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Linux

Now and Then: The Fate of 15 Linux Distributions

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Linux

A typical desktop Linux distribution consists of various software components including the Linux kernel, a broad collection of programming tools produced by the GNU Project, a graphical server, and other free and open source software.

Due to Linux’s open source nature, there are many hundreds of actively maintained distributions or ‘distros’ of the OS. Linux distros are like Linux software in general. They come and (some) go.

Back in 2006, Distrowatch ranked the following distributions in terms of page hit ranking1. The top ranked distro was Ubuntu. The other places were taken by openSUSE, Fedora, MEPIS, Mandriva, Damn Small, Debian, PCLinuxOS, Slackware, Gentoo, KNOPPIX, FreeBSD, Kubuntu, VectorLinux, and CentOS.

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How to Install Microsoft Edge Browser in Ubuntu and Other Linux

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Linux

This guide explains the steps required to install Microsoft Edge Browser in Ubuntu and Other Linux. We explain both graphical and UI methods.
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Devices/Embedded Hardware, Mostly With Linux

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

     

  • Dual-GbE mesh networking board features 802.11ax

    Wally’s “DR6000” mesh router board runs on Qualcomm’s quad -A53 IPQ6000 SoC with 2x GbE ports, dual-band concurrent 802.11ax (WiFi 6), and micro-USB and serial connections.

  • SDM-L signage system is first to taste Coffee Lake

    Aaeon’s “ASDM-L-CFS” SDM-L form-factor signage module runs on 8th or 9th Gen Core CPUs with up to 32GB DDR4, GbE, 2x USB 3.2, 2x M.2, HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.2, and an optional enclosure.

  • SwarmDrive is an ESP32 motor driver board for brushless motors (Crowdfunding)

    Netherlands based NickStick BV has developed a motor driver board powered by an ESP32 dual-core WiFI and Bluetooth module and capable of controlling brushless DC motors. 

  • ODROID-HC4 low-cost dual NAS comes with 4GB RAM, supports 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SATA drives

    It’s hard to find low-cost NAS platforms often because of the mechanism to insert drives and the enclosure add to the cost. An alternative is to use boards like Hardkernel ODROID-HC1 for 2.5-inch drives or ODROID-HC2 for 2.5- and 3.5-inch drives, but each board supports only one drive. The designs are stackable, but you’d need one Linux board per drive, so it’s not ideal.

  • Odroid-HC4 toaster NAS runs dual PCIe-driven SATA drives

    Hardkernel is prepping an open-spec, $65 to $75 “Odroid-HC4” NAS device that runs Linux on a quad -A55 Amlogic S905X3 and offers dual PCIe-driven 2.5- or 3.5-inch slots for SSDs or HDDs plus HDMI 2.0 and 4GB DDR4.

  • Thinking About Creating A Raspberry Pi Replacement? | Hackaday

    If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at creating a Raspberry Pi-like board for yourself, you should check out [Jay Carlson’s] review of 10 different Linux-capable SoCs. Back in the 1960s, a computer was multiple refrigerator-sized boxes with thousands of interconnections and building one from scratch was only a dream for most people. Then ICs came and put all the most important parts in a little relatively inexpensive IC package and homebrew computing became much more accessible. Systems on Chip (SoC) has carried that even further, making it easier than ever to create entire systems, like the Pi and its many competitors.

    Only a few years ago, making an SoC was still a big project because the vendors often didn’t want to release documentation to the public. In addition, most of the parts use ball grid array (BGA) packaging. BGA parts can be hard to work with, and require a multilayer PC board. Sure, you can’t plug these into a typical solderless breadboard. But working with these relatively large BGAs isn’t that hard and multilayer boards are now comparatively cheap. [Jay] reports that he got cheap PCBs and used a hot plate to build each board, and has some sage advice on how to do it.

Audiocasts/Shows: LINUX Unplugged, Terminal Software and More

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GNU
Linux

  • From The Factory Floor | LINUX Unplugged 376

    We put the new Ubuntu 20.10 to the test, and chat with System76's Mechanical Engineer to get the secrets of the new Thelio Mega.

    Plus some important community news, feedback, picks, and more.

  • The COOLEST Linux Terminal App I've Ever Seen! - YouTube

    Say hello to a stunning, futuristic, Tron-inspired Terminal app for Linux, Windows and macOS that'll bring to life those hacker fantasies you had in the late 90s and early 2000s. It's also a fully functional system and resource monitor! 

