Linux powered Sandy Bridge notebook from ZaReason

Subject: Mobile | December 2, 2011 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: linux, ZaReason, Strata 6880

The stats on the ZaReason Strata 6880 are quite nice, a Core i7 2630QM, 8GB of DDR3, a 128GB Super Talent SSD and a GeForce GT 540M to power the 15.6"1920 x 1080 display.  The real shocker is the price, $850 which is in part thanks to the lack of a Windows OS license as well as the hidden cost of the crapware that notebook vendors love to shove onto all of their products.  You might want to pick up an external drive to go with the laptop as 128GB is not a huge amount of space, though it certainly will be fast.  Head to Phoronix for a look at this laptop, which they have been benchmarking for quite a while now as you can see from the links on the last page of this short overview.

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"You may have noticed several Phoronix articles in recent weeks using a ZaReason notebook built around Intel's "Sandy Bridge" processor. This is one of the new notebooks from ZaReason that had been in our labs for testing. Here is a last look at the Strata 6880 notebook from this Linux-focused PC vendor."

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Source: Phoronix

Linux Mint Rising In Popularity And Surpassing Ubuntu For Top Spot

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2011 - 04:53 AM |
Tagged: Unity, ubuntu, mint, linux, katya

Linux Mint Is On The Rise

Ubuntu has long been the popular choice when it comes to Linux distributions. The open source operating system even managed to be picked by large computer OEM Dell for the company’s netbooks and select desktop computers at one time. As far as free alternative operating systems go, Ubuntu was the top choice of many Linux users. Lately; however, the distro seems to be declining in popularity. According to ZDNet, Pingdom has gathered Linux market share data from the past few years and found that the once popular Ubuntu OS has given up a great deal of ground to competing distributions. In particular, Linux Mint has risen to the 11% usage level that Ubuntu held at its prime versus Ubuntu’s current 4% market usage in 2011.

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Linux Mint 11's desktop.

Interestingly, Linux mint started at 0% adoption in 2005 versus Ubuntu’s 11% in that same year where it would grow to 4% in 2007 and grow slowly to 5% in 2010. From there, the adoption grows rapidly to it’s current 11% market usage as of November 23rd 2011 (based on DistroWatch ranking data).

Linux Mint 11 is a very respectable and speedy distribution and is comparatively very media friendly and easy to use out of the box for newcomers. These qualities likely have contributed to the operating system’s place on the Top 5 Linux Distribution list.

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Wait- What Happened To Ubuntu?

Ubuntu gained fame due to its friendliness to newcomers, casual users, and enthusiasts/power users alike. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes over at ZDnet notes that the operating system’s popularity is wavering. Linux Fans have cited Ubuntu’s recent interface overhaul-dubbed Unity- as a possible source of the decline in popularity. Kingsley-Hughes believes; however, that in the latest iteration(s) Ubuntu has spread itself too thin by attempting to appeal to too many people at once.

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The Ubuntu 11.10 installation.  One of several slides on everything that is packed in tight in Ubuntu.

On that point I think he is correct. Ubuntu has been attempting to become the Windows equivalent of the Linux space. This goal in and of itself is a noble one; however, it also goes against the grain of the “ideal Linux OS” (meaning the OS that users want to use). Linux itself is (by comparison) a niche operating system, and within that general term spawns numerous Linux distributions that are even further niche and highly specialized products and user experiences.

I have to concur with Mr. Kingsley-Hughes on this one, even with my own personal lackluster (or “meh” in less technical terms ;) ) opinion of Ubuntu’s Unity it’s not bad or difficult enough to get rid of to cause such a drop in usage. The inherent purpose and goal of a Linux distro is to be a highly specialized and customizable user experience that is easily tailored to a specific users’ wants and needs. Ubuntu is falling out of favor with many Linux fans due to it trying too hard to appeal to everyone in a “jack of all trades, master of none” method instead of the perfect distribution for each individual aspect that makes Linux so appealing to users to begin with. Many design and under the hood changes have taken place in Ubuntu to accommodate the mainstream Linux goal(s) and in doing so a lot of users and configurations aren’t as easily obtained with Ubuntu anymore. There’s now more programs included by default and more programs running to maintain the something for everyone system, and that is not what many Linux fans want out of their distributions. They want a distro that only does what they want with as minimal of resources as possible while still being productive for example.

What are your thoughts? Is there a reason for Ubuntu’s decline or is the distro’s time in the spotlight simply over (for now at least)? Have you moved on from Ubuntu? You can read more about the Linux usage data here.

