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Pinebook Pro First Impressions — Pine64 Linux Laptop Launched At $199

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  • Pinebook Pro First Impressions — Pine64 Linux Laptop Launched At $199

    Linux laptops have been gaining ground recently. Keeping that in mind, Pine64, the maker of the original Pinebook, has launched a new and improved Pinebook Pro. The company boasts a significant improvement in the Pinebook Pro over the original Pinebook, which was downright unusable at times.

    On the spec sheet though, the $199 Pinebook Pro seems like any other entry-level Windows Laptop. So let’s dig deeper and see what the new Pinebook Pro is all about.

  • May 2019 [Pine64] News

    BTO is going away and is being replaced with a pre-order system. This change has already been reflected on the Pinebook store page. All those of you currently waiting in the BTO queue will be serviced, so don’t worry – you are not waiting in vain. Initially, when the BTO system was implemented, it was intended to determine interest levels in the Pinebook. In practice however, it failed to work as a reliable indicator of how many people actually want a unit and hence, how many Pinebooks need to be built. It also proved to be very demanding on the shipping team and those who dealt with the system put in place to reissue BTOs when customers decided against purchasing their unit. We also realised that you guys aren’t exactly huge fans of the system – BTO tickets lost in spam folders, people forgetting their BTOs, high volume of ‘when will it ship?’ emails … are all an indication that a different system had to substitute BTO.

    So, for the Pinebook, Pinebook Pro and PinePhone (and potentially other similar devices in the future) a pre-order system will be used instead. There will be a set quota of available units in each batch and the system will work on a first-come first-served basis. You will be notified about the availability of the device via an email; there will also be notifications on social media, such as Twitter and Mastodon. Forum and chat members will always get a short heads-up that the sales are going live. Consider it a nod to those actively taking part in the community. The pre-order page will list the expected shipping date and any other relevant information, which we trust will lessen the degree of confusion of when and what ships. There isn’t much else to be said – the functioning of the system will be pretty straight forward.

Latest Grove add-on for the Pi includes RISC-V NPU for edge AI duty

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Neural acceleration chips seem to be everywhere these days — built into SoCs such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 or available in acceleration chips built on to add-on boards, such as Google’s Edge TPU chip found on its Coral Dev Board or Aaeon’s Intel/Movidius Myriad X-based AI Core X M.2 and mini-PCIe modules. Now, Seeed has opened pre-orders for a Grove AI HAT for Edge Computing add-on for the Raspberry Pi equipped with a dual-core, Kendryte K210 (translated) RISC-V processor designed to assist the Pi in accelerating AI inference on the edge.

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GNU/Linux Phones: Ubuntu Touch OTA-9 Release and Librem 5 Hardware

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  • Ubuntu Touch OTA-9 Release

    Ubuntu Touch is the privacy and freedom respecting mobile operating system by UBports. Today we are happy to announce the release of Ubuntu Touch OTA-9! OTA-9 is appearing as a staged rollout for all supported Ubuntu Touch devices over the next five days, completing on Sunday, May 12. You can skip to How to get OTA-9 to get it right away if you're impatient, or read on to learn more about this release.

  • Ubuntu Touch OTA-9 Released With Better Stability, OTA-10 To Bring Mir 1.1 + Unity 8

    The UBports community has released Ubuntu Touch OTA-9 as the newest release of Ubuntu for tablets/smartphones.

    Ubuntu Touch OTA-9 development was principally focused on improving the stability of the stack. There's also been some artwork improvements, Nexus 5 camera fixes, and various fixes throughout.

  • Ubuntu Touch OTA-9 Released for Ubuntu Phones with Refreshed Look, Improvements

    The UBports community released today the OTA-9 for their Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system for all supported Ubuntu Phone devices, a maintenance release that adds various improvements and a refreshed look.
    Ubuntu Touch OTA-9 comes two months after the OTA-8 update with a refreshed look consisting of new and updated Suru symbols and folder icons to give users a better Ubuntu Phone experience, improvements for the Nexus 5 camera so users can now record videos again, better detection of the system-wide dark theme, as well as a new "Busy" indicator.

    Also included in this release is support for the OpenStore V3 API in the update handler of System Settings, the ability to save images using the previously used compression settings, improvements to the characters counter for messages, support for searching the Web with Lilo, simplified transitions for the Stack View, and a new "Paste and Go" option in the browser.

  • May Progress Update – Librem 5 Hardware

Linux and Linux Foundation: AMD, IBM and Urban Computing Foundation

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  • Some AMD CPUs Might Lose RdRand Randomness Following Suspend/Resume

    Systemd developers are sounding the alarms that some AMD processors might lose randomness (yielding non-random data) via the RdRand instruction following a suspend/resume alarm. However, initial indications don't appear for this to be some glaring widespread issue and might be limited to the older AMD CPUs and/or BIOS/motherboard combination.

    Systemd lead developer Lennart Poettering of Red Hat tweeted today, "So AMD CPUs implement an RDRAND operation that doesn't actually return randomness (after your first suspend/resume cycle that is)."

