The Unity Linux GUI Controversy and Linux Mint's Decision to Stick With Gnome 2

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 9, 2011 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: OS, linux, GUI

With the release of Ubuntu 11.04, a new desktop environment called Unity was released. Unity promised to revamp the Linux operating system’s desktop GUI to be more user friendly and intuitive. There are a multitude of noticeable changes that Unity brings to Ubuntu’s GUI compared to the classic Gnome environment. A new Windows 7 like task bar stretches along the left side of the screen where small icons of running and pinned applications reside. This new application dock is used instead of the traditional Gnome task bar that ran along the bottom of the screen. Also present is a new Ubuntu button that acts as an application launcher where installed programs can be sorted and searched for. Further, there are improvements to the workspace switcher and changes in window management with new hover-to-reveal scroll bars and each application’s (context sensitive) file menus being relocated to the top of the screen. These and other minor changes in the latest Ubuntu release have caused a flood of controversy among both reviewers and users alike.

Pictured:  Unity GUI (Insert:  Ubuntu Classic GUI)

On the positive side of the issue, there are a number of new and long time users of Ubuntu that have embraced the new GUI for it’s new features and design. Many people migrating from Windows 7 or Mac OS will become accustomed to the interface quickly as it works in much the same manner. Further, users of convertible tablet PCs have an easier time of navigating to applications and windows thanks to the larger icons. Touch and digitizer controls on the Dell Latitude XT worked well out of the box without a need to much with drivers, for example.

In contrast, as a newly developed desktop environment, it is less customizable from a user standpoint than the traditional Gnome GUI. Because of this (at the time of writing) restriction on customizability, many self-proclaimed power users have called Unity a step backwards in the aspects that make Linux a desirable OS--the ability to customize. Mainly, they dislike the constraints that Unity places on their ability to customize the operating system to their liking.

Read on for more...

Optimus for Linux Problem May Be Solved!

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 9, 2011 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: optimus, linux

nv_logo.png

It looks like we have an answer for Optimus, even though it is unofficial support. Linux users have been wondering for almost a year now wether or not we would get Optimus. Now it looks like we have an unofficial answer to these questions in for form of bumblebee.With this feature, even though experimental, we could potentially see an increase of cpu offloading in Linux, such as Firefox web acceleration potentially.

Source: bumblebee

KGPU lets the Linux kernel harness your GPU's power

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 6, 2011 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: linux, kgpu, gpgpu

PC Per has discussed using the GPU as a massively-parallel augment to the CPU for a very long time to allow the latter to focus on the branching logic (“if/then/else”) and other processes it is good at that GPUs are not. AMD and Intel both have their attempts to bundle the benefits of a GPU on to their CPU parts with their respective technologies. Currently most of the applications outside of the scientific community are gaming and multimedia; however, as the presence of stronger GPUs saturates, we are seeing more and more functions relegate to the GPU.

7-TuxGpu.png

So happy together!

KGPU is an attempt to bring the horsepower of the GPU to the fingertips of the Linux kernel. While the kernel itself will remain a CPU function, the attempt allows the kernel to offload the parallel stuff to the GPU for large speed-ups and keep the CPU free for more. Their current version shows whole multiple speedups of eCryptfs, an encrypted filesystem, in terms of maximum read and write bandwidth by allowing the GPU to deal with the AES cipher.

We should continue to see speedups as tasks that would be perfect for the GPU are finally allowed to be with their true love. Furthermore, as the number of tasks relegated to the GPU increases we should continue to see more and stronger GPUs embedded in PCs which should decrease the fears for PC game developers worried about the number of PCs capable of running their applications. I am sure that is great news to many of our frequent readers.

Source: KGPU Project

AMD Catalyst 11.4 for Linux Released

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Chipsets | May 3, 2011 - 11:54 AM |
Tagged: ubuntu, rhel, Red Hat, opensuse, linux, driver, catalyst, ati, amd

amdgame.jpg

In a previous article we stated:

"Highlights of the Linux AMD Catalyst™ 11.4 release include: This release of AMD Catalyst™ Linux introduces support for the following new operating systems Ubuntu 11.04 support (early look) SLED/SLES 10 SP4 support (early look) RHEL 5.6 support (production)"

AMD introduced a new feature into Linux with Catalyst™ 11.4, PowerXpress.

  • PowerXpress: Will enable certain mainstream mobile chipsets to seemlessly switch from integrated graphics to the dedicated graphics. *note: This only applies to Intel Processors with on chip graphics and AMD dedicated graphics and must be switched on by invoking switchlibGL and switchlibglx and restarting the Xorg server.

If you are running RHEL 5.6 or SLED/SLES 10 SP4 and need the driver you can get it here.

If you are running Ubuntu 11.04, install the driver under the "Additional Drivers" program.

If you are running a BSD variant you must still use the Open-Source driver "Radeon" and "RadeonHD" as AMD has yet to release a BSD driver.

Be sure to check back to PCPer for my complete review of the 11.4 driver and PowerXpress.

Source: AMD

Roll your own Linux firewall with fwbuilder

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2011 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: firewall, router, linux, dd-wrt

You may have heard mention of DD-WRT on the PC Perspective Podcast, which enables you to flash a compatible router into a Linux based firewall with significanly more capabilities than it originally had.  There is another tool out available call Fwbuilder which lets you make a PC running Linux into a powerfull firewall with an easyto use graphical interface for those not up on their VIM skills.  Drop by Linux.com for a look.

linuxdc_fwbuilder_firewall.png

"Fwbuilder is a unique graphical firewall tool that allows the user to create objects and then drag and drop those objects into firewalls, to build a powerful security system for a single PC or a network of PCs. Fwbuilder supports a wide range of firewalls (Cisco ASA/PIX, Linux iptables, FreeBSD's ipfilter, OpenBSD's pf, and more), so its rules can be deployed on multiple platforms. Let's take a look at using Fwbuilder on Linux, which might just become a life-long affair with a powerful security system."

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Source: Linux.com