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  1. Back at its Architecture Day 2021 event, when Intel shared the core design details of its Alder Lake CPU architecture, the firm stated that Windows 11 was optimized in a way to best take advantage of the Alder Lake's Performance Hybrid architecture and the new Thread Director technology that helps Windows 11 task scheduling. Early testing confirmed this was indeed the case, and even first-gen hybrid products like Lakefield benefitted as well. Since then, however, Linux too has taken up the mantle to optimize the hybrid architecture and in August earlier this year, the first major patch was sent in related to asymmetric packing. And it is not just on paper that Linux sounds to be doing a better job since benchmarks sort of confirm that Windows 11 has lost its performance lead over time as more and more optimizations land in the Linux kernel. Not only that, but several gaming performance-related issues had also been bringing down Windows 11 22H2. Microsoft claims it was able to fix these with the latest Windows update. Moving on, a new set of patches has been submitted as RFC (request for comment) by Intel Linux engineer Ricardo Neri is the extension of a previous patchwork sent back in August. These ones too aim to improve the performance of hybrid CPUs like Alder Lake, Raptor Lake, and also upcoming 14th Gen Meteor Lake when running Linux. This time, IPC classes for balancing workloads are being added alongside optimizations to Intel's Thread Director, which should result in overall better task scheduling and performance improvement. Neri has explained: On hybrid processors, the microarchitectural properties of the different types of CPUs cause them to have different instruction-per-cycle (IPC) capabilities. IPC can be higher on some CPUs for advanced instructions [..] The load balancer can discover the use of advanced instructions and prefer CPUs with higher IPC for tasks running those instructions. This patchset introduces the concept of classes of tasks, proposes the interfaces that hardware needs to implement and proposes changes to the load balancer to leverage this extra information in combination with asymmetric packing. The V2 of the above patch, that was released yesterday, brings more additions and further optimizations to to IPCC classing and implements cleanups and reworks. Via: Phoronix Linux gets more Intel hybrid optimization as Microsoft struggles with Windows 11 22H2
  2. visualbuffs

    Best Linux OS for you?

    what linux os is your favorite!? or the OS you tried before and present!
  3. With the caveat that Nvidia drivers are still an entirely separate thing. Steam, installed from the Snap Store, looks and feels a lot like Steam. You just see this interface a bit sooner, without a bunch of tabs open to find the right dependencies. Canonical / Valve Installing Steam on a Linux system just got a little easier, at least if you can install a Snap package. Ubuntu-maker Canonical announced today that its Steam Snap supports "bleeding edge" Mesa graphics APIs, with more improvements coming soon. Snaps are self-contained packages that are easier for users to install without command lines and also contain the other programs and libraries they rely on, preventing conflicts between the versions of installed software applications (i.e., dependency hell). They're theoretically easier to update through a store app and are sandboxed from the rest of the system. They're also not universally appreciated in the greater Linux community, as they're pushed primarily by Canonical through its Snap Store and can reduce the performance of some apps. Canonical worked with Steam-creator Valve to create the Steam Snap in "Early Access" in March. It bakes in the Mesa drivers and Proton and Wine wrappers needed for some Windows-via-Linux games, resolves the 32-bit/64-bit discrepancies for certain libraries, and handles the other necessary items that users would typically be pulling in via command-line and private repositories. The latest Steam Snaps add support for removable media, high-DPI displays, and localization. Canonical states that the app also benefits from a migration to Core 22 and LZO compression. (Snaps were originally developed for Ubuntu's mobile OS and embedded/Internet of Things platform. It's complicated.) At the moment, installing the Steam Snap pulls in the very latest Mesa drivers from Oibaf's PPA repository. In the near future, Canonical wants to let Snap installers customize their install if they wish, choosing "fresh" or "turtle" Mesa drivers for the latest point release or stable releases, respectively. Over the next few months, the Steam Snap team wants to add support for the following: Feral Interactive's GameMode (now installed by default on Ubuntu desktop); MangoHUD to overlay frames-per-second and other performance data; and automatically enabling Proton, or "Steam Play," by default in Steam. The Mesa drivers in the Steam Snap won't do much for modern Nvidia graphics cards, so Canonical felt it necessary to address Nvidia, with which it has a "close collaboration." Canonical states that it's getting Nvidia 's latest drivers to its users within two months of release. Nvidia took very small, highly caveated steps toward open source support earlier this year, releasing some parts of its driver but not the most important user-space sections. It's easier for Ubuntu and other distro makers to package Nvidia's binary, proprietary drivers these days, but that's about as far as it goes with openness. You can grab the latest version of the Steam Snap in the Snap Store. Canonical notes that those who want to help test game compatibility can switch their Snap install to an "edge" version, then file reports on individual games, which show up in its GitHub discussion. Listing image by Getty Images The easier way to install Steam on Linux gets bleeding-edge graphics support
  4. It looks like one of the recent Linux kernel updates is causing issues with Intel laptops. Apparently the 5.19.12 update is not playing nice with Intel's graphics i915 driver and this is leading to all sorts of issues. For example, below is an example of a user who said that they were almost constantly encountering weird flashing problems. The user added they had the issue on a Lenovo laptop powered by i7-1065G7 running Fedora 35. Other users are reporting similar issues on Intel 11th Gen chips as well. This user confirmed that downgrading to the previous 5.19.11 release fixes the problem: I'm on a laptop (Lenovo Legion 5 Gen7 15IAH7H, Alder Lake i7-12700H) and when I boot this kernel, the laptop internal screen seems to flicker between "on but completely black" and "off" every second or so without actually displaying anything. [..] This reproduces consistently on my machine with 5.19.12 and disappears immediately after downgrading to 5.19.11. Over on the Framework community forum, affected users have been raising this issue for close to a week now, and it looks like an Intel Linux kernel engineer, Ville Syrjäl, had picked it up. Syrjäl says that the panel power sequencing (PPS) delay is bugged which could potentially even damage the LCD panels. He wrote: After looking at some logs we do end up with potentially bogus panel power sequencing delays, which may harm the LCD panel. [..] I recommend immediate revert of this stuff, and new stable release ASAP. Plus a recommendation that no one using laptops with Intel GPUs run 5.19.12. The 5.19.12 changes have been reverted with a new stable release (5.19.13). Users are reporting that this has indeed fixed the issue. Via: Phoronix Beware: Linux kernel 5.19.12 could damage your Intel laptop display, literally
