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The June 2020 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

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The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the June 2020 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

In the June 2020 issue:

* Short Topix: Privacy Issues Emerge During Pandemic
* Finally! Blade Runner On PCLinuxOS!
* Inkscape Tutorial: Draw A Rope
* PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: Hallvor
* Mind Your Step: Remembering Geocities
* ms_meme's Nook: Silence In The Forum
* USB4 Is Coming! USB4 Is Coming!
* Repo Review: Manuskript
* PCLinuxOS Recipe Corner: Grilled Skinny Fish With Strawberry-Poblano Relish
* And much more inside!

This month’s cover was designed by Meemaw.

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PCLOS-Specific articles

  • Finally! Blade Runner On PCLinuxOS!

    The design of the Blade Runner game was extremely ambitious for the time. In contrast to many contemporary games, the game engine included pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D characters, but did not require the use of any 3D hardware accelerator. Designers David Leary and James Walls achieved this through self-developed technology using voxels (pixels with width, height and depth). Castle explains:

    "We had to invent a new technology for the characters. We went back to voxel technology and used it as a launch pad. What we are using are not voxels, but a kind of 'voxels plus'. We use voxels to make rotations, transformations and three-dimensional projections that create the character, but in fact we use a very fast polygon rendering engine to render the polygons on the screen. Because we do not need a voxel model that is so dense that every pixel is a voxel, we are able to achieve much higher frame rates with many more polygons on the screen and with many characters."

    "When we told Intel that we were making a 640x480 game, 65,000 colors that emulates true colors, with 16-bit Z-buffer and six-channel CD-quality audio, they said: You can't - the PCI bus doesn't support it.

    "So we feel good about ourselves, because we haven't mentioned the 750,000 polygons for the characters yet", Castle said, with a smirk.

    Graphically, the game resembles some games of the time, with pre-rendered 3D scenarios, and 3D characters, in this case, with the voxel-plus technique. It's something similar to franchises like Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil. However, in a totally different and exciting way, the scenarios have lighting, and even though they are pre-rendered images, they are animated: fans that roll (and the game has many), and the lights change, blink. There are NPCs walking and spinners in the skies. The rain constantly falls, and it makes puddles on the ground.


    Speaking in 2015 about a possible re-release of the game via Steam or, Louis Castle explained that the source code and assets were lost when Westwood moved its studio from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, making a relaunch or an HD remaster impossible. Even if the code were found, restoring almost a terabyte of assets, whether for new pre-rendered or 3D real-time scenarios, would cost tens of millions of dollars, making the relaunch as unlikely as a sequel. The Blade Runner partnership and Electronic Arts held the rights to the game for many years at this point.

    However, the game would finally arrive on on December 17, 2019, following an agreement with Alcon Interactive Group and the website, using ScummVM: Several attempts have been made to reverse engineer the game's engine. As it is technically complex with voxel graphics for game actors, video backgrounds and random paths, the final project took eight years to complete. The new Blade Runner engine was added to the ScummVM game engine collection on October 13, 2016 and took another three years to be ready for public testing on June 16, 2019 and included in ScummVM version 2.1.0.

  • PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: Hallvor

    I had been curious to try it out for a long time before actually trying it. The first time was in 1998. I asked a friend to help me that I knew had some knowledge, but he just brushed me off and said it would be too difficult. An install required floppy disks and quite a bit of command line work. After scratching my head on my own for a little while, I gave up and didn't give it much thought before 2006, when I had problems with instability of my router. I installed Linux based firmware on it and noticed how much better it ran. This made me curious about GNU/Linux on the desktop, because my installation of Windows at the time needed reboots roughly every other day, and the install tended to slow down over time.

    The second thing that sparked my curiosity, and would make the transition easier, was that I was already running many types of GNU software on my Windows installation.

    I ordered a free CD of Ubuntu, and got it in the late summer of 2006. It was Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake. It was underwhelming at first, and I bumped into many beginner's problems that I was unable to solve at the time. So I wiped the install in frustration and installed Windows. I don't know if anyone has tried to install Windows without an OEM, but hunting drivers online and setting everything up, took a whole day. That reminded me of how easy and flawless the installation of Ubuntu had been, so a few days later, after reading about the stuff that was causing me trouble the first time, I installed it again. I have been using variants of GNU/Linux ever since.

    What specific equipment do you currently use with PCLinuxOS?

    I am currently using a HP EliteBook 2570p with 6 GiB RAM and 240 GiB SSD. It is not the newest hardware, but it is very rugged and so blazing fast with PCLinuxOS and KDE Plasma that it would be silly upgrading it.

  • [PCLinuxOS] Screenshot Showcase

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More in Tux Machines

Linux: ACPI CPPC, Intel Media Driver and Corsair Commander Pro Driver

  • More Accurate Load Tracking Being Worked On For the ACPI CPPC CPUFreq Driver

    The ACPI CPPC (Collaborative Processor Performance Control) Linux CPUFreq driver continues to be improved upon. CPPC is the ACPI specification around OS management of describing abstract performance scales and a means of being able to request higher/lower performance levels and measuring per-CPU performance. The Linux kernel for a while has offered the ACPI CPPC CPUFreq driver for making use of this standard on supported systems for frequency scaling. So far mostly Arm Linux systems have leveraged ACPI CPPC CPUFreq while last year AMD proposed their own CPPC driver albeit at the moment appears stalled.

  • Intel Media Driver Q2-2020 Ships With Better Tiger Lake Support

    The Intel Media Driver Q2'2020 release continues evolving the Gen12/Xe Graphics support for forthcoming Tiger Lake systems as well as for the likes of Rocket Lake and DG1. New on the Gen12/TGL front is HEVC SCC encoding, 16-bit format support, better performance via utilizing the media BLT engine for surface hardware copies, engine-to-engine (E2E) compression support, and surface sharing.

