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Kernel: Systemd, Snowpatch, Linux Foundation and Mesa Graphics

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  • Systemd as tragedy

    Tragedy, according to Wikipedia, is "a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences". Benno Rice took his inspiration from that definition for his 2019 talk on the story of systemd which, he said, involves no shortage of suffering. His attempt to cast that story for the pleasure of his audience resulted in a sympathetic and nuanced look at a turbulent chapter in the history of the Linux system.

    Rice was also influenced by Aurynn Shaw's writing on "contempt culture". According to Shaw, people use contempt (of developers using a different programming language, for example) as a social signifier, a way of showing that they belong to the correct group. This sort of contempt certainly plays into this story, where large groups identify themselves primarily by their disdain for systemd and those who work with it. A related concept is change, or the resistance thereto. The familiar is comfortable, but it isn't necessarily good, especially if it has been around for a long time.

  • Snowpatch: continuous-integration testing for the kernel

    Many projects use continuous-integration (CI) testing to improve the quality of the software they produce. By running a set of tests after every commit, CI systems can identify problems quickly, before they find their way into a release and bite unsuspecting users. The Linux kernel project lags many others in its use of CI testing for a number of reasons, including a fundamental mismatch with how kernel developers tend to manage their workflows. At 2019, Russell Currey described a CI system called Snowpatch that, he hopes, will bridge the gap and bring better testing to the kernel development process.

    There are a number of advantages to CI, Currey said. It provides immediate feedback to developers; with luck, they can fix their problems before other people have to spend any time reporting them. It can save a lot of time for reviewers. As a result, the whole code submission process speeds up, and the project is able to move more quickly as a whole.

  • Beyond Kubernetes: A report card on the Cloud Native Computing Foundation's open source efforts

    Like, for example, how amazing Google has been with Kubernetes. As I've noted before, Google has done just about everything right in its stewardship of the open source container orchestration engine. The easiest way to see this, however, is in Google's declining share of Kubernetes commits.

    Kubernetes sees lots of community involvement, with 3,505 committers and 18,167 contributors making up the Kubernetes community over the past year. Google, the originator of Kubernetes, not surprisingly dominates its development. Importantly, it "dominates" less and less each year. Whether you measure "known commits authors" (34% last year, but 29.5% in the last three months) or other measures of corporate involvement, Google's share of the Kubernetes commit pie is down from last year (and down even more from the year before), with Red Hat and others stepping up to contribute more.

  • RADV Vulkan Driver Wires In EXT_buffer_device_address Support For Mesa 19.1

    The Radeon RADV and Intel ANV Vulkan drivers have support for the new VK_EXT_buffer_device_address extension with the in-development Mesa 19.1.

    VK_EXT_buffer_device_address was introduced last month with Vulkan 1.1.97 as a way to query a device address value for a buffer. That buffer address can then be used by GLSL's PhysicalStorageBufferEXT or SPIR-V's SPV_EXT_physical_storage_buffer to access the buffer memory.

Graphics: AMD and Zink

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  • AMDGPU Fixes For Linux 5.0 Include FreeSync/VRR Properties For eDP Displays

    The latest batch of AMDGPU graphics driver fixes were sent out on Tuesday for the Linux 5.0 kernel, including a fix for the FreeSync/VRR support that was merged at the start of this cycle.

    The AMDGPU fixes for Linux 5.0 are mostly small and mundane fixes, as they should be at this stage of the kernel cycle with Linux 5.0-rc6 coming out on Sunday. But one change catching our attention is a fix for missing FreeSync properties on eDP.

  • Radeon ROCm 2.1 Bringing RocTracer Preview, Improved DGEMM Performance

    It looks like AMD is about to release ROCm 2.1 for the Radeon Open Compute stack.

    Just prior to closing out 2018 they released the big ROCm 2.0 update while now ROCm 2.1 is being prepared for release based upon public Git activity by AMD developers.

  • Zink Is Moving Ahead In 2019 As Mesa-Based OpenGL-Over-Vulkan

    Remember Zink, that project started a few months back for implementing OpenGL over Vulkan using Mesa/Gallium3D? While there may have not been too much to report on it recently, that side project by Collabora developer Erik Faye-Lund does continue to progress and currently allows for OpenGL 3.0 to be implemented and run over the Intel and Radeon Vulkan drivers.