  5. A little fix for CPUs that didn't properly sleep had decades-long consequences. AMD has come a long way since 2002, but the Linux kernel still treats modern Threadrippers like Athlon-era systems—at least in one potentially lag-inducing respect. AMD engineer Prateek Nayak recently submitted a patch to Linux's processor idle drivers that would "skip dummy wait for processors based on the Zen microarchitecture." When ACPI support was added to the Linux kernel in 2002—written by Andy Grover, committed by Linus Torvalds—it included a "dummy wait op." The system essentially read data with no purpose other than delaying the next instruction until the CPU could fully stop with the STPCLK# command. This allowed for some power saving and compatibility during the early days of ACPI implementation when some chipsets wouldn't move to an idle state when one would expect it. But today's Zen-based AMD chips don't need this workaround, and, as Nayak writes, it's hurting them, at least in specific workloads on Linux. Testing with instruction-based sampling (IBS) workloads shows that "a significant amount of time is spent in the dummy op, which incorrectly gets accounted as C-State residency." The CPU, seeing all this low-effort dummy work, can push into deeper, slower C-State, which then makes the CPU take longer to "wake up," especially on jobs that require lots of switching between busy and idle states. Nayak ran tests in tbench on a dual-socket Zen3 system against the baseline Linux kernel, a kernel with the C2 state entirely disabled, and a kernel with the dummy wait operation patched out. His patched version saw a 1,390 percent increase in minimum MB/s throughput and a 51 percent increase in mean MB/s over the baseline kernel, often just a little behind having C2 disabled entirely. Intel systems have avoided AMD's legacy curse, as they use an MWAIT-based system for at least a decade, per the Phoronix blog. That led to an urgent patch submitted by Dave Hansen of Intel. His solution was to limit "dummy wait" to Intel systems, where it would not affect "remotely modern Intel systems," and add comments to the kernel's idle drivers that spell out what's happening—and encourage those reading to "consider moving your system to a more modern idle mechanism." If an urgent patch removing or limiting "dummy wait" is submitted this week, it could likely make the Linux 6.0 kernel, which Torvalds expects to ship next week. 20-year-old Linux workaround is still slowing down AMD systems
  6. Over the last few months, Windows 11 has had a really hard time keeping up with Linux in terms of performance. The story was quite different back in 2021 though when Intel released its 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs that were based on the Performance Hybrid architecture consisting “Big” E-cores and “Bigger” P-cores. Microsoft and Intel worked together to optimize the Windows 11 scheduler for the new kind of architecture. As such, the Intel Core i9-12900K was found to perform significantly better on Windows 11 compared to Linux. Kernel version 5.16 was also found to be not quite ready for the new design, as it was also handily beaten by Windows 11. However, as mentioned above, things are starting to turn around. Tests conducted back in July found Linux no longer trailing Windows. The comparison was conducted using Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, and it was actually ahead of Windows 11. Using a mobile Alder Lake Core i7-1280P CPU, Microsoft was still ahead, though the performance gap had shrunk significantly. And things may get even worse for Windows as patches reveal further optimizations are being made on Linux for hybrid x86 processors like Alder Lake and its succeeding Intel architectures. Over on the AMD side too, where hybrid CPU designs have not materialized yet, performance comparisons have found the gap between Windows 11 and Ubuntu to be slim as the two operating systems are seen trading blows with one another. A few days ago, Phoronix did a follow-up testing using an eight core Ryzen 7 5800X3D, which is AMD's first processor launched with 3D V-cache on-board. The results are something Windows fans wouldn't like looking at. In the 89 tests conducted in total, Ubuntu 22.04.1 has won 81 or 91% of the tests. Windows 11 on the other hand has won just 9% or 8 tests. As you can see above, the biggest performance differences are seen in Renaissance benchmark Instance Metadata Service (IMDS) test, followed by DaCapo Tradesoap. Interestingly, Windows 11 wins the other DaCapo test which is Tradebeans, though by a much smaller margin. Overall, the Geometric Mean reveals Ubuntu was about 10% faster on average, which is pretty impressive considering that there were close to 90 tests in this comparison. It will be interesting to see how the performance varies on a non-X3D chip like the Ryzen 7 5800X, or how the two OS would fare in a comparison using the upcoming the Zen 4-based Ryzen 7000 series chips. Reports suggest the Zen4X3D SKUs aren't too far off either. Source and images: Phoronix Windows 11 gets bloodied and battered by Linux (Ubuntu) on AMD's 8 core Ryzen 5800X3D
  7. In a world where Valve’s Proton dominates gaming headlines, it's hard to remember that it would be nothing without the forward progress of Wine. Wine 7.16 was released this morning, breaking with its tradition of releasing every other Friday. It's the latest on the march toward 8.0 which is due out later this year. Thankfully, we don't have to wait for version 8.0 to benefit from lots of meaningful fixes. So, how will this affect Steam Deck, HoloISO, and Chimera OS gamers? Well, let’s cover the boring bits first. Wow64 support in X11 driver Session storage in MSHTML Unicode regexp fixes in MSXML IME improvements in Edit control Various bug fixes Support for WoW64, Microsoft’s 64-bit compatibility layer for 32-bit applications, has been introduced into the X11 driver. If you’re a Steam Deck gaming mode user, this change won’t affect you when the changes are merged upstream to Proton. Now, on to the gaming-related fixes. If you’re trying to play the latest Saint’s Row, a bug is fixed where the game crashes on error “unimplemented function kernel32.dll.SetProcessDefaultCpuSets”. Though it’s worth noting the community has already produced a workaround. Ragnarok Online sees a fix with a false positive related to detection of anti-cheat. A Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain bug is now fixed and progress past the chapter one intro is now possible. Finally, fixes to the beloved Star Citizen prevent the launcher from freezing due to a heap space issue. There are a lot of fixes for other non-gaming Windows-y stuff, and you can check out those changes at WineHQ. Source: WineHQ Wine 7.16 arrives two days late, brings game enhancements
  8. Back at its Architecture Day 2021 event, when Intel shared the core design details of its Alder Lake CPU architecture, the firm stated that Windows 11 was optimized in a way to best take advantage of the Alder Lake's Performance Hybrid architecture and the new Thread Director technology that helps Windows 11 task scheduling. Following this announcement, head to head testing back in November 2021, indeed showed Windows 11 outperforming Linux quite easily thanks to the special optimizations baked into Microsoft's new OS. In fact, it was beating out Windows 10 too, even when using an older Lakefield CPU. Fast forward to August of 2022 and things are looking quite different than they were previously. Linux has since been optimized further with changes made under the hood to close the gap with Windows 11. The latest test on Ubuntu using Linux kernel version 5.18 shows an Alder Lake-S Core 19-12900K being barely any worse than when compared to a Windows 11 system. However, further optimizations are still being done according to a new patch by Intel's Linux engineer Ricardo Neri. The new patch basically talks about improving task scheduling between the Bigger P-cores (performance cores) and the Bug E-cores (efficiency cores). On processors with a mixture of higher-frequency SMT cores and lower- frequency non-SMT cores (such as Intel hybrid processors), a lower- priority CPU pulls tasks from the higher-priority cores if more than one SMT sibling is busy. Do not use different priorities for each SMT sibling. Instead, tweak the asym_packing load balancer to recognize SMT cores with more than one busy sibling and let lower-priority CPUs pull tasks. Removing these artificial priorities avoids superfluous migrations and lets lower-priority cores inspect all SMT siblings for the busiest queue. With this Linux can potentially leave Windows 11 in the dust depending on the kind of improvements the new optimization sees. Besides it will be beneficial either way since Intel's upcoming 13th Gen Raptor Lake as well as future 14th Gen Meteor Lake CPUs will all be employing the same Performance Hybrid-based design. Via: Phoronix Linux could leave Windows 11 in the dust as Intel hybrid CPUs get further optimizations
