NEWS

Read hard, get it all caught up :-D

Things are (actually) going on around the community (surprise!), you may find latest news and happenings in and around the community, and of course, latest information for you to better enjoy AOSC OS.

Most good programmers do programming not because they expect to get paid or get adulation by the public, but because it is fun to program. – Linus Torvalds

ALL NEWS

  • Weekly Community Report: Issue 18, 2019APRIL 29, 2019

    AOSCC 2019 - It’s Happening!

    We are happy to announce that, after much searching, we have ourselves a host university for the AOSCC 2019 events!

    The AOSCC 2019 will take place in University of Science and Technology of China - in Hefei, China, on July 12 - 14th. The events details and venues are kindly negotiated and made available by LUG@USTC.

    Freezing Period

    On April 23rd, we have officially entered a month of freezing period for AOSC OS’s Testing branch. For the meanwhile, we are working to sync all package updates on the Testing branch, across all currently active ports.

    If you are using the Stable branch, you will continue to receive security and exceptional updates.

    AGX Xavier!

    To continue the tradition of mis-using NVIDIA’s development boards, we have obtained an NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier Developer Kit several days back. “JellyXavier,” as it is named as a BuildBot, is now available for all dev-pubkeys-registered AOSC developers at Relay port 24444.

    This build host will be dedicated to the building of AArch64 (arm64) packages. Formerly, both AArch64 (arm64) and ARMv7 (armel) packages are built on a shared BuildBot - an NVIDIA Jetson TX1 Developer Kit, with a measly 4GiB of RAM. In the recent cycles, we have been constantly plagued by this insufficient amount of RAM - and this in turn has resulted in the two ARM ports lagging behind the other architectures.

    The AGX Xavier, however, comes with 8 very fast NVIDIA “Carmel” cores, and 16GiB of RAM. Registering as the second fastest out of all Relay BuildBots. This hardware addition will undoubtedly help us catch up (and eventually enrich) both ARM ports.

    As for the Jetson TX1, it will now be dedicated to build ARMv7 packages (which of course, is much more available for this task).

    xavier-in-position Xavier in the Madison, WI. “Engine Room”.

    AOSC - How Moe Is… She?

    Over the past weekend, community member Shimizu Saki (清水 紗季) initiated the aosc-moe project - to create a “Moe,” anime-inspired character to represent our community.

    Confused? This is quite similar to the concept of an OS-tan - have a good read!

    At the time of writing, more details about the character’s name and other features are being finalised - and hopefully we will see her here on the Portal soon.

    Progess Report on the i586 Port

    At the time of writing, we have a bootable copy of AOSC OS i586 port! The port now contains packages needed for a “Base” variant tarball, and is now working towards a full-fledged desktop experience.

    The port is currently tested to run on a Sony PCG-C1VN sub-notebook. The sub-notebook is powered by a 600MHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, with 192MiB of RAM and 7GiB of HDD space made available for AOSC OS. The sub-notebook dual boots Windows Me - for my personal entertainment needs and a rudimentary test for GRUB functionalities.

    I am currently working to create a refined Kernel config for the port. At present, the port will boot and login with a memory footprint of approximately 20MiB. Not bad, if I may say so myself - but there are space for improvement, as we move more features out of the Kernel image, and built as modules. Having based our Kernel config on the AMD64 port’s, we have much to cut down.

    And finally, a video recording of the computer running a WindowMaker session.

    The AOSC OS/Retro Project

    With the i586 port going along, we have also started work on creating a set of visual designs for our OS/Retro family of ports. This family of ports will contain support deprecated and outdated architectures, such as i586 and the big endian PowerPC 32/64-bit devices. To better adapt to these older devices, system features and dependencies will be cut down, resulting in smaller install sizes and more reasonable performance (compared to the current PowerPC ports, which shares the same build configuration as all other “mainline” ports).

