1. 18

    Linux didn’t lose its way. It always suffered from NIH syndrome.

    • epoll — reinvented kqueue 2 years after kqueue, in a broken way (some fixes only appeared in 4.x!)
    • ALSA — introduced a new complicated API instead of reimplementing and improving OSS
    • cgroups+namespaces — took them years to implement jails/zones (in a more flexible but more error-prone way). And the UID namespacing is weird.
    1. 7

      Right, but this does seem to compound over time, and thus gets worse.

      Also, NIH is more prevalent in certain Linux developers/communities than others. systemd adoption/rejection I think is at least somewhat representative of this issue (since one of the issues of systemd is that it is not very portable, requiring glibc [rather like proprietary software….], and integration of, for instance, GNOME with certain subcomponents of systemd creates a dependency of GNOME on systemd – which is currently able to be worked around, creating issues both for any portable to BSDs and also issues for non-systemd Linux distros and for non-glibc distros [Alpine, some Void]).

      1. 4

        dependency of GNOME on systemd

        Yeah, this is really really weird. systemd publishes D-Bus interfaces. It’s just D-Bus, you should be able to use libdbus. But for some reason they created libsystemd which contains a new D-Bus client (and some other little things). And it’s installed as a part of systemd.

        1.  

          So far there are workarounds for these sorts of things. But I worry that these will get harder and harder and that clear systemd/Linux will coalesce. I prefer as much interoperability and interchangeability between components.

    1. 5

      I spoke to the FreeBSD folks at fosdem about laptop compatibility as I’d also had issues. The advice they gave was that h/w support is best in -CURRENT so laptop users should treat that as a rolling release. I have yet to try that out.

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        Are there binary releases of -CURRENT, or is the advice to “rolling recompile” the kernel & base system daily/weekly? 😒

        1. 2

          the advice is to compile from source, but rather than doing it regularly to track the -current mailing list and see what folks are talking about.

          1. 2

            You have to recompile if you want evdev support in most input device drivers (options EVDEV_SUPPORT in config is still not on by default >_<).

            1.  

              I run TrueOS which tracks current + the DRM changes. I’m on UNSTABLE, but with Boot Environments it’s not a problem (the last UNSTABLE release actually broke quite a bit for me so I just rolled back, without issue). I suggest it if you want to track the latest stuff but don’t care to do it yourself. cc @oz @leeg

              1.  

                That’s interesting, I’ll have a look. Thanks!

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            Why do people want to have a desktop under an LCD monitor? It would waste a lot of desk space if it’s literally the exact old school form factor. You could match it to the size of a modern monitor stand, but that would look pretty weird? and won’t be big enough for a high performance system.

            ATX towers are the best :P

            1. 1

              Just got a 2017 iMac, which replaced my previous Thinkpad, thus ending my 20 year stint with all sorts of second-hand Linux machines. I’m liking this machine a lot, and based on this experience, The Desktop Computer is doing just fine.

              1. 5

                The article is about “desktop” as in the form factor of the original IBM PC as opposed to iMacs and towers.

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                make phone calls, view weather data

                These two examples are not very good. You generally do want to use an API for these.

                Weather data is data. You’re not going to set up your own weather stations across the world :D

                Phone calls/SMS is an interaction with a complex external system. Back in the day at work we had a GSM modem attached via some thing to a computer to send internal alerts. It was… not the most reliable thing :) And I have no idea how you would do that at scale — business agreement with a phone carrier? who… would… give you… an API?

                1. 3

                  Definitely a good point!

                  Just for the sake of argument, wouldn’t it be interesting to set up weather stations around the world — or be part of a company that does?

                  As for phone calls, I was initially thinking of Twilio, one of the classic hackathon APIs in my experience. Definitely not saying that they aren’t super useful if that’s what you want to do, just that people might get more out of focusing on building a telephone system prototype rather than hooking together API calls.

                  I think in general I’m approaching this from a personal growth sort of viewpoint, if you’re trying to make the coolest product by all means use APIs!

                  1. 2

                    Just for the sake of argument, wouldn’t it be interesting to set up weather stations around the world — or be part of a company that does?

                    Interesting in terms of finding problems to solve, sure. Not so interesting in terms of finding new problems to solve, in that weather stations already exist, systems which aggregate the data they collect already exist, and, in general, all of this work has been done.

                    As for phone calls, I was initially thinking of Twilio, one of the classic hackathon APIs in my experience. Definitely not saying that they aren’t super useful if that’s what you want to do, just that people might get more out of focusing on building a telephone system prototype rather than hooking together API calls.

                    You should be careful about disambiguating between interoperating with other systems to use resources which are by definition external (such as the public phone system) and interoperating with other systems to do work you could just as easily do internally. I agree that relying on external systems to run a PBX, which is by definition internal, is bad, but there’s literally no way to place an external call without… placing an external call, which necessarily involves an API you use to talk to some phone company.

