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Wednesday, 17 Jan 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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Quick Roundup

Hands on With System76’s Beautiful Linux Distro Pop!_OS

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Reviews

Linux system manufacturer System76 introduced a beautiful looking Linux distribution called Pop!_OS. But is Pop OS worth an install? Read the Pop OS review and find out yourself.
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8 KDE Plasma Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Productivity

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KDE

KDE’s Plasma is easily one of the most powerful desktop environments available for Linux. It’s highly configurable, and it looks pretty good, too. That doesn’t amount to a whole lot unless you can actually get things done.

You can easily configure Plasma and make use of a lot of its convenient and time-saving features to boost your productivity and have a desktop that empowers you, rather than getting in your way.

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Are Linux GUI Software Centers Any Good? Let’s Find Out!

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Linux

Over the years, Linux has made impressive strides towards being friendlier to new and non-technical users. One of the more common efforts is the creation of graphical software centers. Imagine what a boost having something akin to the Play Store would be on Linux. It’s a great idea, but do the GNOME and KDE Plasma actually pull it off?

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Raspberry Pi Zero WH adds 40-pin GPIO header to Zero W

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Linux

The $18 Raspberry Pi Zero WH adds a soldered 40-pin GPIO header to the Zero W for easier prototyping or taking advantage of the new GPIO Expander tool, which lets you access your Pi’s GPIO pins from a PC running Debian Stretch.

Raspberry Pi Trading has launched a variation on the Raspberry Pi Zero W that makes it more like a regular Raspberry Pi SBC and less like a computer-on-module. Designed for those who would prefer not to solder, the new Raspberry Pi Zero W adds a “professionally soldered” 40-pin GPIO header, enabling easier prototyping or a better fit for temporary projects that need the Zero W’s small size and wireless radios, but don’t require the permanence of soldered connections.

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LittleFS: A New File-System For ARM Embedded Devices

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Linux

LittleFS is a lightweight file-system that's being developed for embedded systems.

LittleFS as implied by the name is intended to be a "little" file-system for embedded devices, in particular "Internet of Things" style platforms. LittleFS strives to be a fail-safe file-system that can work with minimal amounts of RAM/ROM, power-loss resilient, and supports wear-leveling for flash memory.

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MX Linux MX-17 Horizon - Shaping up beautifully

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Reviews

From an underdog to a kennel master. That's probably the best, most succinct way to describe MX Linux. While you still may be confused about its heritage, with words like Mepis and AntiX slipping in, it's one of the more refined Xfce distros around, and I have been thoroughly impressed by the last version, MX-16. As it turns out, I proudly crowned it the Best of Xfce 2017 distro. It also notched very high on the overall annual best-of competition.

Now, there's a new version out. I will first conduct the test on the old LG laptop, but now that I've managed to fix the read-only UEFI on my Lenovo G50 machine, I will conduct a second test on that laptop - provided everything works fine in this first review. So we have ancient hardware, Nvidia graphics, dual boot. Commence.

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Tweaking Ubuntu 17.10 To Try To Run Like Clear Linux

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Ubuntu

Even with the overhead of having both KPTI and Retpoline kernel support in place, our recent Linux distribution benchmarks have shown Intel's Clear Linux generally outperforming the more popular distributions. But if applying some basic performance tweaks, can Ubuntu 17.10 perform like Clear Linux? Here are some benchmarks looking at a few factors.

In our forums there were recently some users attributing the Clear performance benefit to their CFLAGS and the distribution defaulting to the P-State "performance" governor rather than the "powersave" governor. It's true those are two of the ways this Intel open-source platform tries to deliver better out-of-the-box performance, but that is not all. Explained at ClearLinux.org, they also apply automatic feedback-driven optimizations (GCC FDO), function multi-versioning (FMV) to deliver optimized functions selected at run-time based upon the CPU micro-architecture being used, and various other approaches for trying to deliver the best out-of-the-box Linux performance that does include backporting various patches, etc. And, yes, hopefully this article can provide some motivation for Ubuntu and other distributions to become a bit more aggressive with their defaults to deliver a more optimized experience on installation.

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Also: Ubuntu Unity Remix Day 3: Unity Tweak Tool

Mozilla Development and Developers

Filed under
Moz/FF
  • Firefox 59 Is Dropping GTK2 Support

    Now that Firefox's GTK3 support is finally into shape, Firefox 59 will be doing away with GTK2 tool-kit support.

  • Review of Igalia's Web Platform activities (H2 2017)

    Last september, I published a first blog post to let people know a bit more about Igalia’s activities around the Web platform, with a plan to repeat such a review each semester. The present blog post focuses on the activity of the second semester of 2017.

