Elude those electronic trails with TAILS 3.12

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2019 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: security, linux, TAILS, debian, tor

TAILS is a Debian based Linux distro, specifically designed for you to boot from a USB to avoid storing any data locally as well as providing tools to keep online eyes from prying into your business.  Even those who have become jaded over the years by their knowledge of the prevalence of online tracking raised an eyebrow over the past week with the news about tracking by Apple, Google and Facebook, to name just a few.  TAILS will protect your browsing with TOR and as you are booting from a USB you won't end up with new trackers on your system.  The new version is based on the 4.19 kernel, with the variety of updates that offers, especially when it comes to graphics cards.  The Register has some advice before you install it though, which you can check out here.

In other news, we are sad to announce Ryan failed in his attempt to takeover Intel.

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"Hot on the heels of Apple's latest privacy blunder, The Amnesic Incognito Live System (TAILS) has emitted version 3.12."

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Source: The Register

Something possible and something true, a little AMD and NVIDIA news for you

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2019 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: and, nvidia, leak, linux, 1660 ti, radeon vii

Once again we have an interesting leak from TUM_APISAK, this time about an upcoming NVIDIA product.  The performance of the GTX 1660 Ti may or may not match the benchmark below but if it does we may finally be seeing a new mid-range Turing GPU from NVIDIA.  The GTX naming scheme is worth noting, as it implies this will not feature the Ray Tracing or other enhancements brought by the RTX family and the strange new numbering system implies we might see more.  That lack may help drive the price down, which would give people a chance to pick up something noticeably faster than a GTX 1060.

If you are more interested in verifiable news, The Inquirer also offers that this morning with confirmation of Linux support for AMD's new GPUs right from the very start.  This has been something which we haven't really seen from AMD in the past, with enthusiasts working in the dark to tweak existing open source drivers to power AMD cards.  Over the past few years AMD has been more forthcoming with information that helped in the development of drivers and has been more successful at releasing their own.   This is great news that the new Radeon VII family will be conversant in Linux as of day one; we will keep an eye out for comparative performance once the cards launch.

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"The leaked benchmarks come courtesy serial leaker APISAK, which posted a screenshot of the Ashes of Singularity benchmark showing a GPU called the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti."

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Source: The Inquirer

Generations of GeForce GPUs in Ubuntu

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 16, 2019 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: linux, geforce, nvidia, ubuntu 18.04, gtx 760, gtx 960, RTX 2060, gtx 1060

If you are running an Ubuntu system with an older GPU and are curious about upgrading but unsure if it is worth it, Phoronix has a great review for you.  Whether you are gaming with OpenGL and Vulkan, or curious about the changes in OpenCL/CUDA compute performance they have you covered.  They even delve into the power efficiency numbers so you can spec out the operating costs of a large deployment, if you happen to have the budget to consider buying RTX 2060's in bulk.

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"In this article is a side-by-side performance comparison of the GeForce RTX 2060 up against the GTX 1060 Pascal, GTX 960 Maxwell, and GTX 760 Kepler graphics cards."

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Source: Phoronix

Developers! Developers! Developers! ... might just prefer an Ubuntu powered Dell XPS laptop

Subject: Mobile | December 12, 2018 - 05:19 PM |
Tagged: dell, linux, ubuntu 18.04, XPS developer edition, Kaby Lake R

Dell have updated their Linux powered XPS Developer's Edition laptop with a Kaby Lake R processor, up to a 2TB PCIe SSD, 4-16GB of RAM and either a 1080p screen or a 4K touchscreen depending on how much you are willing to pay.  Dell included all the latest features, including a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports as well as a Type C 3.1 port; there is even an SD card reader. 

Apart from the webcam and the lack of older style USB ports, Ars Technica gives this new Linux power laptop top marks.

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"Recently, Dell finally sent Ars the latest model of the XPS 13 DE for testing. And while Dell did put a lot of work into this latest iteration, the biggest upgrade with the latest Developer Edition is the inclusion of Ubuntu 18.04."

