Subject: Systems | February 3, 2013 - 09:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mintbox, mint, linux, fitpc3, compulab
The MintBox is a small form factor, fanless computer released in summer 2012. It was developed in collaboration between CompuLab and the Linux Mint project. At launch, the base model retailed for $476, but CompuLab has cut the price by almost $100 to kick off 2013.
The MintBox basic is powered by a dual core AMD G-T40N APU clocked at 1.0 GHz, 4GB of RAM, an APU-integrated Radeon G290 GPU, and 250GB hard drive. The system has a aluminum chassis that acts as a heatsink. It is essentially CompuLab’s fitPC3 case with a few custom tweaks to add the Linux Mint logo. Further, it comes pre-loaded with the Linux Mint 13 operating system. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 radios are included as well as two mini-PCIe cards and one mSATA connector (for an SSD).
The front of the MintBox has four USB 2.0 ports surrounding the Mint logo. The rear of the MintBox includes the following connectivity options:
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x S/PDIF
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x eSATA
- 1 x RS232 serial port
- 2 x external Wi-Fi antennas .
In many respects, the MintBox resembles a typical home wireless router, but it is actually a full PC. Before shipping and any applicatable taxes, the MintBox Basic is $379. Reportedly, 10% of the proceeds will go towards the Linux Mint project to assist with development of the open source operating system. While the hardware itself is not new, Mint and CompuLab are offering up a healthy discount which may bring it more in line with Intel’s NUC systems. It may not be as fast, but it will cost less and is pre-configured unlike the DIY NUC.
Have you been looking to get a small form factor system? What do you think about a fanless box running Linux Mint for your next PC?
Subject: General Tech | January 28, 2013 - 12:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, Ivy Bridge, ubuntu 13.04
Phoronix has released a pair of reviews focusing on the graphical performance changes we have seen recently when gaming on a Linux system. The first looks at the last seven major kernel updates and how they changed the performance of Intel's HD4000 graphics core. The news is not great, in most cases the performance remained mostly unchanged and there are a few instances where the performance gain seen by kernel 3.4 have disappeared by 3.8 and in some cases it would make sense to wait until Mesa 9.1 arrives.
Their second article looks at the upcoming Ubuntu 13.04 release and the support the OS will have for AMD's GPUs straight out of the box with no customization. From there they move onto Intel's HD3000 graphics with good results to report. The new OS will not be out until April, but from what Phoronix has seen not only will this kernel handle discrete and integral GPUs well, the performance is the best they've seen yet.
"With the Intel Haswell product launch coming up soon, here's a look at how the Intel "Ivy Bridge" HD 4000 graphics support has matured on the seven most recent Linux kernel releases. This benchmarking shows how the performance of the Intel DRM driver has changed between the Linux 3.2 kernel and the Linux 3.8 kernel that's presently under development when using the integrated graphics found on the latest-generation Core i7 CPU."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gartner says Intel getting Cisco as a foundry customer is a good move @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft may be readying Outlook for ARM – or not @ The Register
- Microsoft acknowledges the long and winding road ahead @ The Register
- Why I'm excited about Microsoft's Surface Pro @ Tweaktown
- Ninjalane Podcast - Borderlands 2 Farming
- Win an Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe & Asus HD7970 Matrix @ Kitguru
Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 03:22 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ubuntu for phones, ubuntu, linux, ces 2013, CES, canonical
Earlier this month Canonical showed off a new version of its Ubuntu operating system intended for mobile phones. The Ubuntu for smartphones operating system is meant to extend the Ubuntu UI and UX to the smartphone screen. Canonical wants its OS to span from servers to phones and Ubuntu for phones is the latest step in that plan.