Source: ZDnet

Running Cool 'n' Quiet under Linux with AMD

Subject: Processors | November 23, 2011 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cool 'n' quiet, Turbo Core, linux, fx-8150

AMD's Cool'n'Quiet feature, which lowers your CPU core frequencies when they are not under heavy usage has been around for a while, but Phoronix though it was time to revisit the Linux support for this feature and Turbo Core as we have a brand new architecture to test.  They fired up the FX-8150 again, running under Ubuntu 11.10 with the Linux 3.1 kernel and started benchmarking.  Their results show that AMD's power saving features are still working well under Linux, better when using single threaded applications than with multi-threaded but still worth enabling for those who want lower heat production and energy consumption.  It is hard to say how much you will save on power though, as the software Phoronix used to measure, fam15h_power, never budged from the 125W mark even when the system was pulling less power from the wall.

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"For those wondering about the impact that AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet and Turbo Core technologies have under Linux for the latest-generation Bulldozer processors, here are some tests illustrating the changes in performance, power consumption, and operating temperature."

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Source: Phoronix

NVIDIA driver support on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 18, 2011 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: linux, nvidia

We have seen benchmarks of the graphical performance of the GPU portion of Sandy Bridge as well as Llano for Linux users but NVIDIA has been quiet as of late.  That changes with this huge round up from Phoronix which assembles more than a dozen NVIDIA GPUs and associated drivers, the open-source Nouveau driver and the official NVIDIA Linux driver.  This is more than just a comparison of pure performance, there are a variety of features that are unavailable on the Nouveau driver that are present in NVIDIA's.  That can make a big difference to someone looking to transcode video or optimize certain tasks.  It is 24 pages of dense information, consider yourself warned.

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"Back in September I provided the most comprehensive AMD Radeon Linux graphics comparison that took 28 graphics cards from all supported ATI/AMD Radeon product families and tested them under Linux using the latest Catalyst driver as well as the open-source Mesa/Gallium3D driver. In this article is a similar comparison on the NVIDIA side as I take most of the GeForce graphics cards at my disposal and try them under the NVIDIA binary Linux driver and the community-developed open-source "Nouveau" driver. Not only is the OpenGL performance looked at for multiple generations of NVIDIA hardware, but the thermal and power consumption is compared too. In certain OpenGL workloads, the open-source Linux driver is now faster than NVIDIA's own driver for select graphics cards in a fair comparison, but overall the NVIDIA blob still reigns supreme."

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Source: Phoronix

A sub $200 AMD FirePro benchmarked on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 3, 2011 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, V4900, linux, turks

Workstation graphics cards tend to be significantly more expensive than their desktop counterparts, something the new AMD FirePro V4900 seeks to overcome.  The card is available for less than $200 but still comes with the advantages of the FirePro series, workstation application certification, a three-year hardware warranty and greater technical support than with a desktop GPU.  Performance wise, the benchmarks that Phoronix ran showed the card to be nicely between the V4800 and V5800 so perhaps not worth immediately running out and upgrading from the previous low end model but definitely worth considering for new machines.

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"AMD is announcing today a new FirePro workstation graphics card. What is being announced is not a new ultra high-end creation, but instead it's a new entry-level graphics card to fit in between the FirePro V4800 and FirePro V5800 / V5900: it's the AMD FirePro V4900. The FirePro V4900 will retail for less than $200 USD while offering up some nice capabilities for the price. Here is a launch-day look at the FirePro V4900 along with the first Linux benchmarks of this latest AMD workstation graphics creation."

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Source: Phoronix

Bulldozing through Linux benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, FX 8150, linux

With the lacklustre performance we saw from AMD's new Bulldozer CPUs on Windows except in seriously multi-threaded applications; it is with a hopeful heart that Phoronix tests the performance of the FX-8150 under Ubuntu 11.04.  There are a lot of benchmarks to go through, from general performance to specific AMD-centric tests to those focusing specifically on multi-threaded performance and even a look at the bundled watercooler.  Read through the benchmarks they've run themselves as well as user submitted test and then realize that this is only the first of a series of articles they are working on ... so for now they hold judgment on AMD's newest product.