    The logo design was initially made by community member Neruthes, and further modifications made by me.

    poster Poster, “20th Century, Millennium, Present.”

    logo Logo, full colour, tilted.

    logo16 Logo, 16-colour.


    — Mingcong Bai, with regards.

  • Weekly Community Report: Issue 17, 2019APRIL 22, 2019

    End of Cycle (Imminent)!

    After some four months drowning in updates and rebuilds, the current cycle is now looking to start its one-month freezing period on Tuesday! In the coming month, we will work to smooth out the rough edges (.so dependencies, etc.) and make sure that Stable users will receive a smooth updating experience.

    Core 6

    After nearly a year in delay, Core 6 “Fsck” will ship as a part of this coming cycle update. Coming in this major Core update…

    • GCC 8.3.1, with many performance and new features from the upstream.
    • GNU C Library 2.29, and many other component updates.
    • Added i586 (yes, Pentium-class devices), and Loongson 2F, 3A/B support.
    • The ppc64 port will be specifically optimised for the PowerPC G5 processor - as our PowerPC 32/64-bit Big Endian ports are now built for the PowerPC-based Macintosh computers.

    The i586 Port

    The i586, now that we have mentioned it… Will serve as an experimental port, where we try and refactor parts of the AOSC OS dependency tree to make the system lighter to install and run. This will undoubtedly help us as a distribution which ports to newest, as well as vintage and long abadoned devices (from your newest Intel Coffee Lake laptops, to the “Clamshell” iBook G3’s).

    The reference device for this port will be the 2001 Sony Vaio PCG-C1VP running Windows 2000 (its owner - me - is considering swapping out he motherboard with one from the PCG-C1VN for Windows 9x support). This machine comes with the following (rough) list of hardware:

    • Transmeta Crusoe TM5600 @ 600MHz (Hi there Mr. Torvalds!)
    • 192MB RAM (16MB eaten by the processors CMS - Code Morphing Software)
    • 15GB HDD @ 4200RPM, dual booting Windows and AOSC OS
    • 1024x480 LCD

    vaio-c1


    We’ll see how it goes over the summer - maybe we’ll see it as a demonstration machine at AOSCC 2019!

    Taming ACBS

    Our venerable infrastructure contributor and resident Python guru @gumblex is currently undertaking a massive refactor for our ACBS (Autobuild CI Build System), which our packagers use to build packages daily.

    With this factor, we are hoping to see more reliable sequential/batch build support and dependency resolving.

    Checksum

    Utilising a tool from @gumblex, we have now covered most packages in our ABBS Tree and Core Tree with SHA256 checksums.

    Further more, we have now made it imperative to include checksum when packages from a source package/tarball.

    Security Update Workflow and AOSA Announcement

    Effective next week, we will start posting AOSA (AOSC OS Security Advisory) whenever the updates are ready for all branches. Formerly, AOSAs for the Testing branch will be delayed until it merges with Stable at the end of each cycle. Additionally, security issues that affects both Stable and Testing branches will be announced under a shared AOSA ID, as long as they describe an identical issue.

    Furthermore, our contributor @KexyBiscuit has offered to work on announcing future advisories in the future - after I have become too busy to write up security reports.


    — Mingcong Bai

  • Weekly Community Report: Issue 15, 2019APRIL 8, 2019

    So, let’s kick off the weekly updates (*note: issue “15” for this is “week 15” of 2019)! I’m still trying for a good format at the moment (and also tight on time), but hopefully we will see better quality in future posts.

    AOSC OS

    We are currently trying to wrap up the current cycle (which has been dragging on for almost six months at this point) - there are still hundreds more packages to rebuild for the upcoming Core 6 (GCC C++ ABI, and Perl 5.28). After these rebuilds are sorted for AMD64, we will go into a month-long freezing period - hopefully starting on April 26th. During this freeze period, the rest of our ports will be synchronised.

    In this cycle, we have updated or rebuilt virtually all packages in the repository - mostly because of other major updates, namely Python 3.7 and OpenSSL 1.1.

