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Orangutans are some of the most solitary animals critically endangered as human consumption grows; Ban Palm oil Industry.

Filed under
Just talk

Orangutan

Orangutans are some of the most solitary animals critically endangered as human consumption grows.

Orangutans are currently only found in the rainforest of Borneo and Sumatra where both species are endangered. The orangutans' habitat has decreased and is rapidly being devastated by loggers, palm oil plantations, gold miners, and unnatural forest fires.

Watching videos of orangutans over hundreds of times is nerve-wracking, seeing them in distress and in great trauma as babies watch their mothers hacked and killed by poachers. They are using their machete which is so inhumane, as many of these infants die without the help of their mother and some other infants are sold as pets, ending in the hands of their 'owner', maltreated and malnourished, making their situation even worse. This happened because of the humongous demand and consumption of humans. Guilt is creeping on me; while enjoying my food and applying all the cosmetics for vanity it is like slaughtering an innocent and beautiful primate slowly and accurately. I wasn't thinking at all; I'm closely blinded of my needs, having never bothered to think that somewhere out there someone is tormented. I can't let this happen any longer. I must act and make a stand and be the voice of orangutans. I'm calling for everyone to ban and stop buying palm oil products. We must stop deforestation and the palm oil industry, strongly and swiftly before orangutans and all other animals sail into extinction.

VAR-SOM-MX7 is now available with Certified 802.11ac/a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.2 support

Filed under
Linux

Variscite Announces the Upgrade of its VAR-SOM-MX7 SoM with Bluetooth 4.2 and the Launch of its New VAR-SOM-MX7 Variant with Improved Dual-band 802.11ac/a/b/g/n Certified Wi-Fi Module.

Variscite Launches New Variants for the DART-6UL SoM with Improved Certified Wi-Fi/BT Module with 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n Support

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News

In a matter of only two months, Variscite has announced the launch of an additional enhancement for the DART-6UL System on Module (SoM) product line based on the NXP Cortex-A7 i.MX6 UltraLite family.

Beijing Zoo is No Place for Pandas

Filed under
Just talk

Pandas in Beijing Zoo
Photo credit: Nick Hopkins

I am a Panda lover. I work as a support engineer in an I.T company here in the United Kingdom. Most of my spare time is spent watching different Panda videos -- both old and new videos. Basically, it is my therapy; a 'stress release' for me. I find them to be adorable and precious creatures. As a matter of fact, I would like to volunteer to come to Sichuan. I want to experience and feel what it's like to be a Panda keeper, to be able to interact with them for real. The Panda is China's National Treasure, so it's a shame to watch the Panda videos from Beijing zoo, as the place is disgusting and not ideal for Pandas to live in (and for sure for all the rest of the animals who unfortunately got stuck in this prison cell).

The place looks like a ghost town. Lifeless and languished. Knowing that Pandas wear a thick fur on their body, can you imagine what it feels for them in 30C or 35C (summer temperature)? What it probably feels like all the time? Come on, if you really care, you must do something now, otherwise these Pandas will die. Please bring them back to their sanctuary where they really belong.

Tux Machines is Now on Mastodon

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Site News

Tux Machines on Mastodon

Summary: We can now be found in Mastodon too

A FOSS and decentralised Twitter alternative has received plenty of media attention/traction lately, so Tux Machines belatedly joins in and we invite readers to follow us there if they wish to create an account. The popularity of the platform exploded (number of users quadrupled so far this month).

We've Made It! 100,000 Nodes

Filed under
Site News

A thousand dollars

Summary: Another milestone for Tux Machines, which will turn 15 in a couple of years

100,000 nodes in Tux Machines will have been published later tonight. This one will be assigned node ID/#99995. Earlier today someone anonymous told us, "I just wanted to say thank you for all the work you've done and new information updates at tuxmachines.org."

That's what we are here for -- to help spread information. We don't profit or gain anything from this site, but it's our way of giving back to the Free/Open Source software community.

On to 200,000 (this may take another decade or more).

