Graphics

How OpenGL Graphics Card Performance Has Evolved Over 10 Years (phoronix.com) 115

An anonymous reader writes: A new report at Phoronix looks at the OpenGL performance of 27 graphics cards from the GeForce 8 through GeForce 900 series. Various Ubuntu OpenGL games were tested on these graphics cards dating back to 2006, focusing on raw performance and power efficiency. From oldest to newest, there was a 72x increase in performance-per-Watt, and a 100x increase in raw performance. The NVIDIA Linux results arrive after doing a similar AMD comparison from R600 graphics cards through the R9 Fury. However, that analysis found that for many of the older graphics cards, their open-source driver support regressed into an unworkable state. For the cards that did work, the performance gains were not nearly as significant over time.
Networking

Tracking Protection In Wi-Fi Networks Coming Soon To Linux 112

prisoninmate writes: Fedora contributor and NetworkManager developer Lubomir Rintel explains how your devices are being identified on a network by a unique number that most of us know by the name of MAC address. Same goes for mobile networking, as your laptop's or mobile phone's MAC address is, in most cases, broadcasted everywhere you go before you even attempt a connection to a wireless network. And that's a problem for your privacy. The solution? Randomization of the MAC address while scanning for Wi-Fi networks. Apple is already using this method on iOS 8 and later mobile operating systems, and so is Microsoft in Windows 10, so Linux users will ["likely"] get it in the upcoming NetworkManager 1.2 release.
Bug

Serious Linux Kernel Vulnerability Patched (threatpost.com) 85

msm1267 writes: A patch for a critical Linux kernel flaw, present in the code since 2012, is expected to be pushed out today. The vulnerability affects versions 3.8 and higher, said researchers at startup Perception Point who discovered the vulnerability. The flaw also extends to two-thirds of Android devices, the company added. An attacker would require local access to exploit the vulnerability on a Linux server. A malicious mobile app would get the job done on an Android device. The vulnerability is a reference leak that lives in the keyring facility built into the various flavors of Linux. The keyring encrypts and stores login information, encryption keys and certificates, and makes them available to applications. Here's Perception Point's explanation of the problem.
Open Source

Fedora Linux Might Drop Incremental Upgrades (happyassassin.net) 91

prisoninmate writes: As you might know, Fedora and many other GNU/Linux distributions require users to do an incremental upgrade when attempting to move from an older version of the operating system to the most recent one. For example, if you want to upgrade from Fedora 21 to Fedora 23, you will have first to upgrade to Fedora 22. Lately, Fedora upgrades have become more stable and reliable, mostly because of some brand-new technologies, such as the DNF package manger. Fedora's Adam Williamson theorizes about an innovative method that might support official upgrade of the Fedora Linux operating system across two releases in the future.
Open Source

Open Source Could Help Bring Vulkan To More AMD GPUs (phoronix.com) 38

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has confirmed that their Vulkan Linux driver will only work with the new AMDGPU kernel driver, meaning that for right now on the desktop, Vulkan will just work on the Radeon R9 285, R9 380, R9 380X and R9 Fury series — not even the other Rx 200/300 series graphics cards. This limitation exists because the AMDGPU driver only works with GCN 1.2 and newer. In time, AMD may allow the driver to work on older GCN GPUs going back to the HD 7000 series. But wait: AMDGPU is open-source. AMD is welcoming community support to help bring AMDGPU (and thereby Vulkan) to these older GPUs. The work involved would be porting GCN 1.0/1.1 support from the existing open-source Radeon DRM driver over to the new AMDGPU DRM driver. The Vulkan code itself is said to already be compatible with all GCN GPUs going back to the HD 7xxx series.
Security

Cheap Web Cams Can Open Permanent, Difficult-To-Spot Backdoors Into Networks 77

An anonymous reader writes: They might seems small and relatively insignificant, but cheap wireless web cams deployed in houses and offices (and connected to home and office networks) might just be the perfect way in for attackers. Researchers from the Vectra Threat Lab have demonstrated how easy it can be to embed a backdoor into such a web cam, with the goal of proving how IoT devices expand the attack surface of a network. They bought a consumer-grade D-Link WiFi web camera for roughly $30, and cracked it open. After installing a back-door to the Linux system that runs the camera, and then turning off the ability to update the system, they had an innocent seeming but compromised device that could be stealthily added to a network environment.
Linux Business

Video GNU/Linux Desktops with No User Knowledge Needed (Video) 85

Joey Amanchukwu is co-founder and CEO of Transforia, a company that leases computers pre-loaded with Red Hat Enterprise Linux -- a distro choice that may have been made at least partly because Joey used to sell for Red Hat.

