Note: You can take 10% off all Slashdot Deals with coupon code "slashdot10off." ×
Windows

The Long Reach of Windows 95 297

jfruh writes: I'm a Mac guy — have been ever since the '80s. When Windows 95 was released 20 years ago, I was among those who sneered that "Windows 95 is Macintosh 87." But now, as I type these words on a shiny new iMac, I can admit that my UI — and indeed the computing landscape in general — owes a lot to Windows 95, the most influential operating system that ever got no respect. ITWorld reports: "... even though many techies tend to dismiss UI innovation as eye candy, the fact is that the changes made in Windows 95 were incredibly successful in making the the system more accessible to users -- so successful, in fact, that a surprising number of them have endured and even spread to other operating systems. We still live in the world Windows 95 made. When I asked people on Twitter their thoughts about what aspects of Windows 95 have persisted, I think Aaron Webb said it best: 'All of it? Put a 15 year old in front of 3.1 and they would be lost. In front of Windows 95 they would be able to do any task quickly.'"
OS X

A FreeBSD "Spork" With Touches of NeXT and OS X: NeXTBSD 157

There are a lot of open source operating systems out there; being open source, they lend themselves to forks, clones or near clones, and friendly offshoots. There are even services to let you customize, download, and (if you choose) bulk-install your own OS based on common components. Phoronix notes a new project called NeXTBSD that might turn more heads than most new open source OSes, in part because of the developers behind it, and in part because of the positive thoughts many people have toward the aesthetics of NeXTSTEP and Mac OS X. (And while it might be a fork of FreeBSD, the developers would rather call it a spork, instead.) NeXTBSD was announced last week by Jordan Hubbard and Kip Macy at the Bay Area FreeBSD Users Group (BAFUG). NeXTBSD / FreeBSD X is based on the FreeBSD-CURRENT kernel while adding in Mach IPC, Libdispatch, notifyd, asld, launchd, and other components derived from Apple's open-source code for OS X. The basic launchd/notifyd/asld/libdispatch stack atop their "fork" of FreeBSD is working along with other basic components of their new design. You can watch a recording of the announcement as well as a longer introduction linked from Phoronix's story.
Programming

In Praise of the Solo Programmer 112

HughPickens.com writes: Jean-Louis Gassée writes that once upon a time, we were awestruck by the solo programmer who could single-handedly write a magnum opus on a barebones machine like the Apple ][ with its 64 kilobytes of memory and an 8-bit processor running at 1MHz. Once such giant was Paul Lutus, known as the Oregon Hermit, who won a place next to Jobs and Wozniak in the Bandley Drive Hall of Fame for his Apple Writer word processor. "Those were the days Computers and their operating systems were simple and the P in Personal Computers applied to the programmer," writes Gassée. "There's no place for a 2015 Paul Lutus. But are things really that dire?"

As it turns out, the size and complexity of operating systems and development tools do not pose completely insurmountable obstacles; There are still programs of hefty import authored by one person. One such example is Preview, Mac's all-in-one file viewing and editing program. The many superpowers of Apple's Preview does justice to the app's power and flexibility authored by a solo, unnamed programmer who has been at it since the NeXT days. Newer than Preview but no less ambitious, is Gus Mueller's Acorn, an "Image Editor for Humans", now in version 5 at the Mac App Store. Mueller calls his Everett, WA company a mom and pop shop because his spouse Kristin does the documentation when she isn't working as a Physical Therapist. Gus recently released Acorn 5 fixing hundreds of minor bugs and annoyances. "It took months and months of work, it was super boring and mind numbing and it was really hard to justify, and it made Acorn 5 super late," writes Mueller. "But we did it anyway, because something in us felt that software quality has been going downhill in general, and we sure as heck weren't going to let that happen to Acorn."
Desktops (Apple)

Could the Best Windows 10 Laptop Be a Mac? 435

dkatana writes: Now that Windows 10 is finally out there many people are looking for the best laptop with the power to make the new OS shine. The sweet spot appears to be in $900-$1500 machines from Dell, Asus and HP. But Apple, the company that has been fighting Windows for ever, has other options for Windows 10: the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. According to InformationWeek there are many reasons to consider purchasing a MacBook as the next Windows machine, including design, reliability, performance, battery life, display quality and better keyboard. Also MacBooks have a higher resell value, retaining up to 50% of their price after five years.
GUI

