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Dell Shows Off A Ubuntu Based Mobile Workstation

February 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Dell has unleashed a mobile workstation aimed at developers, designed to be the “beast” to the already available XPS 13 ultra-mobile system “beauty”.

The Precision M3800 was previously available only with Microsoft Windows 8.1, but the new Precision M3800 Developer Edition will ship with the Ubuntu 14.04 Long Term Support Linux distro.

The developer version was unveiled by Barton George, Dell’s director of developer programmes, who talked about the company’s “beauty and the beast” strategy for Linux-powered PCs to produce an ultra-portable laptop as the XPS 13 and then a more capable machine.

Work on making the Precision M3800 a more Ubuntu-friendly machine started soon after the XPS 13 release thanks to developer Jared Dominguez, who improved the code in his personal time and put together instructions on how to run the OS on the machine.

After listening to “tremendously positive” feedback, George said that Dell has now officially added a Ubuntu 14.04 LTS customisation option to the company’s official online shop.

The Precision M3800 Developer Edition weighs 1.88kg, and is less than 18mm thick. It runs a 4th-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU coupled with an Nvidia Quadro K1100M GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 4K Ultra HD screen option.

Dominguez explained that there are still problems with Ubuntu support for the Precision M3800 hardware as the distro shipped with the first M3800 units doesn’t include support for Thunderbolt ports.

The updated kernel of Ubuntu 14.04.2 will add “some” Thunderbolt support, however, thanks to the hardware-enablement stack in Ubuntu, the developer said.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Microsoft Attempting To Attract More Mobile Users With Freebies

January 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp made its popular Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications available,free of charge, on Android tablets, further signifying its drive to attract as many mobile customers as possible using its software.

It also released an app for its popular Outlook email program to run on Apple Inc’s iPhone and iPad, hoping to attract the millions of users familiar with Outlook from their work desktops.

The new releases are the latest gambits in Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s attempt to wrest back the initiative in the battle for mobile users, where Microsoft has fallen behind Apple and Google Inc.

Nadella broke with decades of tradition last March by releasing a free, touch-friendly version of Office for Apple’s iPad, before such software was even available for Microsoft’s Windows devices.

By giving away its industry-standard Office apps on Apple’s popular iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, Microsoft is looking to build up a base of users which it can later persuade to sign up for Office 365, the full, Internet-based version of Office starting at $7 a month for personal users.

Microsoft has been offering test versions of the Office apps on Android for almost three months, but Thursday marks the first day they are available as finished products from the online Google Play app store.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint, the key elements of Microsoft’s top-selling Office suite of applications, have been a hit on Apple’s mobile devices, with 80 million downloads since last March, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft plans to release new, touch-friendly versions of its Office apps for Windows devices later this year when it releases the Windows 10 operating system.

The new Outlook app, based on a popular app made by Acompli, which Microsoft bought in December, will allow iPhone and iPad users much easier ways of linking email to calendars and working with file attachments. Microsoft is also releasing a test version of the Outlook app for Android users.

 

 

New Internet Browser Vivaldi Launches

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Well known software developer Jon von Tetzchner has launched a new internet browser, offering an interface for high-volume users who “have problems fitting all their open tabs on one screen”, he said in a Reuters interview.

Known as Vivaldi and available on desktop computers from Tuesday, the browser’s initial launch covers the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

“A mobile phone and a tablet version are in the pipeline. We are working on it, but they won’t be out until they’re ready,” said von Tetzchner, who owns 90 percent of the company’s shares and has paid for the development.

“At some point it will need to fund it self and to reach that point we will need a few million users. I have no doubt that we will reach that number quite easily,” he added.

With features like personalized notes, bookmarks with small screen shots and speed dials with options for multiple groups and folders, Vivaldi hopes to attract high-volume users.

Despite tough competition from the likes of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Corp’s Firefox and Opera Software’s browser, von Tetzchner believes there is still room for more.

“We welcome everyone, but this is first of all a browser for people who expect and need more,” he said. “There is without a doubt a demand for this type of browser even though I don’t expect it to take more than a few percent of the total market.”

Vivaldi has signed a few affiliation deals ahead of the launch and is in talks with several potential partners for functionalities like search and online shopping.

“We have made several deals and have started a dialogue with others. But because some of these are potential competitors, we’ve wanted to go live with the browser first.”

