Improving Chromium's browser compatibility in 2020
> It is clear that it is still painful to develop a website or web app that works reliably across browsers.
Installation images renamed from .fs to .img
> There are some UEFI direct-from-internet bootloaders that require the name *.img. So this makes things more convenient for those, while keeping it consistant in all architectures.
Five Years of Rust
> With all that’s going on in the world you’d be forgiven for forgetting that as of today, it has been five years since we released 1.0 in 2015! Rust has changed a lot these past five years, so we wanted reflect back on all of our contributors’ work since the stabilization of the language.
New Crypto in Go 1.14
> Go 1.14 is out and with it come a few nice updates to crypto/tls!
Recent and future pattern matching improvements
> Much of writing software revolves around checking if some data has some shape (“pattern“), extracting information from it, and then reacting if there was a match. To facilitate this, many modern languages, Rust included, support what is known as “pattern matching”.
Avoiding gaps in IOMMU protection at boot
> But setting things up in the OS isn’t sufficient. If an attacker is able to trigger arbitrary DMA before the OS has started then they can tamper with the system firmware or your bootloader and modify the kernel before it even starts running. So ideally you want your firmware to set up the IOMMU before it even enables any external devices, and newer firmware should actually do this automatically. It sounds like the problem is solved.
The Linux CSPRNG Is Now Good!
> Oceans of ink and hours on stage have been spent to convince the world that the best random number generator is /dev/urandom, the kernel one. And it is, and it’s always been. However, an uncomfortable truth was that the Linux CSPRNG really could have been better than it was. Userspace CSPRNGs couldn’t be better than the kernel one, so our advice was still valid, but that space for improvement always frustrated me.
> Good news everyone! In recent years, the Linux CSPRNG got a number of great incremental improvements, and I can now say in good conscience that it’s not only the best, it’s also good.
e2k19 Hackathon Report: Stefan Sperling on GoT and wireless
All about the new ML Super Resolution feature in Pixelmator Pro
> To create the ML Super Resolution feature, we used a convolutional neural network. This type of deep neural network reduces raster images and their complex inter-pixel dependencies into a form that is easier to process (i.e. requires less computation) without losing important features (edges, patterns, colors, textures, gradients, and so on). The ML Super Resolution network includes 29 convolutional layers which scan the image and create an over-100-channel-deep version of it that contains a range of identified features. This is then upscaled, post-processed and turned back into a raster image. Below is a simplified representation of the neural network.
Not quite all about it, and there’s better references for the technique, but neat to see this trickle down to entry level photo editing.
Real hardware breakthroughs, and focusing on rustc
> After the addition of the NVMe driver a couple months ago, I have been running Redox OS permanently (from an install to disk) on a System76 Galago Pro (galp3-c), with System76 Open Firmware as well as the un-announced, in-development, GPLv3 System76 EC firmware . This particular hardware has full support for the keyboard, touchpad, storage, and ethernet, making it easy to use with Redox.
> Building Redox OS on Redox OS has always been one of the highest priorities of the project. Rustc seems to be only a few months of work away, after which I can begin to improve the system while running on it permanently, at least on one machine. With Redox OS being a microkernel, it is possible that even the driver level could be recompiled and respawned without downtime, making it incredibly fast to develop for. With this in place, I would work more efficiently on porting more software and tackling more hardware support issues, such as filling in the USB stack and adding graphics drivers.
Async-await on stable Rust!
> On this coming Thursday, November 7, async-await syntax hits stable Rust, as part of the 1.39.0 release. This work has been a long time in development -- the key ideas for zero-cost futures, for example, were first proposed by Aaron Turon and Alex Crichton in 2016! -- and we are very proud of the end result. We believe that Async I/O is going to be an increasingly important part of Rust’s story.
Vulkan Progress Report #5
> Another month, another Vulkan progress report! October was a busy month, as most of it was split between working on the new Global Illumination system and Godotcon/GIC in Poland. Despite this, strong progress was made and the new GI system seems pretty much complete.
