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08.26.19

Links 26/8/2019: Linux 5.3 RC6

Posted in News Roundup at 3:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • TenFourFox FPR16b1 available

        FPR16 got delayed because I really tried very hard to make some progress on our two biggest JavaScript deficiencies, the infamous issues 521 (async and await) and 533 (this is undefined). Unfortunately, not only did I make little progress on either, but the speculative fix I tried for issue 533 turned out to be the patch that unsettled the optimized build and had to be backed out. There is some partial work on issue 521, though, including a fully working parser patch. The problem is plumbing this into the browser runtime which is ripe for all kinds of regressions and is not currently implemented (instead, for compatibility, async functions get turned into a bytecode of null throw null return, essentially making any call to an async function throw an exception because it wouldn’t have worked in the first place).

        This wouldn’t seem very useful except that effectively what the whole shebang does is convert a compile-time error into a runtime warning, such that other functions that previously might not have been able to load because of the error can now be parsed and hopefully run. With luck this should improve the functionality of sites using these functions even if everything still doesn’t fully work, as a down payment hopefully on a future implementation. It may not be technically possible but it’s a start.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Guile 2.9.4 (beta) released

      We are delighted to announce GNU Guile 2.9.4, the fourth beta release in preparation for the upcoming 3.0 stable series. See the release announcement for full details and a download link.

      This release enables inlining of references to top-level definitions within a compilation unit, speeding up some programs by impressive amounts. It also improves compilation of floating-point routines like sin, implements the Ghuloum/Dybvig “Fixing Letrec (reloaded)” algorithm, and allows mixed definitions and expressions within lexical contours, as is the case at the top level. Try it out, it’s good times!

      GNU Guile 2.9.4 is a beta release, and as such offers no API or ABI stability guarantees. Users needing a stable Guile are advised to stay on the stable 2.2 series.

      Experience reports with GNU Guile 2.9.4, good or bad, are very welcome; send them to guile-devel@gnu.org. If you know you found a bug, please do send a note to bug-guile@gnu.org. Happy hacking!

Leftovers

  • Security

    • VMware Is Exploring Reducing Meltdown/PTI Overhead With Deferred Flushes

      VMware engineer Nadav Amit who previously pursued “Optpolines” and other possible performance optimizations in light of Spectre / Meltdown vulnerabilities is now proposing patches for deferring PTI flushes to help with addressing the performance overhead caused by Meltdown.

      Kernel page table isolation (PTI) for mitigating Meltdown caused a sizable hit in affected workloads while now Nadav is hoping that improving the behavior around flushes could help in offsetting some of that slowdown.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Amazon wildfires: Full scale of rainforest devastation is impossible to tell

      It was only after the wrath of world leaders was unleashed on Friday that the Brazilian president responded with meaningful action.

      Initially, Jair Bolsonaro denied the very existence of the fires – and since then, Brazilians have listened to days of arguments about who had started them.

      Now President Jair Bolsonaro has authorised the mobilisation of 43,000 troops to try and put them out.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Best Email Services For Privacy Concerned People

      Email services like Gmail, Outlook, and a couple of other email service providers are quite popular. Well, they’re definitely secure in a way – but not necessarily private (i.e they do not respect your privacy with utmost care).

      Maybe, you want to share something confidential and you want it to be well-protected. Or, maybe, you just want to talk about Area 51? (shh, CIA wants to know your location!) Or you just don’t want to the service providers to read your emails to serve you ads.

      No matter what. If you are concerned about the privacy and security of your email conversation and want them to be as private as possible – this article shall help you find the best email services for the job.

Covering What Other Sites Fail to Cover or Do Not Want to Cover

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 3:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Silently but steadily Microsoft is ‘taking over’ more parts of GNU/Linux, its direct competition; this is a problem that must not be ignored anymore

It is almost the end of summer and the fight against 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (SCOTUS) has not gotten very far, has it? The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has carried on with Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), we still closely follow Federal Circuit outcomes (in our daily links) and it’s more of the same, Coons et al haven’t made much more progress with their bill (also in our daily links) and about a week ago an Internet troll who is also a patent troll lost his defamation case (we did not write about as it would feed the troll, twofold).

“Nowadays the Foundation is outsourcing almost everything to Microsoft (GitHub) and actively praising Microsoft.”It seems fair to say, judging by the tone at IAM and Watchtroll, that they too don’t expect anything major to change. They’ve come to the realisation that outside China and Europe it is very difficult to pursue software patents. In Europe it’s hard to enforce these in courts, just like in the US, but they’re being granted anyway.

The above observation motivated a focus shift last Christmas, a couple of weeks before Iancu pretended that he could just supersede judges (he cannot); that move from him hasn’t yielded any significant, noticeable changes, certainly not in courtrooms (which actively dismissed his agenda). As for the EPO, things continue to get worse, but courts stand in the way (impeding enforcement of European Patents) and the UPC is nowhere on the radar. Even if miraculously enough the complaint in Germany got dismissed (which we doubt), the German government would still not ratify; the UPCA is just a waste of paper.

“It’s something that we probably should have done years ago, but the urgency wasn’t the same.”Earlier this year, owing to sources, we began an investigation of the Linux Foundation and offered pointers of interest. It’s something that we probably should have done years ago, but the urgency wasn’t the same. Nowadays the Foundation is outsourcing almost everything to Microsoft (GitHub) and actively praising Microsoft.

Longtime readers have long been consulted about changes (to the site, to its focus and so on), so it’s time to request some feedback (E-mail or IRC may do). We’re thinking that, as per the past few days, there’s room for expansion along the lines of tech rights (like our name), such as privacy. Additionally, we may carry on increasing our GNU/Linux focus. At what expense? Not EPO coverage. We’re making big contributions in that area and the underlying issues there have not been addressed or resolved. It’s more likely that we’ll spend even less time covering US patent affairs and instead ‘shelve’ news to that effect in our daily links. Much as we hoped last Christmas, all these efforts to turn things around (Iancu, Coons, PTAB leadership changes) did not impact the legal certainty associated with software patents. When this site started back in 2006 it was an entirely and profoundly different reality. Software patents certainly did have ‘teeth’ in court and quite a few were used against GNU/Linux (we’ve documented lawsuits against Red Hat). That’s hardly the case anymore. It’s actually a lot safer to write both Free software and proprietary software without fear of being sued in the US (in case of a frivolous lawsuit PTAB can be petitioned). Knowing that the UPC is likely a dead (for good) project, the same is true in Europe.

“…how much longer can we pretend that it’s OK for GNU/Linux components, projects and sometimes even entire distros to be hosted by Microsoft’s GitHub?”Our coverage of GNU/Linux matters/affairs will revolve around original and unexplored aspects. So for instance, if there’s a new distro release and it can be mentioned by means of linking, we’ll leave that ‘relegated’ or ‘confined’ to the daily links. There’s no point writing about an event which is already properly covered by the originator/s; we can link instead. A lot of effort in today’s media (sadly enjoying the lion’s share of readers’ time) goes into merely repeating known facts, such as a distro being released; unless there’s a backstory or something special to add, what’s the point/purpose of merely repeating? Expanding the reach and audience of an announcement? Probably. Tux Machines can do that without necessarily writing long and detailed articles. Social Control Media can do the same. No doubt distro releases are important (much work associated with each such release). But that still leaves much more important aspects unexplored. The unturned stones are where the future of GNU/Linux gets determined. For instance, how much longer can we pretend that it’s OK for GNU/Linux components, projects and sometimes even entire distros to be hosted by Microsoft’s GitHub? Almost nobody talks about it. Certainly not blogs or media sites. Why?

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