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Gadgets

Freedom-Respecting Librem 5 and DRM-Free Kindle Alternative

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Gadgets
  • Librem 5 Batch FAQ

    We have been getting a lot of questions related to our announcement of the Librem 5 shipping schedule. Here, we will post the answers to some frequently asked questions, and update this document as new questions come in.

  • Anyone Can Build This Open Source, DRM-Free Kindle Alternative

                           

                             

    It's harder to get an open source e-reader than you might think. Kindles are popular, but they lock you into Amazon's ecosystem. Amazon's books come with digital rights protection and the company can remove them from your device whenever it wants. Those problems exist on tablets from Barnes and Nobles, Google, and Apple, too. When it comes to open source reading, there's just no good options. The Open Book Project wants to change that.  

Play Your Favorite Classic Games, Then Make Your Own

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Gaming
Gadgets

The world’s first modular, portable gaming console with a GNU/LINUX embedded operating system, the GameShell Kit allows you to connect to your TV to play all of your favorite old games from Atair, GB, GBA, NES, NAME, MD, PS1 and other consoles. But it doesn’t end there. GameShell also supports programming languages like preset C, Python, Lua, and LISP, so not only can you modify your childhood favorites, but you can build your own games. TechCrunch calls Gameshell “totally unique” and “entirely refreshing when it comes to gaming on the go.”

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PinePhone Linux phone prototypes to ship to developers this month

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Gadgets

PINE64’s claim to fame was its open source-friendly Allwinner-based single board computers (SBC) that came at the height of the Raspberry Pi’s popularity. It has since then expanded to putting those boards and their experience inside more finished products, like the Pinebook ARM-based laptops. As the team’s Lukasz Erecinski narrates, the decision to add a smartphone to that list wasn’t an easy or quick one but it was the most logical next step (a tablet is in the works now as well).

But not even a year after that decision was made, the team has already started making making prototypes, enough to start pre-orders for them. Not everyone’s invited for now, though. Only experienced Linux developers that could contribute towards actually improving the PinePhone. That said, in October and November, they do plan on having a more open pre-order period, this time for tinkerers and app developers as well.

The design and composition of the boards are all but ready but aren’t set in stone. An Allwinner64 SoC will, of course, be at the heart of it all, with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of expandable storage. Those may sound almost laughable by today’s standards but the phone’s emphasis has always been on providing a private and secure open source Linux phone, not compete with Samsung and Apple. As such, it embraces a multitude of Linux on Phone projects and experiences and isn’t locked down to a single one.

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PinePhone Remains On Track For Shipping In The Months Ahead

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Gadgets

The open-source minded PinePhone is sitll on track for shipping in the months ahead and its software side is coming along nicely with the ability to run UBports Ubuntu Touch, Sailfish OS, postmarketOS, KDE Plasma Mobile, and other options.

The PINE64 crew confirmed today that the PinePhone is still on track for shipping soon with its Allwinner A64 SoC. While the A64 with its four Cortex-A53 cores and Mali 400 graphics isn't impressive by today's standards, the PinePhone does remain an interesting beast in targeting the $150 USD price point compared to the much more expensive pricing on the likes of the Librem 5. The PinePhone's ability already to run multiple Linux distributions makes it an interesting low-end device as well.

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Also: September Update: The PinePhone Is Real & Shipping Soon

Samsung’s DeX Overview At Converting A Smartphone Into A PC

Raspberry Pi Camera v2 Review

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Hardware
Reviews
Gadgets

The versatile single-board computer from the UK, the Raspberry Pi, is a firm favorite among makers and tinkerers and Linux hackers the world over. It’s small, it’s light, it’s easy to use and set up, and with the launch of the new Model B version 4, it’s really quite powerful.

But almost as interesting as the board itself are the kinds of peripheral gizmos you can attach to the main board. Most of these are third-party hats and other add-ons, but one of the most popular ones is the official Raspberry Pi camera.

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Can Fairphone 3 scale ethical consumer electronics?

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OS
Gadgets

Fairphone, the Dutch social enterprise that’s on a mission to rethink the waste and exploitation that underpins the business of consumer electronics, has unboxed its third smartphone.

The handset, which is sold with the promise of longevity rather than cutting edge obsolescence, goes on pre-sale from today in Europe via Fairphone’s website with a suggested retail price of €450 (depending on local taxes and levies). It will ship to buyers on September 3.

Like its predecessor, the design is modular to allow the user to swap out damaged parts for replacement modules that Fairphone also sells.

Out of the box the phone comes with Android 9 preloaded. A post-launch update will make it easy for buyers to wipe Google services off their slate and install the Android Open Source Project instead.