Named after the 18th century composer Antonio Vivaldi, the name carries an inescapable reference to von Tetzchner’s previous role as co-founder and long-time head of browser and mobile phone technology firm Opera Software.

 

Hacker Forum Working To On Evolving Malware

January 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Notorious malware kjw0rm and Sir DoOoM have been uncovered in a hacker forum as evolved versions, developed with advanced functionality, according to researchers at Trend Micro.

A threat response engineer at Trend Micro, Michael Marcos, said that he uncovered the malware while examining the Arabic language on a bogus “computer enthusiast site”, called dev-point.com forum.

“One of the notable topics in the forum talked about new malware ‘kjw0rm’ and a worm named ‘Sir DoOom’, which both came about after the release of the Njw0rm malware source code in the same forum,” he explained.

The Njw0rm’s source code was leaked in May 2013. The evolved kjw0rm is currently available in two versions, both of which have advanced infiltration and infection mechanisms.

The first Kjw0rm V2.0 appeared initially on the forum in January 2014, while the updated 0.5X version and new Sir DoOoM malware followed in December.

The V2.0 malware is the most basic of the three and reportedly hides itself in bogus files within infected systems.

“The propagation method of this malware targets all folders in the root directory of the removable drive,” read the advisory.

V0.5X follows a developed version of the same tactic, and Sir DoOoM adds an anti-virtual machine capability.

“[V0.5X] obfuscated some portions of the malware code. The malware author utilises an obfuscator tool that converts characters to hex values, adds filler functions, and performs computations that make analysis more difficult and time-consuming,” explained Marcos.

“[Sir DoOoM] also has an anti-virtual machine routine. It first searches for a list of the installed programs in the affected computer.

“If this variant found itself in a computer where a virtual machine program is installed, it will uninstall and terminate itself from the affected system. This prevents analysts testing to determine malware behaviour.”

Trend Micro senior engineer Bharat Mistry told V3 that the variants are dangerous as they add several advanced functions.

“Previous versions were there mainly for password stealing from browsers. As the malware has evolved, after the initial infections it now has the ability to download and execute Visual Basic code [VBS],” he said.

“VBS is a powerful coding language and can be used to interact directly with the operating system on the infected device.

“Also it now has the ability to recognise if it is being used in a security testing environment known as a sandbox by looking for the presence of a virtual machine.

“Finally the replication has also advanced with the use of hidden files on removable storage devices such as USB sticks.”

He added that the new powers could be used to mount a variety of attacks.

“The malware can be used to perform a number of different functions, including download, installation and execution of additional files or tools to potentially gain administrator or privilege credentials,” he said.

“Once this is gained hackers then have the ability to move laterally in the organisation and start looking for crown jewels or simply advertise that a point of presence has been created in a organisation that could then be ‘rented’ out to perform attacks, such as DDoS.”

Kjw0rm and Sir DoOoM’s appearance follows the discovery of several evolved attack tools. These include the defence-dodging Skeleton Key malware and the advanced Cryptowall 3.0 ransomware.

Courtesy-Theinq

RHEL Finally Available On IBM’s Power8

January 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has made the Power8 version of the latest Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) beta available through its Power Development Platform (PDP) as the firm continues to build support for its Power systems.

IBM and Red Hat announced in December that RHEL 7.1 was adding support for the Power8 processor in little endian instruction format, as the beta release was made available for testers to download.

This version is available for developers and testers to download from today through the IBM PDP and at IBM Innovation Centres and Client Centres worldwide, IBM announced on its Smarter Computing blog.

“IBM and Red Hat’s collaboration to produce open source innovation demonstrates our commitment to developing solutions that efficiently solve IT challenges while empowering our clients to make their data centres as simple as possible so they can focus on core business functions and future opportunities,” said Doug Balog, general manager for Power Systems at IBM’s Systems & Technology Group.

The little endian support is significant because IBM’s Power architecture processors are capable of supporting little endian and big endian instruction formats. These simply reflect the order in which bytes are stored in memory.

The Power platform has long had Linux distributions and applications that operate in big endian mode, but the much larger Linux ecosystem for x86 systems uses little endian mode, and supporting this in Red Hat makes it much easier to port applications from x86 to Power.

