18 Aug 2017

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Retesting AMD Ryzen Threadripper's game mode

In this mini-test, we compared AMD's Game Mode as originally envisioned by AMD. Game Mode sits as an extra option in the AMD Ryzen Master software, compared to Creator Mode which is enabled by default. Game Mode does two things: firstly, it adjusts the memory configuration. Rather than seeing the DRAM as one uniform block of memory with an ‘average’ latency, the system splits the memory into near memory closest to the active CPU, and far memory for DRAM connected via the other silicon die. The second thing that Game Mode does is disable the cores on one of the silicon dies, but retains the PCIe lanes, IO, and DRAM support. This disables cross-die thread migration, offers faster memory for applications that need it, and aims to lower the latency of the cores used for gaming by simplifying the layout. The downside of Game Mode is raw performance when peak CPU is needed: by disabling half the cores, any throughput limited task is going to be cut by losing half of the throughput resources. The argument here is that Game mode is designed for games, which rarely use above 8 cores, while optimizing the memory latency and PCIe connectivity. I like how AnandTech calls this a "mini" test. In any event - even though Threadripper is probably way out of the league of us regular people, I'm really loving how AMD's recent products have lit a fire under the processor market specifically and the self-built desktop market in general. Ever since Ryzen hit the market, now joined by Vega and Threadripper, we're back to comparing numbers and arguing over which numbers are better. We're back to the early 2000s, and it feels comforting and innocent - because everyone is right and everyone is wrong, all at the same time, because everything 100% depends on your personal budget and your personal use cases and no amount of benchmarks or number crunching is going to change your budget or personal use case. I'm loving every second of this.

18 Aug 2017 10:51am GMT

iOS 11 has a 'cop button' to temporarily disable Touch ID

Apple is adding an easy way to quickly disable Touch ID in iOS 11. A new setting, designed to automate emergency services calls, lets iPhone users tap the power button quickly five times to call 911. This doesn't automatically dial the emergency services by default, but it brings up the option to and also temporarily disables Touch ID until you enter a passcode. Twitter users discovered the new option in the iOS 11 public beta, and The Verge has verified it works as intended. It's sad that we live in a world where our devices need features like this, but I commend Apple for doing so.

18 Aug 2017 10:41am GMT

16 Aug 2017

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Build your own Linux

This course walks through the creation of a 64-bit system based on the Linux kernel. Our goal is to produce a small, sleek system well-suited for hosting containers or being employed as a virtual machine. Because we don't need every piece of functionality under the sun, we're not going to include every piece of software you might find in a typical distro. This distribution is intended to be minimal. Building my own Linux installation from scratch has always been one of those things I've wanted to do, but never got around to. Is this still something many people do? If so, why?

16 Aug 2017 10:09pm GMT

HyperCard now available on the The Archive

On August 11, 1987, Bill Atkinson announced a new product from Apple for the Macintosh; a multimedia, easily programmed system called HyperCard. HyperCard brought into one sharp package the ability for a Macintosh to do interactive documents with calculation, sound, music and graphics. It was a popular package, and thousands of HyperCard “stacks” were created using the software. Additionally, commercial products with HyperCard at their heart came to great prominence, including the original Myst program. Flourishing for the next roughly ten years, HyperCard slowly fell by the wayside to the growing World Wide Web, and was officially discontinued as a product by Apple in 2004. It left behind a massive but quickly disappearing legacy of creative works that became harder and harder to experience. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hypercard, we’re bringing it back. HyperCard is a lot of fun to play around with - I have an iBook G3 with OS9 and HyperCard installed, to play with - and this makes it far more accessible. Good work!

16 Aug 2017 10:01pm GMT

Review: System76's Galago Pro

Ars Technica: The Galago Pro was my daily machine for about a month. While I had some issues as noted above (I don't like the trackpad or the keyboard), by and large it's the best stock Linux machine. The only place where the Dell XPS 13 blows it out of the water is in battery life. As someone who lives full time in an RV and relies on a very limited amount of solar power (300w) for all my energy needs, that battery life is a deal breaker. But in nearly every other regard, this is by far my favorite laptop, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. There is something that comes up in the comments of nearly every review of System76 hardware, and that's how the company doesn't build its own hardware. System76 orders everything from upstream hardware vendors, and, in the case of the Galago Pro, that would be the Clevo N130BU (or N131BU). I've never quite understood what the issue is, but it certainly seems to rub some people the wrong way. Could you save a couple bucks by ordering the Clevo directly? Sure, but you'd have no support, no custom PPA to fix hardware issues, and no community to get involved in. If you just want a dirt-cheap Linux rig, try eBay. What System76 offers is great Linux experience with a piece of hardware that's maybe not the absolute cheapest hardware. However, that is going to change. In addition to launching its own don't-call-it-a-distro OS, the company has announced that will soon begin what it calls "phase three" - moving its product design and manufacturing in-house. There, it hopes to "build the Model S of computers." It's a bold move, starting up hardware manufacturing and an operating system at the same time. It's the kind of plan that might well lead to overextending oneself (after all, even Canonical has backed away from making its own desktop OS). I'm genuinely curious what System76's in-house Linux laptop will be like.

