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.
As the first update in 2010, ALSA 1.0.23 has been released this morning to replace ALSA 1.0.22 that was released last December. Like usual, this update to the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture brings mostly individual driver fixes but there is also support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 and a few ALSA core fixes.
LG Electronics is joining the likes of Intel, AMD, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and many other hardware vendors that are corporate members of the Linux Foundation.
Bernie Thompson, one of the developers working on the DisplayLink Linux support, has written in this weekend to inform us of pending improvements to the DisplayLink frame-buffer driver (udlfb) that will be present in the Linux 2.6.34 kernel. It was nearly a year ago that DisplayLink began supporting Linux so that these USB-powered GPUs/displays would work nicely and with an open-source driver.
Last year the Lucid Hydra 200 was announced as a unique, universal multi-GPU solution. The Hydra 200 is a custom chipset that allows the graphics rendering workload to be split between multiple graphics processors, but the graphics cards do not need to be tied to a particular vendor. Lucid Hydra can work with NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards like SLI and CrossFire, respectively, but you could have a mix of NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards connected to a single motherboard boasting a Hydra 200 chipset.
Jean Delvare has announced the second point release for the LM_Sensors 3.1 series, which was introduced last March. The LM_Sensors 3.1.2 release delivers better Linux system sensor monitoring support by preemptively adding support for future kernels and HID devices in libsensors, the sensord daemon has received a lot of clean-ups, and sensors-detect is better detecting the supported sensors with drivers.
There hasn't been a whole lot to report on in regards to LM_Sensors, the main sensor monitoring package and its kernel drivers for thermal/fan/voltage polling on Linux. It was nearly a year ago that LM_Sensors 3.1 was released, but since then we have run into plenty of new hardware (such as the ASRock ION 330HT-BD and ASUS Eee PC 1201N) that is not yet supported by drivers for LM_Sensors. While this does not improve the hardware support, a new sensor configuration utility has been unveiled for LM_Sensors.
My sabbatical with Windows is coming to an end next week, but during the past three weeks I have been using the brand-new ASUS Eee PC 1201N exclusively. This ASUS netbook that packs an Intel Atom 330 dual-core processor, NVIDIA ION graphics, a nice 12" display that runs at 1366 x 768, and 2GB of RAM has been working out quite well. During the times that I dual-boot into Ubuntu 9.10, everything continues to run quite smoothly as I had mentioned in the ASUS Eee PC 1201N review.
Back in October of 2007 we were the first to tell the world about SplashTop, an instant-on Linux environment that was embedded into ASUS motherboards and since then has appeared on various other motherboards, netbooks, and notebooks. We later shared more details about SplashTop, new features, and other details. However, for the past year or so we haven't talked much about SplashTop as there hasn't been too much to say and the "instant-on Linux" scene has become much more crowded with various new lightweight Linux distributions.
The free software developers behind the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) have just unleashed their quarterly update to this Linux audio driver package. There are plenty of changes with ALSA 1.0.22 but among them are continued work on the CMI8788 Oxygen APU, a few fixes for the Creative X-Fi sound card support that was introduced this year, numerous improvements to the HDA and HDA Intel drivers, and countless improvements to other Linux kernel audio drivers and codecs.
If you have been running into problems with PulseAudio on your system, an update has been made available this morning that you may want to try. PulseAudio 0.9.20 was released and it carries bug-fixes and translation updates, but not much more. Among the PulseAudio fixes are for the Bluetooth audio support, core fixes, and many ALSA-related changes.
898 Hardware news articles published on Phoronix.