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Linux

The Best Linux Distros of 2018

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GNU
Linux

Every year, the question pops up; which Linux distribution is best? The reason that question persists the way it does is because there is no singular concrete answer. Most distributions are purpose built for certain situations, and even when they aren't, there are bound to be conditions that they're better and worse in.

This list attempts to pin down the best distributions for common use cases and situations. These are by no means the only options, but they are arguably the best as of now. Things in the Linux world always change, so keep an eye out for new developments.

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RISC-V Linux Development in Full Swing

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Linux
Hardware

Most Linux users have heard about the open source RISC-V ISA and its potential to challenge proprietary Arm and Intel architectures. Most are probably aware that some RISC-V based CPUs, such as SiFive’s 64-bit Freedom U540 found on its HiFive Unleashed board, are designed to run Linux. What may come as a surprise, however, is how quickly Linux support for RISC-V is evolving.

“This is a good time to port Linux applications to RISC-V,” said Comcast’s Khem Raj at an Embedded Linux Conference Europe presentation last month. “You’ve got everything you need. Most of the software is upstream so you don’t need forks,” he said.

By adopting an upstream first policy, the RISC-V Foundation is accelerating Linux-on-RISC-V development both now and in the future. Early upstreaming helps avoid forked code that needs to be sorted out later. Raj offered specifics on different levels of RISC-V support from the Linux kernel to major Linux distributions, as well as related software from Glibc to U-Boot (see farther below).

The road to RISC-V Linux has also been further accelerated thanks to the enthusiasm of the Linux open source community. Penguinistas see the open source computing architecture as a continuation of the mission of Linux and other open source projects. Since IoT is an early RISC-V target, the interest is particularly keen in the open source Linux SBC community. The open hardware movement recently expanded to desktop PCs with System76’s Ubuntu-driven Thelio system.

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HOW TO Overcoming Your Terror of Arch Linux

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Linux
HowTos

A recent episode of a Linux news podcast I keep up with featured an interview with a journalist who had written a piece for a non-Linux audience about giving it a try. It was surprisingly widely read. The writer's experience with some of the more popular desktop distributions had been overwhelmingly positive, and he said as much in his piece and during the subsequent podcast interview.

However, when the show's host asked whether he had tried Arch Linux -- partly to gauge the depth of his experimentation and partly as a joke -- the journalist immediately and unequivocally dismissed the idea, as if it were obviously preposterous.

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Gumstix enhances Geppetto board design service with new Board Builder UI

Filed under
Android
Linux

Gumstix has expanded its Linux-oriented Geppetto online embedded board development platform with a free “Board Builder” service that offers a checklist interface for selecting modules, ports, and more.

Gumstix has added a free Board Builder service to its Geppetto Design-to-Order (D2O) custom board design service. The Board Builder improvements make the drag-and-drop Geppetto interface even easier to use, enabling customization of ports, layout and other features.

With Board Builder, you can select items from a checklist, including computer-on-modules, memory, network, sensors, audio, USB, and other features. You can then select a custom size, and you’re presented with 2D and 3D views of board diagrams that you can further manipulate.

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Rclone - An Rsync Alternative To Sync File With Online Cloud Storage

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Linux

Backup and Sync are have become essential today and this brings tools like rsync. Rsync is an amazing tool to sync files between 2 computers. But wouldn’t it be cooler if we could sync files from a computer to a cloud storage. This is where rclone - a mod of rsync comes in. Rclone can sync files from your computer to cloud-based storage services including google drive, one drive, drop-box, amazon drive and many more.

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Red Hat - How An Open Source Software Company Became 34,000 Million Dollars Company

Filed under
Linux

In a historic milestone, Red Hat, the company that triumphed with Linux and open source has been acquired by IBM for 34,000 million dollars, the largest transaction in history for a software company.

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Cinnamon 4.0 Preview

Filed under
GNU
Linux

Clem hasn't announced the official release of Cinnamon 4.0, but the tarball has been around for some days and i have managed to build it on top of latest Slackware Current. Cinnamon 4.0 will give some big performance on Nemo, new panel layout, and many new features. You can check the detailed changes on every sub component of Cinnamon on their github repository.

I noticed the release just two days ago while i was sick at home and i started to work on it. It took some time to do finish it since some sub components changed their build tool to Meson and some changes in the parameters were needed to build without Wayland (Thanks Clem for the pointers). At the end, it was a successful one (at least under a virtual machine), but it won't get merged into master for now as i need to make sure few things before pushing them to master. Also, Slackware Current is still developing, so there might be a chance that some packages are added into the main tree itself.

