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GNU

GNU/Linux vs. Unix: What's the difference?

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OS
GNU
Linux

If you are a software developer in your 20s or 30s, you've grown up in a world dominated by Linux. It has been a significant player in the data center for decades, and while it's hard to find definitive operating system market share reports, Linux's share of data center operating systems could be as high as 70%, with Windows variants carrying nearly all the remaining percentage. Developers using any major public cloud can expect the target system will run Linux. Evidence that Linux is everywhere has grown in recent years when you add in Android and Linux-based embedded systems in smartphones, TVs, automobiles, and many other devices.

Even so, most software developers, even those who have grown up during this venerable "Linux revolution" have at least heard of Unix. It sounds similar to Linux, and you've probably heard people use these terms interchangeably. Or maybe you've heard Linux called a "Unix-like" operating system.

So, what is this Unix? The caricatures speak of wizard-like "graybeards" sitting behind glowing green screens, writing C code and shell scripts, powered by old-fashioned, drip-brewed coffee. But Unix has a much richer history beyond those bearded C programmers from the 1970s. While articles detailing the history of Unix and "Unix vs. Linux" comparisons abound, this article will offer a high-level background and a list of major differences between these complementary worlds.

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More on Tesla's Compliance

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GNU
Legal

Cinnamon Desktop Spices Up RoboLinux Raptor

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GNU
Linux

RoboLinux is a unique distro that focuses on incorporating Windows versions XP through 10 within a fully functional Linux operating system. You might never need the Stealth VM features that let you easily install and run Microsoft Windows within most any Linux distro. Still, RoboLinux is a topnotch general purpose Linux computing platform that comes with a choice of leading desktop environments. RoboLinux creates a cloned Drive C from a Windows partition and installs your favorite Windows version with all of your costly Windows software running in a virtual machine.

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GCC 9 Drops Support For Older ARM Microarchitecture Versions

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Development
GNU

Next year's GCC 9 compiler release will be eliminating support for older ARM versions.

Fortunately, ARMv7 and newer is still in great shape given they are still common and even ARMv6 support is also still supported by the GNU Compiler Collection. But as of Friday they dropped support for ARMv3 and older followed by dropping ARMv5 and ARMv5E.

The dropping of ARMv3 and older even includes finally eliminating the support for ARM2. The ARM2 target in GCC is finally no more.

This doesn't come as too much of a surprise though with pre-ARMv4T support being deprecated since GCC 6 and the ARMv5 support being deprecated since GCC 7 last year.

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Also: Announcing git-cinnabar 0.5.0 beta 3

Linux fragmentation - The Sum of All Egos

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GNU
Linux

If Tom Clancy had been a technophile of the software kind, he'd have used this title instead of the familiar one for one of his iconic blockbuster thrillers. The thing is, Linux accounts for a tiny percentage of the overall desktop market share. The perennial 1% has been around roughly since 2005, and even if the actual share is higher than that, it's still a small and largely insignificant fraction. And yet, there are hundreds of Linux distributions populating this narrow, crowded arena. Why? Well, ego, of course.

One might say: open source. Ah, well, the open-source nature of Linux has been the chief excuse to the colorful abundance of replication and duplication of the Linux desktop world, while at the same time serving as the main catalyst to the expansion of Linux in the commercial space, which makes for a dubious cause. I believe the reason is different. Let me tell you what it is.

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Purism/PureOS Development Updates

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GNU
Linux
GNOME
  • virtual-keyboard: Add new virtual keyboard protocol
  • Purism Is Proposing A Virtual Keyboard Protocol For Wayland

    Purism's Dorota Czaplejewicz has been active within the Wayland community recently as they work on their Librem 5 phone Wayland compositor and Phosh shell for this software stack and iMX8 hardware they hope to begin shipping next year.

    On behalf of Purism, Dorota's latest Wayland work is proposing a new virtual keyboard protocol for Wayland. This allows for the emulation of keyboards by applications and complements the existing input-method protocol. The new virtual-keyboard protocol is based upon the Wayland keyboard specification but with support for seat bindings and dropping serials.

  • Introducing Calls

    Arguably the most critical functionality in a phone is the ability to make and receive calls through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), that is normal cellular calls using phone numbers. While at Purism we are eager to implement communication systems that enable much greater privacy and security than one can expect from PSTN calls, the PSTN is still the most ubiquitous network and for the time being we can’t very well go around selling a phone that isn’t able to make PSTN calls.⁰

    My task has been to develop a dialer and call handler for PSTN calls. Like all of our work on the Librem 5, this is intended to make use of existing code wherever possible and also target the GNOME platform which our PureOS defaults to. There is currently no GNOME PSTN dialer so we intend to contribute our program to the GNOME project.

  • Purism Introduces Its Telepathy-Using GTK3-Based Phone Dialer Plans

    Purism has formally introduced "Calls", its GTK3-based PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) phone dialing application that it hopes will be accepted into the upstream GNOME project. Purism plans to develop this phone dialer using GNOME's Telepathy framework but for now is using a simple oFono back-end.

