Is 2014 the year you play with the penguin?

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2014 - 10:29 AM |
Tagged: Xubuntu, TAILS, SUSE, Red Hat, Lubuntu, linux, DouDou, Bodhi

If you've never tried Linux or are looking for a new distro to try then check out Linux.com's top 7 distro list for 2014.  If beauty is what you seek then Bodhi is a good choice as it has modified the Enlightenment window manager into something a little more manageable. For Ubuntu users there are two variants you could try, Xubuntu for desktops and Lubuntu for older less powerful laptops.  For the security conscious there is TAILS, which automatically routes traffic through TOR and constantly deletes any tracking info from local storage as well as being specifically designed to run from a bootable USB drive.  For the geeky parents out there, or for those looking for a very simple to understand distro is DouDou.  It comes preloaded with an array of childrens learning software and Dan's Guardian to somewhat limit internet sites of a nature unsuited for the very young. 

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"The Linux avalanche is rolling and gathering mass and momentum. Linux won, so what's next? Amazing growth is what's next: we're at the bare beginning of the Linux juggernaut rolling into existing markets and blazing into new ones. All this growth and progress is the result of years of hard work by tens of thousands of people and billions of dollars of investment. It has reached critical mass and there is no stopping it."

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Source: Linux.com

5,000 Pages of Intel Haswell Documentation for Linux

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 31, 2013 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: linux, iris pro, iris, Intel, haswell

'Tis the season to be sharing and giving (unless you are Disney).

According to Phoronix, Intel has shipped (heh heh heh, "boatload") over 5,000 pages of documentation and technical specs for their Haswell iGPUs including the HD, Iris, and Iris Pro product lines. The intricacies of the 3D engine, GPGPU computation, and video acceleration are laid bare for the open source community. Video acceleration is something that is oft omit from the manuals of other companies.

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Phoronix believes that Intel is, and has been, the best GPU vendor for open-source drivers. AMD obviously supports their open-source community but Intel edges them out on speed. The Radeon HD 7000 series is just beginning to mature, according to their metric, and Hawaii is far behind that. For NVIDIA, the Nouveau driver is still developed primarily by reverse-engineering. That said, documentation was released a few months ago.

Of course all of these comparisons are only considering the open-source drivers.

NVIDIA prides itself on their proprietary driver offering and AMD pretty much offers both up for the user to chose between. Phoronix claims that Intel employs over two-dozen open-source Linux graphics developers but, of course, that is their only graphics driver for Linux. That is not a bad thing, of course, because a launch open-source GPU driver is really identical to what they would launch for a proprietary driver just without slapping the wrists of anyone who tries to tweak it. It does make sense for Intel, however, because community support will certainly do nothing but help their adoption.

If you would like to check out the documentation, it is available at Intel's 01.org.

Source: Phoronix

The Heisenbug is here; Fedora 20 arrives

Subject: General Tech | December 17, 2013 - 10:05 AM |
Tagged: linux, Fedora, heisenbug

Fedora 20 in a variety of flavours has arrived for anyone interested in trying out the newest version of this long standing Linux distro.  They have native support for just about any desktop environment you could want without the need to release separate versions for each.  It also offers full support for ARM processors, either small devices or multitudes of processors strung together into something a little more powerful.  If you are uncertain about how much you trust the new OS, follow the comments at Slashdot to see what challenges people have encountered.

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"The Fedora Project has announced the release of Fedora 20, code named Heisenbug (release notes). Fedora 20 is dedicated to Seth Vidal, the lead developer of Yum and the Fedora update repository, who recently died in a road accident. Gnome is the default DE of Fedora, and so it is for Fedora 20. However unlike Ubuntu (where they had to create different distros for each DE) Fedora comes with KDE, XFCE, LXDE and MATE. You can install the DE of your choice on top of base Fedora."

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Source: Slashdot

(Phoronix) Four Monitors on Linux: AMD and NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 5, 2013 - 12:17 AM |
Tagged: linux, nvidia surround, eyefinity

Could four 1080p monitors be 4K on the cheap? Probably not... but keep reading.

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Image Credit: Phoronix

Phoronix published an article for users interested in quad monitor gaming on Linux. Sure, you might think this is a bit excessive especially considering the bezel at the center of your screen. On the other hand, imagine you are playing a four player split-screen game. That would definitely get some attention. Each player would be able to tilt their screen out of the view of their opponents while only using a single computer.

In his 8-page editorial, Michael Larabel tests the official and popular open source drivers for both AMD and NVIDIA. The winner was NVIDIA's proprietary driver although the open source solution, Nouveau, seemed to fair the worst of the batch. This is the typical trade-off with NVIDIA. It was only just recent that The Green Giant opened up documentation for the other chefs in the kitchen... so these results may change soon.

If you are interested in gaming on Linux, give the article a read.

Source: Phoronix

Valve, Cloudius, and HSA Join Linux Foundation (Separately).

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 12:03 AM |
Tagged: linux, valve, SteamOS, hsa foundation, hsa

Valve may very well produce one of the near future's most popular non-mobile, consumer, Linux distributions. SteamOS will be marketed for gaming PCs (some very compelling ones at that) starting next year. CES will definitely be interesting. With such a popular distribution, and as an existing member of the Khronos Group, it makes sense for Valve to join the Linux Foundation... and they just did.

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It is still unknown to what extent Valve joined Linux (members are classified by level of contribution from Platinum to Silver) and we likely will not know until their list is updated. While they probably will not be hanging out with Intel and others in the platinum category, Silver is not the most noteworthy of statuses... alongside Barnes and Noble (likely because of the Nook) and Twitter.

