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ZaReason Gamerbox 9400: The ultimate Linux gaming PC

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A few years back, Gabe Newell, Valve's CEO, said, "Linux is the future of gaming." Well, that didn't happen, but Valve, creator of the Steam game engine and network, is renewing its push for Linux games. So, it makes good sense that ZaReason, a Linux computer manufacturer, has released a top-of-the-line gaming PC: The ZaReason Gamerbox 9400.

ZaReason CEO Cathy Malmrose said the GameBox 9400 was only the start. "Our current team is mostly gamers so, not surprisingly, that is the direction we are going. We have a full line of gaming machines in R&D," Malmrose said.

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Games: Graywalkers: Purgatory, Thrusty Ship, Unity, Slay the Spire, Night of the Blood Moon, MachiaVillain, Mage's Initiation

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  • Graywalkers: Purgatory, an upcoming supernatural post-apocalyptic turn-based strategy RPG

    Graywalkers: Purgatory from developer Dreamlords Digital has me itching to try it out with a blending of turn-based XCOM-like combat with a supernatural post-apocalyptic theme.

  • In Thrusty Ship your main enemy is yourself and your throttle finger

    Thrusty Ship takes the basic gameplay of classics like Lunar Lander (and many others) with you fighting against gravity and turns it into a challenging and fun battle against your fuel gauge.

  • Unity 2019.1 Beta Deprecates Linux x86, Offers Up Many Vulkan & Linux Improvements

    Unity Tech has put out their first public beta of the upcoming Unity 2019.1 game engine update. There's some notable work on both the Linux and Vulkan fronts.

    Unity 2019.1 beta headlining features include incremental garbage collection support, implementing more GPU lightmapper functionality, particle improvements, and a number of enhancements to the Android platform support. For game developers making use of Unity there are also editor improvements with a number of new features as well as H.265 video transcode, NVIDIA OptiX AI denoiser, and other bits

  • Slay the Spire Now Available for Linux and Windows

    Slay the Spire has been available in Early Access for quite a while, but the game has finally been released in its full form - and stands out compared to pretty much anything else on the market. Roguelikes have been a giant part of the industry for a decade now too, but you don't really see these things combined in a mini-game - let alone in a full-fledged game. The game combines a bit of JRPG mechanics with it as well thanks to its turn-based nature and allows you to build new decks and learn as you go. If you find that a certain attack type is weak against one enemy type, you'll want to switch it up - but maybe find that your new attack setup isn't much more effective. Then you find that by combining various cards together, you get a more effective turn and wind up unlocking the mystery behind a certain enemy.

  • Night of the Blood Moon Now Available on Steam For Linux and Windows PC

    With the rise of rogue-like games over the past decade, the sub-genre has become oversaturated to many. Most games have aimed at making them more accessible, but Blood Moon aims to do things a bit differently. The goal of the developers is to make things challenging and more rewarding. The game's premise is unique too in that it has you fighting in a dream world and destroying all of the cute and sometimes terrifying creatures you see in the dream realm. You can kill as many of them as you want and unlock items, skills, or even helper pets. They act a bit like a third non-playable character in a fighting game in that they can help you briefly and save your bacon, but aren't going to give you a game-breaking adventure.

  • Major Update Released for MachiaVillain on PC, Mac and Linux

    Good Shepherd Entertainment and independent developer Wild Factor have released a shocking new content update for the evil mansion management strategy game MachiaVillain on Windows PC, Mac and Linux.

    MachiaVillain’s new update adds electric fields to your hellish homestead that can be used to power new tools and abilities. Set up alarms, jam mobile phones to keep victims from calling for help, and wield the Finger of Evil to zap enemies or give a boost to your minions.

  • Mage's Initiation adventure/RPG out now for Win / Mac / Linux

    After ten years of development, Himalaya Studios is excited to announce that Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements - a hybrid adventure/RPG in the tradition of the classic King's Quest and Quest for Glory series - is now available for $13.49 USD on Steam, GOG, and the Humble Store.

