Windows

Windows 10 Launches 290 290

An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft officially released Windows 10 in 190 countries as a free upgrade for anyone with Windows 7 or later. Major features include Continuum (which brings back the start menu and lets you switch between a keyboard/mouse UI and a touch UI without forcing you into one or the other), the Cortana digital assistant, the Edge browser, virtual desktops, DirectX 12 support, universal apps, an Xbox app, and security improvements. Reviews of the operating system generally consider it an improvement over Windows 8.1, despite launch-day bugs. Peter Bright writes, "Windows 8 felt unfinished, but it was an unfinished thought. ... Windows 10 feels unfinished, but in a different way. The concept of the operating system is a great deal better than its predecessor. It's better in fact than all of its predecessors. ... For all my gripes, it's the right idea, and it's implemented in more or less the right way. But I think it's also buggier than Windows 8.1, 8, 7, or Vista were on their respective launch days." Tom Warren draws similar conclusions: "During my testing on a variety of hardware, I've run into a lot of bugs and issues — even with the version that will be released to consumers on launch day. ... Everything about Windows 10 feels like a new approach for Microsoft, and I'm confident these early bugs and issues will be addressed fairly quickly."
Software

Ask Slashdot: Everyone Building Software -- Is This the Future We Need? 338 338

An anonymous reader writes: I recently stumbled upon Apple's headline for version 2 of its Swift programming language: "Now everyone can build amazing apps." My question: is this what we really need? Tech giants (not just Apple, but Microsoft, Facebook, and more) are encouraging kids and adults to become developers, adding to an already-troubled IT landscape. While many software engineering positions are focused only on a business's internal concerns, many others can dramatically affect other people's lives. People write software for the cars we drive; our finances are in the hands of software, and even the medical industry is replete with new software these days. Poor code here can legitimately mess up somebody's life. Compare this to other high-influence professions: can you become surgeon just because you bought a state-of-art turbo laser knife? Of course not. Back to Swift: the app ecosystem is already chaotic, without solid quality control and responsibility from most developers. If you want simple to-do app, you'll get never-ending list of software artifacts that will drain your battery, eat memory, freeze the OS and disappoint you in every possible way. So, should we really be focusing on quantity, rather than quality?
Debian

Debian Drops SPARC Platform Support 147 147

jones_supa writes: SPARC isn't exactly a highly-used architecture anymore, so the Debian operating system is dropping support for the platform, according to Joerg Jaspert last week in the "debian-sparc" mailing list. He noted that this does not block a later comeback as "sparc64." Following that announcement, a new post today tells us that SPARC support was just removed from the unstable, experimental and jessie-updates channels.
Operating Systems

HardenedBSD Completes Strong ASLR Implementation 65 65

New submitter HardenedBSD writes: A relatively new fork of FreeBSD, HardenedBSD, has completed its Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) feature. Without ASLR, applications are loaded into memory in a deterministic manner. An attacker who knows where a vulnerability lies in memory can reliably exploit that vulnerability to manipulate the application into doing the attacker's bidding. ASLR removes the determinism, making it so that even if an attacker knows that a vulnerability exists, he doesn't know where that vulnerability lies in memory. HardenedBSD's particular implementation of ASLR is the strongest form ever implemented in any of the BSDs.

The next step is to update documentation and submit updates to the patches they have already submitted upstream to FreeBSD. ASLR is the first step in a long list of exploit mitigation technologies HardenedBSD plans to implement.
KDE

KDE Community Announces Fully Open Source Plasma Mobile 44 44

sfcrazy writes: Today, during the Akademy event, the KDE Community announced Plasma Mobile project. It's a Free (as in Freedom and beer), user-friendly, privacy-enabling and customizable platform for mobile devices. Plasma Mobile claims to be developed in an open process, and considering the community behind it, I don't doubt it. A great line: "Plasma Mobile is designed as an ‘inclusive’ platform and will support all kinds of apps. In addition to native apps written in Qt, it also supports GTK apps, Android apps, Ubuntu apps, and many others." And if you have a Nexus 5, you can download and play with a prototype now.
OS X

A Tweet-Sized Exploit Can Get Root On OS X 10.10 129 129

vivaoporto writes: The Register reports a root-level privilege-escalation exploit that allows one to gain administrator-level privileges on an OS X Yosemite Mac using code so small that fits in a tweet. The security bug, documented by iOS and OS X guru Stefan Esserwhich, can be exploited by malware and attackers to gain total control of the computer. This flaw is present in the latest version of Yosemite, OS X 10.10.4, and the beta, version 10.10.5 but is already fixed in the preview beta of El Capitan (OS X 10.11) Speaking of exploits: Reader trailrunner 7 notes that "HP’s Zero Day Initiative has released four new zero days in Internet Explorer that can lead to remote code execution."
Cellphones

