Intel learns from Sandy Bridge mistakes, but is it enough?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | June 24, 2011 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: linux, Ivy Bridge, Intel

Back when Sandy Bridge launched, Intel had some difficulty with Linux compatibility due to their support software not being available long enough ahead of launch for distribution developers to roll it in to their releases. As a result, users purchasing Sandy Bridge hardware would be in for a frolic in the third-party repositories unless they wished to wait four or five months for their distributions to release their next major version. This time Intel is pushing code out much earlier though questions still remain if they will fully make Ubuntu’s 11.10 release.

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You mean there's Intel... inside me?

Intel came down hard on themselves for their Sandy Bridge support. Jesse Barnes, an open-source Linux developer at Intel, posted on the Phoronix Forums his thoughts on the Sandy Bridge Linux issue:

"No, this is our job, and we blew it for Sandy Bridge. We're supposed to do development well ahead of product release, and make sure distros include the necessary code to get things working … Fortunately we've learned from this and are giving ourselves more time and planning better for Sandy Bridge's successor, Ivy Bridge."

Now, six months later as support for Ivy Bridge is getting released and rolled into their necessary places, Intel appears to be more successful than last time. Much of the code that Intel needs to release for Ivy Bridge is already available and rolled in to the Linux 3.0 kernel. A few features missed the deadline and must be rolled in to Linux 3.1 kernel. While Phoronix believes that Fedora 16 will still be able to roll in support in time it is possible that Ubuntu 11.10 may not unless the back-port the changes to their distribution. That is obviously not something Intel would like to see happen given all their extra effort of recent.

Source: Phoronix

Su ^u Sudo ^u Vsys: Fire that marketer

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 03:33 AM |
Tagged: vsis, sudo, PlanetLab, linux

The Unix-based computer has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to enforcing permission levels upon their users. Back during the infancy of operating systems the idea of permissions did not compute with many of the platform developers. Today it is next to impossible to imagine a modern operating system without some sort of hierarchy of trust. Historically there were various methods of controlling access: first there was “su” which temporarily logged you in as another user; then there was “sudo” which let you just execute commands to another user rather than log in as them; now PlanetLab claims to have a better offering, called “Vsys”.

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SUDOKU

Vsys was created to allow finer control over what user is allowed what action. One feature is the ability to create extensions, scripts from executable files, to define what is permissible and what is not. It is apparently possible to permit certain combinations of commands but no other similar combinations. PlanetLab, the creator of Vsys, is a research network headquartered at Princeton University. From the wording of the article it appears as if Vsys was an internal tool developed for their researchers to have more specific access to what was necessary which they now released publicly. While it has been stated that Vsis will not replace sudo for the common user it should be useful for administrators of larger groups of users.

A Linux-centric look at Llano's graphics performance

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 14, 2011 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: llano, APU, sabine, linux

When SandyBridge first hit the market Phoronix was less than impressed at its performance on any system running Linux.  Thankfully that has since improved but the initial impression that the lack of support created remains.  AMD's new Llano, like the previous Zacate APU is a different story, with support available already thanks to Catalyst Linux driver support as opposed to Mesa or the base kernel.  This particular review focuses on comparing the E-350 APU to the AMD A8-3500M APU with its Radeon HD 6620G, they will be comparing the CPU portion separately.  There is a noticeable improvement in performance across the board when compared to the E-350 which was expected, the happy surprise was how few issues they ran into.

They also tested out a brand new Gallium3D driver that just arrived, comparing it to the various alternatives available to interface with AMD's GPUs.  The performance of the Catalyst driver for Linux is far beyond the alternatives, good news for those using Linux.