  • Linux 5.2 For s390 Finally Adds Support For KASLR

    The IBM System Z kernel code with the now in-development Linux 5.2 kernel is finally supporting kernel address space layout randomization (KASLR).

    KASLR as the current Linux address space layout randomization implementation was merged a half-decade ago for randomizing the kernel code's position in RAM at boot time. Now finally with Linux 5.2 due out in July 2019, the s390 architecture supports KASLR. By placing the kernel code at a random position in RAM, it makes various attacks on the system more difficult due to not being able to reliably jump to a given position for an intended exploit.

  • RadeonSI Adds Workaround To Deal With Incorrect Rendering In Counter-Strike: GO

    For those enjoying Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver, a workaround has been added to Mesa Git that is also marked for back-porting to the Mesa 19.0/19.1 series to address incorrect rendering issues. 

    The primary issue appears to be black patterns and other malformed rendering when using the scope on select rifles as opposed to being some very pressing issue. The original bug report dates back to March 2017 but has now been resolved.

  • AMD EPYC + Radeon Instrinct To Power "Frontier" 1.5 Exaflop Supercomputer

    AMD and Cray announced today they won a contract to provide the US Department of Energy with the hardware to the "Frontier" supercomputer that is expected to go online in 2021 and deliver 1.5 exaflops of compute power. 

    The US DoE Frontier supercomputer is the fastest planned supercomputer right now and will be built around custom EPYC CPUs and Radeon Instinct graphics processors. There will be four Radeon GPUs per EPYC CPU and feature a custom Infinity Fabric implementation and this supercomputer is built around Cray's Shasta architecture. 

  • Linux Foundation Supports Community Development to Improve Mobility, Transportation, Safety and Infrastructure with New Urban Computing Foundation

    The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the formation of the Urban Computing Foundation to accelerate open source software that improves mobility, safety, road infrastructure, traffic congestion and energy consumption in connected cities. Initial contributors include developers from Uber, Facebook, Google, HERE Technologies, IBM, Interline Technologies, Senseable City Labs, StreetCred Labs and University of California San Diego (UCSD).

    As cities and transportation networks evolve into ever-more complicated systems, urban computing is emerging as an important field to bridge the divide between engineering, visualization and traditional transportation systems analysis. However, these advancements are dependent on compatibility among many technologies across different public and private organizations. Urban Computing Foundation will provide a neutral forum for this critical work, including adaption of geospatial and temporal machine learning techniques and urban environments and simulation methodologies for modeling and predicting city-wide phenomena. To contribute to this work, please visit the Urban Computing Foundation website.

Intel Baytrail & Cherrytrail Systems Can Now Correctly Hibernate Again Under Linux

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Baytrail era systems have been a bit notorious on Linux but at least one recent regression is now resolved that for the past few kernel releases had broke hibernation support for Intel Baytrail and Cherrytrail SoC systems.

Baytrail systems have seen a number of issues under Linux like random freezing on newer kernels, different peripherals not being punctually supported, some Bay Trail tablets having UEFI issues, etc. The latest Baytrail (and Cherrytrail) problem has been hibernation not working correctly since Linux 4.19~4.20.

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The Pinebook Pro, a $199 Linux Laptop, Inches Closer to Launch

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So when can you buy one?

Well, there’s still no firm release date for the Pinebook Pro — but it should be soon. Pine64 is a company proficient in getting things up, ready and (importantly) shipped.

Although posts like this one may hype the device it’s important that no-one set their expectations too highly. Do not expect performance of a Dell XPS 13 in a machine priced cheaper than most Chromebooks!

No word on precisely which version of Ubuntu will be offered for this device or whether it’ll come pre-installed — if anyone from Pinebook is reading this, do ping us with details — but I’d like to imagine it’d ship Ubuntu 18.04.1 (with its newer kernel and graphics stack) and a more modest desktop environment like MATE.

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Also by Brad Linder:

  • Pinebook Pro update: The $199 Linux laptop is almost ready to go

    After unveiling plans to launch a $199 Linux laptop with a Rockchip RK3399 processor earlier this year, the folks at Pine64 have been hard at work designing the hardware and software for the upcoming Pinebook Pro.

    Now the team has posted a YouTube video showing off the latest prototype, and demonstrating that it has improved hardware, and support for 4K video playback (something the company’s original Pinebook couldn’t handle).

    Pine64 still has some kinks to work out — audio isn’t working on the current motherboard, and there are problems with charging, suspend and resume. But it looks like the Pinebook Pro could be ready to ship within months.

Open Hardware/Modding: Raspberry Pi, RISC-V, 3D Scanning/Printing, SmarchWatch and More

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  • Open source Raspberry Pi robotics and automation controller Robo HAT MM1

    The Raspberry Pi Robotics Masters Robo HAT MM1 is an open source robotics controller designed to remove the the initial barriers to starting any robotics project by providing all the hardware you need in one simple, easy-to-use form factor. watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the Robo HAT MM1 created by Robotics Masters specifically for the Raspberry Pi mini PC. Although the Raspberry Pi robotics board is also compatible with Jetson Nano and can even be used standalone.

