The Truth: Foldable ThinkPads, Losing and Making Money in the Linux World, The Smart Rosary

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Welcome to The Truth, your daily source of tech news, delivered right to your inbox! Today I’m sending you the last newsletter for this week, even though it’s only Thursday. Indeed, this will be the last edition of The Truth for a week and a bit as I’m on the road for the next couple of days and will be too busy to keep up with the news. I’ll be back, though, don’t worry! But without further ado, here’s what’s been happening:

There’s a pretty bad bug in Windows Server 2019 that you might run into if you use VMware: “A compatibility issue between VMware’s ESXi hypervisor and Windows Server 2019 will leave some customers unable to safely snapshot their virtual machines.” VMware’s workaround for the underlying problem causes an issue where the VM snapshot might not be saved completely. The Register says there is currently no solution from VMware and you might just be stuck with this problem unless you use an expensive third party product.

Thirty years ago today, the first Australian computer worm WANK (Worms Against Nuclear Killers) spread across DECnet, infecting DEC VMS machines. It was coded not to infect systems in New Zealand. To this day there are rumours that Julian Assange was involved.

Meanwhile, in modern hacker news, the group that allegedly was behind the DNC hack (Cozy Bear / APT29) is said to have infiltrated the embassy of an unnamed EU country in Washington, DC. Two other unnamed EU countries were also targeted, presumably on home soil. This was discovered by the security company Eset, wo says that “APT29 has used Twitter and Reddit to host its command-and-control URLs and also employs steganographic techniques.” After the DNC hack, the group seems to have gone quiet for a while. “Linked to Russian intelligence by just about everyone (except Eset, oddly), APT29 cracked the DNC’s servers by using a SeaDaddy implant developed in Python and compiled with py2exe and another Powershell backdoor. That was then deployed through a variety of remote access tools – and less sophisticated methods, as former US presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, found out to his cost.” The whole DNC hack story came up again recently because it is believed that Trump asked about a server involved in the DNC hack – which was, among others, investigated by the security company CrowdStrike – in his much-discussed phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky. In the transcript released by Trump, he’s seen asking about a server connected to the company which he says is in Ukraine (“they say CrowdStrike […] The server, they say Ukraine has it”).

Lenovo is working on a foldable ThinkPad. Well, more foldable than a normal ThinkPad. I think what they mean, mostly, is that it’s one massive screen. Why do they still call it a ThinkPad, when it’s basically a tablet? I have no idea… And there are many more unanswered questions.

Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu Linux, has filed its financials for its previous fiscal year (this, due to some changes, was a 9 month long period) which ended at the end of March. In spite of a $99 million turnover, the company is reporting an operating loss of almost $9 million for the year. Phoronix is reporting that the main company reduced its employee count from 443 to 385 people, why the holding that owns it grew from 427 to 437 employees. They are also speculating about a “possible IPO in the next few years”. Me, I think they’re still looking to get acquired. I think the fact of the company never in its history having made a profit wouldn’t make for a successful IPO storyline. But what do I know?

Speaking of Canonical and Ubuntu, the new version of the Linux distro is out today. In keeping with its horrible code name traditions, Ubuntu 19.10 is called “Eoan Ermine” and will be supported until July of 2020. “Based on the Linux 5.3 kernel, Ubuntu 19.10 comes with an updated developer toolchain including GCC 9.2.1 and most packages have been compiled with additional GCC hardening options enabled for improved security. The default desktop is GNOME 3.34.” There are also more Snap packages all over the distro. Chromium, for example, is only available in the new packaging form because it makes it easier for the developers to update the software.

Meanwhile, in sharp contrast to Canonical, Red Hat is raking in the money for IBM: “revenues were $371m, up 19 per cent”. The rest of IBM is not as hot, though. “Revenues of $18bn were down 3.9 per cent from $18.8bn in Q3 FY2018, and short of the $18.2bn analysts had forecast. That makes this latest quarter the fifth in a row of shrinking revenue.”

“The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network has introduced a new way to engage young people in a traditional prayer: a smart rosary. Innovative, app-driven and full of valuable religious content, the Click To Pray eRosary device aims at praying for world peace.” No, I’m not making this up. The Vatican has actually released an internet-connected prayer device. So it’s now a lot easier to pray for peace in the world. Well, in that case, I guess we can all stop worrying. It’s all gonna be OK.

That’s it for The Truth for a while. Hopefully, you should get the next email from me on 28 October. See you then!

This is an archived issue of my daily newsletter FOXTROT/ALFA. You can find more information about it, including how to subscribe via email, on this page.