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Linux Steam Controller Driver and LWN Kernel Coverage

  • Steam Controller Linux Kernel Driver Updated To Work Happily With The Steam Client
    Last month we reported on a kernel driver being worked on for Valve's Steam Controller but it wasn't coming from Valve developers but rather an independent member of the community. That hid-steam driver continues to be hacked on. To date Valve has just been supporting the Steam Controller on Linux via the Steam client with handling the controller's behavior in user-space. There have also been some independent user-space programs to come about too for manipulating the Steam Controller, but this has been the first time a proper Linux kernel driver has been worked on for this popular gaming controller.
  • Time-based packet transmission
    Normally, when an application sends data over the network, it wants that data to be transmitted as quickly as possible; the kernel's network stack tries to oblige. But there are applications that need their packets to be transmitted within specific time windows. This behavior can be approximated in user space now, but a better solution is in the works in the form of the time-based packet transmission patch set. There are a number of situations where outgoing data should not necessarily be transmitted immediately. One example would be any sort of isochronous data stream — an audio or video stream, maybe — where each packet of data is relevant at a specific point in time. For such streams, transmitting ahead of time and buffering at the receiving side generally works well enough. But realtime control applications can be less flexible. Commands for factory-floor or automotive systems, for example, should be transmitted within a narrow period of time. Realtime applications can wait until the window opens before queuing data for transmission, of course, but any sort of latency that creeps in (due to high network activity, for example) may then cause the data to be transmitted too late.
  • Designing ELF modules
    The bpfilter proposal posted in February included a new type of kernel module that would run as a user-space program; its purpose is to parse and translate iptables rules under the kernel's control but in a contained, non-kernel setting. These "ELF modules" were reposted for review as a standalone patch set in early March. That review has happened; it is a good example of how community involvement can improve a special-purpose patch and turn it into a more generally useful feature. ELF modules look like ordinary kernel modules in a number of ways. They are built from source that is (probably) shipped with the kernel itself, they are compiled to a file ending in .ko, and they can be loaded into the kernel with modprobe. Rather than containing a real kernel module, though, that .ko file holds an ordinary ELF binary, as a user-space program would. When the module is "loaded", a special process resembling a kernel thread is created to run that program in user mode. The program will then provide some sort of service to the kernel that is best not run within the kernel itself.

Security: AMD, Slingshot, Voting and Cryptocurrencies

Browsers: Mozilla and Chrome

  • Mozilla Presses Pause on Facebook Advertising
    Mozilla is pressing pause on our Facebook advertising. Facebook knows a great deal about their two billion users — perhaps more intimate information than any other company does. They know everything we click and like on their site, and know who our closest friends and relationships are. Because of its scale, Facebook has become one of the most convenient platforms to reach an audience for all companies and developers, whether a multibillion corporation or a not-for-profit.
  • Results of the MDN “Duplicate Pages” SEO experiment
    Following in the footsteps of MDN’s “Thin Pages” SEO experiment done in the autumn of 2017, we completed a study to test the effectiveness and process behind making changes to correct cases in which pages are perceived as “duplicates” by search engines. In SEO parlance, “duplicate” is a fuzzy thing. It doesn’t mean the pages are identical—this is actually pretty rare on MDN in particular—but that the pages are similar enough that they are not easily differentiated by the search engine’s crawling technology.
  • Send, getting better
    Send continues to improve incrementally. Since our last post we’ve added a few requested features and fixed a bunch of bugs. You can now choose to allow multiple downloads and change the password on a file if you need to. Send is also more stable and should work more reliably across a wider set of browsers. We’ve brought back support for Microsoft Edge and some older versions of Safari.
  • Chrome 66 Beta: CSS Typed Object Model, Async Clipboard API, AudioWorklet
    Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. View a complete list of the features in Chrome 66 on ChromeStatus.
  • Chrome 66 Beta Delivers On Async Clipboard API, Web Locks API
    Following the Chrome 65 release earlier this month, Google developers have now catapulted the Chrome 66 beta.

Devices: Raspberry Pi 3, Ben NanoNote, Artila, webOS

  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Benchmarks
    Last week on Pi Day marked the release of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ with a slightly higher clocked Cortex-A53 processors, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, faster Ethernet, and other minor enhancements over its predecessor. I've been spending the past few days putting the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ through its paces the past few days with an array of benchmarks while comparing the performance to other ARM SBCs as well as a few lower-end Intel x86 systems too. Here is all you need to know about the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ performance.
  • Porting L4Re and Fiasco.OC to the Ben NanoNote (Part 2)
    Having undertaken some initial investigations into running L4Re and Fiasco.OC on the MIPS Creator CI20, I envisaged attempting to get this software running on the Ben NanoNote, too. For a while, I put this off, feeling confident that when I finally got round to it, it would probably be a matter of just choosing the right compiler options and then merely fixing all the mistakes I had made in my own driver code. Little did I know that even the most trivial activities would prove more complicated than anticipated. As you may recall, I had noted that a potentially viable approach to porting the software would merely involve setting the appropriate compiler switches for “soft-float” code, thus avoiding the generation of floating point instructions that the JZ4720 – the SoC on the Ben NanoNote – would not be able to execute. A quick check of the GCC documentation indicated the availability of the -msoft-float switch. And since I have a working cross-compiler for MIPS as provided by Debian, there didn’t seem to be much more to it than that. Until I discovered that the compiler doesn’t seem to support soft-float output at all. I had hoped to avoid building my own cross-compiler, and apart from enthusiastic (and occasionally successful) attempts to build the Debian ones before they became more generally available, the last time I really had anything to do with this was when I first developed software for the Ben. As part of the general support for the device an OpenWrt distribution had been made available. Part of that was the recipe for building the cross-compiler and other tools, needed for building a kernel and all the software one would deploy on a device. I am sure that this would still be a good place to look for a solution, but I had heard things about Buildroot and so set off to investigate that instead.
  • Artila Releases New Linux-ready Cortex-A7 System on Module M-X6ULL
    Artila's new SODIMM module based on NXP i.MX6ULL ARM Cortex A7 CPU core operating up to 800MHz speed with Linux OS. The new M-X6ULL is designed to meet the needs of many general embedded applications that require power efficient, high performance and cost optimized solution, as well as embedded systems that require high-end multimedia applications in a small form factor, this cost effective M-X6ULL is ultra-compact in size with the form factor of 68 x 43 mm. In addition, M-X6ULL has 200-pins connectors to allow extension of more I/Os for peripheral signals like two 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, LCD, CAN, UART, USB, SD and I2C.
  • LG is expanding webOS usage with open-source edition to rival Samsung’s Tizen