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Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.7 Reaches End of Life, Users Urged To Move To Linux 4.8 ( 52

prisoninmate writes: The Linux 4.7 kernel branch officially reached end of life, and it has already been marked as EOL on the website, which means that the Linux kernel 4.7.10 maintenance update is the last one that will be released for this branch. It also means that you need to either update your system to the Linux 4.7.10 kernel release or move to a more recent kernel branch, such as Linux 4.8. In related news, Linux kernel 4.8.4 is now the latest stable and most advanced kernel version, which is already available for users of the Solus and Arch Linux operating systems, and it's coming soon to other GNU/Linux distributions powered by a kernel from the Linux 4.8 series. Users are urged to update their systems as soon as possible.

Chrome For Android Gets Its Own Canary Channel ( 22

Google is bringing bleeding-edge Canary channel for Chrome to Android. Through Canary channel, the company introduces early versions of Chrome upgrades to the early adopter and developers, and seeks feedback. Prior to this, Canary channel was available for the desktop version of Chrome. Alex Mineer, APK Administrator & Bug Basher said, "Just like the Canary channel for other platforms, new versions are built from the most recent code available and often contain a variety of new features, enhancements, and bug fixes. These builds are shipped automatically with no manual testing, which means that the build can be unstable and may even stop working entirely for days at a time. However, the goal is for Canary to remain usable at all times, and the Chrome team prioritizes fixing major issues as quickly as possible."
Portables (Apple)

Apple MacBook Refresh Could Bring E-Ink Enabled Keyboard ( 159

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Apparently Apple has been working on some unique upgrades to its MacBook line, and not just underneath the hood. One of the bigger feature upgrades could actually be in the keyboard. As previously rumored, the new MacBook Pro is likely to sport a secondary touchscreen display at the top of the keyboard. It will sit in place of where the Function keys used to reside and display different graphics and icons, depending on the program that's up and running. However, according to an anonymous reddit user named "Foxconninsider," Apple's also planning to launch a new version of its Magic Keyboard -- one that takes advantage of E-Ink technology. Similar technology was developed by a start-up company named Sonder, the same company Apple is in the process of acquiring. What the tipster describes is each key having its own E Ink display. That means individual keys and/or entire rows can change based on whatever app is loaded. In any event, we should know more soon -- Apple's expected to announce new MacBook products later this month.

Cyanogen Gets a New CEO, Shifts Away From Selling a Full Mobile Operating System ( 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Cyanogen, a startup behind its own, alternative version of the Android operating system, now has a new CEO. In the wake of reports that the company exaggerated its success in terms of active users, layoffs, and difficulties scaling, Cyanogen's co-founder and CEO Kirt McMaster will be transitioning into an "Executive Chairman" role, while Lior Tal, previously COO, will now assume the CEO position. In addition, Steve Kondik, Cyanogen's co-founder and CTO, will be taking on a new role as Chief Science Officer, the company announced. He will report Stephen Lawler, the company's SVP of Engineering. Today's blog post from new CEO Tal also somewhat acknowledged the company's struggles, and announced plans to shift in its business model with the launch of a new Cyanogen Modular OS program. "in recent years, Android and the mobile ecosystem changed," wrote Tal. "Android has become extremely fragmented causing serious security vulnerabilities and few or no incentives to device manufacturers to deliver software upgrades and/or security patches," he said. "Increased demand for lower-priced smartphones, coupled with the specifications arms race, has left manufacturers focused on scale and efficiency while compromising investment in software and services. Innovation cannot happen in a vacuum, which is what we have today," Tal added. The company will be moving away from its former model which involved it shipping the full-stack of the operating system, the company says. Its new program will instead allows manufacturers to introduce their own, customizable smartphones that use different parts of the Cyanogen OS via dynamic modules and MODs, while still using the ROM of their choice. That means they could still run stock Android on their devices, then pick and choose the pieces of Cyanogen's technology they want to also add. The full Cyanogen OS is still available and being sold, but is no longer the main focus. In July, Cyanogen Inc. laid off 20 percent of its workforce and sent a letter from McMaster to employees admitting that, despite shipping millions of devices with its OS, was "not scaling fast enough nor in an efficient manner."
Operating Systems

