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Devices: Debian and Purism

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  • It is complete!

    After last week’s DebConf Video Team sprint (thanks again to Jasper @ Linux Belgium for hosting us), the missing components for the stage box turned up right as I was driving back to Paris, and I could take the time to assemble them tonight.

  • Purism Wants to Teach You How to Create Games for Its Librem 5 Linux Smartphone

    Purism, the computer manufacturer known for its high-quality, privacy-focused laptops powered by a Linux-based operating system, announced an upcoming partnership with GDquest.

    GDQuest, an indie game designing company, will be partnering with Purism in an attempt to teach you how to create games that would be playable on Purism's upcoming Librem 5 Linux smartphone. GDquest's founder Nathan Lovato will be producing several video tutorial for Purism to demonstrate how to create a mobile game for GNU/Linux systems and publish it on the PureOS Store.

  • How to Avoid the Frightful 5 Big Tech Corporations

    You’re starting to question the moral values of Big Tech. You and your friends probably have a growing feeling of creepiness about the tech giants who have — like a poorly-acted villain — told you one thing, and given you another.

    Society – all of us – was told by these rising tech giants that “Everybody’s doing it, it’s easy: just do it,” and even though the masses – again, all of us – were skeptical, also generally thought, “Okay, I may be the product… but I am in control.” Until, of course, you weren’t in control.

    Big Tech have two business models: one is to exploit your private life for profit, the other to lock you into their products and services. Some even have both. Consequently, nearly everyone wants to leave Facebook – it’s just that nobody wants to leave it for Facebook 2.0. And that highlights the larger, deeper, and more menacing issue in digital society: that your digital civil rights are under constant, relentless attacks from Big-Tech.

Arch Linux's February 2019 Snapshot Is Now Available with Linux Kernel 4.20.6

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The Arch Linux 2019.02.01 ISO snapshot is now available for download, powered by the Linux 4.20.6 kernel and packed with all the updates released through the official archives of the GNU/Linux distribution since January 1st, 2019, when the Arch Linux 2019.01.01 snapshot was launched.

This is the second Arch Linux snapshot to use a kernel from the latest Linux 4.20 series. Linux kernel 4.20.6 is included by default in the Arch Linux 2019.02.01 image, which means that you'll get better support for the latest hardware, as well as a more secured operating system after installation.

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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.

11 Best Free Linux Bibliography Tools (Updated 2019)

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Bibliographic software (also known as citation software or reference managers) plays a very important role in research. This type of software helps research to be published more quickly. Researchers amass a huge collection of bibliographic references which are pertinent to their field of research, and they need to cite relevant references in their published journal articles.

Consequently, the effective management of bibliographic references is important to these individuals, saving them time to find the required citations. Some of the other ways the process is streamlined is that this type of software helps researchers to organise bibliographies, by formatting citations for academic papers, importing citations from websites and databases, and by taking notes on articles.

A bibliographic manager will typically let the user search academic and non-academic databases, store the reference, annotate them, import / export between different formats, and present the data to standard formats.

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CFS: Completely fair process scheduling in Linux

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Linux takes a modular approach to processor scheduling in that different algorithms can be used to schedule different process types. A scheduling class specifies which scheduling policy applies to which type of process. Completely fair scheduling (CFS), which became part of the Linux 2.6.23 kernel in 2007, is the scheduling class for normal (as opposed to real-time) processes and therefore is named SCHED_NORMAL.

CFS is geared for the interactive applications typical in a desktop environment, but it can be configured as SCHED_BATCH to favor the batch workloads common, for example, on a high-volume web server. In any case, CFS breaks dramatically with what might be called "classic preemptive scheduling." Also, the "completely fair" claim has to be seen with a technical eye; otherwise, the claim might seem like an empty boast.

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Easy IoT with Ubuntu Core and Raspberry Pi

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My current job involves me mostly working in the upper layers of the desktop software stack however I started out working in what was then called embedded engineering but now would probably be know as the Internet of Things (IoT). I worked on a number of projects which normally involved taking some industrial equipment (radio infrastructure, camera control system) and adding a stripped down Linux kernel and an application.

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Embedded Linux OS LibreELEC 9.0 Released with Kodi 18 "Leia," Here's What's New

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LibreELEC 9.0 (Leia) is now available featuring the recently released Kodi 18.0 "Leia" open-source and cross-platform media center software, which brings numerous new features and enhancements like retro gaming support, DRM support to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime content, and RDS (Radio Data System) support.

Also improved in Kodi 18 "Leia" is the Blu-ray support to allow you to watch 4K, 8K, and HDR content, Mir/Wayland support on Linux, Bluetooth support, Music Library, VDADecoder support, as well as the default "Estuary" skin. All these and much more are now available for LibreELEC users too.

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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.

OpenWrt 18.06.2 released with major bug fixes, updated Linux kernel and more!

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Last week the team at OpenWrt announced the second service release of the stable OpenWrt 18.06 series, OpenWrt 18.06.2.

OpenWrt is a Linux operating system that targets embedded devices and provides a fully writable filesystem with optional package management. It is also considered to be a complete replacement for the vendor-supplied firmware of a wide range of wireless routers and non-network devices.

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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. 

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Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB NVMe Linux SSD Benchmarks

Announced at the end of January was the Samsung 970 EVO Plus as the first consumer-grade solid-state drive with 96-layer 3D NAND memory. The Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSDs are now shipping and in this review are the first Linux benchmarks of these new SSDs in the form of the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB MZ-V7S500B/AM compared to several other SSDs on Linux. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus uses the same Phoenix controller as in their existing SSDs but the big upgrade with the EVO Plus is the shift to the 96-layer 3D NAND memory. Available now through Internet retailers are the 250GB / 500GB / 1TB versions of the 970 EVO Plus at a new low of just $130 USD for the 500GB model or $250 USD for the 1TB version. A 2GB model is expected to ship this spring. Read more

elementary 5 "Juno"

In the spring of 2014 (nearly five years ago), I was preparing a regular presentation I give most years—where I look at the bad side (and the good side) of the greater Linux world. As I had done in years prior, I was preparing a graph showing the market share of various Linux distributions changing over time. But, this year, something was different. In the span of less than two years, a tiny little Linux distro came out of nowhere to become one of the most watched and talked about systems available. In the blink of an eye, it went from nothing to passing several grand-daddies of Linux flavors that had been around for decades. This was elementary. Needless to say, it caught my attention. Read more

Audiophile Linux Promises Aural Nirvana

Linux isn’t just for developers. I know that might come as a surprise for you, but the types of users that work with the open source platform are as varied as the available distributions. Take yours truly for example. Although I once studied programming, I am not a developer. The creating I do with Linux is with words, sounds, and visuals. I write books, I record audio, and a create digital images and video. And even though I don’t choose to work with distributions geared toward those specific tasks, they do exist. I also listen to a lot of music. I tend to listen to most of my music via vinyl. But sometimes I want to listen to music not available in my format of choice. That’s when I turn to digital music. Read more