  9. There is some big news coming today for .NET developers who were keen to work on Linux. That's because Microsoft and Canonical have announced that they are bringing native .NET 6 support to Linux on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS to both hosts and containers. For now, they are coming to x64 only, but Arm64 is next in line. The installation will work using a simple apt install command for .NET 6 that will download the necessary packages. In a blog post, Canonical explains how it will work: .NET 6 users and developers can now install the .NET 6 packages on Ubuntu with a simple apt install dotnet6 command. Optimised, pre-built, ultra-small container images are also now available to use out of the box. The blog post also highlights the efforts taken by both Microsoft and Canonical to make this possible: .NET as an Ubuntu .deb package is the result of a close collaboration between Microsoft and Canonical. The two companies are working together to deliver timely security patches and new releases to Ubuntu. This is the foundation for more capabilities to follow for the open-source framework on Ubuntu, for hosts and minimised container images. Overall, the companies are promising a hassle-free installation, timely security patches and updates, smaller Open Container Initiative (OCI)-compliant containers, and more. For example, the Chiseled Ubuntu image here is going to be 100MB smaller than they are typically known for. Here is a quick run down of the most important highlights about this release: .NET developers are now able to install the ASP.NET and .NET SDK and runtimes from Ubuntu 22.04 LTS with a single “apt install” command Canonical releases new, ultra-small OCI-compliant appliance images, without a shell or package manager, for both the .NET 6 LTS and ASP.NET runtimes Microsoft and Canonical are collaborating to secure the software supply chain between .NET and Ubuntu and to provide enterprise-grade support You can find more details on Canonical's and Microsoft's blog posts. Microsoft and Canonical bring native .NET 6 to Linux starting with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS
  10. More people using Arm hardware will (eventually) lead to better Arm software. Slowly but surely, the Asahi Linux team is getting Linux up and running on Apple Silicon Macs. Apple/Asahi Linux We don't normally cover individual releases of the Linux kernel, partly because most updates are pretty routine. Any given Linux kernel update resolves some bugs, improves support for existing hardware, and makes some forward-looking changes in anticipation of new hardware, and kernel version 5.19 is no exception. Phoronix and OMG! Ubuntu! both have good overviews of the changes. But there's one interesting note about this release that Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds mentions in his release notes: The kernel update is being released using an Arm-powered laptop, specifically the M2-powered version of Apple's MacBook Air. "It's something I've been waiting for for a loong [sic] time, and it's finally reality, thanks to the Asahi team," Torvalds writes. "We've had arm64 hardware around running Linux for a long time, but none of it has really been usable as a development platform until now." Torvalds is running Linux on his M2 MacBook with the help of Asahi Linux, a distribution that has been working to reverse-engineer Apple's hardware. The Asahi team's goal is to send all of this work upstream into the main Linux kernel so that all distros can benefit, and Asahi has been relatively quick to add support for new Apple chips like the M2 or the M1 Ultra as they've been released. In November 2020, Torvalds wrote that the then-new M1 version of the Air "would be almost perfect" as an Arm Linux laptop but said, "I don't have the time to tinker with it, or the inclination to fight companies that don't want to help." At a certain level, this news is just mildly interesting trivia—it doesn't matter to most Linux users what computer Torvalds is currently using, and Asahi Linux is still in a rough, early state where lots of things are half-functional or non-functional. But as Asahi contributor Hector Martin notes, having "real people... using Linux on a real, modern ARM64 platform" with a modern version of the Arm instruction set and a "near-upstream kernel" has knock-on effects that benefit the rest of the ecosystem. More people using the Arm versions of Linux means more people fixing Arm-related bugs that will benefit all distros, and more people spotting and fixing Arm-specific problems in their own software ("dogfooding," as Torvalds puts it in his notes). Eventually, the experience of using Linux on Arm hardware should improve for everyone, although these benefits could take years to shake out. But together with hardware efforts like Qualcomm's upcoming high-performance Arm chips and Microsoft's commitment to Arm hardware and software, they could make Arm-powered PCs more appealing and competitive alternatives to traditional Intel- and AMD-powered x86 PCs. Also worth noting is that Torvalds believes that the 5.20 release of the Linux kernel will end up becoming version 6.0, not because of any specific feature updates but because he's "starting to worry about getting confused by big numbers again." Kernel versions 3.x and 4.x were also rolled over to the next major version number at or around their 20th release. Linus Torvalds uses an Arm-powered M2 MacBook Air to release latest Linux kernel
  11. Asahi's work can help alternate Linux distros and other OSes boot on Apple chips. Asahi Linux is now up and running on the Mac Studio and the first M2 Macs. Andrew Cunningham Unlike Intel Macs, Apple silicon Macs were designed to run only Apple's software. But the developers on the Asahi Linux team have been working to change that, painstakingly reverse-engineering support for Apple's processors and other Mac hardware and releasing it as a work-in-progress distro that can actually boot up and run on bare metal, no virtualization required. The Asahi Linux team put out a new release today with plenty of additions and improvements. Most notably, the distro now supports the M1 Ultra and the Mac Studio and has added preliminary support for the M2 MacBook Pro (which has been tested firsthand by the team) and the M2 MacBook Air (which hasn't been tested but ought to work). Preliminary Bluetooth support for all Apple silicon Macs has also been added, though the team notes that it works poorly when connected to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network because "Wi-Fi/Bluetooth coexistence isn't properly configured yet." There are still many other things that aren't working properly, including the USB-A ports on the Studio, faster-than-USB-2.0 speeds from any Type-C/Thunderbolt ports, and GPU acceleration, but progress is being made on all of those fronts. GPU work in particular is coming along, with a "prototype driver" that is "good enough to run real graphics applications and benchmarks" already up and running, though it's not included in this release. The Asahi team has said in the past that it expects support for new chips to be relatively easy to add to Asahi since Apple's chip designers frequently reuse things and don't make extensive hardware changes unless there's a good reason for it. Adding basic support for the M2 to Asahi happened over the course of a single 12-hour development session, and just "a few days" of additional effort were needed to get the rest of the hardware working as well as it does with M1-based Macs. This process may become more complex as the Asahi team gets more hardware working—supporting a new GPU will probably be a bit more involved than getting the keyboard and trackpad working—but it seems that the team will be able to support the M2 chip family fairly quickly as Apple introduces more models. The Asahi team's stated goal has always been to contribute all of its work upstream as it's ready, and newer Linux kernel versions already implement some Apple silicon Mac support. Eventually, everything from Ubuntu to ChromeOS Flex could run on Apple silicon Macs without a ton of extra effort, which might be useful many years from now when Apple stops supporting older Apple silicon Macs with new macOS releases. A version of OpenBSD is also up and running on Apple Silicon with the help of the Asahi team's efforts. Linux distro for Apple silicon Macs is already up and running on the brand-new M2
