helloSystem, System76 Keyboard + Linux 5.11/5.12 Captivated Users In February

Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 1 March 2021 at 07:00 AM EST. Add A Comment
From FreeBSD 13 nearing release and helloSystem making waves to Linux 5.11 getting buttoned up while paired with the virtual FOSDEM 2021 conference was able to capture much interest in the open-source community during another pandemic month.

February 2021 was very exciting for Linux/open-source fans with a lot of exciting software releases and other open-source software advancements. For March there is more exciting open-source software to come from the release of GNOME 40 to other milestones like FreeBSD 13.0 and Clang 12.0. March will also be an exciting month on the Linux hardware front.

There were 240 original news articles on Phoronix over the past month and another 17 featured multi-page Linux hardware reviews / benchmark articles. If you enjoy the daily flow of original Linux hardware and especially benchmark content, at the very least please do not use any ad-blocker on this site or you can also join Phoronix Premium to read all the content ad-free, multi-page articles on a single page, and more. PayPal tips are also supported and you can also follow the daily content via Facebook and Twitter.

The most popular news during February on Phoronix included:

AMD Is Currently Hiring More Linux Engineers
It looks like thanks to AMD's increasing sales and continuing successes in the enterprise space with more HPC wins and the like, AMD is hiring more Linux engineers. AMD currently has several interesting job openings on the Linux front.

helloSystem Wants To Be The "macOS of BSDs" With A Polished Desktop Experience
While it was a sad blow when PC-BSD/TrueOS stopped pursuing its desktop ambitions as what was arguably the leading BSD desktop operating system out there with a nice end-user experience, since then we have seen efforts like MidnightBSD, GhostBSD, and others fill the avoid with continuing to enhance the out-of-the-box BSD desktop system. A new entrant that is quite interesting is helloSystem that aims to be a "macOS of BSDs" for a polished desktop experience.

Linspire 10 Released - Claims Of "Most Meticulously Designed & Engineered FOSS Desktop"
Linspire 10 is out this week as the newest version of this Linux distribution formerly known as Lindows nearly two decades ago. While Linspire went dark for several years, under its current ownership by PC/OpenSystems they have been trying to reinvigorate the desktop distribution the past few years. Linspire 10 represents the latest work for the Ubuntu-based platform.

System76 Begins Detailing Their Open-Source "Launch Configurable Keyboard"
For months System76 has been teasing that they were getting into prototyping and manufacturing their own keyboards. This moves follows them manufacturing their own cases with the beautifully engineered Thelio line-up while now it looks like they are ready to go public with details on the System76 keyboard.

Debian 10.8 Released With Dozens Of Fixes, Switches To More Parallel Build Process
Debian 10.8 as the Linux distribution's latest quarterly update is now available ahead of Debian 11 expected later in the year.

The 11 Most Interesting Features For Linux 5.11 - Lots For AMD + Intel This Cycle
Linux 5.11 stable is expected to be released on Sunday barring any second thoughts by Linus Torvalds that could lead to an eighth weekly release candidate that would in turn push the official release back by one week. In any case, Linux 5.11 will be formally out soon and it's an exciting one on the feature front.

Building The Linux Kernel With Clang Continues To Be Useful, New Features Pursued
At last month's Linux.Conf.Au virtual conference was a presentation by Google engineer Nick Desaulniers on the current state of building the Linux kernel with LLVM Clang as an alternative to GCC.

Red Hat Announces Free "RHEL For Open-Source Infrastructure"
Last month Red Hat announced no-cost Red Hat Enterprise Linux for small production environments while now they have extended their gratis RHEL offering to also include "open-source infrastructure" being entitled to no-cost usage.

Linux 5.11 Released With Intel Integer Scaling, AMD Performance Boost, RTX 30 KMS
What better way for open-source enthusiasts to celebrate Valentine's Day than with the stable release of the Linux 5.11 kernel... Linus Torvalds even changed the kernel codename for the occasion to being the "Valentine's Day Edition" kernel.

