Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 05:20 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: x11, weston, wayland, videocore iv, Raspberry Pi, linux, bcm2835, arm
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working with Collabora to fund development of a Wayland display server that is compatible with the Raspberry Pi and also allows the continued use of legacy X applications.
So far, operating systems that run on the Raspberry Pi have used X as the display server and window compositor. The Raspberry Pi Foundation wants to move to a window compositor that will take advantage of the Raspberry Pi's Hardware Video Scaler (HVS) and take the burden of window composition off of the relatively much slower ARM CPU. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has chosen Wayland as the display server for the task.
The Raspberry Pi Model A.
Taking advantage of the HVS and OpenGL ES compatible GPU will make the system feel much more responsive and allow for advanced effects (fading, Expose'-like window browsers, et al) for those that like a little more bling with their OS.
The Wayland/Weston display server allows for GPU acceleration and window composition using the Pi's VideoCore IV GPU and HVS (which is independent of the hardware units that run OpenGL code). The display server will feed the entire set of windows along with how they should be laid out on screen (stacking order, transparency, 2D transform, ect.) to the HVS which will hardware accelerate the process and free the ARM CPU up for other tasks.
According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the Raspberry Pi's HVS is fairly powerful for a mobile-class SoC with 500 Megapixel/s scaling throughput and 1 Gigapixel per second blending throughput.
In addition to GPU acceleration, Wayland will allow non-rectangular windows, fading and other effects, support for legacy X applications with Xwayland, and a scaled window browser.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working with developers since late last year and is nearly ready to roll a technology preview into the next Raspian operating system release. The developers are still working on improving the performance and reducing memory usage. As a result, the new Wayland/Weston display server is not expected to become the new default in the various Raspberry Pi operating systems until late 2013 at the earliest.
This is a project that is really nice to see, especially since at least a small part of the development work going into supporting the ARM-based Raspberry Pi on Wayland will help other ARM devices and Wayland in general which is becoming an increasingly popular choice in new Linux distributions and the best X alternative so far. Of course, this is primarily going to be a useful update for those Raspberry Pi users that run OSes with GUIs as the responsiveness should be a lot snappier!
If you simply can't wait until later this year, it is possible to install the technology preview (beta) of Wayland/Weston onto the current version of Raspbian Linux by cloning the git project or installing a Raspbian package of Weston 1.0. Blogger Daniel Stone has all the details for installing the display server onto your Pi under the section titled "sounds great; how do i get it?" on this post.
See a video of Wayland technology preview in action on the Raspberry Pi on the Raspberry Pi Foundation's blog.
Read more about the Raspberry Pi at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 03:19 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: insync, google drive, cloud storage, linux
Insyc has released a new release candidate for its Google Drive companion software that adds a few new features and bug fixes to the Linux client.
According to Insync, the 1.0 RC implements an improved syncing core build from scratch. It also allows users to selectively sync files and folders between local storage and their Google Drive cloud storage. It is no longer all or nothing, and you can choose to only store what you need locally rather than the entire document archive now. The release candidate software also allows customized account folders that can be renamed and moved to other locations on the drive. Symlink support, headless installs, and a CLI (command line interface) client are also included in the Insync 1.0 RC.
Insync has also made changes to the management user interface to make configuring the syncing options easier. Finally, Insync has also coded in a notification function that will notify users of changes to files on Google Drive which will be handy for collaborative documents and spreadsheets.
Insync has put together Debian packages for OSes like Ubuntu (Nautilus) and Mint (Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce desktop environments). Additionally, support for KDE and RPM packages is “coming soon.” You can grab the new beta 1.0 RC client here.
Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2013 - 01:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, mageia
If you've been looking around for a different OS for a laptop or PC that doesn't spend all of its time gaming you have probably taken a look at some of the more famous Linux distros but one may have escaped your attention. Mageia 3 has just arrived, the successor to the Mandriva project and as it offers both Gnome and KDE desktop versions you can chose the interface which you are most comfortable with. As it comes as a Live DVD you can boot to it on a current machine without having to go through the process of a full install and can leave your current OS intact. Perhaps you have a family member or friend that spends their time browsing that you support and are looking for an alternative to Microsoft or are even just looking to avoid the cost of a new license on an inexpensive mobile device; if so drop by The Inquirer for the links to download Mageia 3.
