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Updated: 6 hours 10 min ago

Linux Plumbers Conference: Linux Plumbers Earlybird Registration Quota Reached, Regular Registration Opens 30 June

13 hours 14 min ago

A few days ago we added more capacity to the earlybird registration quota, but that too has now filled up, so your next opportunity to register for Plumbers will be Regular Registration on 30 June … or alternativelythe call for presentations to the refereed track is still open and accepted talks will get a free pass.

Quotas were added a few years ago to avoid the entire conference selling out months ahead of time and accommodate attendees whose approval process takes a while or whose company simply won’t allow them to register until closer to the date of the conference.

Linux Plumbers Conference: Additional early bird slots available for LPC 2019

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019 01:03:54 PM

The Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) registration web site has been showing “sold out” recently because the cap on early bird registrations
was reached. We are happy to report that we have reviewed the registration numbers for this year’s conference and were able to open more early bird registration slots. Beyond that, regular registration will open July 1st. Please note that speakers and microconference runners get free passes to LPC, as do some microconference presenters, so that may be another way to attend the conference. Time is running out for new refereed-track and microconference proposals, so visit the CFP page soon. Topics for accepted microconferences are welcome as well.

LPC will be held in Lisbon, Portugal from Monday, September 9 through Wednesday, September 11.

We hope to see you there!

James Morris: Linux Security Summit 2019 North America: CFP / OSS Early Bird Registration

Monday 20th of May 2019 08:56:19 PM

The LSS North America 2019 CFP is currently open, and you have until May 31st to submit your proposal. (That’s the end of next week!)

If you’re planning on attending LSS NA in San Diego, note that the Early Bird registration for Open Source Summit (which we’re co-located with) ends today.

You can of course just register for LSS on its own, here.

Linux Plumbers Conference: Tracing Microconference Accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

Monday 20th of May 2019 05:37:28 PM

We are pleased to announce that the Tracing Microconference has been accepted into the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference! Its return to Linux Plumbers shows that tracing is not finished in Linux, and there continue to be challenging problems to solve.

There’s a broad list of ways to perform Tracing in Linux. From the original mainline Linux tracer, Ftrace, to profiling tools like perf, more complex customized tracing like BPF and out-of-tree tracers like LTTng, systemtap, and Dtrace. Part of the trouble with tracing within Linux is that there is so much to choose from. Each of these have their own audience, but there is a lot of overlap. This year’s theme is to find those common areas and combine them into common utilities.

There is also a lot of new work that is happening and discussions between top maintainers will help keep everyone in sync, and provide good direction for the future.

Expected topics include:

  • bpf tracing – Anything to do with BPF and tracing combined
  • libtrace – Making libraries from our tools
  • Packaging – Packaging these libraries
  • babeltrace – Anything that we need to do to get all tracers talking to each other
  • Those pesky tracepoints – How to get what we want from places where trace events are taboo
  • Changing tracepoints – Without breaking userspace
  • Function tracing – Modification of current implementation
  • Rewriting of the Function Graph tracer – Can kretprobes and function graph tracer merge as one
  • Histogram and synthetic tracepoints – Making a better interface that is more intuitive to use

Come and join us and not only learn but help direct the future progress of tracing inside the Linux kernel and beyond!

If you have another tracing topic idea, please send it to Steven Rostedt: rostedt@goodmis.org .

We hope to see you there!

Pete Zaitcev: Google Fi

Monday 20th of May 2019 03:39:32 PM

Seen an amusing blog post today on the topic of the hideous debacle that is Google Fi (on top of being a virtual network). Here's the best part though:

About a year ago I tried to get my parents to switch from AT&T to Google Fi. I even made a spreadsheet for my dad (who likes those sorts of things) about how much money he could save. He wasn’t interested. His one point was that at anytime he can go in and get help from an AT&T rep. I kept asking “Who cares? Why would you ever need that?”. Now I know. He was paying almost $60 a month premium for the opportunity to able to talk to a real person, face-to-face! I would gladly pay that now.

Respect your elders!

Ted Tso: Switching to Hugo

Monday 20th of May 2019 03:19:57 AM

With the demise of Google+, I’ve decided to try to resurrect my blog. Previously, I was using Wordpress, but I’ve decided that it’s just too risky from a security perspective. So I’ve decided my blog over to Hugo.

