Tabs, Not Spaces

September 16th, 2020
Change is coming to the Arm and RISC-V ecosystems, Microsoft bids for a full-stack Linux experience on Hyper-V, the Ubuntu Community Council is returning, some cautionary ecommerce news, and Emacs Prelude hits its 1.0 release after nine years.

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Even if you've not been paying much attention to the tech news over the last few days, you're likely to have heard that NVIDIA is acquiring Arm from Japanese holding company SoftBank for $40bn. While acres of virtual ink have been spilled discussing the deal since it was formally announced on Sunday, at this stage we really know precious little about the likely long-term impact on the wider tech industry. For its part, NVIDIA is paying just slightly more for Arm in cash and stock than SoftBank did when it acquired the company back in 2016, but is also on the hook for a further five billion dollar performance-related payout, and is ponying up a one and a half billion dollar sweetener to Arm employees. While the bulk of Arm is set to change hands, the company's IoT Services Group is not part of the deal, and will remain fully owned by SoftBank. Having recently jumped over the regulatory hurdles with its acquisition of Mellanox, NVIDIA seems confident that it will be able to safely negotiate them again, although this deal appears far more complex. It's also likely to see more broad-based pushback from interested parties, and this has already begun in the United Kingdom, after one of the co-founders of Arm sought public backing for his call for stringent safeguards before any deal could proceed. NVIDIA has attempted to allay fears over staffing, and has also stated that the company plans to continue registering Arm's intellectual property in the UK, which ought to keep it outside of the ongoing trade war between the US and China. It's expected that full regulatory approval for the deal will take twelve to eighteen months, which should give the industry plenty of time to digest the news, and the rest of us a chance to get a clearer picture of how it will likely affect us in the future.
NVIDIA to Acquire Arm for $40 Billion, Creating World’s Premier Computing Company for the Age of AI
Arm is being sold to Nvidia. Help Stop it.
Nvidia’s Integration Dreams

As soon as NVIDIA's deal for Arm became public, many commentators began speculating about whether the tie-in could provide a competitive boost for the RISC-V platform. So the latest announcement from SiFive couldn't have been timed better, as the company revealed that it will be unveiling new hardware at next month's Linley Fall Processor Conference, including the first commercially available RISC-V powered PC. The new PC will be aimed at the demanding developer marketplace, and feature SiFive's upcoming Freedom U740 SoC, which will also debut at the event.
SiFive To Introduce New RISC-V Processor Architecture and RISC-V PC at Linley Fall Virtual Processor Conference
SiFive to demo PC running new RISC-V SoC and unveil next-gen AI SoC

To follow-up on a story from the last show, Mark Shuttleworth has decided after some deliberation that the Ubuntu Community Council should be revived. A call for nominations has now been made, and Shuttleworth has committed to put forward his shortlist of applicants by the second week of October, with a view to having the body fully reconstituted next month. And as has historically been the case, only existing Ubuntu Members will be eligible for consideration for the posts shortly to be filled.
Mark Shuttleworth comments on Ubuntu Community Council
Call for Ubuntu Community Council nominations

An infosec research company is warning about an ongoing and sustained attack on Magento ecommerce sites that are running obsolete versions of the software. While Adobe has spent the last few years attempting to cajole Magento administrators to migrate to the second version of its shopping platform, many have still yet to make the move. And this isn't simply because of idleness on their part, but also because the original incarnation of the platform was highly functional and reasonably lightweight. With many viewing the completely rearchitected second version of Magento as more trouble than it was worth, around 110,000 sites were still running the earlier version when Adobe finally declared it end of life in June this year. As Magento tends to be used by medium- and larger-sized online retailers, it's always been a prime target for card-skimming attacks, and a whole class of malware has been designed to inject skimming code into vulnerable sites. And that's apparently what's been happening since the weekend, with approximately 2,000 sites already known to have been compromised. As well as flagging up that you might want to be a little more careful about where you shop online in the future, this story also provides a textbook example of the possible consequences when a development team breaks faith with its existing user base, and decides to take its product in a new direction. Most of the time, this sort of change merely results in temporary annoyance, with the worst outcome likely being that users move to an alternate product. But there can be instances like this example with more far-reaching real-world consequences, and I'd like to hope that other open source projects might take the lesson onboard.
Magento online stores hacked in largest campaign to date

The EFF has announced the winners of its annual Pioneer Awards, ahead of a virtual presentation ceremony on October 15th. Having started life back in 1992, early awards largely went to technologists who had made contributions to privacy, or to the security of the wider Internet. In recent years the prizes have become more overtly political, and this year is no exception. The three awards just announced are going to a team that worked on racial bias issues in artificial intelligence, the co-founder of a group focused on the safety of technology for sex workers, and the last to the Open Technology Fund — which has lately come under financial pressure from a Trump appointee at the US Agency for Global Media.
Researchers Targeting AI Bias, Sex Worker Advocate, and Global Internet Freedom Community Honored at EFF’s Pioneer Award Ceremony
Pioneer Awards: Past Winners
[Old] Lawmakers warn new purge at U.S. Agency for Global Media undermines anti-censorship efforts

After more than nine years in development, version one of Emacs Prelude has finally been tagged. The Emacs distribution alters many default settings and bundles in additional packages, with the aim of making Emacs a simpler environment for novice users, while also becoming more productive for power-users.
Emacs Prelude 1.0

And finally, Microsoft has submitted a suite of patches to the Linux kernel team that are designed to allow Linux to run at the bottom of a Hyper-V stack. The patches provide a minimal implementation of what Microsoft hopes to achieve, and have been posted as much as an RFC as an actual set of changes to be included in the kernel. Currently Hyper-V requires a Windows root partition, even if Linux child partitions are spun up alongside it. And it's this limitation that Microsoft is keen to get rid of, so that it can support a completely Linux-based stack on top of its lightweight hypervisor layer.
Microsoft submits Linux kernel patches for a 'complete virtualization stack' with Linux and Hyper-V

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