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A Forbes Writer Spent 2 Weeks Using Ubuntu, This is What He Thought…

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GNU
Linux

A classic love story — one Hollywood has yet to adapt in to major motion picture/musical starring Robert Downey Jr (I swear he’s in everything).

The latest case in point? That comes courtesy of online magazine Forbes.com and its tech contributor Jason Evangelho.

Jason shares his experience of using Ubuntu for a solid fortnight on a swanky Dell XPS 13 laptop. He says he was spurred into “ditching” Windows by yet another ill-timed and infuriating wait while the OS opted to install updates.

“After two decades of relying on Windows I finally decided it was time for the nuclear option,” he writes.

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A Fresh Look At The PGO Performance With GCC 8

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Development
GNU

It's been a while since we last ran some GCC PGO benchmarks, the Profile Guided Optimizations or feedback-directed optimization technique that makes use of profiling data at run-time to improve performance of re-compiled binaries. Here are some fresh benchmarks of GCC PGO impact on a Xeon Scalable server while using the newly-released GCC 8.2 release candidate.

With it being a while since our last roundabout with GCC PGO benchmarking and also a reader recently inquiring about PTS PGO testing, I ran some new tests. For those not familiar with PGO, it basically involves first compiling the code with the relevant PGO/profiling flags, running the workload under test to generate the profiling data, and then re-compiling the software while feeding that profiling data into the compiler so it can make better optimization choices. This profile-guided feedback can be quite beneficial to the compiler for making wiser code generation choices based upon that run-time data. Firefox, Chrome, and other popular software packages have been relying upon PGO-optimized release binaries for a while to offer greater performance.

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Also: A 3.3x Performance Improvement For FLAC Audio Encoding On POWER 64-bit

How Linux Makes Your Life Easier

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GNU
Linux

There is a popular myth that Linux is complicated and hard to use by a non-techie. While there are distros and advanced Linux functionality that do require tech skills, this doesn’t mean Linux is hard to use. On the contrary, there are lots of things in the philosophy and functionality of Linux that make a user’s life easier.

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Linux Mint Updates

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GNU
Linux
  • [Linux Mint] Monthly News – July 2018

    A mistimed MESA update in Xenial temporarily broke Ubuntu and Linux Mint upgrades. We were able to block it on the 7th of July, and ask people to revert the upgrade with Timeshift. On the 9th, everything was resolved, and the upgrade path was fixed and re-opened.

    More recently, a grub update triggered an issue in one of our own packages. That issue could only be triggered by a new grub update and so it had gone undetected during QA and the BETA test. Although it was fixed in a matter of hours in the repositories, it still affects our installation ISO images and it breaks EFI installations when the live session is connected to the Internet. The release notes were updated to ask people to install offline. New 64-bit ISO images for Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce were produced with the fixed package and they passed QA yesterday. These new ISOs will replace the current images in the days to come.

    Be careful with Kernel 4.15.0-24. A critical issue causes some computers to boot really slowly, or not to boot at all. Ubuntu is aware of it and working on a fix. We’ve also received negative feedback from the 4.15 kernel series in Mint 18.x (based on Ubuntu Xenial). Although Ubuntu decided to switch the HWE series towards it, the 4.15 series doesn’t appear to support some proprietary drivers yet (nvidia-3.04 and nvidia-340 among them).

    We’re also aware of regressions in the Bionic base affecting VPN, Samba, Wine (recently fixed). Ubuntu 18.04 is a brand new base and we’re sure it will settle, receive bug fixes and get more mature with time.

    Of course our attention is mostly focused on the problems and we quickly forget about all the improvements. We had a great Linux Mint 19 release, we also received a huge amount of positive feedback and we’ve seen many great changes when moving from 16.04 to 18.04.

  • Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 Is On The Way, Cinnamon 4.0 Working On Speed

    The Linux Mint team has shared a routine status update about the work they have been engaged in over the past month, including dealing with some nasty package updates and readying the beta of Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 (LMDE 3).

