You can run your RX 480 on Linux kernel 4.7

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2016 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: linux, kernel 4.7, security, rx 480, LoadPin

For now we are awaiting the benchmarks but with the release of this new kernel, Linux users will be able to run the new RX 480 from AMD.  The new kernel also contains a new security feature called LoadPin which ensures that kernel-loaded files come from within the same file system in an attempt to maintain security without requiring each file to be individually signed.  There were also some improvements made to network drivers along with several other changes which The Inquirer covers in their own unique manner.

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"Despite it being two weeks since RC7, the final patch wasn't all that big and much of it is trivial one- and few-liners. There's a couple of network drivers that got a bit more loving."

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Source: The Inquirer

Linux on a highway, I wanna ride it all night long

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2016 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: linux, iot, security, Automotive Grade Linux

Has the almost obscene lack of security in automobile software made you somewhat paranoid, even if you trust the Tesla autopilot?  Has the fact that a mere attempt to access your cars software could land you in jail turned you completely off of buying a car less than 10 years old?

How would you feel about a version of Linux controlling some of the features of your car?  That is exactly what the Linux Foundation is working on with the AGL project.  The hardware used will include DragonBoard, Wandboard, and Raspberry Pi and automobile manufacturers joining the project include  Ford, Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, and Jaguar Land Rover.  So far the project only encompasses in-car entertainment but it does have the potential to grow beyond that.  Check out the story on Linux.com for more.

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"The Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) project, which is developing a “Linux-based, open platform for the connected car,” announced the release of the second version of its Unified Code Base (UCB) distribution for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI)."

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Source: Linux.com

AMD Seems to Be Stepping Up RX 480 Support on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 09:37 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, graphics drivers, rx 480, Polaris

Linux support from AMD seems to be improving, as it has been on Windows. We'll be combining two separate, tiny stories into one, so bear with us. The first is from Fudzilla, and it states that AMD has AMDGPU-PRO 16.30 drivers for the RX 480 out on day one. It's nice to see that their Radeon driver initiative applies to Linux, too.

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That brings us to the second story, this one from Phoronix. One Windows, the Crimson 16.7.1 drivers will include a fix for the RX 480 power issues (which we will obviously test of course). Michael Larabel was apparently talking with AMD's Linux team, and it seems likely that this update will roll into the Linux driver as well. They "are still investigating", of course, but it is apparently on their radar.

Source: Phoronix

Steam Hardware Survey Shows Drop for Linux

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2016 - 02:21 AM |
Tagged: valve, steam, linux

The current split of Steam users, according to the Steam Hardware Survey, is 95.5% for Windows, 3.6% for Mac OSX, and 0.8% for Linux. Phoronix reports that this does not count SteamOS, and there might be other “inaccuracies” with the survey, but the Linux figures are 0.04% less than they were before (a relative drop of about 4.8%).

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Windows users are up, and Mac OSX is flat.

A 4.8% drop in a month isn't promising, but it's also not too concerning. If you were intending to target a platform with 0.8% marketshare, then you can benefit from the long shelf life that Linux provides. It's not like a publisher is counting on that platform to reach two-week launch window sales figures. We'll see if the pendulum will swing back in the future, especially if Valve creates compelling, new, first-party content for Linux. They seem to be waiting to put their full weight behind it.

Windows 10 versus Ubuntu 16.04 versus NVIDIA versus AMD

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2016 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, ubuntu, R9 Fury, nvidia, linux, GTX1070, amd

Phoronix wanted to test out how the new GTX 1070 and the R9 Fury compare on Ubuntu with new drivers and patches, as well as contrasting how they perform on Windows 10.  There are two separate articles as the focus is not old silicon versus new but the performance comparison between the two operating systems.  AMD was tested with the Crimson Edition 16.6.1 driver, AMDGPU-PRO Beta 2 (16.20.3) driver as well as Mesa 12.1-dev.  There were interesting differences between the tested games as some would only support one of the two Linux drivers.  The performance also varies based on the game engine, with some coming out in ties, others seeing Windows 10 pull ahead and even some cases where your performance on Linux was significantly better.

NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and 1070 were tested using the 368.39 driver release for Windows and the 367.27 driver for Ubuntu.  Again we see mixed results, depending on the game Linux performance might actually beat out Windows, especially if OpenGL is an option. 

Check out both reviews to see what performance you can expect from your GPU when gaming under Linux.

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"Yesterday I published some Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 Linux gaming benchmarks using the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 graphics cards. Those numbers were interesting with the NVIDIA proprietary driver but for benchmarking this weekend are Windows 10 results with Radeon Software compared to Ubuntu 16.04 running the new AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver as well as the latest Git code for a pure open-source driver stack."

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Source: Phoronix

Yooka-Laylee Trailer for E3 2016 Released

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2016 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: windows, pc gaming, osx, linux

The next week-and-a-half should be good for video game enthusiasts. E3 2016 starts on June 14th, although EA, Bethesda, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Sony, and AMD (with PCGamer) have press conferences throughout the 12th and the 13th. Of course, not to get lost in the traffic, many entities are releasing their announcements prior to those conferences. For instance, Watch Dogs 2 will have a reveal on this Wednesday, June 8th, five days prior to Ubisoft's press conference.