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Source: Ars Technica

Vive la différence! Threadripper 2 on Linux and Windows 10

Subject: Processors | August 21, 2018 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: 2990wx, threadripper 2, linux, windows 10, amd

Windows 10 is much better at dealing with multithreaded tasks but Linux has been optimized for both high core counts and NUMA for quite a while, so looking at the performance difference is quite interesting.  Phoronix tested a variety of Linux flavours as well as Windows 10 Pro and the performance differences are striking, in some cases we see results twice as fast on Linux as Win10.  That does not hold true for all tests as there are some benchmarks which Windows excels at.  Take a look at this full review as well as those under the fold for a fuller picture.

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"Complementing the extensive Linux benchmarks done earlier today of the AMD Threadripper 2990WX in our review (as well as on the Threadripper 2950X), in this article are our first Windows 10 vs. Linux benchmarks of this 32-core / 64-thread $1799 USD processor. Tests were done from Microsoft Windows 10 against Clear Linux, Ubuntu 18.04, the Arch-based Antergos 18.7-Rolling, and openSUSE Tumbleweed."

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Source: Phoronix

Filament Game Engine Open Sourced (Apache 2.0)

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2018 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, macos, Android, windows, linux, vulkan

Yet another video game engine has entered the market – this time by Google. Filament is written in C++, supports OpenGL 4.1-and-up, OpenGL ES 3.0-and-up, and Vulkan 1.0 on Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows.

It is also licensed under Apache 2.0, so it is completely open-source (with no copyleft).

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On the plus side, it supports a lot of rendering features. The materials, like basically everyone else, use a PBR system, which abstracts lighting from material properties, allowing models to be shaded correctly in any lighting environment. Filament goes beyond that implementation, however, and claims to include things like anisotropic metals (think brushed steel) and clear coat effects. They even have a BRDF (the program that defines the outputs of your shader, where all your textures plug in to) for cloth rendering, including backward scattering.

On the negative side? Pages upon pages of documentation and I haven’t seen one screenshot of their editor, which doesn't telegraph the best message for their tools. I don’t have the toolchain set up on my computer to try it for myself, but I’m guessing that developer UX is lacking compared to the other engines. I do like that they chose to limit external dependencies, however. It just requires the standard library and a header-only library called “Robin-Map” for fast hash maps.

Google also tags a disclaimer at the bottom of their GitHub page: “This is not an officially supported Google product”. It’s free, though, so it might be worth checking out.

Podcast #499 - Onyx Boox, BitFenix, and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2018 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: podcast, velocity micro, qualcomm, Portal, Onyx Boox, nvidia, Netflix, microsoft, linux, K63, Intel, hyperx, google, evga, corsair, coolermaster, ChromeOS, bitfenix, arm, amd, 4k, video

PC Perspective Podcast #499 - 05/10/18

Join us this week for discussion on Onyx Boox, a slick BitFenix case, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison,

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:01:13

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 0:47:40 Jeremy:Building a Ryzen on a budget eh?
    2. 0:50:10 Josh:I have issues.   We know
    3. 0:52:20 Allyn: System monitoring Gadgets. On Windows 10. Good ones.
  4. Closing/outro
 
Source:

Linux Mint Launching SFF MintBox Mini 2 and Mini 2 Pro PCs Running Linux Mint 19

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2018 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: SFF, linux mint, linux, j3455, Intel, fanless, atom, apollo lake

The Linux Mint development team recently announced the MintBox Mini 2 and MintBox Mini 2 Pro small form factor PCs which will ship with Linux Mint 19 this summer. The tiny passively cooled computers are based on Compulab’s Fitlet2 SFF barebones PC and comes in two flavors: the base Mini 2 with Intel Celeron J3455, 4GB DDR3L, and 64GB SATA SSD and the Mini 2 Pro with J3455 processor, 8GB RAM, and 120GB solid state drive. The MintBox Mini 2 PCs measure 4.4” x 3.3” x 1.3” and weighs approximately 12 ounces.

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The SFF systems come in all black and feature a row of fins along the top of the case to assist in passively cooling the processor and other components (there is a heat transfer plate above the M.2 slot as well). The fins are larger than the previous MinitBox Mini and Compulab is rating the updated hardware at an improved temperature range of -40°C to 85°C. Enthusiasts will further be able to tweak the thermal throttle and thermal shutoff safeties.

The front of the MintBox Mini 2 features a Mint logo, two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks, a micro SD card slot, and two LEDs that are controlled by GPIO and can be user-programed. There are two WI-Fi antenna ports on the right side and around back there are two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI 1.4, one mini DisplayPort 1.2, a proprietary COM port, power input jack, and two Intel i211 powered Gigabit Ethernet ports.

