The first alpha release of KDE 4.1 isn't planned until the end of April, but this past weekend the OpenSuSE team had updated their KDE Four Live spin against the latest KDE 4.0.66 snapshot packages. The KDE 4.0.66 development packages contain new Kickoff and Plasma features along with much other work to the numerous packages that will ultimately make up this first major update to KDE 4.
Last month we had measured Ubuntu's boot performance via the open-source Bootchart utility and had done this on all Ubuntu releases between Ubuntu 6.06 LTS and the latest development build at the time for Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. From this testing we had found the boot time to decrease with each official release and the maximum disk throughput increasing. With Fedora 9 Sulphur due out next month, we have done this same boot performance testing on the Fedora side with Core 4, Core 5, Core 6, 7, 8, and 9 Rawhide.
A week ago, Canonical's Bryce Harrington had pushed an XRandR GUI into Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, which can now be found inside Alpha 6. This utility facilitates the dynamic management of displays using the RandR 1.2 extension, which is similar to URandR, GRandR, and other RandR front-ends. This new package has caught our attention and led us to explore its capabilities for display management.
In the first Compiz Fusion update since last October, Compiz Fusion 0.7.2 was released this morning and accompanied by an update to Compiz. This Compiz Fusion update was not only the first in five months, but also it was the first in the 0.7 development series leading up to the stable Compiz/Compiz Fusion 0.8 release. Compiz Fusion 0.7.2 has a number of new plug-ins (11 total) and also some changes to the configuration manager. The Compiz Config Settings Manager has some minor updates in different areas, while this release also includes an alternate settings manager. The Simple Compiz Config Settings Manager, or simple-ccsm as it's called, is focused for simplicity and looks dramatically different from the main settings manager. We have screenshots and comments on the simple-ccsm in this article.
Last December we had published benchmarks of seven versions of WINE, which covered up through the WINE 0.9.50 release. We had used two versions of Futuremark's 3DMark suite for testing, and with that we had found the performance to be stable in some cases while in later WINE releases we had found some performance losses. With the WINE project on a consistent two-week release cycle, we are looking at the WINE 3D performance and this time going back with the past eleven releases.
It's going on four years that we have been providing benchmarks under Linux at Phoronix, and through this time the process has evolved as more applications have come about that gauge Linux system performance and meet our criteria for use in hardware reviews. While our internal process is continually refined, we have received requests for creating a Linux benchmarking manifest so that interested parties are able to easily reproduce our tests for comparative purposes and know everything that's involved. With that said, we are now working to establish the Phoronix Test Suite that will consist both of detailed documentation defining our hardware benchmarking protocols and free software that automates much of this work.
Last Friday 4Front Technologies had released the binaries and source-code to OSS 4.0 Build 1013. This new build of the Open Sound System brings two major changes, which include the full source code now being available for the M-Audio Revolution and Delta sound card drivers, and a beta driver for the Sound Blast X-Fi series from Creative Labs. While earlier Sound Blaster generations have worked quite well with ALSA and OSS, the Creative X-Fi series is a black sheep under Linux. The X-Fi support that Creative Labs has provided to the Linux community has been abominable and support via ALSA (the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) has yet to go anywhere while support for the complete X-Fi series via OSS is just starting to emerge. Interestingly though, Creative had provided the register documentation and other code to 4Front Technologies for this new "sbxfi" driver.
A week ago we reported that a second preview release of Project Indiana, Sun's attempt at creating an operating system for the desktop based upon OpenSolaris and led by Ian Murdock, was on track to be released in the near future. Thursday afternoon that became true with the test image surfacing for Developer Preview 2 of Project Indiana, or what will formally be called OpenSolaris. Officially, this new release is known as the OpenSolaris Developer Preview 1/08 edition. The general availability release of Project Indiana is expected in March, but today we have up a tour of this new Indiana release.
Back in November we started sharing some of the exciting features planned for the GNOME 2.22 and 2.24 releases, and now that the first GNOME 2.22.0 Beta release is planned for later this week, we have taken another look at the packages set for inclusion and the changes that have actually been made. While nothing groundbreaking will be introduced in GNOME 2.22, this desktop environment does have some moderate changes worth noting. In this article are eight interesting packages that either have noticeable changes since GNOME 2.20 or are new to GNOME. This list isn't all-inclusive or ordered in any particular fashion, but just eight changes that had caught our attention.
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.
515 software articles published on Phoronix.