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Comment Re:great news (Score 1) 238

You need to have a look at the Asus-merlin project as well. It's a custom firmware for Asus routers. It includes a persistant JFFS partition and a raft of other cool features. I've had three, and the only complaint that I have is that, under load, they can get up to 50 C. The lower memory 520gU was the only one that I encountered a lock up issue with (when downloading several files from a CDN with Download-them-all) and video streaming, and that was only 1-2x per year. All of the others have been extremely stable, even with heavy downloads and video streaming.

Comment Re:Awesome (Score 1) 100

Sorry, those bootloaders are cryptographically signed with keys in either Verizon's or AT&T's possession. These keys preclude the installation of any custom ROMs. Short of an AT&T dev being careless with the crypto-keys, it's not going to happen. In my experience, Samsung phones are pretty beefy. They have to be to run the TouchWiz OS layer on top of Android OS.

If you have an older Samsung phone - for instance the Galaxy S3 - and you have the ability to install a Custom ROM (Cyanogen, Slim, Oxygen), they will work fairly well. The S3 can even run Marshmallow (6.0), where the Note 3 is stuck on Lollipop (5.0.1). The Note3 didn't even get even 5.1.1! The S3's only problem is the stock camera occasionally crashes (and requires reboot to fix). There's some 3rd party cameras out there that work better. Overall, the S3 with Cyanogen is much, much snappier than with TouchWiz.

Comment Re:No. Vendor. Lockin. (Score 1) 269

I still don't understand all the hate toward systemd.

I think I can break some of this down for you...

Linux has had a number of de-facto standard implementations for things through the years: (working from memory) - For sound we had some various odds and ends, then focus started to go toward ALSA, then later we had JACK, and PulseAudio. Now it seems most major distros use PulseAudio.

And who 'spearheaded' PolypAudio - err, PulseAudio? Lennart Poettering. I was really excited about PA, until it utterly destroyed my sound for a couple of years. I couldn't make it work in Gentoo, and after about 8 months of pain, I switched to Ubuntu. That was also painful, but at least there were users there to help me transition from Gentoo and fix my audio issues. Audio was so bad, I had to switch back to Windows for anything audio related, whether it was games, audio, or video. The quality was especially bad for video capture. The kicker is I still today need to use the alsamixer to unmute channels from time to time. PA doesn't seem to have any way to do this.

- For our displays we've had the X window system for ages. Now we're starting to move toward Wayland and there's still some of the old grey/neckbeards that are simply afraid of change and digging their heels in on X.

I can understand this, too. The Wayland folks say, "The code is old and broken, we need to rewrite it." Wiser folks than I have blogged about this. Let me give you some examples of projects that foundered or died because of rewriting:

  • Netscape 6.0 - released extremely late, ended up destroying the company
  • MacOS 8 (Copland rewrite) - was slated as an update for System 7 - then MacOS 8 - then tossed (Apple bought NeXT instead). The MacOS 8 & 9 that were released were incremental updates to System 7
  • Gnome 3
  • KDE 4
  • I'm sure others can think of more

In addition to that, they've deprecated useful features like X11 forwarding, and they just dusted off their hands and said, "Not my problem. That functionality should be handled by an application." It seems short-sighted to remove a working feature that a portion of people use, just because they don't believe it has value. From what I've read, adding it back in will be a non-trivial task.

Your big complaint is that it was once free-as-in-speech *and* free-as-in-beer. Tell me, how is software that you pay no money for and have access to all source code somehow not both definitions of free? Are you not still free to pick a distribution that uses sysvinit? upstart? openrc? Assuming you have the knowledge, ability, and time, couldn't you roll your own distro with all those features you want *and* pick which init system you wanted? Couldn't you get the source of systemd and rip out those things you don't like?

Sure, just like you could assemble your own car or build your own house. By yourself. Oh, and could you pay inspectors $MEGA_CURRENCY to go over it with a fine toothed comb to make sure it won't come down on your head in the middle of the night, or when explode when you flush all toilets simultaneously, or fall apart at 88 mph?

Looking at it another way, one of the biggest complaints about Linux adoption was the fragmentation across different distributions. Now Linux is starting to approach a standard for user space, which would make cross-distro development easier. Isn't that a good thing?

I agree that some standardization is a good thing. But we need not remove *all* choice. That puts us in the same boat as MS.

Also, one last note on L. P. He favors breaking compatibility with POSIX and BSD to speed development. So, if he feels that way about POSIX, the standard that makes Linux, well, Linux, who's to say he won't radically change direction again?

Comment Re:Because Windows Sucks (Score 1) 269

Don't worry, they've already warned us, updates are going to be all or nothing affairs. There will be a "November Patch Set for Windows 7", with no choice as to which patches you want fixed. Do you want the privilege escalation exploit fixed, but not the GDI+ update because it causes display bug in your custom business app? Too bad. You should've picked Windows Enterprise (and dedicated a part of your life to patch testing). Don't even get me started on the Telemetry/CEIP or no updates.

