The year is winding down and while we have a lot to look forward to next year, what were the greatest Linux innovations of this year? This year at Phoronix, we have published over 325 articles, with most of them being Linux hardware and graphics reviews, and that is in addition to over 700 original news entries. After spending much time in considering what the "best" and most substantial Linux gains over the year have been, we have comprised a list of what we believe are the greatest Linux innovations of 2007 along with our reasoning behind these decisions.
We discovered back in September when running the Razer Barracuda AC-1 with ALSA 1.0.15 that this sound card was quite problematic with the initial CMI8788 ALSA driver. However, last month we reported that the driver was being rewritten from scratch with a much brighter outlook. We have retested the Barracuda AC-1 with its C-Media CMI8788 Oxygen APU using the latest snd-oxygen driver, which also works with other high-end sound cards such as the ASUS Xonar and Auzentech X-Meridian.
The WINE project is going on 15 years in existence, and two years ago, it finally went into beta. Through the beta stage, there has been a consistent release about every two weeks, which often brings a fair number of improvements to this software for running Windows programs on Linux (and other operating systems). Sparked by curiosity as to how the performance of WINE is affected release by release, we have gone through and benchmarked the past seven releases. While this only represents the past four months of work by the WINE community, the results may surprise you.
Recently there has been much talk about RandR 1.2 support with RadeonHD and Nouveau (among other drivers), and as a result we have been asked many times now "what is RandR, and why do I care?" Well, RandR is the "Resize and Rotate" extension in X.Org and the v1.2 update introduces new functionality such as dynamic hot-plugging support for display devices. To help those who may be new to Linux or just never took advantage of this X.Org technology, we have written a brief guide with some of the RandR basics.
It was a month ago that we first looked at SplashTop on the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe motherboard and found this to be a very exciting and forthcoming technology. If you missed our earlier article, SplashTop is an instant-on Linux desktop environment. Within a matter of seconds after turning on the motherboard -- and without using a hard drive -- you're able to access a Firefox-based web browser and the Skype VoIP client. As we shared in a later update, SplashTop will also be shipping on desktops and notebooks next year. While the only motherboard to integrate SplashTop right now is the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe, the SplashTop source code has been released as of this morning. A SplashTop SDK is in the works, but for now, the GPL code is available.
Firefox 2.0 is just over a year old, but the Mozilla developers are out today with the first beta for Mozilla Firefox 3.0. Firefox 3.0 (known as Gran Paradiso) uses the Gecko 1.9 engine, and features a number of improvements including improved add-on support, remote bookmarks, OpenID compliance, AirBag crash reporting integration, microformats support, saving web pages as PDF files, and other reworks that affect the bookmarks, searching, etc. If you're not feeling adventurous to try out Mozilla Firefox 3.0 quite yet, we have included some screenshots of Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 running on Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon. Judging by all of the improvements to this open-source web browser, it will be a great addition for Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron.
With the projected increase in the elderly population, the rising cost of health-care, and the lack of available resources to those with Alzheimer's and other neuro-degenerative diseases, a new technology start-up is hoping to alleviate some of this burden and create a new opportunity for Linux in the next-generation tele-health market. Reside@HOME is an "aging in place" solution that's designed to keep those with diminished cognitive ability independent and in their own residence for as long as possible. Part of what makes this interesting; however, is that the device is Linux-based -- Ubuntu Linux to be exact. Blue Heron Network LLC, the company behind Reside@HOME, will be formally introducing this solution in the first quarter of 2008, but in this article are some details about this unique Linux-based health-care product.
KDE 4.0 Beta 4 was released earlier today and it features a number of bug fixes along with cleaning up the KDE code-base and at the same time adding a few new enhancements to the KDE 4.0 feature set. The OpenSuSE-based KDE Four LiveCD was also upgraded this afternoon to version 0.6. With the changes in KDE 4.0 Beta 4 and the shear number of improvements in KDE 4.0, we have taken some screenshots from this latest testing release and have them here for your viewing pleasure.
Taking a break from our graphics excitement last week with the release of AMD's 8.42.3 Display Driver, we have finished our largest (and most time consuming) Linux performance comparison to date. We have taken the last 12 major kernel releases, from Linux 2.6.12 to Linux 2.6.23, built them from source and set out on a benchmarking escapade. This testing also includes the Linux 2.6.24-rc1 kernel. From these benchmarks you can see how the Linux kernel performance has matured over the past two and a half years.