  12. HP Dev One is the first non-System76 computer offered with Pop!_OS. System76 HP released its Dev One Linux laptop today. Aimed at coders, the 14-inch clamshell comes at a lower price than previous Ubuntu-based HP clamshells. Starting at $1,099, the Dev One begins to keep costs low by opting for an AMD, rather than Intel, CPU and skipping the discrete graphics card. HP's last Linux laptops, part of its ZBook workstation lineup, went well over $2,000 and offered up to Intel Xeon processors and Nvidia RTX GPUs. The 14-incher weighs 3.24 lbs. System76 Linux roots The previous workstations used Ubuntu 20.04 preloaded with software packages aimed at data scientists. However, the Dev One runs Pop!_OS, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution from System76. System76 also makes its own laptops, desktops, servers, and the Launch mechanical keyboard. HP's Dev One marks the first laptop to run Pop!_OS without "System76" stamped on the lid—although, you can download Pop!_OS and install it on your own system. There are two USB-C ports, two USB-A, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack. System76 In its announcement of the Dev One today, System76 pushed its OS's auto-tiling feature and Workspaces for working across multiple desktops with shortcuts. Dev One owners can also use System76's customer support. Denver-based System76 still plans to sell its own branded systems, CEO and founder Carl Richell told TechRepublic in May while discussing System76 and HP's partnership. The exec expressed hope that the laptop would bring "opportunities to accelerate our in-house design and manufacturing work, particularly regarding the supply chain. The exec also insisted that HP was on board with the open source aspect of Linux, with "every line of code" for the Dev One being open source. Richell also pointed to writing an open source Linux app for programming the buttons on the HP 935 Creator Mouse that's being pushed alongside the laptop. HP Dev One specs The Dev One has an eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 Pro 5850U with a 1.9-4.4 GHz clock speed and integrated Radeon graphics. There are also two sticks of 8GB DDR4-3200 RAM that are user-upgradeable up to 64GB. The memory seems to be HP brand, as the laptop's product page recommends HP RAM for upgrades, "due to the non-industry standard nature of some third-party memory modules." HP's 0.75-inch thick Linux system also has a 1TB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD that claims 3,200 MT/s sequential transfer speeds (other speeds were not shared). The Dev One's 14-inch, 1920×1080 display claims 1,000 nits' max brightness on its specs sheet, but the fine print brings perceived brightness down to 800 nits due to the cover glass. The laptop claims up to 12 hours of battery life. More specifically, HP took that measurement by running text editing, Chrome web browsing full-screen, and local 1080p MP4 video playback at 24 fps and 16 percent volume. The keyboard shows a ThinkPad-like nub. System76 For all that coding, there's an optional Linux keyboard with a Super key, optional backlight, and spill resistance. HP releases its $1,099 Linux laptop for developers
  13. Tails developers have warned users to stop using the portable Debian-based Linux distro until the next release if they're entering or accessing sensitive information using the bundled Tor Browser application. Tails (short for The Amnesic Incognito Live System) is a Linux distro focused on protecting the users' anonymity (e.g., activists and journalists) and helping them circumvent censorship by forcing all connections to and from the Internet through the Tor network. "We recommend that you stop using Tails until the release of 5.1 (May 31) if you use Tor Browser for sensitive information (passwords, private messages, personal information, etc.)," the Tails developers warned. This warning was prompted by two critical zero-day bugs in the Firefox JavaScript engine (tracked as CVE-2022-1802 and CVE-2022-1529), exploited during the first day of the Pwn2Own 2022 Vancouver hacking contest and patched by Mozilla two days later. While the bugs have already been patched upstream, the developers cannot deliver patches for any of the included apps until the next release, given that Tails is a live Linux distro. The vulnerabilities enable attackers to access info from other websites visited using Tor Browser if successfully exploited. "For example, after you visit a malicious website, an attacker controlling this website might access the password or other sensitive information that you send to other websites afterwards during the same Tails session," the Tails advisory adds. Tails still safe for some users The Tails devs also explained that the flaws do not affect Tor Browser users when used on the Safest security level because it automatically disabled JavaScript while browsing. Likewise, Thunderbird users are not impacted because the version bundled with the Tails Linux distro has JavaScript disabled by default. Additionally, Tails users who don't use or access sensitive information through the Tor Browser can still use it safely since the security flaws don't break the encryption and anonymity of Tor connections. "Mozilla is aware of websites exploiting this vulnerability already. This vulnerability will be fixed in Tails 5.1 (May 31), but our team doesn't have the capacity to publish an emergency release earlier," the Tails team warned. Tails 5.0 Linux users warned against using it "for sensitive information"
  14. The Systemd Linux init system has hit v251. It should soon be included in major updates of popular distributions, including Ubuntu and Fedora. Owing to the major revision, the Linux ecosystem, specifically the bountiful app and OS updates segment, could undergo a significant change. The unified system and service manager for Linux, Systemd, is growing rapidly. The latest version has been released on GitHub, and is accompanied by a lengthy changelog. The majority of popular Linux platforms usually append the latest, stable release of Systemd every six months. The new version of Systemd uses the GCC compiler's C11-with-GNU-extensions standard. Nicknamed GNU11, it essentially brings Systemd in line with the core Linux kernel itself. The latest version has had about 2,500 commits. The most controversial addition is a new component "systemd-sysupdate". It automatically discovers, downloads, and installs A/B style updates. It is still quite experimental and is essentially an “Updating Tool” for the installed OS. Besides the new systemd-sysupdate feature, the tool will also have kernel-install features. Needless to mention, the method takes a new approach to updating the OS and its multiple components. However, Systemd is not transforming into a package manager. Nonetheless, the changes indicate a concerning shift in the way users, and more importantly, the Linux distros themselves could evolve. It seems the nature, as well as the role, of the package managers, is changing. Although a little early to say, these platforms, which allowed users to also update the installed Linux distro, are being restricted. In other words, end-users may find it difficult to customize and update their OS. Currently, package managers serve as app marketplaces as well as repositories that hold and offer updates, including those for the OS. Moving ahead, they could be restricted to being tools that vendors use to build the distributions. In the worst of cases, Linux distros might just ditch package managers altogether. It is already happening in ChromeOS, as well as Fedora's Silverblue and Kinoite versions. It is concerning to note that moving ahead, it might become harder to install and use a Linux distro that does not have Systemd. However, some distros, such as Devuan GNU+Linux, Alpine Linux, and Void Linux have kept the controversial component away. Systemd v251 with GNU11 could prove troublesome for users of nearly all Linux distros
  15. A stealthy and modular malware used to hack into Linux devices and build a DDoS botnet has seen a massive 254% increase in activity during the last six months, as Microsoft revealed today. This malware (active since at least 2014) is known as XorDDoS (or XOR DDoS) due to its use of XOR-based encryption when communicating with command-and-control (C2) servers and being employed to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. As the company revealed, the botnet's success is likely due to its extensive use of various evasion and persistence tactics which allow it to remain stealthy and hard to remove. "Its evasion capabilities include obfuscating the malware's activities, evading rule-based detection mechanisms and hash-based malicious file lookup, as well as using anti-forensic techniques to break process tree-based analysis," Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team said. "We observed in recent campaigns that XorDdos hides malicious activities from analysis by overwriting sensitive files with a null byte." XorDDoS is known for targeting a multitude of Linux system architectures, from ARM (IoT) to x64 (servers), and compromising vulnerable ones in SSH brute-force attacks. To propagate to more devices, it uses a shell script that will attempt to log in as root using various passwords against thousands of Internet-exposed systems until it finally finds a match. XorDDoS attack flow (Microsoft) Besides launching DDoS attacks, the malware's operators use the XorDDoS botnet to install rootkits, maintain access to hacked devices, and, likely, drop additional malicious payloads. "We found that devices first infected with XorDdos were later infected with additional malware such as the Tsunami backdoor, which further deploys the XMRig coin miner," Microsoft added. "While we did not observe XorDdos directly installing and distributing secondary payloads like Tsunami, it's possible that the trojan is leveraged as a vector for follow-on activities." The huge boost in XorDDoS activity Microsoft detected since December lines up with a report by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike which said that Linux malware had seen a 35% growth during 2021 compared to the previous year. XorDDoS, Mirai, and Mozi were the most prevalent families, accounting for 22% of all malware attacks targeting Linux devices observed in 2021. Of the three, CrowdStrike said that XorDDoS saw a notable year-over-year increase of 123%, while Mozi had an explosive activity growth, with ten times more samples detected in the wild throughout last year. A February 2021 report from Intezer also revealed that Linux malware families increased by roughly 40% in 2020 compared to 2019. Microsoft detects massive surge in Linux XorDDoS malware activity