    Zink started off with basic OpenGL 2.1 and since then has advanced to OpenGL 3.0 while a lot more implementation work is ahead before it could reach the OpenGL 4.x extensions. The performance has also continued to improve but more can be done on the optimization front as well.

mesa 19.0.0-rc2

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Hi list,

This is the announcement for mesa 19.0.0-rc2.

It's been a pretty slow first week for 19.0, most of the fixes here are for the
tarball itself. There's also a few fixes for vc4, anv, intel shared code, radv,
radeonsi, core mesa, v3d, st/mesa, and the dri3 loader.

As always, please test and report any issues encountered,

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Also: Mesa 19.0-RC2 Released With Intel Transform Feedback Fix, Freedreno & VC4/V3D Fixes

Sway 1.0 RC1 Rolls Out With Wayland Clipboard Managers, Swayidle/Swaylock Changes

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The big Sway 1.0 Wayland compositor release is upon us with now having weekly release candidates until the code-base is deemed stable enough to officially ship.

Sway is the i3-inspired Wayland compositor that has become very feature-rich and on-par with the likes of the GNOME Shell and KDE Wayland sessions. Sway 1.0 adds support for a variety of additional Wayland extensions, removed NVIDIA EGLStreams support, multi-seat improvements, multi-GPU support, relative pointer handling, video capture support, Wayland tablet support, and a plethora of other improvements. With Sway 1.0 it continues building upon its WLROOTS project as a shared Wayland support library.

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62 Benchmarks, 12 Systems, 4 Compilers: Our Most Extensive Benchmarks Yet Of GCC vs. Clang Performance

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After nearly two weeks of benchmarking, here is a look at our most extensive Linux x86_64 compiler comparison yet between the latest stable and development releases of the GCC and LLVM Clang C/C++ compilers. Tested with GCC 8, GCC 9.0.1 development, LLVM Clang 7.0.1, and LLVM Clang 8.0 SVN were tests on 12 distinct 64-bit systems and a total of 62 benchmarks run on each system with each of the four compilers... Here's a look at this massive data set for seeing the current GCC vs. Clang performance.

With the GCC 9 and Clang 8 releases coming up soon, I've spent the past two weeks running this plethora of compiler benchmarks on a range of new and old, low and high-end systems within the labs. The 12 chosen systems aren't meant for trying to compare the performance between processors but rather a diverse look at how Clang and GCC perform on varying Intel/AMD microarchitectures. For those curious about AArch64 and POWER9 compiler performance, that will come in a separate article with this testing just looking at the Linux x86_64 compiler performance.

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Graphics: Video Acceleration API (VA-API), Mesa, Phoronix Test Suite 8.6.0

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  • Intel To Have Their New Icelake Media Driver Ready For Pairing Nicely With Linux 5.1+

    Intel has been developing a new Media Driver for the Video Acceleration API (VA-API) geared for Icelake "Gen 11" graphics hardware and future generations. For Icelake video encode there is new functionality that needs to be exposed in the kernel to user-space for use by the Intel media-driver and it looks like that user-space interface will be christened by the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel. 

    The new (user-space) Intel Media Driver succeeds their long-standing libva VA-API driver that's been around for years for their preferred means of GPU-accelerated video playback on the past number of generations of Intel graphics hardware.

  • Panfrost Gallium3D Driver Merged Into Mesa 19.1 For Open-Source ARM Mali Graphics

    The in-development Mesa 19.1 graphics stack release due out next quarter will feature a new Gallium3D driver... The initial Panfrost driver for open-source, reverse-engineered ARM Mali graphics hardware support of newer generations. 

    Panfrost Gallium3D is the 3D open-source graphics driver component currently targeting ARM's Mali Midgard and Bifrost generations of graphics hardware. Midgard is from the Mali T604 through T880 while Bifrost is the G31 through the current-generation G76.

  • Phoronix Test Suite 8.6 Released For The Latest Open-Source, Cross-Platform Benchmarking

    Phoronix Test Suite 8.6.0 is now available as our latest quarterly feature release to this open-source, fully-automated Windows / Linux / BSD / macOS benchmarking software. 