  • There Are Too Many "Real Life" Script Kiddies - YouTube

    Just another boomer rant about some of the people that annoy me in real life and on the interwebs. I'm talking about the "script kiddies". And not just about programming "script kiddies" but people that are "script kiddies" in all aspects of life. 

  • Fd: Stop Using The Find Command And Try This - YouTube

    The find command on linux is great and all but it's quite slow, especially when searching over large directories like your home, but luckily there's better and faster alternatives that exist like fd which is written in rust and is the topic of today's video.

Kernel: Xen, XanMod and XFS

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Linux

  • Linux 5.10 Xen Brings Security Updates - Includes Fixing ARM Guests With KPTI - Phoronix

    The Xen virtualization work for the Linux 5.10 kernel revolves around security. 

    Last week brought the initial Xen updates for the Linux 5.10 merge window which primarily consisted of fixes. The main change to point out though was a temporary fix for allowing Xen guests on ARM to work with Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) enabled. A more long-term fix is still being worked on for Xen support in KPTI-enabled ARM environments. 

    The fix is around the VCPUOP_register_runstate_memory_area hypercall that under KPTI-protected guests would be passed an invalid virtual address, so the short term solution is to just avoid that call. ARM relies on Kernel Page Table Isolation as part of their mitigation against the Meltdown vulnerability on affected ARM Cortex processors, similar to the more well known usage on Intel processors. 

  • XanMod Linux Kernel

    There is a new tool available for Sparkers: XanMod Linux Kernel Installer

    What is XanMod Linux Kernel?

    XanMod is a general-purpose Linux kernel distribution with custom settings and new features. Built to provide a stable, responsive and smooth desktop experience.
    The real-time version is recommended for critical runtime applications such as Linux gaming eSports, streaming, live productions and ultra-low latency enthusiasts.
    Supports all recent 64-bit versions of Debian and Ubuntu-based systems.

    [...]

    – GPLv2 license. Can be built for any distribution or purpose.

  •   

  • XFS Lands More Code For Linux 5.10 - "Even More Monumental" - Phoronix

    Last week saw the XFS file-system with Linux 5.10 support timestamps until the year 2486 rather than year 2038 and other improvements too. This week a second round of XFS work has landed for Linux 5.10. 

    XFS maintainer Darrick Wong describes this week's file-system changes as "even more monumental than last week!" 

    XFS developers are announcing that in the Year 2030 they intend to deprecate their Version Four (V4) file-system format -- thus users have a decade to upgrade to the newer V5 format. Making use of the newer on-disk format means better metadata validation, support reflink and online fsck, and this support for timestamp handling beyond the year 2038. 

System76 Thelio Mega is a quad-GPU Linux desktop powered by Ryzen Threadripper

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Linux

System76 began its life as a Linux computer seller only. Essentially, the company would sell re-branded laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed. To provide a class-leading experience, however, System76 also provided top-notch customer service, helping Linux beginners get started with a little hand-holding when needed. This focus on service continues today, and it is largely responsible for the company's success and longevity.

Seeking to better control its own destiny, the company branched out from only being a computer-seller and transformed into a maker too. It's handcrafted Thelio desktops are powerful works of art, comprised of wood, metal, and good ol' fashioned American elbow grease. Yes, these Thelio machines are made in the USA -- Colorado, specifically.

System76 has even created its own operating system -- the Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS, which has been very well received by the Linux community. This Linux distro will work on most computers -- not just Sytem76 machines. If you want vanilla Ubuntu, don't worry -- the company continues to offer that OS as an option when buying one of its computers.

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Linux themes update for October 2020

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GNU
Linux

Hello there and welcome to LinuxH2O. I’m continuing with the Linux themes update for the month. It’s October 2020 now so let’s see what do we have got here.

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Tails 4.12 Anonymous OS Is Out with Linux Kernel 5.8, Latest Tor Updates

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Linux

Tails 4.12 is here three weeks after Tails 4.11 and it’s the first release of the Debian-based amnesic incognito live system to ship with the Linux 5.8 kernel series. Of course, the firmware packages have been updated as well to provide users with better newer hardware support, making Tails run on more computers.

