Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Linus Thinks “OpenBSD crowd is a bunch of masturbating monkeys”

If you’ve had some pain fixing a Windows issue, I’m sure you’ve heard of the word “Linux” from one of the other “geeks” that visit around forums, helpinglinux_logo people out. Linus Trovalds was the person who started the Linux operating system project and owns the copyright to the name, “Linux”. Recently when discussing a security issue in the Linux kernel, Linus did some disrespectful “name-calling” in a public readable mailing list.

The following is an excerpt from the mail:

Security people are often the black-and-white kind of people that I can't stand. I think the OpenBSD crowd is a bunch of masturbating monkeys, in that they make such a big deal about concentrating on security to the point where they pretty much admit that nothing else matters to them.

Linus is known to be a little outspoken and as a person who can be little rude at times, but when you treat other competitive developers with so much disrespect, it obviously means there is something wrong with him or his team. Linus invented the Linux OS, but today there are lots of other developers who are working hard towards improving Linux. The other developers do all the hardwork these days and Linus just supervises and controls which patches are to be applied to the kernel and what direction the Linux kernel should follow.

Look at the backdrop of events happening at Linux and OpenBSD, you’ll realize why Linus is a little upset with OpenBSD/BSD in general. The last release of FreeBSD v7.0, which is based on OpenBSD’s trunk4 and is a spectacular release with performance better than Linux on most grounds. Also, a lot of other Linux developers are in constant debate with Linus on what direction Linux should take. Someday its about the schedular or one day its about the security. There is some unrest in the Linux community, which feels the desktop neglect in terms of efforts in the kernel.

You can read his insane reply here and the whole discussion here.

But whatever the problem, such harsh words are completely unacceptable from the leader of such a big community of developers and users. Linus definitely needs some spiritual counselling to heal his internal turmoil.

Mozilla Releases Firefix v3.0.1

Firefox 3.0 was released with much funfare and with lots of testing. But it turns out a lot of people have problems with the latest version of Firefox, whenFF starting and installing addons. Most perpetual problems are related to hanging up of the GUI when Firefox starts and those missing their old addons that are not working in version 3.0

Mozilla has released Firefox 3.0.1 that solves 2 bugs that are critical vulnerabilities according to the Firefox developers. But the startup problem still remains for a few guys... There will be auto-update out soon, but for all the guys who are in a bit of hurry can download the latest release in their languages from here.

The security fix is also applied on Firefox 2 and has been released as v2.0.0.16 and can be downloaded from here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wimax Missed the Intel Centrino 2 Boat Again

Wimax has been Intel’s big push to wireless broadband for some years now. Intel has promised Wimax as the solution to fast wireless internet time and again, centrino2 but has constantly failed to deliver real working chips for operation. Today, when Intel launched Centrino 2, it didn’t have much of a mention about the Wimax adapters 5150 and 5350, which was supposedly the main talking point of Centrino 2.

Centrino was probably one of the most talked about technology by Intel when it was first released. It standardized wireless access through Wifi and most people synonymously used Centrino for Wireless-capable laptops. That was back in 2003. After that Intel refreshed the platform with a lot of new processors/platforms, codenamed Yonah, Napa and Santa Rosa. Lots of new motherboards/chipsets came and went and few integrated graphics just changed. Centrino 2 after much delay was launched today and the platform was earlier known by codename Montevina.

The Montevina platform announced today covers new 45nm Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors, the GM45 chipset and the WiFi Link 5300 adapter. You can look at all the information about Centrino 2 platform from the wide press coverage its got from all hardware sites. Look here, here and here for examples. But what most of the sites are not complaining about is the lack of Wimax at the launch. I mean what is special about Centrino 2, if its not got a new fast wireless medium, atleast that’s what the original Centrino was all about.

But like I have heard before, the Wimax adapters for laptops 5150 and 5350 are still not ready for release. The adapters have an issue with power consumption and if Intel would have today launched the adapters with Centrino 2 platform, all the promises about improved battery life would have gone down the drains. Intel says we have to wait till the end of the year to get one of those Wimax adapters, but didn’t mention any specific reason for the delay and also didn’t mention that it was due to these (and Atom’s marketing) that Intel has been delaying Centrino 2 for sometime. Lets hope by fall we do see a battery efficient Wimax adapter for my new laptop. For a change, this time the ISPs are not late!!


Few presentation slides from Centrino 2 launch:

Intel4-chipset  wifi_5300


The Car came, but Wimax didn’t want a ride!!



Opera Users Can Now See Gmail 2 Default

Opera users have always been one of the outsiders to most web developers because of the low market share that the browser holds. Nevertheless, Opera has been implementing web standards quite quickly compared to other popular browsers. And so was the case with Gmail, where Opera users had to use the ”nocheckbrowser” parameter to see the newer Gmail2 interface. But that’s no more required, since Google has made changes and now Opera 9.51 and higher displays the new Gmail2 interface by default.

