Dev Diary 2020-06-30

Sometimes it takes a vacation where you’re largely unplugged to have a really good think about the technology choices you make. Are the things you’re using in service to you? Or does it feel the other way around?

As mentioned in a Cyberdelia podcast, after a long dalliance with macOS, I’m returning to my open-source roots. The quality of their offering has been steadily dropping, as they continue to lock out the folks who might want to take a peek and maybe fix a thing or two. With Apple’s announced ARM switch guaranteed to break all the video games I’ve been hoarding (the ones that survived the 64-bit Catalina massacre, anyways), this feels like as good a time as any to check out of their walled garden.

I certainly don’t want to deny there was a brief period I really enjoyed the OS X ecosystem (I’m saying OS X, because by the time it became macOS I was losing interest). It was pretty neat being able to plug in USB things and they generally “just worked.” Being able to use the occasional proprietary app (that I couldn’t talk my way out of using) was pretty neat, too.

So I could rant about how macOS still has some serious shortcomings, or I could talk about how I’m really enjoying Fedora 32 so far. My only gripe at this point is that the container world outside of podman still hasn’t quite gotten cgroups v2 figured out, but that’s not a Fedora problem per se.

I’ve slowly been migrating to a Dockerized setup for all my home crap, partly to bridge the gap between macOS and Linux as I settle back in to the world of nightly kernel builds, and partly because the idea of maximizing resource utilization in a heterogeneous compute environment is appealing when I’m afraid of going to an electronics store because of literally catching my death outside. Make every clock cycle count, as my great grandpappy used to say.

Of course, Docker doesn’t exactly make every clock cycle count, depending on the host. On my ancient laptop, non-Docker hugo can build this website in under 200ms. In an Alpine container, it can take up to 1900ms! I can practically feel my hair gray as I spend precious seconds of my life waiting for a build. I guess I’ll have to make up the perf loss by finding ways to multitask, grinding out fish food in Animal Crossing while I wait. Here’s hoping Alto (see below) doesn’t turn out to be vaporware.

Any time I see James Mickens’ name on a paper, I know I’m in for a treat, and these two don’t disappoint.

The attacks on Intel processors are getting increasingly worrisome, and now that even your grandma’s pacemaker software runs in the cloud, you should be concerned that short of separate hardware there’s not a whole lot of isolation in that there cloud.

With the latest releases of Android and iOS, we’re back to where we started. Both now prompt you the first time an app asks for access. Both give you regular reminders of which apps may be snaffling your data. Both let you manage access and selectively deny apps.