Translation of the Latest 'Microsoft Loves Linux' Charm Offensive

Filed under
Linux

QUITE a few additional articles -- mostly puff pieces (below is a complete/exhaustive list) -- have been published since yesterday's blog post, which was followed by a short article from Techrights. There is a lot of Microsoft PR inside the news/media right now (more and more by the hour) and it's coordinated (sometimes in advance, based on what we learned yesterday) by Microsoft. Here is a quick rebuttal to the 4 strands of news:

  1. The Linux Foundation joins Microsoft (not a slip): Microsoft paid half a million dollars for over a hundred puff pieces (in English alone) and lots of leverage over Linux, including a distraction from the patent wars it wages.
  2. The GNU/Linux crowd gets a proprietary software database it neither wants nor needs: This might be useful when Microsoft tries to infiltrate GNU/Linux deployments like the one in Munich, later boasting better integration with Windows than with GNU/Linux (same for running Bash/Ubuntu under Windows 10).
  3. Google and .NET: Microsoft accepts that it lost the mobile wars and also lost developers, so it tries ever more desperately to spread .NET and/or Mono.
  4. Tizen/Samsung and .NET: As above.

That's about all it means. Below is the raw PR, which is intended to sometimes (it doesn't always work) mislead the reader, having misled the writers/journalists.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft demonstrates its commitment to open source by joining Linux Foundation [Ed: Microsoft advocacy sites (often paid-for nonsense) like to pretend to themselves that Microsoft is now a good citizen, not racketeer. iophk: “You’ve probably seen links about LF joining Microsoft so I won’t add them. It would have been news if Microsoft joined OIN.”]
  2. Microsoft joins The Linux Foundation as a Platinum member [Ed: How MS advocacy sites put it; the larger payment (like political 'donation') was inevitable. To quote Benjamin Henrion, "Microsoft depends so much on taxing Linux via its dubious software patents that they have decided to join the Linux Foundation #corruption"]
  3. Microsoft now a Platinum Member at Linux Foundation and .NET foundation has Google onboard
  4. Microsoft joins the Linux foundation and blows everyone’s mind
  5. Microsoft And Linux Working On Advance Open Source Project Development, SQL Server And Azure App Service
  6. Microsoft and Linux Collaborates For Open-Source Game; As Rivals Unite, How Could Linux Benefit From This?
  7. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation as it continues to embrace open source
  8. Microsoft join hands with Linux Foundation as platinum member
  9. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member
  10. Microsoft Becomes a Member of The Linux Foundation
  11. Is Google crashing the Microsoft open source party?
  12. Microsoft: SQL Server for Linux is the real deal
  13. Microsoft doubles down on Linux love, joins foundation
  14. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, launches test build of Visual Studio for Mac
  15. Microsoft makes open source commitment with new partnerships involving Google, Linux, Samsung
  16. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member
  17. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation, Open-Source development to get major boost
  18. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation at Platinum Partner
  19. After OpenAI Partnership, Microsoft Joins The Linux Foundation To Dive Deeper Into Open-Source Code
  20. Microsoft is joining the Linux Foundation
  21. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation, Bets on Open Cloud Computing
  22. Microsoft Shows Linux Love by Joining the Linux Foundation
  23. Loves spreads, new Microsoft SQL Server now previewed on Ubuntu
  24. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, no really
  25. Linux Academy Partners with Microsoft Visual Studio Dev Essentials Program
  26. Microsoft Becomes Linux Foundation Platinum Member, The Last Leaf has Fallen
  27. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, confirms commitment to open source development
  28. Microsoft has joined the Linux foundation
  29. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation, After Calling Linux a 'Cancer'
  30. Microsoft Drops Tech Bombshell As It Joins Linux Foundation
  31. Microsoft partners with the Linux Foundation
  32. Microsoft and Google bury the hatchet in one small way
  33. Microsoft Joins the Linux Foundation As Everyone Now Loves Open Source
  34. Microsoft is the Platinum member of Linux Foundation
  35. Linux Foundation Gets a Surprising New Member: Microsoft
  36. SQL Server joins the Linux party, new preview comes to Linux and Docker
  37. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member, Google joins .Net community
  38. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation that promotes open-source technology
  39. Microsoft SQL Server Supports Linux
  40. Cricket Australia to adopt Microsoft’s team and player performance platform
  41. Microsoft announces association with Linux Foundation with Platinum membership
  42. Microsoft joins The Linux Foundation at highest membership tier
  43. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation As Platinum Member And Releases Ports
  44. Microsoft Embraces Open Source, Joins Linux Foundation
  45. As Microsoft joins Linux, Google shakes hands with the .NET Foundation
  46. Microsoft joined the Linux foundation as a platinum member because of Cloud Services
  47. Microsoft, Google, and Samsung Bury the Hatchet with New Partnerships
  48. Microsoft, Google, Samsung Team Up In Open Source Development
  49. Microsoft surprises by joining Linux, 15 years after calling it a ‘cancer’
  50. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation in another nod to open-source code
  51. Microsoft officially joins the Linux league of open source contributors
  52. After Microsoft joins Linux, Google Cloud joins .NET Foundation
  53. Google signs on to the .NET Foundation
  54. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation
  55. Microsoft’s .NET Foundation Now Includes Google
  56. Microsoft Joins The Linux Foundation In Latest Open Source Commitment
  57. Microsoft joins The Linux Foundation; takes on Oracle
  58. Microsoft Joins The Linux Foundation to Boost Open Source Software Ecosystem
  59. Microsoft has officially joined the Linux Foundation

