Track your Linux powered laptops battery usage

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 26, 2012 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: linux

Power consumption on Linux has always been harder to track than on Windows, especially at a granular level to determine which components are the most power hungry in your system.  Considering the huge outcry some users made at the release of kernel 3.5 and the high power draw they witnessed, monitoring power has become a hot topic for many. Phoronix just posted a review of PowerTOP, which shows the discharge rate of your laptops battery, as well as how much power your hardware is using including the number of interrupts it is sending to your CPU. For developers there is even a way to create hardware profiles for yourself and your users which will help you extend battery life for all your mobile Linux machines.

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"Getting the longest battery life on portable Linux machines is yet another moving target as kernels and standards change and vendors continue to snuggle up to Microsoft at the expense of non-Windows users. There was a bit of controversy at the release of the 3.x kernel because it contained a power regression (or not a power regression but something else that behaved like a power regression depending on who was talking) and the result was that Linux got considerably less battery life than Windows on the same machines. This was especially obvious to dual-boot users. This is a long complex story, so if you're interested in the details see the links at the end."

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Source: Phoronix

Of course you know, this means war. Clover Trail supposedly can't run Linux

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2012 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Medfield, linux, Intel, fud, clover trail

Clover Trail is Intel's next Atom, the chip which refuses to die, representing an evolution of Medfield and the x86 instruction set.  That didn't stop Intel from making a bizarre statement that Linux will not run on Clover Trail, even though it ran fine on Medfield and is an OS for x86 architecture chips.  It is more accurate to say that some features of Clover Trail will not currently work under Linux, specifically the new power states introduced in the new Atom. Until the Linux kernel catches up to the new technology the new C and P states which can turn off the clock on the chip while still enabling 'instant on' will be unavailable which is a far cry from not being able to run on the chip at all.  Thanks to The Register for immediately stomping on that FUD.

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"SAN FRANCISCO: CHIPMAKER Intel has confirmed that it will not provide support for Linux on its Clover Trail Atom chip.

Intel's Clover Trail Atom processor can be seen in various nondescript laptops around IDF and the firm provided a lot of architectural details on the chip, confirming details such as dual-core and a number of power states. However Intel said Clover Trail "is a Windows 8 chip" and that "the chip cannot run Linux"."

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Source: The Register

Intel's new HD2500 on Linux

Subject: Processors | August 20, 2012 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: linux, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i5-3470, hd 2500

The new Ivy Bridge processors introduced a new member of Intel's graphics processor called the HD 2500, which has received less than positive reviews as the previous HD 3000 outperforms it.  However those tests were for Windows applications and games, whereas the testing at Phoronix specifically pertains to the performance under Linux.  They compare the i5-2400S, i5-2500K, i5-3470, and i7-3770K together in a series of benchmarks to not only test the performance but also their compatibility with Linux.  It seems that perhaps the performance of the HD3000 and HD2500 are much closer in Linux than they were running under Windows, though both still lose out to the HD4000.

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"Since the launch of Intel's Ivy Bridge processors earlier this year there have been many benchmarks of the Intel Core i7 3770K with its integrated HD 4000 graphics and then more recently have been Linux testing of the Intel Core i7 3517UE from the CompuLab Intense-PC and Intel Core i7-3615QM as found on the Apple Retina MacBook Pro. The newest Intel Ivy Bridge chip to play with at Phoronix is the Intel Core i5 3470, which bears an Intel HD 2500 graphics core. In this article are benchmarks of the Intel HD 2500 Ivy Bridge graphics with the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver stack."

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Source: Phoronix

So much for your Linux powered Retina system

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2012 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: retina display, macbook pro, linux

While the hardware is certainly attractive, a Core i7 3615QM, 8GB DDR3-1600, a GT 650M and of course, the Retina display at 2880x1800, the new MacBook Pro is not for Linux users ... at least not yet.  The issues Phoronix have seen with Thunderbolt on Linux also seem to extend to the MacBook Pro as a whole.  No matter what distribution they tried, the display either did not work or it mangled the image to an unusable state as you can see below.  Even worse, when Phoronix managed to at least connect to the machine in a way they could monitor it, they saw much greater power usage than with OSX.