                  1. 6

                    As someone who doesn’t use Macs anymore, I’m happy to see more cross-platform apps and less Mac-native ones :P

                    But seriously: why are these people saying that just because there was a flaw in the sandbox, the sandbox should be abandoned completely and all desktops should go back to what’s basically the X11 “security” “model”?!

                    the Mac needs the power for apps to shoot the user in the foot

                    You can do everything that could shoot the user in the foot without actually shooting them in the foot. It’s not hard to provide access-controlled APIs for all the things. And the Mac is already good at this. They’ve had the Accessibility API for years – manipulating windows and stuff requires the user to grant permission. XPC (if I remember the name correctly) for opening files and stuff is a great idea.

                    The unix world is finally catching up, with freedesktop D-Bus Portals (currently used by Flatpak). And D-Bus can also used… you guessed it – to request screenshots. The window system can display its own UI that makes it clear to the user that a screenshot is being taken.

                    1. 3

                      I agree. I found this post hard to follow. I don’t know the details of the Mac sandbox technology, but it’s quite a jump from needing to be able to do interesting, complicated things and abandoning a proper security model altogether. I think Android (or at least OnePlus’ OxygenOS version) actually has a good example of this: apps are isolated and sandboxed (I think), but things like the global sharing menu make interaction between apps very easy and seamless. Of course, there are some apps (like Facebook) that don’t use the system menus, but there are going to be some bad actors on any platform.

                      1. 1

                        I think the core point the author is making is not that sandboxes should be dropped because of this security issue, but because the overlap of “things the sandbox allows apps to do” and “things I want my apps to do” is really small, probably too small to cover many features people want to use.

                      1. 4

                        As usual, David apparently fails or refuses to understand how and why PoW is useful and must attack it at every opportunity (using his favorite rhetorical technique of linking negatively connoted phrases to vaguely relevant websites).

                        That said, the article reminds me of a fun story - I went to a talk from a blockchain lead at <big bank> a while back and she related that a primary component of her job was assuring executives that, in fact, they did not need a blockchain for <random task>. This had become such a regular occurrence that she had attached this image to her desk.

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                          What would you consider a useful situation for PoW? In the sense that no other alternative could make up for the advantages in some real life use-case?

                          But otherwise, and maybe it’s just me, since I agree wuth his premise, but I see @David_Gerard as taking the opposite role of popular blockchain (over-)advocates, who claim that the technology is the holy grail for far too many problems. Even if one doesn’t agree with his conclusions, I enjoy reading his articles, and find them very informative, since he doesn’t just oppose blockchains from a opinion-based position, but he also seems to have the credentials to do so.

                          1. 1

                            Relying to @gerikson as well. I personally believe that decentralization and cryptographically anchored trust are extremely important (what David dismissively refers to as “conspiracy theory economics”). We know of two ways to achieve this: proof of work, and proof of stake. Proof of stake is interesting but has some issues and trade-offs. If you don’t believe that PoW mining is some sort of anti-environmental evil (I don’t) it seems to generally offer better properties than PoS (like superior surprise-fork resistance).

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                              I personally believe that decentralization and cryptographically anchored trust are extremely important

                              I personally also prefer decentralised or federalised systems, when they have a practical advantage over a centralized alternative. But I don’t see this to be the case with most application of the blockchain. Bitcoin, as a prime example, to my knowledge is too slow, too inconvenient, too unstable and too resource hungry to have a practical application, as a real substitute for money, either digital or virtual. One doesn’t have the time to wait 20m or more whenever one pays for lunch or buys some chewing gum at a corner shop, just because some other transactions got picked up first by a miner. It’s obviously different when you want to do something like micro-donations or buying illegal stuff, but I just claim that this isn’t the basis of a modern economy.

                              Cryptography is a substitute for authority, that is true, but I don’t belive that this is always wanted. Payments can’t be easily reveresed, addresses mean nothing, clients might loose support because the core developers arbitrarily change stuff. (I for example am stuck with 0.49mBTC from an old Electrum client, and I can’t do anything with it, since the whole system is a mess, but that’s rather unrelated.) This isn’t really the dynamic basis which capitalism has managed to survive on for this long. But even disregarding all of this, it simply is true that bitcoin isn’t a proper decentralized network like BitTorrent. Since the role of the wallet and the miner is (understandably) split, these two parts of the network don’t scale equally. In China gigantic mining farms are set up using specialized hardware to mine, mine, mine. I remember reading that there was one farm that predominated over at least 10% of the total mining power. All of this seems to run contrary to the proclaimed ideals. Proof of Work, well “works” in the most abstract sense, that it produces the intended results on one side, at the cost of disregarding everything can be disregarded, irrespective of whether it should be or not. And ultimately I prioritise other things over an anti-authority fetish, as do most people -which reminds us that even if everything I said is false that Bitcoin just doesn’t have the adoption to be significant enough to anyone but Crypto-Hobbiests, Looney Libertarians and some soon-to-fail startups in Silicon Valley.