There have been other companies that tried to sell Linux desktops and laptops on a "don't worry about a thing; we'll administer them for you, no problem" basis. Not a lot (maybe none) of those companies have survived, as far as we know. Will Transforia manage to make it big? Or at least become profitable? We'll see.
Intel

Intel's Clear Linux Distribution Offers Fast Out-Of-The-Box Performance (phoronix.com) 137

An anonymous reader writes: In a 10-way Linux distribution battle including OpenSUSE, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and others, one of the fastest out-of-the-box performers was a surprising contender: Intel's Clear Linux Project that's still in its infancy. Clear Linux ships in an optimized form for delivering best performance on x86 hardware with enabling many compiler optimizations by default, highly-tuned software bundles, function multi-versioning for the most performant code functions based upon CPU, AutoFDO for automated feedback-direct optimizations and other performance-driven features. Clear Linux is a rolling-release-inspired distribution that issues new versions a few times a day and is up to version 5700.
Intel

Intel Skylake Bug Causes PCs To Freeze During Complex Workloads (arstechnica.com) 122

chalsall writes: Intel has confirmed an in-the-wild bug that can freeze its Skylake processors. The company is pushing out a BIOS fix. Ars reports: "No reason has been given as to why the bug occurs, but it's confirmed to affect both Linux and Windows-based systems. Prime95, which has historically been used to benchmark and stress-test computers, uses Fast Fourier Transforms to multiply extremely large numbers. A particular exponent size, 14,942,209, has been found to cause the system crashes. While the bug was discovered using Prime95, it could affect other industries that rely on complex computational workloads, such as scientific and financial institutions. GIMPS noted that its Prime95 software "works perfectly normal" on all other Intel processors of past generations."
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.4 LTS Officially Released 132

prisoninmate writes: January 10, 2016, will enter in the Linux history books as the day when the Linux kernel 4.4 LTS (Long-Term Support) has been officially released by Linus Torvalds and his team of hard working kernel developers. Prominent features of Linux kernel 4.4 LTS include 3D support in the virtual GPU driver, allowing for 3D hardware-accelerated graphics in virtualization guests, a leaner and faster loop device that supports Asynchronous I/O and Direct I/O, thus increasing the system's performance and saving memory, and support for Open-Channel Solid State Drives (SSDs) through LightNVM. Phoronix also took a look during the newest kernel's development cycle, and has an overview of 4.4's new features.
Debian

How To Talk About Mental Illness Online? 308

An anonymous reader writes: Shortly after the death of Debian founder Ian Murdock, Bruce Perens, who succeeded Murdock as Debian Project Leader in 1996 and was also Murdock's employer for a period of time, claimed very publicly that Murdock died of mental illness, although no evidence has been provided. Without referencing Murdock or Perens, another prominent Debian Developer, Daniel Pocock, has asserted that discussion about who has or had a mental illness is a step too far. To be fair, it sure doesn't sound like Perens was trying to do other than express sympathy in light of a tragic death.
Oracle

Oracle Brings Real-Time Kernel Patching To Oracle Enterprise Linux 52

prisoninmate writes: Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) Release 4 is an important engineering effort and introduces performance improvements and enhancements for some of the most essential components, including CPU schedulers and Automatic NUMA Balancing, along with powerful new features, such as real-time kernel patching, which is possible thanks to the Ksplice open-source extension of the Linux kernel 4 branch, which lets users to apply patches to the running kernel without the need to reboot the system, thus improving security and simplify the management of cloud infrastructures.
Operating Systems

Hackers Get Linux Running On a PlayStation 4 (engadget.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: Two years after the PlayStation 4 was released, and two weeks after it was jailbroken, a group of hackers has now successfully installed Linux on it. "...it appears that the fail0verflow team utilized a WebKit bug similar to the one recently documented by GitHub user CTurt and then took things up a notch. CTurt's workaround focuses on the PlayStation 4's Webkit browser, which is tricked into freeing processes from the core of the console's operating system by an improvised webpage. The PS4 is powered by Sony's Orbis OS, which is based on a Unix-like software called FreeBSD. With a route into the console's system, fail0verflow then identified weaknesses in the PlayStation 4's GPU. It specifically called out engineers from semiconductor company Marvell, accusing them of 'smoking some real good stuff' when they designed the PlayStation 4's southbridge chip."
Unix

New Year's Resolutions For *nix SysAdmins (cyberciti.biz) 242

An anonymous reader writes: A new year, with old systems. It is time to break bad old habits and develop good new ones. This list talks about new years resolutions for Linux and Unix sysadmins. List includes turning on 2FA on all services, making peace with systemd, installing free SSL/TLS certificates, avoiding laptops with horrible screens or wireless whitelist in BIOS, building Linux gaming rig and more. What resolutions are on your list regarding sysadmin or IT work in 2016?
Debian

