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Hardware

Linux Laptop Buyer’s Guide 2020

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

You can visit any online Linux discussion board, and you’re guaranteed to find the same question posted over and over again: What’s the best Linux laptop that I can buy?
In 2020, this question is both easy and difficult to answer at the same time. On the one hand, the Linux kernel has made great strides in improving compatibility with hardware components, and it’s now very rare for a laptop to not work with Linux at all. On the other hand, the sheer number of attractive laptops that work with Linux can be overwhelming and make the buying process feel tiring.

To make it easier for you, we selected the best Linux-friendly laptop brands in 2020 and picked one laptop for each brand. All there’s left for you to do is choose the laptop that best matches your requirements.

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Intel: HEVC, ANV Vulkan Driver, Linux 5.7 and New Security Hole

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Linux
Hardware
  • Intel Adds VA-API Acceleration For HEVC REXT To FFmpeg

    Intel open-source developers have contributed support for VA-API acceleration of HEVC REXT "Range Extensions" content with the widely-used FFmpeg library.

    HEVC Range Extensions are extensions to H.265 geared for areas of content distribution, medical imaging, still imaging, and more. Among the changes with HEVC REXT are supporting 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 chroma sampling formats. HEVC Range Extensions are laid out in much more detail in this IEEE.org paper.

  • Intel Boosts Gen7 GPU Vulkan Compute Performance By ~330% For Geekbench

    Intel's open-source "ANV" Vulkan driver for Linux doesn't see much attention for pre-Broadwell hardware but today it saw a big improvement for Vulkan compute on aging Gen7 Ivybridge/Haswell era hardware.

    Jason Ekstrand, the lead developer of the Intel ANV Vulkan driver, discovered that in their driver's pipeline code the data cache functionality would end up being disabled when a shader was pulled out of the pipeline cache. For Broadwell/Gen8+ the data cache bit was being ignored but this oversight ended up having huge implications for Gen7 Intel graphics hardware (Ivybridge/Haswell) as the oldest supported by Intel's Vulkan driver.

  • Intel Has Accumulated 400+ Graphics Driver Patches So Far For Linux 5.7

    Intel just sent out their initial pull request of new feature changes/improvements to DRM-Next that in turn is for landing in about one month's time when the Linux 5.7 merge window kicks off. With taking longer than usual to send in their first round of feature updates, this first of several pull requests already amounts to over 400 patches.

    While it is a big pull request given the extra time for patches to accumulate, there aren't too many user-facing changes. Though there is a lot of enablement work for Tiger Lake as well as continuing Gen11 Ice Lake and Elkhart Lake work. For Ice Lake / Elkhart Lake there are a number of driver workarounds added. For Gen12 / Tiger Lake there are workarounds, display fixes, RPS is re-enabled, and other work.

  • Intel KVM Virtualization Hit By Vulnerability Over Unfinished Code

    At least not another hardware vulnerability, but CVE-2020-2732 appears to stem from unfinished code within the Intel VMX code for the Linux kernel's Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) support.

    CVE-2020-2732 as of writing isn't yet public but we've been closely monitoring it since seeing a peculiar patch series earlier today and not finding much information on it.

Hardware and Devices for GNU/Linux

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

Devices: PicoCore, u‑blox and ESP32

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
  • PicoCore MX8MN is a Tiny NXP i.MX 8M Nano Computer-on-Module

    The PicoCore MX8MN Nano carries the NXP i.MX 8M Nano F&S Elektronik Systeme has announced the development of the smallest i.MX 8M based CoM yet: the PicoCore MX8MN Nano.

  • u-Blox Launches JODY-W3 WiFi 6 & Bluetooth 5.1 Module for Automotive Applications

    u‑blox has just launched JODY-W3 wireless module which the company claims to be the first automotive-grade WiFi 6 module. Apart from supporting 802.11ax WiFi with 2×2 MIMO, the module also comes with dual-mode Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity.

    WiFi 6 will be used for applications demanding higher bitrates such as ultra‑HD video infotainment streaming and screen mirroring, wireless back‑up cameras and cloud connectivity as well as vehicle systems maintenance and diagnostics. Bluetooth 5.1 will be used for keyless entry systems and other applications leveraging direction-finding and the longer range offered by the latest version of Bluetooth.

  • Barracuda App Server for ESP32 Let You Easily Develop Lua Apps via Your Web Browser

    We covered Real Time Logic’s open-source lightweight Minnow Server for microcontrollers last year, and now the company has released another project: Barracuda App Server for ESP32.

    This project is more complex and requires an ESP32 board with PSRAM to run such as boards based on ESP32-WROVER module with 4 to 8MB PSRAM. The Barracuda App server (BAS) comes with a Lua VM, and in complement with the LSP App Manager that facilitates active development on the ESP32 by providing a web interface.