Another addition is the HSA Foundation. AMD is already a Gold member (y'know... HSA's faja) and ARM is Silver so I cannot see HSA being much more than that. Still, Linux will be an important focus for the heterogeneous computing architectures to endorse: both in terms of back-end server optimization and customer-facing devices.

Of course I am not belittling any contribution. Still, there is that desire to see Valve lead the pack. Ultimately, though, it is not the size of the badge: it is how you wear it.

Source: LinuxUser

Intel's HD4600 versus AMD's 4600 on Linux ... with special guests

Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, mesa, open source

Phoronix is continuing to test the performance of open source Linux drivers on Source Engine games with this installation focusing on the performance of the Haswell i7-4770K.  They compare it to a number of RV770 based AMD GPUs as well as the newer HD 6450.  As you can see in the result the performance of the HD 6450 and HD 4550 are almost exactly the same and are the only two Radeons that do not leave the Intel's GPU in the dust.  If you have experience with the HD 4650 you have a very good idea as to how Intel's 4600 performs as the results are very similar.  Check out the full review here.

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"Earlier this week I delivered some 13-way AMD open-source Linux GPU benchmarks when tested against Valve's Source Engine powered Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Source games. Now up for testing from the Steam Linux client on Ubuntu is the Intel open-source Mesa graphics driver performance with Core i7 "Haswell" graphics."

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Source: Phoronix

Linux, your Source for gaming

Subject: General Tech | November 13, 2013 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: source engine, linux, gaming

By now you should have heard about the Linux version of Valve's Source Engine which allows you to play any of the games based on that engine on the open source OS.  Phoronix has just completed a battery of tests showing the performance of both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs in these games as a prelude to what you can probably expect from the Steam Machine.  AMD's older cards performed at a higher level than did NVIDIA's legacy GPUs as well as taking top spot overall with the HD 6870.  Check out both reviews to see how your silicon will handle TF2, CS:Source and other favourites.

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"For your viewing pleasure today is a 13-way AMD Radeon graphics card comparison when testing out the open-source Radeon Gallium3D drivers on the wide spectrum of ATI/AMD GPUs while looking at the performance for Valve's Source Engine with Counter-Strike: Source and Team Fortress 2. Given the imminent arrival of Steam Machines and SteamOS to push Linux gaming into its long-awaited spotlight, is AMD's open-source Linux graphics driver capable of delivering a reasonable level of performance?"

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Source: Phoronix

Linux support for Broadwell is looking good

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2013 - 10:28 AM |
Tagged: Intel, linux, open source, Broadwell

Over the weekend 62 patches to the Linux kernel were released, enabling Broadwell GPU support well ahead of the processors scheduled release date.  Not only is this great news for open source enthusiasts who appreciate it when large companies like Intel release detailed driver code but also means that Broadwell should function well with Linux on its release date.  Phoronix also reports that more code is scheduled to arrive this week to enable other features which are unique to Broadwell, keep your eyes peeled for any specifications we can infer from the code as it becomes available

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"While Intel's Broadwell processors won't be launching until 2014 as the successor to Haswell, this weekend the initial open-source Linux GPU kernel driver was published ahead of the Linux 3.13 kernel merge window. The changes are massive and it's looking like the Broadwell graphics improvements will be astonishing and provide significant improvements over Haswell and earlier generations of Intel graphics."

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Source: Phoronix

Remote controlling computers the Linux way

Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2013 - 09:52 AM |
Tagged: linux, secure, remote access

Sick of the Logmein.com email 'updates'?  Annoyed that join.me isn't for Linux and aren't sure what the alternatives are?  Linux.com has put up the second in their series of how to remotely control PCs running Linux with this installment focusing on Network Manager which is an OpenVPN client.  Windows users may find Network Manager a little hard to grasp at first as it does not pop up a GUI of a remote computer so the article offers a good analogy, "think of OpenVPN as a virtual Ethernet cable to your server or LAN, all wrapped in a nice stout layer of encryption".  Using OpenVPN creates a secure tunnel to the remote PC which you can then use to run secure (or insecure) applications such as SSH to interact with the remote machine. 

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"Greetings fellow Linux users, and welcome to the second part of our glorious OpenVPN series. When last we met we learned how to set up a simple OpenVPN encrypted tunnel between a home server and a remote node, such as a laptop. Today we're adding refinements such as how to daemonize OpenVPN so we don't have to start it manually, use Network Manager for easy connecting to our remote server, and access services."

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Source: Linux.com

AMD cards get an unexpected boost from the Linux 3.12 kernel

Subject: General Tech | October 15, 2013 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: amd, linux, catalyst, 3.12 kernel

Phoronix had a very pleasant surprise over the weekend which was apparently also a complete surprise to the AMD Linux driver team; vastly improved GPU performance on the 3.12 kernel.  In tests on a dozen cards ranging from the elderly HD3850 to the HD6950 all cards showed at least some improvements and in some cases increases of 50%.  Keep your eyes tuned for updates as they work with AMD's Linux team to see where these performance increases originated from and to give Phoronix time to get their hands on new hardware for more testing.  Check out the complete review here.

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"Over the weekend I released benchmarks showing the Linux 3.12 kernel bringing big AMD Radeon performance improvements. Those benchmarks of a Radeon HD 4000 series GPU showed the Linux 3.12 kernel bringing major performance improvements over Linux 3.11 and prior. Some games improved with just low double-digit gains while other Linux games were nearly 90% faster! Interestingly, the AMD Radeon Linux developers were even surprised by these findings. After carrying out additional tests throughout the weekend, I can confirm these truly incredible performance improvements on other hardware. In this article are results from ten different AMD Radeon graphics cards."

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Source: Phoronix