  16. A new set of vulnerabilities collectively tracked as Nimbuspwn could let local attackers escalate privileges on Linux systems to deploy malware ranging from backdoors to ransomware. Security researchers at Microsoft disclosed the issues in a report today noting that they can be chained together to achieve root privileges on a vulnerable system. Tracked as CVE-2022-29799 and CVE-2022-29800, the Nimbuspwn security issues were discovered in networkd-dispatcher, a component that sends connection status changes on Linux machines. Discovering the vulnerabilities started with “listening to messages on the System Bus,” which prompted the researchers to review the code flow for networkd-dispatcher. The Nimbuspwn security flaws refer to directory traversal, symlink race, and time-of-check-time-of-use (TOCTOU) race condition issues, explains Microsoft researcher Jonathan Bar Or says in the report. One observation that piqued interest was that the networkd-dispatcher daemon was running at boot time with root privileges on the system. source: Microsoft The researcher noticed that the daemon used a method called “_run_hooks_for_state” to discover and run scripts depending on the detected network state. The logic implemented by “_run_hooks_for_state” includes returning executable script files owned by the root user and the root group that are in the “/etc/networkd-dispatcher/.d” directory. It runs each script in the above location using the process called subprocess.Popen while supplying custom environment variables. source: Microsoft Microsoft’s report explains that “_run_hooks_for_state” has multiple security issues: Directory traversal (CVE-2022-29799 none of the functions in the flow sanitize the OperationalState or the AdministrativeState. The states are used to build the script path, so a state could contain directory traversal patterns (e.g. “../../”) to escape from the “/etc/networkd-dispatcher” base directory. Symlink race: both the script discovery and subprocess.Popen follow symbolic links. Time-of-check-time-of-use (TOCTOU) race condition (CVE-2022-29800 there is a certain time between the scripts being discovered and them being run. An attacker can abuse this vulnerability to replace scripts that networkd-dispatcher believes to be owned by root to ones that are not. An attacker with low privileges on the system could chain together the above vulnerabilities to escalate to root-level permissions by sending an arbitrary signal. An overview of the steps for successful exploitation is captured in the image below, which covers three stages of the attack: source: Microsoft Bar Or notes that winning the TOCTOU race condition requires planting multiple files. In his experiment to implement a custom exploit, success was recorded after three attempts. source: Microsoft Leveraging Nimbuspwn successfully is possible when the exploit code can own a bus name under a privileged service or process. The researcher says that there are many environments where this is possible, including Linux Mint where “the service systemd-networkd that normally owns the “org.freedesktop.Network1” [used in the research] bus name does not start at boot by default.” Additionally, the Bar Or found additional “processes running as the systemd-network user” that executed arbitrary code from world-writable locations: e.g. several gpgv plugins (launched when apt-get installs or upgrades), the Erlang Port Mapper Daemon (epmd) that allows running arbitrary code under some scenarios. Clayton Craft, the maintainer of networkd-dispatcher has deployed the necessary updates that address the Nimbuspwn vulnerabilities. Linux users are recommended to patch their systems as soon as the fixes become available for their operating system. New Nimbuspwn Linux vulnerability gives hackers root privileges
  17. Microsoft is giving Linux a significant security update Linux and Android systems will be able to download Microsoft Defender ATP (Image credit: Shutterstock) Microsoft is hoping to boost its security protection for Android and Linux systems with a new release of its Defender Adavanced Threat Protection (ATP) app. A public preview, or first version of Defender ATP for Linux and Android devices can be installed from today, giving users a welcome security upgrade. Microsoft Defender ATP is a common presence on Windows devices around the world, offering a frequently-updated protection platform against a wide number of security threats. Microsoft Defender ATP for Linux After being announced earlier this year, the Linux version of Microsoft Defender ATP is generally available now, offering support for recent versions of the six most common Linux Server distributions, including Ubuntu 16 LTS or higher. "This initial release delivers strong preventive capabilities, a full command line experience on the client to configure and manage the agent, initiate scans, manage threats, and a familiar integrated experience for machines and alert monitoring in the Microsoft Defender Security Center," Microsoft wrote in a blog post announcing the news. The app can be deployed and configured using Puppet, Ansible, or using your existing Linux configuration management tool. (Image credit: Microsoft) Microsoft Defender ATP for Android was announced at the RSA security conference earlier this year as the company looked to address what is often the most highly-targeted platform for cyberattacks. The app offers full device-scanning capabilities to spot the latest malware threats and malicious apps, and will also be able to detect insecure sites and potential phishing threats while the user is browsing the web, as well as blocking access to any pre-determined sites set up by a company's IT team. IT teams can now quickly enable secuirty features via their dashbaord, with the changes rolling out immediately to prevent any infection. IT staff can also use the app to block compromised devices out of a corporate network, or stop users from accessing certain in-house apps once they have left the business. Such at-risk devices could also be stopped from accessing company resources such as OneDrive accounts or even the central Outlook mail server. "Knowing that each of our customers have unique environments and unique needs and are looking for more unification in their security solutions, we communicated our commitment to build security solutions from Microsoft, not just for Microsoft," wrote Rob Lefferts, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft 365 Security. "We are committed to helping organizations secure their unique and heterogenous environments and we have so much more in store for you this year." Microsoft had also announced a public preview for iOS devices earlier this year, however the company was not able to reveal it alongside the Android version, instead stating the app is scheduled for "later this year." Microsoft is giving Linux a significant security update