The third beta of KDE 4.0 was released this past week and today the KDE folks are out with KDE Four Live v0.5, which is based upon OpenSuSE. The KDE Four Live image contains all modules for KDE 4.0, KOffice 2.0 SVN, and other cutting-edge developments with v0.5 being the KDE 3.94.1 snapshot. At Phoronix we have taken a few screenshots to share from this very attractive desktop environment.
The Linux 2.6.23 kernel has been released today and we have some preliminary benchmarks of the 2.6.23 kernel as we compare it to the past Linux 2.6.22 kernel. We will have more on the Linux 2.6.23 kernel once we have tested it more extensively, but the benchmarks we have ran so far include Quake 4, LAME encoding, Gzip compression, and RAMspeed. If you missed it, among the features for the Linux 2.6.23 kernel include the CFS process scheduler (Completely Fair Scheduler), a variety of virtualization improvements, on-demand read-ahead, and XFS and EXT4 file-system improvements are among the interesting changes.
The X-Fi family of sound cards from Creative Labs has been around for over two years but through this time there has been no Linux support officially from Creative or from the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA). Among the Creative X-Fi solutions are the X-Fi XtremeGamer, X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro, X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion Series, and the X-Fi Elite Pro. However, Creative Labs is on the heals of finally releasing a new audio Linux driver that supports the X-Fi family. The driver that will be released any day now is considered beta software, but worst of all is that this sound driver will be closed-source.
This afternoon Intel's Chief Linux and Open-Source Technologist, Dirk Hohndel, talked about why Intel's commitment to open-source drivers creates a difference and advantage for Intel's architecture platforms. Nothing groud-breaking or too special was presented, but we have included some of Dirk's slides from this open-source driver presentation. Intel had also mentioned that AMD's (well, referenced as a "major graphics card vendor") open-source driver efforts as "good news." He also mentioned that a major OEM is requiring that by next year their hardware suppliers must either have an open-source driver available or be able to provide an open-source driver within the next twelve months. The likely company that comes to mind is Dell but Dirk refused to comment any further.
A few days ago one of the Vino developers, Jonh Wendell, released a new public build of Vinagre. Vinagre is designed to be a VNC client for the GNOME desktop and while it is still under development, in our testing thus far we found it to be an excellent VNC client. In this article, we'll be offering a brief preview of Vinagre 0.3.
Adobe has released an update for their Acrobat Reader product on Linux and SPARC Solaris. Adobe Reader 8.1.1 for Solaris and Linux features a new user-interface, improved performance, single document interface mode, and an always-available search toolbar. Adobe Reader 8.1.1 for Linux also features better desktop integration through complying with XDG-UTILS as well as support for Debian (deb) package installation. Some of the other new features include supporting multimedia-enabled PDF documents, new tools, updated review tracker, Orca accessibility support, and new additions to the digital ID feature are among the noteworthy improvements.
Last November at Phoronix we had featured a preview of the Razer Barracuda AC-1 sound card and after taking off its EMI shield we had found that this card depended upon the C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 audio processor, which at the time was not supported under Linux. Though support had come in the Open Sound System (OSS) version 4.0 for this CMI8788 APU. Well, now finally in ALSA 1.0.15 the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture will support this C-Media audio chip. ALSA 1.0.15-rc1 was released recently and contains the initial CMI8788 audio driver. In this article we will be taking a quick look at where this driver stands today for the Razer Barracuda AC-1 under Linux.
The first beta of KDE 4.0 was released earlier this month and Warren Woodford of the MEPIS project has now built a version of SimplyMEPIS 7 that is based upon Debian Etch with the 32-bit and 64-bit KDE 4.0 Beta 1 packages. With some great work going into version 4 of the K Desktop Environment, we've enclosed some screenshots from this MEPIS testing build.
During the Ubuntu Live 2007 conference, Matt Asay of Alfresco Software had presented the ten commandments of open-source software. Below are the notable slides from his presentation.
Thanks to the power of GARNOME, this afternoon we decided to take a look at GNOME 2.19.5, which was released this past Wednesday. GNOME 2.19.5 is the fifth development release in the road to GNOME 2.20, which will arrive this September. Among the bits of the GNOME desktop with new features in this release include Eye of GNOME, Evince, Evolution, GDM, gedit, and many other packages.