                              1. 5

                                there was one farm that predominated over at least 10% of the total mining power

                                There was one pool that was at 42% of the total mining power! such decentralization very security

                                  1. 5

                                    To be fair, that was one pool consisting of multiple miners. What I was talking about was a single miner controlling 10% of the total hashing power.

                                    1. 7

                                      That’s definitely true.

                                      On the other hand, if you look at incident reports like https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0050.mediawiki — the pool policies set by the operators (often a single person has this power for a given pool) directly and significantly affect the consensus.

                                      Ghash.io itself did have incentives to avoid giving reasons for accusations that would tank Bitcoin, but being close to 50% makes a pool a very attractive attack target: take over their transaction and parent-block choice, and you take over the entire network.

                                  2. 0

                                    But I don’t see this to be the case with most application of the blockchain.

                                    Then I would advise researching it.

                                    One doesn’t have the time to wait 20m or more whenever one pays for lunch or buys some chewing gum at a corner shop

                                    Not trying to be rude, but it’s clear whenever anyone makes this argument that they don’t know at all how our existing financial infrastructure works. In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                                    Low-risk merchants (digital goods, face-to-face sales, etc.) rarely require the average 10 minute (not sure where you got 20 from) wait for a confirmation.

                                    If you do want permanence, Bitcoin is infinitely superior to any popular payment mechanism. Look into the payment limits set by high-value fungible goods dealers (like gold warehouses) for bitcoin vs. credit card or check.

                                    Bitcoin just doesn’t have the adoption to be significant enough to anyone but Crypto-Hobbiests, Looney Libertarians and some soon-to-fail startups in Silicon Valley.

                                    Very interesting theory - do you think these strawmen you’ve put up have collective hundreds of billions of dollars? As an effort barometer, are you familiar with the CBOE?

                                    1. 10

                                      Please try to keep a civil tone here.

                                      Also, it’s hard to buy a cup of coffee or a steam game or a pizza with bitcoin. Ditto stocks.

                                      1. -4

                                        It’s hard to be nice when the quality of discourse on this topic is, for some reason, abysimally low compared to most technical topics on this site. It feels like people aren’t putting in any effort at all.

                                        For example, why did you respond with this list of complete non-sequiturs? It has nothing to do with what we’ve been discussing in this thread except insofar as it involves bitcoin. I feel like your comments are normally high-effort, so what’s going on? Does this topic sap people’s will to think carefully?

                                        (Civility is also reciprocal, and I’ve seen a lot of childish name-calling from the people I’m arguing with in this thread, including the linked article and the GP.)

                                        Beyond the fact that this list is not really relevant, it’s also not true; you could have just searched “bitcoin <any of those things>” and seen that you can buy any of those things pretty easily, perhaps with a layer of indirection (just as you need a layer of indirection to buy things in the US if you already have EUR). In that list you gave, perhaps the most interesting example in bitcoin’s disfavor is Steam; Steam stopped accepting bitcoin directly recently, presumably due to low interest. However, it’s still easy to buy games from other sources (like Humble) with BTC.

                                        1. 6

                                          IMO, your comments are not very inspiring for quality. As someone who does not follow Bitcoin or the Blockchain all that much, I have not felt like any of your comments addressed anyone else’s comments. Instead, I have perceived you as coming off as defensive and with the attitude of “if you don’t get it you haven’t done enough research because I’m right” rather than trying to extol the virtues of the blockchain. Maybe you aren’t interested in correcting any of what you perceive as misinformation on here, and if so that’s even worse.

                                          For example, I do not know of any place I can buy pizza with bitcoin. But you say it is possible, but perhaps with a layer of indirection. I have no idea what this layer of indirection is and you have left it vague, which does not lend me to trusting your response.

                                          In one comment you are very dismissive of people’s Bitcoins getting hacked, but as a lay person, I see news stories on this all the time with substantial losses and no FDIC, so someone like me considers this a major issue but you gloss over it.

                                          Many of the comments I’ve read by you on this thread are a similar level of unhelpful, all the while claiming the person you’re responding to is some combination of lazy or acting dumb. Maybe that is the truth but, again, as an outsider, all I see is the person defending the idea coming off as kind of a jerk. Maybe for someone more educated on the matter you are spot on.

                                          1. 5

                                            There is a religious quality to belief in the blockchain, particularly Bitcoin. It needs to be perfect in order to meet expectations for it: it can’t be “just” a distributed database, it has to be better than that. Bitcoin can’t be “just” a payment system, it has to be “the future of currency.” Check out David’s book if you’re interested in more detail.

                                      2. 8

                                        In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                                        But I don’t have to wait months for both parties to be content the transaction is successful, only seconds, so this is really irrelevant to the point you are responding to, which is that if a Bitcoin transaction takes 10m to process then I heave to wait 10m for my transaction to be done, which people might not want to do.

                                        1. -1

                                          Again, as I said directly below the text you quoted, most merchants don’t require you to wait 10 minutes - only seconds.

