Monday, June 10, 2024

macOS Sequoia

Do you like your computers to be big, fire-prone and inflexible? Then you'll love macOS Sequoia, another missed naming opportunity from the company that should have brought you macOS Mettler, macOS Bolinas (now with no support for mail), or macOS Weed. Plus, now you'll have to deal with pervasive ChatGPT integration, meaning you won't have to watch the next Mission: Impossible to find out what the Entity AI will do to you.

Now that I've had my cup of snark, though, Intel Mac users beware: this one almost uniformly requires a T2 chip, the Apple A10 derivative used as a security controller in the last generation of Intel Macs, and even at least one Mac that does have one isn't supported (the 2018 MacBook Air, presumably because of its lower-powered CPU-GPU, which is likely why the more powerful 2019 iMac without one is supported, albeit incompletely). It would not be a stretch to conclude that this is the final macOS for Intel Macs, though Rosetta 2's integration to support x86_64 in VMs means Intel Mac software will likely stay supported on Apple silicon for awhile. But that shouldn't be particularly surprising. What I did find a little more ominous is that only the 2020 MacBook Air and up is supported in their price segment, and since those Macs are about four years old now, it's possible some M1 Macs might not make the jump to macOS 16 either — whatever Apple ends up calling it.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Donnie Darko uses OS X

I think it's been previously commented upon, but we were watching Donnie Darko over the weekend (controversial opinion: we prefer the director's cut, we think it's an improvement) and noticed that Donnie's reality is powered by a familiar processor and operating system. These are direct grabs from the Blu-ray.
The entirety of the crash dump can't be seen and the scenes in which it/they appear are likely a composite of several unrelated traces, but the first two shots have a backtrace showing symbols from Unsanity Application Enhancer (APE), used for adding extra functionality to the OS like altering the mouse cursor and system menus. However, its infamous in-memory monkeypatching technique could sometimes make victim applications unstable and was unsurprisingly a source of some early crash reports in TenFourFox. (I never supported it for that reason, refused to even use it on principle, and still won't.) As a result, it wouldn't have been difficult for the art department to gin up a genuine crash backtrace as an insert. The second set of grabs appears when the Artifact returns to the Primary Universe and the Tangent Universe is purged (not a spoiler because it will make no sense to anyone who hasn't seen the movie).

All four are specific to the director's cut that premiered theatrically in May 2004. While APE was available at least as far back as Puma, i.e., OS X 10.1, Puma didn't come out until September 2001, months after the movie premiered in January of that year. In fact, the original movie is too early even for the release of Cheetah (10.0) in March. The first two images don't give an obvious version number but the second set shows a Darwin kernel version of 6.1, which corresponds to Jaguar 10.2.1 from September 2002. Although Panther 10.3 came out in October 2003, the recut movie would have moved to post-production (in its fashion) by then, and the shots may well have been done near the beginning of production when early versions of Jag remained current.

I'm waiting on the next Firefox ESR (128) in July, and there will be at least some maintenance updates then, so watch for that.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

One less Un*xy option for 32-bit PowerPC

Most of you still using a Power Mac as a daily or occasional driver are probably either running Linux, Tiger or Leopard, and a minority on OS 9. Despite many distributions no longer shipping 32-bit PPC installs, Gentoo Linux still has specific support along with a few others, as does Adélie Linux if you like musl for breakfast. Still, for server duties, where I come from, you bring on the BSDs. In this blog you've already met my long-suffering NetBSD Macintosh IIci which is still trucking to this day and more recently my also-NetBSD G4 Mac mini (which later needed, effectively, a logic board swap), but I also have a Quadra 605 with a full '040 running NetBSD I use for utility tasks and at one time I ran an intermediate incarnation of on a Power Macintosh 7300 with a Sonnet G3 running NetBSD too. I stuffed that system full with a gig of RAM and a SATA card and it did very well until I got the current POWER6 server in 2010.

NetBSD has the widest support, continuing to run on most 68Ks and PCI Power Macs to this day (leaving out only the NuBus Power Macs which aren't really supported by much of anything anymore, sadly). However, OpenBSD works fine on New World Macs, and FreeBSD has a very mature 32-bit PowerPC port — or, should I say, soon will have had one, since starting in FreeBSD 15 (13.x is the current release), ARMv6, 32-bit Intel and 32-bit PowerPC support will likely be removed. No new 32-bit support will be added, including for RISC-V.

