Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2013 - 04:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: linux, linux kernel, kernel 3.10, linus, bcache, TLP, btrfs, XFS, UVD
Earlier this week, Linus Torvalds officially released an updated Linux kernel with version 3.10. The new kernel bakes in a number of tweaks and new features, including a new SSD caching framework, new drivers and hardware support, networking improvements, and experimental file system tweaks.
Kernel 3.10 features quite a few improvements to storage. The big new feature is bcache, or Black Layer Cache, which is a framework that allows an SSD to acts as a read and write cache for a slower mechanical hard drive. The SSD will cache frequently accessed data to improve read times as well as act as a write cache that will write data bound for the hard drive to the SSD temporarily until a low usage point when the data will finally be written out to the mechanical hard drive.
Additionally, the kernel developers have made tweaks to the btrfs and XFS file systems. For example, XFS can create and store checksums of metadata to reduce errors and verify data integrity. Performance when using btrfs has also been slightly improved.
Driver and hardware support added to kernel 3.10 includes support for the UVD hardware found in AMD Radeon graphics cards from the 4000 series and beyond, and allows for hardware accelerated video decoding. The kernel also supports the GPU in Richland APUs and the acceleration hardware in NVIDIA's Tegra 2 and 3 SoCs. For Intel systems that use HD processor graphics, PCs will be able to wake from standby faster using the 3.10 kernel. There is also support for ARM's big.LITTLE processors, the IR receiver that Apple uses in its Mac computers, and other new and improved drivers with the latest kernel.
On the networking side of things, kernel 3.10 implements the Tail Loss Probe algorithm which makes improvements to the TCP networking stack and how it deals with lost packets. The new kernel networking stack tweaks reportedly result in up to a 15% reduction in packet retransmission timeouts and 6% shorter HTTP response times.
Aside from these larger changes, kernel 3.10 has a great deal of under-the-hood fixes. For all the nitty-gritty geeky details, the H-Online has put together a detailed breakdown of all the tweaks and new features baked into the latest 3.10 Linux kernel.
For a comparison / breakdown of what the previous 3.9 kernel brought to the table, see this post.
Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2013 - 02:22 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, mintbox 2, mintbox, linux mint, linux
Last year, CompuLabs and the developers behind the Linux Mint operating system put together a small form factor PC called the MintBox. It seems that the project was successful enough to warrant a updated offering, because specifications were recently posted online for the MintBox 2. The MintBox 2 is a router sized, passively cooled PC that will be available later this year for $600.
The new MintBox 2 reportedly offers up to four-times the performance of the original MintBox Pro. Internal specifications will include an Intel Core i5 3337U processor clocked at 1.8GHz base (2.7GHz max turbo), 4GB of RAM (8GB max), a 500GB mechanical hard drive, and a NIC with two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The fan-less system is tiny, at 7.5" x 6.3 " x 1.57" (19 x 16 x 4cm). It will be available on Amazon for $599.
Where the original MintBox Basic and MintBox Pro scored 1,077 and 1,615 in the Geekbench benchmark, the upcoming MintBox 2 scored 7,541. In addition to the extra performance, CompuLabs is also extending the warranty period from 1 year on the original MintBox PCs to 5 years for the MintBox 2.
The MintBox 2 will come pre-installed with the latest Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" operating system.
A small Linux Mint logo is surrounded by four USB 2.0 ports on the front of the device. Exact rear IO specificaitons has not yet been released, but if last year's model is any indication, users can expect more USB 2.0 ports, a couple of USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, digital display outputs, and an eSATA port.
More information can be found on the Linux Mint blog.
Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2013 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: haswell, linux
With the initial difficulties seen with Linux crossing Intel's Bridges it is nice to see decent compatibility from Haswell at launch. While the GPU side does lag somewhat behind the performance offered by the Windows driver it is nowhere near as far behind as in the previous architectures. For raw CPU calculations it is running at peak performance on newer Linux kernels, offering not only a decent upgrade but significantly improved power efficiency. Phoronix have gathered their various reviews to give you a look at the current overall compatibility of Haswell as well as performance results in their latest post.