    This month they had to deal with some headaches causing issues stemming from Ubuntu stable release updates around Mesa and GRUB in particular. There's also been a kernel problem to deal with, among other regressions. But for those that are fans of Linux Mint Debian Edition whereby the distribution uses a Debian based over Ubuntu LTS, the LMDE 3 release is on the way. The developers believe the LMDE 3 Beta should surface by the end of July. Additionally, they plan to ship LMDE 3 both with their own live installer as well as a Calamares-based installer option.

  • Free eBook from Packt - Linux Mint Essentials

GNU/Linux Desktops/Laptops and Windows Spying

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GNU
Linux
  • Changes [Pop!_OS]

    For the last 12 years, my main development machine has been a Mac. As of last week, it’s a Dell XPS 13 running Pop!_OS 18.04.

    [...]

    Take note: this is the first operating system I’ve used that is simpler, more elegant, and does certain things better than macOS.

  • System76 Opens Manufacturing Facility to Build Linux Laptops

    As it turns out, System76 is making the transition from a Linux-based computer seller, into a complete Linux-based computer manufacturer. The Twitter photos are from their new manufacturing facility. This means that System76 will no longer be slapping their logo on other company’s laptops and shipping them out, but making their own in-house laptops for consumers.

  • Extension adding Windows Timeline support to third-party browsers should have raised more privacy questions

    Windows Timeline is a unified activity history explorer that received a prominent placement next to the Start menu button in Windows 10 earlier this year. You can see all your activities including your web browser history and app activity across all your Windows devices in one place; and pickup and resume activities you were doing on other devices. This is a useful and cool feature, but it’s also a privacy nightmare.

    You may have read about a cool new browser extension that adds your web browsing history from third-party web browsers — including Firefox, Google Chrome, Vivaldi, and others — to Windows Timeline. The extension attracted some media attention from outlets like MSPoweruser, Neowin, The Verge, and Windows Central.

Best Tools to Access Remote Linux Desktop

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GNU
Linux

Nowadays, you can’t carry your system or laptop everywhere. So to make the things more manageable, there is a service of remote access that gives you full access to your system from anywhere. It is made possible by the Microsoft that developed a remote desktop protocol (RDP), which offers a graphical interface to connect to a remote system over a network connection.

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New Facilities for System76

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GNU
Linux
  • System76 Linux computer maker offers a sneak peek into its new manufacturing facility

    System76 has long been a Linux computer seller, but recently, it has transitioned into a Linux computer maker. What's the difference, you ask? Well, currently, the company doesn't really make its own computers. System76's laptops, for instance, are made by other manufacturers, which it re-brands as its own.

    No, System76 doesn't just slap its name on other company's laptops and ship them out the door. Actually, it works closely with the manufacturers, tweaks firmware, and verifies that both Ubuntu and its Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS will work well on the hardware. System76 then offers top-notch support too. In other words, the company isn't just selling a computer, but an experience too.

  • System76 New Manufacturing Facility
  • System76 Moves Ahead With Preparing To Manufacture Their Own Desktop Linux PCs

    Back in April 2017 was the announcement that System76 would begin designing and manufacturing their own systems beginning with desktops and to be followed at a later date by their own laptops, rather than relying upon whitebox designs that they currently retail with their Ubuntu/Pop!_OS-loaded PCs. The Colorado-based company is inching closer to fully realizing their goal.

    For a while now the System76 folks have been posting various pictures of their in-progress manufacturing facility while today they have shared more images on their blog.

A Proposal To Allow Python Scripting Within The GCC Compiler, Replacing AWK

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Development
GNU

A SUSE developer is seeking feedback and interest on the possibility of allowing a scripting language -- most likely Python -- to be used within the GCC compiler code-base. This would primarily be used for replacing existing AWK scripts.

GCC developer Martin Liška at SUSE is seeking comments on the possibility of adding Python as an accepted language within the GCC code-base. This isn't anything along the likes of replacing existing GCC C compiler code into a scripting language or anything to that effect, but is targeting at replacing current AWK scripts that are hard to maintain.

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GNU: The GNU C Library, IRC Break, and GNUstep

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GNU
  • Intel CET With Indirect Branch Tracking & Shadow Stack Land In Glibc

    Landing yesterday in Glibc for Intel's Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET) were the instructions for Indirect Branch Tracking (IBT) and Shadow Stack (SHSTK).

