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Linux

Reply to Rick Moen on DNG

Filed under
Development
Linux
OSS

Ah, deliciously vague language. Useful to, in time, get uncooperative maintainers thrown off the project to be replaced by more cooperative, on-message maintainers. Remember that technical merit or quality is not the goal of the author of the Contributor Covenant on which this CoC is directly based.

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Solus 3 ISO Refresh Released

Filed under
GNU
Linux

We are proud to announce the availability of Solus 3.9999, our ISO refresh of Solus 3. This refresh enables support for a variety of new hardware released since Solus 3, introduces an updated set of default applications and theming, as well as enables users to immediately take advantage of new Solus infrastructure.

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What’s New in PeppermintOS 9

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Reviews

PeppermintOS 9 is the latest release of Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a desktop environment mashup of Xfce and LXDE components. The latest release nearly completes a process begun several upgrades ago, using more Xfce elements and fewer LXDE components.

Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Peppermint OS 9 is using the Linux 4.15 kernel and supports both 32-bit and 64-bit hardware architectures. Highlights of this release include a new default system theme based on the popular Arc GTK+ theme, support for both Snap and Flatpak universal binary packages via GNOME Software, which will now be displayed in the main menu.

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An Everyday Linux User Review Of Linux Mint 19

Filed under
Linux
Reviews

Well, there you have it. I have covered everything that I can think of in this review.

Installation is as straight forward as downloading an ISO image, copying it to a USB and then navigating a few installation screens.

The Cinnamon user interface is first class. It looks incredibly stylish and is very easy to use.

The default software with Linux Mint is perfect for most purposes although I would always go with Chrome over Firefox and Evolution over Thunderbird but they are personal preferences.

The software manager makes it easy to find new software and you can install either flatpak packages or debian format packages.

Steam is available for playing games and you can now play Windows games without installing WINE but it isn’t yet 100% perfect.

If you need Citrix then I have covered the fact that it works but there are a few pitfalls. These are not unique to Linux Mint and are generally the same on every distribution.

I have shown that it is possible to run Windows 10 in a virtual machine meaning you can use Linux Mint for most tasks and swap into a virtual machine for everything else. No need to waste disk space dual booting.

Timeshift is a great new tool for adding system restore points and there are various tools for keeping your system up to date, changing the look and feel of your system and for setting up hardware such as graphics cards and printers.

It is easy to see why Linux Mint is so popular. It is straight forward, easy to use and consistent.

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What Apps Can You Actually Run on Linux?

Filed under
GNU
Linux

Most Linux distributions include Mozilla Firefox as the default web browser. Google also offers an official version of Google Chrome for Linux, and you can even get an “unbranded” open-source version of Chrome named Chromium.

Pretty much everything inside your web browser should “just work” in Linux. Netflix now works normally in both Firefox and Chrome on Linux thanks to added support for its DRM.

Adobe Flash has become less common on the web but is also available for Linux. It’s included with Chrome, just like on Windows, and you can install it separately for Firefox or Chromium. Linux doesn’t support some older browser plug-ins like Silverlight, but those are no longer widely used on the web.

As the desktop PC world has shifted more and more to online, web-based software, Linux has become easier to use. If an application you want to run has a web version, you can use it on Linux.

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'Stores' and Network Usage Tools for GNU/Linux

Filed under
GNU
Linux
  • Alternative Linux-centric App Stores to Google Play for Chrome OS

    The native Linux experience on Chrome OS is relatively new in the form of debian Linux and was limited to the extremely unstable canary and dev channel of the operating system up until recently when it made its debut in the beta channel.

    The container came in the exclusive form of an interaction via the inbuilt terminal after you might have activated the Linux functionality in the settings of your Chrome system. Before its acclaimed popularity, the sub-platform was infamously codenamed Crostini with what is a relatively active subreddit.

  • 16 Useful Bandwidth Monitoring Tools to Analyze Network Usage in Linux

    Are you having problems monitoring your Linux network bandwidth usage? Do you need help? It’s important that you are able to visualize what is happening in your network in order to understand and resolve whatever is causing network slowness or simply to keep an eye on your network.

New SparkyLinux 5.5 "Nibiru" ISOs Released with Latest Debian Buster Updates

Filed under
Linux
Debian

The new SparkyLinux 5.5 "Nibiru" Rolling images are now synced with the Debian Testing (soon to become Debian GNU/Linux 10 "Buster") software repositories as of September 17, 2018, which means that they are now shipping the Linux 4.18.6 kernel, the Calamares 3.2.1 installer, as well as the latest GCC 8 system compiler by default aas GCC 7 has been completely removed.

