Your source for GNU/Linux news, reviews and HOWTO guides. And some K-pop news too.
- Linux Kernel 5.5 RC2 Is ReleasedThe second release-candidate for kernel 5.5 has a lot of fixes for the kernel drivers for AMD and Intel GPUs and there are also some small fixes for the free nouveau Nvidia GPU driver. There are no new major features, those were added in the merge-window before the first release-candidate.
- AMD Joins The Blockchain Game AllianceThose who sold shovels during the California gold rush made a lot of money. It is therefore not strange that AMD would join Ubisoft and a long list of startups in a "Blockchain Game Alliance".
- Wine 5.0-rc1 Is Released. This Ends Active Development, Feature-Freeze And Bug-Fixes AheadThe Wine Is Not An Emulator compatibility later (WINE) project has made its first release-candidate for its upcoming 5.0 release. This marks the end of the active development release cycle and the beginning of a weekly release cycle with small bug-fixes only until Wine 5.0 is released. 37 bugs have been fixed since the last development release.
- BSD-Licensed NGINX Webserver In Copyright Dispute, Creator Arrested and InterrogatedThe Russian Police raided NGINX, Inc's Russian offices and arrested and interrogated Igor Sysoev, author of the popular NGINX web server which powers more than a third of all websites on the Internet, on Thursday. They did so after receiving a complain from Russian search engine Rambler which states that they own the copyright to NGINX because Sysoev was employed there when he initially wrote it in his spare time.
Quote of the week
"Yes, doing it in the kernel is "more robust". But don't play games, and stop the lying. It's more robust because we have maintainers that care, and because we know that regressions are not something we can play fast and loose with. If something breaks, and we don't know what the right fix for that breakage is, we *revert* the thing that broke. "
Latest software reviews
- GNU typing tutor"The GNU typing tutor" gtypist is a console program which can teach you how to touch-type at impressive rates. It comes with 10 built-in lesson-series with several lessons each. More can be installed and loaded if the built-in touch-typing lessons are not enough.
lspciis a handy GNU/Linux command-line utility which will display all kinds of incriminating information about a computers PCI and PCIe devices. It is provided by the
lscpu is a simple shell command from the util-linux package which gathers information about a systems CPU from Linux's sysfs,
/proc/cpuinfoand other available sources and presents that information in a nice overview.
- TSMC Claims They Are "On Track" To Deliver 3nm Chips in 2022Current CPUs and GPUs and smartphone SOCs are mostly made on a 7nm production node at either Samsung's facilities in South Korea or TSMCs facilities in Chinese Taipei. TSMC started using a 14 nanometer node in 2014. They introduced their 7nm node in 2018, only four years later. TSMC claims they will be able to mass-produce 5nm computer chips Q2 2020 and they claim to be "on track" to deliver 3nm chips in 2022. Their American competitor Intel is still struggling with their 10nm process.
- New Stable-Series Linux Kernels 5.4.3, 5.3.16 and 4.19.89 Fixes KVM Crash VulnerabilityThe latest round of Linux kernels fixes a minor problem with KVM which allows anyone using a KVM-enabled virtual machine to to crash the host system. The problem, assigned CVE-2019-19332, was a lack of a out-of-bounds check in KVM_GET_EMULATED_CPUID. Providers of virtual machines should consider upgrading.
- Beautiful OpenBSD Root Exploit PublishedCloud provider Qualys published a beautiful Local Privilege Escalation exploit for recent versions of the OpenBSD on Wednesday the 12th of December. Any regular account can get full root access on a default installation. The OpenBSD developer team, lead by Theo de Raadt, were so embarrassed by this that they created a patch which fixes the vulnerability in less than 3 hours.
- Mesa 19.3.0 Is Released With ACO shader compiler for AMD GPUs And OpenGL 4.6 SupportThe ACO shader compiler for AMD's Vulkan graphics driver RADV, developed by Valve, is the biggest highlight in this latest release of the Mesa graphics stack for GNU/Linux desktops.