Prepare for "Your Windows is Unprotected! Please insert your credit card here to get the latest updates" (okay, they've not done the last one - YET - give them time).

On a side note, if my computer tells me it's insecure, I'm not putting my credit card anywhere near it.

Comment "new phase" aka Patent Armegeddon (Score 4, Interesting) 59

The patents in question, if they are proved valid, have far reaching applications. This will be bigger than the SCO Caldera Unix thing ever was.

  • The patents include: [web-copy-pasted From Ars article above]
  • Nos. 9,143,801 and 8,964,849, relating to "significance maps" for coding video data;
  • No. 8,116,739, describing methods of displaying messages;
  • No. 8,886,212, describing tracking location of mobile devices;
  • No. 8,688,439, relating to speech decoding and compression;
  • No.7,440,561, describing integrating wireless phones into a PBX network;
  • No. 8,554,218, describing call routing methods; and
  • No. 7,372,961, a method of generating a cryptographicpublic key.

So, how does this impact all of us?

First, they've already signed a cross licensing deal with Cisco. Cisco's paying them a license fee as well. What does Cisco get out of it? That last patent is against OpenSSL, specifically on the generation of X.509 certificates and certain cryptographic methods. (How? I thought that business methods weren't patent-able?). So, that includes certificate based VPNs, self-signed HTTPS certificates, and things like that found on the router. Since the method of generation appears to be patented, even work-alike implementations, e.g. LibreSSL, are probably in danger of lawsuits. So, for free, Cisco gets to single-handedly raise the cost of home and small business router appliances, and quite-possibly squeeze some of the smaller ones out of business. Not to mention punishing open firmware router implementations at the same time, such as SmoothWall, DD-WRT, and OpenWRT.

If history serves as any guide, Microsoft will be the next to pony up (Just like they did with SCO Unix). Microsoft would benefit greatly from this agreement. They'll get to squeeze the phone market and the Open Source ecosystem all at the same time. They'll probably cross-license with RIM, and make sure that WinMo is covered. Then they'd go to the phone manufacturers and sell it for less than they'd have to pay RIM for each phone with the infringing OpenSSL bits and Android installed. Google has already shown they've no interest in shielding their partners from patent litigation. RIM and Microsoft will likely start small, with Alcatel and Blu, and work their way up to HTC and Samsung. Similarly, MS will probably ask RIM to provide Linux licenses (which they will pay for their Azure instances), so they can attempt to force Google and Amazon to do the same.

It's not quite the end of the world though. Linux and open source have beaten overly broad patents before. We may be entering a period of long technological stagnation, while we wait to see what happens with all this.

Comment Re:Great. Want 5,000 of them? (Score 1) 180

Bah! I've got you one better. I'm looking at a IBM 6400, a LINE printer. Instead of a traveling head, like the serial matrix printer, it prints a line at time, and the speeds are measured in lines per minute. Takes that crazy big US fanfold (14 7/8" by 11"). It is still going strong 22 years after it was purchased. It's absolutely fantastic, but it's cabinet is all dinged and scratched up. Back cabinet door had to be removed because it wouldn't shut. Has its own closet now, so we can quiet it down. Has not had a driver since Windows 3.11 WFW, but works fine with ESC/P graphics with either Linux, MacOS X (oh yeah, it's just macOS now), or Windows. Except with Windows, you might have trouble with margins. Microsoft, tractor fed printers do not need margins! I eventually found an Epson DFX-5000+ driver that worked without margins (yes, even supported in Windows 10, no less), but I suppose the DFX-8500 or DFX-9000 drivers would have worked as well. Odd to use a serial matrix driver on a line printer, but it works great. Besides the usual printer maintenance (rollers, ink in the print heads and what have you), this thing will probably be going 50 years from now, and will likely only die because no one's making parts for it anymore. There's a Genicom 5100 next to it, but it looks pristine compared to the 6400 (it wasn't partially dropped off the back of the moving truck, so I'm told).

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 255

I think you've nailed it. The Xbox Live store (especially since it has the Gold tier membership), has to be hugely more profitable than the generic Windows Store. I suspect a consolidation is brewing. Maybe WinStore accounts are going to be migrated to WindowsLive accounts?

Comment Re:Even Linux Boxes? (Score 1) 255


Not unless you are running a Secure Boot (TM) authorized OS. On most firmware, we have options similar to ON (Secure) and OFF (Legacy). It will be trivial to have the hardware manufacturers set that to secure, be it in a firmware update or straight from the factory (e.g. Surface). Linux Secure Boot enabled OSes are Red Hat and possibly Fedora and CentOS. I think Ubuntu said they'd consider using Secure Boot signed binaries, but I don't know if they went through with acquiring the signing keys. In the Windows camp, Windows 7 is considered 'Legacy OS' (at least according to my motherboard). Windows 8 and 8.1 are grandfathered in for the short term.