A Month With a Ubuntu Phone 118 118

When the first Ubuntu phone came out, reviews were quick to criticize it for its lackluster hardware and unusual take on common mobile software interactions. It's been out for a while, now, and Alastair Stevenson has written about his experiences using it for an entire month. While he doesn't recommend it for phone users who aren't tech savvy, he does say that he began to like it better than Android after adjusting to how Ubuntu does things. From the article: [T]he Ubuntu OS has a completely reworked user interface that replaces the traditional home screen with a new system of "scopes." The scope system does away with the traditional mobile interface where applications are stored and accessed from a central series of homescreens. ... Adding to Ubuntu’s otherworldly, unique feel, the OS is also significantly more touch- and gesture-focused than iOS and Android. We found nearly all the key features and menus on the Meizu MX4 are accessed using gesture controls, not with screen shortcuts. ... Finally, there's my biggest criticism – Ubuntu phone is not smart enough yet. While the app selection is impressive for a prototype, in its infancy Ubuntu phone doesn't have enough data feeding into it, as key services are missing."
Privacy

Free Tools For Detecting Hacking Team Malware In Your Systems 62 62

An anonymous reader writes: Worried that you might have been targeted with Hacking Team spyware, but don't know how to find out for sure? IT security firm Rook Security has released Milano, a free automated tool meant to detect the Hacking Team malware on a computer system. Facebook has also offered a way to discover if your Mac(s) have been compromised by Hacking Team malware: they have provided a specific query pack for its open source OS analysis tool osquery.
Privacy

Red Star Linux Adds Secret Watermarks To Files 100 100

An anonymous reader writes: ERNW security analyst Florian Grunow says that North Korea's Red Star Linux operating system is tracking users by tagging content with unique hidden tags. He particularizes that files including Word documents and JPEG images connected to but not necessarily executed in Red Star will have a tag introduced into its code that includes a number based on hardware serial numbers. Red Star's development team seems to have created some quite interesting custom additions to Linux kernel and userspace, based on which Grunow has written a technical analysis.
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: How Often Do You Update Your OS? 319 319

An anonymous reader writes: A couple friends of mine have been having a debate recently. One is constantly updating all of his operating systems (desktop, phone, and otherwise), often as soon as a new patch is available. He tries betas and nightlies. He has a different ROM on his phone every other week. The other friend is much more conservative with his updates. Once his systems are running smoothly, he wants to leave them alone for as long as possible. He'll do some serious security updates, but he's extremely wary of anything involving major UI changes or functionality differences. What's your preference? Are you constantly tweaking? Waiting for the early adopters to work out the kinks? How does your preference change between work machines and personal machines?
Operating Systems

Haiku OS Will Get New Service Manager 93 93

jones_supa writes: Axel Dörfler writes in his blog that he is working on a replacement for Haiku OS's current shell script based boot process. It would be replaced with something more flexible, a solution similar to OS X's launchd and Linux's systemd. While there is still a lot to do, the new project called launch_daemon is now feature complete in terms of being able to completely reproduce the current boot process. Since the switch to their package manager, there was no longer a way to influence the boot process at all. The only file you could change was the UserBootscript which is started only after Tracker and Deskbar — the whole system is already up at this point. The new service manager gives the power back to you, and also allows arbitrary software to be launched on startup. Alternatively, you can prevent system components from being started at all if you so wish. Furthermore, it allows for event based application start, start on demand, a multi-threaded boot process, and even enables you to talk to servers before they actually started.
Windows

Windows 10 Home Updates To Be Automatic and Mandatory 627 627

AmiMoJo sends a report stating that Windows 10 Home users don't seem to have any way to disable automatic updates to the operating system. Throughout the testing of the Technical Preview, users noted that this option wasn't available, but it wasn't clear whether that was intended for the full release. Now that the suspected RTM build has been distributed, only two options are available regarding update installation: update then reboot automatically, or update then reboot manually. A quote from the EULA seems to support this: "The Software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you. ... By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice."

The article notes, "This has immediately raised concerns. Today, if a Windows user finds that an update breaks something that they need, they can generally refuse that update for an extended period. ... For Windows 10 Home users, this isn't going to be an option. If a future update breaks something essential, the user is going to be out of luck." Windows 10 Pro users will be able to delay updates for some period of time, and Enterprise users will have update functionality similar to that of Windows 8.
Networking

Ask Slashdot: VPN Solution To Connect Mixed-Environment Households? 173 173

New submitter RavenLrD20k writes: I am a programmer by trade with a significant amount of training as a Network Administrator (AAS in Computer Networking). I have no problem with how to build three or four separate networks in each location and make them route over the internet. My weakness is in trying to setup a VPN for a secured two-way connection between location A and location B, both mixed OS environments, with the requirement that all of the internet traffic on B gets routed through A first. I've already looked at some boxed solutions, such as LogMeIn Hamachi, but there hasn't been much in the way of mixed environment support. This is a complicated one, so keep reading for more on what RavenLrD20k is trying to accomplish.
Linux Business