Linux Foundation Commits Suicide as Microsoft E.E.E. Takes a Leap Forward

Filed under
Linux

I have covered Microsoft's interference with FOSS for over a decade and carefully studied even pertinent antitrust documents. I know the company's way of thinking when it comes to undermining their competition, based on internal communications and strategy papers. Even days ago we got this in the news.

The pattern of embrace and extend (to extinguish) -- all this while leveraging software patents to make Linux a Microsoft cash cow or compel OEMs to preinstall privacy-hostile Microsoft software/apps with proprietary formats (lockin) -- never ended. What I see in the Linux Foundation right now is what I saw in Nokia 5 years ago and in Novell 10 years ago -- the very thing that motivated me to start Boycott Novell, a site that has just turned 10 with nearly 22,000 blog posts.

It is a saddening day because it's a culmination, after years of Microsoft 'micro' payments to the Linux Foundation (e.g. event sponsorship in exchange for keynote positions), which will have Microsoft shoved down the throats of GNU/Linux proponents and give an illusion of peace when there is none, not just on the patent front but also other fronts (see what Microsoft's partner Accenture is doing in Munich right now). The links below are a complete list of the bad (in my view very bad) news.

"We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger."

--Jim Allchin, Microsoft's Platform Group Vice President

In the news today:

Record-Breaking Traffic

Filed under
Site News

Summary: Quick report about site traffic

Tux Machines has been enjoying growth in recent weeks, though it's hard to attribute it to anything in particular. The following are the past 4 weeks' logs (we delete all logs after 4 weeks, for privacy reasons, assuring no long-term retention).

-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 389699117 Oct  9 04:40 access.log-20161009
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 454715290 Oct 16 03:46 access.log-20161016
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 478747167 Oct 23 03:12 access.log-20161023
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 499911551 Oct 30 03:40 access.log-20161030

We recently quadrupled the servers' CPU capacity.

The above is not the complete picture. That's omitting all the Varnish activity, which handles the majority of the traffic but simply cannot cache all pages. We are still trying to reduce the frequency of spam incidents (some of the spamy submissions manage to inject JavaScript very briefly).

We'll soon reach the 100,000-node milestone of this Drupal site.

Winner: Triathlon in The Spa At The Midland

Filed under
Just talk

The Spa At The Midland - Rianne SchestowitzI never thought I could win in a challenge of 3 events.

I guess age is not an excuse for giving up... more so in physical fitness; as the saying goes, health is wealth.... consequently, I'll keep doing my routine and even yoga. It is extremely relaxing!

Motivation, hard work, discipline. By-product is triumph... Smile

GNOME Release Party Manchester

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Just talk

GNOME Release Party Manchester

Summary: Today's party celebrating the release of GNOME 3.22

RIANNE AND I both attended today's GNOME release party in Manchester. It was a good opportunity to meet some geeky people, including a few from Codethink, which organised this event.