A consequence of this switch is that all of the Wordpress comments have been dropped, at least for now.

Dave Airlie (blogspot): Senior Job in Red Hat graphics team

Tuesday 14th of May 2019 09:07:44 PM
We have a job in our team, it's a pretty senior role, definitely want people with lots of experience. Great place to work,ignore any possible future mergers :-)

https://global-redhat.icims.com/jobs/68911/principal-software-engineer/job?mobile=false&width=1526&height=500&bga=true&needsRedirect=false&jan1offset=600&jun1offset=600

Linux Plumbers Conference: RISC-V microconference accepted for the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

Friday 10th of May 2019 07:55:31 PM

The open nature of the RISC-V ecosystem has allowed contributions from both academia and industry leading to an unprecedented number of new hardware design proposals in a very short time span. Linux support is the key to enabling these new hardware options. Since last year’s Plumbers, many kernel features were added to RISC-V. To name a few, we now have out-of-box 32-bit and eBPF support, some key issues with Linux boot process have been addressed, and hypervisor support is on its way.

Last year’s RISC-V microconference was such a success that we would like to repeat that again this year by focusing on finding solutions and discussing ideas that require kernel changes.

Topics for this year microconference are expected to cover:

  • RISC-V Platform Specification Progress, including some extensions such as power management
  • Fixing the Linux boot process in RISC-V (RISC-V now has better support for open source boot loaders like U-Boot and coreboot compared to last year. As a result of this developers can use the same boot loaders to boot Linux on RISC-V as they do in other architectures, but there’s more work to be done)
  • RISC-V hypervisor emulation
  • NOMMU Linux for RISC-V
  • Any other subject of interest

If you’re interested in participating in this microconference or have other topics to propose, please contact Atish Patra (atish.patra@wdc.com) or Palmer Dabbelt (palmer@dabbelt.com)

LPC will be held in Lisbon, Portugal from Monday, September 9 through Wednesday, September 11.

We hope to see you there!

Davidlohr Bueso: Linux v5.1: Performance Goodies

Thursday 9th of May 2019 08:10:23 PM
sched/wake_q: reduce atomic operations for special usersSome core users of wake_qs, futex and rwsems were incurring in double task reference counting - which was a side effect for safety reasons. This change levels the call's performance with the rest of the users.[Commit 07879c6a3740]
irq: Speedup for interrupt statistics in /proc/statOn large systems with a large amount of interrupts the readout of /proc/stat takes a long time to sum up the interrupt statistics.  The reason for this is that interrupt statistics are accounted per cpu. So the /proc/stat logic has to sum up the interrupt stats for each interrupt. While applications shouldn't really be doing this to a point where it creates bottlenecks, the fix was fairly easy. [Commit 1136b0728969]
mm/swapoff: replace quadratic complexity for linealtry_to_unuse() is of quadratic complexity, with a lot of wasted effort. It unuses swap entries one by one, potentially iterating over all the page tables for all the processes in the system for each one. With these changes, it now iterates over the system's mms once, unusing all the affected entries as it walks each set of page tables.