                                        2. 5

                                          Then I would advise researching it.

                                          It is exactly because I looked into the inner workings of Bitcoin and the Blockchain - as a proponent I have to mention - that I became more and more skeptical about it. And I still do support various decentralized and federated systems: BitTorrent, IPFS, (proper) HTTP, Email, … but just because the structure offers the possibility for a decentralized network, doesn’t have to mean that this potential is realized or that it is necessarily superior.

                                          Not trying to be rude, but it’s clear whenever anyone makes this argument that they don’t know at all how our existing financial infrastructure works. In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                                          The crucial difference being that, let’s say the cashier nearly instantaneously hears a some beep and knows that it isn’t his responsibility, nor that of the shop, to make sure that the money is transfered. The Bank, the credit card company or whoever has signed a binding contract lining this technical part of the process out to be what they have to care about, and if they don’t, they can be sued since there is an absolute regulatory instance - the state - in the background. This mutual delegation of trust, gives everyone a sense of security (regardless of how true or false it is) that makes people spend money instead of hording it, investing into projects instead of trading it for more secure assets. Add Bitcoins aforementioned volatileness, and no reasonable person would want to use it as their primary financial medium.

                                          If you do want permanence, Bitcoin is infinitely superior to any popular payment mechanism.

                                          I wouldn’t conciser 3.3 to 7 transactions per second infinitely superior to, for example Visa with an average of 1,700 t/s. Even it you think about it, there are far more that just 7 purchases being made a second around the whole world for this to be realistically feasible. But on the other side, as @friendlysock Bitcoin makes up for it by not having too many things you can actually buy with it: The region I live in has approximately a million or something inhabitants, but according to CoinMap even by the most generous measures, only 5 shops (withing a 30km radius) accepting it as a payment method. And most of those just offer it to promote themselves anyway.

                                          Very interesting theory - do you think these strawmen you’ve put up have collective hundreds of billions of dollars? As an effort barometer, are you familiar with the CBOE?

                                          (I prefer to think about my phrasing as a exaggeration and a handful of other literary deviced, instead of a fallacy, but never mind that) I’ll give you this: It has been a while since I’ve properly engaged with Bitcoin, and I was always more interested in the technological than the economical side, since I have a bit of an aversion towards libertarian politics. And it might be true that money is invested, but that still doesn’t change anything about all the other issues. It remains a bubble, a volatile, unstable, unpredictable bubble, and as it is typical for bubbles, people invest disproportional sums into it - which in the end makes it a bubble.

                                          1. 0

                                            The crucial difference being that, let’s say the cashier nearly instantaneously hears a some beep and knows that it isn’t his responsibility, nor that of the shop, to make sure that the money is transfered.

                                            Not quite. The shop doesn’t actually have the money. The customer can revoke that payment at any time in the next 90 or 180 days, depending. Credit card fraud (including fraudulent chargebacks) is a huge problem for businesses, especially online businesses. There are lots of good technical articles online about combatting this with machine learning which should give you an idea of the scope of the problem.

                                            makes people spend money instead of hording it,

                                            Basically any argument of this form (including arguments for inflation) don’t really make sense with the existence of arbitrage.

                                            Add Bitcoins aforementioned volatileness, and no reasonable person would want to use it as their primary financial medium.

                                            So it sounds like it would make people… spend money instead of hoarding it, which you were just arguing for?

                                            I wouldn’t conciser 3.3 to 7 transactions per second infinitely superior to, for example Visa with an average of 1,700 t/s.

                                            https://lightning.network

                                            as @friendlysock Bitcoin makes up for it by not having too many things you can actually buy with it

                                            This is just patently wrong. The number of web stores that take Bitcoin directly is substantial (both in number and traffic volume), and even the number of physical stores (at least in the US) is impressive given that it’s going up against a national currency. How many stores in the US take even EUR directly?

                                            Anything you can’t buy directly you can buy with some small indirection, like a BTC-USD forex card.

                                            It remains a bubble, a volatile, unstable, unpredictable bubble

                                            It’s certainly volatile, and it’s certainly unstable, but it may or may not be a bubble depending on your model for what Bitcoin’s role in global finance is going to become.

                                            1. 5

                                              Not quite. The shop doesn’t actually have the money. The customer can revoke that payment at any time in the next 90 or 180 days, depending

                                              You’ve still missed my point - it isn’t important if the money has been actually transfered, but that there is trust that a framework behind all of this will guarantee that the money will be there when it has to be, as well as a protocol specifying what has to be done if the payment is to be revoked, if a purchase wishes to be undone, etc.

                                              Credit card fraud (including fraudulent chargebacks) is a huge problem for businesses, especially online businesses.

                                              Part of the reason, I would suspect is that the Internet was never made to be a platform for online businesses - but I’m not going to deny the problem, I’m certainly not a defender of banks and credit card companies - just an opponent of Bitcoin.

                                              Basically any argument of this form (including arguments for inflation) don’t really make sense with the existence of arbitrage.

