Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2012 - 08:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, ubuntu, steam, opengl, linux, gaming
Gamers were given an early holiday present last Friday when Valve announced it would be opening up its Steam for Linux beta to everyone. For the past few months the company has been testing out a version of its Steam client software intended to run on Ubuntu 12.04 Linux. Valve initially performed internal testing, and then proceeded to invite users to a closed beta. And now (finally), it seems that the company is comfortable enough with the applications stability that it can release it to the general public. While it is still very much beta software, it is actively being developed and improved.
Along with the move to a public beta, Valve is transitioning to GitHub to track changes and bug reports. Further, an apt repository is in the works, which should make installing and updating the Steam beta client easier, especially on non-Ubuntu distros (like Ubuntu forks). From the documentation available on the Steam website, it seems that apt-get install gdebi-coreand gdebi steam.debis still the preferred command line installation proceedure, however.
Further, Valve has fixed several issues in the latest Steam for Linux client. (Users that were in the closed beta will need to update). The company has improved the back navigation arrow placement and added discount timers and other UI tweaks to Big Picture Mode, for example. Valve has also fixed a bug concerning high CPU usage when playing Team Fortress 2 and an issue with the Steam overlay crashing while playing Cubemen.
Right now, the game selection is very limited, but the client itself is fairly stable. The traditional and Big Picture Mode UI are identical to the Windows version that many gamers are familiar with, which is good. Installation on Ubuntu was really easy, but I had trouble getting it to work with the latest version of Linux Mint. In the end, I was not able to use the CLI method, but the GUI instructions that Valve provides ended up working. At the moment Valve is only officially supporting the beta on Ubuntu, but it is likely to be expanded to other Debian forks as well as used in Valve’s Steam Box console.
The full announcement can be found on the Steam Community site, and the repository files are located here. Another useful resource is the getting started thread on the Steam forums, where you can find help getting the client installed (especially useful if you are trying to install it on an alternative distro).
Have you used the Steam for Linux client yet? I’m excited to see more games and engines support the Linux OS, as that will be what will make or break it.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 4, 2012 - 06:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: XPS 13, ultrabook, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, sputnik, linux, dell
Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition is branded as an Ultrabook but it has two significant differences; a custom built Ubuntu distro and a price $250 higher than Dell's other Ultrabook offering. Those two points are somewhat interrelated as Dell will be offering support equivalent to Windows powered machines which means new training, procedures and staffing which can be expensive to set up. There is another reason the price is so high which is the hardware as, even the base model comes with a 256GB SSD; the rest of the hardware is pretty standard, an i7-3517U, 8GB DDR3 and no discrete video card. It is hard to say if sticking the Developer Edition moniker on the machine will encourage people to purchase this ultrabook, if you are curious check out more at The Inquirer.
"TIN BOX FLOGGER Dell's decision to put arguably its best laptop on sale preloaded with Ubuntu Linux shows not only how far desktop Linux has come but how far Microsoft has fallen.
Dell announced its Project Sputnik earlier this year to a warm if not ecstatic reception. The firm had preloaded Linux onto its consumer machines before but they were hard to find and on forgettable machines. However with the XPS 13 the firm is not only loading Linux on its most high profile laptop but showing that Microsoft's operating system isn't the only choice in town for OEMs and consumers alike."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Office 2013 now on sale for business customers @ The Register
- Li-ion batteries benefit from hierarchical LiFePO4/C @ NanotechWeb
- Intel will issue bonds to buy back its own shares @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft, RIM to keep existing platforms operating after releasing new ones @ DigiTimes
Subject: Mobile | November 23, 2012 - 07:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HP ENVY 6 Sleekbook Review; AMD's Mobile Trinity APU Arrives @ Hardware Canucks
- Acer Aspire V5-571P-6642 Review @ TechReviewSource
- PC Specialist Inferno 11.6 inch Laptop @ Kitguru
- Acer Aspire V5-171 Notebook Review: The Death and Rebirth of the Netbook @ AnandTech
- Txtr Beagle @ The Inquirer
- Kobo eReader Mini review: shrunk in the laundry
- Patriot Gauntlet Node 320 Review: Wireless Storage for Tablets @ AnandTech
- Point of View Protab 3 XXL review: 10-inch, IPS, £200 @ Hardware.info
- ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T 32GB Tablet @ SSD Review
- iPad mini @ AnandTech
- Rapoo E6300 Wireless Keyboard for iPad/iPhone @ Bjorn3D
- ASUS PadFone 2 Review @ InsideHW
- Nokia Lumia 820 @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2012 - 10:53 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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
Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 07:58 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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
- The Book of Unwritten Tales
- Dungeons of Dredmor
- Dynamite Jack
- Frozen Synapse
- Galcon Fusion
- Serious Sam 3: BFE
- Solar 2
- Space Pirates and Zombies
- Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
- Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
- Team Fortress 2
- Trine 2
- Uplink/Darwinia Pack
- Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign
- 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?
Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 03:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Dropbox Confirms Security Breach @ [H]ard|OCP
- Netflix punters told of privacy change, get 3 months to object @ The Register
- Disk demand after Thai floods drains away - unlike Seagate's coffers @ The Register
- Cadence Watch Joint Contest @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2012 - 01:27 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Subject: Processors | June 8, 2012 - 07:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel's ultrabook-bound Core i5-3427U processor @ The Tech Report
- Intel Core i5 3470 Review: HD 2500 Graphics Tested @ AnandTech
- Comparing Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge @ TechReviewSource
- EE Bookshelf: ARM Cortex M Architecture Overview @ Adafruit
- The Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- The Bulldozer Aftermath: Delving Even Deeper @ AnandTech
- AMD E-Series APU “Brazo 2.0″ @ Bjorn3D
- AMD A8-3870K Black Edition & Hybrid Crossfire @ OC3D
- AMD A4 3400 APU @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2012 - 07:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Guru3D Rig of the Month - January 2012
- The Ever-Changing Linux Filesystems: Merging Directoris into /usr @ Linux
- The Internet Stratification: Tales of an Unequal Web @ Techgage
- Pentax Optio WG-1 Digital Camera Review @ Maximum CPU
Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2011 - 09:53 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
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.
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.