    Now, having trapped ourselves (and you) in this extremely long cycle, we are looking to shorten the next one - focusing on updating all major desktop environments and their components - GNOME 3.32, Plasma 5.16, KDE Applications 19.04, MATE Desktop 1.22, etc.

    We are also working on transitioning our RISC-V port (riscv64gc) port into “regular” maintenance - it will have working Testing and Stable branches, and ready to follow future cycle schedules by the end of this cycle.

    Looking back into history (literally), we have been putting (low-priority) effort into creating a new i586 port for 32-bit only, Pentium (1993) and newer devices (Pentium II, Pentium III, Transmeta Crusoe, …). We are also planning to create specialised configurations for ports targetting older devices (i586, mips64el, powerpc, and ppc64), while sharing the same Core and ABBS tree - more detail to come in future weeks.

    Community Infrastructure

    A new Telegram bot has been created by The Salted Fish, which manages a game of Last Man Standing… Where people who unfortunately can’t go to sleep early can entertain themselves with competetive “staying-up.”

    Of course, we don’t endorse such unhealthy behaviour… But if you’d like to have some fun while not asleep in early morning - here’s one option.


    Okay, that should do it for this week. Come back next Monday at 6:00AM for more community and project updates!

    — Mingcong Bai

  • Happy April!APRIL 3, 2019

    I hope you enjoyed our parodic literature yesterday (I’ve certainly had a good laugh editing them…)!

    Looking back on the posting history on this Portal, however, we seriously need to pick up on publishing updates. To keep this short…

    Starting this week - weekly updates at 6:00AM UTC every Sunday.

    — Mingcong Bai

  • Proposal: Solve Food Supply Crisis by Initiation of the Idol ProjectAPRIL 1, 2019

    Dear friends of the community,

    Today I would like to make aware that the AOSC Oxygen, Silicon, and Carbon Cycle Systematic Operation Agency (AOSCCSOA) has run into its greatest crisis since its establishment in 2011.

    As we may all know, the AOSC is a community of organisms originated from Earth that can conduct biological activities such as packaging in silico. However, as all of us are still bound by the second law of thermodynamics, we have to obtain energy from outside sources in order to maintain the in silico biological activities that potentially reduces entropy progressing. The AOSCCSOA, the agency responsible for the continuous supply of energy needed by the member organisms of AOSC to maintain in silico biological activities, is currently reporting a huge loss in the latest annual report. This is mainly due to the reduced production and uncontrolled increase in prices of the sole carbon source for AOSC member organisms: the Anthon Oryza sativa Collection. Without a continuous supply of energy, the AOSC community’s continual functioning is at risk.

    We as AOSC member organisms are trying hard to support our AOSCCSOA operation. This is done by attempting to consume alternative energy sources such as maize and tater, as well as reducing reproductivity through quorum sensing to reduce energy consumption. The aquatic division of the AOSC, especially the Salted Fish, has successfully achieved the goal of energy cut on parallelism by stopping all vital processes for individuals containing results that would be discarded. On the other hand, microbes such as S. aureus had also reached stationary phase of the growth curve to limit energy consumption. These activities, while at a cost to the productivity of the AOSC community, did manage to help maintain the AOSCCSOA’s operation for the past few months. However, as the summer is approaching and unfortunately, all the crops are not yet prune, the stress on the supply chain would soon reach record high since the Agency’s establishment.

    Knowing that the AOSCCSOA may cease operation at any moment, we as member organisms have come the consensus that a major undertaking is imperative to save the community. We have learned that Idol Projects are really popular on the global scale and has the ability to provide enough for our AOSCCSOA to operate until the harvest of this year’s first Anthon Oryza sativa Collection, so we have determined that this is the way to go.