Games: Mage's Initiation, Coregrounds, Tower of Time, Robothorium

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  • Game Review: Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements

    I've been playing a pre-release version of Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements, a classic role-playing game from Himalaya Studios, done in the style of Sierra On-Line's classic King's Quest series. This is only so surprising given that the people behind this new game worked on creating those classics and their remakes. Mage's Initiation is a medieval-style fantasy game with puzzles, treasures, labyrinthine settings, magic, spell-casting battles and monsters. Mage's Initiation began its life as a Kickstarter where it has been hotly anticipated. If you want to check into all that, I link to the Kickstarter page at the end, but right now, I just want to tell you about the game.

    In Mage's Initiation, you play a student mage, taken from your family at the age of six to a mystical tower in Iginor, a seemingly idyllic land. In the Mage's Tower, you spend years studying the power of the elements. After ten years, it's Initiation Day, and you are ready to discover which of the elements has chosen you as its champion. In my case, I wound up following the path of water, but you can play (or replay) any of the four classic elements.

  • Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements, a new magical point and click adventure is out

    A new adventure is waiting for you, this time you're a sixteen-year-old Mage in Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements.

  • Coregrounds, a competitive strategy game with Tower Defense and MOBA elements shuts down, goes open source

    On top of AuroraRL shutting down this month, Coregrounds a competitive strategy game that pulled in elements from both Tower Defense and MOBAs has also shut down. This one has also opened up the code.

  • The RPG 'Tower of Time' had a massive update adding in entirely new ways to play

    Tower of Time is an impressive game, both in terms of style and the actual gameplay. The developer, Event Horizon, are show just how much they care about it with a huge update.

    While it is a genuinely good game, it can feel like it takes quite a while to get anything done. That's pretty standard for such an RPG, but not everyone has the time. They're aware of this and so they made some additional game modes to allow more people to enjoy it.

  • Robothorium, a sci-fi dungeon crawler has now officially left Early Access behind

    Robothorium, a sci-fi dungeon crawler from Goblinz Studio has now officially released and it's a fun experience.

    Far off in the future, robotics and AI has advanced so much that the robots themselves now campaign for their rights. They feel oppressed, used and abused. Human kind hasn't it too well and so a civil war is brewing between the two sides. You are S.A.I.A., a special enhanced AI whose job it is to give a future to robot kind.

Games: Rise of Industry, Zero G Arena, and JYDGE

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  • Rise of Industry, the strategic tycoon game has come along tremendously and a new update is out

    It's been a long time since I took a look at the Early Access strategic tycoon game Rise of Industry, what a better time to do so with a major update? Out now is Alpha 9, which adds in quite a lot.

  • Zero G Arena, a zero-gravity 3D arena shooter that’s genuinely fun gained Linux support recently

    While still quite sick this week and unable to sleep, I decided to at random look through the Steam Discovery Queue for a new game. It certainly delivered, with Zero G Arena.

    The game was originally released back in August of last year, with Linux support arriving in December. Really quite surprised I had not heard of it, since it looked good and ticked a lot of the right boxes.

    The developer mentioned how they had wanted to add Linux support for “well over 2 years now” but when they tried before the Early Access launch some Linux distributions had “serious issues” back then. Seems they’re mostly solved, as for me it runs extremely well.

  • JYDGE, the incredibly fun highly customisable shooter from 10tons is now on GOG

    JYDGE remains as one of my favourite top-down shooters to come from 10tons and now it's also available for GOG fans. Note: GOG provided a copy.

    It's not exactly an old game, only being released in October 2017 so it's not like it suddenly changed with age or anything. I completed it some time ago on Steam but thanks to the GOG release I jumped back in for another blast. It's like seeing an old best friend for the first time in a while, exciting to go back to.