Unity 8 Desktop Session Arrives in Ubuntu 16.10 ( 56

The latest updates to Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak add a Unity8 desktop session to the Ubuntu login screen. OMGUbuntu adds: Added to the Ubuntu meta package, the new Unity 8 desktop session will be available to try on all new installs and upgrades of Ubuntu 16.10, but only as an alternate login session to Unity 7. Unity 8 is not -- repeat: not -- going to be the default session in this release. Shipping it as a preview session is a great idea. It means to try Unity 8 on Ubuntu 16.10 you won't need to install a set of packages, or faff around with special set-up, or add a PPA. When at the Unity Greeter (aka the login screen) just click the session selector button, followed by 'Unity 8,' and then proceed to login as normal.

New Project Lets You Install Arch Linux In the Windows Subsystem For Linux 77

prisoninmate writes: Softpedia reports that there's a new project on GitHub, called alwsl, which promises to let you install the Arch Linux operating system on Windows 10's new WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) feature, which allows users to run native Linux command-line tools directly on the Windows operating system alongside their modern desktop and apps. For example, Canonical and Microsoft brought Bash on Ubuntu on Windows using the new WSL functionality. For now, the alwsl project, which is developed by a group of German developers that call themselves "Turbo Developers," offers a .bat file that you can use to install Arch Linux on a WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) host, but the software is in developer preview stage. The first stable release, alwsl 1.0 will be able not only to install Arch Linux on the Windows Subsystem for Linux host in Windows 10 editions that support it, but also to create and manage users and snapshots. Also, it looks like it will get rolling upgrades just like a normal Arch Linux installation gets. The final release is expected to launch on December 2016, and you can monitor its development progress on GitHub.
Open Source

Linus Torvalds Officially Announces the Release of Linux Kernel 4.8 ( 95

Slashdot reader prisoninmate brings news from Softpedia: Today, Linus Torvalds proudly announced the release and availability for download of the Linux 4.8 kernel branch, which is now the latest stable and most advanced one. Linux kernel 4.8 has been in development for the past two months, during which it received no less than eight Release Candidate testing versions that early adopters were able to compile and install on their GNU/Linux operating system to test various hardware components or simply report bugs...

A lot of things have been fixed since last week's RC8 milestone, among which we can mention lots of updated drivers, in particular for GPU, networking, and Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM), a bunch of improvements to the ARM, MIPS, SPARC, and x86 hardware architectures, updates to the networking stack, as well as to a few filesystem, and some minor changes to cgroup and vm.

The kernel now supports the Raspberry Pi 3 SoC as well as the Microsoft Surface 3 touchscreen.
Data Storage

With HDDs On The Ropes, Samsung Predicts SSD Price Collisions As NVMe Takes Over ( 161

At its Global SSD Summit, Samsung shared its vision of the current state of SSD market and also outlined the future trends. The company noted that SSDs are steadily displacing HDDs in more applications, but NVMe is shaping up to be the dark horse that may put the venerable HDD to rest. From an article on Tom's Hardware: Samsung loves Google, and not just because it probably buys plenty of its SSDs. Samsung outlined its rather intense focus on Google Analytics for marketing purposes last year, and this year it pointed out that recent Google searches for "SSD upgrades" outweighed searches for "CPU upgrades." The historical trend indicates that this wasn't always the case (of course), but with 40 million searches for SSD upgrades this year, it is clear that SSDs are on the move. Performance stagnation in the CPU market is probably to blame here, as well, and we routinely advise readers to spend their hard-earned dollars on GPU and SSD upgrades before the CPU. The cellphone industry has long served as the prime example of an explosive growth market; it grew 19.1% in the last five years alone. SSDs, by contrast, grew 54%, and the steady downward pricing slope is a key factor. The all-important price-per-GB fell from $1.17 in 2012 to a mere $0.36 in 2016 (69% reduction). This is an average value, you can find SSDs for even less on the retail market. The SSD market grew 6x (to 130,000,000) from 2012 to 2016. Samsung's NAND shipments benefit from both the smartphone and SSD industries, and the company presented a chart that highlighted the changing NAND shipment mix. A higher percentage of flash heads into the SSD and Mobile segments every year as the percentage of UFD (USB Flash Drive), cards, and "others" decline.