Web Site Traffic Growing

Filed under
Site News

The Linux Foundation recently added the Platform for Network Data Analytics (PNDA)

Panda

Panda

Summary: Network/traffic analytics for Tux Machines

ULTIMATELY, here in Tux Machines we strive to include every bit of relevant news (standalone pages for more important news, clusters of links for the rest, grouped by topic). We rarely blog although sometimes we add an opinion (marked "Ed", shorthand for "Editor").

It has been a long time since we last wrote about statistics. As readers may know by now, we only retain logs for up to 4 weeks (security/diagnostics purposes), then these get deleted for good so as to maintain privacy (we cannot be compelled to hand over data). Those logs show only direct hits, they don't include pages served through the cache* (Varnish) and here is the latest, where the date stands for "week ending":

-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 224439408 Aug  7 03:17 access.log-20160807
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 310050330 Aug 14 03:22 access.log-20160814
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 343901488 Aug 21 03:17 access.log-20160821
-rw-r--r--.  1 root root 344256886 Aug 28 03:15 access.log-20160828

The above indicates that, judging by the back end (not cache), traffic continues to increase. Over the past week the site was sometimes unbearably slow if not inaccessible. In the worse case we'll upgrade the server for extra capacity, assuring decent speed. Worth noting is that in the latest log (ending August 28th) less than 1,000 hits came from Edge, so very few among our visitors use the latest and 'greatest' from Microsoft.
____
* The cache server services several domains, notably Tux Machines and Techrights, and it averages at around 1.5 GB of traffic per hour.

Tux Machines Turns 12

Filed under
Site News

THE past few weeks were exceptionally busy for the site as readership grew considerably and the site turned 12. Originally, the site did not share Linux news but had various other sections. Years later Susan Linton made it the success story it is today and in 2013-2014 we only modernised the theme and kept the old tradition, format, etc. We hope this pleases longtime readers of the site. Comments on how the site is run are always taken into account.

SPAM Moderation

There has been a system in place to help prevent SPAM since the last major SPAM incident, but sometimes we still overlook some SPAM which gets into the front page, taking advantage of our very liberal and open submissions system (to enable participation by the whole community of users). If any spam still manages to sneak into the front page (often with pesky JavaScript redirects), please get in contact with us ASAP so that we can take action. Thanks to Christine Hall for the latest headsup.

Malicious Spam

Filed under
Site News

FOR those who may be wondering, we didn't get compromised or anything. We never had any such incidents. What happened earlier is that some spammer, who had created an account before we limited account creation (due to spam), made the spam expandable to the whole screen, covering many of the pages with that spam (overlay). We are working on code to help prevent such spamming so that legitimate users can post comments etc. without spammers ruining the experience for everyone else.

Baidu Stages De Facto DDOS Attacks (Updated)

Filed under
Site News

Summary: A 2-hour investigation reveals that Tux Machines is now the victim of an arrogant, out-of-control Baidu

TUX MACHINES has been mostly offline later this morning. It has evidently become the victim of Baidu's lawlessness, having fallen under huge dumps of requests from IP addresses which can be traced back to Baidu and whose requests say Baidu as well (we tried blocking these, but it's not easy to do by IP because they have so many). They don't obey robots.txt rules; not even close! It turns out that others suffer from this as well. These A-holes have been causing a lot of problems to the site as of late (slowdowns was one of those problems), including damage to the underlying framework. Should we report them? To who exactly? Looking around the Web, there are no contact details (in English anyway) by which to reach them.

Baidu can be very evil towards Web sites. Evil. Just remember that.

Update: 3 major DDOS attacks (so far today) led to a lot of problems and they also revealed that not Baidu was at fault but botmasters who used "Baidu" to masquerade themselves, hiding among some real and legitimate requests from Baidu (with Baidu-owned IP addresses). We have changed our firewall accordingly. We don't know who's behind these attacks and what the motivations may be.

With the latest Kubuntu 15.10 (Wily)

Filed under
Just talk

I love the KDE desktop—I really do. However… here are some grumbles.

Record Week

Filed under
Site News

Encounter with a penguin

QUIETLY but surely, last week marked an important milestone, with traffic at the back end (not the cache layer*) exceeding 1.8 million hits, thus establishing a new record. So far this week it looks as though we are going to break this record again. We hope that the new format, which places emphasis on high importance links (as standalone nodes) and puts less important links in topical groups (grouping like games or howtos), makes reading the site more convenient and makes keeping abreast of the news easier, without getting overloaded in a way that is not somewhat manageable (links inside groups are typically less important, as intended). We're open to any suggestions readers may have to ensure we remain a leading syndicator of GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software news. Any feedback can improve the site.