    These Intel CET bits for the GNU C Library amount to a fair amount of code being added. The commit message explains some of the CET steps taken. The Control-flow Enforcement Technology behavior can be changed for SHSTK/IBT at run-time through the "GLIBC_TUNABLES" environment variable.

  • No Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup on Friday July 20th

    No meeting will be taking place this week due to travel, but meetings will return to our regular schedule starting on Friday, July 27th.

  • Graphos GNUstep and Tablet interface

    I have acquired a Thinkpad X41 Tablet and worked quite a bit on it making it usable and then installing Linux and of course GNUstep on it. The original battery was dead and the compatible replacement I got is bigger, it works very well, but makes the device unbalanced.

    Anyway, my interest about it how usable GNUstep applications would be and especially Graphos, its (and my) drawing application.

    Using the interface in Tablet mode is different: the stylus is very precise and allows clicking by pointing the tip and a second button is also possible. However, contrary to the mouse use, the keyboard is folded so no keyboard modifiers are possible. Furthermore GNUstep has no on-screen keyboard so typing is not possible.

DistroWatch The Best Website For Distro Hoppers

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GNU
Linux

The DistroWatch features release announcements of new versions of hundreds of Linux and other distributions. It does host reviews of distros, podcasts, and newsletters. DistroWatch first published by Ladislav Bodnar, the founder, and maintainer, on May 31, 2001.

DistroWatch initially focused on Linux distributions. But later based on user requests, it went on adding different flavors of operating systems like BSD family, Android x86, Oracle Solaris, MINIX, and Haiku etc.

The DistroWatch presents detailed information at one place in a very convenient manner. At the time of writing this article, the DistroWatch hosted information of more than 300 active distributions (referring the list of distros populated under drop-down feature on the first page of the DistroWatch) and more than hundred in queue. It is said that the DistroWatch lives out of advertising and donation. LinuxCD.org is the first to advertise on the DistroWatch site.

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Linux Foundation, AGL and Linux Security

  • Deutsche Telekom joins Linux Foundation as platinum member
    Deutsche Telekom has joined The Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) as a Platinum member. Telekom will support LFN’s efforts to accelerate the development and adoption of open-source networking technologies and contribute to new network technologies enabling 5G services, said LFN. LFN said its projects now enable nearly 70 percent of all global mobile subscribers with the addition of Deutsche Telekom, and the company’s membership in LFN will drive the LFN initiative into new regions and promote the adoption of open standards and source.
  • Deutsche Telekom Goes Platinum at Linux Foundation
    Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) continues its membership growth with the addition of its newest Platinum member, Deutsche Telekom, one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies. Deutsche Telekom joins LFN to support its efforts in accelerating the development and adoption of open source networking technologies. With the addition of Deutsche Telekom, LFN projects now enable nearly seventy percent of all global mobile subscribers. With its collaboration and extensive global footprint, Deutsche Telekom will help accelerate LFN globally, contributing to emerging network technologies critical to enabling 5G services. LFN supports the momentum of open source networking, integrating governance of participating projects in order to enhance operational excellence, simplify member engagement, and increase collaboration. Deutsche Telekom is also an active participant in the ONAP project and plans to contribute to the next platform release, Casablanca.
  • Automotive open source virtualization: Bringing open source virtualization in AGL
    The AGL Software Defined Car Architecture white paper defines how the AGL target platform for software defined vehicles can be implemented by using virtualization techniques, presented in the document along with their automotive benefits, challenges, use cases and requirements. From the beginning, this work objective was to provide an architecture for a virtualization platform that can be used, extended or customized by Tier-1 or OEM companies to reduce time to market.
  • Meltdown Protection For x86 32-bit Aligned For The Linux 4.19 Kernel
    Those still relying upon x86 32-bit Linux kernels for aging hardware and continuing to update to the latest software will find mitigation for the Meltdown CPU vulnerability with the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel cycle. You'll find this mitigation but at the cost of performance. While x86_64 Linux was mitigated back in January for Meltdown, it's taken a while for x86 32-bit support for KPTI, Kernel Page Table Isolation. This is basically applying the same page table isolation approach seen on Linux x86_64 and ARM to now the 32-bit x86 kernel code. Obviously it hasn't been a priority with many Linux distributions not even bothering with i686 install images in recent years.

