Dec 13, 2012

A Brief History of the Berkeley Software Distributions

It seems that there's some confusion around the Berkeley Software Distributions and where they came from. It's a bit difficult to keep track amidst all of the infighting and forking caused by various personal, political, and legal issues. I've covered the BSD family quite a bit, but never its history. I'll do so now so that we can all get on the same page.

The history of the Berkeley Software Distributions all starts with 386BSD…

Nov 12, 2012

“Espresso” to Caffeinate Nintendo's Wii U

Recent talk about the Wii U has been buzzing in the ramp-up to the new console's release on November 18. Technical details, however, have been few and far between—until now. Information about Espresso, the new IBM chip for Wii U, are finally spilling forth.

Espresso bridges the performance gap that Nintendo’s competitors, Microsoft and Sony, have held since the sixth-generation of consoles. With Espresso in the Wii U, Nintendo is clearly playing hardball to win back the demographic that other consoles have held for about a decade: hardcore gamers.

Nov 1, 2012

Game Review: The Legacy of Darkgold (1989)

I finally found disk images of The Legacy of Darkgold, a roleplaying game released in 1989 for Commodore 64. It’s another Questron-type game that is surprisingly complex for its day and takes a good 24-36 hours to beat.

Fortunately, this game is actually worth spending that much time playing.

Oct 30, 2012

Apple to Merge iOS, OS X

CUPERTINO—Just a day after Apple announced the merger of its iOS and OS X teams, talk of a merger of the two products is running rampant with some claiming that engineers have been well into the process for years.

Rumors began in October 2010, when Apple previewed OS X 10.7 Lion, showcasing many features from the company's mobile operating system that were making the jump to the company's desktop operating system. Lion's successor, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, continued this trend with its release in July 2012.

But, according to Ahmad Singh, a former Apple operating systems engineer, a string of public releases have indicated such a move for years. “[OS X 10.5 Leopard]'s release date was pushed back multiple times, debuting a year late. The excuse was software engineering for the iPhone,” he said. “It started with Intel support in Tiger and a desire for a mobile version of OS X.”

Jun 30, 2012

Fuck Firefox 14

It had been a few weeks since I last used Firefox because it sucks so fucking hard. Instead, I've been using Safari. With my recent upgrade to Mountain Lion I checked out Safari 6 and wondered what Firefox 14 was like in comparison. I decided to approach it with an open mind and did the old launch-check-install-relaunch routine that I've done over a dozen times in the last year or so.

Jun 10, 2012

Apple Releases Safari 6 Beta ahead of WWDC ’12

In anticipation of its World-Wide Developers Conference taking place tomorrow, Apple has released a public beta of Safari 6, the next big upgrade to the company's web browser.

Other confirmed product previews include iCloud, iOS 6, and OS X Mountain Lion, alongside rumors of new Ivy Bridge-based Macs and third-party apps for Apple TV. So far only Safari 6 has been generally released, however, with several new features.

Jun 9, 2012

Firefox Sucks! Unlucky Thirteen Is Useless

I just started up Firefox and, once again, there was another whole-number version update waiting to interrupt my use and enjoyment of the world-wide web.

Didn't Firefox 12 come out about a month ago?

Once I applied the update and got running again, nothing was changed. Not a thing. Okay, well, a new tab homepage. But seriously? Showing me a few sites that I visit frequently? I know how to use browser bookmarks and history, thank you. But in addition to useless new “features,” Firefox 13 also screws stuff up.

The damn thing won't load new pages to about:blank now, even though I've tried to configure it to do so. The Firefox team also fucked with page scrolling, so that now instead of moving in discrete increments, they have some half-assed “smooth” scrolling that tears across screen refreshes on OS X.

These are just a few in a laundry list of many complaints about Firefox that I have compiled since Firefox developers think that wasting my time is some kind of design goal. Here's what doesn't work as of Firefox 13.