Debian Founder Ian Murdock Has Died (docker.com) 464

Unknown Lamer writes: It has been confirmed that Debian founder Ian Murdock has died. From the Docker blog: "It is with great sadness that we inform you that Ian Murdock passed away on Monday night. This is a tragic loss for his family, for the Docker community, and the broader open source world; we all mourn his passing. ... Ian helped pioneer the notion of a truly open project and community, embracing open design and open contribution; in fact the formative document of the open source movement itself (the Open Source Definition) was originally a Debian position statement. It is a testament to Ian's commitment to openness and community that there are now more than 1,000 people currently involved in Debian development."
Bug

List of Major Linux Desktop Problems Updated For 2016 (narod.ru) 349

An anonymous reader writes: Phoronix reports that Artem S. Tashkinov's Major Linux Problems on the Desktop has been updated for 2016. It is a comprehensive list of various papercut issues and other inconveniences of Linux on the PC desktop. Among the issues cited for Linux not being ready for the desktop include graphics driver issues, audio problems, hardware compatibility problems, X11 troubles, a few issues with Wayland, and font problems. At the project management side, there is also cited a lack of cooperation among open source developers and fragmentation of desktops. Let's discuss.
Censorship

North Korea's Operating System Analyzed (theguardian.com) 98

Bruce66423 points out an analysis at The Guardian of North Korea's Red Star Linux-based OS, based on a presentation Sunday to the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin : The features of their Fedora based OS include a watermarking system to enable tracking of files — even if unopened. The operating system is not just the pale copy of western ones that many have assumed, said Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess of the German IT security company ERNW, who downloaded the software from a website outside North Korea and explored the code in detail. ... This latest version, written around 2013, is based on a version of Linux called Fedora and has eschewed the previous version’s Windows XP feel for Apple’s OS X – perhaps a nod to the country’s leader Kim Jong-un who, like his father, has been photographed near Macs. The OS, unsurprisingly, allowed only tightly fettered access to web sites, using a whitelist approach that gives access to government-controlled or approved sites.
Graphics

Mesa's Highlights Reel: An Impressive Year For Open Source 3-D Drivers 27

Michael Larabel at Phoronix has been assiduously reporting on some of the small advancements in open source 3-D graphics; in aggregate, those small advancements make for big improvements in hardware (and platform) support, as well as higher performance. Phoronix published today a year-end wrap-up highlighting some of the ways that Mesa has developed; it's quite a list. An excerpt: This time last year core Mesa and the drivers were still limited to OpenGL 3.3 compliance while in 2015 we've seen core Mesa reach up to OpenGL 4.2 support. The AMD RadeonSI and R600g drivers have raised up through OpenGL 4.1 (though R600g is limited in what supports GL4) and the Nouveau NVC0 driver is at OpenGL 4.1 as well. The Intel Mesa driver is still at OpenGL 3.3, but they are extremely close to OpenGL 4.2 and should hit that milestone in early 2016 after having been recently focusing up on OpenGL ES 3.1 support, which they did achieve this year. Besides tackling more GL4 support, Mesa this year has seen the new VirtIO GPU driver for 3D support in guest VMs, continued work on the new Raspberry Pi 3D driver (VC4), video encode/decode improvements, and other Gallium3D state tracker highlights.
Debian

APT Speed For Incremental Updates Gets a Massive Performance Boost 162

jones_supa writes: Developer Julian Andres Klode has this week made some improvements to significantly increase the speed of incremental updates with Debian GNU/Linux's APT update system. His optimizations have yielded the apt-get program to suddenly yield 10x performance when compared to the old code. These improvements also make APT with PDiff now faster than the default, non-incremental behavior. Beyond the improvements that landed this week, Julian is still exploring other areas for improving APT update performance. More details via his blog post.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu User Count Pegged At Over One Billion (phoronix.com) 165

An anonymous reader writes: In response to an article claiming Ubuntu didn't reach its goal of 200 million users this year — a goal set out by Mark Shuttleworth in 2011 to surpass 200 million users by 2015 — a Canonical engineer has come out to say the opposite. Dustin Kirkland, a member of Ubuntu Product and Strategy team, has come out to say there are more than one billion Ubuntu users. His billion tally though does include cloud/container instances as well as those shopping online at Wallmart, watching popular movies where the studios used Ubuntu servers, streamed from Netflix, rode with Uber, and other businesses that rely upon Ubuntu servers.

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