GitHub Desktop Launches To Replace Mac and Windows Apps 167

An anonymous reader writes: GitHub today launched a unified desktop version for Mac and Windows — you can download it from desktop.github.com. GitHub Desktop will automatically replace the previous Mac and Windows apps and can be used alongside GitHub Enterprise. Venturebeat reports: "...GitHub was tired of the differences between its two apps and decided it was time to align them. The hope is that if Mac and Windows users have the same workflow, it will be easier for them to work together (and for individual users to switch between the two platforms)."
Worms

Thunderstrike2 Details Revealed 65

An anonymous reader writes: Prior to DefCon and BlackHat, we learned that Trammell Hudson had developed a firmware worm for Apple machines that could spread over Thunderbolt hardware accessories. Now that both conferences have finished, Hudson has published slides and an annotated transcript detailing how the worm works.

A brief quote: "Thunderstrike 2 takes advantage of four older, previously disclosed vulnerabilities. These had all been known and fixed on other platforms, but not on Apple's MacBooks. ... Speed Racer (Incorrect BIOS_CNTL configuration, 2014, VU#766164), Darth Venamis (S3 boot script injection, 2014, VU#976132) Snorlax (Flash configuration is not set after S3 sleep, 2013 VU#577140) and PrinceHarming (2015) Unsigned Option ROMs (2007, 2012). ... While we're looking at Apple specifically in this research, the overall message is that many vendors are not keeping up to date and are not responding to CERT, especially if it requires effort to port or test vulnerabilities from other vendor platforms."
Firefox

Firefox 40 Arrives With Windows 10 Support, Expanded Malware Protection 113

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 40 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include official Windows 10 support, added protection against unwanted software downloads, and new navigational gestures on Android. Firefox 40 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Changelogs are here: desktop and Android.
OS X

OS X Bug Exploited To Infect Macs Without Need For Password 127

An anonymous reader writes: A new flaw has been discovered in the latest version of OS X which allows hackers to install malware and adware onto a Mac without the need for any system passwords, researchers say. The serious zero-day vulnerability was first identified last week and results from a modified error-logging feature in OS X Yosemite which hackers are able to exploit to create files with root privileges. The flaw is currently found in the 'fully patched' OS X 10.10.4, but is not in the newest 10.11 El Capitan beta – suggesting that Apple developers were aware of the issue and are testing a fix.
Security

Researchers Create Mac "Firmworm" That Spreads Via Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapters 119

BIOS4breakfast writes: Wired reports that later this week at BlackHat and Defcon, Trammell Hudson will show the Thunderstrike 2 update to his Thunderstrike attack on Mac firmware (previously covered on Slashdot). Trammell teamed up with Xeno Kovah and Corey Kallenberg from LegbaCore, who have previously shown numerous exploits for PC firmware. They found multiple vulnerabilities that were already publicly disclosed were still present in Mac firmware. This allows a remote attacker to break into the Mac over the network, and infect its firmware. The infected firmware can then infect Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapters' PCI Option ROM. And then those adapters can infect the firmware of any Mac they are plugged into — hence creating the self-propagating Thunderstrike 2 "firmworm." Unlike worms like Stuxnet, it never exists on the filesystem, it only ever lives in firmware (which no one ever checks.) A video showing the proof of concept attack is posted on YouTube.
OS X

A Tweet-Sized Exploit Can Get Root On OS X 10.10 130

vivaoporto writes: The Register reports a root-level privilege-escalation exploit that allows one to gain administrator-level privileges on an OS X Yosemite Mac using code so small that fits in a tweet. The security bug, documented by iOS and OS X guru Stefan Esserwhich, can be exploited by malware and attackers to gain total control of the computer. This flaw is present in the latest version of Yosemite, OS X 10.10.4, and the beta, version 10.10.5 but is already fixed in the preview beta of El Capitan (OS X 10.11) Speaking of exploits: Reader trailrunner 7 notes that "HP’s Zero Day Initiative has released four new zero days in Internet Explorer that can lead to remote code execution."
Chrome

