While there are several vendors working on open-source hardware systems with goals of fully open designs and open-source software down to the firmware, there is only one vendor that has achieved that mission while delivering server/workstation class performance as we approach the end of 2018... Raptor Computing Systems' Talos II. We finally have this dual POWER9 system in our labs for some interesting benchmarks ahead.
Apple's MacBook Pro laptops have become increasingly unfriendly with Linux in recent years while their Mac Mini computers have generally continued working out okay with most Linux distributions due to not having to worry about multiple GPUs, keyboards/touchpads, and other Apple hardware that often proves problematic with the Linux kernel. But now with the latest Mac Mini systems employing Apple's T2 security chip, they took are likely to crush any Linux dreams.
The second development release of the upcoming Phoronix Test Suite 8.4-Skiptvet is now available for driving open-source benchmarking on Linux, macOS, Windows, Solaris, and BSD systems.
For those looking to have an all-in-one water cooling setup where the pumps and lighting can be controlled under Linux, there is now a viable option thanks to the open-source GKraken project.
For fans of the i3 tiling window manager, version 4.16 was released this weekend as the project's newest feature release.
KDE Connect is the interesting project allowing communication/sharing between your KDE desktop and an Android smartphone/tablet whether it be multimedia content, text messages, or files and more. KDE Connect 1.10 further enhances this interesting effort to bridge Android mobile devices to the KDE desktop.
Intel has reaffirmed shipping their next-gen Xeon "Cascade Lake" processors in the first half of 2019 while revealing today some initial performance details.
The next kernel release was either going to be Linux 4.20 or Linux 5.0 and today Linus Torvalds decided it would be the "4.20" kernel version.
With Linus Torvalds having just released Linux 4.20-rc1, here is our original feature overview looking at the major changes merged over the past two weeks for this new kernel. The Linux kernel will be ending 2018 on a high note with this kernel bringing more than 350 thousand lines of new code!
If you are looking for more solid-state storage to suit a growing collection of Linux games especially now with Steam Play allowing for many Windows games to run rather nicely on Linux, the Samsung 860 EVO 2TB SATA 3.0 SSD is a nice contender and what I ended up going with for the purpose of the Steam Linux game collection.
The DXVK project mapping Direct3D 10/11 atop Vulkan for a faster Wine / SteamPlay Windows-games-on-Linux experience is finishing out this weekend with the version 0.91 update.
Greg Kroah-Hartman this morning released Linux 4.19.1 as the first point release to Linux 4.19 that debuted two weeks ago today.
It was just days ago that AMD published their Zen 2 compiler patch for the GCC compiler but with the race on to merge new feature code before the feature freeze happening later this month, that "znver2" tuning patch has now been merged to mainline.
Endless Computers, the company behind the Linux GNOME/Flatpak-aligned Endless OS and that over the years has worked on various low-cost Linux PCs primarily for developing markets, is now pursing The Hack Computer as a low-cost laptop for teaching kids to code.
Unfortunately nothing has panned out from previous remarks made by AMD about potentially open-sourcing their Qt-based Radeon Settings control panel used on Windows so that it could be ported to Linux. The latest we've heard from AMD is that they aren't officially pursuing a GUI control panel for their Linux graphics driver but leaving it up to the different desktop environments to implement their own driver user-interfaces. One of the new community solutions in the absence of an official Radeon GUI for Linux is WattmanGTK.
Another Sunday update to the Vulkan API is now available with the stabilized NVIDIA ray-tracing extension and a new AMD vendor-specific extension.
The Linux kernel will be ending 2018 on a high note with the current merge window for what will be called either Linux 4.20 or Linux 5.0 is the biggest kernel update by lines of code in more than one year.
KDE developers had another busy week working on improvements to their open-source desktop environment on several fronts.
Another weekly beta release of FreeBSD 12 is now available for testing with the official release still being several weeks out.
With this week's launch of the Ryzen Threadripper 2920X and 2970WX, the new 24-core / 48-thread 2970WX has a 250 Watt TDP like the 2990WX. Fortunately, with Noctua's high-end TR4/SP3 heatsinks, it's still possible to get by with air cooling.
While there are a lot of great new features, hardware support improvements, and other changes with the Linux 4.20 development cycle, not found in this mainline kernel is the long-awaited WireGuard functionality for an in-kernel secure VPN tunnel.
If you want to dive into the world of Wayland development or the Linux graphics stack as a possible career move, beginning with Weston would be a wise choice and they could really benefit from all the development resources they can receive.
SiFive this week announced their 7-Series RISC-V cores with the 32-bit E7, 64-bit S7, and 64-bit U7 series. These new RISC-V parts aren't yet capable of running up against the fastest ARM Cortex CPU cores available today, but they are much more powerful than the previous-gen SiFive cores.
For fans of the Rust programming language, it's now running on 14 different Debian architectures -- including all of the release architectures -- as we move towards the Debian 10.0 "Buster" release next year.
