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GNU/Linux on Devices and Open Hardware

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Hardware
  • Linux-driven module and starter kit tap Renesas RZ/G2

    TQ’s “TQMaRZG2x” module runs Linux on a dual- to octa-core, Cortex-A57 and -A53 based RZ/G2 processor with up to 8GB LPDDR4 and 64GB eMMC plus an optional dev kit and -40 to 85°C support.

    When reporting on the SMARC 2.0 SoM collaboration between Renesas and RelySys last week featuring Renesas’ scalable, 64-bit RZ/G2 processor, we saw that we missed a September announcement from TQ Embedded about its own RZ/G2 module. The 77 x 50mm TQMaRZG2x is listed as “new” and is available with an optional new Embedded Starterkit STKaRZG2x evaluation board. The module is the first of several Renesas based products from TQ.

  • Mass-Produced, Librem 5 Linux Smartphone Begins Shipping to Customers

    Their announcement notes their work on software making desktop applications "adaptive" to phone form factors, adding "This suite of software has now become the most popular software stack to use on other handheld Linux hardware." And they close with an appreciative comment from Purism's founder and CEO Todd Weaver:

    "Shipping the Librem 5 has been an immense multi-year developmental effort. It is the culmination of people's desire to see an alternative to Android and iOS and fund it, coupled with dedication from a team of experts addressing hardware, kernel, operating system, and applications that has turned a lofty near-impossible goal into reality. We have built a strong foundation and with the continued support of customers, the community, and developers, we will continue to deliver revolutionary products like the Librem 5 running PureOS."

  • Understanding Open Source Hardware

    Open source hardware is “a set of design principles and legal practices, not a specific type of object,” says Opensource.com. Thus, although the term is often associated with electronics, it can apply to other objects as well, including boats, houses, industrial machines, and medical devices.

    The main principles defining open source hardware are similar to those of open source software. The Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Definition 1.0 is in fact “based on the Open Source Definition for Open Source Software, which was created by Bruce Perens and the Debian developers as the Debian Free Software Guidelines.”

  • Evaluating Precursor’s Hardware Security « bunnie's blog

    Hardware security is a multi-faceted problem. First, there is the question of “can I trust this piece of hardware was built correctly?”; specifically, are there implants and back doors buried in the hardware? We refer to this as the “supply chain problem”. It is a particularly challenging problem, given the global nature of our supply chains, with parts pulled from the four corners of the world, passing through hundreds of hands before reaching our doorstep. Precursor addresses this problem head-on with open, verifiable hardware: the keyboard, display, and motherboard are easy to access and visually inspect for correct construction. No factory or third-party tool is ever trusted with secret material. Precursor is capable of generating its own secret keys and sealing them within the hardware, without additional tools.

    We also use a special kind of logic chip for the CPU – an FPGA – configured by the user, not the factory, to be exactly the CPU that the user specified. Crucially, most users have no evidence-based reason to trust that a CPU contains exactly what it claims to contain; few have the inspection capability to verify a chip in a non-destructive manner. On the other hand, with an FPGA, individual users can craft and inspect CPU bitstreams with readily available tools. Furthermore, the design can be modified and upgraded to incorporate countermeasures against hardware exploits discovered in the FPGA’s underlying fabric. In other words, the current trustability situation for an ASIC-style CPU is basically “I surrender”, whereas with an FPGA, users have the power to configure and patch their CPUs.

    [...]

    Once Precursor has been glued shut, we propose the easiest method to recover the ciphertext and to gain access to the JTAG ports is to put the Precursor device into a precision CNC milling machine, mill out the PCB from the back side, and then place the remaining assembly into a pogo-pin based mechanism to perform the readout. This of course destroys the Precursor device in the process, but it is probably the most direct and reliable method of recovering the encryption keys, as it is very similar to an existing technique used for certain types of attacks on iPhones. Storing keys in BBRAM can greatly complicate the task of milling out the PCB by creating a high risk of accidental key erasure, but a sufficiently precise CNC with a non-conductive ceramic bit, or a precision laser-based ablation milling system can reduce the risk of key loss substantially. Cryogenic cooling of the FPGA chip itself may also help to preserve key material in the case of very short accidental power glitches.

  • ASUS unveils Tinker Board 2 SBC with faster Rockchip RK3399 / OP1 processor

    ASUS surprised the maker community in 2017 with the introduction of the Rochchip RK3288 powered Tinker Board to compete as Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. It was followed by Tinker Board S with built-in storage and other new features, as well as Tinker Board Edge T and Edge R SBC’s both with an AI accelerator namely Google Edge TPU and the NPU inside Rockchip RK3399Pro. The company has now launched a new model called Tinker Board 2 without AI accelerator, but featuring Rockchip RK3399, or more exactly the higher grade Rockchip OP1 used in Chromebooks, delivering 96% faster single-thread performance and a 64% boost in multi-core performance compared to the Rockchip RK3288 processor found in the original Tinker Board, while the GPU is around 28% faster with glmark2-es2 off-screen benchmark.

