Software

OSes

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds

As he gives us version 5.7 with support for Apple power tech and better exFAT


Linux kernel overlord Linus Torvalds has railed against 80-character-lines as a de facto programming standard – and has moved to make reminders to keep things short a thing of the past.

Torvalds weighed in on a Linux kernel clean-up post that somehow strayed into the topic of line lengths. Some advocated for the retention of 80-character lines on grounds that they're a long-standing convention and that large monitors can handle many small windows when column width is limited.

Torvalds respectfully disagreed on grounds that limiting lines to 80 characters makes for lots of line breaks.

"Excessive line breaks are BAD. They cause real and every-day problems," he wrote.

"They cause problems for things like 'grep' both in the patterns and in the output, since grep (and a lot of other very basic unix utilities) is fundamentally line-based."

His main point appeared to be that wrapping lines after 80 characters means catering to a niche audience.

"I do not care about somebody with a 80x25 terminal window getting line wrapping," he wrote. "For exactly the same reason I find it completely irrelevant if somebody says that their kernel compile takes 10 hours because they are doing kernel development on a Raspberry PI with 4GB of RAM."

And he kept going with this, too:

People with restrictive hardware shouldn't make it more inconvenient for people who have better resources. Yes, we'll accommodate things to within reasonable limits. But no, 80-column terminals in 2020 isn't "reasonable" any more as far as I'm concerned. People commonly used 132-column terminals even back in the '80s, for chrissake, don't try to make 80 columns some immovable standard.

"If you choose to use a 80-column terminal, you can live with the line wrapping. It's just that simple," he added. "And longer lines are simply useful. Part of that is that we aren't programming in the '80s any more, and our source code is fundamentally wider as a result."

Torvalds appears to have put some code where his mouth is, with this commit to stop warnings appearing when coders go beyond designated line lengths.

Linux 5.7

The 80-line action happened on Friday, but by Sunday Torvalds was on track for his usual look at whether the current release candidate of the Linux kernel is ready for public consumption.

His answer was "Yes" and Linux 5.7 was therefore loosed on a locked-down world.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC

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Notable new features include a Samsung-derived exFAT driver that will make for better performance of SD Cards, a fix for early 2020 Intel graphics bug CVE-2019-14615 and support for Intel's newish Tiger Lake graphics. Apple admirers get a driver for Cupertino's fast-charging tech and there's also the usual swathe of newly supported Arm devices and general tidying up.

Torvalds is hopeful this release avoids the fate of its predecessor, which shipped with a dud Wi-Fi driver. ®

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Cloudflare slams AWS egress fees to convince web giant to join its discount data club

Lower your prices and play nicer, CDN goliath suggests

Cloudflare on Friday accused competitor Amazon Web Services of massive markups and hindering customer data portability, even as it invited the cloud services giant to join its discount data initiative known as the Bandwidth Alliance.

"AWS’s bandwidth pricing is bonkers," said CEO Matthew Prince, via Twitter. "And they stand alone in the industry not discounting when their customers send traffic to peered networks."

Prince and Nitin Rao, SVP of global infrastructure at Cloudflare, elaborated on that claim in a blog post that argues AWS is charging customers orders of magnitude more than its costs and makes a mockery of its parent company's mission statement that Amazon strives "to offer our customers the lowest possible prices…"

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With Alphabet's legendary commitment to products, we can't wait to see what its robotics biz Intrinsic achieves

Google parent hopes to inject AI into factory machines

Alphabet today launched its latest tech startup, Intrinsic, which aims to build commercial software that will power industrial robots.

Intrinsic will focus on developing software control tools for industrial robots used in manufacturing, we're told. Its pitch is that the days of humans having to manually program and adjust a robot's every move are over, and that mechanical bots should be more autonomous and smart, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and leaps in training techniques.

This could make robots easier to direct – give them a task, and they'll figure out the specifics – and more efficient – the AI can work out the best way to achieve its goal.

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Google fixes 'Chromebork' one-character code typo that prevented Chrome OS logins

Programming blunder is the second such snafu this month

Bug of the week Google has fixed a bug in Chrome OS version 91.0.4472.165 that surfaced on Monday and prevented some users from being able to login to their systems.

Chrome OS downloads updates automatically but doesn't apply them until reboot, so only those who restarted their Chromebooks to ingest the force-fed broken update were affected.

Earlier this week, the internet titan on its Google Workplace status page said, "Our engineering team has identified an issue on Chrome OS 91.0.4472.165. The rollout of this version was halted."