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sysget – A Front-end for Every Package Manager in Linux

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Software

Linux comes in many flavors and many of us like to test all kind of distributions until we find the perfect match for our needs. The problem is that based on which major distribution your OS is build, the package manager might be different and turned out to be one that you are not particular familiar with.

There is a utility called sysget that can become a front-end for every package manager. Basically sysget serves as bridge and allows you to use same syntax for every package manager.

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Kernel: Virtualizing the Clock and Linux 4.21/5.0 Merges

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Linux
  • Virtualizing the Clock

    Dmitry Safonov wanted to implement a namespace for time information. The twisted and bizarre thing about virtual machines is that they get more virtual all the time. There's always some new element of the host system that can be given its own namespace and enter the realm of the virtual machine. But as that process rolls forward, virtual systems have to share aspects of themselves with other virtual systems and the host system itself—for example, the date and time.

    Dmitry's idea is that users should be able to set the day and time on their virtual systems, without worrying about other systems being given the same day and time. This is actually useful, beyond the desire to live in the past or future. Being able to set the time in a container is apparently one of the crucial elements of being able to migrate containers from one physical host to another, as Dmitry pointed out in his post.

    [...]

    So, there clearly are many nuances to consider. The discussion ended there, but this is a good example of the trouble with extending Linux to create virtual machines. It's almost never the case that a whole feature can be fully virtualized and isolated from the host system. Security concerns, speed concerns, and even code complexity and maintainability come into the picture. Even really elegant solutions can be shot down by, for example, the possibility of hostile users creating files with unnaturally old timestamps.

  • A Big Batch Of DRM Feature Updates Line Up Ahead Of Linux 4.21

    With the Linux 4.20 merge window having ended this past weekend, the first big batch of new feature material to DRM-Next from the "DRM-Misc" area has been submitted for the follow-on Linux 4.21 cycle.

    The DRM-Misc-Next pull request sent in this morning is on the large side as it's the first big feature pull for this area of the Direct Rendering Manager subsystem that touches the core DRM interfaces and smaller drivers.

Linux IoT Landscape: Distributions

Filed under
GNU
Linux

Linux is an Operating System, which is the program at the heart of controlling a computer. It decides how to partition the available resources (CPU, memory, disk, network) between all of the other programs vying for it. The operating system, while very important, isn’t useful on its own. Its purpose is to manage the compute resources for other programs. Without these other programs, the Operating System doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

That’s where the distribution comes in. A distribution provides a large number of other programs that, together with Linux, can be assembled into working sets for a vast number of purposes. These programs can range from basic program writing tools such as compilers and linkers to communications libraries to spreadsheets and editors to pretty much everything in between. A distribution tends to have a superset of what’s actually used for each individual computer or solution. It also provides many choices for each category of software components that users or companies can assemble into what they consider a working set. A rough analogy can be made to a supermarket in which there are many options for many items on the shelves, and each user picks and chooses what makes sense to them in their cart.

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More in Tux Machines

Devices: Coreboot, Toradex and Digi, Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+

  • Another Micro-ATX Haswell Era Motherboard Working With Coreboot But Needs Tiny Blob
    There are many Sandy Bridge era motherboards that have been freed by Coreboot while if you are looking for more options on something (slightly) newer, a micro-ATX Haswell-era motherboard from ASRock now works under this open-source BIOS implementation. The ASRock H81M-HDS is the latest motherboard port now mainline in Coreboot. The ASRock H81M-HDS supports Haswell Core and Xeon CPUs, supports two DDR3/DDR3L DIMMs, one PCI Express x16 slot, onboard display outputs, four SATA ports, and multiple USB3/USB2 ports. This motherboard can be found refurbished still from some Internet shops for about $70 USD.
  • Toradex and Digi launch i.MX8X-based Colibri and ConnectCore COMs
    Toradex and Digi have released Linux-friendly i.MX8X-based modules via early access programs. The Colibri iMX8X and Digi ConnectCore 8X each provide WiFi-ac and Bluetooth 4.2. NXP’s i.MX8X SoC has made quite a splash this week. Eight months after Phytec announced an i.MX8X-based phyCORE-i.MX 8X module, Variscite unveiled a VAR-SOM-MX8X module and then Congatec followed up with the Qseven form-factor Conga-QMX8X and SMARC 2.0 Conga-SMX8X. Now Toradex and Digi are beginning shipments of i.MX8X based modules for early access customers.
  • New Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ launched for only $25

Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome: Net Neutrality Stance, Mozilla, a VR Work, Firefox Monitor and 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Productivity

