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Chrome

Chromification Continues: Firefox May Use Chrome's PDF and Flash Plugins (softpedia.com) 113

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla announced today Project Mortar, an initiative to explore the possibility of deploying alternative technologies in Firefox to replace its internal implementations. The project's first two goals are to test two Chrome plugins within the Firefox codebase. These are PDFium, the Chrome plugin for viewing PDF files, and Pepper Flash, Google's custom implementation of Adobe Flash. The decision comes as Mozilla is trying to cut down development costs, after Firefox took a nose dive in market share this year. "In order to enable stronger focus on advancing the Web and to reduce the complexity and long term maintenance cost of Firefox, and as part of our strategy to remove generic plugin support, we are launching Project Mortar," said Johnny Stenback, Senior Director Of Engineering at Mozilla Corporation. "Project Mortar seeks to reduce the time Mozilla spends on technologies that are required to provide a complete web browsing experience, but are not a core piece of the Web platform," Stenback adds. "We will be looking for opportunities to replace such technologies with other existing alternatives, including implementations by other browser vendors."
Debian

Systemd Rolls Out Its Own Mount Tool (phoronix.com) 541

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: I'm surprised this hasn't surfaced on Slashdot already, but yesterday Phoronix reported that systemd will soon be handling file system mounts, along with all the other stuff that systemd has encompassed. The report generated the usual systemd arguments over on Reddit.com/r/linux with Lennart Poettering, systemd developer and architect, chiming in with a few clarifications.
Lennart argued it will greatly improve the handling of removable media like USB sticks.
Television

Star Trek CBS Series To Be Streamed Internationally On Netflix (variety.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix has announced that it has secured a deal to stream every episode of the new Star Trek TV series within 24 hours of its original network broadcast. However, neither the U.S. nor Canadian subscribers are included in the deal, which otherwise covers every territory that Netflix operates in worldwide. Stateside viewers will be able to stream the new show via CBS's own All Access digital subscription video-on-demand and live streaming service, with Canadian streaming provisions yet to be announced. The deal represents a potential major step forward in the company's determination to bypass regional licensing, and at one stroke eliminates the typical years of delay that occur when a U.S. program seeks foreign audiences.
Privacy

New 'Hardened' Tor Browser Protects Users From FBI Hacking (vice.com) 103

An anonymous reader quotes an article from Motherboard: According to a new paper, security researchers are now working closely with the Tor Project to create a "hardened" version of the Tor Browser, implementing new anti-hacking techniques which could dramatically improve the anonymity of users and further frustrate the efforts of law enforcement...

"Our solution significantly improves security over standard address space layout randomization (ASLR) techniques currently used by Firefox and other mainstream browsers," the researchers write in their paper, whose findings will be presented in July at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium in Darmstadt, Germany.

The researchers say Tor is currently field-testing their solution for an upcoming "hardened" release, making it harder for agencies like the FBI to crack the browser's security, according to Motherboard. "[W]hile that defensive advantage may not last for too long, it shows that some in the academic research community are still intent on patching the holes that their peers are helping government hackers exploit."
Microsoft

Microsoft Makes Xamarin Free In Visual Studio, Will Open Source Core Xamarin Tech (venturebeat.com) 143

An anonymous reader cites a report on VentureBeat: Microsoft today announced that Xamarin is now available for free for every Visual Studio user. This includes all editions of Visual Studio, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition, Visual Studio Professional, and Visual Studio Enterprise. Furthermore, Xamarin Studio for OS X is being made available for free as a community edition and Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers will get access to Xamarin's enterprise capabilities at no additional cost. The company also promised to open source Xamarin's SDK, including its runtime, libraries, and command line tools, as part of the .NET Foundation 'in the coming months.' Plenty of developers will find this announcement exciting. Xamarin being free is a big deal.
Mozilla

Firefox 44 Deletes Fine-Grained Cookie Management (mozilla.org) 471

ewhac writes: Among its other desirable features, Firefox included a feature allowing very fine-grained cookie management. When enabled, every time a Web site asked to set a cookie, Firefox would raise a dialog containing information about the cookie requested, which you could then approve or deny. An "exception" list also allowed you to mark selected domains as "Always allow" or "Always deny", so that the dialog would not appear for frequently-visited sites. It was an excellent way to maintain close, custom control over which sites could set cookies, and which specific cookies they could set. It also helped easily identify poorly-coded sites that unnecessarily requested cookies for every single asset, or which would hit the browser with a "cookie storm" — hundreds of concurrent cookie requests.