Suse Linux Enterprise Server 12 launched last year with little endian support for the Power8 processor, as did Canonical’s Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

However, Red Hat and Suse are understood to be continuing to support their existing big endian releases on Power for their full product lifecycles.

IBM sold off its x86 server business to Lenovo last year, and has focused instead on the higher value Power Systems and z Systems mainframes.

In particular, the firm has touted the Power Systems as more suitable for mission critical workloads in scale-out environments like the cloud than x86 servers, and has been forging partnerships with firms such as Red Hat through its OpenPower Foundation.

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

 

 

The ESA Goes With Red Hat For Cloud Services

January 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The European Space (ESA) has deployed a private, on-premise cloud platform designed to serve its community in Europe. The infrastructure is partly based on a custom version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

The ESA Cloud needs to be constantly available to the space agency’s large user base, ensuring high levels of reliability and flexibility and the management capabilities of a modern IT environment, according to Red Hat.

Hosted applications include software development and testing, satellite data processing, document management and “more traditional” corporate IT services used during day-to-day operations.

The ESA Cloud infrastructure is based on systems from VCE, including a blade architecture with x86 CPUs, and cloud management software from Orange Business Services.

RHEL is one of the platforms supported within the ESA Cloud, and the space agency worked closely with Red Hat to customise the enterprise OS.

The customisation and implementation phase was particularly important, the ESA said, because its requirements are “dramatically” different to those of any other enterprise.

The scenarios Red Hat and the ESA IT team had to deal with were quite often “absolutely new”, the company stated.

The ESA Cloud is designed to provide complex virtual environments “within minutes” to end users, shortening the time needed to reach an organisation’s business and scientific targets.

Monitoring computing resources consumed in real time is another important feature of ESA’s private cloud, allowing the IT team to optimise the available capacity to support specific agency projects.

The first ESA Cloud data center is ready for production in Frascati, Italy, and the space agency has already completed a similar site in Darmstadt, Germany.

Future targets include increasing the number of available services, and disaster recovery capabilities to face “any possible large-scale calamity”.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Windows 10 Have An Impact On Tablets?

January 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

CCS Insight has said that, while Microsoft’s share of the tablet market is expected to grow, Windows 10 will have “little impact” before the end of 2016.

CCS has cast its eye over tablet sales, and said that while the market saw minimal growth in 2014, sales are likely to increase by 28 percent in 2015.

The growth will largely be driven by Android, thanks to affordably priced tablets running Google’s software, while Apple is expected to continue to woo those in the market for a high-end device.

Apple will also grow its position in the business tablet market, CCS expects, thanks to its partnership with IBM.

However, CCS stressed that Microsoft should not be overlooked. Sales of Windows-based tablets won’t see huge growth this year, but will gain a bigger share of the market.

Marina Koytcheva, CCS director of forecasting, said: “We expect Android to continue dominating the low-end and mid-range market, with Apple taking the lion’s share of the high-end.

“But Windows is gaining a bigger slice of the pie, albeit from a very low level, and should not be overlooked.”

Koytcheva added that Microsoft’s decision to scrap its licence fee for Windows devices under 9in is a major factor.

“It has given Windows fresh impetus, as it has spurred manufacturers to produce a better range of devices at a variety of prices, as low as $99 for HP’s Stream 7, for example,” she said.

Windows 10 is expected to make its debut on 21 January, but isn’t likely to have much of an impact, according to CCS.

“Microsoft still runs the risk of failing to convert the wide availability of cheaper Windows tablets into strong growth in unit sales before 2017,” Koytcheva said.

“Windows 10 will take time to make its mark, and developers will need a few months to perfect applications for the new platform. We expect Windows 10 to have little impact on tablet sales before late 2016.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Citrix Acquires Storage Virtualization Vendor Sanbolic

January 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Citrix Systems has purchased storage virtualization vendor Sanbolic in a move that could make it easier for Citrix users to use applications and virtual desktops spread across data centers and clouds.

Sanbolic sells software that lets enterprises treat the capacity in most types of storage infrastructure as a single virtual system that understands the needs of each application. Those capabilities play into Citrix’s mission of efficiently delivering virtual desktops to users and making applications fast and always available.

