Back in February the Free Software Foundation deemed creating an open-source PowerVR driver via clean-room reverse-engineering that's complete with a Gallium3D driver to be a high priority action item. More than two months after classifying it as a high-priority item -- and three months after the original proposal -- no work has been accomplished.
Last month I noted some of the problems facing embedded Linux on ARM SoCs in terms of graphics drivers with regard to the variety of memory management APIs available (for graphics there's primarily TTM and GEM within the kernel but also there's other options: HWMEM, UMP, CMA, VCM, CMEM, and PMEM). There's also other graphics driver problems in the ARM world, but the Linaro group has announced they've taken up the issue of embedded Linux memory management for graphics and other areas. They're forming a working group to hopefully work towards resolving this issue for their next six-month development cycle.
As was planned last week, LM_Sensors 3.3.0 has been released over the weekend.
Jean Delvare, the maintainer of the Linux kernel's i2c and hwmon subsystems and the usual release manager of LM_Sensors, has just called for the release of LM_Sensors 3.3.0. Jean plans to release LM_Sensors 3.3.0 so he has put forth a call for testing in the days up to the 26th of March.
For anyone wondering whether the Hydra and other products from LucidLogix yet work under Linux, they do not.
The Southern California Linux Expo is taking place this weekend in Los Angeles. Matthew Tippett and myself will be speaking there tomorrow on Making More Informed Linux Hardware Choices. This is also from which we will be launching Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 and OpenBenchmarking.org.
As many Linux users know, there's a number of motherboard vendors out there who put out very poor/buggy/broken BIOS implementations for their products. For Linux users this can be particularly painful if the changes are catered to workaround issues in Windows but in turn cause a greater mess for non-Microsoft operating systems. As a step to improve the situation, assuming BIOS developers actually will use it, Intel has released a BIOS Implementation Test Suite.
While we haven't talked about Lomoco in a few years nor has there been a new release of this free software project for Logitech Mouse Control under Linux in a while, Lomoco is still being developed. Andreas Schneider is still working on Linux support for the latest Logitech mice via Lomoco.
Canonical has announced this morning they have released the "world's most comprehensive, up-to-date component catalog for Linux." It's effectively a hardware database showing components they have tested. It's interesting, but of course I have more than a few comments on the matter with some constructive criticism.
While Intel is often looked at as being the most Linux and open-source friendly company among the major IHVs, as shown today in Intel's Linux Sandy Bridge Graphics Still Troubling, even in 2011 there are still serious Linux hardware issues to overcome. The Linux hardware support has a much better foundation than where it was at in 2004 when I founded Phoronix, and for hardware that's been in the marketplace for a few months old these problems quickly go away, but for new adopters it's the biggest challenge.
While the free software community was successful in coming up with open-source support for Microsoft's Kinect motion sensing device, there is better support on the way. PrimeSense, the Israeli company that developed this technology, is now putting their hardware into new devices. However, it will not be up to the community to come up with open-source drivers, but the company will be providing the support themselves.
If the PR representative I just spoke with at CES actually knows what she's talking about when it comes to Linux, in the third quarter of this year there may be an open-source PowerVR driver for Linux.
For anyone that happens to be on holiday this week (or just have excess time otherwise), there is another lively and polarized discussion that's been taking place for the past several days on the DRI mailing list. What does it involve if it's not about developer disagreements amongst themselves? Embedded GPU driver support on Linux, of course. This mailing list thread just reaffirms how the situation is a great big mess.
In three weeks I'll be back in Las Vegas for the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) providing Linux coverage of the hardware happenings.
Matthias Bach, a researcher and developer on high-performance computing with the Goethe Universitaet Frankfurt am Main, has written in to inform us of this German university's release of HPL-GPU 1.0. The HPL-GPU software package is a rewritten version of the LINPACK library that is re-engineered to run atop CALDGEMM, which is a DGEMM implementation developed at this university designed to run atop the latest AMD graphics processors.
Rafał Miłecki, the Polish free software developer who previously spearheaded bringing power management to the ATI KMS Linux driver via a number of patches late last year and into this year, has been working on another project. No, it's not with regard to the open-source Linux graphics stack (unfortunately), but it's on the B43 Linux wireless driver. Rafał has brought support for Broadcom's 802.11n hardware to the B43 driver.
When writing this morning about what's going on with Iveland and OpenBenchmarking.org, one of the recent items being worked on in this area completely escaped my mind: the mobile benchmarking improvements. Time and money (new hardware) has been spent in providing greater automated testing and performance benchmarking of the Phoronix Test Suite on ARM-based mobile devices.