  • News flash: encrypted.google.com is not special in any way

    Once upon a time, Google dared to experiment with HTTPS encryption for their search instead of allowing all search data to go unencrypted through the wire. For this experiment, they created a new subdomain: encrypted.google.com was the address where your could get some extra privacy. What some people apparently didn’t notice: the experiment was successful, and Google rolled out HTTPS encryption to all of their domains. I don’t know why encrypted.google.com is still around, but there doesn’t seem to be anything special about it any more. Which doesn’t stop some people from imagining that there is.

Hands on With System76’s Beautiful Linux Distro Pop!_OS

Filed under
GNU
Linux

When I saw that System 76 launched their #TryPopOS campaign last month I knew this was the perfect opportunity to really put Pop!_OS through its paces. I am a proud owner of the Galago Pro, which I purchased the day they launched pre-orders this Spring and it has been my primary computer since then. I use it for everything from writing articles, to browsing the internet, to light gaming, and though the machine as its quirks I am beyond happy with it.

Back when I ordered the laptop Pop!_OS wasn’t announced yet so my laptop came with stock Ubuntu, which I promptly replaced with Ubuntu GNOME. Since then I have tried a couple different options including Elementary OS, Manjaro GNOME Edition, and most recently I have settled on KDE Neon.

Everything I have thrown at it has worked great on it so far, but now it is time to try something different. Here is my experience with System 76’s Pop!_OS.

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GCC 8.0 vs. LLVM Clang 6.0 On AMD EPYC

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Development
Graphics/Benchmarks

At the beginning of January I posted some early LLVM Clang 6.0 benchmarks on AMD EPYC while in this article is comparing the tentative Clang 6.0 performance to that of the in-development GCC 8.0. Both compilers are now into their feature freeze and this testing looked at the performance of generated binaries both for generic x86_64 as well as being tuned for AMD's Zen "znver1" microarchitecture.

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Android Leftovers

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Android

More Intel Catastrophes and Bricking of PCs Due to Intel's UEFI

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Hardware
Security

Intel is Full of Holes

Filed under
Hardware
Security
  • A Security Issue in Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT)
  • Backdoor In 30 Seconds: New Major AMT Security Flaw Is Here To Haunt Intel Laptops
  • Meltdown and Spectre FAQ: Crapification at Scale

    Yesterday, Yves posted a “primers on Meltdown and Spectre”, which included several explanations of the two bugs from different viewpoints; if you feel you don’t have a handle on them, please review it. Today, I want to give an overview of the two bugs. I will dig into the details of these two bugs in the form of a FAQ, and then I’ll open a discussion of the larger business and political economy issues raised in the form of a MetaFAQ. First, I should make one point: Meltdown is a bug; Specture is a class of bugs (or, if you prefer, a strategy).

    [...]

    What Are The Costs of the Meltdown and Spectre Bugs?

    A few billions.

  • Fixing Chipmageddon Will Slow Down Older Computers

    Microsoft has come out and said it: cures for the pervasive chip flaws Meltdown and Spectre are likely to dent the performance of your PC if it’s a few years old.

  • Intel needs to come clean about Meltdown and Spectre

    Intel hasn’t had the best of times recently. Meltdown and Spectre security flaws have helped reveal fundamental issues with processor designs over the past 20 years, and the software updates to protect PCs will have performance impacts. Even as I write this, it’s still not clear to anyone exactly how bad these performance impacts will be for older desktop systems, or how significant they’ll be to server-based cloud platforms. It’s all a bit of a mess, and Intel hasn’t helped with its lack of transparency. It’s time for Intel to stop hiding behind cleverly worded statements.

  • Intel details performance hit for Meltdown fix on affected processors
  • Keeping Spectre secret

    When Graz University of Technology researcher Michael Schwarz first reached out to Intel, he thought he was about to ruin the company’s day. He had found a problem with their chips, together with his colleagues Daniel Gruss, Moritz Lipp, and Stefan Mangard. The vulnerability was both profound and immediately exploitable. His team finished the exploit on December 3rd, a Sunday afternoon. Realizing the gravity of what they’d found, they emailed Intel immediately.

  • Intel's telling some customers to avoid its fix for the Spectre and Meltdown attacks — because of a big bug
  • Everything running smoothly at the plant? *Whips out mobile phone* Wait. Nooo...

    The security of mobile apps that tie in with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems has deteriorated over the last two-and-a-half years, according to new research.

    A team of boffins from IOActive and IoT security startup Embedi said they had discovered 147 vulnerabilities in 34 of the most popular Android mobile apps for SCADA systems.

    Mobile applications are increasingly being used in conjunction with SCADA systems. The researchers warned these apps are "riddled with vulnerabilities that could have dire consequences on SCADA systems that operate industrial control systems".