    The Barracuda App Server runs on top of FreeRTOS real-time operating system part of Espressif free ESP-IDF development environment.

3-D Printing and Open Hardware: MakerBot, AAScan and RISC-V

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Hardware
  • MakerBot Targets Schools With Rebranded Printers

    MakerBot was poised to be one of the greatest success stories of the open source hardware movement. Founded on the shared knowledge of the RepRap community, they created the first practical desktop 3D printer aimed at consumers over a decade ago. But today, after being bought out by Stratasys and abandoning their open source roots, the company is all but completely absent in the market they helped to create. Cheaper and better printers, some of which built on that same RepRap lineage, have completely taken over in the consumer space; forcing MakerBot to refocus their efforts on professional and educational customers.

  • 3D-Printed 3D Scanner made to work with your phone

    An Arduino-based 3D scanner was created by an industrious 3D printing enthusiast and released open source this week for all to enjoy. This open source project was made to take out the most time-consuming component of the 3D scan process, giving said process instead to an Android phone combined with 3D-printed parts, a cheap motor, and an Arduino. This is not the first time such a system has been attempted, but it does appear to be the most complete and ready-to-roll system to date.

  • AAScan open source Arduino 3D scanner utilizes the power of your smartphone

    Using the power of Arduino and utilising the camera and powerful performance of a smartphone QLRO has created a fantastic 3D scanner aptly named the AAScan. Check out the video below to learn more about the Android 3D scanner which is open source and fully automated.

  • Video: RISC-V momentum around the world, from edge to HPC

    In this keynote talk from the 2020 HiPEAC conference, RISC-V Foundation Chief Executive Calista Redmond explains how the RISC-V open-source instruction set architecture is gathering momentum around the world, finding applications across the compute continuum from edge to high-performance computing.

  • Weekend Discussion: How Concerned Are You If Your CPU Is Completely Open?

    For some interesting Sunday debates in the forums, how important to you is having a completely open CPU design? Additionally, is POWER dead? This comes following interesting remarks by an industry leader this weekend.

    Stemming from discussions on Twitter about Raptor's new OpenBMC firmware with a web GUI in tow, one of the discussions ended up shifting to that of open CPU designs and the belief that secretive CPU startup NUVIA could be having an open-source firmware stack.

'Open-source' Rotary Cellphone

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Hardware
Gadgets

  • You can now own a mobile phone with a rotary dial — if that’s really something you want

    While some would be quite literally lost without theirs, smartphones that give us access to a world of information in our pocket but constantly ask to be pulled out of there and stared at have become so complicated many people now find them annoying.
    This has triggered the rise of “dumbphones”, which look like the mobile phones of the past while still having some modern technologies.
    These devices range from the quite cheap to the weirdly expensive.
    Some customers opt for these phones to disconnect from the always online world – while others merely want to be seen to be doing so.
    But if you’re looking for the ultimate disconnected phone, one tinkerer has the perfect device.
    Justine Haupt is an associate scientist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.
    She’s also the creator of the open source Rotary Cellphone, a mobile phone with a tactile spinning dial like the kind that was common on house phones until around the 1980s.

  • Rotary Cellphone
  • Open-source rotary cellphone

    Justine Haupt made this handsome and completely functional rotary cellphone. Her design is open-source and you can even buy a case kit from her company, Sky's Edge Robotics. You have to find and carefully modify your own rotary dial, though -- they're apparently no longer made -- as well as a few other components.

Devices: RasPi, MoveIt/ROS, Neuroscience Hardware Hack Chat and More

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GNU
Linux
Hardware
  • [Available now] Raspberry Pi Zero based open source checkra1n jailbreak dongle (Ra1nbox) with screen is in works

    Do you have an iPhone? Did you migrate from Android? In case you did, you can probably reminisce the first few weeks. It might have been difficult for you to get along with the whole ecosystem with limited customisation options.

    Setting the price aside, the main advantage of having an Android device is numerous options to change the default features. In order to gain an elated level of privilege, you can even go through a few steps to root the phone.

  • MoveIt, the Popular Open Source Platform For Robotic Arms, Releases ROS 2 Version

    PickNik Robotics is pleased to announce today the release of a much anticipated new version of MoveIt for use with the industry-advocated ROS 2. PickNik Robotics and its partners Intel, Amazon, Open Robotics, and many worldwide contributors to MoveIt, are excited to see this big step forward in providing next generation open source robotics. MoveIt 2 will enable many compelling advantages over its predecessor, namely faster, more reactive planning through realtime control of robot arms. The new platform version will enable more reliable robot behaviors, based on industry feedback.