"LINUX DISTRIBUTION Mageia launched its third and latest release Mageia 3 a few days ago, and that's now available to download directly from the Mageia website and many of the well known mirrors like kernel.org and many university supported mirrors via either Bittorrent, http or ftp."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 134: Xbone, Kabini, and not quite a Titan
- Redefining the ampere with the help of graphene? @ Nanotechweb
- Investor Icahn needs a loan of $7bn to tick off Mike Dell @ The Register
- Fedora 19 Beta Released: Alive, Dead, or Neither? @ Slashdot
- ARM releases dual-core Cortex A15 hard macro for TSMC's 28nm HPM process node @ The Inquirer
- Whatever happened to Comodo Time Machine? @ Tweaktown
- MSI Gaming Notebook Event Interview With Steve Clark @ eTeknix
- Migrating to Apache 2.4 @ Hardware Secrets
- Xbox One and Playstation 4: Which Promises Will be Broken? @ hardCOREware
- Seiko SNE093P1 Solar Watch @ NikKTech
- A Stroll Down Memory Lane: Best 3dfx Glide Games @ Techspot
Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2013 - 12:57 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wubi, Unity, ubuntu 13.04, ubuntu, openstack, linux, canonical
Canonical released its the Ubuntu 13.04 “Raring Ringtail” Linux distribution earlier this week. The updated operating system incorporates a new Linux kernel, newer pre-installed applications, and a tweaked Unity desktop environment. Enterprise and server users also have updated server software stacks to look forward to, including the latest juju and OpenStack (Grizzly) releases.
Ubuntu 13.04 continues in the direction of convergence set in motion by Canonical and its founder Mark Shuttleworth. It is the first step towards Ubuntu running on many types of devices (including mobile) as it includes an updated Unity interface. The 13.04 release still uses the X window system, but Canonical has made tweaks to Unity and is offering up an optional download of the new Mir display backend that users can install. Mir is the display server that Ubuntu will be switching to with its next LTS release and that will reportedly enable a cross-platform Ubuntu/Unity experience. The Unity tweaks include disabling Workspaces and the “show desktop” button on the desktop (though they can be re-enabled in settings). There have also been tweaks to Ubuntu’s Dash UI, including a typo-tolerant search function and new result sorting options. It will not be until the next release that users will really start to see Ubuntu’s plans of convergence come together (heh), but even with the small changes present in 13.04, the traditional desktop OS is making considerations for mobile devices.
While the visual changes are minimal on Ubuntu 13.04 compared to 12.10, the new release does update a lot of the underlying software.At least on the outside, Ubuntu 13.04 has not changed much from its 12.10 predecessor. Ubuntu 13.04 is based on the upstream 3.8.8 Linux kernel, and incorporates a number of updates to the pre-installed applications and core software. The updates include Unity 7, LibreOffice 4, and Python 3.3 (future versions of Ubuntu will remove Python 2 completely, though it will still be available as a downloadable package). Gwibber has also been replaced with a new service called “Friends” that takes all of your social networking accounts and combines them under your Ubuntu Online account.
Additionally, Ubuntu 13.04 also no longer includes the Wubi installer, which allowed users to install Ubuntu as a program within Windows and got around the need to mess with partitioning. Although there was a bit of overhead in doing the install this way, it was noticeably easier for new users than other methods. Canonical suggests that users interested in trying out the new operating system should simply use the live media, but installing it in a VM such as VirtualBox or VMWare may be more appropriate as some of the functionality is missing from the Live DVD environment in my experience (at least if you also want to try out functionality or other Linux software that would require a restart). Canonical has also cut the support time in half for Ubuntu 13.04 (and all future interim releases) from 18 months to 9 months. Hopefully the development team puts the reduced support workload to good use by investing the time in quick and stable releases.
So far, Ubuntu 13.04 has been getting positive reviews, though some users have run into issues running the operating system on their particular hardware (a bit of instability is expected with a new release, however).
If you are interested in Ubuntu 13.04 “Raring Ringtail,” you can read more about the changes in the official release notes and grab a download of the OS from the Ubuntu website or the updater if you are currently running Ubuntu 12.10.
Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2013 - 09:46 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ssd caching, operating system, linux, kernel 3.9, kernel, arm, 802.11ac
Linus Torvalds recently released a new version of the Linux kernel -- version 3.9 -- that advances the core of the GNU/Linux operating system with a number of new features. Among other tweaks, the new kernel rolls in new drivers, improves virtualization support, adds new hardware sleep modes, and tweaks file system and storage support.
