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Open Source

Raspberry Pi Gets Competitors (hackaday.com) 113

Hackaday reports that Asus has "quietly released their Tinker board that follows the Pi form factor very closely, and packs a 1.8 GHz quad-core ARM Cortes A17 alongside an impressive spec At £55 (about $68) where this is being written it's more expensive than the Pi, but Asus go to great lengths to demonstrate that it is significantly faster."

And though the Raspberry Pi foundation upgraded their Compute Module, Pine64 has just unveiled their new SOPINE A64 64-bit computing module, a smaller version of the $15 Pine64 computer. An anonymous reader quotes ComputerWorld: At $29, the SOPINE A64 roughly matches the price of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3, which ranges from $25 to $30. The new SOPINE will ship in February, according to the website. The SOPINE A64 can't operate as a standalone computer like the Pine64. It needs to be plugged in as a memory slot inside a computer. But if you want a full-blown computer, Pine64 also sells the $15 SOPINE Baseboard Model-A, which "complements the SOPINE A64 Compute Module and turns it into a full single board computer," according to the company...

The original Pine64 was crowdsourced and also became popular for its high-end components like a 64-bit chip and DDR3 memory... It has 2GB RAM, which is twice that of Raspberry Pi's compute module. SOPINE also has faster DDR3 memory, superior to DDR2 memory in Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 board.

AT&T

Second Time In 9 Months: AT&T Raises Phone Activation Fee $5, Now Charges $25 (arstechnica.com) 70

For the second time in 9 months, ATT is raising its activation and upgrade fee. In April 2016, the fee for non-contract customers was raised from $15 to $20. Today, it has been raised another $5, from $20 to $25, according to PhoneScoop. Ars Technica reports: As the mobile carrier switched from contracts to device payment plans, ATT initially did not charge an activation and upgrade fee for customers who brought their own phone or bought one from ATT on an installment plan. But in July 2015, ATT started charging a $15 activation fee to customers who don't sign two-year contracts. (ATT also raised the activation/upgrade fee for contract customers from $40 to $45 in July 2015.) The $25 fee is charged for new activations or upgrades when customers purchase devices on installment agreements, ATT says. Customers who bring their own phone to the network are charged the $25 fee when they activate a new line of service, but not when they upgrade phones on an existing line. "We are making a minor adjustment to our activation and upgrade fees. The change is effective today," ATT told Ars. ATT also still charges the $45 activation and upgrade fee on two-year contracts, but those contracts are "available only on select devices."
Data Storage

Raspberry Pi Upgrades Compute Module With 10 Times the CPU Performance (arstechnica.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Raspberry Pi Compute Module is getting a big upgrade, with the same processor used in the recently released Raspberry Pi 3. The Compute Module, which is intended for industrial applications, was first released in April 2014 with the same CPU as the first-generation Raspberry Pi. The upgrade announced today has 1GB of RAM and a Broadcom BCM2837 processor that can run at up to 1.2GHz. "This means it provides twice the RAM and roughly ten times the CPU performance of the original Compute Module," the Raspberry Pi Foundation announcement said. This is the second major version of the Compute Module, but it's being called the "Compute Module 3" to match the last flagship Pi's version number. The new Compute Module has more flexible storage options than the original. "One issue with the [Compute Module 1] was the fixed 4GB of eMMC flash storage," the announcement said. But some users wanted to add their own flash storage. "To solve this, two versions of the [Compute Module 3] are being released: one with 4GB eMMC on-board and a 'Lite' model which requires the user to add their own SD card socket or eMMC flash." The core module is tiny so that it can fit into other hardware, but for development purposes there is a separate I/O board with GPIO, USB and MicroUSB, CSI and DSI ports for camera and display boards, HDMI, and MicroSD. The Compute Module 3 and the lite version cost $30 and $25, respectively.
Businesses