  18. DeaDBeeF is an open source music player for Linux Foobar2000 is the go-to music player for many users (including myself). Though it isn't available on Linux, you can opt for an alternative like DeadBeef. The program's interface is minimal and the playback controls are at the top (its almost like Foobar), but DeadBeeF has a colorized progress bar and volume slider. The large pane below the controls is the playlist pane. It supports tabs, so you can open/manage multiple playlists at the same time. The pane has many columns inlcuding the current playing status, artist name, album, track number, title, and the duration of the track. Right-click on a column to edit/remove it. You can group columns too. Select the add column option to add any of the following: Album art, Year, Band/Album Artist, Codec, Bitrate or a Custom column. Right-click on a track to add/remove it to the playback queue, reload the metadata, perform file operations (cut, copy, paste, remove). You can set the Replay gain options, refresh the cover art, convert the audio into other formats (AAC, ALAC, FLAC, MP3, OGG, OPUS, etc). It also lets you view the properties and metadata of the track, or look up the track info on Last.fm Use the Playback menu to set the Shuffle, Repeat settings. You can also toggle scroll follows playback, cursor follows playback, stop after current track and stop after current album from this menu. DeaDBeef auto resumes the playback from where you left off, when you start the application. The program has a few output plugins that you can select from. Toggle the Status bar, and the Equalizer from the view menu. Not a the fan of the DeadBeeF color scheme? Open the Preferences window and switch to the Appearance tab to change the color of the bars, the equalizer's background, the text in the tab strip, and various other elements. Set the music player to minimize to the tray from the GUI/Misc tab. You can create and save playlists in multiple formats including DBPL, M3U, M3U8 and PLS. I may be nitpicking here but, when you have a playlist loaded and then change to a different one, the tab's name displays the older playlist's name. The status bar below the playlist pane displays the audio properties (format, bitrate, total playtime, etc). DeaDBeef comes with many plugins that you can configure. To include a few here, it has a plugin that can download album art from different sources, a plugin which can play music directly from zip files, an OSD Notify plugin that can display an on-screen notification when a track is changed. Note: I couldn't get the album art to show up. This issue on Github suggests that it may only work if the picture has been set to the correct type. For what it's worth, the album art works in other players. DeaDBeef supports MP3, FLAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, AAC, M4A, ALAC, WMA, TTA, SHN, SID, NSF, MOD, S3M, VTX, VGM, VGZ, PSF, MIDI, MPC, MPP, MP+, FFMPEG formats, DUMB, GME, LIBSNDFILE, ADPLUG audio formats. The program is written in C and C++(GTK2 and 3 for GUI). Head to the SourceForge page to download the DeaDBeeF (.deb) installation package for Linux. An unofficial port of DeaDBeeF is available for Windows. It is fairly identical to the Linux version, but is missing a few plugins (because they're DLLs). The context menu is broken at least for me, it blanks out when trying to modify columns. DeaDBeef is light on resources, and the sound quality is crisp. It is an excellent alternative for Foobar on Linux. Landing Page: https://sourceforge.net/projects/deadbeef/ Source: DeaDBeeF is an open source music player for Linux (gHacks - Ashwin)
  19. Linux computer manufacturer System76 launched today their first ever AMD powered Linux laptop, which features 3rd generation AMD Ryzen 3000 series processors and a cool price tag. A few weeks ago, TUXEDO Computers unveiled what they called the world’s first AMD-only Linux laptop, and now System76 follows in their footsteps to announce a new Linux laptop that’s powered by an AMD processor. Meet the 12th generation Serval WS. System76 Serval WS is now the first AMD laptop from the company known for numerous powerful Linux machines and the gorgeous, Ubuntu-based Pop_OS! Linux, which comes preloaded on all new computers manufactured by System76. In other words, customers can finally own an AMD-only Linux laptop from System76, powered by a 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processor. Available options include AMD Ryzen 5 3600, AMD Ryzen 7 3700X or AMD Ryzen 9 3900, providing up to 12 cores and 24 threads of pure AMD power under the hood. “AMD Ryzen CPUs offer the best bang for your buck, which is especially helpful when your work requires mountains of bang,” said System76. “Create 3D models, simulate transitions, and test your predictions at breakneck speeds with up to 12 CPU Cores on the AMD Ryzen 9 PRO 3900.” Apart from the powerful AMD CPUs, the new Serval WS laptop can be configured with either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti or Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, up to 64GB upgradeable RAM, and up to 4TB NVMe flash storage for desktop-level gaming performance. The laptop also features a beautiful 15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) 120 Hz display with a matte finish, a multi-color backlit chiclet US QWERTY keyboard, Gigabit Ethernet, Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6, 1.0MP HD video camera, a multitouch touchpad, and a removable 6-cell smart Lithium-Ion battery. The Serval WS has base price of $1,299 USD, but can go as high as $5,102 USD with max options and 3-year warranty. Without further ado, you can configure and buy yours right now from System76’s online store. It comes with the latest Pop_OS! Linux 20.04 LTS or Ubuntu 20.04 LTS pre-installed. More Images at the source ! Source
  20. Researchers detail the unusual workings of Tycoon ransomware - which appears to be designed to stay under the radar as much as possible. A newly uncovered form of ransomware is going after Windows and Linux systems in what appears to be a targeted campaign. Named Tycoon after references in the code, this ransomware has been active since December 2019 and looks to be the work of cyber criminals who are highly selective in their targeting. The malware also uses an uncommon deployment technique which helps stay hidden on compromised networks. The main targets of Tycoon are organisations in the education and software industries. Tycoon has been uncovered and detailed by researchers at BlackBerry working with security analysts at KPMG. It's an unusual form of ransomware because it's written in Java, deployed as a trojanised Java Runtime Environment and is compiled in a Java image file (Jimage) to hide the malicious intentions. "These are both unique methods. Java is very seldom used to write endpoint malware because it requires the Java Runtime Environment to be able to run the code. Image files are rarely used for malware attacks," Eric Milam, VP for research and intelligence at BlackBerry told ZDNet. "Attackers are shifting towards uncommon programming languages and obscure data formats. Here, the attackers did not need to obscure their code were nonetheless successful in accomplishing their goals," he added. However, the first stage of Tycoon ransomware attacks is less uncommon, with the initial intrusion coming via insecure internet-facing RDP servers. This is a common attack vector for malware campaigns and it often exploits servers with weak or previously compromised passwords. Once inside the network, the attackers maintain persistence by using Image File Execution Options (IFEO) injection settings which more often provide developers with the ability to debug software. The attackers also use privileges to disable anti-malware software using ProcessHacker in order to stop removal of their attack. "Ransomware can be implemented in high-level languages such as Java with no obfuscation and executed in unexpected ways," said Milam. After execution, the ransomware encrypts the network with files encrypted by Tycoon given extensions including .redrum, .grinch and .thanos – and the attackers demand a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. The attackers ask for payment in bitcoin and claim the price depends on how quickly the victim gets in touch via email. The fact the campaign is still ongoing suggests that those behind it are finding success extorting payments from victims. Researchers suggest that Tycoon could potentially be linked to another form of ransomware, Dharma – also known as Crysis – due to similarities in the email addresses, names of encrypted files and the text of the ransom note. And while Tycoon does have some unique means of executing an infection, like other forms of ransomware, it's possible to prevent it from getting that far. As RDP is a common means of compromise, organisations can ensure that the only ports facing outward to the internet are those which require it as an absolute necessity. Organisations should also make sure that accounts which do need access to these ports aren't using default credentials or weak passwords which can easily be guessed as a means of breaking in. Applying security patches when they're released can also prevent many ransomware attacks, as it stops criminals exploiting known vulnerabilities. Organisations should also ensure they regularly backup their network – and that the backup is reliable – so that if the worst happens, the network can be restored without giving into the demands of cyber criminals. Source
