The Heisenbug is here; Fedora 20 arrives

Subject: General Tech | December 17, 2013 - 01:05 PM |
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 - 03:17 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 - 03:03 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 - 05:00 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 - 03:02 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 - 01:28 PM |
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 - 12:52 PM |
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 - 01:30 PM |
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

C'mon man! Do you really think your technically inclined customers aren't going to catch on?

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2013 - 07:59 PM |
Tagged: amd, dirty pool, linux, open source

Rebranding existing hardware with fancy new model numbers is nothing new to either AMD or NVIDA.  Review sites catch on immediately and while we like to see optimizations applied to mature chips we much prefer brand new hardware.  When you release the Q-1200000 as the X-2200000 the best you will get from review sites is a recommendation to go with the model that has the lower price, not the higher model number. Most enthusiasts have caught on to the fact that they are the same product; we do not like it but we have come to accept it as common business practice.  Certain unintentional consequences from designs we can forgive as long as you admit the issue and work to rectify it, only the intentional limitations are being mentioned in this post.

This is where the problem comes in as it seems that this intentional misleading of customers has created a mindset where it is believed that it is OK to intentionally impose performance limitations on products.  Somehow companies have convinced themselves that a customer base who routinely tears apart hardware, uses scanners to see inside actual components and who write their own OSes from scratch (or at least update the kernel) will somehow not be able to discover these limitations.  Thus we have yesterday's revelation that NVIDIA has artificially limited the number of screens usable in Linux to three; not because of performance or stability issues but simply because it might provide Linux users with a better experience that Windows users.

Apparently AMD is not to be outdone when it comes to this kind of dirty pool, in their case it is audio that is limited as opposed to video.  If you are so uncouth as to use a DVI to HDMI adapter which did not come with your shiny new Radeon then you are not allowed to have audio signals transferred over that HDMI cable on either Windows or Linux.  There is a ... shall we say Apple-like hardware check, that Phoronix reported on which will disable the audio output unless a specific EEPROM on your adapter is detected.   NVIDIA doesn't sell monitors nor is AMD really in the dongle business but apparently they are willing to police the components you choose to use, though the causes of AMD's decision are not as clear as NVIDIA's for as far as we know Monster Cable does not have the magic EEPROM in their adapters.

If your customers are as talented as your engineers you might not want to listen to your salespeople who tell you that partnerships with other companies are more important than antagonizing your customers by trying to pull a fast one on them.  We will find out and it will come back to haunt you.  Unless the payoffs you get from your partnerships are more than you make selling to customers in which case you might as well just ignore us.

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"For some AMD Radeon graphics cards when using the Catalyst driver, the HDMI audio support isn't enabled unless using the simple DVI to HDMI adapter included with the graphics card itself... If you use another DVI-to-HDMI adapter, it won't work with Catalyst. AMD intentionally implemented checks within their closed-source driver to prevent other adapters from being used, even though they will work just fine."

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Source: Phoronix

Things that make you go hmmmm, NVIDIA edition

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2013 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, linux, microsoft, open source

If you haven't heard the accusations flying over the possible scenarios that lead up to Origin PC dropping AMD cards from all their machines you can catch up at The Tech Report.  They keep any speculation to a minimum unlike other sites but the key point is the claims of overheating and stability issues, something that apparently only Origin has encountered.  If they had stuck with mentioning the frame pacing in Crossfire and 4K/mulitmonitor issue it would be understandable that they not sell AMD cards in systems designed for that usage but dropping them altogether is enough to start rumours and conspiracy theories across the interwebs.  Winning a place in the Steam Machine was great for NVIDIA but at no time did they imply that AMD was unworthy, they merely didn't win the contract.

Today some oil was tossed on the fire with the revelation that NVIDIA is specifically limiting the functionality of its hardware on Linux.  Just after we praised their release of documentation for Nouveau, their open sourced driver, we find out from a post at The Inquirer that NVIDIA limits the number of monitors used in Linux to three so as not to outdo their functionality in Windows.  For a brief moment it seemed that NVIDIA was willing to cooperate with the open source and Linux communities but apparently that moment is all we will have and once again NVIDIA proves that it is willing bow to pressure from Microsoft.

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"According to a forum poster at the Nvidia Developer Zone, the v310 version of the drivers for Basemosaic has reduced the number of monitors a user can connect simultaneously to three."

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Source: The Inquirer