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With Linux, You Don't Get One Kernel of Truth... You Get Many

Filed under
GNU
Linux

As much as I love to poke at the inner workings of my computer, I'll admit that until recently, I didn't give much thought to which version of the Linux kernel my desktop system was running.

For most desktop users, this isn't all that odd. Compatibility of kernel modules is often critical for servers and production systems, but day-to-day desktop usage doesn't change much from update to update.

Two things motivated me to scrutinize the kernel version more closely: considerations for specific hardware; and a very scary bug recently identified in the Ubuntu distribution's latest release.

Having picked up a lot of useful tips in exploring different kernel versions, I decided to share what I've learned so far.

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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.

9 Best Linux Distros For Programming And Developers (2018 Edition)

Filed under
GNU
Linux

Linux-based operating systems are often used by developers to get their work done and create something new. Their major concerns while choosing a Linux distro for programming are compatibility, power, stability, and flexibility. Distros like Ubuntu and Debian have managed to establish themselves as the top picks. Some of the other great choices are openSUSE, Arch Linux, etc. If you intend to buy a Raspberry Pi and start with it, Raspbian is the perfect way to start.

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The 5 best Linux distros for the enterprise: Red Hat, Ubuntu, Linux Mint and more

Filed under
GNU
Linux

Three of the five Linux distributions discussed offer reliable and professional-grade support, all have frequent updates to ensure that security exploits are addressed in a timely manner, and all have at least some level of corporate connectivity baked in. In addition, all of them can run Windows programs through virtual machines or subsystems such as Wine. That ability might appeal to executives, but it raises the question of whether it’s really necessary or even a good idea.

There’s also a big cost difference between deploying Linux and Windows: Linux itself is free, so it’s the distributor’s support that you’ll pay for. And, yes, you will want to do that. The price for proper enterprise-ready support still makes Linux desktop a much less expensive option.

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Software: Eddy, KDE, and GNU

Filed under
GNU
KDE
Software
  • Eddy - Easily Install Debian Packages on Elementary

    Eddy is a simple Debian package management GUI tool in Elementary OS that allows installation of Debian packages by dragging and dropping Debian files onto a GUI window. The tool can be installed straight from App Center platform or installed from source. Let's see how we can install from source on Elementary 0.4.1 Loki.

    Installing from AppCenter is the preferred way of installing Eddy since it contains the stable, tested version of the application. Compiling from source provides you with the latest "commit" with the newest functionality that may not be released as a part of an update in AppCenter or in general.

  • Season Of KDE 2018

    It’s been 5 months since I came to GCompris community, but it feels it was a few days back. I came here as a newbie in open source, not even knowing how to ask sensible questions (that’s very important which I learned during my works in GCompris), not even knowing how and where to begin.

    But I deeply thank our awesome community and helpful mentors, Johnny Jazeix, Timothee Giet, Divyam Madaan, Emmanuel Charruau and Rudra Nil Basu who kept guiding me and helped me constantly in my tasks through which I learned a lot of things, which otherwise I could have never got the opportunity to learn.

    [...]

    I will continue to contribute to GCompris for a long time and help our software grow, as much as I can.

  • Beginning 2018

    2017 began with the once-in-a-lifetime trip to India to speak at KDE.Conf.in. That was amazing enough, but the trip to a local village, and visiting the Kaziranga National Park were too amazing for words.

    Literal highlight of last year were the eclipse and trip to see it with my son Thomas, and Christian and Hailey's wedding, and the trip to participate with my daughter Anne, while also spending some time with son Paul, his wife Tara and my grandson Oscar. This summer I was able to spend a few days in Brooklyn with Colin and Rory as well on my way to Akademy. So 2017 was definitely worth living through!

    [...]

    First, I'm so happy that soon Kubuntu will again be distributing 17.10 images next week. Right now we're in testing in preparation for that; pop into IRC if you'd like to help with the testing (#kubuntu-devel). https://kubuntu.org/getkubuntu/ next week!

  • Ten Things I Wish I’d Known About bash

     

    Here I’ve focussed on the things that either confused me or increased my power and productivity in bash significantly, and tried to communicate them (as in my book) in a way that emphasises getting the understanding right.

  • Emacs for Science

        

    I typically cover software packages that do actual calculations to advance scientific knowledge, but here I'm exploring a slightly stranger tool in the arsenal of scientific computation.

    Emacs is a text editor that has almost all the functionality of an operating system. A collection of enhancements and configuration settings are available bundled under the name of scimax. Being an Emacs user myself, I was surprised I'd never heard of it before now. This project has been in development for some time, but it recently has started to find wider attention.

