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Librem 5 August Update

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GNU
Linux
GNOME
Gadgets

We are preparing everything for the Librem 5 to be delivered soon, and its software will focus on the most critical applications a phone needs: calls, messages and web browsing. There are supporting projects that will be delivered too, like GNOME Settings, the shell, GNOME Initial Setup, and GNOME Contacts. So without further ado, let’s take a tour through the software we will deliver–as well as some other applications that have seen some major changes.

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7 of the Best IoT Projects Using Arduino

Filed under
Hardware
Gadgets

If you’re an electronics hobbyist, chances are you’ve heard of the Arduino. It’s a tiny computer that you can use to do surprisingly complex things. It also happens to be behind a fair number of Internet of Things projects.

While some people reach a for Raspberry Pi or something even more powerful, an Arduino or Arduino Uno might be all you need. We’ve put together a list of IoT projects that prove this to be true.

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Also: mDash Cloud platform for IoT Devices Targets ESP8266/ESP32, STM32, and TI CC3220 Wireless MCUs

The ClockworkPi GameShell is a super fun DIY spin on portable gaming

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Gaming
Gadgets

Portable consoles are hardly new, and thanks to the Switch, they’re basically the most popular gaming devices in the world. But ClockworkPi’s GameShell is something totally unique, and entirely refreshing when it comes to gaming on the go. This clever DIY console kit provides everything you need to assemble your own pocket gaming machine at home, running Linux-based open-source software and using an open-source hardware design that welcomes future customization.

The GameShell is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, which began shipping to its backers last year and is now available to buy either direct from the company or from Amazon. The $159.99 ( on sale for $139.99 as of this writing) includes everything you need to build the console, like the ClockworkPi quad-core Cortex A7 motherboard with integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 1GB of DDR3 RAM — but it comes unassembled.

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System76’s First 4K OLED Linux Laptop is Here

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Gadgets

System76 launched its latest high-end Linux powered laptop – Adder WS.

System76 – the american computer manufacturer introduced the first 4K OLED Linux powered laptop. Named Adder WS, this device targets to the content creators, gamers and researchers who needs high performance hardware with Linux. Powered by Intel i9 series 8-core CPU and 64GB ram, this device includes a 15″ 4K OLED display with RTX 2070 graphics.

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Purism and e Foundation take on the smartphone duopoly

Filed under
OS
Gadgets

For years, the devices and services we use have ever more aggressively monitored our activities and mined our data. But as consumers have grown increasingly attuned to privacy concerns, solutions have been appearing to help them evade tracking. Browsers such as Brave and search engines such as DuckDuckGo play up their privacy-first design. When it comes to the dominant mobile operating systems, Google has talked about preserving privacy by providing more transparency and exposing opt-out controls. Apple, on the other hand, has sought to create services that remove the opt-out requirement by not collecting data in the first place, turning privacy preservation into a key differentiator.

But many users aren’t comfortable even with Apple’s approach. Recently, two groups have created new platforms that avoid sharing data with Google, Apple, or any other entity behind the scenes. Nevertheless, their product-development approaches parallel the market strategies of Google and Apple, with some striking differences.

One of these is the e Foundation. Its eOS aspires to be a Google-free version of Android that has a wide range of device support. It’s not a new idea: One existing alternative to Google’s flavor of Android is LineageOS, a fork of what had been the leading Google Android alternative, CyanogenMod. However, according to Gaël Duval, head of e Foundation, producing a version of Android that is completely Google-free requires far more effort than just stripping out Google apps such as Gmail; even LineageOS sends some data through Google’s servers or relies on its services.

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Samsung DeX missed its chance to make a big splash

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Android
GNU
Linux
Gadgets

The Galaxy Note 10 has just broken cover and, just like its predecessors, it has something new for Samsung DeX users. To be fair, the convenience of being able to not just control your phone but access the “DeXtop” from any Windows or Mac computer is a major step forward, but it may have fallen short of what fans of the platform have been expecting or even requesting for a few months now. Samsung DeX definitely has a lot of potential but Samsung may have missed the boat on that one this year.

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Librem 5 Smartphone – Final Specs Announced

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Gadgets
  • Librem 5 Smartphone – Final Specs Announced

    We are proud to unveil the final specifications for the Librem 5 smartphone, set to begin shipping in Q3 of 2019.

  • Librem 5 privacy-focused Linux phone specs finalized as pre-orders begin

    Despite the growing number of evidence and cases of mobile software that blatantly violate user privacy, it’s almost impossible to imagine life these days without a smartphone. While hardcore privacy advocates might be able to ditch their mobile device for good, there are some that try to promise the best of both mobile and privacy worlds. One of those is Purism who has finally finalized the specs and features of its crowdfunded privacy-respecting Librem 5 phone.

