Rust, the alternative systems language that’s in development at Mozilla where they are using it to create Servo, a next generation browser, has just hit a huge milestone and entered into some turbulent territory. The runtime system for Rust, including a task scheduler written in C++, has now been replaced by a runtime written in Rust. Brian Anderson on the explained with a mailing list post that this was part of a huge rewrite of how Rust is going to handle I/O using libuv and stopping tasks that are blocked on I/O from blocking other tasks. The long-term aim is to make I/O very scalable in Rust. The task scheduler was in the way though so, they’ve redone that in Rust removing all the foreign function interfaces and making something that will be a lot easier to maintain and enhance.
But as with all big changes, there are ramifications. The work will need to be completed, the IO system fully implemented, regressions deregressed, performance pulled up to previous speeds and bugs fixed. Anderson details the work that is going to be done in his posting and covers what is already in progress saying he expects it to “validate Rust in the domains it’s aiming for: concurrent and systems programming”.
Google has announced it is adding 79 patents to its open source patent non-assertion pledge. Of course the pledge is limited only to things where the patents infringed are within the open source element … so no mixing a bit of FOSS into your proprietary application and hoping you’ll get coverage. Although there are 79 patents in the new batch, there aren’t 79 ideas in there. The count includes patents in each territory too, so take “Computer network for www server data access over internet” that patent is counted ten times, for Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Taiwan and the US. And that’s quite an old patent which will expire in the US in June 2015… do read it if you want a blast from the past with its OS/2 Warp systems and RS/6000s.
Anyway, counting out the double counting, I make it 38 actual different patents spread around the globe. The original ten patents in Google’s first pledge were all US patents related to MapReduce so this double counting didn’t occur. Let’s call the total number of different patents 48… out of Google’s estimated (inc Motorola portfolio) of, albeit patents for the same things in different territories, 18,000+ patents. Some folks call it a drip-feed but it’s more akin to open source patent homeopathy. The dilution is so extreme that it will make no difference to the problem and any improvement in the patient’s condition are unlikely to come from this treatment. Google should take a page from Red Hat’s book – their patent promise covers all their software patents, no lists, no donation dramatica.
Amazon has announced that it will now be making “HTML5 Web Apps” available through its Appstore. But before you start packaging your web site into a commercial earner, there’s quite a few caveats to the term “Web App”. Firstly, the apps only come down the wire where there’s Appstore apps to sell them to you, so thats Kindle Fires and Android devices. No word on how the rest of the web is supposed to get access to these web apps.
Still, Amazon does seem to be getting a foot in the door of “HTML5 Web App” publishing. The real question is… do customers actually want web apps. Amazon says it takes care of all the content delivery through the Appstore and will be listing the web apps next to the native apps in the store so they may be hoping that customers, not shown the difference, will not notice any difference. Let’s come back to that in three or four months and see how what review scores are like.
The important things for developers in a rush…
- about:memory has been reduced down to a simple UI. Background on that change comes from Mozilla MemShrinker Nicholas Nethercote. In short, it’s a better UI for memory metric measurement and isn’t infested with UI side effects.
- Mixed content is now blocked. So if you made a site which mixed HTTP and HTTPS content on pages, the insecure content (the HTTP stuff) will be blocked. And if you relied on it, your page will break. Mozilla’s details on the changes also include a link to the master bug for sites that break under this new set up.
- Developer Tools in Firefox now include a shiny new Network Monitor; a posting from back in May covers that and the other additions (Remote style editor, Options panel to turn tools on and off, source map support for the debugger and more).
- Oh, yes, the <blink> tag and the text-decoration: blink have been purged from the system. The bad smell that is the <marquee> tag persists and doesn’t seem to have a “remove this” bug entry for it yet. Still, no more <blink> pretty much everywhere now.
And if you needed more reasons to update, Firefox 23 fixes 4 critical and 7 high severity bugs. Details of those, as usual, on the Security Advisories for Firefox page. As usual, autoupdating within Mozilla should get you there. Otherwise, you’ll find all versions here and release-notes here.