Sanbolic’s team will join Citrix immediately, Citrix said. The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the acquisition. Sanbolic is a 13-year-old company based in Waltham, Massachusetts. More than 200 Citrix customers already use Sanbolic’s technology, according to Citrix.

Citrix bought the company in a bid to reduce infrastructure complexity, a barrier to deployments of VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and application delivery technology. The company plans to use Sanbolic with its XenDesktop and XenApp products to simplify infrastructure and cut the cost of rolling it out and managing it.

Storage, which may be spread across multiple dedicated arrays, integrated into servers themselves and allocated within public and private clouds, is moving toward the kind of virtualization that has already transformed enterprise computing and is starting to change networking. Even major vendors of storage arrays, including EMC, are beginning to emphasize overarching systems over specific hardware platforms. Making the right data available to each application when it’s needed should give enterprises more freedom to deploy their IT resources in the most effective way and keep up with changing needs.

Sanbolic’s software can manage capacity across hard-disk and flash media in NAS (network-attached storage), SAN (storage-area network), server-based and cloud deployments. With the newly acquired technology, Citrix will be able to develop new products to reduce the cost and complexity of VDI and of Windows application delivery, the company said.

 

 

Samsung Finally Enters Solid-state External Drive Business

January 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung is finally expanding its product line to include external solid-state drives with a new line of Portable SSD T1 products.

The lightweight drives have capacities of up to 1TB and are small enough to fit in your pocket. They’re significantly more expensive than magnetic hard drives, though, which come in capacities of up to 6TB.

Samsung’s 250GB external SSD is priced at $179.99, a 500GB drive is $299.99, and a 1TB drive is $599.99. By comparison, a 1TB magnetic drive can be acquired for under $100.

External storage is mostly used for data backup. But demand for external drives is growing as users download and store more multimedia and programs. Storage is also limited in Chromebooks and lightweight Windows laptops and hybrids, so users have to revert to external storage to preserve files.

But Samsung’s portable SSDs will be faster and more power-efficient than external hard drives, said Richard Leonarz, senior marketing manager.

SSDs are faster at reading and writing data than hard drives. SSDs also don’t have spinning disks, which are prevalent in hard drives and can draw a lot of power when reading and writing data.

The Portable SSD T1 drives will connect to a PC’s USB 3.0 port. The SSDs have sequential read and write speeds of 450MBps, random read speeds of 8,000 IOPS (input/output per second) and random write speeds of 21,000 IOPS.

Samsung already makes internal SSDs, which are widely used in laptops and have up to 3.2GB in storage capacity. The external SSDs are based on the same advanced 3D V-NAND technology that gives its internal SSDs speed and durability. The 3D V-NAND SSDs have storage units stacked on top of each other, much like a skyscraper, which is a more power-efficient and speedy structure compared to the planar structure used in most SSDs today.

Samsung is now taking on the likes of Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba, which largely sell external hard drives and hybrid SSD-hard drive products.

 

 

Dell Debuts Next-Gen Firewalls

December 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Dell has merged its SonicPoints with Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls to create what it claims are secure wireless networks. According to the company, the Dell SonicWALL firewalls automatically detects and provision SonicPoints, while it pushes appropriate security updates as well as policies to ensure enterprise-class security.

Of course, it also claims to simplify management, deliver a lower TCO and protect you from badgers at the same time. But it is a pretty interesting product. The SonicPoint AC Series of wireless access points would be able to support the high-performance IEEE 802.11ac wireless standard in order to offer close to three times that of the last wireless standard (802.11n).

SonicPoints will offer deep packet inspection security from Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls. This opens the door for small- and mid-sized organizations to leverage enterprise-class wireless performance and security, all the while simplifying wireless network setup and management.

With enterprise-level performance, WiFi-ready devices are able to hook up from greater distances, while making use of bandwidth-intensive mobile apps, including video and voice, working in higher-density environments with virtually no signal degradation.

Courtesy-Fud

Red Hat RHEL Adds IBM’s Power 8

December 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has announced the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.1 Beta with enhancements to improve ease of use, manageability and performance, as well as support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture.

RHEL 7.1 Beta is the next point release following the enterprise Linux vendor’s initial production release of RHEL 7.0 in June.

RHEL 7.1 adds OpenLMI support to streamline system configuration management with thin logical volume manager provisioning, along with kernel and user mode components supporting Ceph block storage devices.