While there is no official hardware yet, the new operating system will be aimed at both low-end and high-end smartphones alike. It will support the standard array of smartphone functions–phone, sms, email, web browsing, and apps–along with the familiar Ubuntu user interface that is navigated by touch gestures. Ubuntu for phones will run on x86 and ARM hardware and is compatible with the Android Board Suppot Package. That means that users can actually run Ubuntu on many existing smartphones which are currently running Google's Android OS. Unlike Android, there is no Java VM, and the Ubuntu for phones operating system can run both HTML5 and native applications. At CES, Canonical demonstrated the OS using a Galaxy Nexus smartphone.
Ubuntu smartphones will feature a familiar Unity-like user interface with a number of tweaks to make it easier to navigate using a touchscreen. The OS will use a feature called Edge Magic, which includes swipe gestures inwards from each side of the phone to open applications, read notifications, change settings, and return to the home screen. Users can also use voice and text commands to control the smartphone. For example, users can swipe left to open the application launcher, drag from the left side to the right side of the screen to display all currently running apps, and drag up from the bottom to open application-specific settings. Swiping from the right acts as the 'back' function while dragging down from teh top opens the notifications and device-wide settings. There are no hardware buttons with Ubuntu for smartphones, and Canonical founder Mark Shuttlework has stated that keeping UI elements hidden until needed was a priority with Ubuntu for phones.
Ubuntu for phones is aimed at a wide range of smartphone hardware. On the low end, Ubuntu needs at least a dual-core ARM Cortex A9, 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage. The budget smartphones will run native apps (ideally) faster than similar code on Android due to the apps being closer to the hardware. Multitouch will be supported but the destkop functionality when the phone is docked is not available. On the other hand, high end smartphones will be able to access a full Ubuntu desktop when the phone is docked along with a mouse and keyboard.
Additional features of Ubuntu for smartphones include global search of applications, content, and products, Deep Content Immersion, and personalized artwork on the welcome (lock) screen. Further, Ubuntu One cloud storage, enterprise management tool compatibility, and regular updates are also rolled into the operating system. Ubuntu does include scopes which are similar in function and aesthetics to desktop Ubuntu. The scopes include a list of applications, contacts, videos, and music (among others).
The following chart lists the recommended/referrence specifications for budget and premium smartphones running the Ubuntu mobile OS.
|Entry Level||High End|
|SoC||dual core Cortex A9||quad core Cortex A9 or better|
|RAM||1GB preferred||minimum of 1GB|
|Storage||4-8GB eMMC + SD card||min 32GB eMMC + SD card|
|Display Resolution||WVGA 800x400||720p or 1080p|
Interestingly, users of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone will be able to test drive Ubuntu for smartphones later this year by flashing their device with the new OS. As far as retail hardware with Ubuntu pre-installed, Canonical is reportedly working on developing partnerships with handset makers. Canonical hopes to being shipping devices begining in Q4'13 or Q1'14.
From the various video demonstrations of the Ubuntu for smartphones operating system, it appears extremely slick and user friendly. Curiously, Canoncial was not willing to let CES attendees go hands-on with the reference phone, which may mean that the operating system is not quite ready for prime time. Despite that hesitation, I do think that Ubuntu for smartphones shows a lot of promise as a mobile, touchscreen-controlled operating system.
It is certainly a project that I will be following closely. With the untimely hardware failure of my Nokia N900, I am in need of a new power user-friendly smartphone. And an Ubuntu-powered mobile sounds like the perfect upgrade for me!
What do you think about Canonical's latest venture?
ModdEverything checks out Ubuntu running on a smartphone at CES 2013.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Systems | January 9, 2013 - 10:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ubuntu, solidrun, linux, desktop, cubox pro, cubox, computer
Israeli-startup SolidRun is launching an updated model of its CuBox mini PC called the CuBox Pro. The small desktop computer measures 2 x 2 x 2-inches and weighs a mere 91 grams. The CuBox Pro is not only small in size, it also sips a mere 3 watts at full load. It comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux, but the CuBox Pro can be loaded with alternative operating systems by way of a microSD card. The hardware is nothing spectacular on the performance front, but it is capable of 1080p HD video playback. Interestingly, Youtube user rabeeh3000 reported that the CuBox Pro draws less than 2.5 Watts while playing a HD movie in XBMC.