Cloud-Native/Kubernetes/Container/OpenShift

  • 10 Key Attributes of Cloud-Native Applications
    Cloud-native platforms, like Kubernetes, expose a flat network that is overlaid on existing networking topologies and primitives of cloud providers. Similarly, the native storage layer is often abstracted to expose logical volumes that are integrated with containers. Operators can allocate storage quotas and network policies that are accessed by developers and resource administrators. The infrastructure abstraction not only addresses the need for portability across cloud environments, but also lets developers take advantage of emerging patterns to build and deploy applications. Orchestration managers become the deployment target, irrespective of the underlying infrastructure that may be based on physical servers or virtual machines, private clouds or public clouds. Kubernetes is an ideal platform for running contemporary workloads designed as cloud-native applications. It’s become the de facto operating system for the cloud, in much the same way Linux is the operating system for the underlying machines. As long as developers follow best practices of designing and developing software as a set of microservices that comprise cloud-native applications, DevOps teams will be able to package and deploy them in Kubernetes. Here are the 10 key attributes of cloud-native applications that developers should keep in mind when designing cloud-native applications.
  • Google Embraces New Kubernetes Application Standard
    Once an organization has a Kubernetes container orchestration cluster running, the next challenge is to get applications running. Google is now aiming to make it easier for organizations to deploy Kubernetes applications, through the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace. The new marketplace offerings bring commercial Kubernetes-enabled applications that can be run in the Google cloud, or anywhere else an organization wants. All a user needs to do is visit the GCP marketplace and click the Purchase Plan button to get started. "Once they agree to the terms, they'll find instructions on how to deploy this application on the Kubernetes cluster of their choice, running in GCP or another cloud, or even on-prem," Anil DhawanProduct Manager, Google Cloud Platform, told ServerWatch. "The applications report metering information to Google for billing purposes so end users can get one single bill for their application usage, regardless of where it is deployed."
  • Challenges and Requirements for Container-Based Applications and Application Services
    Enterprises using container-based applications require a scalable, battle-tested, and robust services fabric to deploy business-critical workloads in production environments. Services such as traffic management (load balancing within a cluster and across clusters/regions), service discovery, monitoring/analytics, and security are a critical component of an application deployment framework. This blog post provides an overview of the challenges and requirements for such application services.

Software: Music Tagger MusicBrainz, Pulseaudio, COPR, AV1

  • Music Tagger MusicBrainz Picard 2.0 Ported To Python 3 And PyQt5, Brings Improved UI And More
    MusicBrainz Picard version 2.0 was released after more than 6 years since the previous major release (1.0). The new version was ported to Python 3 and PyQt5 and includes Retina and HiDPI support, improved UI and performance, as well as numerous bug fixes. [...] MusicBrainz Picard 2.0 was ported to Python 3 (requires at least version 3.5) and PyQt5 (>= 5.7). The release announcement mentions that a side effect of this is that "Picard should look better and in general feel more responsive". Also, many encoding-related bugs were fixed with the transition to Python 3, like the major issue of not supporting non-UTF8 filenames.
  • Pulseaudio: the more things change, the more they stay the same
    Such a classic Linux story. For a video I'll be showing during tonight's planetarium presentation (Sextants, Stars, and Satellites: Celestial Navigation Through the Ages, for anyone in the Los Alamos area), I wanted to get HDMI audio working from my laptop, running Debian Stretch. I'd done that once before on this laptop (HDMI Presentation Setup Part I and Part II) so I had some instructions to follow; but while aplay -l showed the HDMI audio device, aplay -D plughw:0,3 didn't play anything and alsamixer and alsamixergui only showed two devices, not the long list of devices I was used to seeing. Web searches related to Linux HDMI audio all pointed to pulseaudio, which I don't use, and I was having trouble finding anything for plain ALSA without pulse. In the old days, removing pulseaudio used to be the cure for practically every Linux audio problem. But I thought to myself, It's been a couple years since I actually tried pulse, and people have told me it's better now. And it would be a relief to have pulseaudio working so things like Firefox would Just Work. Maybe I should try installing it and see what happens.
  • 4 cool new projects to try in COPR for July 2018
    COPR is a collection of personal repositories for software that isn’t carried in Fedora. Some software doesn’t conform to standards that allow easy packaging. Or it may not meet other Fedora standards, despite being free and open source. COPR can offer these projects outside the Fedora set of packages. Software in COPR isn’t supported by Fedora infrastructure or signed by the project. However, it can be a neat way to try new or experimental software. Here’s a set of new and interesting projects in COPR.
  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: AV1
    Open source supporters and companies are teaming up to offer the next general of video delivery. The Alliance for Open Media (AOMEDIA) is made up of companies like Mozilla, Google, Cisco, Amazon and Netflix, and on a mission to create an open video format and new codec called AV1. In a blog post about the AOMedia Video, or AV1, video codec, Mozilla technical writer Judy DeMocker laid out the numbers; within the next few years, video is expected to account for over 80 percent of Internet traffic. And unbeknownst to many, all of that free, high-quality video content we’ve come to expect all across the Internet costs quite a bit for the people providing it via codec licensing fees. The most common, H.264, is used all over the place to provide the compression required to send video quickly and with quality intact.
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KDE and GNOME: Kubuntu 18.04 Reviewed, Akademy, Cutelyst and GUADEC