    For those running your tests directly from the command-line, Phoronix Test Suite 8.6 brings support for rendering simplified box plots within the terminal (see that article for additional screenshots) when it comes to either frame-time data or the various real-time sensor outputs, rather than needing to wait to view that data in a web browser.

Linux Security, Linux Foundation, and Kernel Graphics

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  • Linux offers to ignore Meltdown and Spectre

    The Linux kernel will disable mitigations for the meltdown and spectre bugs.

    Despite being more than one year old, the Meltdown or Spectre vulnerabilities have remained a theoretical threat, but no malware strain or threat actor has ever used any in a real-world attack.

    The only problem is that the mitigations slow down chips to the speed of an asthmatic ant with a heavy load of shopping. System and network administrators have called on the Linux project for options to disable these protections.

    Many argued that the threat is theoretical and could easily be mitigated with proper perimeter defences.

    Even Linus Torvalds has called for a slowdown in the deployment of some performance-hitting Spectre mitigations.

  • Linux Foundation’s LF Edge looks beyond telcos for a common framework

    Conventional standards bodies are often at their weakest when two separate worlds converge. When the mobile network also became an IP and data network, it required a massive adjustment by its core standards body, the 3GPP, and uneasy cooperation with previously alien groups like the IETF (Internet Engineering Taskforce, the main Internet standards body). Into that breach, proprietary solutions can too easily step, but so can open source initiatives. As these start to have the same influence in telecoms as they have already had in the data center, it is no surprise that the Linux Foundation (LF) is building a power base in some of the new intersections – particularly between the telecoms network and the cloud. In the mobile…

  • Easily Overclock NVIDIA GPUs on Linux with This New App

    If you use Linux and own an NVIDIA graphics card the following new utility might be of interest.

    It’s called “Green with Envy” and is a tool designed to let you manage fans of, view info on, or overclock a NVIDIA GPU on Linux.

  • Hands On With The AMD Radeon VII, Linux Ready To Light Up 7nm Vega

    AMD's Radeon VII as their Vega 7nm consumer graphics card will be launching on 7 February at $700 USD ($699), but today marks the embargo expiry for the "unboxing" content... Yep, the Radeon VII is in the process of being tested under Linux.

Linux: EXT4, Waffle, Mesa and Vulkan

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  • EXT4 Patches Continue Working On Case-Insensitive Filenames & Encoding

    For those that have been wanting to see case-insensitive filename support or even encoding of filenames in UTF-8 or other character encoding, the work is still on going.

    Gabriel Krisman Bertazi of Collabora has been working on this encoding-aware file-name look-ups for the EXT4 file-system and as part of that allowing case-insensitive filenames. The patches are now up to their fifth revision in recent months, but is going back a bit to the drawing board at the "request for comments" stage following some critiques to the design by Linus Torvalds.

  • Waffle Is Still Cooking For X11/Wayland Agnostic OpenGL/GLES Apps

    Waffle is the seven year old project that started out as an Intel side-project to allow run-time selection of X11/Wayland support as well as OpenGL or OpenGL ES. It's been a while since hearing much about Waffle, but it is still being consumed and improved upon. 

    Collabora's Emil Velikov presented on Waffle at this past weekend's FOSDEM 2019 conference in Brussels. He introduced Waffle for those unfamiliar with this means of making applications/games port portable by targeting this agnostic library that runs across the various windowing systems and graphics APIs. Waffle's usage is mostly by the likes of Piglit and other testing/developer libraries, but there has been an open-source game or two making use of it for easier Wayland support.

  • Intel Mesa Driver Getting Better Support For ETC2 On Older Hardware

    For those running Ivybridge/Haswell era Intel graphics and older, better support for ETC2 texture compression is on the way. 

    Eleni Maria Stea of Igalia has been working on patches to improve the ETC2 format support for these "Gen 7" era graphics and older as they lack native ETC2 coverage. Following these improvements to better fake the ETC2 support, OES_copy_image support is now enabled for Gen 7 era graphics hardware. 

  • Vulkan 1.1.99 Is Out With Two New Extensions

    Vulkan 1.1.99 is now available to kick off February and features two new extensions plus a number of documentation fixes/clarifications. 

    Vulkan 1.1.99 is the latest maintenance update to this graphics/compute specification. The issues resolved are all mostly mundane changes, but exciting us are two new extensions. 