    During a test run on Mar. 16, 2019, our first two Idols, Chief Executive Jelly Bai and member Lion, went public and received significant amount of support from our users and other that may have never heard of us. In the following weeks, other members of community will also go live and perform our important in silico biological processes. We hope that such activities would bring us enough support and help us through one more year of fighting against the Entropy and taking care of all architectures we could support. Please follow us on the Community Portal and our GitHub Organization Home. The realization of our ultimate goals relies on your continued support.


    To Our Community:

    Let’s remember the teaching of our fatherly leader and mentor, Lord Yhi: We Care about You, Your Development Boards, Your Mysterious CPUs, and Your Pre-historic Antiques.


    S. aureus, on behalf of all members of AOSC.

  • April Update!APRIL 1, 2019

    It’s April again! And we have here yet another update on the development of AOSC OS.

    When maintaining AOSC OS, we have a policy to package everything we can redistribute, whether it’s free, open source, or proprietary by nature. This is because we think we should prioritise our user’s productivity. Because of this policy, we don’t just package these packages, we package them with all features enabled. However, this has led us to the problem that our repository is overwhelmingly over-sized. The “Sneakernet” from last year has proven not to be enough to overcome this problem. And because of the intense pressure we have received from the Free Software Foundation, we intially planned to remove all of the free/libre software in our repository, especially those from the GNU Project.

    Upon further discussion, however, we found that removing all GNU packages isn’t quite (or “quietly”, as it might be more true to the fact… regardless, delete this note before final publication) destructive for AOSC OS, as we are blessed by a world of (great) alternatives.

    • The kernel: The Linux Kernel is licensed under the GPL. We are going to replace it with the Apple XNU kernel. XNU is also a brilliant kernel. It is also a hybrid kernel, it will be smaller in size compared to monolithic kernels like the Linux Kernel.
    • The C library: The GNU C Library (glibc), obviously, is one from the GNU project. Fortunately, we have several options…
      • Musl: Another popular light-weight C library, but it only supports the Linux Kernel. We need some way to adapt it to XNU.
      • Relibc: A new-born C library written in Rust. However, should we choose this as our new alternative, we will face challenges adapting it to ppc32be and ppc64be, as they are not well supported by Rust.
    • Coreutils can be replaced with Toybox (a BSD-licensed re-implementation of the Busybox). This is all you need - right?
    • The rest of the GNU packages will be dropped unconditionally.

    These changes will ship with AOSC OS Core 7. With this, we can shave ~100GB off the size of our repository (the fact that Apple don’t release new XNU versions as often as the Linux Kernel will further contribute to this weight reduction). The experience will roughly be the same, along with some improvements. For instance, if we choose Relibc as our new default C library, users will be blessed by the fresh air of memory-safety right following system boot-up.

    The last but not least, we are setting up our own foundation - the Proprietary Software Foundation! The foundation is founded with the objective protect our right to use proprietary software. In spirit of this glorious liberation from the clinch of the Free Software Foundation and its GNU Project, we have also drafted a new Community Manifesto:

    We, therefore, the Representatives of the Proprietary Software Foundation, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of the Open Source Community, solemnly publish and declare, That these communities are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent Communities, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the GNU Project, and that all political connection between them and the Free Software Foundation, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent communities, they have full Power to package and use proprietary software and to do all other Things which Independent Communities may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

    Thank you for choosing AOSC OS and we wish you a happy April.

    — The Salted Fish, Head of the AOSC Licensing and Propaganda Department

  • New Mirror at CQU-Lanunion!MARCH 18, 2019

    Our community repository has received yet another mirror, hosted by CQU-Lanunion at Chongqing University!

    Go check out their mirror homepage!

  • Repository MigrationDECEMBER 25, 2018

    On December 29th (UTC +8), our Community Repository server will migrate to a new server in the United States with a 1Gbps bandwidth. As users of AOSC OS, no manual intervention would be needed. However, if you are any of our mirror maintainers, please take note of the following:

    • Check if you are using any of [repo.aosc.io, mirror.anthonos.org, repo.anthonos.org] as rsync domain.
      • If so, no intervention is needed. We will change the DNS record on Dec 30, 2018.
      • If not, please replace any non-domain reference (i.e., IP addresses) with repo.aosc.io. Under no circumstances should you use the IP address directly in the future.
    • Check if the syncing completes successfully on Dec 31, 2018.
      • If not, please contact Xiaoxing Ye, our Repository maintainer at xiaoxing@aosc.io.