    Calls is the new program Purism is developing to make and receive conventional telephone calls for supporting their default GNOME-based software stack being developed for the Purism 5 smartphone.

    While Telepathy is controversial among even GNOME developers, they are pursuing this framework for their phone call application as it will also support SIP calls and other features provided by the GNOME framework.

Starting With GNU/Linux and GNU/Linux on Chromebooks

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GNU
Linux
  • A beginner’s guide to Linux

    The key difference is that Linux is open source. In the most simple terms, it just means that no one single person or corporation controls the code. Instead, the operating system is maintained by a dedicated group of developers from around the world. Anyone who is interested can contribute to the code and help check for errors. Linux is more than an operating system; it is a community.

  • Why Linux apps on Chromebooks are a really big deal (really!)

    It may have gotten lost in the shuffle of all the Android P news at Google's I/O conference last week, but fear not, dear friends: Chrome OS has definitely not been forgotten.

    Google's been making steady progress in advancing its Chromebook operating system over the past several months, particularly around its efforts to further align Android and Chrome OS and turn Chromebooks into all-purpose productivity machines and Android tablet replacements. Practically every week, in fact, there's some new and noteworthy feature being added into the platform (something we've talked about a great deal in my weekly newsletter as of late).

    And though it wasn't in the keynote, a massive new development did sneak its way into Chrome OS during I/O: the quietly announced ability for Chromebooks to run Linux apps as if they were native applications, without the need for any complex and security-defeating configurations. Linux app support is on its way to the Pixelbook to start — currently in that device's developer channel and likely becoming available much more broadly before long.

Is GIMP’s 2.10 Release Catching up with Photoshop?

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GNU
Reviews

Of the many notable new features, GIMP 2.10 has ported most of its image processing capabilities to GEGL, a data flow based image processing framework that is free software (its source code is in GNOME git).

GEGL provides floating point processing and non-destructive image processing capabilities, “allowing high bit depth processing, multi-threaded and hardware accelerated pixel processing, and more”.

GIMP’s lack of multi-core processing has historically caused performance issues, which is a true deterrent in the graphics processing world.

Moreover, the program can now utilise parallel processing, which is a big deal for various reasons, namely, more efficient processor usage through use of multiple cores.

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Talos II Lite

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
  • Raptor Launching Talos II Lite POWER9 Computer System At A Lower Cost

    For those that have been interested in the Talos II POWER-based system that is fully open-source down to the firmware but have been put off by its cost, Raptor Computer Systems today announced the Talos II Lite that is a slightly cut-down version of the Talos II Workstation.

    The Talos II Lite is still a very competent beast of a system and features a single POWER9 CPU socket, EATX chassis, 500W ATX power supply, and is sold as a barebones package. The Talos II Lite motherboard supports up to the 22-core POWER9 CPU, eight DDR4 ECC RAM slots, one PCI Express 4.0 x16 slot, one PCI Express 4.0 x8 slot, dual Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, and one USB 2.0 port.

  • A little Talos of your very own

    Overall, that $3300 really does translate into greatly improved expandability in addition to the beefier power supplies, and thus it was never really an option for my needs personally. Maybe my mini:Quad analogy wasn't so off base. But if you want to join the POWER9 revolution on a budget and give Chipzilla the finger, as all right-thinking nerds should, you've now got an option that only requires passing a kidneystone of just half the size or less. It ships starting in July.

GNU: guix, gnucash, and glibc

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GNU
  • Tarballs, the ultimate container image format

    The tarball format is plain and simple, it’s the one we know and love, and it’s been there “forever” as its name suggests. The tarball that guix pack produces can be readily extracted on another machine, one that doesn’t run Guix, and you’re done. The problem though, is that you’ll need to either unpack the tarball in the root file system or to play tricks with the unshare command, as we saw in the previous post. Why can’t we just extract such a tarball in our home directory and directly run ./opt/gnu/bin/guile for instance?

  • Using GnuCash as a Freelancer to Track Finances and Prepare Taxes

    I don't own a credit card (by choice), so keeping a close eye on my finances is really important, but I think whether or not you have a credit card, it’s a good idea to track all of your financial transactions.
    It’s really the only way you’ll know what’s coming in and what’s going out. This is a great habit to do even if you don’t have any problems keeping a positive balance – and I would say it's essential to do if you struggle with debt.
    Luckily I have no debt but I've seen a number of people turn around their whole financial situations just by starting to keep a ledger of all of their transactions.

  • Who controls glibc?

    The removal of an old joke from the GNU C Library manual might not seem like the sort of topic that would inspire a heated debate. At times, though, a small action can serve as an inadvertent proxy for a more significant question, one which is relevant to both the developers and the users of the project. In this case, that question would be: how is the project governed and who makes decisions about which patches are applied?

    Toward the end of April, Raymond Nicholson posted a patch to the glibc manual removing a joke that he didn't think was useful to readers. The joke played on the documentation for abort() to make a statement about US government policy on providing information about abortions. As Nicholson noted: "The joke does not provide any useful information about the abort() function so removing it will not hinder use of glibc". On April 30, Zack Weinberg applied the patch to the glibc repository.