16 Aug 2017 9:54pm GMT

15 Aug 2017

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An introduction to quantum computing, without the physics

This paper is a gentle but rigorous introduction to quantum computing intended for computer scientists. Starting from a small set of assumptions on the behavior of quantum computing devices, we analyze their main characteristics, stressing the differences with classical computers, and finally describe two well-known algorithms (Simon's algorithm and Grover's algorithm) using the formalism developed in previous sections. This paper does not touch on the physics of the devices, and therefore does not require any notion of quantum mechanics. Some light reading before bedtime.

15 Aug 2017 11:21pm GMT

Smart lock vendor accidentally bricks customers' locks

A perk of connected devices, or at least what gadget manufacturers will tell you, is they can receive over-the-air updates to keep your device current. Those updates don't always go as planned, however. In fact, they can go horribly wrong. Take a company called Lockstate, for example, which attempted to issue new software to its LS6i smart locks last week and ended up bricking devices. That isn't great. I don't know what these people were expecting.

15 Aug 2017 11:15pm GMT

14 Aug 2017

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GoDaddy, Google blacklist Nazi website Daily Stormer

For years, the website Daily Stormer has promoted hatred against Jews, black people, LGBT people, and other minorities, making it one of the Internet's most infamous destinations. But on Sunday, editor Andrew Anglin outdid himself by publishing a vulgar, slut-shaming article about Heather Heyer, a woman who was killed when someone rammed a car into a crowd of anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville. The article prompted a response from the site's domain registrar, GoDaddy. "We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service," GoDaddy wrote in a tweet late Sunday night. On Monday, the Daily Stormer switched its registration to Google's domain service. Within hours, Google announced a cancellation of its own. "We are cancelling Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service," the company wrote in an statement emailed to Ars. No company should do business with nazis and white supremacists - ever. Still waiting on the darling of the podcasting industry, SquareSpace, to stop doing business with nazis. We can't remove these sites - and its creators and their philosophy - from existence, but at least we can make life as difficult as possible for them. And, since far too many people in the west do not understand free speech - kicking nazis out of your (virtual) store or house is free speech.

14 Aug 2017 11:08pm GMT

What Microsoft is saying internally about Surface reliability

Multiple senior Microsoft officials told me at the time that the issues were all Intel's fault, and that the microprocessor giant had delivered its buggiest-ever product in the "Skylake" generation chipsets. Microsoft, first out of the gate with Skylake chips, thus got caught up by this unreliability, leading to a falling out with Intel. Microsoft’s recent ARM push with Windows 10 is a result of that falling out; the software giant believes that Intel needs a counter to its dominance and that, as of late 2016, AMD simply wasn't up to the task. Since then, however, another trusted source at Microsoft has provided with a different take on this story. Microsoft, I'm told, fabricated the story about Intel being at fault. The real problem was Surface-specific custom drivers and settings that the Microsoft hardware team cooked up. What a train wreck for Microsoft. Incredible.

