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Ubuntu

Ubuntu 17.10 "Artful Aardvark" Respin ISOs Are Now Available to Download

Filed under
Ubuntu

Several users reported last month broken BIOSes on their Lenovo, Acer, and Toshiba laptops due to a bug in the Ubuntu 17.10 installation images that won't allow them to access their BIOS settings. The BIOS could be bricked even if the user ran the Ubuntu 17.10 image in live mode, without installing the OS.

Canonical was quick to temporarily disable access to Ubuntu 17.10 downloads from their ubuntu.com website warning people about the issue. A workaround and a fix for existing users were available shortly after that, as they had to update the kernel packages in Ubuntu 17.10 to disable the intel-spi driver at boot time.

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Meltdown Patches and Problems

Filed under
Security
Ubuntu
  • [Ubuntu] Meltdown and Spectre Status Update

    On Tuesday, January 9, 2018 we released Ubuntu kernel updates for mitigation of CVE-2017-5754 (aka Meltdown / Variant 3) for the x86-64 architecture.

  • Lubuntu 17.10.1 (Artful Aardvark) released!

    Lubuntu 17.10.1 has been released to fix a major problem affecting many Lenovo laptops that causes the computer to have BIOS problems after installing. You can find more details about this problem here.

    Please note that the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities have not been fixed in this ISO, so we advise that if you install this ISO, update directly after.

    This release is no different in terms of features from the 17.10 release, and is comparable to an LTS point release in that all updates since the 17.10 release have been rolled into this ISO. You can find the initial announcement here.

  • Check Linux for Spectre or Meltdown vulnerability

    Devices running Linux are affected by Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities as much as their Windows counterparts.

    Development teams work on updated kernels for the various distributions, and users need to update browsers and other software to protect data against potential attacks.

    We talked about identifying whether your Windows PC or web browser is vulnerable already. A recently published script does the same for Linux systems. You may use it to check whether your Linux distribution is vulnerable.

  • Meltdown Patch Is Causing Problems for Some Ubuntu Linux Users

    Many Ubuntu Linux users who installed the latest kernel updates to fix the Meltdown CPU vulnerability found themselves stuck in a boot loop and had to revert back to a previous version.

    The problem affected mostly Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus), which is a long-term support (LTS) release. Soon after the 4.4.0-108 kernel update was released to fix the Meltdown vulnerability, users flooded the Ubuntu Forums and bug tracker to report booting problems.

  • Meltdown Update Kernel doesnt boot
  • Major Linux distros have Meltdown patches, but that's only part of the fix

    The Intel Meltdown security problem is the pain that just keeps hurting. Still, there is some good news. Ubuntu and Debian Linux have patched their distributions. The bad news? It's becoming clearer than ever that fixing Meltdown causes significant performance problems. Worst still, many older servers and appliances are running insecure, unpatchable Linux distributions.

A Look at Ubuntu Unity Remix

Filed under
Reviews
Ubuntu
  • Ubuntu Unity Remix Day 1: 27-Dec ISO

    Ubuntu Unity Remix 18.04 is already functional even though it's still very new. For you who don't know, Unity Remix is a new Ubuntu distro with Unity 7 desktop created after the official Ubuntu switched to GNOME 3. Unity Remix is based on the effort of Unity 7 Continuation Project by Khurshid Alam and Dale Beaudoin, and it calls for developers & testers right now. Today I, an Ubuntu user who likes Unity Desktop, start a series of article about my days in personal testing Ubuntu Unity Remix. This 'Day 1' covers a short overview about the latest ISO from 27-Dec-2017. This series is (again) inspired by Didier Roche's series at early Artful days. Enjoy!

  • Ubuntu Unity Remix Day 2: Nemo & Caja

    Do you like Nemo and Caja file managers? Good news for you, you can use them at Ubuntu Unity Remix now. More good news is there are 2 ISOs available (for testing purpose) for both Unity Remix Nemo and Unity Remix Caja editions! Having these two is like continuing the 17.04 but with the feels of Linux Mint 'MATE' and 'Cinnamon' editions. For you who don't know, you will find Nemo or Caja even more useful than Nautilus, because you'll have more features you cannot find at (like normal menu bar, F3, and status bar). This 'Day 2' covers simple overview about both file managers at Ubuntu Unity Remix 18.04. Enjoy!

Ubuntu 17.04 EoL and Patches

Filed under
Security
Ubuntu

Kubuntu 17.10 upgrade - Should you?

