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Sunday, 18 Mar 18 - Tux Machines is a community-driven public service/news site which has been around for over a decade and primarily focuses on GNU/LinuxSubscribe now Syndicate content

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Stable kernels 4.15.10 and 4.14.27

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Games: Yorg, Clawface, Cendric, BATTLETECH, Surviving Mars

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Faster app-launching in Cinnamon

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The development team took some time earlier this year to investigate Cinnamon’s performance when it comes to launching applications.

It’s really hard to measure the actual time between the moment the mouse button is clicked and the moment the new application is rendered on the screen, with its window properly mapped, and the mapping window animation completely finished. It’s not something that can be timed accurately, yet we all agreed within the development team to say that it either “was”, or “felt” snappier in MATE and Xfce.

At the time, we didn’t know if it was just down to perception (animations, composition), or a feature (registering new apps with the session for instance), or a performance issue.

We developed a little script and a method to measure how long it took to flood the desktop environment with the creation of 200 windows. We could then measure the time reported by the script to build these 200 windows, and the time it actually took the desktop environment to recover from it and have these windows placed/mapped correctly and ready to be interacted with.

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Some Windows Server 2016 vs. Linux Network Benchmarks

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A Phoronix Premium supporter recently requested some Windows vs. Linux networking performance benchmarks. That is being done as part of a larger comparison also featuring the popular BSDs, but for some initial measurements, here are some Netperf networking performance metrics on Microsoft Windows Server 2016 and various Linux distributions.

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Ubuntu 18.04 Versus Six Other Linux Distributions On AMD EPYC

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With Ubuntu 18.04 LTS set to be released next month and its final package configuration quickly falling into place, we have begun firing up some benchmarks for seeing how this Ubuntu 18.04 "Bionic Beaver" release is comparing to various other Linux distributions. Up first as part of this series of benchmarks is using an AMD EPYC workstation/server for seeing how the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS performance compares to six other Linux distributions.

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Linux Mint Devs to Enable Faster Launching of Apps on Cinnamon for Linux Mint 19

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As you probably know already, Cinnamon is the default desktop environment of the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint operating system. It uses parts of the GNOME Stack at its core, which means that it's not so lightweight as its MATE or Xfce counterparts, so launching apps isn't as fast as you'd like it to be lately.

That's why the Linux Mint development team spent some time earlier this year to investigate and debug any performance hogs in Cinnamon, especially when launching the pre-installed applications. They compared Cinnamon with the Metacity window manager and found out that the former was six times slower.

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Chromium and Firefox Web Browsers Are Now Installable as Snaps on Ubuntu Linux

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Canonical's Snappy technologies are becoming more and more popular these days as the company behind the widely used Ubuntu plans to enable them by default and even make them a first-class citizen in future releases of its Linux-based operating system.

The great thing about Snap apps is that they are secure by design, utilizing a container-style approach mechanism for deploying software on various GNU/Linux distributions that support Canonical's Snappy universal binary format.

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Qt Creator 4.6 RC released

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We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.6 RC!

Since the beta release we have been busy with bug fixing. Please refer to the beta blog post and our change log for an overview of what is new in Qt Creator 4.6. As always this is a final call for feedback from you before we release 4.6.0, so we would be happy to hear from you on our bug tracker, the mailing list, or on IRC.

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Mozilla: New Firefox Snap, Firefox 60 Plans and These Weeks in Firefox

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  • Firefox is now available as a Snap package

    The latest version of Mozilla Firefox is available as a Snap package for Ubuntu and other Linux distros. Not just any ol’d Snap package either, but an official, made-by-Mozilla Snap package. It’s arrival, without any sort of formal fanfare (yet) has been a long time coming.

  • Firefox 60 Is In Beta With Web Authentication & Policy Engine Support

    Other changes in Firefox 60.0 beta include the new Firefox Quantum CSS engine being used to render the browser's user-interface, enhanced camera privacy indicators, support for promises with IndexedDB transactions, and more.

    There doesn't appear to be anything new with regards to Wayland support in Firefox 60 Beta.

    Firefox 60.0 should be officially released in early May.

  • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 34

Amid congressional mandate to open source DoD’s software code, serves as guidepost

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As part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department has until June to start moving much of its custom-developed software source code to a central repository and begin managing and licensing it via open source methods.