In addition to Chris DiBona's words about NVIDIA and ATI binary display drivers, Google had also made an interesting splash at the first-ever Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit (which they had kindly hosted at their Mountain View campus) during a presentation by the Google Linux Client Team. What was it? Well, there are some "significant accomplishments" and other new Google desktop applications coming out this year for the Linux platform.
With Phoronix turning three years old tomorrow I thought this would be a good time to share with all of you what had led Phoronix to where it is today and the direction that it is headed into for the future. There's still much work left to be accomplished, but we long to see the day when the Linux and Solaris hardware experience to upgrade a PC, build a new PC, or to buy a PC will be carefree and you largely won't need to worry about any kernel panics, disk controller issues, or other problems due to your choice of hardware. In the past few years we have seen terrific strides made specifically by Linux developers in new hardware support, but it still largely remains a puzzle for alternative OS users to find hardware that is fully compatible with their operating system of choice.
Mark Shuttleworth has flown into space on a Soyuz TM-34 and founded Thawte Consulting that later sold to Verisign for over $500 million, but he is now known most for being the founder and leader of the Ubuntu Linux distribution. In addition to Ubuntu he also established HBD Venture Capital and is involved with several other free software projects. Earlier today we had spoke with Mark Shuttleworth to discuss the latest happenings in the Ubuntu world including Dell shipping Ubuntu PCs, getting open-source drivers from hardware vendors, and what is coming down the road for Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon.
From a KDE SVN trunk snapshot on 04-18-07, we have a few KDE 4.0 screenshots to pass along today. Mind you that KDE 4.0 will not be released until later this year, but if you are interested in seeing how this desktop environment is shaping up, you can see for yourself today.
On top of our hardware reviews and comparisons at Phoronix we also cover and compare the latest ATI and NVIDIA drivers along with some of the other popular software packages; however, we have decided to feature Linux kernel performance comparisons with each major release. We will be covering some of the major highlights with each release as well as comparing its performance in a variety of tests against recent kernels. The intent of these articles will be to provide users with a better understanding for some of the prominent changes as well as to see how the performance is affected in some of our commonly used benchmarks. Without further ado, we present our kernel comparison for the Linux 2.6.20-rc6 kernel!
ClarkConnect, IPCop, m0n0wall, and Smoothwall are among the Linux distributions currently available that are targeted for use as a firewall or network server. However, shortly another contender will be launching into this arena and that is the Open Linux Router.
In 2005 we had featured several articles on the state of NVIDIA graphics card overclocking under Linux. In early 2005 the only option for Linux users was NVClock. The open-source NVClock was started by Roderick Colenbrander in 2001 and since then has been evolving. However, coming out in June of 2005 from the NVIDIA camp was CoolBits support for their alternative operating system drivers. This feature was certainly revolutionary for Linux gamers and enthusiasts. However, after a recent inquiry on the Phoronix Forums, this article has been constructed to spell out a few things about overclocking software available for GNU/Linux.
After last month's release of GNOME 2.16.0, the 2.17.1 release of GNOME has been announced this morning -- in the development cycle for the road to 2.18.0. The changes are fairly extensive already for being the first test release in the GNOME 2.18 cycle. Of the updated packages in this first development release is new encoding profile support in Banshee, network game support in many of GNOME Games, Gossip fixes, GNOME Power Manager advancements, and much more. We have already fired up GARNOME and have plenty of screenshots of the freshly-compiled GNOME 2.17.1.
Songbird, the Mozilla Firefox blended audio player, has flew out of the nest today with version 0.2 release candidate 1. Songbird v0.2 RC1 supports Linux, Macintosh, and Windows platforms. We at Phoronix have a visual preview of this latest release.
The second Beta for GNOME 2.16.0 is now out. GNOME 2.15.91 marks the API/ABI, feature, string, and UI freeze in the GNOME 2.16.0 candidate. We had used GARNOME with GNOME 2.16.0 Beta 2 and now have some visuals today showing a portion of the improvements in GNOME 2.16.
The fourth development release for GNOME 2.16.0 has been released. In GNOME 2.15.4 are several enhancements (mainly under the hood for this release) but it is certainly attention for GNU/Linux desktop enthusiasts. For those not wishing to take this unstable exploration of GNOME 2.15.4, we have provided screenshots of this release today at Phoronix.
476 software articles published on Phoronix.