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"AMD's next-generation "Llano" Fusion APUs are launching today. Llano is a very nice upgrade over the current-generation 40nm Brazos hardware as talked about in another Phoronix article to be published in the next couple of hours, but in this article is a look at the graphics in Llano. Here's the first Linux look at the Llano graphics support and performance for the Radeon HD 6620G as found with the AMD A8-3500M Fusion APU."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: Phoronix

Interview with Pete Graner, Manager of the Ubuntu Kernel Team

Subject: Editorial | May 27, 2011 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, linux, kernel, interview, hardware

In a continuation of our effort to embrace and report on the open-source community, PC Perspective has contacted another very interesting Open-Source project. This week we selected Ubuntu and their Manager of the Ubuntu Kernel Team, Pete Graner

 

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Image courtesy of Ubuntu

The self-described beginning of Ubuntu:

Linux was already established as an enterprise server platform in 2004. But free software was still not a part of everyday life for most computer users. That's why Mark Shuttleworth gathered a small team of developers from one of the most established Linux projects – Debian - and set out to create an easy-to-use Linux desktop, Ubuntu.

The vision for Ubuntu is part social and part economic: free software, available free of charge to everybody on the same terms, and funded through a portfolio of services provided by Canonical.

If you would like to learn more about Ubuntu please click here.

Ubuntu also lists its features as the following:

  • A fresh look

The launcher: Get easy access to your favourite tools and applications with our lovely new launcher. You can hide and reveal it, add and remove apps and keep track of your open windows.
The dash: Our new dash offers a great way to get to your shortcuts and search for more apps and programs. So you can get fast access to your email, music, pictures and much more.
Workspaces: Our handy workspaces tool gives you a really easy way to view and move between multiple windows and applications.

  • Secure

You can surf in safety with Ubuntu – confident that your files and data will stay protected. A built-in firewall and virus protection come as standard. And if a potential threat appears, we provide automatic updates which you can install in a single click. You get added security with AppArmor, which protects your important applications so attackers can’t access your system. And thanks to Firefox and gnome-keyring, Ubuntu helps you keep your private information private. So whether it’s accessing your bank account or sharing sensitive data with friends or colleagues, you’ll have peace of mind when you need it the most.

  • Compatible

Ubuntu works brilliantly with a range of devices. Simply plug in your mp3 player, camera or printer and you’ll be up and running straight away. No installation CDs. No fuss. And it’s compatible with Windows too! So you can open, edit and share Microsoft Office documents stress-free.

  • Fast

Ubuntu loads quickly on any computer, but it's super-fast on newer machines. With no unnecessary programs and trial software slowing things down, booting up and opening a browser takes seconds. Unlike other operating systems that leave you staring at the screen, waiting to get online. And Ubuntu won’t grow sluggish over time. It’s fast. And it stays fast.

  • Accessible

Accessibility is central to the Ubuntu philosophy. We believe that computing is for everyone regardless of nationality, race, gender or disability. Fully translated into 25 languages, Ubuntu also includes essential assistive technologies, which are, of course, completely free. We recommend the Ubuntu classic desktop experience for users with particular accessibility requirements.

 

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(Image courtesy of Distrowatch)

I have used Ubuntu almost as long as I have been using Fedora. Ubuntu has been my go to Linux distrobution since Wartty Warthog. I have installed Ubuntu on laptops, family members computers, and I even went 100% Ubuntu for a year. In my experience, any and all of my questions could be answered by Documentation, Community, and Launchpad.

Now that you have a brief idea about Ubuntu, lets get to the interview:

(Hit that Read More link for the details!!)

Interview with Jared Smith, Fedora Project Leader

Subject: Editorial | May 21, 2011 - 08:41 PM |
Tagged: Red Hat, open-source, open source, linux, Fedora

In a continuation of our effort to embrace and report on the open-source community, PC Perspective has contacted another very interesting Open-Source project. This week we selected Fedora and their Project Leader Jared Smith.

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(Image courtesy of Fedora)

Fedora is self-described as:

Fedora is a Linux-based operating system, a collection of software that makes your computer run. You can use Fedora in addition to, or instead of, other operating systems such as Microsoft Windows™ or Mac OS X™. The Fedora operating system is completely free of cost for you to enjoy and share.