Chrome 44 Launches With Tweaks To Push Messaging and Notifications 67

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched Chrome 44 for Windows, Mac, and Linux with new developer tools. Aside from a host of security fixes, this release focuses mainly on developer features. The API for push notifications was updated to match the specification, a new implementation of multi-column layout was added, and they've extended support for Unicode escapes in strings. The full changelog notes a number of performance improvements as well.
Privacy

Free Tools For Detecting Hacking Team Malware In Your Systems 62

An anonymous reader writes: Worried that you might have been targeted with Hacking Team spyware, but don't know how to find out for sure? IT security firm Rook Security has released Milano, a free automated tool meant to detect the Hacking Team malware on a computer system. Facebook has also offered a way to discover if your Mac(s) have been compromised by Hacking Team malware: they have provided a specific query pack for its open source OS analysis tool osquery.
Graphics

Square Enix Pulls, Apologizes For Mac Version of Final Fantasy XIV 94

_xeno_ writes: Just over a week after Warner Bros. pulled the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight due to bugs, Square Enix is now being forced to do the same thing with the Mac OS X version of Final Fantasy XIV (which was released at the same time as Batman: Arkham Knight). The rather long note explaining the decision apologizes for releasing the port before it was ready and blames OS X and OpenGL for the discrepancy between the game's performance on identical Mac hardware running Windows. It's unclear when (or even if) Square Enix will resume selling an OS X version — the note indicates that the development team is hopeful that "[w]ith the adoption of DirectX 11 for Mac, and the replacement of OpenGL with a new graphics API in Apple's next OS, the fundamental gap in current performance issues may soon be eliminated." (I'm not sure what "the adoption of DirectX 11 for Mac" refers to. OS X gaining DirectX 11 support is news to me — and, I suspect, Microsoft.) Given that the game supports the aging PS3 console, you'd think the developers would be able to find a way to get the same graphics as the PS3 version on more powerful Mac OS X hardware.
Firefox

Firefox 39 Released, Bringing Security Improvements and Social Sharing 172

An anonymous reader writes: Today Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 39.0, which brings an number of minor improvements to the open source browser. (Full release notes.) They've integrated Firefox Share with Firefox Hello, which means that users will be able to open video calls through links sent over social media. Internally, the browser dropped support for the insecure SSLv3 and disabled use of RC4 except where explicitly whitelisted. The SafeBrowsing malware detection now works for downloads on OS X and Linux. (Full list of security changes.) The Mac OS X version of Firefox is now running Project Silk, which makes animations and scrolling noticeably smoother. Developers now have access to the powerful Fetch API, which should provide a better interface for grabbing things over a network.
Security

Hackers Exploit MacKeeper Flaw To Spread OS X Malware 63

An anonymous reader writes: Controversial OS X 'clean-up utility' MacKeeper is being exploited by cybercriminals to diffuse Mac malware OSX/Agent-ANTU, according to the BAE cyber security unit. A single line of JavaScript on a malicious web-page is enough to hand over control of the user's system via MacKeeper. Lead security researcher Sergei Shevchenko said 'attackers might simply be 'spraying' their targets with the phishing emails hoping that some of them will have MacKeeper installed, thus allowing the malware to be delivered to their computers and executed,' The malware enables remote control over commands, uploads and downloads, and the setting of execution permissions, as well as granting access to details of VPN connections, user names, and lists of processes and statuses.
Open Source

LibreOffice Now Available On Apple's Mac App Store 132

sfcrazy writes: It's an event of historical magnitude: One of the most popular Open Source projects, LibreOffice, is now available directly from Apple's Mac App Store. You can get LibreOffice on OSX with automatic updates, long-term maintenance, and optional professional support, for the first time. There are two editions of LibreOffice available on the Mac App Store: LibreOffice from Collabora and LibreOffice Vanilla. While the Vanilla edition can be downloaded free of cost, LO from Collabora has a price tag of $10. "Free through the App store" is an implicit endorsement that plain old "free" can't beat, even taking open-source licensing out of the picture.
Security