While the previous generation devices were AMD based, the MintBox Mini 2 and Mini 2 Pro are based around an Intel Celeron J3455 which is a 14nm Apollo Lake desktop processor with 10W TDP that features four cores clocked at 1.5 GHz base and up to 2.3 GHz boost with 2MB cache and HD Graphics 500. While the systems come configured with RAM and storage, users can swap that out for up to 16 GB of DDR3L (there is only one SO-DIMM slot) and a single SSD drive in the M.2 2260 slot (SATA 6 Gbps based). Wireless has been refreshed on the new models to include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 which is a nice upgrade over the 802.11n wireless on the MintBox Mini and the 802.11ac+BT4.0 on the Mini Pro.

Linux Mint 19 MintBox Mini 2 Rear IO.png

Users can extend the functionality and add additional external I/O or even a 2.5” drive with FACET expansion cards (the 2.5” drive option also requires a different bottom cover that makes the PC taller). For example, there are FACET cards that can add an additional two Gigabit Ethernet ports with the ports coming out the left side of the PC or Power Over Ethernet (PoE) support which is reportedly in the works with a PoE FACET card slated for availability by the time the MintBox Mini 2 launches in June.

The compact and fan-less PC seems perfect for a router or IoT gateway as well as a handy tool for penetration testers and IT admins to troubleshoot and monitor networks. Its intended purpose is as a lower cost silent desktop or thin client for home users and Linux Mint fans.

The MintBox Mini 2 and MintBox Mini 2 Pro will be available in June pre-loaded with Linux Mint 19 for $299 and $349 respectively. The MintBox Mini 2 is based on the barebones Fitlet2 PC ($176) which comes sans memory or storage, so they do not seem like a bad deal especially considering a part of that premium you are paying for the MintBox is in the support and validation of compatibility with the Linux OS.

If you are curious about the state of the project and the hardware, the Mint developers have been answering questions and running benchmarks for people using an alpha build of the Mint OS in the comments section of this blog post.

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Source: Fanless Tech

Low budget gaming until the bitcoins go away

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2018 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, nvidia, amd

With the current mining insanity driving GPU prices high enough it makes more financial sense to buy a gaming laptop or boutique system than to purchase a GPU on its own.  The alternative is to continue on with your current GPU, even if it is a bit long in the tooth.  Phoronix recently tested a battery of AMD and NVIDIA cards, focusing on older or less powerful models to see what kind of gaming performance they are capable of.  The switch to Linux makes sense as Microsoft is beginning to refuse to recognize older GPUs and blocking the installation of the older drivers they require.  You will have to turn down your graphics settings to reach playable FPS but there are titles out there you can still enjoy at 1080p.

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"A request came in this week to look at how low-end and older graphics cards are performing with current generation Linux games on OpenGL and Vulkan. With ten older/lower-end NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards, here is a look at their performance with a variety of native Linux games atop Ubuntu using the latest Radeon and NVIDIA drivers."

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Source: Phoronix

Gaming in isolation, complete Meltdown or not?

Subject: Processors | January 8, 2018 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: meltdown, security, linux, nvidia

Thanks to a wee tech conference going on, performing a wide gamut of testing of the effect of the Meltdown patch is taking some time.  Al has performed benchmarks focusing on the performance impact the patch has on your storage subsystem, which proved to be very minimal.  Phoronix are continuing their Linux testing, the latest of which focuses on the impact the patch has on NVIDIA GPUs, specifically the GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 Ti.  The performance delta they see falls within measurement error levels; in other words there is no measurable impact after the patch was installed.  For now it seems the most impact this patch has is for scientific applications and hosting providers which use select high I/O workloads and large amounts of virtual machines.  For now the cure to Meltdown is nowhere near as bad as what it protects against for most users ... pity the same cannot be said for Spectre.

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"Earlier this week when news was still emerging on the "Intel CPU bug" now known as Spectre and Meltdown I ran some Radeon gaming tests with the preliminary Linux kernel patches providing Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) support. Contrary to the hysteria, the gaming performance was minimally impacted with those open-source Radeon driver tests while today are some tests using the latest NVIDIA driver paired with a KPTI-enabled kernel."

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Source: Phoronix