Microsoft Bungles This Week's Windows 10 Anniversary Update ( 172

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes ZDNet: Microsoft rolled out this week the seventh Cumulative Update of fixes to Windows 10 Anniversary Update since the Anniversary version of Windows 10 began going to customers on August 2...causing installation issues for some users. I don't know how many are affected -- it's definitely nowhere near "all" -- but reports are coming in on Twitter and in Microsoft support forums from those who can't install the update, resulting (at least for some) in an endless loop of repeated attempts...

But a few of those affected have pointed out that when Microsoft first delivered this update to its "Release Preview" ring of Insider testers at the start of this week, some testers reported the installation failure/reboot issue. Despite those reports, Microsoft still pushed this update out to those not in the Insider program... Unsurprisingly, this issue is triggering a round of "What's the point of Insider testing?" questions. It looks to some like Microsoft is just ignoring Insider feedback...

Paul Thurrott reports that the problems are "widespread... Microsoft is pushing the idea that you should always patch your machine on the day the update is released as they often release security patches that fix vulnerabilities. But, until the company can get a handle on their quality control feels like every time you run Windows update you are rolling the dice."
Open Source

Linux Mint Unveils New 'Mintbox Mini Pro' Desktop ( 70

It's been 18 months since the original Mintbox Mini launched, and this week saw the release of the new Mintbox Mini Pro (which costs just $100 more). BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: That extra money gets you a faster processor, more powerful graphics, double the storage, twice the RAM, improved Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an additional Ethernet port... This diminutive desktop is the same size as the previously-released Mintbox... Thankfully, it retains the same cute appearance and Linux Mint branding.
Their article calls it a "beautiful little computer that comes pre-loaded with Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon (64-bit)," and the Linux Mint blog promises this fanless device offers "better passive cooling thanks to an all-metal black housing" -- and comes with six different USB ports.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 3.14 Series Has Reached End of Life ( 99

Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes an article on Softpedia: it looks like the Linux kernel maintainers decided that there's no need to maintain the Linux kernel 3.14 LTS series anymore, so earlier today, September 11, 2016, they decided to release that last maintenance update, version 3.14.79, and mark the series as EOL (End of Life). Famous Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman was the one to make the big announcement, and he's urging users who want to still run a long-term supported kernel version to move to the Linux 4.4 LTS series, which is currently the most advanced LTS branch, or use the latest stable release, Linux kernel 4.7.3...

Linux kernel 3.14.79 is a very small update that changes a total of 12 files, with 45 insertions and 17 deletions, thus fixing a bug in the EXT4 file system, a networking issue related to the Reliable Datagram Sockets (RDS) protocol, and updating a few HID, s390, SCSI, networking drivers.


Sony Announces Two New Versions of PlayStation 4: One Slimmer, Other More Powerful ( 82

Sony isn't done with the PlayStation 4. The company today revealed the PS4 Slim, a thinner version of its latest console that's been lurking around the rumor mill for months now. The Slim lands on September 15th for $300. The PS4 Slim features all the guts of a standard PS4 plus a few cosmetic and convenience upgrades, including a lightbar at the top, more space between the front-facing USB ports and the removal of the optical port, Engadget reports. From the report:The console is about 30 percent smaller than the standard PS4, which came out in 2013, and it plays all existing PS4 games.
The company also launched a more powerful version of the PlayStation 4: the PS4 Pro, which offers support for 4K. It is priced at $399, and goes on sale November 10. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro can output 4K and HDR video, which is powered by an upgraded GPU. Sony also boosted the clock rate for the new PS4 Pro. It will also come with a 1TB hard drive. "PS4 Pro is not intended to blur the line between console generations," Mark Cerny, the chief architect for the PS4, said on stage. "Instead, the vision is to take the PS4 experience to extraordinary new levels."

