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Benchmarking The Intel Performance Change With Linux FSGSBASE Support

As covered last week, the Linux kernel is finally about to see FSGSBASE support a feature supported by Intel CPUs going back to Ivybridge and can help performance. Since that earlier article the FS/GS BASE patches have been moved to the x86/cpu branch meaning unless any last-minute problems arise the functionality will be merged for the Linux 5.3 cycle. I've also begun running some benchmarks to see how this will change the Linux performance on Intel hardware. See the aforelinked article for more background information on this functionality that's been available in patch form for the Linux kernel going back years but hasn't been mainlined -- well, until hopefully next month. FSGSBASE should help in context switching performance which is particularly good news following the various CPU vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Zombieload that have really hurt the context switching performance. Read more

Programming/Development Leftovers

  • binb 0.0.4: Several nice improvements

    The fourth release of the binb package just arrived on CRAN. binb regroups four rather nice themes for writing LaTeX Beamer presentations much more easily in in (R)Markdown. As a teaser, a quick demo combining all four themes follows; documentation and examples are in the package.

  • Watermarking photos? "I can do that in Python!"

    The Python Image Library (PIL), although not in the standard library, has been Python’s best-known 2-D image processing library. It predated installers such as pip, so a “friendly fork” called Pillow was created. Although the package is called Pillow, you import it as PIL to make it compatible with the older PIL.

  • EuroPython 2019: Schedule is online

    Please make sure you book your ticket in the coming days. We will switch to late bird rates next week. If you want to attend the training sessions, please buy a training pass in addition to your conference ticket, or get a combined ticket. We only have very few training seats left.

  • Mike Driscoll: PyDev of the Week: Geir Arne Hjelle

    This week we welcome Geir Arne Hjelle (@gahjelle) as our PyDev of the Week! Geir is a regular contributor to Real Python. You can also find some of his work over on Github. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Geir now!

  • Python's Mypy--Advanced Usage

    In my last article, I introduced Mypy, a package that enforces type checking in Python programs. Python itself is, and always will remain, a dynamically typed language. However, Python 3 supports "annotations", a feature that allows you to attach an object to variables, function parameters and function return values. These annotations are ignored by Python itself, but they can be used by external tools. Mypy is one such tool, and it's an increasingly popular one. The idea is that you run Mypy on your code before running it. Mypy looks at your code and makes sure that your annotations correspond with actual usage. In that sense, it's far stricter than Python itself, but that's the whole point. In my last article, I covered some basic uses for Mypy. Here, I want to expand upon those basics and show how Mypy really digs deeply into type definitions, allowing you to describe your code in a way that lets you be more confident of its stability.

  • One Of AMD's Leading LLVM Compiler Experts Jumped Ship To Unity

    AMD has lost one of their leading LLVM compiler developers as well as serving as a Vulkan/SPIR-V expert with being involved in those Khronos specifications. Neil Henning has parted ways with AMD and is now joining Unity Technologies. Neil was brought to AMD to improve the performance of their LLVM compiler, in particular their LLVM Pipeline Compiler (LLPC) used by the likes of their official AMD Vulkan driver in order to make it competitive with their long-standing, proprietary shader compiler currently used by their binary graphics drivers. While at AMD, he was able to increase the performance of their LLVM shader compiler stack by about 2x over the past year. He also implemented various Vulkan driver extensions into their stack.

  • [LibreOffice GSoC] Week 4 Report

    As this week was my last week in my exams I worked in many minor points to finish it and finish all missing parts for phase1.

Official x86 Zhaoxin Processor Support Is Coming With Linux 5.3

Zhaoxin is the company producing Chinese x86 CPUs created by a joint venture between VIA and the Shanghai government. The current Zhaoxin ZX CPUs are based on VIA's Isaiah design and making use of VIA's x86 license. With the Linux 5.3 kernel will be better support for these Chinese desktop x86 CPUs. Future designs of the Zhaoxin processors call for 7nm manufacturing, PCI Express 4.0, DDR5, and other features to put it on parity with modern Intel and AMD CPUs. It remains to be seen how well that will work out, but certainly seems to be moving along in the desktop/consumer space for Chinese-built x86 CPUs while in the server space there's the Hygon Dhyana EPYC-based processors filling the space for Chinese servers. Read more

Security Leftovers

  • OpenSSH adds protection against Spectre, Meltdown, RAMBleed

    OpenSSH, a widely used suite of programs for secure (SSH protocol-based) remote login, has been equipped with protection against side-channel attacks that could allow attackers to extract private keys from memory.

  • How to take the pain out of patching Linux and Windows systems at scale

    Patching can be manually intensive and time-consuming, requiring large amounts of coordination and processes. Tony Green gives the best tips.

  • Removal of IBRS mitigation for Spectre Variant2

    As the Meltdown and Spectre attacks were published begin of January 2018, several mitigations were planned and implemented for Spectre Variant 2.

  • Go and FIPS 140-2 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

    Red Hat provides the Go programming language to Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers via the go-toolset package. If this package is new to you, and you want to learn more, check out some of the previous articles that have been written for some background. The go-toolset package is currently shipping Go version 1.11.x, with Red Hat planning to ship 1.12.x in Fall 2019. Currently, the go-toolset package only provides the Go toolchain (e.g., the compiler and associated tools like gofmt); however, we are looking into adding other tools to provide a more complete and full-featured Go development environment. In this article, I will talk about some of the improvements, changes, and exciting new features for go-toolset that we have been working on. These changes bring many upstream improvements and CVE fixes, as well as new features that we have been developing internally alongside upstream.

  • Check your password security with Have I Been Pwned? and pass

    Password security involves a broad set of practices, and not all of them are appropriate or possible for everyone. Therefore, the best strategy is to develop a threat model by thinking through your most significant risks—who and what you are protecting against—then model your security approach on the activities that are most effective against those specific threats. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a great series on threat modeling that I encourage everyone to read. In my threat model, I am very concerned about the security of my passwords against (among other things) dictionary attacks, in which an attacker uses a list of likely or known passwords to try to break into a system. One way to stop dictionary attacks is to have your service provider rate-limit or deny login attempts after a certain number of failures. Another way is not to use passwords in the "known passwords" dataset.