  21. Linux documentation switches to HTTPS to boost security Several commits have been made to the Linux kernel in recent days and weeks which switch links in the kernel’s documentation from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS protocol. According to commit logs made by Alexander Klimov, the switch to HTTPS should reduce the likelihood of man-in-the-middle attacks against kernel developers. To ensure that links do not break when switched to the more secure protocol, tests were run to ensure pages loaded in the same manner. While it’s a welcome change which should boost the security of the whole Linux community, the move is a proactive one according to Phoronix which said that there has been no sign of any kernel developers being attacked recently via URLs. These new security enhancements should become available to developers once Linux 5.9 has been released, the latest version of the kernel so far is version 5.8-rc6. Depending on how things go, Linux 5.8 should be released on one of the upcoming Sundays before Linux 5.9 enters the release candidate phase for a final round of testing. Each new Linux kernel update usually brings new hardware support and new software features. New kernels are typically released every two months give or take a few weeks if more polish is needed. Source: Phoronix Linux documentation switches to HTTPS to boost security
  22. Microsoft wants to kill off Linux malware for good Project Freta detects Linux malware for free (Image credit: Shutterstock.com) Microsoft has unveiled a new threat detection service that it hopes can greatly improve security protection on Linux systems. Project Freta is a free cloud-based tool that is able to detect new forms of malware and other malicious software such as rootkits and cryptominers that Microsoft says could have previously gone undetected in Linux systems. The company notes that such threats can often be found lurking in Linux cloud VM images, putting users of the open-source platform at risk. Linux security Microsoft says that Project Freta offers a whole new way of detecting malware threats, going beyond existing methods that rely on sensors to predict the presence of something untoward. Such methods can often be swerved or bypassed entirely by malware authors, meaning a new approach was needed. Project Freta is able to analyse virtual machines (VMs) in order to learn about new environments and how they are affected by malware, before using this knowledge to spot emerging threats. Microsoft says Project Freta automatically analyses images of thousands of Linux cloud VMs in order to detect new forms of malware and sensor corruption, and supports over 4,000 kernel versions at launch. This makes it incredibly resilient, meaning malware authors would have to invest heavily in developing new threats that can get around the new scanning technology. Project Freta users, who will need a Microsoft account to access the service, can also submit a captured image to generate a report of its content, helping boost the initiative's reach and expertise. "We often think about the field of computer security as a field of walls and barriers that keep intruders out," Mike Walker, Microsoft Senior Director, New Security Ventures wrote in a blog post announcing the launch. "With Project Freta, we invite readers to think not of walls but of sunlight...Project Freta is a roadmap toward trusted sensing for the cloud that can allow enterprises to engage in regular, complete discovery sweeps for undetected malware." Initially only available for Linux systems, Microsoft says it plans to add Windows support for Project Freta soon, as well as AI technology that can boost decision-making potential. "We hope that Project Freta empowers administrators and responders and is used globally as it has been used at Microsoft: to hunt advanced intruders and their toolkits," Walker concluded. Via BleepingComputer Microsoft wants to kill off Linux malware for good
  23. Google is bringing the fruits of its cross-platform app making framework Flutter to Linux desktops with help of Canonical no less. Over 500,000 developers already use Flutter, Google’s open source UI framework, to building mobile apps, and tech is often pitched as an alternative to React Native. But while the Flutter SDK has been available on Linux to create apps for other platforms it wasn’t possible to build desktop Linux apps. That changes today. Build Linux Apps with Flutter “[We] are happy to jointly announce the availability of the Linux alpha for Flutter alongside Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, the world’s most popular desktop Linux distribution,” writes Google’s Chris Sells in a blog post. Google said last year that it wanted to bring Flutter build software to desktop platforms. And with Ubuntu the go-to OS for mobile app creation (including ones built using the Flutter SDK) there’s much merit in allowing devs to use the software to make apps for the underlying platform too. But don’t fear some kind of Frankenstein mobile fudge; Flutter aims to be a first-class citizen on Linux. Google says it has done ‘extensive refactoring’ to the engine to support, power, and provide native desktop experiences. While Dart, the programming language that underpins the toolkit, is now able to take advantage of desktop integration features. Canonical investing heavily Canonical is also putting a team of developers to work on the tech alongside Google’s own engineers. The company says it will collaborate with Google to “improve Linux support and maintain feature parity with the other supported platforms”. What makes Flutter so popular? Well, the tech allows devs to code an app once and have it run on multiple different platforms, including mobile and macOS. But with the new alpha apps built using this tech can also run on the Linux desktop. Install Flutter SDK on Ubuntu To get started building apps (for whatever platform) you don’t need to install a spaghetti tnagle of intertwined dependencies and developer tools. Just install the Flutter SDK from the Snap Store, add the Dart plugin in an IDE like Visual Studio Code, and get coding: Install Flutter SDK from the Snap Store here Note: to build desktop Linux apps using Flutter you do need to run the following commands after installing the SDK: flutter channel dev flutter upgrade flutter config --enable-linux-desktop You may also wish to install the flutter-gallery snap too. This showcases the range of widgets and interface components available for use — and will almost certainly give you lots of inspiration for what you could create! Finally if you’re less interested in making apps and more keen on trying them do check out Flokk Contacts. This is sample desktop Flutter app built to show off what the tech is capable of on desktop. Source
  24. The exFAT filesystem is coming to Linux—Paragon software’s not happy about it The proprietary filesystem vendor unleashed a '90s-level torrent of FUD yesterday. Enlarge / Proprietary filesystem vendor Paragon Software seems to feel threatened by the pending inclusion of a Microsoft-sanctioned exFAT in the Linux 5.7 kernel. MTV / Geffen / Paramount Pictures 23 with 21 posters participating, including story author When software and operating system giant Microsoft announced its support for inclusion of the exFAT filesystem directly into the Linux kernel back in August, it didn't get a ton of press coverage. But filesystem vendor Paragon Software clearly noticed this month's merge of the Microsoft-approved, largely Samsung-authored version of exFAT into the VFS for-next repository, which will in turn merge into Linux 5.7—and Paragon doesn't seem happy about it. Yesterday, Paragon issued a press release about European gateway-modem vendor Sagemcom adopting its version of exFAT into an upcoming series of Linux-based routers. Unfortunately, it chose to preface the announcement with a stream of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) that wouldn't have looked out of place on Steve Ballmer's letterhead in the 1990s. Breaking down the FUD Paragon described its arguments against open source software—which appeared directly in my inbox—as an "article (available for publication in any form) explaining why the open source model didn't work in 3 cases." All three of Paragon's offered cases were curious examples, at best. Case one: Android Let’s first look into some cases where filesystems similar to exFAT were supported in Unix derivatives and how that worked from an open source perspective. The most sound case is Android, which creates a native Linux ext4FS container to run apps from FAT formatted flash cards (3). This shows the inability (or unwillingness based on the realistic estimation of a needed effort) of software giant Google to make its own implementation of a much simpler FAT in the Android Kernel. The footnote leads the reader to a lengthy XDA-developers article that explains the long history of SD card filesystems in the Android operating