Linux turns 24 in time for the party in Dublin

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2015 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: LinuxCon Europe, linux, open source

LinuxCon Europe has just kicked off and there are some interesting projects being discussed at the event.  ARM, Cisco, NexB, Qualcomm, SanDisk and Wind River have formed the Openchain workgroup to bring some standardization to Linux software development, such as exists in Debian, to ensure that multiple companies are not attempting design their own wheels simultaneously.  The Real-Time Linux Collaborative Project is developing software for application in robotics, telecom, and aviation and includes members such as Google, Texas Instruments, Intel, ARM and Altera.  They will be working towards developing Linux applications for those industries where shaving a few milliseconds off of transaction times can be worth millions of dollars.  The last major project announced at the convention will be FOSSology 3.0 which will enable you quickly and easily run licence and copyright scans, something near and dear to the heart of the Free and Open Source Software community.  Check out more at The Inquirer.


"Tim Zemlin, chief executive of the Foundation, said in his opening remarks that this year's opening day falls on the 24th anniversary of Linux itself and the 30th of the Free Software Foundation, giving credit to delegates for their part in the success of both."

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Source: The Inquirer

Phoronix Looks at NVIDIA's Linux Driver Quality Settings

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 22, 2015 - 09:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, linux, graphics drivers

In the NVIDIA driver control panel, there is a slider that controls Performance vs Quality. On Windows, I leave it set to “Let the 3D application decide” and change my 3D settings individually, as needed. I haven't used NVIDIA's control panel on Linux too much, mostly because my laptop is what I usually install Linux on, which runs an AMD GPU, but the UI seems to put a little more weight on it.


Or is that GTux?

Phoronix decided to test how each of these settings affects a few titles, and the only benchmark they bothered reporting is Team Fortress 2. It turns out that other titles see basically zero variance. TF2 saw a difference of 6FPS though, from 115 FPS at High Quality to 121 FPS at Quality. Oddly enough, Performance and High Performance were worse performance than Quality.

To me, this sounds like NVIDIA has basically forgot about the feature. It barely affects any title, the game it changes anything measureable in is from 2007, and it contradicts what the company is doing on other platforms. I predict that Quality is the default, which is the same as Windows (albeit with only 3 choices: “Performance”, “Balanced”, and the default “Quality”). If it is, you probably should just leave it there 24/7 in case NVIDIA has literally not thought about tweaking the other settings. On Windows, it is kind-of redundant with GeForce Experience, anyway.

Final note: Phoronix has only tested the GTX 980. Results may vary elsewhere, but probably don't.

Source: Phoronix

Who would have guessed? Microsoft's Cloud has a Linux lining

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: azure, microsoft, linux

It is a strange new world we find ourselves, where part of Microsoft's Azure infrastructure will be built on Linux.  Azure Cloud Switch will allow software-defined networking to be used on Azure for those who are brave enough to dabble in SDN.  Microsoft will be incorporating the OpenCompute developed Switch Abstraction Interface based on Linux, as The Register points out this is likely due to a lack of similar functionality in Windows software.  In this particular case Microsoft will not be reinventing the wheel but will wisely focus on improving the functionality of Azure and Azure based products such as Office 365 which they have developed in house.  The 'cloud' is a strange place and it just got a little bit stranger.

windows azure.png

"Redmond's revealed that it's built something called Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), describing it as “a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux” and “our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches.”"

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Source: The Register

Happy Sesquimillenial Linux Game, Valve and Steam

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2015 - 09:21 PM |
Tagged: linux, pc gaming, steam

While the number of games doesn't exactly mean much in isolation, a large amount of them have been making their way to Linux recently. Valve's first-party library is an obvious addition, as they have been jaded with Windows since 8.x scared just about anyone interested in back catalog support with their “Desktop as an App” attempts to isolate the Win32 APIs. Other developers have been following suit, especially since engines are being designed cross-platform as of late.


Milestones can be interesting, though. In this case, Steam crossed the 1,500 mark in games for Linux that are hosted on its service. Some equate this to “there exists 1500 games for Linux”, which isn't quite right, but the distribution platform is definitely a behemoth in the industry. It is the default way to purchase many new titles, and is a Linux host for ARK: Survival Evolved and Shadow of Mordor.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone who listed what the 1500th title was. Sorry!

Source: Phoronix

Microsoft Created a Private Linux Distro. Laugh It Up.

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, linux

Azure Cloud Switch is an operating system, which is based on Linux, that Microsoft has created for their data centers. This software will be installed on their network appliances, such as switches, to let them control the features that their data centers require. It also helps them interface hardware together, since they now control the software stack regardless of hardware vendor.


This is naturally making tech websites doodle on their calendars as the company uses Windows for just about everything. While basing a portion of their infrastructure in Linux is a sign that Microsoft is embracing open source, this is not the first time. Back in 2003, which is not a Linux-friendly year for the company, Microsoft used Linux-based infrastructure from Akamai to provide DDoS and malware protection. It worked. They have even been attributed as a top contributor to the Linux kernel in the past.

The OS is internal to Microsoft, but it is in affiliation with the Open Compute Project. I'm not sure if we will ever see the OS or its full source publicly.

