Support for the Creative X-Fi sound cards on Linux has been a mess to say the least. These high-end audio processors were released by Creative Labs about four years ago and there still isn't pleasant support for the X-Fi series on Linux. Months after the sound cards launched there was word from Creative Labs that they would provide a Linux driver complete with support for ALSA and OpenAL with EAX.
We have learned that Flashrom, an open-source program for flashing the BIOSes on many different motherboards / chipsets, is soon going to be picking up support for flashing the video BIOS image on ATI graphics cards. Specifically, it should be possible to flash the BIOS of the ATI Radeon X1000 (R500) series and potentially the Radeon HD 2000/3000 (R600) series too. This is a matter actively being worked on and can be confirmed via the project's #coreboot IRC channel.
With three months having passed since the release of ALSA 1.0.19, it is now time for an update to the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture. ALSA 1.0.20 was announced this morning and it brings forth a slew of bug-fixes and other audio driver updates for Linux.
While anti-virus and anti-malware is not much of a problem on Linux at this time, AVG has added this anti-malware protection to their Linux security software. AVG has supported Linux for sometime when it comes to virus and spam protection, but with version 8.5 they have expanded their anti-malware support. Besides that there are also many other improvements to the AVG Linux support like a new anti-virus filter, improved system resource handling, multi-core CPU support, and a new virtual file-system.
While a test release has been around for a few months, last night PulseAudio 0.9.15 was officially released. This open-source sound server has a number of significant enhancements in this latest update. PulseAudio 0.9.15 introduces native support of Bluetooth audio devices using BlueZ, Apple Airport Express support, flat volume support (similar to Vista's audio controls), on-the-fly reconfiguration of audio devices, and native support for 24-bit samples. The on-the-fly reconfiguration of audio devices is great and as a result there is now proper S/PDIF support.
It has been a while since last mentioning the Creative X-Fi sound cards at Phoronix, but it's not because the Linux support is all nice and working now that Creative open-sourced their X-Fi driver, but rather things have stalled. The X-Fi sound cards still are a sore spot on Linux and there isn't "out of the box" support in major Linux distributions.
Caustic Graphics, a brand-new company to the computer graphics scene that hopes to compete with AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA when it comes to ray-tracing power, announced the CausticRT on Monday. The CausticRT is "the world's first massively accelerated ray-tracing system" and can be found in CausticOne, which is their first product and it promises to deliver ray-tracing performance that's reportedly 20 times faster than the modern computer. While 20 times is great, by next year they hope their graphics/ray-tracing accelerator will be 200 times faster. For more on Caustic Graphics and what they hope to achieve when it comes to graphics and ray-tracing, visit Caustic.com.
As we shared would be coming soon, LM_Sensors 3.1.0 was just released by Jean Delvare. This significant update to the LM_Sensors 3 code-base has a significantly reworked sensors-detect utility, various improvements to the LM_Sensors library (libsensors), a new /etc/sysconfig/lm_sensors format, and a new default sensors.conf configuration file.
Jean Delvare of the LM_Sensors project has announced that a new release of this open-source system monitoring program will be coming soon. LM_Sensors 3.0.3 arrived nearly a half-year ago, but given the number of changes since then, the next release will be LM_Sensors 3.1.0.
A representative from Texas Instruments had showed up in the X.Org development room yesterday to show off one of their new products: a very tiny projector. This projector has a mini HDMI integrated connector for video input, uses LEDs and DLP technology for display, and can easily fit within your palm.
ASUS was the first company to ship SplashTop, an embedded instant-on Linux environment, on any of its products. They began by offering SplashTop on select ASUS motherboards, then it turned into ASUS notebooks, and then to many more ASUS products. However, Phoenix Technologies has now wooed ASUS into shipping HyperSpace on their notebooks.
There were no release candidates or any official test builds this time around, but ALSA 1.0.19 was released this morning. There are many changes to be found in this latest update for the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture. Among other changes, the popular HDA codec driver has received many improvements, fixes, and support for new audio devices.
Hewlett-Packard has announced this morning they will be introducing Linux as an operating system choice for business desktop customers. HP will start by offering SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop starting with their HP Compaq DC5850 SFF PC, which is an AMD-powered system that will only cost $519 USD.
This news is coming a few days late, but the ALSA project has quietly released ALSA 1.0.18a as a minor update to its collection of sound drivers for Linux. This isn't a major update but a collection of updates on top of ALSA 1.0.18 final. Among the changes are build fixes against the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, support for new ASICs, Intel HDMI audio support, and new ASICs being supported by various drivers/codecs. This ALSA release does not incorporate Creative's open-source X-Fi driver or any other Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card support.
It's been almost two months since ALSA 1.0.18 RC3 was released and about four months since ALSA 1.0.17 made it out the door, but today the final version of ALSA 1.0.18 is now available. This update to the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) contains a number of significant updates and even quite a few changes since the third release candidate.
Lenovo has announced this morning that they will begin shipping SplashTop-enabled netbooks. Next month Lenovo will be shipping "QuickStart" (just their re-branded version of SplashTop) on their new Atom-powered IdeaPad S10e. The press release can be read on the Market Wire.
On the first of October we talked about a new LM_Sensors patch that supports new AMD CPUs and it had arrived almost immediately after the release of LM_Sensors 3.0.3. With almost a month having by since we last talked about this open-source hardware sensor monitoring project, there are a number of new patches that have come about to support new hardware.