    The server is kindly sponsored by xTom.com. For more information, please refer to our Migration Guide.

  • AOSC OS Spring Wave of Updates!APRIL 27, 2018

    I know… We are supposed to push out waves of updates every month, however, with a new constraint added to our already high workload-per-capita, a monthly wave was simply too difficult for our development capacity. However, there are certainly enough changes made to AOSC OS for you to be excited about.

    New Packages, and Dropped Packages

    Several quick statistics on package addition and removal…

    • 63 new packages were added.
    • 9 packages were dropped (removed from repository).

    Most of the new packages were not, unfortunately, added from user requests, but to serve new features added to AOSC OS - some of which new functions, some of which dependencies. I will get into more details… Now.

    Enhancements and Changes

    Most of the package changes made in this Wave are to catch up with upstream versions, and to ensure all architectures could enjoy as much of the new updates as possible. However, changes are also made to the desktop experience and system base in general.

    Major Component Updates

    • Linux Kernel is updated to the 4.15 branch, while the LTS (Long-Term Support) branch has switched from 4.9 to the 4.14 branch.
    • GNOME Desktop and applications have been updated to 3.28.
    • KDE Frameworks have been updated to 5.44.0, Plasma Desktop has been updated to 5.12.4, and KDE Applications to 17.12.3.
    • MATE Desktop has been updated to 1.20.
    • AOSC OS Core has been updated to 5.3.1, with component updates and added RISC-V architecture support.

    Desktop-Specific Changes

    Various MATE components have been updated and ported from Ubuntu MATE to further enhance desktop functionalities and user experience. Most notably of which was the introduction of MATE Tweak, which allows for easy management of desktop layouts, window manager alternatives, and individual enhancements like the MATE HUD (a keyboard-driven menu browsing system) and global application menu (as found with macOS and Unity 7).


    mate-tweak

    MATE Tweak, showing possible customisations with desktop layouts and extra panel features.


    Core Component Enhancements

    Package for GNU C Library (Glibc, glibc) now generates all locales at compile-time. Users should experience significantly faster update times, especially on performance constrained devices like older PowerPC hardware, ARM-based devices, etc. as the package will no longer generate locales as a post-installation configuration procedure - saving up to an hour.

    Performance Enhancements

    With Fontconfig updated to 2.13.0 and Michal Srb’s performance tweaks (https://github.com/michalsrb/fontconfig) rebased to our Fontconfig package, applications like LibreOffice should see visible improvement to UI responsiveness. The new update also significantly improved efficiency of font cache generation (fc-cache), especially with larger font packages installed (Noto CJK Fonts, for instance), generation time reduced from several minutes to seconds - also avoiding freezing issues with GNOME when updating the Fontconfig package.

    We have also removed an old patch for Pixman which introduces gamma correction, as it caused larger LibreOffice Calc to become unresponsive when scrolling through larger spreadsheets.

    Architectural Ports

    As mentioned in our last Wave’s announcement in January, we were working on re-synchronising package updates between our various architectural ports. We are happy to report that this wave of updates are now available for all of our currently active ports:

    • AMD64, or x86_64 (amd64).
    • ARMv7 (armel) and AArch64 (arm64).
    • PowerPC 32/64-bit, Big Endian (powerpc and ppc64, respectively).

    ibook-g4

    Apple iBook G4, freshly updated to the Spring Wave.


    And so says “active”, as in this news, we regret to announce an indefinite freeze to our MIPS/Loongson ports due to lack of developer commitment and the software repositories for both 32 and 64 bit ports are now off-line. We will report back if we gain any more development support for these two ports.