The AMD Zen 2 / Zen 3 Performance Fix For Linux 5.11 Has Landed
Just in time for the expected Linux 5.11 stable release on Sunday, the AMD frequency invariance performance regression I've been noting and writing about since Christmas day has been resolved with the previously covered fix having been merged today.

There Are Big Changes On The Horizon With Linux 5.12
Linux 5.11 should be released today as stable but we'll see if 5.11-rc8 is decided instead given there has been an uptick in last minute changes for this kernel. This will mean either the Linux 5.12 merge window is kicking off at the end of today or could be pushed back by one week, but in whatever case there are many changes that have been queuing up for this next kernel version window.

Nintendo 64 Support Mailed In For The Linux 5.12 Kernel
As expected, the new port of the Linux kernel to the Nintendo 64 game console from the 90's is now being mainlined in 2021 with the Linux 5.12 kernel...

helloSystem Releases New ISOs For This macOS-Inspired BSD Desktop OS
There has been a lot of attention on helloSystem this week as a macOS-inspired operating system built atop FreeBSD with an emphasis on providing a polished desktop experience. Since we highlighting the FOSDEM presentation about it, there has been a lot of coverage on helloSystem and this weekend marks a new experimental ISO release.

Linux Mint Finds Many Of Its Users Are Running Behind On Security Updates
The issue of having a beginner/easy-to-use focused desktop Linux distribution but not installing new security updates by default without user intervention is that for many users they fall behind in applying often important security fixes.

Fedora 34 Will See HarfBuzz-Enabled FreeType As The Latest For This Huge Feature Release
The plan for Fedora 34 to improve font rendering by enabling HarfBuzz in FreeType was approved this week by the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee.

It's 2021 And The Linux Kernel's Floppy Driver Is Still Seeing The Occasional Patch
The Linux kernel's floppy driver dates back to the original days of the kernel back in 1991 and is still being maintained thirty years later with the occasional fix.

There's Finally A Decent Vulkan Ray-Tracing Benchmark
While so far only the NVIDIA proprietary driver on Linux supports the Vulkan ray-tracing extensions, eventually we will see support for these new Vulkan extensions with the AMD Vulkan drivers for the Radeon RX 6000 series and newer. There has also been work by Intel in preparing for Vulkan ray-tracing with Xe HPG. For when the time comes to test those implementations, there is finally one good, open-source, automated Vulkan RT benchmark so far.

LibreOffice 7.1 "Community" Edition Released
LibreOffice 7.1 has just been released as the latest version of this cross-platform, open-source office suite that now carries "Community" branding and promoting of "Enterprise" variants as well.

GNOME 40 Approaches Its UI Freeze, Easy Means To Start Testing It
The user interface changes for GNOME 40 are quickly nearing the finish line with just two weeks to go until the UI freeze.

CentOS Hyperscaler Is Sounding Quite Promising For The Modern Enterprise
The CentOS Hyperscale effort is sounding quite promising for those riding CentOS Stream and wanting fresher packages in some instances and alternative defaults as a blend of CentOS Stream, Fedora / EPEL, and its own forthcoming package repositories.

And the most popular featured articles/reviews:

AMD Radeon RX 6800 vs. NVIDIA RTX 30 Linux Performance Heating Up
Given the open-source Radeon driver progress for RDNA2 over the past three months since the Radeon RX 6800 series were launched, here is a look at how the Radeon RX 6800 series and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 series is currently competing on Linux when using the latest Linux drivers from the respective vendors.

FreeBSD 13 BETA Benchmarks - Performance Is Much Better
The official release of FreeBSD 13.0 is coming up in March, while already from our preliminary tests of the newly minted FreeBSD 13.0 BETA1, the benchmark results are extremely tantalizing compared to FreeBSD 12.2... Ultimately the performance should be much more competitive now compared to Linux (at least on Intel x86_64) and other operating systems with the big FreeBSD 13 release.