This post is about a Kickstarter project called Yooka-Laylee, though. This title is being created by Playtonic Games, which contains several past employees of Rare, apparently to create a proper Banjo-Kazooie-style platform title. It raised over two million British Pounds (~3 million USD) and targeted an October 2016 release date. That has since slipped to Q1 2017, but that should be expected for a crowdfunding project, especially when the stretch goals start piling up. It is scheduled to be released on Windows, Mac, and Linux... and a few other boxes.

Of course, they couldn't resist making a Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts joke at the end...

... I chuckled.

Linux Gaming Is Growing on Us?

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2016 - 07:46 AM |
Tagged: steam, pc gaming, linux

According to Phoronix, gaming on Linux has experienced exponential growth in recent times. Over the course of the last two years, Steam's catalog on the platform expanded from 500 games up to over 2200. This is a little over a 4.4x increase over two years. If I'm doing my high-school math correctly, and I seriously hope I am, this corresponds to an average increase of just under 2.1x year-over-year.

In other words, this is litearlly the trend, minus half-life. Snicker snicker snicker.

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The quantity of Linux's games catalog is a very different argument from its quality, of course. Still, you can find many interesting titles there. Valve has been porting their catalog to the OS, as have other, high-end titles, like Tomb Raider, Trine, Civilization V, Civilization: Beyond Earth, XCOM, and a couple Borderlands versions. If interested in specifics, and you enjoy a sense of humor like you would see on our PC Perspective Podcast, check out LinuxGameCast for their reviews of specific titles.

Source: Phoronix

AMD Published AMD GPU-PRO Beta Driver (for Linux)

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 3, 2016 - 11:15 PM |
Tagged: linux, graphics drivers, AMDGPU, amd

On Windows, we really only have one graphics driver per GPU. On Linux, however, there is a choice between open drivers and closed, binary-only blobs. Open drivers allow users to perpetuate support, for either really old hardware or pre-release software, without needing the GPU vendor to step in. It can also be better for security, because open-source software can be audited, which is better (albeit how much better is up for debate) than just having a few eyes on it... if any at all.

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As we reported a few months ago, AMD has been shifting their structure. Rather than two completely different code-bases, AMDGPU is an open-source driver, officially supported by AMD, that communicates with the Linux kernel. This chunk is compliant with the GPL, so it can be bundled with the operating system. Above this, a user space driver adds the various APIs, game-specific optimizations, and so forth. AMD calls this plug-in component AMD GPU-PRO.

This component has now been released for Ubuntu 16.04, which includes OpenGL 4.5, OpenCL 1.2, and Vulkan 1.0.

Open-source developers can create their own components, using the same AMDGPU hooks that AMD uses, and release those on their own. This is not a perfect solution, though. If, at any point, AMD disagrees with a necessary, proposed change, then the only way forward could be to fork the project, which AMD wouldn't support with their closed-source blob, leading to the previous situation. That said, AMD is putting a lot of effort into this, so it would stand to reason that they aren't intending to throw all of that away over a pull request.

Either way, you can get AMD GPU-PRO Beta from AMD's page for Ubuntu 16.04. SteamOS added AMD GPU-PRO with their 2.80 update last week.

Source: AMD

People may actually be migrating to Linux, or at least off of Windows

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2016 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, market share, linux

We've all seen the comments about how Windows 10 has finally convinced people to switch operating systems but today we have numbers which show that some may have been true to their word.  According to Netmarketshare the marketshare of Windows on desktop machines has dropped below 90% for the first time.  Mac OSX holds onto 3.96% of the market but the Other category is up to 8.59%, which is the category that represents the various flavours of Linux; it holds 1.56%, as well as other non-Microsoft OSes.  It may not be the year of Linux but it certainly is not Microsoft's year.  You can read the calm, rational discussion over at Slashdot on this topic, it is guaranteed to provide amusement.

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"Windows 7 is still the king, but it no longer holds the majority. Nine months after Windows 10's release, Windows 7 has finally fallen below 50 percent market share and Windows XP has dropped into single digits. While this is good news for Microsoft, April was actually a poor month for Windows overall, which for the first time owned less than 90 percent of the market, according to the latest figures from Net Applications."

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Source: Slashdot

A tiny fanless PC from CompuLab, check out the Broadwell powered Airtop

Subject: Systems | April 5, 2016 - 01:25 PM |
Tagged: compulab, airtop, passive cooling, linux, SFF

Phoronix has spent a bit of time with the CompuLab Airtop PC, a SFF machine with passive cooling and no moving parts.  It sports decent components, an i7-5775C Broadwell processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB ADATA SSD, and a GeForce GTX 950, with Linux Mint installed and support for just about any other flavour of that OS you might prefer.  It also has a very impressive array of outputs on the back including dual LAN ports and antennae for wireless connectivity, two power connectors for redundancy and a plethora of USB 3.0, HDMI, DisplayPort and other ports.  Check out this overview of the construction and a quick peek at the performance of this passively cooled machine.

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"At the end of February I posted my initial hands-on with the passively-cooled Airtop PC that's been exciting many readers over its unique design and being Linux-friendly. As I hadn't written anymore about it in the past few weeks, some Phoronix readers had emailed me and tweeted, curious what the deal was and if it wasn't living up to expectations. That's not the case at all and the Airtop PC continues to exhibit great potential and is yet another solid offering from CompuLab."

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Source: Phoronix