A $250 Dual Core Cortex A15 powered Chromebook from Samsung

Subject: Mobile | November 23, 2012 - 07:59 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Source: Phoronix

Netflix (Finally) Playable On Linux Using Patched Version of WINE

Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2012 - 10:53 AM |
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.

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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

Limited Linux Steam Client Beta Begins With 26 Games and Big Picture Mode

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 07:58 PM |
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.

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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
  • Aquaria
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales
  • Cogs
  • Cubemen
  • Darwina
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • eversion
  • Frozen Synapse
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Space Pirates and Zombies
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Trine 2
  • Uplink
  • Uplink/Darwinia Pack
  • Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign
  • Waveform
  • 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?

Source: Valve

Five way Linux distro roundup

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: linux, Arch Linux, Slackware, ubuntu, Fedora

Phoronix just loves Linux benchmarking and have been very busy this year with not only the new Linux distros and kernels which have arrived this year but also testing Ivy Bridge's CPU and GPU performance on the open source OS.  With the arrival of an updated Arch Linux they once again find themselves at the test bench, in this particular case a Sandy Bridge based system with an AMD GPU.  Take a read through the five pages of benchmarks covering a wide variety of performance measurements and see if you might want to think about upgrading or switching your current version of Linux.

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"At the request of many Phoronix readers following the release of updated Arch Linux media, here are some new Arch Linux benchmarks. However, this is not just Arch vs. Ubuntu, but rather a larger Linux distribution performance comparison. In this article are benchmark results from Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, CentOS 6.2, Fedora 17, Slackware 14.0 Beta, and Arch Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Dell Crafting Ubuntu-based Notebook for Developers With Project Sputnik

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2012 - 01:27 PM |
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.

Ubuntu_XPS13.jpg

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

Comprehensive Ivy Bridge testing on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Subject: Processors | June 8, 2012 - 07:51 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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Ubuntu versus OSX ... Fight!

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2012 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: apple, osx, ubuntu, linux

We've all seen the various Windows verus Apple comparisons, so let us head to Phoronix for a fight of a different flavour.  They've taken the new OS X and pitted it against the new Ubuntu on SandyBridge hardware to see how they compare.  From the start it looks bad for Apple, as it detected the dual Core i5 2415M as a single core CPU with hyperthreading where as Ubuntu detected the processor correctly.  They did help Apple out a bit by adding in LLVM/Clang 3.0 into the Xcode4 package as GCC 4.2.1 performs less impressively.  The results were mixed, with each system excelling at certain tasks but not others proving once again that the choice between Apple and PC is generally based on specfic task and not a general performance decision.

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"After delivering benchmarks last week that were comparing the Intel Sandy Bridge performance of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" vs. Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" when it came to the Sandy Bridge OpenGL graphics performance, here's a comparative look at the performance of Ubuntu 11.10 against Mac OS X 10.7.2 from the Intel Sandy Bridge-based Mac."

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Source: Phoronix

Linux Mint Rising In Popularity And Surpassing Ubuntu For Top Spot

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2011 - 09:53 AM |
Tagged: Unity, ubuntu, mint, linux, katya

Linux Mint Is On The Rise

Ubuntu has long been the popular choice when it comes to Linux distributions. The open source operating system even managed to be picked by large computer OEM Dell for the company’s netbooks and select desktop computers at one time. As far as free alternative operating systems go, Ubuntu was the top choice of many Linux users. Lately; however, the distro seems to be declining in popularity. According to ZDNet, Pingdom has gathered Linux market share data from the past few years and found that the once popular Ubuntu OS has given up a great deal of ground to competing distributions. In particular, Linux Mint has risen to the 11% usage level that Ubuntu held at its prime versus Ubuntu’s current 4% market usage in 2011.

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Linux Mint 11's desktop.

Interestingly, Linux mint started at 0% adoption in 2005 versus Ubuntu’s 11% in that same year where it would grow to 4% in 2007 and grow slowly to 5% in 2010. From there, the adoption grows rapidly to it’s current 11% market usage as of November 23rd 2011 (based on DistroWatch ranking data).

Linux Mint 11 is a very respectable and speedy distribution and is comparatively very media friendly and easy to use out of the box for newcomers. These qualities likely have contributed to the operating system’s place on the Top 5 Linux Distribution list.

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Wait- What Happened To Ubuntu?

