Four months after ALSA 1.0.16 was released, the wizards of modern-day Linux sound have released ALSA 1.0.17-rc1. This release has a plethora of new work -- in excess of 500 changes. Among the changes are x86_64 support for Linux 2.6.25+ kernels, a new kconfig parser, and a wide assortment of driver changes.
VIA has been on a rampage this week with new release announcements from the OpenBook reference design to the Nano processor. Their latest announcement is coming out of S3 Graphics, which is a VIA Technologies company. S3 Graphics has announced the release of the Chrome 440 GTX, which is a PCI Express 2.0 graphics card.
Earlier this month the major announcement came down that ASUS would be massively expanding its SplashTop motherboard selection to the point of producing in excess of one million motherboards per month with this embedded Linux technology. This morning another major ASUS and DeviceVM hook-up has been announced that SplashTop will now be shipping on a few of their notebook computers.
LM_Sensors 3.0 was originally released last year with the 3.0.1 release then coming out in late January, but succeeding that release is now LM_Sensors 3.0.2. This new Linux sensors release brings support to libsensors for virtual hardware monitoring devices (including the generic thermal zones to be introduced with the Linux 2.6.26 kernel), support for power and energy sensors, and sensors-detect has been made safer through eliminating reads of 1-register-only devices and preferring byte reads over word reads. This latest LM_Sensors 3.0.2 release can be downloaded from their project website.
ASUS has announced today that they have expanded their selection of SplashTop-enabled motherboards by four with the introduction of the ASUS P5Q motherboard family. In addition, it has been announced by ASUS that they plan to roll-out SplashTop on their "entire motherboard product portfolio, starting with over one million motherboards per month." Congratulations to the DeviceVM folks and the Linux community with this being a major win. The announcement came down today in the form of a press release. Last October, Phoronix was the first website to talk thoroughly about SplashTop, which is an embedded instant-on Linux desktop environment. In addition, we continue to talk about SplashTop and forthcoming features in other articles.
With open-source solutions like Amarok, Rhythmbox, and mplayer, RealNetwork's RealPlayer (or its open-source Helix base) aren't the most popular media-playback solution on Linux. However, RealNetworks has announced the release of both Helix Player 11 and RealPlayer 11 for Linux. RealPlayer 11 now supports playing back Windows Media content (on Linux), an integrated play-list editor, and support for Perfect Play (Superbuffer). In addition, ALSA and surround sound playback are finally supported by this media player. The announcement and download links can be found from the Helix Community Website.
Back in October we introduced the world to DeviceVM's SplashTop, with Phoronix delivering the first full in-depth review of this technology that can be embedded into motherboards (and soon enough, desktops and notebooks) for allowing an instant-on desktop environment. Within seconds of turning on the PC you can be in this lightweight Linux desktop environment that comes with web applications such as Skype and Firefox. As we shared during CES 2008, they also have Pidgin, a DVD player (LinDVD), music player (with MP3 support), and a photo viewer on forthcoming versions. SplashTop is so great that we named it one of the greatest Linux innovations of 2007.
Earlier this month at CeBIT, OCZ Technology had announced its Neural Impulse Actuator (NIA) entered mass production (press release). OCZ's Neural Impulse Actuator is the first Brain Computer Interface (BCI) designed for gamers on the consumer market. The NIA band is worn around the head and is able to convert electroencephalograph signals into keystrokes/mouse clicks and connects via USB 2.0. The Neural Impulse Actuator was first covered on Phoronix during Computex Taipei 2007. While the NIA is solely marketed for gamers, it's been reported that with some training this "neural-controlled mouse" can be used for basic desktop usage as well.
Back during CES 2008, Shuttle, the PC maker known for their SFF (Small Form Factor) PCs announced a $199 (USD) Linux PC known as the KPC. The Shuttle KPC was just one of the Linux PCs announced in January, and like the gOS-backed Everex budget PCs, is really designed for web surfing and basic desktop tasks. The hardware on the Shuttle KPC consists of a Celeron processor, Intel integrated graphics, and up to an 80GB hard drive. What was announced yesterday, however, was their Linux distribution of choice for the KPC. Shuttle will not be shipping Ubuntu, gOS, Xandros, or any of the other desktop distributions that other vendors are using, but they are going with Foresight Linux.
This year already Dell has made several Ubuntu Linux announcements, such as shipping Ubuntu 7.10 on the Dell XPS M1330 and Inspiron 1525, but today another announcement comes off the Direct2 Dell blog. Dell is now offering Ubuntu 7.10 Linux (with DVD playback support) on its Inspiron 530 PC in China. China joins the half-dozen other countries where Dell PCs with Ubuntu pre-loaded are available and Canonical providing the technical support. Will Dellbuntu start to strike away at some of the 80%+ market-share that Red Flag Linux has in China? Two years ago Dell (and HP) were shipping Red Flag Linux Desktop in China.
