Ken Vermette has done a write-up on his experience with the new KDE desktop encompassing Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1. For starters, some patience is still needed for apps to be ported to KF5, and most of them will be KF4-based for now. Many of the widgets you may have used don’t exist yet either, but the good news is that the Plasma goodies which do make an appearance are universally improved. The new search widget is shockingly fast and the notifications tray has been reworked. Visual outlook of desktop has been simplified and things don’t feel so tightly packed together anymore. The system settings application has been completely regrouped more by goal than underlying mechanics. Unfortunately the desktop stability leaves a lot to desire: there was several crashes and Plasma had at one point managed to forget colour and wallpaper settings. However the developers seem to be knowing what they are doing, and there’s a real feeling that this software will reach rock-solid stability very quickly given the state of it as it stands.
Chris Testa KB2BMH taught a class on gate-array programming the SmartFusion chip, a Linux system and programmable gate-array on a single chip, using MyHDL, the Python Hardware Design Language to implement a software-defined radio transceiver. Watch all 4 sessions: 1, 2, 3, 4. And get the slides and code. Chris’s Whitebox hardware design implementing an FCC-legal 50-1000 MHz software-defined transceiver in Open Hardware and Open Source, will be available in a few months. Here’s an Overview of Whitebox and HT of the Future. Slashdot readers funded this video and videos of the entire TAPR conference. Thanks!
As you may have heard, the NSA has had some success in cracking Secure Shell (SSH) connections. To respond to these risks, a guide written by Stribika tries to help you make your shell as robust as possible. The two main concepts are to make the crypto harder and make stealing keys impossible. So prepare a cup of coffee and read the tutorial carefully to see what could be improved in your configuration. Stribika gives also some extra security tips: don’t install what you don’t need (as any code line can introduce a bug), use the kind of open source code that has actually been reviewed, keep your software up to date, and use exploit mitigation technologies.
A wonderful Whitepaper entitled "Worst Cases for Correct Rounding of the Elementary Functions in Double Precision" (PDF) has been released. This has prompted Siddhesh Poyarekar from Red Hat to take a professional look into the mathematical functions found in GlibC (the GNU C library.) He has been able to provide an 8-times performance improvement to slowest path of pow() function. Other transcendentals got similar improvements since the fixes were mostly in the generic multiple precision code. These improvements already went into glibc-2.18 upstream. Siddhesh believes that a lot of the low hanging fruit has now been picked, but that this is definitely not the end of the road for improvements in the multiple precision performance. There are other more complicated improvements, like the limitation of worst case precision for exp() and log() functions, based on the results of the paper.