                                              Could you elaborate? You have missed my point a few times already, so I’d rather we understand each other instead of having two monologues.

                                              So it sounds like it would make people… spend money instead of hoarding it, which you were just arguing for?

                                              No, if it’s volatile people either won’t buy into it in the first place. And if a currency is unstable, like Bitcoin inflating and deflating all the time, people don’t even know what do do with it, if it were their main asset (which I was I understand you are promoting, but nobody does). I doubt it will ever happen, since if prices were insecure, the whole economy would suffer, because all the “usual” incentives would be distorted.

                                              https://lightning.network

                                              I haven’t heard of this until you mentioned it, but it seems like it’s quite new, so time has to test this yet-another-bitcoin-related project that has popped up. Even disregarding that it will again need to first to make a name of it self, then be accepted, then adopted, etc. from what I gather, it’s not the ultimate solution (but, I might be wrong), especially since it seems to encourage centralization, which I believe is what you are so afraid of.

                                              This is just patently wrong. The number of web stores that take Bitcoin directly is substantial (both in number and traffic volume),

                                              Sure, there might be a great quantity of shops (as I mentioned, who use Bitcoin as a medium to promote themselves), but I, and from what I know most people, don’t really care about these small, frankly often dodgy online shops. Can I use it to pay directly on Amazon? Ebay? Sure, you can convert it back and forth, but all that means it that Bitcoin and other crypto currencies are just an extra step for life stylists and hipster, with no added benefit. And these shops don’t even accept Bitcoin directly, to my knowledge always just so they can convert it into their national currency - i.e. the one they actually use and Bitcoins value is always compared to. What is even Bitcoin without the USD, the currency it hates but can’t stop comparing itself to?

                                              and even the number of physical stores (at least in the US) is impressive given that it’s going up against a national currency.

                                              The same problems apply as I’ve already mentioned, but I wonder: have you actually ever used Bitcoin to pay in a shop? I’ve done it once and it was a hassle - in the end I just bought it with regular money like a normal person because it was frankly too embarrassing to have the cashier have to find the right QR code, me to take out my phone, wait for me got get an internet connection, try and scan the code, wait, wait, wait…. And that is of course only if you want to make the trip to buy for the sake of spending money, and decide to make a trip to some place you’d usually never go to buy something you don’t even need.

                                              Ok when you’re buying drugs online or doing something with microdonations, but otherwise… meh.

                                              How many stores in the US take even EUR directly?

                                              Why should they? And even if they do, they convert it back to US dollars, because that’s the common currency - there isn’t really a point in a currency (one could even question if it is one), when nobody you economically interact with uses it.

                                              Anything you can’t buy directly you can buy with some small indirection, like a BTC-USD forex card.

                                              So a round-about payment over a centralized instance - this is the future? Seriously, this dishonesty of Bitcoin advocates (and Libertarians in general) is why you guys are so unpopular. I am deeply disgusted that I have ever advocated for this mess.

                                              It’s certainly volatile, and it’s certainly unstable, but it may or may not be a bubble depending on your model for what Bitcoin’s role in global finance is going to become.

                                              So you admit that is has none of the necessary preconditions to be a currency… but for some reason it will… do what exactly? If you respond to anything I mentioned here, at least tell me this: What is your “model” for what Bitcoin’s role is going to be?

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                                        Why don’t you believe it is anti-enviromental? It certainly seems to be pretty power hungry. In fact it’s hunger for power is part of why it’s effective. All of the same arguments about using less power should apply.

                                        1. -1

                                          Trying to reduce energy consumption is counterproductive. Energy abundance is one of the primary driving forces of civilizational advancement. Much better is to generate more, cleaner energy. Expending a few terrawatts on substantially improved economic infrastructure is a perfectly reasonable trade-off.

                                          Blaming bitcoin for consuming energy is like blaming almond farmers for using water. If their use of a resource is a problem, you should either get more of it or fix your economic system so externalities are priced in. Rationing is not an effective solution.

                                          1. 10

                                            on substantially improved economic infrastructure

                                            This claim definitely needs substantiation, given that in practice bitcoin does everything worse than the alternatives.

                                            1. -1

                                              bitcoin does everything worse than the alternatives.

                                              Come on David, we’ve been over this before and discovered that you just have a crazy definition of “better” explicitly selected to rule out cryptocurrencies.

                                              Here’s a way Bitcoin is better than any of its traditional digital alternatives; bitcoin transactions can’t be busted. As you’ve stated before, you think going back on transactions at the whim of network operators is a good thing, and as I stated before I think that’s silly. This is getting tiring.

                                              A few more, for which you no doubt have some other excuse for why this is actually a bad thing; Bitcoin can’t be taken without the user’s permission (let me guess; “but people get hacked sometimes”, right?). Bitcoin doesn’t impose an inflationary loss on its users (“but what will the fed do?!”). Bitcoin isn’t vulnerable to economic censorship (don’t know if we’ve argued about this one; I’m guessing you’re going to claim that capital controls are critical for national security or something.). The list goes on, but I’m pretty sure we’ve gone over most of it before.