'OLED TVs Will Finally Take Off in 2017' (engadget.com) 238

From a feature article on Engadget: After years of taunting consumers with incredible picture quality, but insanely high prices, OLED TVs are finally coming down to Earth. Prices are falling, there will be even more models to choose from and, at least based on what we've seen from CES this year, LCD TVs aren't getting many upgrades. If you've been holding out on a 4K TV upgrade, but haven't had the budget to consider OLED up until now, expect things to change this year. Even before CES began, it was clear the OLED market was beginning to change. Throughout 2016, LG steadily lowered the prices of its lineup -- its cheapest model, the B6, launched at $4,000, but eventually made its way down to $2,000 by October. Come Black Friday, LG also offered another $200 discount to sweeten the pot. A 55-inch 4K OLED for $1,800! It was such a compelling deal I ended up buying one myself. Since then, the B6's price has jumped back up to $2,500, but I wouldn't be surprised to see its price come back down again. So why the big discounts? LG reportedly increased the production of its large OLED panels by 70 percent last year, likely in anticipation of more demand. That could have led to a slight oversupply, which retailers wanted to clear out before this year's sets.
Displays

Samsung Claims Its New QLED TVs Are Better Than OLED TVs (theverge.com) 190

Samsung recently unveiled its latest flagship televisions at CES 2017, the QLED series. The company is challenging the notion that OLED TVs represent the pinnacle of picture quality in the living room. According to Samsung, the QLED TV represents its best achievement in image quality and viewing experience yet. The Verge reports: Of course Samsung would say that at an event meant to showcase said product. But the company insists it's made very real improvements compared to the flagship TVs it unveiled only a year ago. One of those upgrades pertains to brightness. The QLED TVs reach a peak brightness between 1,500 and 2,000 nits -- up from the 1,000 peak from 2016's lineup. Color reproduction has also been improved. The QLED sets handle DCI-P3 "accurately" and are capable of reproducing "100 percent color volume" -- something Samsung claims to be a world first. "This means they can express all colors at any level of brightness -- with even the subtlest differences visible at the QLED's peak luminance -- between 1,500 and 2,000 nits." Samsung says all of this is possible because it's using a new metal material along with the quantum dot nanocrystals. On the software end, Samsung's 2017 TVs are still powered by Tizen and feature basically the same user interface as last year. But there are some new additions like a sports mode that aggregates scores and other content from your favorite teams and an expanded Music section that lets you Shazam music as it's playing in a TV show and immediately launch that track in Spotify another streaming services. Samsung is also looking to clean up how its TVs look in your living room. New this year is a clear-colored "Invisible Connection cable" that runs from the TV to an external breakout box where you'll find all the HDMI ports and other critical connections (besides power, which is a separate input).
Intel

Intel Core I7-7700K Kaby Lake Review By Ars Technica: Is the Desktop CPU Dead? (arstechnica.co.uk) 240

Reader joshtops writes: Ars Technica has reviewed the much-anticipated Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake, the recently launched desktop processor from the giant chipmaker. And it's anything but a good sign for enthusiasts who were hoping to see significant improvements in performance. From the review, "The Intel Core i7-7700K is what happens when a chip company stops trying. The i7-7700K is the first desktop Intel chip in brave new post-"tick-tock" world -- which means that instead of major improvements to architecture, process, and instructions per clock (IPC), we get slightly higher clock speeds and a way to decode DRM-laden 4K streaming video. [...] If you're still rocking an older Ivy Bridge or Haswell processor and weren't convinced to upgrade to Skylake, there's little reason to upgrade to Kaby Lake. Even Sandy Bridge users may want to consider other upgrades first, such as a new SSD or graphics card. The first Sandy Bridge parts were released six years ago, in January 2011. [...] As it stands, what we have with Kaby Lake desktop is effectively Sandy Bridge polished to within an inch of its life, a once-groundbreaking CPU architecture hacked, and tweaked, and mangled into ever smaller manufacturing processes and power envelopes. Where the next major leap in desktop computing power comes from is still up for debate -- but if Kaby Lake is any indication, it won't be coming from Intel. While Ars Technica has complained about the minimal upgrades, AnandTech looks at the positive side: The Core i7-7700K sits at the top of the stack, and performs like it. A number of enthusiasts complained when they launched the Skylake Core i7-6700K with a 4.0/4.2 GHz rating, as this was below the 4.0/4.4 GHz rating of the older Core i7-4790K. At this level, 200-400 MHz has been roughly the difference of a generational IPC upgrade, so users ended up with similar performing chips and the difference was more in the overclocking. However, given the Core i7-7700K comes out of the box with a 4.2/4.5 GHz arrangement, and support for Speed Shift v2, it handily mops the floor with the Devil's Canyon part, resigning it to history.
Microsoft

