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Links 1/4/2013: April First Headlines and More

Posted in News Roundup at 7:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • DNA Is The Linux Of The Natural World

    DNA Is The Linux Of The Natural WorldWe probably all vaguely assume that computers will overthrow us someday, which may be why it’s so unsettling to learn that computer code is evolving much like genetic code. By comparing bacterial genomes to Linux, researchers have found “survival of the fittest” acting in computer programming.

  • Bullseye from 1,000 yards: Shooting the $17,000 Linux-powered rifle

    My photographer, Steve, squints through a computerized scope squatting atop a big hunting rifle. We’re outdoors at a range just north of Austin, Texas, and the wind is blowing like crazy—enough so that we’re having to dial in more and more wind adjustment on the rifle’s computer. The spotter and I monitor Steve’s sight through an iPad linked to the rifle via Wi-Fi, and we can see exactly what he’s seeing through the scope. Steve lines up on his target downrange—a gently swinging metal plate with a fluorescent orange circle painted at its center—and depresses a button to illuminate it with the rifle’s laser.

  • What’s in a Name?

    Katherine Noyes over on the Linux Advocates site has resurrected the GNU/Linux vs Linux naming debate, once again. To the uninitiated, the debate centers around if we should refer to the operating system as “GNU-slash-Linux” or simply as “Linux”, with the Free Software Foundation claiming that referring to the operating system merely as Linux gives undue credit to the kernel, without proper attribution to the GNU tools that make up the majority of the OS. Personally, I find the debate to be a waste of time. It is unlikely that anyone outside of a very small group of dedicated loyalists will care about the distinction. However, it does bring up a more interesting point, what about going a layer higher? What happens when distributions stop referring to themselves as Linux derivatives, come to market only under their name?

  • Desktop

    • Chromebook Pixel: Spoiling me for other Chromebooks

      I have been using a Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook since picking it up last year. The Samsung is a great laptop that happens to run Chrome OS, something that works very well for me. I like everything about the Samsung. Then Google sent me a Chromebook Pixel and spoiled me.

      The Series 5 550 Chromebook works very well for me. It runs Chrome OS nicely and is a super work machine that meets my needs. There is not really anything I don’t like about the Samsung, but it’s no longer enough.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Another OpenGL 4 Feature For Mesa Is Published

        Earlier this morning I wrote about Chris Forbes committing texture storage multi-sample support to mainline Mesa and the Intel DRI driver. This OpenGL 4.x extension is now accompanied by a new “RFC” patch-set for providing Mesa support for another GL4 feature.

        Chris Forbes’ newly-published patches on Sunday morning are for ARB_texture_gather, a feature mandated by OpenGL 4.0 and previously not tackled within the Mesa/Gallium3D world.

      • “Substantial Progress” With Mesa Geometry Shaders

        Open-source Intel developers have advanced their OpenGL geometry shaders work for Mesa, namely for the Intel DRI driver, and call it “substantial progress and definitely a reason to celebrate.” This important GL3 feature is nearing a working state but there’s still some work ahead before it will be merged.

      • LLVM 3.3 Picks Up More Support For Intel AVX2

        Beyond LLVM 3.3 having performance optimizations, one of many other features coming to this next compiler infrastructure update is greater support for Intel’s AVX2 instruction set extensions.

        AVX2 is the first major update to the Advanced Vector Extensions. AVX2 is also known as “Haswell New Instructions” and will be found in the Intel Haswell CPUs introduced in the coming months. AVX2 tacks in gather support, expands most integer AVX instructions to 256-bits, 3-operand FMA support, vector shifts, and other new functionality.

      • An OpenGL 4.x Feature Gets Crossed Off In Mesa

        Support for the OpenGL ARB_texture_storage_multisample extension is now implemented within Mesa and is exposed by the Intel DRI driver.

    • Benchmarks

      • Ivy Bridge Doesn’t Change Much With Modern Kernels

        For those wondering whether Intel “Ivy Bridge” hardware is still being made faster with each succeeding Linux kernel release, here are benchmarks from an Intel Ultrabook looking at the Ivy Bridge performance on recent kernel releases going up to the yet-to-be-out Linux 3.9 kernel.

        A few days back I carried out a Linux kernel performance comparison from an ASUS Ultrabook with Intel Core i3 3217U “Ivy Bridge” processor with 4GB of RAM, 500GB Hitachi HDD, and 24GB SanDisk SSD. Ubuntu 13.04 x86_64 was in use while the Linux 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, and 3.9 (Git) mainline/vanilla kernels were tested.