_____
* It is difficult to measure what happens at the Varnish layer as it's shared among several domains, including Techrights.

Back to Normal Next Week

Filed under
Site News

IN CASE it's not already obvious, we have been posting fewer links since the 14th of this month because we are both away and we catch up with some news only when time permits. Today's hot day (38 degrees) will probably allow us to stay indoors more time than usual and therefore post some more links (from Rianne's laptop), but a week for now is when we'll properly catch up with everything that was missed and gradually get back to normal, hopefully for a long time to come.

Please bear with us while we enjoy our last chance to have a summer vacation. It's already cold back home in Manchester.

Acer Chromebook 15 for Linux and Wimbledon

Filed under
Reviews

Earlier this month my husband and I needed a replacement for the Chromebook that I had installed Linux on after Christmas because the keyboard developed a fault. This was a good opportunity to get an upgrade and to connect the 28-inch monitor to it, allowing us to watch Wimbledon over the Internet (we don't watch TV).

Unboxing photos:

Setting up the machine:

It comes with Chrome OS, but I don't want that:

Switch to developer mode:

Setting it up to not be so locked down:

With Roy's help, installing Ubuntu LTS:

Nearly done:

Running KDE/Plasma (my favourite):

Running XFCE:

Running Unity (which I still try to use on a daily basis after using KDE for years):

We have since then bought a cabinet for the external screen and Roy finished building it 2 days ago, so now we can watch shows while we work (4 screen combined using Synergy).

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More in Tux Machines

Mozilla: Firefox's Gecko Media Plugin & EME Architecture, Accessibility, Firefox 68 Beta 10 Testday Results

  • Chris Pearce: Firefox's Gecko Media Plugin & EME Architecture

    For rendering audio and video Firefox typically uses either the operating system's audio/video codecs or bundled software codec libraries, but for DRM video playback (like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the like) and WebRTC video calls using baseline H.264 video, Firefox relies on Gecko Media Plugins, or GMPs for short. This blog post describes the architecture of the Gecko Media Plugin system in Firefox, and the major class/objects involved, as it looked in June 2019. For DRM video Firefox relies upon Google's Widevine Content Decryption Module, a dynamic shared library downloaded at runtime. Although this plugin doesn't conform to the GMP ABI, we provide an adapter to allow it to be run through the GMP system. We use the same Widevine CDM plugin that Chrome uses. For decode and encode of H.264 streams for WebRTC, Firefox uses OpenH264, which is provided by Cisco. This plugin implements the GMP ABI.

  • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: How accessibility trees inform assistive tech

    The web is accessible by default. It was designed with features to make accessibility possible, and these have been part of the platform pretty much from the beginning. In recent times, inspectable accessibility trees have made it easier to see how things work in practice. In this post we’ll look at how “good” client-side code (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) improves the experience of users of assistive technologies, and how we can use accessibility trees to help verify our work on the user experience.

  • QMO: Firefox 68 Beta 10 Testday Results

    As you may already know, Friday June 14th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 68 Beta 10.

Security Leftovers/FUD

  • New Linux Worm Attacks IoT Devices [Ed: How to blame "Linux" for default passwords in devices (and some now also blame "Iran", citing a CIA 'proxy' Recorded Future in relation to this because they want war)]

    Silex has 'bricked' more than 2000 Linux-based IoT devices so far.

  • Your server remote login isn't root:password, right? Cool. You can keep your data. Oh sh... your IoT gear, though? [Ed: All this "Silex" 'news' tries to blame Iran for cracking by guessing default passwords; but this is attempted every day by dozens of nations, every minute in a lot of cases. Any political motivation behind this Iran angle?]