    Oops, almost forgot, we have now started an experimental port to the RISC-V 64-bit architecture (specifically, rv64gc). We have now compiled all packages contained in a “Container” distribution variant - that is, a “Base” variant minus bootloader and Linux Kernel. Due to the lack of hardware available to our developers, we currently have no plan to expand this particular repository. Also, due to the experimental nature of this port, we have not yet differentiated stable and testing repositories for this port. The packaging architecture is denoted as riscv64.

    New Tarballs?

    We are looking to release new tarballs for all architectures in the coming month, along with updated ARM device images.


    n900

    A sneak-peek at our new project device, Nokia N900, running on mainline Linux Kernel.


    Next Wave, When?

    Assuming that the current development workload continues, you should expect the next wave of update before July - though still in debate, our update cycle may lengthen to a season (that is, normally, three months) instead of a monthly update.

    In the coming cycle, we will return our focus on user requests and further enhancement of user experience (or usability in general) on non-AMD64 ports, especially for users of ARM-based devices.


    Thanks for your continued support for AOSC OS, and we wish you productivity and enjoyment with AOSC OS.

    — Mingcong Bai

  • An Important (and Unfortunate) Project UpdateAPRIL 1, 2018

    Now that April is in full swing, we have some news that should be taken notice by our friends here in this community…

    Recall the message sent out in a similar time last year:


    "Since 2014, our community repository has been growing in size due to our (essentially) permissive policy on keeping all old versions of all our packages.

    “As we stand today, the repository is roughly 500GiB in size. This is abnormal even when considering all of our architectural ports, as Debian, the largest binary-based *nix distribution requires just over 1TiB in size. This continuing growth in repository size has brought storage challenges to both our mirror hosts and our own repository server.”


    Another year has passed since the announcement was made, and unfortunately, our repository size has again skyrocketed to the point that we can no longer maintain a reasonable way to keep them there. In order to make the system more future-proof and robust to accommodate all users with all bandwidth limitations as well as our rapid-growing repository size, we have to make the tough decision to remove it entirely from the Internet, and use the more robust Sneakernet in lieu of it.

    The Sneakernet, backed up by the Anthon Optical Storage Center funded also in last year, would unlock the unprecedented experience of data transfer. If you are located within the US, the strong and robust Sneakernet would offer a maximum of 27.7 Mbps, improved to 57.9 Mbps in the upcoming month, at a cost of only USD 0.081/GiB - less than 1/10 of the price comparing to our closest competitor. If you are really in a deep budget, we also offer the lowest cost option of USD 0.044/GiB at a bandwidth of 3.97 Mbps. If you are unfortunately located outside of the US, a roaming charge would have to be applied to it, thus raising the cost slightly. The maximum bandwidth of 9.26 Mbps would come with a charge of 0.298/GiB, and the budget bandwidth of 1.98 Mbps would only come with a cost of USD 0.77/GiB - still cheaper than our closest competitor’s domestic rate.

    However in order to use the next-generation of Sneakernet-based repository distribution system, you would also need some new hardware requirement. The baseline system requirement would include a Blu-Ray Disc drive, in which you may easily find at anywhere at a price of less than USD 75, and it would be a one-time purchase that you can also use it with your Blu-ray HD Movies.

    In favor of the new Sneakernet-based repository, the legacy Internet-based repository would run for another month to allow a smooth transition for our users, and become part of the archive offered by the Anthon Optical Storage Center followed by its official closure date of 20180501T0000Z. While we appreciate the development and support of the Internet over the whole course of the AOSC, there are things we had to give up for others to work better, and unfortunately an Internet-based repository is one that has to go…


    Now, if you would like to purchase a subscription of our software repository and many additions that will enhance your software installation/update experience - you could do so here.

    Thank you for your continued support for our community and many of its projects.


    — Anthon Operation: Sneakernet Committee Chair Staph. O. aureus