The update also offers support for Microsoft CIFS for mixed vendor data centre environments that need it, providing native access to Microsoft Windows file and print services.

RHEL 7.1 also enhances identity management security with one-time password authentication via LDAP and Kerberos protocols and the FreeOTP standard, and introduces a certificate authority management tool.

In addition, RHEL 7.1 includes Security Content Automation Protocol Security Guides that reduce the complexity of compliance testing and enhance security assurance.

Building on RHEL 7.0 support for Linux containers in physical, virtual and cloud deployments in development, test and production environments, RHEL 7.1 adds access to Docker 1.2 in the RHEL 7 Extras channel.

For users with demanding workload responsiveness requirements, RHEL 7.1 adds real-time dispatching for workloads that require very precise and deterministic processing times. This capability is delivered with Linux kernel enhancements and additional userspace packages that can be added on top of a stock RHEL 7.1 installation.

Finally, RHEL 7.1 includes support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture for customers using the IBM Power8 systems infrastructure.

Running in little endian mode accelerates application portability to the IBM Power8 systems, thus allowing customers using IBM Power8 systems to use the existing ecosystem of Linux applications as developed for the x86 architecture.

Interested users can read the RHEL 7.1 Beta Release Notes, and can download the RHEL 7.1 Beta at Red Hat’s website.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Microsoft Expects To Release Windows 10 Next Autumn

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft Corp expects to have begin offering its Windows 10 operating system to the publict by autumn 2015, slightly later than previous comments had suggested.

Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told Japanese news service Nikkei on Wednesday that the new system would be released “early next fall.”

Microsoft has not publicly set a firm timetable for the release of Windows 10, but only last week suggested the possibility of an earlier release.

“By next late summer and early fall we’ll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That’s the current plan of record,” Turner told the Credit Suisse Technology Conference last Thursday.

An autumn release would put Windows 10 on track for launch three years after Windows 8, which got a mixed reception as it confused many traditional PC users with a design more suited to tablets.

Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.

An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.

Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide, according to tech research firm Gartner.

 

 

Can SSD’s Last Longer Than Manufacturers Estimate?

December 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

An uninterrupted test of solid state disc (SSD) drives has revealed that many modern devices could stand being rewritten for far longer than expected.

SSD drives, while being significantly faster than their traditional spindle counterparts, are generally believed to have a shorter lifespan because the memory only has a finite number of rewrites.

Indeed most SSD manufacturers only offer guarantees of a few years before the device becomes unwritable and the data that remains becomes permanently etched.

But researchers at The Tech Report have discovered that some brands of SSD are capable of lasting hundreds of years, with two devices involved in the ongoing project reaching the 2 petabyte milestone.

In all, six devices were originally involved in the test, but only two – the Kingston HyperX 3K and Samsung 840 Pro – are still functioning.

Already in the great SATA interface in the sky are another Kingston and another Samsung device, a Corsair and an Intel which, like a character from Logan’s Run, is designed to take its own life if it gets too old.

Of the two survivors, only the Samsung is yet to report any errors whatsoever, but the Kingston has been able to move data about from damaged sectors without any data loss, so far, and is still in the running.

However, even the losing drives have a lot to be proud of. All have managed to carry on long after their expected lifespan, and had they not been turned into digital Solomon Grundys (Google it), there is little doubt that they would all be working long after we’ve moved on to quantum computing with data stored in invisible light particles; or swam back into the ocean.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 See A Delay?

December 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Last Friday we ran a report on technical issues plaguing Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 810 processor, the company’s first consumer SoC based on the 20nm process.

Reports coming out of Korea alleged the chip was experiencing thermal issues, along with memory and GPU bugs. We reached out to Qualcomm and the company reassured us that everything is on track.

Jon Carvill, Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Public Relations, told Fudzilla that the company won’t comment on any of the rumours or speculation referenced in our report (based on Business Korea’s reporting).

“I can tell you that everything with Snapdragon 810 remains on track and we expect commercial devices to be available in 1H 2015,” said Carvill.

This means next generation Android flagships are unlikely to be delayed due to any potential issues associated with Qualcomm silicon. Of course, they could face other issues and delays always remain a possibility, but that has nothing to do with Qualcomm or its first 20nm 64-bit part.

Courtesy-Fud