Commenting in a statement, CEO Eva Gouwens said: “We developed the Fairphone 3 to be a real sustainable alternative on the market, which is a big step towards lasting change. By establishing a market for ethical products, we want to motivate the entire industry to act more responsibly since we cannot achieve this change alone.”

“We envision an economy where consideration for people and the planet is a natural part of doing business and according to this vision, we have created scalable ways to improve our supply chain and product,” she added.

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Devices: PegLeg, ARM and Neousys

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Linux
Hardware
Gadgets
  • PegLeg Biohackers Installed Raspberry Pis in Their Legs

    This was probably just a matter of time, right? We do so many things with the Internet of things ? just about anything can be made into an IoT device, so why not a person? Why not turn a person into an IoT device?

    A group of biohackers have installed Raspberry Pis under the skin in their legs. The PegLeg (you have to appreciate the name here) project is actually so far along it?s already v2.

  • Pi-oT Raspberry Pi Add-on Board Targets Commercial & Industrial IoT Automation (Crowdfunding)

    USA Based Startup Builds RPi Add-on Pi-oT, a Cleveland based startup has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a Raspberry Pi add-on for commercial and industrial IoT automation.

  • Arm Talks Up Their BFloat16 / BF16 Support For Upcoming Processors

    With the next revision to ARMv8-A will come Neon and SVE vector instructions for select computations using the BFloat16 floating-point number format. For nearly the past year we have seen Intel prepping the Linux/open-source ecosystem for BFloat16 and its support with their upcoming Cooperlake support for BF16. It's looking now like Arm might beat AMD in to supporting BF16 on their processor designs.

  • Industrial computers feature with 9th or 8th Gen Coffee Lake

    Neousys has launched a “Nuvo-8208GC” edge AI PC and three variants of a “Nuvo-7100VTC” automotive controller with 9th and 8th Gen Coffee Lake CPUs. It also added 9th Gen support to the 8th Gen ready Nuvo-7000 and Nuvo-7164GC.

    Taiwan-based Neousys Technology announced support for Intel’s 9th Generation Coffee Lake processors on six Nuvo-branded industrial computers, half of which were originally announced with 8th Gen Coffee Lake. The four systems covered here — the Nuvo-8208GC, Nuvo-7100VTC, Nuvo-7200VTC, and Nuvo-7250VTC — were announced in June and July and are still listed as “coming soon.”

Fairphone 3 Pre-Orders Begin For Ethical Smartphone With Better Specs Than The Librem 5

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Gadgets

The Fairphone 3 made its formal announcement this week with pre-orders beginning and plans to begin shipping in mid-October. The Fairphone 3 is the latest iteration for this phone design that is focused on social values / ethical manufacturing, the longevity of the phone, and modular replacement parts.

The Fairphone 3 runs on Android 9, which may not be too interesting, but hopefully won't be long before seeing Ubuntu Touch, KDE Plasma Mobile, and other Linux mobile software offerings for this phone, just as we have with earlier Fairphone models.

The Fairphone 3 is priced at €450.00 ($500 USD), which actually is quite a fair price for the hardware: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 3000 mAH battery, 5.6-inch full HD+ display, dual nano SIM, USB Type-C, and all modern connectivity features like Bluetooth 5.

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Meet the startup making ethical electronics mainstream

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Gadgets

With ethical consumers increasingly concerned with the origin of their purchases, almost every industry, from fashion to food to diamonds, has been held to account over the ethics of its supply chain.

Bar a small number in the tech community, the ethical implications of the electronics industry has gone largely unnoticed by many consumers. However, the smartphone many have in their pocket may have a questionable past.

The average smartphone contains over 60 different metals, so tracking the supply chain of each component is complex. The mining and processing of many of these metals contributes to environmental damage and poor working conditions for those involved.

For example, cobalt, found in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, is commonly sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it is frequently mined by child labourers. Last year, Bloomberg reported that factory workers making the casing for iPhones were working long hours in hazardous conditions. According to a study from 2014, 97% of the 39 electronics companies studied did not pay factory workers a living wage.

[...]

The concept of ethical electronics is not a new one. Although a fairtrade certification does not yet exist for electronics, some people within the tech community have been aware of the ethical implications of the electronics industry for a number of years with software movement activist Richard Stallman, for example, only running Linux software on fairtrade laptops.

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SailfishOS on Sony Xperia XA2 Plus

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

Not too much noise has been made about it, but fairly recently SailfishOS for Sony Xperia XA2, XA2 Ultra and XA2 Plus (finally) came out of beta stage after the initial release last autumn. I went and got myself an XA2 Plus and have been using it for a week now and am very pleased with it. Compared to former SailfishOS devices the Android runtime for the XA2 models is at version 8.x (compared to 4.x for previous devices), meaning a lot more Android apps will run on it.

