- Linux 5.5rc7 Is ReleasedLinux 5.5 will be released next week barring any huge and important last minute patches. Now much was changed in rc7 since the last release candidate with the majority of patches arriving the last two days. There is nothing ground-breaking in the changelog, only minor fixes in the various sub-systems.
- AMD Confirms "Big Navi" GPU Coming In 2020AMD has published a video interview with AMDs CEO Lisa Su at CES 2020 on their YouTube channel where Dr. Su confirms that AMD will be bringing a "Big Navi" GPU product to market in 2020. She did not provide any details what so ever beyond that. The only thing we can say for sure is that it will have more than the 40 compute units the currently biggest RX 5700 XT Navi GPU has.
- SeaMonkey 2.53.1 Beta 1 Is Released: Not Fully Abandoned AbandonwareFreeBSD declared Seamonkey (and Pale Moon) to be "abandonware" in April 2019. The SeaMonkey Internet Suite is still alive as evidenced by a new beta release on January 18th, 2020. The web browser component uses the rendering engine from Firefox ESR 60.3 and the e-mail component uses code from Thunderbird 60.3. The user interface is still the same classic interface Seamonkey has had for 20+ years with one minor difference: The latest release uses GTK3 to draw it.
- Xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin 2.3.5 ReleasedThe latest version of the optional "whiskermenu" for the Xfce desktop environment has 6 bug fixes and updated documentation. A better fallback value for menu opacity is one of the high-lights in this release.
Quote of the week
"this: (..) is just complete gibberish. And I have no idea what problem you're trying to solve how. (..) So what you're doing is, mark the CPU 'idle' when the MPERF/TSC ratio < 1%, and then frob the vruntime such that it will hopefully preempt. That's pretty disgusting."
Latest software reviews
vkmark is in principle a Vulkan graphics benchmark application for GNU/Linux. It renders a variety of not very advanced scenes and gives you a ball-park idea of how your graphics setup performs when it renders graphical content using the Vulkan API. It is not that useful.
- Pale MoonPale Moon is a web browser for Linux and Windows which is based on a Firefox fork in 2009. The interface is very similar to what Firefox had when it forked, it is very much like using a very old Firefox version with a more updated rendering engine. Web pages render fine, the majority of pages work as they should. It is overall a fine browser which is worth a look if you liked the interface Firefox had before they modernized it.
- GNOME MapsGNOME Maps is a free software map application capable of showing a simple map using the OpenStreetMap map database. It has a regular map view, a satellite map view and a route planner which is useless for practical purposes. It has search bar on top of the map screen. There is no offline support, using the application requires a preferably fast Internet connection. There are no advanced features, no configuration options or anything beyond the bare-bone basics already mentioned. You can use GNOME Maps to lookup a location and see it on a map and that's it.
- Mozilla Fires 70 Employees, Apple Offers New JobsThe Mozilla Corporation has laid of 70 employees, experienced programmers and senior engineers, due to business difficulties and declining revenue. A dwindling Firefox marketshare combined with a failure to make money on its subscription services has reduced Mozilla's revenue to the point where layoffs are necessary.
- Wine 5.0-rc6 Is Released With 21 Bug-FixesWine 5.0-rc6 is the last release-candidate before 5.0 release next week "barring any last minute issue". 21 bugs have been fixed since Wine 5.0-rc5. Wine 5.0 is shaping up to be a great release for those who want to run Windows games on their GNU/Linux machines. A lot of progress has been made since Wine 4.0 was released in January 2019.
- Red Hat Recommends Disabling Hardware Acceleration on Intel Integrated Graphics Due To Hardware FlawRed Hat has issued guidance for the latest Intel CPU hardware bug which, unlike meltdown and other widely publicized hardware flaws in Intel CPU products, affects the GPU part of Intel chips (if they have one). The proposed "solution" is a bit dramatic: Just disable hardware acceleration and you'll be fine - unless you would like to watch videos or play games or do anything else in a graphical environment for that matter.