    Earlier this week, infosec outfit Recorded Future claimed a Tehran-backed group known as Elfin, or APT33, has been increasingly active in recent months, largely targeting industrial facilities and companies within Saudi Arabia that do business with the US and other Western countries.
  • 'Silex' Malware Renders Internet-of-Things Devices Useless. Here's How to Prevent It [Ed: War lovers' media, e.g. Fortune (see parent) and CBS (through ZDNet) push this whole "Iran" angle, manufactured in part by Recorded Future, which works with the CIA. This is the source of all these "Iran is cracking your gear" stories (every large nation does it all the time, so why the focus on Iran all of a sudden?)]
  • Silex malware targeting IoT devices spotted by security researchers
  • Daily News Roundup: Hackers Broke into Ten Telecom Networks [Ed: Definitely sounds like they used Windows, which executes malware without obstructing the users (who might just open an E-mail or click on a link)]

    Security researchers have revealed hackers spent years burrowing into ten different telecoms. Using a common method of an email with a link leading to malware, the hackers then used sophisticated techniques to target specific individuals. Security researchers at Cybereason revealed details of years-long attempts to break into telecom services (cell phone carriers). Starting in 2017, and possibly before, hackers sent emails to unsuspecting telecom employees with malicious links. The initial payload gave the hackers access to the telecom networks. Once in, the hackers ultimately compromised the network, gaining administrative privileges, and even creating a VPN on the system that let hackers access large amounts of data and empowered them even to shut down the telecom network entirely. The hackers had so much power that Amit Serper, Principal Security Researcher at Cybereason, described them as essentially a “de facto shadow IT department of the company.”

Kernel: LWN's Latest (SACK etc.) and Phoronix on Saitek R440 Force Racing Wheel Support Coming to Linux

  • The TCP SACK panic

    Selective acknowledgment (SACK) is a technique used by TCP to help alleviate congestion that can arise due to the retransmission of dropped packets. It allows the endpoints to describe which pieces of the data they have received, so that only the missing pieces need to be retransmitted. However, a bug was recently found in the Linux implementation of SACK that allows remote attackers to panic the system by sending crafted SACK information. Data sent via TCP is broken up into multiple segments based on the maximum segment size (MSS) specified by the other endpoint—or some other network hardware in the path it traversed. Those segments are transmitted to that endpoint, which acknowledges that it has received them. Originally, those acknowledgments (ACKs) could only indicate that it had received segments up to the first gap; so if one early segment was lost (e.g. dropped due to congestion), the endpoint could only ACK those up to the lost one. The originating endpoint would have to retransmit many segments that had actually been received in order to ensure the data gets there; the status of the later segments is unknown, so they have to be resent. In simplified form, sender A might send segments 20-50, with segments 23 and 37 getting dropped along the way. Receiver B can only ACK segments 20-22, so A must send 23-50 again. As might be guessed, if the link is congested such that segments are being dropped, sending a bunch of potentially redundant traffic is not going to help things.

  • Short waits with umwait

    If a user-space process needs to wait for some event to happen, there is a whole range of mechanisms provided by the kernel to make that easy. But calling into the kernel tends not to work well for the shortest of waits — those measured in small numbers of microseconds. For delays of this magnitude, developers often resort to busy loops, which have a much smaller potential for turning a small delay into a larger one. Needless to say, busy waiting has its own disadvantages, so Intel has come up with a set of instructions to support short delays. A patch set from Fenghua Yu to support these instructions is currently working its way through the review process. The problem with busy waiting, of course, is that it occupies the processor with work that is even more useless than cryptocoin mining. It generates heat and uses power to no useful end. On hyperthreaded CPUs, a busy-waiting process could prevent the sibling thread from running and doing something of actual value. For all of these reasons, it would be a lot nicer to ask the CPU to simply wait for a brief period until something interesting happens. To that end, Intel is providing three new instructions. umonitor provides an address and a size to the CPU, informing it that the currently running application is interested in any writes to that range of memory. A umwait instruction tells the processor to stop executing until such a write occurs; the CPU is free to go into a low-power state or switch to a hyperthreaded sibling during that time. This instruction provides a timeout value in a pair of registers; the CPU will only wait until the timestamp counter (TSC) value exceeds the given timeout value. For code that is only interested in the timeout aspect, the tpause instruction will stop execution without monitoring any addresses.