  • Mozilla Fights On For Net Neutrality
    Mozilla took the next step today in the fight to defend the web and consumers from the FCC’s attack on an open internet. Together with other petitioners, Mozilla filed our reply brief in our case challenging the FCC’s elimination of critical net neutrality protections that require internet providers to treat all online traffic equally. The fight for net neutrality, while not a new one, is an important one. We filed this case because we believe that the internet works best when people control for themselves what they see and do online. The FCC’s removal of net neutrality rules is not only bad for consumers, it is also unlawful. The protections in place were the product of years of deliberation and careful fact-finding that proved the need to protect consumers, who often have little or no choice of internet provider. The FCC is simply not permitted to arbitrarily change its mind about those protections based on little or no evidence. It is also not permitted to ignore its duty to promote competition and protect the public interest. And yet, the FCC’s dismantling of the net neutrality rules unlawfully removes long standing rules that have ensured the internet provides a voice for everyone. Meanwhile, the FCC’s defenses of its actions and the supporting arguments of large cable and telco company ISPs, who have come to the FCC’s aid, are misguided at best. They mischaracterize the internet’s technical structure as well as the FCC’s mandate to advance internet access, and they ignore clear evidence that there is little competition among ISPs. They repeatedly contradict themselves and have even introduced new justifications not outlined in the FCC’s original decision to repeal net neutrality protections.
  • Virtual meeting rooms don’t have to be boring. We challenge you to design better ones!
    Mozilla’s mission is to make the Internet a global public resource, open and accessible to all, including innovators, content creators, and builders on the web. VR is changing the very future of web interaction, so advancing it is crucial to Mozilla’s mission. That was the initial idea behind Hubs by Mozilla, a VR interaction platform launched in April 2018 that lets you meet and talk to your friends, colleagues, partners, and customers in a shared 360-environment using just a browser, on any device from head-mounted displays like HTC Vive to 2D devices like laptops and mobile phones. Since then, the Mozilla VR team has kept integrating new and exciting features to the Hubs experience: the ability bring videos, images, documents, and even 3D models into Hubs by simply pasting a link. In early October, two more useful features were added: drawing and photo uploads.
  • New Raspbian Update, Qt Creator 4.8 Beta2 Released, Firefox Monitor Now Available in More Than 26 Languages, Chrome OS Linux Soon Will Have Access to Downloads Folder and Canonical Extends Ubuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support
    Firefox Monitor, the free services that tells you whether your email has been part of a security breach, is now available in more than 26 languages: "Albanian, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English (Canadian), French, Frisian, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish (Argentina, Mexico, and Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Ukranian and Welsh." Along with this, Mozilla also announced that it has added "a notification to our Firefox Quantum browser that alerts desktop users when they visit a site that has had a recently reported data breach". See the Mozilla blog for details.
  • 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Productivity That You Should Use In 2019
    Google is the most popular browser around and supports a vast number of extensions as well. Since there are a lot of Chrome addons available in the Chrome Web Store, picking the best Google Chrome extension can be quite a task. Also, it is quite easy to get distracted on the web and lose track of time. Thankfully, several good extensions for productivity are available that can help you focus on your tasks, save time by prioritizing them and skillfully manage your to-do list. So here is a list of excellent Google Chrome extensions for productivity for the year 2019 that will assist you in your work in.

Graphics: Open-Source AMD Linux Driver Stack, Mesa 18.3.0 RC, ROCm 1.9.2 and Firefox on Wayland