On top of that, Tails is now based on the Debian GNU/Linux 10.6 “Buster” operating system. Tails’ purpose is to keep you safe and protect your privacy when surfing the Internet or accessing various other online services. At its core, the distribution relies on the Tor technologies for anonymous and encrypted communication.

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The 10 Best Linux Guitar Tools: The Guitarist’s Essential Toolkit

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Linux

Linux guitar tools are helping the guitarists for a long time. I always say that Linux is a great environment for music composers. Yet some people have different arguments. In their logic, Linux is not that useful for multimedia because of the lack of some popular paid tools. It’s a partial truth. But still, there are a lot of free Linux tools available for acoustics and mixing. You know the electric guitar completely relies on electronic devices and software. Even there are some great tuner and amp tools for the acoustic guitars also. As a music enthusiast, I love tinkering with these audio-related programs.

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Kernel Development and Linux Foundation Openwashing

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Linux

  • OpenZFS 2.0-RC4 Released With More Fixes, Linux 5.9 Support - Phoronix

    The fourth release candidate of OpenZFS 2.0 is now available for testing of this open-source ZFS file-system implementation currently for Linux and FreeBSD platforms. 

    OpenZFS 2.0 is a big update for this project in that it mainlines FreeBSD support, Zstd file-system compression is a new option, various performance improvements, sequential resilvering, fast clone deletion, persistent L2ARC, and a number of other changes compared to the state of the current ZFSOnLinux 0.8 stable series. 

  • Linux 5.10 FUSE To Allow Faster Performance With VirtIO-FS - Phoronix

    The FUSE implementation for supporting file-systems in user-space is seeing important kernel work merged for Linux 5.10. 

    The most prominent change with FUSE in Linux 5.10 is a "DAX" mode for allowing direct access to the host page cache. Making use of this direct access support for the host page cache is the VirtIO-FS file-system for sharing files/folders with virtualized guests. 

    By allowing direct access to the host page cache, there is no longer any double caching and most I/O operations should be significantly faster. 

  • Check out the Oracle talks at KVM Forum 2020

    The annual KVM forum conference is next week. It brings together the world's leading experts on Linux virtualization technology to present their latest work. The conference is virtual this year, with live attendance from October 28-30, or check out the recordings once they are available! https://events.linuxfoundation.org/kvm-forum.

    We have a good number of engineers from the Oracle Linux kernel development team who will be presenting their work at the forum. 

    Alexandre Chartre presents KVM Address Space Isolation, a kernel enhancement that provides a separate kernel address space for KVM when running virtual machines. This provides an extra level of protection against speculative execution exploits, improving security for all, and also was a hot topic at the Linux Plumbers Conference earlier this year.

  • Goldman Sachs Open Sources its Data Modeling Platform through FINOS

    The Fintech Open Source Foundation (“FINOS“), together with platinum member Goldman Sachs (GS), today announced the launch of Legend, Goldman’s flagship data management and data governance platform. Developed internally and used by both engineers and non-engineers alike across all divisions of the bank, the source code for five of the platforms’ modules have today been made available as open source within FINOS.

    Today’s launch comes on the heels of the completion of a six-month pilot in which other leading investment banks, such as Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and RBC Capital Markets, used a shared version of Legend, hosted on FINOS infrastructure in the public cloud, to prototype interbank collaborative data modeling and standardization, in particular to build extensions to the Common Domain Model (CDM), developed by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). This shared environment is now, starting today, generally available for industry participants to use and build models collaboratively. With the Legend code now available as open source, organizations may also launch and operate their own instances. The components open-sourced today allow any individual and organization across any industry to harness the power of Goldman Sachs’ internal data platform for their own data management and governance needs as well as contribute to the open code base.