  • Kubuntu 18.04 Reviewed in Linux ( Pro ) Magazine
    Kubuntu Linux has been my preferred Linux distribution for more than 10 years. My attraction to the KDE desktop and associated application set, has drawn from Kubuntu user, to a tester, teacher, developer, community manager and councilor. I feel really privileged to be part of, what can only be described as, a remarkable example of the free software, and community development of an exceptional product. This latest release 18.04, effectively the April 2018 release, is a major milestone. It is the first LTS Long Term Support release of Kubuntu running the “Plasma 5” desktop. The improvements are so considerable, in both performance and modern user interface ( UI ) design, that I was really excited about wanting to tell the world about it.
  • Going to Akademy
    Happy to participate in a tradition I’ve admired from afar but never been able to do myself… until this year. My tickets are bought, my passport is issued, and I’m going to Akademy! Hope to see you all there!
  • System76's New Manufacturing Facility, Ubuntu 17.10 Reaches End of Life, Google Cloud Platform Marketplace, Stranded Deep Now Available for Linux and Cutelyst New Release
    Cutelyst, a C++ web framework based on Qt, has a new release. The update includes several bug fixes and some build issues with buildroot. See Dantti's Blog for all the details. Cutelyst is available on GitHub.
  • GUADEC 2018 Videos: Help Wanted
    At this year’s GUADEC in Almería we had a team of volunteers recording the talks in the second room. This was organized very last minute as initially the University were going to do this, but thanks to various efforts (thanks in particular to Adrien Plazas and Bin Li) we managed to record nearly all the talks. There were some issues with sound on both the Friday and Saturday, which Britt Yazel has done his best to overcome using science, and we are now ready to edit and upload the 19 talks that took place in the 2nd room. To bring you the videos from last year we had a team of 5 volunteers from the local team who spent our whole weekend in the Codethink offices. (Although none of us had much prior video editing experience so the morning of the first day was largely spent trying out different video editors to see which had the features we needed and could run without crashing too often… and the afternoon was mostly figuring out how transitions worked in Kdenlive).
  • GUADEC 2018
    This year I attended my second GUADEC in beautiful Almería, Spain. As with the last one I had the opportunity to meet many new people from the extended GNOME community which is always great and I can’t recommend it enough for anybody involved in the project. [...] Flatpak continues to have a lot of healthy discussions at these events. @matthiasclasen made a post summarizing the BoF so check that out for the discussions of the soon landing 1.0 release. So lets start with the Freedesktop 18.07 (date based versioning now!) runtime which is in a much better place than 1.6 and will be solving lots of problems such as multi-arch support and just long term maintainability. I was really pleased to see all of the investment in BuildStream and the runtime from CodeThink which is really needed in the long term.