How Microsoft Lost In Court Over Windows 10 Upgrades (digitaltrends.com) 121

In June a California woman successfully sued Microsoft for $10,000 over forced Windows 10 upgrades, and she's now written a 58-page ebook about her battle (which she's selling for $9.99). But an anonymous Slashdot reader shares another inspiring story about a Texas IT worker and Linux geek who got Microsoft to pay him $650 for all the time that he lost. "Worley built a Windows 7 machine for his grandfather, who has Alzheimer's Disease, [customized] to look like Windows XP, an operating system his grandfather still remembered well..." writes Digital Trends. "But thanks to Microsoft's persistent Windows 10 upgrade program, Worley's grandfather unknowingly initiated the Win 10 upgrade by clicking the 'X' to close an upgrade window." After Worley filed a legal "Notice of Dispute," Microsoft quickly agreed to his demand for $650, which he donated to a non-profit focusing on Alzheimer's patients.

But according to the article, that's just the beginning, since Worley now "hopes people impacted by the forced Windows 10 upgrade will write a complaint to Microsoft demanding a settlement for their wasted time and money in repairing the device," and on his web page suggests that if people don't need the money, they should give it to charities fighting Alzheimer's. "If Microsoft isn't going to wake up and realize that lobbing intentionally-tricky updates at people who don't need and can't use them actively damages not only the lives of the Alzheimer's sufferer, but those of their whole family, then let's cure the disease on Microsoft's dime so their tactics and those of companies that will follow their reckless example aren't as damaging."

Worley suggests each Notice of Dispute should demand at least $50 per hour from Microsoft, adding "If recent history holds steady they might just write you a check!"
Encryption

Encryption Backdoor Sneaks Into UK Law (theregister.co.uk) 137

Coisiche found a disturbing article from The Register about the U.K.'s new "Snoopers' Charter" law that has implications for tech companies around the world: Among the many unpleasant things in the Investigatory Powers Act that was officially signed into law this week, one that has not gained as much attention is the apparent ability for the U.K. government to undermine encryption and demand surveillance backdoors... As per the final wording of the law, comms providers on the receiving end of a "technical capacity notice" will be obliged to do various things on demand for government snoops -- such as disclosing details of any system upgrades and removing "electronic protection" on encrypted communications. Thus, by "technical capability," the government really means backdoors and deliberate security weaknesses so citizens' encrypted online activities can be intercepted, deciphered and monitored... At the end of the day, will the U.K. security services be able to read your email, your messages, your posts and private tweets, and your communications if they believe you pose a threat to national security? Yes, they will.
The bill added the Secretaries of State as a required signatory to the "technical capacity" notices, which "introduces a minor choke-point and a degree of accountability." But the article argues the law ultimately anticipates the breaking of encryption, and without customer notification. "The U.K. government can certainly insist that a company not based in the U.K. carry out its orders -- that situation is specifically included in the new law -- but as to whether it can realistically impose such a requirement, well, that will come down to how far those companies are willing to push back and how much they are willing to walk away from the U.K. market."
Security

