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Operating Systems

Researcher Releases Hardened OS "Qubes"; Xen Hits 4.0 129

Trailrunner7 writes "Joanna Rutkowska, a security researcher known for her work on virtualization security and low-level rootkits, has released a new open-source operating system meant to provide isolation of the OS's components for better security. The OS, called Qubes, is based on Xen, X and Linux, and is in a basic, alpha stage right now. Qubes relies on virtualization to separate applications running on the OS and also places many of the system-level components in sandboxes to prevent them from affecting each other. 'Qubes lets the user define many security domains implemented as lightweight virtual machines (VMs), or 'AppVMs.' E.g. users can have 'personal,' 'work,' 'shopping,' 'bank,' and 'random' AppVMs and can use the applications from within those VMs just like if they were executing on the local machine, but at the same time they are well isolated from each other. Qubes supports secure copy-and-paste and file sharing between the AppVMs, of course.'" Xen's also just reached 4.0; some details below.

Decrying the Excessive Emulation of Reality In Games 187

An editorial at GameSetWatch makes the case that game developers' relentless drive to make games more real has led to missed opportunities for creating unique fictional universes that are perhaps more interesting than our own. Quoting: "Remember when the norm for a video game was a blue hedgehog that ran fast and collected rings and emeralds? Or a plumber that took mushrooms to become large, and grabbed a flower to throw fireballs? In reality they do none of those things, but in the name of a game, they make sense, inspire wonder, and create a new universe. ... We’ve seen time and time again that the closer you try to emulate reality, the more the 'game' aspects begin to stick out. Invisible walls in Final Fantasy, or grenades spawning at your feet when you go the wrong way in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 are examples of kicking the player out of that illusion of reality, and letting them know that yes, this is a game, and yes, the rules are designed to keep you in the space of this world, not the real world. In reality, as a soldier I could disobey my orders and go exploring around the other side. I could be cowardly and turn back to base. Games shouldn’t have to plan for every eventuality, of course, but it’s not so hard to create universes that are compelling but where the unusual, or even simple backtracking, is not so unfeasible."

Could Colorblindness Cure Be Morally Wrong? 981

destinyland writes "One in 12 men suffers from colorblindness, though '[t]he good news here is that these folks are simply missing a patch of DNA ... which is just the kind of challenge this Millennium is made for. Enter science.' But NPR's Moira Gunn (from Biotech Nation) now asks a provocative question. Is it wrong to cure colorblindness? She reports on an experiment that used a virus to introduce corrective DNA into colorblind monkeys. ('It took 20 weeks, but eventually the monkeys started distinguishing between red and green.') Then she asks, could it be viewed differently? 'Are we trying to 'normalize' humans to a threshold of experience?'"
Social Networks

Facebook Goes After Greasemonkey Script Developer 375

palmerj3 writes "The popular Facebook Purity greasemonkey script (now renamed Fluff Buster Purity) has been used by thousands to rid their Facebook feeds from the likes of Mafia Wars, Farmville, and other annoying things. Now, Facebook is threatening the developer of this script. Does Facebook have the right to govern their website's design and functionality once it's in the browser?"

Microsoft Open Sources .NET Micro Framework 320

An anonymous reader writes "Back in July, Microsoft announced it was making .NET available under its Community Promise, which in theory allowed free software developers to use the technology without fear of patent lawsuits. Not surprisingly, many free software geeks were unconvinced by the promise (after all, what's a promise compared to an actual open licence?), but now Microsoft has taken things to the next level by releasing the .NET Micro Framework under the Apache 2.0 licence. Yes, you read that correctly: a sizeable chunk of .NET is about to go open source."
Operating Systems

The Incredible Shrinking Operating System 345

snydeq writes "The center of gravity is shifting away from the traditional, massive operating systems of the past, as even the major OSes are slimming their footprint to make code bases easier to manage and secure, and to increase the variety of devices on which they can run, InfoWorld reports. Microsoft, for one, is cutting down the number of services that run at boot to ensure Windows 7 will run across a spectrum of hardware. Linux distros such as Ubuntu are stripping out functionality, including MySQL, CUPS, and LDAP, to cut footprints in half. And Apple appears headed for a slimmed-down OS X that will enable future iPhones or tablet devices to run the same OS as the Mac. Though these developments don't necessarily mean that the browser will supplant the OS, they do show that OS vendors realize they must adapt as virtualization, cloud computing, netbooks, and power concerns drive business users toward smaller, less costly, more efficient operating environments."

Microsoft May Be Targeting the Ubuntu Desktop 583

mjasay writes "Microsoft is advertising for a new director of open source strategy, but this one has a specific purpose: fight the Linux desktop. 'The Windows Competitive Strategy team is looking for a strong team member to lead Microsoft's global desktop competitive strategy as it relates to open source competitors.' For a variety of reasons, this move is almost certainly targeted at Ubuntu Linux's desktop success. With the Mac, not Linux, apparently eating into Microsoft's Windows market share, what is it about desktop Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, that has Microsoft spooked?" Reader christian.einfeldt notes Microsoft's acknowledgment of the FOSS threat to their business model within SEC filings, and suggests that this job posting could instead be about maintaining Internet Explorer's market share lead against Firefox.

I've got a bad feeling about this.