Improvements show time reductions for swapoff being called on a swap partition containing about 6G of data, from 8 to 3 minutes. [Commit c5bf121e4350 b56a2d8af914]
  mm: make pinned_vm an atomic counterThis reduces some of the bulky mmap_sem games that are played when, mostly rdma, deals with the pinned pages counter. It also pivots on not relying on the lock for get user pages operations.[Commit 70f8a3ca68d3 3a2a1e90564e b95df5e3e459]
drivers/async: NUMA aware async_schedule callsAsynchronous function calls reduces, primarily, kernel boot time by safely doing out of order operations, such as device discovery. This series improves the NUMA locality by being able to schedule device specific init work on specific NUMA nodes in order to improve performance of memory initialization. Significant init reduction times for persistent memory were seen.[Commit 3451a495ef24 ed88747c6c4a ef0ff68351be 8204e0c1113d 6be9238e5cb6 c37e20eaf4b2 8b9ec6b73277 af87b9a7863c 57ea974fb871]lib/iov_iter: optimize page_copy_sane()This avoid cacheline misses when dereferencing a struct page, via compound_head(), when possible. Apparently the overhead was visible on TCP doing recvmsg() calls dealing with GRO packets.[Commit 6daef95b8c91]fs/epoll: reduce lock contention in ep_poll_callback()This patch increases the bandwidth of events which can be delivered from sources to the poller by adding poll items in a lockless way to the ready list; via clever ways of xchg() while holding a reader rwlock . This improves scenarios with multiple threads generating IO events which are delivered to a single threaded epoll_wait()er.[Commit c141175d011f c3e320b61581 a218cc491420]
fs/nfs: reduce cost of listing huge directories (readdirplus)When listing very large directories via NFS, clients may take a long time to complete. Most of the culprit is in various degrees of libc's readdir(2) reading 32k files at a time. To improve performance and reduce the amount of rpc calls, NFS readdirplus rpc will ask for a large data (more than 32k), the data can fill more than one page, the cached pages can be used for next readdir call. Benchmarks show rpc calls decreasing by 85% while listing a directory with 300k files.[Commit be4c2d4723a4]
fs/pnfs: Avoid read/modify/write when it is not necessaryWhen testing with fio, Throughput of overwrite (both buffered and O_SYNC) is noticeably improved.[Commit 97ae91bbf3a7 2cde04e90d5b]

Davidlohr Bueso: Linux v5.0: Performance Goodies

Thursday 9th of May 2019 08:10:08 PM
mm/page-alloc: reduce zone->lock contentionContention in the page allocator was seen in a network traffic report, in which order-0 allocations are being freed by back to the directly to the buddy, instead of making use of percpu-pages in the page_frag_free() call. Aside from eliminating the contention, it was seen to improve some microbenchmarks.[Commit 65895b67ad27]
mm/mremap: improve scalability on large regionsWhen THP is disabled, move_page_tables() can bottleneck a large mremap() call, as it will copy each pte at a time. This patch speeds up the performance by copying at the PMD level when possible. Up to 20x speedups were seen when doing a 1Gb remap.[Commit 2c91bd4a4e2e]
mm: improve anti-fragmentationGiven sufficient time or an adverse workload, memory gets fragmented and the long-term success of high-order allocations degrades. Overall the series reduces external fragmentation causing events by over 94% on 1 and 2 socket machines, which in turn impacts high-order allocation success rates over the long term.[Commit 6bb154504f8b a921444382b4 0a79cdad5eb2 1c30844d2dfe]
mm/hotplug: optimize clear hw_poisoned_pages()During hotplug remove, the kernel will loop for the respective number of pages looking for poisoned pages. Check the atomic hint in case this are none, and optimize the function.[Commit 5eb570a8d924]
mm/ksm: Replace jhash2 with xxhashxxhash is an extremely fast non-cryptographic hash algorithm for checksumming, making it suitable to use in kernel samepage merging. On a custom KSM benchmark, throughput was seen to improve from 1569 to 8770 MB/s.
 [Commit 0b9df58b79fa 59e1a2f4bf83]
genirq/affinity: Spread IRQs to all available NUMA nodes If the number of NUMA nodes exceeds the number of MSI/MSI-X interrupts which are allocated for a device, the interrupt affinity spreading code fails to spread them across all nodes. NUMA nodes above the number of interrupts are all assigned to hardware queue 0 and therefore NUMA node 0, which results in bad performance and has CPU hotplug implications. Fix this by assigning via round-robin.[Commit b82592199032]

fs/epoll: Optimizations for epoll_wait()Various performance changes oriented towards improving the waiting side, such that contention epoll waitqueue (previously ep->lock) spinlock is reduced. This produces pretty good results for various concurrent epoll_wait(2) benchmarks. [Commit 74bdc129850c 4e0982a00564 76699a67f304 21877e1a5b52 c5a282e9635e abc610e01c66 86c051793b4c]
lib/sbitmap: Various optimizationsTwo optimizations to the sbitmap core were introduced, which is used, for example, by the block-mq tags. The first optimizes wakeup checks and adds to the core api, while the second introduces batched clearing of bits, trading 64 atomic bitops for 2 cmpxchg calls.[Commit 5d2ee7122c73 ea86ea2cdced]fs/locks: Avoid thundering herd wakeupsWhen one thread releases a lock on a given file, it wakes up all other threads that are waiting (classic thundering-herd) - one will get the lock and the others go to sleep.  The overhead starts being noticeable with increasing thread counts. These changes create a tree of pending lock request in which siblings don't conflict and each lock request does conflict with its parent. When a lock is released, only requests which don't conflict with each other a woken.