More Benchmarks Of The Improved Linux Performance With Glibc 2.29

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Yesterday I posted some initial benchmarks looking at the performance improvements with Glibc 2.29, the newest feature release of the GNU C Library. Here are more benchmarks on eight different systems using Glibc 2.29 on Clear linux.

With Clear Linux being the first distribution with Glibc 2.29 readily available, here are more performance tests of this rolling-release distribution before/after the Glibc 2.29 upgrade on an assortment of eight different Intel systems of varying generations.

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Glibc 2.29 Is Offering Up Some Nice Performance Improvements

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Glibc 2.29 was released a few days back and like most GNU C Library releases -- particularly in recent times -- does offer up more CPU performance optimizations... Some early benchmarks done this weekend do show some nice performance improvements in select workloads at least out of our initial benchmarking.

Glibc 2.29 was just released this past Thursday while over the weekend Intel's rolling-release Clear Linux distribution already moved from Glibc 2.28 to this newest stable release. Given the short time since they pushed out the update, I have only done tests on one system so far but the numbers are looking good. Tests were done on Clear Linux 27590 with Glibc 2.28 and then Clear Linux 27600 that switches over to the new Glibc 2.29.0.

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Plasma Pass 1.0.0

Last year I wrote about Plasma Pass, a Plasma applet for the Pass password manager. Over the couple last months I got some emails from packagers from various distributions asking for a proper release so they can package it…so here it is, proudly announcing Plasma Pass 1.0.0. Read more

Games: King of Cards, GOG, Blade Symphony and Monster Logic

  • Shovel Knight's final two expansions King of Cards and Showdown have been delayed
    Yacht Club Games originally announced the final two expansions would be released in April but they've decided to delay them. For those not up to speed, King of Cards is the next and final expansion for Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. You take on the role of King Knight, through 4 new worlds and more than 30 all new courses. Then we have Showdown, which is a mix of multiplayer madness for up to 4 players as well as giving another new story mode. Both are going to be free updates when released!
  • GOG has another sale on for the 'Lantern Festival' with some good Linux games going cheap
    It seems there's a game sale for every possible event in the world now, not that I am complaining as it's good for our wallets. The current sale over on GOG is their 'Lantern Festival' to celebrate the Year of the Pig. So you too can pig-out out on some of the great deals going. This time, there's not a huge selection for Linux gamers, so I've picked out a few of the best deals.
  • Blade Symphony patch 7 is out with experimental asset streaming, free to play release next month
    Some big news for Blade Symphony today, not only do they have another major patch release they've also announced the free to play release date. On March 7th, the flood gates will officially open on Steam for everyone to jump into Blade Symphony completely free. This is a huge milestone for Puny Human, something they've been solidly working towards for some time now.
  • Monstrous programming puzzle game 'Monster Logic' is coming to Linux this year
    While it has no clear release date other than this year, Monster Logic certainly looks like a sweet programming puzzle game that's coming to Linux.

All-in-One Messaging Application Franz 5 Sees First Stable Release

After 24 beta releases, Franz, an all-in-one messaging application, has reached version 5.0.0 stable. Besides being the first Franz 5 stable release, the latest 5.0.0 version brings automatic spellcheck language detection, an option to quit Franz from the Windows taskbar, updated Electron to version 4.0.4 (from 4.0.2), and small bugfixes and improvements. Franz is a free Electron application for Windows, Linux and Mac that combines almost 70 chat and messaging services into a single window that can run in the background, with multi-account support, notifications and a system tray, spell checking, and other useful features. Read more

5 Good Open Source Speech Recognition/Speech-to-Text Systems

A speech-to-text (STT) system is as its name implies; A way of transforming the spoken words via sound into textual files that can be used later for any purpose. Speech-to-text technology is extremely useful. It can be used for a lot of applications such as a automation of transcription, writing books/texts using your own sound only, enabling complicated analyses on information using the generated textual files and a lot of other things. In the past, the speech-to-text technology was dominated by proprietary software and libraries; Open source alternatives didn’t exist or existed with extreme limitations and no community around. This is changing, today there are a lot of open source speech-to-text tools and libraries that you can use right now. Here we list 5 of them. Read more