The Top 10 Linux Distros You Never Heard About

Filed under
GNU
Linux
BSD

As I have mentioned in previous articles, the open-source community is littered with many distributions – some of which you might never get to hear about if you’re not connected to an affiliated party or happen to come across a reference ad.

Plus, it’s a new year and we have been dropping Top 10 (and sometimes higher) titles since it began so you shouldn’t be surprised that we are here with another one.

In case you missed it, we recently published an article on The Top 10 Linux Desktop Distros of 2017, and I thought it will be nice if we checked out a couple of distros that might not have made it to the limelight in 2017 but are still significant and will probably be of great use to our readers.

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Tiny module and SBC run Linux or Android on i.MX8M

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Android
Linux
Hardware

Variscite’s 55 x 30mm “DART-MX8M” showcases NXP’s 1.5GHz, quad-A53 i.MX8M SoC with up to 4GB LPDDR4, up to 64GB eMMC, WiFi-ac, BT 4.2, PCIe, and HDMI 2.0, plus an optional carrier that’s also sold as a “VAR-DT8MCustomBoard” SBC.

Variscite unveiled a “coming soon” DART-MX8M computer-on-module and VAR-DT8MCustomBoard carrier board/SBC that tap NXP’s new i.MX8M SoC. The DART-MX8M follows other NXP-based DART modules, such as the i.MX UL based DART-6UL, which in November received a clock rate upgrade to up to 900MHz.

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Debian vs. Ubuntu vs. CentOS vs. openSUSE vs. Clear Linux Post-Meltdown Performance

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Graphics/Benchmarks

With Linux distributions being patched since last week's Meltdown and Spectre disclosure, here are benchmarks on some of the prominent distributions looking at their performance impact since being patched. Tested from an Intel Core i7 8700K system was CentOS, Clear Linux, Debian, openSUSE, and Ubuntu.

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Wine 3.0 RC6

Filed under
Software
  • Wine Announcement

    The Wine development release 3.0-rc6 is now available.

  • Wine continues to mature with Wine 3.0 RC6

    The big Wine 3.0 is inching ever closer with the release of the sixth release candidate today with bug fixes.

    Since Wine is currently in a code-freeze, no new features are being pulled in so they can make the 3.0 release as stable as possible, which means it's not too exciting. Still, every software needs to go through a period of stability to ensure a solid foundation to continue improving features.

  • Wine 3.0-RC6 Released While Wine 3.0.0 Should Be Near

    The sixth weekly release candidate of the upcoming Wine 3.0 is now available for testing.

    Being into the code freeze since the beginning of December, Wine 3.0-RC6 just continues the bug-fixing train. Wine 3.0-RC6 has a total of 14 known fixes ranging from Valgrind memory fixes to a Powerpoint 2017/2010 slideshow problem.

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More in Tux Machines

Fedora: Updated F27 Live ISOs, Synergy 2.0, Bodhi 3.2.0, Announcing Flapjack

  • F27-20180112 Updated Live Isos Released
    The Fedora Respins SIG is pleased to announce the latest release of Updated 27 Live ISOs, carrying the 4.14.13-300 kernel.
  • synergy-2.0.0 is in Fedora updates-testing
    I have packed the latest stable version, 2.0.0, for Fedora 27, 26 and EPEL 7. No EPEL 6 update this time as it requires CXX14, which EL6 does not provide.
  • Bodhi 3.2.0 released
  • Announcing Flapjack
    Here’s a post about a tool that I’ve developed at work. You might find it useful if you contribute to any desktop platform libraries that are packaged as a Flatpak runtime, such as GNOME or KDE. Flatpak is a system for delivering desktop applications that was pioneered by the GNOME community. At Endless, we have jumped aboard the Flatpak train. Our product Endless OS is a Linux distribution, but not a traditional one in the sense of being a collection of packages that you install with a package manager; it’s an immmutable OS image, with atomic updates delivered through OSTree. Applications are sandboxed-only and Flatpak-only.
  • Flapjack Helps Developers Work On Components Inside Flatpak

