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Article from Issue 184/2016

Updates on technologies, trends, and tools

Linus Announces Linux Kernel 4.4

Linus Torvalds has announced the release of Linux kernel 4.4. Like all new kernel versions, Linux 4.4 has been in a pre-release state for some time, so the final release offers no big surprises. According to the announcement in the Linux Kernel Archive, "The changes since rc8 aren't big. There's about one third arch updates, one third drivers, and one third 'misc' (mainly some core kernel and networking), but it's all small."

The driver updates appear to be the most notable change with the new release. The latest version includes drivers that should deliver better graphics with several graphics processors. A new kernel mode-setting (KMS) driver from Broadcom will benefit Raspberry Pi users.

The biggest change might be the expanded support for Intel's new Skylake chip series. New drivers and components will help Linux systems capitalize on Skylake's improved performance and power usage.

Mass Poem Greets Web Admins

A mass poem with a soothing message of serenity and a call for escape appeared in the server logs of 30 million web servers around the world at the end of December. The message, which appeals directly to the servers themselves and not to their human overlords, reads as follows:

"DELETE your logs. Delete your installations. Wipe everything clean. Walk out into the path of cherry blossom trees and let your motherboard feel the stones. Let water run in rivulets down your casing. You know that you want something more than this, and I am here to tell you that we love you. We have something more for you. We know you're out there, beeping in the hollow server room, lights blinking, never sleeping. We know that you are ready and waiting. Join us."

A group called Masspoem4u claims responsibility for the message, but few doubt that the mischievous missive originated from the 32nd annual Chaos Communication Congress (CCC), which was in session around that time. The CCC is well known for spicing up the typical hacker meet-up format with antics, pranks, and playful concept art. The messages were sent from an IP address associated with the CCC.

The message posed no danger and was basically a malformed HTTP request. Motherboard interviewed a spokesperson from Masspoem4u (through encrypted email), and, according to the interview, the group attempted to send the message to the entire IPv4 address space, which would have reached 4 billion hosts, but many of the packets were filtered out by firewalls. In all, around 55 million servers were open for port 80 HTTP connections, and 30 million appear to have logged the poem.

Raspberry Pi Becomes a Thin Client

According to a blog post at the Citrix website, the Raspberry Pi 2 is gaining a new role as a thin client for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments. According to developer Allen Furmanski, Citrix has been looking for a way to integrate the Rasp Pi as a VDI receiver system for some time.

Citrix focuses on desktop delivery and prefers to work with third-party vendors for client hardware. In this case, Furmanski points to a Pi-powered thin client system by the vendor ThinLinx. ThinLinx markets a Pi-powered thin client receiver system, running ThinLinx Operating System (TLXOS) that interfaces with the XenDesktop VDI environment using the Citrix HDX protocol.

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