Mozilla quietly deleted this feature from Firefox 44, with no functional equivalent put in its place. Further, users who had enabled the "Ask before accept" feature have had that preference silently changed to, "Accept normally." The proffered excuse for the removal was that the feature was unmaintained, and that its users were, "probably crashing multiple times a day as a result" (although no evidence was presented to support this assertion). Mozilla's apparent position is that users wishing fine-grained cookie control should be using a third-party add-on instead, and that an "Ask before accept" option was, "not really nice to use on today's Web."

KDE

Will You Be Able To Run a Modern Desktop Environment In 2016 Without Systemd? 785

New submitter yeupou writes: Early this year, David Edmundson from KDE, concluded that "In many cases [systemd] allows us to throw away large amounts of code whilst at the same time providing a better user experience. Adding it [systemd] as an optional extra defeats the main benefit". A perfectly sensible explanation. But, then, one might wonder to which point KDE would remain usable without systemd?

Recently, on one Devuan box, I noticed that KDE power management (Powerdevil) no longer supported suspend and hibernate. Since pm-utils was still there, for a while, I resorted to call pm-suspend directly, hoping it would get fixed at some point. But it did not. So I wrote a report myself. I was not expecting much. But neither was I expecting it to be immediately marked as RESOLVED and DOWNSTREAM, with a comment accusing the "Debian fork" I'm using to "ripe out" systemd without "coming with any of the supported solutions Plasma provides". I searched beforehand about the issue so I knew that the problem also occurred on some other Debian-based systems and that the bug seemed entirely tied to upower, an upstream software used by Powerdevil. So if anything, at least this bug should have been marked as UPSTREAM.

While no one dares (yet) to claim to write software only for systemd based operating system, it is obvious that it is now getting quite hard to get support otherwise. At the same time, bricks that worked for years without now just get ruined, since, as pointed out by Edmunson, adding systemd as "optional extra defeats its main benefit". So, is it likely that we'll still have in 2016 a modern desktop environment, without recent regressions, running without systemd?
Firefox

Mozilla Is Removing Tab Groups and Complete Themes From Firefox (venturebeat.com) 316

An anonymous reader writes: As part of Mozilla's "Go Faster" initiative for Firefox, the company is removing features that aren't used by many and require a lot of technical effort to continually improve. VentureBeat learned that the first two features to get the axe are tab groups and complete themes. Dave Camp, Firefox’s director of engineering, said, "Tab Groups was an experiment to help users deal with large numbers of tabs. Very few people chose to use it, so we are retiring it because the work required to maintain it is disproportionate to its popularity."
Firefox

Mozilla Has 'No Plans' To Offer Firefox Without Pocket (venturebeat.com) 199

An anonymous reader writes: In June, Mozilla integrated Pocket into Firefox, garnering a mixed response from the browser's community. This week, VentureBeat stumbled upon a Bugzilla ticket (bug 1215694) to "move Pocket to a built-in add-on" and immediately reached out to the company. "There are currently no plans to offer a version of Firefox that doesn't include Pocket," said Dave Camp, Firefox's director of engineering.
Mozilla

Big Changes From Mozilla Mean Firefox Will Get Chrome Extensions 192

Mozilla announced yesterday a few high-level changes to the way Firefox and Firefox extensions will be developed; among them, the introduction of "a new extension API, called WebExtensions—largely compatible with the model used by Chrome and Opera—to make it easier to develop extensions across multiple browsers." (Liliputing has a nice breakdown of the changes.) ZDNet reports that at the same time, "Mozilla will be deprecating XPCOM and XUL, the foundations of its extension system, and many Firefox developers are ticked off at these moves."
Operating Systems

People Are Obtaining Windows 7 Licenses For the Free Windows 10 Upgrade 172

jones_supa writes: Windows 7 has quickly started increasing its market share of desktop operating systems, nearing 61%. If you're wondering why this is happening when Windows 10 is almost here, the reason is this: Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for those running Windows 7 and 8, and the new OS will have the exact same hardware requirements as its predecessor, so the majority of PCs should be able to run it just as well. Because Windows 7 was launched in 2009, a license is more affordable than for Windows 8, so many users are switching to this version to take advantage of the Windows 10 free upgrade offer.
Encryption

NIST Updates Random Number Generation Guidelines 64

An anonymous reader writes: Encryption weighs heavily on the public consciousness these days, as we've learned that government agencies are keeping an eye on us and a lot of our security tools aren't as foolproof as we've thought. In response to this, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a formal update to its document on how to properly generate a random number — crucial in many types of encryption. The update (as expected) removes a recommendation for the Dual_EC_DRBG algorithm. It also adds extra options for CTR_DRBG and points out examples for implementing SP 800-90A generators. The full document (PDF) is available online.

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