So if you’re looking for a proper GNU/Linux phone and/or an alternative to the Google/Apple duopoly now is your chance to run SailfishOS on very decent and affordable midrange hardware. Below is a video of the XA2 Plus running SailfishOS (not mine).

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More in Tux Machines

New Distro Releases: EasyOS Buster 2.1.3, EasyOS Pyro 1.2.3 and IPFire 2.23 - Core Update 136

  • EasyOS Buster version 2.1.3 released

    EasyOS version 2.1.3, latest in the "Buster" series, has been released. This is another incremental upgrade, however, as the last release announced on Distrowatch is version 2.1, the bug fixes, improvements and upgrades have been considerable since then. So much, that I might request the guys at Distrowatch to announce version 2.1.3.

  • EasyOS Pyro version 1.2.3 released

    Another incremental release of the Pyro series. Although this series is considered to be in maintenance mode, it does have all of the improvements as in the latest Buster release.

  • IPFire 2.23 - Core Update 136 is available for testing

    the summer has been a quiet time for us with a little relaxation, but also some shifted focus on our infrastructure and other things. But now we are back with a large update which is packed with important new features and fixes.

Linux 5.3

  • Linux 5.3
    So we've had a fairly quiet last week, but I think it was good that we
    ended up having that extra week and the final rc8.
    
    Even if the reason for that extra week was my travel schedule rather
    than any pending issues, we ended up having a few good fixes come in,
    including some for some bad btrfs behavior. Yeah, there's some
    unnecessary noise in there too (like the speling fixes), but we also
    had several last-minute reverts for things that caused issues.
    
    One _particularly_ last-minute revert is the top-most commit (ignoring
    the version change itself) done just before the release, and while
    it's very annoying, it's perhaps also instructive.
    
    What's instructive about it is that I reverted a commit that wasn't
    actually buggy. In fact, it was doing exactly what it set out to do,
    and did it very well. In fact it did it _so_ well that the much
    improved IO patterns it caused then ended up revealing a user-visible
    regression due to a real bug in a completely unrelated area.
    
    The actual details of that regression are not the reason I point that
    revert out as instructive, though. It's more that it's an instructive
    example of what counts as a regression, and what the whole "no
    regressions" kernel rule means. The reverted commit didn't change any
    API's, and it didn't introduce any new bugs. But it ended up exposing
    another problem, and as such caused a kernel upgrade to fail for a
    user. So it got reverted.
    
    The point here being that we revert based on user-reported _behavior_,
    not based on some "it changes the ABI" or "it caused a bug" concept.
    The problem was really pre-existing, and it just didn't happen to
    trigger before. The better IO patterns introduced by the change just
    happened to expose an old bug, and people had grown to depend on the
    previously benign behavior of that old issue.
    
    And never fear, we'll re-introduce the fix that improved on the IO
    patterns once we've decided just how to handle the fact that we had a
    bad interaction with an interface that people had then just happened
    to rely on incidental behavior for before. It's just that we'll have
    to hash through how to do that (there are no less than three different
    patches by three different developers being discussed, and there might
    be more coming...). In the meantime, I reverted the thing that exposed
    the problem to users for this release, even if I hope it will be
    re-introduced (perhaps even backported as a stable patch) once we have
    consensus about the issue it exposed.
    
    Take-away from the whole thing: it's not about whether you change the
    kernel-userspace ABI, or fix a bug, or about whether the old code
    "should never have worked in the first place". It's about whether
    something breaks existing users' workflow.
    
    Anyway, that was my little aside on the whole regression thing.  Since
    it's that "first rule of kernel programming", I felt it is perhaps
    worth just bringing it up every once in a while.
    
    Other than that aside, I don't find a lot to really talk about last
    week. Drivers, networking (and network drivers), arch updates,
    selftests. And a few random fixes in various other corners. The
    appended shortlog is not overly long, and gives a flavor for the
    changes.
    
    And this obviously means that the merge window for 5.4 is open, and
    I'll start doing pull requests for that tomorrow. I already have a
    number of them in my inbox, and I appreciate all the people who got
    that over and done with early,
    
                    Linus
    
  • Linux Kernel 5.3 Officially Released, Here's What's New

    Linus Torvalds announced today the release of the Linux 5.3 kernel series, a major that brings several new features, dozens of improvements, and updated drivers. Two months in the works and eight RC (Release Candidate) builds later, the final Linux 5.3 kernel is now available, bringing quite some interesting additions to improve hardware support, but also the overall performance. Linux kernel 5.3 had an extra Release Candidate because of Linus Torvalds' travel schedule, but it also brought in a few needed fixes. "Even if the reason for that extra week was my travel schedule rather than any pending issues, we ended up having a few good fixes come in, including some for some bad Btrfs behavior. Yeah, there's some unnecessary noise in there too (like the speling fixes), but we also had several last-minute reverts for things that caused issues," said Linus Torvalds.