Radeon RX 6800 Series Linux Performance Nearly Three Months After Launch
Given the daily progress and changes made to the open-source AMDGPU Linux kernel driver and the Mesa drivers providing the open-source OpenGL (RadeonSI) and Vulkan (RADV) support, here is a look at how the Radeon RX 6800 series performance is currently for the latest Linux graphics driver code compared to the performance seen back on the November launch day for the Radeon RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT graphics cards.

Arch-Based SalientOS + EndeavourOS Take On Clear/Fedora/Ubuntu With The Ryzen 9 5900X
Given the recent release of Arch Linux based EndeavourOS and a Phoronix Premium supporter recently pointing out SalientOS as another interesting Arch-based Linux distribution, here are benchmarks showing how these easy/quick to deploy Arch based operating systems with sane defaults compare to that of Ubuntu, Fedora Workstation, and Intel's own Clear Linux. This round of February 2021 Linux benchmarking was carried out on an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X desktop stemming from premium member feedback.

GCC 10 vs. GCC 11 Compiler Performance On AMD Zen 3
After recently looking at the early LLVM Clang 12 compiler performance on the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, in today's benchmarking is a look at how the GCC 11 compiler performance is looking in its near final state compared to GCC 10 under a variety of build CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS configurations on the AMD Zen 3 desktop.

OpenGL vs. Vulkan Performance For Portal 2 With Radeon Linux Graphics
With Valve's Portal 2 having added a Vulkan renderer by way of DXVK for converting Direct3D calls to Vulkan, here are some initial benchmarks with several different AMD Radeon graphics cards for seeing the performance of this nearly decade old game on Linux with the existing OpenGL rendering path compared to that of the new Vulkan rendering option.

AMD Ryzen, EPYC 5~6% Faster Out-Of-The-Box With Linux 5.11
Now with the CPUFreq fix landing this week in Linux Git, the mainline Linux 5.11 kernel in its near final state is looking in very good shape for AMD Zen 2/3 hardware from Ryzen laptops and desktops through EPYC servers. The Linux 5.11 development kernel was regressed for the better part of the past two months but now that the frequency invariance regression is addressed, not only is the regression gone but generally is performing much better compared to prior kernel versions.

After A Bumpy Cycle, AMD Performance Will Shine Brighter On Linux 5.11
For those following the saga of the AMD frequency invariance regression on Linux 5.11 since the Christmas investigative benchmarking looking at the performance regressions, everything now looks like it will be buttoned up in time for the Linux 5.11 stable release. As noted yesterday, there was a curve ball this week in that the patch proposed by SUSE's Giovanni Gherdovich in January to address the frequency invariance regression was turned down by the Linux power management maintainer and instead he (Rafael Wysocki of Intel) proposed an alternative patch that instead modified the CPUFreq driver. Given it's getting late into the cycle, it's been a mad rush of re-conducting benchmarks on this new kernel patch and now it looks like that solution will be sent in the coming days for Linux 5.11.

HP ZBook Studio G7 Aims To Attract Linux Developers, Data Scientists
The HP ZBook Studio G7 aims to attract Linux developers and data scientists by not only offering a powerful hardware combination and by pre-loading Ubuntu 20.04 LTS but in also shipping a variety of tools and other software packages pre-configured for a modern developer and data scientist workload. We have been testing the HP ZBook Studio G7 for the better part of two months for this Linux-loaded mobile workstation and in this article is a look at this new HP device along with plenty of benchmarks, including Windows vs. Linux performance tests and more.

Mesa 21.0 Has Many New Features Especially For Radeon Open-Source Graphics
With Mesa 21.0 releasing soon here is a look at the new features for this quarter's release of these open-source Vulkan / OpenGL driver implementations.
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About The Author
Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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