- Wasteland 2 Director's Cut Is Available For Free on GoG The Next 26 HoursThe Gog games store is having a Winter sale and they are giving away the game "Wasteland 2 Director's Cut", which is available for Linux, Windows and Mac, for the next 26 hours in order to attract new customers. Most of the other games in their catalogue are sold at discounts ranging from 10 to 70%.
- Linux Version Of Microsoft Teams Is Now AvailableMicrosoft have made a "public preview" a native Linux version of their Teams collaboration software available as .deb and .rpm packages. The announcement describes it as "the first Microsoft 365 app that is coming to Linux desktops".
- DXVK DirectX To Vulkan Translation Layer Development Halts To A GrindThe main developer of DXVK will no longer be adding features the optional DirectX 10/11 to Vulkan translation layer for WINE "because DXVK has become a fragile, unreliable and frustrating maintenance nightmare." DXVK is a crucial part of Valve's Proton layer used to run Windows games on their Steam games store.
- KDEs "Season of KDE 2020" Student Program is Open For EnrolmentThe KDE e.V. non-profit organization behind the K Desktop Environment has a student program similar to Google's Summer Of Code program. Students can participate in 40 or 80 day community projects and they do not have to be code-related. Students who want to write code can do that and get help from an experienced mentor. Those who prefer to work on other areas can choose a project related to KDEs documentation, websites, translations or other areas that are related to KDEs free software efforts.
- The American Senate Wants Secure Encryption With Government BackdoorsUS District Attorneys and Senators are convinced that Google and Apple are simply being difficult when they claim that it's a binary choice between actually secure encryption and government backdoors. You can, somehow, have your cake and eat it too. Don't worry if you see no practical way of doing this, a US senator just promised that he will figure out how to make seemingly impossible mathematics possible.
- Gooroom Cloud OS v2.0 RC1 Is Released With Focus Server-Side "Apps"The latest version of the Debian-based South Korean Gooroom operating system is even more like Google's ChromeOS than the previous versions were. All the regular software packages from Debian can be installed on Gooroom but that's not where it's focus is. This is foremost a "cloud"-based OS where closed-source proprietary "apps" are used from it's own re-branded Chromium web browser.
- Linux Kernel 5.5 "Kleptomaniac Octopus" RC1 Is Released With Live Patching, Reworked Fair Scheduler And MoreLinux Torvalds has slammed the merge window for version 5.5 of the Linux Kernel shut with the first release-candidate leading up to the next major version. A close-up inspection of the changed source files reveals that 5.5 will support live patching, parallel CPU microcode updates, NVMe temperature support and much more. There appears to be a unusually large array of new features coming to Linux Kernel 5.5 which is, apparently, named "Kleptomaniac Octopus".
- Firefox 71 Released With Built-In MP3 Decoding, 12 Security Fixes and Some BreakageIt's been a while since the patents on the long-outdated lossy-compressed MP3 audio file format expired. This means that free software projects based in countries where software patents is a thing can include the codec and the latest version of Firefox finally does. There's also a new re-designed about:config page where some of the configuration options who once made Firefox a great browser remain available.
- Systemd Opened Security Hole In Linux, VPNs Could Be CompromisedAttackers on the local network could discover that someone on the same network is using a VPN and they could, potentially, find out what sites are visited and even inject packets into a VPN users datastreams. This is all thanks to a change in systemd late 2018 which has now been adopted by all the major GNU/Linux distributions.
- Amazon Is Following Chinas Lead Towards a ARM Based Cloud FutureThe American Cloud provider Amazon AWS announced the availability of instances powered by a their second-generation in-house ARM processors Graviton2 this week. Their new 64-bit ARM chips are made on TSMC's 7nm process and they promise faster performance at lower latency. Instances with 1-64 vCPUs and up to 512 GB RAM will become available.