> Godot 3.0 introduced GIProbes. They provide Global Illumination to scenes. They were, however, pretty limited. Only static geometry could provide GI and dynamic objects were ignored. Added to this, changes in light settings had significant frames of delay. Added to a not so great performance and quality, the feature was barely usable as is.
> For Godot 4.0, GIProbes will see several significant changes, which will be outlined as follows:
U2F support in OpenSSH
AddressSanitizer (ASan) for Windows with MSVC
> We are pleased to announce AddressSanitizer (ASan) support for the MSVC toolset. ASan is a fast memory error detector that can find runtime memory issues such as use-after-free and perform out of bounds checks. Support for sanitizers has been one of our more popular suggestions on Developer Community, and we can now say that we have an experience for ASan on Windows, in addition to our existing support for Linux projects.
> MSVC support for ASan is available in our second Preview release of Visual Studio 2019 version 16.4.
Dramatically reduced power usage in Firefox 70 on macOS with Core Animation
> In Firefox 70 we changed how pixels get to the screen on macOS. This allows us to do less work per frame when only small parts of the screen change. As a result, Firefox 70 drastically reduces the power usage during browsing.
> Every Firefox window contains one OpenGL context, which covers the entire window. Firefox 69 was using the API described above. So we were always redrawing the whole window on every change, and the window manager was always copying our entire window to the screen on every change. This turned out to be a problem despite the fact that these draws were fully hardware accelerated.
> Core Animation is the name of an Apple framework which lets you create a tree of layers (CALayer). These layers usually contain textures with some pixel content. The layer tree defines the positions, sizes, and order of the layers within the window. Starting with macOS 10.14, all windows use Core Animation by default, as a way to share their rendering with the window manager.
Making the Tokio scheduler 10x faster
> We’ve been hard at work on the next major revision of Tokio, Rust’s asynchronous runtime. Today, a complete rewrite of the scheduler has been submitted as a pull request. The result is huge performance and latency improvements. Some benchmarks saw a 10x speed up! It is always unclear how much these kinds of improvements impact “full stack” use cases, so we’ve also tested how these scheduler improvements impacted use cases like Hyper and Tonic (spoiler: it’s really good).
> In preparation for working on the new scheduler, I spent time searching for resources on scheduler implementations. Besides existing implementations, I did not find much. I also found the source of existing implementations difficult to navigate. To remedy this, I tried to keep Tokio’s new scheduler implementation as clean as possible. I also am writing this detailed article on implementing the scheduler in hope that others in similar positions find it useful.
> The article starts with a high level overview of scheduler design, including work-stealing schedulers. It then gets into the details of specific optimizations made in the new Tokio scheduler.
New In PostgreSQL 12: Generated Columns
> PostgreSQL 12 comes with a new feature called generated columns. Other popular RDBMSes already support generated columns as “computed columns” or “virtual columns.” With Postgres 12, you can now use it in PostgreSQL as well. Read on to learn more.
Async-await hits beta!
> Big news! As of this writing, syntactic support for async-await is available in the Rust beta channel! It will be available in the 1.39 release, which is expected to be released on November 7th, 2019. Once async-await hits stable, that will mark the culmination of a multi-year effort to enable efficient and ergonomic asynchronous I/O in Rust. It will not, however, mark the end of the road: there is still more work to do, both in terms of polish (some of the error messages we get today are, um, not great) and in terms of feature set (async fn in traits, anyone?).
Apple’s New Map, Expansion #5 Northeast U.S.
The usual before and after analysis.
The Baseline Interpreter: a faster JS interpreter in Firefox 70
> The Baseline Interpreter sits between the C++ interpreter and the Baseline JIT and has elements from both. It executes all bytecode instructions with a fixed interpreter loop (like the C++ interpreter). In addition, it uses Inline Caches to improve performance and collect type information (like the Baseline JIT).