The newer Gmail2 interface is a little more AJAX-driven and has an initial loading screen after you login to your account. The interface also has a few nifty colored features that many Opera users were not able to see earlier. There was also a project on Google Code that was working towards making Gmail 2 compatible with Opera, just the way it works for other browsers like Firefox or Internet Explorer. The issue was with some incompatibilities between the JavaScript implementation in Firefox/Internet Explorer and Opera. Gmail developers were a little lazy to apply the hack earlier, but now they just finished their work.

So there you have it now... Enjoy Gmail 2 on Opera without any quirks or problems!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Processor Errata to be Next Big Virus Exploit

Writing cross-platform viruses were nearly impossible earlier and hence a virus would mostly affect only Windows or Linux or OSX, but not all of these together.virus Most Linux/*nix/Mac users felt viruses were only for Windows users, because of underlying OS protection in Unix user access model was good enough. But all of it could change if malware was written for common hardware platform such as Microprocessors or BIOS or Hardware Firmware. Well known author and security researcher, Kris Kaspersky is going to demonstrate how to create malware for processor bugs at the Hack-In-The-Box Security Conference (HITB) to be held from 27th-30th Oct, 2008 at Malaysia.

Processors from Intel and AMD often contain bugs known as errata and generally the way to fix these bugs is by updating the BIOS or Firmware in motherboards. Nearly every generation of processor has these bugs and if these aren’t any major bug, then no one even knows of them in normal computer functioning. But in some special cases these bugs affect some computers or software being used, and that’s when these bugs come into the light. Like the recent TLB Errata in 1st generation Opteron (Barcelona) processors from AMD would corrupt data in certain situations.

Currently, there isn’t a truly generalized way to exploit processor bugs and requires some detailed understanding of hardware and software combination. Most processor manufacturers don’t even mention deep details on the bugs and hence exploring them is a little more tough. Kris Kaspersky has claims to have found some way using JavaScript to exploit these bugs. Also, JIT compilers from Java Virtual Machines may be used to uncover and exploit the bugs, according to the Abstract of the Presentation at HITB.

If Kris Kaspersky’s “Hacker Disassembling Uncovered: Powerful Techniques To Safeguard Your Programming” book is anything to go by, we may have excellent and easy example by which he demonstrates the exploits. It could easily be replicated and understood by hackers and worked upon for other bugs. Stopping such exploits would be tough not just for anti-virus makers, but also for Operating system patches. And even if some fix is released on the motherboard BIOS, it is generally not implemented by all motherboard manufacturers... And user ignorance towards these BIOS updates is not even worth mentioning! This could easily be one of the tough and complex security problems to have come up!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Power 7 Will Be IBM’s Supercomputing King

This weekend I heard a few guys from IBM India getting really excited about the next-generation microprocessor called Power 7 which will be released in H1 2010. The Power 7 processor is still not a final design but nonetheless, it is turning out to be an awesome processor. IBM’s latest plans show that Power 7 will be a 8-core processor, clocked at anywhere between 3.6Ghz-4.0Ghz.

Power 7 is a completely new architecture and is being developed at Austin, Böblingen, Rochester Research Centers. There are rumors that Opteron and Power 7 may share a common socket, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the current design of the processor. But I got hints that things on the socket front could be changed during the final few weeks.

Power 7 is also a multi-thread per core CPU and current designs suggest it can execute about 4 threads per core. It still isn’t running optimally at the moment, but the target is to achieve full performance on all the 4 threads. This still makes Sun’s Rock the multi-threading king in the next-generation of processors. But IBM is high on the number crunching game. Each Power 7 core will be 32GFlops and that means on a 8-cores it going to output at 256GFlops. That’s no mean achievement!

Unlike the Power 6, which had its main aim towards improving single-core performance and max clocked at 6Ghz in prototypes, the Power 7 is working towards a multi-core, multi-threaded processor. From Intel to Sun, everyone has realized the potential efficiency of multi-core design and IBM hopes to lead the pack with Power 7. And to become the winner of the lot, Power 7 will compete against Sun’s Rock (UltraSPARC T2 Processors), Intel’s Itanium and Xeon (Nehelam-based) to some extent as well as its friendly technology partner AMD’s Opteron. IBM’s main goal with Power 7 is at the High-Performance Computing markets and supercomputers, where IBM already rules the roost.