  • Open-Source Neuroscience Hardware Hack Chat

    Join us for the Open-Source Neuroscience Hardware Hack Chat this week where we’ll discuss the exploration of the real final frontier, and find out what it takes to invent the tools before you get to use them.

  • Glasgow Interface Explorer open source multitool for digital electronics

    A new project soon to launch via Crowd Supplied is the Glasgow Interface Explorer, offering a highly capable and extremely flexible open source multitool for digital electronics. Created for embedded developers, reverse engineers, digital archivists, electronics hobbyists, and anyone else who wants to communicate with a wide selection of digital devices.

    The Glasgow Interface Explorer development board has been designed for “maximum reliability and minimum hassle” science creators and can be attached to most devices without the need for additional active or passive components.

  • ADLINK Industrial-Pi (I-Pi) SMARC Development Kit Features Rockchip PX30 SoC

    ADLINK Technology has just announced the Industrial-Pi (I-Pi) SMARC Development Kit to help engineers quickly design prototypes for industrial applications using peripherals and sensors.

  • Bluetera II open source development board created for motion-based IoT applications

    Bluetera II is an open hardware IoT solution powered by 9-axis motion sensors, an MCU with support for BLE 5.0, and an SDK based on Google’s Protocol Buffer technology. The small development board will be soon available to purchase via the Crowd Supply website. Offering a full stack development board using protocol buffers for motion-based IoT applications and has been created to fill the gap for an open source platform that satisfies the following requirements :

Dev kit showcases 15-TOPS NPU equipped Snapdragon 865

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Linux
Hardware

Intrinsyc’s “Snapdragon 865 Mobile HDK” runs Android 10 on the 7nm, octa-core, 2.84GHz Snapdragon 865 with 15-TOPS AI. The kit offers 6GB LPDDR5, WiFi-ax, and an optional 6-inch touchscreen and triple camera board.

In its first product announcement since being acquired by Lantronix, long-time Qualcomm hardware partner Intrinsyc has launched a Mobile Hardware Development Kit (HDK) that showcases Qualcomm’s latest, greatest mobile SoC, the Snapdragon 865. The Snapdragon 865 Mobile HDK runs Android 10, which will soon be followed by Android 11, featuring a Conversations tool and improved security. Android 11 was released a few days ago in a developer preview.

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Dev kit and SMARC module run Linux on a Rockchip PX30

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Development
GNU
Linux
Hardware

Adlink unveiled an “I-Pi SMARC Dev Kit” that runs Linux on a “LEC-PX30” SMARC module with Rockchip’s quad -A35 PX30 SoC. The kit has RPi-like 40-pin GPIO and Intel’s MRAA HAL and UPM code for abstraction.

Adlink announced a maker-like Linux development kit for sensor prototyping built around a new SMARC form-factor LEC-PX30 module with Rockchip’s PX30 SoC. The Industrial-Pi (I-Pi) SMARC kit is supported by a wiki site with extensive software documentation, Linux images, and links to GitHub hosted software, but there’s no indication this is an open hardware project.

The wiki also has a teaser page for a “Neuron Pi” module, which Adlink plans to announce next week at Embedded World along with a Vizi-AI module. Both are SMARC modules equipped with an Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU.

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Devices: Raspberry Pi, Industrial/Panel PCs and RISC-V

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

         

  • How to play sound and make noise with your Raspberry Pi

           

             

    If your amazing project is a little too quiet, add high-fidelity sound with Raspberry Pi and the help of this handy guide from HackSpace magazine, written by PJ Evans.

  •       

  • Raspberry Pi 4 UEFI+ACPI Firmware Aims to Make the Board SBBR-Compliant

    As Arm wanted to enter the server market, they realized they had to provide systems that could boot standard operating system images without modifications or hacks – just as they do on x86 server -, so in 2014 the company introduced the Server Base System Architecture Specification (SBSA) so that all a single OS image can run on all ARMv8-A servers.

  • Linux-ready Apollo Lake panel PC has IP65 protection

    WinSystems’ IP65-protected, 12-inch “PPC12-427” capacitive panel PC runs on an Apollo Lake SoC with up to 8GB DDR3L ECC RAM, 2x GbE, 2x 4K DP, 4x USB, and -30 to 85°C support. Grand Prairie, Texas based WinSystems has announced a fanless, 12.1-inch, panel PC designed for signage, kiosk, food service, and industrial IoT HMI applications.

  • Modular Coffee Lake system has SUMIT and optional PCIe expansion

    Ibase’s “MAF800” industrial AI PC runs Ubuntu or Win 10 on an 8th Gen Coffee Lake CPU with 3x GbE, 2x SATA, 6x USB 3.0, and 2x SUMIT slots for an optional 4x PoE module. Other models offer PCIe x16, x8, and x4 slots.