  • $89 Lite3DP resin 3D printer fits in the palm of your hand (Crowdfunding)

    I thought Selpic A-star 3D printer we recently covered was already small, but if you’re looking for an ultra-portable printer, it will be hard to beat the Arduino-based, open-source hardware Lite3DP resin 3D printer that can fit in the palm of your hand, and weighs just around 350 grams.

Huang: Evaluating Precursor’s Hardware Security

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More in Tux Machines

Programming Leftovers

  • Better Fujitsu A64FX Support Arrives For GCC, LLVM Clang Compilers - Phoronix

    The high performance Fujitsu A64FX ARM processor now has the possibility of performing even better if relying upon the upstream open-source compilers from GCC and LLVM. The Fujitsu A64FX, which powers the "Fugaku" supercomputer among other accomplishments, has seen open-source compiler work going back a year while now the latest upstream GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) and LLVM Clang are seeing more complete support.

  • 4 DevOps books to read this year | Opensource.com

    We have just entered 2021, and DevOps will become much more relevant. It is smack dab in the spotlight given that the world is experiencing a pandemic and businesses are fighting to stay digitally relevant and competitive.

  • Vger security analysis

    I would like to share about Vger internals in regards to how the security was thought to protect vger users and host systems.

  • After years of dithering companies are embracing automation

    Bosses have boasted of automating their operations for years without an awful lot to show for it. Covid-19 has spurred them to put their money where their mouths are. Hernan Saenz of Bain, a consultancy, reckons that between now and 2030 American firms will invest $10trn in automation. Nigel Vaz, chief executive of Publicis Sapient, a big digital consultancy, says that the downturn offers bosses the perfect cover. “The unrelenting pressure for short-term financial results from investors has temporarily been suspended,” he says. “Firms are not just going back pre-pandemic, but completely reimagining how they work,” says Susan Lund, co-author of a forthcoming report from the McKinsey Global Institute, a think-tank. A recent survey by the institute’s sister consultancy found that two-thirds of global firms are doubling down on automation.

  • Dirk Eddelbuettel: Rcpp 1.0.6: Some Updates

    The Rcpp team is proud to announce release 1.0.6 of Rcpp which arrived at CRAN earlier today, and has been uploaded to Debian too. Windows and macOS builds should appear at CRAN in the next few days. This marks the first release on the new six-months cycle announced with release 1.0.5 in July. As reminder, interim ‘dev’ or ‘rc’ releases will often be available in the Rcpp drat repo; this cycle there were four. Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing R with C or C++ code. As of today, 2174 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further (which is an 8.5% increase just since the last release), along with 207 in BioConductor.

  • Use Bash Strict Mode (Unless You Love Debugging)

    Let's start with the punchline. Your bash scripts will be more robust, reliable and maintainable if you start them like this:

    	#!/bin/bash
    	set -euo pipefail
    	IFS=$'\n\t'
     

    I call this the unofficial bash strict mode. This causes bash to behave in a way that makes many classes of subtle bugs impossible. You'll spend much less time debugging, and also avoid having unexpected complications in production.

    There is a short-term downside: these settings make certain common bash idioms harder to work with. Most have simple workarounds, detailed below: jump to Issues & Solutions. But first, let's look at what these obscure lines actually do.

  • Java Built-In Functional Interfaces Cheatsheet and Examples

    In order to use lambda expressions in Java 8, you need a functional interface. For most of your needs, you can use the already built ones in Java which are as follows...

Proprietary Software and Digital Restrictions (DRM)

  • GitHub still won’t explain if it fired someone for saying ‘Nazi,’ and employees are pissed

    The current conflict began the day of the riots in Washington, DC when a Jewish employee told co-workers: “stay safe homies, nazis are about.” Some colleagues took offense to the language, although neo-Nazi organizations were, in fact, present at the riots. One engineer responded: “This is untasteful conduct for workplace [in my opinion], people have the right to protest period.”

  • Amazon Web Services opens first office in Greece

    It said services covered areas from big data analytics and mobile, web and social media applications to enterprise business applications and the internet of things.

  • Critical Microsoft Defender Bug Actively Exploited; Patch Tuesday Offers 83 Fixes

    Researchers believe the vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2021-1647, has been exploited for the past three months and was leveraged by hackers as part of the massive SolarWinds attack. Last month, Microsoft said state-sponsored hackers had compromised its internal network and leveraged additional Microsoft products to conduct further attacks.

    Affected versions of Microsoft Malware Protection Engine range from 1.1.17600.5 to 1.1.17700.4 running on Windows 10, Windows 7 and 2004 Windows Server, according to the security bulletin.

