Desktops (Apple)

Users Don't Want iOS To Merge With MacOS, Apple Chief Tim Cook Says (smh.com.au) 38

Rebutting a widespread speculation, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the company is not working toward building an operating system that both Macs and iPhones could share. From his interview on Sydney Morning Herald: Later, when I ask about the divide between the Mac and iOS, which seems almost conservative when compared to Microsoft's convertible Windows 10 strategy, Cook gives an interesting response. "We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two ... you begin to make trade offs and compromises. "So maybe the company would be more efficient at the end of the day. But that's not what it's about. You know it's about giving people things that they can then use to help them change the world or express their passion or express their creativity. So this merger thing that some folks are fixated on, I don't think that's what users want." A surprising comment, considering rumours from well-connected reporter Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, who wrote the company is working on a project called "Marzipan", which involves merging the codebase of macOS and iOS apps.
Microsoft

Microsoft Delays Windows 10 Spring Creators Update Because of 'Higher Percentage of BSODs' (bleepingcomputer.com) 106

Microsoft has admitted that it had to postpone the release of Spring Creators Update, the upcoming major update to its Windows 10 desktop operating system due to technical issues. BleepingComputer notes: More precisely, Microsoft says it encountered a higher percentage of Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) errors on PCs, the company's Insiders Program managers said in a blog post yesterday. Microsoft says that instead of shipping the Springs Creators Update faulty as it was, and then delivering an update later to fix the issues, it decided to hold off on deploying the defective build altogether. The OS maker says it will create and test a new Windows 10 build that also includes the BSOD fixes, and ship that one instead of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17134, the build that was initially scheduled to be launched as the Spring Creators Update on April 10, last week.
Cloud

Microsoft Built Its Own Custom Linux Kernel For Its New IoT Service (techcrunch.com) 199

At a small press event in San Francisco, Microsoft today announced the launch of a secure end-to-end IoT product that focuses on microcontroller-based devices -- the kind of devices that use tiny and relatively low-powered microcontrollers (MCUs) for basic control or connectivity features. TechCrunch reports: At the core of Azure Sphere is a new class of certified MCUs. As Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith stressed in today's announcement, Microsoft will license these new Azure Sphere chips for free, in hopes to jump-start the Azure Sphere ecosystem. Because it's hard to secure a device you can't update or get telemetry from, it's no surprise that these devices will feature built-in connectivity. And with that connectivity, these devices can also connect to the Azure Sphere Security Service in the cloud. For the first time ever, Microsoft is launching a custom Linux kernel and distribution: the Azure Sphere OS. It's an update to the kind of real-time operating systems that today's MCUs often use.

Why use Linux? "With Azure Sphere, Microsoft is addressing an entirely new class of IoT devices, the MCU," Rob Lefferts, Microsoft's partner director for Windows enterprise and security told me at the event. "Windows IoT runs on microprocessor units (MPUs) which have at least 100x the power of the MCU. The Microsoft-secured Linux kernel used in the Azure Sphere IoT OS is shared under an OSS license so that silicon partners can rapidly enable new silicon innovations." And those partners are also very comfortable with taking an open-source release and integrating that with their products. To get the process started, MediaTek is producing the first set of these new MCUs. These are low-powered, single-core ARM-A7 systems that run at 500MHz and include WiFi connectivity as well as a number of other I/O options.

Operating Systems

ReactOS 0.4.8 Released (osnews.com) 60

jeditobe shares a report from OSNews: With software specifically leaving NT5 behind, ReactOS is expanding its target to support NT6+ (Vista, Windows 8, Windows 10) software. Colin, Giannis and Mark are creating the needed logic in NTDLL and LDR for this purpose. Giannis has finished the side-by-side support and the implicit activation context, Colin has changed Kernel32 to accept software made for NT6+, and Mark keeps working on the shim compatibility layer. Although in a really greenish and experimental state, the new additions in 0.4.8 should start helping several software pieces created for Vista and upwards to start working in ReactOS. Microsoft coined the term backwards compatibility, ReactOS the forward compatibility one. Slashdot reader jeditobe adds: "A new tool similar to DrWatson32 has been created by Mark and added to 0.4.8, so now any application crashing will create a log file on the desktop. This crash dump details the list of modules and threads loaded, stack traces, hexdumps, and register state."