I haven't owned a Mac in a while - does OpenFirmware have the option to disable Secure Boot? I suppose it must, I've seen at least one running Windows 7

Comment Re:Plenty of Windows 10 comparibility (Score 1) 186

Yes, they do. I've got a two old Dell Laptops that I saved from the dumpster after someone left their pallet after a university auction, It is a machien from 2005, now running Windows 8.1 (32 bit), even though it didn't want to. I installed it anyway, and used the OmegaDriver to get that ATi video chipset working. It *says* it is a Radeon X1600 mobility on the sticker, but from what I understand, it is really Radeon 9000/9200 era silicon. Both AMD and Nvidia are bad about overstating (read lying) about their mobility video chipset capabilities in laptops.

Anyway, 10 flat-out refuses to install. The message states, "Your hardware vendor has not yet provided updates for this model," and "You may not upgrade to Windows 10 yet." It's still sitting on the HD, taking up space, but this old Dell is never going to get the update from Dell, Inc. You'd think that MS would take the hint. I can probably force it, but I suspect that the old hacked driver won't work in 10. I think that's why the Omega driver guy gave up - not to mention that newer laptops were also accepting generic drivers.

The 2nd has an Intel 915GM, so it had no problems with 8.1, at first. Sadly the 2nd has a BIOS bug that, in anything OS newer than Vista (or any version of Linux), will randomly corrupt the memory heap when the video card requests more memory. Without asking, it starts randomly writing pages of VRAM data into the OS address space. I can repeat this reliably in Linux running the OpenGL benchmarks. There's one with a spinning horse model that reliably causes the crash. It would be compatible with 10 - if it wouldn't blow up the memory anytime 3D or OpenGL was activated. I believe by default, it uses just 1MB of video memory, which is find for GDI, but anything more than that and you're going to BSOD.

Of course, Dell says: "That's an XP certified machine, runs fine with XP, so do so. We'll fix this problem on a couple of newer machines (and one older one) with this setup, but not that one, because we discontinued the Vostro line."
Even with all that, I'd still buy Dell over HP/Compaq, because Dell machines don't actively self destruct within 3 years of purchase. Most HP/Compaqs I've seen in (small) business have either 1) external daughtercard for video, which will over time overheat (of course) and warp its way out of the right angle socket (ATi), or 2) use Nvidia chipsets that self-destruct precisely 30 days outside of warranty.

Comment Re:Well.... (Score 1) 231

... juvenile kids ... group home

The Juvenile Hall (aka juvy) is a place for people under the age of 18 that are under house arrest. It's pretty close to jail in that they cannot leave, but there is a lot of counseling in addition to some community service. Counselors are trying to reform rather than punish. The crimes that can get you juvy vary from low end theft and property damage up to manslaughter and molestation. When freed, the juvenile record is generally sealed.

Lately, there's been a big push in the US to punish even 14 year olds as adults, and send them to adult prisons, complete with adult prison terms, and all the downsides that come with that - no right to vote, no 2nd amendment right to bear arms, parole officers, crap jobs (if you can even get one), and if you get fired or miss a parole meeting, well, back to jail for you! Former prisoners are a subclass in American society, like the Untouchable caste in Asian and Middle Eastern societies.

Comment Linux Java tarballs 2016 (Score 1) 492

Java can be a bear to install yourself from the tarball. That's why nobody (as far as i know) does it like that. There's a Webupd8 team that has a Debian/Ubuntu/Mint PPA. That'll install recent Javas for you - and keep them up to date, and, additionally, integrating with /etc/alternatives, so that you can have several versions on the machine at once.

That said, running all the different versions at once might not be a good thing for your machine's RAM, but you can - if you have the need to.

Comment Re:What did he use of Konami's, exactly? (Score 1) 118

That's right! He could've made "Super Stealthy Mario Bros: Extreme Tactical Espionage Plumbing" Edition, the version where Mario eats the wrong mushroom, grows huge, and then irradiates the wrong mushrooms and turtles in a secret nuclear facility. Unhappy that Mario is a big boss about stomping mushrooms, they kidnap Mario's mushroom retainers and Princess Toadstool... er, wait, Princess Daisy, .. no - I got it! Princess Peach. To defend themselves against Mario and his brother Luigi, they'll create 'Metroid', a giant walking tank with the nuclear capabilities, driven by Justin Bailey. She'll be the blue haired female pilot that will serve as the final boss for the brothers.

There! That's probably different enough that Konami will no longer have a problem with it. There's probably enough material there to squeeze out a couple of sequels, too.

Comment Re:What is the point of the Windows Store? (Score 1) 209

Problem with platforms is, sometimes they explode or catch on fire. As someone famously said:

“There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour."

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour."


Thank you, Mr Elop!

Why do people want to switch to the Unified Windows Platform again? This platform may not explode, software can be left unsupported, deprecated, or superseded. For similar examples from Microsoft, see Stacker/Doublespace, Zune, PlaysForSure, Windows CE, Windows Java (and/or J#), and the WinPhone 7 to 8 transition.

[1] Wall Street Journal paywall/limited access.

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