Games: Eagle Island, Neverwinter Nights, Littlewood, Superhero League of Hoboken, Godhood, Albion Online, Vigil: The Longest Night and More

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  • Eagle Island looks like a truly wonderful platformer which involves falconry

    Yes, falconry. In Eagle Island it seems you won't be punching or kicking your way through it, you will be throwing your bird friends in the face of your enemies and it looks delightful.

    It's actually one I completely missed from Kickstarter, which was fully funded back in May of 2017. Catching up with the developer recently, I asked about Linux support for it and they said pretty clearly that they "currently have the alpha running smoothly in Ubuntu and intend to have the full version ready for the launch date". However, they did mention due to Linux being a little trickier for them it could see a small delay but hopefully not.

  • Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is going to get some fancy shaders

    Beamdog aren't stopping with the updates to Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition, with some graphical improvements on the way. While it's a good game, with tons of content to play through for RPG fans one thing about it is clear, graphically it does show its age.

    Announcing what's to come on Twitter, they said they've been working on a new "shader pipeline" that will "eventually debut in the new renderer". When probed a little further by me, they confirmed it will work across platforms (like Linux—just so we're sure). You can see more information on it here, while it's a demo right now it should make the game look quite a bit more modern when officially added in.

  • The peaceful building RPG 'Littlewood' now has a Linux demo, lots of stretch goals hit

    Littlewood, a peaceful town-building RPG from developer Sean Young now has a Linux demo available. I've spent a few hours playing and it's really quite sweet.

    It's hit will over thirty thousand dollars in funding, which means it's completely smashed through a bunch of stretch goals and so it should get some interesting additional content. This includes new NPCs, new buildings, a card game, more character customisation and plenty more.

  • GOG have given the DOSBox treatment to Superhero League of Hoboken

    Superhero League of Hoboken, another classic game has been packaged up nicely by GOG with Superhero League of Hoboken.

    Originally released back in 1994, it gained some reasonably positive press at the time. The Linux build comes pre-packaged with DOSBox like a lot of classic games. So for those who missed out on it at the time, here's your chance with a no-fuss option.

  • Godhood from Abbey Games will have you create your own religion, now on Kickstarter

    Abbey Games (Reus and Renowned Explorers) have now officially put up the Kickstarter for their new god-game Godhood and it does sound very interesting.

    Their previous games both support Linux and so it's really pleasing to see them firmly commit to a Linux version, especially as it looks like my type of game. While it has the usual elements you would expect, with certain things outside of your control as you try to direct people with God Commandments it will also mix in some turn-based RPG combat. The combat, again, is not something you will directly control either, so I'm pretty curious about that too.

  • Sounds like the randomised dungeon feature for Albion Online is going to be great

    Albion Online, the MMO from Sandbox Interactive is set to get a fair bit more interesting with the Oberon update due out this Spring.

    We've mentioned it briefly before here on GOL, that the developers are going to be making some small steps towards a more interesting PvE experience. This is good, because the heavy PvP focus of the game right now put me off quite quickly.

  • Vigil: The Longest Night, a 2D action platformer that looks seriously good will support Linux

    Vigil: The Longest Night is a recent discovery that captured my interest instantly with the visual style and it's coming to Linux.

  • gamingdirectional: Create the game background Part 2

    Hello and welcome back to part two of this chapter. In this chapter, we will finish up the background rendering process for our new pygame project. If you have missed out the first part of the tutorial then you can read it here. OK let us continue… In part one we have created two new classes, in this part, we will find out how to use them.

Games: Volcanoids, 5 of the Best Games on Ubuntu Snap Store and Building Games With Python

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  • Unique steampunk survival game Volcanoids has erupted into Early Access

    If, like me, you grew tired of many survival games doing a lot of the same thing you will want to take a look at Volcanoids.

  • 5 of the Best Games on Ubuntu Snap Store

    There are plenty of great games for Linux, but it’s not always easy actually getting them to run. Package management systems like apt have made things easier, but not all games are available this way. Fortunately, Snap has come along as an easy way to run almost anything, including games, without hassle.