The announcement, general notes, tests, and changelog for the release can be found at their respective links. A less technical community changelog for ReactOS 0.4.8 is also available.
Operating Systems

Linus Torvalds Says Linux Kernel v5.0 'Should Be Meaningless' (betanews.com) 163

An anonymous reader shares a report: Following the release of Linux kernel 4.16, Linus Torvalds has said that the next kernel will be version 5.0. Or maybe it won't, because version numbers are meaningless. The announcement -- of sorts -- came in Torvalds' message over the weekend about the first release candidate for version 4.17. He warns that it is not "shaping up to be a particularly big release" and questions whether it even matters what version number is slapped on the final release. He says that "v5.0 will happen some day. And it should be meaningless. You have been warned." That's not to say that Linux kernel v5.0 -- or whatever it ends up being called -- will not be significant. With the removal of old architecture and other bits of tidying up, with v4.17 RC1 there were more lines of code removed than added: something described as "probably a first. Ever. In the history of the universe. Or at least kernel releases."
Operating Systems

Linux 4.17 Kernel Offers Better Intel Power-Savings While Dropping Old CPUs (phoronix.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes: Linus Torvalds has released Linux 4.17-rc1. This kernel comes with a significant amount of new capabilities as outlined by the Linux 4.17 feature overview. Among the new features are AMDGPU WattMan support, Intel HDCP support, Vega 12 GPU enablement, NVIDIA Xavier SoC support, removal of obsolete CPU architectures, and even better support for the original Macintosh PowerBook 100 series. Phoronix testing has also revealed measurable power savings improvements and better power efficiency on Intel hardware. The kernel is expected to be stabilized by June.
Windows

Microsoft Discovers Blocking Bug and Delays the Release of Windows 10 Spring Creators Update (betanews.com) 83

The next big update for Windows 10 has been delayed while Microsoft rushes to fix a newly-discovered bug. From a report: Known variously as Windows 10 version 1803, Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version Next, Redstone 4 and Windows 10 Spring Creators Update, it was widely thought that the update had reached RTM and was on the verge of rolling out. However, this last-minute discovery means there will be a little longer to wait.
Google

'A Fresh, Clean Look.' Gmail Is About To Get a Makeover (fortune.com) 149

Google says it is working on a big refresh for Gmail on the web. From a report: The upgrade was revealed in a message from Google to administrators of G Suite accounts -- G Suite being the suite of Google services that organizations can use on their own web domains, rather than Google's. The message stated that the changes would be coming to consumer Gmail accounts, as well as G Suite accounts. Google said the refresh would include not only a "fresh, clean look for Gmail on the web," but also easy ways to access other Google services, such as Google Calendar, from the Gmail web app. The company recently started winding down its Chrome apps for all platforms but Google's own Chrome OS. Windows, Mac and Linux users are now being encouraged to instead use Google's web apps, and it's only logical that those interfaces are now getting upgraded to include the functionality that would otherwise be lost. The Verge has screenshots of the new interface.
Software

Apple Starts Alerting Users That It Will End 32-Bit App Support On the Mac (techcrunch.com) 267

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Tomorrow at midnight PT, Apple will begin issuing an alert box when you open a 32-bit app in MacOS 10.13.4. It's a one-time (per app) alert, designed to help MacOS make the full transition to 64-bit. At some unspecified time in the future, the operating system will end its support for 32-bit technology meaning those apps that haven't been updated just won't work. That time, mind you, is not tomorrow, but the company's hoping that this messaging will help light a fire under users and developers to upgrade before that day comes. Says the company on its help page, "To ensure that the apps you purchase are as advanced as the Mac you run them on, all future Mac software will eventually be required to be 64-bit." As the company notes, the transition's been a long time coming. The company started making it 10 or so years ago with the Power Mac G5 desktop, so it hasn't exactly been an overnight ask for developers. Of course, if you've got older, non-supported software in your arsenal, the eventual end-of-lifing could put a severe damper on your workflow. For those users, there will no doubt be some shades of the transition from OS 9 to OS X in all of this.
Operating Systems

'Fuchsia Is Not Linux': Google Publishes Documentation Explaining Their New OS (xda-developers.com) 245

An anonymous reader quotes a report from XDA Developers: You've probably seen mentions of the Fuchsia operating system here and there since it has been in development for almost 2 years. It's Google's not-so-secretive operating system which many speculate will eventually replace Android. We've seen it grow from a barely functional mock-up UI in an app form to a version that actually boots on existing hardware. We've seen how much importance Google places on the project as veteran Android project managers are starting to work on it. But after all of this time, we've never once had either an official announcement from Google about the project or any documentation about it -- all of the information thus far has come as a result of people digging into the source code.

Now, that appears to be changing as Google has published a documentation page called "The Book." The page aims to explain what Fuchsia, the "modular, capability-based operating system" is and is not. The most prominent text on that page is a large section explaining that Fuchsia is NOT Linux, in case that wasn't clear already. Above that are several readme pages explaining Fuchsia's file systems, boot sequence, core libraries, sandboxing, and more. The rest of the page has sections explaining what the Zircon micro-kernel is and how the framework, storage, networking, graphics, media, user interface, and more are implemented.