Testing shows that lock-acquisitions-per-second is now fairly stable even as number of contending process goes to 1000. Without this patch, locks-per-second drops off steeply after a few 10s of processes. Micro-benchmarks can be found per the lockscale program, which tests fcntl(..., F_OFD_SETLKW, ...) and flock(..., LOCK_EX) calls.[Commit d6367d624137 5946c4319ebb 16306a61d3b7 c0e15908979d fd7732e033e3 cb03f94ffb07]
arm64/lib: improve crc32 performance for deep pipelinesThis change replace most branches with a branchless code path that overlaps 16 byte loads to process the first (length % 32) bytes, and process the remainder using a loop that processes 32 bytes at a time.[Commit efdb25efc764]

Michael Kerrisk (manpages): man-pages-5.01 is released

Thursday 9th of May 2019 12:10:27 PM
I've released man-pages-5.01. The release tarball is available on kernel.org. The browsable online pages can be found on man7.org. The Git repository for man-pages is available on kernel.org.

This release resulted from patches, bug reports, reviews, and comments from just over 20 contributors. The release is smaller release than typical; it includes just over 70 commits that changed just over 40 pages.

The most notable of the changes in man-pages-5.01 is the following:
  • The tsearch(3) page adds documentation of the new twalk_r() function that is added in the upcoming glibc 2.30 release. Thanks to Florian Weimer.

Pete Zaitcev: YAML

Saturday 4th of May 2019 06:48:55 PM

Seen in a blog entry by Martin Tournoij (via):

I’ve been happily programming Python for over a decade, so I’m used to significant whitespace, but sometimes I’m still struggling with YAML. In Python the drawbacks and loss of clarity are contained by not having functions that are several pages long, but data or configuration files have no such natural limits to their length.

[...]

YAML may seem ‘simple’ and ‘obvious’ when glancing at a basic example, but turns out it’s not. The YAML spec is 23,449 words; for comparison, TOML is 3,339 words, JSON is 1,969 words, and XML is 20,603 words.

There's more where the above came from. In particular, the portability issues are rather surprising.

Unfortunately for me, OpenStack TripleO is based on YAML.

Linux Plumbers Conference: BPF microconference accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

Saturday 4th of May 2019 01:31:33 AM

We are pleased to announce that the BPF microconference has been accepted into the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference! Last year’s BPF microconference was such a success that it will be held again this year.

BPF along with its just-in-time (JIT) compiler inside the Linux kernel allows for versatile programmability of the kernel and plays a major role in networking (XDP, tc BPF, etc.), tracing (kprobes, uprobes, tracepoints) and security (seccomp, landlock) subsystems.

Since last year’s Plumbers Conference, many of the discussed improvements have been tackled and found their way into the Linux kernel such as significant steps towards allowing for a compile-once paradigm with the help of BTF and global data support as well as considerable verifier scalability improvements to name a few. The topics proposed for this year’s event include:

– libbpf, loader unification
– Standardized BPF ELF format
– Multi-object semantics and linker-style logic for BPF loaders
– Verifier scalability work towards 1 million instructions
– Sleepable BPF programs
– BPF loop support
– Indirect calls in BPF
– Unprivileged BPF
– BPF type format (BTF)
– BPF timers
– bpftool
– LLVM BPF backend, JITs and BPF offloading
– and more

Come join us and participate in the decision making of one of the most cutting edge advancements in the Linux kernel!

See here for a detailed preview of the proposed and accepted topics. Please feel free to submit your discussion proposals to Alexei or Daniel: lpc-bpf@vger.kernel.org

We hope to see you there!