"Since the Computex launch of Intel's much anticipated Haswell processors at the beginning of the month, there's been much Linux coverage on Phoronix concerning the compatibility and performance of these new Intel processors from both the processing and graphics sides. Here's a summary of all of our discoveries and findings over the past few weeks."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 136: A whole heap of AMD news
- TSMC reaches deal with Apple to supply 20nm, 16nm and 10nm chips, sources claim @ DigiTimes
- Raspberry Pi Bitcoin miner @ Hack a Day
- Walkera QR Ladybird V2 RTF Micro Quadcopter @ Metku.net
- ModSynergy 10-Year Celebration Contest: USA-International Edition @ ModSynergy
- Red Bull Training Grounds Santa Monica - StarCraft II Tournament @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2013 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, haswell, ubuntu 13.04, i7-4770k
The story is familiar as you can quickly see from this quote in Phoronix's review of Haswell on Linux, "Polished Haswell support coming to an "out of the box" Linux desktop won't really be there until later in H2'2013." However that does not mean it does not work at all, they tested several kernels and versions to find the most stable way to run Haswell and to take advantage of the internal GPU. They successfully tested with Linux 3.10 kernel, Mesa 9.2, GCC 4.8.1, and LLVM 3.3 and found performance improvements across the board when compared to Ivy Bridge processors which could be a good reason to consider holding out on an Ivy Bridge CPU as an upgrade choice, as Intel is working to improve Haswell support and it is a much improved CPU compared to previous generations.
"This past weekend I shared the first experiences of running Intel's new Haswell CPU on Linux. While Intel Haswell is a beast and brings many new features and innovations to the new Core CPUs succeeding Ivy Bridge, there were a few shortcomings with the initial Linux support. It still appears that the Core i7 4770K is still being finicky at times for both the processor and graphics, but in this article are the first benchmarks. Up today are benchmarks of the Intel Core i7 4770K when running Ubuntu 13.04 with the Linux 3.10 kernel."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel's plan for Haswell, Silvermont, Bay Trail: WORLD DOMINATION @ The Register
- A quick look at LSI's Syncro CS, HA DAS Collaboration with Microsoft
- Meeting The Men Behind Haswell @ TechARP
- Haswell Xeons bring brawn to microservers, media servers, more @ The Register
- Eyeing the gaming market: Q&A with ECS executive Sam Yeh @ DigiTimes
- Stuffa Jacket @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2013 - 02:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sandy bridge, Ivy Bridge, linux, ubuntu 13.04
The news might be heavily slanted towards Haswell right now but for Linux users improvements to Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge GPU drivers are still a major focus. As there have been updates to the drivers as well as to Ubuntu, Phoronix felt it was time to revisit the performance metrics of the graphics on a Core i3 3217U. While they did see improvements when you compare it to previous driver versions it seems that there is still some work to do as the performance still lags behind the Win7 driver.
"After yesterday's Intel Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge Linux graphics comparison using the very latest Intel Linux graphics driver, here are new benchmarks using the latest Windows and Linux Intel OpenGL graphics driver. Facing competition this morning is Microsoft Windows 7 Pro x64 and Ubuntu 13.04 with its updated open-source stack."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft offers free keyboard covers for Surface RT @ The Register
- Benchmarking USB transfer speeds @ Hack a Day
- El Reg drills into Office365: Mass email migration @ The Register
- iPhones are vulnerable to a charger security attack @ The Inquirer
- BlackBerry stepping up purchases of parts and components, say Taiwan makers @ DigiTimes
- Microsoft's Xbox One Launch Event Replay @ NGOHQ
- Xbox One vs PlayStation 4: Upcoming Consoles Compared @ TechReviewSource
- LG may not cooperate with Google on Nexus 5 @ DigiTimes
- Computex 2013 Previen: An AMD comeback, Windows 8.1 and More Tablets @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2013 - 02:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ubuntu, linux, microsoft
The first bug reported about Ubuntu has been closed, it was titled "Microsoft has a majority market share" and could be easily reproduced.
"1. Visit a local PC store
2. Attempt to buy a machine without any proprietary software"
The bug has now been updated to "Fix Released", thanks to the fact that the definition of computer has greatly increased in breadth over the past few years. Smartphones are running predominantly non-Microsoft OSes and the availability of iOS and Android tablets have really turned the market in a new direction. Now it is possible to pick up a computer that is good enough for casual usage which has no Microsoft software installed whatsoever. Finding white box laptops with no installed OS is still uncommon but nowhere near as rare as it once was. Slashdot links to his full post here.
"Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu fame has closed the primal bug on Launchpad, standing since 2004 and titled 'Microsoft has a majority market share,' due to the 'changing realities' of tablets, smartphones, and wearable computing."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Shortcuts for Windows 8 @ TechNet
- Intel's extreme ultraviolet dream still somewhere over the rainbow @ The Register
- Stop the Microsoft, Skype wedding, screams enraged Cisco in court @ The Register
- Ruby on Rails exploit could hijack unpatched web servers @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft waxes lyrical over Windows 8.1 and its Start button @ The Inquirer
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.