Linux Journal

Google Gains Approval to Launch Project Soli, Sony's New 3D Sensors for Face Recognition, the GIMP Team Looks Back at 2018 and Shares Plans for 2019, Thunderbird Also Publishes a Retrospective and Look Forward, and xfce4-panel 4.13.4 Was Released

3 months 2 weeks ago

News briefs for January 2, 2019.

Google has received approval from the FCC to launch Project Soli, a radar-based motion-sensing device. Reuters reports that the FCC "would grant Google a waiver to operate the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated aboard aircraft. The FCC said the decision 'will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology.'" Originally Facebook had voiced concern that "the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies."

Sony is set to produce the "next generation of visual-processing chips with a set of new 3D sensors". According to The Verge, "the most intriguing aspect of this new tech would appear to be a better form of face identification than we currently have". In addition, Sony's 3D sensor "is said to deploy laser pulses, which, much like a bat's echolocation, creates a depth map of its surroundings by measuring how long a pulse takes to bounce back. Sony's sensor chief argues this produces more detailed models of users' faces, plus it apparently works from as far away as five meters (16 feet)."

The GIMP team has posted look back at 2018 and an outline showing future plans for GIMP, GEGL and babl. Development has been focusing on refactoring, usability, smart colorization, extension management and more. The team plans to ship 2.10.x updates throughout 2019 and version 2.10.10 should be out this month or next. See the blog post for ways you can contribute.

The Thunderbird team has also published a 2018 retrospective and a look at what's ahead for the new year. The team has added more full-time staff members, and they are focusing on "making Thunderbird fly faster" and making a "more beautiful (and useable) Thunderbird". See the Mozilla blog for all the details.

xfce4-panel 4.13.4 was released today. According to the Simon's Secret blog post, this release includes a new plugin icon size feature, correct menu positioning, tasklist fixes and small theming updates. You can get it from here.

Google Sony GIMP Thunderbird XFCE News
Jill Franklin

F2FS Filesystem Enhancements (for Pixel Devices), Wine HQ Dev Release, Gzip v1.10, VideoLan v3.0.5, KaOS Linux Distro v2018.12

3 months 2 weeks ago

To start things off, a ton of bug fixes alongside a few enhancements are coming to the F2FS filesystem (for Pixel devices) in the the Linux 4.21 kernel.

Wine HQ just officially announced the development release of version 4.0 RC4 which also boasts numerous bug fixes.

The release of Gzip version 1.10 has been announced on the Savannah community site.

All while VideoLAN published VLC version 3.0.5.

In distribution news, KaOS, the rolling release Linux distribution, just pushed out version 2018.12.

News
Petros Koutoupis

The State of Desktop Linux 2019

3 months 2 weeks ago
by Bryan Lunduke

A snapshot of the current state of Desktop Linux at the start of 2019—with comparison charts and a roundtable Q&A with the leaders of three top Linux distributions.

I've never been able to stay in one place for long—at least in terms of which Linux distribution I call home. In my time as a self-identified "Linux Person", I've bounced around between a number of truly excellent ones. In my early days, I picked up boxed copies of S.u.S.E. (back before they made the U uppercase and dropped the dots entirely) and Red Hat Linux (before Fedora was a thing) from store shelves at various software outlets.

Side note: remember when we used to buy Operating Systems—and even most software—in actual boxes, with actual physical media and actual printed manuals? I still have big printed manuals for a few early Linux versions, which, back then, were necessary for getting just about everything working (from X11 to networking and sound). Heck, sometimes simply getting a successful boot required a few trips through those heavy manuals. Ah, those were the days.

Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE—I spent a good amount of time living in the biggest distributions around (and many others). All of them were fantastic. Truly stellar. Yet, each had their own quirks and peculiarities.

As I bounced from distro to distro, I developed a strong attachment to just about all of them, learning, as I went, to appreciate each for what it was. Just the same, when asked which distribution I recommend to others, my brain begins to melt down. Offering any single recommendation feels simply inadequate.

Choosing which one to call home, even if simply on a secondary PC, is a deeply personal choice.

Maybe you have an aging desktop computer with limited RAM and an older, but still absolutely functional, CPU. You're going to need something light on system resources that runs on 32-bit processors.

Or, perhaps you work with a wide variety of hardware architectures and need a single operating system that works well on all of them—and standardizing on a single Linux distribution would make it easier for you to administer and update all of them. But what options even are available?

To help make this process a bit easier, I've put together a handy set of charts and graphs to let you quickly glance and find the one that fits your needs (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1. Distribution Comparison Chart I

Figure 2. Distribution Comparison Chart II

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Bryan Lunduke

Weekend Reading: Multimedia

3 months 2 weeks ago
by Carlie Fairchild

Put the fun back in computing. With this weekend's reading, we encourage you to build yourself an internet radio station, create your own Audible or even live-stream your pets on YouTube. Sky's the limit with Linux. Enjoy!

 

Building Your Own Audible

by Shawn Powers

I have audiobooks from a variety of sources, which I've purchased in a variety of ways. I have some graphic audio books in MP3 format, a bunch of Audible books in their DRM'd format and ripped CDs varying from m4b (Apple format for books) to MP3 and even some OGG. That diversity makes choosing a listening platform difficult. Here I take a quick look at some options for streaming audio books.