  • Applications

    • New features in Cairo-Dock 3.2
    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

    • Games

      • A Thought on What Holds Linux Gaming Back

        All the talk nowadays if of “unification” or to paraphrase Mark Shuttleworth and Ubuntu the “availability of a single interface for all devices.” And with all this talk I began to wonder why more gaming engine’s aren’t jumping on board.

        The recent release of Unity3d 4 was all the rage because it meant that an incredibly popular engine was coming to Linux, and thus all unity3d games developed with the new engine could in fact run on Linux (granted a Linux version was released). In my personal opinion, Unity3d is great, but when compared to the more AAA engines like the Unreal, FrostBite and CDProjectRed’s RED Engine just to name a few, Unity3d falls a bit flat in my eyes.

      • Half-Life 4 added to the SteamDB for Linux!

        That’s right, you heard it here first folks, Half-Life 4 has been added to the SteamDB! It includes hints of others things too.

      • Two from icculus now on Steam: Dungeon Defenders & Postal
      • New Racing Game for Linux
      • Serious Sam 3: BFE for Linux Gets Biggest Patch Since Launch

        Serious Sam 3: BFE is a very serious first-person shooter, as the name suggests, and it has just received a major update that greatly improves its performance.

        The Croteam studio has been hard at work and it is trying its best to make Serious Sam 3: BFE one of the best shooters for Linux.

        The latest update for the game has been promoted from the Beta to stable. It’s probably one of the largest patches launched so far and the number of Linux related fixes and improvements is quite impressive.

      • Humble Troubles Again, more platform specific bundles

        They have also just launched their Mobile Bundles which are for Android only, so no Windows, Mac or Linux (I know, I know Android is part Linux that’s an argument for another day) versions, which makes me wonder just how the Windows crowd feels since they have been left out this time, too.

      • Mir, ARM & Valve Excite Linux Users This Month

        March 2013 was another interesting month for Linux users. The Mir Display Server, ARM on Linux advancements, and Valve’s continued Linux game play continued to excite readers.

        This month on Phoronix at the time of publishing there were 242 original news articles and 11 multi-page featured articles. The number of news postings and articles is down from February when there was FOSDEM plus advertising campaigns on the site were more lucrative… Phoronix.com is almost entirely ad-driven so please view this site without AdBlock or other cruft. And/or please consider subscribing to Phoronix Premium for ad-free viewing as well as viewing multi-page articles on a single-page.

      • Valve Announces Half-Life 4 For Linux

        Valve has added Half-Life 4 to Steam and it will be a title for Linux without mentioning OS X or Windows support.

        As can be seen from SteamDB, Half-Life 4 was added today to Steam, well ahead of the Half-Life 3 debut. The Half-Life 4 entry also hints at binary support for the Steam Box, Valve’s forthcoming console. The Half-Life 4 entry also notes use of “Source Engine 2″ for the game.

      • Valve Releases Several New Linux Game Ports
      • There Isn’t Too Much Progress On Unigine Linux Titles

        For those that have followed Phoronix over the years know that I am a big supporter of the Unigine game/3D engine. The engine delivers absolutely beautiful graphics and there is first-rate Linux support. The developers at Unigine Corp are very Linux-friendly. Unfortunately, games and other software based upon Unigine aren’t too quick to come to the Linux gaming scene.

      • Valve Has Been Working Hard On Linux For One Year

        Today marks one year since an important milestone in the public history of Valve’s Steam client and Source Engine coming to Linux.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat’s fourth-quarter sales dropped

        Despite the growth of Linux adoption in enterprise and business use, Red Hat, the large company that sells Linux operating-system software fell after reporting fiscal fourth-quarter sales that missed estimates as some customers stopped purchasing, due to the current global economic situation.

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Smart Scopes Get Removed From Ubuntu 13.04

            It’s been decided at the last minute that “smart scopes”, a feature of the new Unity desktop, will not ship in Ubuntu 13.04.

            Smart Scopes were supposed to be an intelligent server-side service for deciding if a search query should be pushed through a particular scope, among other benefits. Smart scopes were said to be self-learning and aimed to provide more relevant results for users of the Unity desktop.