- Nvidia Could Be Changing Their Hostile Attitude Towards Free Software Drivers
- Mesa 19.3.0 Will Be Released Next Week
- Purism Announces US-Manufactured Librem 5 Model For $1999 USD
- Linux Kernel Could Support Automatic Closing Of CD/DVD Drive Trays On Mount (Again)
- Libxfce4ui 4.15.0 Is Released, Drops GTK2 Support
- Memory Chips Will See "Strong Demand" (=Rising Prices) In 2020
- Linux Kernel To Get CPU Idle Cooling Solution
- Steam's November Numbers Show Linux Gaming To Be Stagnant
- Virgil Griffith Arrested For Talking About The CryptoCurrency Etherium in North Korea
- Wine 4.21 Is Released With DHCP HTTP Proxy Configuration
Check out the news archive for more news.
Recent software reviews
- KaidanKaidan is a very simple and easy to use multi-platform XMPP/Jabber client. It supports text chat and file sharing with contacts who are also using a XMPP client. It does not support voice or video calls, just text. It's a nice choice if you need to talk to people who are using the XMPP protocol for some reason.
- Monster Girl IslandMonster Girl Island is a 3D adventure game with some adult-only elements set on a secret island filled with unusual female inhabitants. There's elves, androids and other non-humans on the island and more and more of them show up out of no-where as the games "story" proceeds. It is created by indie-developer Redamz who funds the game through Patreon. The game is only available for Windows. It runs fine under Wine using either Wine's built-in DX translation or the VXDK Vulkan translation layer. It has good graphics but there characters are shallow and not that interesting and the actual gameplay is far from exciting.
util-linux is one of the essential core packages in any GNU/Linux distribution. It is distributed by the Linux Kernel Organization and it contains a whole array of basic commands like
loginand a lot of other basic utility-related commands. It is written entirely in beautiful C.
- Doki Doki Literature ClubDoki Doki Literature Club is a visual novel self-described as "not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed". It has cute characters with distinct personalities and a fun story with many interesting and unexpected plot twists. It is, like most visual novels, a "game" where you mostly click next to move forward in the story. The game itself is free (add-ons cost money).
- SpectralSpectral is a Matrix chatroom client for GNU/Linux systems written in Qt. It supports sharing images and other files in chat sessions, multiple chat-rooms and multiple servers. Major distributions do not have it in their repositories but it can be compiled. It's alright for what it is. Spectral's biggest draw-back is that it's a client for the federated Matrix chatroom system close to nobody's using. That's just not where it's at.
Redox is a BSD-licensed Unix-like operating system written mostly in Rush (and some assembly) with security and safety in mind. It uses it's own MINIX-inspired microkernel.
- Brave Web BrowserBrave is a Chromium-based free software web browser for GNU/Linux, Windows (32 and 64-bit) and Mac OS. There are also mobile versions for Android and iOS. It's performance is within margin of error of other Chromium-based browsers like Google's Chrome. Other aspects are also the same, it is essentially the Google's Chrome web browser with different branding and some additional features like web advertisement and tracker blocking, a built-in crypto currency wallet and a opt-in rewards system where users can get paid cryptocurrency for viewing advertisements that are built right into the browser. It's overall alright. Installation may be a bit tricky since no GNU/Linux distribution includes it in their repositories.
- Bmonbmon is a simple terminal program which allows you to watch graphs showing network traffic and other network information. It can also show a detailed view with all kinds of network statistics. It is light with few dependencies. It is a simple, handy and easy to use network monitoring tool.
iostat is, as the name implies, a command-line utility which displays input/output statistics for devices, partitions, RAID arrays and logical volumes.
- Sarsar is a small command-line utility for collecting, reporting and saving system information information. It is a generalized versatile tool for system activity reporting which can be used to monitor CPUs, memory, networking throughput and a whole lot of other incriminating information about a system. Knowing sar's basic options is useful if you need to investigate what is going on with a highly loaded production machine.
- The secret battle of encryption algorithms - In this video from LibrePlanet 2019 Amanda Sopkin explains some cryptography basics and dilemmas.
- Overtaking Proprietary Software Without Writing Code - "a few rough insights on sharpening free software". This lecture was given by Olivier Cleynen at the CCC in December 2007. The points in it were very good and remain relevant more than a decade later.
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