upcoming Galaxy tablet, Google execs were dismayed by what they saw on the screen of the massive 12.1-inch slate - a fancy new user interface called Magazine UX. [...] Multiple sources familiar with the companies' thinking say the two technology giants began hammering out a series of broad agreements at CES that would bring Samsung's view of Android in line with Google's own. The results of the talks, which have only just begun dribbling out to the public, also underscore the extent to which Google is exerting more of its influence to control its destiny in the Android open source world. Dilemma. I don't like Google exerting control in this manner, but, on the other hand, anything that - for the love of god - makes Samsung stop building its own software for phones is a good thing. Tough call. Then again, this deal may also simply be another aspect of the big patent deal, indicating that this deal is about much more than patents alone. In any case, the recent renewed collaboration between Google and Samsung seems to indicate that Samsung has little to no intention to move away from Android, and with Samsung still shipping exactly zero Tizen devices, I have little hope we'll ever see that platform jump front and centre.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, giving the Chinese smartphone manufacturer a major presence in the US market. Lenovo will buy Motorola for $2.91 billion in a mixture of cash and stock. Google will retain ownership of the vast majority of Motorola's patents, while 2,000 patents and a license on the remaining patents will go to Lenovo. Lenovo will pay Google $660 million in cash, $750 million in stock, with the remaining $1.5 billion paid out over the next three years. What.

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