          • Ubuntu 13.04 will disable Dash online search by default: Mark Shuttleworth

            Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, has finally listened to critics and EFF and said that the much controversial online search feature of Dash will be disabled by default in Ubuntu 13.04, which will be released later this month. Canonical was working closely with EFF, FSF and the EU privacy advisors and found it in best interest of its users.

            “Users are our #1 priority and not our business interests,” said Shuttleworth in a statement, “the foundation of Ubuntu is people and if some decisions were made which put user’s privacy at risk, that would be very un-Ubuntu. We never shied away from trying out new things and we never hesitated in changing a decision for a greater good.”

          • User Interaction with Ubuntu Components
          • Ubuntu Powered Promo Booth? You Bet [Ubuntu In The Wild]

            Every day we walk past and interact with machines that run Linux, without ever noticing.

          • Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) server, 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) desktop and 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) reaching End of Life on May 9 2013
          • End of life for three Ubuntu editions on 9 May
          • Monitor ‘Zeitgeist’ Logging Activities in Ubuntu using ‘Zeitgeist Explorer’

            ‘Zeitgeist‘ is a computer based user activity logging framework for the GNU/Linux operating system that keeps a track of your frequently opened files (text, audio, videos etc), visited web links, conversations that you had with others (through ‘Chat’ apps) etc.

            The database is a semantic one and so it makes it easy to identify patters, thus improves the ability to predict user activities. And since this database can be accessed by other applications (if they support ‘Zeitgeist’), they can predict or guess the user’s needs more accurately and thus improving the user experience.

          • Experimental Compiz, Unity Work Continues

            While the future is with Mir and Unity Next, work on the short-term includes more performance optimizations for the Unity desktop and Compiz window manager.

            While Sam Spilsbury no longer works at Canonical and has some dissenting views over the future direction of Ubuntu Linux, he has dabbled with some performance optimizations recently for Compiz/Nux.

          • issue 71
          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Biggest Failure in Open Source Is…

    I have been a self-employed technical person for the past 38 years. I my living based solely on my output. Since 1998 a major secret weapon has been the use of SR. Certainly, you can get speech recognition from the Debian pool. While some good folks over in Japan have made some major advancements over the years, it is still a toy. This is inherent in the complexity of speech recognition software.

    In 1998 IBM had a Linux version of SR known as ViaVoice. It worked about as well as any other SR offering of the day. IBM dropped the product. At a conference I asked an IBM executive, Why? The answer was: “We did not get enough gross revenue to cover the cost of the box manufacturing to put the CD in it.”

    In my experience the Open Source community is its own worst enemy. Putting on the rose-colored glasses, and disappointing those who just want to ‘get something done’. Let’s look at a real world example.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Funding

    • U.S. Defense Agency Feeds Python

      The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has given 3 million dollars to Texas-based software provider Continuum Analytics with a view to helping fund the improvement of the Python language’s data processing and visualization power for big data tasks.

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD 3.4 Coming Soon, Focuses On DPorts

      The DragonFlyBSD 3.4 release is anticipated for release in mid-April and one of the features to this next BSD operating system update is the formation of DPorts, a derivative of the FreeBSD ports collection.

      DPorts is DragonFly’s derivative of FreeBSD Ports and will ultimately replace pkgsrc and the other pkg_* tools on the operating system. These older tools also reached an end-of-life state on FreeBSD.

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

    • Russians Selectively Blocking Internet

      The Russian government in recent weeks has been making use of a new law that gives it the power to block Internet content that it deems illegal or harmful to children.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Will Ford’s open-source car API drive us to distraction?

      That’s perhaps why it wasn’t all that surprising that Ford’s EVP of Global Marketing, James Farley, didn’t use his keynote address at the opening day of the New York International Auto Show to announce some line extension or new braking system, but rather to introduce a mobile app competition.

    • Urban activists hack their way toward open government

      OAKLAND, CA—Four years ago, Code For America (CFA) was founded with the mission to “help governments work better for everyone with the people and the power of the Web.” Within two years, the San Francisco-based nonprofit set up a fellowship program, inviting American cities to receive a team of three young motivated developers, activists, and policy planners. The Washington Post’s description captured what everyone was already thinking: CFA is the “technology world’s equivalent of the Peace Corps or Teach for America.”

    • Open Access/Content

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Making WebRTC Simple with conversat.io

      WebRTC is awesome, but it’s a bit unapproachable. Last week, my colleagues and I at &yet released a couple of tools we hope will help make it more tinkerable and pose a real risk of actually being useful.


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