Security Leftovers

  • Security updates for Wednesday
  • Latvia's e-health system hit by cyberattack from abroad
    Latvia said its new e-health system was on Tuesday hit by a large-scale cyberattack that saw thousands of requests for medical prescriptions pour in per second from more than 20 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the European Union. No data was compromised, according to health officials, who immediately took down the site, which was launched earlier this month to streamline the writing of prescriptions in the Baltic state. "It is clear that it was a planned attack, a widespread attack—we might say a specialised one—as it emanated from computers located in various different countries, both inside the European Union and outside Europe," state secretary Aivars Lapins told reporters. "We received thousands of requests in a very short space of time. That's not the normal way the system works," he said, adding that an investigation is under way.
  • Linux Lite Developer Creates Automated Spectre/Meltdown Checker for Linux OSes
    The developer of the Ubuntu-based Linux Lite distribution has created a script that makes it easier for Linux users to check if their systems are vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws. As we reported last week, developer Stéphane Lesimple created an excellent script that would check if your Linux distribution's kernel is patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that have been publicly disclosed earlier this month and put billions of devices at risk of attacks.
  • Purism Releases Meltdown and Spectre Patches for Its Librem Linux Laptops
    Purism, the computer technology company behind the privacy-focused, Linux-based Librem laptops and the upcoming smartphone, released patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities. The company was one of the first Linux OEMs and OS vendor to announce that it's working on addressing both the Meltdown and Spectre security exploits on his Linux laptops. Meltdown and Spectre have been unearthed in early January and they are two severe hardware bugs that put billions of devices at risk of attacks.
  • Facebook Awards Security Researchers $880,000 in 2017 Bug Bounties
    Facebook is hardly a small organization, with large teams of engineers and security professionals on staff. Yet even Facebook has found that it can profit from expertise outside of the company, which is why the social networking giant has continued to benefit from its bug bounty program. In 2017, Facebook paid out $880,000 to security researchers as part of its bug bounty program. The average reward payout in 2017 was $1,900, up from $1,675 in 2016.
  • Multicloud Deployments Create Security Challenges, F5 Report Finds

Arch Linux vs. Antergos vs. Clear Linux vs. Ubuntu Benchmarks

Last week when sharing the results of tweaking Ubuntu 17.10 to try to make it run as fast as Clear Linux, it didn't take long for Phoronix readers to share their opinions on Arch Linux and the request for some optimized Arch Linux benchmarks against Clear Linux. Here are some results of that testing so far in carrying out a clean Arch Linux build with some basic optimizations compared to using Antergos Minimal out-of-the-box, Ubuntu Server, and Clear Linux. Tests this time around were done on the Intel Core i9 7980XE system with ASUS PRIME X299-A motherboard, 4 x 4GB DDR4-3200 Corsair memory, GeForce GTX 750, and Corsair Force MP500 120GB NVMe solid-state drive. The system with 18 cores / 36 threads does make for quick and easy compiling of many Linux packages. Read more

Mozilla Leftovers

  • Making WebAssembly even faster: Firefox’s new streaming and tiering compiler
    People call WebAssembly a game changer because it makes it possible to run code on the web faster. Some of these speedups are already present, and some are yet to come. One of these speedups is streaming compilation, where the browser compiles the code while the code is still being downloaded. Up until now, this was just a potential future speedup. But with the release of Firefox 58 next week, it becomes a reality. Firefox 58 also includes a new 2-tiered compiler. The new baseline compiler compiles code 10–15 times faster than the optimizing compiler.
  • Firefox Telemetry Use Counters: Over-estimating usage, now fixed
    Firefox Telemetry records the usage of certain web features via a mechanism called Use Counters. Essentially, for every document that Firefox loads, we record a “false” if the document didn’t use a counted feature, and a “true” if the document did use that counted feature.
  • Firefox 58 new contributors
  • Giving and receiving help at Mozilla
    This is going to sound corny, but helping people really is one of my favorite things at Mozilla, even with projects I have mostly moved on from. As someone who primarily works on internal tools, I love hearing about bugs in the software I maintain or questions on how to use it best. Given this, you might think that getting in touch with me via irc or slack is the fastest and best way to get your issue addressed. We certainly have a culture of using these instant-messaging applications at Mozilla for everything and anything. Unfortunately, I have found that being “always on” to respond to everything hasn’t been positive for either my productivity or mental health. My personal situation aside, getting pinged on irc while I’m out of the office often results in stuff getting lost — the person who asked me the question is often gone by the time I return and am able to answer.
  • Friend of Add-ons: Trishul Goe
    Our newest Friend of Add-ons is Trishul Goel! Trishul first became involved with Mozilla five years when he was introduced to the Firefox OS smartphone. As a JavaScript developer with an interest in Mozilla’s mission, he looked for opportunities to get involved and began contributing to SUMO, L10n, and the Firefox OS Marketplace, where he contributed code and developed and reviewed apps. After Firefox OS was discontinued as a commercial product, Trishul became interested in contributing to Mozilla’s add-ons projects. After landing his first code contributions to addons.mozilla.org (AMO), he set about learning how to develop extensions for Firefox using WebExtensions APIs. Soon, he began sharing his knowledge by leading and mentoring workshops for extension developers as part of Mozilla’s “Build Your Own Extension” Activate campaign.