NVIDIA Responds to Linus Torvalds’ Rant

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2012 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: rant, optimus, open source, nvidia, linux, linus, drivers

Last week, the founder of Linux – Linus Torvalds – gave a speech at the Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship. The aspect that most people picked up on was a certain disparaging statement towards NVIDIA. Since then, the video has spread rapidly around the Internet with critics for and against the statement. Linus does not believe that NVIDIA is easy to work with regarding Linux support, in short. NVIDIA PR recently responded to his statement in stating that the company is in fact heavily involved with Linux development, albeit mobile kernels.

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NVIDIA stated in its PR release that supporting Linux is important to the company and they understand how important a positive Linux experience using NVIDIA hardware is. I don’t think anyone is surprised by that statement, but that was not all they said. The company stated that they are big supporters of the ARM Linux kernel with a claimed second most total lines changed and fourth highest number of changesets in the kernel.

The company uses proprietary drivers, but it does support GeForce, Quadro, and Tesla graphics cards under the Linux operating system. By using a common, proprietary driver, NVIDIA claims same-day support for new graphics cards and OpenGL versions for both Windows and Linux operating systems.

Linus’ rant started when an audience member asked about Optimus support under Linux. On that front, NVIDIA did not have a direct answer – only that when it launched laptops with Optimus, it was only supported on Windows 7. Allegedly, the company is working to make interaction between its drivers and the Bumblebee Open Source Project. The Bumblebee project is working to make Optimus-powered laptops work with Linux operating systems.

What do you think of the two statements by Linus and NVIDIA? Should NVIDIA be held accountable for Optimus support under Linux? Is the company doing enough to support the OS? Or is Linus wrong? Let us know in the comments below!

Personally, as much as I like Linux, I don’t think NVIDIA should have to go out of its way to support Optimus on Linux. At least, not until the Linux OS is the operating system that comes pre-installed on an Optimus notebook. At that point, it would be on NVIDIA to provide support. Until then, they don’t have to support it on aftermarket / third part operating systems. With that said, better Linux support couldn't hurt PR-wise. As far as Linux and NVIDIA working together in a more general sense, I think that the company could certainly do more for Linux on the desktop, especially being a Linux Foundation member, but I don't think they will until it is more financially viable to do so.

The full PR statement is available after the break.

Source: Phoronix

Progress on support for the Source Engine on Linux Steams along

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2012 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, source engine, steam

If you have ever bemoaned the fact that your gaming habit is the only thing preventing you from dumping Windows and moving to Linux then your excuse might just be about to expire.  As Phoronix informed us a few short weeks ago, Steam is taking gaming on Linux seriously and the project to get the Source Engine up and running on Linux moves ever forward.  Their team has recently grown with the addition of the designer of Battle for Wesnoth, David White and they are still looking for more Linux developers.  If you are interested in playing Portal on a Linux box, or if you are a Linux Guru who'd like to work for Steam, you should check out this post on Phoronix.

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"Things appear to be moving along nicely in the Linux cabal at Valve Software as they work to enable Steam and the Source Engine on the Linux desktop. Here's another one of the new tenured Linux developers that will be starting soon."

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Source: Phoronix

Comprehensive Ivy Bridge testing on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Subject: Processors | June 8, 2012 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, linux, Intel, Ivy Bridge, compiler, virtualization

Phoronix have been very busy lately, getting their heads around the functionality of Ivy Bridge on Linux and as these processor are much more compatible than their predecessors it has resulted in a lot of testing.  The majority of the testing focused on the performance of GCC, LLVM/Clang, DragonEgg, PathScale EKOPath, and Open64 on an i7-3770K using a wide variety of programs and benchmarks.  Their initial findings favoured GCC over all other compilers as in general it took top spot, with LLVM having issues with some of their tests.  They then started to play around with the instruction sets the processor was allowed to use, by disabling some of the new features they could emulate how the Ivy Bridge processor would perform if it was from a previous generation of chips, good to judge the improvement of raw processing power.  They finished up by testing its virtualization performance, with BareMetal, the Kernel-based Virtual Machine virtualization and Oracle VM VirtualBox.  You can see how they compared right here.