- CentOS 8.1 Released With New Security Tools For Servers And ContainersCentOS 8.1 (1911) is a free rebuild of the commercial GNU/Linux distribution Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.1. The latest version supports live kernel patching and live conversion of LUKS1 images to LUKS2. Most of the improvements in this release are for containers and hybrid cloud deployments. Commonly used server-packages like Node.js, PHP, nginx and Ruby have been updated to newer versions.
- GNU sed 4.8 Is ReleasedThe GNU project has released a new major version of the sed stream editor after more than a year of development. The latest version has "s/many new exiting features/one noteworthy bug fix/g".
sed -iwill, as of the latest version, set the correct umask when files are saved.
- Latest Linux Kernels Fix Security Flaw In The Intel Processors With iGPUsLinux 5.4.12 as well as updates to the stable branch kernels released on Tuesday have a security patch for Intel processors with Gen9 graphics which addresses a vulnerability that could be used for "information disclosure via local access". Older Intel chips are also affected. The details for CVE-2019-14615 have not been made public.
- First Xfce 4.14 Maintainance Release Available, ScreenSaver Security Hole Remains Wide OpenThe light-weight GNU/Linux desktop got its first maintenance release over the last two days with new versions of most of the base components like xfce4-settings, xfce4-session, xfce4-panel, xfdesktop, libxfce4ui and libxfce4util. The releases address smaller bugs and do not include any new features.
- LibreDWG 0.10.1 Brings GNU One Step Closer To Liberating AutoCAD FilesDWG (short for drawing) is a proprietary file format used by the commercial AutoCAD design software from Autodesk Inc who is hell-bent on preventing compatibility with free software. Liberating the DWG file format has been a Free Software Foundation "High Priority" goal since 2008. The release of LibreWDG 0.10.1 brings them one step closer to that goal.
- Linux 5.5rc6 Is Released, 5.5 Final Is Coming In Two To Three WeeksLinus Torvalds that the holiday season has meant limited activity from both the testing and development side. A longer than usual release-cycle for kernel 5.5 is therefore more likely than not. The majority of changes since the last release-candidate are on the network side with some updates to USB, MID and sound drivers. The problems with the Intel i915 iGPU driver which have plagued the kernel for several major releases remain.
- Department of Homeland Security Urges Firefox And Thunderbird Users To UpgradeThe American Department of Homeland Security has issued a National Cyber Awareness System alert urging Firefox users to upgrade to the latest versions of Firefox, Firefox ESR and Thunderbird due to a vulnerability which is being actively exploited in the wild.
- Linux Kernel 5.5 Will Not Fix The Frequent Intel GPU Hangs In Recent KernelsLinux users running machines with Intel integrated graphics have been struggling with frequent system hangs and other problems caused by a buggy i915 kernel module for Intel iGPUs for quite some time. 5.3 series kernels went from being completely useless to problematic as of 5.3.14 while 5.4 series kernels remain utterly broken. Several fixes attempting solve some of the more common problems with Intel graphics chips have been merged into the Linux Kernel mainline git tree the last few days. Problems with frequent hangs remain and it looks like Linux Kernel 5.5 will be as problematic as previous kernels for those using Intel integrated graphics.
- Caesar III re-implementation Julius v1.2.0 Is ReleasedJulius is a free software re-implementation of the Caesar III game from 1998. The game assets are not included so you will have to acquire them separately. The game was originally released for Windows and macOS. Julius makes it playable on Windows, Linux, macOS, PS Vita and the Nintendo Switch with some additional features like support for widescreen resolutions. The latest Julius version has a new --display-scale parameter for high resolution monitors and other fixes.
- Mesa 19.3.2 Is Released With SDMA Disabled On Older AMD GPUsThe latest stable version of the Mesa graphics stack has SDMA disabled in the RadeonSI OpenGL backend on AMD GFX8-series graphics cards due to a few reported cases of graphics corruption in OpenGL games on AMD RX 580 graphics cards. The result will be a 0-4% performance-penalty on a older graphics cards ranging from the R9 285 to the RX 580.
- Firefox 72.0.1 Released With Fix For Actively Exploited Security HoleMozilla Firefox 72.0.1 and ESR 68.4.1, released yesterday, have a fix for a problem in the JIT compiler which Mozilla advices they they "are aware of targeted attacks in the wild abusing this flaw". The releases came only a few days after Firefox 72 was released with floating video windows, notification popup blocking, more cross-site scripting protections and a very long list of fixed security vulnerabilities in previous Firefox versions.