  • Linux 5.3 Kernel Released With AMD Navi Support, Intel Speed Select & More

    Linus Torvalds just went ahead and released the Linux 5.3 kernel as stable while now opening the Linux 5.4 merge window. There was some uncertainty whether Linux 5.3 would have to go into extra overtime due to a getrandom() system call issue uncovered by an unrelated EXT4 commit. Linus ended up reverting the EXT4 commit for the time being.

Kubernetes Leftovers

  • With its Kubernetes bet paying off, Cloud Foundry doubles down on developer experience

    More than 50% of the Fortune 500 companies are now using the open-source Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service project — either directly or through vendors like Pivotal — to build, test and deploy their applications. Like so many other projects, including the likes of OpenStack, Cloud Foundry went through a bit of a transition in recent years as more and more developers started looking to containers — and especially the Kubernetes project — as a platform on which to develop. Now, however, the project is ready to focus on what always differentiated it from its closed- and open-source competitors: the developer experience.

  • Kubernetes in the Enterprise: A Primer

    As Kubernetes moves deeper into the enterprise, its growth is having an impact on the ecosystem at large. When Kubernetes came on the scene in 2014, it made an impact and continues to impact the way companies build software. Large companies have backed it, causing a ripple effect in the industry and impacting open source and commercial systems. To understand how K8S will continue to affect the industry and change the traditional enterprise data center, we must first understand the basics of Kubernetes.

  • Google Cloud rolls out Cloud Dataproc on Kubernetes

    Google Cloud is trialling alpha availability of a new platform for data scientists and engineers through Kubernetes. Cloud Dataproc on Kubernetes combines open source, machine learning and cloud to help modernise big data resource management. The alpha availability will first start with workloads on Apache Spark, with more environments to come.

  • Google announces alpha of Cloud Dataproc for Kubernetes

    Not surprisingly, Google, the company that created K8s, thinks the answer to that question is yes. And so, today, the company is announcing the Alpha release of Cloud Dataproc for Kubernetes (K8s Dataproc), allowing Spark to run directly on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)-based K8s clusters. The service promises to reduce complexity, in terms of open source data components' inter-dependencies, and portability of Spark applications. That should allow data engineers, analytics experts and data scientists to run their Spark workloads in a streamlined way, with less integration and versioning hassles.

IBM/Red Hat: Fedora's Power Architecture Builds, WebSphere/WebLogic's Demise, Red Hat’s David Egts

  • Fedora Is Beginning To Spin Workstation & Live Images For POWER

    If you are running the likes of the Raptor Blackbird for a POWER open-source desktop and wanting to run Fedora on it, currently you need to use the Fedora "server" CLI installer and from there install the desired packages for a desktop. But moving forward, Fedora is beginning to spin Workstation and Live images for PPC64LE. Complementing Fedora's Power Architecture images of Fedora Everything and Fedora Server, Workstation and Live images are being assembled. This is much more convenient for those wanting an IBM POWER Linux desktop thanks to the success of the Raptor Blackbird with most Linux distributions just offering the server/CLI (non-desktop) images by default for PPC64LE.

  • Are Application Servers Dying a Slow Death?

    There has been concern for nearly five years application servers are dead. Truth be told, they are not dead, but is their usage in decline? The simple answer is yes. Over the years, it appears corporate environments have decided the "return on investment" is not there when looking at Java application servers. On the surface, one might assume that the likes of WebSphere or WebLogic might be the ones in decline due to cost. Perhaps it is just affecting the proprietary choices, while their open source based derivatives are growing or remaining steady? Appears not. Whichever Java application server you choose, all of them are in a state of decline. Whether it be proprietary options such as WebSphere or WebLogic, or open source alternatives JBoss or Tomcat, all are in decline based on employment listings we review. However, they are not declining at the same pace. From our collection of data, WebSphere and WebLogic's decline has been more muted. The rate of reduction for each of these application servers is in the neighborhood of 25-35% over the last couple years. At the same time, the likes of JBoss and Tomcat have declined around 40-45%. Not a drastic difference, but one that still is notable.

  • Red Hat’s David Egts: Commercial Open Source Software to Drive Federal IT Modernization

    David Egts, chief technologist for Red Hat’s (NYSE: RHT) North American public sector division, advises federal agencies to adopt commercial open source software to help advance their information technology modernization efforts, GovCon Wire reported Aug. 23. He said Aug. 22 in an FCW thought piece that agencies should seek software vendors that are well-versed in open source technology as well as government security certifications in order to successfully modernize federal IT processes.