  • The Open-Source AMD Linux Driver Stack Hitting Problems With The Radeon RX 590
    While the Radeon RX 590 that launched this week is just yet another Polaris refresh, it turns out the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack isn't yet playing well with retail RX 590 graphics cards. This is quite a surprise considering the PCI ID was picked up months ago and the mature Polaris Linux driver support for quite a while now, but could be like the rough Raven Ridge Linux experience where the production cards with the shipping vBIOS isn't what the developers encountered during their pre-production driver enablement. [...] Long story short, it looks like at least one initialization issue is blocking the Radeon RX 590 Linux support. Hopefully the workaround ends up being trivial enough that it can be quickly back-ported to existing stable Linux kernel series. Once the Radeon RX 590 is running well on Linux, I'll be through with a ton of benchmarks that I have already been working on this week with other graphics cards using the newest Linux driver stacks. This situation is sadly reminiscent of the Raven Ridge launch earlier this year where the open-source driver team was working on support for months in advance, but the production hardware/BIOS ended up varying a lot from their hardware bring-up that is was very shaky support at launch. The Raven Ridge support improved a lot on Linux since launch, but even to this day some hardware still seems to be problematic both of hardware in my labs as well as reports by users. Hopefully it won't take nearly as long for the RX 590 support to be in shape.
  • mesa 18.3.0-rc3
    The third release candidate for Mesa 18.3.0 is now available.
  • Mesa 18.3-RC3 Released With RADV Fixes, Drops Zen L3 Thread Pinning
    Mesa release manager Emil Velikov has announced the latest weekly release candidate of the upcoming Mesa 18.3. Mesa 18.3 has a number of Meson build system updates, several RADV driver corrections, a few NIR updates, fixes video API support for Raven 2 APUs, and back-ports the change to drop the AMD Zen L3 thread pinning functionality.
  • Radeon ROCm 1.9.2 Released - Brings SDMA/RDMA Support For Vega 20, HIP/HCC Improvements
    While we know ROCm 2.0 is coming out before year's end and that will have many improvements like complete OpenCL 2.0 support, ROCm 1.9.2 is out today as the latest stable release for this Radeon Open Compute stack. ROCm 1.9.2 brings some notable changes for just being a point release ahead of the big ROCm 2.0 milestone. Vega 20 remains one of the big areas for AMD's driver/software developers for what will begin shipping next year as the Radeon Instinct MI50 / MI60 accelerators.
  • Mozilla Now Ships Firefox Nightly Builds With Wayland Enabled
    After what feels like an eternity in waiting years for Mozilla to ship their Firefox web-browser with native Wayland support enabled, their latest Firefox Nightly builds have achieved this milestone. There have been Wayland patches for Firefox going back years but the Wayland support hasn't been enabled in the official Firefox binaries up until now. Starting yesterday, the Mozilla.org Firefox Nightly packages have Wayland support built-in and when launching Firefox if GDK_BACKEND=wayland is set, should now work with native Wayland rather than XWayland.

OSS: Delver, Lock-in, Dries Buytaert, Openstack and Mycroft

  • Delver devs release their tech publicly under open source license
    As an added bonus, it's always nice when developers open source their tech to share with others. The source release doesn't contain or cover the game data from Delver, and the game data remains subject to original copyright and applicable law. It's also worth mentioning that the source code release is licensed under the GNU General Public License v2.0, meaning the software can continue to be shared, edited, and distributed for free, and can be used for commercial use as well.
  • How open source makes lock-in worse (and better) [Ed: Troll Mac Asay at it again]
    For open source companies desperate to figure out a business model that scales with the adoption of their ostensibly free software, Amazon's recent troubles getting off Oracle's database could be instructive. One way to look at Amazon's struggles is through the lens of "proprietary software creates lock-in," but this isn't actually helpful. Why? Because open source creates similar lock-in, and that's something open source entrepreneurs might want to consider.
  • At Acquia Engage, CTO talks of open source WCM, Red Hat buy
    Dries Buytaert: No, [because] 18 to 19 years ago, mobile didn't exist. Google was a private company. I remember AT&T launching text messaging a month or so before. Social media didn't exist. I think less than 10% of the world had internet. I started Drupal; it was very much an experimental platform for me, just to have some fun. I was fascinated with the web, and I didn't have any grand plans. Obviously, that changed over time. I made it open source, [and] it started growing, slowly. Drupal started to grow, so I started my plans for Drupal and [followed] my conviction of us being onto something. We made a bet-the-farm bet on cloud [in about 2008], and that turned out to be the right bet, because we pioneered a new business model for open source, delivering [it] in the cloud. And a lot of companies are doing that now -- Elastic Path, MongoDB -- and I'm very proud of that.
  • Openstack moves one step closer to the edge
    The second Openstack Summit of the year drew to a close in Berlin yesterday, and it will be the last of its name as it rebrands as the Open Infrastructure Summit in 2019, a move that seems largely in line with the evolution of the open source cloud platform as it shifts further into edge and builds out a series of related pilot projects with Openstack as the core proposition. Many of the keynotes this time around showed the progress that the community had made in building out the pilot projects announced at the Vancouver Summit earlier this year. One in particular, the first release of StarlingX, might well help cement the open infrastructure platform in edge. StarlingX is branded as an open source edge platform, with telecom and IoT use cases in mind. According to the Foundation it "leverages components of Ceph, Openstack and Kubernetes and complements them with new services including configuration and fault management", in particular to address technology challenges around high availability and ultra-low latency compute.
  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Mycroft
    Companies are looking to provide better experiences with their customers, which has given rise to the popularity of chatbots. Yet assistants that use voice tend to be only associated with tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google. Mycroft is an open-source voice assistant that is aiming to make voice assistants more attainable for everyone. “We believe the future of AI should be open, not a cryptic black box only few understand and have control over. Building this new technology together, collaborating, sharing ideas and building on top of each other – that’s how we see it,” Mycroft’s website states.