AMD

AMD Releases Spectre v2 Microcode Updates for CPUs Going Back To 2011 (bleepingcomputer.com) 54

Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: AMD has released CPU microcode updates for processors affected by the Spectre variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715) vulnerability. The company has forwarded these microcode updates to PC and motherboard makers to include them in BIOS updates. Updates are available for products released as far as 2011, for the first processors of the Bulldozer line. Microsoft has released KB4093112, an update that also includes special OS-level patches for AMD users in regards to the Spectre v2 vulnerability. Similar OS-level updates have been released for Linux users earlier this year. Yesterday's microcode patches announcement is AMD keeping a promise it made to users in January, after the discovery of the Meltdown and Spectre (v1 and v2) vulnerabilities.
Microsoft

Microsoft Removes Antivirus Registry Key Check for All Windows Versions (bleepingcomputer.com) 49

Microsoft has decided to remove a mandatory "registry key requirement" it introduced in the aftermath of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerability disclosure. BleepingComputer: Microsoft used this registry key to prevent Windows updates from being installed on computers running antivirus software incompatible with the Meltdown and Spectre patches. Antivirus vendors were supposed to create this registry key on users' computers to signal that they've updated their product and will not interfere with Microsoft's patches. This was a big issue because incompatible antivirus products would crash and BSOD Windows systems. [...] The OS maker removed the registry key check for Windows 10 computers last month, in March, and has announced yesterday that the key is no longer necessary for other Windows operating system versions -- 7, 8, 8.1, Server 2008, and Windows Server 2012.
Security

Linux: Beep Command Can Be Used to Probe for the Presence of Sensitive Files (bleepingcomputer.com) 109

Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: A vulnerability in the "beep" package that comes pre-installed with Debian and Ubuntu distros allows an attacker to probe for the presence of files on a computer, even those owned by root users, which are supposed to be secret and inaccessible. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-0492, has been fixed in recent versions of Debian and Ubuntu (Debian-based OS). At its core, the bug is a race condition in the beep utility that allows the OS to emit a "beep" sound whenever it is deemed necessary. Security researchers have discovered a race condition in the beep package that allows an attacker to elevate his code to root-level access.
Open Source

Microsoft Open-Sources Original File Manager From the 1990s So It Can Run On Windows 10 (theverge.com) 173

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Microsoft is releasing the source code for its original Windows File Manager from nearly 28 years ago. Originally released for Windows 3.0, the File Manager was a replacement for managing files through MS-DOS, and allowed Windows users to copy, move, delete, and search for files. While it's a relic from the past, you can still compile the source code Microsoft has released and run the app on Windows 10 today. The source code is available on GitHub, and is maintained by Microsoft veteran Craig Wittenberg under the MIT license. Wittenberg copied the File Manager code from Windows NT 4 back in 2007, and has been maintaining it before open sourcing it recently. It's a testament to the backward compatibility of Windows itself, especially that this was originally included in Windows more than 20 years ago.
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Do You Miss Windows Phone? (theverge.com) 284

An anonymous reader writes: After recently switching on an old Windows Phone to create a silly April Fools' joke, The Verge's Tom Warren discovered just how much he missed Microsoft's mobile OS. Two of the biggest features that are hard to find/replicate on iOS and Android are the Metro design and Live Tiles. "Android and iOS still don't have system-wide dark modes, nearly 8 years after Windows Phone first introduced it," notes Warren. "Live Tiles were one of Windows Phone's most unique features. They enabled apps to show information on the home screen, similar to the widgets found on Android and iOS. You could almost pin anything useful to the home screen, and Live Tiles animated beautifully to flip over and provide tiny nuggets of information that made your phone feel far more personal and alive."

Some other neat features include the software keyboard, which Warren argues "is still far better than the defaults on iOS and Android," especially with the recently-added tracing feature that lets you swipe to write words. "Microsoft also experimented with features that were different to other mobile platforms, and some of the concepts still haven't really made their way to iOS or Android: Kid's Corner; Dedicated search button; Browser address bar; People hub; Unified messaging..." Aside from the competition aspect with Google and Apple, do you miss Windows Phone? What are some specific features you miss about the old mobile operating system?

Microsoft

Microsoft Open Source Tool Lets You 'Bring Your Own Linux' To Windows (microsoft.com) 135

Long-time Slashdot reader Billly Gates writes: Debian is now available in the Windows app store. It joins Ubuntu, Suse Leap, SuSe enterprise, and Kali Linux for those who cannot or do not want to bother with a virtual machine or a full install of the OS. However, it included stable 9.3. 9.4 is available from the repository if you run apt-get update and apt-get upgrade.
"Fedora is not yet available, although Microsoft has stated openly that it is working to make it so," reports Computer Weekly. And there's more: Microsoft has also provided an open source tool called Microsoft WSL/DistroLauncher for users who want to build their own Linux package where a particular distribution is either a) not available yet or b) is available, but the user wants to apply a greater degree of customisation to it than comes as standard.
Piracy

Three Execs Get Prison Time For Pirating Oracle Firmware & Solaris OS Update (bleepingcomputer.com) 119

An anonymous reader writes: Three of four TERiX executives were sentenced to prison yesterday for a scheme through which they created three fake companies to pirate Oracle firmware patches and Solaris OS updates. By doing this, the execs avoided paying a per-server fee for every Oracle product their company serviced, instead paying for one patch/update alone.

