Technology

Faster Audio Decoding and Encoding Coming To Ogg and FLAC (phoronix.com) 89

FLAC and Ogg now have faster audio encoding and decoding capabilities thanks to recent code improvements. An anonymous reader writes: Robert Kausch of the fre:ac audio converter project informed news outlet Phoronix about recent changes he has made to FLAC and Ogg for bolstering faster performance. Kausch says he updated the CRC checks within FLAC and Ogg to a faster algorithm and those patches have now been accepted upstream. The Ogg and FLAC updates were merged this week for using the optimized CRC algorithm. As a result of this, encoding and decoding FLAC is now 5 percent faster, while encoding and decoding Ogg FLAC is 10 percent and 15 percent faster, respectively. Opus sees about one percent faster decoding, while Vorbis does decoding at two percent faster pace.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Considering an HTML5-Based OS Installer (phoronix.com) 179

An anonymous reader writes: Ubuntu's Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life, Mark Shuttleworth, is considering backing a new Ubuntu installer that would be using HTML5 via the Electron Framework. This theoretical installer would re-use the company's existing HTML5 code for managing MAAS installations, integrate with Electron, and also better support their Snap packaging format, according to his proposal. What could possibly go wrong with an HTML5/Electron operating system installer? Mark also announced that Ubuntu 18.10 is codenamed the Cosmic Cuttlefish.
GNU is Not Unix

GCC 8.1 Compiler Introduces Initial C++20 Support (gnu.org) 90

"Are you tired of your existing compilers? Want fresh new language features and better optimizations?" asks an announcement on the GCC mailing list touting "a major release containing substantial new functionality not available in GCC 7.x or previous GCC releases."

An anonymous reader writes: GNU has released the GCC 8.1 compiler with initial support for the C++20 (C++2A) revision of C++ currently under development. This annual update to the GNU Compiler Collection also comes with many other new features/improvements including but not limited to new ARM CPU support, support for next-generation Intel CPUs, AMD HSA IL, and initial work on Fortran 2018 support.
Programming

One Of LLVM's Top Contributors Quits Development Over Code of Conduct, Outreach Program (phoronix.com) 1235

Rafael Avila de Espindola is the fifth most active contributor to LLVM with more than 4,300 commits since 2006, but now he has decided to part ways with the project. From a report: Rafael posted a rather lengthy mailing list message to fellow LLVM developers today entitled I am leaving llvm. He says the reason for abandoning LLVM development after 12 years is due to changes in the community. In particular, the "social injustice" brought on the organization's new LLVM Code of Conduct and its decision to participate in this year's Outreachy program to encourage women and other minority groups to get involved with free software development. "I am definitely sad to lose Rafael from the LLVM project, but it is critical to the long term health of the project that we preserve an inclusive community. I applaud Rafael for standing by his personal principles, this must have been a hard decision," Chris Lattner, tweeted Thursday.
Linux

USB 3.2 Work Is On The Way For The Linux 4.18 Kernel: Report (phoronix.com) 65

An anonymous reader shares a report: USB 3.2 was announced last summer as an incremental update to the USB standard to double the bandwidth for existing USB Type-C cables. We haven't seen much in the way of USB 3.2 mentions in the Linux kernel yet but then again we haven't really seen USB 3.2 devices yet. USB 3.2 brings a multi-lane operation mode for hosts and devices using existing Type-C cables as well as a minor update to the USB hub specification. USB 3.2 allows for new 10 Gbit/s and 20 Gbit/s rates using two lanes, USB 3.2 Gen 1x2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, respectively. It looks like kernel developers are now working on getting their USB 3.2 Linux support in order. We were tipped off that as of last week there are some USB 3.2 patches queued in the usb-next tree maintained by Greg Kroah-Hartman's.
Operating Systems