Yesterday in the ARM world there was not only a major milestone in that of unveiling the ARM Mali T-604 GPU for embedded devices with much faster graphics and even OpenCL GPGPU capabilities, but it was also marked by the first Linaro release. Linaro was formed less than a year ago but out now is their first engineering release, a.k.a. Linaro 10.11.
For those of you that have been wondering about the state of hybrid graphics support for notebooks running Linux, sadly the situation has yet to improve, which still puts it in shambles.
The Nokia N900 mobile-phone was released nearly one year ago with the Linux-based Maemo 5 operating system, but earlier this year is when Nokia and Intel decided to combine their Linux-based Maemo and Moblin operating systems, respectively, to form MeeGo. The MeeGo Linux distribution is now running well on Intel Atom netbooks and other devices and there is is even MeeGo IVI for your car and a MeeGo handset preview. However, support for the N900 within MeeGo hasn't been up to speed compared to the level of Maemo support or that of other devices playing well with MeeGo. The support though is slowly but surely catching up for the Nokia N900.
It's been quite a while since having anything to report on with the LM_Sensors project, which is the free software project to provide user-space utilities and kernel drivers for various hardware sensors to be supported under Linux. LM_Sensors makes it possible to monitor the CPU/system temperatures, fan speeds, voltages, and other metrics for many systems and motherboards. The last time though we brought up LM_Sensors was in May when it received some better Intel CPU support, but the last major release (LM_Sensors 3.1.0) happened in March of 2009. Today though, LM_Sensors 3.2.0 has been released.
While Razer and Logitech manufacturer some terrific mice for computer gamers along with other gaming peripherals, they unfortunately do not provide any official Linux support. There have been community projects like Lomoco for supporting Logitech's extra mouse features under Linux and RazerTool for supporting some Razer mice, but without any full-featured support from the vendor. The smaller gaming peripheral vendors like Mionix are also no better at providing Linux support, but there is now at least one new vendor supporting such efforts.
Broadcom wireless network adapters have long been notorious with Linux users since this hardware vendor has not provided any open-source Linux drivers or specifications for their chipsets, even though Broadcom ASICs are dominantly used within today's wireless adapters. There's long been community projects like bcm43xx and b43 to create Linux drivers and use extracted Windows firmware and such to make the 802.11 adapters work, but for Broadcom's new 802.11n chipsets they have made a radical turn and are releasing a fully open-source Linux driver!
TrueCrypt, one of the popular open-source programs for on-the-fly encryption, is out now with version 7.0. Most notably, the TrueCrypt 7.0 release provides hardware-accelerated AES support.
Yesterday we reported on the emergence of the 3Dfx Linux DRM/KMS driver that introduces Linux kernel mode-setting support for the decade-old Banshee and Voodoo graphics cards. This work was done by a lone developer, but at this time it doesn't play well with the 3dfx X.Org DDX driver, which diminished hopes of it entering the mainline kernel. However, it appears there is interest in this driver and that the developer is now working on adding TTM memory management support for these 3dfx PCI/AGP graphics cards.
Well, it sounded nice when Qualcomm announced an open-source 2D/3D kernel driver for their Snapdragon platform that's used by phones like the Nexus One and Dell Streak, but it turns out that their user-space Linux driver that hooks into this kernel driver is currently a closed-source blob. This has led to the eternal debate about open-source kernel components but with only closed-source components.
If you happen to have Google's Nexus One or other phones based upon Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor, there is great news today. Qualcomm has just released an open-source 2D/3D kernel driver for their OpenGL ES graphics processor. This Qualcomm kernel driver provides support for interrupts, command streams, context switching, memory management, etc. Qualcomm is looking to push this code into the mainline Linux kernel ASAP.
There's a slew of ARM-based devices coming to the market from netbooks to smartphones, but for Linux users the ARM platform has traditionally struggled as its rather fragmented between the hardware and software. Mark Shuttleworth has a blog post describing this fragmentation and challenge for software developers to target ARM devices, but fortunately there is a cure. In that same post, Mark announces Linaro and his hopes for this industry project.
One of the companies that we have been collaborating with on some of the features for the Phoronix Test Suite has been CloudHarmony, which is a company that seeks to provide an assortment of information on different cloud computing platforms and offerings from the various firms. Using the Phoronix Test Suite they have been benchmarking a plethora of different cloud computing platforms and today they have published a huge batch of results -- benchmarks from over 150 different cloud server configurations from 20 different providers!
On Friday we were briefed by Synaptics that they would be "announcing much-desired capabilities for notebook PCs running Linux and other open source operating systems", which we found out to mean that they were bringing their Synaptics Gesture Suite software to Linux. Today this announcement has now been made in the form of a press release.
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