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Rackspace literally decimates workforce: One in ten staffers let go this week

85% of those jobs will be rehired, just in cheaper countries

Updated Around 10 per cent of Rackspace staff, predominantly in the US it seems, got an unwelcome email this week informing them they were being let go.

Not that the work they do isn't needed. In an paperwork submitted to the SEC on Wednesday, Rackspace disclosed that 85 per cent of the positions being cut will be backfilled by workers in "offshore service centers." That'll be where wages are lower and labor laws more lax, presumably.

"The rebalance in workforce is a component of a broader strategic review of the Company’s operations that is intended to more effectively align the Company’s resources with its business priorities in high growth areas," Rackspace said.

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Punchy Italian kartist gets 15-year ban for trackside rampage... and other stories

An unexpectedly vehicular collection of chaos and confusion for your consideration

Welcome back for another compendium of tomfoolery from this week for those who enjoy a bit of light-hearted piffle. And let's face it, who doesn't?

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Latest Windows 11 Preview a well-rounded update – literally

What else is round? Oh yes, holes

While the Windows of today may have more holes in it than a 20-year-old pair of underpants, Microsoft has continued plugging away at previews for the upcoming iteration, Windows 11.

Having got the excitement of integrated Teams chat out the way earlier this week, it was business as usual for build 22000.100, released to Dev Channel Insiders last night.

This week's modifications are all about soothing users whose nerves have likely been shredded by the recent arrival of HiveNightmare.

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Apologetic Audacity rewrites privacy policy after 'significant lapse in communication'

Of course kids are allowed. Whatever gave you the impression they weren't?

Open-source audio editor Audacity this week posted an apology on GitHub in response to the entirely predictable furore over the platform's privacy policy.

An updated privacy policy accompanied the apology, in which the team insisted it had just been misunderstood, and that a look at the source would have shown its intentions.

"We are deeply sorry for the significant lapse in communication caused by the original privacy policy document," it said. The fact that it didn't regret the actual document itself seemed to alarm a good many users.

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eBay cyberstalking victims sue internet tat bazaar over former staff members' campaign of harassment

We endured enormous cruelty and abuse and feared for our lives, say couple

A couple from the US who run a small ecommerce publication have launched legal action against eBay accusing the company of a "coordinated effort to intimidate, threaten to kill, torture, terrorize, stalk and silence" them to muzzle their coverage.

The allegations – made in a complaint lodged in the US District Court of Massachusetts this week – are the latest chapter in a long-running case that has already resulted in guilty pleas from a number of former employees in what has become known as the "eBay cyberstalking case".

Lawyers acting on behalf of the owners of EcommerceBytes – an online trade publication that covers the ecommerce industry run by journalists Ina and David Steiner - said the intimidation was so bad they were in fear for their lives.

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Anyone fancy a Snowmobile full of Bags O'Crap? It'll be on the list somewhere

Reg reader reveals colossal 821-item collection of Amazon trademarks tucked away on its site

Recently, a Reg reader* contacted us at Vulture (virtual) Towers with something odd they'd found online – a page tucked away in the little-visited “Legal Policies” section of Amazon's website containing a "non-exhaustive" list of all the trademarks held by the company.

The list is massive: 821 trademarks, sorted alphabetically and listed entirely free of context or explanation.

On first glance, the contents can be baffling, or will induce flights of fancy as to their purpose. When simply plucked out of a list of plain-text words, the purpose of, say, "6PM", "BAG O'CRAP" or "MAD DOGS" are difficult to discern.

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Subcontractors working on CityFibre's £45m Derby rollout threaten to 'rip up tarmac' in dispute over payments

Main contractor J McCann insists it takes its obligations 'very seriously'

Contractors helping to lay fibre cables under streets in Derby have threatened to scrap their work and "rip up tarmac" they've laid – unless they get paid.

A report by Construction Enquirer claims that subcontractors have also downed tools following the payment row.

The cables are being laid for digital infrastructure outfit CityFibre, which is spending £45m to install digital infrastructure in Derby.

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Reserve Bank of India official suggests country may soon have a digital currency pilot

CBDC would be released in phases to prevent volatility

India may be launching a digital currency, an official from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said today.

Speaking at a panel discussion held by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy think tank, RBI deputy governor T Rabi Shankar described the potential Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) have for India, including smoother international transactions and protections from volatility.

Addressing whether CBDCs are needed in India, Shankar said: "It is important that all central banks get on the CBDC arrangements and coordinate effectively within themselves to actually maximize the immense potentials that CBDCs carry."

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