NVIDIA Joins Linux Foundation

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2012 - 12:37 AM |
Tagged: software, OS, nvidia, linux

In a recent press release, the Linux Foundation added four new members, one of which is a big deal in the graphics card industry. In addition to the new members of Fluendo, Lineo Solutions, and Mocana is the green GPU powerhouse NVIDIA. According to Maximum PC, there is talk around the web of the company moving to open source graphics drivers; however, NVIDIA has not released anything to officially confirm or deny.

Linux Foundation Logo.GIF

The Linux Foundation's Logo

Such a move would be rather extreme and unlikely, but it would certainly be one that is welcomed by the Linux community. Officially, the Vice President of Linux Platform Software Scott Pritchett stated the company is "strongly committed" to delivering quality software/hardware experiences and they hope their membership in the Linux Foundation will "accelerate our collaboration with the organizations and individuals instrumental in shaping the future of Linux." Further, they hope to be able to add to and enhance the user and development experience of the open source operating system.

The three other members to join the Linux Foundation specialize in multimedia software (Fluendo), embedded system development (Lineo Solutions), and device-agnostic security (Mocana) but the green giant that is NVIDIA has certainly stolen the show and is the big announcement for them (which isn't a bad thing that they joined, it is kind of a big deal to have them). Amanda McPherson, VP of Marketing and Developer Services for the Linux Foundation wrapped up the press release by saying that all of the new members "represent important areas of the Linux ecosystem and their contributions will immediately help advance the operating system.”

NVIDIA has generally enjoyed good support on the major Linux distributions, but now that they are a member here's hoping they can further improve their Linux graphics card drivers. What is your take on the Linux Foundation's new members, will they make a difference?

Raspberry Pi Linux Computer Launches, Pre-Orders Sold Out

Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 29, 2012 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, mobile, linux, hdmi, computer

The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced yesterday that their little Linux computer would be launching in the early hours of the morning today. Instead of the original plan of Raspberry Pi handling the pre-orders and shipping them from the UK, they ended up partnering with RS Components and Premier Farnell to handle all their orders and distribute them to customers. The non profit foundation states that this move will save customers money on shipping as the two companies have distribution centers worldwide and they will be able to get more boards out because they will be able to sell enough boards to meet demand.

Raspberry Pi.jpg

Today, RS and Farnell were offering up the Model B Raspberry Pi boards for pre-order, and the first 5,000 orders from each company will receive their Raspberry Pi boards from the initial 10,000 unit batch. Surprisingly, the two companies' servers were getting hit extremely hard earlier today and it was almost impossible to not see at least a couple error pages requiring a painfully long refresh. According to the article, the Raspberry Pi computer sold out "within hours." Even though the initial batch of boards is spoken for, customers can continue to pre-order boards that will be delivered as soon as the next batch has finished production. Those unlucky enough to miss the first 10,000 aren't completely out of luck; however, as it is rumored that production of more boards should be getting underway and have an estimated delivery date a bit more than a month away. How true that is, remains to be seen however.

Personally, I managed to snag one of the first Raspberry Pi boards from Farnell Export, but it was an order fraught with error pages and being uncertain just how many I ordered as the confirm order page kept error-ing out. Luckily, I received an email from them confirming my order of a single Raspberry Pi and am now eagerly waiting for it to arrive. The last estimated delivery figure I received puts it about a month out, however.

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In another bit of good news, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is still planning to release the cheaper Model A board later this year, and they managed to up the RAM to a full 256 MB of RAM which is twice the original 128 MB of RAM they planned.  This update to the Model A means that the Model B is now only differentiated by the addition of two USB ports and an Ethernet port.

Did you manage to snag a Raspberry Pi this morning?  From how hard the servers were getting hit last night, I'm starting to think that the Raspberry Pi Linux computer may be more popular than actual pie!  If you are still interested in pre-ordering a Raspberry Pi, RS Components and Premier Farnell have you covered.

Source: Maximum PC

Chris Tyler Shows Off Fedora Remix OS For ARM Powered Raspberry Pi Computer

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, fedora remix, Fedora, arm

The Raspberry Pi hardware is coming out at the end of this month, and the folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation are gearing up for the release. On their blog, they shared a video by Chis Tyler that I thought was rather interesting. In the accompanying video, he talked about the Raspberry Pi's Fedora Remix linux operating system.