Following this week's release of SDL 2.0.9, Ryan Gordon has gone ahead and removed the Mir back-end from this portability/abstraction layer commonly used by cross-platform games.
It looks like my report on AMD kicking off Zen 2 Linux enablement from last month is panning out. Earlier this week they posted the initial AMD Zen 2 "znver2" support for the GCC compiler and they are ending the week back in kernel space with an updated hardware monitoring driver for being able to report the CPU core temperatures of these CPUs shipping in 2019.
A new CPU side-channel vulnerability made public today that's unrelated to Spectre and Meltdown speculative execution vulnerabilities is dubbed "PortSmash" but more formerly referred to as CVE-2018-5407.
Given the recent release of OpenBSD 6.4, FreeBSD 12 now being in beta, and DragonFlyBSD 5.3 evolving nicely for what will eventually ship as DragonFlyBSD 5.4, here is the start of some fresh benchmarks between the BSDs and a few Linux distributions to see how the performance compares as we approach the end of 2018.
Mentor Graphics announced the availability today of their GNU toolchain based CodeBench Lite Edition that is a development environment intended for HPC application development that now supports targeting for AMD Ryzen/EPYC processors as well as Radeon Instinct GPUs.
The merge window isn't even over yet for the current Linux kernel cycle that will end in late December or early January, but Intel's stellar open-source crew responsible for their kernel graphics driver have already sent out their first set of changes to DRM-Next for what will start 2019 with either the Linux 4.21 cycle or 5.1 depending upon how the 4.20~5.0 versioning is decided.
One of the new Linux kernel features Google engineers have been working on is fs-verity for read-only file-based authenticity protection. Fs-verity is similar to dm-verity with a similar aim but is designed to work on a per-file basis for read-write file-systems rather than at the block level.
Solus, the promising Linux distribution started back in 2015 by Ikey Doherty that led to the creation of its own "Budgie" desktop, has been without its founder since this summer. While the circumstances under his decision to fade away from the project aren't clear, he is well and has shared this message to relay with the community.
With the Linux 4.20~5.0, the kernel is now VLA-free as a step towards being able to compile the mainline code with the LLVM Clang compiler or other non-GCC compilers. Another step in this direction has been merged this cycle and that is cleaning up the compiler attributes code.
With the increasingly popular RISC-V open-source processor instruction set architecture (ISA), there is the possibility for vendor-specific instruction set extensions. At this point the kernel has no infrastructure in place for its RISC-V port to allow for such bits, but that is being worked on as part of bringing up AndeStar RISC-V CPUs under the Linux kernel.
October was very interesting for Linux gaming with no AAA native game ports released but a heck of a lot more Windows games are now running nicely on Linux thanks to Steam Play / Proton / DXVK. So it's quite interesting to see Valve's just-published monthly Steam Survey results for the month prior.
Intel's Open-Source Technology Center (OTC) is now the latest organization making use of the Contributor Covenant for aiming to do more to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment.
Mesa 18.3 feature development is officially over with the code having been branched from Git master earlier today. Mesa 18.3-RC1 should be out soon to kick off the weekly release candidates while now Mesa Git master starts what will become Mesa 19.0.
After Microsoft added support for the WebP image format to their Edge browser last month, Mozilla is finally preparing to ship the Firefox browser with support for WebP. If all goes well, Firefox 65 will support WebP!
As part of the big DRM pull request for the next Linux kernel cycle, the AMDGPU driver enabled GFXOFF and Stutter Mode functionality for Raven Ridge. But this power-savings functionality is already being reverted for the next kernel release.
One year after the release of GhostBSD 11.1 as a MATE/Xfce-focused FreeBSD-based desktop operating system, GhostBSD 18.10 is now available and it shifts over to a TrueOS base.
System76 has finally unveiled the specifications and design for their Thelio desktop systems they have been teasing in recent weeks.
While File-Systems in User-Space (FUSE) have been notorious for being slow, with time FUSE has become a lot faster and with this current Linux 4.20 (5.0) development cycle there are yet more performance optimizations.
While there was a push by its developers to align the I3C subsystem code for the next kernel, it's not going to happen for Linux 4.20.
During the month of October on Phoronix there were 330 original news stories and 26 featured articles / Linux hardware reviews penned by your's truly.
It's been just over one month since the long awaited release of Haiku R1 Beta 1 for reliving the BeOS experience as open-source. While it was a momentous occasion, the developers have continued advancing this free software platform.
It was just in mid-September that NVIDIA introduced its ray-tracing extension for Vulkan as VK_NVX_raytracing with it debuting as an "experimental" feature along with OpenGL/GLSL functionality. Already they seem happy with the design that it's being promoted to stable.
The branching of Mesa 18.3 is imminent and expected to happen anytime now. The Mesa developers of the different drivers have been very busy in merging their last-minute feature work for this final quarterly feature update to end out 2018.
While Chrome 71 is the current release stream, Chrome 72 is set to offer some improvements on the Wayland front.
The x86 platform driver updates were sent in overnight for the Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel cycle.