  • Making Clouds Rain :: Remote Code Execution in Microsoft Office 365

    TL;DR; This post is a story on how I found and exploited CVE-2020-168751, a remote code execution vulnerability in Exchange Online and bypassed two different patches for the vulnerability. Exchange Online is part of the Office 365 suite that impacted multiple cloud servers operated by Microsoft that could have resulted in the access to millions of corporate email accounts.

  • Dropbox lays off 11% of its workforce as COO departs

    Dropbox in November provided revenue guidance of $497 million to $499 million for the fourth quarter. The company said at the time that it’s aiming to achieve margins of 28% to 30% in the long term.

  • Technical Error 'Saw 150,000 U.K. Police Records Wiped' From Databases

    Police have been asked to assess if there is a threat to public safety after it was revealed that thousands of police records were deleted in error, including data on fingerprints, DNA, and arrest histories.

    The error, first reported in the Times, saw 150,000 files lost, with fears it could mean offenders go free. A coding error is thought to have caused the earmarking of the files for deletion.

    The U.K. Home Office said the lost entries related to people who were arrested and then released without further action and no records of criminal or dangerous people had been deleted. Home secretary Priti Patel is now under pressure to explain the mistake, which the opposition Labour party said "presents huge dangers" for public safety.

  • January 2021 Linux Foundation Newsletter: Bootcamp Sale, SolarWinds Orion, New Kubernetes & WebAssembly Classes, LFX Webinar Series
  • How I hijacked the top-level domain of a sovereign state

    Note: This issue has been resolved and the .cd ccTLD no longer sends NS delegations to the compromised domain.

    TL;DR: Imagine what could happen if the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) of a sovereign state fell into the wrong hands. Here’s how I (@Almroot) bought the domain name used in the NS delegations for the ccTLD of the Democratic Republic of Congo (.cd) and temporarily took over 50% of all DNS traffic for the TLD that could have been exploited for MITM or other abuse.

  • Apple begins blocking M1 Mac users from side loading iPhone and iPad applications

    As a refresher, Apple Silicon Macs allow users to run iOS and iPad applications on their Mac, but developers can opt out of allowing their apps to be installed on the Mac. This is the path that many developers have taken, making the necessary change in App Store Connect to remove their app from the Mac App Store.

    But with that being said, until today, you could manually install iOS apps like Netflix, Instagram, and Facebook on an M1 Mac by using their respective IPA files downloaded under a valid Apple ID. Many people were using tools such as iMazing to complete this process.

    9to5Mac has now confirmed that, starting today, this is no longer possible unless the application is available on the Mac App Store. Apple has flipped the necessary sever-side switch to block iPhone and iPad applications from being installed on Apple Silicon Macs.

  • Apple is blocking Apple Silicon Mac users from sideloading iPhone apps

    Apple has turned off users’ ability to unofficially install iOS apps onto their M1 Macs (via 9to5Mac). While iOS apps are still available in the Mac App Store, many apps, such as Dark Sky and Netflix, don’t have their developer’s approval to be run on macOS. Up until now, there was a workaround that allowed the use of third-party software to install the apps without having to use the Mac App Store, but it seems like Apple has remotely disabled it.

    When we tried to install an unsupported app on an M1 Mac running macOS 11.1, we got an error message saying that we couldn’t install it and should “try again later”. You can see a screenshot at the top of this article.

  • Apple TV Plus Free Subscriptions Extended Again, This Time Through July 2021

    The tech giant is extending the free-access period for Apple TV Plus customers who have signed up through its 12-month free subscription offer through July 2021. That’s after it had previously pushed that gratis period to February. So if you were among the first to take the one-year-free deal back in November 2019, that’s turned into 21 months free of Apple TV Plus.

  • Spotify Enters Settlement Talks With PRO Music Rights Founder Jake P. Noch

    But a new legal filing, shared with DMN this afternoon, reveals that Spotify and Noch have officially entered settlement talks. The involved parties “jointly” moved for a 60-day stay, “including discovery and all deadlines,” so that they can “attempt to negotiate a resolution of this matter,” the three-page-long document (dated January 13th, 2021) indicates.

    Furthermore, the filing specifies that Sosa Entertainment, Jake P. Noch, and Spotify “have recently made progress towards a potential resolution of the litigation.” The joint motion doesn’t elaborate upon the terms of this possible agreement – though Noch said in a statement that he’s eager to begin working towards an “excellent resolution” in earnest.

  • The FSF fights for your right to repair

    It is this example of automated vehicles that served as inspiration for the FSF's animated video Fight to Repair.

    However, any technology we use could potentially be co-opted by the proprietary, DRM-controlled subscription model Tesla and the tractor manufacturers are proposing. Imagine your "smart home" having a broken lock, or worse, being broken into, and not having the control, or the simple right to repair the bug. Countless other examples can be found showing us that the key to a free future is the right to repair. We need to fight for a future in which the software used is free in order to maintain ownership and control not only over our technology, but over our lives.