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"If you are planning to buy one of the new Apple MacBook Pro notebooks with a Retina Display for use under Linux, hold off on your purchase. Running the Retina MacBook Pro with Linux isn't a trouble-free experience and after using even the latest development code and jumping through various hoops, Linux on the latest Apple hardware is still less than an ideal experience. Linux support will improve for the Retina MacBook Pro in the coming months, but it's not likely to see any proper "out of the box" experience until next year."

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Source: Phoronix

Could you make money off of Linux games if they played better than on Windows Mr Carmack?

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: valve, linux, left 4 dead, john carmack, gaming

While running at a measly 6fps means that the zombies will get you, at 315fps you can't complain that you didn't see them coming.  That is the current frame rate Valve is reporting their Linux test machine can produce when playing the Linux implementation of Left 4 Dead.  That hardware was a Core i7 3930k, GeForce GTX 680 and 32 GB RAM and we were given a result from the same hardware running Win7; a slower 303fps after tweaking OpenGL.  That takes performance concerns out of the picture when discussing gaming on Linux but it does not quite answer what John Carmack brought up in his QuakeCon keynote speech.  As he points out, building goodwill among the Linux community hasn't paid for the programming in the past and simply increasing performance will not directly translate into better sales figures.  However if we start seeing more Linux based Valve titles outperforming Windows on the same hardware, some enthusiasts are likely to set up a dual boot system, if not move their gaming rig to Linux solely.  Read more at The Inquirer.

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"Valve announced its plans to port its Steam content delivery service and Left 4 Dead 2 to Linux just last month. The firm has already made astonishing progress, announcing that with various performance tweaks it has managed to get the Linux version of Left 4 Dead 2 using OpenGL to run significantly faster than the Direct3D Windows 7 version."

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Source: The Inquirer

Five way Linux distro roundup

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 11:37 AM |
Tagged: linux, Arch Linux, Slackware, ubuntu, Fedora

Phoronix just loves Linux benchmarking and have been very busy this year with not only the new Linux distros and kernels which have arrived this year but also testing Ivy Bridge's CPU and GPU performance on the open source OS.  With the arrival of an updated Arch Linux they once again find themselves at the test bench, in this particular case a Sandy Bridge based system with an AMD GPU.  Take a read through the five pages of benchmarks covering a wide variety of performance measurements and see if you might want to think about upgrading or switching your current version of Linux.

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"At the request of many Phoronix readers following the release of updated Arch Linux media, here are some new Arch Linux benchmarks. However, this is not just Arch vs. Ubuntu, but rather a larger Linux distribution performance comparison. In this article are benchmark results from Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, CentOS 6.2, Fedora 17, Slackware 14.0 Beta, and Arch Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Hardkernel Launching Quad Core ODROID-X Android Computer

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2012 - 08:53 AM |
Tagged: SFF, Samsung, linux, hardkernel, Exynos 4, computer, arm

If you are an Android developer and have been itching to get your hands on some high end, quad core hardware, than Korean company HardKernel may have just what you’re looking for. The new ODROID-X is an Android developer board (meaning it comes as just a single board computer sans case or accessories. For $129 plus shipping and customs fees, you can have a 90 x 94mm PCB with a Samsung Exynos 4412 ARM Cortex-A9 quad core at 1.4 GHz (1MB cache), Mali 400 GPU, 1GB RAM, and runs on a 5V, 2A power adapter.

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IO for the ODROID-X includes headphone and microphone jacks, six USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, SDHC card slot, 50-pin GPIO connector, UART serial connector, MIPI-CAM camera connector, HDMI, and a power jack. In other words, it is extremely expandable. It is capable of outputting 1080p video over HDMI when using the H.264 video codec thanks to dedicated hardware acceleration. Hardkernel will happily sell you accessories but you would likely be better off buying it from a local retailer or online shop that is in-country to avoid the extra shipping and customs fees. The power jack and other ports are standard, so there aren’t any worries there. Android 4.0 ICS is reportedly available for download, though no word yet on when the newly announced Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" OS build will be up on the site.

