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More Than 1% of the British Population Hospitalised With COVID-19 and BBC Starts Asking Questions Instead of Reporting

COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 patients

Omicron/COVID-19

Another day has passed, and yet another (almost) 100,000 Brits have been confirmed — with actual tests — as COVID-19 positive (the complete number is a lot higher). Many were hospitalised. Right now the BBC starts issuing headlines with questions in them… not statements of fact. That’s another sign of weakness, resembling COVID denial regarding deaths, belittling the lives of so many people.

I Never Had a Machine With More Than 2GB of RAM. But Phoronix Portrays GNU/Linux as Sucking on Memory Management.

The main problem is bloated software, not Linux

LAST night I saw a somewhat ‘trollish’ bunch of reports. I saw Slashdot [1], linking to Phoronix [2] with a grammatical mistake in the headline (“Yes, Linux Does Bad In Low RAM / Memory Pressure Situations On The Desktop”).

Let me first clarify that I’m no kernel guru. Far from it. I’m a programmer, but not an OS programmer or kernel developer.

“Is this accurate?”

That’s what I asked people who may know better. They know kernel developers (and development) better than me.

“Is it true or is Phoronix taking the piss?”

I saw comments on it (almost 100 in Phoronix and 400 in Slashdot), but they’re short and vague. How is Linux doing compared to other OSes?

“ZSWAP makes a huge difference (RAM compression),” one person told me. “GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="zswap.enabled=1 zswap.compressor=lz4 zswap.zpool=z3fold"

“Windows 10 & MacOS & Ubuntu have RAM compression on by default,” he added.

“I’m not sure exactly what they have,” he continued, “but I remember reading about it before. RAM compression isn’t new at all. But it is relatively new (few years) to be on by default.”

Linux kernel space is typically ahead of the curve (compared to the competition); Con Kolivas comes to mind when it comes to claims that it’s optimised for servers but not for desktops (the scheduler, not RAM/swap management).

To check compression status on one’s system:

grep -R . /sys/module/zswap/parameters;sudo dmesg|grep zswap; sudo grep -R . /sys/kernel/debug/zswap;f;sudo sh -c 'cd /sys/kernel/debug/zswap;perl -E "say $(cat stored_pages) * 4096 / $(cat pool_total_size)"' # to check if loaded ; used ; ZswapCompressionRatio

How can one argue that GNU/Linux does worse than counterparts? Slashdot promoted this story with about 400 comments and Phoronix even has a grammatical mistake in its headline (Slashdot corrected it, Michael of Phoronix has not.) It’s an eyesore in a sense; both the message and the English. The headline also states that as fact even though it’s to be attributed to just one developer, Artem S Tashkinov. To an outsider (to kernel development) it may smack of clickbait. It’s stigmatising “Linux” as not successful on “desktop” because of “technical” “issues” (not OEM bribes, ISVs etc.), but if it’s based on purely factual bits, then let it be, I’m fine with it.

My gut feeling was, there’s likely more to the story; can Apple and Microsoft handle compression of RAM for instance? If so, how well? I don’t know people running Apple-branded systems and PCs with Windows on just 2 gigabytes of RAM (which is the most I ever had on any of my systems; same with my wife, who is a GNU/Linux user).

Another person, who is proficient at kernel matters, told me: “I have caused Linux to stall in swap hell many times and there are long list of particular causes of it. facebook made oomd to attempt to deal with it in userspace.”

The first person weighed in again: “they should compare to other distros, and to MacOS/Windows. But the complaint is valid, IMO: that Linux (defaults) *should* be ‘smarter’ when OOM; check what is your vm.vfs_cache_pressure. $ cat /proc/sys/vm/vfs_cache_pressure [...] I have mine set to 50, because this article makes sense to. (but I’m not sure what default is nowadays?)”

A third person wrote: “my Orange Pi with 2 GB of RAM running everything mainline is my main desktop, which runs generally fine with a swapfile of also 2 GB…”

That was in the #techrights IRC channel this morning.

The person added, “the bigger question for me is why applications these days are so heavy and slow…”

That last point is what I too have raised many times before. GNU/Linux is handling reasonably well a complete system with 2GB of RAM (or less). Super-bloated applications is where things start getting trickier.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Linux Performs Poorly In Low RAM / Memory Pressure Situations On The Desktop

    It’s been a gripe for many running Linux on low RAM systems especially is that when the Linux desktop is under memory pressure the performance can be quite brutal with the system barely being responsive. The discussion over that behavior has been reignited this week.

  2. Yes, Linux Does Bad In Low RAM / Memory Pressure Situations On The Desktop

    It’s been a gripe for many running Linux on low RAM systems especially is that when the Linux desktop is under memory pressure the performance can be quite brutal with the system barely being responsive. The discussion over that behavior has been reignited this week.

    Developer Artem S Tashkinov took to the kernel mailing list over the weekend to express his frustration with the kernel’s inability to handle low memory pressure in a graceful manner. If booting a system with just 4GB of RAM available, disabling SWAP to accelerate the impact/behavior, and launching a web browser and opening new web pages / tabs can in a matter of minutes bring the system down to its knees.