Speaking of hardware, the CuBox Pro is powered by a Marvell ARMADA 510 SoC clocked at 800 MHz. It is supported by 2GB of DDR3 memory, and internal storage is handled by a microSD card slot.
Rear IO on the CuBox Pro includes two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI video output, one eSATA connector, one Gigabit Ethernet port, DC power jack, and a single S/PDIF audio output on the side of the case. Further, the CuBox Pro has an infrared receiver, which will enable remotes to be used with media center software.
The CuBox Pro is slated to be available sometime in January for $159. Alternatively, the original CuBox with 1GB of DDR3 is available for $139. Admittedly, it is a bit pricey considering there are cheaper options like the Raspberry Pi but you are getting a complete OEM system (whereas you would have to add an SD card, USB infrared receiver, and case to the price of the Pi).
You can find more information abou the CuBox computer on the SolidRun website.
Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2012 - 03:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, ubuntu, steam, opengl, linux, gaming
Gamers were given an early holiday present last Friday when Valve announced it would be opening up its Steam for Linux beta to everyone. For the past few months the company has been testing out a version of its Steam client software intended to run on Ubuntu 12.04 Linux. Valve initially performed internal testing, and then proceeded to invite users to a closed beta. And now (finally), it seems that the company is comfortable enough with the applications stability that it can release it to the general public. While it is still very much beta software, it is actively being developed and improved.
Along with the move to a public beta, Valve is transitioning to GitHub to track changes and bug reports. Further, an apt repository is in the works, which should make installing and updating the Steam beta client easier, especially on non-Ubuntu distros (like Ubuntu forks). From the documentation available on the Steam website, it seems that apt-get install gdebi-coreand gdebi steam.debis still the preferred command line installation proceedure, however.
Further, Valve has fixed several issues in the latest Steam for Linux client. (Users that were in the closed beta will need to update). The company has improved the back navigation arrow placement and added discount timers and other UI tweaks to Big Picture Mode, for example. Valve has also fixed a bug concerning high CPU usage when playing Team Fortress 2 and an issue with the Steam overlay crashing while playing Cubemen.
Right now, the game selection is very limited, but the client itself is fairly stable. The traditional and Big Picture Mode UI are identical to the Windows version that many gamers are familiar with, which is good. Installation on Ubuntu was really easy, but I had trouble getting it to work with the latest version of Linux Mint. In the end, I was not able to use the CLI method, but the GUI instructions that Valve provides ended up working. At the moment Valve is only officially supporting the beta on Ubuntu, but it is likely to be expanded to other Debian forks as well as used in Valve’s Steam Box console.
The full announcement can be found on the Steam Community site, and the repository files are located here. Another useful resource is the getting started thread on the Steam forums, where you can find help getting the client installed (especially useful if you are trying to install it on an alternative distro).
Have you used the Steam for Linux client yet? I’m excited to see more games and engines support the Linux OS, as that will be what will make or break it.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 4, 2012 - 01:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: XPS 13, ultrabook, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, sputnik, linux, dell
Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition is branded as an Ultrabook but it has two significant differences; a custom built Ubuntu distro and a price $250 higher than Dell's other Ultrabook offering. Those two points are somewhat interrelated as Dell will be offering support equivalent to Windows powered machines which means new training, procedures and staffing which can be expensive to set up. There is another reason the price is so high which is the hardware as, even the base model comes with a 256GB SSD; the rest of the hardware is pretty standard, an i7-3517U, 8GB DDR3 and no discrete video card. It is hard to say if sticking the Developer Edition moniker on the machine will encourage people to purchase this ultrabook, if you are curious check out more at The Inquirer.
"TIN BOX FLOGGER Dell's decision to put arguably its best laptop on sale preloaded with Ubuntu Linux shows not only how far desktop Linux has come but how far Microsoft has fallen.