The mandate might prove daunting for an organization in which open source practices are relatively scarce, especially considering that, until recently, there was no established open source playbook for the federal government. That’s begun to change, however, with the Office of Management and Budget’s, and its DoD corollary,, run by the Defense Digital Service (DDS).

In February, underwent a “relaunch,” changing it from a GitHub-hosted, text-only, how-to guide to what its managers say is both a code repository and a full-fledged toolset for software program managers who need guidance on how to engage in open source practices within the government.

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Also: Hortonworks’ Shaun Bierweiler: Enterprise Open Source Offers Options to Agencies

Security: Torvalds Rant Over AMD Flaws/Report, Intel Microcode Updates, Yahoo and Kubernetes

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  • Linus Torvalds Roasts CTS Labs After They Exposed AMD Chip Vulnerabilities

    Just a couple of days back, CTS researchers exposed more than a dozen ‘critical’ vulnerabilities in AMD chips marketed under the brand names Ryzen and Epyc. The company also claimed that a backdoor exists in AMD processors. Their revelation came with a well-decorated website, a whitepaper, and a video.

  • Torvalds wades into CTS Labs' AMD chip security report
  • Linux Torvalds casts shade on CTS Labs' AMD CPU flaw security report
  • Intel Rolls Out Updated, Post-Spectre CPU Microcode (20180312)

    Intel has published the Intel Processor Microcode Package for Linux 20180312 release with the latest improvements around the microcode-based approach for Spectre CPU vulnerability mitigation, succeeding their microcode updates from earlier in the year.

  • Judge Says Yahoo Still On The Hook For Multiple Claims Related To Three Billion Compromised Email Accounts

    A federal judge is going to let a bunch of people keep suing Yahoo over its three-year run of continual compromise. Yahoo had hoped to get the class action suit tossed, stating that it had engaged in "unending" efforts to thwart attacks, but apparently it just wasn't good enough to prevent every single one of its three billion email accounts from falling into the hands of hackers.

  • 3 best practices for securing Kubernetes environments

    The Kubernetes orchestration platform is such a gigantic open source project that its evolution is inherently rapid. The pace of change significantly increases the importance of adhering to security best practices when using the ever-changing Kubernetes platform to automate deployment, scaling, and management of containerized cloud-native applications.

    Ultimately, effective security also supports the entire Kubernetes project, since the technology's overall adoption depends on the confidence and trust that Kubernetes earns and establishes. That said, standard security procedures and practices that work well in traditional environments are often inadequate for securing Kubernetes environments, where traffic is vastly more dynamic, and where there must be security in place around the pods, containers, nodes, and images.

Games: Pillars of Eternity, Life is Strange and More

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today's howtos

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How Open Source Approach is Impacting Science

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In this new Science category within It’s FOSS, we dive into the exciting world of Innovative Science to explore and find out about how the Linux-based Operating System and Open Source are playing a significant role in the major scientific breakthroughs that are taking place in our daily lives.

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Also: Researchers develop open-source, clinically validated template for 3D-printed stethoscope

10 Hello World programs for your Raspberry Pi

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"Hello world" is the beginning of everything when it comes to computing and programming. It's the first thing you learn in a new programming language, and it's the way you test something out or check to see if something's working because it's usually the simplest way of testing simple functionality.

Warriors of programming language wars often cite their own language's "hello world" against that of another, saying theirs is shorter or more concise or more explicit or something. Having a nice simple readable "hello world" program makes for a good intro for beginners learning your language, library, framework, or tool.

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Graphics Leftovers

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  • Intel Graphics Driver Developers Begin Eyeing The Linux 4.18 Kernel

    The Linux 4.16 kernel is at least two or three weeks out from being released, but Intel has already submitted their i915 DRM driver feature changes for Linux 4.17 and are now beginning to think about their feature changes for Linux 4.18.

    Intel's feature changes for Linux 4.17 are now staged in DRM-Next with hitting that soft cutoff deadline ahead of the next kernel cycle. Intel Direct Rendering Manager updates for Linux 4.17 include Cannonlake "Gen 10" graphics now being considered stable, the very early bits of Icelake "Gen 11" support, and a lot of low-level code improvements. To little surprise, Linux 4.17 is looking like another exciting cycle on the feature/improvement front.