Even though I have a large number of NetBSD systems, I still like FreeBSD, and one of my remote "island" systems runs it. The differences between BSDs are more subtle than with Linux distributions, but you can still enjoy the different flavours that result, and I even ported a little FreeBSD code to the NetBSD kernel so I could support automatic restarts after a power failure on the G4 mini. The fact that the userland and kernel are better matched together probably makes the BSDs better desktop clients, too, especially since on big-endian we're already used to some packages just not building right, so we don't lose a whole lot by running it. (Usually those are the same packages that wouldn't build on anything but Linux anyway.)

This isn't the end for the G5, which should still be able to run the 64-bit version of FreeBSD, and OpenBSD hasn't voiced any firm plans to cut 32-bit loose. However, NetBSD supports the widest range of Macs, including Macs far older than any Power Mac, and frankly if you want to use a Un*x on a Power Mac and have reasonable confidence it will still be running on it for years to come, it's undeniably the one with the best track record.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Google ending Basic HTML support for Gmail in 2024

Understandably they're saying little about it publicly, but word is getting around that Google's fast, super-compatible Basic HTML mode for Gmail will be removed in a few short months. "We’re writing to let you know that the Gmail Basic HTML view for desktop web and mobile web will be disabled starting early January 2024. The Gmail Basic HTML views are previous versions of Gmail that were replaced by their modern successors 10+ years ago and do not include full Gmail feature functionality."

There are also reports that you can't set Basic HTML mode now either. Most of you who want to use it probably already are, but if you're not, you can try this, this, this, this or even this to see if it gets around the front-end block.

Google can of course do whatever they want, and there are always maintenance costs to be had with keeping old stuff around — in this case, for users unlikely to be monetized in any meaningful fashion because you don't run all their crap. You are exactly the people Google wants to get rid of and doing so is by design. As such, it's effectively a giant "screw you," and will be a problem for those folks relying on this for a fast way to read Gmail with TenFourFox or any other limited system. (Hey, wanna buy a Pixel 8 to read Gmail?)

Speaking of "screw you," and with no small amount of irony given this is published on a Google platform, I certainly hope the antitrust case goes somewhere.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

WebP chemspill patch on Github

A fix is in the TenFourFox tree for MFSA 2023-40, a/k/a CVE-2023-4863, which is a heap overflow in the WebP image decoder. Firefox 45 would not ordinarily be vulnerable to this but we have our own basic WebP decoder using Google's library, so we are technically exploitable as well. I was working on a fix of my own but the PM27 fix that roytam1 cherrypicked is cleaner, so I've added that patch and one two (a followup was needed) more for correctness. Although this issue is currently being exploited in the wild, it would require a PowerPC-specific attack to be successful on a Power Mac. You do not need to clobber to update your build.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

August patch set for TenFourFox

The next patch set has landed, bringing the TenFourFox security base up to 115ESR. This includes the usual new certificate roots and updates to pins, HSTS and TLDs, as well as applicable security updates such as a full pull-up to the browser's SCTP support (not that this is frequently used in TenFourFox but rather to make future patches a little more tractable). On the bug fix side there is an update to the ATSUI font blocklist (thanks Chris T) and a wallpaper for a JavaScript-related crash on (thanks roytam1). Finally, basic adblock has been made stricter and is now also targetting invasive fingerprinting scripts. This adds a bit more overhead to checking the origin but that all runs at native C++ speed, and ensures we're less likely to get bogged down running JavaScript that we'd really rather not.

As this is a base pullup, building this time around will require a full clobber, so be sure to clear out everything before you begin.

For our next set, I'm thinking of an update to Reader Mode, since I firmly believe that's one of the most useful modes to run TenFourFox in on limited Power Mac hardware. That's why we made it sticky and provided a way to automatically open it by site (under Preferences, TenFourFox) — on resource-limited systems a resource-light view of a resource-heavy page is pretty much the way to go. And isn't everything resource-heavy to a Power Mac?

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Floodgap downtime

Just a quick note: Floodgap is down due to upstream issues beyond their control. I'm hoping we'll be back up in a day or two more. Sorry about that. E-mail still works, so anything you've sent me will still get through; this only affects the Web and gopher servers.