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"From an Intel Core i7 3770K "Ivy Bridge" system here is an 11-way compiler comparison to look at the performance of these popular code compilers on the latest-generation Intel hardware. Among the compilers being compared on Intel's Ivy Bridge platform are multiple releases of GCC, LLVM/Clang, DragonEgg, PathScale EKOPath, and Open64."

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Red Hat gives Enterprise Linux a new Fedora

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2012 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: Red Hat, linux, Fedora, Beefy Miracle

Ubuntu certainly steals the show for end users but on the enterprise side it is Red Hat's that is the star, with Fedora being its flavour more suited to personal use.  A brand new release has arrived today, which will give home sysadmins a bit of work to test for compatibility with their current systems.  Thankfully the base kernel has not changed much, this release deals with patches that have been fully tested over the past six months along with updates to the software which comes with Fedora.  The Inquirer makes mention of Ovirt, a virtual machine management program, JBoss Application Server 7 and enhancements in Openstack, all of which should be well received by professionals.  They will also be happy to know that Red Hat's Beefy Miracle has stuck with the Gnome interface instead of switching to Unity.

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"The Red Hat sponsored Fedora project serves as the proving ground for new features that eventually end up in the firm's Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system. Now Red Hat has announced that it has released Fedora 17 including updates to Gnome, Eclipse, GIMP and Openstack along with numerous patches."

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Source: The Inquirer

AMD and Intel both need to improve their Linux support

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2012 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: linux, Intel, amd, Ivy Bridge, llano, opencl

Two different stories today focus on how both major CPU vendors have allowed their support for the new features present in their architectures to fall behind for Linux OSes.  From The Inquirer we hear about the how poor OpenCL support from AMD is leaving APU accelerated computing for Linux to lag behind Windows development.  This goes far beyond purely graphical tasks and the complaints we have heard from gamers as OpenCL is a computing language that can handle far more than just pushing pixels.  The two most common OpenCL applications that people are familiar with are the GPU clients for BOINC and Folding@Home, which enable you to chug work units on your graphics card or the graphics cores on your CPU.  AMD's Neal Robinson who is the current senior director of Consumer Developer Support has taken up the challenge of promoting Linux OpenCL support from within AMD, so keep your eyes peeled for news from his team.

Intel's Ivy Bridge is no better according to Phoronix, as testing shows very little improvement on the default Ubuntu Unity desktop with Compiz.  That is what allows Ubuntu users to show the iconic Desktop Cube on the Gnome desktop environment and using it shows negative effects on the general performance of the system.  Switching to KDE and OpenGL generally resulted in better performance as did Xfce.  Phoronix does not hold out much hope for the improvement of Compiz on Ivy Bridge processors or Intel's open source drivers for the near future, either for graphics or GPU accelerated computation.

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"For AMD flaky Linux support isn't just a matter of gamers complaining, but now with its APUs, standard applications are simply not making use of the compute power that AMD needs to compete with Intel."

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Source: The Inquirer

Ubuntu, now available through Steam

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, steam

It seems the Gabe Newell doesn't like hearing that you can't game on Linux and is planning on releasing a Linux version of both Steam and the Source Engine.   The implementation is planned to be natively supported by Linux with no need for Wine, Phoronix has seen it running with an install of Ubuntu and a Catalyst driver for the Radeon that was providing graphics.  The Linux community has been waiting a long time for this day and now that Gabe is focusing his attention on this project there is hopes that it will soon come to fruition.  Phoronix could not be happier.

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"For those that have doubted the exclusive Phoronix claims for quite a while now that the Steam client and Source Engine are in fact being ported to Linux, the doubts can be nearly laid to rest. Even I began to wonder how long it would take before the clients for their popular games would be publicly released under Linux. However, after confirming the information perhaps a bit too soon, their level of Linux interest is much more clear after spending a day at their offices. A meeting topped off the day with Gabe Newell regarding Linux where he sounded more like a Linux saint than an ex-Microsoft employee. Valve does have some great plans for Linux beyond just shipping the client versions of Steam and their popular games on the Source Engine."

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Source: Phoronix

Penguins made it to the Southern Islands - Ubuntu and the HD 7950

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 4, 2012 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: hd 7950, ubuntu 12.04, opengl, linux, amd

Phoronix revisited the performance the HD 7950 on the new Catalyst driver for Linux as it is no longer labelled as unsupported hardware.  That means that not only are the default clocks correct, you can use aticonfig/amdconfig to overclock the cards if you so desire.  The scaling of the card now matches the clock speed nicely and shows an improvement from the HD 6950 in the benchmarks.  You might not be able to find a Linux game which will take advantage of the full feature set and power of the HD 7950 but the card is capable of far more than providing you with pixels to slaughter.