                                              I’ll admit that bitcoin isn’t a panacea, but “it does everything worse” is clearly a silly nonsensical claim.

                                            2. 4

                                              Reducing total energy consumption may or may not be counterproductive. But almost every industry I can name has a vested interest in being more power efficient for it’s particular usage of energy. The purpose of a car isn’t to burn gasoline it is to get people places. If it can do that with less gasoline people are generally happier with it.

                                              PoW however tries to maximizes power consumption, via second order effects , with the goal of making it expensive to try to subvert the chain. It’s clever because it leverages economics to keep it in everyone’s best interest to not fork but it’s not the same as something like a car where reducing energy consumption is part of the value add.

                                              I think that this makes PoW significantly different than just about any other use of energy that I can think of.

                                              1. 3

                                                Indeed. The underlying idea of Bitcoin is to simulate the mining of gold (or any other finite, valuable resource). By ensuring that an asset is always difficult to procure (a block reward every 10 minutes, block reward halving every 4 years), there’s a guard against some entity devaluing the currency (literally by fiat).

                                                This means of course that no matter how fast or efficient the hardware used to process transactions becomes, the difficulty will always rise to compensate for it. The energy per hash calculation has fallen precipitously, but the number of hash calculations required to find a block has risen to compensate.

                                          2. 6

                                            We’ve been doing each a long time without proof of work. There’s lots of systems that are decentralized with parties that have to look out for each other a bit. The banking system is an example. They have protocols and lawyers to take care of most problems. Things work fine most of the time. There are also cryptographically-anchored trust systems like trusted timestamping and CA’s who do what they’re set up to do within their incentives. If we can do both in isolation without PoW, we can probably do both together without PoW using some combination of what’s already worked.

                                            I also think we haven’t even begun to explore the possibilities of building more trustworthy charters, organizational incentives, contracts, and so on. The failings people speak of with centralized organizations are almost always about for-profit companies or strong-arming governments whose structure, incentives, and culture is prone to causing problems like that. So, maybe we eliminate root cause instead of tools root cause uses to bring problems since they’ll probably just bring new forms of problems. Regulations, disruption, or bans of decentralized payment is what I predicted would be response with some reactions already happening. They just got quite lucky that big banks like Bank of America got interested in subverting it through the legal and financial system for their own gains. Those heavyweights are probably all that held the government dogs back. Ironically, the same ones that killed Wikileaks by cutting off its payments.

                                        2. 8

                                          In what context do you view proof-of-work as useful?

                                          1. 11

                                            You have addressed 0 of the actual content of the article.

                                          1. 3

                                            I haven’t used VLC for ages, and even back then I preferred MPC-HC (on Windows) or mplayer2 (on Linux). I’m happy mpv user (on Windows and Linux) since its very beginning.

                                            Are there any users who use both mpv and VLC often, and could shed a light what VLC has that mpv cannot provide them?

                                            1. 2

                                              Opening videos straight from the browsers “open with dialogue”. Using subtitles with VLC is more convenient for me. Few years ago I used VLC more when mpv had problems with some matroska containers, don’t know if this is problem anymore.

                                              1. 2

                                                VLC is a bit more Windows-friendly. But on unix, I use gnome-mpv.

                                                1. 1

                                                  Do you use vanilla mpv or some kind of front-end with it?

                                                  1. 2

                                                    No GUI front-ends. I’m mostly keyboard-oriented user, but mpv’s built-in OSC is actually good too, so sometimes I operate with mouse in mpv window.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    The contents of all Mumps variables are stored as varying length character strings. The maximum string length permitted is determined by the implementation but this number is usually at least 512 and often far larger (normally 4096 in Open Mumps).

                                                    Why would you need anything more?!

                                                    1. 2

                                                      How am I going to put dank meme images into 4096 bytes?

                                                      1. 1

                                                        Upgrade to MS-DOS — 640K will be enough for dank meme images!

                                                        1. 1
                                                          ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░█████████
                                                          ░░███████░░░░░░░░░░███▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒███
                                                          ░░█▒▒▒▒▒▒█░░░░░░░███▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒███
                                                          ░░░█▒▒▒▒▒▒█░░░░██▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒██
                                                          ░░░░█▒▒▒▒▒█░░░██▒▒▒▒▒██▒▒▒▒▒▒██▒▒▒▒▒███
                                                          ░░░░░█▒▒▒█░░░█▒▒▒▒▒▒████▒▒▒▒████▒▒▒▒▒▒██
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                                                          ░██▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒█▒▒▒██▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒██▒▒▒▒██
                                                          ██▒▒▒███████████▒▒▒▒▒██▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒██▒▒▒▒▒██
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                                                          source

                                                    1. 2

                                                      local variables normally persist until the program ends or they are destroyed by a kill command

                                                      You’d think a system designed for hospitals would avoid naming anything “kill”… :D

                                                      trollback — Roll back a transaction

                                                      ha ha ha

                                                      1. 9

                                                        This is a bold statement, I do quite a bit of ssh -X work, even thousands of miles distant from the server. I do very much wish ssh -X could forward sound somehow, but I certainly couldn’t live without X’s network transparency.