  • Intel BayTrail Gets Minor Graphics Improvement On Coreboot, Now Supports OpRegion

    While there doesn't appear to be too many Intel BayTrail users out there running systems with Coreboot, this generation of hardware that's been a bit notorious with Linux users due to varying issues can now find at least a bit better graphics support with the latest Coreboot code.

  • Mesa 18.0 Is Now Primed For Releasing Soon

    Mesa 18.0's delay of more than one month and without any new release candidate came while the open-source Intel developers were hunkered down to clear the remaining blocker bugs.

    Fortunately, it appears the remaining Mesa 18.0 blocker bugs are now resolved, meaning the official release could come in a matter of days depending if they decide to first do a Mesa 18.0-rc5 release for last minute testing.

  • Mir Devs Are Still Working On An Example Mir Desktop Session For Ubuntu 18.04

    While Ubuntu 18.04 LTS "Bionic Beaver" is just one month away from release, the developers working on the Mir display server code are still working to get an example desktop session into this release.

    Details remain light but in writing yesterday about changes the UBports' team needs to make for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS support, longtime Mir developer Alan Griffiths commented, "The Mir team is aiming to have the necessary tweaks in place for the 18.04 release along with an example "Mir" desktop session." The tweaks needed for Mir in Ubuntu 18.04 are not using Mir-on-Mir and client applications using libmirclient cannot be using EGL otherwise only software-based rendering will work.

  • Mesa 18.0 Has Been Off The Tracks For More Than One Month

    Mesa 18.0 had been due for release around mid-February, but that didn't happen and there hasn't even been a release candidate in more than one month.

    Mesa 18.0-RC4 was released back on 9 February and since then there hasn't been an RC5 or a new release.

  • Uniform Packing For RadeonSI NIR, Helps Reduce CPU Overhead

    Timothy Arceri of Valve's open-source Linux GPU driver team is out with his latest set of patches to further enhance the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver.

    Timothy's latest objective remains with improving the RadeonSI NIR back-end for using this modern intermediate representation alternative to Gallium3D TGSI. NIR is important for getting the OpenGL 4.6 bits in place with SPIR-V ingestion / better interoperability with the RADV Vulkan driver and the already-written code paths using NIR.

  • Supporting virtual reality displays in Linux

    At (LCA) 2017 in Hobart, Tasmania, Keith Packard talked with kernel graphics maintainer Dave Airlie about how virtual reality devices should be hooked up to Linux. They both thought it would be pretty straightforward to do, so it would "only take a few weeks", but Packard knew "in reality it would take a lot longer". In a talk at LCA 2018 in Sydney, Packard reported back on the progress he has made; most of it is now in the upstream kernel.

    Packard has been consulting for Valve, which is a game technology company, to add support for head-mounted displays to Linux. Those displays have an inertial measurement unit (IMU) for position and orientation tracking and a display with some optics. The display is about 2Kx1K pixels in the hardware he is working with; that is split in half for each eye. The displays also have a "bunch of lenses", which makes them "more complicated than you would hope".

    The display is meant to block out the real world and to make users believe they inhabit the virtual reality. "It's great if you want to stumble into walls, chairs, and tables." Nearly all of the audience indicated they had used a virtual reality headset, leading Packard to hyperbolically proclaim that he is the last person in the universe to obtain one.

New in LWN About Linux (Now Outside Paywall)

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  • LinuxBoot: Linux as firmware

    Both the free-software and security communities have recently been focusing on the elements of our computers that run below the operating system. These proprietary firmware components are usually difficult or impossible to extend and it has long been suspected (and proven in several cases) that there are significant security concerns with them. The LinuxBoot Project is working to replace this complex, proprietary, and largely unknown firmware with a Linux kernel. That has the added benefit of replacing the existing drivers in the firmware with well-tested drivers from Linux.

    To understand LinuxBoot and the problem it's working to solve, we first have to discuss how computers actually boot. We usually think of a running system as including the hardware, operating system (OS), and applications. However, for a number of reasons, there are several layers that run between the hardware and the OS. Most users are aware of UEFI (which replaced the older BIOS); for many systems, it prepares the system to run and loads the bootloader. These necessary functions are just the tip of the iceberg, though. Even after the computer finishes loading the OS, there are multiple embedded systems also running on the system entirely separate from the OS. Most notably, the Intel Management Engine (ME) runs a complete Minix operating system, while System Management Mode (SMM) is used to run code for certain events (e.g. laptop lid gets closed) in a way that is completely invisible to the running OS.