- Mesa 20 Will Have SDMA Disabled On AMD RX-Series GPUs
- ZFS Will NOT Make It Into The Linux Kernel Any Time Soon
- Xfce and GNOME To Get Support For File Creation Timestamps
- AMD Announced 8 Core Laptop APUs and CPUs and a 64 Core Threadripper CPU at CES 2020
- Trusted Memory Zone Support Coming To AMD APUs in Linux Kernel 5.6
- Google Stadia Dev Brings Spinlocks Back From The Dead, Blames The Linux Kernels Scheduler For Performance Problems
Check out the news archive for more news.
Recent software reviews
- OSMandOSMand is a very advanced and highly usable free software map and navigation program for Android. It supports downloading map packages of geographical areas or countries for completely offline navigation, using it does not require any online connectivity.
- Secret Maryo ChroniclesSecret Maryo Chronicles (smc) is a free software 2D jump and run platform game very similar to the classic Super Nintendo "Super Mario" game. The gameplay is essentially the same. The graphics is much, much better. Secret Maryo Chronicles has made using SDL and it uses OpenGL to draw high-quality graphics. It is essentially like playing the old Super Mario game with prettier and more modern graphics.
waifu2x is a highly praised image up-scaler which does slightly better job than most other tools and filters when it comes to image up-scaling. The original version is Windows-only and it requires a NVidia GPU. GNU/Linux users can compile and use a fork which uses OpenGL.
- CelluloidCelluloid is a basic and easy to use GTK-based video player which uses mpv for the actual video playback. It has a playlist and either buttons or menu options for choosing video track, audio track and subtitle track and that is the extent of its features. It offers very little beyond what is available in mpvs on-screen controls which makes it a somewhat pointless mpv front-end.
- Linux MintLinux Mint is a GNU/Linux distribution most notable for its distinct green and black branding. It it based on Ubuntu Linux LTS releases with the latest (as of early 2020) Linux Mint 19.3 release based on Ubuntu 18.04. It is available as live ISO images with either Cinnamon, MATE or Xfce. Linux Mint adds its own branding, some custom configuration files and newer versions of Cinnamon and MATE to its Ubuntu LTS variant. The differences beyond that are minor.
- Apvlvapvlv is a small, simple vim-like keyboard navigated document viewer capable of opening PDF, UMD and text files. The manual lists DjVu and HTML as supported but they are not. apvlv lacks any toolbar or other mouse-related features and the keyboard shortcuts you would expect to work in a document reader don't. The keyboard commands and shortcuts are, instead of being similar to common desktop software, mostly like those found in vi/vim. You may feel right at home and like if it you use vim as your main editor, you can write apvlv off as plain useless if you don't.
- GNOME Document Viewer"Document Viewer, also known as Evince, is a document reader for the GNOME desktop environment capable of opening PDF, PostScript, DjVu, XPS, DVi and comic book archives.
- ZathuraZathura is a simplistic plugin-based document viewer designed to be keyboard-navigated. There are plugins for viewing PDF files (either using poppler or MuPDF), PostScript, DjVu and comic books files (.cbr/.cbz) available. It does not have a toolbar or any mouse-oriented features, it is only for those who are content with keyboard navigation. You will probably love it if you like vim.
- SMPlayerSMPlayer is a very nice multimedia player which uses the Qt libraries for the GUI and mpv or MPlayer as back-end for video playback. It has a playlist you can drag and drop files to. It lets you open links to websites with videos on them as well as DVDs and BlueRays. You can easily choose subtitles, audio track and so on when playing a video. It is overall a really good media player capable of playing any local or remote multimedia file or stream.
- CatfishCatfish is a simple graphical file searching front-end for either slocate or GNU locate on. It is written with Xfce in mind and it can be used on any desktop environment running on GNU/Linux or *BSD systems. It can be a bit useful for finding files in a folder tree or a computer in general but its usefulness is somewhat limited.
- 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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