The Fedora Project is the name of a worldwide community of people who love, use, and build free software from around the globe. We want to lead in the creation and spread of free code and content by working together as a community. Fedora is sponsored by Red Hat, the world's most trusted provider of open source technology. Red Hat invests in Fedora to encourage collaboration and incubate innovative new free software technologies.

Fedora also lists its features as the following:

  • 100% Free & Open Source: Fedora is 100% gratis and consists of free & open source software.
  • Thousands of Free Apps!: With thousands of apps across 10,000+ packages, Fedora's got an app for you.
  • Virus- and Spyware-Free: No more antivirus and spyware hassles. Fedora is Linux-based and secure.
  • Worldwide Community: Built by a global community of contributors, there's a local website for you.
  • An Amazingly Powerful OS: Fedora is the foundation for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a powerful enterprise OS.
  • Share it with Friends!: Fedora is free to share! Pass it along to your friends and family, no worry!
  • Beautiful Artwork: Compute in style with many open & beautiful wallpapers and themes!
  • Millions of Installations: Fedora has been installed millions of times. It's a large community to join!

 

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(Image courtesy of Distrowatch)

I have used Fedora since it was Fedora Core, which has been almost eight years now. Fedora is a community-supported distrobution that is sponsored by Red Hat. Fedora is known for being on the leading edge of technology at the time of shipment. Their release cycle is every 6 months and they are very transparent as to what will be included and excluded. Fedora has a huge community and tries to involve everyone and encourages participation. If you need any help with using Fedora or have any questions, they can be answered by; Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Documentation, IRC, and Mailing Lists.

Now that you have a brief idea about Fedora, lets get to the interview:

(Hit that Read More link for the details!!)

Are you nuts to switch to the Narwhal? Check out Ubuntu 11.04

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 11:54 AM |
Tagged: Unity, Ubuntu 11.04, ubuntu, OS, natty narwhal, linux, gnome

Natty Narwhal, officially called Ubuntu 11.04, has arrived on the scene and it brings some changes to the way you will look at Linux.  It was designed to be the first desktop version to dump the Gnome GUI in favour of the Unity interface that has been previously used on netbook and other lower powered machines.  The design its self is fairly minimalistic as you would expect from what it was first implemented as, but not to the point where you won't recognize the familiar dock style interface common to OS X and Win 7.  Ars Technica takes you through a thorough look at the newest Linux and the pluses and minuses of the new GUI.

 

"Ubuntu 11.04, codenamed Natty Narwhal, rose from the depths last week. The update brings a number of significant new features to the Linux-based operating system. It includes a much-improved refresh of the Unity shell and a number of other significant improvements throughout the application stack.

This is the first version of Ubuntu to ship with Unity on the desktop. Due to the far-reaching nature of the changes that accompany the transition to a new desktop shell, this review will focus almost entirely on Unity and how it impacts the Ubuntu user experience. We will also look at how Unity compares with GNOME 3.0 and the classic GNOME experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Intel releases OpenCL SDK for Linux!

Subject: Processors | May 12, 2011 - 08:21 AM |
Tagged: software, sdk, linux, Intel, developer

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Intel has just released an update to their OpenCL (Open Computing Language) SDK (Software Development Kit). With this update Intel has released a 64bit .rpm package, and previously only supported Windows. OpenCL is a huge jump in the future of heterogeneous computing, and the future of computers. Intel joins a host of manufacturers that now support OpenCL which includes AMD/ATI and nVidia.

OpenCL has many competitors in the heterogeneous computing realm which includes nVidia's CUDA and Microsoft's DirectCompute. All of this is one giant step forward in GPGPU. In the majority of computers that have dedicated GPU's or have an Intel processor with on-cpu graphics that are not in use, this is great news! Hopefully, future Linux distributions implement OpenCL similar to OS X did with Snow Leopard.

Source: Intel

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

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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.

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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