Researchers Find Major Keychain Vulnerability in iOS and OS X 78

An anonymous reader notes a report from El Reg on a major cross-app resource vulnerability in iOS and Mac OS X. Researchers say it's possible to break app sandboxes, bypass App Store security checks, and crack the Apple keychain. The researchers wrote, "specifically, we found that the inter-app interaction services, including the keychain and WebSocket on OS X and URL Scheme on OS X and iOS, can all be exploited by [malware] to steal such confidential information as the passwords for iCloud, email and bank, and the secret token of Evernote. Further, the design of the App sandbox on OS X was found to be vulnerable, exposing an app’s private directory to the sandboxed malware that hijacks its Apple Bundle ID. As a result, sensitive user data, like the notes and user contacts under Evernote and photos under WeChat, have all been disclosed. Fundamentally, these problems are caused by the lack of app-to-app and app-to-OS authentications." Their full academic paper (PDF) is available online, as are a series of video demos. They withheld publication for six months at Apple's request, but haven't heard anything further about a fix.
Microsoft

Microsoft Manufacturing Surface Hub In the US 124

overThruster writes: According to the New York Times, Microsoft has chosen to manufacture its Surface Hub in Wilsonville, Oregon. The announcement follows Apple’s decision to build the Mac Pro in Texas. "It makes a lot of sense to manufacture in the U.S.," said Steve Hix, an entrepreneur who founded several Portland-area tech companies, including one that had a manufacturing facility in Wilsonville. "The key issue is quality."
IOS

WWDC 2015 Roundup 415

Here's an overview of the main announcements and new products unveiled at WWDC today.
  • The latest OS X will be named OS X El Capitan. Features include: Natural language searches and auto-arrange windows. You can make the cursor bigger by shaking the mouse and pin sites in Safari now. 1.4x faster than Yosemite. Available to developers today, public beta in July, out for free in the fall.
  • Metal, the graphics API is coming to Mac. "Metal combines the compute power of OpenCL and the graphics power of OpenGL in a high-performance API that does both." Up to 40% greater rendering efficiency.
  • iOS 9: New Siri UI. There’s an API for search. Siri and Spotlight are getting more integrated. Siri getting better at prediction with a far lower word error rate. You can make checklists, draw and sketch inside of Notes. Maps gets some love. New app called News "We think this offers the best mobile reading experience ever." Like Flipboard it pulls in news articles from your favorite sites. HomeKit now supports window shades, motion sensors, security systems, and remote access via iCloud. Public Beta for iOS 9.
  • Apple Pay: All four major credit card companies and over 1 million locations supporting Apple Pay as of next month. Apple Pay reader developed by Square, for peer-to-peer transactions. Apple Pay coming to the UK next month support in 250,000 locations including the London transportation system. Passbook is being renamed "Wallet."
  • iPad: Shortcuts for app-switching, split-screen multitasking and QuickType. Put two fingers down on the keyboard and it becomes a trackpad. Side by side apps. Picture in picture available on iPad Air and up, Mini 2 and up.
  • CarPlay: Now works wirelessly and supports apps by the automaker.
  • Swift 2,the latest version of Apple’s programing language . Swift will be open source.
  • The App Store: Over 100 billion app downloads, and $30 billion paid to developers.
  • Apple Watch: watchOS 2 with new watch faces. Developers can build their own "complications" (widgets with a terrible name that show updates and gauges on the watch face). A new feature called Time Travel lets you rotate the digital crown to zoom into the future and see what’s coming up. More new features: reply to email, bedside alarm clock, send scribbled messages in multiple colors. You can now play video on the watch. Developer beta of watchOS 2 available today, wide release in the fall for free.
  • Apple Music: “The next chapter in music. It will change the way you experience music forever,” says Cook. Live DJs broadcasting and hosting live radio streams you can listen to in 150 countries. Handpicked suggestions. 24/7 live global radio. Beats Connect lets unsigned artists connect with fans. Beats Music has all of iTunes’ music, to buy or stream. With curated recommendations. Launching June 30th in 100 countries with Android this fall, with Windows and Android versions. First three months free, $9.99 a month or $14.99 a month for family plan for up to six.