system. An extremely brief summation: originally, Android used the largely compatible VFAT implementation of the Windows FAT32 filesystem. This caused several issues—including security problems due to a lack of multi-user security metadata. These problems led Google to replace VFAT with a largely Samsung-developed FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) implementation of exFAT. This solved the security issues twice over—not only were ACLs now supported, the FUSE filesystem could even be mounted for individual users. Unfortunately, this led to performance issues—as convenient as FUSE might be, userspace filesystems don't perform as well as in-kernel filesystems. Still with us so far? Great. The final step in this particular story is Google replacing exFAT-FUSE with SDCardFS, another Samsung-developed project that—confusingly—isn't really a filesystem at all. Instead, it's an in-kernel wrapper that passes API calls to a lower-level filesystem. SDCardFS replaces FUSE, not the filesystem, and thereby allows emulated filesystems to run in kernel space. If you're wondering where proprietary software comes in to save the day, the answer is simple: it doesn't. This is a story of the largest smartphone operating system in the world consistently and successfully using open source software, improving performance and security along the way. What's not yet clear is whether Google specifically will use the new in-kernel exFAT landing in 5.7 in Android or will continue to use Samsung's SDCardFS filesystem wrapper. SDCardFS solved Android's auxiliary-storage performance problems, and it may provide additional security benefits that simply using an in-kernel exFAT would not. Case two: MacOS The other case is Mac OS—another Unix derivative that still does not have commercial support for NTFS-write mode—it only supports NTFS in a read-only mode. That appears strange given the existence of NTFS-3G for Linux. One can activate write support—but there’s no guarantee that NTFS volumes won’t be corrupted during write operations. There are several problems with using MacOS' iffy NTFS support as a case against open source software. The first is that NTFS support doesn't seem to be a real priority for Apple in the first place. MacOS Classic had no NTFS support at all. The NTFS support present after Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther" was, effectively, a freebie—it was already there in the FreeBSD-derived VFS (Virtual File System) and network stack. Another problem with this comparison is that NTFS is a full-featured, fully modern filesystem with no missing parts. By contrast, exFAT—the filesystem whose Linux kernel implementation Paragon is throwing FUD at—is an extremely bare-bones, lightweight filesystem designed for use in embedded devices. The final nail in this particular coffin is that the open source NTFS implementation used by MacOS isn't Microsoft-sanctioned. It's a clean-room reverse-engineered workaround of a proprietary filesystem. Worse, it's an implementation made at a time when Microsoft actively wanted to close the open source community out—and it's not even the modern version. As Paragon notes, NTFS-3G is the modern open source implementation of NTFS. NTFS-3G, which is dual-licensed proprietary/GPL, does not suffer from potential write-corruption issues—and it's available on MacOS, as well as on Linux. Mac users who don't need the highest performance can install a FUSE implementation of NTFS-3G for free using Homebrew, while those desiring native or near-native performance can purchase a lifetime license directly from Tuxera. Each $15 license includes perpetual free upgrades and installation on up to three personal computers. It's probably worth noting that Paragon—in addition to selling a proprietary implementation of exFAT—sells a proprietary implementation of NTFS for the Mac. Case three: SMB An additional example, away from filesystems, is an open source SMB protocol implementation. Mac OS, as well as the majority of printer manufacturers, do not rely on an open-source solution, as there are several commercial implementations of SMB as soon as a commercial level of support is required. It's unclear why Paragon believed this to be a good argument against open source implementations of a file system. SMB (Server Message Block) isn't a filesystem at all; it's a network communication protocol introduced with Microsoft Windows. It's certainly true that many proprietary implementations of SMB exist—including one in direct partnership with Microsoft, made by Paragon rival and NTFS-3G vendor Tuxera. But this is another very odd flex to try to make against open source filesystem implementations. Leaving aside the question of what SMB has to do with exFAT, we should note the extensive commercial use of Samba, the original gangster of open source SMB networking. In particular, Synology uses Samba for its NAS (Network Attached Storage) servers, as do Netgear and QNAP. Samba.org itself also lists high-profile commercial vendors including but not limited to American Megatrends, Hewlett-Packard, Veritas, and VMWare. Open source is here to stay We congratulate Paragon on closing their timely exFAT deal with Sagemcom. Although there's good reason to believe that the Samsung-derived and Microsoft-approved exFAT implementation in Linux 5.7 will be secure, stable, and highly performant, it's not here yet—and it isn't even in the next upcoming Linux kernel, 5.6, which we expect to hit general availability in late April or early May. In the meantime, a company with a business need to finalize design decisions—like Sagemcom—probably is making the right decision to use a proprietary exFAT implementation, with commercial support. The license costs are probably a small percentage of what the company stands to earn in gross router sales, and Paragon's implementation is a known value. However, we suspect the exFAT landscape will tilt significantly once Samsung's Microsoft-blessed version hits the mainstream Linux kernel. Hopefully, Paragon will evolve a more modern open source strategy now, while it still has time. Source: The exFAT filesystem is coming to Linux—Paragon software’s not happy about it (Ars Technica)
  25. Microsoft releases Process Monitor tool Procmon for Linux Microsoft revealed some time ago that it had plans to port some of the tools provided by Sysinternals to Linux. One of the tools mentioned was Process Monitor, or short ProcMon, and a preview of the application is now available for Linux. Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that displays real-time data such as Registry, process and thread activity. It is a powerful tool that supports logging the information to files for later analysis. The program is highly configurable, supports non-destructive filters, the capturing of thread stacks, process details capturing, and boot time logging of operations. The Linux version of Procmon is now available on GitHub. The open source tool has been released as a preview. Since it is released as a preview, it is limited to systems running Ubuntu 18.04 with kernel 4.18 up to 5.3 at the time of writing. Several users tried to build or install the process monitor tool on Ubuntu 20.04 systems and failed. Microsoft plans to add more configurations to the system requirements in the future to take these systems into account. Installation instructions on Ubuntu 18.04 devices are straightforward. Run the following commands: wget -q https://packages.microsoft.com/config/ubuntu/$(lsb_release -rs)/packages-microsoft-prod.deb -O packages-microsoft-prod.deb sudo dpkg -i packages-microsoft-prod.deb sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install procmon Build instructions are provided as well on the project's GitHub website, and Linux users may download a .deb file from the releases section on the project's GitHub page. You may run procmon -h after installation to display the help screen. Here are a few example commands that you may run: sudo procmon // runs the process monitor tool to trace all processes and syscalls. sudo procmon -p 1337 -c procmon.db // traces the process 1337 in headless mode and saves the data to the file procmon.db sudo procmon -p 1337 -e read,write,openat // traces syscalls read, write, and opennat of process 1337 sudo procmon -f procmon.db // opens the trace file procmon.db within the interface. Closing Words Procmon is a powerful system monitoring tool for advanced uses. The Linux version comes without the help file that the Windows version of Procmon includes. Since it is offered as a preview, it is possible that a help file will be provided once the program is offered as a stable release. Microsoft releases Process Monitor tool Procmon for Linux
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