14 Aug 2017 10:47pm GMT

The AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, RX Vega 56 review

AMD isn't only getting back in the game on processors - they also just finally truly unveiled Vega, the new line of Radeon graphics cards. AnandTech benchmarked the two cards, and concludes: Unfortunately for AMD, their GTX 1080-like performance doesn't come cheap from a power perspective. The Vega 64 has a board power rating of 295W, and it lives up to that rating. Relative to the GeForce GTX 1080, we've seen power measurements at the wall anywhere between 110W and 150W higher than the GeForce GTX 1080, all for the same performance. Thankfully for AMD, buyers are focused on price and performance first and foremost (and in that order), so if all you’re looking for is a fast AMD card at a reasonable price, the Vega 64 delivers where it needs to: it is a solid AMD counterpart to the GeForce GTX 1080. However if you care about the power consumption and the heat generated by your GPU, the Vega 64 is in a very rough spot. On the other hand, the Radeon RX Vega 56 looks better for AMD, so it's easy to see why in recent days they have shifted their promotional efforts to the cheaper member of the RX Vega family. Though a step down from the RX Vega 64, the Vega 56 delivers around 90% of Vega 64’s performance for 80% of the price. Furthermore, when compared head-to-head with the GeForce GTX 1070, its closest competition, the Vega 56 enjoys a small but none the less significant 8% performance advantage over its NVIDIA counterpart. Whereas the Vega 64 could only draw to a tie, the Vega 56 can win in its market segment. Vega 56's power consumption also looks better than Vega 64's, thanks to binning and its lower clockspeeds. Its power consumption is still notably worse than the GTX 1070's by anywhere between 45W and 75W at the wall, but on both a relative basis and an absolute basis, it's at least closer. Consequently, just how well the Vega 56 fares depends on your views on power consumption. It's faster than the GTX 1070, and even if retail prices are just similar to the GTX 1070 rather than cheaper, then for some buyers looking to maximize performance for their dollar, that will be enough. But it's certainly not a very well rounded card if power consumption and noise are factored in. So, equal performance to Nvidia's competing cards at slightly lower prices (we hope), but at a big cost: far higher power consumption (and thus, I assume, heat?). For gaming, Nvidia is probably still the best choice on virtually every metric, but the interesting thing about Vega is that there's every indication it will do better on other, non-gaming tasks. It's still early days for Vega.

14 Aug 2017 9:27pm GMT

13 Aug 2017

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Xerox Alto video demonstration

We take you through a demo of our restored Xerox Alto. We go through the Neptune file browser, the Bravo text editor, the Draw and SIL programs, network booting, ftp, telnet, Smalltalk, some games and new programs we have made for the Alto. A great video showing off how the Alto - the precursor to the Star, the mother of all graphical user interfaces we still use today on our desktops and phones - works.

13 Aug 2017 2:35pm GMT

"We need to document macOS"

I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for information about macOS. Whether I am researching the answers for my section in MacFormat magazine, or trying to solve my own problems here, I am also daily reminded of Apple's wholesale failure to provide consistent and complete documentation of its flagship product. The idea you would donate an inordinate amount of time and effort for free to the richest company in the world to perform work they ought to be doing is wholly and completely baffling to me.

13 Aug 2017 1:26pm GMT

11 Aug 2017

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Microsoft announces Windows 10 Pro for Workstations

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is a high-end edition of Windows 10 Pro, comes with unique support for server grade PC hardware and is designed to meet demanding needs of mission critical and compute intensive workloads. Windows 10 Pro for Workstations - a glorious throwback to classic Microsoft naming schemes - provides users with ReFS, persistent memory, and more, and allows up to four processors (instead of two) and a maximum of 6 TB of memory (currently 2 TB).

11 Aug 2017 7:52pm GMT

AMD Threadripper reviews and benchmarks

In this review we've covered several important topics surrounding CPUs with large numbers of cores: power, frequency, and the need to feed the beast. Running a CPU is like the inverse of a diet - you need to put all the data in to get any data out. The more pi that can be fed in, the better the utilization of what you have under the hood. AMD and Intel take different approaches to this. We have a multi-die solution compared to a monolithic solution. We have core complexes and Infinity Fabric compared to a MoDe-X based mesh. We have unified memory access compared to non-uniform memory access. Both are going hard against frequency and both are battling against power consumption. AMD supports ECC and more PCIe lanes, while Intel provides a more complete chipset and specialist AVX-512 instructions. Both are competing in the high-end prosumer and workstation markets, promoting high-throughput multi-tasking scenarios as the key to unlocking the potential of their processors. As always, AnandTech's the only review you'll need, but there's also the Ars review and the Tom's Hardware review. I really want to build a Threadripper machine, even though I just built a very expensive (custom watercooling is pricey) new machine a few months ago, and honestly, I have no need for a processor like this - but the little kid in me loves the idea of two dies molten together, providing all this power. Let's hope this renewed emphasis on high core and thread counts pushes operating system engineers and application developers to make more and better use of all the threads they're given.

11 Aug 2017 7:46pm GMT

09 Aug 2017

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The case of double characters when printing man pages

In what's never going to be a regular occurance, I'm linking to a Twitter thread. Chris Espinosa tweets: Just as I was wrapping up an email and getting ready to leave work, a co-worker rolled his chair over to show me an "interesting" thing. Go ahead, read it. UNIX, man. Not even once.

09 Aug 2017 9:50pm GMT

19 Oct 2016

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Who killed Cyanogen?

Well, it's hanging on in there, but why didn't it conquer the world?