Pete Zaitcev: Fraud in the material world

Thursday 2nd of May 2019 05:52:50 PM

Wow, they better not be building Boeings from this crap:

NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) investigators have determined the technical root cause for the Taurus XL launch failures of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) and Glory missions in 2009 and 2011, respectively: faulty materials provided by aluminum manufacturer, Sapa Profiles (SPI). LSP’s technical investigation led to the involvement of NASA’s Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). DOJ’s efforts, recently made public, resulted in the resolution of criminal charges and alleged civil claims against SPI, and its agreement to pay $46 million to the U.S. government and other commercial customers. This relates to a 19-year scheme that included falsifying thousands of certifications for aluminum extrusions to hundreds of customers.

BTW, those costly failures probably hastened the sale of Orbital to ATK in 2015. There were repercussions for the personnell running the Taurus program as well.

Daniel Vetter: Upstream First

Thursday 2nd of May 2019 12:00:00 AM

lwn.net just featured an article the sustainability of open source, which seems to be a bit a topic in various places since a while. I’ve made a keynote at Siemens Linux Community Event 2018 last year which lends itself to a different take on all this:

The slides for those who don’t like videos.

This talk was mostly aimed at managers of engineering teams and projects with fairly little experience in shipping open source, and much less experience in shipping open source through upstream cross vendor projects like the kernel. It goes through all the usual failings and missteps and explains why an upstream first strategy is the right one, but with a twist: Instead of technical reasons, it’s all based on economical considerations of why open source is succeeding. Fundamentally it’s not about the better software, or the cheaper prize, or that the software freedoms are a good thing worth supporting.

Instead open source is eating the world because it enables a much more competitive software market. And all the best practices around open development are just to enable that highly competitive market. Instead of arguing that open source has open development and strongly favours public discussions because that results in better collaboration and better software we put on the economic lens, and private discussions become insider trading and collusions. And that’s just not considered cool in a competitive market. Similar arguments can be made with everything else going on in open source projects.

Circling back to the list of articles at the top I think it’s worth looking at the sustainability of open source as an economic issue of an extremely competitive market, in other words, as a market failure: Occasionally the result is that no one gets paid, the customers only receive a sub-par product with all costs externalized - costs like keeping up with security issues. And like with other market failures, a solution needs to be externally imposed through regulations, taxation and transfers to internalize all the costs again into the product’s prize. Frankly no idea how that would look like in practice though.

Anyway, just a thought, but good enough a reason to finally publish the recording and slides of my talk, which covers this just in passing in an offhand remark.

Update: Fix slides link.

Linux Plumbers Conference: Lots of microconferences proposed for LPC

Wednesday 24th of April 2019 01:36:56 PM

Microconference proposals have been rolling in for the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference, but it is not too late to submit more. So far, we have the following microconference proposals:

  • Containers and checkpoint/restore
  • You, Me and IoT
  • Testing & Fuzzing
  • BPF
  • Toolchain
  • RISC-V
  • Distribution Kernels
  • Android
  • Database
  • Tracing
  • Real-Time
  • Live Patching

If you have suggestions for topics to be discussed in those microconferences, please email contact@linuxplumbersconf.org to connect with the microconference runners.

Other microconference topic areas are still welcome, please go to the CFP page to submit yours today!

Linux Plumbers Conference: Registration is open for the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

Saturday 13th of April 2019 09:23:47 AM

Registration is now open for the 2019 edition of the Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC). It will be held September 9-11 in Lisbon, Portugal with dedicated Linux Kernel Summit and Networking tracks, as was done last year, along with the microconferences and refereed presentations that are LPC standards. Go to the registration site to sign up or the attend page for more information on dates and quotas for the various registration types. Early registration will run until June 30 or until the quota is filled.

Note that the CFPs for microconferences, refereed track talks, and BoFs are still open, please see this page for more information.

As always, please contact the organizing committee if you have questions.

Linux Plumbers Conference: Linux Plumbers Conference 2019 Call for Bird of a Feather (BoF) Session Proposals

Friday 12th of April 2019 08:05:50 AM

On the heels of the previous announcements, we are also pleased to announce the Bird of a Feather (BoF) Session Proposals for the 2019 edition of the Linux Plumbers Conference, which will be held in Lisbon, Portugal on September 9-11 in conjunction with the Linux Kernel Maintainer Summit.