Lenovo Will Sell Ubuntu Laptops In India 77 77

puddingebola notes the news, as carried by Tom's Hardware, that Lenovo will soon ship laptops preloaded with Ubuntu in India. "The first of these systems will be the Lenovo Thinkpad L450, featuring only one of two CPUs, but the selection may widen over time and expand to other countries ...Overall, switching to Ubuntu reduces the system cost considerably. Currently, the standard L450 system with Windows 8.1 Pro utilizing a Core i3, 4 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB HDD costs 59724 INR ($943.02 USD). An Ubuntu version of the system with the same hardware specs, however, will only cost 48000 INR ($757.91 USD).
IOS

Apple Drops Recovery Key From Two-Factor Authentication In New OS Versions 64 64

eggboard writes: If you've ever turned on what's now called "two-step verification" for an Apple ID, you had to create a Recovery Key. Lose this 14-digit code and have your password reset (because of hacking attempts against you), and you might lose access forever to purchases and data, as Owen Williams almost did. Apple confirmed today that starting with its public betas of OS X 10.11 and iOS 9, two-factor authentication won't have a Recovery Key. Instead, if you have to reset a password or lose access to devices, you'll have to go through an account verification process with human beings.
Data Storage

Samsung Releases First 2TB Consumer SSD For Laptops 195 195

Lucas123 writes: Samsung has released what it is calling the world's first 2.5-in consumer-grade, multi-terabyte SSD, and it's issuing the new drive a 10-year warranty. With up to 2TB of capacity, the new 850 Pro and 850 EVO SSDs double the maximum capacity of their predecessors. As with the previous 840 Pro and EVO models, Samsung used its 3D V-NAND technology, which stacks 32 layers of NAND atop one another in a microscopic skyscraper. Additionally, the drives take advantage of multi-level cell (MLC) and triple-level cell (TLC) (2- and 3-bit per cell) technology for even greater density. The 850 Pro, Samsung said, can manage up to 550MBps sequential read and 520MBps sequential write rates and up to 100,000 random I/Os per second (IOPS). The 850 EVO SSD has slightly lower performance with 540MBps and 520MBps sequential read/write rates and up to 90,000 random IOPS. The SSDs will range in capacity from 120GB to 2TB and in price from $99 to $999.
Operating Systems

Jolla Spins Off Hardware Business 44 44

New submitter John.Banister writes: Jolla, founded by former Nokia employees to continue where Nokia left off developing Linux based mobile devices, has spun off its hardware division with the intent to focus more strongly on its Sailfish Operating System. In its press release, the company assured backers of its crowdfunding campaign that it's still committed to delivering a tablet once hardware supply issues are resolved (PDF).
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: If You Could Assemble a "FrankenOS" What Parts Would You Use? 484 484

rnws writes: While commenting about log-structured file systems in relation to flash SSDs, I referenced Digital's Spiralog [pdf], released for OpenVMS in 1996. This got me thinking about how VMS to this day has some of, if not the best storage clustering (still) in use today. Many operating systems have come and gone over the years, particularly from the minicomputer era, and each usually had something unique it did really well. If you could stitch together your ideal OS, then which "body parts" would you use from today and reanimate from the past? I'd probably start with VMS's storage system, MPE's print handling, OS/2's Workplace Shell, AS/400's hardware abstraction and GNU's Bash shell. What would you choose?
Graphics

Square Enix Pulls, Apologizes For Mac Version of Final Fantasy XIV 94 94

_xeno_ writes: Just over a week after Warner Bros. pulled the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight due to bugs, Square Enix is now being forced to do the same thing with the Mac OS X version of Final Fantasy XIV (which was released at the same time as Batman: Arkham Knight). The rather long note explaining the decision apologizes for releasing the port before it was ready and blames OS X and OpenGL for the discrepancy between the game's performance on identical Mac hardware running Windows. It's unclear when (or even if) Square Enix will resume selling an OS X version — the note indicates that the development team is hopeful that "[w]ith the adoption of DirectX 11 for Mac, and the replacement of OpenGL with a new graphics API in Apple's next OS, the fundamental gap in current performance issues may soon be eliminated." (I'm not sure what "the adoption of DirectX 11 for Mac" refers to. OS X gaining DirectX 11 support is news to me — and, I suspect, Microsoft.) Given that the game supports the aging PS3 console, you'd think the developers would be able to find a way to get the same graphics as the PS3 version on more powerful Mac OS X hardware.
Firefox

Firefox 39 Released, Bringing Security Improvements and Social Sharing 172 172

An anonymous reader writes: Today Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 39.0, which brings an number of minor improvements to the open source browser. (Full release notes.) They've integrated Firefox Share with Firefox Hello, which means that users will be able to open video calls through links sent over social media. Internally, the browser dropped support for the insecure SSLv3 and disabled use of RC4 except where explicitly whitelisted. The SafeBrowsing malware detection now works for downloads on OS X and Linux. (Full list of security changes.) The Mac OS X version of Firefox is now running Project Silk, which makes animations and scrolling noticeably smoother. Developers now have access to the powerful Fetch API, which should provide a better interface for grabbing things over a network.