4MLinux 23.2 released.

Filed under
GNU
Linux

This is a minor (point) release in the 4MLinux STABLE channel, which comes with the Linux kernel 4.9.75 (*). The 4MLinux Server now includes Apache 2.4.29, MariaDB 10.2.11, and PHP 7.0.26 (see this post for more details). Additionally, some popular programs (Audacity, Chromium, VLC) have been updated, too. 4MLinux 23.2 includes bugfixes for VLC (which now plays the "https" network streams correctly) and Chromium (restored good sound quality).

You can update your 4MLinux by executing the "zk update" command in your terminal (fully automatic process).

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Latest of LWN (Paywall Expired)

Filed under
Development
GNU
Linux
  • Python 3, ASCII, and UTF-8

    The dreaded UnicodeDecodeError exception is one of the signature "features" of Python 3. It is raised when the language encounters a byte sequence that it cannot decode into a string; strictly treating strings differently from arrays of byte values was something that came with Python 3. Two Python Enhancement Proposals (PEPs) bound for Python 3.7 look toward reducing those errors (and the related UnicodeEncodeError) for environments where they are prevalent—and often unexpected.

    Two related problems are being addressed by PEP 538 ("Coercing the legacy C locale to a UTF-8 based locale") and PEP 540 ("Add a new UTF-8 Mode"). The problems stem from the fact that locales are often incorrectly specified and that the default locale (the "POSIX" or "C" locale) specifies an ASCII encoding, which is often not what users actually want. Over time, more and more programs and developers are using UTF-8 and are expecting things to "just work".

  • Shrinking the kernel with link-time garbage collection

    One of the keys to fitting the Linux kernel into a small system is to remove any code that is not needed. The kernel's configuration system allows that to be done on a large scale, but it still results in the building of a kernel containing many smaller chunks of unused code and data. With a bit of work, though, the compiler and linker can be made to work together to garbage-collect much of that unused code and recover the wasted space for more important uses.
    This is the first article of a series discussing various methods of reducing the si

  • The current state of kernel page-table isolation

    At the end of October, the KAISER patch set was unveiled; this work separates the page tables used by the kernel from those belonging to user space in an attempt to address x86 processor bugs that can disclose the layout of the kernel to an attacker. Those patches have seen significant work in the weeks since their debut, but they appear to be approaching a final state. It seems like an appropriate time for another look.
    This work has since been renamed to "kernel page-table isolation" or KPTI, but the objective remains the same: split the page tables, which are currently shared between user and kernel space, into two sets of tables, one for each side. This is a fundamental change to how the kernel's memory management works and is the sort of thing that one would ordinarily expect to see debated for years, especially given its associated performance impact. KPTI remains on the fast track, though. A set of preparatory patches was merged into the mainline after the 4.15-rc4 release — when only important fixes would ordinarily be allowed — and the rest seems destined for the 4.16 merge window. Many of the core kernel developers have clearly put a lot of time into this work, and Linus Torvalds is expecting it to be backported to the long-term stable kernels.

    KPTI, in other words, has all the markings of a security patch being readied under pressure from a deadline. Just in case there are any smug ARM-based readers out there, it's worth noting that there is an equivalent patch set for arm64 in the works.

  • Containers without Docker at Red Hat

    The Docker (now Moby) project has done a lot to popularize containers in recent years. Along the way, though, it has generated concerns about its concentration of functionality into a single, monolithic system under the control of a single daemon running with root privileges: dockerd. Those concerns were reflected in a talk by Dan Walsh, head of the container team at Red Hat, at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon. Walsh spoke about the work the container team is doing to replace Docker with a set of smaller, interoperable components. His rallying cry is "no big fat daemons" as he finds them to be contrary to the venerated Unix philosophy.

  • Demystifying container runtimes

    As we briefly mentioned in our overview article about KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, there are multiple container "runtimes", which are programs that can create and execute containers that are typically fetched from online images. That space is slowly reaching maturity both in terms of standards and implementation: Docker's containerd 1.0 was released during KubeCon, CRI-O 1.0 was released a few months ago, and rkt is also still in the game. With all of those runtimes, it may be a confusing time for those looking at deploying their own container-based system or Kubernetes cluster from scratch. This article will try to explain what container runtimes are, what they do, how they compare with each other, and how to choose the right one. It also provides a primer on container specifications and standards.