Jun 4, 2012

Ellison Debuts “Oracle XII,” Vatican Demands Apology

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp, received flack from the Vatican as he announced the company's new strategy meant to leverage their Sun Microsystems purchase made back in 2010 that will introduce considerable changes to their Oracle, Solaris, and SPARC product lines, dubbed “Oracle XII” The Vatican has demanded an apology for some imagery Ellison used during the announcement.

Despite subsequent comments denying his intent to offend, Ellison remains the center of scandal as the Church wages a public campaign to disassociate itself from the database giant. Cardinals in the Vatican's office of public affairs have also suggested a censure for Ellison.

Despite the controversy, Oracle has something hot on its hands. It may have taken a couple of years, but a pervasive, top-to-bottom platform for Oracle database products has emerged and it looks like it might have a chance of unseating IBM's Power7-based offerings from being the top database platform out there. The announcement came in three parts, discussing hardware and software improvements all focused on making Oracle's database products more powerful.

What remains to be seen is when exactly Oracle Corp's new platform will debut, and whether it will be hotter than the heat Catholic officials are turning up against Ellison.

May 28, 2012

Miss Amiga? Try DragonFly!

Amiga users are the longest-suffering technology loyalists that the computing industry has ever seen. Though once the best solution for 3D and special effects work, the operating system has long since been superseded as mainstream options, such as x86 hardware and new Mac and Windows operating systems, have become more powerful.

For instance, AmigaOS only gained support for memory paging in 2008, with AmigaOS 4.1, and USB 2.0 in 2011, with AmigaOS 4.1u3. That's over a decade after the USB standard was released, and three years after its successor, USB 3.0, was finalized. Amiga support for modern operating design and peripheral hardware is, to say the least, beyond hope.

On top of that, AmigaOS only supports dead, 32-bit processor architectures. AmigaOS 3.9 supports the Motorola 68k series up to the 68060 (released in 1994). AmigaOS 4, while slightly more modern, only runs on older P.A. Semi PA6T, Freescale e600, and IBM 750 parts. At best, AmigaOS is a decade behind.

So what is an Amiga user to do? If you're at all familiar with Unix or FreeBSD, there is one option out there that Amigans can look to—as long as they're okay with rock-hard stability, modern operating system design, and pervasive 64-bit support.

May 15, 2012

Why I Gave Up on OpenBSD

Having been an OpenBSD user since OpenBSD 2.7 was released in 2006, I—until recently—administrated several OpenBSD deployments and wrote utilities for the operating system.

Excited about the imminent release of OpenBSD 5.1, I thought to ask OpenBSD owner Theo de Raadt some questions about upgrading from OpenBSD 4.9. I knew Theo was infamous for his short temper, so I made sure to pose my questions intelligently. I sent the email and went to bed.

Let me tell you, I was not prepared for Theo's response.

May 1, 2012

FreeBSD X: Berkeley Unix, Apple Quality

The various Berkeley Software Distribution operating systems, having been nearly destroyed in an ugly lawsuit with AT&T, have had a challenging past. FreeBSD has been the only non-commercial Berkeley unix to have had any measure of real success and, to this day, the hangover of its early legal woes still stymies its popular use outside of industry despite improvements to its codebase.

The infamous AT&T/BSD lawsuits caused FreeBSD to jettison two-thirds of its codebase and start over from scratch, knocking its feature-set back several years, causing it to be bought out and divested by hopeful investors and only reaching robustness with code infusions from two commercial unix systems, BSD/OS and Mac OS X.

So as FreeBSD heads toward its milestone tenth release, it is Apple's platform that has been the center of gravity for the demonic operating system, largely in part by Apple's open-source efforts that have been more and more contributing code back into the main FreeBSD development branch. It obviously won't be long until the two are completely merged—so when thinking of 2014 and FreeBSD 10, starting thinking “FreeBSD X.”

But first, how did we get here? What did BSD/OS contribute or, more importantly, how did it take away from FreeBSD? And what exactly does FreeBSD 10 look like? What is Apple's role in the operating system? Important questions to be answered, picking up from after the lawsuits…