The new kernel has added quite a few new experimental features, but developers/enthusiasts will no longer have to employ the CONFIG_EXPERIMENTAL flag when compiling the kernel in order to enable them. The kernel development team has decided to remove that option, enable the features by default, and merely tag those experimental features in the documentation. One of the experimental features is SSD caching that allows a solid state drive to cache both reads and writes. The SSD can cache frequently accessed data on the faster solid state drive as well as take the write cached data and write it to the hard drive when the IO subsystem isn’t being heavily utilized. The feature is not new to Linux distributions, but the caching support has now been moved to the kernel. Furthermore, the kernel is now RAID-aware when using the btrfs file system and RAID 5 or RAID 6.
On the driver front, Linux Kernel 3.9 now supports Intel’s upcoming 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapters, improved HD audio codec, AMD’s Oland (8500/8600) and Richland GPUs, and additional NVIDIA GPU support. The new kernel also rolls in a power-optimized driver for Intel’s Haswell GPU and several more track pads.
Kernel 3.9 also adds a new suspend/sleep mode. It will use more power than the traditional S3 (suspend to memory) sleep mode because components are not completely powered down (merely at their lowest sleep mode), but the system will be almost-instantly accessible upon exiting the new suspend mode as a result. According to H-Online, this "lightweight suspend" mode would be ideal for mobile devices or hardware used in network appliances. Also interesting is support for a KVM hypervisor on ARM Cortex A15 SoCs as well as some software tweaks to the kernel to improve web server workloads by allowing multiple networking sockets (and associated CPU processes) to listen on the same network port.
In all, version 3.9 looks to be a worthy upgrade, and one that I hope Linux distro makers will opt for in upcoming releases. I think the new drivers and the SSD caching being rolled into the kernel are the most important features for desktop users, though the networking stack improvements also sound interesting.
For more details, Thorsten Leemhuis has written up an extensive article on the new kernel.
Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2013 - 07:25 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steam for linux, steam, pc gaming, linux, l4d2, beta
Users of Valve’s Steam for Linux client will be getting access to the beta version of Left 4 Dead 2 later this week. The L4D2 beta will come with the new Enhanced Mutation System (EMS), which adds advanced scripting options to the multiplayer zombie survival game.
In fact, all Left 4 Dead owners will get access to the new beta release via the Steam client (not just the Linux platform) for free. The beta will appear in the all games list as a separate download from the main Left 4 Dead 2 game. It will allow beta players to connect to beta servers and other L4D2 beta users.
The EMS system is the biggest addition to the beta currently. It gives developers access to custom script logic as well as custom spawn points and control entities. New maps, characters, and weapons are beyond the scope of the EMS, however.
Interested gamers should keep an eye on their Steam games list as well as the Left 4 Dead blog.
Subject: Systems | April 9, 2013 - 03:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ubuntu 12.04 lts, ubuntu, linux, dell, alienware x51
Dell has been one of the biggest (major OEM) supporter of the open source Ubuntu Linux operating system, and it seems the Linux love is trickling down to the company's boutique Alienware PC lineup as well. A new version of the Alienware X51, a small form factor gaming PC, is now available with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS pre-installed. Quite possibly the closest thing (so far) to a Steam Box, the Alienware X51 can run the Steam for Linux client along with all of the Linux games available on Valve's digital distribution service. Granted, the Ubuntu version cannot tap into the relatively-massive Windows game library out of the box, but it is also $100 cheaper than the X51 pre-installed with Windows due to Linux being free, and thus costing Dell less.
The Alienware X51 hardware is decent for a small form factor system, though it maxes out at a NVIDIA GTX 660 in the highest-end SKU. For $600, you can get an X51 will a dual-core Intel Core i3-3220 processor clocked at 3.3GHz, a NVIDIA GTX 645 1GB graphics card, 6GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and a 1TB 7200RPM hard drive. On the other end fo the part configuration is the highest-end $1049 option, with a quad-core Core i7-3770 CPU clocked at 3.4GHz, a NVIDIA GTX 660 1.5GB GPU, 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory, and a 1TB 7200RPM hard drive.
The Alienware X51 chassis measures 12.5" x 12.5" x 3.74" and should fit into most entertainment centers (if you can get past the significant-other approval factor, that is). The PC comes equipped with Dell's 1506 802.11g/n Wi-Fi card as well, for situations where Ethernet or Powerline Ethernet is not an option.
It is nice to see Dell continuing to support Linux in some small way. Hopefully as Valve pushes for further Steam for Linux adoption, we will see more Linux-compatible games and OEMs will take notice and support the open source OS more openly in consumer lineups (a geek can dream...)!
You can find more information on the Alienware X51 at alienware.com/ubuntu/.
Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2013 - 01:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, ubuntu 13.04, fedora 18, win7, opengl, Ivy Bridge
One major barrier to switching to Linux for many users is the graphical performance of the OS; Steam may be releasing a variety of games which will run on Linux but if the performance is awful there are not going to be many who think about making the switch. Phoronix has been a close eye on the development of OpenGL drivers for Linux, this time specifically the onboard Intel graphics present on Ivy Bridge chips. With one driver available for each OS the tests were easily set up, except for the aforementioned Steam games as there is a bug which prevents Phoronix from collecting the performance data they need. Check out the performance differences between Ubuntu 13.04, Fedora 18 and Win7 in the full article.
"Last month Phoronix published Intel OpenGL benchmarks showing Windows 8 outperforming Ubuntu 13.04 with the latest Windows and Linux drivers from Intel. I also showed that even with the KDE and Xfce desktops rather than the default Unity/Compiz desktop to Ubuntu, Windows 8 still was faster on this Intel "Ivy Bridge" platform. The new benchmarks to share today from this Intel Ultrabook are the Windows 8 and Ubuntu 13.04 results but also with performance figures added in from Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 x64 and Fedora 18."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel is sampling Avoton Atom chips ahead of IDF Beijing @ The Inquirer
- HP announces low-power Moonshot system based on an Intel Atom chip @ The Inquirer
- The Surprising SUSE Linux @ Linux.com
- AMD to fully replace FM1 with FM2, AM3 with AM3+ in 2014 @ DigiTimes
- Solar powered robot mows your lawn while you chill indoors @ Hack a Day
- Microsoft to slap 9 patches on Windows junkies on Tuesday @ The Register
- ASUS AiCloud: A Fresh Face for Networking @ Bjorn3D
- Gadget Show Live 2013 – The Public Event @ Kitguru
- DIY MultiCopter - Part 1. @ Metku.net
Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2013 - 02:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, hack, GTX 690, K5000, K10, quadro, tesla, linux
It will take a bit of work with a soldering iron but Hack a Day has posted an article covering how to mod one of the GPUs on a GTX690 into thinking it is either a Quadro K5000 or Tesla K10. More people will need to apply this mod and test it to confirm that the performance of the GPU actually does match or at least compare to the professional level graphics but the ID string is definitely changed to match one of those two much more expensive GPUs. They also believe that a similar mod could be applied to the new TITAN graphics card as it is electronically similar to the GTX690. Of course, if things go bad during the modification you could kill a $1000 card so do be careful.
"If hardware manufacturers want to keep their firmware crippling a secret, perhaps they shouldn’t mess with Linux users? We figure if you’re using Linux you’re quite a bit more likely than the average Windows user to crack something open and see what’s hidden inside. And so we get to the story of how [Gnif] figured out that the NVIDIA GTX690 can be hacked to perform like the Quadro K5000. The thing is, the latter costs nearly $800 more than the former!"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 130: A series of grunts about convertible tablets
- Microsoft updates its Kinect for Windows SDK @ The Inquirer
- Asustek to launch new Intel-based smartphone in June @ DigiTimes
- The 2013 Top 7 Best Linux Distributions for You @ Linux.com
- Watch out, office bods: A backdoor daemon lurks in HP LaserJets @ The Register
Linaro Forms Linux Networking Group to Collaborate on Open Source Software for ARM Networking Hardware
Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2013 - 02:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: oss, open source, networking, linux networking group, linux, linaro, arm
Linaro, a non-profit engineering group, announced a new collaborative organization called the Linux Networking Group at the Embedded Linux Conference in San Francisco this week. The new group will work on developing open source software to be used with ARM-based hardware in cloud, mobile, and networking industry sectors. Of course, being open source, the software for ARM SoCs will be used with Linux operating systems. One of the Linux Networking Group’s purposes is to develop a new “enhanced core Linux platform” for networking equipment, for example.
The new Linux Networking Group is currently comprised of the following organizations:
- Nokia Siemens Networks
- Texas Instruments
The new cooperative has announced four main goals for 2013:
- "Virtualization support with considerations for real-time performance, I/O optimization, robustness and heterogeneous operating environments on multi-core SoCs.
- Real-time operations and the Linux kernel optimizations for the control and data plane.
- Packet processing optimizations that maximize performance and minimize latency in data flows through the network.
- Dealing with legacy software and mixed-endian issues prevalent in the networking space."
Reportedly, Linaro will have an initial software release within the first half of this year. Further, the organization will follow up with monthly software updates to improve performance and add new features. More collaboration and the furthering of ARM-compatible open source software is always a good thing. It remains to be seen how useful the Linux Networking Group will be in pushing its ARM software goals, but here’s hoping it works out for the best.
The full press release can be found below.