  • HarfBuzz brings professional typography to the desktop

    By their nature, low-level libraries go mostly unnoticed by users and even some programmers. Usually, they are only noticed when something goes wrong. However, HarfBuzz deserves to be an exception. Not only does the adoption of HarfBuzz mean that free software's ability to convert Unicode characters to a font's specific glyphs is as advanced as any proprietary equivalent, but its increasing use means that professional typography can now be done from the Linux desktop as easily as at a print shop.

    "HarfBuzz" is a transliteration of the Persian for "open type." Partly, the name reflects that it is designed for use with OpenType, the dominant format for font files. Equally, though, it reflects the fact that the library's beginnings lie in the wish of Behdad Esfahbod, HarfBuzz's lead developer, to render Persian texts correctly on a computer.

    "I grew up in a print shop," Esfahbod explained during a telephone interview. "My father was a printer, and his father was a printer. When I was nine, they got a PC, so my brother and I started learning programming on it." In university, Esfahbod tried to add support for Unicode, the industry standard for encoding text, to Microsoft Explorer 5. "We wanted to support Persian on the web," he said. "But the rendering was so bad, and we couldn't fix that, so we started hacking on Mozilla, which back then was Netscape."

    Esfahbod's early interest in rendering Persian was the start of a fifteen-year effort to bring professional typography to every Unicode-supported script (writing system). It was an effort that led through working on the GNOME desktop for Red Hat to working on Firefox development at Mozilla and Chrome development at Google, with Esfahbod always moving on amiably to wherever he could devote the most time to perfecting HarfBuzz. The first general release was reached in 2015, and Esfahbod continues to work on related font technologies to this day.

9 Most Beautiful Linux Distros You Need To Use (2018 Edition)

Filed under
GNU
Linux

Linux users have the liberty to enjoy an unparalleled freedom while choosing the Linux distributions as per their needs. Using different open source technologies, the developers keep creating something new and surprising the enthusiasts. Here, in this article, I’ll be listing the most beautiful Linux distros that have impressed me and other Linux users. This list is a mixture of newcomers and popular distros.

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Hackable, Rockchip-based media player also offers NAS and retro gaming

Filed under
Android
GNU
Linux
Hardware

Cloud Media’s open source “Popcorn Hour Transformer Media Computer / NAS” computer is based on Pine64’s RK3328-based Rock64 SBC, and supports Linux and Android media player, NAS, and retro gaming.

Cloud Media has spun a new variant of its Popcorn Hour media player that is open source in hardware and software thanks to its mainboard: Pine64’s open source, quad-core Cortex-A53 Rock64 SBC. It’s available in a Media Computer and NAS (network attached storage) version for the same price of $95.90 (2GB LPDDR3/16GB eMMC) or $115.90 (4GB/32GB), not counting SATA storage.

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Desktop GNU/Linux: Distros and Dell XPS 13

Filed under
GNU
Linux
  • 7 Best Linux Distributions for Desktop/Laptop 2018

    This would be our first article in 2018 and happy to present you a list of the best Linux distributions to add to your favorite list in 2018 for your Desktop/Laptop, it is important to note that there is no such thing as “best” Linux distribution. People have different tastes which vary from UI experience to the feature set provided by a Linux distribution. As an example, a newbie will have a different preference from an advanced Linux administrator who has worked with a distribution like Gentoo and is obsessed with Linux CLI administration.

    If you're not sure about a Linux distribution to use, It's best to test them on VirtualBox or VMware Workstation, you'll definitely fall for one that suits your needs and preferences.

  • Dell XPS 13 with Ubuntu -- The Ultimate Developer Laptop of 2018!

    I'm the proud owner of a new Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (9630) laptop, pre-loaded from the Dell factory with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Desktop.

    Kudos to the Dell and the Canonical teams that have engineered a truly remarkable developer desktop experience.  You should also check out the post from Dell's senior architect behind the XPS 13, Barton George.

  • Dell releases Ubuntu Linux-based XPS 13 Developer Edition (9370) laptop

    If you want a computer pre-loaded with a Linux-based operating system, you can never go wrong with System76. After all, that company focuses entirely on Linux -- it does not sell Windows machines at all. Hell, System76 even maintains its own Ubuntu-based operating system called Pop!_OS. By supporting that company, you are also supporting the overall Linux community.

    System76 is not the only company selling Linux-powered computers, however. Despite being a major Microsoft partner with Windows, Dell also sells desktops and laptops pre-loaded with Ubuntu. One of the company's most impressive computers is the svelte XPS 13 laptop. Dell sells a version with Ubuntu that it dubs "Developer Edition," but non-developers can, of course, use it too. Today, the company announces the the 7th-generation version of this notebook. The 9370, as it is called, can be purchased immediately.