Dell announced its Project Sputnik earlier this year to a warm if not ecstatic reception. The firm had preloaded Linux onto its consumer machines before but they were hard to find and on forgettable machines. However with the XPS 13 the firm is not only loading Linux on its most high profile laptop but showing that Microsoft's operating system isn't the only choice in town for OEMs and consumers alike."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Office 2013 now on sale for business customers @ The Register
- Li-ion batteries benefit from hierarchical LiFePO4/C @ NanotechWeb
- Intel will issue bonds to buy back its own shares @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft, RIM to keep existing platforms operating after releasing new ones @ DigiTimes
Subject: Mobile | November 23, 2012 - 02:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ubuntu, Chromebook, cortex a15, Samsung, linux, exynos 5
At $250 this Samsung Chromebook costs less than most tablets or phones but can outperform previous A9 powered models and the Atom D525 as well. The processor is Samsung's Exynos 5, a dual core A15 chip running at 1.7GHz with ARM's Mali-T604 graphics and is accompanied by 2GB of DDR3 and a 16GB SSD. It can be loaded with Ubuntu 13.04 and offers a compelling and inexpensive alternative to Sleekbooks and Ultrabooks as it weighs 2.5lbs and is 11.4" x 8.09" x 0.69" and promises over 6 hours of battery life. Check out how it performs at Phoronix.
"Google recently launched the Samsung Chromebook that for $249 USD features an 11-inch display, a 16GB SSD, a promise of 6.5-hour battery life, and is backed by a Samsung Exynos 5 SoC. The Samsung Exynos 5 packs a 1.7GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor with ARM Mali-T604 graphics. With using this new ARM Cortex-A15 chip plus the Samsung Chromebook not being locked down so it can be loaded up with a Linux distribution like Ubuntu or openSUSE, it was a must-buy for carrying out some interesting Cortex-A15 Linux benchmarks. The Exynos 5 Dual in this affordable laptop packs an impressive performance punch."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HP ENVY 6 Sleekbook Review; AMD's Mobile Trinity APU Arrives @ Hardware Canucks
- Acer Aspire V5-571P-6642 Review @ TechReviewSource
- PC Specialist Inferno 11.6 inch Laptop @ Kitguru
- Acer Aspire V5-171 Notebook Review: The Death and Rebirth of the Netbook @ AnandTech
- Txtr Beagle @ The Inquirer
- Kobo eReader Mini review: shrunk in the laundry
- Patriot Gauntlet Node 320 Review: Wireless Storage for Tablets @ AnandTech
- Point of View Protab 3 XXL review: 10-inch, IPS, £200 @ Hardware.info
- ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T 32GB Tablet @ SSD Review
- iPad mini @ AnandTech
- Rapoo E6300 Wireless Keyboard for iPad/iPhone @ Bjorn3D
- ASUS PadFone 2 Review @ InsideHW
- Nokia Lumia 820 @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2012 - 05:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wine, windows, ubuntu, silverlight, Netflix, linux, firefox
One of the major hurdles preventing me from switching to Linux completely (despite my love for Mint) has been Netflix support. While there is a Silverlight-equivalent called Moonlight for the Linux operating system, it does not support the necessary DRM aspects to facilitate Netflix Instant Streaming. Aside from installing VirtualBox and booting an instance of Windows (which basically defeats the purpose of switching), Linux users have not been able to stream Netflix shows.
Thanks to a Linux developer by the name of Erich Hoover, there is a ray of hope for Linux users that want to take advantage of the streaming side of their Netflix subscriptions. Using a patched version of WINE (Wine Is Not An Emulator), Firefox, and an older version of Microsoft Silverlight, he was able to get Netflix streaming to work without breaking the DRM. That’s good news as it means that even though it is not officially supported, Netflix is not likely to actively break or fight it.
Netflix Instant Streaming running on Ubuntu 12.10 (32-bit).