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How anyone can contribute to open source software in their job

Imagine a world where your software works perfectly for you. It meets your needs, does things your way, and is the ideal tool to achieve great things toward your goals. Open source software stems from these roots. Many projects are built by engineers that have a problem and build a solution to solve it. Then they openly share their solution with others to use and improve. Unfortunately, building software is hard. Not everyone has the expertise to build software that works perfectly for their needs. And if the software developers building applications don't fully understand users' needs and how they do their job, the solutions they build may not meet the users' needs and may accidentally create a lot of gaps. Read more

5 open source tools I can't live without

Some time ago, I engaged with a Twitter thread that went viral among techies. The challenge? Pick only five tools that you cannot live without. I started to think about this in relation to my everyday life, and picking just five tools was not easy. I use many tools that I consider essential, such as my IRC client to connect with my colleagues and friends (yes, I still use IRC), a good text editor to hack on things, a calendar app to keep organized, and a videoconferencing platform when more direct interaction is needed. So let me put a twist on this challenge: Pick just five open source tools that boost your productivity. Here's my list; please share yours in the comments. Read more

How to Install Microsoft Edge Browser in Ubuntu and Other Linux

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today's leftovers

  • A Quick Look At Ubuntu 20.04 LTS vs. 20.10 With The Core i9 10900K - Phoronix

    With Ubuntu 20.10 due for release this week I have begun testing near-final Ubuntu 20.10 builds on many more systems in the lab. Larger than our normal distribution/OS comparisons, here is the culmination of running hundreds of benchmarks (366 tests to be exact) under both Ubuntu 20.04 LTS with all available updates and then again on the Ubuntu 20.10 development state while testing on Intel Comet Lake. Aside from specific improvements for bleeding-edge hardware like Intel Tiger Lake performing better on Ubuntu 20.10 or when looking at cases like the Intel and Radeon graphics performance being better on Ubuntu 20.10 due to the newer Linux kernel and Mesa, for general CPU/system workloads the performance has largely been found to be similar to that of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. The other caveat is for workloads being built from source, Ubuntu 20.10 now ships with GCC 10 rather than GCC 9. GCC 10 doesn't normally yield any night-and-day differences in performance but in some cases for newer CPU microarchitectures there has been some improvements there or with features like LTO.

  • TSDgeos' blog: Make sure KDE software is usable in your language, join KDE translations!

    Translations are a vital part of software. More technical people often overlook it because they understand English well enough to use the software untranslated, but only 15% of the World understands English, so it's clear we need good translations to make our software more useful to the rest of the world. Translations are a place that [almost] always needs help, so I would encourage you to me (aacid@kde.org) if you are interested in helping. Sadly, some of our teams are not very active, so you may find yourself alone, it can be a bit daunting at the beginning, but the rest of us in kde-i18n-doc will help you along the way :)

  • News – WordPress 5.6 Beta 1 – WordPress.org

    WordPress 5.6 Beta 1 is now available for testing! This software is still in development, so we recommend that you run this version on a test site. [...] The current target for final release is December 8, 2020. This is just seven weeks away, so your help is needed to ensure this release is tested properly.

  • Google Patches Bug Used in Active Attacks Against Chrome

    Google has discovered and patched a serious vulnerability in Chrome that attackers are actively exploiting at the moment. The bug is a high-severity heap buffer overflow in FreeType, a free font-rendering engine that Chrome, among many other projects, uses. A member of Google’s Project Zero vulnerability research team discovered the vulnerability and subsequently found that attackers were already exploiting it. Google patched the flaw in Chrome 86.0.4240.111 for desktop browsers and the maintainers of the FreeType Project pushed out an emergency release of the library to fix it, as well. “I've just fixed a heap buffer overflow that can happen for some malformed .ttf files with PNG sbit glyphs. It seems that this vulnerability gets already actively used in the wild, so I ask all users to apply the corresponding commit as soon as possible,” Werner Lemberg, one of the original authors of the FreeType, said in an email to the FreeType announcement mailing list.

  • FreeType 2.10.4 Rushed Out As Emergency Security Release

    The FreeType text rendering library is out with version 2.10.4 today as an important security update.

  • Intel: replace thermal compound “every few years”

    Thermal compound (sometimes called thermal paste or grease) is applied to fill minuscule gaps in the materials in the heat spreader (the metal covering on top of the processor) and the heatsink. Eliminating these gaps is essential to ensuring efficient heat transfer into the heatsink. The thermal compound that is used in your computer generally won’t go bad or degrade in its useful lifespan. It will get displaced over time, however. You’d need higher temperatures than what you’ll typically find in a computer for other failure modes to come into effect. The displacement is caused by thermal cycling that results in an effect known as “thermally induced pump-out.” As the components heat up and cool down, the processors’ heat spreader (its metal top) and the heatsink will expand and contract. This effect will, over time, pump the thermal compound out from in between the two metal plates. You can find illustrations and a more technical explanation in the source links below.