Analysis Does European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager's team pay close attention to the tech news? If not, perhaps they should.…

19 Oct 2016 10:24am GMT

17 Oct 2016

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Bits of Google's dead Project Ara modular mobe live on in Linux 4.9

Linus Torvalds teaches devs a lesson with early rc1 release

Google may have killed off its modular smartphone Project Ara idea, but some of the code that would have made it happen looks like coming to the Linux Kernel.…

17 Oct 2016 6:58am GMT

BART barfs, racers crash, and other classic BSODs

Your weekly Windows entertainment large and small

This week's worldwide BSOD roundup starts with what looks to your writer like a virtualisation launch bug. Submitter Alexander tells us it came from Peterborough Station, in Cambridgeshire.…

17 Oct 2016 6:28am GMT

14 Oct 2016

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Apple’s macOS Sierra update really puts the fan into 'fanboi'

Look out! It's gonna blow!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "Ooh, I'm so hot! And I'm getting even hotter for you, big boy!"

14 Oct 2016 9:07am GMT

13 Oct 2016

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VMS will be ready to run on x86 in 2019!

Or 2018 if you're brave. For now, we have a boot screen!

VMS Software Inc (VSI), which became the custodian of the venerable OpenVMS in 2014, is getting close to its Holy Grail of running the OS on x86.…

13 Oct 2016 4:03am GMT

12 Oct 2016

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Google sets the date for first sniff at Android 7.1

Holding back Assistant and apps drawer for Pixel

Developers can get their hands on Android 7.1 by the end of the month, Google has said.…

12 Oct 2016 12:06am GMT

11 Oct 2016

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Cyanogen mods self away from full Android alternative

Board shakeup and new 'buy our code McNuggets' plan follows lousy sales

Android alternative Cyanogen looks to have given up on trying to sell a full mobile operating system.…

11 Oct 2016 5:03am GMT

10 Oct 2016

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FreeBSD 11.0 lands, with security fixes to FreeBSD 11.0

Bootleggers, don't ignore the official version

If you were one of the sharp-eyed users who downloaded FreeBSD 11.0 from the project's FTP servers before official release, it's time to upgrade again. The release version has landed and it's not the same as the bootleg.…

10 Oct 2016 9:41pm GMT

07 Oct 2016

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Windows updates? Just trust us, says Microsoft executive

'Rather than you approving which patches you want, we are saying let them all flow'

Interview At Microsoft's recent Ignite event in Atlanta, The Reg sat down with Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of Enterprise Client and Mobility.…

07 Oct 2016 5:05pm GMT

06 Oct 2016

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Windows 10 market share fell in September

Not by much and we know mass enterprise adoption is still to come

Microsoft may have used its Ignite conference to trumpet Windows 10 now running on 400 million devices, but the operating system's market share went backwards in September according to two of three traffic-watchers we track each month.…

06 Oct 2016 6:02am GMT

05 Oct 2016

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Google melts 78 Android security holes, two of which were critical

Chinese hackers thanked for help finding flaws

Google has crushed 78 Android security flaws in its October bug blitzkrieg, repairing critical core Android services along the way.…

05 Oct 2016 3:58am GMT

Linus Torvalds admits 'buggy crap' made it into Linux 4.8

Devs have 'NO F*CKING EXCUSE to knowingly kill the kernel', says Linux lord

Linus Torvalds gave the world Linux 4.8 earlier this week, but now appears to wish he didn't after spotting some code he says can "kill the kernel."…

05 Oct 2016 2:27am GMT

04 Oct 2016

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Lenovo exec: Nope, not building Windows Phones

'Not convinced Microsoft is committed long term to the OS'

Canalys Channels Forum 2016 Lenovo will not build smartmobes running on Microsoft's Windows operating system because it doubts the software giant's long term commitment to the market.…

04 Oct 2016 9:32am GMT

03 Oct 2016

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Apple to automatically cram macOS Sierra into Macs – 'cos that worked well for Windows 10

And they say Microsoft never innovates anything…

Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's Windows 10 playbook and will push out its latest macOS (ex-OS X) update as an automatic download.…

03 Oct 2016 9:09pm GMT

28 Sep 2016

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Our Windows windows will be resizable, soooon, vows Microsoft

Back to the '80s

Ignite Microsoft this week promised to increase desktop users' productivity by bringing resizeable overlapping windows to Windows™ - a feature notably missing today. A spokesman also expressed hope that Mr Gorbachev's new policy of "perestroika" would continue, bringing real benefits to Soviet citizens.…

28 Sep 2016 11:32am GMT

27 Sep 2016

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Official: Windows 10 has hit the 400 million device mark

Pro version accounts for growing share of business PC sales

Microsoft's self-installing Windows 10 operating system has reached the 400 million mark, the firm announced at its Ignite conference in Atlanta this week, up from the previous high of 350 million in August.…

27 Sep 2016 12:18pm GMT