Linux 4.17 Kernel Offers Better Intel Power-Savings While Dropping Old CPUs (phoronix.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes: Linus Torvalds has released Linux 4.17-rc1. This kernel comes with a significant amount of new capabilities as outlined by the Linux 4.17 feature overview. Among the new features are AMDGPU WattMan support, Intel HDCP support, Vega 12 GPU enablement, NVIDIA Xavier SoC support, removal of obsolete CPU architectures, and even better support for the original Macintosh PowerBook 100 series. Phoronix testing has also revealed measurable power savings improvements and better power efficiency on Intel hardware. The kernel is expected to be stabilized by June.
Open Source

Torvalds Opposes Tying UEFI Secure Boot to Kernel Lockdown Mode (phoronix.com) 69

An anonymous reader quotes Phoronix: The kernel lockdown feature further restricts access to the kernel by user-space with what can be accessed or modified... Pairing that with UEFI SecureBoot unconditionally is meeting some resistance by Linus Torvalds. The goal of kernel lockdown, which Linus Torvalds doesn't have a problem with at all, comes down to "prevent both direct and indirect access to a running kernel image, attempting to protect against unauthorised modification of the kernel image and to prevent access to security and cryptographic data located in kernel memory, whilst still permitting driver modules to be loaded." But what has the Linux kernel creator upset with are developers trying to pair this unconditionally with UEFI SecureBoot. Linus describes Secure Boot as being "pushed in your face by people with an agenda." But his real problem is that Secure Boot would then imply Kernel Lockdown mode... "Tying these things magically together IS A BAD IDEA."
Operating Systems

Linux 4.16 Released (phoronix.com) 119

An anonymous reader writes: Linus Torvalds has released Linux 4.16. Linux 4.16 integrates more of the VirtualBox guest drivers into the kernel, provides AMDGPU DC multi-display synchronization, continues with mitigation improvements for Spectre and Meltdown mitigation, tightens up access to /dev/mem by default, and many other improvements and changes.
Wireless Networking

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Benchmarks Show Significantly Improved Performance (phoronix.com) 85

fstack writes: Pi Day was marked this year by the launch of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ as the next evolution to this $35 ARM single-board computer. Phoronix has now put out Raspberry Pi 3 B+ benchmarks showing that the Ethernet performance is indeed much faster now but still doesn't stack up to other high performance boards, the SoC temperature is noticeably lower than the very warm Raspberry Pi 3, and the overall performance is a nice upgrade while retaining the same price point as its predecessors. Follow up tests looking at the Wi-Fi performance also show the new 802.11ac dual-band wireless to be much faster as well.
Debian

Debian 9.4 Released (debian.org) 78

An anonymous reader quotes Debian.org: The Debian project is pleased to announce the fourth update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename "stretch"). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems... Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old "stretch" media. After installation, packages can be upgraded to the current versions using an up-to-date Debian mirror.
Phoronix adds that Debian 9.4 "has a new upstream Linux kernel release, various dependency fixes for some packages, an infinite loop fix in Glade, several CVE security fixes, a larger stack size for NTP, a new upstream release of their NVIDIA proprietary driver package, Python 3 dependency fixes, and other security fixes."
Open Source

Linus Finally Releases Linux 4.15 Kernel, Blames Intel For Delay (phoronix.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: Linus Torvalds has released Linux 4.15 following the lengthy development cycle due to the Spectre v2 and Meltdown CPU vulnerability mitigation work. This update comes with many kernel improvements including RISC-V architecture support, AMDGPU Display Code support, Intel Coffee Lake graphics support, and many other improvements.
"This obviously was not a pleasant release cycle, with the whole meltdown/spectre thing coming in in the middle of the cycle and not really gelling with our normal release cycle," Linus writes. "The extra two weeks were obviously mainly due to that whole timing issue... [T]he news cycle notwithstanding, the bulk of the 4.15 work is all the regular plodding 'boring' stuff. And I mean that in the best possible way. It may not be glamorous and get the headlines, but it's the bread and butter of kernel development, and is in many ways the really important stuff.