    Snap is Ubuntu’s solution to cramming everything an app needs to run into a single package. This isn’t the only software of its type, but since it is developed by Canonical, it’s the default on Ubuntu. Getting started is easy: just search for Snap Store in the Software Center and click install.

  • Create the game background part 1

    Hello, and welcome back, starting from today I will definitely use my time effectively which means less Youtubed and Googled around so I can concentrate most of the time on writing article, creating the game and managing my own shoe selling’s business. This year is make money online and offline year for me, wasting time on Youtube or surfing around must be stopped so those time can be used to do more meaningful stuff. Alright, so much for that let us get into the business.

    As the title has suggested, in this chapter we will create the game’s background for our new pygame project. As I have mentioned before we are creating a maze game project so you can expect something new as compared to the previous project. Before we start let us look at our strategy to create the background object first.

Released: Kodi 18.0

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  • Kodi 18 is here!

    After another long gestation... the Kodi team is very pleased to announce the immediate availability of Kodi 18.0 "Leia" for all supported platforms (UWP for Windows Store and Xbox is working its way through the system as I type, so will be available shortly...). While we were planning to move more to a "release early, release often" model, this has some significant changes that really needed to be tested and bedded in before we launched it, so it did take a little longer than we'd hoped. It was, though, a worthwhile wait.

  • Kodi 18 "Leia" Released with Support for Gaming Emulators, DRM Support, and More

    Dubbed "Leia" to honor the late Carrie Fisher, the Star Wars actress who played the iconic character Leia Princess in the acclaimed franchise, Kodi 18 is a major release that comes almost two years after the Kodi 17 "Krypton" series with numerous new features, improvements, and other noteworthy changes.

  • Kodi 18.0 Released With Reworked Wayland Platform, Retroplayer Gaming Support

    Kodi 18.0 "Leia" is now available as one of the biggest releases ever for this open-source, cross-platform multimedia/HTPC software.

    Kodi 18 has been in the works for two years now and comes with some gaming integration via RetroPlayer to enjoy some emulated console games within the HTPC software, completely reworked Wayland support, improved live TV capabilities, Google Assistant support, usability enhancements, better stability, DRM content support, better Blu-ray support, and quite a lot of other improvements throughout.

Games: Emulators, Steam and Native GNU/Linux Titles

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  • 7 Best Free Linux Mega Drive Emulators

    The Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis) was a leading 16-bit video game console system. The console was developed by Sega Corporation in 1988. Sega was unable to obtain trademark rights in North America, and it was released in that market under the name of Sega Genesis.

    By current console standards, the Mega Drive’s specification seem positively pedestrian. However, at its launch the console’s specifications surpassed competitors in many respects. At its core is a Motorola M6800 16 bit processor running at 7.67 MHz with a Zilog Z80 8-bit co-processor to handle sound. In the graphics department, the console offers a typical resolution of 320 x 224 pixels, with a 512 colour palette (up to 64 displayable at any one time), with up to 80 sprites. When released in Japan the console did not meet anticipated sales, but it was more popular in the North American and European markets. Demand for the Mega Drive took off with the release of the classic game, Sonic the Hedgehog.

    The Sega Mega Drive spawned a number of variants including the a redesigned version of the console called Mega Drive 2. To maintain interest in the platform, Sega also released the Mega-CD (Sega CD in North America) which offered an improved specification over the original console and the ability to play audio CDs, as well as the video game console add-on, 32X, which was inserted into the system like a normal game cartridge.

  • Abandon Ship, the naval combat and adventure game is still heading to Linux

    It's been quite some time since I checked on Abandon Ship, the naval combat and adventure game that hooked me in with the art inspired by old naval oil paintings.