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OSS Leftovers

  • Why no more new AND successful FOSS projects in the last ten years?
     

    If you ask me, the new, successful FOSS projects should be project that fix, replace, rewrite, whatever… the really unglamorous, low-level tools, libraries and so on that would make that happen. Yes, I know that this is really unlikely to happen under current business models and until IoT everywhere, new iPhones every year and the like are perceived as higher priorities, regardless of their environmental impacts and, very often, sheer lack of sense.

  • FOSS Backstage - CfP open
    It's almost ten years ago that I attended my first ApacheCon EU in Amsterdam. I wasn't entirely new to the topic of open source or free software. I attended several talks on Apache Lucene, Apache Solr, Hadoop, Tomcat, httpd (I still remember that the most impressive stories didn't necessarily come from the project members, but from downstream users. They were the ones authorized to talk publicly about what could be done with the project - and often became committers themselves down the road.
  • Liveblogging RIT’s FOSS projects class: initial questions for community spelunking
    Stephen Jacobs (SJ) and I are co-teaching “Project in FOSS Development” at RIT this semester, which basically means “hey students, want to get course credit for contributing to a FOSS project?” The class is centered around 5 project sprints of two weeks each. The first 3 weeks of class are preparing for the sprint periods; the week before spring break is a pause to reflect on how sprints are going. Otherwise, class efforts will be centered around executing project work… (aka “getting stuff done”).
  • Design’N’Buy launches All-In-One Designer on Magento Open Source 2.2
    Design’N’Buy announces the launch of their flagship product – the AIOD on Magento Open Source Version 2.2. With the launch of web to print solution on Magento Version 2.2 , Design’N’Buy becomes first event in web to print industry to offer complete eCommerce printing solution for printers on one of the widest and latest technology platform.
  • Singapore: Blockchain startup Bluzelle raises $19.5m through ICO
    Singapore-based decentralised database provider Bluzelle has announced that its initial coin offering (ICO) has raised $19.5 million in funding, according to a press statement.
  • Blockchain Startup Bluzelle Raises $19.5M USD In ICO
    Bluzelle’ advisor list includes the likes of Brian Fox, creator of GNU Bash, Alex Leverington, one of the original Core ethereum developers, Prashant Malik, co-creator of Apache Cassandra and Ryan Fugger, the original creator of the cryptocurrency Ripple.
  • The Document Liberation project announces five new or improved libraries
    The Document Liberation Project has announced five new or improved libraries to export EPUB3 and import AbiWord, MS Publisher, PageMaker and QuarkXPress files.
  • Lawsuit accuses PACER of milking the public for cash in exchange for access
    The federally run online court document access system known as PACER now finds itself listed on a federal docket. Its overseer, the US government, is a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing the service of overcharging the public. The suit, brought by three nonprofits on Thursday, claims millions of dollars generated from a recent 25-percent increase in page fees are being illegally spent by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO). The cost for access is 10 cents per page and up to $3 a document. Judicial opinions are free. This isn't likely to break the bank for some, but to others it adds up and can preclude access to public records. The National Consumer Law Center, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program also claim in the lawsuit that these fees are illegal because the government is charging more than necessary to keep the PACER system afloat (as is required by Congress).
  • Is the Most Massive, Illegal Paywall in the World About to Come Down?
    A groundbreaking lawsuit is poised to decimate what is arguably the most unjust, destructive, and it now sounds like illegal paywall in the world, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records, PACER. PACER is the federal government court documents repository. Every federal court document, for every case, lives in PACER. It’s essentially a giant FTP document repository with a horrendous search system bolted on, not dissimilar to EDGAR. PACER was created in 1988 to enable access to court records electronically. Initially available only in courthouses the system was expanded to the web in 2001.
  • Codasip Announces Studio 7, Design and Productivity Tools for Rapid Generation of RISC-V Processors
    Codasip, the leading supplier of RISC-V® embedded processor IP, today announced that it has launched the 7th generation of its Studio, the unique IP-design and customization software that allows for fast configuration and optimization of RISCV processors, customer-proprietary processor architectures, and their accompanying software development toolchains.
  • EE4J Code Begins the Journey to Open Source
    The EE4J project, which was created to manage the Eclipse Foundation’s stewardship of Java EE technologies following Oracle’s decision to open source them, is starting to gain traction. Soon after the project was created, EclipseLink and Yasson (the official reference implementation of Java JSON Binding, JSR-367) became the first two projects to be transferred under the EE4J umbrella. As reported in December, the announcement was made that seven more projects were being proposed.

Database SQLite 3.22.0 Released