    Richard Stallman, who added the joke sometime in the 1990s, asked that it not be removed. The resulting discussion touched on a number of issues. Carlos O'Donell, who has been trying hard to resolve the issue with some degree of consensus, suggested that the joke could hurt people who have had bad experiences associated with abortion. He proposed a couple of possible alternatives, including avoiding jokes entirely or discussing such issues in a different forum. Stallman, however, replied that "a GNU manual, like a course in history, is not meant to be a 'safe space'". He suggested the possibility of adding a trigger warning about functions that create child processes, since childbirth is "far more traumatic than having an abortion".

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More in Tux Machines

Games: Riot Games, Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, Dead Cells

  • Riot Games' anti-cheat software for League also targets Linux users
    This week Riot Games implemented a new anti-cheat software for the game that is meant to limit the number of players who use third-party programs while playing. Most of these programs help users cheat in-game, such as by inputting movement commands for a player to allow them to dodge enemy skillshots. Unfortunately for players who run Linux as their operating system, the new anti-cheat also targets it as a third-party program, preventing them from playing League. Many players took to Reddit and other forums to protest the change, even creating a petition for Riot to add Linux compatibility.
  • Riot Games New Anti-Cheat Could Wipe Out League of Legends Linux Player Base
    ​Riot Games has been working on a new anti-cheat system for League of Legends. There are reports that this update would make the game unplayable for Linux users, because it would make the game incompatible with virtual environments, something Linux users have to employ to play the game.
  • A small but nice update on Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation and Linux support
    We've been waiting quite a while for any real news on the Linux port of Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation [Official Site]. While we still don't know when, we do know it's still happening.
  • Dead Cells, a 'RogueVania' now has a Beta available for Linux
    Dead Cells mixes in elements of a Rogue-lite with a MetroidVania to create an interesting mix and it's now available on Linux with a Beta. I did notice in the comments of the previous article, that people were debating the choice of article title. I said it was a "rogue-lite metroidvania action-platformer", which was obviously a bit wrong. They've actually coined their own term for it, calling it a "RogueVania".

"Microsoft may find the developers it just paid so much to reach slipping from its grasp."

  • Mixed Reaction
  • After Github purchase, Microsoft remains a relatively untrusted open source player to some
  • What is GitHub?
    GitHub is now the de facto home of open-source software. But Microsoft’s acquisition reignited a debate over the platform’s centrality. Microsoft assures users the service is safe under its stewardship, but many are wary. When Mr Ballmer spoke of developers, he had a specific sort in mind: those using Microsoft’s tools to build projects for Microsoft products. He once called open-source Linux a “cancer”, which would spread uncontrollably. In a sense, his words proved prophetic: today, open-source software is everywhere, from websites to financial markets to self-driving cars. Under Mr Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has embraced open-source development. In buying GitHub it hopes to gain the trust of developers it once spurned. But some wonder if the change is complete, or if Microsoft will use its newly bought dominance of open-source hosting to push its own products. Alternatives to GitHub—some themselves open-source—wait in the wings. If it is not careful, Microsoft may find the developers it just paid so much to reach slipping from its grasp.

Making Free Software Suffer Using New Laws

  • Free software is at risk in the EU -- take action now
    Members of the European Parliament want to turn upload platforms like GitLab into "censorship machines" that require user-uploaded materials to be monitored and automatically filtered, a process which would prevent modified and reused code from being uploaded. This provision is covered under Article 13 of the Copyright Directive. If Article 13, embedded within the proposal, becomes official policy, it will be impossible for developers to build off of one another's code -- which is not only a blow to the collaborative development of free software, but a push against the basic freedoms of free software. Software isn't free unless it can be modified and shared. Article 13 will affect all users of free software -- as development of free software suffers, the quality and availability of updates, new features, and new programs will also suffer.
  • Open Source Industry Australia Says Zombie TPP Could Destroy Free Software Licensing
    Without the ability to enforce compliance through the use of injunctions, open source licenses would once again be pointless. Although the OSIA is concerned about free software in Australia, the same logic would apply to any TPP-11 country. It would also impact other nations that joined the Pacific pact later, as the UK is considering (the UK government seems not to have heard of the gravity theory for trade). It would presumably apply to the US if it did indeed rejoin the pact, as has been mooted. In other words, the impact of this section on open source globally could be significant. It's worth remembering why this particular article is present in TPP. It grew out of concerns that nations like China and Russia were demanding access to source code as a pre-requisite of allowing Western software companies to operate in their countries. Article 14.17 was designed as a bulwark against such demands. It's unlikely that it was intended to destroy open source licensing too, although some spotted early on that this was a risk. And doubtless a few big software companies will be only too happy to see free software undermined in this way. Unfortunately, it's probably too much to hope that the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade will care about or even understand this subtle software licensing issue. The fate of free software in Australia will therefore depend on whether TPP-11 comes into force, and if so, what judges think Article 14.17 means.

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