    Last week, Taiwan-based Ibase announced it was pulling out of next week’s Embedded World show in Nuremberg due to concerns about the coronavirus. Other announced no-shows include Arm, Bridgetek, Digi-Key, FTDI, Kontron, and Rohm. Yet, Ibase and others appear to be pushing forward with their usual late February embedded product announcements.

  • Antmicro GEM ASIC Leverages zGlue Technology to Quickly Bring Custom Arm/RISC-V SoC’s to Market

    Introduced in 2018, ZiP (zGlue Integration Platform) chip-stacking technology aims to produce chips similar to Systems-in-Package (SiP) but at much lower costs and lead times.

  • Aldec and Codasip at Embedded World: Showcasing an Integrated UVM Simulation Environment for Verifying Custom Instructions with RISC-V Cores

    “Variability of the RISC-V ISA-based processor family brings new challenges to design flow. In particular, IP and SoC verification needs productivity boost tools and seamless integration into our design environment,” said Karel Masařík, CEO of Codasip. “Our generic UVM methodology combined with Aldec's simulation and code coverage efficiency analysis helps us add the desired RISC-V core extensions and provide core customization faster than our competition.”

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7 open source Q&A platforms

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The City of Dortmund continues its transition to open source software

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CERN adopts Mattermost, an open source messaging app

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Programming/Development: PHP 8.0, WASMtime 0.12, Perl, Python, and java

  • Looking At The PHP 8.0 Performance So Far In Early 2020

    With it being a while now since the PHP 7.4 release and the PHP developers continuing to be busy at work on PHP 8.0 as the next major installment of the popular web programming language, here is a fresh look at the performance of PHP 8.0 in its current state -- including when its JIT compiler is enabled -- compared to releases going back to PHP 5.6. Most exciting with PHP 8.0 is the JIT compiler that has the ability to provide better performance on top of all the gains already scored during PHP 7.x releases. PHP 8.0 is also bringing support for static return types, weak maps, union types, improved errors and warnings, and more is surely to come -- stay tuned to the PHP RFC page. The latest indications are PHP 8.0 isn't expected for release until the very end of 2020 or early 2021.

  • WASMtime 0.12 Released For The JIT-Style WebAssembly Runtime

    Announced last November was the Bytecode Alliance with a goal of running WebAssembly everywhere. This effort by Intel, Red Hat, Mozilla, and others has resulted in a new release today of wasmtime, their JIT-style runtime for WebAssembly on the desktop. The Bytecode Alliance developers from the different organizations continue working heavily on their Wasmtime JIT runtime, Cranelift low-level code generator, the WAMR micro-runtime, and Lucet sandboxing WebAssembly compiler. Wasmtime v0.12 is the new release out today for their optimizing run-time offering for WebAssembly and WASI (WebAssembly System Interface) on desktops and other non-browser use-cases.

  • The Weekly Challenge #049

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  • EuroPython 2020: Call for Proposals opens on March 9th

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  • Using Anaconda Environments with Wing Python IDE

    Wing version 7.2 has been released, and we've been looking at the new features in this version. So far we've covered reformatting with Black and YAPF, Wing 7.2's expanded support for virtualenv, and using python -m with Wing. This time we'll take a look at what Wing 7.2 provides for people that are using Anaconda environments created with conda create as an alternative to virtualenv.

  • Easy Provisioning Of Cloud Instances On Oracle Cloud Infrastructure With The OCI CLI

    The OCI CLI requires python version 3.5 or later, running on Mac, Windows, or Linux. Installation instructions are provided on the OCI CLI Quickstart page.

  • Python Range

    The Python range type generates a sequence of integers by defining a start and the end point of the range. It is generally used with the for loop to iterate over a sequence of numbers. range() works differently in Python 2 and 3. In Python 2, there are two functions that allow you to generate a sequence of integers, range and xrange. These functions are very similar, with the main difference being that range returns a list, and xrange returns an xrange object.

  • Code Borrowing and Licence Violations [Ed: This study may be deeply flawed because they bothered assessing no projects other than those that Microsoft controls (what about projects that don't use Git and Microsoft's proprietary trap?)]

    The researchers used the Public Git Archive (PGA), a large dataset that was composed in the early 2018. It consists of all GitHub projects with 50 or more stars which can be filtered by language. They extract all projects with at least one line written in Java which resulted in 24,810 projects overall and a final dataset of 23,378 Java repositories.

  • Painless Java with BlueJ

    Whenever you're learning a new programming language, it's easy to criticize all the boilerplate text you need to memorize. Before you can get comfortable starting a project, you have to remember the preambles that, in theory, ought to be easy to remember since they're usually relatively short and repetitive. In practice, though, boilerplate text is too obscure in meaning to become an easy habit, but it's essential for a program to run.