                                                        1. 6

                                                          Curious, what do you use it for? Every time I tried it, the experience was pain-stakingly slow.

                                                          1. 7

                                                            I find it okay for running things that aren’t fully interactive applications. For example I mainly run the terminal version of R on a remote server, but it’s nice that X’s network transparency means I can still do plot() and have a plot pop up.

                                                            1. 5

                                                              Have you tried SSH compression? I normally use ssh -YC.

                                                              1. 4

                                                                Compression can’t do anything about latency, and latency impacts X11 a lot since it’s an extremely chatty protocol.

                                                                1. 4

                                                                  There are some attempts to stick a caching proxy in the path to reduce the chattiness, since X11 is often chatty in pretty naive ways that ought to be fixable with a sufficiently protocol-aware caching server. I’ve heard good things about NX, but last time I tried to use it, the installation was messy.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    There’s a difference between latency (what you talk about) and speed (what I replied to). X11 mainly transfers an obscene amount of bitmaps.

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      Both latency and bandwidth impact perceived speed.

                                                              2. 6

                                                                Seconded. Decades after, it’s still the best “remote desktop” experience out there.

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  I regularly use it when I am on a Mac and want to use some Linux-only software (primarily scientific software). Since the machines that I run it on are a few floors up or down, it works magnificently well. Of course, I could run a Linux desktop in a VM, but it is nicer having the applications directly on the Mac desktop.

                                                                  Unfortunately, Apple does not seem to care at all about XQuartz anymore (can’t sell it to the animoji crowd) and XQuartz on HiDPI is just a PITA. Moreover, there is a bug in Sierra/High Sierra where the location menu (you can’t make this up) steals the focus of XQuartz all the time:

                                                                  https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7964085

                                                                  So regretfully, X11 is out for me soon.

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    Second. I have a Fibre connection at home. I’ve found X11 forwarding works great for a lot of simply GTK applications (EasyTag), file managers, etc.

                                                                    Running my IntelliJ IDE or Firefox over X11/openvpn was pretty painfully slow, and IntelliJ became buggy, but that might have just been OpenVPN. Locally within the same building, X11 forwarding worked fine.

                                                                    I’ve given Wayland/Weston a shot on my home theater PC with the xwayland module for backward compatibility. It works .. all right. Almost all my games work (humble/steam) thankfully, but I have very few native wayland applications. Kodi is still glitchy, and I know Weston is meant to just be a reference implementation, but it’s still kinda garbage. There also don’t appear to be any wayland display managers on Void Linux, so if I want to display a login screen, it has to start X, then switch to Wayland.

                                                                    I’ve seen the Wayland/X talk and I agree, X has a lot of garbage in it and we should move forward. At the same time, it’s still not ready for prime time. You can’t say, “Well you can implement RDP” or some other type of remote composition and then hand wave it away.

                                                                    I’ll probably give Wayland/Sway a try when I get my new laptop to see if it works better on Gentoo.

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      No hand waving necessary, Weston does implement RDP :)

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    Wow. Why does Postgres use IP for talking to its own local stats collector, and not, like, a unix socket?! o_0

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      Maybe for compatibility with systems without Unix sockets, like Windows?

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        I think it should be at least configurable.

                                                                      1. 10

                                                                        Huh. I didn’t realize Java is going the Firefox/Chrome model of releases.

                                                                        Overall if you have good unit tests in your software, this shouldn’t be a big deal. Update to Java x, run sbt test or gradel test or whatever, update your test-running CI container to java x, let it run there, update your production Dockerfiles to java x, deploy and check your integration tests.

                                                                        Oh you don’t have a lot of unit tests? .. wait, you don’t have any unit tests?! … Well it will probably just work .. have fun!

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          I don’t think it’s that straightforward for everyone. It’s hard to measure the performance impact of changes to the JVM, as well as potential obscure bugs, from just unit testing. I think most big deployments and libraries will stick to LTS releases as a result, which isn’t that bad given it’s about the old pace of updates anyway.

                                                                          1. 6

                                                                            To support this point, for a specific example of a more obscure change in a JDK that caused programs to fail, see http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/8u20-relnotes-2257729.html - it’s a long list but note this

                                                                            Collection.sort defers now defers to List.sort

                                                                            Previously Collection.sort copied the elements of the list to sort into an array, sorted that array, then updated list, in place, with those elements in the array, and the default method List.sort deferred to Collection.sort. This was a non-optimal arrangement.

                                                                            The consequence of changing to sorting in place (the optimal arrangement), is that programs which sorted in one thread and concurrently iterated in another are more likely to crash with this JVM than previously. Might be hard to test for that even in an integration test!