  • Corsair Commander Pro Driver On-Deck For Linux 5.9 Kernel

    For those looking for an RGB lighting and fan speed controller system that works under Linux, the Corsair Commander PRO is slated to see support with the upcoming Linux 5.9 kernel cycle. A new driver for the Corsair Commander Pro was queued up on Thursday into hwmon-next as material for the Linux 5.9 merge window in August. The Corsair Commander PRO supports commanding up to six cooling fans, two LED channels, and sports four temperature sensors while interfacing with the system via USB.

DRM and Games

  • Right-to-repair advocates say hospitals need new rules to keep equipment working

    The PIRG report surveyed 222 biomedical professionals, many of whom work at hospitals. Nearly half said they’d been denied access to necessary repair parts and information during the pandemic. And nearly all said that removing restrictions on repairs was “critical” or “very important” to their work.

    According to the survey, manufacturers frequently restrict third-party repairs. Around 92 percent of the respondents said they’d been denied service information about equipment like ventilators and defibrillators, with around half of those people saying it happened “somewhat frequently.” Around 89 percent said manufacturers had refused to sell spare parts.

  • Sony Takes Minority Stake in Epic Games with $250 Million Investment

    Sony has made a $250 million investment to acquire a minority stake in Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite and the Unreal Engine used increasingly in Hollywood production.

  • Sony Invests $250 Million in Unreal Engine Maker Epic Games

    The PlayStation maker and Fortnite proprietor didn’t disclose the new value of the games company. Bloomberg News first reported last month that Epic was close to securing funding at a valuation of about $17 billion.

    The Unreal Engine is used to create many popular game franchises, such as Borderlands and Gears of War, along with Epic’s own Fortnite. The fifth iteration, Unreal Engine 5, made its debut this summer and was demonstrated on PlayStation 5 hardware, signaling the close collaboration between Epic and Sony.

  • [Old] Sony's DRM Rootkit: The Real Story

    On Oct. 31, Mark Russinovich broke the story in his blog: Sony BMG Music Entertainment distributed a copy-protection scheme with music CDs that secretly installed a rootkit on computers. This software tool is run without your knowledge or consent -- if it's loaded on your computer with a CD, a hacker can gain and maintain access to your system and you wouldn't know it.

    The Sony code modifies Windows so you can't tell it's there, a process called "cloaking" in the hacker world. It acts as spyware, surreptitiously sending information about you to Sony. And it can't be removed; trying to get rid of it damages Windows.

  • Half-Life: Alyx - Final Hours details lots of cancelled Valve projects

    Here's one for serious Valve enthusiasts and people wanting to get juice details on their cancelled projects, and everything that led up to Half-Life: Alyx. Half-Life: Alyx - Final Hours is an interactive storybook, written by Geoff Keighley, that takes fans inside Valve Software to chronicle the company’s past decade of game development, including the return of Half-Life. There's so much detail in there it's crazy, it's also pretty amazing to learn it all with this new Valve Software that doesn't seem to mind talking a bit more. If you're curious, that does include a cancelled Half-Life 3. Yes, it really actually was a thing (as if there was any doubt) but it along with a lot more didn't make the cut.

  • More progress on Easy Anti-Cheat in Wine / Proton coming

    With the current in-progress community development effort to get Easy Anti-Cheat working in the Wine / Proton compatibility layers, they continually hit new milestones. Starting off getting one game to progress at low performance back in late June, they shared another big update recently. Going by what they said on Twitter it appears multiple titles have become playable on Linux including: Apex Legends, For Honor, Paladins, Cuisine Royale, Halo: The Master Chief Collection (single-player already works fine though), Rust and Dead By Daylight.

today's howtos

Graphics: Wayland-Info, NVIDIA Vulkan Beta Driver and More

  • weston-info as a standalone utility
    Hi all,
    A long time ago [1], I suggested that we move weston-info out of the
    Weston source tree because this is a very useful tool which gives
    important information about any Wayland compositor, not just Weston.
    The general consensus was it was a good idea, unfortunately other more
    important things happened, people (including me) eventually forgot
    about that and it never actually came to fruition…
    But the need remains, I think we should have a compositor agnostic
    tool that gives the general information about the running compositor.
    And we should not need to install Weston for that alone.
    So I took the liberty to uproot weston-info, rename it as wayland-info
    and put it on its own repo:
    As you can see, I took great care to preserve the git history of
    weston-info in the process.
    In the meantime, Peter has already submitted patches to wayland-info
    (thanks Peter!) so the tip of wayland-info is different from
    weston-info (basically, we have diverged already).
    Eventually, if nobody has objections, we could move that repo to the
    wayland domain…
  • Wayland-Info Spun From Weston Code For Offering Wayland Helper Tool

    Wayland's Weston compositor has provided a weston-info utility to display information on supported Wayland extensions and versioning along with other details of the Wayland compositor environment. That utility is now being spun out as wayland-info as a Wayland compositor-agnostic utility for displaying this information. Olivier Fourdan of Red Hat has been working on spinning out weston-info as wayland-info for serving as its own standalone utility while some other common Wayland utilities/examples may end up being added to its source tree as well, akin to mesa-utils.

  • NVIDIA Vulkan Beta Driver 450.56.01 out, Ray Tracing and bug fixes

    Shortly after giving us a brand new stable mainline driver, the NVIDIA driver team have released a new developer-focused Vulkan Beta Driver.

  • Mike Blumenkrantz: Restart

    The last remaining feature for GL 3.1 was primitive restart, which allows an indexed draw command to end the current primitive when a specified index is processed, beginning a new one of the same type with the next index.