Debian Developers: Christian Kastner, Junichi Uekawa, and Michael Prokop

  • Christian Kastner: Keeping your Workstation Silent

    I've tried numerous coolers in the past, some of monstrous proportions (always thinking that more mass must be better, and reputable brands are equally good), but I was never really satisfied; hence, I was doubtful that trying yet another cooler would make a difference. I'm glad I tried the Noctua NH-D15 anyway. With some tweaking to the fan profile in the BIOS, it's totally inaudible at normal to medium workloads, and just a very gentle hum at full load—subtle enough to disappear in the background. For the past decade, I've also regularly purchased sound-proofed cases, but this habit appears anachronistic now. Years ago, sound-proofed cases helped contain the noise of a few HDDs. However, all of my boxes now contain NVMe drives (which, to me, are the biggest improvement to computing since CPUs going multi-core). On the other hand, some of my boxes now contain powerful GPUs used for GPGPU computing, and with the recent higher-end Nvidia and AMD cards all pulling in over 300W, there is a lot of heat to manage. The best way to quickly dump heat is with good airflow. Sound-proofing works against that. Its insulation restricts airflow, which ultimately causes even more noise, as the GPU's fans need to spin at very high RPMs. This is, of course, totally obvious in hindsight.

  • Junichi Uekawa: It's been 20 years since I became a Debian Developer.

    It's been 20 years since I became a Debian Developer. Lots of fun things happened, and I think fondly of the team. I am no longer active for the past 10 years due to family reasons, and it's surprising that I have been inactive for that long. I still use Debian, and I still participate in the local Debian meetings.

  • Michael Prokop: Revisiting 2020

    Mainly to recall what happened last year and to give thoughts and plan for the upcoming year(s) I’m once again revisiting my previous year (previous editions: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 + 2012). Due to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020 was special™ for several reasons, but overall I consider myself and my family privileged and am very grateful for that. In terms of IT events, I planned to attend Grazer Linuxdays and DebConf in Haifa/Israel. Sadly Grazer Linuxdays didn’t take place at all, and DebConf took place online instead (which I didn’t really participate in for several reasons). I took part in the well organized DENOG12 + ATNOG 2020/1 online meetings. I still organize our monthly Security Treff Graz (STG) meetups, and for half of the year, those meetings took place online (which worked OK-ish overall IMO). Only at the beginning of 2020, I managed to play Badminton (still playing in the highest available training class (in german: “Kader”) at the University of Graz / Universitäts-Sportinstitut, USI). For the rest of the year – except for ~2 weeks in October or so – the sessions couldn’t occur. Plenty of concerts I planned to attend were cancelled for obvious reasons, including the ones I would have played myself. But I managed to attend Jazz Redoute 2020 – Dom im Berg, Martin Grubinger in Musikverein Graz and Emiliano Sampaio’s Mega Mereneu Project at WIST Moserhofgasse (all before the corona situation kicked in). The concert from Tonč Feinig & RTV Slovenia Big Band occurred under strict regulations in Summer. At the beginning of 2020, I also visited Literaturshow “Roboter mit Senf” at Literaturhaus Graz.

Games: Familiars.io, Valve and Godot

  • Familiars.io is a MMO monster catching game where the creatures have permadeath

    Well this is quite unusual. You've played monster catching games before but not like this. Familiars.io put a fresh spin on it all and it's quite ingenious. Developed as a pixel-art retro-looking browser game, it's super accessible since you can play it on pretty much anything that can run some simple graphics in a browser window. It's an MMO too, so you can join up with others and chill out. When you want to, go off and catch some monsters, engage is some PvP and perhaps find a new favourite game waiting for you.

  • What we expect to come from Valve to help Linux gaming in 2021 | GamingOnLinux

    By now you've probably heard either through us in our previous article or elsewhere that Valve are cooking something up to help Linux gaming even further. We have an idea on what one part of it is. Valve already do quite a lot. There's the Steam Play Proton compatibility layer, the new container runtime feature to have Linux games both natively supported and Windows games in Proton run through a contained system to ensure compatibility, their work on Mesa drivers and much more. In Valve's review of Steam in 2020 that we covered in the link above, one thing caught our eye and has been gaining attention. Valve mentioned for 2021 they will be "putting together new ways for prospective users to get into Linux gaming and experience these improvements" so what exactly does that mean? Well, a big part of that might have already been suggested directly.

  • Godot Engine - Dev snapshot: Godot 3.2.4 beta 6

    While our main focus stays on the 4.0 branch, the current stable 3.2 branch is receiving a lot of great improvements, and the upcoming 3.2.4 release is going to be packed with many new features.