Source: Microsoft

What to use for 1080p on Linux or your future SteamOS machine

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 17, 2015 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: linux, amd, nvidia

If you are using a 1080p monitor or perhaps even outputting to a large 1080p TV, there is no point in picking up a $500+ GPU as you will not be using the majority of its capabilities.  Phoronix has just done research on what GPU offers you the best value for gaming at that resolution, putting five AMD GPUs from the Radeon R9 270X to the R9 Fury and six NVIDIA cards ranging from the GTX 950 to a GTX TITAN X into their test bench.  The TITAN X is a bit of overkill, unless somehow your display is capable of 200+ fps.  When you look at frames per second per dollar the GTX 950 came out on top, providing playable frame rates at a very low cost.  These results may change as AMD's Linux driver improves but for now NVIDIA is the way to go for those who game on Linux.


"Earlier this week I posted a graphics card comparison using the open-source drivers and looking at the best value and power efficiency. In today's article is a larger range of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards being tested under a variety of modern Linux OpenGL games/demos while using the proprietary AMD/NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers to see how not only the raw performance compares but also the performance-per-Watt, overall power consumption, and performance-per-dollar metrics."

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Source: Phoronix

This is your Intel HD530 GPU on Linux

Subject: Processors | August 26, 2015 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, linux, Godavari

Using the GPU embedded in the vast majority of modern processors is a good way to reduce the price of and entry level system, as indeed is choosing Linux for your OS.  Your performance is not going to match that of a system with a discrete GPU but with the newer GPU cores available you will be doing much better than the old days of the IGP.  The first portion of Phoronix's review of the Skylake GPU covers the various versions of driver you can choose from while the rest compares Kaveri, Godavari, Haswell and Broadwell to the new HD530 on SkyLake CPUs.  Currently the Iris Pro 6200 present on Broadwell is still the best for gaming, though the A10-7870K Godavari performance is also decent.  Consider one of those two chips now, or await Iris Pro's possible arrival on a newer socketed processor if you are in no hurry.


"Intel's Core i5 6600K and i7 6700K processors released earlier this month feature HD Graphics 530 as the first Skylake graphics processor. Given that Intel's Open-Source Technology Center has been working on open-source Linux graphics driver support for over a year for Skylake, I've been quite excited to see how the Linux performance compares for Haswell and Broadwell as well as AMD's APUs on Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Iris Pro on Linux

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2015 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: iris pro, Broadwell, linux, i7-5775C

The graphics core of new CPUs used to have issues on Linux at launch but recently this has become much less of an issue.  The newly released Iris Pro on the 5770C follows this trend as you can see in the benchmarks at Phoronix.  The OpenGL performance is a tiny bit slower overall on Linux, apart from OpenArena, but not enough to ruin your gaming experience.  With a new kernel on the horizon and a community working with the new GPU you can expect the performance gap to narrow.  Low cost gaming on a Linux machine becomes more attractive every day.


"Resulting from the What Windows 10 vs. Linux Benchmarks Would You Like To See and The Phoronix Test Suite Is Running On Windows 10, here are our first benchmarks comparing the performance of Microsoft's newly released Windows 10 Pro x64 against Fedora 22 when looking at the Intel's OpenGL driver performance across platforms."

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Source: Phoronix

Stop me if you've heard this before; change your .exe and change your performance

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 20, 2015 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, CS:GO

Thankfully it has been quite a while since we saw GPU driver optimization specific to .exe filenames on Windows, in the past both major providers have tweaked performance based on the name of the executable which launches the game.  Until now this particular flavour of underhandedness had become passé, at least until now.  Phoronix has spotted it once again, this time seeing a big jump in performance in CS:GO when they rename the binary from csgo_linux binary to hl2_Linux.  The game is built on the same engine but the optimization for the Source Engine are not properly applied to CS:GO.

There is nothing nefarious about this particular example, it seems more a case of AMD's driver team being lazy, or more likely short-staffed.  If you play CS:GO on Linux then rename your binary, you will see a jump in performance with no deleterious side effects.  Phoronix is investigating more games to see if there are other inconsistently applied optimizations.


"Should you be using a Radeon graphics card with the AMD Catalyst Linux driver and are disappointed by the poor performance, there is a very easy workaround for gaining much better performance under Linux... In some cases a simple tweak will yield around 40% better performance!"

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Source: Phoronix

If you like turn based hex map combat keep an eye on Chaos Reborn

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2015 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: linux, gaming, early access, chaos reborn

Julian Gollop was involved in the original X-COM and recently completed a successful Kickstarter for Chaos Reborn, a single and multiplayer turn-based games of wizards warring for supremacy.  It is now available for both Windows and Linux on Steam Early access and you can visit the official site of you are interested in picking up extras on top of the game itself.  One of the more interesting features is the in game gold, which is earned while playing single player but is spent on upgrades for multiplayer and is not available for purchase outside of the game.  There will be no pay to win, instead it is a play to win model that those familiar with multiplayer FPS games such as Battlefield are familiar with.  If that style of game holds any attraction to you and you loved X-COM then head to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a look.


"What the singleplayer ‘Realms’ mode does, at least in this earliest, unfinished incarnation, is both encourage you to experiment with different gear in order to gain an edge over tougher or specialised enemy, and give you a way to get hold of new gear without having to repeatedly brave (or beat) multiplayer opponents."

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