Samsung Unveils Gear S3 Classic and Frontier Smartwatches Powered By Tizen ( 27

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Samsung just wrapped up an event at the IFA expo in Berlin, where the company unveiled two new Gear S3 branded smartwatches. The new Samsung Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier leverage many of the design elements from last-year's Gear S2 -- like their Tizen OS, rotating control dial, round display, and fast wireless charging. However, other aspects of the Gear S3 have received significant upgrades. Although they are internally similar, there are a few external differences between the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier. The Gear S3 Classic is the sleeker, more streamlined version of the two. The Classic has a polished finish, with round buttons at the 2 and 4 o'clock positions and no addition protrusions on its chassis. The Gear S3 Frontier is more rugged and has a darker, brushed finish, with flat, rectangular textured buttons and protrusions on either side of the body to shield the buttons from accidental presses. Both the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier are also outfitted with Gorilla Glass SR to protect their circular, Super AMOLED displays, and they're both compatible with industry standard 22mm watch bands too. They are also IP68 rated, so they're able to withstand dust and dirt, and water resistant for up to 30 minutes under 1.5 meters of water. Depending on how heavily these devices are used, Samsung claims they can last roughly 3 -- 4 days on a single charge. They also have support for NFC (compatible with Samsung Pay), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and have built-in heart rate monitors, altimeter/barometer, and GPS as well.

Comcast Says There's 6 Million Unhappy DSL Users Left To Target ( 141

Karl Bode, writing for DSLReports: As we noted last week, cable is effectively demolishing phone companies when it comes to new broadband subscriber additions, and Comcast still says the company has plenty of room to grow. Comcast and Charter alone added 500,000 net broadband subscribers last quarter, while the nation's biggest telcos collectively lost 360,783 broadband users during the same period. With AT&T and Verizon backing away from unwanted DSL users, and Windstream Frontier and CenturyLink only eyeing piecemeal upgrades, the bloodshed is far from over. Speaking this week at the Nomura 2016 Media, Telecom & Internet Conference, Comcast VP Marcien Jenckes stated that the company has plenty of unhappy DSL customers left to nab. In fact, Comcast says the company still has around 6 million DSL subscribers in its territory, many of which are likely frustrated by outdated speeds.

Ask Slashdot: How Will You Handle Microsoft's New 'Cumulative' Windows Updates? ( 405

Microsoft's announced they'll discontinue "individual patches" for Windows 7 and 8.1 (as well as Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2). Instead they'll have monthly "cumulative" rollups of each month's patches, and while there will be a separate "security-only" bundle each month, "individual patches will no longer be available." This has one anonymous Slashdot reader asking what's the alternative: We've read about the changes coming to Windows Update in October 2016... But what happens when it's time to wipe and reload the OS? Or what about installing Windows on different hardware? Admittedly, there are useful non-security updates worth having, but plenty to avoid (e.g. telemetry).

How does one handle this challenge? Set up a personal WSUS box before October to sync all desired updates through October 2016? System images can work if you don't change primary hardware, but what if you do? Or should one just bend the knee to Microsoft...?

Should they use AutoPatcher? Switch to Linux? Or just disconnect their Windows boxes from the internet... Leave your answers in the comments. How do you plan to handle Microsoft's new 'cumulative' Windows Updates?

Microsoft Announces 'Cumulative' Updates Will Become Mandatory For Windows 7 and 8.1 ( 275

Microsoft's now changing the way updates are delivered for Windows 7 and 8.1. Slashdot reader JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Microsoft's Senior Product Marketing Manager Nathan Mercer just announced that, "From October 2016 onwards, Windows will release a single Monthly Rollup that addresses both security issues and reliability issues in a single update... Each month's rollup will supersede the previous month's rollup, so there will always be only one update required for your Windows PCs to get current."