Ubuntu gained fame due to its friendliness to newcomers, casual users, and enthusiasts/power users alike. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes over at ZDnet notes that the operating system’s popularity is wavering. Linux Fans have cited Ubuntu’s recent interface overhaul-dubbed Unity- as a possible source of the decline in popularity. Kingsley-Hughes believes; however, that in the latest iteration(s) Ubuntu has spread itself too thin by attempting to appeal to too many people at once.

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The Ubuntu 11.10 installation.  One of several slides on everything that is packed in tight in Ubuntu.

On that point I think he is correct. Ubuntu has been attempting to become the Windows equivalent of the Linux space. This goal in and of itself is a noble one; however, it also goes against the grain of the “ideal Linux OS” (meaning the OS that users want to use). Linux itself is (by comparison) a niche operating system, and within that general term spawns numerous Linux distributions that are even further niche and highly specialized products and user experiences.

I have to concur with Mr. Kingsley-Hughes on this one, even with my own personal lackluster (or “meh” in less technical terms ;) ) opinion of Ubuntu’s Unity it’s not bad or difficult enough to get rid of to cause such a drop in usage. The inherent purpose and goal of a Linux distro is to be a highly specialized and customizable user experience that is easily tailored to a specific users’ wants and needs. Ubuntu is falling out of favor with many Linux fans due to it trying too hard to appeal to everyone in a “jack of all trades, master of none” method instead of the perfect distribution for each individual aspect that makes Linux so appealing to users to begin with. Many design and under the hood changes have taken place in Ubuntu to accommodate the mainstream Linux goal(s) and in doing so a lot of users and configurations aren’t as easily obtained with Ubuntu anymore. There’s now more programs included by default and more programs running to maintain the something for everyone system, and that is not what many Linux fans want out of their distributions. They want a distro that only does what they want with as minimal of resources as possible while still being productive for example.

What are your thoughts? Is there a reason for Ubuntu’s decline or is the distro’s time in the spotlight simply over (for now at least)? Have you moved on from Ubuntu? You can read more about the Linux usage data here.

Source: ZDnet

Ubuntu Extends Long Term Release Support Time

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2011 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, support, LTS

Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, has announced that they are extending the support of LTS (long term support) releases to five years. Currently, the LTS releases of Ubuntu are supported for up to three years on desktops.

The new support time-line will start with the fourth long term support (LTS) release which will be Ubuntu 12.04. The 12.04 release is slated to debut in April 2012; therefore, support for the operating system would continue until April of 2017. That should be more than enough time for desktop users to find updated software or jump to another release if they don’t want to update to the latest Ubuntu release at that time.

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Canonical's proposed release schedule.

Further, the support schedule is broken down into two periods. For the first two years of the operating system’s lifetime, the OS will receive regular hardware updates via point releases. After that two year period, the remaining three years will be relegated to maintenance and security updates. One interesting thing about the LTS release support schedule lies in the fact that after the two years of hardware support updates, it will be time for the next LTS release (Ubuntu 14.04 in this case) thanks to the way the releases are staggered. This would enable businesses to update straight from the end of one LTS release to the next and maintain current with hardware updates as well as extending support even further.

The overlapping support schedule and extended support time-line are said to be the result of Canonical wishing to make enterprise customers happy. The Ubuntu Engineering Director, Rick Spencer, stated that although Ubuntu has traditionally been known for quick updates and keeping up with the latest applications and hardware, the “ability to plan for the longer term is vital.” OEMs are also likely to appreciate the longer support schedule as well in that they will be able to offer software to customers that is good for five years instead of three.

What are your thoughts on the LTS Ubuntu releases?

Source: Canonical

Ubuntu 11.10 released today, try it in your browser

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2011 - 01:20 AM |
Tagged: Ubuntu 11.10, ubuntu

If you are one of the millions of people who have used Linux -- and realized it -- then you are probably well aware of Ubuntu. Ubuntu has been around since 2004 and has captured an estimated 50% of Linux desktop installations. Ubuntu is financially supported through purchasing technical support from its parent company, Canonical. Today Canonical has released their 15th version of Ubuntu, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, into the wild; feel free (literally) to try it out.

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Excuse me, waiter: You got Firefox in my Firefox.

One of the largest contributing factors to Ubuntu’s success has historically been the ease of testing without installing and the ease to install when you are won over. You currently have the choice between using a Live CD to boot directly into Ubuntu from, using Wubi to run from a Windows in virtualization, and recently browse the interface from an in-browser mockup. The Javascript-based application mimics the Ubuntu desktop and allows you to play around with various windows including spawning a fake web browser and email client each capable of being dragged and dropped within the browser.  Play around and you might fall in love; fittingly, money cannot buy either.

Source: Ubuntu