"Go forth and play with it, things actually look pretty good despite everything. And obviously this also means that the merge window for 4.16 is open... Hopefully we'll have a _normal_ and entirely boring release cycle for 4.16. Because boring really is good."
Ubuntu

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Will Default To The X.Org Stack, Not Wayland (phoronix.com) 194

An anonymous reader writes: Five years after their original goal to ship Ubuntu with Wayland, Ubuntu 17.10 transitioned to using the Wayland display system by default as part of their transition to GNOME Shell as the default desktop. But with the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release, Canonical has decided to transition back to the X.Org Server. Their reasoning for moving to an X.Org Server by default is better support for screen sharing, remote desktop, and better recovery from crashes. But for those interested the Wayland session will still be available as a log-in option.
Bug

Ubuntu 17.10 Temporarily Pulled Due To A BIOS Corrupting Problem (phoronix.com) 167

An anonymous reader writes: Canonical has temporarily pulled the download links for Ubuntu 17.10 "Artful Aardvark" from the Ubuntu website due to ongoing reports of some laptops finding their BIOS corrupted after installing this latest Ubuntu release. The issue is appearing most frequently with Lenovo laptops but there are also reports of issues with other laptop vendors as well. This issue appears to stem from the Intel SPI driver in the 17.10's Linux 4.13 kernel corrupting the BIOS for a select number of laptop motherboards. Canonical is aware of this issue and is planning to disable the Intel SPI drivers in their kernel builds. Canonical's hardware enablement team has already verified this works around the problem, but doesn't provide any benefit if your BIOS is already corrupted.
AMD

AMD Is Open-Sourcing Their Official Vulkan Linux Driver (phoronix.com) 75

An anonymous reader writes: While many of you have likely heard of the "RADV" open-source Vulkan driver, it's been a community-written driver up to this point in the absence of AMD's official, cross-platform Vulkan driver being open-source. That's now changed with AMD now open-sourcing their official Vulkan driver. The code drop is imminent and they are encouraging the use of it for quick support of new AMD hardware, access to the Radeon GPU Profiler, easy integration of AMD Vulkan extensions, and enabling third-party extensions. For now at least it does provide better Vulkan performance than RADV but the RADV developers have indicated they plan to continue development of their Mesa-based Vulkan driver.
Intel

Clear Linux Beats CentOS, openSUSE, and Ubuntu in (Enterprise) Benchmark Tests (phoronix.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes: Recently completed Linux distro benchmarks by Phoronix show Intel's Clear Linux is the most powerful on x86 hardware. A six-way, enterprise-focused Linux distro comparison show Clear Linux being the fastest with a Core i9 and Xeon systems, easily beating CentOS, openSUSE, and Ubuntu in a majority of the tests.

When doing an 11-way Linux distro boot test they also found Clear Linux easily booted the fastest followed by the Clear-inspired Solus distribution. Clear Linux does work on AMD hardware and works on Intel CPUs back to Sandy Bridge but leverages its speed from optimized compiler settings, specially built libraries capable of AVX instructions on supported systems, a specially tuned kernel configuration, and other optimizations/patches.

Debian 9.2 and Fedora 27 "ended up being dropped from this article due to data overload," the article concludes, "and those distributions really not offering anything really different in terms of the performance."
Intel

Intel Planning To End Legacy BIOS Support By 2020, Report Says (phoronix.com) 122

Michael Larabel, writing for Phoronix: Intel is planning to end "legacy BIOS" support in their new platforms by 2020 in requiring UEFI Class 3 or higher. Making rounds this weekend is a slide deck from the recent UEFI Plugfest. Brian Richardson of Intel talked about the "last mile" barriers to removing legacy BIOS support from systems. By 2020, they will be supporting no less than UEFI Class 3, which means only UEFI support and no more legacy BIOS or CSM compatibility support mode. But that's not going to force on UEFI Secure Boot unconditionally: Secure Boot enabled is considered UEFI Class 3+. Intel hasn't removed legacy BIOS / CSM support yet due to many customers' software packages still relying upon legacy BIOS, among other reasons. Removing the legacy BIOS support will mitigate some security risks, needs less validation by vendors, allows for supporting more modern technologies, etc.
Linux