The Man Who Burned Chelsea Manning is Bossed by Chelsea Clinton. Nowadays His Articles Are Anti-Wikileaks Tripe.

IAC-Daily-Beast

IAC-Clinton

Poulsen-Daily-Beast

Poulsen made a name for himself by burning Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. How can this conflict in media be overlooked? Unless it is a political apparatus.

State of Florida Seems to be Sending Automated Foreclosure Notices En Masse

Fraudulent foreclosures were reported in the US media several years ago, especially after the had bubble burst in 2008. These can be devastating as they can also shock children at a very young age (collective punishment), usually for the enrichment of some private corporations such as banks (which received bailouts, i.e. the very opposite of foreclosures).

What happens when these foreclosures — fraudulent or not — get sent en masse and are potentially signed by machines? Someone from Florida sent me the following documents, serving to demonstrate what’s quite possibly abuse of power in order to confiscate people’s homes.

Watch the following intimidating letter:

Is that a robo-signer:

The following serve to demonstrate the same handwriting used for different people/names:

Look closely:

“Their lawyer sent me this copy-and-paste email foreclosure notices,” told me the source.

Preying on the vulnerable who lack legal advice and cannot afford to challenge these in court, the people named above (in signatures) probably make a good living taking other people’s houses.

For those still not seeing what’s iffy in the above letter, bear in mind that many people (perhaps many thousands) are likely to have received virtually identical letters. Ask around in Florida, dear journalists, and you might have a story worth more than Trump and Clinton puff pieces.

Stallman in Slashdot

mid_picture-032-retouch

“Richard Stallman Speaks About Back Doors After NSA Documents Leak” is the title of a submission that I summarised as follows: “Companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Google are scrambling to restore trust amid fresh litigation over the PRISM surveillance program. Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation and a newly-inducted member of the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame, speaks about not only abandoning the cloud, which he warned about 5 years ago, but also escaping software with back doors. “I don’t think the US government should use operating systems made in China,” he says in this new interview, “for the same reason that most governments shouldn’t use operating systems made in the US and in fact we just got proof since Microsoft is now known to be telling the NSA about bugs in Windows before it fixes them.””

The text for the next part of the interview is not ready yet. I’ve just released this second part (now in the front page of Slashdot), but I need to do some fact-checking on SELinux (NSA-developed) before releasing the next part. Busy times since the NSA leaks…

Disinformation on the Web

Jesse Ventura

TERMS like “conspiracy theory” have become increasingly common when describing particular stories that are dubious. These terms (there are variations) have become synonymous with “false story” because more often than not they comprise scare-mongering and misdirection. There have been suggestions that sites promoting those “conspiracy theories” should be banned, but really, such theories have always existed and spread verbally. One of the fun things about the Web is that we can give visibility to such “conspiracy theories” and then bedunk them, helping people acquire or strengthen their critical skills. Like lateral thinking, critical skills equip people with a set of tests to apply in order to assess the validity of an argument, be it about religion, history, or whatever. So I’m all in favour of letting “conspiracy theories” spread. They help show people that not everything they hear is true, not even what they see on their television set. (Credit: image by Cory Barnes)

Social Networks/Content Hosting Always Evolved

Back in the days, people created Geocities-hosted Web sites. Well, Yahoo! has axed it, shortly after getting abducted by Microsoft in fact, so Geocities is no more (although many sites similar to it still exist). I created my site there in 1997/1998 and a few years later I got interested in Open Diary, which in some sense resembles Live Journal. Further down the line there was the phenomenon of blogging, which started in particular sites like Blogspot and Blogger, among many more (some of them are not surviving well). Free software like B2 and WordPress soon filled a gap and enabled more and more people to take control of their blogging platform and also register their own sites for the purpose. Around the same time, sites like MySpace grew, but they soon perished mostly because of competition which included an extension to ‘people-indexing’ services (resembling classmates reunion sites). Facebook was prominent among those. For news and discussion people had Digg, Reddit, and several more large sites, Many experiments emulating the above failed miserably for reasons that would require a separate long post. Later on, in recent years, celebrities joined Twitter and helped it grow very quickly, along with Free software clones such as Identi.ca. What joins together many of those services and pieces of Free software one can download to substitute the hosted prison is that they provide people with a place to express themselves and also find out what others are thinking. The thoughts of others are sometimes expressed by citation (news) or multimedia. It all helps weaken the cetralisation of so-called ‘mass media’ and it empowers people. This is one of the better achievements of the Web — that alongside wikis such as Wikipedia, but that’s another category of sites and a subject for another day.

People’s blogs have become somewhat less active and more people choose to post material under other people’s platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on). Journalists too failed to evolve (for the most part) and their occupation dying, mostly to be replaced by PR. One has to transition constantly. The world today is inventing and progressing faster than ever before, especially on the Web which is relatively new.

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