Thanks to the Samsung Exynos 4, you definitely have more oomph than the 700 MHz ARMv7 in the Raspberry Pi, though this board isn’t nearly as small (and costs about four times as much). If you need the extra horsepower, this may be worth considering at this price but be sure figure out the import taxes and shipping for your location to figure out what it will really cost you to get your hands on. Read more about the ODROID-X's specifications over at the Hardkernel website.

Source: Ars Technica

Looking longingly at a Linux Laptop?

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2012 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: linux, laptop, Chromebook, asus, EeePC 1225C, sputnik

If you are less than impressed by Windows 8 or are looking to avoid the costs incurred by a Windows installation on the laptop then Linux.com has four systems you should consider.  First up are the Chromebook models available at stores like Best Buy, like the Samsung 12.1-inch Series 5 Chromebook.  If the ChromeOS isn't to your liking then perhaps the Asus EeePC 1225C which comes with Ubuntu installed on it.  It is not yet widely available but should make it to North America in the not too distant future.  Dell is also getting into this market with their Project Sputnik which Tim covered a few weeks ago.  Finally are what are referred to as Diminutive Desktops which cover devices like the Raspberry Pi, VIA's APC and a number of other models.  You might have more choices when it comes to Linux powered retail PCs than you think.

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"Windows may still be the default operating system on the vast majority of mainstream PCs thanks to Microsoft's many longstanding OEM partnerships, but that's not to say it hasn't been possible for some time to buy desktop machines with Linux preloaded.

No, indeed! Thanks to vendors such as System76, ZaReason, EmperorLinux and others, Linux fans have long been able to get desktops, laptops, netbooks and more preloaded with a variety of Linux distributions -- and that's not even counting several on-again, off-again efforts by Dell, Wal-Mart and others to sell Linux boxes on their retail shelves."

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Source: Linux.com

More Ivy Bridge on Linux experiments

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: Intel, opengl, opencl, linux, Ivy Bridge

Intel really seems to have taken the general criticism about the lack of Linux support during the initial release of Sandy Bridge to heart and made sure not to repeat the mistake with Ivy Bridge.  Phoronix have spent the last two months exhaustively testing the performance of the i7-3770K and today offer some general observations about the chip and Intel's support of open source.  Much of it is good news, like the performance of the OpenGL driver as well as its support for OpenGL 4.0 but some is not so good such as the fact that AMD's OpenCL for the CPU works better than Intel's implementation with neither running on the GPU yet.  Check out the other findings in the article.

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"It has been 66 days since Intel formally introduced their Ivy Bridge processors as the 2012 successor to Sandy Bridge. My views on Intel Ivy Bridge (specifically the Core i7 3770K model) back on launch-day were very positive in terms of the Linux compatibility, CPU performance, and the HD 4000 graphics capabilities. Since then I've conducted dozens of additional tests looking at the Core i7 Ivy Bridge on Linux in different areas from comparative benchmarks to Microsoft Windows, trying to run BSD operating systems on the latest hardware, looking at the virtualization performance, compiler tuning, etc. Here is a recap of this additional Ivy Bridge testing that has happened over the past two months of near constant benchmarking."

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Source: Phoronix

Dell Crafting Ubuntu-based Notebook for Developers With Project Sputnik

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2012 - 09:27 AM |
Tagged: ubuntu, sputnik, software, programming, linux, dell, computing

Dell recently announced that it is turning to an open source Linux OS to craft a developer focused operating system. Enabled by Dell’s incubation program (and accompanying monetary funding), the pilot program – named Project Sputnik – is based on Dell’s XPS13 ultrabook and the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS OS.

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The Project Sputnik program will run for six months. Its goal is to create the ideal hardware and software platform for software developers. Currently, that means using Dell’s XPS13 laptop and a customized version of the Ubuntu 12.04 Linux OS. The team behind the initiative are working closely with Canonical (Ubuntu developers) to put together a custom Ubuntu image with stripped down software, custom drivers, and only the software packages that developers want.

The team wants to make it easy for software programmers to get a hold of the programing languages and environments that they need to do their jobs. It will have integration with GitHub for coding projects as well.

In the video below Barton George, Director of Marketing for Dell, talks about the Project Sputnik program and how they hope to craft a laptop aimed directly at developers.

It is an interesting program, and I hope that it does well. You can find more information about Project Sputnik and how you can get involved at the Dell website.

Source: Dell