Court documents show that Oracle was aware of the scheme and eventually connected the dots between the fake companies and TERiX when one of the execs downloaded files from Oracle's servers via one of the fake company's accounts from a TERiX IP address. Oracle filed a complaint with the FBI, but also a civil suit. A judge awarded Oracle damages last year totaling $57.423 million. The judge also barred TERiX from servicing Oracle products.

Microsoft

Microsoft Modifies Open-Source Code, Blows Hole In Windows Defender (theregister.co.uk) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: A remote-code execution vulnerability in Windows Defender -- a flaw that can be exploited by malicious .rar files to run malware on PCs -- has been traced back to an open-source archiving tool Microsoft adopted for its own use. The bug, CVE-2018-0986, was patched on Tuesday in the latest version of the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine (1.1.14700.5) in Windows Defender, Security Essentials, Exchange Server, Forefront Endpoint Protection, and Intune Endpoint Protection. This update should be installed, or may have been automatically installed already on your device. The vulnerability can be leveraged by an attacker to achieve remote code execution on a victim's machine simply by getting the mark to download -- via a webpage or email or similar -- a specially crafted .rar file while the anti-malware engine's scanning feature is on. In many cases, this analysis set to happen automatically.

When the malware engine scans the malicious archive, it triggers a memory corruption bug that leads to the execution of evil code smuggled within the file with powerful LocalSystem rights, granting total control over the computer. The screwup was discovered and reported to Microsoft by legendary security researcher Halvar Flake, now working for Google. Flake was able to trace the vulnerability back to an older version of unrar, an open-source archiving utility used to unpack .rar archives. Apparently, Microsoft forked that version of unrar and incorporated the component into its operating system's antivirus engine. That forked code was then modified so that all signed integer variables were converted to unsigned variables, causing knock-on problems with mathematical comparisons. This in turn left the software vulnerable to memory corruption errors, which can crash the antivirus package or allow malicious code to potentially execute.

Operating Systems

Microsoft Will Bring 64-Bit App Support To ARM-Based PCs In May (engadget.com) 71

Microsoft's general manager for Windows, Erin Chappie, told Engadget today that an SDK for ARM64 apps will be announced at the upcoming Build developer's conference in May. From the report: With the new SDK, developers would be able to natively recompile their apps to run in 64-bit on ARM-based PCs like the ASUS NovaGo. This opens up app support for the platform, which previously only supported 32-bit apps. The potentially greater app compatibility is welcome, since this was one of the biggest drawbacks of Windows on Snapdragon devices. But whether you'll get the higher performance that you'd typically expect out of 64-bit apps will depend on the Snapdragon 835 CPU that powers the current generation of the PCs in question. Connected PCs ship with Windows 10 S, but Microsoft has been offering free upgrades to Windows 10 Pro through 2019, making the OS more familiar and versatile. The ARM 64 SDK will be available for both Store apps and desktop versions (.exes). Ultimately, it'll be up to developers to decide whether they want to go to the trouble of recompiling their apps for Windows on Snapdragon, but Microsoft at least appears to be making strides in creating as open and useful a platform as possible.
Android

Slashdot Asks: Should Android OEMs Adopt the iPhone's Notch? 240

Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Google was currently working on a "dramatic redesign" of its Android OS -- one that embraces the "notch" made popular by the iPhone X. A couple weeks after that report was published, Mobile World Congress was happening, and the biggest trend among Android OEMs was the introduction of a notch in their smartphones. The Verge's Vlad Savov argues that Android smartphone manufacturers are straight up copying the iPhone's design with "more speed and cynicism" than ever before.

Should Android original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) adopt the iPhone's display notch? A display notch can offer a greater screen-to-body ratio, for example, but lower overall aesthetic value. It can also create a headache for developers who need to update their apps to account for the notch that eats into the actual display area. What are your thoughts on display notches? Should Android OEMs adopt the iPhone X's display notch in their devices?

If you're not a fan of notches for aesthetic reasons, you may like the solution that OnePlus has come up with. The company will soon be launching their notch-equipped OnePlus 6 smartphone, but will allow OnePlus 6 owners to "hide" the device's notch via software. Users will have the option to black out the background of the notifications and status bar if they so desire.

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