Supercomputer1 Supercomputer2

If you look for stats at Top500 Supercomputers from around the world, you’ll realize what I mean by IBM ruling the roost. IBM has lots of BlueGene machines that use the old PowerPC processors, but not many newer generation processors. The reason to this is two-fold. IBM’s last generation processor Power 6 and to some extent Power 5 isn’t very power efficient. Power 6 heats up quite a bit and would require massive engineering skills to bring 1000s of these chips together inside a supercomputer. On the other hand, IBM has plans to mix-match Power 7 and Cell microprocessors in future supercomputers. Cell processors are known to be good specialized FP units and matching it with Power 7, IBM hopes to reach more than 10 petaflop from a supercomputer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

DirectX 11 Coming This Month

Whatever ATI thought as an advantage, when shipping DirectX 10.1 in 48xx generation of graphic cards will be short-lived. Microsoft will be announcing DirectX 11 in about 2 weeks at Gamefest 2008. The Gamefest conference will be held on 22nd-23rd of July, 2008 in Seattle where Microsoft plans to officially launch DirectX 11.

DirectX 11 has lots of new features and is a much more important update to DirectX than 10.1. NVidia has announced that it will skip DirectX 10.1 and will directly ship its next generation with DirectX 11 support. DirectX 11 brings Shader Model 5.0 (SM5), which has been closely developed with GPU manufacturers. NVidia has been having the SM5 profile in the Nvidia SDK for sometime now, but didn’t have any new functionality. Probably the Microsoft announcement is what Nvidia has been waiting for. Also another eagerly awaited feature in DirectX 11 is Tessellation/Displacement, which means that converting displacement map to object mesh is lot more faster and less intensive. There are also hopes that something for general purpose GPU computing (GPGPU) may be added in the DirectX11 API, but nothing is yet known. Multithreading Rendering and Compute Shaders are definitely there in the DirectX 11 API.

DirectX11 should also be a major programming step for game developers because DirectX 11 will be the base for the next-generation XBox console that Microsoft promised to release sometime next year. A lot research has been put into DirectX 11 and next-gen XBox already, and we can expect some release date for Microsoft’s next-gen console during Gamefest 2008.

Opera Starts Classroom For Web Standards

Opera announced today that it has launched an education initiative to teach people about web standards. The first part of the initiative is called the Opera Web Standards Curriculum (WSC) which is a curriculum covering the different web standards available today. The program constitutes of articles that are meant to be learning material for educational institutions as well as web developers.

The topics covered as part of the WSC include CSS, HTML, JavaScript, DOM and different concepts about the Web. All the material that is released as part of WSC will be available completely free under the Creative Commons License and can be found here. Over 50 articles on different topics have been planned and well-known Web developers such as Christian Heilmann and Mark Norman "Norm" Francis of Yahoo!, Peter-Paul Koch of, Jonathan Lane, Linda Goin, Paul Haine, Roger Johansson of 456bereastreet, and Jen Hanen will be contributing the articles.

Opera has been one of the forefront browser supporting web standards. They were also the first to complete ACID3 test successfully and eventhough they still haven’t released a stable build that passes the test, it shows their commitment to support web standards. With so much talk about web standards, it is really odd to find so many websites that work properly only on IE. Its a shame that developers still don’t follow web standards and such initiative can only be useful if web developers realize that users are pissed off looking at non-standard websites.

Google’s Virtual World: Google Lively

If you are one of those guys whose social life is only on the Internet, then this will probably make you more excited than any other social networking website ever. Google has launched a nice browser-based virtual world called Lively where users can interact with other users in different virtual spaces. Its more like Second Life, with much less 3D but with more faster environment.

Lively is an addon for Firefox or Internet Explorer and can be installed on only Windows XP or Vista. There is no addon installer for OSX or Linux. Lively allows you to create an avataar and after the avataar is done, you can goto any of the rooms or create your own room and interact with your friends or other users on lively. While creating a room there are different kinds of stuff that you can put into a room, much like what you did in the Sims game.

The installer can be downloaded from here. The installers size is small, but its an online installer that downloads required files from the Internet. One major advantage that Lively has over Second Life is that it is browser based and will not required great hardware to run. On the other hand, Second Life is lot more interactive and can use graphics hardware to render 3D worlds. From the early looks at Lively, its aimed towards a larger audience compared to Second Life. This Lively vs Second Life comparison is analogous to casual games Vs Hardcore games.

A video introduction to Google Lively:

Currently Google Lively doesn’t seem very interactive. But I’m sure as time goes on, it will become more interactive. Users will be able to do different activities with other users and interact freely with the environment. Even the environment has the possibilities of different object interaction and it could very well be like an multiplayer online game of Sims. Lively also has great prospects of being monetized, where user can see advertisements for the products that he likes and can be used as a marketing tool by different companies. Excellent idea that definitely has promise!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

First Look: Google Test Framework Simplifies Testing

Software Testing is probably one of the most boring and tedious task to a lot of people, but there are still people like me who love writing unit tests. But GoogleTesting among a lot of developers I know, its always the guys from lower-part of the food-chain that write tests. Google has something for testers that will surely make them happy. Google announced today a new Google Testing Framework (GTF) in their Testing Blog.