The new Fedora Remix is being produced by Seneca College, and takes the traditional desktop Fedora Linux distribution and adapts it to run on the ARM platform. It will include several open source applications out of the box including a web browser, word processor, and several other tools for managing the OS and working with files.  Mr. Tyler states that the Fedora Remix distro will closely resemble a traditional desktop experience when paired with a keyboard and mouse.

What I found interesting from the video was a statement by Paul Whalen, a software researcher for Fedora on ARM, where he talks about the Fedora licensing requiring applications to be built natively on the hardware that it will be used on. Because of that, they had to go out and construct a build farm of approximately 60 ARM devices including the Guru Plug. They design the software on workstation computers, and then send it to the build farm of ARM powered devices to be built and compiled into a native binary, and then is sent back. I thought that it was strange at first that they had to go about it in such a roundabout way but in the end it should help to have natively built applications performance wise.

In another exciting bit of news, Liz ended the Raspberry Pi blog post with an update on the status of the Linux computer's hardware.

They are still working on manufacturing the Raspberry Pis, and they "hope the Raspberry Pis from the first batch will be out of testing by the end of Thursday (ed: tomorrow at time of writing), and on their way to freight"

The Raspberry Pi is almost upon us! The non profit organization expects the SD card image download for the Fedora Remix distribution to be available in the next few days while the Cambridge Reference File System (Debian Squeeze based OS) image is available to download now.

Source: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Foundation Clears Up Misunderstanding About Their ARM Linux Computers, Still Coming This Month

Subject: Systems | February 10, 2012 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, htpc, Education, arm

The folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the organization behind the upcoming ARM powered Linux computer, are having a field day today as they have been flooded with emails from enthusiasts and press worried about the availability and pricing of the Raspberry Pi computer as it seems someone made inferrences that then got blown out of proportion in a typical "telephone game" spiral out of control fashion.

We here at PC Perspective are among the many people who are waiting eagerly to get our hands on the fairly powerful ARM powered computer, so naturally this post by Liz over at the official Raspberry Pi website helped up to take a deep breath and relax.  The little Raspberry Pi boards are still coming at the end of this month (February 2012), and they will be priced at or below the previously announced prices of $25 for the base model and $35 for the model with more RAM and Ethernet.

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The takeaway from the article is that your plans and/or your desire to get your hands on a Raspberry Pi just because (like me) even if you don't know what to do with it yet are safe.  The point of the ARM computers are to bring a low cost, but capable computing platform to the masses for education.  Yes, the non profit foundation still needs to make a profit; however, they aren't about to jack up the price just because they can.  Liz further stated that the prices of $25 and $35 will not change, unless they can make them cheaper.  "Price is such an important part of what we’re doing in trying to change the way people use computers that we’d be totally, totally mad to move the price point."  The caveat is that the casing (that will accompany a package aimed at education customers and includes educational software and an outer shell) may add a bit to the price; however, they are going to try not to keep the price the same.

While they have not given a specific date, they state in a rather direct way (even going so far as to bold the text to get the point across- heh) that "You will be able to buy a Raspberry Pi from the end of February, from this website."  The misunderstanding, they state, relates to a statement about a different SKU of the Raspberry Pi that is aimed at education and will have a few extra accessories and features including a case to house the board, written support material, and educational software.  This version will come later this year (approximately Q3 2012), and was mixed up with the initial release this month.

Are you ready to get your hands on a Raspberry Pi?

Source: Raspberry Pi

Ubuntu versus OSX ... Fight!

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2012 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: apple, osx, ubuntu, linux

We've all seen the various Windows verus Apple comparisons, so let us head to Phoronix for a fight of a different flavour.  They've taken the new OS X and pitted it against the new Ubuntu on SandyBridge hardware to see how they compare.  From the start it looks bad for Apple, as it detected the dual Core i5 2415M as a single core CPU with hyperthreading where as Ubuntu detected the processor correctly.  They did help Apple out a bit by adding in LLVM/Clang 3.0 into the Xcode4 package as GCC 4.2.1 performs less impressively.  The results were mixed, with each system excelling at certain tasks but not others proving once again that the choice between Apple and PC is generally based on specfic task and not a general performance decision.