 

Linux Gets Loud

by Joshua Curry

Linux is ready for prime time when it comes to music production. New offerings from Linux audio developers are pushing creative and technical boundaries. And, with the maturity of the Linux desktop and growth of standards-based hardware setups, making music with Linux has never been easier.

 

Using gphoto2 to Automate Taking Pictures

by Shawn Powers

With my obsession—er, I mean hobby—regarding BirdCam, I've explored a great number of camera options. Whether that means trying to get Raspberry Pi cameras to focus for a macro shot of a feeder or adjusting depth of field to blur out the neighbor's shed, I've fiddled with just about every webcam setting there is. Unfortunately, when it comes to lens options, nothing beats a DSLR for quality. Thankfully, there's an app for that.

 

Creating an Internet Radio Station with Icecast and Liquidsoap

by Bill Dengler

Ever wanted to stream prerecorded music or a live event, such as a lecture or concert for an internet audience? With Icecast and Liquidsoap, you can set up a full-featured, flexible internet radio station using free software and open standards.

 

Live Stream Your Pets with Linux and YouTube!

by Shawn Powers

Anyone who reads Linux Journal knows about my fascination with birdwatching. I've created my own weatherproof video cameras with a Raspberry Pi. I've posted instructions on how to create your own automatically updating camera image page with JavaScript. Heck, I even learned CSS so I could make a mobile-friendly version of BirdCam that filled the screen in landscape mode.

 

Nativ Vita

by James Gray

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Carlie Fairchild

Freescale and NXP PowerPC Microprocessors Protected Against Spectre, Chromebook to Support Dual-Boot Mode, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Game Kickstarted Campaign Cancels Linux Port

3 months 3 weeks ago

One year later, the Freescale and NXP PowerPC microprocessors are now protected against the variant 2 of the Spectre vulnerability.

For those who absolutely need those one or two applications from Windows, the Chromebook will soon officially supports a dual-boot mode in which users can install both Windows and Chrome OS side-by-side. Unlike the Linux app support within Chrome OS, this new feature will allow you to run one of operating systems at a time.

In upsetting news, Koji Igarashi's Kickstarter campaign for his yet-to-be released game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, has officially announced that the ports to both the Mac OS and Linux are now cancelled. Bloodstained is a Castlevania clone and I personally funded it, so I am extremely upset myself.

News
Petros Koutoupis

The Ceph Foundation and Building a Community: an Interview with SUSE

3 months 3 weeks ago
by Petros Koutoupis

On November 12 at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, Germany, the Linux foundation formally announced the Ceph Foundation. Present at this same summit were key individuals from SUSE and the SUSE Enterprise Storage team. For those less familiar with the SUSE Enterprise Storage product line, it is entirely powered by Ceph technology.

With Ceph, data is treated and stored like objects. This is unlike traditional (and legacy) data storage solutions, where data is written to and read from the storage volumes via sectors and at sector offsets (often referred to as blocks). When dealing with large amounts of large data, treating them as objects is the way to do it. It's also much easier to manage. In fact, this is how the cloud functions—with objects. This object-drive model enables Ceph for simplified scalability to meet consumer demand easily. These objects are replicated across an entire cluster of nodes, giving Ceph its fault-tolerance and further reducing single points of failure. The parent company of the project and its technology was acquired by Red Hat, Inc., in April 2014.

I was fortunate in that I was able to connect with a few key SUSE representatives for a quick Q & A, as it relates to this recent announcement. I spoke with Lars Marowsky-Brée, SUSE Distinguished Engineer and member of the governing board of the Ceph Foundation; Larry Morris, Senior Product Manager for SUSE Enterprise Storage; Sanjeet Singh, Solutions Owner for SUSE Enterprise Storage; and Michael Dilio, Product and Solutions Marketing Manager for SUSE Enterprise Storage.

Petros Koutoupis: How has IBM's recent Red Hat, Inc., acquisition announcement affected the Ceph project, and do you believe this is what led to the creation of the Ceph Foundation?

SUSE: With Ceph being an Open Source community project, there is no anticipated effect on the Ceph project as a result of the pending IBM acquisition of Red Hat. Discussions and planning of the Ceph foundation have been going on for some time and were not a result of the acquisition announcement.

PK: For some time, SUSE has been fully committed to the Ceph project and has even leveraged the same technology in its SUSE Enterprise Storage offering. Will these recent announcements impact both the offering and the customers using it?

SUSE: The Ceph Foundation news is a validation of the vibrancy of the Ceph community. There are 13 premier members, with SUSE being a founding and premier member.

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Petros Koutoupis

Chrome OS To Test GPU Support for Linux Installed Apps, antiX Distro v17.3, OpenMandriva Project vLx4.0, Hummingboard CBi Released

3 months 3 weeks ago

It seems that Chrome OS will soon start testing GPU support for Linux installed applications. This is good news for those who wish to run applications that require a bit more horsepower (e.g. games). You can view the code commits to these changes here.

Yesterday, the antiX Linux distribution announced the release of version 17.3. It boasts an updated kernel that better mitigates the L1TF/Foreshadow and Meltdown/Spectre vulnerabilities, bug fixes and package updates.

Along those same lines, the OpenMandriva project just announced the first Alpha release of version Lx 4.0.

SolidRun, a company focused on manufacturing Linux supported SBC and embedded boards, just announced the release of another addition to their Hummingboard series called the Hummingboard CBi. This new model swaps the original HDMI port for a CAN and serial ports and is tailor more for industrial use.

News
Petros Koutoupis