  • SiFive Expands into Silicon Forest With new Development Office in Beaverton, Oregon
  • FYI: AMD's server-grade Arm system-on-chip is still kicking around in SoftIron hybrid arrays

    Open-source storage enthusiasts at SoftIron are touting a hybrid storage array that combines a bunch of HDDs and SSDs with Arm64-compatible Seattle system-on-chips from AMD and free Ceph software.

  • 3D Printed Replacement Organs a Step Closer

    A new open-source method for bioprinting represents a breakthrough for the field of regenerative medicine, and its success stems from a special ingredient: food dye.

  • 5 Best Open-Source 3D Scanners in 2019

    3D scanning is a great companion to the additive manufacturing family. It lets you create models of real-life objects and spaces without you needing to know their design specifics beforehand. 3D scanning does the measuring for you so you can ditch the measuring tape. This is super helpful in a wide variety of industries and hobbies, as it’s a non-intrusive way to replicate 3D objects.

    If you’re not familiar with 3D scanners, you can think of them kind of like advanced video cameras. Using a variety of techniques, they capture light in order to generate digital maps of 3D objects.

    Once this map is complete, the appropriate software helps you create a replica design of the object you scanned. Within that software, you can either leave the design exactly as is for a direct clone, or you can adjust design details for any improvements or deviations you might want to make.

  • This DIY smartwatch is open source, so you can build your own (but you probably won’t)

    There’s no shortage of smartwatches on the market, but if you can’t find one with exactly the features you’re looking for, you might want to try building your own from scratch.

    OK, probably not. But that’s what electrical engineer Samson March did. He designed his own watch case, circuit board, and software and printed and assembled most of the parts himself (although he did outsource the creation of the circuit board to a PCB manufacturer).

    The end result is a watch that gets a week of battery life, pairs with an iPhone via Bluetooth, and shows notifications on his wrist.

  • The SmarchWatch: An open-source smartwatch that you can build yourself

    Are you a fan of open source? Do you like making things? If so, then the SmarchWatch, a homebrew smartwatch, could be the ideal project for you. You will need a 3D printer and plenty of patience though.

  • Single or Open Source: What's Best for Wide-Area Wireless?

    The Embedded Insiders briefly review the results of an IoT developer survey from the Eclipse Foundation, which found that two-thirds of engineers are currently or plan to launch an IoT project in the next 18 months ( Given the pervasiveness of IoT, does that even mean anything anymore?

    Afterward, the Insiders slide into a discussion of wide-area networks prompted by Alix Paultre's recent engagements with The Things Network. Do recent announcements in 5G have any impact on the advancement of LoRa-based technologies such as those developed by The Things Network, or is there still ample market opportunity (See: "The Truth About 5G and When it Will Be Here")? Will Semtech's LoRa monopoly stifle the industry, or help it grow sustainably?

Chatterbox is a DIY Kids Smart Speaker that Features Open-Source and Private Voice Assistant, Mycroft

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Chatterbox is a build-it-yourself, program-it-yourself smart speaker that teaches kids how to program a voice-based AI system. The company is able to ensure complete privacy because it is using Mycroft, an open-source voice assistant that is not always listening, not collecting any data, and not advertising. In addition, the product is fully compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which is what the Federal Trade Commission uses to regulate governing online services directed at children under 13 years of age. The company announced recently that it would be launching a Kickstarter campaign on April 30th, and will ship to consumers in schools in December 2019, with a suggested retail price of $179. Chatterbox CEO and Kevin Elgan told VentureBeat,

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AMD Ryzen and Linux 5.2

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  • Linux 5.2 Should Resolve Many AMD Ryzen Laptop Touchscreens/Touchpads Not Working

    Linux 5.2 is certainly going to be a big kernel release... On top of many new features and other changes, AMD Ryzen laptops will be better supported by this kernel update to be released as stable around July.

    A number of AMD Ryzen laptops up to this point haven't had working touchscreens/touchpads when running on the mainline kernel. That's been due to a lack of AMD PCIe MP2 I2C controller support, but a new driver is being merged for Linux 5.2 to properly support that controller.

  • Linux 5.2 Will Fix Touch Input on Ryzen Laptops

    Most laptops rely on Intel processors and run Windows 10. But there's some good news for the relatively few people who use Linux on Ryzen-powered laptops: the Linux 5.2 kernel will reportedly improve the performance of touchscreens and trackpads in devices matching that particular configuration.

    The next major kernel update to Linux will feature proper AMD PCIe MP2 I2C controller support via the i2c-amd-mp2 driver that's ready to be merged into the Linux 5.2 release. Phoronix said AMD released some of the code on which this driver is based in 2018, which required "a rewrite and going through several rounds of review to get it into shape for merging to mainline." Now the code has run that gauntlet and should be ready for release.

ARM Transactional Memory Extension Support Starts Being Plumbed For Linux

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Last month Arm announced Scalable Vector Extension 2 (SVE2) and Transactional Memory Extension (TME) as two new technologies for its A-Profile architecture. That TME support is already being plumbed into the Linux toolchain stack.

Transactional Memory Extension is Arm's take on hardware transactional memory support for improving concurrent access to large shared data structures.

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