    I haven't written about it or checked on it since 2017, so I caught up with the developer briefly when they posted their latest beta update. When asking if they're closer to a Linux release which they did previously confirm, they said "Heh - Linux is still in our plans, don't worry :)". Good news, as I'm quite looking forward to this one.

  • The developer of AuroraRL, a 2D space exploration game has thrown in the towel

    The difficulties of game development and Early Access have hit another developer, with Sun Dogs throwing in the towel with AuroraRL. It's not all bad news though.

    Writing an announcement on Steam, the developer noted how they understimated the effort required to make a game of the scale they wanted to. Not only that, they overestimated the amount of money they would make.

    This isn't the end though, since the code is all up on Bitbucket under the Apache license. When I asked the developer about the assets (graphics and so on) they said "Assets can not be used in commercial projects, though if you really like and want to use them this is negotiable.".

  • The war of the PC stores is getting ugly, as Metro Exodus becomes a timed Epic Store exclusive

    While this might not be specific to Linux gaming, it's still something interesting I've wanted to talk about. Metro Exodus from 4A Games and Deep Silver has jumped ship from Steam to the Epic Store.

  • Estranged: Act II, the free first-person puzzle, exploration and combat game was tweaked recently

    Estranged: Act II, the free game from Alan Edwardes that follows a fisherman, stranded on a mysterious island during a violent storm had a recent update to tweak various issues.

    For those not aware, the game continues after the events of the original free game, Estranged: Act I. It's an atmospheric exploration and puzzle game, with some simplistic combat sprinkled in for good measure.

    While the update isn't a big one, it does deal with a couple of notable issues. It has some new and improved audio, with messages from a particular character having been re-recorded. Additionally there's a new lab section of levels, some new death animations, some needed pacing tweaks and some HUD tweaks. Not a huge update but good to see more coming in for this free game.

  • The hide and seek shooter 'AT SUNDOWN: Shots in the Dark' is now out with Linux support

    AT SUNDOWN: Shots in the Dark from developer Mild Beast Games and publisher Versus Evil puts an interesting spin on the top-down shooter genre where light is your enemy.

  • Allspace, a free to play first-person space combat game arrives on Steam in a rather basic form

    While it's incredibly early days for Allspace, this free to play first-person space combat game could be interesting when it's a little less bare.

  • The sporty city-builder 'Road to your City' has a demo out ahead of the Kickstarter

    Here's a good sign for their Linux support, Road to your City, a city-builder with a focus on Football (Soccer to some of you) has a demo up.

    They're heading to Kickstarter on the 1st of February, so this is a little taster to see if we're interested. With that in mind, the demo is locked to 15 minutes playtime so it's still a little difficult to gather any real thoughts on it. Although, that's per new-game, it's not locked to 15 minutes and then never again so you can keep restarting to test more.

Games: King under the Mountain, Outwarp 50S, Pygame

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  • King under the Mountain, a settlement-building strategy game now has an alpha up on

    After a mildly successful Kickstarter, King under the Mountain, a fantasy settlement-building strategy game now has an alpha available on

  • Outwarp 50S is the new devilish hard shoot 'em up from Bearded Giant Games

    Some of you may recognise the name Bearded Giant Games, as they made a little splash recently with their "Linux first initiative" and they've now revealed a new game called Outwarp 50S.

  • Create an animated game object in Pygame project

    Hello and nice to be back, it has been a while I am not writing any article on this site but I promise you that you will see more articles in the future. As I had promised you before I will create two game projects at the same time, a Panda 3D game and a new Pygame project. Both will start at the same time. This article is about the new Pygame project. In this article we will make a slight modification on the Start Scene class which we have created a while ago, we will replace the stand still human with an animated humanoid at the main menu page area by editing some part of the code on the Start Scene class.

Games: RivenTails: Defense, The Mean Greens - Plastic Warfare, ASYLUM, SpatialOS, Emulation, Lutris, Godot Engine and FoxTail

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  • RivenTails: Defense, a mix of a 3D puzzle platformer with Tower Defense will come to Linux this year

    RivenTails: Defense from developer Kivano is a rather sweet and colourful looking game blending two rather different genres together.

