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LWN.Net Celebrates Its 20th Birthday

20 hours 31 minutes ago
Free software/Linux news site LWN.net just celebrated its 20th birthday, with publisher Jonathan Corbet calling the last two decades "an amazing journey." LWN published the first edition of their weekly newsletter on January 22, 1998, and Corbet (who also contributes to the Linux kernel) writes today that "It has been quite a ride. We in the free-software community set out to change the world, and we succeeded beyond our wildest expectations." Here's how he described their second edition the next week... We were arguably helped by the lead news in that edition: Netscape's decision to open-source its "Communicator" web browser. That quickly brought the world's attention to open-source software, though that term would not be invented for a few months yet, and to Linux in particular. LWN was a shadow of what it is now, but it was evidently good enough to ride on that wave and establish itself as a part of the Linux community. Corbet reviews the highlights. ("Companies discovered our little hobbyist system and invested billions into it, massively accelerating development at all levels of the system...") But he also adds that "Through all of this, we also got to learn some lessons about successfully running a community information source on the net." For the last 16 years the site has supported itself with $7.00-a-month subscriptions, offering early access to their Weekly Edition plus subscriber-only mailing lists, "allowing our content to quickly become part of the community record." Plus, through events around the world, "we have met -- and become friends with -- many of our readers and many people in the community as a whole. This community is an amazing group of people; it has been a honor and a joy to be a part of it..." "The free-software community's work is not done, and neither is ours. "

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EditorDavid

Kano Computer Kit Complete review: A fun DIY 'laptop' that teaches kids to build PCs and code

20 hours 35 minutes ago

Make your own laptop. Learn to code. Hack Minecraft. The tantalizing promise of Kano’s Computer Kit Complete ($250 at Target and Kano’s website) is made clear right on the front of its brightly colored packaging. This charming kit for kids contains everything you need to build a Raspberry Pi 3-powered PC, explaining the basic concepts behind every step of building a computer, then seals the deal with a friendly operating system designed from the ground up to teach children the thought processes crucial to coding. And every step is fun!

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Brad Chacos

Apple may be close to launching its HomePod speaker

22 hours 45 minutes ago
Apple's HomePod has been sitting in limbo for the better part of a year, but a few new clues suggest that it's on the cusp of launching -- and hint at what it can do. To begin with, the HomePod recently received FCC approval. The filing itself does...

Linus Torvalds Calls Intel Patches 'Complete and Utter Garbage'

1 day ago
An anonymous reader writes: On the Linux Kernel Mailing List, Linus Torvalds ended up responding to a long-time kernel developer (and former Intel engineer) who'd been describing a new microcode feature addressing Indirect Branch Restricted Speculation "where a future CPU will advertise 'I am able to be not broken' and then you have to set the IBRS bit once at boot time to *ask* it not to be broken." Linus calls it "very much part of the whole 'this is complete garbage' issue. The whole IBRS_ALL feature to me very clearly says 'Intel is not serious about this, we'll have a ugly hack that will be so expensive that we don't want to enable it by default, because that would look bad in benchmarks'. So instead they try to push the garbage down to us. And they are doing it entirely wrong, even from a technical standpoint. I'm sure there is some lawyer there who says 'we'll have to go through motions to protect against a lawsuit'. But legal reasons do not make for good technology, or good patches that I should apply." Later Linus says forcefully that these "complete and utter garbage" patches are being pushed by someone "for unclear reasons" -- and adds another criticism. The whole point of having cpuid and flags from the microarchitecture is that we can use those to make decisions. But since we already know that the IBRS overhead is huge on existing hardware, all those hardware capability bits are just complete and utter garbage. Nobody sane will use them, since the cost is too damn high. So you end up having to look at "which CPU stepping is this" anyway. I think we need something better than this garbage.

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EditorDavid

Sphero cuts jobs and refocuses on education

1 day 1 hour ago
Sphero was supposed to have a banner holiday with a slew of toys themed around Star Wars, Cars 3 and Spider-Man on top of its own self-branded creations. However, things turned out very differently. The company has confirmed to TechCrunch that it rec...