The LWN.net Weekly Edition for October 22, 2020 is available.
Matrix blog entry describes a planned reputation-management system
that, it is claimed, accomplishes some of the same goals as government
backdoors without the need to compromise end-to-end encryption.
“Just like the Web, Email or the Internet as a whole, there is
literally no way to unilaterally censor or block content in Matrix. But
what we can do is provide first-class infrastructure to let users (and
room/community moderators and server admins) make up their own mind about
who to trust, and what content to allow. This would also provide a means
for authorities to publish reputation data about illegal content, providing
a privacy-respecting mechanism that admins/mods/users can use to keep
illegal content away from their servers/clients.”
Version 2.29.0 of the Git source-code management system is out. This
release includes a long list of smallish improvements; click below for the
details. Also present is the code enabling Git to switch to the SHA-256 hash algorithm; this
feature is still deemed experimental, though, and interoperability with
SHA-1 repositories is not yet available.
Applications that run on the Linux desktop have changed significantly
under the hood in recent years; for example, they use more processes than
before. Desktop environments need to adapt to this change. During Akademy 2020, KDE developers David
Edmundson and Henri Chain delivered a talk (YouTube
video) about how KDE, working with other desktop environments, is
starting to use advanced kernel features to give users more control over
their systems. This talk complements a presentation by GNOME developers that
was recently covered here.
As of this writing, 7,153 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the
mainline Git repository for the 5.10 release — over a period of four days.
This development cycle is clearly off to a strong start. Read on for an
overview of the significant changes merged thus far for the 5.10 kernel
The 2021 edition of linux.conf.au will be held online on
January 23-25, 2021; the call for proposals has gone out with a
relatively tight deadline of November 6. “Our theme is ‘So what's next?’.
We all know we're living through unprecedented change and uncertain
times. How can open source play a role in creating, helping and adapting
to this ongoing change? What new developments in software and coding can
we look forward to in 2021 and beyond?”
Since there is no travel involved, this is a rare opportunity for those who
have not normally been able to participate in LCA.
One of the first features merged for the 5.10 kernel development cycle was
support for the
Arm v8.5 memory tagging extension [PDF]. By adding a “key” value to
pointers, this mechanism enables the automated detection of a wide range of
memory-safety issues. The result should be safer and more secure code —
once support for the feature shows up in actual hardware.
of the Krita painting application has been released. “With a whole
slew of new fill layer types, including the really versatile SeExpr based
scriptable fill layer type, exciting new options for Krita’s brushes like
the gradient map mode for brushes, lightness and gradient modes for brush
textures, support for dynamic use of colors in gradients, webm export for
animations, new scripting features — and of course, hundreds of bug fixes
that make this version of Krita better than ever.”
See the release
notes for details.
The 5.9 kernel was
released on October 11, at the end of a ten-week development cycle —
the first release to take more than nine weeks since 5.4 at the end of 2019.
While this cycle was not as busy as 5.8, which
broke some records, it was still one of the busier ones we have seen
in some time, featuring 14,858 non-merge changesets contributed by 1,914
developers. Read on for our traditional look at what those developers were
up to while creating the 5.9 release.
On the 20th anniversary of the open-sourcing of the OpenOffice.org suite,
the LibreOffice has sent an
open letter to the Apache OpenOffice project suggesting that it is time
for the latter to recognize that the game is over. “If Apache
OpenOffice wants to still maintain its old 4.1 branch from 2014, sure,
that’s important for legacy users. But the most responsible thing to do in
2020 is: help new users. Make them aware that there’s a much more modern,
up-to-date, professionally supported suite, based on OpenOffice, with many
extra features that people need.”
Plausible, a web-analytics package that
was reviewed here in June, has announced a move
from the MIT license to the Affero GPL, version 3. “This change
makes no difference to any of you who subscribe to Plausible Cloud or who
self-host Plausible, but it may upset a few corporations who tried to use
our software to directly compete with us without contributing back.”
The Open Invention
Network, which offers patent protection for a wide range of open-source
software, has expanded its Linux System
Definition — the set of software covered by the OIN patent
non-aggression agreement. In particular, the new definition includes the
exFAT filesystem (once the subject of a lot of patent worries), the KDE Frameworks, the Robot Operating System, and version 10
of the Android Open Source Project.
Version 5.20 of
the Plasma KDE desktop is out. “A massive release, containing improvements to dozens of components,
widgets, and the desktop behavior in general.
Everyday utilities and tools, such as the Panels, Task Manager,
Notifications and System Settings, have all been overhauled to make them
more usable, efficient, and friendlier.” There are also significant
improvements in Plasma’s Wayland support.
David Miller is the long-time maintainer of the kernel’s networking
subsystem. On October 10, he wrote this to his
Twitter feed: “I had a stroke on Tuesday and have been recovering
since please pray for me“. We at LWN wish David a fast and complete
recovery. (Thanks to Harald Welte for the heads-up).
Linus has released the 5.9 kernel.
“Ok, so I’ll be honest – I had hoped for quite a bit fewer changes
this last week, but at the same time there doesn’t really seem to be
anything particularly scary in here. It’s just more commits and more lines
changed than I would have wished for.”
Some of the significant features in this release are:
x86 FSGSBASE support,
capacity awareness in the deadline
the close_range() system call,
proactive compaction in the
the rationalization of kernel-thread
priorities, and more.
See the KernelNewbies 5.9
page for more details.
Systems that manage large amounts of network traffic end up dedicating a
significant part of their available CPU time to the network stack itself.
Much of this work is done in software-interrupt context, which can be
problematic in a number of ways. That may be about to change, though,
patch series posted by Wei Wang is merged into the mainline.
One of the key rules of Linux kernel development is that the ABI between
the kernel and user space cannot be broken; any change that breaks
previously working programs will, outside of exceptional circumstances, be
reverted. The rule seems clear, but there are ambiguities when it comes to
determining just what constitutes the kernel ABI; tracepoints are a perennial example of this. A recent
brought another one of those ambiguities to light: the on-disk format of Linux