GTF is a new testing framework for programs written in C++ that Google has open-sourced today. It is a collection of libraries that Google previously used to test their own softwares, but I’m wondering how that could be true, considering Python is Google’s favorite language!! ;-)

But jokes apart, as soon as the new testing framework was released, I set out with a few of my colleagues to test out the framework. We are one of those guys who are excited about testing and ways to simplify testing. The first thing we noticed even before starting with the library was that it was compatible with a host of compilers and versions. We’ve seen a few test frameworks for specific compilers or platforms, but GTF supports Linux, Windows, OSX and host of compilers ranging from gcc to Microsoft’s VC++.

Another excellent thing about the framework was that it’s easy to learn the basics as well has advanced features. Its very similar to xUnit tests and has good features to compare with CppUnit. The basics can be learnt from here and the advanced guide is here. Predicate Assertions are probably one of my favorite features, that we encountered quickly in a program that we were having trouble to debug. There are also a host of other assertions available and we’ve not got into very deep with all the assertions. But from the initial look at the framework, most of us very ranking it as one of the best testing frameworks out there...

There is still some of us who think Boost Framework is very good and some still think Visual Assist plugin tool (of Visual Studio fame) is pretty good. But the first look at Google Testing Framework has definitely made us stand up!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Solaris & Xeon Break Million Messages Per Second

Sun Microsystems today announced that it has collaborated with Intel to not only provide the best throughput performance to date by breaking the million-messages-per second barrier, but also the lowest available network latency on a 1Gb Ethernet. This performance output was generated on a new financial services benchmark known as Reuters Market Data System 6.0.3 (RMDS).

The Intel-based Sun Fire™ X4150 with Solaris 10 provided the top-notch results for the benchmark and it indeed is superlative performance to reach million-messages per second. And more importantly its done on standard network topology instead of stacked topology, which can improve scalability but comes at a cost. Doing it with standard 1Gb Ethernet is surely an achievement. The performance by the system is highly dependent on the hardware which Intel has engineered and Sun has built. But Solaris also has contributed to the improved performance. Solaris has the least latency in message passing and network performance on it is excellent.

Sun Microsystems CEO, Jonathan Schwartz applauded the new benchmark results and attributed much of it to Solaris. And he sure must be happy!! Sun Microsystems is very focused on Solaris/OpenSolaris these days with a lot of development work towards OpenSolaris. There is also a big PR machine running for openSolaris these days and some ol’ Netbeans guys have been moved to talk and explore the world on openSolaris. Sun Microsystems has got this target to make openSolaris big on the desktop with a distro-plan similar to Linux distros.

Congratulations to Sun on the new benchmark record!! It is definitely one of the strong forte for Sun to perform on the network, but the desktop move is a totally different ball-game. And why didn’t we have one of those largest hardware/microprocessor team from Sun make the system from UltraSPARC to perform that good instead of the Intel hardware ??

Xandros Acquires Linspire

Xandros, the maker of windows-like Linux, today announced that it has acquired another windows-like Linux called Linspire. Xandros has got a bit of popularity lately from a few OEM deals and that has made it expand its coffers a bit. The main goal of acquiring Linspire is the software installing and distribution system called “Click-And-Run”, which allows installing software from a online repository with a single-click

Linspire was probably one of the first Linux distribution to openly claim that it wanted to be like Windows. It was earlier called Lindows and then due to some Microsoft lawsuit got its name changed to Linspire. But even a name change didn’t inspire a lot of linux geeks and the audience for Linspire remains small till date.

Click-And-Run (CnR) though is one really nice innovation from Linspire. It inspired the openSuSE guys to develop something similar called “1-Click Install”, which is one of my favorite features in openSuSE 11.0.

The World’s Most Unexclusive Guinness Certificate By Firefox

As stupid as it sounds, you could gift yourself the world’s most unexclusive Guinness World Record certificate. And this one comes courtesy of of Firefox which had completed 8,002,530 downloads in a single day and set a world record for the highest number of software downloads. After the world record is made, Firefox is giving away a pdf for download to showoff its achievement.


You can visit here and get yourself the world’s most unexclusive Guinness World Record Certificate. And it doesn’t matter if you didn’t pledge your support to Firefox or you didn’t download Firefox, you can still get a certificate. I did pledge though and downloaded Firefox 3 just for the heck of it… not for some stupid record setting!!