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Mozilla: Rust, WebRender, AV1

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  • Splash 2018 Mid-Week Report

    I really enjoyed this talk by Felienne Hermans entitled “Explicit Direct Instruction in Programming Education”. The basic gist of the talk was that, when we teach programming, we often phrase it in terms of “exploration” and “self-expression”, but that this winds up leaving a lot of folks in the cold and may be at least partly responsible for the lack of diversity in computer science today. She argued that this is like telling kids that they should just be able to play a guitar and create awesome songs without first practicing their chords1 – it kind of sets them up to fail.

    The thing that really got me excited about this was that it seemed very connected to mentoring and open source. If you watched the Rust Conf keynote this year, you’ll remember Aaron talking about “OSS by Serendipity” – this idea that we should just expect people to come and produce PRs. This is in contrast to the “OSS by Design” that we’ve been trying to practice and preach, where there are explicit in-roads for people to get involved in the project through mentoring, as well as explicit priorities and goals (created, of course, through open processes like the roadmap and so forth). It seems to me that the things like working groups, intro bugs, quest issues, etc, are all ways for people to “practice the basics” of a project before they dive into creating major new features.

  • WebRender newsletter #29

    To introduce this week’s newsletter I’ll write about culling. Culling refers to discarding invisible content and is performed at several stages of the rendering pipeline. During frame building on the CPU we go through all primitives and discard the ones that are off-screen by computing simple rectangle intersections. As a result we avoid transferring a lot of data to the GPU and we can skip processing them as well.

    Unfortunately this isn’t enough. Web page are typically built upon layers and layers of elements stacked on top of one another. The traditional way to render web pages is to draw each element in back-to-front order, which means that for a given pixel on the screen we may have rendered many primitives. This is frustrating because there are a lot of opaque primitives that completely cover the work we did on that pixel for element beneath it, so there is a lot of shading work and memory bandwidth that goes to waste, and memory bandwidth is a very common bottleneck, even on high end hardware.

    Drawing on the same pixels multiple times is called overdraw, and overdraw is not our friend, so a lot effort goes into reducing it.
    In its early days, to mitigate overdraw WebRender divided the screen in tiles and all primitives were assigned to the tiles they covered (primitives that overlap several tiles would be split into a primitive for each tile), and when an opaque primitive covered an entire tile we could simply discard everything that was below it. This tiling approach was good at reducing overdraw with large occluders and also made the batching blended primitives easier (I’ll talk about batching in another episode). It worked quite well for axis-aligned rectangles which is the vast majority of what web pages are made of, but it was hard to split transformed primitives.

  • Into the Depths: The Technical Details Behind AV1

    Since AOMedia officially cemented the AV1 v1.0.0 specification earlier this year, we’ve seen increasing interest from the broadcasting industry. Starting with the NAB Show (National Association of Broadcasters) in Las Vegas earlier this year, and gaining momentum through IBC (International Broadcasting Convention) in Amsterdam, and more recently the NAB East Show in New York, AV1 keeps picking up steam. Each of these industry events attract over 100,000 media professionals. Mozilla attended these shows to demonstrate AV1 playback in Firefox, and showed that AV1 is well on its way to being broadly adopted in web browsers.

More in Tux Machines

15 Best Free Linux Wiki Engines

A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. A Wiki engine is a type of collaborative software that runs a wiki system. This facilitates web pages being created and edited using a web browser. This type of software is usually implemented as an application server that runs on one or more web servers. The content is stored in a file system, and changes to the content are typically stored in a relational database management system (such as MySQL), although some simple wiki engines use text files instead. Wikis try to make it as simple as possible to write and share useful content, using intuitive page naming and text formatting conventions. Wikis are usually (but not always) wide open and assume a cooperating community. However, with spam bots prevalent, most wiki engines have lots of anti-spam measures such as page permissions, Access Control Lists, host blocking, blacklists, and CAPTCHAs in place. To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 15 high quality free Linux wiki engines. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to share information with others. Read more Also: Michal Čihař: translation-finder 1.1

Games: Stadia Scepticism, Epic, Linux Gaming Report and More

  • Stadia is about the future of YouTube, not gaming

    Yesterday, Google announced plans for a new game-streaming service called Stadia. Besides the logo, the controller, and a single game — Doom Eternal — the announcement left us with more questions than answers. Primary in my mind has been the query of why Google needs to be in the gaming business at all. Isn’t it enough to dominate web search, ads, and browsers, smartphone operating systems, and maps? What part of our lives does Google not want to know about? And then it dawned on me that we might be looking at it from the wrong perspective: what if Stadia isn’t a case of Google aggressively entering a new business sphere, but rather a defensive one to protect its existing kingdom?