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"Here are some updated benchmarks of the AMD Radeon HD 7950 "Southern Islands" graphics card under Linux with the proprietary Catalyst driver."

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Source: Phoronix

So what's that Red Hat full of? Money. Lots of money.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 29, 2012 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: Red Hat, linux

Red Hat becomes the first Linux company to be worth over a billion dollars (edit for clarity: I meant take in over a billion dollars in revenue) with $1.13 billion in revenue last year.

Red Hat, Inc. is an open source software company based in Raleigh, North Carolina. The company’s identity is primarily with their current flagship product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux -- and a Cornell University lacrosse hat. The company also sponsors and holds liability over the Fedora Project which counterbalances Enterprise Linux by providing a free and community-supported operating system.

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Just for clarification, that’s a rich penguin, not a rich drake.

Red Hat reported earnings of $1.13 billion dollars in revenue with $146.6 million in earnings. Subscriptions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux were declared responsible for $965.6 million dollars of their total revenue.

ZDNet has also reported that Linux is progressively eating market share from UNIX and Windows for servers shipped with preinstalled operating systems. Red Hat and other Linux vendors are progressively getting more of the same treatment as Microsoft has enjoyed in the past.

The future is bright for Linux, which is unfortunate due to the hole in the Ozone layer over Antarctica. Maybe the rest of the $1.13 billion is sales of sunscreen?

Source: ZDNet

Linux Kernel 3.3 Merges With Android, Now Available

Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2012 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: OS, linux kernel 3.3, linux, kernel, Android

Linux kernel 3.3 has recently been released for public consumption, and it features quite a few new features and improvements. The kernel is the code that developers than build upon to create all the various Linux distributions such as Fedora, Mint, and Arch Linux (among others).

This latest release, version 3.3 includes various improvements to the file system, btrfs, networking, architecture, and EFI BIOS support. In regards to the file system, the Linux 3.3 kernel supports improved balancing and the ability to re-stripe between different RAID (redundant array of independent disks) levels. Further, the kernel will now allow an x86 boot image to be processed by EFI firmware in addition to the traditional BIOS microcode boot that is present in the majority of today's machines. Also, Kernel 3.3 improves the networking aspects by improving the ability to bond multiple NICs to improve networking throughput and/or to provide redundant connections. Support for a new architecture has also emerged such that Linux kernel will work with Texas Instruments C6X based chips. These chips include the "family of C64x single and multicore DSPs."

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The above improvements are just the tip of the iceberg, however. The most talked about new feature is likely going to be the inclusion of Android code from Google's Android OS project. According to the Kernel Newbies website, the disagreements between Linux kernel developers and Google have been "ironed out," and code from the Android project will now start to be rolled back into the Linux kernel. They expect that Android coming home to traditional Linux will make developing code and end user software easier for everyone, and they expect further Android and Linux integration in the future.

More information on the latest Linux kernel release is available here.

Graphics Core Next versus The Penguin

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 13, 2012 - 05:41 PM |
Tagged: linux, GCN, southern islands, hd 7950

After a delay of several weeks AMD has finally released a hot fix for Linux to allow for the usage of their new generation of video cards but they've not provided updates that can be rolled into the Linux kernel DRM driver, the X.Org DDX driver, or the new Gallium3D driver.  However, since the new features seem to have been enabled with this hot fix, Phoronix picked up an XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black 3GB to test for performance on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.  The good news is that they saw 40~50%+ faster performance than an HD6950 but unfortunately not at stock speeds, the driver did not fully recognize the card and would not let them set the GPU and memory speeds to their full defaults.

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"The Radeon HD 7900 series were announced at the end of 2011 and since then the Linux support status for this hardware has remained a big question. For the Radeon HD 7000 series "Southern Islands" GPU launch, they did not send over any hardware samples so Linux consumers have left to be confused over the state of the non-Windows support for AMD's hardware based on the "Graphics Core Next" architecture. Fortunately, here is finally an extensive look at the Radeon HD 7000 series on Linux with testing of a Radeon HD 7950."

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