What this means is that individual patches will no longer be available after October 2016, and Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will now only have two choices: stop updating completely and leave your computers vulnerable to security holes, or accept everything single thing Microsoft sends you whether you want it or not.

Microsoft says their new approach "increases Windows operating system reliability, by eliminating update fragmentation and providing more proactive patches for known issues." They added that "Several update types aren't included in a rollup, such as those for Servicing Stack and Adobe Flash," and that "the .NET Framework will also follow the Monthly Rollup model." According to Microsoft's blog post, they'll also be releasing a monthly "security-only" update, but again, "individual patches will no longer be available".
Open Source

New FreeBSD 11.0 Release Candidate Tested By Phoronix ( 61

"The first release candidate for the upcoming FreeBSD 11.0 is ready for testing," reports Distrowatch, noting various changes. ("A NULL pointer dereference in IPSEC has been fixed; support for SSH protocol 1 has been removed; OpenSSH DSA keys have been disabled by default...") Now an anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Sunday Phoronix performed some early benchmark testing, comparing FreeBSD 10.3 to FreeBSD 11.0 as well as DragonFlyBSD, Ubuntu, Intel Clear Linux and CentOS Linux 7. They reported mixed results -- some wins and some losses for FreeBSD -- using a clean install with the default package/settings on the x86_64/amd64 version for each operating system.

FreeBSD 11.0 showed the fastest compile times, and "With the SQLite benchmark, the BSDs came out ahead of Linux [and] trailed slightly behind DragonFlyBSD 4.6 with HAMMER. The 11.0-BETA4 performance does appear to regress slightly for SQLite compared to FreeBSD 10.3... With the BLAKE2 crypto test, all four Linux distributions were faster than DragonFlyBSD and FreeBSD... with the Apache web server benchmark, FreeBSD was able to outperform the Linux distributions..."

Portables (Apple)

Apple Should Stop Selling Four-Year-Old Computers ( 472

It's been a while since Apple upgraded its MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro models. Four years, one month, and twenty-four days, to be exact, in case of the MacBook Pro. Apple is inexplicably still selling the exact same models for its Mac line that it introduced in 2012. Pretty much every Windows OEM has had an Intel Skylake-powered processor in its laptops for more than a year now, but Apple's computing lineup is still shipping with the three-to-four years old processor, and graphics card. Things have gotten so bad, that MacRumors' Buying Guide, which is considered to be an "online institution" among Apple nerds, has flagged all of Apple laptops as "Don't Buy" In a column, The Verge's Sam Byford says that Apple should stop selling the old laptops. He writes: Apple iterates quickly and consistently in mobile because the rate of technological progress is so much more dramatic in that arena. The company does amazing work to keep its iPhones and iPads ahead of competitors, performance-wise. Simple Intel processor upgrades are less important to laptops these days, however, and I'm finding this 2012 MacBook Pro fine to work from right now -- faster than my 2015 MacBook, at least, which is enough for my needs. But that doesn't mean it isn't unconscionable for Apple to continue to sell outdated products to people who may not know any better. Is the company really saving that much money by using 2012 processors and 4GB of RAM as standard? Even an update to Intel's Haswell chips from 2013 would have brought huge battery life improvements. Apple is bound by the whims of its suppliers to a certain extent, and it may not always make sense for the company to upgrade its products with every single new chip or GPU that comes out. But there's a certain point at which it just starts to look like absent-mindedness, and many Mac computers are well past that point now. [...] If Apple doesn't want to keep its products reasonably current, that's its prerogative. But if that truly is the case, maybe it shouldn't sell them at all.It's also ironic, coming from a company whose executive not long ago made fun of people who had five years old computer. Folks at Accidental Tech Podcast also discussed the same recently.

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