Last month Dell announced it would ship Ubuntu 7.10 on the XPS M1330 laptop and now Dell is furthering their Dellbuntu product selection with the Inspiron 1525. This Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop will ship with Ubuntu 7.10 and the recently added DVD playback support. In addition to shipping in the United States, Linux on the Inspiron 1525 will also be available in the UK, France, Germany, and Spain. More information can be found on the Direct2Dell blog.
It's official, Creative Labs is joining the open specification/code bandwagon for the X-Fi series. Earlier this week we shared that through the Open Sound System there is now open-source support for the Sound Blaster X-Fi. The OSS sbxfi driver had contained three files that were copyrighted by Creative Labs and were labeled confidential. Inside of these files were code for the X-Fi PCI registers as well as functions for initializing these sound cards and other hardware-related tasks. We now know that 4Front Technologies hadn't acquired this X-Fi code illegally or through some back-room maneuvering, but that Creative Labs is interacting with both the OSS and ALSA projects.
In what equated to being a shorter development cycle than normal and with only two release candidates under its belt, ALSA 1.0.16 final has been released. ALSA 1.0.16-rc1 was released just two weeks ago followed by ALSA 1.0.16-rc2 last week and now this week is the final build. Since this last RC build has been a few minor changes to the CMI8788 Oxygen driver, just under a changes to HDA Codec (mostly adding in new product support), and miscellaneous changes to the other audio drivers. The change-log is available (along with download links) from the ALSA Project Wiki. Hopefully in the ALSA 1.0.17 release we'll find Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi support.
LM_Sensors 3.0.1 has been released this week as a minor update against LM_Sensors 3.0.0, which was released this past November. The main change coming with LM_Sensors 3.0.1 is that libsensors no longer depends libsysfs, which according to the LM_Sensors team has greatly sped up the library initialization time. New ASICs detected in this release include the SMSC SCH5514D-NS, Fintek F71858DG, Fintek F81216D, and Intel 82801AA (ICH). The complete list of changes for LM_Sensors 3.0.1 is available from the SVN viewer while download links and other information can be found on the project homepage.
One week after the first ALSA 1.0.16 RC, the second release candidate for v1.0.16 of the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture is now available. ALSA 1.0.16-rc2 has a few sound core fixes, a dozen changes to the C-Media CMI8788 Oxygen driver, quite a few HDA codec changes, and various work on alsa-lib and alsa-python. The changes between -rc1 and -rc2 are available from the ALSA Project Wiki.
It was just last month that Dell announced it would ship Ubuntu 7.10 on their Linux-loaded notebooks and laptops, and in addition they would be shipping LinDVD to provide legal DVD playback support. The newest announcement coming out of Dell now is that they will be shipping Ubuntu on a Dell XPS notebook and that they have extended their "Dellbuntu" models to Spain. This newest Ubuntu-loaded notebook is the XPS M1330, which is much beefier than the Inspiron 6400 notebook currently deployed with Gutsy Gibbon. The XPS M1330 has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 13.3" WXGA display, 1GB to 4GB of DDR2 RAM, up to a 320GB SATA hard drive or 64GB solid state disk, and an option of Intel GMA X3100 graphics or having a NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS 128MB graphics processor. This new Ubuntu 7.10 notebook is already available in Europe and will begin shipping in the United States next week. The announcement came from the Direct2Dell blog.
In the first development release for the new year and the ALSA 1.0.16 branch, version 1.0.16-rc1 of the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) is now available. This is the first new ALSA release in over three months, but it arrives with a lengthy change-log for this Linux kernel sound component. Among the many changes that had interested us with ALSA 1.0.16-rc1 were build fixes for the Linux 2.6.24 kernel, two dozen changes to the ALSA core, the rewritten C-Media CMI8788 Oxygen driver, emu10k1 clean-up, and just under 80 changes to the HDA Codec (and more changes to the HDA drivers). Of course, there are also many changes to other ALSA drivers, ALSA library, and other sound components.
DeviceVM and ASUS are today announcing that they have expanded their selection of motherboards that ship with SplashTop (a.k.a. "Express Gate") technology. We've been enthralled by SplashTop, an embedded instant-on Linux desktop environment, since we had first looked at this technology on the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe motherboard. DeviceVM's SplashTop is so interesting that it had even earned the title of being one of the greatest Linux innovations of 2007.
Yesterday afternoon on the Direct2Dell blog it was announced that Dell is now shipping Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" on their pre-installed notebook/desktop Linux systems. Ubuntu 7.10 is available on the "Dellbuntu" notebooks and desktops today, while parts of Europe will see Gutsy Gibbon on the Inspiron 530 later this week. In addition, these Dell Ubuntu PCs have gained DVD playback support out of the box through the use of LinDVD (along with all of the other features found in Ubuntu 7.10).
Dave Jones of Red Hat has pushed out an update to the x86info utility, which for the uninformed is used for identifying various bits of information on x86 processors. This new release, x86info v1.21, contains support for updated CPUs, various clean-ups, and support for new operating systems. The added OS support is for FreeBSD and Solaris/OpenSolaris. An AMD engineer has also spent some time improving the AMD CPU functionality in this open-source CPU utility. There is also added identification support for new Intel Core 2 and Xeon processors. The last x86info release (v1.20) was over a year ago, but Dave Jones hopes to provide more timely releases. The new x86info release can be downloaded from its project web-page.