    I must admit, the idea of mixing together a 3D puzzle exploration game with tower defense does sound quite intriguing to me.

  • The Mean Greens - Plastic Warfare now has official Linux support once again

    The Mean Greens - Plastic Warfare, a third-person shooter where you take on the role of a toy soldier is once again supported on Linux.

    It arrived on Linux way back in 2016 but sadly the Linux version was left out of date for a little while, plus the SteamOS icon to show off Linux support was removed. I spoke to the developer about it, where they admitted having "dropped the ball on that" not informing Linux gamers what was happening. Not long after I mentioned all this, new builds were made for Linux and a day ago the SteamOS icon returned!

  • Six years later, the horror adventure ASYLUM should hopefully release this year with Linux support

    It's been a long wait for the horror adventure 'ASYLUM' to finally release, with 2019 looking more likely and Linux support is still confirmed.

    For those unfamiliar, ASYLUM was crowdfunded on Kickstarter way back in February of 2013, where they managed to get around $119K from over three thousand backers.

  • Crytek teases 'new AAA game' built with SpatialOS

    Crytek, the developers of the Crysis series and Early Access survival shooter Hunt: Showdown, is working on a "new AAA game" built using Improbable's SpatialOS, the multiplayer-focused cloud platform.

    Crytek said it would reveal more about the game—built using SpatialOS and Crytek's own game engine, CryEngine—"soon", but didn't give any more details.

  • Best Free Linux Video Console Game Emulators

    Emulation refers to the duplication of functions of one system using a different system. Specifically, an emulator is software specifically written to emulate aspects of the original console or computer, primarily the CPU, I/O and memory system.

    This article selects the best free and open source software to emulate classic video consoles, such as the Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii, Sega Mega Drive, Sony PlayStation 2, Sony PlayStation 3, and many others.

    We’ve rated all of the emulators featured in this article. Take note that some of the video consoles are much harder to emulate than others. The scores don’t take that factor into account and therefore shouldn’t therefore be used as a comparative measure. Instead, we simply score each emulator on their own merits taking into account things like their accuracy, performance, features, and compatibility.

  • Lutris has the first release candidate available for 0.5 which needs testing

    Lutris, the excellent bit of software that allows you to bring together your scattered game library is closing in on a final release of the 0.5 overhaul. The first release candidate is now out for you to find some bugs.

    Compared with the previous beta, there's not a huge amount that's new. Although, it does include the extremely handy built-in search feature. This new feature allows you to search the Lutris website game library, from within the application directly to add it to your collection. It's much nicer!

  • The free and open source game engine 'Godot Engine' has a third 3.1 beta out

    No need to wait for Godot, the third beta of Godot Engine 3.1 is officially out for you to break it apart and report issues.

    The Godot team has been blasting through the bugs for this release, starting off at around 600 reported issues at the start of the month they're down to only around 200 now which is quite a difference.


    We've been hard at work fixing bugs since the Godot 3.1 beta 2 last week, and our new beta 3 snapshot is a lot closer to what we want the final 3.1 to be like.

    There were over 600 bugs listed for the 3.1 milestone at the start of the month, but we've been reviewed them tirelessly over the last few weeks, and many of them have been fixed, or postponed to the next milestone when they were not critical. The GLES2 backend is getting more and more mature, especially for the web and mobile platforms where severe issues have been fixed.

  • FoxTail, the sweet in-development point and click adventure has a second chapter out now

    For those who love their classic inspired point and click adventures, take a look at FoxTail which now has a whole second chapter available.

    Additionally, they now have a composer to bring more life to the game with some better music. They've added in 64bit support, the ability to pick the second chapter right away for those who have finished chapter one and a Polish translation.