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"After delivering benchmarks last week that were comparing the Intel Sandy Bridge performance of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" vs. Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" when it came to the Sandy Bridge OpenGL graphics performance, here's a comparative look at the performance of Ubuntu 11.10 against Mac OS X 10.7.2 from the Intel Sandy Bridge-based Mac."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Phoronix

Raspberry Pi Linux Computer Will Have Fast GPU For The Price

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 26, 2012 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, htpc, hd, gpu, broadcom

As reported earlier, the Raspberry Pi is a small computer intended to run Linux and is made to be portable and able to be powered by USB. The small board is based on the Broadcom BCM2835 chipset, which includes an ARM 11 CPU and a dual core VideoCore IV graphics card co processor. The Raspberry Pi further includes connections for HDMI, component output, and USB ports. The higher tier $35 model will further feature an Ethernet jack and twice the RAM (512 MB).

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The Raspberry Pi will soon be available for sale and if the company behind the device- The Raspberry Pi Foundation- is to be believed, the GPU in the little Linux computer will pack quite a punch for its size (and cost). In a recent Digital Foundry interview with Raspberry Pi Executive Director Eben Upton reported on by Eurogamer, Upton made several claims about the Raspberry Pi’s graphics capabilities. He explained that the Broadcom BCM2835’s VideoCore IV GPU is a tile mode architecture that has been configured with an emphasis on shader performance. Upton said “it does very well on compute-intensive benchmarks, and should double iPhone 4S performance across a range of content."

The comparison to the iPhone 4S relates to his further claims that the Raspberry Pi GPU is the best on the market and can best both the iPhone 4S’s PowerVR (Imagination Technologies) based graphics and even the mighty Tegra 2 in fill rate performance. Rather large claims for sure; however, we do have some independent indication that his claims may not be wholly inflated. The coders behind XBMC, open source media center software that allows users to play a variety of media formats, have demonstrated their XBMC software running on the Raspberry Pi. They showed the Raspberry Pi playing a 1080p blu ray movie at a smooth frame rate thanks to the Broadcom GPU being capable of 1080p 30 FPS H.264 hardware accelerated decoding. You can see the Raspberry Pi in action in the video below.

The little Raspberry Pi is starting to look quite promising for HTPC (and even light gaming) use, especially for the price!  At $25 and $35 respectively, the Raspberry Pi should see quite the following in the modding, enthusiast, and education community.

Source: Eurogamer

Raspberry Pi's ARM Powered Linux Computer Enters Manufacturing

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 08:15 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, computer, arm

The UK based charity behind the Raspberry Pi Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, announced in a blog post that the two ARM 11 powered Linux computers have entered the manufacturing stage and are that much closer to going on sale. The two models, Raspberry Pi A and B, will be $35 and $25 respectively. The difference between the tow models is that the cheaper model A board has half the RAM at 128 MB and lacks an Ethernet port. Both models have an HDMI and analog RCA video output along with a USB port to attach a mouse and keyboard.

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The charity elaborated that while they tried to find a manufacturing partner in the UK, they ran into cost and logistical issues. Specifically, tax and import laws in the UK requires any electronic components to be subject to import tax, making importing components into the UK and manufacturing it from within an expensive proposition. The Raspberry Pi Foundation was able to find a manufacturing plant that could produce computers for them at or above break even prices; however, they would not be able to produce enough units to meet demand- only a few hundred instead of the estimated 10,000 units the charity wanted. Further, because the manufacturing plants could only produce a few hundred units a month the release date would be months away instead of the 3 to 4 week turnaround offered by Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturing plants.

In the end, the charity chose to produce the Raspberry Pi computers outside of the UK in order to keep costs down and meet the release and quantity expectations. They will then use the savings to invest in further research and development and expanding the organization.

Are you guys going to purchase the Raspberry Pi computer when it comes out?

Source: Raspberry Pi

How the performance under Linux has changed for Intel's integral GPU

Subject: Processors | January 5, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: westmere, linux, ironlake, Arrandale

It has been a busy year for Phoronix as not only have they had a lot of hardware to review, also Linux developers have been quite busy this year updating drivers and the base kernel.  They decided that the beginning of 2012 was a perfect time to reflect on the effects of these changes, specifically the graphics driver that powers the Intel Core i3-330M.  The results are mixed, with one driver version excelling in a single task but lagging in others.  On the plus side, the performance never stays consistent which gives hope that there is still room for improvement and the performance has not plateaued.

ph_330M.jpg

"Back in December I posted historical Intel Sandy Bridge benchmarks looking at the graphics performance over the course of 2011 that this latest-generation of Intel hardware has been supported under Linux. In this article are some similar Intel OpenGL benchmarks of each quarter going back to the end of 2010, but this time it is for the previous-generation Intel Ironlake hardware."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix

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."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

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