LM_Sensors, the package used to facilitate hardware monitoring within Linux for a variety of different ASICs, has finally reached version 3.0. LM_Sensors 3.0.0 represents the next-generation, chip-independent hardware monitoring tools package. We shared a number of details when previously reporting on LM_Sensors 3.0, but some of the important changes include LM_Sensors turning to a user-space-only package with no more kernel modules and the i2c software has been moved to i2c-tools. The libsensors package has been completely rewritten, and at version 4.0.0 it has a brand new API. More information is available in the LM_Sensors mailing list announcement.
Dell started off shipping Ubuntu on their notebooks and desktops earlier this year (Dell Loves Ubuntu, It's Official) and now they have found a new mate for their PowerEdge servers. Dell will be making Solaris 10 and Solaris support services available on these select servers. Of course, this all comes after IBM announced this past August that they would be offering Sun's Solaris on some of their x86 servers. Read more in the Sun press release.
Back in September we were finally able to test the Razer Barracuda AC-1 under Linux. This sound card, which employs the C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 audio processor, took quite a while to be supported by ALSA but the CMI8788 driver found in ALSA 1.0.15 was very problematic. This is the same APU found on other high-end sound cards such as the Auzentech X-Meridian, Bluegears B-inspirer, and ASUS Xonar, but with this driver it had worked worse than most cheaper alternatives.
After talking about NVIDIA's ESA standard yesterday and whether it would appear for Linux users, we noticed that the LM_Sensors team is making very good progress towards LM_Sensors 3.0. The first LM_Sensors 3 release candidate came out towards the end of September. Distinguishing LM_Sensors 3 from the current stable LM_Sensors 2.10 series it is now only a user-space-only package with no kernel components needed. The i2c components for LM_sensors have also been split into i2c-tools. The sensor library, libsensors, also received a brand new API for LM_Sensors 3. Released in early October was then LM_Sensors 3.0.0-rc2, which contained a number of fixes. Most recently, however, last week marked the release of LM_Sensors 3.0.0-rc3. This most recent testing release introduced better handling of the default configuration file path.
The developers behind ALSA (the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture), are out this morning with the v1.0.15 release. This new ALSA release includes updated ALSA drivers, libraries, plug-ins, and utilities. In total there are 98 drivers with changes, and this release does even include support for C-Media's Oxygen HD CMI8788. The CMI8788 APU is used on such sound cards as the Razer Barracuda AC-1, which up to this point was only supported by the Open Sound System. ALSA 1.0.15 has a number of changes especially for the CMIPCI, HDA, and USB audio drivers. The complete list of changes between ALSA 1.0.14 and 1.0.15 can be found on the ALSA Project Wiki.
After the release of LM_Sensors 2.10.4, a new release of XSensors is finally available. XSensors 0.60 introduces new support for the following chips: Fintek F71805F/FG, SMSC LPC47M192, k8temp, and w83627ehf. Also fixed in this XSensors release is a potential segmentation fault as well as some sanity checking on sensors. The complete XSensors change-log is available here with additional details and download links at LinuxHardware.org.
Following our ASUS Motherboard Ships With Embedded Linux, Web Browser article, ASUS has released a series of slides to Phoronix containing additional information about their "Express Gate" functionality.
Hitting the web is now the third release candidate for ALSA 1.0.15. As we shared in an earlier article, ALSA 1.0.15 delivers the first C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 driver for supporting the Razer Barracuda AC-1 and other high-end sound cards. Of course, there's a lot of other work and fixes going into ALSA 1.0.15 as well. Between ALSA 1.0.15-rc2 and 1.0.15-rc3 is fixes and work going on with a number of the ALSA drivers as well as updates to the Sound Core. All of the details are available from the ALSA Project Wiki.
This week at a Power Architecture conference, IBM showed off a new Power-based system codenamed "Bimini." Bimini is a 4-way PowerPC 970MP that ships with an XGI XP10 PCI Express x16 graphics card. Ian Romanick has been working on the XGI X.Org driver (1.5.0 XGI driver) for the past couple of months all for this new IBM creation. The XGI driver is still a work in progress and needs a lot of work still, but Ian seems to be dedicated towards improving the driver for this once hopeful Taiwan company. You can read about Ian's work on the XGI driver on his FreeDesktop.org blog.
Creative Labs' X-Fi Linux driver is now available for download. We talked about the beta driver yesterday, and this morning the official announcement is coming out of Creative Labs. This closed-source X-Fi driver is ALSA compatible on the Linux 2.6 kernel and includes an installation script to automate the process. Not only is this just a closed-source beta driver that's over two years late, but right now it only supports x86_64 Linux. Users running 32-bit Linux or other architectures are still out of luck until Creative Labs supports them or support comes through the Advanced Linux Architecture or the Open Sound System.
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