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More in Tux Machines

Games: Surviving Mars and OpenMW

Kernel and Security: BPF, Mesa, Embedded World, Kernel Address Sanitizer and More

  • Concurrency management in BPF
    In the beginning, programs run on the in-kernel BPF virtual machine had no persistent internal state and no data that was shared with any other part of the system. The arrival of eBPF and, in particular, its maps functionality, has changed that situation, though, since a map can be shared between two or more BPF programs as well as with processes running in user space. That sharing naturally leads to concurrency problems, so the BPF developers have found themselves needing to add primitives to manage concurrency (the "exchange and add" or XADD instruction, for example). The next step is the addition of a spinlock mechanism to protect data structures, which has also led to some wider discussions on what the BPF memory model should look like. A BPF map can be thought of as a sort of array or hash-table data structure. The actual data stored in a map can be of an arbitrary type, including structures. If a complex structure is read from a map while it is being modified, the result may be internally inconsistent, with surprising (and probably unwelcome) results. In an attempt to prevent such problems, Alexei Starovoitov introduced BPF spinlocks in mid-January; after a number of quick review cycles, version 7 of the patch set was applied on February 1. If all goes well, this feature will be included in the 5.1 kernel.
  • Intel Ready To Add Their Experimental "Iris" Gallium3D Driver To Mesa
    For just over the past year Intel open-source driver developers have been developing a new Gallium3D-based OpenGL driver for Linux systems as the eventual replacement to their long-standing "i965 classic" Mesa driver. The Intel developers are now confident enough in the state of this new driver dubbed Iris that they are looking to merge the driver into mainline Mesa proper.  The Iris Gallium3D driver has now matured enough that Kenneth Graunke, the Intel OTC developer who originally started Iris in late 2017, is looking to merge the driver into the mainline code-base of Mesa. The driver isn't yet complete but it's already in good enough shape that he's looking for it to be merged albeit marked experimental.
  • Hallo Nürnberg!
    Collabora is headed to Nuremberg, Germany next week to take part in the 2019 edition of Embedded World, "the leading international fair for embedded systems". Following a successful first attendance in 2018, we are very much looking forward to our second visit! If you are planning on attending, please come say hello in Hall 4, booth 4-280! This year, we will be showcasing a state-of-the-art infrastructure for end-to-end, embedded software production. From the birth of a software platform, to reproducible continuous builds, to automated testing on hardware, get a firsthand look at our platform building expertise and see how we use continuous integration to increase productivity and quality control in embedded Linux.
  • KASAN Spots Another Kernel Vulnerability From Early Linux 2.6 Through 4.20
    The Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASAN) that detects dynamic memory errors within the Linux kernel code has just picked up another win with uncovering a use-after-free vulnerability that's been around since the early Linux 2.6 kernels. KASAN (along with the other sanitizers) have already proven quite valuable in spotting various coding mistakes hopefully before they are exploited in the real-world. The Kernel Address Sanitizer picked up another feather in its hat with being responsible for the CVE-2019-8912 discovery.
  • io_uring, SCM_RIGHTS, and reference-count cycles
    The io_uring mechanism that was described here in January has been through a number of revisions since then; those changes have generally been fixing implementation issues rather than changing the user-space API. In particular, this patch set seems to have received more than the usual amount of security-related review, which can only be a good thing. Security concerns became a bit of an obstacle for io_uring, though, when virtual filesystem (VFS) maintainer Al Viro threatened to veto the merging of the whole thing. It turns out that there were some reference-counting issues that required his unique experience to straighten out. The VFS layer is a complicated beast; it must manage the complexities of the filesystem namespace in a way that provides the highest possible performance while maintaining security and correctness. Achieving that requires making use of almost all of the locking and concurrency-management mechanisms that the kernel offers, plus a couple more implemented internally. It is fair to say that the number of kernel developers who thoroughly understand how it works is extremely small; indeed, sometimes it seems like Viro is the only one with the full picture. In keeping with time-honored kernel tradition, little of this complexity is documented, so when Viro gets a moment to write down how some of it works, it's worth paying attention. In a long "brain dump", Viro described how file reference counts are managed, how reference-count cycles can come about, and what the kernel does to break them. For those with the time to beat their brains against it for a while, Viro's explanation (along with a few corrections) is well worth reading. For the rest of us, a lighter version follows.