    [...]

    The question now is whether all of that is enough to justify a $699 price tag. For those who answer a resounding “yes”, an early bird pre-order will shave $50 off that price for $649 only until July 31. As for the shipping date, that is still unannounced for both those pre-orders and, more importantly, the original backers back in 2017.

  • Purism Reveals Final Hardware Specs of the Privacy-Focused Librem 5 Linux Phone

    Purism, the company behind the powerful Linux-based laptops known as the Librem computers, announced today the final hardware specifications of their upcoming Librem 5 Linux smartphone.

    As you probably are already aware, Purism is working for some time on a Linux-powered smartphone, which the company calls Librem 5. Designed from the ground up to be privacy and security-aware, the Librem 5 Linux phone is currently scheduled for launch in Q3 2019, after it's been delayed a couple of times.

  • Purism Finally Announces The Firmed Up Specifications For The Librem 5 Smartphone

    It still remains to be seen if Purism will be able to ship the Librem 5 Linux smartphone this quarter as is their current revised target, but at least today they are publishing the finalized specifications for the phone's hardware.

    While we've long known of their plans to use the i.MX8 SoC and other components, items like the phone's cameras, battery capacity, and even RAM were not known until now.

Consent Matters: When Tech Takes Remote Control Without Your Permission

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Gadgets

In my previous post I talked about why consent matters when it comes to privacy; and yet, privacy is only one of the areas where tech companies take advantage of users without their consent. Recently, tech companies have come to a troubling consensus: that they can change your computer, remotely (and often silently) without your knowledge or permission.

[...]

Anyone who has ever worked for a large company in the computer age has experienced first-hand the authoritarian, controlling, and restrictive policies that IT employs to manage company computers. Starting with centralized systems like Active Directory, IT teams were able to create policies that controlled what sorts of passwords employees could use and whether employees could install applications, access printers, and even, in some cases, insert USB drives.

These centralized tools have evolved over the years: they can now add and remove files, install new software and software updates, remotely control machines over the network in order to view what’s on their screens and access local files. This controls extends into Active Management Technology features embedded into the Intel Management Engine, that lets administrators remotely control computers even if they are turned off. Now that smartphones are critical tools in many organizations, MDM (Mobile Device Management) tools are also often employed at enterprises to bring those devices under a similar level of control–with the added benefit of using GPS to track employee phones even outside the office.

The most common justification for these policies is convenience. If you are an IT department and have thousands of employees–each with at least one computer and one smartphone that you need to support–one of the ways to make sure that the appropriate software is on the systems, and updates get applied, is to push them from a central location. Companies often have custom in-house software their employees rely on to do their jobs, and throughout the life of the company more tools are added to their toolbox. You can’t expect the IT team to go desk-by-desk installing software by hand when you have thousands of employees working at offices all over the world: when an employee’s computer breaks, these same tools make it easy for IT to replace the computer so the employee can get back to work quickly.

The main justification for the strictest–and most controlling–IT policies isn’t convenience, though: it’s security. IT pushes software updates for protection against security bugs. They push anti-virus, anti-malware and remote monitoring tools, to protect both employee and company from dangerous email attachments, from software they might download from their web browser. IT removes local administrative privileges from employees in the name of protecting them from installing malware (and, practically speaking, from installing games and other time-wasting apps). They disable USB storage devices so employees can’t insert disks containing malware or copy off sensitive company documents. Each of these practices have valid reasons behind them for companies facing certain threats.

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Also: Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches Don’t Correctly Track Heart Rate of People with Darker Skin

Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Alpha Arrives, But Only for the GPD MicroPC

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Ubuntu
Gadgets

Did you know that Ubuntu MATE is besties with the GPD Pocket & Pocket 2?

Well it is; the pair of pocket-sized PCs, which were made possible through various crowdfunding efforts, got their own, customised, and 100% official Ubuntu MATE 18.10 install image last year, and a follow-up with the 19.04 release this year.

I guess making a custom-spun ISO is the distro equivalent of weaving a friendship bracelet!

Accordingly, it’s no major surprise to learn Ubuntu MATE 19.10 will also come tailored for use on China-based GPD’s latest mini-marvel, the GPD MicroPC.

Interestingly, the device is sold with Ubuntu MATE 18.10 pre-loaded.

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GNU/Linux Devices: Raspberry Pi, AAEON and Librem 5

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Gadgets
  • Raspberry Pi 4 B+ - PCI Express

    Without much exaggeration, the new Raspberry Pi is likely the largest single-step improvement on the Pi family since the early changes of the form factor. Although Pi3 introduced 64bit capability, it's been pretty limited in practice due to lack of memory. Pi4 introduces 4GB RAM, USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet.

