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At long last, WireGuard VPN is on its way into Linux

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Extraordinary surge in download of mobile VPN apps worldwide
Countries with the most mobile VPN app downloads: Indonesia, the US, India.

How much are people looking forward to WireGuard, the new in-kernel Linux virtual private network (VPN)? Well, Linus Torvalds said, “Can I just once again state my love for it and hope it gets merged soon? Maybe the code isn’t perfect, but I’ve skimmed it, and compared to the horrors that are OpenVPN and IPSec, it’s a work of art.” 

If that sounds like damning with faint praise, you don’t know Torvalds. For him, this is high praise. Now, WireGuard has been committed to the Linux kernel’s netdev tree. While there are still tests to be made and hoops to be jumped through, it should be released in the next major Linux kernel release, 5.6, in the first or second quarter of 2020. 

WireGuard has been in development for some time. It is a layer 3 secure VPN. Unlike its older rivals, which it’s meant to replace, its code is much cleaner and simple. The result is a fast, easy-to-deploy VPN. While it started as a Linux project, WireGuard code is now cross-platform, and its code is now available on Windows, macOS, BSD, iOS, and Android.

It took longer to arrive than many wished because WireGuard’s principal designer, Jason Donenfeld, disliked Linux’s built-in cryptographic subsystem on the grounds its application programming interface (API) was too complex and difficult. He suggested it be supplemented with a new cryptographic subsystem: His own Zinc library. Many developers didn’t like this. They saw this as wasting time reinventing the cryptographic well. 

But Donenfeld had an important ally. 

Torvalds wrote, “I’m 1000% with Jason on this. The crypto/ model is hard to use, inefficient, and completely pointless when you know what your cipher or hash algorithm is, and your CPU just does it well directly.”

In the end, Donenfeld compromised. “WireGuard will get ported to the existing crypto API. So it’s probably better that we just fully embrace it, and afterward work evolutionarily to get Zinc into Linux piecemeal.” That’s exactly what happened. Some Zine elements have been imported into the legacy crypto code in the forthcoming Linux 5.5 kernel. This laid the foundation for WireGuard to finally ship in Linux early next year.

WireGuard works by securely encapsulates IP packets over UDP. It’s authentication and interface design has more to do with Secure Shell (SSH) than other VPNs. You simply configure the WireGuard interface with your private key and your peers’ public keys, and you’re ready to securely talk. 

When it arrives, I expect WireGuard to quickly become the new standard for Linux VPNs. With its tiny code-size, high-speed cryptographic primitives, and in-kernel design, it should be faster than all other existing VPN technologies. WireGuard’s not just fast, it’s secure as well, with its support of state-of-the-art cryptography technologies such as the Noise protocol framework, Curve25519, ChaCha20, Poly1305, BLAKE2, SipHash24, and HKD. 

All this is why some companies — like Mullvad VPN — adopted WireGuard long before it was incorporated into Linux. As Mullvad co-founder Fredrik Strömberg wrote two-years ago, “We find WireGuard beneficial for a number of reasons. Its simplistic design in few lines of code makes it easier for sysadmins and developers to integrate it correctly — and harder for them to get it wrong.” Thus, “WireGuard will move the world one step closer to our own vision — of making mass surveillance ineffective.”

So, say hi to the future of the VPN. Its name is WireGuard.

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Fisker and Foxconn team on new EV with outsized ambitions

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Fisker and Foxconn are teaming up on an an electric vehicle, with the EV-company and the manufacturing heavyweight aiming for go far beyond the niche production in the automaker’s past. Codenamed Project PEAR – or “Personal Electric Automotive Revolution” – the goal is to make a more affordable EV that can hit the sort of sales numbers more commonplace among mainstream gas models.

Fisker is probably best known for its role in the style-forward Karma hybrid sedan, a project now being run independently by Karma Automotive. Plans rebooted, Fisker first unveiled the EMotion EV back in 2018, a striking luxury electric sedan with double-gullwing doors.

Production for that, though, was put on the back-burner, as Fisker turned instead to more affordable, mainstream fare. The Fisker Ocean is promised to be a sub-$40k electric SUV, with the car company inking a deal with auto parts behemoth Magna to build the plug-in. Manufacturing is expected to begin in Q4 2022, and even without a production-ready prototype shown – something Fisker says will happen later this year – there are apparently upwards of 12k paid reservations for the car.

One vehicle does not an automaker make, though, and so Fisker is looking to its next model. That’ll be jointly developed by it and Foxconn, sold under the Fisker brand, and included as part of Fisker’s Flexee Lease program. Foxconn will be responsible for manufacturing, bringing the same heft that powers iPhone production to automotive.