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"Two weeks ago AMD introduced the Bulldozer FX-Series CPUs to much excitement, although many were letdown by the initial results, and it was months after showing the first Linux benchmarks of an AMD Dual-Interlagos pre-production system. In the days that followed I delivered some initial AMD FX-4100 Linux benchmarks when securing remote access to a low-end Bulldozer system running Ubuntu 11.04 (and there were also some Linux benchmarks from independent Phoronix readers), but then last week a Bulldozer kit arrived from AMD. The centerpiece of this kit is an eight-core AMD FX-8150 CPU, which is now being used to conduct a plethora of AMD Bulldozer benchmarks on Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Ivy Bridge will power three headed Linux powered monsters

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2011 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, linux, multi monitor

Intel's Linux graphics driver is open source and the developers who work on it ensure that their code is publicly available which results in findings such as the one Phoronix is reporting on this morning.  While examining the Direct Rendering Manager kernel driver they discovered more information on the triple video output support that Ivy Bridge is supposed to support.  It seems that some Ivy Bridge motherboard will sport three DisplayPort outputs which can all be used simultaneously and others a pair of HDMI ports with a D-SUB connector making up the third output.  More importantly, because this was found in the Linux driver it becomes obvious that Intel intends to support multi-monitor output on Linux.  Watch out AMD.

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"Patches were made public by Intel yesterday for their Linux graphics driver that enable "Ivy Bridge" hardware to simultaneously drive three monitors. Thanks to Intel's Linux driver being open-source and their OSTC developers doing the hardware enablement work in public, there's some new details about this triple monitor support for the next-generation Ivy Bridge hardware."

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Source: Phoronix

Interrupting Oktoberfest to run Mesa benchmarks under Linux

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: linux, mesa, HiZ, Intel, sandy bridge

Phoronix are dedicated to testing out the current limitations of Linux and the graphics performance Sandy Bridge is capable of, so much so that they abandoned the joys of Oktoberfest to test the new implementation of hierarchical Z support for Intel's Mesa DRI driver.  Specifically they wanted to see the improvements made to the performance of the graphical portion of a Core i5 2520M.  The new implementation did well, with improvements across the board though more impressive in some tasks that others.  Read on to see what you can expect from the new Mesa driver.

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"While there are still several days left of this year's Oktoberfest, to take a short break this morning from benchmarking the wonderful beer, food, and Bavarian females, here are benchmarks of the new Intel HiZ Linux support. Just a few days ago a new, nearly ready patch-set was published for implementing hierarchical Z support within Intel's Mesa DRI driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Solid State Penguin

Subject: Storage | September 6, 2011 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: vertex 3, ssd, SF-2281 controller, sata 6Gps, ocz, linux

The majority of reviews of solid state drives have been focussed on the performance of the drives under Windows, thankfully Phoronix can be counted on to differ from that and present a reveiw of an SSD under Linux.  This particular time it is the OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD under Ubuntu 11.10 with the Linux 3.0 kernel and an EXT4 file-system.  The OS had no problems recognizing the drive and it is obvious that Linux has no problems fully utilizing the SATA 6Gb/s interface as the drive blows the competition out of the water.  The only problem is that the price of the drive remains prohibitive no matter what OS you use, but your money will not be wasted.

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"It's been a while since last providing a Phoronix review of a solid-state drive from OCZ Technology, but now with Serial ATA 3.0 support becoming more prevalent on modern Intel and AMD motherboards, they have been releasing a number of updated products to take advantage of SATA 3.0. In the review we have our hands on an OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD as we see how this SATA III SSD performs under Ubuntu Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Llano on Linux, good but not good enough

Subject: Processors | August 22, 2011 - 12:06 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, llano, a8-3850

Phoronix is still satisfying their curiosity about the performance of Llano under Linux.  To that end they assembled an A8-3850 with Gigabyte's GA-A75M-UD2H motherboard, 2GB of DDR3 memory, and a 60GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD and installed Ubuntu 11.04 64-bit, GNOME 2.32.1, X.Org Server 1.10.1, and an EXT4 file-system.  To power the system they had a few choices but unfortunately the one they were most interested in, AMD's Open64 4.2.4, failed to compile.  That left them with two versions of GCC and Clang to test in a variety of benchmarks.  There is still some work to do to bring all of the power of Llano to Linux, but for now this will give you a good idea which to use.

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"Last week were a set of AMD Fusion A8-3850 Linux benchmarks on Phoronix, but for you this week is a look at the AMD Fusion "Llano" APU performance when trying out a few different compilers. In particular, the latest GCC release and then using the highly promising Clang compiler on LLVM, the Low-Level Virtual Machine."

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Source: Phoronix