    Most importantly for our purposes, the USB 3.0 (and 2.0) chip is attached via the PCI Express interface - that means, if we were to remove it, we can gain access to the underlying bus. So, without further ado, the sacrificial goat.. uhm, chip.

  • Modder Connects External PCIe To Raspberry Pi 4

    Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computer designed for tech enthusiasts, students, and engineers who wish to make extreme use of limited hardware. Just two weeks ago, the Raspberry Pi 4 was unveiled, which caught the attention of technology enthusiasts.

    The latest version of Raspberry Pi is a big improvement over the previous version despite its faulty USB-C port design. It relies on PCI Express for USB chips. However, there isn’t any provision to connect external devices on the Raspberry Pi 4.

  • AAEON Launches BOXER-8150AI Compact Embedded Box PC Features 8 USB 3.0 Ports

    The BOXER-8150AI is able to support up to eight USB connected cameras or devices, each operating independently of one another.

  • Runs on the Librem 5 Smartphone – Week 3

    We’ve been showcasing a different piece of software running on the Librem 5 Smartphone Development Kit every day for the last twenty days.  Twenty.  In a row.

    And we’re not done.  Because, holy smokes, do we have a lot more to show.  And, let’s be honest, these are just plain fun.  Daily videos kick back off tomorrow (July 11th) with video number 21.

    You can enjoy Days 15 through 20 below — and Days 1 through 14 in the Week 1 and 2 posts.

  • Purism and the Linux 5.2 Kernel

    Hello again. Following up on our report for the Linux 5.1 kernel, here’s a list of contributions for the Linux 5.2 kernel cycle, for which our team recently contributed with 14 patches–including a new driver for the Librem 5 devkit’s panel...

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Ubuntu: 20 Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 19.10, New Patches, and Extended Security Maintenance (ESM)

  • 20 Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 19.10 ‘Eoan Ermine’

    Ubuntu 19.10 with codename Eoan Ermine is now here and available for install. For those of you who are eager to check the latest Ubuntu version and for all newcomers to the Linux family, we have prepared few tips to help you get started with Ubuntu 19.10 and get what you may need to complete the setup of your desktop/laptop distro.

  • Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) Gets First Linux Kernel Security Patch, Update Now

    Canonical's recently released Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) operating system has received today its first Linux kernel security patch to address an important security vulnerability. Released last week on October 17th, Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) brought numerous new features and improvements, including experimental ZFS on root support in the installer, LZ4 initramfs compression for all architectures, up-to-date toolchain, and embedded Nvidia graphics drivers. It also ships with the latest Linux 5.3 kernel series.

  • How Ubuntu Advantage delivers top-notch Linux security

    Every two years in April, a Long Term Support (LTS) release is published. Ubuntu LTS releases are commonly used in enterprise environments, with more than 60% of large-scale production clouds running Ubuntu LTS images. Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) is the latest Ubuntu LTS release, with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS coming in April 2020. Each new LTS release is supported for ten years total; five years of standard support, and five additional years of support under Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure (UA-I). UA-I provides users and organisations access to key security fixes and patches, including Canonical’s Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) and Kernel Livepatch services. Twice every year, in April and October, interim releases are published. They are commonly used by those interested in the latest features and capable of upgrading more frequently. Our latest interim release, which arrived last week, is Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine). It enhanced capabilities include the latest OpenStack Train release for live-migration assistance, improved security for Kubernetes deployments at the edge and significant updates to desktop performance. Standard support for an interim release is provided for nine months with no additional support extension offered.

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Android Leftovers

Intel Core i7-1065G7 Ice Lake Linux Performance Benchmarks

Recently I picked up a Dell XPS 7390 Core i7 Ice Lake laptop for finally testing this Intel 10nm+ processor under Linux. I have delivered some results so far like the Windows vs. Linux OpenGL/Vulkan performance and the Spectre impact with Ice Lake while this article is the first of several really drilling down on the CPU performance. In this article are benchmarks showing how the Core i7-1065G7 compares in raw performance and performance-per-Watt to the earlier Core i7-8565U (Whiskey Lake) and Core i7-8550U (Kabylake-R) processors. The Dell XPS 7390 / Core i7-1065G7 continues working out well under Linux as noted in the earlier article with just the potential caveats of needing to switch the storage setting in the firmware over to AHCI mode and on some distributions needing to boot with the intel_lpss_pci driver black-listed. There is also the caveat of Ice Lake Thunderbolt support not in the mainline kernel until Linux 5.4, but at least for Ubuntu 19.10 Canonical has ended up back-porting it to Linux 5.3, but I haven't seen any other major distributions do the same yet. But besides those few blemishes on modern Linux distributions you should be in good shape for the new Dell XPS / Ice Lake. Read more