Filed under
KDE
Ubuntu

I am not joking. I seriously believe that software regressions should be punished. They destroy people's mood and will and desire to use programs, and the users start developing almost PTSD-like effects, not knowing when something is going to crash because no one bothered checking their fresh code. Jail time seems appropriate. Failing that, strict and rigorous validation procedures that currently DO NOT EXIST in the wider Linux world.

Zesty remains the perfect distro and the best Plasma release ever. It's so much ahead, I feel like shedding a tear every time I use it. In comparison, Awful Anteater is a pale shadow of what Kubuntu can do. So yes it works. But it brings crashes and unnecessary nonsense that just spoils everything. It's such a shame, and such a wasted opportunity. The upgrade itself was flawless. But it's not an upgrade. It's a version increase and a definite downgrade. Wait for the LTS. Or something. Oh, the humanity!

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The Combined Impact Of Retpoline + KPTI On Ubuntu Linux

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks
Ubuntu

Over the past week I have posted many KPTI and Retpoline benchmarks for showing the performance impact of these patches to combat the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. But with my testing so far I haven't done any showing the combined impact of KPTI+Retpoline on Ubuntu versus a completely unpatched system. Here are some of those results.

Similar to the Benchmarking Clear Linux With KPTI + Retpoline Support, these tests are similar but with a few different systems and looking at the performance when testing from Ubuntu 17.10. The comparison on each system was to a stock Linux 4.14.0 kernel compared to the Linux 4.14 kernel with the upstream KPTI patches paired with the Retpline v5 patches that have yet to be merged for mitigating Spectre.

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Debian vs. Linux Mint: The Winner Is?

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Debian
Ubuntu

Linux Mint is on track to becoming the most popular desktop distro available. This isn't to suggest that it's already happened, rather that it's on track to happen if Linux Mint continues to find its fans among Windows converts. By contrast, Debian has received almost no credit for this success whatsoever. Worse, neither does Ubuntu, which uses Debian as a base.

So are Linux Mint and Debian really all that different? After all, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian. One might surmise that the these distros are more similar than different. Fact is stranger than fiction. Linux Mint and Debian may share a common heritage, but that's where the similarities end.

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Also:

  • Security notice: Meltdown and Spectre

    If you haven’t already done so, please read “Meltdown and Spectre“.

    These vulnerabilities are critical. They expose all memory data present on the computer to any application running locally (including to scripts run by your web browser).

    Note: Meltdown and Spectre also affect smart phones and tablets. Please seek information on how to protect your mobile devices.

  • Linux Mint Devs Respond to Meltdown and Spectre Security Vulnerabilities

    Linux Mint developers have published today a statement regarding the recently unearthed Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, informing users on how to keep their PCs secure.

    Last week, two of the most severe security flaws were publicly disclosed as Meltdown and Spectre, affecting billions of devices powered by a modern processor from Intel, AMD, ARM, or Qualcomm. To mitigate these vulnerabilities, OEMs and OS vendors started a two and half months long battle to redesign software and kernels.

    Almost all known operating systems are affected, and all web browsers. Linux Mint is one of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions out there with millions of users, but it hasn't yet been patched against Meltdown and Spectre because it still relies on updates from the Ubuntu operating system.

System76 Continues to Improve HiDPI Support for Their Ubuntu-Based OS in 2018

Filed under
OS
Ubuntu

Work on the second release of Pop!_OS Linux will continue this year with a rebase on Canonical's upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system, due for release on April 26, 2018. The distro will also be released this spring, after Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and will feature out-of-the-box support for HiDPI displays.

System76 says that it received great feedback from the community in regards to the HiDPI improvements they are adding into Pop!_OS Linux lately, and, besides the fixing many of the reporting issues, they are also working on better integration of the HiDPI daemon into the desktop, including support for tweaking its behavior.

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Who Was To Blame For The Ubuntu BIOS Bug?

Filed under
Security
Ubuntu

So who is to blame for the corruption of the BIOS?

Ultimately I would put the majority of the blame at the door of the manufacturers and the BIOS developers. You simply should not be able to corrupt the BIOS and there should be a reset option which returns it to factory settings if all else fails. The Ubuntu developers were the unlucky people to instantiate the bug by including a defective driver within the Kernel.

Some of the blame has to go to the users as well. Maybe we need to be a bit smarter when installing operating systems and not necessarily jump at the latest thing.