Currently, it has been tested on the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 12.10, but other distros are likely to work as well. Users will need to compile WINE from source, apply five patches, and then install Firefox 14.0.1 and Silverlight 4. Right now, there is no GUI or pre-compiled version, and at least the first few steps require the use of the terminal. Thankfully, I Heart Ubuntu has put together a step-by-step guide outlining exactly what you need to type into the terminal to get Netflix streaming up and running. The site notes that the WINE patching process could take a good chunk of time if you are on an older computer. Further, Silverlight 5 does not work, so using the older version is necessary.
This is great news for the Linux community, and along with the Steam for Linux beta things are definitely looking up and moving in a positive direction for the open source operating system. Obviously, this is far from native support, but it is a huge improvement over previous workarounds. A PPA is also reportedly in the works to make the installation of the patched WINE version even easier for those not comfortable with the terminal. Until then, check out the I Heart Ubuntu guide for the full setup details.
The developer asks that you donate to the WINE Development Fund if you find his Netflix support patches useful.
Image credit: iheartubuntu
Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 02:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, steam, linux, gaming
The developers at Valve have been hammering away at a Linux version of its popular Steam client and software distribution service.While Windows is currently the dominant platform, CEO Gabe Newell has shown his displeasure at with Windows 8 and the Windows Store such that development has been expedited to support the alternative operating systems and port Valve’s own titles to the platforms. Last month, Valve announced a limited public beta would start soon, and that it was taking applications.
That beta is now in effect, with a small subset of the total 60,000 applications the company received being invited to participate in the beta build. Intended for Ubuntu 12.04, the Linux for Steam beta includes the client itself, and several surprising additions (that were previously thought to not be included). Big Picture Mode and 26 games will be part of the Linux beta.
Big Picture Mode is Valve’s 10-foot interface for the Steam client. It is designed to work well with remote or controller such that Steam functionality and games can be easily accessed from the couch with Steam on the living room TV. (I took a look at Big Picture Mode earlier this year if you are curious about what the interface looks like.)
The list of games includes:
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- And yet it Moves
- The Book of Unwritten Tales
- Dungeons of Dredmor
- Dynamite Jack
- Frozen Synapse
- Galcon Fusion
- Serious Sam 3: BFE
- Solar 2
- Space Pirates and Zombies
- Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
- Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
- Team Fortress 2
- Trine 2
- Uplink/Darwinia Pack
- Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign
- World of Goo
- World of Goo Demo
Needless to say, there are a number of games more than the previously expected TF2, though Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are noticeably absent (as are the rest of the Valve/Source collection). Space Pirates and Zombies is sure to suck some productivity out of Linux users’ days, however!
Valve has stated that additional users will be added to the beta from the pool of applicants over time. The company is also looking at making the Linux client available to other Linux distributions as well (even HML?). If you want a chance at getting into the beta, Valve is still accepting new applications via this survey (you need to log in with your Steam credentials).
Have you tried out the Steam for Linux beta?
Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 11:51 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: servers, linux foundation, linux, hp, hardware
The Linux Foundation announced today that PC OEM Hewlett-Packard (HP) is upgrading its membership status to Platinum – highest level of membership. HP joins Fujitsu, IBM, Intel, NEC, Oracle, Qualcomm Innovation Center, and Samsung.
As a Platinum member, HP will have a seat on the Linux Foundation’s Board of Directors and will be able to influence the future direction of the organization. Reportedly, the OEM is making Linux a priority and is looking to further integrate the open source software into its hardware offerings. For $500,000 a year, HP will also be given priority at events like LinuxCon. HP's branding will also be on the Linux Foundation site and as sponsors at any events.
According to Jim Zemlin, the executive director of The Linux Foundation:
“With one of the richest and most recognized stories in technology, HP has a history of innovation and market success. Because of this history and innate knowledge of software development, HP understands that Linux and collaborative development can benefit its business across its product portfolio. We’re looking forward to the work we can accomplish with HP.”
It is certainly an interesting move, and hopefully one that means HP wants to commit more to the direction of Linx and its adoption on HP hardware. You can find the full press release on the Linux Foundation's website.