  • Dueling memory-management performance regressions

    The 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit included a detailed discussion about a memory-management fix that addressed one performance regression while causing another. That fix, which was promptly reverted, is still believed by most memory-management developers to implement the correct behavior, so a patch posted by Andrea Arcangeli in early May has relatively broad support. That patch remains unapplied as of this writing, but the discussion surrounding it has continued at a slow pace over the last month. Memory-management subsystem maintainer Andrew Morton is faced with a choice: which performance regression is more important? The behavior in question relates to the intersection of transparent huge pages and NUMA policy. Ever since this commit from Aneesh Kumar in 2015, the kernel will, for memory areas where madvise(MADV_HUGEPAGE) has been called, attempt to allocate huge pages exclusively on the current NUMA node. It turns out that the kernel will try so hard that it will go into aggressive reclaim and compaction on that node, forcing out other pages, even if free memory exists on other nodes in the system. In essence, enabling transparent huge pages for a range of memory has become an equivalent to binding that memory to a single NUMA node. The result, as observed by many, can be severe swap storms and a dramatic loss of performance. In an attempt to fix this problem, Arcangeli applied a patch in November 2018 that loosened the tight binding to the current node. But, it turned out, some workloads want that binding behavior. Local huge pages will perform better than huge pages on a remote node; even local small pages tend to be better than remote huge pages. For some tasks, the performance penalty for using remote pages is high enough that it is worth going to great lengths — even enduring a swap storm at application startup — to avoid it. No such workload has been publicly posted, but the patch was reverted by David Rientjes in December after a huge discussion.

  • Rebasing and merging in kernel repositories

    What follows is a kernel document I have been working on for the last month in the hope of reducing the number of subsystem maintainers who run into trouble during the merge window. If all goes according to plan, this text will show up in 5.3 as Documentation/maintainer/rebasing-and-merging.txt. On the off chance that some potentially interested readers might not be monitoring additions to the nascent kernel maintainer's handbook, I'm publishing the text here as well. Maintaining a subsystem, as a general rule, requires a familiarity with the Git source-code management system. Git is a powerful tool with a lot of features; as is often the case with such tools, there are right and wrong ways to use those features. This document looks in particular at the use of rebasing and merging. Maintainers often get in trouble when they use those tools incorrectly, but avoiding problems is not actually all that hard. One thing to be aware of in general is that, unlike many other projects, the kernel community is not scared by seeing merge commits in its development history. Indeed, given the scale of the project, avoiding merges would be nearly impossible. Some problems encountered by maintainers result from a desire to avoid merges, while others come from merging a little too often.

  • Years Late But Saitek R440 Force Racing Wheel Support Is On The Way For Linux

    If you happen to have a Saitek R440 Force Wheel or looking to purchase a cheap and used racing wheel for enjoying the various Linux racing game ports or even the number of games working under Steam Play like F1 2018 and DiRT Rally 2.0, Linux support is on the way. The Saitek R440 Force Wheel can still be found from the likes of eBay for those wanting a cheap/used PC game racing wheel. Now coming soon to the Linux kernel is support for this once popular gaming wheel -- which was originally released back in 2004. The Linux kernel patch originally adding the Saitek R440 was sent last year only to be resent out recently in an attempt for mainline acceptance.

More frequent Python releases?

Python has followed an 18-month release cycle for many years now; each new 3.x release comes at that frequency. It has worked well, overall, but there is interest in having a shorter cycle, which would mean that new features get into users' hands more quickly. But changing that longstanding cycle has implications in many different places, some of which have come up as part of a discussion on switching to a cycle of a different length. Łukasz Langa, who is the release manager for the upcoming 3.8 release, as well as the manager for the date-to-be-determined release of 3.9, has proposed PEP 596 ("Python 3.9 Release Schedule (doubling the release cadence)"). As its name would imply, the PEP proposes halving the current release cycle to nine months, which would make the 3.9 release happen in June 2020. As described in PEP 569 ("Python 3.8 Release Schedule"), the Python 3.8 release is slated for October of this year; it is in beta at this point, so no new features can be added. The beta release also marks the start of development for the next release, so work on 3.9 has already begun. With that overlap, a nine-month cycle would actually allow seven or eight months for feature development and four or five months for shaking out the bugs from the first beta release on. Read more Also: 7 Python Function Examples with Parameters, Return and Data Types