Back in August we were the first web-site to share how SplashTop Linux could be hacked and the following month we shared about a SplashTop security problem where the contents of any attached hard drives are exposed freely to the network, if you're not running a hardware firewall. This issue was discovered by Kano, a Phoronix Forums member and the developer behind the Kanotix distribution. DeviceVM had been notified of this blatant security issue, but it still appears the problem has gone unresolved.
If you've been looking for a very affordable USB WiFi adapter that works with Linux, you may be interested in the Encore ENUWI-G2. This 802.11g WiFi adapter has a USB 2.0 interface and supports 64/128-Bit WEP, WPA, and WPA2. What makes this USB WiFi adapter to some though is its price-tag, which is less than $15 USD at many online retailers. Does this cheap WiFi adapter work with Linux though? Yep, you can use ndiswrapper if you want to use the Windows driver or you can use the rtl8187 Linux driver.
Back in February, AMD's John Bridgman had expressed hope in providing LM_Sensors support for monitoring the GPU temperature and fan speed on ATI graphics cards. He was hoping to get the needed documentation to the LM_Sensors project in March, but that hadn't happened and currently AMD's focus is on open-source R600/700 series 3D support. However, interest in LM_Sensors support for ATI graphics cards has been rejuvenated on the sensor project's mailing list.
Just a few hours after publishing A Year Later, X-Fi Drivers Still Horrific for Linux, believe it or not but we have a new Creative X-Fi driver. ALSA, the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture, now has an experimental Creative X-Fi driver. Takashi Iwai, a developer at Novell/SuSE, has ported the open-source X-Fi driver (named sbxfi) found in the Open Sound System (OSS) over to ALSA.
After Creative Labs Duped Linux For Vista, it was just a year ago that they had released their X-Fi Linux driver. That initial driver in 2007 had only supported 64-bit Linux, wasn't targeted at newer versions of GCC, and had a whole host of other problems. This past April they then tried again at X-Fi Linux drivers and this time managed to deliver 32-bit and GCC 4.x support. Since then though no new binary drivers have appeared and a year later we remain with only a half-functioning beta driver.
The group of developers behind PulseAudio, the Linux sound server that's quickly becoming the de facto standard, has today put out their 0.9.13 milestone release. For a large part this release just incorporates bug-fixes that have been addressed in the past month since 0.9.12, but there is one interesting new feature. PulseAudio 0.9.13 introduces support for Bluetooth audio devices, including the dynamic detection. This Bluetooth audio support was done by a student programmer as part of Google's Summer of Code project this year. The Bluetooth support is currently considered experimental but it is enabled by default. For the complete change-log with PulseAudio 0.9.13, check out the their milestone page.
LM_Sensors, the leading open-source project for providing hardware monitoring support on Linux (such as with component temperatures, voltages, fan speeds, etc), had its last official release in May with version 3.0.2. While the changes aren't as substantial as the LM_Sensors 3.0 release last year, Jean Delvare has today announced the release of LM_Sensors 3.0.3.
Last year the MadWiFi project abandoned their proprietary HAL in favor of using OpenHAL. OpenHAL is a open-source HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) that was developed by OpenBSD for their Atheros WiFi driver. They also seized work on the earlier MadWiFi driver to focus on the new ath5k driver. This summer Atheros had then released the ath9k driver for 802.11n ASICs on Linux after hiring two of the MadWiFi developers.
There hasn't been a new LM_Sensors release since May when version 3.0.2 was released. Since then there has been quite a bit of new work going on within this free software project that provides system sensor monitoring on Linux. Intel Core i7 monitoring support was added back in August to LM_Sensors, for example. Today a set of five patches for Apple hardware has appeared on the LM_Sensors mailing list. In the last patch, LM_Sensors support for the Apple MacBook Air was added. This allows the accelerometer, back-light, and thermal sensor to be used on systems with the latest LM_Sensors code. This small MacBook Air patch can be found here.
Version 1.0.18 RC1 of ALSA was just released a month ago and it was quickly followed by a second release candidate for this Linux sound system. However, it's taken nearly a month for the third 1.0.18 release candidate to come together.
ALSA 1.0.17 was released a month ago, but being released today by the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture camp is a small update in the 1.0.17 series and the first release candidate for ALSA 1.0.18.
Last September we reported that MadWiFi was abandoning their proprietary HAL and really the driver itself for that matter. The developers behind the popular MadWiFi Linux driver were ceasing work on it in favor of starting up a new driver called ath5k using OpenHAL. Two of the key developers were also hired by Atheros, the wireless chipset company itself. Through these recent improvements, Atheros has went from a company being criticized for their lack of Linux support to one with impecable possibilities.
Receiving publicity on SlashDot today is word that Foxconn refuses to support Linux. Foxconn is a large OEM motherboard manufacturer, but according to a thread on the Ubuntu Forums, they refuse to support Linux. There is a bug in one of their DSDT tables for their BIOS that's causing installation issues with Linux. The DSDT for Windows is correct, but Foxconn isn't interested in issuing a (simple) update to fix the Linux support. However, this isn't surprising to us. We've known that Foxconn does not wish to support Linux at all. Going back to 2006, Foxconn has told us at Phoronix that they aren't interested in Linux on their motherboards and they have no desire to support it. For more on motherboards under Linux, check out our motherboard reviews.
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