  • Google Stadia's Grand Vision for Gaming Clashes With America's Shitty Internet

    Slow speeds, usage caps, and overage fees could mar the long-awaited arrival of game streams.

  • Slow Broadband, Usage Caps Could Mar Google Stadia's Game Streaming Ambitions
    I can remember being at E3 in 2000 and being pitched on the idea of a sort of "dumb terminal" for gaming. As in, you wouldn't need a computer or game console in your home, since all of the actual game processing would be accomplished in the cloud then streamed to your TV via broadband. Most of these early pitches never materialized. Initially because cloud computing simply wasn't fully baked yet, but also thanks to America' shoddy broadband. Cloud-based game streaming is something the industry has continued to push for, though nobody has yet to truly crack the market. Onlive probably tried the hardest, though again a lack of real cloud horsepower and sketchy residential broadband prevented the service from truly taking off. Undaunted, Google took to the stage at the Game Developers Conference to unveil Stadia, a looming game streaming platform that will let gamers play top-shelf games on any hardware with a Chrome browser. Google insists that the service, when it launches this summer, will be able to drive games at up to 4K resolution and 60 frames per second seamlessly between multiple devices with no need for game consoles, high-end PCs, loading times, or installs. The whole presentation is available here:
  • Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney on PC store moderation: ‘We’re not in the porn business’

    Last year, Valve announced a hands-off approach to Steam that would allow anything onto the platform “except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” In addition to the Rape Day controversy, that policy has pushed Valve to take hardline stances on content revolving around child exploitation, school shootings, and most recently around tributes memorializing the New Zealand shooter. Sweeney, it seems, does not see the value it trying to protect content that pushes up against that amorphous line.

  • Linux Gaming Report and Purism Librem 15 | Choose Linux 5
    Jason goes deeper down the rabbit hole by exploring the state of Steam gaming on 9 different Linux distributions. Find out how Fedora compares to Pop!_OS. Plus, first impressions of Purism’s brand new Librem 15 v4 laptop.
  • Objects in Space released for Linux on Steam, needs you to disable Steam Play
    While the Linux version has been up on GOG for a little while, Steam was left a bit behind. Now the Linux version on Steam has been officially announced and released but there's an issue with Steam Play.
  • First-person roguelike 'Barony' released the Myths & Outcasts DLC recently, also now on GOG
    Barony is a game I hadn't honestly touched in a very long time, which all changed with the Myths & Outcasts DLC that released last month giving new ways to play. It's also now on GOG, so that's great.
  • Chasm, the adventure platformer from Bit Kid just had a big update giving more variety
    Chasm, the crowdfunded adventure platformer continues to see great post-release support with the latest big free update out now. While it's not a personal favourite of mine (I much prefer Dead Cells honestly), it's still a reasonably good game overall. In fact, it's far better than a lot of action/adventure platformers and it does look great.
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive now has much better queue times for Danger Zone
    Following on from the tweak to Danger Zone to focus more on duos, Valve are still tweaking their Battle Royale mode in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as well as the game as a whole. Firstly, for Danger Zone you should now see much better queue times for matchmaking. Before this patch, I could easily see queue times around 3 to 5 minutes (often the latter) even with a lot of people online which is not ideal and frankly that makes me (and no doubt others) get bored and look to play something else. Since this patch has dropped, I've played a good 30-40 matches and not a single one has hit even 2 minutes queue time (under 1 minute mostly now!) which is a pretty huge improvement.

Nuvola: Linux Desktop Music Player for Streaming Services

Take a look at features and installation of Nuvola Music Player, a music player for Linux desktop that plays streaming music services. Read more

LibreOffice 6.2.2 Office Suite Released with More Than 50 Fixes, Download Now

While LibreOffice 6.1 is still the recommended version for those who want a more stable and well-tested LibreOffice office suite, LibreOffice 6.2.2 is here for technology enthusiasts and early adopters who want to get a taste of the latest new features and innovations in the free and open-source office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide. "LibreOffice 6.2.2 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is not optimized for enterprise-class deployments, where features are less important than robustness. Users wanting a more mature version can download LibreOffice 6.1.5, which includes some months of back-ported fixes.," said Italo Vignoli. Read more