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Ubuntu 17.10 Will Be Re-Released on January 11, Will No Longer Brick Laptops

Filed under
Ubuntu

Lenovo laptops were among those most affected by the ‘bug’, though reports were also filed by users of devices from other computer vendors, including Acer and Dell.

The bug could corrupt the BIOS of an affected laptop, leaving the user unable to save settings or make changes. In extreme cases the bug left users unable to boot their laptop at all.

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    The open educational resources (OER) movement has been gaining momentum over the past few years, as educators—from kindergarten classes to graduate schools—turn to free and open source educational content to counter the high cost of textbooks. Over the past year, the pace has accelerated. In 2017, OERs were a featured topic at the high-profile SXSW EDU Conference and Festival. Also last year, New York State generated a lot of excitement when it made an $8 million investment in developing OERs, with the goal of lowering the costs of college education in the state. David Usinski, a math and computer science professor and assistant chair of developmental education at the State University of New York's Erie Community College, is an advocate of OER content in the classroom. Before he joined SUNY Erie's staff in 2007, he spent a few years working for the Erie County public school system as a technology staff developer, training teachers how to infuse technology into the classroom.

Mozilla: Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society, New AirMozilla Audience Demo, Firefox Telemetry

  • Net Neutrality, NSF and Mozilla's WINS Challenge Winners, openSUSE Updates and More
    The National Science Foundation and Mozilla recently announced the first round of winners from their Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges—$2 million in prizes for "big ideas to connect the unconnected across the US". According to the press release, the winners "are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack" and that the common denominator for all of them is "they're affordable, scalable, open-source and secure."
  • New AirMozilla Audience Demo
    The legacy AirMozilla platform will be decommissioned later this year. The reasons for the change are multiple; however, the urgency of the change is driven by deprecated support of both the complex back-end infrastructure by IT and the user interface by Firefox engineering teams in 2016. Additional reasons include a complex user workflow resulting in a poor user experience, no self-service model, poor usability metrics and a lack of integrated, required features.
  • Perplexing Graphs: The Case of the 0KB Virtual Memory Allocations
    Every Monday and Thursday around 3pm I check dev-telemetry-alerts to see if there have been any changes detected in the distribution of any of the 1500-or-so pieces of anonymous usage statistics we record in Firefox using Firefox Telemetry.

Games: All Walls Must Fall, Tales of Maj'Eyal

  • All Walls Must Fall, the quirky tech-noir tactics game, comes out of Early Access
    This isometric tactical RPG blends in sci-fi, a Cold War that never ended and lots of spirited action. It’s powered by Unreal Engine 4 and has good Linux support.
  • Non-Linux FOSS: Tales of Maj'Eyal
    I love gaming, but I have two main problems with being a gamer. First, I'm terrible at video games. Really. Second, I don't have the time to invest in order to increase my skills. So for me, a game that is easy to get started with while also providing an extensive gaming experience is key. It's also fairly rare. All the great games tend to have a horribly steep learning curve, and all the simple games seem to involve crushing candy. Thankfully, there are a few games like Tales of Maj'Eyal that are complex but with a really easy learning curve.

KDE and GNOME: KDE Discover, Okular, Librsvg, and Phone's UI Shell

  • This week in Discover, part 7
    The quest to make Discover the most-loved Linux app store continues at Warp 9 speed! You may laugh, but it’s happening! Mark my words, in a year Discover will be a beloved crown jewel of the KDE experience.
  • Okular gains some more JavaScript support
    With it we support recalculation of some fields based on others. An example that calculates sum, average, product, minimum and maximum of three numbers can be found in this youtube video.
  • Librsvg's continuous integration pipeline
    With the pre-built images, and caching of Rust artifacts, Jordan was able to reduce the time for the "test on every commit" builds from around 20 minutes, to little under 4 minutes in the current iteration. This will get even faster if the builds start using ccache and parallel builds from GNU make. Currently we have a problem in that tests are failing on 32-bit builds, and haven't had a chance to investigate the root cause. Hopefully we can add 32-bit jobs to the CI pipeline to catch this breakage as soon as possible.
  • Design report #3: designing the UI Shell, part 2
    Peter has been quite busy thinking about the most ergonomic mobile gestures and came up with a complete UI shell design. While the last design report was describing the design of the lock screen and the home screen, we will discuss here about navigating within the different features of the shell.