  • Shrinking the kernel with a hammer

    This is the fourth article of a series discussing various methods of reducing the size of the Linux kernel to make it suitable for small environments. Reducing the kernel binary has its limits and we have pushed them as far as possible at this point. Still, our goal, which is to be able to run Linux entirely from the on-chip resources of a microcontroller, has not been reached yet. This article will conclude this series by looking at the problem from the perspective of making the kernel and user space fit into a resource-limited system.

    A microcontroller is a self-contained system with peripherals, memory, and a CPU. It is typically small, inexpensive, and has low power-consumption characteristics. Microcontrollers are designed to accomplish one task and run one specific program. Therefore, the dynamic memory content of a microcontroller is usually much smaller than its static content. This is why it is common to find microcontrollers equipped with many times more ROM than RAM.

    For example, the ATmega328 (a popular Arduino target) comes with 32KB of flash memory and only 2KB of static memory (SRAM). Now for something that can boot Linux, the STM32F767BI comes with 2MB of flash and 512KB of SRAM. So we'll aim for that resource profile and figure out how to move as much content as possible from RAM to ROM.

  • Preventing kernel-stack leaks

    The kernel stack is a small, frequently reused region of memory in each thread's address space. That reuse allows for efficient memory use and good performance as a result of cache locality, but it also presents a problem: data left on the stack can also end up being reused in ways that were not intended. The PaX patch set contains a mechanism designed to clear that data from the stack and prevent leaks, but an attempt to merge that code into the kernel has run into a snag.

    By design, the C language does not define the contents of automatic variables — those that are created on the stack when the function defining them is called. If the programmer does not initialize automatic variables, they will thus contain garbage values; in particular, they will contain whatever happened to be left on the stack in the location where the variables are allocated. Failure to initialize these variables can, as a result, lead to a number of undesirable behaviors. Writing an uninitialized variable to user space will leak the data on the stack, which may be sensitive in one way or another. If the uninitialized value is used within the function, surprising results may ensue; if an attacker can find a way to control what will be left on the stack, they may be able to exploit this behavior to compromise the kernel. Both types of vulnerability have arisen in the kernel in the past and will certainly continue to pop up in the future.

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Linux 4.9.88, 4.4.122, and 3.18.100, More Security Patches in Linux 4.16

Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS Will Ship with a New Default Layout Called "Familiar"

Ubuntu MATE's lead developer Martin Wimpress announced that the forthcoming Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system would sport a brand-new default layout for new installations. If you plan on installing or reinstalling Ubuntu MATE this spring, the upcoming 18.04 release sports a new default layout called "Familiar." According to Martin Wimpress, the new layout is based on the Traditional layout with the menu-bar replaced by Brisk Menu, which was used in previous Ubuntu MATE releases. The decision to replace the Traditional layout with the Familiar one was taken due to some technical issues when the development team tried to update it for Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). Traditional will still be available, but not enabled by default, and bears no changes. Read more

Atom 1.25

  • Atom 1.25
    Atom 1.25 has been released on our stable channel and includes GitHub package improvements, improved syntax highlighting and code folding, Python and HTML language improvements and more.
  • GitHub's Atom Hackable Text Editor Gets Performance, Responsiveness Improvements
    GitHub released a new stable version of their open-source and cross-platform Atom hackable text editor with a bunch of enhancements, bug fixes, a new Electron version, as well as performance and responsiveness improvements. Atom 1.25 is now available for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows platforms, and it is packed with improvements for the GitHub package to let you stage and view changes affecting file mode modifications, additions to symbolic links, as well as the ability for the Diff view to no longer reset its scrolling position.

Linux Mint 19 'Tara' Cinnamon will be faster

Is Linux Mint slow? Hell, no! The operating system is plenty fast. Speed is in the eye of the beholder, however, and the Mint developers apparently thought app-launching seemed slow when using the Cinnamon desktop environment. They didn't have any proof, but they felt that both Mate and Xfce were faster in this regard. Well, rather than allow their feelings to remain unproven, the Mint devs decided to come up with a speed test to see if they were correct. Guess what? They were! Windows build time was four times slower with Cinnamon compared to Metacity, while recovery time was nearly four times slower too. So yes, app-launching on Cinnamon -- as of today -- is slow comparatively. The big benefit to pinpointing a problem, however, is that it is the first step in solving it. And so, Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon will be faster as a result. Read more