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

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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Source:

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