"There are new live/install iso images of SparkyLinux 5.5 “Nibiru” available to download. The live system of MinimalGUI/CLI uses Debian’s Linux kernel 4.18.6 as default. The live system of LXQt, due to a problem with long loading the desktop, features Sparky’s Linux kernel 4.18.8 (32bit pae/64bit amd64) as default; and the Debian’s one as well," reads the release announcement.

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Escuelas Linux Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Major Release, Here's What's New

Filed under
Linux

Continuing the Edubuntu legacy of delivering Linux-based operating systems and Open Source software projects to schools and other educational institutions around the world, Escuelas Linux 6 has been released earlier this month with major improvements and new features. The biggest highlights of this release being the availability of dedicated English language ISO images for non-Spanish users.

"Escuelas Linux 6 as a massive amount of improvements, but one of them is key around Softpedia," said Alejandro Díaz. "And, at this point came your help, that above improvement would not be worth the effort if English language people are not aware of our existence. In fact, we recognize that most downloads from non-Spanish language countries are due to your nice articles about us."

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LWN's Latest (Today Outside Paywall) Articles About the Kernel, Linux

Filed under
Linux
  • Toward better handling of hardware vulnerabilities

    From the kernel development community's point of view, hardware vulnerabilities are not much different from the software variety: either way, there is a bug that must be fixed in software. But hardware vendors tend to take a different view of things. This divergence has been reflected in the response to vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectre which was seen by many as being severely mismanaged. A recent discussion on the Kernel Summit discussion list has shed some more light on how things went wrong, and what the development community would like to see happen when the next hardware vulnerability comes around.

    The definitive story of the response to Meltdown and Spectre has not yet been written, but a fair amount of information has shown up in bits and pieces. Intel was first notified of the problem in July 2017, but didn't get around to telling anybody in the the Linux community about it until the end of October. When that disclosure happened, Intel did not allow the community to work together to fix it; instead each distributor (or other vendor) was mostly left on its own and not allowed to talk to the others. Only at the end of December, right before the disclosure (and the year-end holidays), were members of the community allowed to talk to each other.

    The results of this approach were many, and few were good. The developers charged with responding to these problems were isolated and under heavy stress for two months; they still have not been adequately thanked for the effort they put in. Many important stakeholders, including distributions like Debian and the "tier-two" cloud providers, were not informed at all prior to the general disclosure and found themselves scrambling. Different distributors shipped different fixes, many of which had to be massively revised before entry into the mainline kernel. When the dust settled, there was a lot of anger left simmering in its wake.

  • Writing network flow dissectors in BPF

    Network packet headers contain a great deal of information, but the kernel often only needs a subset of that information to be able to perform filtering or associate any given packet with a flow. The piece of code that follows the different layers of packet encapsulation to find the important data is called a flow dissector. In current Linux kernels, the flow dissector is written in C. A patch set has been proposed recently to implement it in BPF with the clear goal of improving security, flexibility, and maybe even performance.

  • Coscheduling: simultaneous scheduling in control groups

    The kernel's CPU scheduler must, as its primary task, determine which process should be executing in each of a system's processors at any given time. Making an optimal decision involves juggling a number of factors, including the priority (and scheduling classes) of the runnable processes, NUMA locality, cache locality, latency minimization, control-group policies, power management, overall fairness, and more. One might think that throwing another variable into the mix — and a complex one at that — would not be something anybody would want to attempt. The recent coscheduling patch set from Jan Schönherr does exactly that, though, by introducing the concept of processes that should be run simultaneously.

    The core idea behind coscheduling is the marking of one or more control groups as containing processes that should be run together. If one process in a coscheduled group is running on a specific set of CPUs (more on that below), only processes from that group will be allowed to run on those CPUs. This rule holds even to the point of forcing some of the CPUs to go idle if the given control group lacks runnable processes, regardless of whether processes outside the group are runnable.

    Why might one want to do such a thing? Schönherr lists four motivations for this work, the first of which is virtualization. That may indeed be the primary motivation, given that Schönherr is posting from an Amazon address, and Amazon is rumored to be running a virtualized workload or two. A virtual machine usually contains multiple processes that interact with each other; these machines will run more efficiently (and with lower latencies) if those processes can run simultaneously. Coscheduling would ensure that all of a virtual machine's processes are run together, maximizing locality and minimizing the latencies of the interactions between them.

  • Machine learning and stable kernels

    There are ways to get fixes into the stable kernel trees, but they require humans to identify which patches should go there. Sasha Levin and Julia Lawall have taken a different approach: use machine learning to distinguish patches that fix bugs from others. That way, all bug-fix patches could potentially make their way into the stable kernels. Levin and Lawall gave a talk describing their work at the 2018 Open Source Summit North America in Vancouver, Canada.