Linux 4.14 Has Been Released (kernelnewbies.org) 89

diegocg quotes Kernel Newbies: Linux 4.11 has been released. This release adds support for bigger memory limits in x86 hardware (128PiB of virtual address space, 4PiB of physical address space); support for AMD Secure Memory Encryption; a new unwinder that provides better kernel traces and a smaller kernel size; support for the zstd compression algorithm has been added to Btrfs and Squashfs; support for zero-copy of data from user memory to sockets; support for Heterogeneous Memory Management that will be needed in future GPUs; better cpufreq behaviour in some corner cases; faster TBL flushing by using the PCID instruction; asynchronous non-blocking buffered reads; and many new drivers and other improvements.
Phoronix has more on the changes in Linux 4.14 -- and notes that its codename is still "Fearless Coyote."
Open Source

Oracle Engineer Talks of ZFS File System Possibly Still Being Upstreamed On Linux (phoronix.com) 131

New submitter fstack writes: Senior software architect Mark Maybee who has been working at Oracle/Sun since '98 says maybe we "could" still see ZFS be a first-class upstream Linux file-system. He spoke at the annual OpenZFS Developer Summit about how Oracle's focus has shifted to the cloud and how they have reduced investment in Solaris. He admits that Linux rules the cloud. Among the Oracle engineer's hopes is that ZFS needs to become a "first class citizen in Linux," and to do so Oracle should port their ZFS code to Oracle Linux and then upstream the file-system to the Linux kernel, which would involve relicensing the ZFS code.
Android

Linux LTS Kernels To Now Be Maintained For Six Years (phoronix.com) 79

An anonymous reader writes: In a bid to help Android smartphone vendors the Linux LTS (Long Term Support) kernels will now be maintained for a period of six years. The Linux LTS initiative backed by the Linux Foundation has supported annual LTS kernels for two years worth of updates, but that is being changed for Linux 4.4+ at the request of Google and their Project Treble. This means the Linux 4.4 LTS kernel will be maintained through 2022 and the upcoming Linux 4.14 LTS through 2023 for security/bug fixes in order to last a complete "device lifecycle."
AMD

AMD Opteron Vs EPYC: How AMD Server Performance Evolved Over 10 Years (phoronix.com) 34

New submitter fstack writes: Phoronix has carried out tests comparing AMD's high-end EPYC 7601 CPU to AMD Opteron CPUs from about ten years ago, looking at the EPYC/Opteron Linux performance and power efficiency. Both on the raw performance and performance-per-Watt, the numbers are quite staggering though the single-threaded performance hasn't evolved quite as much. The EPYC 7601 is a $4,200 USD processor with 32 cores / 64 threads. The first of many tests was with NAS Parallel Benchmarks: "For a heavily threaded test like this, going from a single Opteron 2300 series to the EPYC 7601 yielded around a 40x increase in performance," reports Phoronix. "Not bad when also considering it was only a 16x increase in the thread count (4 physical cores to 32 cores / 64 threads). The EPYC 7601 has a lower base clock frequency than the Opteron 2300 CPUs tested but has a turbo/boost frequency higher, among many architectural advantages over these K10 Opterons. With the NASA test's Lower-Upper Gauss-Seidel solver, going from the dual Opteron 2384 processors to a single EPYC 7601 yields around a 25x improvement in performance over the past decade of AMD server CPUs. Or in looking at the performance-per-Watt with the LU.C test, it's also around a 25x improvement over these older Opterons."

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