                                                                            Unit testing is dangerous because it gives inexperienced coders false confidence that changes are good.

                                                                          2. 2

                                                                            Huh. I didn’t realize Java is going the Firefox/Chrome model of releases.

                                                                            Well, at least Firefox has train releases + a long term release. Java doesn’t seem to have that.

                                                                            1. 11

                                                                              Didn’t the article mention Java 8 being a long term release?

                                                                              1. 13

                                                                                Yes, Java has LTS releases, currently 8 and then 11. http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/eol-135779.html

                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                  Ah, sorry, I had missed the precise scheme. I thought 8 was LTS, as it was the last “old-fashioned” release.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Note that Red Hat will support OpenJDK 8 after Oracle discontinues their support as they have with previous releases in the past; they commit to it up to October 2020: https://access.redhat.com/articles/1299013

                                                                            1. 10

                                                                              Yeah, it did. And that’s unfortunate, because the ability to interact with a remote computer graphically as easily as you can with ssh would have been very useful. “Most people only ever interact with remote machines with either text mode SSH or a browser talking to a web server on the remote machine.” says the article, and indeed a web browser talking to a server on the remote machine is basically how one interacts with a remote computer graphically nowadays. This is wildly popular, of course, but is it the best possible world? Probably not.

                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                If you want to do that, RDP is actually well implemented and works for such purposes, on the Windows side.

                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                  Unfortunately, there are a lot of “RDP hostile” applications these days – many of them from Microsoft themselves! For example, using Skype for text chat over RDP is quite painful now.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Not only on the Windows side. FreeRDP is very good too.

                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                  FreeBSD port update if anyone’s interested. I’m not sure when it will be merged into the main ports, office@ seems asleep…

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    Remember when being Unix-like meant “everything was a file”? It was nice.

                                                                                    Linux is still better than most, honestly (sysctl talks to /sys, for example, instead of being its own thing) but Linux still has netlink and other stuff that aren’t files.

                                                                                    Of course, it’s easy to judge, but X and Wayland solve hard problems: it’s not enough to write to a file to put pixels on the screen, you have to multiplex/mediate access, allow for manipulation of potentially broken clients, etc.

                                                                                    Plan 9 was really the only one who got it right, and even then it got a few things wrong.

                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                      Why is it nice?

                                                                                      I hate Linux’s “everything is a virtual filesystem” approach. Looking at mount output on a modern Linux box just feels disgusting. 12 lines (!) of cgroups spam, and then devpts pstore securityfs debugfs configfs hugetlbfs OMGWTFfs. And how could I forget the infamous efivarfs!

                                                                                      Also, most files in sysfs are text, so you have the overhead of parsing strings just to read system information.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        Also, most files in sysfs are text, so you have the overhead of parsing strings just to read system information.

                                                                                        That’s the advantage. I can grep for information, cat it, sort it, etc, etc using tools that I already know how to use, because they’re just files containing text.

                                                                                        In the vast majority of applications the slight overhead for doing the string parsing isn’t going to have a significant effect on performance.

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          Sure, but then when you want to do something less ad-hoc with it, it becomes a pain. The canonical source of that information shouldn’t be text, it should be structured data that can be dumped to text when necessary.

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            But I can do the same with the output of sysctl(8). I don’t need a hundred mounts for that.

                                                                                      1. 10

                                                                                        If Firefox starts showing me ads I’m 100% abandoning the browser, period.

                                                                                        1. 17

                                                                                          If Firefox starts showing me ads in the New Tab page, I’m 85% clicking on that little “(?)” icon, clicking “New Tab Preferences”, and un-checking a box or two.

                                                                                          But, I hope that if you end up running a browser made by an advertising company, you will at least savor the irony.

                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                            Well, I abandoned chrome a long time ago and will certainly never return, if that’s what you’re getting at :)

                                                                                            Advertising is a slippery slope. I don’t care to play cat and mouse with a company that thinks it’s OK.

                                                                                            The real irony is that I (and probably many others) would be happy to pay for a browser…

                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                              I’d be happy to pay for a high-quality browser too. But the industry doesn’t seem to be headed that way.

                                                                                              I’m curious where you’ll go. Vivaldi, Opera, and Brave all use the Blink rendering engine from Chromium. All the little WebKit-based browsers are beholden to Apple. Only Firefox has any independence or control of its code base, as far as I can tell.

                                                                                            2. 1

                                                                                              If Firefox starts showing me ads in the New Tab page, I’m 100% clicking on them, to support Mozilla.

                                                                                              But my new tab page is about:blank, I probably won’t see them :(

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                Eh, given that Firefox has forced adware on its users in the past, I wonder if Mozilla isn’t an ad company at this point, if one which makes somewhat different kinds of deal.

                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                              Linux people love to think that everything everywhere must run Linux all the time :) But if you replace the EFI runtime with Linux, you can’t even run, say, the LSI HBA firmware flasher, which is an EFI application.