Project PEAR – details on which are scant, currently – will be “destined for multiple global markets” Fisker said today. Production is currently earmarked for Q4 2023, and it’ll be the second EV in Fisker’s range.

Fisker’s ambitions aren’t exactly low. The expectation is that it’ll take just 24 months to develop the car, including research and development, and becoming production-ready. That’s about half the time most automakers would expect to take. Foxconn hasn’t been shy about its EV hopes in the past, either, already cutting deals with Byton and Fiat Chrysler in the past on electric vehicle technology.

“The key success elements of electric vehicle development include the electric motor, electric control module and battery,” Young-way Liu, Foxconn Technology Group Chairman, said today in a statement. “We have two major advantages in this regard, with an exceptional vertically integrated global supply chain and the best supply chain management team in our industry.”

Discussions are underway between the firms, with a formal partnership expected to be signed in Q2 2021. The two firms are aiming high, too, with projected 250,000 annual volume of the vehicle. Exactly what it will look like, cost, how much range it might pack, where it will launch, and other details are still in short supply: Fisker’s design inspiration sketch would seem to imply a crossover of some sort, a sensible choice given the skew of sales right now toward that category.

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2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has more range, more power, and a lower base price

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That’s right. Mitsubishi will continue selling the 2021 Outlander PHEV alongside the all-new, Rogue-based 2022 Outlander. The Japanese carmaker is burning the midnight oil in conceptualizing a new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) based on the new model, but Mitsubishi is not leaving anything to chance.

The carmaker is making sure it has a crossover PHEV in its lineup for customers, and is the reason why you’ll find the 2021 Outlander PHEV together with the new 2022 Outlander in Mitsubishi showrooms.

Nevertheless, Mitsubishi’s making sure you get the most bang for your buck in the 2021 Outlander PHEV. It starts with a more robust and fuel-efficient 2.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine producing 126 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Next, the previous 60 kW rear-mounted electric motor makes way for a more potent 70 kW unit.

As expected, the power figures are quite generous for a midsize crossover. The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s advanced hybrid powertrain pumps out 221 horsepower, 31 more horses than the outgoing model. It also has a more significant 13.8 kWh battery pack (the old model had a 12.0 kWh battery), boosting the all-electric range from 22 to 24 miles.

Admittedly, the 2-miles range boost is small by modern EV standards. But for most people, it’s enough to cover a trip to a grocery or convenience store without burning a drop of fuel. And since the new Outlander PHEV has a better range, it now qualifies for larger tax incentives depending on where you live.

Sold in three trim models, the base 2021 Outlander PHEV SEL-AWC starts at $37,490 (including $1,195 destination fees). It now qualifies for up to $6,587 in federal incentives, increasing around $750 over the old model, further lowering the MSRP.

Meanwhile, the Outlander PHEV LE S-AWC has base prices starting at $39,190, while the range-topping GT S-AWC model starts at $43,190 before federal and state credits. The former adds a blacked-out grille, a sunroof, bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels, and blacked-out bumpers. The good news? Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV is available to order now.

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Oshkosh Defense wins USPS contract to modernize postal delivery vehicle fleet

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The United States Postal Service has announced that it has awarded a contract to Oshkosh Defense worth multiple billions of dollars to modernize the postal delivery vehicle fleet. We’ve all seen the vehicles that the USPS uses currently as they deliver mail around cities all over the country. Under the contract award, Oshkosh Defense will finalize the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) design.

The U.S. Postal Service announced this week that it had awarded the 10-year contract to Oshkosh Defense, marking a move to make the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in over 30 years. The massive investment in new vehicles is part of a new plan the Postal Service has developed to transform its financial performance and customer service over the next decade. In addition to massive investments in vehicles, the plan also includes investments in people, technology, and infrastructure.

Oshkosh Defense will see an initial $482 million investment to finalize the production design of the NGDV, which is a purpose-built right-hand-driving vehicle for mail and package delivery. Oshkosh Defense will build between 50,000 and 165,000 vehicles over the next decade. All vehicles will feature either a fuel-efficient internal combustion engine or battery-electric powertrain.

In models that use a battery-electric powertrain, they will be able to be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technology. That means the vehicles can be upgraded as technology improves rather than replaced. Money from the initial investment is allotted for plant tooling and build-out for the US manufacturing facility where final vehicle assembly will happen.

Currently, the Postal Service fleet has more than 230,000 vehicles in every class, including purpose-build and commercial-off-the-shelf vehicles. About 190,000 of those vehicles deliver mail between six and seven days per week in every US community around the country. Many of the vehicles in the USPS fleet have been in service for 30 years. The Postal Service expects the first NGDV vehicles to appear on routes in 2023.

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