    Levin began with a quick introduction to the stable tree and how patches get into it. When a developer fixes a bug in a patch they can add a "stable tag" to the commit or send a mail to the stable mailing list; Greg Kroah-Hartman will then pick up the fix, evaluate it, and add it to the stable tree. But that means that the stable tree is only getting the fixes that are pointed out to the stable maintainers. No one has time to check all of the commits to the kernel for bug fixes but, in an ideal world, all of the bug fixes would go into the stable kernels. Missing out on some fixes means that the stable trees will have more security vulnerabilities because the fixes often close those holes—even if the fixer doesn't realize it.

  • Trying to get STACKLEAK into the kernel

    The STACKLEAK kernel security feature has been in the works for quite some time now, but has not, as yet, made its way into the mainline. That is not for lack of trying, as Alexander Popov has posted 15 separate versions of the patch set since May 2017. He described STACKLEAK and its tortuous path toward the mainline in a talk [YouTube video] at the 2018 Linux Security Summit.

    STACKLEAK is "an awesome security feature" that was originally developed by The PaX Team as part of the PaX/grsecurity patches. The last public version of the patch set was released in April 2017 for the 4.9 kernel. Popov set himself on the goal of getting STACKLEAK into the kernel shortly after that; he thanked both his employer (Positive Technologies) and his family for giving him working and free time to push STACKLEAK.

    The first step was to extract STACKLEAK from the more than 200K lines of code in the grsecurity/PaX patch set. He then "carefully learned" about the patch and what it does "bit by bit". He followed the usual path: post the patch, get feedback, update the patch based on the feedback, and then post it again. He has posted 15 versions and "it is still in progress", he said.

WireGuard Picks Up A Simpler Kconfig, Zinc Crypto Performance Fix

Filed under
Linux
Security

WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld sent out the fifth revision of the WireGuard and Zinc crypto library patches this week. They've been coming in frequently with a lot of changes with it looking like this "secure VPN tunnel" could reach the Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel.

With the WireGuard v5 patches there are various low-level code improvements, a "saner" and simpler Kconfig build-time configuration options, a performance regression for tcrypt within the Zinc crypto code has been fixed and is now even faster than before, and there is also now a nosimd module parameter to disable the use of SIMD instructions.

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Mozilla: Privacy, R.I.P., and Consent Management at Mozfest 2018

  • Firefox collects data on you through hidden add-ons

    Mozilla, the organisation that produces the Firefox browser and makes a loud noise about its open source credentials, is quietly collecting telemetry data on its users by the use of hidden add-ons, even though publicly visible telemetry controls are not selected.

  • R.I.P., Charles W. Moore, a fine man who liked fine Macs
    A farewell and au revoir to a great gentleman in making the most of your old Mac, Charles W. Moore, who passed away at his home in rural Canada on September 16 after a long illness. Mr Moore was an early fan of TenFourFox, even back in the old bad Firefox 4 beta days, and he really made his famous Pismo PowerBook G3 systems work hard for it.
  • Consent management at Mozfest 2018
    Good news. It looks like we're having a consent management mini-conference as part of Mozfest next month. (I'm one of the organizers for the Global Consent Manager session, and plan to attend the others.)

Android Leftovers

LibreOffice: A history of document freedom

My reminiscing led me to reach out to the Document Foundation, which governs LibreOffice, to learn more about the history of this open source productivity software. The Document Foundation's team told me that "StarWriter, the ancestor of the LibreOffice suite, was developed as proprietary software by Marco Börries, a German student, to write his high school final thesis." He formed a company called Star Division to develop the software. In 1999, Sun Microsystems bought Star Division for $73.5 million, changed the software's name to OpenOffice.org, and released the code as open source. Anyone could download the office suite at no charge for personal use. The Document Foundation told me, "For almost 10 years, the software was developed under Sun stewardship, from version 1.0 to version 3.2. It started with a dual license—LGPL and the proprietary SISSL (Sun Industry Standard Software License)—but it evolved to pure LGPL from version 2.0." Read more

Learn the 37 most frequently used shortcuts in GIMP

GIMP is a fantastic artist's tool for editing digital images, especially with the bevy of impressive features in the recent release of version 2.10. Of course, like all creative applications, you can get working more quickly if you can make yourself familiar with the various keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys available. GIMP, of course, gives you the ability to customize these shortcuts to match what you're personally comfortable with. However, the default shortcuts that GIMP ships with are impressive and generally easy to get used to. This cheat sheet is not an exhaustive list of all of the defaults GIMP has available. Instead, it covers the most frequently used shortcuts so you can get to work as fast as possible. Plus, there should be a few in here that make you aware of a few features that maybe you weren't aware of. Read more