Blacklisting insecure filesystems in openSUSE

The Linux kernel supports a wide variety of filesystem types, many of which have not seen significant use — or maintenance — in many years. Developers in the openSUSE project have concluded that many of these filesystem types are, at this point, more useful to attackers than to openSUSE users and are proposing to blacklist many of them by default. Such changes can be controversial, but it's probably still fair to say that few people expected the massive discussion that resulted, covering everything from the number of OS/2 users to how openSUSE fits into the distribution marketplace. On January 30, Martin Wilck started the discussion with a proposal to add a blacklist preventing the automatic loading of a set of kernel modules implementing (mostly) old filesystems. These include filesystems like JFS, Minix, cramfs, AFFS, and F2FS. For most of these, the logic is that the filesystems are essentially unused and the modules implementing them have seen little maintenance in recent decades. But those modules can still be automatically loaded if a user inserts a removable drive containing one of those filesystem types. There are a number of fuzz-testing efforts underway in the kernel community, but it seems relatively unlikely that any of them are targeting, say, FreeVxFS filesystem images. So it is not unreasonable to suspect that there just might be exploitable bugs in those modules. Preventing modules for ancient, unmaintained filesystems from automatically loading may thus protect some users against flash-drive attacks. If there were to be a fight over a proposal like this, one would ordinarily expect it to be concerned with the specific list of unwelcome modules. But there was relatively little of that. One possible exception is F2FS, the presence of which raised some eyebrows since it is under active development, having received 44 changes in the 5.0 development cycle, for example. Interestingly, it turns out that openSUSE stopped shipping F2FS in September. While the filesystem is being actively developed, it seems that, with rare exceptions, nobody is actively backporting fixes, and the filesystem also lacks a mechanism to prevent an old F2FS implementation from being confused by a filesystem created by a newer version. Rather than deal with these issues, openSUSE decided to just drop the filesystem altogether. As it happens, the blacklist proposal looks likely to allow F2FS to return to the distribution since it can be blacklisted by default. Read more

gitgeist: a git-based social network proof of concept

Are you tired of not owning the data or the platform you use for social postings? I know I am. It's hard to say when I "first" used a social network. I've been on email for about 30 years and one of the early ad-hoc forms of social networks were chain emails. Over the years I was asked to join all sorts of "social" things such as IRC, ICQ, Skype, MSN Messenger, etc. and eventually things like Orkut, MySpace, Facebook, etc. I'll readily admit that I'm not the type of person that happily jumps onto every new social bandwagon that appears on the Internet. I often prefer preserving the quietness of my own thoughts. That, though, hasn't stopped me from finding some meaningfulness participating in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more recently Google+. Twitter was in fact the first social network that I truly embraced. And it would've remained my primary social network had they not killed their own community by culling the swell of independently-developed Twitter clients that existed. That and their increased control of their API effectively made me look for something else. Right around that time Google+ was being introduced and many in the open source community started participating in that, in some ways to find a fresh place where techies can aggregate away from the noise and sometimes over-the-top nature of Facebook. Eventually I took to that too and started using G+ as my primary social network. That is, until Google recently decided to pull the plug on G+. While Google+ might not have represented a success for Google, it had become a good place for sharing information among the technically-inclined. As such, I found it quite useful for learning and hearing about new things in my field. Soon-to-be-former users of G+ have gone in all sorts of directions. Some have adopted a "c'mon guys, get over it, Facebook is the spot" attitude, others have adopted things like Mastodon, others have fallen back to their existing IDs on Twitter, and yet others, like me, are still looking. Read more