BoFs are free-form get-togethers for people wishing to discuss a particular topic. As always, you only need to submit proposals for BoFs you want to hold on-site. In contrast, and again as always, informal BoFs may be held at local drinking establishments or in the “hallway track” at your convenience.

For more information on submitting a BoF session proposal, see the following:

https://www.linuxplumbersconf.org/event/4/abstracts

Please note that the submission system is the same as 2018. If you created an user account last year, you will be able to re-use the same credentials to submit and modify your proposal(s) this year.

The call for Microconferences and Refereed-Track proposals are also open, and we hope to see you in Lisbon this coming September!

Paul E. Mc Kenney: Confessions of a Recovering Proprietary Programmer, Part XVI

Wednesday 10th of April 2019 09:37:12 PM
I build quite a few Linux kernels, mostly in support of my deep and abiding rcutorture habit. These builds can take some time, even on modern laptops, but they are nevertheless amazingly fast compared to the build times of the much smaller projects I worked on in decades past. Additionally, build times are way down in the noise when I am doing multi-hour rcutorture runs. So much so that I don't bother with cut-down kernel configurations, especially given that cut-down configurations are an excellent way to fail to spot subtle RCU API problems.

Still, faster builds do have their advantages, especially when doing a series of short tests, such as when chasing down that rarest of creatures, an RCU bug that reproduces reliably within a few minutes of boot. Which is exactly what I was doing yesterday. And during that time, a five-minute kernel build time was much more annoying than it normally would be.

But that is why we have ccache, a tool that is considerably more attractive than it was back when my laptop's mass storage weighed in at “only” a few tens of gigabytes. With a bit of help from here, here, and the ccache man page, I got ccache up and running, and somewhat later got it actually making kernel builds go faster. Sometimes considerably more than an order of magnitude faster!

But I do get spoiled really quickly.

You see, the first ccache build goes no faster than a normal build because the cache is initially empty. And yes, a five, six, or even seven-minute build was just fine a couple of days ago: After all, there is always some small task that needs to be done. But having just witnessed builds completing in way less than one minute, even a five-minute wait now seemed horribly slow. And a five-minute build is what I get the first time I run a given rcutorture scenario. Or after I modify an rcutorture scenario. Or if I specify unusual arguments to rcutorture's --kconfig command-line option. Or if I modify a heavily used include file. Or when I configured ccache's cache size too small.

Nevertheless, I most definitely should have installed ccache a very long time ago! :-)

Linux Plumbers Conference: Results from the 2018 LPC survey

Monday 8th of April 2019 03:30:34 PM

Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey after Linux Plumbers in 2018. We had 134 responses, which, given the total number of conference participants of around 492, has provided confidence in the feedback.

Overall: 85% of respondents were positive about the event, with only 2% actually saying they were dissatisfied. Co-locating with Kernel Summit proved popular, so we will be co-locating with Kernel Summit in 2019. Co-locating with Networking Summit was also well received, so we will be doing that again this year, too. Conference participation was up from 2017 and we sold out again this year. 98% of those that registered were able to attend.

Based on feedback from last year’s survey, we videotaped all of the sessions, and the videos are now posted. There are over 100 hours of video in our YouTube channel or you can access them by visiting the detailed schedule and clicking on the video link in the presentation materials section of any given talk or discussion. The Microconferences are recorded as one long video block, but clicking on the video link of a particular discussion topic will take you to the time index in that file where the chosen discussion begins.

Venue: 67% of survey respondents considered the size of attendees to be just right, however 25% would have like to have seen more able to attend. In general, 43% of respondents considered the venue size to be a good match, but a significant portion would have preferred it to be bigger (45%) as well. The room size was considered effective for participation by 95% of the respondents, however there was a clear indication in the comments that we need to figure out a better way to allocate rooms based on expected participants, as some ended up overflowing. There is some desire for additional electrical outlets to be made available, which will be looked into for the 2019 event.

Content: In terms of track feedback, Linux Plumbers Refereed track and Kernel Summit track were indicated as very relevant by almost all respondents who attended. The Networking track had fewer participants responding on the survey, but was positively reviewed as well. Hallway track continues to be regarded as very relevant, and appreciated.

Communication: This year we had a new website, and participants were able to navigate through it and find the session needed. In the feedback, there were some requests to integrate scheduling app capabilities (and attendee room size); the committee will look into options for that.