OWASP ModSecurity Core Rule Set Version 3.0 Released (modsecurity.org) 17

Need a new set of generic attack detection rules for your web application firewall? Try the new OWASP ModSecurity Core Rule Set version 3.0.0! Long-time Slashdot reader dune73 writes: The OWASP CRS is a widely-used Open Source set of generic rules designed to protect users against threats like the OWASP Top 10. The rule set is most often deployed in conjunction with an existing Web Application Firewall like ModSecurity. Four years in the making, this release comes with dozens of new features including reduced false positives (by over 90% in the default setup), improved detection of SQLi, XSS, RCE and PHP injections, the introduction of a Paranoia Mode which allows assigning a certain security level to a site, and better documentation that takes the pain out of ModSecurity.
There's rumors this new rule set is even being made into a movie
Open Source

NetBSD Project Releases NetBSD 7.0.2 (softpedia.com) 22

An anonymous reader writes: "After spending six months in development, the NetBSD 7.0.2 release is now available for those running NetBSD 7.0 or NetBSD 7.0.1," reports Softpedia, "but also for those who are still using an older version of the BSD-based operating system and haven't managed to upgrade their systems, bringing them a collection of security patches and recent software updates." Release engineer Soren Jacobsen wrote that "It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons. If you are running an earlier release of NetBSD, we strongly suggest updating to 7.0.2."

The security fixes eliminate a race condition in mail.local(8), and also update OpenSSL, ntp and BIND. In addition, "there are various MIPS pmap improvements, a patch for an NFS (Network File System) crash, as well as a crash that occurred when attempting to mount an FSS snapshot as read and write. NetBSD 7.0.2 also fixes an issue with the UFS1 file system when it was created outside the operating system."
Download NetBSD 7.0.2 at one of these mirror sites.
Portables (Apple)

No New MacBook Airs as Apple Instead Makes Lower-End, $1,500 MacBook Pro (arstechnica.com) 191

Alongside the two new MacBook Pros, Apple also unveiled a refresh for its popular MacBook Air lineup. The company is calling this: the MacBook Pro, same branding as the other two MacBook Pros. It's a lower-end version of the new MacBook Pros, with no "Touch Bar" (or the Touch ID) and is powered by a slightly slower processor. Starting at $1,499, this MacBook Pro model is slightly cheaper too, though. From an ArsTechnica report:Apple said it will continue selling the existing 13" MacBook Air, but the company made a point of comparing that model to this new lower-end Pro, putting it somewhere between the Air and the other Pros in the lineup. The new 13" MacBook Pro starts at $1,499 and will begin shipping today. The new higher-end Pros will start at $1,799 for the 13" model and $2,399 for the 15" model while shipping in two to three weeks. If you don't select any hardware upgrades, the low-end 13" Pro has a sixth-generation Intel Core i5 processor with dual cores clocked at 2.0GHz, Intel Iris Graphics 540, 8GB memory, and 256GB SSD. It is available in space grey and silver, and it can cost up to $2,599 if you select the highest CPU, memory, and storage upgrades. Those available upgrades include a 2.4GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 512GB or 1TB of SSD storage. The new 13" laptop has a 2560x1600 Retina display, two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, and a headphone jack. It has the same Force Touch trackpad and redesigned keyboard as the higher-end models despite not integrating the Touch Bar and Touch ID.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.7 Reaches End of Life, Users Urged To Move To Linux 4.8 (softpedia.com) 77

prisoninmate writes: The Linux 4.7 kernel branch officially reached end of life, and it has already been marked as EOL on the kernel.org 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

Chrome For Android Gets Its Own Canary Channel (betanews.com) 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 (hothardware.com) 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.
Android

Cyanogen Gets a New CEO, Shifts Away From Selling a Full Mobile Operating System (techcrunch.com) 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 (omgubuntu.co.uk) 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.
Windows

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 (softpedia.com) 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 (tomshardware.com) 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

Microsoft Bungles This Week's Windows 10 Anniversary Update (zdnet.com) 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 issues...it feels like every time you run Windows update you are rolling the dice."

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