Events: Craft Beer was the most popular event and had favorable feedback from respondents. There were some concerns expressed in the written feedback that we didn’t clarify there were non-alcoholic options available there, and we’ll take note to communicate this better in future. The final closing event venue was originally planned for conference attendance similar to the prior year; the increase of 20% to 492 attendees, impacted this event, and the perception was that it was too crowded and had insufficient food from the comments.

There were lots of great suggestions to the “what one thing would you like to see changed” question, and the program committee has been studying them to see what is possible to implement this year. Thank you again to the participants for their input and help on making the Linux Plumbers Conference better in 2019 and the future.

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Audiocasts/Shows: Linux Action News, Linux Gaming News Punch, Open Source Security Podcast and GNU World Order

Review: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0

My experiment with RHEL 8 got off to a rough start. Going through the on-line registration process produced some errors and ended up with me getting the wrong ISO which, in turn, resulted in some confusion and delays in getting the distribution installed. Things then began to look up as RHEL 8 did a good job of detecting my system's hardware, registered itself without incident and offered good performance on physical hardware. I was particularly pleased that the distribution appears to detect whether our video card will work well with Wayland and either displays or hides Wayland sessions in response. I did have some trouble with the GNOME Classic Wayland session and GNOME Shell on X.Org was a bit sluggish. However, the Classic session on X.Org and GNOME Shell on Wayland both worked very well. In short, it's worthwhile to explore each of the four desktop options to see what works best for the individual. The big issues I ran into with RHEL were with regards to software management. Both GNOME Software and the Cockpit screen for managing applications failed to work at all, whether run as root or a regular user. When using the command line dnf package manager, the utility failed to perform searches unless run with sudo and occasionally crashed. In a similar vein, the Bash feature that checks for matching packages when the user types a command name it doesn't recognize does not work and produces a lengthy error. There were some security features or design choices that I think will mostly appeal to enterprise users, but are less favourable in home or small office environments. Allowing remote root logins by default on the Workstation role rubs me the wrong way, though I realize it is often useful when setting up servers. The enforced complex passwords are similarly better suited to offices than home users. One feature which I think most people will enjoy is SELinux which offers an extra layer of security, thought I wish the Cockpit feature to toggle SELinux had worked to make trouble-shooting easier. I was not surprised that RHEL avoids shipping some media codecs. The company has always been cautious in this regard. I had hoped that trying to find and install the codecs would have provided links to purchase the add-ons or connect us with a Red Hat-supplied repository. Instead we are redirected through a chain of Fedora documentation until we come to a third-party website which currently does not offer the desired packages. Ultimately, while RHEL does some things well, such as hardware support, desktop performance, and providing stable (if conservative) versions of applications, I found my trial highly frustrating. Many features simply do not work, or crash, or use a lot of resources, or need to be worked around to make RHEL function as a workstation distribution. Some people may correctly point out RHEL is mostly targeting servers rather than workstations, but there too there are a number of problems. Performance and stability are provided, but the issues I ran into with Cockpit, permission concerns, and command line package management are all hurdles for me when trying to run RHEL in a server role. I find myself looking forward to the launch of CentOS 8 (which will probably arrive later this year), as CentOS 8 uses the same source code as RHEL, but is not tied to the same subscription model and package repositories. I am curious to see how much of a practical effect this has on the free, community version of the same software. Read more

GNOME 3.34 Revamps the Wallpaper Picker (And Fixes a Longstanding Issue Too)

The upcoming release of GNOME 3.34 will finally solve a long standing deficiency in the desktop’s background wallpaper management. Now, I’ve written about various quirks in GNOME wallpaper handling before, but it’s the lack of option to pick a random wallpaper from a random directory via the Settings > Background panel that is, by far, my biggest bug bear. Ubuntu 19.04 ships with GNOME 3.32. Here, the only wallpapers available to select via the Settings > Background section are those the system ships with and any top-level images placed in ~/Pictures — nothing else is selectable. So, to set a random image as a wallpaper in GNOME 3.32 I tend to ignore the background settings panel altogether and instead use the image viewer’s File > Set as background… option (or the similar Nautilus right-click setting). Thankfully, not for much longer! Read more